Monday, July 16, 2018

Russia, Guns and Sconnies

You go on vacation for one day, and your president admits to treason, and this gets revealed.

And then add in the 1 mil+ that was given to Walker's SuperPAC by pro-Putin oligarch Len Blavatnik.

I'm sure this can all be explained away, right Scotty? Right Paul Ryan? Right Homeland Security Committee Chair Ron Johnson?

"How was I to know....she was with the Russians, too?"

Chillin' in the 715

The commentary may be a bit light for the next few days, as I'm with family and this is the view at the end of the back yard

But I did notice this own goal by our Fair Governor on his latest photo op.

And that's far from the only road that I traveled on yesterday that looked like that.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Down is up in GOP land- McAdams, Kavanaugh and other BS

For this weekend's reading, I wanted to talk about how a couple of recent instances illustrate how right-wingers have built up a whole side business of legal BS that is not being checked in any meaningful way. Often because the judges that decide these things are spawned from the same cesspool that allows them to claim "down is up."

A great example was in the recent Wisconsin Supreme Court case reinstating law professor John McAdams to the Marquette University faculty. Bruce Murphy had an excellent rundown of the McAdams case in Urban Milwaukee this week exposing the absurdity of the 4-2 decision in McAdams favor.

As Murphy points out, Marquette decided to suspend McAdams because he encouraged harassment against graduate student Cheryl Abbate after she hurt the fee-fees of a right-wing student in one her classes. The student said there should have been a discussion of whether to disallow gay rights as part of a topic on “justice as fairness”, but Abbate said that wasn’t relevant to what was being discussed in class.

The student just happened to record the post-class conversation he had with Abbate and passed it ahead to McAdams (that’s normal, isn’t it?). Then McAdams used the recording to continually to hammer on the instructor in his blog, as Murphy notes.
In both the first post and subsequent ones, McAdams linked to Abbate’s email, making it easy for people to harass her. This post resulted in a number of messages threatening the graduate student, resulting in her leaving Marquette for another university. McAdams then published the name of the university to which Abbate had transferred, enabling the harassment to continue.
MU administration originally planned to revoke McAdams’ tenure and fire him, but the university’s Faculty Review Committee (FRC) overruled that, lessening the punishment to suspension without pay for 1-2 semesters. As Murphy points out, the FRC said the reason McAdams deserved punishment was for his continued harassment, which caused a hostile workplace for Ms. Abbate.
… Dr. McAdams’s conduct with respect to his November 9, 2014 blog post violated his obligation to fellow members of the Marquette community by recklessly causing harm to Ms. Abbate, even though that harm was caused indirectly. The Committee concludes that the harm to Ms. Abbate was substantial, foreseeable, easily avoidable, and not justifiable. …

Second, the Committee concludes that the University has demonstrated that Dr. Mc-Adams’s conduct was seriously irresponsible, and that his demonstrated failure to recognize his essential obligations to fellow members of the Marquette community, and to conform his behavior accordingly, will substantially impair his fitness to fulfill his responsibilities as a professor.
This rationale was upheld in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, but McAdams worked with fellow Marquette Law colleague Richard Sleazybuckets Esenberg (who spins works for the right-wing Bradley Foundation front group Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty) to appeal to the right-wing hacks on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And they got the 4 right-wing “justices” to agree with their argument that somehow McAdams’ post-work blog postings and encouragement of harassment was protected under “academic freedom”.

Just look at these jagbags

What Murphy points out is that “Justices” Bradley, Kelly, Roggensack, and (lame-duck) Gableman along with the right-wing MU professors introduced a pet issue of “right-wing free speech” in a case where it didn’t exist.
This irony is more apparent than real. That is because this is not an academic freedom case. No one is challenging McAdams’ right to post whatever thoughts he has on issues of public concern. Instead his willingness to publicly attack a student, while supplying contact and other information that allows his readers to harass and threaten Abbate was the basis of the sanctions imposed by Marquette.
Lastly, Murphy brings up that this decision now greatly ties the hands of universities to administer their own affairs – both private and public affairs. That’s hardly a conservative opinion, and it also illustrates how the right-wing “Justices” on the Wisconsin Supreme Court often make up BS to fit the outcome that they want to see.
1. The result is that the models for shared governance at all Wisconsin colleges and universities are likely in a state of limbo. As Justice Ann Walsh Bradley points out, the court has diminished the ability of these private educational institutions to make their own academic decisions in fulfillment of its unique mission. In the future, not only will Marquette become less autonomous but so will other Wisconsin private colleges and universities.

2. Finally, the decision confirms a disturbing trend apparent in earlier cases, such as that shutting down the John Doe investigation of coordination between Walker’s campaign and various ostensibly independent organizations. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has become an instrument of a clique of right-wing ideologues. If a liberal Marquette professor had set up a conservative student for public abuse it is hard to imagine these justices would have been as outraged or ruled in the same way.
And what’s happening in Wisconsin is a version of what has been done nationwide, where lots of right-wing money has been invested into lawsuit mills like WILL and other BS to develop lawyers and judges who will make stuff up to further the wants of their paymasters.

And few exemplify this more than Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. As Charles Pierce notes in Esquire , Kavanaugh has worked and promoted GOP causes pretty much from the moment he graduated law school.
Interestingly, as the principal author of [Kenneth] Starr’s eventual soft-core classic [as part of the 1990s investigation into President Bill Clinton], Kavanaugh reportedly went to Starr with “moral” objections to the most prurient passages, many of which, of course, were the result of lines of inquiries that Kavanaugh himself had suggested. This puts into an interesting light the now-famous article Kavanaugh wrote [in 2009] for the University of Minnesota Law Review in which Brett Kavanaugh, onetime gumshoe for a special prosecutor, argued that presidents should not be pestered by criminal inquiries while in office.

(In his defense, it should be noted that Kavanaugh primarily argued that this was a question the Congress should address. This, of course, implies that, until Congress does so, it’s still open season.)…

I’m not entirely sure, but it seems to me that, having been part of squeezing the Great Penis Hunt for every ounce of its political advantage, Kavanaugh here is arguing that the statute that had empowered him to do so led in some vague way to the attacks of September 11, 2001. (Kavanaugh was working in the White House that day, and he mentioned in his remarks Monday night how he and his future wife were scrambled out of the building when it was believed that another plane was inbound.) Make no mistake. Before he is anything else, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a political animal. Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, once referred to him as the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics.” Kavanaugh has played a major part in every major Republican politico-legal event of the past quarter-century.

In addition to his deep involvement in the Starr investigation, Kavanaugh also worked on the legal team that fought the Florida recount in 2000. This led to a job in the George W. Bush White House and, ultimately, to his nomination to the bench, which the Democrats in the Senate managed to hold in abeyance for almost six years, citing Kavanaugh’s political activities and his lack of judicial experience.

Since becoming a judge, Kavanaugh has been a dependable ally of the corporate class; he has delivered opinions in which he argued that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is unconstitutional and also that the president* can simply declare a law like the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional and then refuse to carry it out. It’s been a long time since we had a Supreme Court nominee with this lengthy a paper trail behind him. It’s a target-rich environment. This possibly could make opposing his nomination easier. His two-step on special prosecutors should take up the better part of a day’s worth of hearings since it reeks of pure political expedience. And, god knows, he shouldn’t be allowed to use what he wrote in 2009 as an alibi for what he would do if Mueller’s case came before him. Unless Kavanaugh agrees to recuse himself from any such case, nobody should vote for him.
And Kavanaugh is generated from a whole industry set up by right-wing oligarchs designed to pervert and twist the law to their own means. Thid tweet is one of many I saw along these lines when Kavanaugh's appointment was announced.

Which makes it all the more disgusting that these guys want to end affirmative action for other groups.

Put this kind of "ideology over facts and reality" thought on the bench, and it helps explain how we've ended up with the following legal absurdities.

Online bullying and creating a hostile work environment is OK as long as you claim it is “academic freedom.”

Money-laundering and hiding the name of donors is OK as long as you claim that it is being done in the name of “free speech" (Scott Walker's John Doe case), but the right for workers to organize and make their demands as a group is not free speech.

Bullying and calling for repression and violence against a group of less-powerful people is protected, but when people respond to that by calling BS on those hateful people, the bullies whine and claim THEY'RE the ones being repressed ("Bad people on both sides").

And rule of law and constitutional protections can be thrown out for our most vulnerable citizens, but can be abused by those at the highest levels of power, to the point where someone like Brett Kavanaugh claims a president is literally above the law.

These right-wing BubbleWorlders think they do not have to show one shred of decency and are immune from any accountability for their words and actions. And they call US the self-absorbed snowflakes? This has to change, and they have to neutered and removed. NOW.

Friday, July 13, 2018

GOP Tax Scam acting as predicted - corporates pay less, workers aren't better, and deficit blowing up

Another notable economic report released this week was the monthly statement from the U.S. Treasury, which gave us the latest clue about what the GOP’s Tax Scam was doing to Uncle Sam’s budget.

For the month, the budget numbers weren’t as bad as you might expect. The deficit in June 2018 was actually lower than the deficit in June 2017 ($74.9 billion vs $90.2 billion in June 2017). But it seems a bit misleading as June 2017 had spending of $428.9 billion, $37.8 billion more than last month and the most spent in any month in either 2017 or 2018.

But those figure also tell you that receipts were $22.4 billion lower than they were in June 2017, and since the GOP’s tax scam hit paychecks in February, revenues have been lower in 4 of the 5 months (only in April, which included most tax payments that were filed for the 2017 tax year, did we seen an increase).

The biggest reason why tax revenues are lower? A major drop in corporate taxes, which was down significantly for both June and the 2018 Fiscal Year.

US Corporate Income Taxes, June 2018 vs June 2017
June 2017 $57.4 billion
June 2018 $38.0 billion

FFY 2017 through June $223.3 billion
FFY 2018 through June $161.7 billion

And it’s not because corporate pre-tax profits are diving. In fact, they've jumped even before accounting for the tax cut (see Table 11).

Pre-tax corporate profits, US (annualized basis)
Q1 2017 $2.109 trillion
Q1 2018 $2.252 trillion (+6.8%)

Post-tax corporate profits
Q1 2017 $1.642 trillion
Q1 2018 $1.920 trillion (+16.9%)

But it sure isn’t trickling down, as year-over-year wage growth is no different than it was this time last year.

And of course, that number is before inflation, which has nearly doubled over the past year.

This decline in corporate taxes also means that income taxes are taking up a larger amount the money going to Washington.

Share of total tax revenues Through June

Individual income tax 47.8%
Payroll, tariffs and other taxes 43.2%
Corporate taxes 8.9%

Individual income tax 51.4%
Payroll, tariffs and other taxes 42.2%
Corporate taxes 6.4%

June also marked the ¾ pole for the Federal Fiscal Year, and that was what this national report chose to focus on.
The U.S. budget deficit widened by 16 percent to $607 billion three-quarters of the way through Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, as spending accelerated faster than revenue.

The shortfall in the nine months through June was larger than the $523 billion gap in the same period of fiscal 2017, according to a report from the Treasury Department released Thursday. Revenue rose to $2.54 trillion in the period, up 1.3 percent from a year earlier. Spending rose 3.9 percent to $3.15 trillion.
But the deficit has jumped by 22% since the Piece of Shit tax bill became law. If that 22% increase holds for the last 3 months of Fiscal Year 2018, that would mean we’d run a deficit of a little over $174 billion in that time.

And if that’s true, then we end up at $781 billion. Which is basically what the Congressional Budget Office predicted while this Piece of Shit was being debated. And the deficit is projected to get higher for each of the next 4 years after that.

So the June Treasury statement gives another bit of evidence that the GOP Tax Scam is doing exactly what anyone with a brain said it would do - funnel more money to corporations, with the average worker ending up no better off, and the deficit is blowing up just like the experts in DC said it would.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Yet again, inflation is higher than wage growth.

Given the concerns about costs of products in light of trade wars and rising prices at the pump and for housing, today’s Consumer Price Index report for June was sure to get some interest.

The financial media claimed that the 0.1% in June was lower than expectations, but it didn’t seem to stay low for typical reasons.
U.S. consumer prices rose less than expected in June amid falling utility prices and a record decline in hotel costs, even as the broader trend showed a pickup in annual inflation that may keep the Federal Reserve on track for gradual interest-rate hikes.

The consumer price index rose 0.1 percent from the prior month after a 0.2 percent gain in May, while the gauge excluding food and energy costs rose 0.2 percent, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. The Bloomberg survey median called for a 0.2 percent gain in both the main and core indexes.

The overall gauge rose 2.9 percent in the 12 months through June, the most since 2012, while the core gauge climbed 2.3 percent, the biggest gain since January 2017. Both matched economists’ estimates.
The highest inflation in 6 years doesn’t sound that great to me, and it could have been even higher in June except for a drop in prices for many household items. Clothes, jewelry, shoes, TVs, dishes and home decorations were among the products that had notable drops this month, and while cutting prices while everything else costs more may help your shopping, it is not a good sign for an already-hurting retail sector, and it makes me wonder if more store closings are coming.

But even worse news came with the real wages survey that accompanies the CPI figures, This report combines CPI with the numbers released from last week’s jobs report, and even in a time of allegedly full employment, the average American worker is not ending up better off.
Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.1 percent from May to June, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from a 0.2-percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Real average weekly earnings increased 0.1 percent over the month due to the change in real average hourly earnings combined with no change to the average workweek.

Real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 0.2-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.

Real average hourly earnings were unchanged, seasonally adjusted, from June 2017 to June 2018. Real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 0.2-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.
I'm not sure how a 2.7% increase in wages vs a 2.9% in prices leads to 0% change (maybe someone could fill me in), but this continues a US trend of nominal wage growth staying stuck below 3% while inflation has risen to hit that same level.

It’s even worse for everyday “non-supervisory” workers, who have had hourly wages decline by 0.2% in the last 2 years. Not exactly what the average blue-collar MAGA likely had in mind, was it? (SUCKERS!)

Remember, these rising inflation and stagnant wage figures in June come before the seemingly inevitable layoffs and supply disruptions from the reckless nature of the trade wars our president has decided on. Now, that might keep inflation under control as dairy and soybean prices collapse (oddly, dairy and cheese prices were up in June), but that’s not a good thing either if you work in those industries.

While June’s inflation report had enough intriguing numbers, the real “fun” might pick up in the next couple of months, given what we’ve already seen for gas and crop futures. And it makes me wonder if (as the financial news report indicated) more increases short-term interest rates are in order to try to head this inflation off. And then see which bubbles pop as a result.

Like a lot of things in this economy, inflation doesn’t seem like it'll stay at the relatively stable status quo for much longer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WEDC lost millions more today. How can they be trusted with Foxconn?

Let's check back with our friends at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and see if they've improved on being taken in by empty promises of job creation and losing Wisconsin tax dollars in the process.

Nope, same old failures and grifts.
Wisconsin's flagship jobs agency has ended its pursuit of repayment of a million-dollar state loan awarded to a De Pere businessman accused of bilking millions from investors and defrauding the state’s job-creation agency of more than $1 million.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Chief Executive Officer Mark Hogan reported to the agency board on Wednesday that officials decided to write off the balance of the $1.1 million loan owed by Ron Van Den Heuvel, former owner of clean energy company Green Box, because it's unlikely the agency will ever recoup the money.
Bad enough that the state threw more than $1 million down the drain for this fraudster, but worse is that it is merely 1 of 3 loans written off by WEDC today for a total of more than $4.3 million.

Oh, and did we mention that longtime WisGOP donor Van den Heuvel didn't just rip off WIsconsin taxpayers and other lenders, he flouted it along the way.
Hogan's report comes days after Van Den Heuvel was jailed after authorities alleged he committed more fraud and intimidated witnesses while free on bond.

Van Den Heuvel was sentenced to three years in prison in January for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and in a separate case faces 14 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in connection with allegedly bilking investors out of $9 million.

Van Den Heuvel was released on bond, but was jailed again in recent days after federal authorities reported Van Den Heuvel fraudulently obtained a $20,000 loan in December from a New York lender and then spent $8,600 of that loan at the exclusive Oneida Golf and Country Club.
Surprised this guy didn't get a gig at the Trump White House, he'd fit right in.

The Green Box fiasco led State Rep. Chris Taylor to make an obvious observation about the organization that just blew even more tax dollars on failed corporate welfare.

Among many reasons to hate the Fox-con, the fact that the GOP slush fund known as WEDC is in charge with handing out taxpayer dollars should be at the top of that list. The Green Box scam only promised to create a little over 100 jobs. Compare that to Foxconn, which promised 13,000 jobs and a $10 billion investment, and is already scaling back that plan and will make smaller panels than they claimed they would make when the Fox-con was set up last year.

Oh, but Foxconn claims the smaller factory is only Phase 1, and that the big factory comes later in Phase 2. Riiiight.

WEDC Secretary Hogan continues to talk up Foxconn, and was a main part of the PR effort that was part of Foxconn's groundbreaking in Racine County 2 weeks ago. If Foxconn fails to deliver those thousands of jobs jobs, or inflates costs, or otherwise tries to bilk more out of the state than they should get, do you think a Scott Walker-run WEDC is going to draw attention to that and try to get our money back? HELL NO!

They're not going to risk the public and political embarrassment of the Foxconn being the expensive white elephant many of us think it will be, so WEDC will keep claiming "things are great" while more of pur tax dollars get funneled out of their offices. Heck, WEDC is already saying that they will look the other way on the Fox-con development.
Asked whether Foxconn had communicated with WEDC about its change in plans for Mount Pleasant, Mark Maley, WEDC’s public affairs and communications director, said by email:

“It’s up to Foxconn — and not state government — to determine what the best use of that facility is. Foxconn is one of the largest companies in the world and has a 44-year history of success, so we’re confident it will continue to make decisions to ensure that continued success. It’s not the state’s role to get involved in the business operations of one of the largest and most successful companies in the world.”
It's our tax dollars that are paying for this, you dickhead. It better be the state's role to get involved!

You may have noticed that the Walker Administration and Foxconn are announcing small operations in other parts of the state and claiming "more business is on the way for your neck of the woods due to Foxconn" (he pulled this routine in Eau Claire today). What they don't mention is that those office jobs are part of a Foxconn strategy that allows it to reach Walker's "$53,000 average salary" claim without having to pay a lot of workers $53,000.
New documents released by the Department of Administration show the state originally planned to count only wages under $100,000 while the company argued there should be no “artificial cap” on how the average was determined.

In comments on two drafts of the state contract, attorneys for the company wrote, “Foxconn expects all wages to be considered for the average annual wage calculation.”

In response, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. expressed a willingness to increase the cap first from $100,000 to $200,000 and then again to $250,000.

Ultimately, the state’s contract with Foxconn counts wages paid up to $400,000 annually as part of the average. The company is also eligible for $1.5 billion in payroll tax credits and earns those on wages paid up to $100,000.
In other words...

I'm guessing that won't be the last time WEDC is "flexible" with Foxconn. The only way we'll have our tax dollars used wisely (and hopefully not used much at all) in the Fox-con is if we boot out Walker and his lackeys, and put in some people who actually believe "economic development" should be something more than tax-funded kickbacks to corporate cronies and pre-election photo ops.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Why Ron Johnson may be a key part of #TrumpRussia, and how SCOTUS plays in

You may have heard that our president nominated a stooge to fill the vacancy being caused by Anthony Kennedy's conveniently-timed (and suspicious) retirement ahead of November's midterms. In a pleasant rarity, Senate Democrats recognized the stakes and the sketchiness, and seem prepared to fight against the appointment on those grounds.
Democratic senators said on Tuesday that the Senate should oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh if he doesn't agree to recuse himself from legal cases tied to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

"I'm a 'no' on this nominee. My colleagues should be a 'no' on this nominee unless Judge Kavanaugh specifically commits that he will recuse himself on any issues that involve President Trump's personal financial dealings or the special counsel," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said during a rally outside the Supreme Court….

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), who is considered a 2020 presidential contender, said he and his fellow Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to ask Kavanaugh whether he’ll recuse himself from matters related to Mueller’s Russia probe if they come before the high court.

“If you just put this fact pattern down to any senator five years ago, just said the president of the United States is under investigation in which there have been over 70 charges filed, over 20-plus people and corporations have been charged, over five people already guilty pleas, one person already sentenced … I guarantee you you’d get senators [who would] say they would not let that president do what he’s doing right now, which is give himself immunity for any issues that come before the Supreme Court,” he said.
This is absolutely the right response – focus on the corruption and self-dealing aspect of this appointment. I would hope that Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin would say she isn’t voting on ANYTHING (SCOTUS appointments or otherwise) until we get an agreement that Kavanaugh would recuse in any and all cases involving the Mueller investigation.

The nomination of Brett ("A president is above the law") Kavanaugh is clearly part of a desperate attempt by President Trump to try to use SCOTUS as a line of defense from being taken down in the Mueller probe. The strategy seems to bear a lot of resemblance to Scott Walker using a bought-off Wisconsin Supreme Court to get off the hook in the John Doe money-laundering scheme.

And speaking of the Mueller probe and Wisconsin, get a load of these coments from over the weekend from Wisconsin’s other US Senator – the Dumb One.
President Trump and U.S. lawmakers should consider revising sanctions targeting Russia so they focus more on Russian oligarchs, a senior Republican lawmaker suggested after participating in a congressional delegation visit to Moscow.

“You do something and nobody ever sits back and analyzes, 'Well, is it working?’” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner. “And I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that sanctions against Russia are really working all that well.”

Johnson said he's worried that Congress over-reacted to Russia's election interference, which resulted in legislation that tied Trump’s hands with mandatory sanctions.

“I've been pretty upfront that the election interference — as serious as that was, and unacceptable — is not the greatest threat to our democracy,” he said. “We've blown it way out of proportion — [as if it's] the greatest threat to democracy ... We need to really honestly assess what actually happened, what effect did it have, and what effect are our sanctions actually having, positively and negatively.”
Oh, then if it’s not a big deal, then I imagine the Chair of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee could do a hearing on the subject and clear the air on what was done with the intereference was and how it’s being fixed. That Chairman is…Ron Johnson. And he's not calling a hearing.

Johnson’s silence is especially odd since we now know that Russian interests targeted Wisconsin as a place to focus their propaganda efforts on Facebook and other social media. And few people knew more about these Russian propaganda efforts before the election than Ron Johnson. Let’s go back to Bruce Murphy’s excellent rundown from January 2017 in urban Milwaukee where he asked “Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?”
As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson was one the so-called “Gang of 12,” the top 12 congressional leaders, who were invited to the meeting. (House Speaker Paul Ryanalso attended the meeting.) Johnson later confirmed to Politico that he participated in the briefing.

“In a secure room in the Capitol used for briefings involving classified information, administration officials broadly laid out the evidence U.S. spy agencies had collected, showing Russia’s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the emails of the Democratic organizations and individuals,” the Post reported….

Johnson, in short, had an opportunity to be a patriot and condemn the fact that Russia was now engaged in such activities in the United States. But he issued no resolutions — in fact, not one word — on Russian’s cyber attacks on America.

Worse, he has engaged in his own pattern of misinformation on the subject. After the CIA publicly released a report in January concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election, Johnson issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal saying he would “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions.” Johnson did not reveal that he had been informed back in September this was happening.

Johnson went on to complain to CNBC that the CIA refused to brief him on Russian hacking, saying “I have not seen the evidence that it actually was Russia,” while failing to note the CIA report’s echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.
So why did Ronnie agree with McConnell to bury this information before a 2016 election where neither he nor Trump were expected to win in Wisconsin, but both ended up winning after a boost from outside messages via the Russians and the NRA?

And yes, the Russians and the NRA seem to have been working together, as McClatchy told us last month.
[Legal experts] say it would be routine for Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, who are looking at the NRA’s funding as part of a broader inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, to secretly gain access to the NRA’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

On the returns, the group was required to identify its so-called “dark money” donors -- companies and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of the group’s publicly disclosed pro-Trump spending, as well as its multimillion-dollar efforts to heighten voter turnout. The NRA’s nonprofit status allows it to shield those donors’ names from the public, but not the IRS.

A central question for Mueller’s office is whether any of the confidential donors’ names hold clues that could enable investigators to trace a donation camouflaged to hide its Russian origins – such as a shell company that might be the end point in a chain of offshore transactions.

It is illegal for foreign funds to be spent to influence U.S. elections
It sure puts Ron Johnson’s complaints about the Mueller investigation and his underplaying of the Russians’ role in a different light, doesn’t it? Almost like he doesn’t want people to know the full story about how he and other Republicans really won in 2016.

Or did Wisconsin elect him?

Now there’s an easy way for me to be proven wrong on this hypothesis, and to wrap up the Mueller investigation at a quicker pace at the same time. Just have Homeland Security Committee Chair Ron Johnson hold an open hearing frankly discussing what he and the rest of the Homeland Security people know, why the Russians had such an interest in getting involved in our elections, and why they seem to have been so successful in reaching persuadable voters in states like Wisconsin in 2016.

But Ron Johnson isn’t doing that, and you put that inaction together with Ron Johnson’s 4th of July trip to Russia, and it seems a lot like a “thank you” visit. Also note that Johnson was saying last night that he wants the Senate to “[move] expeditiously through the confirmation process” to put Kavanaugh on the bench before the November elections. I’m becoming pretty confident that Donald Trump isn’t the only Republican that would want GOP hack Brett Kavanaugh installed on the Supreme Court to cover up his crimes, and one of those compromised crooks might be Our Dumb Senator.