Thursday, January 25, 2018

Wisconsin GOP continues to show the rest of the nation the way....down

The act of Wisconsin Republicans has been getting nationwide attention in recent days. And as usual, it's not for a good reason.

Let's start with this absurdity that came from a "distinguished gentleman from Wisconsin."

And then we got the buffoonish payoff within 24 hours.

Bruce Murphy used the recent events surrounding Sen Johnson to revisit his excellent article from a year ago where he asked "Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian Hacking?" In the new column that Murphy wrote in Urban Milwaukee today, he calls Sen. Johnson "Trump's Hit Man," adds in the recent developments involving Johnson's (now laughable) conspiracy theory about the FBI, and notes how the state's largest newspaper refuses to look into Johnson's role in the Trump-Russia scandal.
As I wrote a year ago, Johnson had an opportunity to be a patriot and condemn the fact that Russia was engaged in such activities. But he issued no resolutions — not one word — on Russian’s cyber attacks on America.

Worse, he has engaged in a pattern of misinformation on the subject, undercutting a CIA report in January 2017 concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Trump win election. He issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal doubting the report and 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 report echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.

Nor has Johnson addressed the evidence that Russian cyber attacks may have had an impact on the election results in his own state of Wisconsin.

Dan Bice and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a flaccid story detailing Johnson’s charges to Fox News and then suggesting it was disputed only by “liberals” and supported by conservatives. The net effect was to give his irresponsible claims credence.

As for the idea that only liberals chastised Johnson, that’s flatly untrue: conservative writer Erick Erickson said Johnson’s comments to CNN made the “made the whole thing sound like a clown show,” while Jonah Goldberg of The National Review offered an entire column noting that “when Senator Ron Johnson got over his skis last night asserting not just bias but “corruption” at the FBI and hyping claims from an “informant” of a “secret society” scheming to do . . . something, I got a bad feeling.” The charges being made by Johnson and other Republicans, he noted, included “an astonishing amount of manufactured outrage, absurd dot-connecting, and near-hysteria.”

This is supposed to be the province of Journal Sentinel Washington Bureau Chief Craig Gilbert, but he steadfastly avoids any such controversies and nearly anything that happens in Washington. Some 16 months after Johnson met with the U.S. intelligence experts to learn about the Russian hacking of U.S. elections, the newspaper has yet to let its readers know this happened.

Why does the word "COMPLICIT" keep coming up in my head when I see (mo)Ron Johnson or Devin Nunes trying to make up crap? It seems pretty evident that these guys are trying to deflect from Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation that has followed the money and connected the dots all the way to the White House...and maybe elsewhere in the GOP?

The other article you should check out is from Ari Berman in Rolling Stone. This one is titled "How the GOP rigs elections", and discusses the combination of gerrymandering, voter suppression and dark money advantages that Republicans use to slant the playing field in their favor.

Most of Berman's article takes place in the state that has gone as heavy for all 3 strategies as any state in the country- Wisconsin. Let's start by recalling the secretive process the GOP used to make up their gerrymandered maps.
In the summer of 2011, soon after activists occupied the rotunda of the Wisconsin state capitol to protest Walker's bill stripping public-employee unions of collective-bargaining rights, Republican members of the legislature visited the offices of Michael Best & Friedrich, the party's go-to law firm. The GOP was in control of the state's redistricting process for the first time since the 1950s, and Republicans were shown to the "map room," where their aides were drawing new political districts in secret following the 2010 census. The legislators signed confidentiality agreements, pledging not to discuss the work with anyone, even though the redistricting was financed with taxpayer funds. "Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room," read the talking points distributed to GOP legislators. "Ignore the public comments."

The new maps had titles like "Aggressive," to describe how they favored Republicans. "The maps we pass will determine who's here 10 years from now," a legislative aide told the Republican caucus. "We have an opportunity . . . to draw these maps that Republicans haven't had in decades."

On July 11th, 2011, the maps were introduced in the Legislature; no Democrat had seen them before they were released. There was one public hearing, two days later, and the reshaped districts were approved the next week on a party-line vote. "This looks fair to me," said [GOP State Sen Van] Wanggaard to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I don't have anything jumping out at me." (Wanggaard declined to comment for this article.)
Berman also reminds us that GOP voter suppression played a significant role in tipping the state to Donald Trump and Ron Johnson in the November 2016 elections.
The Republican strategy worked as intended. Wisconsin ranked second in the nation in voter participation in 2008 and 2012, but in 2016 saw a 3.3 percent drop in turnout, the largest decrease in voting of any state other than Mississippi. Roughly half of it occurred in Milwaukee. In black neighborhoods, which heavily favored Clinton, turnout decreased by 23 percent. Overall, black turnout dropped by 19 percent in Wisconsin in 2016 compared with 2012, more than four times the national decline among black voters, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.

After the election, registered voters who didn't cast a ballot in Milwaukee and Madison, the state's two most Democratic areas, were asked why. One in 10 nonvoters said they were blocked or deterred by the state's ID law, according to a University of Wisconsin study. That meant up to 23,000 people in two counties alone didn't show up at least in part because of the ID requirement – almost the exact same number of voters by which Trump won the state. Up to 45,000 people were prevented from voting statewide. African-Americans, who voted for Clinton over Trump by an 88-to-8 margin, were three times more likely than whites to be kept from the polls. "Thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of otherwise eligible people were deterred from voting by the ID law," said University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer.
I am so done with this state being a political laughingstock, and in "showing how it's done" to the national GOP when it comes to abusing power to make American democracy and decency decline. This Wisconsin-style Banana Republicanism must be ended this year.


  1. Perhaps when RoJo looses his day job (soon I hope) he can get a job writing for the Onion.

  2. RoJo really is quite dumb, as this "secret society" moment illustrates (maybe the GOP is such a society when thet act as they do in Congress).

    Putin isn't the greatest, but fits right in with the international money set. I'm skeptical about Trump's connections to Putin--as if Putin contols everyone going to the bathroom in Russia--though Trump's relationships with Russian unsavory mafiosa dealings is something you'd think the FBI could look into.

    When Mobil's Rex Tillerson gets named Secretary of State, guiding our foreign policy in the name of oil, I think bigger forces are at play, rather than simply Trump's promoting beauty pageants, shady real estate deals and money-laundering.

    When the Koch-led fracking peaked, we had gas costing around $2 here, but that boom has passed, and thus we get Tillerson to run our oil-obsessed foreign policy, as well as devoting so much of our Fed tax revenues to the military.