Time to get out from under the dome

A couple of items this week from WisPolitics, the online political website and newsletter whose subscribers are mostly State Capitol insiders, political players and lobbyists, make it appear the WisPol crew has been breathing too much of the rarified Capitol air. For example:

Even with Tommy Thompson out of the race, some Republicans continue to believe Russ Feingold is vulnerable, pointing to some soft poll numbers and the fact he’s already up on TV.

When did it become a sign of vulnerability to have enough money to be able to go on television in May, while your GOP opponents are still unknown, to build up your own positives? As for vulnerability, the Cook Political Report Rates Feingold's seat a Safe Democratic seat, and Larry Sabato at The Center for Politics rates it a safe Democratic seat. Both are non-partisan, independent operators.

Then there's this, on State Rep. Thomas Nelson's plan to run for lieutanant governor:

Nelson continues to have his detractors in the Assembly Dem caucus, some of whom are happy to see him on his way out of their lives. Some insist it’s the petty complaining of people who don’t matter, but others say it’s much deeper than that with some in the caucus power structure still unhappy with Nelson over his refusal to publicly back Speaker Mike Sheridan during the payday lobbyist controversy along with other grievances.

Only in the Capitol could be it be considered a negative to be the one guy who had enough principle and courage to swim against the tide and refuse to endorse the Speaker's dalliance with a payday loan lobbyist. That's hardly a negative with the voters.

Makes you wonder whether the Dems learned anything from the last round of scandals that took out leaders in both parties.  That was in 2002, and the most unpopular Democrat among Capitol staffers and insiders was another Dem who wouldn't be quiet about the scandal in his own party.  His name was Jim Doyle, and in November that year the voters elected him governor.

Ryan plays both sides in primary

If you're running for the Republican nomination for governor in Wisconsin this year, you can count on Rep. Paul Ryan to be behind you 50%.

Ryan is co-hosting a fundraiser for Mark Neumann with Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, Neumann's campaign proudly announced today.

Coburn's taken an interest in Wisconsin lately. When last heard from he was censoring a resolution honoring Wisconsin's Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day, to take out the nasty liberal bits.

But back to Paul Ryan, who has a busy day on Tuesday. Besides co-hosting the Neumann event, Ryan is among those who will be featured at a Scott Walker fundraiser in DC, along with Tommy the Thompson.

Ryan's a real profile in political courage.

UPDATE: Now Ryan says he's not going to either one. So how in the world does he think this helps him, or anyone else?

By the numbers: How big was that march?

How many people marched in Milwaukee on May Day in support of immigrant rights?

Thousands, say the Journal Sentinel and its sister TV station, WTMJ.

Tens of thousands, says WITI-TV, the Fox affiliate.

Sixty thousand, says WISN-TV, the Hearst ABC station.

Sixty-five thousand, say organizers at Voces de la Frontera.

Fewer than 65,000, says WDJT-TV, the CBS station, which didn't offer its own number.

Even given the usual high-side estimate from organizers, who tend to inflate the numbers, there is a huge difference between "thousands" and 60,000 to 65,000.

To report that "thousands" marched really trivilizes the magnitude of the event. "Thousands" were reported to attend a Tea Party event in Madison, although it was probably 2,000.

AP: VA Makes It's too Easy for Veterans to File Claims ... Seriously

By Michael Leon

As PTSD claims soar, the systemic problem at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs is the ease with which veterans file for disability benefit claims, in the view of Allen Breed, a national writer for the Associated Press. This is a hit job on veterans and the progress being contemplated by some at the DVA to help veterans.

Do you have that? Things are too easy for veterans dealing with the VA now, asserts the AP's Breed.

Scott Walker's college career: Oops, he did it again

You have to give Scott Walker credit for creative language when discussing his educational background. He dropped out of Marquette without a degree, but he has spoken about entering the workforce "before I finished off my college degree."

This week, in Mosinee on a "brown bag" visit, he elaborated:

"It comes down to me packing my own lunch. All the way back from college when I worked to get through school to even today as executive..."

He's careful enough with the language not to tell an outright lie. But he's certainly good at giving a false impression, and that has served him well in his career so far.

NetRoots Wisconsin

[img_assist|nid=12349|title=|desc=|link=url|url=http://netrootswisconsin.org|align=left|width=300|height=24]We've mentioned it before, but NetRoots Wisconsin is picking up some steam.  NetRoots Wisconsin will be a gathering of people in the Netroots movement in Wisconsin .  This means you.  Bloggers.  Political Wonks.  PEG Tv Folks.  Budding Hyperlocal Journalists. 

NetRoots Wisconsin will be whatever we make of it, and you can make suggestions about what you'd like to see by going over to the NetRoots Wisconsin web site, registering an account, and suggesting panels, discussions, lectures, or other activities. 

But at the moment what we really want to know is -- When?  We've got two potential dates lined up in Madison, and would like to know which suits you better (please, just vote if you actually think you might attend).  The voting block is at the top of the page.  Let us know.

To Attract Tourists, Louisiana Governor Announces Free Oil Giveaway

Baton Rouge (FNS)—Facing both a massive oil slick from a sunken offshore drilling platform and a second year of declining tourism revenues along the Louisiana Gulf Coast caused by high gas prices, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal today introduced a new tourism promotion that he reports is going to “...make lemons into lemonade”.

Jindal, flanked by British Petroleum's Director of Marketing Dick Timoneous and the Executive Director of the Louisiana State Tourism Board, Jenna Talia, announced that the “All The Oil You Can Carry Festival” would officially commence today just east of New Orleans, and last at least through the month of May.

According to Jindal, "Louisiana produces 30 percent to 40 percent of the nation's oil and gas off our coast. It is certainly good for our economy...It is also good for the nation...We're sending tens of billions of dollars overseas, often to countries who are not friendly to us...this is one of the reasons we've got such a large trade deficit...and today, we’re doing something about it."

Executive Director Talia told the assembled journalists that Louisiana Highway 90 will be closed at Fort Macomb for the weekend so that families can fan out across The Rigolets and gather their own free samples of BP oil.

Resolution honoring Gaylord Nelson's accomplishments 'sanitized' by GOP Senator

 The Congressional resolution honoring Earth Day founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson,(pictured) noted in a post here last week, almost was killed by a right-wing Senator who blocked action until he got some of the language sanitized.

 Here's what the original said:

Whereas Gaylord Nelson sponsored legislation to ban phosphates in household detergents and to ban the use of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and he worked tirelessly to ensure clean water and clean air for all Americans;

Whereas in addition to his environmental leadership, Gaylord Nelson fought for civil rights, enlisted for the War on Poverty, challenged drug companies and tire manufacturers to protect consumers, and stood up to Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee to defend and protect civil liberties;

That was too much for Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who puts "holds" on bills with abandon.

To satisfy Coburn, the language about civil liberties, McCarthy, the war on poverty,and consumer protection was eliminated.

I find it somewhat amusing in that it is a paragraph I wrote and suggested to Rep.

Some Good Things Got Done

Early Friday morning the Legislature ended its 99th Session. Although work continues in the Capitol, the flurry of action on the nearly 2000 bills is over.

Hundreds of people called or wrote me sharing their opinions on legislation. Over the next few weeks I will be writing back and sharing the details of what happened and what did not.

People often write to support passage of a specific bill. In the past weeks, more people wrote about bills they did NOT want passed.  One of those bills would have made changes to Wisconsin’s voter registration and elections laws.  That bill never made it to the Senate.

People concerned about access to broadband services in rural Wisconsin helped stall a final vote on a telephone company deregulation bill.

Last minute efforts to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act also failed. Questions were raised about rate hikes, nuclear power and the bill’s effect on electric cooperatives.

Why Rasmussen polls tilt Republican

Those Rasmussen Wisconsin polls just keep on coming, so often that it's hard to believe Rasmussen does it out of the goodness of their heart.

Some Democrats are tempted to tout the latest from Rasmussen, only because it looks better for Dems than Rassmussen's previous polls. It shows Feingold ahead in the Senate race and Barrett tied in the governor's race.

We've been saying for years there's something suspect about the Rasmussen numbers, which always seem to have the Republicans doing better than you'd expect.  Like that famous tower, they lean a little to the right.

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