Great moments in Wisconsin political history

We are all called to serve in different ways. This isn't exactly a message from God on the road to Damascus, but what the hell:

Charlie Sykes: Was there a moment where you're sitting on your couch, and you go, maybe its gonna be me. Maybe that I have, maybe I'm the guy that has to step forward and, and, and do this thing.

Ron Johnson: You know there actually was. I was watching FOX News and, uh, Dick Morris came on. He was talking about, uh, hey Russ Feingold is really, really vulnerable. Hey, if you're a rich guy in the state of Wisconsin maybe you ought to decide to run.

Listen yourself.

Wisconsin's Oil Disaster

The massive oil-rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico is getting all the press, but another oil-related, on-going environmental disaster is occurring in Canada's Province of Alberta with help from some Wisconsin corporations. Oil sand mining, as it's known, is one of the ecologically worst forms of resource extraction.

Canada is by far our largest single source of oil, about 20% compared to Saudi Arabia's 12%, and the Alberta oil sands produce about 50% of Canada's exported oil. Some of that Alberta oil is processed at a Murphy Oil refinery in Superior, Wisconsin.

According to Canada's Pembina Institute, when the bitumen deposits are near the surface, such mining requires the clear-cutting of pristine boreal forest, and so far about 600 sq. kilometers (about 231 sq. miles) have been cleared for mining.

Oil sands exist in an area in Alberta about the size of the State of Florida, and 60% of this land has already been leased to oil companies.

Greenhouse gas emissions are 3.2 to 4.5 times greater per barrel of oil from oil sands production.

Walker's quick U-turn on immigration

On Friday, Scott Walker was taking what seemed to be a reasonable, if surprising position on Arizona's immigration law. Calling it a "surprisingly tough stand," The AP reported:

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said in a statement that he has serious concerns about the law empowering police to question and arrest anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally.

"In America we don't want our citizens getting pulled over because of how they look," Walker said.

Blogger Deke Rivers was "stunned" but "proud."

Walker apparently was stunned, too, by the nasty feedback he got from right-wingers in his party. By Saturday, he was singing a different tune. Right-wing talker Jerry Bader of WTAQ Radio was disappointed, he reported :

I'm disturbed that Walker issued such a statement this long after the bill was passed, and modified, without apparently knowing the facts. It puts him in the same category as the liberal/MSM critics of the law. Intended or not, it gives the appearance of a trial balloon that was floated to gauge reaction.

 Bader knows a thing or two about not having all the facts, being the guy who somehow wasn't fired after his "scoop" on Barbara Lawton's non-existent lesbian affairs.  Walker's totally opposite new position, which Walker later posted on Facebook:

“I sympathize with the people of Arizona who are victimized by violence, crime and property damage as a result of illegal immigration. After speaking this morning with the sponsor of the new law in Arizona, State Senator Russell Pearce, I’m satisfied that the amended bill provides adequate protections against racial profiling and discrimination. A police officer may only inquire about the immigration status of persons they have stopped, detained, or arrested for other reasons. If I were Governor of Arizona, I too would sign the Arizona immigration bill.

The next Herb Kohl? Not exactly

Is Ron Johnson the next Herb Kohl?

Can Johnson, a businessman with no political experience, do what Kohl did in 1988 and win a Senate seat? That's the question of a Journal Sentinel storyon Sunday.

Are there some similarities? Sure. Kohl and Johnson are businessmen; neither had run for office before seeking a Senate seat, and both are able to spend millions to fund their own campaigns. (Do I need to tell you the guy in the photo is Kohl, not Johnson?)

Of course, you could say that about Terrence Wall, too, and no one seems to think he is the next Herb Kohl.

As one of the people who ran Kohl's first campaign, I can assure you that Kohl had a lot more going for him than Johnson does. Kohl's supermarket chain at one time was the largest employer in the state, and Herb was one boss his employees actually loved rather than hated. He had an invisible, but potent, network of thousands of former employees all across the state, who volunteered to help and who spoke up for him when people were critical or skeptical.

After buying the Bucks to keep them in Milwaukee, he was getting standing ovations when he'd walk into the Bradley Center.

LZ Lambeau: Honoring the warriors or the war?

"Honor the warrior, not the war," Vietnam Veterans Against the War's slogan says.

Sometimes that's a fine line.

Case in point: LZ Lambeau, the extravagant event at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, billed as a belated welcome home for Wisconsin's Vietnam veterans. Bob Herbert, NY Times op ed columnist, praised the event in his column this week, although his enthusiasm was mostly directed at a Wisconsin Public Television, "Wisconsin's Vietnam War Stories."

The Lambeau event no doubt is well-intentioned.   It's privately financed by corporate, individual and foundation sponsors, and produced by the state Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. None of them are warmongers, although some of the financial backers may be.

But somewhere, it seems to have crossed the line. Here's what the Madison chapter of Veterans for Peace says: 

Milwaukee County Park thrown to the Dogs

Milwaukee needs a dog park so badly, it will cut down 5 acres of trees in our venerable Grant Park.

http://networkedblogs.com/3RYAl

This is the wisdom of Scott Walker. His legacy will be a wrecked bus system, supplemented by new buses paid for by Federal dollars, and now a wasteland where there will be trees, where there will be dogs, where dogs can run about unafraid they will bump their heads on a tree standing in their way.

Bring your camera when this tragedy strikes. We want photos all over Wisconsin this summer, with His Majesty's name on them.

Would you like frequent flyer miles with that donation?

Orlando-based AirTran Airways, which has established a hub at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, is offering to give frequent flier credits to anyone who donates at least 50,000 Midwest Airlines frequent flier miles to charity, Biz Times reports.

Air Tran also is underwriting Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker's statewide Harley ride, a campaign tour thinly disguised as a tourism promotion -- while Air Tran is in the midst of negotiating an airport lease with Milwaukee County, One Wisconsin Now revealed.

So, do you get frequent flier miles from Air Tran if you donate to Walker's campaign for governor?

Just asking.

Service Monday for Bud Jordahl, conservation/environmental giant

A memorial service will be held on Monday, May 17, for Harold "Bud" Jordahl, Jr., a giant in Wisconsin's conservation and environmental community.  (Details are at the bottom; it was incorrectly reported by the AP that services already had been held, and the Journal Sentinel, for some reason, did not write an obituary of its own but settled for a very brief wire item with the error.  It will no doubt be a packed house in any case. UPDATE: Journal Sentinel did finally do a very nice obit on Monday morning.

Wisconsin's Wages of War

How much is war worth? At what price jobs?

These days, "job creation" or "saving jobs" is used to justify all sorts of destructive activity.

Those in Wisconsin who do not support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those of us who do not support war at all, now must watch as $85 million of public money may well be spent to support the wages of war.

Gov. Jim Doyle has announced the state will provide $50 million to shipbuilder Marinette Marine if it wins a Navy contract to build high-speed combat ships and agrees to state incentives. This comes after Doyle said last August that Oshkosh Corp. will receive $35 million from the state of Wisconsin after the corporation won a big contract to build combat trucks for the Army.

$250,000 of the $50 million of state aid will come from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to provide an "on-site training facility" for the shipbuilder. Surely there is a better, more humane way to spend scarce education dollars.

WMC, GOP establishment scramble to resuscitate Walker's failing campaign

The Republican/corporate establishment has decided an intervention is required to resuscitate Scott Walker's failing campaign for governor, which has squandered an early lead and is now locked in a tight primary race with outsider Mark Neumann.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the 800-pound GOP elephant, and one of its national "partners" (read front group) will launch a quarter-million dollar television campaign on Friday to try to revive Walker.

The commercials from the American Justice Partnership, (AJP) don't feature any brown bags, Walker's recycled campaign gimmick that has fizzled with voters. They're all about jobs, which anyone (except Walker's campaign, maybe) could tell you is the Number 1 issue.

Jobs aren't the top issue for AJP,which is dedicated to making it harder for victims of corporate negligence to sue, and to keep them from getting much even if they do.

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