Ron Johnson's pants on fire!

Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson responded to Russ Feingold's comparative TV commercial on Great Lakes oil drilling -- which Johnson said he supported -- with a gross distortion of Feingold's record on the issue.

Johnson's slimy ad says Feingold voted against a permanent ban on drilling in the Great Lakes -- the only Great Lakes Senator to do so, he says.  And Johnson pretends he's always opposed drilling, when he just switched positions two days ago, and now claims he never said what he said.

The truth: Feingold was an original sponsor of the 2001 bill that banned drilling, which was extended in 2003.

He voted against Dick Cheney's 2005 energy bill, a giveaway written by the oil companies, which included the ban Johnson mentions in his commercial.

The reason there is a ban on Great Lakes drilling today is because of the leadership of Feingold and other Midwestern Senators.

Ron Johnson knows the truth, but he thinks that spending a half million dollars or so to air that ad will make it impossible for the truth to get through.

Sad to say, he may be right.

This issue

Quotations from Chairman Demint

I'd say he sounds Deminted, but, as Tricky Dick said, "that would be wrong." I couldn't find a photo of Demint's book, but he'd no doubt agree that this one's close enough.

Sen. Jim Demint, the top Tea Partier from that bastion of political wisdom, South Carolina, endorsed Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson today, joining the parade of extremists who are lining up to back RoJo. 

Let's put that into some context, with a few quotes from Demint:

"Ron Johnson is a principled conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are bankrupting our country. He understands the stimulus bill was a failure, he will fight to repeal the health care takeover, he opposes amnesty, and he will help us pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. "

A free and stable Iraq will be a shining light against the shadow of Islamic extremism."

"If a person wants to be publicly gay, they should not be teaching in the public schools."

Exposing Walker's shell game

Why do we have to read the Milwaukee Biz Blog to find this out?

  County Supervisor John Weishan explains how Scott Walker has diverted money from maintenance of capital projects, and what that has meant:

Milwaukee County currently has a 0.5-percent sales tax that, at its inception in 1991, was to be used to pay for debt service on capital projects or to pay cash for those capital projects.

In 2002, shortly after being elected County Executive, Scott Walker was successful in changing that county ordinance, enabling him to divert millions in sales tax revenue from the capital budget to the operating budget.

Over the last eight years, more than $112 million in sales tax revenue has been diverted from capital fund to the operating budget.

Dems endorse Moews for sheriff

It's unusual for a county Democratic Party unit to endorse in a primary, but Milwaukee County Democrats unanimously endorsed Chris Moews for sheriff at their last meeting.

And no wonder.  The incumbent, David Clarke, runs as a Democrat because that's how to get elected in Milwaukee County in a fall election, but in fact is a far-right conservative who hangs out with the Republicans and the Tea Partiers.

So no surprise the Democrats would prefer an actual Democrat.

Moews is a 14-year veteran of police departments in Milwaukee County, and currently serves as the supervising Lieutenant in the Homicide Division of the Milwaukee Police Department on the overnight shift. He previously served as a detective and patrol officer in the MPD, and as a patrol officer in the North Shore.

"The current Sheriff has been a comedy of errors," said Party Chair Sachin Chheda.

Ron Johnson: I didn't say what I said

Or I wish I hadn't said it. Or if I said it I didn't mean it.  Or something like that.  From his press release complaining about Russ Feingold's TV commercial, contrasting his record with Johnson's on Great Lakes oil drilling:

Russ Feingold’s false attack is hinged to a response to a question about drilling that the Feingold campaign cites in their cynical claim that Ron Johnson is for drilling in the Great Lakes.  Ron was speaking to the greater reality that our nation needs to continue producing oil or risk further dependence on foreign oil.  Both Ron and the campaign have since clarified that Ron specifically opposes drilling in the Great Lakes.  The Feingold campaign is aware of it, yet chose to distort Ron’s position...

“Ron is a straight-forward businessman and not a politician, and was addressing the larger needs of oil production in America while referring to ANWR, where significant resources exist, for drilling,” Johnson said.

Cushy job watch, think tank edition

Public employees are taking a beating in the current political climate.

Scott Walker, who has made a pretty cushy career for himself as Milwaukee County executive by beating up on public workers at every opportunity, has no other ideas about how to handle a looming $2,5-billion state budget deficit except to take it out of the hides of workers.

Make them contribute more for their own pensions.  Get rid of thousands of them.  Put the ones who don't get fired on furlough.  And on and on.

Public workers -- we used to call them public servants, back when they were popular -- have become such an easy target in the current angry, hateful state of the country that even Journal Sentinel columnist Mike Nichols decided to pile on.  (He's not an editorial writer, but the old description of an editorial writer as someone who comes in after the battle to shoot the wounded applies in this case anyway.) Says Nichols:

Dear graduates of the class of 2010. If you do nothing else in life, work for the government.

Government workers, in Nichols's world, have it made.

Ron Johnson tries to undo his accidental truth-telling on Great Lakes oil drilling

Ron Johnson, US Senate candidate, defender of British Petroleum, promoter of Great Lakes oil drilling, has a come to Jesus moment in a Monday news release:

“The 2005 Energy Bill, which Russ Feingold voted against, outlawed drilling in the Great Lakes. I would not support any efforts to overturn the provision which outlaws drilling in the Great Lakes as Wisconsin’s next U.S. Senator. Let me repeat: I would reject any and all efforts to drill in the Great Lakes.”

How, then, do you explain Johnson's earlier statement, which says just the opposite:

When Johnson was asked "Would you support drilling like in the Great Lakes, for example, if there was oil found there?" Johnson said, "The bottom line is we are an oil-based economy. There's nothing we're gonna do to get off of that for many, many years. I think we have to be realistic and recognize that fact and, you know, I, I think we have to, get the oil where it is, but we have to do it where it is."  [WisPolitics, Interview, 6/14/10]

[UPDATE: Johnson says he didn't say what he said.]

The simplest explanation is often the most accurate one: When a first-time candidate is asked a new question for the first time, and hasn't been prepped by campaign handlers telling him what to say, the candidate is much more likely to tell the truth and share his/her real, candid opinion.

It's not like making a commercial. Nobody says "cut." You don't get a re-do. You have to live with what you said.

Walker racing Neumann to the right

One of the dangers of a contested primary is that it will force candidates to try to out-do one another in appealing to their party's most hard core elements, be that liberal or conservative.

Case in point: The GOP primary for Wisconsin governor, where Scott Walker continues to veer farther right, even changing his positions, to keep Mark Neumann from outflanking him in the extreme right lane.

And it's beginning to look like Walker is getting even farther out than Neumann

First it was immigration.  Walker took a more moderate position, but when Neumann beat him up and some of the GOP base complained that Walker was too soft, he quickly switched and became a hard-liner.

Last week it was the state smoking ban.  Walker first said he didn't like it, but wouldn't commit to repealing it.  But once Neumann came out for repeal, Walker followed suit.

Now, it appears Walker has found an issue where he can be even more extreme than Neumann -- human reproduction.  Liberals often call the issue women's reproductive rights, but one group backing Walker and Neumann doesn't discriminate by gender.  It wants to ban condoms, too.

On the 50 State Blog Network

Cross-posted from my blog on Open Left.

I have for some time been interested in the fate of the old 50 State Blog Network, and what could be done to help revive it.

At the moment there are two different projects going on that Open Left readers might be interested in.  One is the revival of the old manual 50 State Blog Roundup, which has been appearing weekly on Open Left and other progressive blogs around the country.  Thanks go to Eric Hoffpauir for all of his work on single-handedly getting that going again.  I think this is a great effort, but it brings up again what I had seen as the problems in the blog roundup in the first place.

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