Another incompetent judge runs 'law and order' campaign; Is Supreme Court next?

Linda Van De Water leads a charmed life.

Despite totally blowing a fatal beating case as a prosecutor, and having an alcohol-fueled run-in with police  -- a record that would have ended most political careers long ago -- she appears on her way to being elected Tuesday as a state appeals court judge.  And Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker are in her corner.

Can a Supreme Court race be far behind?

Van De Water was an assistant district attorney in Waukesha County in 1997 when she prosecuted a case involving the beating death of a Pewaukee tavern owner.  Van De Water forgot --forgot! -- to ask the defendant about his extensive prior criminal record when he was on the witness stand.  The jury acquitted him of felony battery and let him off with a misdemeanor, but jurors said afterward that would not have happened if they had known his background.

The victim's family, predictably, was outraged, saying they had been victimized twice, and wrote then-Gov. Tommy Thompson a long letter detailing the case and asking him to intervene. 

Health Care Sparks Debate

As I travel around our Senate District recently no topic has sparked more debate than passage of historic health care reform.

The long awaited (and much maligned) law brings needed relief to those without insurance and to those facing double digit increases in insurance premiums. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 32 million uninsured people will be covered as a result of the new law. Over the next ten years the law will cost $938 billion paid for through savings, new taxes and fees.

Most constituents are relieved the bill finally passed. Citizens with no health insurance can expect, by the end of the summer, to find affordable coverage through the state’s high risk pool (HIRSP).

The new law brings $5 billion into state-run high risk pools to make insurance more affordable. In Wisconsin, rates for HIRSP are expected to drop in April and again this summer. If you found the high risk pool too expensive, please consider giving it another look. If you need assistance applying for coverage, please contact my office.

My Tea Party with Randal O'Toole

My Tea Party with Randal O'Toole

O'Toole had no handout, and offered no link to his talk so we could not go home and study his statistics.

I am a follower of Randal O'Toole, actually a stalker. I've read his material; I've responded to him online when Comments are allowed. I am actually fascinated by this persona. So, when a friend offered to take me along to Racine to hear him, I jumped at the chance (too far for a bike ride on a Tuesday night).

Randal (a Cato Institute Fellow) changed his talk a bit over the past few months. Instead of closing with a report on his "hobby," he opens up with his hobby - refurbishing trains (for museum purposes); point is - no one should subsidize my hobby. Got it, Randal.

Opener. To measure his audience he uses what any smart speaker will use, something engaging. A suggestive remark about the recent health care bill (just passed) brought a roar of approval and applause from his audience of about 200. He knew; they knew; they are on the same side: distrust of government, the theme of the evening, repeated ironically by elected officials and the candidates for office running on Tea.

On Email Gay Bashing, Or, ENDA's Already Getting Ugly

It wasn’t but a couple of days ago that we had a conversation about The Fear and the emails that are used to spread it, and I figured with that out of the way we had dealt with the topic, and that we’d move on to new things.

Well, we would be moving on, Gentle Reader, if it wasn’t for the fact that an email came in today that was so ugly, so disturbing, and so indicative of what we are about to see as the battle over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) begins to heat up (ENDA being possibly the next “big contentious thing” that this Administration hopes to accomplish), that I had to interrupt my story schedule to bring it to your attention.

One degree of separation

Tommy Thompson's likelihood of running for the Senate, which has been bouncing around every time someone writes about it, is up to 75%, the Daily Standard reports.

Funny how the number's always higher when it comes from someone besides Tommy himself, who put it at 50-50 recently.

Be that as it may, the Standard reports Tommy is taking steps to "separate himself from his business interests." To wit:

Late last week, Thompson resigned from the Board of Directors of CNS Response, Inc., a health care data company. Thompson said the resignation was for personal reasons. A statement from Thompson, who has agreed to become chairman of the CNS Response advisory board, read: "I have nothing but the highest respect for the management and Board of CNS Response, and look forward to helping them advance this important medical technology."

That's some separation, huh?

Tommy has refused repeatedly to reveal his list of clients, many of whom he services through Akin, Gump a major GOP law/lobbying firm in DC.

Why Tommy can't beat Russ

1. While Tommy may have highrollers on speed dial, his Wisconsin contacts are still on a Rolladex.

As Governor, he put in long hours appearing in every corner of the State, and was very accessible. One to one, if you were having a problem with the State bureaucracy, and the request was reasonable, he'd try and help out.

His problem, now, many of those folks he helped out are now deceased, or moved to Florida.

He managed the long hours for a few weeks in Iowa for his abortive Presidential run, but it was wearing him out. I don't think he can sustain it all the way to November, and Russ doesn't give much to work with on a strictly negative ad-driven campaign. Unlike his opponents in the Governor races, they won't beable to paint Feingold as a gungrabbing nannystater. (Feingold voted against renewal of the assault weapons ban, a position that synchs well with his battle against the PATRIOT ACT.)

Feingold CONTINUES to lead Thompson?

This report may surprise you if you've been reading the reports on polling done by Rasmussen Reports, a Republican firm, or Wisconsin's Partisan Republican Institute (WPRI) which keep trying to get Tommy Thompson into the Senate race. It's from Public Policy Polling.

Like Rasmussen, it is automated and we don't know who's paying for it -- two things that are troubling no matter who does the polling.

But will it be reported in the same way the Rasmussen and WPRI polls have been, or will it be downplayed or ignored by the media because the story doesn't fit that media template some right-wing blogger used to rant about?

And will anyone mention how much people like DC lobbyists? Hide and watch.

Tommy Thompson is gaining on Russ Feingold as the likelihood of his candidacy increases, and now trails just 47-44. Feingold had a 50-41 advantage when PPP looked at a hypothetical contest back in November. Nevertheless the poll finds warning signs for Thompson on the road ahead.

Feelings toward Feingold and Thompson are highly polarized with neither having much in the way of crossover support.

Quote, delete quote

When an embarrassing fact about Scott Walker and his sidekick Fred Luber disappeared from a Journal Sentinel story, inquiring minds wondered why.

Tom Daykin, who wrote the story, explained in response to an email inquiry:

I love Scott Walker, and am actively supporting his campaign. But that’s just between us. This is off-the-record, right?

Actually, joking aside, I will forward your email to the boss who edited the story.

I am guessing, though, that it was cut because it was at the end of the story, which probably ran too long for the space allotted in the paper. I put it at the end of the story because we had already reported Walker’s criticisms, and the city’s responses, in a separate story that my colleague Larry Sandler had written the day before. And I thought the new concerns being raised by Ald. Bauman were more newsworthy (as a matter of fact, I am planning to run another blog item soon just about Bauman’s concerns, given that he is normally a very strong advocate for high-speed rail. Kind of a Nixon goes to China thing….)

OK, I guess. As a recovered newsman, I understand the inverted pyramid story and cutting from the bottom, but that's not exactly what happened here.

God punishes suburban sprawl

Patrick McIlheran, the Journal Sentinel's resident right-wing columnist, opines about Waukesha's effort to buy water from Milwaukee. He starts with a shot at Milwaukeens who don't want to encourage further sprawl:

Milwaukeeans who oppose selling Lake Michigan water - call them anti-suburbanites, for convenience - are certain they feel Waukesha is a blight upon the earth that they'd as soon see dry up utterly if they can't extort sufficient boodle out of it.

Then there's this:

Waukesha's problem is that its well water is tainted with radium, put there by God and declared unacceptable by the EPA.

Apparently, God hates suburban sprawl, too. Who knew?

Or is Paddy Mac suggesting that God thinks it's OK to drink radium-tainted water, but was overruled by the EPA?

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