Tag: Mary Burke

Wisconsin Democratic convention provides first real sign of Berniementum

Although Hillary Clinton received the most votes among the 511 individuals who voted in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Convention straw poll, Hillary received only a plurality of the vote in the straw poll, with progressives mostly united around Bernie Sanders, who came in a surprisingly close (even to a Sanders supporter like myself) second place.

Here are the results of the Wisconsin Democratic presidential straw poll:

  • 1st – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York – 252 (49.32%)
  • 2nd – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont – 208 (40.70%)
  • T-3rd – Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware – 16 (3.13%)
  • T-3rd – Former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland – 16 (3.13%)
  • 5th – Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia – 8 (1.57%)
  • 6th – Former Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island – 5 (0.98%)
  • 7th – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (write-in) – 4 (0.78%)
  • 8th – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack of Iowa (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)

Of the 511 straw poll voters, 1 voter, or 0.20% of the total straw poll electorate, did not cast a valid vote for any candidate or write-in candidate in the presidential portion of the straw poll. Of the candidates who received at least one vote, Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, and Chafee are officially running for the Democratic presidential nomination. A total of 8 candidates received at least one vote. Percentages given for each candidate’s vote total are percentages of the total straw poll electorate.

To say the least, this is the first real sign of trouble for the Hillary Clinton campaign in regards to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Despite being perceived as the heavy favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary couldn’t even get a majority of the vote in the Wisconsin Democratic straw poll, whose electorate usually consists of Democratic diehards in Wisconsin. More importantly, the Wisconsin straw poll shows that Bernie’s campaign is gaining momentum in a huge way, as he received over 40% of the vote despite a near-blackout of Bernie’s campaign by the corporate media and the political establishment in this country.

The Wisconsin Democratic convention straw poll also featured a gubernatorial straw poll, in which no candidate came even close to a majority of the vote, although there is currently a very strong preference for a gubernatorial candidate from the western part of Wisconsin among many of the Wisconsin Democrats who participated in the straw poll. Here are the results of the gubernatorial straw poll, which also saw 511 ballots cast:

  • 1st – State Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma – 149 (29.16%)
  • 2nd – State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse – 89 (17.42%)
  • 3rd – U.S. Representative Ron Kind of La Crosse – 85 (16.63%)
  • 4th – State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha – 64 (12.52%)
  • 5th – Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson of Kaukauna – 55 (10.76%)
  • 6th – Dane County Executive Joe Parisi of Madison – 11 (2.15%)
  • T-7th – Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk of Madison (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold of Middleton (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – State Senator Chris Larson of Milwaukee (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-7th – State Assembly Assistant Minority Leader Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point (write-in) – 3 (0.59%)
  • T-11th – Business executive Kevin Conroy of Madison (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ of Jefferson (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – Former Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate of Milwaukee (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – State Representative Chris Taylor of Madison (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-11th – State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee (write-in) – 2 (0.39%)
  • T-16th – State Representative Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Madison Metropolitan School Board Member Mary Burke of Madison (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor John Dickert of Racine (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – State Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Political activist Mike McCabe of Madison (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – U.S. Representative Gwen Moore of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Mayor Justin Nickels of Manitowoc (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – U.S. Representative Mark Pocan of Town of Vermont (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – Manufacturers’ sales representative Neal Plotkin of Milwaukee (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)
  • T-16th – State Representative Dana Wachs of Eau Claire (write-in) – 1 (0.20%)

Of the 511 straw poll voters, 25 voters, or 4.89% of the total electorate, did not cast a valid vote for any candidate or write-in candidate in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll. I am unsure about which municipalities Joe Parisi and Mike Tate live in; as a result, I listed either the county seat of their home county (for Parisi) or their birthplace (for Tate). Some sources list Mark Pocan as living in either Madison or Black Earth; Pocan’s campaign website lists him as a resident of the Town of Vermont in Dane County. WisPolitics.com misspelled the name of Justin Nickels on their online results sheet; they listed Nickels as “Justin Nichols”, likely due to the individual who wrote-in Nickels misspelling his last name. The only information I could find about anyone from Wisconsin named Neal Plotkin is from a 2012 article in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle that listed Plotkin as a manufacturers’ sales representative from Milwaukee, so this is presumably the Neal Plotkin that the individual cast a write-in vote for. A total of 26 candidates received at least one vote. Percentages given for each candidate’s vote total are percentages of the total straw poll electorate.

While the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin hasn’t really begun to take shape three and a half years from the next gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, there is already a strong preference for a candidate from the western part of Wisconsin. While Kathleen Vinehout got a plurality of the straw poll vote, she didn’t even come close to a majority of the vote, and the top three candidates, which received a combined 63.21% of the vote, all come from the western part of Wisconsin.

If I had been a Wisconsin resident, a delegate to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention, and a participant in the straw poll, I would have voted for Bernie Sanders in the presidential portion of the straw poll and would have wrote-in Lori Compas in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll (I would never write-in my own name in a straw poll, even though I would be open to the idea of running for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018 if I move to Wisconsin before 2018). Of the candidates who received at least one vote in the gubernatorial portion of the straw poll, I have a favorable opinion of Parisi, Feingold, Shankland, Chris Taylor, Barnes, Hansen, McCabe, Moore, and Pocan, with McCabe, the head of the progressive group Blue Jean Nation, being my favorite of those.

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Wisconsin Republicans propose the dreaded Mary Burke Tax

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin state government has floated yet another ridiculously bad idea…a $25 fee on new bicycles, or, as I like to call it, the Mary Burke Tax. Burke is a former Trek Bicycles executive who ran a horrible campaign for Governor of Wisconsin in 2014, losing to Republican incumbent Scott Walker. This proposal, along with the repeal of the Wisconsin Complete Streets law, which requires bicycle and pedestrian uses to be factored into transportation projects in Wisconsin, is part of a political war on cycling in Wisconsin.

More than anything else, this is clearly the Republicans’ way of getting political payback at Burke for running against Walker. After all, the Republicans usually don’t support anything that could even be remotely interpreted as raising taxes….except, of course, if the new tax or tax increase primarily affects Democrats, liberals, progressives, environmentally-conscious people, women, minorities, businesses they don’t like, and/or the poor.

While I’ve not seen Republicans in Wisconsin use this talking point, at least one Republican in the State of Washington tried to claim that, because people breathe out carbon dioxide, bicyclists cause more pollution than people using other forms of transportation, while trying to defend a proposed bicycle tax in Washington state. That’s a false argument, since it doesn’t factor in the fact that plants breathe in carbon dioxide as part of the carbon cycle.

While I’ve not been on a bicycle since I was five or six years old, and I’m too clumsy to ride a bicycle because I have Asperger’s syndrome, waging a political war on cycling will lead to more pollution and more traffic crashes involving bicyclists, something that Wisconsin, Washington state, and the rest of this country simply can’t afford. Should state governments need to fill transportation budget deficits, I recommend enacting taxes on automobiles that get very poor gas mileage and taxes on gasoline-powered automobiles (i.e., automobiles that are not electric or hybrid) worth more than $50,000, if a particular state doesn’t already collect such taxes.

Who will emerge as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s standard-bearer?

Currently, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) lacks a true standard bearer of any kind. This is because Democrats have virtually no power in Wisconsin state government: not counting federal offices like U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats (Democrats hold one of the two U.S. Senate seats and three of the eight U.S. House seats in Wisconsin) and officially non-partisan offices like state superintendent (which is held by a de facto Democrat who is ideologically center-left), Democrats are in the minority in both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature and, of the five officially partisan state executive offices, only the nearly powerless office of secretary of state is controlled by Democrats.

Steven Walters of WisconsinEye (basically a Wisconsin version of C-SPAN) named a long list of Democrats in this column for Milwaukee-area webgazine Urban Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, some of which could emerge as a standard-bearer of the DPW:

  • State Senate Minority Leader-designate Jennifer Shilling: Shilling, who is from La Crosse in the western part of the state, was recently elected to be the new Democratic floor leader in the Wisconsin State Senate after the previous Democratic floor leader, Chris Larson, meddled in a Democratic primary in a state senate race in the southwestern part of the state, which pissed off progressives and led to an ultra-conservative Republican winning the general election. Shilling has represented the La Crosse area and rural areas to the south of La Crosse in the state senate since winning a 2011 recall election. I don’t expect Shilling to have a ton of influence on the state party beyond the Democratic state senate caucus, although she could emerge as a regional standard-bearer in the western part of Wisconsin.
  • U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin: Baldwin, who is from Madison, is the highest-ranking Democratic elected official in Wisconsin. However, Baldwin hasn’t shown any interest in building the state Democratic Party organization, and she has mostly been a backbencher in the U.S. Senate in her first two years in office. Walters implied that Baldwin could have a considerable amount of influence over the state party, including having influence over whether or DPW Chairman Mike Tate runs for another term, in the coming years.
  • Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Mike Tate: Tate has been the DPW Chairman since 2009. However, Tate is absolutely hated by the progressive base of the party, and he’s built up a losing track record in the six years he’s been on the job. Additionally, Tate could decide not to run for another term as DPW Chairman, in fact, there have been high-grade rumors that Tate will step down at the end of his current term in June of next year, but Tate has been trying to deny those rumors in recent weeks. Tate is too tainted to be a standard-bearer of the state party.
  • Former Governor Jim Doyle: Doyle, who is from Madison, was Governor of Wisconsin for two terms from 2003 to 2011, and is now a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner, which is now represented in Wisconsin state-level politics by a Republican lobbyist. Doyle has played a mostly behind-the-scenes role in the state party since leaving electoral politics, and Doyle remains unpopular in Wisconsin, even with many in his own party, so he’s not going to re-emerge as any kind of standard-bearer of the party.
  • U.S. Representative Ron Kind: Kind, who is from La Crosse, has represented much of the western part of Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997. Kind is one of two Democrats (the other being former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold) who are believed to be considering running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Ron Johnson in 2016, in fact, Walters indicated there is a gentlemen’s agreement (or a de facto one) that Kind runs against Johnson if and only if Feingold doesn’t run against Johnson. Kind is already the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party in his region of the state (he’s built up a ton of institutional loyalty that has allowed him to win re-election by larger than normal margins despite having a centrist voting record that would normally result in Kind drawing progressive primary challengers, something that Kind has been able to avoid). However, Kind has repeatedly turned down opportunities to run statewide in recent years, so I doubt that he’d actually run against Johnson.
  • Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold: Feingold, who is from Middleton in the south-central part of the state, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011 and is now a U.S. State Department envoy. Feingold reportedly plans to return to Wisconsin sometime early next year, and he could run for his old U.S. Senate seat. Feingold is still very well-liked by the progressive base of the party, although Feingold is not a party-building type of person that could become a standard-bearer of the state party.
  • U.S. Representative Gwen Moore: Moore, who is from Milwaukee, has represented Milwaukee and nearby suburbs in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005. Moore has never shown any interest in building the state party outside of the Milwaukee area, where she’s been a standard-bearer of the Democratic Party in that part of the state for years.
  • U.S. Representative Mark Pocan: Pocan, who is from Madison, has represented much of south-central Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013. As Walters noted, Pocan is more interested in building the Democratic Party at the national level than the state level. While Pocan is one of several individuals who may run for U.S. Senate in the event that neither Russ Feingold nor Ron Kind run, he’s not going to emerge as a standard-bearer of the DPW.
  • Madison School Board Member Mary Burke: Burke, who is from Madison, has been a member of the school board in Wisconsin’s second-largest school district since 2012 and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor this year, losing to Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Burke has publicly stated that she’s done with statewide politics, so her influence over the state party will be minimal, probably limited to donating money to Democrats.
  • Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ: Happ, who is from Jefferson in the south central part of the state, was the Democratic Party’s nominee for attorney general this year, losing to Republican candidate Brad Schimel. Happ has kept a very low profile since the November elections, but, if Happ were to run for re-election to the Jefferson County DA’s post, she would probably be the #1 Republican target in the entire state in 2016. It’s not clear as to exactly how much of a role Happ wants in building the state party, although she’s never struck me as a party-building type of person.
  • State Senator Bob Jauch: Jauch, who is from Poplar in the northwestern part of the state, is retiring from the Wisconsin State Senate after having served seven terms from 1987 onward. Jauch may have some limited influence over the Democratic Party in the northern part of the state, but that would be it.
  • State Assembly Assistant Minority Leader-designate Katrina Shankland: Shankland, who is from Stevens Point in the central part of the state, has represented much of Portage County in the state assembly since 2013 and is only 27 years old. Shankland has indicated that, despite representing a very progressive district, she intends to develop a centrist style of leadership that could alienate progressives, possibly hindering any effort by her to become a standard-bearer of the DPW.
  • State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca: Barca, who is from Kenosha in the southeastern part of the state, has represented parts of Kenosha area in the state assembly since 2008 and is the Democratic floor leader in the state assembly. Prior to that, Barca was the U.S. Representative for the Janesville/Racine/Kenosha region of the state for less than a full term from 1993 to 1995. Barca has quite a bit of influence over the state assembly Democrats’ campaign efforts, but his influence over the state party doesn’t extend beyond that.
  • State Representative Evan Goyke: Goyke, who is from Milwaukee, has represented part of Milwaukee in the state assembly since 2013. Goyke unsuccessfully challenged Peter Barca for state assembly minority leader after this year’s elections. Goyke is probably on the outs in the eyes of the party establishment, so he’s, more than likely, not going to have any role in building the state party.
  • Dane County Executive Joe Parisi: Parisi, who is from Madison, has been the county executive of Wisconsin’s second largest county since 2011. Walters indicated that Parisi wants to play a bigger role in the state party’s future, but it’s not clear what role Parisi wants to play.
  • Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson: Nelson, who is from Kaukauna in the northeastern part of the state, has been the county executive of Outagamie County since 2011. Prior to that, Nelson was the Democratic Party’s unsuccessful nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010 and served in the state assembly from 2005 to 2011. Walters indicated that Nelson wants to play a bigger role in the state party’s future, but it’s not clear what role Nelson wants to play.

Additionally, some other individuals who Walters did not name could emerge as the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I’ll go ahead and name some of them:

  • State Representative Chris Taylor: Taylor, who is from Madison, has represented parts of the Madison area in the state assembly since 2011. Taylor has a very large following among progressives in Wisconsin, although she declined to run for statewide office this year and has, in recent months, kept a somewhat lower profile than early on in her career in the state assembly. However, Taylor is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2018. It’s not exactly clear as to how much of a role Taylor wants in the future of the DPW, although she seems to be very ambitious.
  • State Representative Melissa Sargent: Sargent, who is from Madison, has represented parts of the Madison area in the state assembly since 2013. Sargent is very well-respected among Wisconsin progressives, and she has been very vocal on a number of issues in recent months. More importantly, Sargent is very ambitious and appears to be interested in playing some sort of party-building role in Wisconsin.
  • Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele: Abele, who is from Milwaukee, has been the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county since 2011. Abele is rumored to be considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 and is a large DPW donor, however, he’s absolutely hated by progressives for a large number of reasons, and he’s seen as a divisive figure within the party, which will hinder any attempt by Abele to put his stamp on the DPW.

Additionally, there’s the possibility that some little-known political figure could come from total or near-total obscurity and emerge as a powerful force in the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

It will be interesting to see who, if anybody, emerges as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s standard-bearer in the coming months and years.

An Autopsy of the Democratic Party

Since being re-elected in 2012, President Barack Obama has declared war on Social Security by threatening to cut benefits, has presided over a Bush-Obama surveillance state that has violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the American people, refused to issue an executive order on immigration, and has spent more time trying to compromise with far-right Republicans that are completely unwilling to compromise with anybody.

Then throw in Democratic U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and gubernatorial candidates who have run awful campaigns, antagonized progressives, and have flatly refused to fight for anything, and we now have a Democratic Party that is, for all intents and purposes, effectively dead. Republicans are going to gain upwards of two dozen seats in the U.S. House, take control of the U.S. Senate, and score a net gain of state governorships. Even in states like Illinois, Michigan, and Maryland, which are usually thought of as Democratic strongholds, Republican candidates won gubernatorial races in each of those states.

Although reasons for Democratic losses vary widely by race to race, the #1 reason why the Democratic Party has been handed massive defeats tonight is the party leadership effectively treating progressives as if they don’t exist, even though they are the core of support for the party. Democratic governors, U.S. Representatives, U.S. Senators, and candidates for those offices have, among other things supported fracking, pension theft, free trade agreements, privatizing public education, the Keystone XL pipeline, tax breaks for businesses, and Republican witchhunts against Democrats, as well as opposed environmental regulations, common-sense gun control measures like background checks, and even health insurance for millions of Americans. In many states/areas of the country, progressive ideals like raising the minimum wage, protecting reproductive rights, legalizing marijuana, and expanding Medicaid got significantly more votes in many parts of the country than most or all Democratic candidates did in those states/areas, indicating that there are people who are politically left-wing but, for whatever reason, vote for Republican candidates.

Pat Quinn, who lost re-election in the Illinois gubernatorial race, is probably the single-best example of someone who has alienated nearly every political ally and lost re-election because of it. In the past four years, Quinn gave out special tax breaks to two of the largest corporations in Illinois (Sears and CME Group), gerrymandered Illinois’s congressional and state legislative districts, opened up Illinois to fracking, and enacted a pension theft scheme that was partially struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court. Additionally, Quinn picking Paul Vallas, a supporter of Michelle Rhee’s anti-public education ideology, further alienated progressives, making his problems with Illinois progressives even worse. Because of all of that, Illinois will have a far-right Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, who wants to run Illinois like his venture capital company that did more to destroy jobs than create jobs, screw the poor in every way possible, and destroy the public education system in Illinois.

However, Democrats alienating progressives wasn’t the only reason why Democrats lost big time in this year’s midterm elections. The gutlessness of many Democratic candidates was one reason why Democrats lost big time. One of the best examples of this is Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic opponent to presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. During her Senate campaign, Grimes largely distanced herself from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), whose Kentucky state health insurance exchange is known as Kynect. Grimes could have centered her campaign around McConnell wanting to repeal the ACA (which would result in the repeal of Kynect) if she wanted to. Instead, she tried to make the race a referendum on McConnell, and it didn’t work. Another reason why some Democrats lost their races was the candidates themselves running flat-footed or even completely out-of-touch campaigns. Bruce Braley and Mark Udall are two examples of this. Braley, who lost the Iowa U.S. Senate race to Republican whacko Joni Ernst, came across to Iowa voters as an elitist and focused largely on issues that aren’t top priorities among Iowa voters (although they are very important issues), such as reproductive rights and student debt. Had Braley focused his campaign on issues like the minimum wage and wind energy, he might have won the election. Udall, who lost the Colorado U.S. Senate race to Republican extremist Cory Gardner, seemed to have all sorts of trouble trying to getting Democratic voters to mail their ballots in under Colorado’s new vote-by-mail system for whatever reason and didn’t really take his Republican challenger seriously for much of the campaign, and that’s the two primary reasons why Udall lost.

You add all of those reasons up and more and you get the atrocious campaign of Mary Burke, the Democrat who lost the Wisconsin gubernatorial election to far-right Republican incumbent Scott Walker, who will likely be the Republican presidential nominee two years from now. Not only did Burke alienate progressives in numerous ways (such as supporting parts of Scott Walker’s union-busting law that dealt with public employees being forced to overpay into pension and health care plans, supporting Common Core State Standards, refusing to support marijuana legalization, emphasizing “bipartisanship” with far-right Republicans at every opportunity, etc.), act like a gutless wimp for the entire campaign (such as largely refusing to call out Walker for the corruption in his administration until late in the campaign) and run a flat-footed and out-of-touch campaign (such as having an inner circle mentality throughout the campaign and running TV ads praising Ronald Reagan and trying to pass off someone working 60+ hours per week as a success story), she also had Democratic party bosses and political operatives bully any other Democrat who tried to run against her, fueling a negative perception that Burke was only interested in serving the powers to be of the Democratic Party and nobody else.

Another factor as to why 2014 has been a terrible year for Democrats is the lack of an unified party message, largely due to the Democratic Party being too big of a tent for its own good. The fact that Democrats range anywhere from left-wing to center-right on the ideological spectrum makes a unified party message of any kind practically impossible, and, when there is a unified party message, it’s in the form of calling for bipartisanship and compromise at virtually every opportunity. What most Democrats who run for public office don’t understand is that, while “bipartisanship” and “compromise” are approved of by most Americans, “bipartisanship” and “compromise” doesn’t motivate a single person to vote, and it’s virtually impossible to compromise with the far-right Republicans in this country.

In short, as a result of, among other things, Democrats alienating the progressive base of the party, Scott Walker will likely be the Republican presidential nominee two years from now, far-right Republicans will be running state governments in Democratic-leaning states, Republicans will have an even larger majority in the U.S. House than previously, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate. The Democratic Party will only be consistently successful if and only if the party truly becomes a progressive, pro-middle class, pro-woman, pro-worker, pro-public education, pro-democracy, pro-environment, pro-peace, and pro-human rights party, the party and its candidates deliver a unified progressive message that can be used to drive progressives to the p0lls in large numbers and effectively attack Republican opponents, and Democratic elected officials and candidates actually fight to make America a better, more progressive place to live.

I spent over two weeks in a mental institution in Indiana when I was 9 years old or so

For those of you who have been following the Wisconsin gubernatorial race extensively, you may have known about a TV ad which the campaign of Democratic candidate Mary Burke is either currently running or has run which features Erin Forrest, the chairwoman of the Jefferson County (WI) Democratic Party who entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and served probation in order to get domestic violence charges against her dropped.

Normally, I would write a blog post on The Prairie Badger, my blog about Wisconsin politics, and criticize Forrest for effectively blacklisting Scott Michalak, a unsuccessful Wisconsin State Assembly candidate in 2012, over some sort of domestic violence issue that Michalak had in which I’m not familiar with the details of, when Forrest had domestic violence issues of her own not long after the 2012 elections in Wisconsin.

However, I’m going to do something completely different instead.

I’m guessing that nobody who is reading this blog knows about this part of my past, but, when I was 9 years old or so, I spent a little over two weeks in a mental institution in Vigo County, Indiana. I spent a little over two weeks in a mental institution when I was an elementary school-age child because, when I was, if I recall correctly, a fourth-grade student at a public elementary school in Westville, Illinois, I frequently acted in a violent manner toward people around me. Because my behavioral issues were so severe, my parents sent me to Charter Behavioral Health (now known as Harsha Behavioral Center) near Terre Haute, Indiana.

I don’t credit spending two weeks in what could best be described as a minimum-security mental institution with improving my behavior, as my behavioral health slowly improved as I grew older to the point that my only behavioral health issues are ones usually associated with people who, like me, have Asperger’s syndrome, such as being obsessive about certain subjects that I’m interested in and having difficulty properly communicating with people. Additionally, I would never act in a violent manner toward anyone nowadays. However, the fact that I once spent time in a behavioral health institution is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I cannot, in good conscience, write a blog post criticizing a political figure for hypocrisy when it would be hypocritical for me to do so. That’s why I felt the need to admit that I once spent time in a behavioral health institution when I was a child.

First Lady of the United States: The most overhyped person in America

You may have heard about Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), campaigning for Democrats like Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke over the past couple of weeks.

However, this blog post isn’t about Pat Quinn or Mary Burke, in fact, it isn’t really about Michelle Obama. It’s about the Office of First Lady of the United States, whose holder has traditionally been the most overhyped person in this country thanks to the corporate mainstream media in this country.

The Office of the First Lady, automatically bestowed to the wife of the president should the president have a female spouse, has virtually no political power, with the duties of the office including being in charge of official social and ceremonial events at the White House and having the power to appoint her own staff members, all but a couple of which serve non-political functions (even the ones who do have political functions have no real influence on public policy). Despite that, the corporate media in this country fawns over the First Lady, providing extensive coverage of practically every event the First Lady does at least in the local area of where the event is being held, if not nationally. Even worse, the corporate media in this country will frequently obsess over what the First Lady wears, which I think is absolutely absurd. As long as she’s not doing anything stupid or illegal, I don’t care about what the First Lady does.

Should, someday in the future, a man be spouse of the president, through either the election of a woman in an opposite-sex marriage or a man in a same-sex marriage, the title of the office would probably be changed to First Gentleman of the United States, although the corporate media would fawn over whoever were to hold that office as well in a similar manner that they currently fawn over the First Lady.

One of my biggest pet peeves is how the corporate media in this country treats the family members of the most powerful people in this country, especially the First Lady of the United States, like royalty.