Tag: Ron Johnson

ENDORSEMENT: Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin

It’s official…the old Russ Feingold that Wisconsinites have known and remembered for decades is back and running for a seat in the United States Senate.

Initially, I was skeptical of whether or not the old Feingold, known for his crusades for progressive, pro-middle class, and pro-good government ideals, as well as creative campaign ads, would return. Well, HE’S BAAAAAAAAAAACK!!! Feingold is sharply criticizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that is a key part of President Obama’s plan to destroy American sovereignty and kill the American economy. Oh, and Feingold is posting some cool web videos, which feature him meeting with ordinary Wisconsinites, to his Facebook page. You can view a couple of his web videos here and here.

While I would have zero problem with a competitive Democratic primary in the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, don’t hold your breath for one. In the unlikely event that one or more Democratic primary challenger(s) enter the race, I will consider pulling my endorsement of Feingold and endorsing a primary challenger to him, although it would require a near-perfect candidate for me to endorse a primary challenger to Feingold. I’m not a fan of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsing Feingold despite the fact that it’s over a year until the congressional and state legislative primaries in Wisconsin.

Judging by what I’ve seen on social media, Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and the Wisconsin GOP apparently think they’re running against failed gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke for some odd reason. Johnson and his far-right Republican allies have tried to paint Feingold as a political insider, a label that easily stuck to Burke, but doesn’t fit Feingold at all. Of course, the only reason the Republicans are trying to paint Feingold as a political insider is because Johnson has a track record of voting against the interests of Wisconsinites, making political attacks against college students, protecting sex abusers, and just plain being dumb.

For Bernie Sanders to be President of the United States and Russ Feingold to be back in the Senate would be a delight, to put it mildly.

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Russ Feingold is back with a more boring attitude

Russ Feingold, who represented Wisconsin for three six-year terms in the U.S. Senate from 1993 to 2011, is officially running for his old job. Surprisingly, for someone who is a longtime political figure in Wisconsin and claimed in his first statewide campaign that he knew Wisconsin like the back of his hand, he stated in his campaign announcement that he wanted to listen to Wisconsinites (presumably, this means holding listening sessions, but I don’t know if Feingold’s campaign intends to schedule any in Wisconsin):

If that campaign video is indicative of the “new Russ Feingold”, while he’s still very progressive, he’s a lot more boring, stale, and generic than the “old Russ Feingold”, who was known for running some very populist, creative, and funny TV ads, especially the first time he ran for U.S. Senate in 1992. Keep in mind that I do regard Feingold as a political hero, as he was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the anti-Fourth Amendment PATRIOT Act, which established the Bush-Obama surveillance state, and he led the fight to enact stricter federal campaign finance laws in the early 2000’s. In fact, Feingold’s call for bipartisanship was incredibly tone-deaf, given how much of a progressive patriot Feingold was during his first three terms in the Senate and how polarized America is nowadays.

However, I’m not a fan of how the Mike Tate-led (for only a few more weeks) Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) is handling Feingold’s campaign. To me, it seems like they’re trying anoint Feingold as the Democratic candidate in a backroom, which is very un-Feingold-like. There will be a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, if I’m not mistaken, sometime in late summer of next year, although it remains to be seen whether or not any other candidates decide to run against Feingold in the primary. I’d love to see someone like State Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison run against Feingold in the primary, although I highly doubt that she’s interested in higher office, and I don’t think that anyone worth my endorsement would run in a primary against Feingold. In fact, the DPW tried to paint Feingold as two different people, one of them being the “bipartisan” Feingold and the other being the “progressive” Feingold:

“After four years of Ron Johnson’s failure to serve our middle class, Wisconsin voters are ready for a leader who isn’t beholden to wealthy special interests and won’t waste time on petty, partisan, political battles that stand in the way of ensuring economic opportunity for all.

“That’s why there is an incredible sense of optimism and enthusiasm for Russ Feingold entering this race. Russ Feingold is a tried and true champion for all Wisconsinites who will put their interests first and work every day for seniors, veterans, students, and working families – not the millionaires and billionaires who have already gotten everything they wanted and more from bought-and-paid-for Ron Johnson.

The first paragraph sounds more like someone of the mold of Democratic State Representative Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton (i.e., someone who is personally progressive, but can be very annoying with the “bipartisan” shtick) than Feingold, and the second paragraph sounds like the old Feingold that Wisconsin progressives remember and admire. It’s worth noting that Hesselbein is the only current Democratic elected official in Wisconsin that I have knowledge of Feingold meeting with between the time he left the U.S. State Department and the time that he announced his intention to run for his old U.S. Senate seat.

However, let’s be 100% clear who the eventual opponent for Feingold or, in the unlikely scenario in which Feingold loses the Democratic nomination, whoever else Democrats nominate, will be: Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, considered by some to be the #1 Democratic target in the next year’s U.S. Senate elections. Johnson is about the closest thing to a pro-sex abuse politician there is anywhere in the entire country. Johnson has, in the last several years, either protected or fought to protect perverts like disgraced former Republican State Assemblyman Bill Kramer and Catholic priests, both of which have sexually abused women (in the case of Kramer) and/or children (in the case of Catholic priests). Johnson is also on record as claiming that the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is unconstitutional, which is a false statement. If the Democratic opponent to Ron Johnson is completely unwilling to attack Johnson over that, than he or she shouldn’t be running against him, since, in my opinion, not attacking Johnson over his pro-sex abuse record amounts to not really wanting to defeat him.

If Russ Feingold doesn’t start sounding like the brave progressive patriot that Wisconsin progressives know, admire, and remember, they might start looking for another Democrat who will stand up to the failed, corporate Democratic leadership, fight to restore the American middle class, stand up for the rights of the American people, fight to end corporate welfare as we know it, and refuse to compromise their core progressive values.

Wisconsin Democratic chairperson candidate Jason Rae employed by firm founded by individual that provided money to Koch-funded organizations

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I have made edits to the blog post and title to accurately reflect Nation Consulting founder Thad Nation’s use of a 501(c)(4) organization to give money to right-wing organizations and Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairperson candidate Jason Rae’s employment by Nation Consulting.

I’ve found information that proves that Thad Nation, Wisconsin Democratic chairperson candidate Jason Rae’s boss at Nation Consulting, has provided money to at least seven right-wing organizations, including at least four that are funded either directly or indirectly by the Koch Brothers. Nation himself was listed in a 2012 IRS 990 filing as the principal officer of Coalition for the New Economy (CftNE), a 501(c)4 organization that opposes government-run broadband internet services in areas where private-sector firms currently provide broadband internet service. CftNE has also given money to at least several right-wing political groups that have actively opposed Democratic and liberal political candidates, have actively supported Republican and conservative political candidates, and/or have advocated for far-right policies that would have a negative impact on America. Here’s the organizations that CftNE has given money to, according to page 17 of the 2012 IRS filing by that organization:

  • $15,000 for “general support” to the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a right-wing anti-tax organization that has, among other things, effectively supported allowing the U.S. federal government to default on the national debt. NTU has received a total of $32,500 from the Koch Family Foundations from 1998 to 2008, including $5,000 from Charles Koch’s own foundation in 2008.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to the Center for Individual Freedom (CIF), a right-wing organization that spent $1.9 million in television advertising in an attempt to help Republicans win U.S. House races that were seriously contested by both major parties in the 2012 elections. CIF spent a slightly larger amount of money on a similar effort in the 2010 elections.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to Americans for Prosperity (AfP), a far-right political organization founded by the Koch Brothers themselves. In Wisconsin, AfP spent $866,000 in ads designed to help Scott Walker win the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial race and approximately $2.9 million in ads in opposition to the 2012 recall effort against Walker that was strongly supported by Wisconsin progressives.
  • $10,000 for “general support” to FreedomWorks, a far-right organization that has, among other things, ran several anti-union campaigns in states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and supported far-right extremist Chris McDaniel, who, among other things, blamed rap music for many of our country’s problems, in his unsuccessful 2014 Republican primary challenge to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
  • $5,000 for “general support” to Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), a right-wing organization that was founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and, among other things, opposes taxation and supports privatizing Social Security. IPI has received $35,000 from the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is identified by the Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch as one of the four Koch Family Foundations. IPI is the only one of the organizations listed in the CftNE filing that is a 501(c)(3) organization; all of the others are listed as 501(c)(4) organizations.
  • $15,000 for “general support” to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), a right-wing organization that has, among other things, attacked the federal government over the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, two of the largest cable television providers in the country.
  • $14,740 for “general support” to the 60 Plus Association (60 Plus), a right-wing organization funded by Koch Brothers-funded organizations like Freedom Parners and American Encore as part of a complex web of Koch Brothers-funded organizations. In Wisconsin, 60 Plus ran this advertisement attacking now-Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin for supporting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), federal legislation that provided millions of Americans with health insurance.

That’s a total of $69,740 that Thad Nation has, through CftNE, provided to right-wing organizations that have supported Republicans like Scott Walker, ran smear campaigns against Democrats like Tammy Baldwin, and have supported far-right policies that would make America a much worse place to live. Thad Nation is also the same person who employs Jason Rae as a senior associate at Nation Consulting, and Rae is running for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If Rae is elected DPW Chair, it would be at least an apparent conflict of interest for someone like Rae to be the head of a state-level Democratic organization if he were to remain employed at Nation Consulting, because the founder of that organization was the head of a 501(c)(4) organization that gave money to groups that support Republicans and their destructive far-right agenda.

Let me finish this post by saying two things about Rae and his supporters. One, Rae’s supporters are some of the most vile people I’ve ever interacted with online. Two, Rae completely lacks the temperament to be in a Democratic Party leadership position of any kind.

It’s official: Russ Feingold has re-entered the political sphere

I don’t usually do this in a blog post, but, HEEEEEEEE’S BAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a revered figure among progressives in Wisconsin and nationally, has re-entered the political sphere after he left his post as a U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Earlier today, Feingold attended a fundraiser for his own state representative, Wisconsin State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), at a restaurant in his hometown of Middleton, Wisconsin. This is the first real political event of any kind that Feingold has taken part in since resigning from the U.S. State Department.

While Russ Feingold is not officially running for his old U.S. Senate seat yet, it’s clear that Feingold appears to be gearing up for a likely run against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).

Why I’m calling for both of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators to resign from office immediately

I am officially calling for U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D) and Ron Johnson (R), both of Wisconsin, to resign from office immediately. In both cases, it involves their role in a scandal involving opiate pain pills being overprescribed at a Veterans Affairs medical facility in Tomah, Wisconsin, which I will refer to in subsequent paragraphs of this blog post as the Tomah VA.

Marquette Baylor, a former staffer for Baldwin who was fired as part of an apparent political damage control operation by Baldwin and her chief of staff, Bill Murat, recently filed an ethics complaint against Baldwin with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics, a six-member committee with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Baylor is claiming that Baldwin made “false statements and misrepresentations” as part of a political cover-up in a desperate attempt to protect Baldwin’s own political career and Murat’s career. It appears to me that Baylor was fired after the corporate media exposed Baldwin sitting on information about drugs being overprescribed at the Tomah VA, and that Baylor was fired because Baldwin and Murat were looking for a scapegoat.

While the far-right corporate media in Wisconsin has almost entirely fixated on Baldwin’s role in the Tomah VA scandal in an obvious example of right-wing bias, Wisconsin’s other U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson, has also been implicated in the Tomah VA scandal. About a month and a half ago, Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Johnson’s aides sat on information about drugs being overprescribed at the Tomah VA. While Johnson and his staffers have tried to make U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) their scapegoat, Bice’s report made it clear to me that Johnson’s staffers sat on information about drugs being overprescribed at the Tomah VA.

Calling for the resignation of elected officials is something I take very seriously. The fact that Senators Baldwin and Johnson failed veterans and sat on information about dangerous practices in the health system that serves those who served our nation in uniform for far too long is more than enough for me to call for them to resign from office immediately and without delay. Senators Baldwin and Johnson are a disgrace to their home state of Wisconsin and to America.

My thoughts about the 47 Republican Senators who signed the traitorous letter in an attempt to undermine U.S. diplomacy with Iran

I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.

The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:

  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Jeff Sessions of Alabama
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • John McCain of Arizona
  • John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
  • Cory Gardner of Colorado
  • Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Johnny Isakson of Georgia
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • Jim Risch of Idaho
  • Mark Kirk of Illinois
  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Pat Roberts of Kansas
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • David Vitter of Louisiana
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Dean Heller of Nevada
  • Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Ted Cruz of Texas
  • Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Mike Enzi of Wyoming
  • John Barrasso of Wyoming

All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.

Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.

I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.

Could Russ Feingold lose a Democratic primary for his former U.S. Senate seat?

Go ahead and laugh at me, but I think it’s possible that Russ Feingold could actually lose a Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat he held for three terms before being defeated by far-right Republican Ron Johnson in 2010.

During his 18 years in the U.S. Senate, Feingold became famous for his advocacy for progressive ideals on a wide array of issues, especially civil liberties and campaign finance reform, and, because of that, he is regarded as a political institution in Wisconsin, especially among progressives. However, it is possible for a Democratic primary challenger to stake out ground to Feingold’s left. One issue where this is possible is on guns. In a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court case in which the right-wing majority on the bench prohibited state and local governments from banning firearms, Feingold signed an amicus curiae brief in opposition to the Chicago, Illinois handgun ban that was struck down in the case, although a handgun ban is considered so left-wing of an idea in American politics nowadays that even many progressives refuse to support handgun bans. Another issue where this is possible is on is, believe it or not, regulation of the financial industry. While Feingold actually opposed this from the left, he voted against the Dodd-Frank bill that, among other things, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to regulate the financial sector of the economy, and it wouldn’t be completely unthinkable for a Democratic primary challenger to Feingold to attack him over this and what few other issues Feingold has opposed Democratic and progressive policies and positions and gain political traction.

One strategy that would not work is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin against Russ Feingold and running to Feingold’s right, as that would do nothing but help Feingold galvanize his progressive base of support, and any Democrat who were to run against Feingold and attack him from the right would face nearly non-stop criticism from progressives. Additionally, if the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin were to throw Feingold under the bus by discouraging him from running for his old U.S. Senate seat, like they’ve done to people like Barbara Lawton, Mark Harris, and Kathleen Vinehout in past gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin, and push an corporate establishment candidate like Ron Kind or Chris “Boss” Abele, you’d never hear the end of the outrage from Wisconsin progressives, even long after my time on this planet has passed and my body is buried somewhere in Dane County, Wisconsin.

While I highly doubt that anyone would run against Russ Feingold in a Democratic primary, it’s not completely impossible for Feingold to lose a Democratic primary for his former U.S. Senate seat.

Dumb Ron Johnson falsely stigmatizes single mothers

Wisconsin’s Dumb Senator Ron Johnson recently launched an attack on single mothers who are struggling to provide for their children, saying that he thinks that single mothers intentionally have children out of wedlock in order to get more benefits from government-run public assistance programs:

Johnson’s personal attack and stigmatization of women is based on a completely false belief that conservatives have that single mothers would be better off having more children out of wedlock than marrying someone. As Wisconsin progressive blogger Jud Loundsbury noted in this diary on the progressive website DailyKos, Johnson’s claims are absolutely absurd:

As anyone who works and has kids would expect, Johnson and (Republican Congressman Glenn) Grothman’s modern redux of the “welfare queen” has been rated “Mostly False” by Politifact and was given “Two Pinocchios” by the Washington Post’s fact checker. Why?  Because it is a ridiculous notion to suggest that when you’re a single parent, working below the poverty line, that you would intentionally have another child to get more government assistance and “increase your take-home pay.”  Obviously, food stamps, health care and other government assistance don’t come close covering all the expenses that come with having a child and what Johnson and Grothman fail to grasp in their misleading calculations of “income,” is that children actually eat and children actually get sick– the “increased income” they’re talking about comes in the form of increased benefits that all (in most cases literally) get eaten-up by the children.

In other words, single mothers who receive food stamps and other forms of government assistance would not financially benefit from having another child out of wedlock, since any extra benefits that single mothers would receive by having another child would be used by the children in the form of eating food, getting medical treatment, and so on. What Republicans like Ron Johnson don’t take into consideration is that children eat food, (in most cases) live in homes with some type of heating system, and become ill.

Wisconsin and the rest of America has had to deal with Ron Johnson’s stigmatizing and shaming of the American people, as well as his absurd logic, for far too long. I hope Wisconsinites vote him out of office next year.