Friday, September 28, 2012

Tommy to Redefine Words in Tonight's Debate

Tonight will be the first debate between Tammy Baldwin and Tommy Thompson. It will be the perfect opportunity for Thompson to fully explain his comments that he would "do away with Medicaid and Medicare."

His Medicare comments were recorded while he pandered to a Tea Party group in June and were recently circulated and reported in the media.

Thompson has repeatedly claimed that he was being taken out of context.  Apparently we are supposed to believe that the words that he actually spoke have some new and different meaning.  I look forward to his tortured redefinition tonight.

What is Tommy's Definition of "Positive"?

About a week ago Tommy Thompson went on Fox News and he was directly asked if he was going to go negative with his ads.  Thompson responded saying, " we're positive."  Is Tommy not in charge of his own campaign, was he simply being dishonest or doesn't he know the definition of the word positive?

Since making that promise on Fox News he has released nothing but nasty negative ads.  The first one out of the gate started by telling the 2010 Lie of the Year.  The next one was little more than the substance free name calling of his opponent. Now, only a week after promising to run "positive" ads he is continuing to go down the same dark road as the sleazy D.C. special interest groups that support him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting on a new Thompson ad that combines the worst elements of those that came before.  It repeats the 2010 Lie of the Year and it devolves into more mindless name calling.  They also throw in the words "San Francisco liberal" for its dog whistle effect I'm sure.

Yet Tommy Thompson just promised one week ago that his ad campaign would be "positive"? It sounds like he doesn't know the meaning of that word any better than he knows the meaning of the words "do away with".

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Putting Macco's Business Bravado into Context

Republican John Macco is running against state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and a major part of his pitch to voters is that he is a businessman.  If Macco is going to constantly make his business background a major issue in this race then it is only proper to fully examine it. Does his actual background live up to his business bravado on the campaign trail?

Politiscoop has already mentioned the fact that Macco's business was the subject of two 2009 lawsuits.  After examining some of the documents in those two cases, I believe that there are additional details that voters should carefully consider.  This information should be contrasted with Macco's various claims about his alleged business acumen.

The first case involves a financial management professional that John Macco apparently hired from the Milwaukee area.  According to court records Macco enticed her to leave her previous firm and start working for his business. In her complaint she states that she brought a number of her clients from the previous firm with her to Macco's company.  She then alleges in court records that she was terminated without cause less than two months after she left her previous firm.  She goes on to allege that she lost clients due to those sudden and unexplained changes and that Macco didn't make good on the benefits that he originally promised her.

Based on the listed court activity for this case, it appears that it went all the way to the point of proposing jury instructions.  Late in the process Macco's attorney filed an "Offer of Judgement" that offered a judgement against him in the amount of $14,001 together with statutory costs.  It is not entirely clear from the case file if the Plaintiff accepted this exact offer but shortly thereafter it seems that the two sides reached some sort of a deal that ended the case and avoided a trial.

It should be noted that during this case John Macco testified in a deposition and there is at least a partial copy of a transcript in the court file.  So lets take a quick aside to look at a few of the more noticeable items in his testimony:

  • At one point John Macco admits that "we've run negative balances since we started."
  • Macco says that he has 3 employees including his own son. (although he keeps bragging about creating 100 jobs on the campaign trail)
  • Macco lists his previous jobs and it appears that he has not worked directly for the family flooring business for approximately 15-17 years. (It appears that his 100 jobs claim is him taking credit for a family business that he doesn't appear to be directly involved in running anymore). 
  • He states in the transcript that his highest level of education is 12th grade. That is perfectly fine but I was a little surprised not to see some kind of business degree from someone that has made his alleged business knowledge such a central issue. 

In 2009 John Macco was sued yet another time. This time it was by a group of individuals that sold him their Milwaukee-based financial management firm.  It was a firm that they spent some 23 years developing and they were at the point where they wanted to sell it to help fund their retirement.

According to the Plaintiffs in the case they sold the financial services franchise for $550,000 with Macco paying $137,500 at the closing of the sale.  According to the complaint in the case Macco was supposed to pay the remaining $412,500 in quarterly payments and provide the plaintiffs with monthly financial reports.

According to the complaint Macco attempted to change the payment terms only a few months after closing the deal.  He allegedly offered the Plaintiffs shares of his own business rather than giving them the scheduled cash payments that remained under the original deal.  The complaint alleges that Macco failed to make the first payment on time and that he also failed to supply the financial information as required. The plaintiffs went on to allege that Macco refused to comply with the agreement as it was written and that he allegedly said that he would no longer perform it unless the Plaintiffs agreed to significantly restructure the payment schedule.

As with the other 2009 lawsuit, an agreement was apparently reached in this case and it didn't end up going to trial.  Obviously I don't know what the terms of that settlement were exactly.  However I do know that John Macco lists the Plaintiffs as being a creditor (more than $50k) on his most recent Statement of Economic Interests filing.

John Macco was confronted with these two cases by his Republican primary opponent and he responded to the charges on the right wing Jerry Bader radio show.  Most of that interview focused on Macco's tax warrant case but he did quickly address the two civil cases referenced here.  In my opinion Macco was very deceptive in his answers to Bader and his listening audience.  He threw in the buzz words "trial lawyers" as if these were merely frivolous lawsuits. But how could the two lawsuits be frivolous given that they were not quickly thrown out by a judge? How could they be frivolous when he proposed and agreed to settlements in the cases and he still lists one of the Plaintiffs as a creditor? That was spin and Bader either didn't know enough or didn't care to press him on it.

The bottom line is that John Macco's business bravado on the campaign trail must be put into a more complete context.  Voters should closely contrast this information with his public pronouncements.  In the end voters must decide what they will tolerate but at the very least they should have more information about this candidate than he himself is apparently willing to give them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Journal Sentinel Etch A Sketching Tommy Comment

John Nichols makes an excellent point in the Capital Times today.  He specifically lays out how the larger media simply wont allow us to address Republicans real desire to end Medicare.  They force everyone to qualify the statement with things like "end Medicare as we know it".  But Nichols points out that now we have Tommy Thompson actually caught on tape talking about how he would "do away with Medicaid and Medicare."

So even though we actually have a Republican candidate coming right out and saying exactly what he means on this issue, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel seems bound and determined to endlessly qualify those comments. In doing so they are over complicating the comments and essentially changing the meaning of the words that he actual said. They did this in a blog posting yesterday on the subject and they did it back in June via the obnoxious hairsplitting by PolitiFact Wisconsin.  In the latter example they seem to downplay his actual words while at the same time inserting things that they admit "Thompson didn't say at the event". What gives?

I'm sorry but sometimes a direct statement needs to stand on its own and there is no reason for the media to go out of their way to couch it as something else or re-contextualize it.  We've heard about Mitt Romney employing an Etch A Sketch strategy but in this case it seems that the Journal Sentinel itself is trying to employ the very same tactic regarding Tommy Thompson's Medicare comments. Put down the Etch A Sketch, that isn't your role.

Hiding Their Crackpots in Plain Sight

The base of Wisconsin's Republican Party has been getting increasingly extreme for years but they have really outdone themselves over the last two in particular.  Not only has their percentage of crackpots increased dramatically but they are busy trying to promote far too many of them to public office. You've heard about extreme and oddball candidates like Kim Simac and David Vanderleest but there are some that might be new to you this cycle.

One example of a current Republican candidate that should be far too odd and extreme is Scott Kenneth Noble. He is running as a Republican in the race for the 24th state senate district seat.     He was endorsed in the primary by the most extreme anti-abortion group in the state.  When he won the primary some extreme gun obsessed group (apparently the NRA does not go far enough for them) declared that he was one of two candidates that "the Wisconsin establishment fears."

If that is not extreme enough for you, we don't have to rely on endorsements alone. Take for example Scott Kenneth Noble's responses to a survey from some organization called the "Campaign for Liberty". Yes this org is everything that it sounds like, complete with obnoxious obsessions with Ron Paul, the Fed, conspiracy theories etc. etc. etc.  It seems that Noble has actually staffed a table for this right wing org at the Republican Party's state convention.  By the way you should also note how few Republican candidates bothered to respond to this madness.

Noble indicates that he agrees with the entire "Campaign for Liberty" agenda.  Apparently he would support legislation authorizing local law enforcement to arrest federal officials for trying to implement the health care reform law.  He also agrees to support legislation allowing TSA agents to be charged with sexual assault among other things.

If you still are not convinced that Scott Kenneth Noble exists on an outrageously far fringe, his own blog postings should certainly seal the deal.  He had a blog at but someone had the sense to redirect traffic from it to his campaign website.  There is a good reason for that because on his former blog he espouses some of the most offensive and ridiculous ramblings possible.

There is far too much material on his former blog to post here but take a look at just one example of the madness. In a 2011 blog posting he incoherently rambles about the alleged ties between Eugenics and Progressivism, the Wisconsin Idea, "Fighting Bob" and others.  He declares that "racism hid behind the mask of 'progress'." He goes on to make many absurd and highly offensive declarations about Wisconsin's history. Again there is far too much material to post here but it all points in the same direction.

I would encourage readers to more fully examine Scott Kenneth Noble's warped ideas and wild conspiracy theories but someone decided to block your full access to it.  Did Noble sell out to the party establishment who no doubt must have advised him to shut off access to his blog? Is the state party trying to hide the real Scott Kenneth Noble in plain sight? He really should show some leadership and make his blog fully available to voters.  They have a right to know the exact kind of crackpot that they might be getting.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tommy Inc. Trading Work for Well-Financed Lies

We recently learned just how little campaigning Tommy Thompson has done since winning the Republican primary.  Last week I openly wondered if it was due to him feeling entitled, being lazy or just outsourcing his campaign to the same special interests that made him rich in Washington D.C.  After seeing the latest ads released by Tommy Inc. it seems that they plan on trading in hard work on the campaign tail for well-financed already debunked lies.

Perhaps we should have better anticipated this "strategy" the minute that Darrin Schmitz entered Tommy's campaign. After all he was an operative for shameless liar Michael Gableman and for the fact-free campaign of Ron Johnson.

In any case, last week Tommy absolutely confirmed that he would have no regard for the truth when he released his attack ad. At the outset the ad lies about something that was totally debunked a full two years ago. He claims that the Affordable Care Act was a "government takeover" of the healthcare system.  This notorious lie was so widely panned that it was declared the "lie of the year" for 2010.  What other 2010 relic is Tommy going to dig up for his next ad? The wildly paranoid "death panel" lie perhaps?

Tommy's special interest friends at the Chamber of Commerce cranked out a new ad last week and it rivaled  Tommy's in terms of dishonesty. The big lie in that ad is the fiction that health care reform cut benefits from Medicare.

Directly contrary to the Commerce ad, the AARP found that the Affordable Care Act “strengthens Medicare by protecting and improving your guaranteed benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud and inefficiency."   If you don't like the AARP then look at the fact checking on the same subject from the Washington Post.  Likewise has repeatedly pointed out how misleading similar attacks have been in the past.  Similar to Tommy's dishonest ad, the big lie from the Chamber has been repeatedly exposed since 2010.  Yet they just continue spending their special interest money shamelessly saying it over an over.

All of these actions tell me that Tommy is not concerning himself with doing the actual hard work that goes into a normal statewide campaign.  It tells me that he would rather outsource his campaign to special interest allies and flood the airwaves with long-debunked but well-financed lies.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Singing from Tommy's Joe McCarthy Songbook

If I'm not mistaken the U.S. Senate seat that Tommy Thompson is running for has not been held by a Republican since Joe McCarthy. So it is interesting that I should stumble over the fact that in Tommy Thompson's personal archives as governor there was a Joe McCarthy songbook.  You didn't know that existed did you? Neither did I.

Seriously, go check out the Tommy Thompson Collection at the Marquette University Archives. Stamped for inclusion is a “Joseph R. McCarthy Songbook,” complete with a collection of 28 far-right songs with titles such as “Fightin’ Joe McCarthy,” “Deutschland Uber Alles,” and “This Land Was Made Conservatively.”

The following are lyrics from everybody's favorite foot tapping number “Fightin’ Joe McCarthy”:
Fightin’ Joe McCarthy We’re one and all for you You licked the dirty Commies And you’ll lick the pinkos too. Fightin’ Joe McCarthy We’re one and all for you Our land you’ll save Our flag you’ll wave The dear red, white, and blue Now Fightin’ Joe McCarthy Has gone to his reward And now he’s up in heaven Fightin’ Commies for the Lord. 
I wonder if Tommy's apparent facination with Wisconsin's most infamous senator was influenced by his appointee to the Wisconsin Health and Education Facilities Authority, Kenneth Merkel? [Wisconsin State Journal, 3/22/92]

The reason that I ask is because the Marquette University Special Collections also include a 1967 address delivered by then-Assemblyman Kenneth J. Merkel.  It was a rousing speech delivered at the 10 year graveside remembrance of Joe McCarthy's death. The Merkel speech was marked by references to McCarthy's “titanic struggle” against Communism and lamented about him being denied heroic status.

So I'm just wondering what the apparent fascination is with Joe McCarthy and more importantly does Tommy still sing from this song book?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Tomney" Avoids Obvious in Plunging Poll Numbers

The trend in the polls is undeniable, they all point toward a major surge for Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate race.  It is very clear that Tommy Thompson and his campaign are well aware of this dynamic and in the video below he openly worries about Mitt Romney dragging him down.

What a difference a month makes! Shortly after the Republican primary Tommy Thompson was riding high and he bragged to Mike Gousha in the following comment:
“I am an individual that is going to be able to be helpful to that ticket. “ [Up Front with Mike Gousha, 8/19/2012]
Tommy's performance in this area has not lived up to his own hype and now he is actually fretting over Mitt Romney being a drag on his own stalling campaign.

Perhaps Tommy should be a little more self-aware regarding his plunging numbers.  After all he is the one that ran so far to the right during the primary.  Tommy is the candidate that essentially went quiet over the last month of the campaign.  As if these self-inflicted actions were not enough now we find him nearly standing alone in support of Romney's unfortunate comment writing off nearly half of the population. Why would you complain about a Romney drag in the polls and then make yourself in his own image on a loser issue? May we call you "Tomney" for the remainder of this campaign?

Not smart. Mitt may indeed be a drag on your campaign but you seem to be ignoring the obvious and more immediate problem....your own actions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Tommy Entitled, Lazy or Simply Outsourcing Campaign?

Over the past weekend the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Tommy Thompson essentially going quiet since the Republican primary ended.  The story highlighted the fact that he has held less than 6 public campaign events. Contrast that with Tammy Baldwin who has been hard at work holding nearly 30 public events all over the state in more than 24 cities.  This stark contrast really made me wonder what Tommy's motivation is for essentially going quiet for so long.

Initially I assumed that Tommy has some sense of entitlement, still living on a 20 year old version of himself.  Based on his current D.C. insider status, shameless shilling for special interests and his wildly extreme positions during the primary, it is clear that the former Tommy does not exist.  Maybe he recognizes this and he is simply hiding from voters so that he doesn't have to fully answer for who he actually has become.

Is Tommy just being lazy in this campaign? He hasn't run a real statewide campaign for so long, I'm wondering if he just doesn't have the actual motivation to do it with real conviction.  His default position these days seems to be pleasing the big special interests but does he actually have the fire in his belly to do the hard work? Based on his actions (or should I say non-action) since the Republican primary, it seems that he may just be dutifully going through the motions for the same special interests that made him rich as a Washington D.C. insider.

Tommy is taking Wisconsin voters for granted while Tammy Baldwin is clearly working hard and engaging with them all over the state.  This reality appears to be impacting the polls because at least three show a big surge for Tammy Baldwin.

Baldwin 50, Thompson 45 (Sept. 9-12)
Baldwin 48, Thompson 45 (Sept. 12-13)
Baldwin 47, Thompson 47 (Sept. 11-17) Note the Baldwin surge because Thompson was up in this poll 50-44 in mid-August.

The bottom line is that all of the most recent polls show Tammy Baldwin surging and Thompson losing support.  A majority of these recent polls show Baldwin actually taking the lead at this late point in the campaign.  It clearly looks like Tammy Baldwin's hard work, clarity of message and engagement with actual voters is paying off.

Obviously I'm not the only one that sees the clear trend for Tammy Baldwin. Now Tommy Thompson's fellow Bushie, Karl Rove is dumping millions of dollars in dark out-of-state money into the race. This development makes me wonder if Tommy's going quiet was actually a part of his entire plan.  A plan to essentially outsource his entire campaign to the same sleazy special interests that made him a multimillionaire D.C. insider in the first place.