How a Bill Does Not Become a Law: An activist Dane County court has brashly upended the rules of lawmaking

Every two years, the Wisconsin Assembly issues an activity book for schoolchildren. The book includes a cartoon called “How a Bill Becomes a Law,” which details the happy life of an ebullient piece of legislation named Bill. Bill leads a simple life — all he wants to do is one day earn the governor’s signature […]

Que Pasa Republicano? To win again, the GOP needs to appeal to Hispanics

Following the 2012 presidential election, pundits of all stripes began appealing to retroactive prescience to explain what cost Mitt Romney the presidency. Whatever their pet issue, it suddenly became the reason Romney blew it — the Republican “war on women,” climate change denial, etc. Members of the Star Wars fan club thought Romneygot hammered because […]

Political Misdirection: Candidates sometimes reveal more about themselves than they’d like

An old Democratic campaign manager once revealed to me the key to successful public relations: “The more liberal your candidate, the bigger the American flag has to be on his bumper.” It’s a simple illustration of how candidates are free to write their own narrative, no matter the facts. As George Armstrong Custer once said, […]

Mark Pocan’s Smoke Screen: His pieties about protecting middle class families are a cover for hiking taxes on the poor

On June 15, Mark Pocan was on a roll. He stood on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly delivering a sarcastic stem-winder, criticizing the new state budget so dramatically that it sounded as if he were auditioning for a community theater production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Pocan, who seems destined to inherit […]

Tough Noogies: What’s the big deal that Scott Walker didn’t campaign on curbing union power?

On the day before Gov. Scott Walker introduced his plan to restrict public-sector collective bargaining, he met with Democratic legislative leaders to brief them on the details. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca expressed disbelief, complaining to Walker that he hadn’t mentioned the plan at all during the gubernatorial campaign. This meme has become the primary […]

The Making of a Candidate: The Inside Story of How Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson Quietly Became one of the Political Stories of 2010

PART I: ALL OF IT Just by walking down Oregon Street in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, it’s hard to tell that the Fate of Democracy in America resides here.  At the end of the street, The Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate campaign headquarters inhabits a large brick building fronted by stately white columns.  The building rests across […]

Consider the Humble Candidates: Who cares if they grew up eating dirt sandwiches?

In an online ad, Republican congressional candidate Dan Kapanke wants you to know he’s a real guy. “Having been born and raised on a dairy farm, I have a pretty good idea of what Wisconsin people value,” says Democrat Ron Kind’s challenger for the 3rd District seat. While it’s a nice sentiment, it’s meaningless. Growing […]

Youthful Indiscretions: Our Politicians are Both Juvenile and Delinquent

The ubiquitous television commercial plays nonstop, making it the aural wallpaper of our lives: Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” remixed over modern beats, reminds us that the fountain of youth can be found in a sweet carbonated beverage. It’s not the first marketing campaign to promise us eternal youth, and it won’t be the last. In […]