Saturday, September 25, 2010

Political Burnout?

Ok, I understand that over the last few years I have become a bit of a political junkie. Not everyone will see things the way I do. That being said, I am hearing, in my opinion, WAY too many people saying that they are getting sick of politics. Really? We are on the cusp of one of the biggest midterms since 1994 and people are already dropping by the wayside?

Not to demean any of the people that feel that way, but I have a hard time believing that these people vote on a regular basis. How can you be sick of it already? This is going to be a fascinating election no matter what side of the isle you are on.

If you just limit it to Wisconsin, it will be huge. Ron Johnson has a significant lead in the polls right now over Russ Feingold. David Obey saw the writing on wall and got out on his own terms. Reid Ribble not only had a 10 point lead over Steve Kagen (AAF Aug. 16-19) before he won the Republican primary but he is near that magic 50% mark. Scott Walker is taking a commanding 9+ point lead in the governor race (RCP average Sept 15-21) showing that a Milwaukee conservative can play well outstate as well as in SE Wisconsin.

If you expand it nationally, according to RealClearPolitics' current polls, the GOP picks up 7 seats in the Senate and in the House holds a 177-160 lead in safe or likely seats. On top of that, of the 38 seats that they consider toss ups, only one (IL-10) is currently held by a Republican. Whether you are a D or an R, watching those races will be interesting at the very least.

So why are people being burned out so quickly? Honestly I can't say. Maybe the vast amount of political ads is getting to them. Perhaps the economic troubles are stressing people out so much that they don't want to worry themselves with politics. Who knows, but this election plays a bigger part than any since 2000.

Why? Redistricting will happen after this election. This act of "creative cartography", as one writer puts it, can shift the balance of power in the house for years to come. Of the states that are gaining or losing seats, only a few are as key as we are here in Wisconsin. We will be losing a seat, down to 7. It may not seem like much, but that could play a huge role in the balance of districts. Wisconsin is home to one of the more liberal districts (WI-4 T43 in Cook PVI) that is adjacent to a fairly conservative district (WI-5). More than likely, due to it's small geographic size, the WI-4th will be absorbed into one of the two districts (WI-1 is the other) that border it. Where the final lines will end up is anybody's guess, but it could easily make the difference between two strongly liberal districts (evenly dividing Milwaukee amongst the current 1st and 5th) or one heavily liberal and one heavily conservative (all of Milwaukee becoming part of the first). How that falls will be decided by the party in the majority. With the balance at 18-15 Democratic in the state senate and a 52-46 (+1 Ind.) Democratic lead in the Assembly, it is a real toss up as to who will get to redraw the lines.

That is why this current round of elections is so important people. Every election is important if you want a voice in your (and it is YOUR) government. This year, however has the ability to shift politics for possibly a decade. So I urge all of you, no matter how fed up you may be to do some research and pick the candidate that you believe will do the best job for you at the local, state, and national levels.

Livin' the M'waukee life (sorta)

While I have been hesitant to give too much detail when it comes to exactly where I live, the story I have to share kinda requires it.

For these past 2 months, I have been living in Riverwest. Since I have been living in the city, I have kept to myself and rarely went out to bars or restaurants. Well, last Thursday things changed. I decided that, for the sake of my mental well being, I needed a beer. Due to the fact that one of my roomies requests that no alcohol be in the apartment, I needed to find a bar nearby. So, out for a walk I went. A few minutes later, I stumbled upon the Stonefly Brewing Company. After 3 pints and 3 shots (only one of the pints and none of the shots I paid for) I have discovered that I may be home.

After talking for a few hours with a couple of regulars, apparently Riverwest is my home. I had no idea, but it's true. I guess that I am a perfect fit because I don't fit in anywhere else. I'm still not sure if that warm, fuzzy feeling I had was the acceptance or the Jameson, but either way, I think I may be on the way to mental fitness again. I was a little apprehensive about diving back into the bar scene considering the fact that I was not a real big fan of the bar/club scene when I was of the age of bar hopping. Granted it was a Thursday night, but from what I've heard, any night is a good night to drink in the areas around UWM and Marquette. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a nice, laid back atmosphere. I came to find out that it's usually pretty laid back most nights. Good. Just what I have been looking for, a nice place to enjoy a pint.

Which brings me back to the Stonefly beers. Wow. I was really impressed with their Brewtown Brown and 4 Wolves English Ale. Both of those went down WAY to easy for my own good! If you are a fan of Newcastle, you will love the Brewtown Brown. If you are a 'mainstream' beer drinker (Bud, Miller, Etc) the 4 Wolves will be a great spot for you to dabble into the world of micros. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to go out as often as I would like, but I will have to get down to try a new pint as often as I can. I'm not much of a stout drinker, but the Pierce Street Porter might be my next trial.

Thanks Dr. Nick and Mr. Mike for making me feel welcome. Sorry Mr. bartender sir, but I would have thanked you too, but I forgot your name!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Houston, we may have a problem...

OK, I'll admit that I'm probably reading too much into this. Maybe I'm seeing trends where none exist. However, I am a little concerned with the vote numbers from last night's Gubernatorial primary.

Overall, Tom Barrett gained just shy of 211,000 votes. Walker gained 360,000. The biggest issues I saw were in Dane, Brown, Racine, and Kenosha counties. As we all know, Dane county is the second biggest liberal block of voters in the state. Brown, Racine, and Kenosha have a lot of union members who tend to vote democratic. The voter turnout for the democratic primary in all four of those counties seemed to me as remarkably low. Either there was no reason for the dems to come out (likely) or they crossed over to try to get the weaker candidate elected (way less likely).

While all the talking heads love to play all these conspiracy theories about liberal voters crossing over, I have a hard time believing it is widespread. Sure, there probably are some (one such voter is talking to Jeff Wagner as I type this), but the overall numbers are probably very low. What is more likely is that with so few big races on the democratic side this time around, most of the voters stayed home.

And that's where the problem lies. Statewide, there is at least 150,000 democratic voters that stayed home. Walker has a ton of work left. He has to get over the Milwaukee bias, the fact that Neumann was very successful in selling the 'not a career politician' idea, and the fact that he will need a lot more support if he wants to be elected.

That's where we come in folks. We need to help out and get things rolling into high gear for Scott. Friends, family, co-workers, pets (ok, maybe not pets!) all need to be convinced to show up in November. There's a lot of work to do and not a whole lot of time to do it in!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Tuesday

It will come to the surprise of nobody who reads my blog with any regularity that I am pretty conservative. So it will also come as no great shock that all of my marks will come on the red portion of the ballot on Tuesday. Although many of the races are basically one sided in this primary, I still wish to share with you my votes.


Ron Johnson - Yea, he's really the only candidate left on the ballot (Westlake and Finn have been so cash strapped that they are still unknown) but he would still get my vote. He is what the framers meant when they wanted a government of the people.


Scott Walker - Even though Mark Neumann does have some good plans and ideas, the casual on again, off again relationship he has with politics gives me a bit of a pause. Walker has the experience at the executive level that will translate well to Madison. Overseeing nearly 1/5th of the state's population already as Milwaukee County executive, it won't be too much of a stretch to taking on the entire state. Being conservative in a very liberal Milwaukee hasn't been easy, but he has dealt with all the mudslinging and has done what he felt was the best for the county.

Lt. Governor

Rebecca Kleefisch - It has been a running joke for many years (and even used in an ad campaign) that the Lt. Governor is a position with no duties, but it is a huge deal. As we have seen in the past, all it takes is a appointment by the President to move the Lt. Governor to the big chair. Kleefisch is another in the vein of Johnson. A normal person who genuinely wants to get into politics to do what's best for the state. She was my choice anyway, but what really sealed the deal was the fact that she took the time to say hi and thanks to me while struggling with getting her vehicle set up for the Sussex Lion's Daze parade. A lot of people would have just said a quick 'hi' and went back to setting up. The entire conversation probably lasted less than a minute, but it just goes to show that it takes little to make a big impact in people's minds.

US House

Dan Sebring - I was able to meet Dan briefly last year at the rally at Veteran's Park. He would serve Wisconsin proudly in the House, except for one fatal flaw. The fourth. The only way that you could get a Republican elected in the WI-4 district is by getting one of the following to run with a (R) behind their name: Aaron Rodgers, Robin Yount, Bob Uecker, Donald Driver, or possibly Bill "The Big Unit" Michaels. Still, Dan will get my vote in the primary and the general as well.

The only other contested race in the primary in my area is for state treasurer. I haven't made up my mind as yet, mostly because I haven't had the time to look into them even though treasurer doesn't have a whole lot to do with policy. I'll probably pick a guy when I get in the booth.

I wrote about this years ago in the original version of my blog (I may go back and see if I still have the handwritten copy somewhere so I can repost), but it bears repeating. I am so disappointed that, once again, my vote on Tuesday will, due to low turnout, probably count for 8-10 people. I hear so many people complain about government, but these same people cannot be arsed to do anything about it by voting or getting involved in the process. Unfortunately I have had to spend the greater part of the last 3 months insuring that I can survive which has limited my ability to get involved myself. Hopefully now that things have settled down I can help out when the above people win their primaries. So if any of you read this (and I will be linking to this on your Facebook accounts if I have them!) feel free to contact me if you want another helper!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Political Tourism

I took a little day trip with my kids today to go visit my dad. Once I got off the freeway in the Appleton area, I noticed something a little odd. While there was an abundance of political yard signs, a vast majority (10:1 at least) of them where for local (Congressional or lower) candidates. I figured that it was a geographical oddity so on the way home I took the scenic route through Oshkosh, Fond Du Lac, and the smaller towns of EC Wisconsin. The same thing held true all the way back.

What I saw both encouraged and discouraged me. While I know that yard signs are not anywhere close to gauging voter turnout, the vast number of signs in some areas showed at least more than a passing interest in the upcoming elections. The vast amount of Congressional and state assembly signs also was a good sign. Usually, the off year elections are ignored because there is no big, national election. The fact that a lot of people are paying attention to elections on the state and local level is great. However, the distinct lack of signs for statewide races (governor and Senator), even in the yards of those folks that had a lot of other signs, was a bit discouraging. Granted, a large chunk of my trip was through the WI-6th which, from my experience, is a bit of a ho-hum district when it comes to voter turnout. Still, it seems like people are concentrating on smaller races.

Another encouraging sight was the amount of Scott Walker signs. Yes, there were very few gubernatorial race signs, but the fact that there were Walker signs outside of the Milwaukee area was good to see. There also were a roughly equal amount of Mark Neumann signs. That should be good news for the Neumann campaign. Perhaps the Republican primary will be a bit closer than the current polls suggest. Again, yard signs are not scientific, but the lone Tom Barrett sign showed me that he may not be playing as well outstate as he hoped.

Another oddity was that I saw a few signs for Lt. Governor. I was not expecting those at all, even leading up to the general election. Every sign was for Brett Davis too. While he's not my candidate (I'm voting for Rebecca Kleefisch), it is encouraging to see that of the people that are choosing to put signs out for Lt. Governor, it's the Republican candidate.

Now that I think about it, I cannot recall seeing one Russ Feingold sign. There were quite a few Ron Johnson signs, but I kind of wrote that off as I was travelling through the Oshkosh area. But to not see one Feingold sign was a bit, well, shocking. He is well known and his TV commercials are all over the Green Bay TV market.

So what does that all mean? Honestly, very little when it comes to the general election. However, nowadays when people are hesitant to place a pink flamingo on their lawn for fear of what the neighbors might think or the risk that they will lower their property taxes, seeing people bucking the trends and not going with the incumbent could spell trouble.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Underground Conservative Part V

Well, now that I am officially registered (which was remarkably easy to transfer from my Sussex registration, but more on that later) to vote here at my new address in the lovely 16th Assembly District, I am ready to go for the primaries in a couple weeks and the general in November. In the last few weeks, I have received now fewer than 4 fliers left on our door.

I'm a little disappointed though. I know the city of Milwaukee is very blue, but come on. Isn't there at least a token conservative running for anything near me? Is it up to me next time?

Now that's an interesting notion. Me in the state assembly or state senate. Do I have a chance? Not yet. But that would be an idea. What better way to make change than to become one of the lawmakers.

Getting back to the transfer of my registration. wonder there's so many allegations of fraud. All I was required to do was fill out a simple, one page form. I was required to write down my driver's licence number, but the representative I talked to never asked to see my licence or any other form of ID. Yikes. Granted, I am not using a fake ID or address, but the ease at which it could be done is bordering on absurd. Really Milwaukee? When it comes to something as important as elections, you can't be bothered to make sure that someone is who they say they are and prove that they live where they say they do. Well, with me registered and voting, there will be one less fraudulent vote that counts.

Well, this is a turnup isn't it?

Earlier today, the San Jose Sharks signed goaltender Anti Niemi to a one year contract. With Thomas Greiss and Antero Niittymaki already under contract, the Niemi signing adds much needed depth.

It's been nearly two hours now since the Sharks released the news of the signing. I have taken the time to think about it and read some comments from other Sharks fans. There are some people who think that this is a bad signing. That Niemi was a product of the Blackhawks defensive system. I tend to disagree.

I do agree that a good defense will make a marginal goaltender good and a good goaltender great. That's what makes the Niemi signing a good thing. Neimi is a very good goaltender in his own right. Without this signing, the Sharks were going to be faced with the choice between Niittymaki and Greiss, two goaltenders who had one good season as an NHL starter and very little NHL experience period respectively. Niemi, the #1 goaltender going into traing camp, brings solid play and a ton of playoff experience.

True, Niemi was a huge breakout rookie last season and could be poised for a huge dropoff. Still, the Sharks needed to do something unless they truly were rebuilding. Honestly, I think the Sharks could do with a little rebuilding. That's what makes the Niemi signing a little disturbing.

The signing of Niemi causes a bit of a domino effect that could be more damaging long term than it helps short term. Unless someone has a killer camp, Greiss will end up back in Worcester. That leaves one spot for three goaltenders who need playing time. If Tyson Sexsmith, Alex Staylock, or Harri Sateri are going to be the future in net, they all need significant playing time in the AHL. Something they are not going to get backing up Greiss.

There has to be another move yet. Greiss or Niittymaki may be heading out of San Jose. If not, I think that, while the Niemi signing will help the Sharks this year, may be the final nail in the coffin of Doug Wilson's GM career.