Archive for May 19th, 2012
Well, it’s official. Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and various Republican Super-PACs have outspent Democratic challenger Tom Barrett and various Democratic organizations by a 2-to-1 margin according to WisPolitics.com over the past week (ending date May 16, 2012). But considering WisPolitics.com is a pay site, and the article I am using to reference it is through the Huffington Post, I’d rather link to the latter.
The figures for the week of May 9 to May 16, 2012, officially, are these:
- Scott Walker and various Republican groups/SuperPACs — $216,980
- Tom Barrett and various Democratic groups/SuperPACs — $87,980
As you can see, Walker and his allies are outspending Barrett, et. al., by over a 2-to-1 margin. Which if you lived in Wisconsin, you’d know quite easily because for every ad either praising Tom Barrett or bashing Scott Walker, there’s at least six ads praising Scott Walker or (more commonly) bashing Tom Barrett.
While I haven’t seen any figures for the local state Senate race in District 21 between current Republican Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine versus former Senator John Lehman, also of Racine, the ad buys are strikingly similar. For every six to ten pro-Wanggaard or anti-Lehman ads out there, there might be one pro-Lehman ad or one anti-Wanggaard ad (so far it’s been one or the other, not both, which shows a lack of balance with regards to ads). The only difference between the ads thus far is that most of the anti-Lehman/pro-Wanggaard ads have aired on the radio, while the anti-Barrett/pro-Walker ads have aired on TV.
I hate negative advertising, and I hate even more that so many ads have flooded the airwaves. Yet I condemn the Rs — all of them, including the misnamed “Wisconsin Club for Growth” (actually a Koch Brothers front group), Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, etc. — for running ads that distort both Tom Barrett and John Lehman’s records. These ads are terribly biased, and unless you’re aware of what these men actually did, you might think they’re the political equivalent of axe murderers. (Which they aren’t.)
For example, one anti-Lehman ad talks about how Lehman voted for “the biggest expansion in healthcare, worse than Obamacare, in Wisconsin history.” Do you know what the vote Lehman actually took was for? It’s for Badgercare, a state-run health plan that helps give low-income people health insurance for low or no cost. Badgercare actually saves the state money because it allows people to go in immediately when they get sick rather than going in only after things have drastically worsened to be admitted to the hospital via the emergency room.
So why is it that the Rs don’t just say Badgercare instead? Because they know that the vast majority of state voters, including most Republicans, approve of Badgercare because they know it actually saves the state money in the long run.
The anti-Wanggaard and anti-Walker ads are much more factually-based. They talk about what Wanggaard has actually done since he became a Senator — in other words, they talk about his checkable record, and don’t distort it out of recognition. And they talk about what Walker has actually done with regards to education cuts and the results of said cuts — most of the ads have been about education — or about Walker’s large amount of out-of-state travel due to fundraising, which also are truthful, checkable facts.
So it’s clear that the Ds and their allies are for the most part taking the high road. The Rs aren’t; instead, the Rs are taking the muddiest, dirtiest road they possibly can in order to confuse and befuddle as many voters as they possibly can.
Overall, if I were a voter who hadn’t paid any attention in the past year (not that Wisconsin has many of these), I’d be wary of the Republican ads due to how awful they are, while I’d be more kind to the Democratic ads because at least there, a voter can go online to check the veracity of the facts. But as most voters have paid attention, I can only hope that they, too, realize the difference in the ads and don’t get fooled. (Again.)
Folks, if you enjoy romance mixed with screwball comedy, you will enjoy Lynsay Sands’ THE COUNTESS. While not high art, the story of Christiana, Countess of Fairgrove, and her love story with Earl Richard will amuse you. Richard, you see, had been “disposed of” by his brother George, who took Richard’s place and called himself “Dicky.” George then married Christiana, who knew nothing about the real Richard; the world knows one of the Fairgrove twins died, but for whatever reason, George assumed Richard’s identity rather than rule in his own right. (Yes, I know the reason, but if I told you that, some of the comedic effect would be spoiled. Just go with it.)
Anyway, George dies suddenly, but Christiana covers this up because her sisters need to be “brought out” into society quickly before word gets around about her father’s gambling debts. (Besides, she never liked him anyway.) But to her complete surprise, “Dicky” shows up at a ball she and her sisters are at — he’s not dead, and in fact, he’s not Dicky, either. He’s the real Richard, and he’s wondering the same thing any of us would in a similar situation — what the Hell is going on here?
This is a screwball comedy that often descends into farce, and it’s not the art-house type of screwball comedy, either; instead, it’s the “pie in the face, don’t look now, the train’s coming!” sort. But it’s quite good for what it is, and I enjoyed it very much despite the plot’s oddities. (Maybe because of them, as I can’t resist a novel that makes me laugh over and over again. I really can’t.)
Anyway, go take a look at my review over at SBR, will you? Then, if you’re in the mood to laugh (hard and often), go pick up THE COUNTESS.
As I write this, the Milwaukee Brewers are losing, 5-4, in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Minnesota Twins; so far, they’ve lost three in a row and are at the bottom of the National League Central Division standings. But even if they win this game, the Brewers obviously aren’t firing on all thrusters just yet (or hitting on all cylinders, either; take your pick of clichés). They aren’t hitting well, fielding well, pitching all that well, and their baserunning is suspect.
Now, as former Brewers first base coach Davey Nelson said last night on Brewers Extra Innings on WTMJ-AM 620 radio last evening (he was host Dan O’Donnell’s guest), it’s difficult to win games when you can’t hit, pitch, or field. (Nelson put it a bit more diplomatically, but this is the substance of what he said.) A caller added that the Brewers couldn’t run the bases overly well, either, as even big stars like Ryan Braun and Corey Hart have made odd baserunning errors in recent days; Nelson then added poor baserunning to his assessment.
All I could do when I heard this was laugh.
As for today’s game, it’s now over. With two outs in the bottom of the 11th, the Brewers had the light-hitting Cesar Izturis up, and all he could do was send a line-out to the shortstop. Brewers lose, 5-4, due to a home run hit by the light-hitting Twins SS Trevor Plouffe (he had been hitting .143 before he hit the game-winning HR in the top of the 11th).
At any rate, today’s game featured some clutch hitting by Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez, and some good table setting by Nyjer Morgan and Corey Hart. But it also featured two errors (one odd one by RF Hart where he may have lost the ball in the sun; he should’ve caught the ball in foul territory, but it instead bounced off his glove), some questionable baserunning, and a dearth of clutch hitting as six Brewers were left on base.
The Brewers have now lost four in a row, twice to the lowly Twins, twice to the lowly Astros. Their current record is 16-24; they are one game ahead of the Chicago Cubs due to the fact that the Cubs haven’t yet played their game against the White Sox so the Cubs’ record is currently 15-24. Most likely, the Brewers will be in last place again tomorrow. (The Twins’ record has improved to 14-26 due to their two wins over the Brewers.)
I don’t know what the Brewers can do at this point to improve as a team, except work on fundamentals such as bunting, baserunning, and fielding. Rickie Weeks is hitting well below .200, while Aramis Ramirez is stuck in the low .200s; these two hitters were expected to do far better than they’ve done thus far. (Even with Ramirez’s well-known penchant for slow season starts, he was still expected to have more than 21 RBI at this point.) Even the guys who are hitting, like Braun, catcher Jonathan Lucroy (a surprising .333), Nori Aoki, and Corey Hart (hitting only .252, but with 8 HR and 18 RBI, which is fourth-best on the team), can’t make up for the guys who aren’t doing much of anything.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says that the Brewers need to show more personality on the field, basically blaming the whole clubhouse for being quiet and reserved. I’m not certain how showing more personality would win games, considering the 1962 Mets had loads of personality, yet won only 40 games. But that’s Roenicke’s story and he’s sticking to it.
The usual way to fire up a team is to fire the manager, but the Brewers gave Roenicke a two-year contract extension earlier this season so that’s highly unlikely to happen. The second way would be to fire a coach — perhaps pitching coach Rick Kranitz, as the Brewers’ team ERA is 5.20 — horrible — and the Brewers are dead last in the majors in this particular statistic (which probably is the main reason they’re not winning too many games). Individual pitchers, such as Zack Greinke or Shaun Marcum among the starters, or Kameron Loe and to an extent Manny Parra among the relievers, have been OK; it’s the fact that others who were expected to do well like Yovani Gallardo have done very poorly that has caused the team ERA to balloon up.
The Brewers need to get something going in some area. Whether it’s clutch hitting, fielding, pitching (definitely pitching) or baserunning, the Brewers need to improve. Until or unless it does, the Brewers will remain mired in the bottom of the NL Central.