Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 2012

Interview with Rosemary Edghill is up at SBR

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If you are a writer, a reader, or just love great writing, you owe it to yourself to go read my interview at Shiny Book Review with Rosemary Edghill.  She gave many insights into her career, her writing, and discussed publishing at great length and depth, which I truly appreciated.  Ms. Edghill definitely knows what she’s talking about, as she’s published books in many genres, including science fiction (the acclaimed Hellflower trilogy, as eluki bes shahar), fantasy (her most recent books are DEAD RECKONING, with Mercedes Lackey, and VENGEANCE OF MASKS), mystery (her well-received Bast series, about a Wiccan detective), and romance (including Regency and time-travel specialties).  She’s also written a few X-men tie-ins in the past (as eluki bes shahar), so she knows her superheroes down cold.  And she even discussed one of my favorites of her solo novels, THE WARSLAYER, which as an old-time Baen Barfly (as opposed to merely old) was particularly delightful to discuss.

Please go to Shiny Book Review — yes, go right now! — and read my wide-ranging interview with the ever-talented Edghill, who writes so well that every single one of her books in any genre, solo or collaborative, is a must-read.  You’ll be glad you did.  (Then, go pick up her latest two books, DEAD RECKONING and VENGEANCE OF MASKS.  Hours of great reading await!)

Vinny Rottino Claimed Off Waivers by Cleveland

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Folks, remember what I said yesterday about IF-OF-C Vinny Rottino?  And, for that matter, everything I’ve said about him — his drive, his persistence, and his love for baseball?  And how frustrating it was to see that he’d been placed on waivers?

Well, after the New York Mets designated Rottino for assignment (the so-called “nice” name for being put on waivers), the Cleveland Indians picked Rottino up by claiming Rottino off waivers.  Rottino’s been added to their 40-man roster, but will most likely be sent to AAA ball rather than join the Indians.

Here’s a link to Rottino’s page at Yahoo Sports (the “news and notes” section):;_ylt=Akf2muXHFae0WkWddPyam5.FCLcF

And here’s an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Note that the comments section is particularly brutal with regards to the Rottino claim; the Indians fans are upset because year after year, their team doesn’t seem to do much of anything.  Rottino’s only hitting .182 in the big leagues (though he was hitting .307 at AAA Buffalo, when he was able to play more often), which obviously doesn’t look too impressive to those Indians’ fans.  But they don’t realize that Rottino’s main ability is that he plays many positions well and can reliably hit lefthanders (despite being a righthanded hitter).  Plus, he hustles, doesn’t make mistakes on the base paths, is a smart player . . . really, if these Indians fans just give Rottino a chance (providing the Indians bring him up to the big league club at some point), they might well learn to like him.

But is Rottino an answer to their immediate prayers?  No, he is not . . . which I suppose is why those commentators are being so vicious.  (That does not excuse them, but it does perhaps explain them.)

That being said, it’s very, very good that the Indians see Rottino’s potential (or at least see a need for him) and have claimed him off waivers.  That gives me hope — and it should give Rottino hope, too.

Good luck, Vinny, with the Indians organization.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 28, 2012 at 2:42 am

Vinny Rottino Designated for Assignment by New York Mets

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Baseball can sometimes be a cold, cruel business.  It is performance-based, and because of that, players are often kept around based off one calculation: “What have you done for me lately?”

But when you know a baseball player, or even follow his career like I do with OF-IF-C Vinny Rottino, that calculation takes a flying leap (as it should, because these players are still human beings).  I’ve written extensively about Rottino’s struggle to make the major leagues to stay, and I had truly hoped that with his second stint this year with the Mets that he’d “stick” — but they needed another pitcher, so they called up lefthander Justin Hampson from Buffalo.  Rottino was the odd man out, and ended up getting designated for assignment.

Here’s a link from Amazin’ Avenue discussing the move:

Now it’s up to the rest of major league baseball as to what they want to do, if anything, as Rottino can be claimed off waivers by any team.  If Rottino is not claimed, the Mets may send Rottino back to their AAA affiliate, Buffalo — or they may give him his outright release.

The fact that this fate can happen to anyone (including recent Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Juan Perez, who accepted another stint at AAA Nashville, and former Brewer IF-OF Brooks Conrad, who was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays) doesn’t make it sound, or feel, any better to the particular player in question.  And Rottino’s tried so hard — he’s done everything anyone’s ever asked of him, and he loves baseball so much — that this doesn’t seem fair or right.

Yet baseball is results-oriented, which is why it’s imperative for every baseball fan to realize that these player names mean something — someone’s career.  Someone’s blood, sweat and toil — someone’s persistence.

As always, I’ll keep you posted as to wherever Rottino ends up next.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

Posted in baseball, Vinny Rottino

Just Reviewed “Delirium” and “Pandemonium” at SBR

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Folks, if you love YA dystopian romances, you may well enjoy Lauren Oliver’s work.  She can tell a good story; the main problem I had with both of her novels, DELIRIUM and PANDEMONIUM (both featuring the same character and milieu), is that the back story is not well thought out.  (To be blunt, there’s no way on Earth that the nasty version of the USA Oliver’s conceived of could wipe out every religion except the state-sponsored one in less than seventy years.  It cannot be done.)  I expect more out of my YA dystopian fantasy romances than this.

That said, the romances here mostly work.  And Oliver’s storytelling ability is sound.  So you might like these books a whole lot more than I did.

Anyway, here’s the link:

Have at!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 23, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Jerry Sandusky Pedophilia Trial Ends: Guilty on 45 Counts (UPDATED)

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Folks, I’m not sure how I feel about the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Yes, it surely appears that Sandusky was and is a pedophile. Yes, the jury had to listen to extremely difficult and distressing testimony from several young men, all of whom seem to have been badly betrayed by Sandusky. And yes, it appears the jury has done its job thoroughly, convicting Sandusky on 45 of the 48 counts against him.**

However, Sandusky’s lead defense attorney, Joseph Amendola, raised serious questions during the trial.  Amendola contended that the police attempted to make more out of the young men’s stories than was actually present, which is a seriously upsetting charge if true.  Amendola wondered what the financial motivation was of all of these young men’s various lawyers — some of whom were not from the area — which seems like a valid point to make.  And finally, Amendola claimed that Sandusky was wrongly accused — this latter obviously not having been proven in a court of law — and that perhaps Sandusky, due to the high amount of negative publicity in this case, could not get a fair trial no matter what he did.

All of this disturbs me.

But what also disturbs me is the fact that one of Sandusky’s adopted children has come forward with a claim that Sandusky, 68, also abused him.  The prosecution in Sandusky’s case did not bring Sandusky’s son to the stand, perhaps because they felt they had more than enough evidence to convict Sandusky of pedophilia as it was.  (Something that assuredly proved to be the case.)  This makes me wonder if Sandusky’s adopted son had come forward much sooner if any of the other crimes Sandusky is accused of committing — that as of this hour he’s been convicted of actually doing (though my hunch is that Sandusky will appeal) — would ever have happened.

All of that said, the enormity of what Sandusky has now been convicted of doing is so disgusting that it’s hard for me to contemplate.  Due to Sandusky’s own actions — his sickening, shocking, and outright wrong actions — at least ten young men have been grievously harmed.  I feel terrible for these known victims of Sandusky’s sexual abuse and wish they’d never have had to endure any of it.

I also feel terrible for Sandusky’s son.  If he, too, was abused by Sandusky and nothing was done about it, that’s so wrong that it makes my blood boil.

But I also feel terrible, oddly enough, for Sandusky himself, because usually, pedophiles aren’t born.  They are made, often due to the same sexual abuse they later perpetrate against others.

This, of course, does not excuse Sandusky.  He had the option to go for psychological help at any time.  He also could’ve turned himself in to the police if he couldn’t control himself.  And goodness knows, with this sort of problem he never, ever should’ve been around children.

That said, in this scenario, there are no winners.  In addition to the ten known victims, Penn State has lost.  Joe Paterno died in disgrace, something he may well have not deserved as it surely appears he tried hard to get Sandusky off his coaching staff once he realized what was going on.  Sandusky’s wife Dottie, who appeared clueless throughout most of the trial, has surely lost greatly, though it’s puzzling to understand why she didn’t seem to see any problems with regards to her husband.  Sandusky’s children have lost.  And Sandusky himself has also lost.

I wish I had something more profound to say, but words escape me at a time like this. 

I suppose the best lessons of the Jerry Sandusky trial should be these: if someone is sexually abusing you, no matter what his rank and wealth may be, please do your best to get help for yourself.  Then report him (or her) to the authorities after you’ve gotten help.  (And do keep a copy of THE COURAGE TO HEAL workbook nearby.  Read it often.  Learn that it’s not your fault that this happened.  And keep repeating it to yourself, over and over, as it may well help and certainly can’t hurt.)


**Edited to add — please see Dan Wetzel’s story at Yahoo Sports for further details, including how the local people reacted to the verdict, what the courtroom was like as the verdicts were handed down, and how Mrs. Sandusky handled it all.

The fact of the matter is, as Wetzel rightly points out, Sandusky’s victims were heroes for coming forward.  It’s tough to “out” yourself as a victim of sexual abuse, particularly if you’re a young man who’s been abused by an older man in a position of trust.  It’s a good thing these young men stayed the course, even though it seemed to me from the testimony that some of the victims seemed far more credible than others (as defense attorney Amendola said). 

I hope that if I’d have been outside that courtroom, I’d not have cheered for Sandusky going to jail for the rest of his life.  Instead, I hope I’d have prayed for him — unrepentant sinner though he is — because as I said before, pedophiles are usually not born.  They are made.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 22, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Hot Weather Makes Writing More Difficult . . .

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. . . and other truisms.

No, I’m not just being facetious.  (Though you can take it that way if you really want to, as I obviously can’t stop you.)  The hot weather aggravates my asthma; worse yet, the hot, humid weather we’ve been facing in Southeastern Wisconsin over the past several days tends to make my asthma act up worse than just about anything else.

And if you can’t breathe overly well, you can’t concentrate well enough to write anything.  (Not blog posts.  Not poetry.  Certainly not fictional stories, which take more effort and thought.)

That said, the weather should cool off soon.  (I’m praying for this.)  Which will allow me to do more than take my inhaler, lay down where the fans are (as no air conditioner can possibly keep up, having to be used every hour of every day for several days in a row), and try to pretend that I feel up to doing anything at all.

So if you’re looking for witty observations about life, the universe, and everything, forget that — at least for a few days.  But I’ll try to post about things that interest me (such as Ken Kratz’s hearing, today’s “other” blog post) while doing my best to draw a bit more air into my overtired lungs.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Former Calumet County DA Ken Kratz Pleads No Contest, Says He’s a Sex Addict

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For the past three years, I’d believed that the former District Attorney of Calumet County, Ken Kratz, wasn’t going to be charged with anything, even though he’d sent racy text messages to a victim of domestic violence.  After all, the Wisconsin Department of Justice failed to file charges, one of the most disgraceful non-actions I’ve seen out of the DoJ.  After that, Kratz opened up a small law practice in Kimberly, Wisconsin.

Yet late in 2011, the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed an eleven-count complaint against Kratz, seeking a six-month suspension.  That prompted a hearing today that was held in Appleton; Kratz was asked to answer to six counts of professional misconduct due to the scandal over his “sexting” incident (which I wrote about here and here).  Kratz officially pleaded no contest to all six counts.

Please see the following story for details:

And here’s a few words from today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article:

Kratz, 51, began the morning by pleading no contest to six counts of professional misconduct related to texts and comments he made to women in 2009. The incident came to light in the fall of 2010 when The Associated Press re ported Kratz had tried to start a sexual relationship with a 25-year-old woman, the victim in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting.

The case quickly earned national attention, in part because Kratz, the elected district attorney of Calumet County, was also the chairman of the state’s crime victims’ rights board and had played a key role in passage of the state’s victims’ rights law. He also had earned statewide attention for prosecuting Steven Avery in 2007 for the sexual assault and murder of a photographer.

An aside — the Steven Avery case was very big news here, one of the biggest and nastiest cases Wisconsin has seen in the past twenty-five years or more.  The fact that Kratz was the prosecuting attorney speaks to the fact that Kratz was professionally able; that Kratz also was the head of the Wisconsin victims’ rights board also speaks to his ability.

Yet Kratz was a sex addict, something he now knows and isn’t afraid to tell anyone; this, apparently, is the reason he sent those nasty texts to Stephanie Van Groll (then only twenty-five, or about half of Kratz’s age).

Honestly, I don’t know what to say about Kratz’s sex addiction, except that it’s good he’s getting treatment (Kratz said elsewhere in the Journal-Sentinel article that he goes four times weekly to a twelve-step program for people dealing with “compulsive sexuality issues”).  But it still bothers me that a respected DA with so much ability would do any of this, and at least a small part of me cheered the following remarks by a well-known women’s advocate:

Patti Seger, executive director the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said Tuesday’s hearing was “a long time coming,” and that it appeared for months as if he would not be held professionally accountable.

“Kratz was sworn to protect the vulnerable,” Seger said in a prepared statement. “Instead, he caused victims in Calumet County and beyond to question their faith in the justice system.”

Absolutely right.

Anyway, I don’t wish to kick anyone, not even Ken Kratz (someone I’ve previously called one of the “world’s worst people”), when he’s down.  So at this point, I’ll just wish the former DA good luck with his treatment for sex addiction — and I’ll also hope that with time, luck, patience, and good health treatment that Kratz will once again be able to use his formidable ability with the law for good.  (Rather than for his own, personal gratification, which is what got him into this mess in the first place.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Just Reviewed Krafton’s “Bleeding Hearts” at SBR

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Here’s the latest over at Shiny Book Review, where tonight I took on Ash Krafton’s urban fantasy BLEEDING HEARTS.  This features the Demi-Vampire (they have souls, can eat regular food, and live a long time, but need blood to perform at optimum levels) as well as nasty Vampire (no -s in Krafton’s vision; the regular Vampire do not have souls and are nasty with a capital “N”) and the odd werewolf.

The heroine, Sophie Galen, is an empathic human being who writes an advice column.  (Before that, she was a nurse, which is probably why she’s named “Galen” after the eminent ancient Roman physician.)  She knows nothing about the Demi-Vampire (or D-V for short), much less the Vampire, at the start of BLEEDING HEARTS, yet she’s drawn to an unusual man, Marek Thurzo, when she visits a local museum.  (They bond over ancient Egyptian relics.)  And, of course, Marek is a D-V, which complicates her life — and the book’s plotline — nicely.

BLEEDING HEARTS is a well-paced urban fantasy/romance with some humor despite its often grim underpinnings.  I enjoyed it immensely.

So what are you waiting for?  Go read my review right now!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

Former Brewer Pitcher Ben Sheets to Make Comeback at age 33

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In August of 2010, I wrote a blog about former Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Ben Sheets, who had just had a major surgical procedure on his right arm (called at that time the “most massive surgery in the history of pitching” by the Hardball Talk blog.)  At that time, I said that I hoped Sheets would be like former Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano, who has come all the way back after two “Tommy John” procedures and is now pitching extremely effectively for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

About one year ago, I wrote a blog after finding out that Sheets was doing rehabilitation in Arlington, TX.  I said at that time that it would make no sense for Sheets to be doing rehabilitation if he wasn’t planning on making a comeback.

Well, my blog posts have been trumped by Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, who wrote that on June 13, 2012, Sheets threw in front of scouts in Monroe, Louisiana.  The four teams represented were the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Atlanta Braves.**  

The team that signs Sheets will have a proven ace who in the past made four All-Star teams (Sheets started the All-Star game for the National League in 2008).  Because Sheets is a hard-nosed, tough-minded competitor, he should be able to help just about any team win some ballgames down the stretch if he’s able to pitch effectively.

Sheets’ road to recovery most likely will start in the minor leagues, as that’s the path every pitcher who’s been able to make a comeback (such as Capuano) has taken.  But providing Sheets is patient and works his way back into top form, it’s possible for Sheets to become the same, effective pitcher as before (perhaps with a little less heat on the fastball, but he should be able to compensate for that with guile).

Chris Capuano has proven that it is indeed possible for a pitcher in his early 30s to come back from an extensive surgical procedure and pitch just as well if not better than ever.  So if Sheets takes “Cappy” as a model, and gives himself time, he could still have several more years in the big leagues left.

Here’s hoping.


** Note that the team that originally signed Sheets, the Brewers, was not on this list.  I’m not pleased about that, but my best guess is that the Brewers need so much other help that they don’t see how Sheets could possibly fit into their plans.  I view that as shortsighted, shoddy thinking, especially because the Brewers did sign Capuano to a minor league deal in 2010 (which worked out extremely well), which is why the Brewers know that it is indeed possible for a pitcher who’s sustained horrific arm injuries more than once to come back stronger than ever. 

But I’m not the ones making the calls in the Brewers front office.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 16, 2012 at 10:58 pm

It’s Official: Wanggaard Requests Recount in District 21 Senate Race

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As I expected, Van Wanggaard, the recalled Senator from Racine’s District 21, has requested a recount.  Wanggaard was declared the official loser of the District 21 race by 834 votes this past Tuesday, and at that time he said he was “weighing his options.”  Because of the recount request, former Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) must now wait for the recount to officially, and finally, send him back to Madison as District 21’s next Senator.

The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at the Racine County Courthouse.

Here’s a link to some video the Racine Journal-Times took of Lehman’s commentary after Wanggaard requested the recount:

Basically, Lehman says he has “a lot of confidence that the vote total will hold up.”  He also said he has great faith in the Wisconsin election system, and that he looks forward to going back to Madison to “begin the healing process.”

Here’s a link to the actual story:

On the flip side, Wanggaard says that once upon a time, Judge Dennis Barry (now deceased) was down by about 700 votes in an election.  Barry requested a recount, and it was found that Barry actually won by 900 votes.

Note that I was unable to find any reference to this election online, and that I’ve lived in Racine for many years and do not remember any such occurrence.  (I’m not saying it hasn’t happened.  But I am saying that I cannot find it and don’t recall it personally.)

Whereas I do recall that in 2002, Democratic incumbent Senator Kim Plache (D-Racine) lost by 773 votes to Republican Cathy Stepp.  Plache did not request a recount; instead, she conceded.

Recounts are expensive, which is one reason many Republicans last year lambasted the Kloppenburg-Prosser state Supreme Court recount, even though percentage-wise, it was closer than the 1.12% margin between Lehman and Wanggaard.  (Granted, recounting one Senate district is much less onerous and far less expensive than recounting a whole state, but the principle is the same.)  

In this case, Wanggaard had to pay a $685 filing fee to request the recount.  He did that today.

What’s more troubling than this recount request is that Wanggaard’s camp has trumpeted in the media that there were problems at various wards in Democratic areas (particularly at the Cesar Chavez Community Center, which is news to me as that’s my polling place) that rose to the level of “election fraud.”  The Racine Sheriff’s office is investigating to see if any election fraud has occurred; I’d not worry so much about this except for the fact that Wanggaard is a former police officer and sits on the Police and Fire Commission in the City of Racine.  This doesn’t mean the Sheriff’s Department will do anything wrong; in fact, I’d be astonished if they did.  But it does mean that it appears the reason Wanggaard’s concerns about election fraud were taken more seriously than other, reported concerns, is because the Sheriff’s Department knows Wanggaard well and is more likely to believe him.

Yet I’ve heard that at other polling places, especially in Republican wards, Democrats were harassed.  Nothing’s being done to investigate this by any police or Sheriff in the entirety of District 21, even though at one ward there was one person who was allowed to stay who apparently harassed every single person she saw if she felt they were going to vote for a Democrat.  Why is it that this person, who apparently stayed at the polling place for five hours and strongly appears to have done something against the law in Wisconsin (it’s called “electioneering” and it’s not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place), hasn’t been investigated even though it truly appears by her actions, she interfered with the vote on June 5, 2012?

Is it because this person is alleged to be a Republican bigwig from Lake County, Illinois?  (If so, that’s plain, flat wrong.)

Getting back to this particular election, Wanggaard lost fair and square.  Here’s why:

  1. Wanggaard is well-known in this area as a former policeman and police union representative.
  2. Wanggaard alienated and angered people by voting against collective bargaining, especially due to being a past union representative who’s benefitted from collective bargaining.
  3. Wanggaard was unresponsive to the voters in this area when asked to explain what he’d done, much less why he’d done it.

These three things were more than enough to get him recalled.

As for the story about former Judge Barry, Judge Barry was a good man, a well-respected man.  If it’s true that there was a problem, once upon a time, with votes being inaccurately counted and an election swinging the other way (as the Racine Journal-Times hasn’t yet referenced the election Wanggaard is discussing, and because I haven’t been able to find out anything regarding such an election online — meaning it may have pre-dated the rise of the Internet), I’d want a recount in Wanggaard’s place, too.

But I’ve said all along that I am in favor of a recount (mostly because I was in favor of Kloppenburg’s recount last year and unlike some Rs, I’m not a hypocrite).  So bring on the recount . . . but don’t expect it to change things overmuch.

In other words, John Lehman is still Senator-elect for District 21, and once the recount is completed, Lehman will officially be sent to Madison to take up his duties as state Senator.  Period.


Edited to add:

The blog Badger Democracy has an interesting article you should read.   In short, every public official who has a hand in this recount is either a Walker appointee or is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican (or both).  This is both concerning and distressing, but the conclusions being drawn are even more so:

The bottom line here is simple – each of the players in this case – DA Chiapete, Sheriff Schmaling, former DA and now Judge Nieskes all have a vested political and financial interest in the outcome of this case. This is an obvious attempt to use unfounded claims of “vote irregularities” to block the electoral process – a highly hypocritical move for the GOP machine, smearing Milwaukee DA John Chisolm and the John Doe Investigation (Chisolm has prosecuted Democrats and Republicans alike during his truly non-partisan terms).  All three of these GOP shills should recuse themselves and appoint an independent investigator if they truly believe a crime was committed.

But they won’t – look for a case in a GOP-friendly court (such as Waukesha County), based on these so-called “irregularities” to enjoin the GAB from certifying the election, as the case makes its way through the courts – and the Senate remains at 16-16 until November. Both Racine County DA and Sheriff’s Department refused comment to Badger Democracy on an “ongoing investigation.”

All I can do is hope that this will not happen, though I have seen such delaying tactics used before by the Republican Party — in Minnesota, where Republican United States Senator Norm Coleman lost narrowly in 2008 to Democrat Al Franken — in fact, Coleman lost by only 312 votes — but delayed Franken being able to take his new seat as US Senator by eight months due to various legal challenges.

Granted, that election had some things in it that this one doesn’t — namely, it was a three-party race, and the difference, percentage-wise, between Franken and Coleman was about .01% (that is, one one-hundredth of a percent).

This election isn’t nearly that close, percentage-wise, and obviously there were only two parties involved in this race — the Democrats, represented by Lehman, and the Republicans, represented by Wanggaard.

If the Rs decide that they’re better off to employ a similar “delay as long as possible” strategy, they will certainly erode public faith in the election system of Wisconsin.  And considering that many, including myself, are wondering if all the vote totals in every county were exactly as stated in the Walker/Kleefisch recalls due to possible problems with electronic voting machines, that might not be a really good wasp’s nest to kick up right now.