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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Ryan: Wisconsin Death Grip

Disasters befell one small town in Wisconsin during the final decade of the 19th century. The town of Black River Falls seems gripped by some peculiar malaise and the weekly news is dominated by bizarre tales of madness, eccentricity and violence amongst the local population. Suicide and murder are commonplace. People in the town are haunted by ghosts, possessed by devils…  “Wisconsin Death Trip”

Having one candidate wreck your state’s brand—a matter of which we Alaskans can speak with authority—can be chalked up as an aberration. But four, in the space of two years? That’s a pattern. That’s critical mass. And I need someone to explain to me exactly what’s going on in the Badger State.

Wisconsin has proud, enlightened traditions. As the home of Robert La Follette and AFSCME, it’s the birthplace of the progressive movement and public sector unions. It elected the first openly lesbian Representative to Congress (who is currently also a candidate for the US Senate and deserves whatever support you can throw her way). It’s home to smart progressives whom I’m proud to count as allies, like Nation columnist John Nichols and two-term Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. The state also has some great blogs like this one and this one.

Yours truly & former Madison, WI mayor Dave Cieslewicz at Portage Glacier this summer.

So what gives in America’s Dairyland? Its voters have inexplicably fired Russ Feingold, and elected Scott Walker twice within two years. The ridiculous Reince Priebus has catapulted from Republican State Party Chair in Wisconsin to taking the reins at the RNC in Washington. And now, an eager young Congressman who believes that the nation’s elderly, children, students, unemployed, and sick are insufficiently poor is poised to be a… whatever Mitt has in place of a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

As pro and anti-Ryan stories saturate the interwebs in the immediate aftermath of his selection, the only thing you really need to know about the guy has been summed up in one damning sentence by Ezra Klein:

“Ryan sponsored a Social Security privatization scheme that went so far the George W. Bush administration rejected it.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

Make no mistake, Ryan’s “vision for America” is your standard GOP boilerplate:
 destroy our public institutions, give unchecked power to corporations, insist the government get out of the board room and snuggle into the uterus, etc. etc. Hilariously billed as some sort of deep-thinking, legislatively creative powerhouse, the guy has yet to utter or propose anything that hasn’t been showing up on right-wing bumper stickers for decades.

The thing Ryan has going for him, of course, is the ability to string together a complete sentence (not a given for veep nominees anymore *wink*) and enough sense to avoid Birther talk. These, apparently, are sufficient to get oneself crowned as some sort of towering intellect in today’s GOP.

Things in Wisconsin have gotten so bad that Ron Johnson doesn’t even merit a place of honor in the above graphic.

Side note to those outside Wisconsin: Johnson’s the guy who loaded up on Koch money and dishonestly destroyed one of the most decent and courageous members the US Senate has ever known—a man who actually earned the title “the honorable Russ Feingold.” The reason you haven’t heard of Johnson is that he’s a complete non-entity. Say what you will about Walker, Priebus and Ryan, but at least they matter in today’s political arena. Ron Johnson, on the other hand, has cleverly avoided any accusation of relevance.

That Was Then, This Is Now

Our own Lisa Murkowski, ever eager to prove her GOP bona fides to her party bosses, has of course breathlessly posted the following to Facebook:

“Governor Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan shows he is ready and willing to confront the defining issue of our time head-on. We need bold and intelligent problem solvers to put our nation on a sound path for the future and restore the people’s trust.”

You see? Ryan’s not a heartless extremist who wants the elderly to survive on cat food in order to subsidize more tax cuts for billionaires. He’s a “bold and intelligent problem solver.”

Assuming he didn’t craft it himself to begin with, right wing wordsmith Frank Luntz would be proud of Lisa’s linguistic sleight-of-hand. The fact that he wants to throw women under the bus, slash federal funds upon which Alaska depends, stick it to retirees, and otherwise opposes the interests of so many Alaskans is of less concern to Murkowski than toeing the party line. Heck, Lisa joined four other GOP senators in voting against the Ryan budget (!) just last year. But that was before the Congressman from Wisconsin became the it-boy among party elders, and before Mitch snapped our “independent-minded” senator back into line.

Pep Talk From The Last Frontier

To my friends and readers in Wisconsin, then, I offer the following in closing.

I feel your pain. It’s a credit to your state that its current political meltdown is surprising to the rest of us. Without naming names, suffice it to say that there are states where your last two years would be par for the course.

Alaska wasn’t so lucky, and all it took was one trainwreck of a veep candidate for the nation to assume this is a land where moose outnumber books, where pregnant teens extoll the virtues of abstinence “education,” and where, for some reason, people talk like they’re from Minnesota.

I leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela:


No condition is permanent.”




45 Responses to “Ryan: Wisconsin Death Grip”
  1. Alaska Pi says:

    Did anyone here ever read Wisconsin Death Trip?
    I got it as a birthday gift the year it came out ( no cracks about the dark side some of Pi’s friends come from , please)
    It really is sad… a look at a town gone mad in the depression of the 1890s, made worse by despair at losing so many lil ones to a diptheria epidemic through photos and news articles.
    We can talk about the strength of the human soul and all that crap but too many kicks in the teeth undo individual souls. Losing your home, your work, your kids…
    Paul voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which has a real connection to what got us in this latest depression. If his district won’t get rid of him, let’s make sure he doesn’t get near the administration.

  2. Cathy Heyworth Harris says:

    Didn’t Wisconsin also give us McCarthy? It’s the State that won’t stop giving!

  3. Just like Bush says:

    Isn’t Ryan what was wrong? He rubber stamped Bush failed policies and now he want to run as Bush did… a fiscal conservative. We all know trickle down is a disaster for the economy and for the 09 percenters.

  4. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    As usual this thread is tapering off to silence, and I am late to the game. Actually I had a long comment that I could have posted last night but I decided against doing so because it was too much of a rant. As if I had a real stake in the outcome… well actually I do, even though I am half a world away and will remain here.

    I think the end result of the upcoming election will be simple, just based on turn out alone. If the voting rate in the US was anything about 66% the republicans would have no chance of winning any elections because they represent only 1% of the population and are able to fool only about 33% into believing that they do.
    That is a pretty good track record if you think about it, but of course it takes the expenditure of billions of dollars to make it come true. The sad thing is, it doesn’t matter because the 1% are sitting on trillions.
    There will at some point be a revolt of some kind if the corporate interestes prevail in this next election,
    even if only by holding onto the house of representatives.

    In a fair match, one cannot ride a bull if the bull don’t want to be rode.

    The one unassailable counter to lies is truth. Soeak it, share it, deny the liars a platform without challenge.

    This is a big deal.

    • beth. says:

      I’d say it’s not “a big deal”, it’s a HUGE deal…but only if we are complacent. We have to vote and we have to make sure others get out to vote, too. Billions can be spent on slick ads and flyers, but in the end, it is one person, one vote. If those of us who know what the real skinny is with the balderdash the GOTPers are spouting, and tell others about it, then all the mega-bucks spent by the opposition will be for naught. It takes ALL of us getting involved, though.

      Heck, even if it’s correcting one person;s negative views/thoughts/FOXisms on an issue — the 70-yo lady who owns our local video store, for example. She was bitchin’ and moaning about Obama and stimulus money. She’d just told me she’d had to buy a new printer for the store, so I tied what O was doing, into that: “Yup, you have to spend money to save money, but more importantly, to make money.” I said. “Our president is doing just that, he’s making sure all things are as efficient as they can be — spending money, now!, like for computerizing medical files, for the *greater* return, tomorrow. No more mis-transcribed notes, no more duplication of med tests, no more doctors not having access to what other doctors have prescribed for you and/or what their treatment is for you, etc. That all saves Big money, not to mention makes it a Lot safer for the patient.”

      When the whole concept of stimulus money was paralleled with something she was familiar with, she completely understood the need for it. And she not only supports the idea as being necessary for the country, she is now a fan of POTUS.

      One down; hundreds and hundreds more to go before 6 November… Great post, KN. beth.

  5. Moose Pucky says:

    It’s not just Romney/Ryan that are bad news. Think of the administration and the justices they plan to appoint so as to deregulate all those corporate donors to their campaigns. Good bye justice and equality, good bye affordable health care access for all, good bye to freedom of personal choice, good bye to consumer rights, good bye to clean air, clean water, a smarter energy policy.

  6. John says:

    And yet Ryan has consistently voted in favor of big government. NCLB, TARP. Auto industry bailout. He is a hypocrite. A dangerous hypocrite, but a hypocrite none the less.

  7. Shelley Allen says:

    Vulture/Voucher 2012!


  8. Judi says:

    I am amazed. I have only been to Wisconsin once….for the protests when the farmers came in with their manure spreaders. I was amazed then to see and meet so many truly dedicated folks willing to walk around the capital building all day..every day…for weeks..months on end.

    I made friends there as well with the family who put us up for the weekend..not knowing anything else about us except we supported them against Walker.

    What is going on in that state…no in our entire country? Where has empathy and compassion gone?

    This only makes me more fired up and ready to go to ensure that these idiots will never be any where near making decisions for the people of our country. Going to Pa or Ohio to help them out. I hope everyone will join me..where ever you might live…we must get out the vote. Do not let them steal it again….

    • psminidivapa says:

      I live in PA. You can stay here for the weekend. We can work on this together.

      We have an ass-hat Governor, just like so many other states do, as of late….. unfortunately. However, I am crossing my fingers that “One-Term Tom” will go down in flames over the Sandusky/PSU scandal before he does too much more damage. He has already pretty much destroyed public education, the environment, voters’ rights, unions, etc. etc. etc.

  9. Mag the Mick says:

    Reflecting back on the selection of La Palin four years ago, and yesterday’s announcement of Ryan. Both look like bus wrecks. Palin’s was one where masked bandits shoot flaming arrows at the bus’s tires from atop a cliff. The bus careens through a firework factory, gets attacked by killer bees, plunges over Niagara Falls, then finally explodes beneath Mt. Rushmore. Ryan’s is where the bus driver nods off, the bus drifts into a ditch and the engine dies. Then Ryan leads all the passengers out, and ushers them over the cliff on the other side of the road.

  10. Zyxomma says:

    So, now the R ticket is the Vulture and the Vampire. We cannot be observers, we must be participants. Urge everyone you know to get out the vote.

  11. HoboJohn says:

    Ryan has no executive experience. Remember when that supposedly mattered so much last time? He is the GOP’s guru on economics but never really worked a real job and doesn’t have enough academic credentials to even teach a course at a local community college. The closest both Romney and Ryan have gotten to foreign affairs and military service was yesterday with their PR stunt using the retired USS Wisconsin battleship, now a museum.

    Perhaps now Ryan will need to explain why even Bush considered him too extreme and the particulars concerning his close friendships with indicted Tom Delay and indicted Jack Abramoff and the hundreds of thousand of dollars he takes in from out of state special interest groups, like the Koch Brothers.

    Did Romney vet his VP like McCain did? Perhaps Ryan can help Mitt finds all those old tax returns Mitt is unwilling to show the voters.

  12. BeeJay says:

    Thank you, Jeanne, wonderfully put as usual. I tend to think we’re hearing the death rattle of the ‘real’ Republican Party, you know, the one of Lincoln, T.R. Roosevelt, and even Eisenhower. They have spent so much time being anti-everything they no longer know how to appeal to a broad cross-section of the voters, and instead have to manipulate the process in any way they can to win.

    Back in the primary season, the media was going on how this was all the second string of Republican candidates, that the first stringers were holding back this year when they wouldn’t have to run against a popular president. That’s the problem: there is no first string anymore. Any Republican notable with an intact intellect (that is not wearing blinders…) will not run, ever, for this party as it currently exists. It’s dead, but the zombies haven’t yet realized that.

    I think 2016 will see the rise of the (Rand) Paulists in some form of synthesis with the Tea Hadists, and the result will be even more insanity until the voters put them out of their misery.

  13. willowwoman says:

    I couldn’t get the links for the two Wisconsin blogs to work. Could you check on those please? would love to check them out.

  14. mike from iowa says: According to Nate Silver-Ryan is as conservative as Michele One L, he is the most conservative veep choice since 1900 and is the farthest from the center of either party’s picks.

  15. JimInWA says:

    “… taking the reins at the RNC in Washington.”

    Which city in Washington?

    • BeeJay says:

      It’s that little one, down on the Potomish Slough, near Cosmopolis I hear. Tucked way back in amongst the trees…

      A pentode? Cool avatar.

      DE WA7HL K

      • mike from iowa says:

        That avatar reminds me of the midnight ride of Paul Revere as re-interpreted by the Wasilliness Wastrel Whatzername. He couldn’t get through the top,in the middle she forgot to fill in the blanks and lastly she turned her bus around and put it back in mothballs.

  16. Polarbear says:

    The Ryan selection is so bad for Republicans, it is causing Democrats to pause and wonder if Romney has some hidden zinger strategy up his sleeve. There is no hidden strategy. Romney really is that stupid. Seniors are not going to vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket. The Republican Convention now becomes a showcase for possible 2016 candidates to run against Hillary.

  17. When I heard Ryan was the pick, I couldn’t decide whether it makes me happy or worried. If people really learn about Ryan I don’t think many, except the rabid base, will vote for the two of them. But that’s the catch – will people assume they are so extreme that they don’t need to bother to vote? Then we could have a repeat of 2010 with the rwnj voters turning out and the rest of us staying home.

    So, whatever we do, we need to make sure we turn out to vote and encourage others to vote as well. As soon as I heard the pick, I donated to the Obama-Biden fund.

  18. Alex says:

    It almost seems like Mitt is trying to lose now. He can’t win Florida with someone like Ryan on the ticket wanting to kill Social Security and Medicare. And without Florida, there’s no real path to victory for the GOP.

    • Lacy Lady says:

      Sure hope you are right. I am one Senior citizen that would like to tell them what they can do with those vochers!

  19. Happy In Alaska says:

    I’m feeling a bit sick in that I moved to AK 3 years before Palin appeared… and now I just figured out that Ryan’s brother was a classmate of mine through junior high and part of high school. His brother seemed reasonable as a teenager… just hope he didn’t go as extreme as Paul! I might have to go back there and protest again as Wisconsin is still near and dear to me!

  20. Merrill Jensen says:

    Jeanne, you are a hoot, but always a good read with some relevant information I didn’t know. What I notice is the common meme that there was one idea to found america, and there is one idea now. Wait till that one idea gets into romney’s mouth.

  21. beth. says:

    Four years ago, our citizens were presented with The Ancient Maverick and The WordSalad Maverick; this year we are presented with The Mittster and The Munster… Lucky, lucky us! Aiiii!

    The GOTP doesn’t seem to have had much progress with that whole ‘vetting thing-y’, have they? Truly some really polarizing and odd choices from them these past few election cycles — pretty much all of their selections have been (*ahem*) real winners.

    Good Lord — is the GOTP joshing with us? With their candidate selection, are they just letting loose their ‘fun side’ and showing us they have a Great sense of humor? beth.

  22. Ben in SF says:

    Or reflecting back 4 years, one might ask, “What was Mitt Romney Thinking?”
    (Thanks again for all you do).

  23. benlomond2 says:

    Mitt just sealed his ultimate defeat….

    • Alaska Pi says:

      i sure hope you are right.

    • beth. says:

      To be sure. With all the truly accomplished men and women in the GOP, one would *think* he’d have come up with someone not *quite* so radical –literally! radical…on a platform, head-and-shoulders above everyone else, radical, not in the “Obama is a radical” sense.

      I’ve heard about suicide by cop, but the last two GOTP presidential nominees seem to have added a new dimension to the phenomenon: suicide by veep selection. Lord have mercy! beth.

      • Lacy Lady says:

        I have a feeling he wanted someone very radical to do his dirty work. He will let Ryan throw it out, and he will see what sticks!

    • COalmostNative says:

      One can only hope… except I hope all of us do more than that. Donate if you can, work on voter registration, help with a phone bank- we can’t sit back with a bowl of popcorn and wait for results in November!

    • Blue Idaho says:

      Me Too

    • thatcrowwoman says:

      but let’s not get too comfy.
      Dirty Tricks abound.
      Now is not the time to sit back and watch.
      Politics is Not a spectator sport.
      Here’s our opportunity to channel our inner champions, to put forth Olympic training effort, to go for the Gold in the White House, but also in our Congress and our state and local races.

      Get. Out. The. Vote.

      “Without naming names, suffice it to say that there are states where your last two years would be par for the course.”
      *cough Flori-duh cough RickVoldemortScott cough JebBush-MarcoRubio-KatherineHarris cough cough*

      Badger born and still Union activating and agitating on the Gulf of Mexico,
      on the Redneck Riviera aka LA (Lower Alabama) aka Florabama,
      because I’m tired of Red season after season, year after year.
      Get Out The Vote.
      Mixing in more Blue and ready to celebrate Purple and a fresh palette,

  24. mike from iowa says:

    John Nichols wrote an interesting article for the Madison Cap Times. Of course the rwnj are out in full force attacking Nichols and not the article. Ryan looks hauntingly similar to a vampire and that was not necessarily a compliment nor was it a slam against vampires.

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