John Gard Proves He Is Nothing More Than A Republican Party Hack

I recall when John Gard, newly elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly came to his first tourism committee hearing.  Being young and full of himself, Gard sported a crew cut hair style that made me turn to a Democratic member and ask what Eddie Haskell might say at the sight.  If Gard wanted to be noticed that was one way to achieve his goal.

That great memory comes to mind as newspapers around the state today are allowing Gard to garner a little more press time.  John Gard, the failed candidate for Congress is now head deep into the mess surrounding the troubling times of Justice David Prosser.

The fact now proven by Gard’s own words in an email that he was seeking commission members who would prove their conservative credentials, and “not wimp out” underscores yet one more time why the Republicans can be justly painted as the party that abuses the political process.  The process be dammed, let’s get the outcome we desire!

Over and over it has been proven Republicans in the Walker Administration are prone to the most base tactics and purely partisan moves all in the name of advancing their causes.

It reeks!

Gov. Scott Walker relied on recommendations from a former Assembly speaker who once worked for state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in appointing members of a commission investigating Prosser, newly released records show.

Three of the five people Walker appointed to the state Judicial Commission earlier this year were presented to the governor by former Assembly Speaker John Gard, the president of Wisconsin Businesses Inc. and a former lobbyist for school voucher proponents School Choice Wisconsin.

Gard told an aide to Walker that he had found people for the commission who were “fiercely conservative” and “will never wimp out,” according to an email recently released along with other documents under the state’s open records law. Gard also wrote that he’d told one of the appointees “what we were looking for and (he) said he would do it if needed,” but Gard’s email didn’t provide more specifics than that.

Walker’s appointees won unanimous confirmation from the state Senate in March, but two Democrats who voted to confirm them said they were troubled by Gard’s exchanges with the governor’s office after being shown copies of them.

“The question that immediately popped in my mind (on seeing the email from Gard) is what did John Gard tell them they have to do?” said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). “To me, it’s aimed directly at trying to get rid of the whole Prosser issue.”

“These are not people who require any hand holding – they are fiercely conservative and will never wimp out,” Gard wrote. “There will be no surprises.”

Of Barrette, Gard wrote: “I laid out what we were looking for and (he) said he would do it if needed.”

Erpenbach said he wanted to know more about Gard’s discussions with the appointees and the governor’s office.

2008 Presidential Predictions

We have finally arrived at the point in the election cycle where we can vote!  And the campaign commercials can end!  HOORAY!

I have my predictions broken down into three sections.  First is a brief analysis of the lay of the land, second the states are listed for each presidential candidate along with the electoral vote tally and projected final popular vote percentage, and third is a series of Congressional and Senate elections listed by state that I have been following, and wish to weigh in on.

First however, I want to post these predictions in honor of Tim Russert.  Mr. Russert loved the political campaign season, and was having a delightful time with the primaries that he covered earlier this year.  I know that he would have much enjoyed this summer’s events between the candidates, the intensity of the fall race, and been waiting anxiously for Election Day.  Tim’s sudden death earlier this year cast sadness over the political season.  It may seem corny to some, but in this small way his memory lives on here with those who love the excitement that a rough and tumble political season can produce.  Just like he did.  So this one is for Tim Russert.

Part One-The Political Landscape

The trends are clearly in Barack Obama’s direction, though the final results in many states are hard to decipher from the polling.  As I file this post for the weekend before the election I expect this race to tighten in the last 72 hours. The fact that this election was more about Obama needing to sell himself to the electorate, than the voters deciding who created the mess that caused our national distress and voting accordingly, is one reason that the polls are harder to read.  In addition is the unknown number of voters that will turn out, and to what degree the Obama GOTV effort will produce an outcome that might shake the rafters.  Also we need to be mindful of how many Republicans might feel so dispirited they may decide to not vote.  The biggest unknown is the degree to which racial bigotry will play a role.   (I might add with a wry smile that the bigotry from the GOP over the past years regarding Hispanics and immigration is one reason that the West will deliver for the Democrats,)

The winner of the White House will create a historic chapter for our nation.   However, having said that, I have a more conservative view of the lay of the land.  I have never thought that the Obama campaign was going to produce a landslide.  I still know our country is bitterly divided along cultural lines.  Two months ago, if pressed, I would have predicted that John McCain would have won the White House.   But after Sarah Palin, an economic crisis, and perhaps the worst run campaign in recent memory, John McCain has no chance to win.  We need to be mindful that no candidate, like McCain that is behind this far in the national polls, and this late in the campaign has come back to win.  Granted there have been come-from-behind victories, but they didn’t come back this far so late in the game.  In addition early voting has made comebacks harder and diminishes the impact of the kind of late-breaking development that might have worked for McCain.  I have read reports that suggest 1/3 of all votes might have been cast by early ballot.

So while Obama wins, I do not see an Electoral College tsunami.  I know that many are forecasting such an event, and if it happens, I will be elated.  But my mind and gut is telling me that a more conservative view is the correct one.  Either way, America will elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

I am watching three separate races in three Eastern States where polls will close early, and as a result I think much will be known about the mood of the electorate early on Election Night.

First, in Virginia I will be watching to see if Barack Obama wins.  If he does, the night will be far shorter for John McCain, though it will feel like a very long night for the Republican Party from sea to sea.   It might also tell us that there is more than a mere ‘win’ coming for Obama nationally as the night continues.  A Virginia win for Obama might mean a huge victory of landslide proportions when all the votes are counted.  While I am predicting Virginia goes to Obama, I do not see the big sweep that so many are predicting.  In addition, if there is something happening for Obama in ‘red’ states, this means that McCain needs to pick up all the swing states.  Much might be told in Virginia.

Second, in North Carolina I will be watching the Senate race between Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole, and her Democratic challenger Kay Hagan.  This race is indicative of whether Democrats will win enough seats to be in the zone of a 60-seat majority.  A defeat of Dole in North Carolina would aid the Democrats by putting them on the road to getting near the goal of 60 seats.

Third, the 4th Congressional District in Connecticut will be a barometer early in the evening to see if the House gains by Democrats will be closer to 15 or to 25.  Incumbent GOP Christopher Shays is one of the last of his party to serve in Congress from the Northeast.  Jim Himes, the Democratic opponent is close to undoing the 12-term Shays.  I hasten to add there have been others who came close in past elections.  Still, this race early in the night will tell us a great deal about the new Congress.

Part Two-And The Winner Is…

Barack Obama 291 Electoral Votes- 53.5% of the popular vote.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

John McCain 247 Electoral Votes

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,  West Virginia, Wyoming

Part Three-Congressional Races

Democrats will have 57 U.S. Senate seats at the end of the night, and a gain of 22 House seats.


Placing the right of the electorate to vote on the civil rights for another group in this nation has been discussed at length on this blog.  If there is anything that can be labeled ‘un-American’, it is the desire of some to continually seek ways to undermine gay rights.  The latest such attempt, and a very dangerous one, is Prop 8 that seeks to undermine the California Supreme Court decision to allow for gay marriage.  There is no good way to poll on these measures, so no one knows what might happen.  I fear that many African-Americans who will turn out in large numbers for Obama, will allow cultural differences to come ahead of working for the civil rights of gay Americans. Much as I hate to predict it, Prop 8 will pass. 


4th CD-I suspect that even in this year where anything labeled GOP suffers, that Christopher Shays did just enough to distance himself from the tainted conservatives in his party to stay in office….again.  I will admit this is one tough politician and so he at least deserves a tip of the hat for dexterity under fire, which he dealt with this year.  If he were to lose that would be an indicator of the mood of the nation, and it would mean a very good night for House Democrats.


While I think Senator Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent wins, it has been a race of twists and turns.  Democratic challenger Jim Martin has turned a large pro-Obama movement his way, and helped to split the conservatives who are angry with Chambliss over the bailout vote.  It has been real interesting to see the Big Business Republicans fight the populist conservatives over the bailout measure.  Libertarian Allen Buckley is making this race even more interesting as election rules could force a run-off if one of the contenders does not make it over 50%.  Just for pure theatre this race will be fun to watch as the hours roll by on Election Night.


Senator Mitch McConnell should not have even needed to be talked about as a possible ‘leaning’ Republican seat.  As the Republican Minority Leader he should have never had a problem in his state.  But after the GOP treatment of South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle in 2006, this is tit-for tat.  In addition, this race has intrigued me all season, as McConnell seems to have a closeted view of the world.  The rumors about why he was discharged from the military during the Vietnam era after only four months of service has made for lots of speculation.  I think McConnell wins this election, but the questions about his ‘lifestyle’ (isn’t that the GOP way of speaking) will not go away.


I have long thought that the second most vulnerable U.S. Senator was Norm Coleman, (Dole being the first) and I still feel that way.  Though one of his opponents, Al Franken, has at times run a sloppy campaign, and made some, (lets be honest), stupid mistakes, I think the outrage over the condition of the nation, along with the Obama vote, will make the Democratic challenger the winner.  Dean Barkley from the Independence Party is drawing double-digit support in the polls, and while this confuses the race, I think the economic woes carry Franken to victory. As I write there are some poll results that show Coleman to be faring a bit better, but I think the cement hardened on this race a couple weeks ago.  Franken wins.


A rematch that has been lots of fun to watch between Jill Derby the Democratic candidate, and the Republican incumbent Dean Heller, will produce a different outcome than in 2006.  Derby wins, and the Obama coat-tails will be the reason why.  John Kerry lost Nevada by 21,000 votes, and Obama has registered 5 times that many new energetic voters.  More younger voters live here and plan to vote, and fewer over 65-age voters make up the district.  Welcome to Congress, Jill!


2nd CD-If there is any common sense in the 2nd CD Jean Schmidt will be retired this evening.  Long on my radar after her most uncivilized speech on the House floor against a fellow member, there is only one place she deserves to be.  On the outside looking in.  The name-calling incident was a one-minute House speech by Schmidt that put the House of Representatives in an uproar. In that minute, Schmidt criticized Congressman John Murtha, and used the term “coward,” saying s “…send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”  Schmidt has two opponents in her race, Democrat Victoria Wulsin and Independent David Krikorian. In spite of more African-American votes due to Obama, I am predicting that Schmidt will win, but still hope that sanity might prevail.  Her type of behavior in a legislative body is unforgivable.


8th CD-This is the only real congressional race in the state, and I think it will be a long night counting.  While Republicans are not popular nationwide, John Gard was not in Washington these past two years, and I think that makes all the difference.  Northeast Wisconsin is very conservative, and even a strong Obama vote will be hard pressed to save incumbent Democrat Steve Kagen.  The CD might elect a Democrat, but they have a hard time sending one back for a second term.  Only Democrat Robert Cornell won re-election.  Kagen is smarter, but Gard wins.  The district will be the loser in the long run.


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AJR Offers Thoughtful Response To The Conservative Flap Over The New York Times

I have been fascinated with the coverage over the past 36 hours of how The New York Times story regarding ethical laspses by John McCain has been reported in the media. I have been amused how the GOP conservative elite have been blasting the newspaper for reporting it, not angry over the Senator and soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee actually being ethically challenged.   I realize that is par for the course with this group. 

To be honest I have found the coverage of the media angle to this more interesting than the front page article itself which appeared in The New York Times on Thursday.  Perhaps the best piece to have been written thus far about this whole media story comes from American Journalism Review.

What all of this disregards is the way newspapers work. A “story” is not a completed, off-the-assembly-line product, an immutable narrative etched in granite. There’s a long distance between initial tip and above-the-fold scoop on a story of this nature and magnitude, particularly one which a high-powered Washington criminal lawyer, not to mention a presidential candidate, is mau-mauing editors to kill. The amount of scrutiny and debate is often staggering.

In more than 26 years at six newspapers and one wire service as a reporter and editor, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve known reporters, excellent reporters, who were convinced that a piece was ready to roll, totally nailed down, only to be told that they needed to do more reporting. Or that the article needed to be rewritten or reorganized or broadened.

It’s a tense, intense, conflict-laden process, as that New Republic piece, published on the Web today, makes clear it was in this instance.

Most of the time, all of the massaging makes for a better world. But sometimes the end product is watered down, and sometimes it says more than it establishes. As the great Peter Binzen, my boss at the late Philadelphia Bulletin, often told me when I was fulminating about this or that screw-up, “Newspapering is a very inexact science.”

When I was at the Washington Post, we had a story about some of the damage caused by a Soviet spy named Ronald Pelton. Week after week, we thought it was ready to go, only to have someone from the government come up to see Ben Bradlee with national security concerns. Ultimately Bradlee thought the story had reached the point that it could be published without endangering the future of the republic, and it was.

So what about this one? Admittedly, it’s not the most airtight piece ever published. There’s no smoking gun. There are no documents. There are enough anonymous sources to make Bob Woodward happy. And both the senator and the lobbyist deny that they had an affair.

But the Times doesn’t assert that McCain and telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman had an affair. What it does say is that his top associates were very concerned about his close relationship with someone lobbying about issues before his committee, feared it may have become romantic and actually staged an intervention to break it up. In a rare on-the-record moment, it quotes John Weaver, long a close McCain associate, describing a meeting in which Weaver said he asked Iseman to stay away from the senator.

So who cares? Here’s the point: McCain, who nearly blew up his career with his involvement in the Keating Five scandal long ago, has for years portrayed himself as a reformer, an implacable foe of lobbyists, an unfailing crusader against the dreaded earmarks. To have such a high-profile relationship with a lobbyist on issues over which he has jurisdiction, replete with a trip on her client’s corporate jet, is an appalling lapse of judgment, regardless of whether the two were sleeping together or spending all of their time playing chess or discussing the works of Hegel and Nietzsche. No wonder his staff was so upset.

(Interestingly, the Washington Post moved quickly to follow the Times’ lead with a similar piece — it had been in the works for some time — without citing the possibility of a sexual relationship.)

And, most important, the Iseman episode is not portrayed in a vacuum. While the Times piece led and concluded with the, er, sexiest part of the saga, it was just a part of a pattern of ethical blind spots shown over the years by McCain. To me, that’s the power of the piece.

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Poll Of The Day: John Gard Is Unethical

There is only one truly contested House seat in Wisconsin, and that is in the 8th Congressional District.  Former GOP Speaker of the State Assembly, and per diem manipulator extraordinaire, John Gard, is in the race of his life as he faces Democratic nominee Steve Kagen.  When it comes to making the political process unseemly there are few that do it better than Gard.    Talking as a fiscal conservative, but acting with pure greed as his motivation, he has used state per diem to make lots of extra cash for himself while serving as a legislator.

For years Gard collected the $88 per day for legislators who live outside Dane County, despite owning a home and living in Sun Prairie, which is located just outside Madison.  This per diem wasn’t just spare change!  By the end of 2005 Gard had reaped $39,931 above what he was supposedly to have received since he actually lived in Dane County while representing his northern Assembly District.  Some people have no shame!

The voters in the 8th CD are not stupid, and therefore understand a fraud when they see one, and that is why the latest St. Norbert College poll has Gard and Kagen tied at 43% each. The poll also found that 10% of the electorate is undecided.  The poll found 17% of the respondents considered themselves independent, and in most other districts around the country this group is breaking for the Democratic choice for Congress.

The most important factor for those polled when picking a candidate to vote for was character, honesty, and integrity.  Given how Gard misused his power as Speaker and took per diem in a manner that was unethical, the voters must conclude he would operate in the same fashion if sent to Congress.  Given how John Gard already has learned how to make money off the taxpayers while in Madison, just imagine what he could do for himself in Washington, D.C.


Poll Of The Day: Gard More Vulnerable

I noted this morning on-line the nationally respected Chuck Todd of the “Hotline” has elevated one of our ethically challenged GOP candidates in Wisconsin to a slightly more vulnerable position.

Todd keeps a “Top 30” of the most contested House seats in the country.  Moving up a slot from #26 to #25 is former Wisconsin Speaker of the State Assembly, John Gard.  As Todd has noted for weeks the volatility in the electorate right now makes the bottom 15-30 as contentious as the top 15.  Gard is seeking the open House seat from outgoing GOP Congressman Green, who happens to be another ethically challenged candidate for office this year.

Who ever wins in the 8th Congressional District would they please get some federal funds to study what in heck is in the water up there…

Bush Raises GOP Monies For John Gard In Wisconsin While Middle East Rages

Perhaps it is because I am a news junkie and start my day with the radio informing me of developments around the globe while I slept.  Perhaps it is because I am a history buff and enjoy understanding the past and then placing current events into context with the events that have taken places over the many years.  Whatever the reason is the past few weeks, on top of the past five years, trouble me greatly as I follow the events from the Middle East.

I am not sure what other time in our history I would use as an analogy to the current series of crises that confront our country, and clearly befuddle the Bush administration. 

This morning the Israeli government rejected the language for the cease-fire that the U.S. and France have been trying to create in concert with other members of the United Nations.  The wholesale rejection is a huge step towards more chaos as Israel also plans to step up the offensive nature of their attack on the people of Lebanon.

The galvanizing effect that Israel has on the Arab population, and extremists who use these actions to their advantage, is highly worrisome to me.  Recall the harsh (in historical terms for Middle East governments) words towards the actions of Hezbollah in the initial days of the conflict.  Now the public sentiment in every Arab country is at fever pitch and the government line of each nation has hardened against Israel and U.S. policy in the region.

By not talking with our enemies and not placing a strong forceful hand on our friends the region is ripe for a horrific conflagration. 

Meanwhile a civil war (call it what you want, but if it looks like a duck….) is in full throttle in Iraq.  Within the morgues of Baghdad alone nearly 1,900 bodies were delivered in July.  These were not dead terrorists or insurgents that the Iraqi police or U.S. troops had killed.  These were men, women, and children of the random sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq.

The potential for calamity on a massive scale is real.  Some of the stories are found on the inside of the papers but they are very much part of the reason we need a fully engaged President in the Oval Office.  Turkey has again made threats for invading northern Iraq to quell the Kurdish ambition of independence, which of course impacts the boundary area between the two nations.  Afghanistan is smoldering and the Taliban is on a more energized series of attacks that is unsettling the region.  The largest rallies against Israel have been in the new ‘democracy’ of Iraq as Israel pushes the envelope of common sense in Lebanon.  And Syria must not be allowed to be edged into the conflict based on Israel’s actions.

President Bush has made the wrong decision multiple times in the Middle East but the latest hands-off approach to the war Israel is waging in Lebanon must stop.  Bush needs to get off the campaign trail and head back to the office.  A cease-fire must be put in place and Israel MUST respect it and abide by it.  Talks must start AT ONCE between our enemies.  Both Iran and Syria need to be addressed across a negotiating table and the idea that we do not talk with those who wish us ill needs to be discarded on whatever pile of crap is accumulating in the Oval Office.

The world is holding its breath as the Middle East rages,,,but thank God John Gard was able to reap some campaign cash in his race for Congress in Wisconsin.  He must feel proud that he is more important than the burning buildings and dead bodies piling high in Lebanon.

John Gard…..Release Your Campaign Finance Report

Honor and ethics must be a part of the political process.  I firmly believe that elected office is a noble profession and principled politicians can complete great good for the people.  I am old fashioned enough to believe what I was taught in civics as a child, and yet wise and seasoned enough to fully understand our history and the way the world operates.

Which brings me to Wisconsin State Representative John Gard who is leaving the State Assembly to run for Congress in the 8th Congressional District.  Gard served as Speaker of the Assembly and watched the statehouse scandal explode in the media and the Dane County Courthouse.  The criminal and ethical lapses from both Republicans and Democrats in Madison was a messy and awful thing to watch grow and fester.

So one should assume that given the past problems in state government Gard would try to be squeaky clean and above board in a fresh campaign. 


The state requirement for releasing campaign financial disclosure statements is a hard and fast rule that all office seekers must abide by, except it appears, John Gard.  The deadline of July 20th has slipped by and yet there is no accounting for Gard’s campaign activities for the first half of this year.


The voters of the 8th Congressional District have a right to know the answer.  Citizens across the state also need to know as this type of behavior cuts to the core as to why people feel apathetic about politics and queasy with our political process.