Kathleen Falk Gets Notice From Politico “I’m Not A Soft Touch, I’m Just Fair”

In a news story up on the Politico web site today Kathleen Falk  continues to demonstrate why she has the best chance to win the recall election against Scott Walker, and move Wisconsin forward.

“I have worked around the state with citizens who have just reacted to the  extreme far right agenda of Scott Walker in a way I’ve  never seen before,” Falk told POLITICO in an interview. “In Wisconsin,  we don’t skew far left or skew far right. We just want good education, some  health care, clean air and water and a decent job — very common sense values.  The Governor Walker agenda has just torn the state apart.”

“I’m not a soft touch, I’m just fair,” she said. “And that process of  negotiating through collective bargaining accomplished a ten million dollar  saving for taxpayers, and I am proud of it. I am proud of those unions for doing  their share of the sacrifice. Wisconsin is the home to public sector collective  bargaining and Walker refused to negotiate, he refused to talk, so his extreme  position is one of those reasons he will be recalled.”

For Falk, it’s also no surprise that Walker will tie any Democratic  contender, herself included, to unions.

“I think he is going to label whoever his opponent is with those kinds of  what he believes are derogatory labels,” she said. “One of the reasons he is in  deep political trouble is because he labels those he disagrees with and  marginalizes them instead of working with them. He doesn’t talk to people, he  doesn’t negotiate with people, he doesn’t work with people he doesn’t agree  with. And you can’t be a leader that way.”

Falk slammed Walker for not publicly addressing the (John Doe) investigation and  questioned how a manager could possibly be unaware of what his closest aides  were up to during work hours.

“People are reserving final judgment as they ought to, but they are very  dismayed,” she told POLITICO. “They are very troubled by this cloud surrounding  Gov. Walker. It is very hard to understand because he has not publicly explained  how he could have been in his office as county executive literally feet from his  chosen staff, his high level ranking staff, who are accused of running a  political campaign to foster his political future literally within a stone’s  throw from his office without him knowing about it.”

“Or, if he didn’t know about it, what kind of manager does that make him?” she added. “No matter what angle you look at it from, people are very concerned  and he has not been forthcoming about what he knew or when he knew about it. I  am, like most people, disappointed and concerned about this cloud that hangs  over him and will be looking to what the district attorney finds next or whom  the district attorney charges next.”

Moderates Needed For New Republican Party

I was amused by a recent comment printed on my blog about the back-lash that I should be prepared for in 201o  when the outrage from Republicans would be registered at the polls.  I smiled, but did not reply. 

The reason I held my tongue was the knowledge that the GOP is still searching for real issues, and candidates.  Trying to convince the nation that we are in the grip of a communist without a birth certificate only makes the GOP look like the bat-shit crazy sister at a family function.  (I know as I have such a sibling!) The angry loud shrieks that have dominated the news this year are not those of a party ascending, but instead are the death wails of a gasping once mighty giant on the decline.  The nation has changed.   The demographics that once produced a Reagan do not exist.  Now the party can now only find enough to rally around the likes of a Sarah Palin.  The new found voice of the Latino voters are not about to support the vile words of those who would deny them their role on our stage.  The raw meat of the culture wars have been dwarfed by the real economic and foreign policy concerns of the majority.  Example after example show why the GOP has become a shadow of itself. 

So what does the party bosses that are more moderate do to see that the Republican Party does not implode entirely?

McCain’s thinking has expressed serious concern about the direction of the party and is actively seeking out and supporting candidates who can broaden the party’s reach.  

In McCain’s case, that means backing conservative pragmatists and moderates.  

“I think he’s endorsed people with center-right politics because he has an understanding that the party is in trouble with certain demographics and wants to have a tone that would allow us to grow,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is McCain’s closest friend and ally in the Senate. 

“At a time when our party is struggling and has a lot of shrill voices and aggressive voices, he’s one that can expand our party,” said John Weaver, a longtime McCain friend and strategist.

Why Gov. Doyle Decided Not To Run For Third Term

The reasons are many.  (And lets not forget the possible appointment to a job in Washington within the Obama Administration.)

But sources familiar with his decision not to seek a third term say Doyle recognized the difficulties he may have faced next year and didn’t want to go through another campaign after a long political career. 

He’s had to raise taxes and fees while furloughing state workers to help plug a $6.6 billion budget deficit. In doing so, his approval numbers have fallen below 40 percent. And just this week, he faced the embarrassment of seeing his legal counsel quit because she hadn’t passed the state bar. 

“His legal counsel resigns, poll numbers have been in the tank, the state’s unemployment rate is hovering above 9 percent, he’s bickering with Dem lawmakers on the Finance Committee, and he’s taking shots from the Madison media over one of his appointments to the Dane County bench,” wrote the popular state political site Wispolitics.com in their insider “Stock Market” column last week. “And there’s continued heartburn among Dems because he still hasn’t officially announced if he’s running for governor next year. It all adds up to a rough patch for the guv, insiders from both sides say.” National Democratic strategists privately expressed concern about Doyle’s re-election prospects, especially in the face of a strong GOP field that includes Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Rep. Mark Neumann. “It’s not the worst thing in the world,” said one top Democrat, citing Doyle’s declining popularity and a solid bench of prospective Democratic candidates.

Obama White House Pushing Senate On Climate Change Bill

Every White House needs to find its way forward in the battles with Congress.  Watching the Obama White House over the past month it has become clear that there is a ratcheting up of pressure and intent by this administration to get action on measures that were high on the wish list of the American public in the last election.  This article today in Politico makes the point very clear.  The Obama White House, six months into the job,  has found their footing.   

Stung by complaints that it did too little, too late in the House, the Obama administration has launched an intense, senator-by-senator effort to push climate change legislation through the Senate.

 Call it climatedate.com.

 The White House is working closely with Senate Democratic aides to match each skeptical senator with the Cabinet member or other key administration official most likely to be persuasive.

 So Midwestern Democrats like Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who worry that the bill could send manufacturing jobs abroad, can expect a sit-down with Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who wants the bill to include more domestic energy production and greater emphasis on nuclear power, can expect to hear directly from Energy SecretarySteven Chu.

 Skeptical senators could also get high-profile White House meetings with the president himself.

 Over the past two weeks, five Cabinetsecretaries — Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — have testified in support of the legislation before the Environment and Public Works Committee.

 Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who faces an uphill fight in shepherding the bill through the Senate, says she appreciates all the attention from up the street.

 “It’s really been a pleasure for me, because last time I did this, I had an administration that was fighting me at every turn,” she said. “Here, I have a very supportive administration, so it’s a very nice change for us.”

Some Of Govenor Sanford Trips To Argentina Paid For By South Carolina Taxpayers

Messy details.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) “has taken at least three taxpayer-paid trips to Argentina, however, it’s unclear whether he met his girlfriend during any of them,” reports Politico.

Though he paid for his most recent trip, “sometime after his 2002 election as governor, Sanford traveled to Argentina on the dime of the South Carolina Department of Commerce.”

“It likely would have taken place after he had met the woman. Sanford said Wednesday he met the woman eight years ago, though a romantic relationship did not develop until one year ago.”

Senator Kennedy Health Care Plan Takes Shape

Senator Ted Kennedy is back in Washington, and determined that health care will be passed by the August recess of Congress.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has been more of a behind-the-curtains player on health care reform while he battles brain cancer, is reasserting his voice in the public debate as the Senate races to meet an August deadline.  

His committee is circulating a 12-page “policy overview” on a bill to guarantee universal access to health care, create a public insurance option, and require individuals and employers to buy coverage. Produced by Democrats on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs, the paper offers the first comprehensive description of where the committee is headed on an overhaul bill. 

“As we near the point of introducing legislation to achieve our vision, we issue this policy overview to lay out our priorities for the legislation,” according to the document obtained Friday by POLITICO. 

The paperemerged a day after Kennedy published an op-ed in the Boston Globe on his “five major elements” for a health reform bill, and as more specific examples of what Kennedy is considering for a bill leaked to health care advocates. The leaked details suggest Kennedy is laying down a marker to the left of Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a moderate who is shepherding a separate bill through his committee. 

But the 12-page committee paper outlines broad concepts that generally align with the ideas Baucus is considering. It was dated May 21 and titled “A New Vision for American Health Care: Strengthening What Works and Fixing What Doesn’t.” 

“Over the last several months, HELP [Committee] Democrats have been working non-stop to develop a health reform bill that reduces cost, protects individual choices and assures affordable, high-quality healthcare for every American,” Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement. “This internal document is a partial summary of their bipartisan efforts through that date, and does not represent final policy.” 

The details are where Kennedy may diverge from Baucus. Liberal health care advocates expect the Massachusetts Democrat to attempt to pull Baucus to the left as they wade deeper into negotiations, and Kennedy’s heightened presence this week suggested to some that he was beginning that public offensive. 

Indeed, in an email summary that began circulating this week, Kennedy was described as considering a public insurance option that would pay providers slightly more than Medicare rates – a structure that would draw fierce opposition from private insurers, Republicans and moderate Democrats

He would also expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover individuals up to 26-years old – up from 18 – and provide insurance subsidies on a sliding scale to families with incomes 500 percent above the poverty line. Both proposals provide more generous coverage than what is under consideration in the Finance Committee.

Republicans Would Be Completely Mowed Down If They Fought Sotomayor

This seemed to be the prevailing understory yesterday, and continues to be a theme this morning.

The GOP may want to keep the meanness out of the Supreme Court nomination process concerning Judge Sotomayor.

Veterans of Supreme Court battles will remind you that they often take surprising turns. And Senate Republicans are keeping their options open, with plans to turn over all the stones they can find. (One option being considered is a focus on Second Amendment cases.) But Republicans tell us privately that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was a smart pick that may leave them relatively little to work with. Obama is picking a fight he has already won. She has no abortion opinions, and Bill Frist and Rick Santorum voted to confirm her as a federal appeals judge in 1998. In an overnight appeal to supporters, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, stopped far short of opposition: “Contact your two senators today and urge them not to rush to judgment on Sotomayor or approve her based on her biography.”

Republicans recognize that the party has to do better with Hispanic voters if it has any hope of winning a national election, and party officials know that waging holy war against the first Latina nominee to the High Court carries high risk. Worst-case scenario: cementing of stereotypes, and further minority alienation from the GOP. So there’ll be lots of posturing and theater and phony outrage. (One veteran tactician explains that both sides use these fights to set markers and send signals for the next pick.) And of course lots of conservative groups are depending on a “fight” to raise money and jump-start the movement. But barring one of Rummy’s unknown unknowns, White House officials expect a relatively painless and swift confirmation, with a bunch of Republican votes. It even looks likely that they’ll get it on the president’s timetable. Although Senate Republicans are not yet committing to a confirmation before the August congressional recess, our high-level soundings found little appetite for dragging out what looks like a foregone conclusion. As conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told us: “I don’t believe in charging up a hill when you’re going to be completely mowed down.”

President Obama:“I Tend To Be A Night Owl”

A most interesting interview with President Obama was conducted on C-SPAN. 


–“I tend to be a night owl. So after I have had dinner with the family and tucked the girls in, then I have a big stack of stuff that I have taken up to the residence. And I’ll typically stay up until midnight, just going over stuff and sometimes push the stack aside and just try to do some writing and focus on not the immediate issue in front of me, but some of the issues that are coming down the pike that we need to be thinking about.”

–SCULLY: Have you had any conversation with former President Bush since the inauguration?

OBAMA: I have.


OBAMA: Well, I think that although I’ve only been president four months, I think a general policy of keeping confidence with your predecessors is important.

–ON THE COURT PICK: “I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to have an announcement soon. And my hope is, is that we can have hearings in July so that we end up before Congress breaks for the summer – have somebody in place. One of the things I would prefer not to see happen is that these confirmation hearings drag on and somebody has to hit the ground running and then take their seat in October without having the time to wrap their mind around the fact that they are going to be a Supreme Court Justice. I’d like to given them a little bit of lead time so that they can get prepared.”

–WANTS “COMMON TOUCH … NOT JUST IVORY TOWNER LEARNING”: “[I]n all these cases what I want is not just ivory tower learning. I want somebody who has the intellectual fire power, but also a little bit of a common touch and has a practical sense of how the world works.”

–“THE STARS MAY BE ALIGNED” ON HEALTH CARE: “I really think that the stars may be aligned here and we potentially can get it done if everybody comes at it with a spirit not of ideological rigidity. But if they come at it with a sense that in a practical hard-headed way, we can really negotiate and compromise and get something done for the American people.”

–Obama was asked about the current TIME magazine cover story on Michelle Obama: “We don’t feel a lot of stress. We don’t think in those terms. We think in terms of mom and dad and kids and now a dog and how do you make sure that your kids are doing their homework, brushing their teeth, treating each other nicely.”

In fact, Obama said, he has found that the White House “has been terrific for family life, compared to some of our other previous situations like campaigns, because we are all in the same place. I have got this pretty nice home office, and I am home for dinner every night just about that I’m in town. And I can read to the girls, and they can tell me about their day,” he said. “I’ve even gotten to go to a couple of soccer games. And so, we also happen to be blessed by two almost perfect children. So we are pretty lucky there.”

Scully added: “But you sell a lot of magazines.”

Obama parried: “Well, you know, Michelle sells a lot of magazines. I don’t about how magazines with me on the cover do. I think Michelle’s do very well.”