Brat Fest, Burke’s surge, and memories of Bush

Catching up on the past week’s news following a lazy holiday weekend dedicated to not watching Bret Michaels perform in a circa 1987 head scarf that’s been flagged as a disease vector by at least nine regional CDC bureaus and the World Health Organization Task Force on Cholera Control. (Why travel all the way to the Alliant Energy Center when you’ve just put on your stretchy Zubaz, have season 3 of Rock of Love cued up on VHS and ready to roll, and dumped a metric ton of dry ice and Zima into your neighbor’s abandoned blue plastic wading pool?)

The final word on Brat Fest? The World’s Largest Brat Fest has been rocked by controversy over the past several years. Johnsonville supports Walker; a pro-life speaker is invited (and then disinvited); Bret Michaels is allowed to cannonball like a Scotch-besotted Ron Burgundy into our hitherto pristine gene pool. (But hey, at least he’s not Ted Nugent.)

As a vegan, my biggest problem with Brat Fest has always been the brats. Until recently, that is. On Friday, I enjoyed two delicious Field Roast sausages, vegan all the way through, courtesy of the folks at The World’s Largest Brat Fest. It’s the third year Brat Fest has offered the vegan Field Roast alternative and the first year I’ve taken advantage. (I need to pay closer attention from now on.)

In all sincerity, I’d like to thank the Brat Fest organizers for accommodating us vegans. There’s a palpable excitement that accompanies the Friday before a holiday weekend, sunshine on the brain, and an early-morning Wisconsin brat or two (or, erm, Seattle faux sausage) shared with hail fellows well met.

It’s nice to be able to participate in this solemn office ritual, and I commend Brat Fest for going the extra mile to make Take Your Brat to Work Day a more pleasant day for me.

… Speaking of vegans, be sure to check out the fourth annual Mad City Vegan Fest on June 7 at the Goodman Community Center. Lots of great food/great speakers/and great info for dedicated vegans, vegetarians, and the curious alike.

As the Dude says …

Walker and Burke in dead heat: I don’t know what kind of spooky juju Mary Burke has summoned, but as you’ve probably heard, the latest Marquette Law School poll has her tied with Scott Walker (at 46% each) in the Wisconsin governor’s race. And that’s with a campaign staff that resembles a frightened sugar glider trapped in an old woman’s beehive hairdo.

Maybe the inclusion of the indomitable Brett Hulsey has somehow given her a bump by providing a contrast of sorts. You know, she doesn’t seem too exciting, but at least she’s not showing up at Republican events looking like a deranged Confederate soldier who shops at Savers. Compared to Hulsey, she looks positively statesmanlike.

The good news for Hulsey is that only 9% of voters surveyed have an unfavorable impression of him. The bad news is that 87% of voters haven’t heard of him or don’t know if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of him. (To be fair, the respondents were probably asked whether they’d heard of Brett Hulsey, not whether they’d heard of the frothing lunatic who’s running against Mary Burke. I’m guessing the latter question would have upped his Q Score considerably.)

Meanwhile, only 27% of Wisconsinites want to see Walker run for president, while 67% do not. Put me in the camp that would like to see him dare try.

By the way, I tease Mary Burke and her campaign, but I have nothing but admiration for her and her philanthropic efforts. I’ve linked to this Isthmus article before, I link to it now, and I’ll link to it again. The woman sold her house to help the homeless, for Pete’s sake. Who does that? She does. She’s solid.

Psst, Mary. Scott Walker is not only vulnerable on economic issues but social issues as well. You’ve got him in a clinch; go for the jugular.



Ron Johnson a racist? I don’t think so. Not overtly, anyway. But a recent spat during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing between the Wisconsin senator and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) was revealing.

Rockefeller contended that Johnson’s continued opposition to the Affordable Care Act had to do with President Obama being “the wrong color.”

Johnson proceeded to flip out:

“That you would say that opposition to Obamacare necessarily must stream from some inherent racism? Very offensive,” said Johnson.

I won’t pretend to know Johnson’s — or any other Republican’s — motivations, but I do think there’s a racial component to much of the criticism directed at President Obama. At the very least, politicians opposed to the president have been able to draw on a deep — though not necessarily broad — reservoir of racial animus that still exists in the South and across America’s heartland.

One needs to step lightly when broaching this subject, of course. I personally believe the majority of Republicans, in Congress and elsewhere, are fair-minded when it comes to race, and some Democrats are not above dishonestly playing the race card.

That said, what do you suppose the reaction of the Tea Party crowd would have been to the following scenario?

The first African-American U.S. president starts a costly and ruinous war whose sole rationale turns out to be total B.S.; sits stunned, cow-eyed, and mute while hundreds of hungry, desperate white people stand on their roofs following a devastating hurricane; looks on befuddled as the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression occurs on his watch; then blithely skips away to his Texas ranch to paint pictures of cats. Then, a white guy and son of a former president takes over, ends the B.S. war, turns the economy around (albeit slowly) despite being obstructed at nearly every turn by the opposition party, and passes a comprehensive health care reform bill that allows people who were previously uninsurable to go to the doctor for the first time in years.

Would they call the white guy an un-American, traitorous, communist, dictatorial, foreign-born interloper who has nothing but contempt for decent people and their freedoms?

I think conservatives have their answer. And that answer, of course, is: Benghazi.

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