Russ Feingold is tanned, rested, and ready, says ‘The Corporation That Speaks’

But first, will Scott Walker still be a candidate when the Republican presidential debate stop in Wisconsin is held in November? CNN now puts an asterisk after Walker’s name, posting him at less than 1% support along with other after school-special candidates Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore.

The flip-flopping on immigration hurt but not as much as disappearing on stage at last week’s debate at Ronnie Reagan World. Voters are looking for some snap, crackle, and pop. The indentured servants here at the Manor cheered after Walker jumped in to go after The Donald. After that flurry, he took a coffee break.

How does he get is mojo back? He changes the debate from immigration (me, too) and the Iran treaty (Cruz, Rubio, and Fiorina own that issue) and goes to Ferguson. Or Chicago, or Milwaukee. He speaks about the killing fields of America’s major cities and its cure: personal responsibility and the opportunity society. He does so arm in arm with conservative black leaders. Someone like Herman Cain, Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, or Niger Innis. Or all by his lonesome. There is unintimidated! (U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. are hosting a forum on poverty and opportunity in January.)

If Walker can hold on until the Iowa caucuses in February and do well there — say second or a strong third — he remains viable. Otherwise, I’m good with Carly (zooming to 15% behind The Donald’s 24%) and Marco. The bandwagon and the sinking ship effects, I fear, are real.

Meanwhile, a for-profit corporation is donating thousands of dollars worth of in-kind contributions to a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate without reporting to Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board.

“The Corporation That Speaks as If It Were an Individual” promoted Russ Feingold’s campaign with a puff piece last week entitled, “He’s ready.” And, after nearly six years, tanned and rested.

Anyone who knows anything about politics [in other words, John Nichols] will tell you that writing and teaching and traveling to remote corners of the world is an unlikely strategy for staging an electoral comeback. It is true that Feingold, who as a kid hung out at the Democratic booth at the Rock County Fair, remained somewhat engaged with politics — protesting Walker’s anti-union initiatives, co-chairing President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign … [Yeah, that’s not being involved in politics], and traveling the state and country on behalf of Progressives United [no politics?], the group he founded to challenge corporate influence on politics and policy.

In other words, he kept his campaign team on the payroll to gear up for the election rematch.



My grousing aroused the Wisconsin State Journal’s Chris Rickert from his First Amendment slumber. Responding on Facebook, Rickert parried, “Let’s see, who’s paying for all that advocacy in The Capital Times? Ah yes, I can find them right there amid the Feingold love: the Gardner Co., Potawatomi Casino, Clasen’s European Baker, etc., etc., etc.” Rickert was referring to Capital Newspaper Incorporated’s advertising customers. 

Which is a straw dog. Nobody asks the source of the Koch Brothers’ largesse. They, too, have customers for Koch Industries’ vast array of home, business, construction, clothing, manufacturing, farm, and chemical products! All money comes from somewhere!

The questions remain: will the Capital Times parent corporation’s in-kind contribution be reported by the Feingold campaign? Was there collusion between the Feingold campaign, the Democratic Party, Russ’s phony front group, and Capital Newspapers Inc.? Where are John Chisholm and the battering rams when you really need them?

Rickert answered, in our Facebook face-off, “Ask the Framers.”

By the Framers, I venture that Rickert does not mean Russ Feingold, John McCain, or Meuer’s Art, but the Founding Fathers. Those august gentlemen — not a pauper among them — made no distinction; speech was free whether spoken or printed. Nor did they require disclosure laws (authors of the Federalist Papers were anonymous), or ban certain speakers from speaking before an election when such speech is most important (as did McCain-Feingold, overturned by Citizens United), or limit speech to a certain dollar threshold.

Rickert and most other paid writers interpret the Constitution’s term “press” as a synonym for the professional news media. But might it apply to the creaky mimeograph machine in the basement of a noisome crackpot? Must one own the press or can one rent? May one rent Page 14 to disseminate one’s message? May I help finance the dissemination of that message to other outlets?

From Citizens United v. F.E.C:

There is no precedent supporting laws that attempt to distinguish between corporations which are deemed to be exempt as media corporations and those which are not. We have consistently rejected the proposition that the institutional press has any constitutional privilege beyond that of other speakers. With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media, moreover, the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.

About Russ’s phony front group: the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice reported early this summer that Progressives United had given “a mere 5% of its income to federal candidates and political parties. Instead, nearly half of the $7.1 million that Progressives United PAC has spent since 2011 has gone to raising more money for itself [and for] salaries or consulting fees for Feingold, his top aide, and eight former staffers.”

For extra credit Three work groups grind through months of cogitation and hair twisting on supposed racial disparities in criminal sentencing in Dane County. Their major recommendation? More data, please. Everything else is just more of the same (hiring diversity, sentencing alternatives, etc.) More significant is what they did not find: evidence of racism.

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