One more thing Editors demo weak skills at 3-card monte

While we’re at it, let’s just highlight this gem from the State Journal’s Superbowl editorial:

“One bright spot in the CBO report is that federal health care spending is increasing at a slower rate than predicted. Some of that is due to Republican governors, including Gov. Scott Walker, rejecting an increase in federal Medicaid money.”

Um, no. Leaving people uninsured does not really count as slowing the rate of federal health care spending. It’s just leaving people uninsured. Or insuring them at higher cost with Wisconsin taxpayer dollars.



Wisconsin State Journal endorsements

WSJ EndorsesIs it puzzling that the Wisconsin State Journal is endorsing candidates for the November election?

It is if you recall the State Journal’s multi-part editorial war against Wisconsin’s rigged voting districts. That little war — we think of it as a little jihad, but a “jihad” in the good sense, a holy crusade, well-intended — was quite clearly the best thing the State Journal editorial page crusaded for in recent memory. They even enlisted other Wisconsin newspapers as allies. Nice!

Still, it was far too timid: all they did was ask for an old-fashioned public hearing.

Asking the Republican leaders of the legislature to put aside their own interests to do the right thing was thoroughly destined to fail. And fail it did. Those self-same leaders had worked very hard and spent plenty of [taxpayer] money to accomplish the intended goal of safely-rigged voting districts, and they weren’t going to abandon that lovely self-serving project just because some editorial board(s) asked them politely to do so.

So, whadaya know? It wasn’t a real jihad. It wasn’t serious. It never escalated.

In fact, here, with these candidate endorsements, we see that the State Journal editors have lost the thread of their own thinking. The voting districts are all safely pre-allocated for either Republican or Democratic victory. (Mostly Republican, of course, because Republicans drew the districts.) It’s too late to jump in with endorsements. It honestly makes no sense.

It would make more sense for the Wisconsin State Journal to publish, in advance, the easily-predicted voting results based on the gerrymandered districts. Instead they’re endorsing general election candidates as if their endorsements matter. They don’t.


Wisconsin State Journal flubs up debt-ceiling discussion AGAIN

A short while back we recalled the very poor work of the Wisconsin State Journal as it discussed the previous debt-ceiling “crisis” two years ago. We said in part

In it, they managed to portray the whole farce — not as extortion by the GOP’s newest, most unhinged, most extremist wing, which it was — but rather as a battle between the extremes of both parties, which it wasn’t. How does a board of so-called “journalists” ever wash away the embarrassment…?

Now they’re at it again. And they’ve bungled it, again. And in exactly the same way. They simply cannot say that Republicans — indeed about 90 Tea Party House Republicans — are to blame.

GOP AngryThe Tea Partiers are playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship, and Republican House Speaker Boehner is so far allowing them to do so. And it’s all based on the outlandish belief that they, as a minority, in one branch of government, should dictate. That cannot — cannot — be allowed.

But how does the Wisconsin State Journal describe it?

Congress should stop playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States.

It’s “Congress“? It’s not Tea Party Republicans in the House? It’s just everybody in Congress? “Congress” needs to stop playing games?

We suppose it’s possible — if you stick your head way, way up, uh, somewhere — to call carjacking a “dispute over who should drive,” but it certainly wouldn’t be useful journalism. It would be going way out of one’s way to obscure the truth.

C’mon, State Journal editorial board. This was unacceptable.

In a sense, it’s a “fantastic” editorial

Always remember to prepare yourself (rubber gloves and a clothes-pin) before glancing at the Wisconsin State Journal editorial page. The thing is, they’re not always wrong (who could be?), but when they’re wrong, they can seem to be writing from another planet where important pieces of news haven’t yet arrived.

Consider this one, on the subject of Obamacare. This baleful effort posits that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) ain’t perfect (true enough). So what stands in the way of improving it? For the State Journal, the answer is always the same. It’s those two political parties. Both of ’em, equally. Why don’t they meet somewhere in the “sensible center”™?

Some Republicans and Democrats are digging in for a political standoff…

The 173-member House Republican Study Committee is committed to repeal of Obamacare, disdaining the idea of fixing it. Meanwhile, Democratic rhetoric focuses on defending Obamacare against all criticism…

Good grief. What would it mean to work together here? Where would discussion begin? The GOP (as the editorial noted) is demanding outright repeal of the whole hard-won thing. It’s really nonsense to suggest that the Republicans will discuss tweaking the ACA to produce actual improvements. All the evidence is that they want it to go down in flames.

House Republicans have now voted 40 times to abolish/defund the ACA. Once or twice might have been semi-normal symbolism, a bit of political grandstanding, but at 40 times — each time guaranteed, in advance, to be futile — it’s become a kind of bizarre and repetitive ritual performance art. This is a party with an overabundance of oddballs and zealots.

Hatred for the ACA is now a standard doctrine within the GOP. Gov. Romney promised he would ‘End Obamacare’ (on his first day in office!) and he really did need to make that promise in order to win nomination, even though Obamacare looks a heck of a lot like Romneycare in Massachusetts. In fact, Obamacare looks a lot like ideas that used to come out of the Heritage Foundation. Still, the Republicans now just hate, hate, hate it. A kind of inchoate rage boils within the Republican Party about this, so the very last thing they want to do is sit down and discuss improvements.

They’re threatening government shutdown.

They’re offering crazy-talk about forcing another downgrade of US debt unless President Obama weirdly agrees to somehow end/kill/renounce it (headline: “Obama renounces Obamacare”?). As Politico warns, one of these times, the Money wing of the party may not be able to overrule the Tea Party wing.

There has always been a lunatic fringe in our politics, and they do no great harm as long as they remain a “fringe”, but now they compose an important wing of the GOP. The same thing has not occurred in the Democratic Party. It’s time for the State Journal to notice. If the State Journal could just do that, it would work in their favor, and everybody’s, really.

Wisconsin State Journal admires another flock of pink unicorns

Oh, boy. Continuing in its string of weirdly disconnected-from-reality editorials, the WSJ seems more and more to be writing from the memory care wing of an assisted living facility. Today they want everyone to Root for the Problem Solvers in Washington! 

The gist of it (believe it or not) is this:

Wouldn’t it be great if more of our leaders in Washington, D.C., got to know each other across party lines to search for more agreement?

Well sure! And wouldn’t it be great if that nest of raccoons hiding in the storm sewer actually turned out to be magical unicorns? And then, let’s say, what if the raccoonicorns brought us fresh bouquets of posies every morning? Wouldn’t that be great?

wizard riding a unicorn on a rainbow in spaceAs we’ve already said recently here and here, this is once again pure and balmy purple unicorns flying-in-from-outer-space-to-fix-things nonsense. The mess in Washington is easily understood. The conservative movement came into total control with the election of George W. Bush and the results were SO poor that “W” and his 8 years have been ERASED from conservative discussion, and possibly from conservative memory. The poor guy wasn’t even invited to the last Republican convention. Sure, it’s weird, but it was strategically necessary that voters should un-remember what it was like when the Grand Old Party held national majority power. When the GOP fell out of [majority] power, they still had the power to obstruct. They turned to relentless defense — filibusters, inaction, and manufactured crises — which continue to this day, and are promised for the future. Are you ready for the next debt-ceiling “crisis & debate”? Perhaps that will be averted somehow by unicorns. Wouldn’t that be great?

It’s not “Washington” (whatever that means) that wants gridlock. It’s not “the public” (whatever that means) that wants gridlock. “Republicans” want gridlock. Hardline conservatives — if they cannot be in actual control — want gridlock. They have convinced a sizable portion of their most excitable base that compromise is a dirty word. And now that base, voting within gerrymandered districts, where a primary election IS the election, demands more and more hardline “conservatism” (which at the moment nationally includes reflexive opposition to anything supported by Democrats). No compromise. No wobbling. No “RINOs“. America must be ungovernable until the one true party can return to power.

Toles -  GOP Obstruction

Dogs wearing trousers, snakes walking upright

dog in pantsWe no longer pay for the Wisconsin State Journal. But we still keep vaguely in touch; it helps us remember why we stopped paying.

In the free copy handed out at Sentry on Sunday, we see that the WSJ editorial board was correct (!?!) (Editorial Type 2 – the Surprisingly Correct”™) when they said that voting districts should be fairly and impartially drawn.

Why… sit down, and really think about that. It’s TRUE! Well, sure, it’s intensely obvious. But this time Wisconsin’s independent voice™ at least has it RIGHT. Having a meaningful vote is a baseline requirement for democracy.

So when will that happen?

“It’s not gonna happen,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

Ohhhhh, that’s right. The Republicans in charge of Wisconsin government are not going to do that. It’s one of the last things they’d care to do. The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board must be off on a little flight of fantasy, untethered from political reality. Will the dish run away with the spoon? They are, after all, 3 aging white men, and it’s possible they’ll continue to lose touch, imagining themselves in the olden days when Republicans weren’t what they’ve become now. It’s sad for the editorial board. And everyone, frankly. But back to reality.

The Republican legislature worked very deliberately to design Wisconsin’s weirdly shaped voting districts, and it’s working out nicely for them. Urging Republicans now to abandon their hard work and voluntarily do the right thing (because it’s the right thing for citizens???) might be described in many ways (hilarious, naive, dreamlike) but certainly not as “realistic”.

The State Journal could say that dogs should wear trousers, and that snakes should walk upright. But the dogs and snakes won’t do it, because it’s not in their nature. If they could talk, they’d say, “It’s not gonna happen.”

Seriously, they pay someone for this???

Yesterday wasn’t the first time we laid down the editorial page of the Wisconsin State Journal and accidentally woke up the dog by asking ourselves, um, apparently out loud

Couldn’t this work be easily outsourced?  Couldn’t someone in India produce 250 words of whatever this is, and do it at 1/10th the cost???

It’s a serious question. Are they really paying an editorial page editor, oh… $60,000 a year to produce THIS (the thing we mentioned yesterday)? It reminded us of nothing so much as an exam essay where the student had nothing to say but needed to write something, anything, before time was up. (i.e., the old pure bullshit hail mary, god bless it).

Meanwhile, over at Isthmus, they’re paying former mayor Dave Cieslewicz, um, well we don’t know? … probably less? But he‘s got something worthwhile to think about, AGAIN. Cieslewicz:

While Minnesota works with unions, approves same sex marriage, invests in public education, protects its environment, embraces health care reform and invests in transportation, Wisconsin kills its unions, continues to discriminate against gays and lesbians, disinvests in public education, weakens its once proud tradition of environmental stewardship, stubbornly and stupidly continues to fight improvements in health care, and can’t even muster the support to rebuild roads much less invest in high-speed rail.

Why is the Isthmus weekly so routinely superior to the State Journal daily? Being the hard-headed businessman that I am, I’m pretty sure the answer is management.

Why do they bother?

why botherFrom time to time we still see the Wisconsin State Journal.

  • Metcalfe’s grocery gives away the WSJ for free on Sundays.
  • And the nice neighbor lady still, as she says, “takes the newspaper.” She passes along an accumulation every couple weeks, and we glance at them.

Today we got the free one from Metcalfe’s. Just for old times’ sake, we opened up the editorial page. Jeebus! What a forlorn and witless effort. And on a Sunday! Sunday is their prime time. If they’ve got a best effort, it oughta be on a Sunday. They were telling readers how Wisconsin’s economy ought to be organized, which they summarize, quite fairly, as follows:

Wisconsin needs its farms and machine shops
but also more research and technology.

How do they come up with this stuff??? Could anything be any more humdrum and worthless?

We don’t grade middle-school essays, but we imagine that this could easily be the homework of an eighth-grade essayist with a deadline and an eighth-grade understanding of economics. Why does “Wisconsin’s Independent Voice” offer this up? And on a Sunday. Can’t we demand better?

Jeebus, maybe we’re not done…

Are we done?

Labor Day. The Daily Tissue has published for just over a year. We wonder are we done?

This little blogitty thing began more out of annoyance than any rational goal. Our local newspaper was gradually disappearing, and its editorial page was actively alienating its natural, local audience.  That is all still true.

Did we hope that somehow that editorial page would improve? Well, we might have. A little. It seems silly to admit.

Exactly why the majority of staff putting out the Wisconsin State Journal do not walk into a meeting of the editorial board with flaming torches and pitchforks to explain that they want to keep their jobs, and that the miserable work on editorial page makes that less and less likely, and that routine inconsequential drivel may be one thing but the really dumb stuff about important topics has got to cease… why that doesn’t happen is kind of a mystery, but we suppose it has something to do with being a-scared of the boss who — against all odds and evidence — must imagine his editorial page is doing all right.

Maybe that’s the problem. We don’t know. We have no inside information. We just follow along, as readers. Albeit less and less, as there’s less to read.

We realized our comments had gotten all too repetitive when we sat down last week to say something about the State Journal’s discouragingly dishonest editorial on Voter ID. Who is it supposed to fool? It just makes you sigh. The editorial first determines, based on nothing, that it’s no big deal to make it harder for some people to vote, even though Wisconsin Republicans had only “wild claims” to justify their new law. The editorial writers say students and the poor could obtain the newly required — but technically free-of-charge — photo IDs if they just had the “gumption”. (Of course they’d also need time, transportation, and the proper certified proof of citizenship to go along with their unusually strong determination to be a voter, quite possibly for the lesser of two evils.) And finally — out of simply nowhere, of course — the editorial includes the nonsensical and yet always serviceable boilerplate trope ‘Other Party Also to Blame’. The Other Party, it seems, had spoken out against the new law, and that seemed like “playing politics” to the editorial writers. Honest. Read it yourself.

…like those emails from Nigeria

It was laughably poor persuasion, but the thing is — these laughers are fairly routine.

How many times can we make fun of these guys without boring ourselves silly? It’s like warning folks about Nigerian scam emails. After a while, you get tired of saying it, even though the emails keep on coming.

Mr. Milfred reads a Forbes list

The Predictable Mr. Milfred and his merry band of “board-people” (editorial board, that is), finish the workweek (warning: they want to charge you to read it.) by citing what you might assume would be a good thing, namely “evidence”. They begin

Here’s more evidence the Madison region needs to improve its image and efforts on business development.

Forbes magazine just lowered our city — again — on its list of “Best Places for Business and Careers.”

Oh, no. It’s a Forbes List!  If that’s not evidence, then nothing is.

Forbes, which is actually a profoundly embarrassing magazine devoted to sniffing the underwear of the wealthy, provides its readers with endless lists and rankings of the rich — America’s Richest People, the World’s Biggest Billionaires, the World’s Most Powerful People, the Women Who Matter Most, the Celebrities Who Make the Most, the 40 Richest Men in Hong Kong, and on and on and on.

So, naturally, if you were a journalist seeking business-image rankings of  American cities, you’d go straight to Forbes for evidence.

In the same way, if you needed an authoritative list of, let’s say, 75 Sex Moves that Men Crave, you’d head straight over to Cosmo. (Ladies — well, actually everybody — take note, it’s all been documented.)

And then, if you’re ever done perusing that (fat chance), take a gander at some fantastic new research involving Madison, Wisconsin., using unbiased, data-driven rankings,” provides this list of Cities that Spoil Their Kids the Most. Guess what! Madison ranks dead last! We are dead last in spoiling our children. Don’t miss the infographic. Now whether that’s good or bad, that’s up to you. But at any rate, there’s the evidence.