Iron County Progressive


The Capitol Times

Opinion | Wisconsin Republican governor’s race: dumb and dumber

·         By John Nichols

·         Feb 22, 2022


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It is common to assert that all politicians are cynical liars who arrange their pronouncements solely to fool gullible voters into supporting them. But that’s an unfair characterization. Surely, some politicians are transparently dishonest — Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton come to mind. But there are others whose transgressions are rooted in ignorance, or outright stupidity.

When faced with the choice of whether to identify a candidate as a liar or a fool, the generous course is to give the contender the benefit of the doubt and assume that they mean what they say. In other words, if a politician says something that is quantifiably dumb, the polite response is to assume that they must be, well, dumb.

So let us conclude that the Republican candidates for governor of Wisconsin who refuse to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election — nationally and in Wisconsin — are ignoramuses. Rather than suggest that they are lying in order to score partisan points, let’s assume that they simply do not understand that:

• Biden was elected president with a margin of more than 7 million votes over Trump. Running against an incumbent who shamelessly exploited all the advantages of his position, Biden secured a higher percentage of the  vote than any challenger to a sitting president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt upended Herbert Hoover in 1932. Notably, Biden’s winning percentage in 2020 was a full five points higher than the percentage Trump’s obtained in 2016.

• Biden secured a higher level of Electoral College support — 57% — than George W. Bush got in 2004 or 2000, than Jimmy Carter got in 1976, than Richard Nixon got in 1968, or than John Kennedy got in 1960. Indeed, Biden finished with a better Electoral College percentage than a dozen presidents who were elected over the past 231 years, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

• Biden flipped five states that had voted for Trump in 2016, including Wisconsin, and won the Electoral College with a comfortable 306 to 232 advantage. As a footnote, when Trump prevailed in 2016 by a similar margin, the former president claimed he was “winning the Electoral College in a landslide.” Trump’s political counselor, pollster, and chief White House apologist Kellyanne Conway amplified that remark by announcing: “306. Landslide. Blowout. Historic.”

Let us also assume that Wisconsin’s denialists do not understand that Biden won the state in 2020 with 49.5% of the vote, as opposed to the 47.2% that Trump won with in 2016. And that Biden’s winning margin of just under 21,000 votes was roughly the same as Trump’s 2016 margin. And that Biden won Wisconsin by more votes in 2020 than John Kerry did in 2004 or Al Gore did in 2000.

Lastly, let’s assume that they are unaware that official counts and recounts, courts, audits, reviews and multiple court rulings have affirmed the Wisconsin results. And that they were not listening when conservative Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson acknowledged Biden won Wisconsin and “that we should respect our system of individual state certification of election results, and that in Wisconsin, there is nothing obviously wrong with the statewide results.” Or when Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared, “Do I believe, in the end, that Joe Biden won the election? Yeah, I think he did. There’s no doubt he’s the president. That’s where we are."

Against the overwhelming weight of evidence supporting the fact of Biden’s victory, it is entirely fair to suggest that politicians who deny that reality, such as state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, meet the dictionary definition of an ignoramus: “an utterly ignorant person.” A newly-announced contender for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Ramthun wants the Legislature to withdraw the state’s electoral votes from Biden’s column as part of a broader effort to undo the 2020 election result.

That, as experts in election law from across the partisan and ideological spectrum explain, is sheer lunacy. There is no evidence of the widespread fraud Ramthun rants about. What he is saying is simply wrong, and yet he appears to be absolutely sincere and certain in his assertions.

The most generous conclusion is that he’s a fool.

But how to explain Rebecca Kleefisch? Unlike Ramthun, Kleefisch is a former television news reporter and anchor who served two terms as the state’s lieutenant governor and is now bidding for the top job with an endorsement from former Gov. Scott Walker. Last September, during an appearance on WISN-TV’s “UpFront,” Kleefisch was asked if she thought Biden had won Wisconsin.

She replied, “I do.”

In an interview last week on WTMJ-AM radio, Kleefisch was again asked who won the 2020 election. She refused to repeat her direct answer. Instead, she referenced convoluted investigations being conducted by a pair of Republican partisans who have embraced fully discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 election: former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman and state Assembly Elections Committee chair Janel Brandtjen.

“I think right now, we have two ongoing investigations to make that determination,” replied Kleefisch. “One under Michael Gableman, one under Janel Brandtjen — I am watching in real time live with you what those audits are yielding.”

There will be those who claim that Kleefisch, as a former journalist and statewide elected official, is cynically trying to appeal to Republican base voters who might be drawn to Ramthun. But that’s essentially saying that she’s a liar, which isn’t very nice at all.

So let’s assume that she somehow forgot what she knew in September and is now as ignorant as her newly announced rival — giving Republican primary voters a choice between two candidates who are best identified as dumb and dumber.

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. and @NicholsUprising. 



Time is Running Out to Hold Wisconsin's Gang of Three Accountable

By Kirk Bangstad

If you’re only going to read one paragraph in this email, read this next one.
Section 3 of Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution says that if you’ve aided and abetted an insurrection against the United States, you can never run for federal office again. We’ve all seen reams of tweets, quotes, and video from U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Congressman Tom Tiffany, and Congressman Scott Fitzgerald showing that they basically held a match to the flamethrower of insurrection, and it is up to Wisconsin’s Attorney General, Josh Kaul, to hold these guys accountable for their actions in court.  He has yet to do that, and the rest of this email is going to be about what has to be done if Attorney General Kaul punts (yet again).
As I said in last week’s email, Wisconsin can’t expect U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to hold our own legislators accountable.  Why should he care more about Wisconsin justice than we do? 
No, Wisconsinites have to take care of our own business, and if AG Kaul won’t manifest some courage to act, someone else has to.


The Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC has begun to talk to lawyers in Wisconsin to understand how a lawsuit can be filed against these three alleged insurrectionists, much like a lawsuit was filed against North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorn.
Now before I go on, I want to emphasize that holding Wisconsin’s “Gang of Three” accountable in a court of law is not what I want my Super PAC to be doing.  This is why we elect state Attorneys General, the top law enforcement officials in each state.  Nobody should have to hire ridiculously expensive lawyers to determine whether our politicians were traitors to our country.  Super PACs like mine  shouldn't have this much influence on our democracy, but guess how all those lawsuits objecting to Biden’s win were funded? By Super PACs. And just imagine how much money the lawyers made from these Super PACs who tried to overturn that election illegally for Trump?
This is not how a healthy democracy functions, but I’m not going to let criminals try to kill a sick democracy without fighting back with the same dirty tools they used to get us here. 
As much as this cliché reeks of toxic masculinity, “you can’t bring a knife to a gunfight and expect to win.”
So what I’m NOT going to do is ask people reading this email for money to fund a lawsuit against the gang of three UNLESS EVERYONE ELSE THAT SHOULD BE DOING THIS FAILS.


But what I will ask everyone reading this to do is to once again email or call Wisconsin’s Attorney General and tell him to do his job.  These three politicians clearly walked the tightrope of insurrection. They need to have all of their relevant emails, texts, and phone calls investigated to understand how involved they were in the attempted coup against our country.  Here are some obvious questions that need to be asked.

1.   Did Scott Fitzgerald pass the threshold of “aiding and abetting” the insurrection when he reserved the room in Wisconsin’s capital building for the fraudulent electors to meet, and allegedly called our taxpayer-funded capitol police to open the locked building?

2.   Was Congressman Tom Tiffany working in cahoots with Republicans in Texas to undermine Wisconsin's fair election when he signed on to their lawsuit against Wisconsin’s elections results, which consequently would have nullified the very votes that got him elected?

3.   What was Senator Johnson doing at the Trump Hotel on January 4—two days before Trump placed his plan for false electors into motion?

4.   What were these elected officials doing between November 4 and January 6 to assist the conspiracy to push false electors in favor of Trump?

Don’t Wisconsinites deserve to know the answers to these questions before we cast primary votes next August with these guys' names on the ballots?

Of course we do.

That’s all I got for you this week, folks.  Contact Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul, and if you’re rich, tell him you’re not donating another cent to his campaign until he does his job.  Unfortunately, that's often the only thing that will get politicians, even Democratic ones, to listen.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sticking with the Minocqua Brewing Company. Together, we can and WILL make Wisconsin’s democracy healthy again, one beer at a time. 

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC




Trump again praises Putin moments before Russia launches invasion of Ukraine

By David Knowles

Shortly before Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled the start of a military operation in Ukraine, former President Donald Trump continued to lavish praise on the leader. 

Speaking at a political fundraiser held at his Mar-a-Lago country club in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump admired the Russian dictator's strategic success. 

"I mean, he's taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions," Trump said. "I'd say that's pretty smart. He's taking over a country — literally a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in." 



A Good Read

Polarisation* and Conflict – How Things Fall Apart

The Economist, the world’s leading news magazine, in reviewing a new book just out, “How Civil Wars Start” contained some of the following excerpts:

“It is hard to overstate the danger Donald Trump poses to America and the world, but Barbara Walter (author of the book) manages it. Mr* Trump scorns democratic norms, stirs up racial division, propagates the big lie that he won re-election in 2020, encouraged a coup attempt on January 6th 2021 – and might win the presidency again in 2024. Ms* Walter…rightly decries these sins.

“Political leaders who stir up fear of another group to win support from their own are often especially dangerous.

“The most effective grievance-mongers are creative liars.

“The most disgruntled members of the aggrieved group may take up arms. At first they are typically too small in number to pose a serious threat – but social media can accelerate the descent into bloodshed.

“The country is polarized, and cynical race-baiting politicians have made matters worse. The most egregious culprits are on the right…

“America has small but well-armed militia groups who talk of violent revolution and occasionally kill people. If Mr Trump were to return to office, moreover, he would surely degrade American democracy further. Arguably the most important thing President Joe Biden and the Democrats can do for their country is to keep hold of the White House.”

*This is how the British-based publication spells “polarization,” and it does not put periods after Mr and Ms.