The Conservative We Know: Vukmir Joins Wisconsin’s US Senate Race

It was mid-December, and my phone rang with a name familiar among Wisconsin Republicans. State Senator Leah Vukmir was calling because I had posted a picture of her capitol office door on Facebook granting permission to – nay, inviting – safe gun owners to enter her office.

Wisconsin is one of those “radical” states that allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights on every square inch of state property, unless otherwise requested;  some recalcitrant Democrats have posted the adorable “peace” signs banning defensive weapons. My caption: “suffice it to say, Vukmir’s office is the safest in the building.”

She’s also a trained registered nurse, and knows how to save my life. But her calling  since 2001 has been to serve the public in another way, fighting for conservative principles – before it was cool – first in the assembly, then the state senate. Her first race was to replace the seat vacated by then-assemblyman, and future conservative governor Scott Walker. There was no drop-off.

Now, she wants to take her ideas, our ideas, the ideas that work, to the US Senate. Her only other declared opponent in the primary is a recent Republican convert, Kevin Nicholson. The winner goes on to face incumbent Tammy Baldwin, a lonely liberal Democrat next November.

I’m no fool, nor gullible – no politician of any influence keeps my conscience warm at all times. Every election we send conservatives to higher offices just to watch them appear to change their modus operandi, occasionally opposing things we value, or supporting programs we dislike. Compromise is a necessary evil of governing by committee. Sen Vukmir is human, as I am, and has a mind of her own, as do I.  But in our representative republic, we don’t elect people based on their compatability scores. Or at least we shouldn’t. We select them based on their wisdom, their instincts, and their fortitude.

Leah Vukmir has all three, in conservative spades. And she’s a spitfire, a proud Greek woman who tells it like it is.

THE CONSERVATIVE WE KNOW

The best primary is where you have a clear choice that is conservative because they have 16 years worth of a resume to prove it, not just because they claim to be.

In 2011, Wisconsin took on public union reform with Act 10, looking to break the self-perpetuating machine state Democrats and public employees had built, mandating union membership, forced dues, unaccountable budgets and a political machine that disenfranchised regular voters.

Vukmir had just become the senator for her district, beating a Democrat incumbent. (See? She’s done it before.)

Most Americans remember the drama of the Wisconsin protests at that time, the Democrats who fled the state, tens of thousands of protesters for months, and tree-hugging “solidarity singers” that made life hell for Vukmir and her colleagues. But she stood firm. In the face of death threats, stalking activists and national political pressure, she never backed down.

Not only did she stand firm, but the freshman senator stood in her chamber and persuaded her colleagues, saying “We cannot back down. If we do, no other state will consider doing the reforms we are trying to do here.” And they didn’t. And other states followed.

That’s a conservative we can trust.

But she was no one-trick pony. Vukmir is a policy wonk. She led the fight against Obamacare expansion in the state, proposed reforms to national common core standards, supported concealed carry, castle doctrine (defending your home), veteran benefit reforms, statewide school choice, right-to-work, prevailing wage reform (mandated pricing for public works), holding the line on property taxes, freezing state tuition at state colleges, and dozens of other first-time conservative changes. As Wisconsin has slowly replaced the aging progressive legacy of our state with conservative polices that work, Vukmir has usually been on the front line.

Next year, Wisconsin Republicans will choose the most electable conservative to represent the Party in November. The progress of conservative ideas in Washington depends on winning Democrat seats, and Wisconsin’s senate race is ripe for the taking. Every conservative in the country needs to back one we have seen in action, and send the Democratic anomaly we have in Tammy Baldwin back home.

 

This column is the expressed opinion of the contributor, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or endorsement of the editor or The Resurgent.

 

Anatomy of a Smear

It was fall 2014. Appeals court judge Rebecca Bradley was being encouraged to challenge Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in the April 2015 election. Winning a seat on the state’s high court would officially make Bradley’s rise as a judicial conservative meteoric. She met with pundits (your author included) and others as she explored a possible run. In the end, name confusion with another Justice Bradley and other factors led her to decide against entering the race. It was also widely believed at the time that Justice N. Patrick Crooks wouldn’t be seeking re-election in 2016 and an open seat is a much more attractive option. Bradley may have bowed out of the 2015 race, but she would come to learn that even considering a run had put her on the Wisconsin media radar:

I…found out from several friends and even some people that I didn’t know very well, that there was a reporter from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel who had contacted a number of prominent people in positions of power and influence to ask them if they knew anything about an alleged affair I was having with a (married) public figure in Milwaukee. Of course there was no basis for it whatsoever. But there was obviously an attempt to harm my reputation around the state of Wisconsin before I had even decided to run for the court.

Intended or not, the reporter’s inquiries  likely served to spread an unsubtantiated rumor to people who had never heard it before. “And the people who called me, who had been called, or knew somebody and had  talked to somebody who had been called said ‘what are you talking about, this isn’t true, ‘” Bradley told us.

State supreme court races had become blood sport in recent years, especially the 2011 race in the heat of the Act 10 debate. And if the idea of Circuit Court Judge Bradley as an attractive high court candidate continuing the conservative winning streak frustrated the left, it was about to go ballistic over two career advances she would realize in 2015.

Bradley was appointed to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court  by Governor Scott Walker  in December, 2012.  The following April she was elected to a full term, a victory that surprised many observers. In May, 2015, Walker appointed Bradley to fill an appeals court vacancy created by the death of Judge Ralph Adam Fine. Less than six months later, in October, Walker appointed Bradley to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, following the death of Justice N. Patrick Crooks. Crooks had previously announced his retirement and Bradley was an announced candidate for the seat. The appointment had the left seething:

(Walker) is giving a campaign contributor an unfair advantage in the race next year so Wisconsin residents will have no chance at having an open and fair election for the Supreme Court Justice seat,” charged Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning in a prepared statement. Rebecca Bradley has given … to Gov. Walker and today it is paying off for her with her appointment to the Supreme Court.”

 

But Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, warned that Bradley’s appointment could backfire: “The governor making this appointment so close to the election does not serve the public well but is in line with Republicans’ continued right-wing special interest stranglehold on our state. However, I question why a judicial candidate would want to be so closely linked to a governor with a 37 percent approval rating.”

In December 2015, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on the results of an open records request by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now under the headline: “Justice Rebecca Bradley’s Meeting Calendar’s Empty for 21/2 Years.” Bradley told us she attempted to explain to a Journal-Sentinel reporter why the calendars produced in the request were blank:

“In fact, I stood face to face with Patrick Marley and explained how the calendaring system works for a Milwaukee Circuit Court judge and why those calendars were not available to me. And he listened and seemed to understand and then reported absolutely nothing of my explanation, but suggested in an article, in accordance with what One Wisconsin Now was trying to say about me, that I submitted false  records to them.”

Media Trackers reached out to Marley for comment. He responded via email:

I bumped into Justice Bradley and we discussed her calendars for a few minutes. She indicated she was happy to talk about her calendars more fully in a later interview, but then did not respond to my further inquiries on the issue.

 

For my story, I used statements from court officials making the same points about her calendar that Justice Bradley had made when we talked.

 

In our brief conversation, Justice Bradley discussed the system used to keep track of court hearings, but not the types of calendar entries I had been asking about — meetings with state and county officials or people from the private sector about the court budget, court security, court access or other court functions. I still do not know how she keeps track of such meetings or why she didn’t release documents showing when such meetings were held.

Bradley’s recollection of their conversation, also shared via e-mail, is dramatically different:

Apparently Patrick’s memory is poor. I told him that while I was at children’s court, I didn’t have time for the types of meetings he for some reason assumes all judges have (but don’t). Children’s court is a very demanding docket in Milwaukee County. When I did have administrative type meetings, those were all put on my official judicial calendar; otherwise, a court hearing would have been scheduled. Every minute was scheduled from 8:30-5 with cases and even then most of us were over-scheduled. Children’s court calendars are confidential by statute so he and OWN(One Wisconsin Now) cannot obtain them.

 

Regardless, I no longer had access to them at the time of the open records request, which was made when I was at the court of appeals. While I was there, I did not have any administrative type of meetings but Patrick couldn’t seem to understand that. He didn’t seem to understand the nature of our work there.  As for the types of meetings he mentioned in his response to you–“meetings with state and county officials or people from the private sector about the court budget, court security, court access or other court functions” I simply didn’t have any such meetings except as I mentioned at children’s court, for which I didn’t have access to my calendars anymore. I imagine chief judges of judicial districts might have some of these types of meetings although to my knowledge, judges don’t meet with people from the private sector about the court budget or court functions. Why would we?

 

He received the official supreme court calendar that contained official court meetings. It is during those court meetings that the justices would meet with others–most often our own staff–about topics like court budget or security. It seems to me that Patrick and the newspaper for which he writes generally misunderstand the judicial role, on this topic and others.”

Marley did quote One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross: “Either Rebecca Bradley wasn’t working very hard or she’s hiding who she was meeting with and what she was doing on taxpayer time.”

As the April contest with appellate court judge JoAnne Kloppenburg neared, Bradley found herself under a media microscope. In early March, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a story detailing some writings of Bradley from 1992 while at Marquette University. Some of the writings were clearly insensitive to the LGBTQ community. Others mocked supporters of future President Bill Clinton.  The writings were unearthed, to use the Journal-Sentinel’s term, by One Wisconsin Now. The group used its efforts against Bradley in a fundraising email:

This is urgent, Friend,

 

One Wisconsin Now has received an outpouring of support from so many of you, thanking us for exposing the hate speech from Gov. Scott Walker’s hand-picked Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley. But now, after spending weeks trying to sweep the story under the rug, Rebecca Bradley and her Republican allies are spreading lies about us.

 

This is just MORE evidence that Rebecca Bradley can’t be trusted to uphold the basic tenets of our judicial system, and just one more reason to support One Wisconsin Now’s effort to hold her accountable.

 

FIGHT BACK WITH A $10 CONTRIBUTION

 

Rebecca Bradley has denied people their dignity because they are different than her, condemns people that hold political beliefs other than hers and touts views on women’s health that are not just out of step but dangerous for Wisconsin families. And now, in an apparent effort to deflect criticism, she’s resorted to spreading lies about our organization.

 

When you donate to support our Supreme Court research and accountability work, you’re helping ensure people across the state and country know exactly what’s at stake in Wisconsin.

 

Thanks for all you do.

Bradley apologized for the writings. She said they embarrassed her and did not reflect her current feelings about the LGBT community. Not only did critics not accept her change of heart; some attempted to portray the comments as contemporary.  “Frankly, I was mortified by what I had written and regretted it deeply. But that wasn’t enough for them. And in fact, many outlets tried to portray it as if I had just said these things a couple of years ago, or even yesterday, when it had been almost a quarter century.” The event earned national media coverage.

“Actually, on a national basis,(MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow, among others, went after me nationally, to the point where the then-Democrat candidates for the presidency were attacking me publicly. I never thought I would hear Hillary Clinton say my name, but there it was.” If Bradley was taken aback by a call-out from the eventual Democratic presidential nominee, she couldn’t have been prepared for what was about to come next; a Journal-Sentinel story so salacious and misleading that many media outlets in the state chose not to run it.

On March 10, 2016, the Journal-Sentinel ran a story with the headline :”Bradley Extramarital Affair, Role in Child Placement Surface.” The goal of any online headline is to get the viewer to click on the story. A headline screaming that Bradley had an affair and apparently had some inappropriate role in the placement of a child is what is often referred to as “click-bait.” And as is often the case with click-bait, the story didn’t deliver on the headline.

The story was about Bradley representing a former co-worker, with whom Bradley had been romantically involved, in a child custody case. Bradley would make it clear that the relationship with her client began after she and her husband at the time had separated, but not divorced. The Journal-Sentinel reported that, according to court records, Bradley “acknowledged having had an extramarital affair” with this client. In fact, that characterization was exclusively the Journal-Sentinel’s. Bradley never described her relationship with the client as an “extra-marital affair,” nor does she consider it one.

“It was absolutely fake and it was intentionally done,” Bradley told us. “They contacted my ex-husband who explained that we were separated at the time and I was doing what many people do when they are going through a divorce; it’s dating. They painted it as something else, even though my former husband, with whom I’m on great terms, explained to them ‘this is simply not true,’ and they went with it anyway.” The Journal-Sentinel March 10, 2016 story contains a single line indicating that Bradley’s ex-husband said they were living in separate residences at the time of her relationship with the man she would later represent in court.

Bradley stressed that she disclosed a romantic relationship with the client, not an “extra-marital affair.” The distinction is important because the Journal-Sentinel’s reporting strongly implies that Bradley characterized it as an affair. The judge in the case rejected an attempt to remove Bradley.

And Bradley points out in the year plus since the story was reported, she’s learned that many people outside the Milwaukee area aren’t even aware of it. “Because multiple media outlets refused to cover it; they thought it was beyond the pale, and it was.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Editor George Stanley didn’t see it that way.

In responding to readers who cancelled their subscriptions due to paper’s coverage of Bradley, Stanley not only defended the reporting but also largely re-reported the salacious story his paper had published. He also claimed Bradley’s personal life was fair game because she brought up President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity in her 1992 college writings. (you can read Stanley’s letter to readers below). Clinton, of course, would ultimately be forced to admit marital infidelity years after Bradley’s writing.

The story also strongly implied that the paper’s discoveries about Bradley showed an inadequate vetting process on Walker’s part when he appointed her to the high court:

The matter raises questions (in the Journal-Sentinel’s estimation) about the vetting process used by Walker, who has acknowledged he was unaware of college newspaper writings by Bradley in which she condemned “queers and addicts for essentially killing themselves through their conduct.

The Journal-Sentinel found two attorneys; one in New York and another in Arizona who said there were potential ethical issues with Bradley representing someone with whom she was romantically involved. Appleton attorney Will McKinley told Media Trackers it’s noteworthy that the paper couldn’t find any attorney in Wisconsin to say that:

Very. There are a number of professors at Marquette and UW-Law schools who teach legal ethics. These are not practicing lawyers who have any particular reason to fear giving an opinion regarding a judge. Further, you ask any lawyer in Wisconsin for an in-state referral for an expert on ethics and they’ll give you at least two names. There are individuals who regularly speak on lawyer ethics. The point is that asking a non-Wisconsin lawyer about the ethical rules governing Wisconsin seems suspect.

McKinley is Vice Chair of the State Bar of Wisconsin Ethics Committee, but he made it clear to Media Trackers that he was not speaking in that capacity and was merely offering his own opinion  on the Bradley matter as an attorney.

Bradley levels most of her criticism at the Journal-Sentinel. But the Green Bay Press-Gazette had to claw back something it published about Bradley in the closing days of the campaign. The paper published in print and online a letter to the editor that claimed that Bradley had actors posing as law enforcement officials in her television commercials. This allegation was false; the people in the ads were very real. After a day of denial,  Editor Robert Zizzo finally admitted they had not vetted the letter. A correction was run in print and the letter was pulled from the paper’s website.

Bradley says she can now look back and laugh at the way the media treated her. We asked if at any point during the campaign she regretted running. She said she regretted what family and friends had to endure. Shortly after our interview with Bradley, Justice Michael Gableman announced he won’t be seeking re-election in 2018. We asked Bradley what advice she would offer to a judicial conservative seeking the seat:

“Well, he (Gableman) went through a tough race nine years ago. But when I look back to what the criticisms were, the attacks were on him, they really weren’t personal.  They related more to his professional life and some campaign ads his campaign ran against his opponent. And my advice to an judicial conservative would be to be prepared for the personal attacks. Because as low as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel got, I wouldn’t expect them to deviate from that plan.”

About That Sheriff David Clarke DHS Appointment…

So is he or isn’t he?

Ed Willing brought you the news earlier of Milwaukee Sheriff and Trump surrogate, David Clarke, and his claim to have accepted a position with the Department of Homeland Security.

As a deputy secretary of Homeland Security, Clarke will be responsible for fielding complaints about the department and relaying them to the appropriate people at the top.

Clarke announced his new position while speaking with a local radio host, Vicki McKenna.

Said Clarke:

“I’m looking forward to joining that team,” Clarke told listeners on 1130 WISN.

Joining “the team” will certainly spare Clarke the trouble of fighting to keep his seat as sheriff of Milwaukee in November 2018.

Citizens of Clarke’s home county are said to be considerably less enthused over Clarke’s performance of his duties than the Trump administration has been with his surrogacy through the 2016 election season and beyond.

There’s just one problem: DHS can’t or won’t confirm anything Clarke is now saying.

“The position mentioned is a secretarial appointment. Such senior positions are announced by the Department when made official by the Secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made,” DHS said in a statement.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the position. It just means he’s jumped the gun in making an announcement.

If he does have it, he’s stepped outside of the normal chain of events adhered to for such appointments.

If he doesn’t, he looks nuts.

Unfounded and nutty is well within Clarke’s shtick, however.

A Twitter user pointed out the assortment of medals and pins worn on Clarke’s dress uniform, as seen when he spoke at the Republican National Committee convention in July 2016. Because of the foul language, I’ve chosen not to include the tweet storm, in its entirety. It suffices to say, someone was quite annoyed with Clarke’s illusion.

The basic gist, however, is that Clarke attempts to pull a fast one on those who don’t know any better, by loading his uniform down with impressive looking, but otherwise meaningless “flair.”

If Clarke really has been offered a position with the Department of Homeland Security, you can bet it’s as a reward for loyalty to the regime and has nothing to do with his qualifications for the job.
Then again, that seems to be the new norm for political appointments, these days.

Will MKE Sheriff Clarke Take His Schtick Into New DHS Role?

After months of conjecture over the political future of Milwaukee County’s embattled sheriff, firebrand David Clarke took to Vicki McKenna’s WISN 1130 show to announce that he’s accepting a job offer as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, under four star retired-General John Kelly. One of his duties, according to Clarke will be taking complaints about the department and relaying them up top.

Note: the Department of Homeland Security has yet to announce this

If announced and confirmed by the Senate, Clarke would be the 11th deputy to serve in the role since it’s inception in 2003, currently occupied by Elaine Duke, who just got the job April 10. The position is not just a physical promotion, but he goes from $132,000 to a 185,000/yr salary.

With this news, it appears that discussion about running for US Senate is over. (Okay Leah Vukmir, let’s do this. Sorry, had to throw that plug in there.)

 

WHAT YOU’RE GETTING

After a few quiet years following his appointment as sheriff in 2002, Clarke, 60, first came to prominence about five to six years ago as a vocal defender of police and sheriff departments. In 2013, Clarke’s department put out a PSA on gun safety for homeowners that encouraged them not to be victims, and learn how to defend their homes “until we get there.” I wrote about it then, admiring the bravery it took for an elected officer to make such a bold, common sense statement we could all agree with. Running as a conservative Democrat since 2002, he famously stared down the Michael Bloomberg-financed efforts of the Democratic Party establishment in the 2014 primary, beating challenger Chris Moews 52 to 48% for his fourth term. Clarke runs as a [fake] Democrat in Milwaukee because he feels it provides him the best political opportunity to win elections.

Locally, in Wisconsin though, he has been a bit of a celebrity in conservative circles for many years with his tough on crime nature. It has not, however been without it’s share of drama. While Clarke is famous here for his stance on crime, his positions on other political issues is not fully known. What gets him headlines is more his style than philosophical substance. He is likely the most divisive, immature political figure in America today, outside of the president himself.

For instance, in 2014 he got into a battle with the County Executive, Chris Abele over his budget proposal to eliminate 68 jobs and $12 million and shift many responsibilities over to the city police departments. This political disagreement quickly escalated after Clarke threw out insults that echoed what we’d see two years later with Donald trump, calling Abele, a “vindictive little man,” suggesting “he should be drug-tested,” and accusing him in print of “penis envy.” When talking about his colleagues in local government, he frequently quipped, “who’s not to dislike?” Some conservatives fell in love with it. Clarke wasn’t particularly tight with spending, and occasionally drew criticism for his handling of the budget and administration of the department. The condition of the local jails came to more prominence during this time as well.

Wisconsin is not historically known for such brash behavior among our elected politicians (see: Governor Scott Walker), so this raised his profile quite a bit, and landed him interviews on outlets like Alex Jones’ Infowars, and few spots on FoxNews, where he is now a regular contributor. As the riots broke out in Ferguson, Mo, Baltimore, MD and elsewhere, conservative media was all to happy to get a black conservative sheriff on TV to defend the honor of the cops. With the sitting president and attorney general also being black men, it gave conservative media a superhero to stand up against what seemed to be a bias for disorder and weak enforcement. When riots broke out here in Milwaukee, he again was brought on TV to discuss the issues plaguing America’s cities, but as he blamed liberals for our riots, he was strangely absent from our own community. We took his advice mostly from watching TV. Oh, his deputies did close a county park for a while. It took a judge to reopen it.

With the introduction of Donald trump in the Republican primary in 2015, and Clarke’s endorsement of him, the horses were off. Complaints began to appear in Wisconsin that the sheriff was on TV and traveling to cable news studios in New York more than he was focused on his own job. Alas, he made $220,000 last year in speaking fees, gifts and other income related to his new persona, more than doubling his income as our sheriff.

As someone who personally voted for Clarke and defended him for the first few years, I was unhappy to watch conditions change my opinion of him. He routinely got into needless public fights, name-calling his opponents with childish ferocity, and he seemed to be less interested in the department than picking battles just to fight someone. The last year though, things went from bad to worse as Clarke seemed to take cues from then-candidate Donald trump and became, arguably unhinged.

Suddenly, a brash personality that rubbed people the wrong way became an angry one that worked overtime to intimidate them. You might say, David Clarke is the stereotypical trump supporter. And that’s not hyperbole. The depth of his terrible behavior is vast, but I’ll try to provide a few examples here.

After another incident in a years-long debate with Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, he recently took to Facebook:

“The last time Tom Barrett showed up at a crime scene he got his ass kicked by a drunk, tire-iron-wielding man who beat him within inches of his life,” Clarke said in the lengthy post. “The milquetoast mayor trying to play cop foolishly thought he could simply talk the man who beat him senseless into backing down. Bet he won’t try that again!”

He was referencing a 2009 incident when Mayor Barrett answered the calls of an older woman trying to protect her 1 year old granddaughter during an argument with a man. Barrett tried to calm him down, and when that failed, tried to call the police and was badly beaten by the man and hospitalized for it. The event spurred nearly universal admiration for the character of Barrett, even among his political opponents for helping a woman and child. Not with Clarke. He wasn’t done, finishing his post with a picture of an injured Barrett, and a threat:

“If you had to call for help, who would you rather see show up, me or timid Tom?” Clarke asked. “Time to crawl back into your hole Tom, unless you want some more of this because I have some.”

I am sad to say that many of my fellow Wisconsin conservatives found this to be amusing, and rooted him on, simply because Barrett was a [true] Democrat that we all opposed.

In another shocking instance of incivility, Sheriff Clarke got into a quasi-physical altercation during a returning from Dallas, TX. The undisputed account was that while walking to the back of the plane, a 24-year-old Milwaukee resident passed the sheriff. He thought he recognized him, but wasn’t sure without his famous Stetson cowboy hat. So, he had the audacity to ask if he was indeed David Clarke. Clarke acknowledged that he was. According to the complaint: “I shook my head as I was moving on to my seat near the back of the plane. From behind, he asked if I had a problem. I shook my head ‘no’ again and continued to my seat.”

Once they landed, the sheriff used the power of his position to have his deputies detain Black, question him for an extended amount of time about his behavior (what behavior?), then escort him off the airport grounds.

Black filed a complaint against Clarke, the details of which are astounding. In response to the immediate local outcry, the Sheriff doubled down on his abusive behavior on the plane and in the airport, going once again to the official Facebook page of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department to taunt and physically threaten the complainant:

 

He didn’t stop this incredibly petty attack, however, continuing to go to the official department Facebook with foul, threatening language, too crass to print here. But, it did include this meme:

 

 

Keep in mind, this is a sitting elected official, a law enforcement officer, and sheriff of one of America’s largest counties, posting on Facebook like a high school bully.

His Twitter account is worse, where he openly uses profanity, sexually-charged epithets, and the occasional attempt at irony with reverse-racism. His faux-machismo has even made international news. I will not post them here out of respect.

The level of discord and distrust in conservative circles is fairly high now in Wisconsin, with 65% of Milwaukee residents saying Clarke has a negative impact on our community, and some asking Governor Walker to step in and relieve the sheriff of his duties. [The governor will appoint his replacement, if confirmed for his new job.] The feelers Clarke put out considering a Senate run never really took off. So, it’s no surprise that he set his sights on D.C. In fact, the cynical side of me wonders if the blessed Cheesehead Triangle between Gov. Walker, Speaker Paul Ryan and White House CoS Reince Preibus didn’t work this out on a conference call to relieve Wisconsin of some electoral baggage.

Frankly, I’m stuck between being relieved he’ll be gone from Wisconsin, and regret that our venerable institutions, filled with respectable, decorated and experienced men and women will now have to deal with someone of this low character. If a fist fight breaks out on the floor of the Pentagon someday, just google “Clarke,” and the chances are high that he was involved.

The role of deputy has traditionally been filled by someone with strong law enforcement or military experience. Since the first appointment of Gordon England, himself a reputable businessman, and former Secretary of the Navy, office holders have been mostly quiet, dutiful appointees. However, that will likely change with the expected confirmation of Clarke. Gen. John Kelly, a heavily decorated war hero has his work cut out for him learning how to balance the duties of the job with a man who is more interested in getting to his next TV spot or cussing out those who disagree with him on Facebook and Twitter. The sheriff is also no more qualified for the position than about 700,000 other LEO’s across the U.S. – this has to be nothing more than a political favor. Frankly, I’m curious to see how Clarke’s hubris fits into a subservient role under Kelly. He’ll want to play spokesman, rather than manager. I hope it works out well for the department, but I’m not holding my breath.

This man is our next Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. God help us.

 

 

[Note: I’m awaiting my own public (and private) thrashing for this “hit piece,” but I’m willing to accept it for the sake of my fellow Americans knowing what they’re getting. Godspeed.]

Update 11:26pm: The DHS has refused to confirm the job offer and appears unaware of any agreement to nominate Clarke for the position.

 

Pollsters Look For Why They Went Wrong in 2016

 

 

A group of pollsters has conducted a postmortem of 2016 election polling to try to determine why so many of the nation’s pollsters and political analysts, including those of us at The Resurgent, got it wrong. The resulting study, released by the American Association for Public Opinion Research, “found that the biggest culprit was state-level polling underestimating the level of Trump’s support, most importantly in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin,” observes Business Insider in a classic understatement.

No kidding.

National polls showed Hillary Clinton with an average lead of about three-points, which was very close to the actual popular vote result which Clinton won by two points. The polls were less accurate at the state level, where they showed a tight race, but still pointed to a Clinton victory.

The three perennially blue states in the upper Midwest flipped to Trump and enabled his path to 270 electoral votes. The fundamental question is why pollsters underestimated Trump’s support in these states. On that issue, the analysis found three main factors that likely caused polls to be off in those states.

A major factor was that a large segment of voters waited until the last week before the election to make their decision. In Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, those late-deciding voters broke decisively for Donald Trump. In Wisconsin, they chose Trump by a 30-point margin. The margin for Trump among these voters was 17 points in Pennsylvania and Florida.

A second major factor was that many polls included too many college graduates in their samples and their assumptions about the electorate. “Voters with higher education levels were more likely to support Clinton,” the report said. “Furthermore, recent studies are clear that people with more formal education are significantly more likely to participate in surveys than those with less education.”

The third factor was that many Trump voters did not admit to preferring Trump in pre-election polling. There had been speculation about reluctance of Trump supporters to admit their preference to pollsters, the so-called “Shy Trump effect,” but the report notes that this effect could also be attributed to late-deciding voters.

Two additional factors were also considered to be less compelling reasons for the polling problems. The report notes that in 2016, turnout grew more in Republican counties than in Democrat counties when compared to 2012. This could have caused an overcounting of Democrat demographics while underestimating Republican support. The report also notes that Donald Trump’s name appeared above Hillary Clinton’s on the actual ballot while polls tended to randomize the order of the candidates. The report considers these effects to be insignificant.

Regarding the pre-election forecasts that Clinton was a shoo-in, the report notes that polling and forecasting are two different things. “Pollsters and astute poll reporters are often careful to describe their findings as a snapshot in time, measuring public opinion when they are fielded,” the report notes. “Forecasting models do something different – they attempt to predict a future event. As the 2016 election proved, that can be a fraught exercise, and the net benefit to the country is unclear.”

Polls are already history when they are published. The measure public opinion on the dates that they are conducted, they do not predict future events. Polling results and trends can be used by forecasters to make predictions, but, if public opinion is changing rapidly, as it did in 2016 with FBI Director Comey’s eleventh hour letter to Congress, then polling is less effective as a forecasting tool.

The analysis also found that there is no consistent partisan bias in recent US polling. While polling underestimated support for Trump last year, the reverse has been true in other recent elections. “Whether the polls tend to miss in the Republican direction or the Democratic direction is tantamount to a coin flip,” said the report.

In 2012, late-breaking support for Barack Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the Obama bromance with Chris Christie derailed what many thought would be a win for Mitt Romney. In 2004, early exit polling showed that John Kerry would defeat incumbent George W. Bush. When all the votes were counted, Bush won a convincing victory.

Looking back at the 2016 polls, which are still available on Real Clear Politics, the signs were there. Pennsylvania showed a 1.9-point lead for Clinton, which was well within the margin of error of most polls. The latest poll before the election gave Trump a one-point lead. In Michigan, the average showed Clinton up by 3.4 points, still within the margin of error, while the last poll showed Trump with a two-point lead. Wisconsin polling was farther off, showing a 6.5-point lead for Clinton. Trump did not lead in any Wisconsin polls, but won all three states by less than one point on Election Day.

The bottom line for political observers is that polling is not an exact science. This is particularly true in a country that is as closely divided as the United States is today. While polls are useful to give a snapshot of public opinion, they can’t be expected to accurately predict an election winner in a tight race where poll results are within the margin of error.

In retrospect, the fact that polls were as tight as they were going into the final week before the election should have been a red flag for Clinton supporters. For an opponent who was as unpopular as Donald Trump to be within the margin of error of the Democrat candidate in what was almost universally assumed to be a coronation more than an election indicated serious problems with the Clinton campaign.

The surge of Trump voters in the final week may be partially due to the continuing dribbles of scandal from the hacked emails and Director Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation a week before the election, but it also indicates a more fundamental problem for the Democrats. Many of these late Trump voters undoubtedly went for Trump because Democrat messaging failed to convince them that Hillary would improve their own lives and finances.

Duh! WaPo Discovers Computers Count Votes Better Than People

This paragraph:

For many advocating a recount in Wisconsin, a primary concern is that computers were involved in counting at least some of the ballots. In 2016, 90 percent of all votes were cast in municipalities that used computerized optical scanners to count votes. It seems obvious that we should be more skeptical of machines that count ballots than humans who count ballots. But the evidence suggests that machines actually do a better job.

Duh! How, and to whom, would it ever “seem obvious that we should be more skeptical of machines that count ballots than humans” who do it? It’s not obvious. In fact, the reverse is obvious.

Let’s see: would you rather add up a list of numbers by hand, use a hand calculator and a pencil, or use a spreadsheet? Would you rather have a computer fly the jet you’re riding in or have the pilots hand-fly the entire six hours?

Here’s another one. Would you rather have your doctor diagnose you, or use a computer? Soon, we’ll be asking, would you rather drive yourself or have a computer do it?

Have the writers and editors at WaPo discovered yet that the entire reason computers were first invented was to help count people in the U.S. census?

Of course computers are more accurate counting votes than humans.

When we analyzed the 2011 Wisconsin recount, we found that the average discrepancy for scanner-counted paper ballots was 0.17 percent, compared with 0.28 percent for hand-counted paper. In other words, both methods are highly accurate, but scanners are slightly more so.

The biggest problem with counting votes is people. Figures are transposed when taken from the (highly secure and generally unplugged from any network) voting machines and written by hand on tally sheets. These are human errors. The chance of human error increases geometrically when machines are taken out of the loop so humans can hand sort through paper ballots sitting at a table.

At the end of all the silly lawsuits and recounts, here’s what the geniuses at WaPo have provided for us.

We should expect three things: the recount will discover only small discrepancies between the election night totals; both methods of counting ballots — hand and scanners — will prove highly accurate; and scanners will be more accurate than humans.

It only took them four college professors from schools like Harvard, MIT, Caltech, and the University of Wisconsin to tell us that.

When Fake Recounts Hurt The Real Ones

Jill Stein’s fake recount effort is underway in Wisconsin, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Michigan’s recount could cost another $4 million, money which was raised by Stein’s fundraising blitz. The only point of these recounts is to undermine the public’s faith in these elections, where no evidence or hint of irregularities was found.

In North Carolina, there were actual irregularities. Massive irregularities to the tune of 90,000 ballots added at the last minute in heavily-Democratic Durham County, which quite literally transformed incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s victory into a defeat by Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

Durham County reported computer problems early on election day. The county Board of Elections took its electronic voting system offline after problems “popped up” at several precincts. The state went to Donald Trump in the presidential election, but the governor’s race was too close to call well into the night and next morning.

McCrory has never conceded the race, and has continually requested a statewide recount, then a recount in only the counties affected by the software problems. His protests were ignored and dismissed.

It took an officially filed request by a voter in Durham County, along with a separately filed lawsuit, to get the state Board of Elections to move, in a race where the two candidates were separated by 0.1 percent, and obvious, glaring problems were found. Finally, McCrory will get his recount, but only of the 94,000 “last minute” ballots in Durham County.

“What harm would it do to scan these votes and count them so no that one campaign is going to think why wouldn’t they count those votes?” election board member James Baker, a Republican, asked at the hearing.

But Democrats keep complaining about the cost of the recount.

“It is wrong that Governor McCrory continues to waste taxpayer money with false accusations and attempts to delay and that the Republican controlled Board of Elections did not follow the law,” [Cooper campaign manager Trey] Nix said in a statement. “However, Roy Cooper’s lead has grown to over 10,000 votes and after a partial recount of 6 precincts in one county, the outcome of the election will be the same.”

So to Democrats, it’s okay to recount two entire states where no irregularities were found, and the chance of the result being changed is only slightly more than an extinction-level event, at a cost of millions. But it’s a waste of taxpayer money to recount even one county that singlehandedly changed the result of a close race with a dump of 94,000 ballots.

This is why fake recounts hurt. They legitimatize conspiracy theories and delegitimize real problems.

Here’s Why the Democrats Are Pushing an Expensive, Doomed to Fail, Recall

In Pennsylvania, because the Green Party missed the state deadline for a recount, they are going to selected counties for recounts.

In Wisconsin, they have to fork over $3.5 million today to make a recount happen. They are pushing in Michigan as well.

In Pennsylvania, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 75,000 votes, which is around 30,000 more than Jill Stein got altogether. There is no way Jill Stein could find enough votes to get herself an electoral college vote and there is no realistic way that there would be enough votes to throw a state to Hillary Clinton.

On top of that, if any one of these states goes for Trump, he wins. So why do it?

First, it is to delegitimize the process. The Democrats want to cast enough doubt on the election that their base, who prides itself on being smarter than the right, will spin into fake news and conspiracy theory territory to get them doubly fired up in 2018 for the congressional elections. They can then use that as a claim for mandate against Trump and as further proof that the 2016 results were fraudulent as they head to 2020.

Though electronic voting machines make it highly unlikely to ever alter an election, the Democrats can challenge individual paper ballots cast and create a narrative that Republicans shut out black people, gay people, hispanics, etc in an effort to suppress the vote. Remember, narrative is more important than truth to Democrats.

The left, in their arrogance and moral superiority, is just as likely to fall for a con as the right, but because so much of the media leans left the Democrats know no fact checker is going to call bulls–t on the claims. They will smugly reassure themselves that Russia really did hand the election to Trump and Republicans really did suppress or reject lawfully cast votes to such a degree as to hand Trump the White House.

But there is a second and very real reason the Democrats are doing this.

If Pennsylvania counties run by Democrats; Michigan with a lot of Democrats, but overseen by a Republican Secretary of State; and Wisconsin with a Democrat Secretary of State can drag out the recount process, it will prevent electors from being chosen for the Electoral College in those states.

That would force the election into the House of Representatives.

Trump would still win, but it would force every member of the GOP in the House on the record for Trump. There would be no walking away from him, walking it back, or distancing themselves. They would then own Donald Trump completely.

The Democrats have hit on a strategy that will see the mainstream media and left force Republican ownership of every bad idea, every stupid tweet, and every failure that Trump advances. They would love to start with his presidency in general. In two years, every Republican in the House will see commercials attacking them for their vote to affirm Trump’s presidency.

This is the longest of long shots for the Democrats. The odds are it will not happen. But they are grasping at straws now. They will either delegitimize the process or they will try to tie individual Republicans so tightly to Donald Trump that there is no shadow between them.

Of course, this only works if Trump is the disaster they expect him to be. This is also reason for the GOP to not delay in repealing Obama’s agenda as quickly as possible.