Tag Archives: Ron Johnson

Masks vs. Mask Mandates

It is almost funny how difficult it is for some people to understand that someone can think wearing masks is a good idea and still oppose having the government mandate the wearing of them. In any case, thoughts and prayers to Senator Johnson and his family. I hope he has a speedy recovery.

After testing positive for COVID-19, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said his view on mask mandates hasn’t changed, as Wisconsin Republican leaders have voiced their support for striking down the state’s order requiring face coverings be worn.

The Oshkosh Republican, who announced Saturday morning he had tested positive for the virus the previous day, instead touted “individual responsibility,” saying while he believes masks can help mitigate the risk, they’re “certainly not a cure-all.”

Johnson, who is at least the third Republican U.S. senator to have contracted the coronavirus recently, said he was tested on his way to the Ozaukee County Republican Party Oktoberfest Dinner in Mequon on Friday night, though he didn’t get the results back til later on.

In between, he still attended the event, saying he wore his mask until he spoke and stayed “at least 12 feet from anybody as [he was] speaking.” He said he quickly left the dinner after his remarks.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Proving that nuance and rational discussion is currently disallowed when it comes to debating anything related to race, Senator Ron Johnson stepped into the a hornet’s nest when he offered an amendment to a bill to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.

To this end, a bipartisan assemblage of senators drafted a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. First, we must be clear on what that means. The federal government cannot mandate that Americans celebrate anything. A designated federal holiday simply means that the federal government is giving all non-essential federal employees the day off of work to commemorate the event. Usually, but not always, states and private businesses follow the federal government’s lead. For example, almost everyone gets a days off for Independence Day and Memorial Day, but the same cannot be said for Washington’s Birthday or Columbus Day. The designation of a federal holiday, or lack thereof, has absolutely no bearing on whether or not people choose to celebrate or commemorate an event.

There is, however, a cost associated with the federal government granting a holiday to its employees. That cost is estimated to be about $600 million that the taxpayers have to bear for paying federal employees to not work. In order to save the taxpayers that expense, Senator Johnson offered an amendment to trade Columbus Day for Juneteenth Day. Columbus Day is largely celebrated in the Italian-American community, but overlooked by most other Americans.

Johnson’s amendment set off a firestorm of criticism from the political Right accusing him of surrendering to the radical Left. And the political Left lambasted Johnson and accused him of racism for putting up a roadblock to the Juneteenth bill. Both sides were wrong. Senator Johnson is staying true to form as a fiscal hawk. Those birds are more and more rare in an age of sweeping deficits, trillion dollar spending packages, and mounting federal debt.

In the face of a withering crossfire, Johnson has since withdrawn his amendment and is, instead, planning to introduce a bill to reduce paid leave time for federal employees to offset the cost of adding an eleventh official federal holiday to the calendar. This proposal will likely run into the buzz saw of opposition from the federal employee unions and will never be passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House.

In the end, we will add Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It will be a welcome and long overdue celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will be stuck with yet another bill for which we will borrow money to pay.

Celebrating Juneteenth

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.

Ron Johnson’s Perfect Analysis

Well, when you say it like that, it seems obvious.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) did not mince words when asked to comment on Tuesday night’s election results in Alabama. When asked what he believed the “message” from last night was, Johnson said that “Alabamians didn’t want somebody who dated 14-year-old girls.”

He then said that Steve Bannon should learn that the GOP needs better candidates in order to win Senate races before going into an office away from the camera.

Senator Johnson Opposes Tax Plan

I’ve had about enough with Senator Johnson.

(CNN)Sen. Ron Johnson announced he is opposed to the tax bill Wednesday, making him the first member of the GOP to formally come out against the party’s plan, though the Wisconsin Republican said he was hopeful about being able to support a final version once changes are made.

Johnson issued a statement saying the current proposal in both chambers is imbalanced in favor of large corporations but he left open the door to supporting the bills if they are altered.
“Unfortunately, neither the House nor Senate bill provide fair treatment, so I do not support either in their current versions,” he said. “I do, however, look forward to working with my colleagues to address the disparity so I can support the final version.”
Here’s the thing… I supported Johnson for election – twice. He originally ran on repealing Obamacare. When it came to getting that done, he and his colleagues failed. Now when it is coming to tax reform, he’s about to be a part of it failing. He’s become a Senator that’s all hat and no cattle. It doesn’t do anyone any good for Johnson to tour Wisconsin and tell us how bad Obamacare is or how much our tax code needs reform if he is unable to bring himself to actually support DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
As to his specific objection, it’s horse shit. The entire purpose of tax reform, I thought, was to spur economic growth and simplify the tax code. Both the House bill and the Senate bill (I like the House’s better) will accomplish those goals to some degree. Yes, in an ideal world, I would like the bill to cut taxes for more people and businesses and be much more simple, but it also has to be something that can get a majority of votes. Johnson is making the enemy of the good. But given the fact that Johnson is smart enough to know that getting something is better than getting nothing, I can only assume that he is just using this as an excuse because he doesn’t actually want to reform our tax system.
Less talk, Ron. More action.

Ron Johnson Waffles on Obamacare Repeal

Fer cryin’ out loud

Four conservative GOP senators, including Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, quickly announced initial opposition to the measure and others were evasive, raising the specter of a jarring rejection by the Republican-controlled body. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated he was open to discussion and seemed determined to muscle the measure through his chamber next week.

 Johnson ran for office twice on the promise to repeal Obamacare. If he can’t bring himself to actually act after years of promises to his constituents, then he is the lowest form of politician – and that’s starting from a very low point, indeed.

Johnson’s Charitable Giving

Huh.

Johnson paid nearly the exact same effective tax rate as Feingold — less than 14% — while earning nearly 10 times as much income as his political foe from 2005 to 2008. Johnson was able to lower his rate primarily with his heavy charitable giving.

I realize that Bice is trying to portray this as a negative for Johnson because he paid less taxes while earning (yes, earning) more money than Feingold, but note how he did it… He gave a ton of money to charity. Nothing has changed. Johnson still gives his personal time and money to charitable causes. Are we supposed to consider that a bad thing now?

 

Feingold and Johnson Debate

I was unable to watch the debate last night between Senator Ron Johnson and challenger Russ Feingold. In reading the coverage of it this morning, one thing continues to stick out to me that I mentioned in my column a few weeks ago. Feingold is running a campaign from 1992. His rhetoric is to old. So tired. So worn. He is utterly vapid with seemingly nothing new to offer other than to warm Wisconsin’s senate seat with musty farts and occasionally belch out Che quotes. For example, take this:

Dem Russ Feingold on Tuesday knocked U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson for taking a $700,000 salary from his former plastics company, but voting against efforts to raise the minimum wage.

Really? I saw his TV commercial about this too, but really? This is just rank class warfare. It’s not even pretending to be nuanced. If you planning to vote for Feingold because you are jealous of Johnson’s salary – which he earned in the private sector – then you are too stupid to vote. But I guess that’s the electorate to which Feingold is appealing.

 

Johnson and Feingold Tied in Latest Marquette Poll

Good news as Trump continues to crater everywhere.

Feingold, the Middleton liberal who lost the Senate seat he held for three terms to Johnson in 2010, has a narrow lead of 46 percent to Johnson’s 44 percent among likely voters. That’s well within the Marquette poll’s margin of error of 3.9 percent among the 878 voters who said they were likely to vote next month.

Phil Anderson, the Libertarian candidate, received 4 percent support from likely voters, while 5 percent of respondents did not express a preference.

Johnson  has made up a lot of ground since the middle of last month when the Marquette poll found Feingold up by 5 percentage points – 44 percent to 39 percent. It would seem Anderson’s loss is Johnson’s gain. The Libertarian candidate polled at 7 percent last month, with 10 percent of voters were undecided.

In a straight, head-to-head match-up between Johnson and Feingold, 48 percent of likely voters support the challenger; 46 percent favor Johnson. Feingold held a 6 percentage point advantage in the previous poll, 47 percent to 41 percent.

This is the first time I recall Johnson’s numbers moving independently of the presidential candidate. Johnson’s poll numbers are improving while Trump’s are going the other way. That means that a lot of folks are coming back to Johnson.

Why? As a general rule, people need a reason to change. Feingold’s entire campaign has just been a negative rant aping the same old liberal mantras of the last 40 years. It is as if he hasn’t updated his campaign material since he ran in 2000. Meanwhile, he’s being such a raging hypocrite on his signature issue, campaign finance reform, that even his supporters guffaw when he lectures us on the evils of undisclosed corporate donations. Feingold just hasn’t made a compelling case for change.

It’s still a long time until the election and the turnout for the top of the ticket will drive a lot of the down ballot races, but Johnson has to feel positive about this poll.

New Cancer Drug Shows Remarkable Promise

Here’s some good news on a Monday evening.

An immunotherapy drug has been described as a potential “game-changer” in promising results presented at the European Cancer Congress.

In a study of head and neck cancer, more patients taking nivolumab survived for longer compared with those who were treated with chemotherapy.

In another study, combining nivolumab with another drug shrank tumours in advanced kidney cancer patients.

Immunotherapy works by harnessing the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Advanced head and neck cancer has very poor survival rates.

In a trial of more than 350 patients, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 36% treated with the immunotherapy drug nivolumab were alive after one year compared with 17% who received chemotherapy.

Patients also experienced fewer side effects from immunotherapy.

I would note that since this drug is not approved by the FDA, you could not try it even if you were terminally ill because Harry Reid blocked Senator Ron Johnson’s “Right to Try” bill.

The Joseph Project

Some good people are doing some good work in Milwaukee.

My name is Jerome Smith Sr. As someone actively working to improve my community, I know it sometimes seems like there are too few people who care.

Whether it’s murders, drop-out rates, or drug addiction, the place we call home is one of the most challenging cities in America, and there isn’t a lot of sunshine.

Yet, it is in the middle of these struggles that I’ve been able to gain an unexpected friend and partner in helping take on some of our community’s greatest challenges. That friend is U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.

After several conversations, Ron Johnson, myself, and some of his staff partnered together to construct a plan around this new idea. The Joseph Project is an initiative to connect people in our community with good-paying jobs.

One easy choice on the ballot

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

Although the choices at the top of the November ballot are truly a basket of deplorables, there are some easy choices further down the ballot. Sen. Ron Johnson has earned a second term, and Russ Feingold has certainly not made the case for himself.

As the adage goes, past performance is the best predictor of future performance. If that is the case, then a fourth term for Feingold would be wretched for the people of Wisconsin. After spending 10 years warming a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate, Feingold was elevated by the voters to do the same for 18 years in the U.S. Senate.

During Feingold’s almost two decades representing Wisconsin in Washington, he accomplished very little. His name is attached to one legislative achievement that was an affront to free speech. The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law was an assault on free speech that was eventually ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The single legislative accomplishment of the self-described champion of civil rights was a law that was thrown out for violating civil rights.

When Feingold wasn’t spending his time hobnobbing with elites and enjoying the perks of being in the most exclusive club in the world, he was being one of the most loyal votes for the Democratic leadership. Feingold voted to continue partial birth abortions.

He voted against notifying parents when their kids get an abortion out of state. He voted for President Barack Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus package that only stimulated Democratic constituents. He voted against education savings accounts, against medical savings accounts, against Roth IRAs, against personal retirement accounts, against school vouchers for D.C., against ending the death tax, against voluntary prayer in schools, against energy expansion in the U.S., for sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, for illegal aliens to receive Social Security and, of course, for Obamacare.

Since being ousted from office six years ago, an act that many attribute to his zealous support for Obamacare, Feingold has slid further into disrepute. He has completely reversed himself on his promise to fund his campaign primarily from Wisconsinites. In fact, almost 70 percent of Feingold’s campaign funds comes from out-of-state people and organizations.

Feingold has also used his PAC as a personal slush fund. Immediately after losing to Johnson in 2010, Feingold launched his Progressives United PAC with the stated goal of supporting progressive candidates in Wisconsin and elsewhere. As he fleeced donors for cash with the promise to support liberal causes, he actually spent a full 95 percent of the money on himself, his friends and on raising more money. A charity that only spent 5 percent of its proceeds on its stated goal would be rightfully dragged through the media for its deceptive marketing and immoral management.

Meanwhile, Johnson has accomplished more in a single term in the senate than Feingold did in three. In fact, a Hloom study that evaluated the productivity of all senators ranked Johnson as the absolute most productive senator. Johnson was selected as chairman of the hugely important Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. From this position, Johnson has been at the forefront of some of our nation’s most important issues. (It is also telling that in 18 years in the Senate, Feingold’s colleagues had so little respect for him that he was never selected to chair any committee.) But Johnson’s service specifically to the citizens of Wisconsin perhaps outweighs even his influence on national issues. He and his staff have been incredibly responsive to helping constituents navigate the federal government and resolve issues. One of those constituents was the whistleblower who reported incredible abuses taking place at the Tomah VA facility. Despite these reports being ignored by Feingold when he was in office and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Johnson and his staff sprang into action. Johnson’s committee investigated the allegations and released a 350-page report detailing the rampant and systematic abuses at the VA, spurring action by government officials for reform.

Johnson has also been personally working on some of Wisconsin’s most pressing problems. Johnson and his staff have been working with the Rev. Jerome Smith in Milwaukee’s inner city on the Joseph Project, which was started to help the city’s poorest black residents find and keep gainful employment. The project has helped at least 80 people find jobs paying $12.80 and more through direct, personal involvement. One person at a time. Person to person. With this project alone, Johnson has done more to solve Milwaukee’s most difficult problems than Feingold did in nearly 30 years of elected office.

Johnson has been one of the most productive, thoughtful, problem-solving and effective senators that Wisconsin has ever had. He is facing a challenge from a political retread with a record of only leaving the backbench to grow government and quash civil rights. It is an easy choice. Vote for Ron Johnson.

Reid Blocks Right to Try Bill

Make no mistake. Harry Reid doesn’t give two shites about terminally sick people if it means denying a Republican a political win before an election. So if you have a family member who can’t try an experimental treatment and dies in the next couple of months, you can thank Harry Reid and the beneficiary of his political hack job, Russ Feingold.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s push for a right-to-try bill ran up against the reality of hardball politics Wednesday.

Johnson’s measure to allow terminally ill patients to receive experimental drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration was blocked by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Johnson sought to move the bill through unanimous consent, meaning one senator could halt its progress.  And that’s what Reid did, blunting a Johnson initiative for the second time in recent months. In July, Reid blocked Johnson’s bill to protect federal whistleblowers from retaliation.

Johnson faces a tough re-election fight against Democrat Russ Feingold, so any move to get legislation through by a parliamentary maneuver was always going to be difficult.

Senator Johnson Pushes “Right to Try”

Frankly, it’s rather remarkable that we would need permission from our government for something like this. It just shows how much individual liberty we have ceded.

The Trickett Wendler Right to Try Act, authored by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, would allow terminally ill patients to receive experimental drugs — which have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration — and where no alternative exists. There is a companion bill in the House.

With 40 Republicans and two Democrats co-sponsoring the legislation, Johnson plans to try to get the measure passed by unanimous consent, perhaps as early as Wednesday. The parliamentary maneuver is unlikely to succeed, since a single senator can block the request. But the issue probably won’t fade away.

“I want to create a sense of urgency around this,” said Wendler, who lives in Pewaukee with the couple’s three children. “The bill was introduced in May and here we are in September and we’re talking about procedural things. I’m a big boy. I understand how the process is drawn out. I would like the conversation to take place much, much sooner.”

Thirty-one states have passed right-to-try laws based on model legislation created by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank. Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly have a goal to pass such a bill in the upcoming session.

Supporters say such legislation enables those with terminal illnesses to access experimental drugs and new treatments early in the development pipeline. Eligible medications have to pass phase one of clinical trials.

Obama Appoints Ron Johnson to U.N.

This is interesting.

President Barack Obama has named U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, as one of two U.S. representatives to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

The assembly, which convenes each September, is the main decision-making body for the U.N. and includes representatives from all 193 member nations.

On the merits, it’s a good choice by Obama. Johnson knows his stuff and will represent America’s interests well. On the politics, it is curious that Obama would appoint a Republican Senator from a battleground state. My guess is that Obama wants to get him off the campaign trail as the election nears.

I would note that in 18 years as Wisconsin’s senator, Russ Feingold was never trusted with anything important.

Johnson and Feingold on Gun Control

This editorial disguised as a news story by the Wisconsin State Journal made me chuckle. Here’s the opening:

The ever-explosive gun issue creates potential pitfalls for both major-party candidates in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.

For Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the problem is public opinion, which runs counter to his opposition to gun-control measures being debated in Congress.

For Democrat Russ Feingold, it’s his mottled record on guns, which appears out of step with a Democratic Party that’s increasingly unified in favor of new gun restrictions.

So according to the reporter, the problem with both candidates is that they aren’t anti-2nd Amendment enough. If ONLY they would be more anti-civil rights, they would have a better chance of winning.

Whatever.

Anonymous Dark Money Group Attacks Senator Johnson

Where is Russ Feingold to decry this corruption of our electoral process!?!?!? 

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is under fire from a Democratic dark money group for helping block President Barack Obama’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The group, Majority Forward, is running online ads hammering Johnson and other Republican senators facing re-election this fall.

Opposing Arbitrary Restriction of Constitutional Rights

I’m glad that Senator Johnson has this stance.

WASHINGTON — As law enforcement authorities continued to investigate potential terror links to the San Bernardino shooting Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, brushed aside President Obama’s call for legislation to keep people on no-fly lists from buying guns.

“On any kind of proposal the first question I ask is, ‘OK, would this proposed solution have stopped  — which of the past tragedies would this proposed solution have stopped?’” the Oshkosh Republican said in an interview. “And I think the answer in so many cases is, very few of them or none of them.”

Authorities have not given any indication that the shooters, Syed R. Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were on any no-fly lists, and the guns they used to slay 14 people at a social services center were purchased legally.

“Then the next question is, well, if you’re going to enact this solution, which would deprive people of constitutional rights, is that a very good thing to do?” Johnson said.

Remember that the no-fly list is a list of people that the government puts people on when they think they might be up to no good. That kind of arbitrary designation – without any due process – is not appropriate for deciding to restrict a person’t constitutional rights whether we’re talking the 1st Amendment, 2nd, Amendment, 4th Amendment, or any other rights protected by our constitution.

Hackers Attacked Clinton’s Server

This should come as a surprise to nobody. Of course hackers were trying to get into the email of the Secretary of State of the United States of America. That’s why it was woefully dangerous and criminally negligent for Clinton to keep her email on a private system in the first place.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email server, which stored some 55,000 pages of emails from her time as secretary of state, was the subject of attempted cyberattacks originating in China, South Korea and Germany after she left office in early 2013, according to a congressional document obtained by The Associated Press.

While the attempts were apparently blocked by a “threat monitoring” product that Clinton’s employees connected to her network in October 2013, there was a period of more than three months from June to October 2013 when that protection had not been installed, according to a letter from Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. That means her server was possibly vulnerable to cyberattacks during that time.

Johnson Votes to Confirm Lynch

It’s difficult to get motivated to support Johnson for his reelection next year when Johnson is voting the same way Feingold would have.

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson both voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general.

Lynch’s nomination, which had been held up in a fight over a human trafficking bill and the president’s executive actions on immigration, cleared the Senate yesterday at 56-43.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, cited Lynch’s law enforcement credentials and deference to the president in selecting his cabinet for his support. He was one of 10 Senate Republicans to back the nomination.