The view from outside

Eliana Johnson provides an outside-Wisconsin view of the governor’s race:

The daughter of Trek Bicycle founder Richard Burke, the woman gunning for Scott Walker’s job, is the scion of a prominent Wisconsin family who’s had the wealth to flit from one career to another.

In an election being litigated primarily on economic issues, Mary Burke has touted her business experience. But it’s the sort of business experience only an heiress could afford: a couple of years spent toiling at a failed start-up company and two stints working for her father. Between her two tours at Trek, Burke spent a couple of years “as a snowboard bum in Colorado.” (That’d be from the Harvard Business School alumni bulletin, not her campaign website.) At Trek, she ran the company’s European division, and has said she increased international sales by a whopping $47 million, but the company denied PolitiFact’s request to verify the number.

The private sector, it turns out, wasn’t really for her. “While I have the business background, I really — how should I say this? — I prefer the work in the public sector,” Burke told Politico in an interview.

By her mid 40s, she’d left to become a philanthropist and told Democratic governor Jim Doyle’s political team when it expressed interest in bringing her aboard — she was eventually appointed to run the state’s Department of Commerce — that she wasn’t sure she wanted to “reenter the full-time work force.” The only elected position Burke has ever held is a seat on the Madison school board. Now, she wants to become governor.

Burke has cited her Harvard MBA and her business savvy as evidence that she has the know-how to revitalize Wisconsin’s economy. So it says something about her candidacy that large portions of her jobs plan — and of several other plans she has released, on subjects such as entrepreneurship, small-business development, and public-private partnerships, where one might expect her to bring her experience to bear — were lifted word for word from those of several other (mostly failed) gubernatorial candidates.

Burke blamed a Harvard-educated consultant for the incident, and he was promptly fired, but she stood by her borrowed plans, telling reporters that Wisconsin need not “reinvent the wheel.” Burke is offering Wisconsin voters public policy recycled by a political consultant — policy rejected by voters in Virginia and Indiana, to boot.

But the race is tight, and Burke’s latest flirtation with a serious career has given her a real shot to unseat one of the GOP’s top presidential contenders. The most recent Marquette University poll has her tied with Walker, 46 all. How did that happen?

That the race is so close is a testament both to Wisconsin’s political polarization and to the fact that, though it has at times looked purple, it remains a blue state. Walker, like his colleagues Sam Brownback, John Kasich, Rick Snyder, and Susana Martínez, among others, was elected in the GOP wave of 2010. Democratic majorities in the Wisconsin state assembly and the state senate were wiped out that year, too, but 2010 proved to be a political outlier. …

Walker rose to national prominence when he succeeded in getting legislation passed to curb the collective-bargaining rights of the state’s public-sector unions, and he caught the attention of top-dollar Republican donors when he beat back a union-led effort to recall his election. As throngs of left-wing protesters rushed the state capitol, he looked like the adult in the room, and he won the recall election by a greater margin than he was elected with in 2010. …

In an election that has centered on the performance of the state’s economy, Walker’s record has been scrutinized. There are things to boast about: Since Walker took office in January of 2011, unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent from 7.6 percent. It’s half a percentage point below the national average.

But one of the central promises Walker made on the campaign trail in 2010, to usher in the creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs, has come back to haunt him. Even though the state has seen the creation of more than 100,000 jobs on his watch, the unmet campaign promise looms over him, and Burke is leveraging it in her ads. One Wisconsin Republican likened it to the “read my lips” moment that sealed George H. W. Bush’s fate in the 1992 presidential election.

It’s not just victory that matters for Walker, but the margin of victory. In modern times, all of the governors who have gone on to win the nomination of a major party have not been reelected narrowly but have galloped to victory. “Obviously, he’d like to win by more than five points,” Republican strategist O’Connell says. …

Top Republicans are also quick to point out that Walker has qualities that can compensate for his failure to waltz to victory in November. Though he is the top target of unions this cycle, Walker, who doesn’t have a college degree, has tremendous potential appeal to blue-collar voters, who largely supported him in 2010. That’s a group that Republicans, with Mitt Romney as their standard bearer, struggled mightily with in 2012, and it will undoubtedly become a focus in 2016. The son of a Baptist preacher, Walker is also popular among religious conservatives. And he’s one of the few potential GOP nominees with a foot in both the establishment and tea-party camps.

Walker also likes to say this is his third race in four years and, if he wins in November, his primary selling point may be his proven ability to repeatedly win drag-out fights in a left-leaning state.

And what do non-Wisconsin readers think?

  • Ah, the idle rich. Reminds me of the Kennedy’s in many respects. Politics is a toy.
  • When the author contacted the Trek company to confirm her quoted international sales number, they refused. In my eyes, if Daddy could back up her claims then he would be very boastful about her accomplishments. The unions will vote against Walker as opposed to voting for a qualified candidate. What’s a little plagiarism among friends.
  • Was she instrumental in raising international sales at her father’s company? The company’s not saying. Nor will they talk about whether or not she was involved in the outsourcing of production by the company to foreign locations, displacing WI workers. As to her time in the state commerce dept., the record is what the record is as stated by the author. If there were some fantastic program or project that she created while there, I have no doubt it would be blared out to voters by her campaign – but there is none.
  • Real business background – Entrepreneur – as in successful startup, not going to work for Daddy.
  • I have met her on several occasions. Years ago, in a context having nothing to do with politics. She is an entitled airhead whose position at Trek was a sinecure with neither responsibilities nor regular hours.
  • What is wrong with Wisconsin? Scott Walker should be ahead by 20 points just for his record of breaking the hold that public employee unions had on the state. Instead the polls show that an accomplished governor is in a close race with a dilettante socialite with no real ideas other than those she purloined from other losers like herself.
  • Two lib cesspools, Milwaukee and Madison, war with an otherwise small town, rural state. Most people in Wisconsin appreciate the constitution and the value of our dwindling lib oppressed freedoms. Burke does not earn any votes based on her record or intellect. Sadly, half our population is composed of idiots who choose socialism over the benefits of freedom.
  • It’s pretty clear that she has very little experience at anything and she was chosen by the Ds as a female candidate that they can build an image around who will do their bidding after election, as she is likely to show as much interest in governing as she’s shown for everything else in her life. Government of the union, for the union and by the union will return to WI with a vengeance.
  • It’s a safe bet that if she does win the governorship, her first task will be to reward the unions by returning to the rule that if you wanted to work for govt you had to be a member of the union. Expect Wisconsin to resume its descent into irrelevancy that was interrupted by Walker.
  • Mary Burke has nothing to offer. She’s just another useless power grabber — one who can’t run her own life too well, but who has a million ideas how we should run ours and wants government power to jam them down our throats. She has been assisted by a Democrat prosecutor who keeps totally bogus charges against Walker plodding through the courts — the Democrats’ favorite ploy (see also Perry, Delay, Hutchinson in Texas). I’m sick of rich little morons who have theirs and seem to think government’s main job should be killing opportunities for the rest of us, not to mention taxing us to death. No creative thinking here, only two ideas: more regulation, more taxes. When Walker won the recall, I had hoped Wisconsin might shake off its liberal fascist tendencies. Come November, we’ll see how strong the totalitarian temptation still is.
  • Wisconsin is neither blue nor red. Having recently escaped the cess pool that is Illinois to become a cheeze head, I am struck by the upside-downedness of Wisconsin. The people who ought to be conservative voters in every respect seem to be Democrats. Those who would be liberals under normal circumstances have connected the dots between socialism and the poverty it engenders. Unemployed former union members have an almost universal distrust of Big Labor and a healthy scorn for Blue Sky collectivist promises. They’d rather work full time for minimum wages than be unemployed on a picket line. Meanwhile, farmers and big business here seem to be nuttier than Greenpeace. Any good that Walker has accomplished will be quickly undone with a Burke victory. It’s 50-50. Perhaps the difference will be the recent transplants from my former state who will certainly not be pulling the lever for the bicycle babe. One can only hope.

Postgame schadenfreude, U.S. 41 edition

Regular readers of this column know that nothing brings more joy the morning after a Packers win over an archrival than to read the loser’s media the morning after.

Particularly Chicago media, given that the Chicago media covering Da Bears appears to drink Drano before spitting out their caustic thoughts about the team they’re paid to cover.

We begin with ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg:

There are many myths, myriad untruths, about the Chicago Bears‘ controversial quarterback Jay Cutler.

Here’s what I know about Cutler: He is very, very tough. He is very, very smart. His hair contains multitudes. He can’t beat the Green Bay Packers.

Just look at the numbers.

Facing his nemesis once again, Cutler threw two costly second-half picks on consecutive possessions that the Packers turned into touchdowns as the Bears dropped a squeaker, 38-17, at Soldier Field.

Yes, the NFC North still goes through Green Bay. The Bears will play there in a prime-time game on Nov. 9.

Cutler is now 1-9 against Green Bay in his roller-coaster Chicago career, including that 2010 NFC Championship Game defeat. He’s thrown 20 interceptions in those games.

Run the spread-blame formation all you want, Cutler fans, but turnovers and losses are connected.

Yes, the Bears’ defense was putrid, with no pass rush up front and no chance for the secondary to cover Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

It’s not like Green Bay’s defense was particularly good. It just took advantage of the Bears’ mistakes. …

Smart observers knew that this defense, depleted further with the absence of an ill Jared Allen, would have its hands full with Aaron Rodgers. This wasn’t going to beGeno Smith winging it around.

So that meant more pressure on Cutler to be perfect, or close to it. Instead, Cutler was Cutler, a victim of circumstance as fortune smiled upon his opponent.

The game was close at the break — 21-17 Green Bay after the Bears missed a last-second touchdown by inches and perhaps a bad spot — and the second half belonged to the better quarterback and the better team.

It was Rodgers, who had told his rabid fan base to relax after a 1-2 start, who was close to perfect. …

While the Bears finally achieved offensive balance with 235 rushing yards (122 on 23 carries forMatt Forte) and 256 passing yards, Green Bay took advantage of Chicago turnovers and then just relied on its franchise quarterback to move the chains and win the game.

Anyone who still thinks Cutler is ready to pass Rodgers in the NFC North quarterback derby, raise your hand.

Here’s my expert take: Rodgers is up here (reaches high) and Cutler is around here (waves hand around flabby midsection). …

On the second pick, Bears coach Marc Trestman said the play call was for Marshall to run an 18-yard hook, but Marshall “turned it into” a go route, i.e., he ran straight down the field. Cutler threw to the hook, a country mile from where Marshall was at the time, and Sam Shieldswas there to take advantage, returning it for 62 yards to the Bears’ 11-yard line.

Marshall, who has been hobbled by a bum ankle, declined to speak to reporters after the game.

“He was upset,” Cutler said. “A miscommunication on my part and his part. Sometimes miscommunications in this game can be pricy.”

Speaking of pricy, this past offseason Cutler signed a deal for $54 million in guaranteed money, while Marshall was inked for about $22 million in guaranteed cash. That’s “Beat Green Bay”money. They know that, of course.

The Arlington Daily Herald’s Barry Rozner:

The Bears have now won two games on the road in prime time against top NFL defenses and lost twice at home, opening against Buffalo — 6-10 a year ago — and now losing to a Green Bay team that came in 1-2 and had done virtually nothing right for three weeks.

Welcome to the NFL. …

Here’s what the Bears did well in their 38-17 loss to the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field: They ran the football against one of the worst rush defenses in the league, and stopped the run against one of the worst rushing games in the league.

Here’s what they did wrong: pretty much everything else.

And while the city will light its collective hair on fire and focus much of this week on Jay Cutler and his struggles against Green Bay, the real problem continues to be the defense.

Granted, they were missing Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff and Charles Tillman, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions and got points on every possession of the game except the last, when the Bears blocked a field goal.

“He’s the best quarterback in the league and it was their day today,” said linebacker Lance Briggs. “We couldn’t get to him.”

It was a clinic. Rodgers was 22-of-28 passing for 302 yards, 4 TDs, a QB rating of 151.2 and was never touched in the backfield. …

The Bears did get Rodgers moving a few times, but he simply bought himself some time and then found wide-open receivers. …

Rodgers doesn’t have the weapons he once did, but when he’s got all day to sit in the pocket, or use his feet to extend a play, he’s going to find a player wearing the same jersey. …

Rodgers executed and the Bears’ defense was consistently late, but nearly all the blame goes to the pass rush, which was nonexistent against an offensive line that had been awful for three weeks.

Remember when Da Bears’ defense led the team? Now, not so much, as demonstrated by the Chicago Sun-Times:

“We’re going to do everything we can to get pressure on this guy, as soon as we can, as fast as we can,” defensive end Willie Young said. “But even when he’s on the move, he’s still a great guy. It doesn’t change him one bit.”

“This guy” would be Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. And “this guy” was praised effusively like an active Hall of Famer in the Bears locker room after completing 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards, four touchdowns and a 151.2 passer rating (the best rating against the Bears since 1965).

“That’s Aaron Rodgers, you know,” Young said.

“I mean, he’s great,” linebacker Jon Bostic said.

“It’s Aaron Rodgers,” defensive end Lamarr Houston added.

The Bears had one sack, but it came when rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson ran Rodgers out of bounds during the second-to-last play of the third quarter. Game statisticians had the Bears down for zero quarterback hits. Repeat: zero hits.

Zero punts, too, by either team, only the second time that’s happened in NFL history.

Dan Bernstein of The Score apparently has jumped off whatever Bears bandwagon existed:

So much for all that about the Bears.

So much for the rejuvenated defense, powered by the burgeoning development of so many young players behind an invigorated pass rush. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shut that all up real quick, needing all of two minutes to burn through them for the first of his four touchdown passes in Green Bay’s 38-17 win at Chicago on Sunday afternoon. Rodgers put to bed the murmurs about his own early season struggles, completing 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards with a rating of 151.2.

The Bears’ opportunity to seize control of the NFC North turned into a reaffirmation of Packers’ dominance over a flaccid secondary that couldn’t match up with the obvious. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb would be targeted, yet the two still combined for 17 catches for 221 yards and those four scores.

So much for the latest, lazy iteration of the newest “new” Jay Cutler. After the killer interception in the opener against Buffalo, enough of his other picks were dropped by the 49ers and Jets that the usual suspects in the business of giving bad, wrong opinions pushed the idea that mature Jay is something other than what an eight-year, 107-game sample size has proved him to be. Clay Matthews corralled a deflection after Cutler tried to force a slant to Josh Morgan despite inside-leverage coverage, and then a miscommunication with buddy Brandon Marshall allowed Sam Shields a freebie.
So much for what a commitment to the run game would do to create some all-important offensive balance. The Bears rushed for 235 yards and 16 of their 33 first downs. They averaged 5.7 yards per attempt.

And they lost by three touchdowns. …

So much for general manager Phil Emery’s recent draft classes asserting themselves, as Kyle Fuller and Jon Bostic both evinced more uncertainty than execution Sunday, and there was little help noticeable from Will Sutton or Ego Ferguson up front.

So much for coach Marc Trestman’s sustained brilliance, as his creative play-calling and refreshing onside kick risk-taking were undermined by inexplicable clock management at the end of the first half that resulted in time expiring and no points, as Martellus Bennett’s futile reach for the goal line was obscured enough by defenders to stand upon review.

There is ample time to restore all the good vibes humming in the air after three games, but this one just popped a bunch of hopeful balloons. This was what the matchup has looked like for too long.

The Chicago Tribune’s David Waugh heaps blame on the defense as well:

Oh, Cutler needs to play at a higher level. He acknowledged as much when explaining each mistake like a professional. But the blame Cutler will receive around Chicago for the Bears being totally outclassed and outcoached will be disproportionate to what he deserves. Every fair and accurate explanation of what went wrong in a 21-point defeat starts with the Bears’ deplorable defense, not Cutler. If forced to compare shortcomings, the Bears remain closer to having a playoff-caliber quarterback than defense.

Alas, this is what mediocrity looks like in a league full of flawed teams like the Bears. They end the month 2-2, alternately good enough to inspire hope and bad enough to restore reality into every NFC playoff discussion — due mostly to a defense that disappointed them yet again. Cutler could have thrown for 400 yards without an interception and it likely still wouldn’t have been enough against a Packers offense that turned a shootout into a blowout. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers arrived struggling, by his standards, and left laughing. …

The Packers scored on six of seven drives, none lasting longer than 4 minutes, 3 seconds. Rodgers routinely put the ball wherever he wanted to wide receivers who got wide open wherever they chose. The grounds crew broke more of a sweat than Packers punter Tim Masthay, who hopefully enjoyed his view of the Chicago skyline during the second NFL game ever without a punt.

The Bears possessed the ball for 36 minutes and gained 235 yards rushing — destroying myths about running the football in today’s NFL — and still lost by three touchdowns because their defense remembered how hard life is when Geno Smith isn’t the opposing quarterback. Too often, the Bears eschewed blitzing and relied on a four-man pass rush that went nowhere fast trying to shake a quarterback who’s unshakable.

Meanwhile, the Daily Herald’s Mike Imrem takes a look upstairs:

It was easy to imagine George Halas and Vince Lombardi sitting at that big gin rummy table in the sky Sunday afternoon.

Each kept one eye on their cards and the other on the heavenly big-screen TV transmitting the Packers-Bears game from Soldier Field.

Cable knows no limits, you know?

Neither of the two legendary former football coaches could believe what they were seeing. They tuned in to the Packers and Bears, but a Showtime Lakers vs. Jordan Bulls score-fest broke out.

“What the heck is going on down there,” Lombardi finally said in his inimitable tone.

That was about when Green Bay was taking a 21-17 halftime lead on the way to a 38-17 victory.

The game was as much in the tradition of Bears-Packers as Lindsay Lohan is in the tradition of Audrey Hepburn.

“Remember our first game against each other?” Lombardi said.

He arrived at Green Bay in 1959 and his first regular-season game as Packers coach was a 9-6 victory over the Bears.

“I can’t believe we lost that one,” Halas groaned.

Lombardi chuckled, “I can’t believe we let you score 6 points.”

Every yard was precious when Halas and Lombardi squared off from ’59 through ’67. The game plan was to play stingy defense and on offense run the ball to set up, well, more runs.

In 1962, Green Bay allowed the Bears 7 points in two games. In ’63, the Bears allowed the Packers 10 points in two games.

Sunday the teams combined for 38 points in the first half alone. The 2010s are pretty pastels, while the 1960s were black and blue.

Defense — whether it be strategy or ferocity — was only a rumor in this latest edition until the Bears managed to stop themselves in the second half.

The NFL is more entertaining now, especially if scoring is your thing. Three yards and a cloud of dust has been succeeded by 30-yard pass completions and 15 more yards after missed tackles.

The Bears did run the ball in an attempt to keep it away from Green Bay’s offense. They finished with 235 rushing yards, but the Packers’ passing game scored faster and more often.

“Do you believe neither team forced a punt in this game?” Lombardi said.

Back when he and Halas coached against each other, some coaches believed the punt was the most exciting play in football, just ahead of the 2-yard-plunge on third-and-long.

“No punts and no punches, either,” Halas said, perhaps remembering back to when the Bears beat you up even if they didn’t beat you. …

In a game of pass-fail, the Packers passed to daylight and the Bears ran toward futility.

Lombardi jabbed at Halas, “We learned to throw the ball with Brett Favre in the 1990s and you’re just starting to with Jay Cutler. Good luck with that.”


While the media reports that Mary Burke apparently borrowed her ideas from several different sources …

… it turns out someone is swiping her ideas, wherever those ideas came from.

(By the way: I came up with the headline last week, though it showed up on Facebook Saturday by two of my Facebook Friends.)

Breitbart reports on South Dakota Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer:

BuzzFeed reported Thursday that Susan Wismer, the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in South Dakota, has been caught plagiarizing from the already plagiarized jobs plan of the party’s Wisconsin gubernatorial nominee, Mary Burke. Wismer also plagiarized from the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee in Texas, Wendy Davis.

Until this plagiarism of a plagiarized plan story broke on Thursday, Wismer liked to point out the similarities between herself and Burke of Wisconsin.

On her campaign website, for instance, the lead story in her news section cites an article published in the Washington Post last month, which reported that “Mary Burke made Wisconsin history Tuesday. She and South Dakota’s Susan Wismer — both of them Democrats — this year became the first women since 1970 and likely ever to secure a major-party nomination for governor in their respective states, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.” …

The instances of plagiarism first identified by BuzzFeed on Thursday (shown below) are numerous and blatant:

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

She knows how to make responsible decisions that keep a balance sheet in the black while creating jobs because she’s spent her career doing it. Scott Walker has taken a different approach. Despite making historic cuts to education, he’s turned a projected budget surplus into a deficit, and state spending has shot up by $4.6 billion.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

As an accountant, Susan knows how to make responsible decisions that keep a balance sheet in the black while creating jobs because she’s spent her career doing it. This governor has taken a different approach. After making historic cuts, he took a $127 million dollar budget surplus and padded his reserves rather than giving back what was cut to areas desperate for funding.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan

Mary believes Wisconsin schools should be among the best in the nation—and she knows that making historic cuts isn’t the way to do it. She’ll work every day to strengthen our public education system, from K-12 to our technical colleges and university system.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan believes South Dakota schools should be among the best in the nation and making historic cuts isn’t the way to do it. Susan will work every day to strengthen our public education system– from K-12 to our technical colleges and university system.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

Wendy Davis will build a well-trained workforce of teachers by engineering guaranteed pathways to careers in education and ensure ongoing support by raising teacher pay to be in line with the rest of the country.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan will build a well-trained workforce of educators and ensure ongoing support for them by raising salaries to be on par with the rest of the country.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

When responsibly invested, economic development funds can help bring new businesses and jobs into the state, promote innovation, and encourage technological advancements. But under the wrong leadership and without accountability, too often they become giveaways to special interests and insiders that drain valuable resources from essential investments like our schools and increase taxes on working Texas families.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document

Susan knows that the best businesses for communities are usually local businesses. When responsibly invested, economic development funds can help create new businesses and jobs, promote innovation, and encourage technological advancements. However, under the wrong leadership and without accountability, too often they become giveaways to special interests, corporations, and insiders that drain valuable resources from essential investments.

Wendy Davis’ Campaign Document:

As Governor, Wendy Davis will:

Promote transparency, accountability, and responsible investment of economic development funds to ensure they actually create jobs, as well as encourage innovation and development that benefits all Texans.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

As governor, Susan will promote transparency, accountability, and responsible investment of economic development funds to ensure they actually create jobs and encourage innovation and development that benefits all South Dakotans. She will establish strong, independent oversight of our incentive funds. Susan will ensure transparency and accountability of tax exemptions.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

The Walker administration has taken a different approach. Rejecting hundreds of millions of our own federal tax dollars means our money goes to cover health care in other states, and leaves us paying more as a state to cover fewer hard working Wisconsinites. It’s an example of what happens when you put politics ahead of progress. And it’s just wrong.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document

The Daugaard administration has rejected hundreds of millions of our own federal tax dollars, money that is covering healthcare in other states, and leaves us paying more to cover fewer hard-working South Dakotans. It’s an example of what happens when you put politics ahead of progress.

Mary Burke’s Jobs Plan:

Mary will overturn the current administration’s refusal to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of our taxpayer money back home to our state, where it belongs.

Susan Wismer’s Campaign Document:

Susan will overturn the current administration’s refusal to accept the federal expansion of Medicaid, bringing over $272 million of our taxpayer money back to South Dakota, while providing 48,000 South Dakotans with access to affordable, preventative health care.

Breitbart News requested a comment from the Wismer campaign but has not received a response.

There have been no reports yet that any other Democratic gubernatorial candidates have plagiarized Wismer’s plagiarization of Burke’s plagiarized plan. But with another 40 days still left until election day, it is still too early to discount the possibility of a third generation of campaign document plagiarization among Democrats this cycle.

It’s getting to the point that a diagram will be needed to connect who swiped which ideas from whom. One also wonders how many incorrect facts are in Wismer’s plan, such as the inaccurate claim about job growth in small business since the Recovery In Name Only began.

Of course, as I’ve pointed out ever since this hit the interwebs, the big issue here is much less about stolen ideas (though it speaks to Burke’s personal character) as it is the quality, or lack thereof, of those ideas. Advocating policies that will chop 120,000 jobs from the state doesn’t qualify under any sane person’s definition of “best practices.”

About those ideas, the Club for Growth observes:

On hearing Friday’s news that Mary Burke’s job-creation plan was plagiarized from other Democrats running for governor, in Delaware, Tennessee, and elsewhere we thought, well…there are think tanks whose business is to share such ideas.

But Burke reacted less calmly, firing the consultant responsible for the cut-and-paste job. Why? For duping her into thinking she had a jobs plan?

More intriguing than Burke snatching ideas that may be interchangeable among Democrats is her apparently scant familiarity with what she is proposing.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quoted her saying “This is my plan on how to drive Wisconsin’s economy forward,” later adding that she had made it “the centerpiece” of her campaign—begging the question of why she wouldn’t recognize material that wasn’t her own. The lingering impression is that the content doesn’t matter, least of all to Burke.

So what does matter in this singularly odd campaign?

A jobs plan outsourced because there had to be one; a resume mixing employment by a company her family owns with periods of prolonged unemployment and activity Burke strains to define.  A privileged baby-boomer in a candidacy disconnected from achievement, based solely on Mary Burke not being Scott Walker.  That. Is. All.

As Jim Doyle’s Commerce Secretary, effectively his chief job-creation officer, didn’t Burke have ideas of her own?  Dare we ask how they worked out? Weekend stories detailed more plagiarism that couldn’t have involved the fired consultant. Has Burke no agenda she can safely reveal?

If anything about the Democrats’ handpicked nominee seems familiar, seems to resonate with current realities in America, it’s the apparent detachment from the necessities of governing. A vaporous, unfocused figure glimpsed occasionally through swirling mists, the anti-Walker, nothing more.

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) points out:

Indeed much of Burke’s plan was copied, but not just from other campaigns.  Burke also plagiarized copyrighted material.  Her jobs plan, “Invest for Success”, directly copied material from “Manufacturing’s Secret Shift”, a study copyrighted in 2011 by Accenture, one of the world’s largest consulting firms.

Take a look at these two passages, the first from Accenture, the second Burke’s.

“Companies are beginning to realize that having offshored much of their manufacturing and supply operations away from their demand locations, they hurt their ability to meet their customers’ expectations…” 

“But today, many companies are beginning to realize that moving their manufacturing and supply operations overseas has hurt their ability to serve their customers.”

This is sometimes referred to as mosaic plagiarism, the splicing of key phrases with only minor changes within the same sentence structure and meaning.  A Harvard grad like Burke might know this.  The rest of us can Google “Harvard mosaic plagiarism.” That Burke plagiarized copyrighted material is beyond doubt, but there is more.

Mary Burke might “take the time to read the whole” Accenture study she was plagiarizing. It might help her understand why her proposals for Wisconsin are so misguided.  Accenture asked manufacturers to identify the most important factors in selecting locations for their operations.  Respondents ranked as most important these factors: labor costs, proximity to the customer, skills of workforce, taxes, transportation costs, and government regulations.

Wisconsin must be more competitive in attracting and keeping manufacturing in our state. We need to improve the skills of our workers, reduce taxes and streamline regulations. Mary Burke’s mistake is much bigger than plagiarism. Burke is advocating failed liberal ideas that would move us in the wrong direction on labor costs, taxes and regulations.


Presty the DJ for Sept. 29

The number eight song today in 1958:

Today in 1967, the Beatles mixed “I Am the Walrus,” which combined three songs John Lennon had been writing. The song includes the sounds of a radio going up and down the dial, ending at a BBC presentation of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” Lennon had read that a teacher at his primary school was having his students analyze Beatles lyrics, Lennon reportedly added one nonsensical verse, although arguably none of the verses make much sense:

The number 33 single today in 1973 …

… 32 slots behind number one:

Read More

The ’64 Phillies, the ’69 Cubs and the ’14 Brewers

On Aug. 18, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (and I blogged):

After sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in improbable and relentless fashion, the Brewers now have the best record in the National League at 70 wins and 55 losses, and lead the St. Louis Cardinals by three games in the National League Central.

The Brewers can go 18-19 down the stretch while the Cardinals would have to finish 22-17 just to force a tie for the division lead.

With fewer than 40 games to go, how likely is it that the Brewers make the playoffs? I compiled a handful of projections and put them in a table:

Brewers’ playoff odds, as of 08/17
FanGraphs’ projections mode 82.9%
Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report 88.4%
Sports Clubs Stats’ projections 94.7%

That was on Aug. 18. The Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday:

As the Brewers wake  up Wednesday morning, they have one playoff scenario:

They must finish the season 5-0, have the San Francisco Giants finish 0-5, then go to San Francisco for a play-in game for the second wild-card berth. That would send the Brewers to Pittsburgh for the wild-card game.

What is the likelihood of that happening? The Brewers’ playoff chances are now listed at 0.1%, the only fraction above zero. …

It has been an epic meltdown for the Brewers, especially when one considers they led the National League Central for 150 days. After beating San Diego, 10-1, on Aug. 25, they had a six-game lead on third-place Pittsburgh in the standings.

The Brewers have gone 7-19 since while the Pirates have gone 19-7, creating a 12-game swing between those clubs.

The Brewers last won five games in a row from Aug. 14-19, a stretch that included a three-game sweep in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Remember how well the Brewers were playing back then? That was before the roof caved in on what has become one of the worst late-season collapses in MLB history.

The headline refers to arguably the two worst late-season collapses in baseball history, or at least the two most notorious. The 1964 Phillies had a 6½-game lead in the National League (in the pre-division days) with 12 games left, and proceeded to lose it all and miss the World Series. The 1969 Cubs were playing uncharacteristically good baseball, and led the NL East by 9½ games in mid-August. But in September the Cubs lost eight games in a row while the previously awful New York Mets won 10 in a row. The Mets — who had set a record by losing 120 games in 1962, when losing 100 games is bad enough, and were 73–89 in 1968 — won the NL East by eight games, then, even more improbably, defeated Baltimore 4 games to 1 in the 1969 World Series.

Readers know I have been skeptical of the Brewers all season long. Hank the Dog notwithstanding, the Brewers’ collapse was pretty predictable because too many players were playing over their heads, and regression to the mean predicts what happens after that. It is nearly impossible to overachieve over an entire season. In fact, I wrote one month ago: “If you believe the Brewers have been playing over their heads (suffice to say that no one was predicting the Brewers would be in first place in late August), regression to the mean predicts an ugly September, particularly given their schedule (harder than the Cardinals’ schedule) and their lack of big-game-experienced pitching.”

The what-if of the whole season probably is the deal that apparently was pursued, but never finished, for Colorado Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, who could have been the left-handed power hitter the Brewers have lacked all season long. The Brewers did trade for left-handed outfielder Gerardo Parra, which, despite the fact he’s playing pretty well, has had little impact on the Brewers (though he’s been better than outfielders Logan Schaefer, Caleb Gindl and the now-crashing Khris Davis), and relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton.

I liked Broxton’s acquisition better than Parra’s (Broxton could be next year’s closer assuming the Brewers are tired of closer Francisco Rodriguez, even though statistically K-Rod has had a good year), but neither helped with the Brewers’ two main problems. The first, as was pointed out to me by a state championship-winning high school baseball coach, is that the Brewers have no stopper — a starting pitcher who is supposed to stop losing streaks. Pitcher Yovani Gallardo is supposed to be their number-one pitcher, but he’s really a number-three, which means they don’t have a number-one or number-two quality starter. Even though the Brewers’ starters have pitched well of late, there is no such thing as enough pitching.

The Brewers also managed to overrate their offense when they were winning games earlier this season. The best leadoff hitter is probably center fielder Carlos Gomez, except for his low on-base percentage, high strikeout totals, and ability to provide examples for the next How Not to Run the Bases video. Neither right fielder Ryan Braun nor third baseman Aramis Ramirez have had good years, perhaps due to injury. The entire roster outside of Parra (who doesn’t hit for power when the Brewers need a lefty who does), second baseman Scooter Gennett and catcher Jonathan Lucroy is a bunch of swing-for-the-fences would-be sluggers who are unable or unwilling to adopt a different approach.

If you look at successful Brewers teams — the two obvious examples are 1982 and 2011 — this team falls far short. The 2014 Brewers had no one who could hit for average like Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and Cecil Cooper. It seemed predictable that 2011 first baseman Prince Fielder would indeed balloon up and lose effectiveness as a hitter, but the problem is the Brewers have never replaced Fielder with a power-hitting left-handed first baseman who was a good hitter as well. This team has a horrible bench, and apparently lacked the leadership provided by Nyjer Morgan and Jerry Hairston Jr. on the 2011 team and nearly everybody on the ’82 Brewers.

The usual response in such cases as this is to fire people, and not surprisingly Brewers fans have called for the heads of general manager Doug Melvin (who I interviewed once) and manager Ron Roenicke. Melvin doesn’t appear to be leaving since he apparently is interviewing candidates for the team’s farm director position. In fact, if you want to blame anyone, this season is probably the fault of the people responsible for talent acquisition and development. Being a small-market team, the Brewers do not have the ability to fill holes by throwing money at free agents. Melvin has always developed the Brewers’ talent from within, with selected acquisitions (pitchers C.C. Sabathia and Zach Greinke, for instance) in promising seasons. If the Brewers have too many free-swinging, undisciplined hitters, that’s how they were allowed to develop.

Maybe Roenicke didn’t manage well this season, but I’m unconvinced a new manager would make a difference with fundamentally unsound players. I’ve read a lot about the Brewers’ failure to play small ball when needed, but there’s probably a reason for that. Gomez is already a potential rally-killer on the bases, and you can probably count on one hand the number of Brewers who could successfully execute a bunt or suicide squeeze.

I’ve read online calls to replace Roenicke, who apparently has become too buddy-buddy with players in some fans’ view, with a hardnosed field general type of manager. (The only name that came to mind was Larry Bowa, who got run out of San Diego not even halfway into his second season there. There was also Bobby Valentine, who succeeded during a surprisingly long major league managing career to turn off nearly everyone who had to work with him.) Such people who want the next Billy Martin don’t understand that that approach doesn’t really exist anymore for a reason. The Brewers have enough problems convincing players to come to Milwaukee without the prospect of playing for an asshole.

The Brewers lack a balanced offensive lineup. There is a huge gap between the starters and the bench, and not all the starters are necessarily starter quality. First base has been a disaster all season. I remain unconvinced Davis is a major league starter-quality player. The Brewers could dump all their bench players and you’d never notice. Roenicke came to the Brewers from the Angels, who when they won the 2002 World Series had a bunch of high-on-base-percentage hitters. That is certainly not the Brewers. (If you play in a hitter’s ballpark, as Miller Park apparently has become, you need not have guys in the lineup who hit 500-foot home runs; you need guys in the lineup to get on base, because eventually they will come home.)

I felt at the start of the season that this was no better than a .500 team, and quite possibly far worse. The problem is this team will get no better than this. The farm system has become depleted, as shown by the failure of anyone from the minors to help the offense this season, and the lack of minor-leaguers to package in a deal for someone like Morneau or a quality starting pitcher.

When you develop from within, you have to make almost all the right decisions, and the Brewers evidently haven’t done that. If you want to wait a half-dozen years, they could trade everybody and start over, but do you want five years of 100-loss seasons?

The person I feel worst for is not anyone on the field. It’s announcer Bob Uecker, who really deserves to get to announce a Brewers World Series while he still can, given the thousands of bad baseball games he’s had to announce since the early 1970s.


Football fans despite the football leagues

The National Football League has had, to put it mildly, a rough few weeks, with allegations of child and spousal abuse among prominent players.

Which shouldn’t take away from enjoying the sport, Quin Hillyer argues:

The NFL plays a terrific sport. Amidst all the media overkill of the past few weeks (deftly skewered by NR editor Rich Lowry on Friday), let us remind ourselves why we love the game in the first place, and why even this obviously flawed league with a flawed commissioner is nonetheless a great American institution.

Start with something that should be obvious: Children love to play football because it is just plain fun, and fans love it because it’s fun to watch. And fun, channeled in ways that promote rigor and discipline as well, is a very good thing. Fun, of the right sort, refreshes the mind and spirit, sharpens the enjoyment of life, and makes life’s necessary toils both more bearable and (almost certainly) more productive.

Football is fun to play because it marries physical striving to strategic and tactical thinking, all toward a well-defined end, in the context of camaraderie and group effort, in a game that rewards a remarkable variety of skills and body types. Football is fun to watch, as are other sports, because the awe and artistry of superb athleticism is inherently entertaining. But there’s more: Football’s organization into distinct plays makes it the sport most amenable to having fans put themselves into the coach’s mind, applying their own tactical sensibilities to every one of about 130 plays per game.

The NFL has developed and marketed this aspect of its game to the nth degree. Fans benefit from it. Meanwhile, the NFL’s relentless (and sometimes overwhelming) marketing, creating phenomenal wealth for itself, has another salutary effect. With so much money to spread around, the NFL has been able, better than any other professional league, to create an almost perfectly level playing field (figuratively speaking, of course). Its wealth has helped enable its revenue-sharing system, which, along with its superbly balanced salary cap, gives each team, regardless of the wealth or size of its hometown population, the same chance as every other franchise to create a winning organization. A league where a team from comparatively tiny Green Bay can consistently outclass New York’s Jets — a league that allows organization to be more important than locational wealth — is an enterprise that’s doing something right.

Moreover . . . oh, let’s chuck all this highbrow stuff. It’s all true, but here are the real reasons we love the NFL:

We love the NFL because something elemental in it appeals to us at a visceral level that lends itself to mythologizing. We love the NFL because our minds’ eyes can forever see Johnny Unitas leading the Colts through the gloaming in Yankee Stadium — surgically, inexorably — and we recognize in it the essence of how a well-led whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

We love the NFL for Vince Lombardi’s magnificent tough love. We love the NFL for Bart Starr’s one last push on frozen tundra. We love it for Jack Kemp’s broken trigger finger surgically set at precisely the position needed to grip and throw the pigskin. We love it for Gale Sayers’s speedily balletic grace — and we love it because Sayers loved Brian Piccolo.

We loved it, in our innocence back then, for what remains the most electrifying display of kinetic acceleration the gridiron has ever known, namely all those times in 1973 that a man named Simpson turned on The Juice.

We loved Biletnikoff’s sticky fingers, and we loved Snake’s ball fluttering through the Sea of Hands. We loved the Fearsome Foursome, the Purple People Eaters, the Steel Curtain, and the Orange Crush. We loved Tom Landry’s fedora and Don Shula’s impossibly jutting jaw. We loved Joe Montana’s cool, and we loved Mike Ditka’s bluster. Dandy Don singing that the party was over, and John Madden diagramming how a defense stopped a field goal by inserting a goal-post upright in its path. The Big Tuna being doused in Gatorade — before it became absurdly clichéd — and LeRoy Butler’s Lambeau Leap.

We loved the game’s absurdities: Garo Yepremian trying to throw a pass, Jim Marshall’s wrong-way run, the Raiders’ Holy Roller. We loved its apparent athletic impossibilities: the Steelers’ Swann Dive, David Tyree’s helmet catch. We loved Fran Tarkenton scrambling, Barry Sanders darting, Lance Alworth floating, Ray Nitschke hitting, Dan Marino throwing, Brett Favre and Warren Sapp jawing and laughing — and the incomparable Walter Payton, never too much the superstar to stay in the pocket and pick up the blitz.

And lawdamighty, have you ever seen an athletic performance as compelling as Kellen Winslow’s epic in Miami?

Then there’s the NFL’s unmatched propensity for great storylines. The long-suffering Archie Manning fathering two Super Bowl–winning quarterbacks. The Harbaugh brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. A beer-truck driver who played only one year of high-school football, never went to college, and first got a chance to go pro (indoor league) at 26, became a Pro Bowler in New Orleans. Quarterback Kurt Warner went from bagging groceries to being the Super Bowl MVP. …

You want community concern, public-spiritedness, human decency? Ask the tens of thousands of kids helped by NFL players through United Way charities for lo these 40 years. …

But if you want to see the best of the NFL — to understand how an entire devastated community can be lifted up by a professional sports franchise — never, ever let yourself forget what the Saints did for New Orleans when the NFL ordered owner Tom Benson to keep the team there after the horrors of Katrina. Have you ever seen grown men, a city’s expatriates all across the country, literally weep for joy, uncontrollably, over a first-quarter play in an early-season game? That’s what happened — the stories are legion — when gritty overachiever Steve Gleason blocked a Falcons punt in the first-ever game back in the Superdome after the hurricane.

Thirteen months of pent-up grief, suffering, and fear, all released on one cathartic moment. It wasn’t just that it was the local sports team. It was that so many of the Saints players, in some instances before anyone else, had done so much in the intervening months to help, in word and deed, to resurrect the city.

For all its faults, the NFL works hard, and works well throughout its territories, not just to suck up its cities’ energies but to add to them, not just live off the land but give back to it.

Sure, the ticket prices are way too high. Too many greedy owners demand kings’ ransoms from the public fisc. Too many values are skewed, too much hypocrisy encouraged, too much hype employed, too much trashy entertainment embraced as part and parcel of the NFL experience. Yet for every Ray Rice there is a Manning (any of three) doing charitable work in any of five cities; for every Michael Vick there’s a Starr or Staubach embodying discipline and class.

And, of course, there is the game, the game, the game. Youngblood in the trenches, a Night Train at the corner, and Summerall on the air with winter closing in.

This needs appropriate music: