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Back in the state where I was born …

There was a time, when I was just a kid, I wished I could be back in the land of cotton where old times are not forgotten — and then I learned about what went on in the land of cotton and what it was the white folks liked whenever they remembered the old times. It was a catchy tune that stirred my imagination.

All too often the fantasy is crashed on the doorstep of despair once reality is introduced into the mix. I’ve never wished I was from New York or Florida, but California … here I am!

At any rate — and I’ll just say this once: when I was old enough to start drinking beer (13 — thank you Uncle John) I was oh so happy to be from the beer capital of the world: Milwaukee, WI. That’s right, Mil-effin’-waukee. At the time the Cream City boasted three of the four largest breweries in America: Pabst, Schlitz and Miller. I was always a Pabst man: Pabst Blue Ribbon and Andeker. But I digress.

Leon’s Frozen Custard Drive-In. If the candidates really want to impress the locals they should stop by one of these places for some frozen custard. (Tim Forkes)
Leon’s Frozen Custard Drive-In. If the candidates really want to impress the locals they should stop by one of these places for some frozen custard. (Tim Forkes)

Back in my birth state (I hesitate to call it my home state anymore) their primary matters once again. Who knew? We have a three-way slugfest going on in the GOP and a two-way powder puff tiddlywinks game on the Democratic side. Early prediction: Bernie Sanders walks away with a win. Janesville, WI is the birthplace of American socialism and Milwaukee had a socialist mayor from 1960 until 1988. And then the city elected a very liberal Democrat.

What the hell was John Norquist thinking when he resigned to head up the Congress for a New Urbanism? I sort of get it. The organization promotes environmentally friendly urban areas that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly. A worthy endeavor, but he was the mayor of a moderately nice city.

Back to Milwaukee: since 1912 the Brew Town has had four Socialist mayors, although Wikipedia lists Henry Maier as a Democrat, any politically active Milwaukeean will tell you Henry W. Maier was a Socialist when he entered office.

The point being Wisconsin has a long and rich history of very progressive politics, quite to the left of center.

Which makes you wonder two things: “WTF! Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is from Janesville!” Yes, but his district is so gerrymandered it includes some very red rural areas around Janesville.

The second thing you wonder: “WTF with Scott Walker?”

Who knows? My birth state has gone a little cray-cray. We thought it was bad when Tommy Thompson was elected governor in 1986, but then the state kept re-electing him until he left office in 2001 to join the George W. Bush Administration as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Tommy Thompson likes trains and is a big believer in mass transit.

But now they have this ultra-conservative governor, who makes Tommy Thompson look moderate (really!) and is considered the vanguard of the new GOP.

They tried to recall Walker in 2012 and failed. He was re-elected in 2014 …

The rural areas — and a lot of Wisconsin is rural — has become pretty red in the past 36 years. Despite the decline of the income, the loss of good paying jobs, all due to the Reagan policies that are still strangling the Middle Class today. Tommy Thompson was the Republican governor for 14 years as the Wisconsin economy declined, but they kept re-electing him.

Scott Walker during the Fox News debate. He has endorsed Ted Cruz (YouTube)
Scott Walker during the Fox News debate. He has endorsed Ted Cruz (YouTube)

Under Scott Walker the cost of going to college has gone up for most students, even though he has frozen tuition for most students. He slashed $500 million from the UW system over two years, shifting the cost to students to make up the difference.

Then there was the budget that brought about the recall: he cut the ability of public employees to collectively bargain. In other words, Scott Walker took away the power of the public employee unions.

So, getting this guy’s endorsement is a big deal for the current crop of Republicans still in the race. And Ted Cruz received the governor’s blessing. Walker told Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes, “Ted Cruz is a principled constitutional conservative who understands that power belongs to the states — and to the people — and not bureaucrats in Washington.”

Cruz is slightly ahead of Trump in Wisconsin, and it’s likely he will win the state. John Kasich will shuffle in, a disappointing third place.

That’s not even the big news in the Republican race. While Donald Trump is distracted with his troubles over his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have been attacking each other. Cruz’s SuperPac, put out an ad titled, “Kasich Won’t Play.” It actually calls the governor a liberal. John Kasich, a liberal.

Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf told reporters the ad used “Trump Style” tactics. He said, “Clearly a desperate attempt to smear the conservative, inclusive record of John Kasich. All the charges are lies, which isn’t surprising coming from the Cruz operation in the last possible state to give him any delegates.”

Each candidate thinks the other should drop out of the race so one of them can have a one-on-one contest with Trump.

John Kasich holding out for the fifth ballot at the convention.. (YouTube)
John Kasich holding out for the fifth ballot at the convention.. (YouTube)

Kasich likes to point out he’s the only candidate who could possibly beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. Cruz likes to point out he has more primary wins than Kasich and more delegates, so there!

The funny part of this GOP race is the schoolyard nature of it. Charlie Sykes had Trump on his radio program and tried to get the tycoon to apologize for retweeting the scandalous tweet demeaning Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi. Trump of course, refused, stating Cruz started it. Said Trump, “Again, I didn’t start it. He started it. If he didn’t start it, it never would have happened, nothing like this would have ever happened. But he started it.”

Sykes reminded him they were all adults, at least chronologically. “Just remember, we’re not on a playground. We’re running for president of the United State.”

Drop the mic right there, metaphorically speaking.

On the other hand Trump’s army of supporters don’t care. Whatever criticism there is against Trump, they just blow off as the candidate being himself and speaking his mind. Or left-wing mainstream media is blowing it out of proportion. When it comes to Trump’s Campaign manager getting arrested for allegedly assaulting reporter Michelle Fields, Trump supporters just blame the media, blame Fields and exonerate Trump and Lewandowski.

Reuters just released results of a poll that shows Trump at 49.7 percent, more than 28 points ahead of Cruz.

Which brings up the #NeverTrump movement. Do they really think they can get away with picking anyone other than Trump as the GOP nominee for president? That’s nearly 50 percent of Republican voters choosing Trump over the other two candidates — by a wide margin. That’s a lot of people to disappoint — disenfranchise, as Trump would put it.

Ted Cruz says Donald Trump should debate hime like a man. (YouTube)
Ted Cruz says Donald Trump should debate hime like a man. (YouTube)

There’s so much to say about the Republican candidates: Trump thinks Japan and South Korea should have nuclear weapons and defend themselves against the North Koreans. And then pull all U.S. troops out of those two countries. He said women should be punished for having abortions, but in all fairness to Trump, he walked that back as quickly as he could, going along with the GOP party line that abortion providers are the criminals and the women are victims.

John Kasich has made a habit of saying insulting things to and about women. He said he was elected by women that “… left their kitchens” to campaign for him. He routinely asks women of they’ve ever been on diets, as a way to explain his economic policies.

Ted Cruz is just being Ted Cruz. Republicans and conservatives, like Charlie Sykes, are supporting him because he isn’t Trump and as of now has the best chance of beating Trump in the primaries. Or at the convention. There really isn’t a realistic path for Cruz to win the needed delegates, 1,237 in the primaries. The best he can do is close the gap.

But I’m looking at six different polls, the oldest being March 20 and Cruz gets beat by Hillary Clinton in five of them and ties in one. In four polls Cruz loses to Bernie Sanders by ten points.

Sanders buries Trump in five different polls by an average of 17 points and Sanders beats Cruz by ten points average.

The only Republican that’s still running, who can beat either Clinton or Sanders is John Kasich — who is hoping against hope the delegates at the convention will pick the least popular of the three candidates still standing — if Donald Trump doesn’t get 1,237 delegates going into the convention.

Bernie Sanders will win Wisconsin (YouTube)
Bernie Sanders will win Wisconsin (YouTube)

The best part of this, if you’re a Democrat, a liberal, a progressive, is that a number of Republicans have said they will not support Trump if he is their party’s nominee. And now all three candidates still standing have rejected the pledge they signed in September vowing to support the party’s candidate for president.

A smart-ass liberal can’t help but snicker a little.

On the Democratic side, which is where this was going before I got lost on a beer tangent, Wisconsin being the birthplace of American Socialism, it’s no surprise Bernie Sanders leads in the Dairy State and will win it walking away. It’s a big deal because he won three caucus states out west — Alaska, Hawaii and Washington — so a win next Tuesday will put some serious momentum behind The Bern.

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers (Tim Forkes)
Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers
(Tim Forkes)

And he will need it going into the next primaries: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

But I still think Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic candidate for president after Labor Day and she will win the general election on November 8 of this year. The FBI investigation will exonerate Clinton and the GOP will be in such a disarray after the convention, many of their voters will stay home and what the Republicans fear will take place: they will lose the U.S. Senate, possibly the House of Representatives and a few governorships and state houses along the way.

Just sayin’, I’m not picking the Milwaukee Brewers or the San Diego Padres to win the World Series this year. I’ve learned my lesson. Best to go with the obvious choice.

Top photo: The Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes, a Milwaukee landmark since 1967. (Tim Forkes)