Earlier in the week the discussion was all about what defines a hero, and the question came up frequently about when we became so reverent toward military service. Now, it's probably true that we've always had a special place for martial heroism, most societies do. But as one who grew up in a military family I can say that it's changed a bit over the years in this country. Military service in the two World Wars and Korea was respected, but it was also the subject of satire and criticism to an extent that I honestly don't think you could do today. There's not even a Sergeant Bilko or Mister Roberts, much less scathing satire like Catch-22. (In fact, have we had even one great wartime novel emerge during our last 10 years of non-stop war?)

The question is why that would be, and I think the consensus is that it's a response to the Vietnam Syndrome and the poor way that Vietnam vets were treated by civilians. President Obama referred to it himself in his speech the other day:

When the honourable service of the many should have been praised, you came home and sometimes were denigrated when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened.

He's right about that. But I'm fairly sure that he and virtually everyone else has no idea who were among the worst perpetrators.

I discussed Vietnam constantly during the Bush administration on my blog. And this quote from Rick Perlstein (when he was in the middle of researching his epic history of the era Nixonland) may be the one that shocked people the most:

In the now-classic study The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, sociologist Jerry Lembke established that the only actual documented examples of the frequently repeated canard that Americans spat upon returning Vietnam veterans came from the kind of World War II veterans who wouldn't let their brothers back from Vietnam join local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts beause they were seen as shameful, as polluted. (The New York Times reported on the phenomenon here.)
They were the kind of veterans who — Gerald Nicosia tells the story in his history of Vietnam Veterans Against the War — greeted the antiwar veterans who had marched 86 miles from Morristown, New Jersey to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, just like George Washington's army in 1877.
The World War II veterans heckled them: "Why don't you go to Hanoi?" "We won our war, they didn't, and from the looks of them, they couldn't."
A Vietnam vet hobbled by on crutches. One of the old men wondered whether he had been "shot with marijuana or shot in battle."
I forgot, too, about their political interference in a prominent trial. The Legion post in Columbus, Georgia, home of Lt. William Calley's Fort Benning jail cell, promised they would raise $100,000 to help fund the appeal of the man convicted of murder in the My Lai Massacre "or die trying": "The real murderers are the demonstrators in Washington," they said, "who disrupt traffic, tear up public property, who deface the American flag. Lieut. Calley is a hero..... We should elevate him to saint rather than jail him like a common criminal."

(There's more here about my own recollection of growing up in those times surrounded by people who said exactly that sort of thing.)

Let me be clear. There is little debate about whether Vietnam vets were treated badly by some left-wing protesters. I'm not saying that never happened. But it's a lot more complicated than that, and it was as true then as it is now that "the troops" are revered as heroes on the right only as long as they support wars.

I bring this up because I think that unless we can grapple with the real facts of that era, we will not understand that this right-wing pressure to unquestionably portray military service as a sacred act of heroism is self-serving and limited to those who agree with them. Recall this famous exchange on Rush Limbaugh's show back in 2007:

CALLER2: They never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.
LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.

It's always been this way with Limbaugh and the like—and still is.

Heather Digby Parton is guest blogging while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

From the time I started blogging about a decade ago I've been writing somewhat frantically about the GOP efforts to suppress the vote. This should not be surprising since I started writing online in the aftermath of the most dubious election result in history: the infamous Bush v. Gore.

Vote suppression has been with us for centuries, of course. Jim Crow was built on it. Very famous and important Americans have participated in it, including former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. But according to a 2004 report by the Center for Voting Rights it wasn't until the Jesse Jackson campaign in the 1980s that the Republicans began to organize nationally:

Democratic activist Donna Brazile, a Jackson worker and Albert Gore's campaign manager in 2000, said "There were all sorts of groups out there doing voter registration. Some time after the '86 election, massive purging started taking place. It was a wicked practice that took place all over the country, especially in the deep South. Democrats retook the Senate in 1986, and [Republican] groups went on a rampage on the premise they were cleaning up the rolls. The campaign then was targeted toward African-Americans." As in the past, Republicans justified the purges in the name of preventing the unregistered from voting. But Democrats charged vote suppression.

They formed a group called the Republican National Lawyers Association for the purpose of manipulating the voting laws in all 50 states to the benefit of the party. Of course, they said it was for the purpose of stopping "voter fraud" but since there was and is no evidence of voter fraud, vote suppression was the obvious intent. They learned the ins and outs of all local and state voting rules and figured out how to use them for their own electoral advantage. And with the help of other conservative groups like ALEC, they set about making it harder to register and harder to vote. They really made their bones in the 2000 recount, when the call went out the morning after the election for their lawyers to descend on Florida. The rest is history. Well, it's deja vu all over again. Here's Ari Berman:

Back in 2000, 12,000 eligible voters—a number twenty-two times larger than George W. Bush's 537 vote triumph over Al Gore—were wrongly identified as convicted felons and purged from the voting rolls in Florida, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. African Americans, who favored Gore over Bush by 86 points, accounted for 11 percent of the state's electorate but 41 percent of those purged. Jeb Bush attempted a repeat performance in 2004 to help his brother win reelection but was forced to back off in the face of a public outcry.
Yet with another close election looming, Florida Republicans have returned to their voter-scrubbing ways. The latest purge comes on the heels of a trio of new voting restrictions passed by Florida Republicans last year, disenfranchising 100,000 previously eligible ex-felons who'd been granted the right to vote under GOP Governor Charlie Crist in 2008; shutting down non-partisan voter registration drives; and cutting back on early voting. The measures, the effect of which will be to depress Democratic turnout in November, are similar to voting curbs passed by Republicans in more than a dozen states, on the bogus pretext of combating "voter fraud" but with the very deliberate goal of shaping the electorate to the GOP's advantage before a single vote has been cast.

The whole story is shocking in its brazenness.

"The reality is that in jurisdictions across the country, overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common," Holder said this week.

I have long wondered why the Democrats haven't seemed to take this seriously. It's been happening in slow motion, but it's been happening in plain sight. It wasn't just the 2000 election, although that should have been enough for the Democratic party to launch a full scale defense against this sort of connivance. And it carried on throughout the following decade in elections throughout the country. You'll recall that even the US Attorney firing scandal was largely about their failure to flout election laws in favor of Republicans. Better late than never, the Democrats seemed to wake up this week:

Attorney General Eric Holder told members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Conference of National Black Churches on Wednesday that the right to vote was threatened across the country. "The reality is that in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history," Holder told the audience, made up of black church and political leaders, during a faith leaders summit in Washington. He also reaffirmed the Justice Department's commitment to the Voting Rights Act, and in particular, the section of the law which prohibits certain states from making changes to their election laws without first getting federal approval, and which has been the focus of several recent court challenges.

And he followed through:

The Justice Department sent a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner Thursday evening demanding the state cease purging its voting rolls because the process it is using has not been cleared under the Voting Rights Act, TPM has learned. DOJ also said that Florida's voter roll purge violated the National Voter Registration Act, which stipulates that voter roll maintenance should have ceased 90 days before an election, which given Florida's August 14 primary, meant May 16. Five of Florida's counties are subject to the Voting Rights Act, but the state never sought permission from either the Justice Department or a federal court to implement its voter roll maintenance program. Florida officials said they were trying to remove non-citizens from the voting rolls, but a flawed process led to several U.S. citizens being asked to prove their citizenship status or be kicked off the rolls.

It's not that I care so much that the Democrats win. But I really care that Americans are allowed to vote and have their votes counted and I expect that most people care about that too. In this regard there is a big difference between the two parties: the Republicans have organized around suppressing the vote while the Democrats have organized around expanding it. The problem, as usual, is that the Democrats haven't been nearly as good at it.

Republican state governments around the country have been working overtime to manipulate the electoral laws and shut down the Democrats' organizing institutions, from ACORN to unions, and wealthy plutocrats have put huge money behind the effort. With the exception of Wisconsin, the Democrats have been behaving like potted plants in response. One would have thought the 2000 election would have been enough to energize them to protect the franchise, but it clearly wasn't. Let's hope it doesn't take another stolen election to convince them.

Heather Digby Parton is guest blogging while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

Mitt Romney has been playing the crony capitalism card lately, talking up the Solyndra stimulus-money debacle and falsley accusing the Obama administration of lining the pockets of "friends and family." But it turns out that Romney may need to take a long, hard look in a mirror:

When Romney was governor, the state handed out $4.5 million in loans to two firms run by his campaign donors that have since defaulted, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.

The two companies—Acusphere and Spherics Inc.—stiffed the state on nearly $2.1 million in loans provided through the state's Emerging Technology Fund, a $25 million investment program created while Romney was governor in 2003 that benefitted 13 local firms.

Acusphere, a biotechnology firm headed by a Romney campaign donor, got $2 million in 2004 that it was supposed to put toward a $20 million manufacturing facility in Tewksbury, which never became fully operational...

The loans were approved by a seven-person advisory board that included two Romney appointees and three Romney campaign contributors, a Herald review found.

Meanwhile, stimulus funds have actually been remarkably well managed. Michael Grunwald at Time's Swampland blog writes:

The Department of Energy has handled $37 billion in stimulus money, more than its annual budget. Overall, the federal government has distributed over $800 billion in stimulus money. Where are the sweetheart deals? Where are the actual outrages that are provoking outrage? During the debate over the stimulus, experts warned that as much as 5% to 7% of the stimulus could be lost to fraud. But by the end of 2011, independent investigators had documented only $7.2 million in fraud, about 0.001%. As I've written, reasonable people can disagree whether the stimulus was a good thing, but it's definitely been a well-managed thing.

If you want to talk about actual crony capitalism at the federal level, the problem isn't so much a vast conspiracy as it is a magnificently complex web of elected officials who want to keep their own jobs by keeping jobs in their home districts and states. That bland reality makes the real problems with more equitable spending at the federal level even more intractable.

Meanwhile, Romney's broader argument against the stimulus is incoherent. He blasts Obama for job losses during his administration, but under a Romney administration during that same period of economic crisis, with no stimulus money, job losses almost certainly would have been much more severe. There's a time for austerity, and it isn't during a recession.

John Cole reacts to the new anti-large-soda ban that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing in New York City:

Stupid, paternalistic, and completely unenforceable. My old platoon sergeant once told me that when it comes to keeping the guys in line, you never make a rule you won't enforce, you never make a rule you can't enforce, and you never make a rule you shouldn't enforce. This new ban fails on at least the first two.

Cole's platoon sergeant gives the same advice parents get. Don't make rules for kids that you can't or won't enforce, and if you do make rules then you'd better stick to them or your kids will just ignore them entirely.

Majiscup - The Papercup & Sleeve Log/FlickrI get the feeling we'll see a lot of that kind of ignoring going on in New York City when this ban goes into effect. As John points out, people can just buy two 16-ounce sodas instead of one 32-ounce soda. So what's next? A ban on the number of sodas you can buy at one time?

Whatever public-health costs the ban may defer could be offset by the costs of attempting to enforce it in the first place. Meanwhile, Bloomberg lends credence to the "nanny state" alarmists who will rightfully hold this up as a bad example of government interfering in the economy.

Rather than banning soda, how about having the government just raise taxes on it? Taxing sugary drinks would put downward pressure on consumption of those drinks without any enforcement, and revenue could be pumped into public health and education efforts, effectively killing two birds with one stone.

The other day George Will said: "Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics." I don't think Bloomberg has fallen quite so low as Trump, but his reckless policies have more dire implications for the people of New York than the birther-bloviations of a reality TV star.

Money can buy a lot of things, but it can't buy common sense.

Erik Kain is guest blogging while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

I have not watched the Edwards trial and I am not intimately familiar with the details of the evidence. But like Amanda Marcotte, I'm glad he was not convicted. I hope the prosecution decides to let it go. Being a horrible person is not a criminal act. If it were, we wouldn't be able to build enough prisons.

But Amanda explains the real reason why prosecutors should close this case. In this day and age, in this era of obscene electoral profligacy, the pursuit was simply ludicrous:

With the news of Karl Rove crowing about how he intends to spend $1 billion in untraceable funds to beat Obama in 2012, it looks particularly ridiculous for the government to waste resources on a showboat prosecution. Even the conservative news magazine National Review had to denounce the prosecution as a waste. John Edwards has been disgraced, humiliated and run out of politics. Bringing the full force of the law down on him on top of it all just seems greedy.

In my opinion it was a witch trial, done more to exorcise society's demons than to serve as a rational application of the law. Edwards behaved abominably and his life is ruined because of it. But I long ago stopped being shocked by people who, in the midst of personal crisis, behave with a lack of character and morals. I'm afraid that at this stage in my life I've seen too much of it to be so very, very sure that I can sit in judgment from afar.

Arcane federal election law is flouted every single day in ways that seriously threaten our democracy; using it merely to further humiliate an unpopular cad is a serious misuse of resources.  But I suppose we have to give credit where credit is due. Wall Street gamblers and high flying bankers have so far been smart enough not to do the one thing that can get important, high-profile, white males in trouble with the law: get caught paying for unauthorized sex. Other than that, it's clear that pretty much anything goes.

If there's any justice in the universe, Scott Walker will lose his job and never get another one that grants him power over the lives of other people ever again. Unfortunately, evidence of justice in the universe remains inconclusive at best, and downright contradictory at worst. And that's not even taking luck into consideration.

Still, it's probably good news that former president Bill Clinton is on his way to Wisconsin to campaign against the governor, whose anti-worker and anti-beer legislation has led to a recall election in that state.

For one thing, the recall effort is risky. If Democrats fail to unseat Walker on Tuesday, and Tom Barrett is defeated, Republican morale in the state is sure to surge, possibly leading to Wisconsin swinging for Romney in November. Meanwhile Walker will have even more of a mandate to tinker with workers' rights, women's rights, and education than ever before.

The Wisconsin protests last year were huge and impressive, but Walker has remained surprisingly popular. Budget concerns and middle class squabling between public and private sector workers have made Walker's policies more popular than they would be outside of a recession.

Can Bill Clinton work his magic and rally voters to the polls? Maybe. But it's going to be a close one.

As one who has long found the breathless election coverage of candidates' personal lives to be puerile and voyeuristic, I'd usually be sympathetic to complaints about the "vetting" of Mitt Romney in the media this election cycle. I can't imagine why anyone would want to run for office and put up with it, but then that's why they're them and I'm me.

Nonetheless, this lightning rod of an article from Politico on Thursday about unfair coverage of Romney is a bit much. Particularly this part of it:

Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary to President George W. Bush, said the personal coverage of Romney is silly and won't cut it with voters, but that he finds the media inconsistency with regards to covering Obama to be galling.

"These stories are not unusual, except they were never done about then-Senator Obama in 2008," Fleischer said. "The press never ran probing, sneering stories about candidate Obama, and yet The Washington Post and New York Times are on overtime covering who-cares stories about Mitt Romney."

Please spare us the pearl-clutching, Ari. I don't recall hearing any complaints from the former Bush press secretary about the coverage of Al Gore's alleged "Eloise" childhood hotel home (a completely bogus story to boot) and the rest of the disgraceful GOP-fed coverage of that campaign. And Fleischer certainly didn't step up to complain about the front page stories about John Kerry's so-called butler or or his "elite" windsurfing habits. Certainly Kerry's richy-rich wife was spared no mercy.

And it's not true that Obama was "unvetted" (which is a favorite meme lately among the denizens of the right-wing fever swamps—one that ties directly into birtherism, by the way). There were front-page stories about his million-dollar house and his upbringing and his associations with various nefarious characters in Chicago. I don't think anyone can say the media didn't delve into Obama's religious life. It's true that few journalists rushed to Honolulu to examine the kerning on his birth certificate, because there was no reason to. He is, after all, an American.

The difference between the stories about Kerry's and Romney's wealth and Obama's is quite simple: the Obamas weren't wealthy by comparison. (Poor Al Gore was the one who was treated most shabbily, with a GOP-concocted tale of childhood wealth that wasn't true.) And in this campaign, at this time of economic stress, the fact that Romney is extremely wealthy—and from a form of capitalism that is under extreme scrutiny—is a very relevant story. More relevant than usual, I'd say.

The Republicans are playing the refs and they are good at it. (And Politico sure seems to love a polarizing media story, all the more if it implicates its rivals.) But this is one time when a close look at a candidate's wealthy lifestyle and how he acquired it is important. We're in a new gilded age suffering from the aftermath of a Wall Street meltdown perpetrated by wealthy gamblers and vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney. It would be journalistic malpractice not to examine that. If the GOP doesn't want the American people to know that they are in the grips of the wealthy financial elite, perhaps they shouldn't have nominated one of their poster boys as their candidate.

Heather Digby Parton is guest blogging while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

Eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes won't be returning to Congress next year. He was ousted from his El Paso district by pro-marijuana legalization candidate Beto O'Rourke. The two Democrats had very different ideas about the war on drugs, and apparently even the above "Just Say No" ad featuring a bunch of small kids is as dated as it is infuriating.

Why infuriating? For those of us who care a great deal about ending the war on drugs, and at the very least ending the federal ban on medical marijuana, the "do it for the children" argument rankles. I can't recall how many times I've heard "the children" invoked when anybody suggests that maybe ending this violent domestic conflict against poor people could actually be really good for everyone, including children.

The war on drugs disproprtionally targets minorities. Communities ravaged by drug use are just as ravaged by the violent conflict that comes from the perpetuation of a black market. It's expensive, and not just for the prison beds and police (though these are extremely expensive). It takes a human toll as well, removing fathers from their children and workers and consumers from the economy, driving away legitimate business investment and replacing it with coercive black market forces, gangs, and so forth. In Mexico, the war on drugs has taken an even bloodier toll, claiming tens of thousands of lives in just the past few years.

The simple answer is to say "I'm fighting to keep drugs illegal for the children." It sounds nice. Drugs are bad, and children are good, and obviously the only way to keep the former out of the hands of the latter is to keep drugs illegal. Right?

Except that it isn't working, and apparently voters in Texas and across the country are starting to figure that out.

Adam Serwer pointed out the other day that Obama actually had a pretty healthy relationship with marijuana as a youth. Many other politicians—including conservative Republican Mitch Daniels—have smoked pot in the past as well, and I'm willing to bet they've all inhaled. This dabbling with drugs didn't hinder their careers or prevent them from attaining higher office—but that's only because they never went to jail for it, and they didn't grow up in communities where the war on drugs has a literal, and not just a figurative, meaning.

The gay-marriage debate hit a major milestone today. A federal appeals court has found section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.* The groundbreaking ruling will no doubt end up before the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, the three judge panel was comprised of two Republican appointees. The unanimous decision was made at least partly on federalist, states' rights grounds.

"One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage," Judge Michael Boudin wrote for the court. "Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress' denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest."

Now, there's a dark and a light side to federalism. States' rights—and really, we should put "rights" in quotation marks here—have been an excuse for plenty of atrocities, including slavery and segregation. The states in question are home to plenty of their own tyrannies, great and small.

On the other hand, right now a handful of states have stood in defiance of bad federal laws, including DOMA and the federal ban on medical marijuana. When gay couples married in Massachussettes are denied federal healthcare benefits, or when federal agents take down marijuana dispensaries in California, it's hard not to sympathize with a little federalism. It's a facet of our democracy that has, like democracy itself, been used for good and ill.

In other words, federalist arguments aren't easily dilineated into conservative and liberal camps. I think this actually complicates things for the "traditional marriage" forces. We've already seen some major conservatives like Ted Olson take on the gay-marriage ban in California, and federalist/small govermnet arguments rest at the heart of Olson's case.

These unlikely allies for pro-gay rights activists underscore why I'm mostly optimistic about the future of this country: However messed up the Republican party is, and however out of control the conservative movement may be, American conservatism is still rooted in a version of liberalism. Very little of the European traditionalism that defined conservatives in the past has survived in American conservatism.

Sometimes I think that's part of the reason the conservative movement seems so off-kilter so much of the time—so quick to latch onto strict rhetorical and ideological positions that aren't really guided by a coherent set of principles. But it also means that buried beneath the wreckage of so many contemporary conservative arguments is a strand of liberalism that actually does value progress, individual rights, and equality.

Americans are increasingly becoming more pro-gay rights, and the next generation will be even more so, across all polititical ideologies. Maybe conservative acceptance of gay marriage will be based on federalist or small-government arguments, but I suspect a lot of it will eventually be about freedom.

This post has been updated to clarify the scope of the ruling. Erik Kain is guest blogging this week while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

Others have written much more eloquently about the recall story in Wisconsin than I ever could. Rick Perlstein, for instance, a homeboy who wrote this epic piece just before the primary election in which he made the case for why we should all care about the governor's race:

Here's why: the voting in Wisconsin this spring "will be the first national test of the possibility of democracy in the Citizens United era," writes Ruth Conniff of the Madison-based magazine The Progressive, referring to the historic Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited spending on polticial campaigns. If conservatives succeed in breaking public unions in Wisconsin, they will try the same thing everywhere, with mind-blowing seriousness. Already by this February, Walker, taking advantage of a loophole that allows donors to recall targets to blow through the state's $10,000 contribution cap, had raised an astonishing $12.2 million dollars; then, by April, he had added $13.2 million more. [...] So, $25 per vote from reactionary out-of-state donors versus three bucks and one million petition signatures from regular old Wisconsinites: which one of them will prevail in June will tell us what American democracy will look like – if it will look like democracy at all. It's like one of those posters I saw in Madison last year said. It quoted the Gettysburg Address: "Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived or so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war." The picket sign added: "MADISON is that battlefield."

And E.J. Dionne went right to the heart of the matter with this piece on Wednesday:

Walker is being challenged not because he pursued conservative policies but because Wisconsin has become the most glaring example of a new and genuinely alarming approach to politics on the right. It seeks to use incumbency to alter the rules and tilt the legal and electoral playing field decisively toward the interests of those in power.

It's hard to overstate just how important this race is to progressives. The polls this week range from a dead heat to Walker leading by up to six points. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

But in looking at the Marquette University poll just out yesterday, I couldn't help but be somewhat surprised by this:

Voters say they feel their current governor would be better at creating jobs than his recall challenger. Half say they think Walker would do a better job, while just 43 percent pick Barrett. And Walker holds a 51 percent favorable rating and 46 percent unfavorable, while his rival is at 41 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.

It's almost unbelievable to me that voters would believe that when job creation has been the biggest issue of the campaign—and it hasn't been good for Walker:

Much of the debate over job creation started when the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers that showed Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012, the worst performance of any state in the country. Barrett seized on the news, attacking the governor in a press conference and in an ad claiming that, under Walker, Wisconsin lost a job every hour. But Walker's team insisted that the numbers were wrong. By the time the April figures came out last week, showing a gain of 4,500 jobs for the month, his administration had tried to build a case that the monthly estimates were unreliable.

Even though Walker is being recalled mostly because of a fight with workers and the state is dead-last in job creation, 50% of the voters think he'll be better at job creation than the other guy? Nobody in the country has done worse!

This strikes me as yet another success of conservative talking points. I think many people have simply absorbed the oft-repeated notion that Republicans are the advocates for "job-creators" with their low taxes and deregulation and even in the face of clear evidence otherwise they can't really see how anything else would work. And you can't really blame them all that much. Nobody's really telling them another story, at least not one that would make them think that Democrats would be better advocates for the "job creators." So they default to the conventional wisdom or plain old tribalism.

Still, that's just one question and despite everyone being understandably concerned about unemployment, people will base their votes on many factors. This race is close enough that it could go either way. Perhaps the good citizens of Wisconsin will go into the voting booth and realize that they just can't afford another two years of Scott Walker's mess. A handful of very wealthy plutocrats have poured a ton of money into the state for the past year betting that they won't. It would be nice if that money turns out to have been wasted.

Heather Digby Parton is guest blogging this week while Kevin Drum is on vacation.