March 3, 2009

Can Koschnick get any less coherent?

Over the weekend, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran a laughably superficial and disingenuous "report" on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Front section-page, in the hard copies. Above the fold.

In the piece, reporter Steven Walters helpfully repeated a pile of Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick's unsubstantiated charges* against Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

In accord with that paper's standard practice, not a single syllable was expended in an attempt to investigate the veracity of Koschnick's allegations. Easier just to uncritically reprise them, evidently, whether they can withstand scrutiny or not.

As Bill Christofferson says, Koschnick might as well just fire his campaign staff and leave it all to Walters and the Journal-Sentinel.

What caught my attention particularly, however, was this quote from former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice William Bablitch:
"I don't like the term soft on crime," Bablitch said. "But (Abrahamson) seems to be well out of the mainstream when it comes to criminal matters involving the criminal rights of defendants."
Predictably, Koschnick seized on this utterance with both hands and published it at the top of his campaign website's index page.

But elsewhere, Koschnick alleges that Abrahamson has been "60% pro-criminal" during a selected period of time on the court. He purports to have arrived at this figure by looking at the court's written opinions since 2000, in particular those cases whose docket number contains the suffix "-CR," which denotes a criminal appeal.

Justice Bablitch retired from the court on July 31, 2003, so he shared some concurrent time on the bench with the Chief Justice.

And it wasn't just concurrent time.

As a matter of fact, during the period Judge Koschnick cites to, Shirley Abrahamson had no more reliable ally on decisions in criminal appeals than — you guessed it — Justice William Bablitch.

Not only that, but in a number of cases where Abrahamson and Bablitch were at odds, Abrahamson ruled for the State and Bablitch authored a lone dissent finding for the defendant's interests.

And we all know how Randy Koschnick feels about lone dissents.

So it's rather curious that Bablitch is now deriding the Chief Justice for being "well out of the mainstream." Perhaps he means that the Chief hasn't "sided with criminals" enough, to borrow a phrase from the 2008 campaign of Michael Gableman, which has been replaying itself to a remarkable extent through the efforts of Judge Koschnick.

Koschnick, of course, is impervious to any of this, which isn't curious at all, since his entire campaign is erected on contradictions.

In this latest instance, he's quite happy to criticize Abrahamson's record in criminal appeals on the one hand, while with the other appropriate as an endorsement the oddball statement of a former justice whose own record is practically identical to Abrahamson's.

Koschnick might be able to put this chicanery over on Joe the Plumber, with whom he'll be sharing a stage Saturday morning, but he can't foist it on normal sentient human beings without comment.

Unfortunately, he's managing to get it past the reporters and editors at Milwaukee's only daily newspaper. And that enabling is shameful.

* Koschnick's so-called "clean campaign pledge" contains an admonition against unsubstantiated charges. At his website, Koschnick is running an animated ticker supposedly counting the days since the Chief Justice hasn't signed his "pledge."

One could be forgiven for believing the ticker is counting the days until Koschnick finally gets around to signing the thing himself.

eta: Milwaukee Magazine's Bruce Murphy thinks Bablitch is exacting revenge on the Chief because "she does not suffer fools gladly."

Nice swipe. We'll make an unmentionable blogger out of him yet.


John Foust said...

Every chart tells a story, sadly. Looks like the reporters are getting so lazy they can't even steal stories from bloggers.

Jim Bouman said...

That's a helluva NYSE stock chart on the Journal Company.

At a news stand, I'd be 14 cents short of the price of a copy of the Journal Sentinel, fetid rag that it is.

But from a stockbroker, I could hand over six bits and get a share of Journal Communications stock PLUS 14 cents change.

No thanks of both counts. I don't have any more fish to wrap; and the stock price is outrageously out of touch with actual valuation.