Category Archives: Wisconsin Protests

When Money Is Speech Only The Rich Are Free

Well, now we know.

Not that we didn’t know already, but we now we’ve actually seen it, we know what it’s going to take. Maybe we all need to buy Powerball and MegaMillions tickets or something. Because right now our elections have been bought and paid for by a handful of super-wealthy elites and shadowy industry front groups. They bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pro-Walker ads, drowning the Democrats in a river of cash.

Again I’m reminded that our political dysfunction benefits the news media, which sells campaigns the airtime and ad space. Without elections the bottom lines of our corporate television and print outlets would look a lot worse. Someone is benefiting from our political divide and it’s not the people.

We’ll figure out a way around this, we always do. Something will change, some new technology or organizing tool, Occupy 2.0, whatever. Negative political ads will cease to be effective, workers will find a new way to organize. Where we are now is not where we will be in a month, a year, five years. It never is.

(h/t, Joe My God)

[UPDATE]:

And the Democrats take control of the state senate.

[UPDATE] 2:

And oh goodie, let’s reward our media overlords even more for the political disarray they’ve created.

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Filed under campaign finance, corporations, Wisconsin Protests

Even When We Win We Lose

Liberals, this is why you can’t have nice things.

Please stop pissing and moaning about the Wisconsin recall. You handed two nasty-ass Republicans their walking papers last night. The third election was likely stolen by the infamous Kathy Nickolaus of the mysteriously appearing ballots.

Look, we all knew if the Dems took back the Wisconsin Senate the MSM would bury the news on the back pages; if the Republicans kept the Senate, it would be a “repudiation of Obama/Democrats/unions/liberals” blabbedy blah. This is as sure as the sun rising in the East and dogs licking their butts. That doesn’t mean we have to swallow their turd tea, people.

If the shoe had been on the other foot and Wisconsin’s governor were a Democrat, the loss of two senate seats would have been a “stunning rebuke.” We know this. It’s always Republican Rules, right? Everything is always good news for Republicans, Democrats are always to blame, and, well, IOKIYAR. Bush The Lesser won re-election by the smallest of margins and it was a mandate.

Democrats, please recognize when you’ve won. Celebrate it. Shout it from the rooftops. Rejoice. Hell, I’m celebrating.

I’ve got a song for two Republicans now polishing their resumes. You’ve been dismissed, boys:

And with this I’m crawling back into my hole to emerse myself in work.

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Filed under Wisconsin Protests

>Something’s Fishy In Wisconsin

>[UPDATE]:

Scout at First Draft has this quote from Gov. Walker on Wednesday:

“As long as the rules are clear, as long as there aren’t ballots somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before, things of that nature, as long as everything’s above board, I think that’s fair,” said Walker.

Yes, out of the blue. Out of the red is a different story, isn’t it? Because always, always, always IOKIYAR.

——————————

Nobody could have anticipated! Really!

In a stunning turnaround, the county clerk for Waukesha County, a heavily Republican district in southeast Wisconsin, announced on Thursday evening that she’d failed to count more than 14,000 votes cast in Tuesday’s state Supreme Court election. The error, disclosed by a former state GOP lawmaker who’s been criticized for her handling of local elections, handed conservative incumbent David Prosser a lead of 7,582 votes, flipping the result of the race after an initial tally put liberal JoAnne Kloppenburg ahead by a mere 204 votes.

The Waukesha clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, a Republican, said in a press conference that the new votes, all of which were cast in the city of Brookfield, were missed because of human error that’s “common in this process.” Nickolaus apologized for the mistake, saying, “The purpose of the canvas is to catch these kind of mistakes.”

This isn’t the first time Nickolaus’ role in overseeing elections in Waukesha has been engulfed in controversy. In 2010, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that she bucked the traditional election results system in Wisconsin and instead kept the county’s election results on “stand-alone personal computers accessible only in her office.” Nickolaus cited security reasons for her unorthodox method.

Well isn’t that convenient! Nothing to see here, folks … move along. But I’m sure there were hundreds of people named Mickey Mouse and Snow White voting on election day, right? RIGHT? Because we all know voter fraud is just something those dirty ACORN libs do.

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Filed under voter fraud, Wisconsin Protests

Nice GOP Majority Ya Got, Shame If Anything Happened To It

The blowback against Wisconsin’s extremist Tea Party government has begun.

JoAnne Kloppenburg has won her Wisconsin State Supreme Court seat by a margin so thin it will surely be challenged in court. Even the Wall Street Journal can’t bear to come out and say it, but they note the number of votes cast in the lone precinct still counting would not be enough to overcome Kloppenburg’s lead. (Update: all precincts are now in and she’s won.)

This was definitely a referendum on Scott Walker’s government. So watch out, State Senator Dan Kapanke:

Miller made one more point. According to his math, Kloppenburg won by a 60-40 margin in the district of Dan Kapanke, the first Republican that recall petitions were submitted against.

And while all of the attention has been focused on the State Supreme Court race, another Democratic win is to my “honorary Wisconsinite” eyes every bit the Scott Walker referendum the Prosser/Kloppenburg race has been. This was for Scott Walker’s old seat as Milwaukee County Executive, and it was won by Democrat Chris Abele over Republican Jeff Stone, now serving in the Wisconsin state house. Said Stone:

After losing the Milwaukee County executive race to Chris Abele, state Rep. Jeff Stone said the political environment in Madison made it tough for a state legislator to get elected.

“We just have to give the environment a little bit of time,” Stone said. “Chris has some big challenges ahead of him.”

Yes, I’m sure being despised to the point where you’ve actually mobilized tens of thousands of people in the dead of a Wisconsin winter to haul ass off their sofas and out into the cold to protest your crazy legislation would qualify as a “tough political environment.” [/sarcasm]

And what are these challenges awaiting new the Milwaukee County Executive?

“It’s going to put in a new, eager, ambitious young man who’s going to have to come up with a budget in 60 days,” he said.

Cesarz said the county’s current fiscal problems mean the County Board and Abele must work cooperatively.

“I think it has to, because all of the fixes for the last 20 years aren’t available to us any more,” Cesarz said.

I do not live in this community, but this is the first I’ve heard that Milwaukee County is having fiscal problems. Wouldn’t that be the fault of the last person to hold the County Executive seat? Isn’t that … Governor Scott Walker? How did this assclown get elected?

Any Wisconsinites out there who can enlighten me?

Anyway, I have to think Republicans across the country — especially John Boehner, currently caught between a soggy Tea Bag and a hard place — are looking at what this extremism has done for the party and will now feel free to distance themselves. Hell, even Glenn Beck is leaving his self-titled show.

It appears schadenfreude is what’s on the lunch menu today.

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Filed under Tea Party, Wisconsin Protests

>Dropping Pretenses

>Well, at least they are now admitting that this is not about budgets or fiscal responsibility. It’s about breaking unions, breaking Obama and winning the 2012 election:

This was just the final step in removing any doubt about the true nature of this fight. There was the announcement that Crossroads GPS, an independent campaign group founded by former George W. Bush political guru Karl Rove, among others, launched a $750,000 cable television ad buy blistering President Obama and public sector unions, with the Wisconsin battle as the hook and clearly painting it as being about breaking the unions. (As a side note, the ad contained assertions about union pay that even their ostensible source—a libertarian Cato Institute—said were misleading.)

Then there was Scott Fitzgerald, the state senate GOP leader, admitting to Fox News that the battle was about crippling the unions. He said:

“If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.

Presumably that relates to fixing the state budget somehow. (And as an aside: Really? A great American drama is being played out before us and one of the characters is named Scott Fitzgerald? Awesome.)

It’s been fascinating to watch this political striptease, as prevarication after prevarication is stripped away, laying bare a naked political power grab. Poll after poll after poll showed Americans in general and Wisconsites in particular opposed Walker’s plan—and most especially his union-busting proposal. It was almost as it these polls focused and distilled the issue to its core.

Yes, this is what we Lefties have been saying all along. When we tried to tell the Teanutties that they were being played by corporate interests bent on a power grab, they said oh no! Not us! We really care about government spending!

Yeah, right.

So while Wisconsin is center stage for this class struggle, make no mistake: the battle is being waged everywhere. Here in Tennessee, and in Ohio, and in Michigan and Virginia and everywhere else. It’s not about budgets or the size of government. It’s about political power, specifically taking it away from the people and giving it to the wealthy corporate elite. It’s about making sure workers no longer have a voice and the Democratic Party no longer has a major fundraiser. That’s what this has always been about. Pure, unadulterated political power.

I mean hello, people. What does it say that the Wisconsin Republicans are running to Washington D.C. to collect their money from a big-time D.C. lobbyist, BGR Group? Doesn’t that just say it all right there?

And it’s about President Obama. POTUS has been taking a lot of heat for backing away from a campaign vow to walk the picket line to support unions. It’s funny because the right is hilariously trying to claim the Wisconsin recall effort has been organized by the White House, when Obama can’t distance himself fast enough from the biggest event to affect American workers of his presidency.

Oh, I know, he needs to worry about Libya and the budget debate and there’s a trip to the UK coming up and blah blah. He doesn’t want to make it look like he’s involved in a state issue like worker’s collective bargaining rights. Well, sorry dude, but you are involved because this is all about defeating you in November 2012. The White House needs to wake up and smell the coffee. This is about Obama, the Wisconsin Republicans have said so. It’s about the 2012 election. It’s about breaking the president and breaking the Democratic Party. It’s about politics, it always has been. So wake the fuck up and put some skin in the game. You can’t pretend you’re not involved when you’re one of the main reasons this is happening in the first place. This is about you. This is about the Democratic Party.

Get your shit together, Democrats. They’ve come for you. What are you going to do about it?

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Filed under Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, Wisconsin Protests

>It’s That Voodoo Republican Math

>First Wisconsin state officials claimed marble damaged by the painters tape that protestors used would cost $7.5 million to repair:

Cari Anne Renlund, chief legal counsel for the state Department of Administration, said in Dane County court that estimates of damage to marble includes $6 million to repair damaged marble inside the Capitol, $1 million for damage outside and $500,000 for costs to supervise the damage.

Turns out, not so much:

Madison – Officials charged with overseeing the state Capitol Friday backpedaled sharply from their estimate – delivered in a high-profile court case only the day before – that demonstrators did more than $7 million in damage to the building and grounds during the tumultuous yet peaceful protests that erupted Feb. 15.

Touring the building on Friday morning with state architect Dan Stephans, who oversaw the Capitol’s restoration that concluded in 2001, Jeff Plale said he had not immediately observed any damage from demonstrations over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill. Plale is a former Democratic state senator and now the state facilities administrator.

Hey Cari Anne! What’s your game, girl? Can anybody play? Why yes they can!

Two local news organizations sued Gov. Scott Walker Friday for alleged failure to respond to their requests for e-mails that the governor claimed were overwhelmingly in favor of his controversial budget repair bill.

[…]

Isthmus and the AP did not receive a response to their records requests, the lawsuit states.

But Richmond received an e-mail response late Friday, which was dated Feb. 25, from Nate Ristow, associate legal counsel for the governor, in which Ristow detailed the cost of printing out the e-mails of more than $31,250, to be paid in advance. Ristow also invited Richmond to review the records at Walker’s office for no charge.

In his records request, Lueders had asked that the e-mails be put on a disk instead of being printed on paper.

Wow: $31,250 to print out e-mails? I’m calling bullshit. It seems the latest conservative tactic in the propaganda war is to pull a wildly inflated number out of someone’s ass and attach it to whatever it is someone wants. Then watch as everyone starts screaming about my money! Seriously, some of the comments on these stories are hilarious. Are liberals the only ones who have developed a healthy skepticism over the years? Are we the only ones with highly developed bullshit meters?

Alternately, this can explain a lot about Republicans’ repeated failure to balance a budget. Perhaps the poor dears simply can’t do math. Remember how the Iraq War was only supposed to cost $50-$60 billion? Remember Paul Wolfowitz saying the war would pay for itself? Yeah that was a good one.

So you know, we’re left with the eternal question: stupid or lying? Which is it, Republicans?

(h/t, DailyKos)

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Filed under Republicans, Wisconsin Protests

>Fox News Lies

>[UPDATE]:

LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL!!!!!!

Shocking.

Palm trees in Madison, Wisconsin?? Green leaves on trees in March?

And they wondered why people shouted “Fox News Lies!” at them. Really, Mike Tobin? Really?

Yes, this would be the very same Mike Tobin whose specious claims of being “punched” by a union thug were neatly debunked with this video. It’s the ol’ “shoulder tap of death.” Ow ow ow!

We know Fox News are not honest brokers, they lie and doctor video footage and switch poll numbers to make them say what they want them to and take quotes out of context and repeat GOP press releases verbatim and commit all manner of sins against journalism because they are not journalists, they are partisans with a political agenda. Yet they continue to be treated as journalists, by the White House Correspondents Assn. and President Obama himself. Enough, already. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?

This will get written off as just another minor error committed by an overzealous staffer. Feh. Meanwhile, Judith Regan announces that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes told her to lie about her affair with Bernie Kerik to protect Rudy Giuliani’s presidential ambitions — a claim she says she can back up with an audio recording. Oh, my.

Yes, this rotten carcass of a news organization stinks from the head down. Not a shocker, of course. But one wonders how much longer this propaganda machine can keep up the charade or, more importantly, how much longer everyone else in the media will keep up the pretense, as well. I mean really: don’t you folks take pride in your work? In your industry? It’s almost like the rest of the media universe is purposely pretending that Fox is a legitimate media outlet, but why?

Every broadcast minute Fox shits on the Fourth Estate. They delegitimize an entire industry. They tell the world, and American viewers in particular, that the news media is an industry akin to used car salesmen and bail bondsmen. I don’t for the life of me understand why people like Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric and Christiane Amanpour and the rest don’t kick folks like Mike Tobin out of the club. Don’t they understand that claiming to be “punched” when you were tapped on the shoulder and cutting in video footage of some other event at some other time and place to give the erroneous perception that union thugs are running amok in Madison Wisconsin is a serious breach of journalistic ethics? And when Fox News does it, that tarnishes everyone? Don’t y’all see that?

I guess not.

I really don’t get it.

[UPDATE]:

This nails it:

If the events in Wisconsin prove one thing, it is that the mainstream media has become journalistically irrelevant when it comes to national issues and coverage. Broadcast media is incapable of explaining anything outside a macropatriotic framework and has proven allergic to anything that puts off even the slightest whiff of the class warfare that scares away big-market advertorial. Meanwhile, the other side is cable news’ partisan echo chamber of regurgitated self-assurance, where no blow is too low and no fact needs sourcing before being leveraged to make a prearranged point. Cable news reporting on Wisconsin is like going to a whorehouse and then bragging to your buddies about this girl you seduced.

Our corporate media is now irrelevant. And it’s not the fault of foul-mouthed bloggers.

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Filed under FOX NEWS, media, Wisconsin Protests

>They Forgot Poland

>

You know, despite conservatives’ claim that Ronald Reagan singlehandedly destroyed the Berlin wall with the tweak of his mighty pinkie, those of us who actually remember the 1980s remember the Polish trade union which got the democracy ball rolling. You kids who were still in your nappies back in 1981 might want to read up on Solidarity and how it took down Soviet domination in Poland, the first chink in a movement which steamrolled across the Baltic region and ultimately destroyed the iron curtain. I was a sophomore in college then and well remember the Polish uprisings. By 1982 I was living in Copenhagen and several friends traveled “behind the iron curtain” to Poland to see what was happening for themselves.

I went on an organized student trip to the Soviet Union instead — all trips by Westerners to the USSR were closely monitored, rigidly organized affairs back then (though that didn’t stop us from having some adventures). We had a Q&A session with some low-level Party official, can’t remember his function now, where we asked tough questions about oppression of gays in the USSR (“We have no homosexuals in the Soviet Union,” the guy actually told us. “This is a Western issue.”) And we asked about Solidarity. He told us it was an example of how much freedom the people of Poland have, that they can protest and strike (never mentioning martial law and other attempts to oppress the movement). It was all a ruse, not too different from what we see from conservatives today, where they talk publicly about the freedom to assemble and all that and then privately talk about sneaking in troublemakers to discredit those protesting.

Today Poland’s Solidarity leaders have sent Wisconsin workers their support:

On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ
“Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.

We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union-busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.

Dear friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.

Your victory is our victory as well.

In Solidarity,

Piotr Duda
President

You know, conservatives have long tried to connect labor unions with communism. Yet it was a labor union which destroyed communism in a key Soviet Bloc country.

I guess they forgot Poland.

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>The Grand Plan

>Well I found this to be extremely interesting:

One old trick is to suggest a thought experiment that asks readers to consider the mirror image of what is going on. In this case, you’d be asked what the reaction would be from Republicans and business interests if a newly elected Democratic governor and legislature proposed to deal with a budget deficit by first raising unemployment benefits and then pushing through a big corporate tax increase for all but the Democratic-leaning tech sector. For good measure, the package would also contain a ban on corporations making political donations without getting the permission of each shareholder, lest they use their power to repeal the tax increase and push the budget out of balance.

I love a good analogy. Remember: the plutocrats went nuts when the Democrats passed very modest healthcare reform — something President Obama campaigned on, I might add (whereas Walker did not campaign on destroying unions’ bargaining power). It was nothing close to the extremism on display in our state legislatures around the country but good lord they squealed like stuck pigs. Let’s remember the town brawls and Teanuts with guns and the member of Congress hung in effigy and another member of Congress nearly killed by a gunman at a public event.

More:

This is analogous, of course, to what Gov. Scott Walker has proposed for dealing with Wisconsin’s budget gap: the tax breaks for businesses, the benefit cuts for all state employees except Republican-leaning police and firefighters, the automatic decertification of all public-sector unions and the stripping of their right to bargain anything but wages. Looking at Walker’s reflection in the political fun-house mirror makes it abundantly clear that the governor has a more ambitious agenda than merely closing a modest budget gap.

Well duh. That’s what we’ve all been saying, for days now. That was why I transcribed that part of Walker’s phone call with Fake David Koch where he talks about the other governors he says were elected “to do something big.”

[Elected by whom? You really think the voters elected you to destroy unions? Was that what the November elections were about? I don’t think so. Elected by Koch Industries to do so? Yeah. That’s more probable.]

Anyway, for more on that ambitious agenda, today’s must read is Mike Konczal‘s “Conservative Road Map for State Governance”. Konczal lays it all out for you (here is where I give a hat-tip to E.D. Kain at Balloon Juice) and if anyone harbors any delusions that this has squat to do with state finances or budgets or anything other than a blatant power grab and transfer of wealth from the public to corporate interests, well, this should disabuse you of such notions post-haste:

There’s a three-prong approach in Governor Walker’s plan that highlights a blueprint for conservative governorship after the 2010 election. The first is breaking public sector unions and public sector workers generally. The second is streamlining benefits away from legislative authority, especially for health care and in fighting the Health Care Reform Act. The third is the selling of public assets to private interests under firesale and crony capitalist situations.

This is, as has been noted elsewhere, the industrialist’s wet dream. It took them a while, but finally they have a chance to turn the clock back … not to the 1950s, when the top marginal tax rate was over 90% GOD NO we can’t have that, but back to 1900. The era of the Robber Barons and industrialists. The “gilded age” when folks like Andrew Carnegie and John Pierpont Morgan ruled. And also the era of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and no minimum wage and child labor. You know, the good ol’ days.

This is what this fight is about.

This is what we DFH’s have been saying … for years. I’m not joking, we’ve been talking about this on blogs and in lefty magazines like The Nation and Mother Jones and other places where the mushy-middle pragmatic centrist “Third Way” approach is generally regarded to be bullshit because the modern right’s agenda is extreme! And they don’t give a crap about bipartisanship.

Wake up, people! Once upon a time we could disagree without being disagreeable and there could be some issues where everyone could find common ground. Those days passed a long, long time ago. Hell, none other than Republican Christie Todd Whitman noticed the shift toward extremism in the Republican Party when she penned ”It’s My Party, Too!” And we lefties have been warning for years that as the Republicans get more extreme, and the Democrats bend over backwards to make concessions in the interest of “bi-partisanship” they are moving the country futher to the right and basically enabling an extreme agenda.

And here is where we are.

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Filed under bipartisanship, Gov. Scott Walker, Tea Party, Wisconsin Protests

>How You Call A Governor

>I mean, I’d love to know how you get through. Back in my reporter’s days I’d always get stuck leaving a message with the assistant. Over and over again. So what’s the secret to getting powerful people on the phone?

Apparently it’s pretending to be an asshole:

First, it’s remarkable Ian Murphy, pretending to be Koch, even got through. He talked to Walker’s chief of staff, Keith Gilkes, and said he couldn’t leave a return number because, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” This, oddly enough, led Gilkes to invite “Koch” to call back and speak directly to the governor.

Oh my God. I’ve totally been doing it wrong all these years.

More ….. here. Un freaking believable.

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Filed under Fake Koch, Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Protests