The Wisconsin state Assembly approved a bill 56 to 37 Thursday eliminating local living wage mandates for Madison and Milwaukee workers.
Assembly Bill 750, introduced by Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, overrides local mandates setting a living wage for government workers and contractors and prohibits residency requirements for laborers, workers, mechanics and truck drivers working on local projects for the public.
Living wage is defined as pay high enough for employees to support themselves.
Wisconsin law currently prevents city officials from creating a local living wage mandate unless the employee works for the county or city, works under contract for the city or is funded by financial assistance from the city. The bill eliminates this exemption.
This is the most telling part of the article and helps show the damage really done by Act 10:
Leah Lipska, the president of Local 1, scoffs at Mr. Walker’s famous suggestion that public employees are the “haves” in society, noting that many earn less than $35,000 a year. And the law, says Ms. Lipska, an information systems technician with the state corrections system, has made things much worse.
“My family is now on food stamps,” said Ms. Lipska, a mother of three who earns $18.62 an hour. (Her husband’s computer installation business is struggling.)
Wisconsin taxpayers are now still paying for Lipska's full salary and benefits, but are also now paying for her family's food stamps. Instead of saving money as Walker and the Teapublicans are claiming, it is actually forcing taxpayers to pay even more.
We're none of us alone, is what this comes down to. All the rest of this is bullying and noise and fear. If you're alone, after all, if it's all up to you, then nobody can hurt you but you, so I get it. Trust me, do I ever get it. It sounds so much easier if you don't have to worry about anybody else letting you down, if the only fuckups setting you back are your own.
But never in the history of the world has this been true.
There is no way out of paying for somebody else. There is no way to live in our society completely independent of everybody else. You drive on the roads, you drink the water, you nod hello at your neighbor in the morning, and every time you put gas in your tank you're a part of something. You can either suck it up and admit that, and sit down and figure out the best way for us all to get what we need, or we can keep having these stupid fights and talking about MAH TAX DOLLAHS buying T-bone steaks and shit.
You're paying for it either way, so the only real question is how much of an asshole you want to be in the process.
All over the state, public executives are exercising new authority. Instead of raising teachers’ salaries, the Mequon-Thiensville School District, near Milwaukee, froze them for two years, saving $560,000. It saved an additional $400,000 a year by increasing employee contributions for health care, said its superintendent, Demond Means. And it is starting a merit pay system for teachers, a move that has been opposed by some teachers and embraced by others.
Ted Neitzke, school superintendent in West Bend, a city of 31,000 people north of Milwaukee, said that before Act 10 his budget-squeezed district had to cut course offerings and increase class sizes. Now, the district has raised the retirement age for teachers and revamped its health plan, saving $250,000 a year. “We couldn’t negotiate or maneuver around that when there was bargaining,” Mr. Neitzke said. “We’ve been able to shift money out of the health plan back into the classroom. We’ve increased programming.”
Why yes. Those things would save you money. SO WOULD TURNING THE HEAT OFF. Jesus H. Christ, the question was never "is saving money good?" If it was, elminating the superintendent's salary would have been just as valid an option, but somehow it wasn't.
In April 2010, Michael Best & Friedrich paralegal Kelly Teelin sent Rindfleisch a joke about someone whose dogs supposedly qualified for welfare because they are "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddys are."
Rindfleisch wrote back: "That is hilarious. And so true."
In another email, sent in July 2010, Thomas Nardelli, chief of staff for Walker at Milwaukee County, forwarded Rindfleisch and undisclosed others a joke about someone who has a "nightmare" about turning into a black, Jewish, disabled gay man. "Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat," the email concludes.
Media folks have just started poring over the massive throng of emails released this week that make Scott Walker look exactly like the guy most of us thought he was. Like Nixon, Walker’s attempt to throw underlings under the bus when a scandal emerged worked for a short period of time. Also like Nixon, eventually there was enough of a paper trail to tie him directly to the scandal.
In the case of Walker, he had always denied knowing anything about a secret email system set up at the county exec’s office that allowed his staff to do campaign work on county time in an undetected manner. Emails this week revealed he was not only aware of this, but that he was actively linked into what some staffers called the email “inner circle.”
A few other emails, including one to conservative blowhard/talk-show host Charlie Sykes encouraging cooperation between Walker’s office and Sykes, were interesting and possibly damaging to anyone other than Scott Walker. After all, this guy is slicker that buttered snot and he has that “headless chicken” thing going for him: Even after you kill it, it’s too stupid to know it’s dead, so it keeps walking around like an idiot.
The stuff that has drawn the most ire is stuff that matters the least. Emails reveal that Walker’s people hated political noob/former TV anchor/dead ringer for Barbie’s friend Skipper Rebecca Kleefisch. Emails contained general bitching about cats. Emails contained (gasp!) racist jokes that a) took too long to get to the punch line and b) were written in giant blue letters so that the elderly who still believe these stereotypes can read them with their failing eyes.
The sad part? None of this matters in terms of an election within the state. Sure, it might cost Walker a shot at the 2016 White House, but did anyone think we’d put an idiot governor with a penchant for bad ideas into a position of absolute power? Uh… Scratch that…
Still, in the state of Wisconsin, there are people who will “Stand with Scott Walker” until their legs atrophy or the lift system on their Lark 7 scooters give out. It’s not like there were a lot of people who were kind of on the fence about this guy and figured, “If only I knew for sure if he was in on this email thing, maybe I would vote against him…” Either you like him or you hate him and all this piling on won’t do anything but inflame both sides like a hemorrhoid treated with jalapeno juice.
Those who like him will continue to think that all that matters is this series of jobs he has created, even though they can’t actually see the jobs or tie any that exist to Walker.
Those who hate him will have a deeper hatred for him, not because there is more evidence that he’s a liar/douche/idiot/whatever, but because those people “standing” with him will continue to stand there and let him keep screwing up the state.
"Right now in Wisconsin, you're not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week," he told The Huffington Post in an interview.
Wisconsin is one of the few states in the nation where businesses "must provide employees with at least one period consisting of 24 consecutive hours of rest in each calendar week." This doesn't mean that workers get to take off once every seven days; an employee could work for up to 12 consecutive days "if the days of rest fall on the first and last days of the 2 week period."
Grothman said he finds this law "a little goofy," and he argued that rolling it back is a matter of "freedom."
All sorts of people want to work seven days a week! Why, ask anyone! They'd like to make more money and Wisconsin's draconian labor laws are making it hard for them to earn as much as they can!
He explained Friday that when he was in college, he wanted to work seven days a week because it meant he would make more money from overtime.
And there's no way this would be applied to anyone other than eager college kids who'd like to deliver as much pizza as they can! It certainly wouldn't be used to keep at 56-year-old factory worker on his feet from dawn til dusk, until his hands are crushed and his knees are wrecked and his hearing's gone. There's no way that would ever happen. This would just apply to 19-year-old burger flippers!
Every time I think they've hit rock bottom they bring out a jackhammer.
I had a meeting with our dean last week to talk about various facets of life at the U. We had recently undergone salary equity issues and I found that apparently our administration felt I, unlike 92 percent of my college-wide colleagues, was equitable enough to not merit any additional dollars.
The discussion was awkward for me, as I grew up in a home that was populated by a teacher and a factory worker. Talking to anyone about my salary in any way always made me feel like Latrell Sprewell bitching about how $21 million wasn’t enough to feed his family.
I started to explain to the dean why I wanted to talk to him but that I didn’t want to be there and he cut me off.
“I get it,” he said. “I came from a family like that too.”
He told me a story about how he once tried to explain to his uncle what life as a professor was like. He said he was teaching three classes per semester and how that was about 12 hours in the classroom plus about 12 office hours per term.
“Don’t worry,” his uncle told him. “If you keep working hard, eventually they’re going to give you more hours.”
Years later, when he became a full professor, he called his uncle and told him the good news.
“See?” the man replied. “I told you if you worked hard enough, they would make you full time!”
We talked for a while about the state of the U, especially the public perception of it. The Legislature in this state lost its mind last summer when it saw the university as hoarding cash. The folks around our area also lost their mind when the local paper posted the salary of every university worker to its website. In most cases, including mine, the money was way off. Still, that didn’t mean it wasn’t enough to freak people out. He understood the same way that I did how hard it was for people who worked 40 hours a week (or more) to not look at college professors and ask, “You only spend HOW MANY hours a week in front of a classroom?”
It’s also hard to explain to people that this is like asking a cop, “You only arrest HOW MANY felons a week?” The preparation, the research, the effort, the attempts and other elements take time but don’t seem to matter in the subsequent bean counting.
It can be even harder to explain that teaching isn’t all we do. I remember getting my first scholarly article published and calling home to tell my folks. My dad’s reaction was Classic Dad: “They pay you extra for that?”
He couldn’t understand that I do get paid for that. It’s called my salary. The same is true of the books I write, the meetings I attend, the class prep I do, the grading aspect of those courses and 83 other things that happen to be required of me if I didn’t want to suck at my job.
Life was different for Dad.
He would come home at about 3:30 or 4 p.m. every day and take off his safety shoes. He’d grab the paper and lie on the couch, reading about the state of the state and how the Brewers were doing. He’d eat dinner with the family, drink a few beers, watch TV and go to sleep.
The next day, he would do it all over again.
I wouldn’t trade my job for his by a damned sight, but I do wonder sometimes what it would be like not to be tethered to a computer full of work and working at the behest a group of people demanding more and more time. I also wonder what it would be like to not have people complaining that I was overpaid, regardless of what I did.
In the ESPN film “Broke,” Jets linebacker Bart Scott outlined how he explained his salary to his childhood friends in one of the more dangerous parts of Detroit. He noted he didn’t hit the lottery. He earns the money. Given what we know about concussions, crippling injuries and the early onset of mental disorders in former players, I’d say he’s probably right.
Still, it’s hard to tell people that I earned my money. Nine years of college (which is pretty minimal for a full run through a Ph.D.) coupled with grad student servitude and cheap labor as a teaching assistant kept me out of the labor market for almost a decade. Meanwhile, people who bailed after high school or an associate’s degree were earning an actual salary for most of that time. In some ways, what I have now might best be viewed as deferred compensation: school came first, money came later.
Even so, I get it when people look at me and don’t want to think, “Hey, he earned it.” Or “Wow, it would be great to have that.” Instead, it’s easier to think that we teach 10 hours a week, get our summers off and pretty much live the sweet life. It’s also easier to channel those feelings of discomfort or anger into a sense of how as a “taxpayer” my money comes from their sweat.
Later that week, I went to go pick up my kid from school and met up with one of the parents I tend to pal around with as we wait for dismissal. I was still stinging a bit from the “We like you but we aren’t going to pay you any more money” discussion I had with the dean.
As I saw the guy approaching, I asked him how things were going. He was a guy who did construction, dug wells and worked throughout the area as a fix-it man. On good days, he was able to get home for a change and a shower before he had to pick up his kid. I could always tell when he had a rough day, as clay would cake onto his boots and dirt would be all down the front of his hoodie and jeans.
“Pretty good,” he said. “We got to work inside today. How about you?”
“Yeah. Pretty good too. Just getting stuff done. Y’know…”
Eric O'Keefe, the director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, told the nation's most widely known conservative editorial page he received a subpoena in early October. O'Keefe said at least three targets had their homes raided, according to the newspaper on Friday.
The opinion piece said about 30 groups had received subpoenas, including heavy hitters nationally. It named eight of them: Walker's campaign; the Wisconsin Club for Growth; American Crossroads, a group co-founded by Karl Rove, the former adviser to President George W. Bush; the Republican Governors Association; the Republican Party of Wisconsin; Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business lobbying group; Wisconsin Family Action; and the League of American Voters.
I found the last iteration of the Wisconsin John Doe investigations to be somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. Though the implications of the reporting were that clearly there had been some ass-haberdashery with the Scott Walker campaign and it was likely that Walker himself was only minutes away from being indicted himself, the only resulting charges and convictions were two thefts ($21K and $50K), a vague "contributing to the delinquency of a child", campaign fundraising using a secret email system at a courthouse, doing campaign work on the county's dime, and exceeding personal campaign contribution limits and laundering money for the campaign.
Considering one of the big stories of the recall in particular was the sheer amount of money involved, and that of the groups mentioned in the CBS article I just linked, the RGA, AFP, and Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce are all getting subpoenas per the WSJ article, this could shape up to be interesting. To be honest, though, I've been primed by the previous investigation to expect a few individuals to get a few slaps on the wrist.
But ugh, you guys.
With three weeks to go, as of May 21, the last disclosure deadline before recall election day, Walker had raised $30.5 million, while Tom Barrett had raised $3.9 million, according to public disclosure reports tallied by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
How. How is it okay to just throw that kind of money at political campaigns? I'm not talking legally, I know it's perfectly legal. I'm talking ethically. Yes, on election day, even David and Charles Koch have only one vote each, and so the system works, but if you can throw arbitrary amounts of money at the internet and newspapers and television and get them to scare people into believing that if they don't vote for the same person you're voting for, the immigrants will start driving through your neighborhoods in low slung cars listening to raps and shooting all the jobs... we can't really claim that everyone's voice is being heard equally.
(Also: cut me some slack for a day or two pleez, I'm just getting a feel for how to rant at you all long-form.)
The Wisconsin State Journal is bored with your free speech, and thinks it is silly, and can no longer support any freedom of expression because OMG OLDSAUCE:
Last week’s repeated arrests of singing protesters — by Friday, the total number of arrests was above 50 and climbing — bordered on the silly and was only a note or two away from embarrassing.
The ever-faithful eclectic group that began gathering at the Capitol each noon hour to sing various songs of protest against Gov. Scott Walker and the majority Republicans has driven a nice idea into the ground.
Now, the effort seems mostly self-indulgent, not to mention bothersome for non-protesters who like to spend time in the Capitol, too.
It's so hard when the actual business of citizenship gets in the way of citizenship tourism, isn't it? This from the newpaper that opined that some of the original Wisconsin Union protesters had "jumped the shark" and we were all over it because that's a real thing on par with laws being passed and people's lives being affected.
Note that the newspaper does not think the administration should stop arresting people, in order to stop the arrests. Jesus catfucking Christ. The arrests were embarrassing (to whom?) and so the people who are being arrested should just stop doing what they're being arrested about, regardless of whether it's legal, justifiable, or supportable in that "this is dumb but they'll come for me next." No, this goddamn NEWSPAPER thinks the hippies should just go away, and fuck the principles involved, because tiresomeness to an editorial board trumps free speech.
In more recent times, the Walker administration tried to tamp down on the singalong protest by passing new rules requiring permits for gatherings in the Capitol of more than four people.
As part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the permit rules, a U.S. District Court judge recently called out the four-person limit for the hooey that it was, and instead issued a temporary order that requires a permit for any group of 20 that wishes to gather in the Capitol.
That seems reasonable and fair, but apparently it is unreasonable and unfair to the singers, who refuse to sign up for the free permit that would put them in good standing with Capitol police during the singalongs.
Instead, the singers seem to view themselves as free-speech martyrs, willing to face $200 fines rather than the indignity of getting a permit from the dreaded Walker administration.
Yeah! I mean, just follow the rules, guys. The rules are all. The rules mean everything. The rules are not to be questioned. The rules are not to be protested. Everybody just needs to sit down once the rules are read. No good ever comes from standing up to the rules. I'll let Blue Cheddar handle this one:
I’ll start with a letter penned by Steve Burns of Madison, Wisconsin who co-founded the solidarity singalong in March of 2011. He recently sent this letter to the Wisconsin State Journal in response to their editorial which said everybody could simply “Get a permit”:
If the government wants to regulate your behavior, they should have to give you a reason. And if they want to regulate political speech in a public space, they should have a pretty good reason. Like the need to protect public safety – the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example we’ve all heard about.
But the Walker administration, as it cracks down in the Solidarity Sing Along, has never provided any explanation for why arrests – and the permit scheme behind the arrests – is actually necessary to protect public safety.
And that’s because they can’t. For more than two years, people have gathered in the Capitol rotunda, peacefully singing out their grievances about Walker’s policies, and voluntarily moving outside when any other group has requested use of the rotunda. Not a single incident of violence has ever been attributed to participants of the Sing Along, and the informal arrangement that had developed, with the rotunda open for unscheduled use if no other group has reserved it, had been working well until the police crackdown.
Whenever the government claims they need to regulate your behavior, and their only justification is “We make the rules,” it’s time to protest – and maybe even time to get arrested.
Another answer I’ve heard is that the people who get permits to use the capitol are subject to charges for damages inside the building and nobody trusts the Walker administration to deal with that fairly. After the occupation of the capitol building, an assessment of $7.5 million dollars in damages to the capitol was given to the press. It would turn out to be a grossly inflated amount and based on almost nothing – a note scrawled on notebook paper, in fact. But it got spread widely to the press and was never really corrected following.
Another answer is simply Article 1, Section 4 of the Wisconsin constitution:
“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”
I guess that should be amended to add "unless, in the opinion of this newspaper, the speech is silly and the singers smell."
Yesterday Athenae posted a video of the arrests at the Solidarity Sing Along. As a result of yesterday's arrests a much larger crowd attended the sing along today and the arrests continued.
About a dozen officers would enter the rotunda led by one officer who would walk through the crowd and point to someone:
Other officers would then arrest that person.
The officers would lead the individuals out and to the basement where they were issued citations. After about 10-15 minutes the officers would return and more arrests would begin again.
The lead officer would walk through the crowd and after some time would point to someone and then they were cuffed and led out. I was in the balcony and found it quite creepy and chilling to witness this process of point and arrest as did those around me.
In a tense moment, a veteran was arrested who had been holding an American flag. While leading him out the flag fell to the ground. The veteran reacted by trying to go back to get it and the crowd gasped as officers stepped on the flag. Someone in the crowd picked it up.
Another arrest. The crowd would chant Shame, Shame, Shame as people were escorted out.
Officers followed by press and protesters as they lead one person out and towards the basement. They then formed a line to stop people from following. One man tries to talk with the police about what they were doing:
Officers then pulled back with press and protesters following behind:
Channel3000 reports that 26 citations were issued today. From that story:
Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, watched Thursday and said the arrests are only driving more to join in.
"They had 35 or 40 people singing peacefully and quietly and they come in and use their thug tactics and we end up with 500 people here," said Cullen. "If they keep arresting people today there will be a thousand tomorrow. I don't know when they're going to get it."
We'll see what tomorrow brings....
What a douchebag. The singers have been singing there every day since Walker first launched his attack on unions, and since His Highness has decided that he can't stand the sound of dissent, the once-totally open Capitol is now a place where you have to get a permit to assemble and do such controversial things as hum a tune.
In another planned veto, Walker will allow the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to remain on the UW-Madison campus. Lawmakers had added a provision to boot the center from Vilas Hall and bar university staff from collaborating with it.
They declined to say which lawmaker was behind the idea, but said they believed the center had a left-leaning bias and they believed journalists should not rely on state subsidies. Critics called it an assault on journalistic independence and said it appeared to be payback for their stories, including one breaking the news about a physical altercation between two state Supreme Court justices.
Walker said arrangements between the university and private groups should be addressed by the UW Board of Regents, not lawmakers in the state budget.
"If there's going to be a policy about those sorts of shared agreements or shared arrangements, that should be set by the regents and it shouldn't be set specific to just this particular program," Walker said.
I don't know what pod alien thing has replaced him momentarily, but I am glad that in this particular instance he has removed his head from his colon and done the right thing.
Let that be a lesson to whatever backwards-ass fuckstick in the Senate got this idea in his head. You are officially too petty, vindictive and stupid for SCOTT WALKER. If you had a soul, I'm sure that would be disturbing to you.
Shorter Dean Sandefur: "OH YEAH WHO WANTS SOME? WHO WANTS SOME, HUH? YOU AND WHAT ARMY, PAL? THAT ARMY? FIVE GUYS WITH SUPER SOAKERS FULL OF DR. PEPPER, A DRUNK CLOWN AND A THREE-LEGGED PUG? THAT ARMY? OOH, I'M SO SCARED. HOLD ME, TINY DANCER."
The University of Wisconsin has came out in support of the center. Gary Sandefur, dean of the university’s College of Letters & Science, which is home to the journalism school, said in a statement: “Arbitrarily prohibiting UW-Madison employees from doing any work related to the Center for Investigative Journalism is a direct assault on our academic freedom; simply, it is legislative micromanagement and overreach at its worst.”
The biggest penis in the entire Wisconsin Senate, Mike Ellis, to whom I would not throw a rope if he was drowning, is like, "Really? Do we have to do this now? Aren't there some puppies we can kick? These guys pick fights for a living. I like our chances with the puppies, guys."
Republican Senate President Mike Ellis, who is not on the budget committee, said Thursday he didn't know anything about the provision.
"I don't know why we would go after any element of a free press, even if we don't like them," Ellis said.
When you are too petty, mean, fascistic and aggro for MIKE ELLIS, who is of the opinion that Stalin lacked the stones to really get shit done, it is time to take a deep breath and rethink your place in the world.
There's still a chance this provision will be stripped out of the budget, but only if the pressure is relentless. If you live in Wisconsin, attended Wisconsin, like Wisconsin, or have eaten cheese at least once in your life, light these legislators up:
What you can do
• Contact legislative leaders. Let them know you support the Center’s nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau: 608-266-5660, Sen.Fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov
Assembly speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, 608-266-9171, Rep.Vos@legis.wisconsin.gov
• Support the Center. Send us your story tips, to email@example.com or any of our staff. Consider making a donation.
Even for the "book learnin' is for liberals" caucus in my home state, this seems random and pointless and cruel:
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism would have to leave the UW-Madison campus, under a Republican motion before the Legislature's budget committe.
GOP lawmakers were set to vote early Wednesday morning on the motion, which specifically named the center established by former Wisconsin State Journal investigative reporter Andy Hall. Currently the center has a small office in Vilas Hall on the floor occupied by the UW-Madison School of Journalism.
Commenters are speculating that the teawads got all het up about the center because it received Soros foundation funding, which makes it the devil, obviously.
Andy's a great guy, his staff does important work, and if this is what it looks like, it's just a kick in the nuts for no good reason. I would hope, though I have no expectation of course, that the journalism school at Wisconsin would defend its partner in the strongest possible ways.
“It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you save.”
This was the edict my great-grandfather passed down to my father and the one my father gave to me. Dad recalled the story at least once a month when I was living at home. Each time, he told it, I listened as if I had never heard it before, mainly because the story was so honest and truthful.
As a young man, he had just gone to visit great-grandpa after being paid for some summer work.
“I was telling him how much I made and how great it was and how I could buy whatever and he stopped me. He asked, ‘Did you put any of that away for later?’ When I told him no, he shook his head. ‘It’s not how much you make. It’s how much you save.’”
The man knew something about austerity. He raised four children through the heart of the Great Depression. He had a tiny plot of land in the backyard where vegetables grew throughout the spring, summer and fall. He would turn the earth over by hand and every time something was picked from the garden, something else was immediately planted to take its place.
His plum tree yielded a bounty that was served as fruit, preserves and plum wine. He dried his own garlic in the rafters of the garage.
When he walked to church, he would pick mushrooms along the way and store them in a paper sack he brought with him. By lunchtime, great-grandma had turned his find into mushroom soup.
Money was squirreled away in various parts of the house: a jar of quarters here, several rolls of pennies there. He had a wallet hidden away that spare money went into for emergencies. When his son, my grandfather, died, he called my father over to the house and asked how much the funeral cost. When my father told him, he disappeared into the bedroom and emerged with the wallet, from which he paid for the funeral costs in cash.
“If you had all the money I saved and spent from this wallet, you’d never have to work a day in your life,” he told Dad.
He realized quite early that life didn’t owe you anything, so you better make do with what you have and always be aware that it could be taken away from you in a big damned hurry.
In popular parlance, my great-grandfather and my father would be thought of as a wise, forward-thinking man. If his principles were to be applied to the University of Wisconsin System, he would be making Mike Ellis puke in his Cheerios.
The figure for these reserves ranges from almost $1 billion to $200 million, depending on if you want to stir outrage or if you want to control damages. In recent days, Republicans have centered their focus on the figure of $648 million, which is the $1 billion, minus gifts and grants that have been restricted to specific projects. The system argues that all but $200 million of that money is committed and the rest is spread among its 26 campuses.
If you want a good math lesson on this one, PoliFact did a nice job here.
The general public is up in arms, obviously, because they’re being told that the UW is essentially bleeding them dry and then making a giant pile of money for System President Kevin Reilly to sleep in at night. For his part, Reilly has completely sucked at trying to explain this in a way that anyone who isn’t in academia, or who doesn’t look like a character out of “Deadwood,” wouldn’t understand.
Here are a couple things that might make this easier for people who responded in the same way Robin Vos did: “If you have $450 million in your piggy bank, I can’t see why you need another nickel.”
The concept of savings and commitments: The legislators (Republicans mainly, Democrats lamely joining the party) have been screaming about how much money the U has, focusing on the $648 million. More than two-thirds of that money is committed, meaning there are things on the books that require it goes somewhere at some point in the future.
Even though Reilly should have done a much better job of explaining what that means, the lawmakers should also be smart enough to figure out how this works. It’s how all of us buy and own things that go beyond what we can afford on a month-to-month basis.
For example, I get paid my monthly salary on the first of the month. If you looked in my “piggy bank” at that point, you’d probably think, “Damn! Nice! Let’s go have some fun!” OK, but most of that money is committed. About one-fourth of that goes to my mortgage. I have to pay that, since I lacked a six-figure chunk of cash to purchase the home outright. Thus, the bank gave me money and each month, I have to pay back some of it. I also owe about 5 percent of that on my car, which was purchased in much the same way. I owe my kid’s school money and my insurance company as well. That’s committed. So, I’m still doing OK. However, there are expected commitments as well. I know that I’ll owe for water, power, natural gas and so forth. Regardless of how little I use, I know I’ll owe something and based on experience, I know about how much I’ll need. Thus, that takes out another chunk of money.
What’s left goes to food and various other things. These are all variable, but it’s uncommitted money. If we really wanted to save a lot of cash in a given month, we could eat nothing but Ramen. However, we will still have a food cost.
The state’s logic would be: “Hey, you saved up all that money we gave you! Obviously you don’t need it! Gimme!”
Obviously, not exactly what "savers" would hope to hear.
Fund diversity: Let’s say for the sake of argument that we go with the $648 million number and get really ticked off. OK, fine, but WHERE exactly is that money? If it’s all sitting in Reilly’s garage and he goes in there every night, cackling like Scrooge McDuck… well… yeah, that’s a reason to be upset.
However, it’s not sitting in some giant central location, just waiting for someone to open up the vault.
The university system is comprised of 26 campuses that each receives a chunk of money. Each of those universities has a number of colleges and schools that receive a chunk of that chunk. Each college and school has a series of departments that receives a chunk of that chunk. Each department has a series of groups, organizations and commitments that are funded out of that.
Each of these areas squirrels away what ever it can each year, with the understanding that this might be all they have for a while (see more of this in Area 3). The carry-over effect means that they’re saving money instead of spending it all. Thus, you have hundreds and maybe thousands of departments, colleges, schools, groups, organizations and more that are responsible for their own little flake of gold.
What the audit revealed, in the most basic way, is that when you take whatever the system has in its coffers at The Home Office and you add it to all of those little scrapings, you get a giant figure. This, of course, is enough money to get irate about but on a practical level, not enough to really do anything with.
Some universities, organizations and systems I have seen do
something called a “zeroing” each year, which would solve this problem and lead
to others. They are funded each year with X dollars and expected to make do. If
they spend it all, it’s gone. If they don’t spend it all, it disappears at the
end of the year. If they spend into debt, they get some nominal punishment and
their negative balance goes away. This leads to end-of-the-year weirdness like,
“Quick, buy 10 of those dinosaur-bone iPhones! Our budget resets tomorrow and we’re
going to lose the money otherwise!”
The “bipolar boss” effect: Let’s say you work for a guy who is a decent guy who pays you a decent wage that you can live on and you kind of have gotten used to that. You also know that you're valued and that the guy has no intention or need to fire you.
You know each week, you’ll be paid X dollars and you know where that money is going. You have managed to put aside a little, but it’s not the “3-months salary” rule you’re supposed to follow. Chances are, you probably don’t worry all that much about all of that.
Now, instead, let’s say you work for a guy who makes Gary Busey look like a Buddhist monk on Xanax. For seemingly no reason, he tells you, “You need to pay more for your health insurance starting next month.” Or “I’m going to furlough you for two-weeks this year so I can save money.” Or “I know I said I was going to give you more money and more responsibility, but I’m thinking now that I’m not.” From year to year, you’re never sure what your salary is going to be or what is going to piss off this guy at any point in time. He doesn’t really see the value in you or the work you do and would pay you less or fire you if he could. He also set it up so that you and your coworkers can’t join together to complain about this stuff.
Exactly how stable do you feel in this situation? Would it be unreasonable to feel the need to store cash? To squeeze your pennies until Lincoln’s beard popped off? To fight for additional help each step of the way?
Each year over the last five years, the state has dropped some fun new variable into the equation to freak out the university (and many other state workers). One year it was furloughs, another year it was health premiums skyrocketing and another year it was Act 10. Even now, with his “magnanimous gesture” of giving the U $181 million in “taxpayer money,” Gov. Scott Walker is still making out. He cut more than $315 million from the system budget a few years back to balance the budget.
If all you know is that what you have in your hands right at this minute might be all you get, chances are, you’re going to hold on for dear life. You’re stockpiling cash like a squirrel saving nuts for the winter. You’re hanging on to everything you can while you can.
When it came to people in my family, I saw this all my life. My great-grandfather and his garden. My grandmother and her penny jars. My parents and their envelopes. When you aren’t sure, you make sure.
Instead, this concept is abhorred at the university level, mainly because it
can be. When Walker himself set up a “rainy day fund,” he was applauded for
being prudent. Now, it’s an affront to humanity.
Maybe my great-grandfather was wrong. It isn’t what you make or what you save.
It’s what you can justify.
Service consolidation has been a popular topic for local government, but the notion of a metropolitan form of government has sparked controversy.
"Metropolitan government is tough," Glendale Mayor Jerome Tepper said. "We have 20 municipalities including the county. People identify with their community" and some don't want to give that up, he said.
Rob Henken, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum, said the controversial part about metro government in Milwaukee would be concerns from suburban communities that they would be subsidizing "much more intense levels of service in the city."
Right. Much more intense levels of service.
For fuck's sake. You know why the city would need more services? MORE PEOPLE LIVE THERE. And the city's been starved of services forever, creating more problems to solve, as businesses and anybody with money fled to the 'burbs and city government could and did ignore things like building inspections and public works upkeep in neighborhoods where nobody had time or inclination to complain.
I'm not saying metropolitan government makes perfect sense here or anywhere, really, but the glib dismissal in that comment is ... something.
Gov. Scott Walker’s decision not to accept federal funding to expand the state’s health-care system could contribute to some state employers being collectively penalized by paying millions more in taxes, according to a report released Tuesday.
The report, released by Jackson Hewitt Inc., looked into tax provisions state employers could be required to pay under the Affordable Care Act.
The “shared responsibility” provision of the ACA would require employers to pay a tax penalty if employees seek aid from tax credits that help low-income individuals pay for their health-care coverage.
And yet I'm sure this is all Obama's fault somehow. Because of reasons.
Wahl has spina bifida, is brain damaged and paralyzed from the chest down. At age 32, he lived at a group home in Menomonie, where he loved coloring and going on picnics, said his mother, Karen Nichols-Palmerton.
One evening in October 2011, she visited the home and found her son’s room empty.
Wahl had been rushed to the hospital for treatment of a bedsore so severe that doctors feared he would be permanently bedridden.
A state health department investigation report laterfound he had the bedsore for four months before being hospitalized.
But the staff who cared for Wahl never sought medical attention for his wound, state investigation records show. And the facility never told the state or Nichols-Palmerton about it, as required by state law, according to state officials.
Instead, caregivers at Aurora Residential Alternativessprinkled the bedsore with baby powder and applied antibiotic cream, watching it grow larger and more serious until it was bone-deep, records show. Nichols-Palmerton is suing Aurora for alleged negligence, seeking punitive and compensatory damages.
Changes to Wisconsin law passed two years ago, however, mean her attorney can’t use those state investigation records as evidence in the lawsuit, which alleges a four-month pattern of neglect.
“It scares me for those who put their trust in a facility,” said Nichols-Palmerton, who lives in Menomonie, a small city in western Wisconsin. “It scares me to think of things that could be brushed aside. I don’t rest so easy anymore.”
Holly Hakes, Aurora’s executive director, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
The law, which went into effect in February 2011, bars families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits filed against long-term providers, including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes such records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients.
The changes were included in a tort reform measure, the first bill Gov. Scott Walker proposed after Republicans swept both houses and the governor’s office in the 2010 elections.
Yes, let's make sure this kind of thing is as hard to prosecute as possible.
Shit is fucked up and bullshit.
Madison - Gov. Scott Walker is setting aside $25 million in his two-year budget bill to boost venture capital investment in the state but isn't putting forward a plan for doing that.
The Republican governor got praise for the financial commitment from Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council and a member of the Wisconsin Growth Capital Coalition, which has been pushing for such an investment proposal.
Venture capital legislation failed to pass the Legislature last session because Republicans in the Senate and Assembly could not agree on a proposal. The measure was especially controversial because of debate over certified capital companies, or CAPCOs.
CAPCOs are for-profit entities that sell tax credits to raise money to invest in businesses. The governmental entity offering the credits determines what type of businesses the CAPCO can invest in. Critics point to CAPCO programs such as the one that operated in Wisconsin in which the private entities profit but promised jobs and economic development fail to materialize.
A program in the late 1990s that awarded $50 million in state tax credits to CAPCOs found that while two of the three funds generated nearly 1,000 jobs, the third fund “appears to have performed poorly and at significant cost to taxpayers,” according to a report from the Wisconsin Capital Growth Coalition.
So, $50 million for 1,000 jobs? So $50,000 per job. Why not just spend the $50,000 per job directly? Hell, why not spend $1,000 per job and quit gouging people for health care and salary concessions?
Walker made it clear in an interview CAPCOs are not part of his proposal.
Walker said the $25 million would be in addition to other proposed economic development measures he announced in early February, which included millions of dollars in tax credits for startup companies.
The governor said the money initially would be housed in the state Department of Administration as a “placeholder” until the program can be established. Critics in the Legislature have been hesitant to give more money to WEDC, the public-private entity that has suffered from mismanagement during its brief existence, including failing to follow federal regulations and its own policies in making loans, failing to track repayment of millions in taxpayer-financed business loans and high staff turnover.
This kind of thing drives me nuts. We're shuffling money around, subsidizing businesses to bring jobs while killing jobs that actually exist. And every single company can blackmail the public by saying they'll go somewhere else. In the end, we're spending more than is necessary because there's no money to spend on what we need.
And then we plead poverty and demand another round of cuts.
And by the way, what we shouldn’t do -- I just got to say this -- what we shouldn’t be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages and working conditions. (Applause.) We shouldn’t be doing that. (Applause.) These so-called “right to work” laws, they don't have to do with economics; they have everything to do with politics. (Applause.) What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money. (Applause.)
I mean that. I do. Should Obama stay in Washington and send out a tweet for this just because that's what he did two years ago? After all, it's not like Michigan's not epically screwed:
This governor has a checkered record on saying he wants to cooperate with Democrats and moderates and actually doing it.
First he signed a bunch of legislation that labor didn’t much like and there were no Democratic votes. The governor had control of the house and senate and he used it to advance his early agenda.
But when there was the uproar in Wisconsin over anti-labor legislation there, this governor reassured everyone, “Michigan will not be Wisconsin.”
Damn right. It'll be worse. Which is what happens when you delay fights for a better time. When you keep your powder dry.
Horwitz said he believed the White House would be more aggressive on the labor battle in Michigan than it had been in Wisconsin.
“There’s nothing but upside for him on this one. The landscape has changed,” Horwitz said. “In the terms of the way the fiscal cliff is being pursued, the president is fighting for the middle class and saying, ‘let’s tax the elites.’ … In the middle of that, the Republicans are saying let’s curb union rights.”
THAT'S WHAT THEY'VE BEEN SAYING FOR 20-30-40-100 GODDAMN YEARS JESUS GOD. This isn't a new thing. They've been pounding away here, trying to get to exactly where we are, where unions are so neutered and assailed as such anachronisms by every fuckstick with Sunday paper real estate that it's hard for them to even rate a seat at the table. And all the while Democratic politicians thought that if we just hunkered down and let this one storm pass us by the skies would be clear forevermore.
This has been building for a while. And I'm glad Obama opened his mouth and said something about it now, because every day you wait, every day you refuse to speak up, every day you hang back is another day they can dig in and poison the ground. Michigan's gonna need all the help it can get in the coming days. Luckily, Wisconsin's sending reinforcements:
Randy Bryce, an organizer for Ironworkers Local 8, is putting together a group of workers from Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to join the protest against legislation pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature to make Michigan a right-to-work state.
Bryce, a Racine County ironworker who was involved in similar protests against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin, said the issues involved are even greater in Michigan.
"A lot of things are eerily similar to parts of what happened here in Wisconsin," said Bryce, who expects 40 to 50 people from his union to travel to Lansing, Mich., by Tuesday when lawmakers reconvene and Snyder plans to sign the bills into law. "I would say what’s under attack there is even bigger because they decided to go after the public- and private-sector unions."
Act 10, the controversial law that took away most collective bargaining rights from public employees, was struck down for being unconstitutional by a Dane County judge on Friday.
In his ruling on a lawsuit brought against the legislation by Madison Teachers, Inc. and Public Employees Local 61, which represents teachers in Milwaukee, Circuit Judge Juan B. Colas said Act 10 "violates the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions' guarantees of free speech and freedom of association."
If money is speech, and corporations and unions are people, then you can't infringe on their right to free speech. You wanna play it that way, then play it that way, son.
Have you every worked 16 hours in a row? Have you done 16 hour shifts every other day or every 3rd day? Would you like to keep that up for 7 months straight? That is life as some care staff know it at King Veterans Home located about 30 miles Southeast of Stevens Point near Waupaca.
Twenty-five staff spoke-up about conditions at the King Veterans Home at a listening session for the public on July 26th at their union hall. This morning one of the staff members, Sara Goodhue, was put on a “disciplinary track” for speaking to WTDY recently about staffing and care conditions. AFSCME’s Marty Biel told me about the matter by phone this morning: “This was on her private time. … They are sending a message to the workers: we will discipline you for speaking”
“I wonder if they [other workers] are going to be singled out for speaking out on the conditions on their own time?”
These people should be paid like basketball players and treated like rock stars. In a world in which we truly value the service of veterans, in a world in which we truly value hard work, they would be.
Also, Mike Ellis is just a penis with a suit on:
The position of Senate Majority Leader now goes to Mark Miller (D-Monona), who promptly named Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) as the new Joint Finance Committee co-chair, a position she will share with Republican Rep. Robin Vos.
"You're the Majority Leader. You can do whatever you want," Ellis told Miller.
Miller countered that it was the job of the Majority Leader to respect the voices of the minority party and the general public, too.
The Fourth of July here was hotter than hell. Last year, I sweated my ass off while I drove the mayor in the Mustang for the city parade. This year, I couldn’t even think about getting inside the car.
We went to the parade, which was well attended, although it seemed shorter than usual. Fewer classic cars and one of those that did make it had to give up half way when it overheated and blew its radiator.
The Midget was too hot to want to get candy, although many shirtless little boys kept giving her stuff. This was my first official warning that I need to put her in a convent before she turns 12.
It was a more subdued political scene as well. This was the first summer in a while where the candidates weren’t really stumping or fighting recalls. There were a few GOP candidates vying for a chance to take over for retiring Sen. Herb Kohl and one small Dem float consisting of a pedestrian-looking sedan with Jessica King signs all over it.
As the King vehicle passed, an elderly guy, who must have been about 300 pounds of wobble and was wearing a giant flag shirt, cupped his hands around his mouth and started booing. He didn’t stop until the float had long gone passed and the parade of drag queens… er… overly made up twirler girls came into view.
Later in the parade, the flag guy and a large contingent around him joined in singing this “It's Amerr’ka” country song as the country station’s float rolled past. People were singing along to that as well as participating in the various pro-USA rumblings that were moving through the crowd, despite the heat.
We are ‘Murr’ka, dammit. We rule.
Throughout this event, I kept hearing Will McAvoy’s monologue in the back of my head.
Later that day, as the temperatures climbed higher into the triple digits, A, Mr. A, my brother-in-law and I climbed into a couple cars and drove out to a small neighboring community. Earlier that week, I’d bought a giant wooden play set from a family out there. The lady’s grandkids were getting too old for it and The Midget had been begging for one of these things. It was a heck of a good bargain, but the downside was we had to disassemble and haul it ourselves. That day was the day the thing had to be gone.
The house was in the older part of town and looked like the kind of place the booing guy from the parade would own. Solidly built and decorated woodland style.
A camouflage-painted boat with an outboard motor rested in the driveway and it was obvious the paint was done by the owner and the trailer was rusty as hell. A giant RV camper hulked next to it, with paint peeling from it and one of the tires looking sadly low.
The owners had that small-town look to them as well: her hair was sensibly short cut with a 10-year-old style to it, his was a bald pate with closely shaven white stubble on the outer rim with a brushy white mustache to match. He wore a sleeveless shirt that tightly hugged his barrel-shaped torso and revealed an ancient, home-done tattoo of her name scrawled on his upper arm.
They greeted us as we pondered the best way to attack this thing before grabbing some plastic outdoor chairs and sitting in the shade to watch was sure to become, as A put it repeatedly, “a hell of a YouTube moment.”
Having never done construction disassembly onsite, we suddenly realized that we weren’t overmatched, but that we had left key things behind. The heat began to kick our asses and we realized we didn’t bring water. As we attempted to dispatch one of our crew to get the water, the lady who owned the play set emerged with four bottles of ice-cold joy. They were the last four she had in the house.
As her husband watched us struggle to break the rusted nuts free, he went into the garage and returned with an 18-volt DeWalt drill with a socket attachment.
Each time we realized we’d lost something or left something behind, they went into the house and got it for us, never needing us to ask.
“I’m sorry,” I said to the lady, as a gratefully guzzled my water. “We must be the most disorganized people you’ve ever met.”
She smiled and said, “Well, how many of these have you built or disassembled? How were you supposed to know?”
We got the majority of the pieces into the truck and A’s Prius. We only had one bungee cord. The man emerged with one we could borrow.
“Thank you so much,” I told the lady as we finished packing the first load. “I can’t tell you how grateful we are.”
“You know,” she said. “When I told my daughter what I sold this for, she was kind of upset, but I told her that it was the right thing to do. Everyone else wanted us to break it down or to deliver it. You were the only one to say you’d do the work. I also told her that I saw your daughter jumping up and down when she saw it and how she said ‘thank you.’ I knew this was going to the right house.”
We drove the 10 miles home and dropped off the pieces in the backyard. After a brief cool-down break, some of us headed back to strap the last couple pieces to the top of the truck.
The last couple pieces went on like a breeze. In five minutes, we were ready to be gone for good. The couple was nowhere to be seen, probably either going somewhere for dinner or retreating to an air-conditioned home.
I took the bungee cord we’d borrowed and tied it around a 12 pack of beer I’d bought, which was festooned in red, white and blue decorations. I placed it on their doorstep and headed home.
America to me was in that moment. Two sets of strangers, brought together from different worlds who saw and appreciated each other’s generosity and good will. We didn’t have to agree on everything, but we could agree on something. We could share a moment without suspicion and be grateful for the decency of people from whom we didn’t have any right to demand it.
Kindness provided without prescribed recompense and graciousness repaid in kind.
We might not be the greatest country in the world, but if you look really close, you can sometimes see some of the greatest people.
They worried people would forget.
It might seem odd now, even 150 years after the Civil War, that anyone would not remember the terrible fight to preserve the United States. But that fear of losing the collective memory spurred veterans - both Confederate and Union - to construct monuments and memorials.
So 100 years ago, a large arch of gray granite was rapidly built in a few months on property set aside for a memorial at a cost of $25,000 and dedicated at Camp Randall, Wisconsin's largest Civil War training camp. It still stands as a sentinel today though the land where 70,000 soldiers mustered before heading off to the battlefields of Shiloh and Gettysburg has long since been claimed by the University of Wisconsin.
But the Walker race is a dramatic example of a trend that doesn't need super-PAC money. Public workers cannot rely on voters to be generous about their pensions and other benefits when so many of the voters' own wages and benefits are suffering.
I am just going to get a fucking T-shirt that reads ASK ME WHAT DEFERRED COMPENSATION MEANS, so that I can start posting pictures of myself wearing it whenever somebody writes one of these stupid columns about overpaid teachers and firefighters who expect handouts from "the taxpayers" or in this case "the voters." Public-sector workers, natch, not being voters, nor understanding how those fine upstanding citizens think.
On the day of Wisconsin's recall election, for example, California voters in San Jose and San Diego decided to cut retirement benefits for current and future city workers. The measures easily passed with two-thirds of the vote in San Diego and 70 percent in San Jose. Since police and firefighters in San Jose, for example, reportedly can retire with 90 percent of their salary while some private-sector companies have eliminated pensions, voter backlash is not surprising.
Yes, because you get shot at by armed robbers often in the office park in the burbs, do you? Break up a lot of domestics over your donut break? Risk dying of smoke inhalation and/or massive burns to your entire body while on the treadmill at Bally's? And while we're on the subject, just because some middle manager at Intertrode or whatever doesn't have a pension plan, how does that mandate that no one should have one? I don't have a plane or a boat, but I really don't have a problem with you owning either, so long as you shut the fuck up about how tough your life is in front of me, that is.
By the by, since the private sector is so very, very fiscally responsible, I suppose we'll stop seeing stories about CEOs "exiting" companies they bankrupted, carrying severances so large they could invest in Facebook and still cure death in a year, right? Any day now?
As I battled a hangover and tried to make sense of what happened Tuesday night, I started to worry less about Governor Deadeyes and more about what really might be happening here. I argued about this time last year that if the Dems were going to come for the king, they’d best not miss.
And boy, did we miss…
The numbers revealed that even with massive turnout and massive outrage about Walker’s tactics, the election was no different than it was in 2010. In fact, Tom Barrett lost by a wider percentage this time than he did last time.
The people “in the know” saw this coming. About three months ago, I found myself talking to a pretty sharp political reporter who told me that, unless Russ Feingold or Herb Kohl decided to run, Walker would win this thing pretty easily. On the plus side, he noted that Walker would probably lose in 2014.
The scary thought that wandered into my mind last night was this: What if Walker was just the precipitating factor for the anger and hatred Wisconsinites always had toward each other?
In chemistry, a precipitate is a solid that’s suspended in a liquid and can’t be seen until another variable is introduced. At that point, this precipitating factor interacts with the mixture and the solid becomes visible. The idea is that the solid was always there, but it took this new variable to get it to show itself.
Scott Walker is just one person, but he’s one of the more than 1.3 million people who decided that state workers were overpaid, unions shouldn’t get to bargain and that “the spoiled few” needed a spanking.
Those 1.3 million people interact with public employees every day. They see them painting lines on the streets, putting out fires, running state offices and teaching their children. They saw the John Doe investigation building steam. They saw number crunching of jobs that would make a three-card monte dealer blush.
Those 1.3 million said, “Fuck ‘em… Don’t care… And We’re standing with Walker.”
I’m not ascribing this sentiment to money (I still favor spending limits), the individuals running (although Tom Barrett’s next gubernatorial campaign should be run by the Washington Generals) or the general lying (anyone who can be persuaded by a political ad these days is probably too dumb to find a voting booth).
Unless you’re the Jewish son of a carpenter who can change water to wine, there’s no way you’re getting that many people on board for an idea they didn’t already have percolating in their heads.
It frightens me that the people back in my old neighborhood might have always resented my mom for her benefits and state salary.
It worries me that the parents who attended our city school’s carnival and open house with me might have been bitter toward the people who taught their kids.
It hurts me to think that friends and family who have shared barbecues, birthday parties and baptisms might have looked at me and seen a “have” when I was struggling with the same things they were.
Wisconsin has always prided itself as being a purple state, but I don’t think that’s a fair assessment any more. In my view, purple would indicate that we could think some Republican ideas on finances are fine, but some Democratic ideas on social protections are good too. Purple would mean that we could fluctuate between good arguments that make sense, regardless of who was making them.
In this election, polls indicated that 91 percent of the people voting made up their mind on this issue months ago (or longer). The contrasts between who was voting which way created sharp divides.
We weren’t a blended purple. We were oil and water. Shake us up as hard as you want, but we will eventually separate out along a clearly demarcated line.
Barrett and others have now made the mealy-mouthed call for healing, but can we really “unlearn” something like this about our fellow citizens? It’s like finding out your grandfather is a raging racist only after you bring a black friend home from college at Thanksgiving. Can you ever really look at him as the guy who took you fishing and used to find a quarter behind your ear after that?
Healing from a major wound almost always leaves a scar. That scar serves as a reminder of what happened to you.
When you see that scar, you remember who inflicted it upon you as well.
And then a different kind of hurt prevails.
My favorite stage of post-election grief: Blaming the people who atually worked their asses off, rather than the angry, ignorant-ass 'necks who voted the other way:
Actually, it began to disintegrate the moment the leaders (and who were they, exactly?) decided to pour everything into the Democratic Party channels rather than explore the full potential of the power that was latent but present in the streets back in February and March of 2011.
There were both strategic and procedural blunders that need to be accounted for.
Procedurally, decisions were made (again, who made them?) in a very undemocratic way. Here we had 100,000 people storming the square but there was no effort to include them in any meaningful -- or even symbolic -- decision-making process. No voice votes, no show of hands, no breaking up into smaller groups and reconvening with a set of demands and desires that flowed from below, no people's mic à la the Occupy movement.
When Republicans lose it's not because they had shitty candidates or swung the wrong way on issues or picked the wrong ones to run on or should be more centrist or chose the wrong font for their brochures. When Republicans lose it's because liberals suck, the end, full stop. There's usually some accusation of fraud in there, and commenting about filthy brown people outbreeding the Noble White Man so what do you expect, but mostly they lost because we're horrible.
In Wisconsin the "solidarity movement" lost because it wasn't enough like Occupy?
Love me some Occupy, especially in comparison to just about everybody bitching about Occupy all the time. Occupy changed the national conversation from one about deficits to one about jobs. But if they want to change anything further, they have to change the laws of the land, and you do that by influencing elections. The days of influencing reasonable rightward politicians to change their hearts are over. Eventually it all comes back to who you put in office to make the laws.
As to the glory of the general assembly model, I work in a field dominated by consensus decison-making and it is just as dependent on having receptive people at the end of it for the good outcomes it produces. And if you think for one second that people would take more ownership of a failure if they had a hand in making it happen, well, I heard a rumor that it's really the Democrats who are the targets of the John Doe investigation.
On the wisdom of recall versus long-term strikes:
There were many opportunities available to challenge Walker's policies with mass civil disobedience.
One was when the Department of Administration refused to allow the occupation of the Capitol to continue.
Another was when the Department of Administration closed the Capitol doors.
And certainly when the bill was shoved through, that was an occasion to call for mass civil disobedience.
But the call never came.
Nor were more creative strategies tried. The Teamsters with their 18 wheelers, whose support was so emboldening, could have driven down Interstate 90 and 94 at 45 mph all day long for a week's time to demonstrate that workers in Wisconsin weren't going to take this lying down.
No coordinated workplace strategies were adopted.
Every union in the state could have caught the blue flu, so that workers in one trade after another would call in sick on alternating days.
Strikes create enemies, too; ask anyone who remembers the Racine Unified teacher strike. Strikes are just as hard to sustain when people are frantic and scared and poor and divided against their relatives and friends. And the current crop of Republicans wants to break unions. Do we think they couldn't break a strike? With people desperate for work? Do we think they couldn't wait out a strike, even a series of them, with talk radio and the respectable editorial pages of the major newspapers howling about how terrible this all was and why wouldn't people just go back to work like good little boys and girls?
If the consensus in the state's media was that this recall was a horrible imposition on everybody's time and energy, what would have been the reaction to a strike? What are the chances the local and national press would have taken the tack of pressing Republicans to negotiate with the strikers? What do we think the State Journal's editorial page would have said about union thuggery then?
I'm not saying that way would have been the wrong way to go, btw. I'm saying we would have been in for the same wheelbarrow full of bullshit, whatever tactics were tried, because these people aren't responding to tactics and they don't care about what people really think about their actions. Throwing them out of office was as good a tack to try as any. Certainly it was at least as useful as a long piece about how nobody really listened to the very wise people who knew better all along.
This part of the column, I actually agree with wholeheartedly:
Walker was allowed to run one commercial after another from Thanksgiving to April Fool's Day with barely a counter from labor or the Democrats. Where was the national AFL with its treasury during this time? This was the biggest pitched battle against workers, and the AFL-CIO barely showed up. Where was the Democratic Governors Association? Where was the DNC?
We cut our own loose far too easily. And far too fast after a loss. The Wisconsin solidarity movement lost because more people in the state of Wisconsin were pissed off at each other than were pissed off at the governor. Their anger was aided and abetted by a compliant media that could imagine nothing more onerous than the work of democracy, a problem no hand-raising in the "womb-like refuges in Madison" (really, using conservative clichés to diss the capital?) will address.
I don't have advice on what would have been the best way to go, because yelling at people who agreed with me about how they sucked and I knew it isn't where my interests lie. Education isn't a bad way to go:
We, all of us, in unions and out, need to start talking to people right now who don't agree with us and actively work to show them the damage that Walker and his ilk are doing to Wisconsin and to this country.
Because that's about the future, not about what should have been done in the past by people who were doing the only thing they thought they had in front of them, a path that only looks ill-advised now because it led here.
It was a small moment but a telling one, on the Capitol Square, when the one Walker supporter waving a lawn sign (stakes still attached) around got tired from holding the thing over his backwards-capped head and let it slip. It struck the union-t-shirted fellow standing beside him right in the head.
"Whoa, sorry man," said the Walkerite, as everyone around him went tense and silent.
The union fellow smiled. "It's all right," he said, and people took deep breaths again. "I'm fine."
Once NBC and MSNBC called the election for Walker, the crowd of a thousand faded, people walking one by one and two by two off into the night. Now and then someone would turn to a fellow protesting stranger and talk in terms of long-shot hopes: Absentee ballots, and remember the 2000 election, how wrong everybody was then? But there had been no swings all night, no movement in Barrett's favor, and everybody was tired.
None of this is all right, and now they get to do whatever they want, Walker and his supporters. None of this is fine, and now it's open season on everything it makes a teawad feel good to kick: Teachers, cops, firefighters, janitors, professors, prison guards, students, women, kids, the environment, hunters, journalists, liberals, people who look like liberals, people who used to be liberals, people who once said something that could be construed as liberal, people who are insufficiently conservative, and people who just don't like bullies, no matter their political stripes. Now we get to see if giving everybody just one more tax cut is enough to restore harmony, if this time it might work magically.
But before we get to all that, before the second-guessing and the post-campaign back-stabbing, before the stories from disinterested national observers about how this was all a stupid idea anyway and we should have known better, we have to appluad some people. Some people who everybody gave up on, nobody noticed, everybody made fun of, and nobody believed in.
Some people who stood at the Capitol day after day in the snow and the rain, as TV pundits yammered on about how the day of the union was over, and we'd never see a demonstration of union power in our lifetimes again.
Some people who disregarded Very Serious Advice that a recall would be too hard, and gathered a million signatures in the bitter Wisconsin winter, over the Thanksgiving holidays, while talk radio blathered about what traitors they were.
Some people who took a look at a long shot no one else wanted and said what the hell, what's the worst that could happen? Some people who refused to listen to their own party when the party wanted nothing to do with anything that wasn't a sure thing.
Some people who forced this fight to be a fight, this fight which should have been a fight. What Walker did should have been as hard as it was, because otherwise nobody fought back, and if there's one thing you need when you aren't winning, it's the example of people who refuse to agree to be beaten.
Leaving Madison this morning, I stopped at a parking lot to look back at the city, across the lake smooth as glass. It's my favorite sight in the world, that skyline, and this morning joggers and bikers passed on the path, in the sun, and fishermen cast their lines over the sides of their small motorboats. And I thought of a line I saw carved on a statue in Dublin, from a song called The West's Asleep:
Be sure the great God never planned
For slumbering slaves a home so grand.
We don't know where this ends. We don't know how many of them will stay in politics, how long it'll be before Walker's actually indicted, if the Senate flip will hold, if anything else is lurking out there. We don't know how far it reaches, how many people heard it, how many of them were changed.
This hasn't ended, if only because things like this don't end, and we have some people to thank for that.
They were standing by a lamp post, this middle-aged couple. They could have been my parents, in another life. They could have been yours.
Sue and Kim. He retired after 33 years working for the state. She still worked for the state, on a temporary contract that kept getting extended. They'd had pay freezes for half a dozen years, when they didn't have pay cuts. They weren't getting wealthy on their pensions. They weren't sporting $60 haircuts. They lived in a small town. They were trying to hold on to what they had.
Behind them, around Madison's beautiful Capitol, people walked with kids and dogs, and cops watched from their bikes and horses. A man in a Badger costume danced on the steps. A man with an accordion played.
"This is where we were 18 months ago when the protests began," Kim said. "We thought we would finish where we started."
Look, there are a lot of things I could say right now. About how it's not over, about this instance of voter fraud or other, about the indictments sure to come down. About where we go from here, about what we do. The crowd at the Capitol was stunned, Tuesday night. Angry, but mostly just stunned. And then the song began, rising up from around the statue of the Lady, holding out her hand to tomorrow.
Oh, how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away.
This stuff is hard for a reason. These fights are fights for a reason. Unlikely victories in the face of impossible odds take place because the odds are impossible and the victories unlikely, and we fight what we fight because otherwise we'd spend our entire lives talking about how and why we didn't fight them. I know I say this all the time. I know it gets tiresome. It IS tiresome. Tell me what else to say, here. Give me words.
There's not a lot this life asks of us. Just fight the fights in front of you, that's all, and you pick what those fights are. People who picked these fights, they weren't planning on having it easy. Do you know how long it's been since there's been any demonstration of union strength in this entire goddamn country? Do you know how far back into history people had to reach?
I can tell you this, for certain: We are no less free, because thousands of people in Madison and Milwaukee and upstate and downstate and east and west, city mice and country mice and mice in the burbs, stood up and said no more. I can tell you this for certain: We are no poorer, for the past 18 months. We are no dumber, we are no weaker, we are no more afraid.
We are no less.
After the returns came in, and the crowd quieted, and the TV crews turned their lights off and went home, I looked for Sue and Kim.
I couldn't find them.
But as I searched through the crowd, the songs rose up, over the city in the pale orange light of the setting sun.
Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away.
I hope they heard it, that song, rising up. I hope everyone heard it. I hope it rang through the halls of power and I hope no one ever forgets.
New posts begin below this one. We'll all be in and out as the night goes on, and you can follow us on Twitter here: Athenae, Jude, Scout, Joanie. Doc's running this shindig, so listen nicely and go to bed when he says. No violence, not even in your funny little jokes.
Update: Van closed. Thank you all for being here. Seriously. Thank you all for being here. I was alone in 2004 and it sucked ass.
I've been missing in inaction while dealing with a string of crises but wanted to briefly chime in on the recall. It looks a bit dicey right now but with Athenae joining Scout and Jude on the barricades anything can happen.
For A and all the folks who give us this place. Today, more than ever, we hope.
It all comes down to one day...Today
Quick takes: Shortly after noon tomorrow I'll be heading up to Madison where Jude, Scout and Joanie will join me in presiding over one of the following: The wildest victory party in the history of cheese, a wee-hours recount-worthy scenario whereby nobody really wins, or a series of posts that will be just the word "fuck" and rehashings of things I wrote back in 2004, which is sort of how this feels right now.
Doc will be running a Tuesday night crack van for you all starting probably around poll-closing-time, dependent on his schedule, and reporting in as well. You can also listen for us on WORT, where Roadmaster has promised we will turn up at some point that night. I have no idea what is going to happen. The polls are all fundamentally fucked up, and that's the technical term. My educated opinion at this point is total pessimism, but that is my educated opinion about everything. I am a pessimist on purpose. That way I am sometimes surprised but never disappointed.
In the past several weeks I've had conversations about the election with family and friends, some of whom agree with me. Some of whom don't. And what I keep coming back to is fear, among the Walker supporters, among those who say things like "we can't afford to keep paying for pensions" and "we can't afford anything but the lowest of low taxes for corporations" and "we can't do anything we did 40 years ago because of reasons I don't understand but I know, in my bones, that we can't, we just can't." And I'm being reminded of how radical a message it really is, how radical it always is, to say we can achieve what we want to achieve.
Because it's not just the cavalier "I don't wanna, I got mine, screw you," not from all of them. Not from those who aren't billionaires but from those who've listened to what the billionaires have to say. Who've been fed hate and fear for months now, hate and fear of their neighbors, hate and fear of their own futures, and worst of all, hate and fear of their own history.
Their parents or grandparents lived lives we now think of as anachronistic or idealized: Union jobs at a factory, pensions through retirement, health insurance, Social Security and Medicare that actually took care of them when they were very old. Schoolteacher and police officer being occupations that allowed you to own a home, a car, perhaps even send your children to nice schools if you saved very carefully. Possibly a vacation, nowhere fancy, maybe a road trip memorable for anything but the destination.
When you retired, your pension allowed you to keep spending money at the local grocery and dime stores, to stay in your house and maintain it, to enjoy your neighborhood restaurants and attend your neighborhood church and donate to your local Lions Club or VFW. You could rest easy in extreme old age knowing that even if you didn't leave your children an inheritance, at least you wouldn't bankrupt them with debt and thus hinder their own starts in life.
These aren't fancy things, that we're now told are too much for us to handle, are luxurious and out of hand. These aren't outrageous expectations. This isn't Free Purebred Kitten Day, or foot massages from film stars. These are reasonable rewards for living a reasonable, upright, decent life. Used to be, we could afford as a country large numbers of people living just like this if they so chose. This used to be something we could do with ease. And now we're being told no, we can't have that anymore, and in fact we have to make sure people don't have that anymore, we have to make sure nobody even dreams about that anymore, because it's too expensive and everything's going to hell. And we're so, so angry at anybody who tells us different, so, so afraid.
I say it's fear because: If those things aren't out of reach, if it isn't true that "we" can't afford them anymore, then we have to ask ourselves the question: Why don't we have them? In answering that there is no earthly reason we can't have lives just like our parents and grandparents led, but for the bastards we enable in power, we have to admit that we allowed this to be done to us, that we let hucksters and thieves turn us against each other while they ran away with the piggy bank. In really looking at how much money there is and what it goes for, we have to admit that we just didn't want to question our politicians and fight our bosses and resist our every human urge to not make a fuss in order to get the very least of what is owed to people who teach children and put out fires and arrest that one asshole who keeps ripping up the library's rhododendrons.
That's too much to look full in the face. In answering it we have to own up to just how much of our own power we've been willing to give up. We have to admit that what teachers and public workers and nurses and cops are asking for isn't some outrageous thing, not if for one second we'd stop undervaluing ourselves, and start demanding what we've had to demand so many times before.
We think this is some insurmountable problem, some terrible divide, that we've never seen before. We have always had people saying sit down, shut up, don't rock the boat, while some slick-talking jerk in a shiny suit was pouring fire and brimstone about how the company was gonna mess you for your own damn good. We have always had the jerk, too, and his bosses, and the company will always be with us. This is how this has always worked. What we haven't always had is an entire pseudo-middle-class establishment media, especially on 24-hour cable news, appealing to ignorant-ass 'necks reinforcing the message to lay back and think of Wall Street, or else they'll come for you next, but even that's not a total excuse.
They're always coming for you, is what I want to tell everybody who's angry and everybody who's scared. The jerk, the company, they're always out there, and the only thing you can't afford is to think they're on your side. When they're done with the teachers and the steelworkers and the cops, they'll come for you, too, and no racist sign or hat with teabags glued on gonna save your soul then. The only thing to fear is fear itself, said the last person who understood this well enough to make a case, so up you get.
There's no reason to be scared, when the scariest thing is that it's all up to you, and you decide what "we" can and cannot do. And the things we cannot do just melt away, once we really start taking them apart, and seeing what they're made of. We can do anything if we want it bad enough. We can afford what we want to afford.
We can afford what we can get enough votes to afford.
A new poll shows the state's in a dead heat at 49% per. From Greg Sargent at The Plum Line:
A new poll taken by pollster Celinda Lake — who is a Democrat but is well respected by polling professionals — has found that the battle between Scott Walker and challenger Tom Barrett is now deadlocked, at 49 percent each.
The poll — which will be released later today and was comissioned by the pro-labor Greater Wisconsin Committee’s political fund — also finds that independents are breaking towards Barrett, 49-44.
Walker thinks you won't....
New ad: Behind the Recall: The Rise and Fall of Scott Walker
So apparently today is Be Extra Stupid today. Glad I found out about that before I went into the office:
Act 10 came up in the first question of the night. Asked whether it had been good for the state, and whether he would do it again, Fitzgerald replied that it had been necessary to “claw back” from a place where unions held too much power and public employees had been insulated from the economic downturn.
Right. Because it's only fair that people who have not been cheated out of the kind of middle-class life that used to be the norm for everyone get hosed completely so that everyone who's not a squillionaire suffers terribly. You know, I've heard this from acquaintances I don't consider unintelligent, in the past year or so since the protests began, like how dare teachers feel "entitled" to things like pensions and health insurance, as if these are insane things like free foot massages and bring-a-kitten-to-work days.
Covering a Story That Won't Die is difficult. It's exhausting. Day in, day out, talking to the same people about the same stuff all the time, trying to find something -- anything -- new to say about the same issues, getting calls from the same six pissed off people no matter what you do ... it's worse than just about anything.
Other than having your rights and working dignity stripped away, hearing your reasonable compensation blamed for financial catastrophes not of your making, and being vilified for the unpardonable sins of teaching schoolchildren to read and mopping the floors of public buildings, that is.
The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board has opposed all of the attempts over the last year to recall state senators of both major political parties and the governor.
It's not that we agree with everything these politicians have said and done. Far from it.
It's that all of these leaders were elected to four-year terms and shouldn't be targeted for recall because of public policy decisions. The recall process is designed to quickly purge politicians for illicit behavior, not to punish those who take controversial stands on single issues.
Yes, the recall organizers targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker have a long list of complaints. But the critics of any governor of any political party always can cite many faults.
First of all, the recalls have hardly been "endless." It's been 18 months. When you're talking about decimating the rights people have enjoyed for generations, maybe 18 months isn't quite the Wars of the Roses. Tone down the drama. Remember the Maine.
Second, "critics of any governor of any political party always can cite many faults." They're all the same! There are governors and critics, and who are we to decide if some criticism has merit and some doesn't? It's not like we have any responsibility to set an agenda or sort out truth from fiction. And it's not like gathering a million signatures was any kind of test at all of the strength of public objection.
Tens of millions of more dollars are being spent during tight times on misleading and divisive political ads. Our leaders are distracted by and obsessed with opinion polls and raising piles of campaign cash, rather than tackling Wisconsin's many pressing challenges.
Well, if it makes you feel any better, most of the money Walker's raising would otherwise be spent employing hucksters in other states to make shitty campaign ads, so at least there's that boost to the economy. This isn't cash the Kochs would otherwise be giving to Wisconsin's farmers and starving kittens and nuns.
You know, I have less of an issue with an actual endorsement of Walker than I do with this puling about how icky the recalls are. At least that's taking a position in the fight, instead of standing off to the corner loudly deploring the tone in the room so that everybody can see what a superior person you are.
People are pissed off. They're "divided." They have come to the realization that lots of their neighbors, co-workers and relatives don't agree with them on stuff. Some of them have come to understand, with a degree of shock that's really uncalled-for in 2012, that a lot of their fellow humans will hurt just about anybody including themselves to feel like they're one-upping somebody else. It sucks, having your eyes opened to just how many people around you are assholes. Guess what?
This is what the world is like, under its skin. This is what we do. The Wisconsin state constitution provides for this process, which is playing itself out as it should be. In fact, we're damn lucky the only major political violence in Wisconsin has been economic. Other places, you'd be thrown in jail or shot or worse. The recalls haven't killed anybody.
They've eaten up money that might otherwise have been used for other mechanisms of democracy, and that's too bad, but you could just as easily say Walker should have ended this months ago by backing down as that his opponents shouldn't be forcing the question in the only way available to them.
Southern Beale referenced this earlier, but it's become clear in recent days that the DNC has decided to cut Wisconsin loose, probably because hey, it's just a state full of union workers and teachers and cops and farmers and steelworkers and so, really, fuck it, we can afford to let it rot.
And rotting is what it's doing. Make no mistake, we only think we've seen what Walker and his Fitzgerald cronies are like. There's a whole other world of bullying, punishing, vindictive, scorched-earth plans under their skins, and if we think they're arrogant now, if we think they're bold now, wait until they survive a recall. Wait until they win that fight. Imagine them then.
This isn't about $500,000. $500,000 is nothing. $500,000 is lunch money for the DNC. $500,000 is lunch money to anybody who, in the general election, is going to have to face Mitt Fucking Romney and his current group of clowns. $500,000 could be raised in an afternoon, if you put Barack Obama on the phone. This isn't about the money. It's about the risk inherent in fighting a fight you don't know for sure you can win. The polls aren't perfect. The process wasn't easy. I know how fractured and frustrating fights like this can be, but none of that matters. None of that matters in the face of this:
They came by the hundreds of thousands. In the snow, in the rain, past the jeering Tea Partiers, through the locked doors, they came and they stood up for something we haven't seen people stand up for in many, many years: The right to organize, the right to unionize, the right to work with dignity and security and hope. Many, many people, including me, didn't believe anything like that could even exist anymore. We didn't believe people had it in them, not to come and certainly not to stay. And still they came.
That's what the DNC is risking. That's what they're abandoning. That's what they'll throw away. Look at those people. Give them a place to put their shoulders and they'll roll back the mountains. Look at their faces. I was in the crowd that day and I've never seen anything like that, never ever. I didn't believe we were still like that, people. Americans. I didn't believe the fight could still be fought.
So this isn't a fight Democrats think they can win? Wait until they see what it's like to lose.
Maybe I'm driven too much by fear. Fear of having to go home and hand in a bad report card, fear of having to tell someone I'm not going to live up to the promise I made him. Fear of having to go out every day and walk past people who will be laughing their asses off if I slip, stumble, fall on my face. Fear of having to listen to those Americans for Prosperity dicks gloat all the way around the Capitol if Walker pulls this off somehow. But here's my question: Why isn't the DNC afraid? Why aren't they afraid of losing? If they're not afraid of losing their jobs as teachers and bus drivers, why aren't they afraid of losing face at least? Why are they willing to forfeit a game they should play until the last second they can wring from the clock?
This is the kind of crap that has driven me insane about the party since 2001. Since the Clinton impeachment, really, since the trend of bashing one's own party to get attention became a thing, since liberals started paring down the number of things they publicly gave a shit about in order not to upset anybody. Since the Bush years of not being able to be against the war because somebody would call you a pussy, since protesting the unprecedented expansion of executive power made you a traitor.
This is the kind of crap that drives me insane about people generally, about the metrics we use to decide how to ration out just what fights we should fight, as if courage is a bowl of sugar, and there's only so much of it and no more. The odds are tough, sure. They were during the protests, too. They were during the recall petition drives. They're always tough. Name me one time things have been easy and I'll call you a liar. You either accept that all unlikely victories in the face of impossible odds are unlikely and impossible and fight every fight out anyway, fight every battle that's worth fighting everywhere, or you admit that you don't really want to win, and at least the rest of us will know where we stand.
I don't mean to step on anyone's turf over here, since the Wisconsin recall isn't my beat. But dammitall, I read this and just wanted to throw up my hands:
According to the Wisconsin Dem, the party has asked the DNC for $500,000 to help with its massive field operation. While the DNC has made generally supportive noises, the money has not been forthcoming, the official says — with less than a month until the June 5th recall election. The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Polls suggest that very few Wisconsin voters are persuadable at this point — after huge pro-Walker ad expenditures, the numbers have barely budged — which means that the race will likely be decided by turnout. So the investment in the ground operation could be pivotal to the outcome; Wisconsin Dems are counting on their field operation — with more than 40 offices — to carry the day and offset Walker’s advantage on the air, but it needs more money.
What makes this all the more galling to Wisconsin Dems is that a Walker win could be bad for the national party’s prospects in November.
Umm .. duh! Hello? And not just important for delivering a swing state like Wisconsin to Obama in November. This is of national importance. You'd have to be brain-dead not to recognize how the Wisconsin recall has galvanized liberals all across the country. You guys have been a huge energizing force, you were the spark that lit the Occupy movement fer crissakes. Speaking as someone who lives in The State Where The Republican Party Has Gone To Die let me tell say: losing this battle will feel like a kick in the gut for us down here. Those of us who are the last holdouts of the once great Tennessee Democratic Party, the party of Al Gore, we're dying down here. Hell, we're in the last throes. And you guys were like a rainstorm in the desert for us. Our eyes turned to Wisconsin for a last shred of hope that people can triumph over corporate money.
The national Democratic Party needs to send some kind of signal that it understands this. We're watching. And for God's sake, $500,000 is peanuts for you guys, plus it's not like ramping up the GOTV operation now won't be a tremendous help for November.
I mean geez, I don't need to be making these arguments, it's pretty obvious to me. I just don't get what they're thinking..
Here are some photos from the Unity rally along with some commentary.
John Nichols was one of the speakers and he is always great to listen to because he can get quite fiery.
I love the reaction of this young member of the audience to the fiery Nichols:
Senator Fred Risser, one of the WI 14 and the longest serving state legislator in our nation's history, is beloved here.
Mahlon Mitchell, who was a Madison firefighter, is the current President of the Fire Fighter's Association and now the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, has been continually present since the early days of the protests and is also very well liked and respected here.
More after the cut.....
Amid concerns by some that the winner may have problems with a fractured base, the candidates have made an effort to attack Mr. Walker more than one another in the final days before the primary.
“People have been really trying to make sure we keep it clean and positive so that no matter who emerges there are no hard feelings, there are no burnt emotions,” said Phillip Walzak, a spokesman for Mr. Barrett’s campaign.
Then who's concerned here? I mean, if "some" are concerned, and if we are "amid" those concerns, it might be nice to at least know who is so terribly troubled by the natural political process of choosing a candidate.
(How else were they supposed to do this, btw? Put a bunch of names in a hat and let David Brooks set the hat on fire?)
I mean, if you have five voters who all say, "You know, I'm worried about unity following the primaries," okay, but what you have here is a campaign spokesman who thinks everybody is going to be just fine because they've been working really hard. That's the opposite of what your lead-in graf is asserting.
Many Democrats in Wisconsin expect the anti-Walker effort to quickly close ranks around its nominee as soon as votes are tallied on Tuesday night. But recent polls and fund-raising totals also suggest that the party has little room for distractions in its quest to unseat the well-financed governor.
Well, if the Democrats do close ranks quickly, then there will be no distractions, so what is the problem here again?
Look, it's not that I don't believe this whole thing has been difficult, but as usual our crack national political reporters are on the case of vicarious trolling and making not-quite-predictions, muttering darkly about "distractions" and "concerns" that they then don't specify or attribute. The story's like please-don't-piss-anybody-off bingo, noting potential pitfalls and then discounting them in the next graf:
Since the start of 2011, Mr. Walker has raised more than $25 million. Campaign finance reports released by candidates last week showed that Mr. Walker raised more than $13 million over the past three months alone, dwarfing Mr. Barrett’s $831,000 and Ms. Falk’s $977,000.
That advantage, however, was less apparent in a poll conducted last month by Marquette University Law School that showed Mr. Walker and Mr. Barrett essentially tied in a general election matchup. Mr. Walker led Ms. Falk 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, a six-point advantage that is within the poll’s margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points on each candidate.
So the governor's well-financed campaign is dangerous to the Dems, except that a major poll says it's not. There are about a million ways to cover the primary today (as is evidenced, I intend to mostly retweet smarter people than me and poke at the stupid coverage) so why choose the least effective one?
For decent coverage from the locals check out Dane 101's results reporting tonight from 8-10 p.m.
In January, Walker’s job approval was 51 percent; in March, it was 50 percent; and this month, it's 47 percent.
In January, Walker was leading Barrett 50-44; in March, 47-45; and this month, he trails 46-47. (Among likely voters, Walker leads by a point; all of these findings suggest a mostly unchanging dead heat.)
“There’s been a great deal of advertising in the state, especially from the Walker campaign and Republican supporters, and we’ve seen virtually no movement in the Walker numbers,” Franklin tells me.
What’s particularly interesting here is that just yesterday, Walkerannounced he’d raised a staggering $13 million in three months for the recall fight. But even though he’s likely to outspend his Dem opponent in the home stretch, it’s unclear how much that will matter, because the numbers suggest ads are unlikely to move the needle much going forward.
It's not like he's some unknown quantity, either. I'm sure there are people in the state of Wisconsin who just haven't heard enough about Walker to make up their minds if he or whatever organism the Dems nominate would do a better job, but the club of the most of them have spent the past year-plus hearing Walker nonstop, pro and con. Short of his fishing bin Laden out of the sea and killing him again, it's difficult to see what Walker could do that would influence his approval ratings in any way.
That doesn't mean recall's a lock, though. This stuff's hard for a reason:
“It won’t take much in voter turnout to tip the race either way,” Franklin says. “You can spend an awful lot of money on advertising and it would be unlikely to change many minds. But the advantages that Democrats and unions have traditionally had in the ground game is certainly an area where they can match Walker’s organization at the very least.”
Here's the other half of Citizens United coming home to roost: If money is speech, then money is protected speech on First Amendment grounds.
Epic First Draft drinking crack-vanning VERY SERIOUS PROFESSIONAL REPORTING is planned.
I know I’m not the first to take on this quixotic task and I’m quite certain I won’t be the last. However, if your time as my senator has taught me anything, it’s that there is nothing wrong with trying something if you truly believe in it.
I spent part of last week perusing your book “While America Sleeps,” and for the first time in a long time, I actually didn’t mind thinking about politics. From the snippets I read online and in Barnes and Noble, the book was well-reasoned, logical and well thought out. It gave me just enough gossip to be light-hearted but focused more on the issues. It also talked about a topic that most people have stopped paying attention to, but probably need to take a second look at.
I then caught your interview with GQ. (Any man willing to do an interview while slurping a brandy old-fashioned is my kind of guy, by the way.) I was really amazed at some of your answers. You still maintain that Republicans and Democrats can be friends. You stand behind your choices, whether they were the bedrock of Democratic politics or veered into more Republican territory. You don’t apologize for voting against the Patriot Act while simultaneously being in favor of dropping a big honkin’ bomb on bin Laden. Your name remains on the McCain-Feingold Act, which was meant to try to do something about people who use big money to create a political imbalance in their favor.
You are smart. You are willing to listen. You are balanced in your approach to action. You actually listen.
In other words, you are everything our current governor is not.
It broke my heart to see the last line of that GQ interview regarding the likelihood that you’ll run for office sometime soon:
I won’t run for office again until I feel like it. And right now I don't feel like it. I've always been grateful for the enormous outpouring of support and affection that I've received here in the state, but I've never kidded myself that anybody is irreplaceable.
You’re right that no one is irreplaceable. You’re right that people love you. You’re right that a job is hard to do when you don’t feel like doing it. However, you have always done what is right, even if it means you have to hurt a little bit to do it. You’ve been true to yourself, but also true to the needs of this state.
You’re a far better man than I am, and I freely admit this. You knew going into the 2010 election that you were going to lose. The mood of the state, and the country, had changed. The Teawads had stormed the castle with the superhero costumes they made in special ed and their cans of spray cheese. A “vote the bastards out” vibe had hit, thanks to a crappy economy and the sense that liberals had just elected Dolemite to the presidency. When you lost (and MAN did you lose), you took it in stride and you kind of just walked away.
I can’t imagine doing that. I probably would have gone the “you’re not going to have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” route. I probably would have gone on the talk-show circuit and criticized every move Ron Johnson made, from his stupid haircut to his inability to stay on message in a speech of more than three minutes.
I would have been hurt. I would have been pissed. I would have said “fuck y’all” a lot. I have a hard time believing that you don’t have just a little bit of this going on deep within the recesses of your soul. You’re human and this had to hurt. It’s probably why you don’t want to take another pass at politics right now.
You did a good job of not letting the pain show and not letting a flash of anger undermine your decades of service. I couldn’t do that.
In a much smaller and much less significant way, I found myself on the outs like that once. I was running to lead an organization that I believed in quite a bit. As the sitting VP of the group, I had what had traditionally been considered an inside track if I wanted it. I really didn’t want the job, but felt the obligation and thought I could do a good job of it. Instead, problems from administrations long gone came back to haunt the our board that year. Instead of pulling together, a few self-centered political opportunists took the chance to use those things our group had nothing to do with to attack the board and essentially attack me. They propped up a cardboard cutout, screamed about how I was a horribly bad candidate and beat me. About a year later, the cardboard cutout wilted in the rain, the problems persisted and I got a knock on the door, asking if I’d be interested in running for president again.
“Not if you tied my tongue to your muffler and drove me naked over a field of broken glass at 70 mph,” I told a stunned colleague. “I will NEVER take a leadership position in this shithole again.”
This is precisely why I would be a lousy politician and why you are a great one.
The state you love is in trouble. In that giant wash of “sticking it to the man” that took you out of office and gave us Senator Salad Bar, Wisconsin elected a greedy, selfish, idiotic fool. They elected the yin to your yang. The backlash, the party politics and their ability to drink the sand led normally sane Wisconsinites to put Scott Walker in office. This has finally gotten so bad that more than 1 million of these people, many of whom voted for him in the first place, have said, “We can’t tolerate four years of this.”
They got the signatures. They got a recall election going. They need a candidate.
With no disrespect to Kathy Falk or the other folks running, this state can’t get rid of Governor Deadeyes without you.
If I were you, I wouldn’t do it either. I’d be fine with a simpler life of teaching law at Marquette, hanging out with my family and quietly watching politicians run around like terriers with their fur on fire. It’s got to be a great gig to sit back and enjoy that brandy old-fashioned while quietly saying to yourself, “See? Not a lot of fun out there, is it?”
However, you need to keep one thing in mind: This idiot is your governor, too. As a citizen of this state, a taxpaying member of society as his party likes to say, you are represented by this pathetic food tube.
Most of us can only do so much. We signed the petition for change.
You, on the other hand, can be the petition.
Please run. Give us back our state.