April 30, 2011
First some good news!
OK, I'll admit it. I am biased in favor of stem cell research (I have Parkinson's) and firmly reject what I consider to be utter nonsense, that embryonic stem cell research is immoral. When the Family Research Council or Wisconsin's Right-to-life-while-in-the-womb speaks on this topic, I lunge for the channel-changer. "Immoral"? I doubt that those making that claim have ever visited an A.L.S. victim.
So, the good news: The D.C. Circuit Court, in a 2-1 decision, lifted the injunction on the federal government paying for stem cell research. Good for us, good for the Waisman Center here in Madison, hope for the future. (If you missed Robin McNeill's 6-part series last week on PBS, dealing with autism, I recommend you watch. Yes, young people with autism might be helped by this decision.)
Now the bad news: Mainstream Democrats seem to be abandoning labor unions as if they had studied the Walker plan and liked what they saw! The decision of national Democrats and the administration to ignore the battle in Wisconsin has people on the left buzzing. Now, with Massachussetts pulling a "Walker" the question arises, Why is Deval Patrick speaking at a Democratic Party event in Wisconsin?
Have the Dems lost their minds? Or just their souls? Hard to imagine but the Massachusetts Assembly voted 111-42 to curb unions' role. Eighty-one Democrats voted in favor of a "Walker lite" plan to supposedly "help local units of government" by castrating unions. Governor Deval Patrick supports the bill.
Let me see. Obama threw cold water on labor's number one priority: card check recognition, ala most of Canada. Obama opted to ignore his base in Wisconsin by not sending anyone from Washington to Madison. And now the denouement: Limit the tole of labor in negotiations on behalf of employees working in public sector jobs. The gods must be crazy!
Finally, Obama wants to repeal $4 billion in oil company subsidies. The GOP? No way! Are they serious? Gas going to 5 or 6 dollars per gallon; highest profits in history for oil companies, and these yahoos want to continue to give billions to them? Nuts!
April 29, 2011
You must be kidding!
Remember the claim that the naughty demonstrators at the Capitol caused more than $7 million in damages to the building? That number was reduced because the first one was apparently only a guess. The revision was that the damage was less than $400,000 but that still seemed absurd.
Turns out there was very little damage. Now the Walker folks have announced that they won't even set a price on repairs. My bet is the bill would be less than $2,500. Long way to get to $7 million! What did Walker gain with that fib? Let's see: he fell for a fake caller identifying himself as a Koch brother; he put out an absurd total of damages when everyone knew it was a fabrication; and he will create 250,000 family supporting permanent jobs. And the Tooth Fairy will put a gold coin under your pillow, and don't worry about stress tests ala Benton Harbor. Really?
ROYALTY IS BACK! So screamed one of the "journalists" commenting on the marriage in England. Royalty is back! Huzzah! Nonsense.
People are getting cranked for the recall elections. One cynic said, "You can't remain angry for that long." His prediction? One or two recalls. Let's see. I think four or five will be recalled. As for Walker, he apparently wants to be considered for VP on the Republican ticket. Let us hope. Walker and Trump or Walker and Bachman. Yikes.
The Trump stuff is an appeal to racism. Sorry Donald, but you are fired.
April 28, 2011
Recount or guilt trip?
Every time I see quotes from Kevin Kennedy or the GAB I get the feeling that, like David Prosser, they think Kloppenburg should have accepted her medicine and conceded the race to Prosser. That would have been cheaper. Baloney! Prosser went a step further by warning that he and his lawyer James Troupis would fight any attempt at a recount! Like school-yard bullies they backed off once the recount became a reality. But the seed was planted: big waste of money, can't overcome 7,000 votes, etc. Double baloney.
The bias to "let it go" is strong. One can almost hear the whisperers that "surely we are honest!" No one would "accuse Wisconsin of cheating." Egad! "How dare you?"
I am one who demanded a recount and I expected an open mind by the GAB. It should be pointed out that there is a reason we have a statute that lays out a recount plan. And it is not fair to blame the candidate for the expense we incur as the corporate media seems to be doing. As a state, we owe it to ourselves to demonstrate that elections should be fair. There should not be a lingering doubt in the public's mind that the election was honest.
OK? Is the recount more than matching numbers? Can anyone explain the actions of the Waukesha County Clerk? Her actions seem suspicious at best. Where is the DA of that county hiding?
On with the recount. If Prosser's lead holds he has won a 10-year term. If it turns out the election gets the GAB "seal of approval" then Prosser benefits. So do we all!
TO SPLIT OR NOT TO SPLIT? Eighty students walked up Bascom Hill to tell the cheerleader-in-chief Biddy Martin that they oppose this Walker-designed plan to privatize the UW-Madison campus. Good for the students. Only through the "sifting and winnowing"...rings true today. But when the students arrived they found a locked office and no cheerleader! Where was the chancellor? A spokesperson told students that the plan would give more autonomy to Madison. Sure, and Martin said she would meet with students some other day. She did show for a few minutes? Meanwhile, Martin is planning a Kohl Center gathering for all sorts of supporters and some doubters. On whose nickel?
Will Governor Walker speak?
April 27, 2011
Put out your own fires!
The 300,000 member International Association of Fire Fighters has hollered "May Day" to the Democratic Party--on the national level. This decision is a head-scratcher. The fire fighters are all over the political spectrum from the very conservative Republican-leaning Milwaukee fire fighters to the militant Madison fire fighters. No group got more applause at the Capitol than the fire fighters, headed by a really solid union leader Joe Conway, who brought bagpipes and members to the Capitol.
Why would the fire fighters leap into the cauldron now? It seems odd. Just when teachers and AFSCME are going to need lots of help collecting dues given the Walker administration's line in the sand of no dues collection from state employees. Is the announcement designed to light a fire (pardon the pun) under the AFL-CIO? Is it from uncertainty? Is it likely to lead other public unions to follow?
WELCOME HOME, PAUL. Wealthy, experienced, leading Republican Paul Ryan was in Kenosha yesterday for a listening session, and he got an earful! It was a near riot as a couple hundred voters in Kenosha told Ryan, in no uncertain terms, that his Medicare plan is unacceptable. The crowd also wanted an end to the Bush tax cuts; they want hands off Social Security. This was a nightmare for the GOP. The so-called author of the Koch plan could not handle the animosity. If Ryan, The Bright One, can't handle it, imagine poor Sean Duffy or James Sensenbrenner trying to sell the idea in Ryan's bag.
Back to Cato, Heritage and Bradley Foundation, Paul. Better start over!
April 26, 2011
NFL on track to disaster
When I think about the NFL (or governor Walker) Barbara Tuchman's great book The March of Folly comes to mind. Her thesis is that governments engage in the pursuit of policies, contrary to their own interests, and those decisions lead to disaster. Another way to put it is, "How can the decision-makers be so damned dumb?"
The NFL has the world on a string. Billions of dollars flow in every year, cities build huge stadiums for the teams, universities gladly act as farm systems, the media loves the NFL and the fans cannot get enough football.
Can't go wrong, can they? Well, yes, they can. Antitrust lawyers whisper in the ears of the NFL commissioner that they could make more billions if the league could just rid the game of the darned union! Why should those players get 60 percent of the revenues they generate? Lock them out, demand that the players share the cost of building the stadiums if the cities won't. (Or in Walker's case, bust their unions!)
Every lawyer or law student who has taken a glance at the Sherman Act concludes that the NFL is a monument to antitrust violations. But not to worry, say the members of the Mara family, eventually a court will exonerate the NFL or Congress will exempt it from antitrust attacks. March on NFL, march on!
Yesterday a federal judge in Minnesota ruled against the NFL--again. That is about 10 in a row by my count. The knee-jerk response? Negotiate with the players? Oh no. Appeal to the 8th Circuit! And if they win at the 8th Circuit?
Send in the clowns...Oops, someone beat us to them.
Benton Harbor: The residents of Michigan's martial lawed city are mad as hell and the battle has just begun. The idea of the governor declaring a financial crisis to justify taking over a city or a school board, or selling assets, is appalling. We exposed the Walker plans to introduce the legislation in Wisconsin, and the governor high-tailed it to Charlie Sykes for advice. That led to an announcement that FightingBob.com, Forbes, and Mother Jones are all wrong, according to Walker. No one "in the governor's office" is working on such a plan. Really? Well, if ALEC or Foley or Panzer are doing the work off-campus, does that count?
Common sense is missing in all of these maneuvers.
The Supreme Court Recount continues by unenthusiastic GAB. Like looking forward to a root canal, Kevin Kennedy is proceeding but complaining all the way.
I am eager to learn how Waukesha County has from time to time had almost a 100 percent turnout without horns blowing and champagne flowing. Too good to be true? Ask Kevin.
April 25, 2011
Kapanke the brave!
Well, not-so-brave. Remember that Dan Kapanke, the subject of a recall petition, said his car window was smashed by protesters? Recall that he opted to cancel some appearances out of fear of the mob? Well, MJS concluded that protesters didn't touch Kapanke's car.
After national attention focused on threats to legislators, it turns out it was not true at all. Just like the $7.5 million in damage to the Capitol turned out to be a farce. Kapanke-the-brave was never in danger.
So a crack in a windshield scared him. Not since Ringier, when Mike Ellis charged that workers spat on his Mercedes, have we been so amused. If you have to make it up please be more careful!
RYAN'S FOLLY: I wonder if Paul Ryan has figured it out yet. I doubt it. Has he figured out that the GOP leaders let him step forward with a plan that has been described by nearly all who understand budgets as inaccurate and mean, and has been opposed by almost everyone! The Ryan plan will go the way of the Laffer Curve, so let's get on with serioius discussions. As for Paul Ryan, the GOP brain, well, too bad, so sad. Advice: Next time read it, Paul. And check the math!
April 24, 2011
Don't they have kids? Grandparents? Parents? A soul?
Don't they get terminal illnesses? Do they live in cancer-free zones? Don't they have special-needs kids (once called "retarded") who need 24/7 staffing? Don't they have hard-working nephews and nieces who get laid off? Aren't they angry that their kids and grandkids are being cheated out of the "good life" because some son-of-a-very-rich-family wants to end Pell grants, raise tuition, and privatize the UW?
Who are these people who Paul Ryan wants to "help" by limiting Medicare, privatizing Social Security, cutting food stamps? Cut, cut, cut.
Don't these top-of-the heap folks want their kids to have art classes in school, sports after school, regional and state forensics contests, good public schools, debate teams, an appreciation of the poetry of Edith Nash, pride in Gaylord Nelson's Earth Day, class plays that will benefit young people who need more than reality shows on TV?
What monster is being created in Dr. Walker's lab? What will the future look like if these so-called fiscal conservatives, Tea Partiers, who would bargain away their grandmother's assisted living facility so Paul Ryan--the bright one--can pat himself on the back for cutting a few bucks while spending trillions on three wars?
We found that a substantial percentage of supermax inmates dropped out of special education classes when they had been in school. Were they really shoved out? Most inmates cannot read at the third-grade level. Is the answer to that crisis school vouchers? Perhaps as Ohio's goof, Governor Kasich, urges: sell the prisons to save money. Rehab? Next world!
The Washington Post has an important story about a Paul Ryan listening session. The father, a lifelong Republican, has saved and saved so his son with ADD, with few job opportunities, will have a safety net. He attended Ryan's session, thought of his question, practiced asking the congressman, and when called upon nervously asked, "What about my son?"
My wife Betty and I look at our daughter Lizzy with autism and ask Paul Ryan, What about Lizzy?
April 23, 2011
They won't slow down
Dave Zweifel pointed out in the Capital Times on April 15 that Scott Fitzgerald has recently sent out a revealing fundraising letter. The part I liked best was where Fitzgerald said, "Government employee unions have ruined California and Illinois, but they are not going to ruin Wisconsin." Thank you, Scott. Your honesty amazes me.
Walker has done just about everything to distance himself from the so-called Michigan plan for Financial martial law except make a statement against Governor Snyder's take-over of Benton Harbor.
We have the Koch brothers and the Bradley Foundation to draft laws, prepare public relations efforts--Michigan has the Koch brothers as well but they also have the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. A spokesman for Michigan's teachers said, "The Michigan Republican Party has been tied at the hip with Mackinac Committee for years." See Mother Jones on the Mackinac committee.
I am so happy that we received documents exposing the Walker plans to enact the Wisconsin martial plan. We hereby offer space on FightingBob.com for Governor Walker to write whatever he wants on Michigan's financial martial law bill and how there will not be such a thing in Wisconsin under his watch.
Does he think we made up the expose? That we guessed Mary Panzer was providing legislative strategy for the governor? That Foley & Lardner are drafting the bill? That the Greater Milwaukee Committee is pushing phase one--a financial stress test? C'mon!
April 22, 2011
Few people seem to understand the impact a union has in the work place, and almost no one in the corporate media explains what will happen if unions go the way of the dodo bird.
First, when is it okay to fire a person in Wisconsin? Almost anytime in a non-union place of work, and the employer is not required to explain why a person has been terminated and the terminated employee has no legal recourse unless, of course, the employer fires a worker for discriminatory reasons. You can't fire a person because she is a woman, or African American or disabled, but otherwise we are no better than anti-union states like North Carolina or Mississippi.
We are, in essence, the Mississippi of the north. The employer enjoys the protection of "at will" employment and is at liberty to fire for good reason or no reason.
Hundreds of people call my law firm to ask us to sue an employer because the caller had a good work record, followed all the rules, and the boss fired the caller but gave no reason for doing so. The resonse of WMC and the Legislature: "Tough luck, pal. If you don't like it organize a union." And that is not easy given all sorts of legal speed bumps on the road to collective bargaining. But if you want protection from arbitrary termination forming a union is essential.
Much has been made of check-off of dues by the employer who sends the money to the union. Wing-nuts holler that is unfair! Scott Walker will not collect dues. He got permission to stop in the anti-middle-class budget repair bill.
Many people will say, so what? Why should anyone be forced to pay union dues? Fair question, but a tricky response. If employees form a union and bargain for pension, wages, insurance, and just-cause termination the benefits go to all employees of that enterprise. Yup! All of them whether or not they pay dues. That isn't fair. Union workers pay, they risk termination, and they strike if necessary. The non-union employee? Watch the Brewers.
The Wisconsin State Journal's series entitled "Labor's Last Stand" won't comment on this unfair burden on unions.
I will give you my view of fairness. No one should have to pay dues or join the union so long as the non-paying employee gives up all the benefits negotiated by the union. If fired, tough luck; if he can't afford insurance go to ER, tough luck, pal; he should not get a pension, and no wage increase. Go ask the boss for a pension!
So when Scott Fitzgerald or Governor Walker tell you that it is unfair to "force" employees to join a union tell them they are full of hops unless they change the law and provide union-negotiated benefits to members only.
LET THE RECALLS BEGIN: The test of the effectiveness of the demonstrations, the Fab 14, 100,00 people protesting, will be determined in the recall battles for Alberta Darling, Kapanke, Hopper, Luther Olsen... If the challengers win even a few politics in Wisconsin will be changed, but if the move fails Walker will be emboldened to continue on his path of destruction and division. See you at Fighting Bob Fest North, May 21, in Chippewa Falls.
April 21, 2011
What is the point, David?
Prosser tried to bully Kloppenburg into taking a pass on a recount of the extremely close Supreme Court race. Kloppenburg is tougher than Prosser thought because she ignored his arrogant categorization of a recall as "frivolous" and his threat that he would fight along side his lawyer, James Troupis, to stop the recount. (Here comes the boogie man!)
Prosser often engages in personal attacks on people who disagree with him. No need to remind you of his name-calling aimed at Chief Justice Abrahamson or comparing me to Nazi film maker Leni Riefenstahl. No need to remind you about his nasty "cross-examination" of counsel for the League of Women Voters.
Yesterday his spokesman commented on Kloppenburg's decision: "Kloppenburg is pursuing a naked political goal." Not only inappropriate for a sitting justice to comment on an opponent in a case involving him, but meaningless. Are the Prosserites worried that the feds will find more than a few mistakes? Does anyone believe the Waukesha story of "human error"?
The staff of the GAB is not looking so good to many of you. We get lots of emails questioning if Kevin Kennedy is leaning in Prosser's direction. A lack of aggressiveness would sum up the rather milquetoast response to an embarrassing situation in Waukesha. Why were the ballots kept on a separate computer? Why did she wait 19 hours to notify the media? Why did she tell the canvassers to remain silent at her news conference?
Walker's swift denial not believable: The Greater Milwaukee Committee has been lining up support for drastic and undemocratic changes in how Milwaukee County is governed for two years, so it appears disingenuous at best for Walker and GMC to deny that he has his side warming up in the bullpen to push the Legislature to accept new powers similar if not identical to the Michigan stress test and takeover nonsense. GMC says in a news release it has been building support for "stress test" for local units. To what end if not to take over? C'mon Scott--no time for caution. Tell us what's on your mind?
BOB FEST North, just in time: Fighting Bob Fest North, May 21, in Chippewa Falls, should be a hot one! No, not the weather but the discussion on how right-wing zealots, with help from the Supreme Court (Citizens United), are trying to discourage people from voting. We are looking forward to a good discussion and formulation of plans to reverse the court's nonsensical "corporations are people" ruling. Plan to be in Chippewa with us.
April 20, 2011
No, really, trust me!
As the blow-back from Michigan Governor Snyder's decision to seize the town of Benton Harbor by taking almost all powers from the mayor (he can still adjourn a meeting) our Koch-sponsored Governor Walker rushed to Charlie Sykes' radio screed to assure us or announce that no one in his administration is working on a Wisconsin version of the Michigander nonsense.
As one of you wrote in response to GarveyBlog, be careful because it may be true that no one in his administration is working on the bill, but he might well have out-sourced all of it to Foley & Lardner to draft the legislation beyond the reach of state Open Records and Open Meetings laws. (Another poster mentioned that Jim doyle works for Foley.)
Former legislator Mary Panzer is said to be the legislative strategist to push the bill through our Legislature. Again, she would be outside Open meetings and Records. Also, a PR firm hired by Koch? GMC or GOP would lay the groundwork.
Don't hold back, Governor. Don't hold back! (Oh, and don't bother with the "Trust me" stuff.)
All this to say, the GMC and Walker popped the cork a little early. We should not let this law see the light of day. The Greater Milwaukee Committee tried to help Walker with a news release to set the record straight and is so doing, gave more credence to the story. GMC said, and I am not kidding, they have been pushing for "economic stress tests' for communities.
No big deal? Well, the Michigan law permits a takeover if the community fails a "stress test." If Wisconsin follows the Greater Milwaukee Committe's call to develop a "stress test," what happens if a community flunks? Who administers it, by the way? Is this just another step toward the Michigan plan for Wisconsin!
UW Split: I was amazed when an over-sized Rongstad-like postcard arrived addressed to Betty and me, in support of the Biddy Martin/Scott Walker plan to split the UW-Madison from the UW system. Incredible. The new public authority would have a huge board (21 members) and the governor, who never graduated from college, would appoint almost half of them. What would they have power to do? Oh, just set admission standards, hire and fire professors, set tuition. Whoa Nelly! I am astounded at the chutzpah of Walker and Biddy Martin. This plan took shape behind closed doors, and is, if you believe the Alumni Association's propaganda, presumably paid for with funds contributed by alums to help the UW not destroy it. Check out alumniforwisconsin.com and raise hell!
When I ran for governor, a volunteer sent an email to all students on one campus. The UW had a fit! How dare you send your propaganda through the UW system? Well, Biddy and Scott, how dare you send this to all of us?
Bye bye, Biddy!
April 19, 2011
David Prosser out of bounds again
We have noted that David Prosser hinted two weeks ago that his team would fight to stop a recount on the specious ground that a 7,000-vote margin cannot be made up and is, therefore, "frivolous." Huh?
Prosser's attorney, James Troupis, actually warned Kloppenburg yesterday that Prosser would, indeed, fight to stop a recount. My view: What is he so worried about? Are there more stories like the Waukesha County travesty? Why else would Justice Prosser try to bully her into accepting her loss?
It would be foolish for Kloppenburg to yield to threats from bully Prosser. On to the recount!
Tell it to Sykes? Yikes!
Alex Kotlowitz wrote a fascinating book in 1998 titled The Other Side of the River. The focus is on two Michigan towns: Benton Harbor, 92 percent black and poor, and St. Joseph, 95 percent white and prosperous. Lawrence O'Donnell says average annual income in Benton Harbor is just slightly above $10,000, but more than $33,000 in St. Joseph. Why is this important?
Well, Governor Snyder of Michigan has exercised his incredible power to take over a community under the Snyder Fiscal Martial Plan. Did he go for the well-off town of St. Joseph? Of course not. He looked across the river from St. Joseph and saw Benton Harbor.
Snyder opted to fire the Benton Harbor elected mayor and town council. The only functions remaining for the mayor of Benton Harbor? The "mayor" may call the meeting of the council to order, read the minutes, adjourn the meeting. That's it! Nothing else. Whoa NelIy. Is this how things went in pre-WWII Italy and Germany?
Back to Wisconsin. Scott Walker rushed back to Wisconsin to meet with right-wing nut Charlie Sykes to deny, on WTMJ all-talk-all-right-wing-all-the-time radio that he was planning to impose the same results in Wisconsin. He accused a Forbes magazine blogger who wrote about his intentions of lying.
Really? Me thinks you doth protest too much, Scotty. Calm down. Relax. Just condemn Governor Snyder for his outrageous power grab, swear you oppose a similar approach in Wisconsin, tell the Milwaukee right wingers, including the Greater Milwaukee Committee and the Bradley Foundation, to forget the bold moves to "save" Milwaukee County. (Tell us the website for "Make It Your Milwaukee County" is a phony. Take the lead!)
Interesting: anonymous sources providing information that will shine a light on the Walker agenda. Keep it coming, folks!
April 18, 2011
It gets interesting
After receiving numerous calls and e-mails on the topic, I will try to explain whether Governor Walker is ready to push the Michigan Financial Martial Law in Wisconsin or condemn it. Given the Benton Harbor move in Michigan we know there is a real threat to local government.
FightingBob.com received a hand-delivered packet of materials last Friday. Main features:
1.) Walker to push a Wisconsin version of the Michigan plan through the Legislature in May.
2.) Legislative strategy provided by former state senator Mary Panzer.
3.) "Legislation is now being developed behind closed doors by Foley & Lardner."
4.) Gene Ulm hired to do public relations for the Greater Milwaukee Committee to promote Make It Your Milwaukee County, and, according to the organization's fact sheet, to see that the organization is "expanded to include all local governments."
Then Walker rushed to Milwaukee to be interviewed on the radio by none other than Charlie Sykes--a Bradley Foundation favorite. Walker told Sykes that it was not true--a lie in fact. He said he was not pushing the Michigan plan--despite the fact that the Michigan plan is entirely consistent with his policy as County Executive of Milwaukee and that he and Michigan Governor Snyder are following the same plan of attack on union rights.
So, is he for it or is our governor ready to condemn Snyder for this crazy power grab?
For our part I am inviting Governor Walker or his designated hitter to post 1,000 words on FightingBob.com to correct any errors.
Are ya for it or against it, Scott?
Did it start with Fighting Bob Fest?
Friends from around the country call, email, and look to Wisconsin these days, to check the pulse of the progressive movement. Some believe that the Perrier battle which led to the creation of Fighting Bob Fest and FightingBob.com, and that led to nine Fighting Bob Fests attended by more than 30,000 of you, scattered the seeds that grew into the thousands who marched at the Capitol in opposition to the Walker anti-union nonsense. I think the spirit of Fighting Bob Fests did play an important role, and the next Bob Fest will set the goals as we fight anti-democratic proposals emanating from the Walker administration.
Whether or not Bob Fest was the spark, those who arrived to listen and cheer, plot and plan, were, at a minimum, pouring fuel on the fire. I have been inspired and so have you. From "Grannie D" to Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, RFK, Jr., Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin, Jim Hightower, Paul Simon, and many more gave us hope that, yes, "the people united..."
Thousands of you visit Fighting Bob.com every week, write articles, post others you like, while keeping progressives informed. It is a thrill for me to read the ideas that you bring to the table.
The challenge is daunting. As I watch the Koch brothers, Charlie Sykes and mainstream corporate media turn Paul Ryan into the intellectual giant of the GOP, my stomach gets queasy. Then there is the gang of six, the Erskine Bowles-Alan Simpson carney game, the effort to permit the governor to dismiss elected officials, sell assets and destroy unions, it is a bit scary. But isn't it nice that we have thousands of you in touch and ready to fight?
Keep writing, donating, raising hell.
See you next at Fighting Bob Fest North on May 21--then Fighting Bob Fest #10 on September 17. I'm ready for some action. You?
April 17, 2011
Biddy is tired!
Bumped into a war horse in the battle to preserve the great state University of Wisconsin. His message was short and to the point: "Keep fighting!" He was not talking about collective bargaining he was talking about Biddy's folly, the proposed privatization of the UW!
Good news: WSJ reports today (not available online as of this posting) that Biddy Martin confided in a faculty meeting recently, "If you feel you can't get behind this (UW split) just let me know. Because, you know what? I'm tired. If I'm out there completely on my own [except for support from the anti-education governor who did not graduate from college, Scott Walker] I need to know that." OK, Biddy Martin, I cannot get behind you.
I have never met Biddy Martin, but I have tried to follow her thoughts on why we would be better off splitting up the UW System. My first surprise was that she jumped into combat on the side of our union busting governor, Sir Scott Walker.
It would appear that she has precious little support from faculty, the Legislature, the Board of Regents, or students. You have to wonder who advised her to leap into this battle.
April 16, 2011
While you sleep
I walked into the Vilas Communications center Friday morning prepared to discuss the goofy and mean-spirited "Ryan Plan" and the president's great speech in response to the rich man's gift from Ryan, but I could not wait to bring up the latest proposal to permit Walker to break contracts, eliminate unions, and soon...seize control of local units of government if they don't meet the governor's stress test.
I handed the introduction to the "Make It Your Milwaukee County" happy-land summary to Joy Cardin and naively thought callers would bombard the WHA switchboard. Apparently callers need more tome to absorb the Michigan plan and only one newspaper has even inquired about this radical nonsense.
(Is there no end to the Koch Brothers plans to eliminate democracy?)
While we sleep, the Public Policy Forum, a Bradley Foundation-supported interest group, was putting out fancy, color-coded charts asking whether Milwaukee County government should stay or go? Who authorized them to ask?
It appears that Walker-Koch-Sykes wants the county government to sell off land, eliminate services, sell Mitchell Airport...and so it goes.
All of this fits a pattern seen in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey. Claim we are broke and then lay out a plan to save us from bankruptcy, followed by taking over local governments, busting unions and declaring financial martial law!
And the once-great Milwaukee Journal and the once-interesting Milwaukee Sentinel slumber without pills. Paul Revere, where are you?
Go to the Make It Your Milwaukee County website. Read, speculate, and communicate your thoughts.
April 14, 2011
They have plans! Do they ever!
Remember when we chuckled at the Michigan Governor Snyder, who wanted the Michigan legislature to approve his plan to permit him to declare "Financial Martial Law" in cities and other governmental bodies having tough economic times? The law would permit the governor to replace city councils, school boards and other governmental positions. Eminent domain on steroids. I laughed and suggested a bumper sticker in the U.P. of, "Your Governor is worse than ours!"
Well, that was then, now we know another one of Walker's little secrets. We have discovered that Wisconsin's governor has the same twisted idea for Wisconsin as Michigan's governor does of his state. The state would be allowed to take over local governments if financial management standards are not met. Who decides? The governor or a newly elected uber comptroller. (I am not making this up.) The secret plan is being prepared by the state's largest law firm, Foley & Lardner, for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Bradley Foundation, the governor, and key legislators. There is speculation that Alberta Darling is the Walker point person on this nutty scheme, but no need to speculate: call Senator Darling's office and ask!
This drastic measure will be "fast-tracked" by the Walkerites unless we slow down the train--again! Clearly Walker wants it passed before any recall elections are held. We must get involved in stopping this absurd attack on democracy and local government.
A fancy brochure is almost ready for distribution. Page one has five pictures of happy people apparently because there is a new Milwaukee County "that is the destination for new businesses, young professionals and tourists." (Really.) And this carrot: "Working together, we can make this bold vision for Milwaukee County a reality." You must read ASAP.
A Republican operative, Gene Ulm, was hired to conduct surveys to support this idea. Ulm supposedly asked tough questions leading to such simplistic findings as "92% SUPPORT decreasing the size of the (Milwaukee) County Board." Yah sure!
All of this is going to to be spun under the heading "Make It Your Milwaukee County." Check on it at makeityourmilwaukee.com. Whoa Nelly!
Walker vs. Kucinich: winner is Dennis. Under oath Walker admits his union busting did not save any money for the state.
I was on Joy Cardin's Wisconsin Public Radio show this morning. Take a listen!
Oh, and Paul Ryan is "furious" because Obama invited him to attend the George Washington speech and Ryan attended only to find that the speech was, according to Ryan, "extremely partisan." He fumed. That Obama! Doesn't he know Ryan has his own video?
That is the guy I voted for!
We were sitting in the Barrymore with 500 progressives when Ed Schultz told the audience about Obama's speech and the crowd exploded! I have never experienced such noise. Imagine the president laying out his vision of America! Imagine suggesting that the wealthy pay more in taxes! Imagine promising to keep the social compact in place! Imagine saying that we must protect those with less while investing in education!
Paul Krugman labeled the Paul Ryan plan best on April 8: "ludicrous and cruel." And he was understating.
The NYT editorial today begins, "The man America elected president has re-emerged." Obama gave a great speech yesterday. He touched a nerve, he re-connected with the progressives. It was a speech for the history books. To me, the most important difference between Obama and Ryan is that Obama expresses the optimism that has carried this country for hundreds of years through wars, economic hardship and more, while Paul Ryan is the definition of pessimism and despair. One is "yes we can" and Ryan is "Woe is me!"
Ed Schultz has a home--the Barrymore. A great night as the Fab 13 Senators were cheered with standing Ovations. Re-call was on the menu all night. The battle continues.
P.S. Did you see the Ryan video of himself? Yikes! Narcissism, to be generous.
April 12, 2011
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congresswoman representing the colony called the "District of Colombia" or "The Nation's Capitol," is furious. She is outraged that Congress and the White House have once again given the back of their hands in the final budget "negotiations" to the District. In yesterday's post we noted that Obama told Boehner, "I give you D.C. John, but I'm not happy about it."
Well Obama might not be happy but Norton is angry and ready to fight.
There are 600,000 people who live in the District. They have one congressional representative but theres one catch: she can't vote! This makes the District easy pickings for the overlords, the Congress. Boehner demanded an end to subsidies to Planned Parenthood. The president refused, but to soften Boehner, he "gave D.C." to Boehner! Obama gave Boehner school vouchers to be used in private or religious schools. He agreed that poor women cannot get financial help for an abortion even if the money is locally raised.
What gives, Mr. President? Where are you?
(Will vouchers help the D.C. schools? Haven't helped Milwaukee. See Joel McNally's FightingBob.com article, "The Voucher Gap.")
As we approach the debt ceiling and the Ryan budget for the next two years, duck and cover! The GOP uses the tactic many lawyers use: "I agree with your position but my client is nuts so you must give up the fight." Boehner claims the Tea Party is in charge, and they are nuts! So give us vouchers, privatize Social Security, kill Medicare and Medicaid, kill food stamps, kill, kill, kill.
If the president even acknowledges the Ryan wrecking ball, we should raise hell.
Must Reading The Ramona Kitzinger report on what happened in Waukesha during the Waukesha vote scandal...29 hours of silence; only personal computer used anywhere in the state outside Prosserville, Waukesha.
"I was called into Kathy's office and told of an impending 5:30 press conference...I was then instructed that I would not say anything. We are Florida and Ohio and the laughing stock of America over the 'gee, golly, I just found 15,000 votes on my home computer--can you beat that for human error?"
Read and weep the Kitzinger statement. Question to GAB: Will the Waukesha clerk be permitted to keep votes on her computer during the recall elections? Or will she, like all other election officials, use the state provided computers? This matter stinks to high heaven.
Want a laugh? Call your clerk and volunteer to keep all votes on your home computer unsupervised!
Listen to the People? Why? 69% of the voters in Milwaukee approved "sick leave" for employees--5 days for small companies and up to ten paid days for bigger companies. Walker said that humanitarian provision would drive business out of Milwaukee. Jaysus! Why not repeal the minimum wage? Safe place statutes? Weekends?
The Assembly passed repeal and Walker-talker will sign into law! Shame on ya!
April 11, 2011
'John, I will give you D.C.'
With those words, the president all but guaranteed that many of his supporters will sit out the next election. We kept hearing from the talking heads that the battle was over abortion and women's health not money.
Yippee! The president finally drew a line! He would not sacrifice Planned Parenthood. OK, Barack! OK!
So what happened? He "gave" D.C. to the GOP--Planned Parenthood was saved but no funding of abortions in Washington any more. True, the President "was not happy about it," according to sources in the room but, happy or not, he "gave away D.C." The mayor of D.C. said, "The District's right to govern itself has, once again, been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency." This is ludicrous...hypocrisy is alive and well in Congress...but also in the White House.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot, Obama also gave $500 million more in spending cuts as part of the package (a total of $78 billion), and Obama agreed to Boehner's pet project--yes, indeed, school vouchers! I'm not making this up.
So, imagine if you will what we can look forward to in the debt ceiling debate and the next budget! Whoa Nelly. Send in a team of negotiators before it is too late.
Paul Krugman asks today, "What have they done with President Obama? Who is this bland, timid, guy who doesn't seem to stand for anything in particular?"
The Republicans have framed the issues for debate--we are broke, we must stop spending, must stop entitlement programs, and never, never, ever discuss revenue increases. Oh, no, you cannot suggest going to higher taxes for the rich--don't stir them up!
Obama's timid approach vs. zealots in the Tea Party is a loser! They have framed the issues and will almost surely win the debate. Tough times ahead!
April 10, 2011
How nice of you David
In the midst of the greatest Supreme Court scandal since...well, since Gableman's obscene and dishonest TV spots gave him the edge in his WMC-supported race against Louis Butler, David Prosser's campaign said yesterday, and I'm not making this up (this headline in the MJS): "Prosser open to Waukesha County recount."
Question: Who asked? Brian Nemoir, Prosser's campaign manager said, "If you need to do a recount in Waukesha County alone to satisfy heightened interest, that's fine." The gods must be crazy! He said--if you...
Yesterday I wrote that Prosser said to two unnamed reporters, Kloppenburg "may" have a right to a recount. I think we now see the plot unfolding. Prosser and his D.C.-based, Florida-2000 tested lawyers might well be arguing that a recount is not permitted even if Kloppenburg pays for it! C'mon!
So today we learn that his honor, David Prosser, is "open to" (Will permit? Will allow?) a Waukesha County recount if, as his manager says, that will satisfy the voters or Kloppenburg. What chutzpa.
Good heavens. The clerk worked for Prosser for eight years, knew the details of the caucus scandal, "found thousands of votes on her home computer." Yes, the poster person for "human error" as the excuse du jour, like her pal who ran the Prosser campaign, is certain a federal investigation is unnecessary.
Catch these words of comfort from the Waukesha clerk: "There's a complete chain of custody from the time it leaves my locked office to when it returns to my locked office." OMG, as your grandchildren might say.
Question: Who told the ckerk she could keep voting data on her personal computer?
Question: Why did the clerk wait more than 24 hours before informing state election officials? (Time to fiddle with her computer perhaps?) When even Alberta Darling is upset, you know what normal people must be thinking.
Question: Unless the Supreme Court shuts down for a few years, could anyone argue that the public will have confidence in this Court? I don't.
The only answer is a new election.
Virgil Roberts passed
The family of long-time public servant Virgil Roberts called to tell us the news that Virgil Roberts passed at age 81. (I was incorrect. Virgil was 88 when he passed not 81 as i reported. In other words, he gave us 7 more years of sound thinking and good advice than my blog suggested.) Always one of our favorite legislators, Virgil was, as John Medinger, former Mayor of La Crosse put it, "A good guy, a good Democrat. A progressive." I second the motion.
Virgil never forgot his roots. He credited FDR for saving his family during the Great Depression, and he voted in the Legislature like a good FDR/Fighting Bob progressive. Virgil did what he thought was right. A good man, a friend, a role model.
Virgil was kind to everyone. Former Republican legislators Brian Rude said a lot: "We had our fights but at the end of the day we'd sit together at dinners." Well done Virgil, well done.
April 9, 2011
Human error? Yah, sure Ole!
The phone calls poured in from all over the country. How could an election official in (squeaky clean) Wisconsin, be allowed to keep votes on a personal computer? A computer that could be hacked...It does not pass the smell test...Can't believe it...and will never believe it was human error..and why did she wait 29 hours to inform the sleeping Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel?
As suggested yesterday, there was a desire for the victor to make the margin as high as possible because the state pays for a recount if the margin is .5 percent or less but not if it is more. The margin of victory for Kloppenburg, 204, we were told before Waukesha, would have been within the .5 margin. The state of Wisconsin would have paid for a recount had Prosser asked. The "new" Prosser number is outside the margin by a lot. So at this point it would appear that Kloppenburg must pay the cost--roughly $18,000.
And Prossser's reaction, as reported by Bill Glauber of the slumbering Journal-Sentinel today? Ho hum. Or is it?
Prosser told unnamed journalists Friday, according to Glauber, "She may (my bold--not Glauber's) have a perfectly legal right to seek a recount." Why in the world would he comment on a matter that might reach the court involving him? And is he questioning her right to demand a recount--on her dime when he says "may"? Sounds like it.
Now, sit before reading. Prosser went on: "If the vote was 204 votes or 500 votes or perhaps even 1,000 votes, I don't think there would be a dispute if there were a recount." (Is there a dispute, Mr. "Justice"?)
"But if it's 7,000 votes, is there ever any experience, any precedent, for making up 7,000 votes, even in an election of a million and a half votes?"
And he warned it would be "hand-to-hand combat" if Kloppenburg demands a recount. So a job that pays Prosser $144,495 per year plus benefits--just south of $1.5 million over 10 years--if you come in for a recount it will be hand-to-hand combat. Whoa Nelly! (Word has it Prosser has hired a D.C. firm.)
April 8, 2011
Mad as hell
I should have been suspicious earlier yesterday when Prosser did not immediately call for a recount when it was clear he lost by 204 votes. Prosser "the profane"; Prosser, the guy in need of anger management counseling, accepting his defeat to a lesser being? Paaahhleeze! He remained out of reach out of fear he might gloat before it was time. I should have been tripped off by his behavior--it was adult-like.
Then yesterday a right-winger volunteered that he "accepts the results--that Kloppenburg won"--with a razor thin margin. He assured me that "this is Wisconsin and we are honest." C'mon! Why would he say that? Now we know. Charlie Sykes and others apparently already knew how the Waukesha game plan would roll out. The former Prosser staffer kept quiet for 29 hours. Why? Daily Kos opines that they needed to know how many votes were needed to kill a free recount! Prosser does not want a recount.
If an election is within .5 percent of a tie the state pays for the recount. (Personal disclosure: In my U.S. Senate race with Bob Kasten in 1986, we thought there may have been some hanky-panky, including possible stashing of votes, but we did not have the money for a recount and the Democratic Party was no help. Did Kasten win? Probably. Should we have tried to pay for a recount? Yup.) Should money be raised for a recount now in the Prosser "victory"? You bet! Will the Walker forces try to persuade Kloppenburg to skip a recount and accept her loss? You know they will try.
Few of you will ever accept the 2000 presidential results; few of you will accept the assertion that Ohio was won by Bush four years later; none of you accept the WMD story that they used to justify our entry into Iraq; precious few of you will, I predict, accept this Prosser "victory." Hells bells, we might all need anger management counseling!
Shutdown: Another case of the carney game. It ain't about "the money" it is all about "women's health"! Damn it. When will this nation recognize women as full citizens?
Paul Ryan, the spoof and goof: Krugman sums it up: "Ryan's plan is ludicrous and cruel." It is voodoo economics with an extra dose of fantasy and a large helping of mean-spiritedness." (And Ryan is supposedly the smart one?)
April 7, 2011
Just learned that Kathy Nickolaus worked for David Prosser for eight years when Prosser ran the Republican Assembly. In other words, she was employed by Prosser, the candidate.
People in the office who observed the canvass said the additional votes from Brookfield never came up. C'mon!
Apparently Charlie Sykes, National Review and right-wing bloggers had the story hours before it was announced. She admits that she discovered it at noon--sat on it for 29 hours! One person involved said it stinks to high heaven. Indeed! Can't believe it? I can and wish I could say I can't. But I can.
The Waukesha County Clerk, a Republican in the most Republican county in Wisconsin, says she kept vote tallies on her home computer! She noticed that none of the votes from Brookfield had been saved so she hit the save button! If you believe Kathy Nickolaus that this was human error, I have some real estate to sell you near the water! Count now says Prosser won easily--I don't believe it now and doubt I ever will! Mordecai Lee, a conservative former legislator and now professor can't believe it either.
"Never before," said Lee on Rachel Maddow show.
Now, I urge all groups to coordinate. No time to yell, "Look at me." This must be challenged and will be. I'm mad as hell!
Long way to go
Last night we warned that the Prosser/Walker/Fitzgerald group will try to win the recount. Before the horse even got out of the barn, a strong GOP area, Winnebago County, announced a "mistake" of a few hundred votes that were counted for Kloppenburg but should have gone for Prosser.
Hmmm! Lesson: This will be a roller-coaster in all likelihood so remain calm but get ready for a battle that might well go until June. One cynic from Illinois reminded us that in Chicago the machine kept enough votes in reserve in case they were needed to win. They wouldn't do that in Wisconsin would they? Remember the Al Franken race? Well, the stakes are high, so stay awake, volunteer, and be calm.
Congress get paid?
No way! If Congress would pass meaningful public financing of elections its members would not be raising money every day and might find time to pass a meaningful budget. But, no, they dither as government prepares to shut down.
Here is my open letter to the Wisconsin delegation:
"Dear Herb, Ron, Paul, Tammy, Gwen, Jamie, Duffy, Ribble, Tom: It looks like the Teapartiers are winning because your congressional leaders can't stand up to them. That is a damned shame and you should all shoulder part of the blame. People will suffer and some will die as a direct result of a shutdown of government and you know it. OK, you are helpless to persuade nuts like Boehner to get sensible. But you can take a stand.
"Here is my thought for you.
"When I was stationed at Fort Gordon as a Lieutenant in the Army, I learned an important lesson. A leader should not ask those under his command to do something he would not do. My thought for you? Stop getting paid immediately. You don't deserve a pay check but even if you disagree and argue that it is not your fault, you should suffer along with the rest of us.
"What to do with the money? I would donate it to the Wisconsin Arts Board, to homeless shelters, or to stem cell research at the Waisman Center. While it won't solve the 'make-believe' fiscal crisis, you will stand out in the crowd crowd of hand-wringers. You would be leaders. Make us proud!"
I leave you with this item from the NY Times: "The National Zoo would close, but the lions and tigers will get fed..." Yikes! Can't we even take care of the animals under our control?
And one total goof in the Wisconsin Legislature had a brilliant idea to cut from three meals a day in prison to two! Whoa Nelly. Get this guy some help.
Remember Florida in 2000? Can you imagine, as the Saturday Night Live writers did, what America would be like today had Al Gore been permitted to take the office he won? Think about it. No war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Libya. Whoa Nelly!
The right-wingers, from the Koch brothers, to GOP spent millions to steal the election for W. They were successful. Remember Ohio in 2004 where the GOP, with help from the biased Secretary of State, stole the election results in that key state?
Like locusts, the election-busters are ready to emerge from their cave, as they do every 2-4-6 years, to mount an attack on the Kloppenburg victory. Just who does this woman, attacked by Prosser for her Mary Poppins persona, think she is? She must be defeated. If not in the election then in the recount! WMC cannot stand by at the Madison Club bar watching democracy raise its ugly head. No sir...send in the clowns also known as lawyers, to challenge every young voter, every Hispanic voter, every Black voter...
Last night at our victory celebration the crowd rose and pledged not to let them steal this Supreme Court race. No sir! No way!
(By the way, we had a great time. Mayor-elect Soglin praised his opponent, the demonstrators, and the ethic of Madison. Hundreds came just to be with friends to hug, shake hands, applaud and enjoy. "You must enjoy the victories" was the theme, and we did. Did we ever! No time to slumber. The locusts are coming!)
April 6, 2011
It is beginning to look like a Kloppenburg victory! Sauk County, home of nine Fighting Bob Fests, came in and closed the gap. Then Ashland came in and moved her ahead. Still one precinct remains uncounted, so don't open the champagne yet. And there will be a recount.
But the party tonight will be fun. See you at the Barrymore.
Too close to call!
Those words are rolling around in my head this morning. A month ago, no one had heard of JoAnne Kloppenburg. Had the election gone as WMC and their "justice" David Prosser had planned, he would have won in a walk and yet now he might still lose to a new comer. Congratulations to JoAnne and to all those who marched, picketed, voted, and got neighbors to vote. She might still win when all the votes are counted, but even if Prosser squeaks in she ran a hell of a race and will play a major role in the future.
Wisconsin politics will never be the same. We can, in a perverse way, thank Scott Walker, "the arrogant," for getting us into the streets; we can thank the "Fab 14" (although Cullen should be dropped from the team) for slowing the train; we can thank the voters who agreed that this is a battle that must continue.
So, Chris Able replaces Walker in Milwaukee as County Exec; Paul Soglin is back; Mayor Dave will have a bright future; Joe Parisi will head government in Dane County.
I don't want to be Pollyanna, but I feel good and I am happy we rented the Barrymore for the party tonight. Join us and enjoy the moment. On to the recount! On to the recalls!
April 5, 2011
Today is the day!
Today we find out if Wisconsin is a progressive state. Get out the vote!
See you tomorrow night at the Barrymore.