June 30, 2012
Polls and polling
Now that the drama is gone from the political scene in Wisconsin we can get some information that might have been helpful during the recall and could be helpful in the future.
Let's begin with the Marquette Law School poll. The key person in starting a polling operation is Charles Franklin. He and his partner, Ken Goldstein, teach in the Poli Sci department at UW-Madison. Someone got an idea. "We study polling by others, why don't we do our own polling? It ain't brain surgery." But it might make lots of money for the two professors. If they are paid by Marquette, should that be a public record? And if not paid by Marquette, why are they doing this polling? Are we to conclude they are paying all the costs out of their pockets?
Someone contacted the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) or WPRI contacted Franklin/Goldstein and a meeting took place. The two sides loved the idea of working as a team. WPRI had the money from the the extreme right wingers at Bradley Foundation, and Franklin and his partner had the expertise. (Polling has become a weapon in politics because voters and media give pollsters more credibility than a news release.)
WPRI was so pleased that they announced the new "partnership" to the media. Franklin could release the info they wanted released but all the good stuff would remain hidden from the public. Why? Because Franklin and WPRI agreed to keep the information out of reach of Open Records, with an agreement that simply said none of their work would be subject to Open Records. This was disturbing because they could use the good name of the University of Wisconsin to push the Bradley (WPRI) agenda, keep all the data to themselves, dribble out information whenever they felt like it.
It was a marriage made in heaven, but if something seems too good to be true....When UW counsel told the duo that they could not avoid Fighting Bob's Open Records request because they are part of a public institution--the UW--they drooped the "partnership" and started over. This time with Marquette Law School which is outside the reach of Open Records.
Who cares, you ask? Well, the Bradley folks care in part because they can shape the debate in the public forum. Example: Q. Polls show that most Wisconsin voters oppose recalls. "How do you respond?" Or, "Tommy Thompson is way ahead of his rivals." Will funders take a pass? Now it is possible that the results announced by Marquette polling are correct, but it is also possible that they may have three or four polls and they discard the ones with results they do not like. Or they exaggerate.
Who pays for the polls? In the material we got from Open Records, it costs about $10,000 to make the calls for every poll. How much does it cost to keep a staff? How much are Franklin and Goldstein paid and who pays them?
Have they reached agreement as they did before the emergence of Marquette that a Journal Sentinel reporter will be given exclusive access to the polling results for 48 hours before released to the public? Is it ethical for the Journal Sentinel to enter into such an agreement? Is the JS part of the story? Maybe they should ask old "pants on fire" PolitiFact.
My poll shows that the JS should go public with an explanation.
June 29, 2012
Maybe some light
The extreme right has polarized politics so much that when a good thing happens to help millions of Americans there is weeping and gnashing of teeth by a major party and its candidate for president. Romney was true to form yesterday. He undoubtedly had a "victory" speech prepared but something went awry!
Mitt, never a financial care in his life; always with deep pockets, sons with millions in a trust account for each of them, never worried that they could not pick up the tab at Mayo Clinic or Sloan Kettering or UW Hospital. No concern about disabled child expenses. No, the idle Romneys have no financial worries so they can bravely step forward to demand self-reliance.
I see light at the end of the tunnel. I see a path that will take up to social and economic justice.
See you at Fighting Bob Fest.
The idea of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (another millionaire) seeking the presidency and vice presidency is laughable but it is not funny. What if Romney's plan a/k/a Ryan's budget becomes law? The exhiliration of today would quickly turn sour, but I am not worried about that. Why? Because the American people may be a little slow on the uptake, but when they understand the issues they will respond appropriately.
So wrong! So happy!
I can't believe it. You? Imagine the joy in America as the Supreme Court fooled us all by doing the right thing. Wow! I was so wrong and I am so happy to admit it. We don't get great big victories very often these days so break out the good stuff--let's have a party!
It is hard to imagine the chaos had the predictable happened. Instead of a surly Scalia, we would have had a happy Scalia and his Tonto Thomas! And if Scalia is unhappy I am happy most of the time. He is so certain he is the smartest person in the room he cannot imagine losing. Well, Antonin, get used to it. Now, for a bright shining moment in America, the people were pushed ahead of the bad guys! Roberts will make many more rulings and we will disagree on most but he is a hero today! Paul Ryan is upset, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's governor (Walker) is upset. And both cannot contain tier rage over the fact that "their guy" did it to them!
Poor Walker. He has already announced that he will not comply with the law! He wants to defeat Obama in November and then, maybe, he will shake hands at center ice but not before. What a spoiled brat is he! Maybe he will come to Fighting Bob Fest to explain the death panels!
June 28, 2012
Today is the day!
I am certain that the Supreme Court will do the wrong thing but rather than speculate, I will wait 30 minutes and get it straight from the horse's mouth.
I am still staggered by the Montana case so give me a breath before commenting on Obama care.
The Court in my view is Scalia. Smart but not as smart as he thinks; arrogant; mean; ideologue.
Don't forget to tune in to Fighting Bob Radio. We have a great program set for today at 11 a.m. Fighting Bob friends Mike McCabe and Matt Rothschild join Eric Schubring and myself. Call in with questions or comments at 213-943-3485.
June 27, 2012
One of our favorite legislators, Terese Berceau, has an idea that has appeal but might cause more trouble than it is worth.
Ohio has a system that permits citizens to target a particular law for repeal through referendum. When the awful Right to Work bill passed the Ohio Legislature and was signed by the governor, citizens rose up and killed it through the referendum process. Soon thereafter we learned that recall is not so popular.
Wisconsin permits targeting individuals for recall but not repeal of laws. Berceau says the Ohio system would be faster, less expensive, and more focused. She may be right, but be careful.
The problem is that WMC or Club For Growth or a dozen other right-wingers could go after all sorts of laws and they have the money to pull it off. If Berceau could keep big money out of the process it would work. But she cannot, and therefore lots of mischief could be caused by the same millionaires who dominate our electoral process. I think we should let the dust settle.
June 26, 2012
The five reactionary justices who struck down Montana's regulation of campaign contributions are not stupid or dull so I think they are either corrupt or ideologues who would feel comfortable at a Koch brothers retreat. A golden opportunity to revisit the disastrous Citizen's United decision, suggested the NY Times. Just the opposite is true. Montana gave them another opportunity to prove that once bought they remain bought.
Fifty years from now, historians will ask how such an idiotic position could be permitted to stand. Meanwhile, we can't give up or the corrupted win and we cannot permit that outcome.
Whoa Nelly! We are in trouble. If Romney wins and gets a pick for the Court, look out!
June 25, 2012
I heard about Dorothy Day many years ago. She founded the Catholic Workers Movement. Day, Michael Harrington, who wrote The Other America, and the Berrigans gave hope to thousands who believed in the goodness of the man. She wrote, "No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There's too much work to be done."
June 24, 2012
Oh what webs we weave...
"Oh what tangled webs we do weave when first we start out to deceive." The deception ibvolves the so-called Flex degree program at the UW. Walker says it is designed to improve education in Wisconsin. Walker would have you believe the program is not designed to raise money and to cut subsidies to the UW!
The recall came to a very welcome end and now the focus can return to the Koch boys, their governor and his policies. Walker exclaimed just before the vote on June 5 that the 250,000 new jobs pledged might still be possible. After the election, he has a new diversion to take our gaze from the job promise. He resuses to list the new jobs on the Internet; he won't say if the new jobs will be family supporting and will not give a hint about possible benefits. Some promise!
Last week the Koch-brothers and governor Walker started pushing a "flex degree" program at the UW Madison. What's that? Well, listen closely because this will soon be on Walker's agenda. Walker, whose only degree we know of is from high school, is concerned that only 26 percent of badgers have an undergraduate degree. (National average is 28 percent.) He claims there are 700,000 Wisconsin voters who have had a taste of university life and learning but have not finished fighting for a degree.
Get this. Walker and Co. think they can make lots of money if they can coax the 700,000 non-degree holders to get on board and sign up for a flex degree. Whoa Nelly! Most would pay a flat fee. Walker's model is the Western Governor's University, begun when western states could not meet rising costs. The great state University of Wisconsin's flex degree may be a new "revenue stream." Educational content? Who cares?
Sad news. Bob Weitzel died. He drowned while attempting a solo circum-navigation of Lake Superior by kayak. Bob and his wife were both teachers and Bob wrote often for Fighting Bob.com. He was an interesting and challenging writer.
Bob and his wife Debra participated in Fighting Bob Fest. My favortite post of his was "The Civil War this time: workers fight among themselves and the wealthy elites reap the benefits." (Read all of Bob's articles in our archives.) He will be missed. Thank you Bob for sharing your thoughts with us. You made a difference.
June 23, 2012
Here, there, and everywhere!
It used to be that the St. Norbert's poll was relied upon by Wisconsin Public Radio and the newspapers, but no longer. St. Norbert's polls would be released about 10 days before the election.
Now we are treated to the so-called Marquette Law School poll. St Norbert's always seemed slightly conservative but it was better than nothing. After a steady diet of Marquette Law School polls, St. Norbert's seem like a lefty operation.
About two years ago, voters in Wisconsin learned about a new poll. A poll that would not confine itself to upcoming elections. It would cover all sorts of results as if someone asked. Obviously someone did ask.
The new poll was supposed to be conducted by two political science professors in the UW-Madison political science department. They described the arrangement as a "partnership" with the Bradley Foundation front the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) in Madison.
We were intrigued by the partnership and asked the UW legal department, under Open Records, to provide all the details to Fighting Bob. The UW complied. We read the documents and learned a lot. For example, WPRI and UW Poli Sci tried to remain outside the reach of open records. Transparency was not a goal! They actually put in the memorandum of understanding that indeed they could keep all the information from the public. The memos were fascinating because it was clear that Poli Sci would do the heavy lifting but WPRI would own the material, frame the questions, own the results, and would give the poll results the "spin" desired. And WPRI could simply toss the results they didn't like, and no one would ever know. The partners agreed that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dave Umhoefer would get the data before any other reporters. After his story was written, other media people could obtain the polling results. JS pants on fire, soul missing in action.
But when the partners realized that their work would be subject to Open Records, the partnership immediately dissolved. They would find a new way to hide the polling material. Aha, go to private school Marquette--not covered by open records! Huzzah. Poli Sci prof Charles Franklin became ubiquitous throughout the recall process. The Journal Sentinel used the Franklin information to inform who was leading, who was behind, etc. The voters had no choice but to accept the Marquette findngs.
We asked who was paying for the Marquette Law School poll but never got an answer. We asked who staffed the Marquette Law School polling operation. No response. Back to the money. It costs about $10,000 to do the calling for each poll. Who pays? Who designs the poll? Who frames the questions asked?
No answers, but Franklin is now a "go-to" source for WPR, Here and Now, the State Journal and, of course the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel! If a poll is used by partisans, the results can have a substantial impact in fundraising, message, and more. Voters tend to trust polls--more than they trust TV or radio spots. If the Democratic Party wanted to become more relevant it could create a polling operation that would tell them what they need to know.
Like a bad penny, Franklin keeps showing up. Next?
June 22, 2012
Public sector unions dealt another blow
This time by the U.S. Supreme Court. Samuel Alito said that SEIU had a duty to seek approval before using the money of non-members. It is not enough to return money to the non-members later. This action was, according to Sam, an aggressive use of power to collect fees from non-members and is indefensible. SEIU violated the First Amendment. Any new dues assessment must start over.
We need a longer look at this decision, but the message seems to be, in part, that corporations are people and unions are not.
Say again: So you think you had a bad morning? How about Milwaukee-based law firm of Quarles and Brady. Yikes. Accused of becoming part of a Ponzi scheme, the law firm has settled for $26.5 million! A New York firm has agreed to pay $61 million to settle related claims. I'll venture a guess that the year-end party will be modest.
Peter Barca, a rational and smart legislator, seems to be trying to have us believe that the recall vote was not as bad as it seems. Barca is convinced that just because some people voted for Walker does not mean they support his policies. Really? Peter thinks that people just didn't like the idea of recalls. Well, who decided to plunge forward with the recall strategy? Who called it a mistake?
I predict a very lively debate at Fighting Bob Fest.
June 21, 2012
I have been calling lots of friends to determine "Plan B" now that governor Walker is governor for real. I am finding that here are precious few great ideas laying around. Regular voters are Burned out. What do we do?
Einstein said it best: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result."
FDR once said, "Do something. If that doesn't work, do something else but for heaven's sake, do something."
Fighting Bob Fest will be the testing ground for ideas we are collecting. Get ready!
Please tune in today to Fighting Bob Radio today at 11 a.m. Eric Schubring, David Giffey and I will be joined by Andy Kroll from MotherJones.com.
June 20, 2012
Headline in the Wisconsin State Journal: "UW TO OFFER FLEXIBLE DEGREE While the WSJ did not ask the governor if he will apply to become a UW graduate--"just call me Flex-Gov"--one can only speculate that Scott Walker will have his car deliver him to Bascom Hall for classes like Greek & Roman culture, Econ 101, and Polling As An Art Form in Shaping Debates. If the governor comes to Fighting Bob Fest we will ask what he has in mind.
We must ask lots of questions about this so-called flex program. After Walker and Biddy Martin failed to persuade the Board of Regents to privatize the Madison Campus, is the new, newer, newest Walker plan a back-door to privatization? My guess is yes, it is. Or is it a not-so-subtle plan to reduce or eliminate technical colleges?
Why is Flex-Gov so upset that 25.5 percent of Wisconsin's population has a bachelor's degree (two points less than the national average and 7 points less than Minnesota)? It is way way too simplistic to use these percentages without examination of all sorts of other data such as poverty levels, cost, tuition, etc.? And what does this have to do with the skyrocketing cost of tuition?
Our degree-less governor claims--call me Flex!--"This new model will help us close the skills gap at an affordable price." Sounds like a used car salesman to me. Since when do we have a skills gap that is holding back job creation? It won't be long before we home school thousands of kids, and educate them through "virtual schools" paid for with vouchers so they can remain at home getting a college degree! Whoa Nelly!
The campaign is over. I can ask: What in the world was Tom Barrett talking about when he kept looking into the camera and proclaiming that "the civil war must stop"? I get around the state and I never saw or even heard about a civil war, but Barrett seemed to be saying that both sides were engaged in a war. And did Walker "drop the bomb"? Do we need military terms to explain differences?
June 19, 2012
Romney the magnificent
The more we see of Mitt, the less we understand him. An exasperated Chris Matthews asked (and it was not a question), "Who is this guy?" Frankly, he is little more than a rich kid with a desire to be called "Mr. President." He will say anything to achieve that goal.
I don't think he is passionate about anything. Take the Dream Act. As a candidate in the GOP primary he did not hesitate to pledge that he would veto it if it was put on his desk. But now that Obama has put forth a reasonable solution to the illegal immigrant problem that comes close to the Dream Act, Romney has lost his voice. Bob Schieffer asked him at least five times about his response and five times Romney looked like a guy who could wait no longer to get to the bathroom.
I am eager to figure out our plans at Fighting Bob Fest. September 15. Jim Hightower will be there again. I don't think we would have a real Fighting Bob Fest without Hightower!
Terry O'Neill, president of NOW, will lead the discussion on the "war on women."
Mark the date on your calendar. September 15 for the biggest Bob Fest yet!
Nun of the GOP: Good for the nuns! The more the Vatican's old boys (and I mean old) instruct the nuns to ride in the back of the bus the more determined the nuns are, as they jump onto the budget protest bus to ride up front! Rosa Parks taught them well.
That bus will visit nine states, and in every stop the nuns will hammer the Republican austerity policies. They are determined to show how the Ryan budget will affect low-income families! Huzzah!
The tour is organized by Network, a Washington-based Catholic social justice group. Network was recently criticized by the Vatican for spending too much time focusing on economic injustice. I am not making this up.
Ryan will have his hands full as he bows his head before the portrait of Ayn Rand. The nuns will not let him slip away without comment.
There is the dream act and then there was the Ryan nightmare act.
June 18, 2012
Recalls are not favored? Who says?
All of a sudden, in the final stages of the recall, we heard that people in Wisconsin "don't like recalls" even though we had no experience with recalls. Some are arguing now that recall was the wrong vehicle. Really? Where did this idea come from? Would you be surprised if the Walker-Koch folks planted the idea and then pushed it?
Watching Bill Moyers yesterday it seemed to me that our favorite journalist--commentator--has concluded that democracy is on leave. Given the fact that the Koch robbers put $30-50 million into the Walker race and are poised to put many millions into Tammy Baldwin's race, we must discuss the likely outcome. Can you imagine how much money the extreme right would pay to have Tea Party control of the United States Senate? Imagine this scenario. It looks like the Wisconsin Senate race will determine control of the U.S. Senate. How much could they pour into Tammy's opponent? A total of $100 million would not shock me. If they do, can Tammy win?
It is hard to talk about the realities that are with us given the Supreme Court's nonsense; including
"money is speech" and "corporations are people" and no restrictions on the money! Let's face it: they have deep deep pockets and we don't.
Yet the day after the Walker victory we got a fundraising call from a Democratic group. And they will keep on flowing with the promise that "we can beat big money" but we need your $50, $100 or $1,000 dollar contribution to do it.
Jutice Ryan's speech comes to mind. Will we elect patriotic men and women or corporate serfs?
Look out folks.
June 17, 2012
FIGHTING BOB FEST
When I ask a progressive friend, "How are you?" I get a half-smile and a shrug. No one is fine with the results of the recall and few will venture an explanation of how the fantastic uprising turned into such a debacle.
Was it Barrett's fault? Hardly, although some suggest that by putting on "hold" his decision to seek the top job in the state until he was assured of a victory as mayor just in case he didn't win the gubernatorial race had the appearance of not being "all in."
But Tom did his best and ran a good campaign.
Was it Kathleen Falk's fault? Did big labor step on too many toes by traveling east to Milwaukee to tell Barett he should not run. Why? Because leaders of WEAC and AFSCME had already chosen Falk. (Who asked?)
How about the Democratic Party? Two disasters. First they lost Feingold's seat, Obey's seat, both houses of the Legislature and the governor's office. Then the showing in the recall elections was not pretty.
Ah, how about the real culprit: big money. Bingo! Tens of millions of dollars thrown into the recalls paid off. I can hardly wait for next year! What is the Party doing to counter Citizen's United? Not much other than to ask rank-and-file Democrats to give and give and give some more.
Fighting Bob Fest number 11 will provide the forum. September 15 at the Dane County Coliseum. We will have great speakers as always, but we are determined to search for answers to our sick democracy. To do that we have decided to spend more time listening to you. More time will be devoted to breakout sessions. We need a plan and you will help lead the way.
So, come prepared to think, ask questions and suggest answers. We will have more time devoted to breakout sessions, and that will give you an opportunity to share your thoughts.
June 16, 2012
Outrageous! Political! All of the above.
President Obama placed a tack on teacher's chair. He bypassed Congress. Oh, no! Not that. Homeland Security will not move to deport young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, are high school grads, or are in the army. The quote I like best came from Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, perhaps the dimist bulb, who said, "The president's action is an affront to the process of representative government by circumventing Congress and with a directive he may not have the authority to execute."
Time for a nap, Chuck. "An affront to Congress"? A Congress that refuses to compromise on anything and has in essence eliminated representative government from the scene. A Congress that has made representative government a joke by refusing to work with the president! A Congress that turned every vote into a filibuster! An affront? Surely you jest.
Good for you, Mr. President.
June 15, 2012
And there is football, soccer, etc.
More than 285,000 children ages 5 to 15 play in Pop Warner football leagues. Long-term cognitive problems have become the concern of parents, coaches and Congress. Will football go the way of boxing? Boxing was once the number one sport at the University of Wisconsin. Then a boxer died of injuries sustained in boxing.
The concern is obvious--does the repetitive hitting of heads cause long-term problems of the brain? Can football become injury free? Is soccer with the "headers" as dangerous or more dangerous than football?
Will every school offering football and soccer have a doctor at all practices and games? For years we heard that a player "had his bell rung." That meant, of course, that he had a concussion. Recall someone on the sidelines holding up three fingers and asking the player how many he saw! Rather primitive testing. Hells bells with the cutbacks in extra curricular sports because of money problems, school boards will not pay for neurologists at games not to mention practice. It comes to this. Will you permit your child to play football?
Adelson is the name corruption the game!
Sheldon Adelson. We all cringed whenever we learned that he gave Newt another 5 or 10 million dollars during primary season. Five or 10 million is a lot for us to think about--a pittance for the ultra rich. We knew Adelson's views on the Middle East. He wanted assurances that president Newt would bomb Iran as soon as he got to the White House! And he was not shy about it. Mitt will be as loyal a lap dog as Newt! Just watch. Adedlson is back and he brought cash with him. He has given $35 million to GOP super PACS already and it is only June! He promises to personally give $100 million to super PACS.
The NY Times says Obama is struggling to compete. No kidding! And our old pals David and Charles Koch have pledged to raise $400 million for issue groups aligned with their brand of ultra-conservatie nonsense.
Adelson is known for his hawkish views on American foreign policy--and Israeli politics. So, if you are worried that the boots on the ground will be your son's boots, call Adelson now. It is now obvious even to the Obama administration that there is simply too much money to overcome even with help from labor and all the rich Democrats! Sorry--back of the fundraising bus for you!
Democracy is not dying. It is dead. I mean it and so should you. Throughout the Walker campaign I heard "wishes not thoughts" that hard work and shoe leather could beat the Koch fortune. We relied on our delusions to get us through. We didn't make it.
So, what can we do? Step one, we spend more time in working groups at Fighting Bob Fest on September 15.
Second, we come up with a plan for post-democratic America. Third--well, your turn. But for heaven's sake don't tell us that money doesn't count! It does!
June 10, 2012
It could happen anywhere!
Why has Wisconsin been ground zero for all sorts of right-wing experiments? I believe it is because the right thinks, "If we can do it there--the land of LaFollette, Gaylord Nelson and Bob Kastenmeier---we can do it anywhere!" School vouchers? Wisconsin. Break public sector unions? Wisconsin. Spend $50-60 million (unlimited) on a recall election? Wisconsin. Privatize our University? Just wait!
MJS would have you believe that a few beers and brats will smooth over the disaster handed to us by Fitzgerald and Walker. Prayer, family, and more prayer and more schmaltz will make us forget the purchase of Wisconsin by a couple of guys who got started in Wisconsin with parents who formed the John Birch Society. Walker is not Gaylord. He is a tool of the super wealthy. Whether or not he tries to bring back Tail Gunner Joe is pure speculation for now. But Bernie Sanders said it well: "If they can do it in Wisconsin..."
Bernie Sanders, Fighting Bob Fest's inspiration, said, "I have a deep concern that what we saw in Wisconsin can happen in any state throughout the country." I agree. Citizens United was and is a disaster.
It is almost humorous to read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's post-election analysis. Almost but not quite. MJS would have you believe that Democrats must change and move to the center without noticing that the center has moved!
June 9, 2012
AFSCME was a born in Wisconsin; Jerry Wurf was the guiding light, Madison lawyers Dick Cates and John Laughten were the trail-blazing attorneys helping to establish the union throughout Wisconsin and beyond. I can say, without hesitation, that Wurf was effective. He fought like hell for his members. He put AFSCME on the political map and his members got higher wages and benefits they could only dream about pre-Wurf. His union spread across the country and became a force in politics, primarily at the local levels of government. But with some success in local politics and with millions of dollars in the bank, AFSCME opted to get into national politics in a big way. They spent millions.
The union was never afraid to jump into difficult battles. (The state AFSCME leaders thought they could name the Democrats' candidate for governor and they were wrong.)
Now what? Well, membership has dropped, the union cannot bargain effectively, Koch-Walker has the upper hand, and without dues check-off they face a financial crisis. A song pops into my head--"Brother Can You Spare a dime?"
Wurf was a terrible guy to work for but he got results. Wurf died and Jerry McEntee was elected in a highly contentious election.
Prior to AFSCME's arrival on the scene, it was not legal to form a union of public sector workers and clearly illegal for those on the public payroll to engage in collective action--namely strikes. Public employees were second-class workers.
There is an internal battle within AFSCME as Jerry McEntee, union president, is set to retire, and a heated battle is raging between two candidates vying to succeed McEntee. It is unclear what changes, if any, will result if McEntee's favorite, Saunders, is defeated by Donohoe or if Saunders wins.
Why spend time on this union battle less than a week from the disaster known as "Koch-Walker"? Because one union can often set the table for Democrats in Wisconsin. It was AFSCME and WEAC leaders who drove to Milwaukee to tell Mayor Barrett not to run. When word leaked out about that move, their favorite, Kathleen Falk, was wounded and labeled, fairly or not, as the union candidate. She never regained her footing.
Possibly the most disturbing stat from the recall is that about one-third of union households voted for Walker.
Maybe AFSCME should spend some time organizing and educating its members before November. And Democrats should set their agenda on their own.
June 7, 2012
Hurry up before November
The hangover might be worse than you anticipated. WEAC put $4 million into the recall...much of that went into the Falk campaign. Executive director Dan Burkhalter said "we had nothing to lose." Mary Bell, president of WEAC, met with the JS editorial board yesterday long before a strategy could be discussed with pro-union forces. Does Bell think the JS will see the light? Bell's MO seems to be to meet with the adversary before friends have time to smell the coffee. Yes, business as usual!
The JS editorial board is hardly a friendly place for a union leader. One must question the urgency of explaining moves to the opposition. Moves that didn't work, at this moment. The Democratic Party convention is this weekend in Appleton. Will the faithful open the windows for fresh air?
Bell said, and I am not making this up, "We are unsure whether the governor will be open to discussing public education in the state." Whoa Nelly! Here is the quote of the day: "We have to find a better way to have a civil dialogue," said Bell. This reminds me of a story told by my 5th grade nun. A saint was being burned at the stake. She allegedly said, "Turn me over I'm done on this side."
WEAC sounds like that martyr. Parse Bell's statement. "We" (who is the "we"?) "must find a better way." Oh, really? You think Walker is itching to roll up his sleeves and get into a discussion about saving public education with teachers? That the victor believes there must be a "better way" to be civil? C'mon!
WEAC membership has dropped from 90,000 to 70,000. But the leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues and as their leaders are meeting with the governor to seek civility, and, with fingers crossed, a discussion on public school funding.
And WEAC is working on membership drives this summer.
It looks like Democrats will control the Senate with a one vote margin. (A formula for disaster if ever I have seen one. Remember how Tommy lured conservative Democratic legislators with job offers? Jobs that paid more?) And, with a one-vote majority every Democrat becomes a king maker on every issue.
Democrats in the Legislature can hardly wait to occupy the new majority digs. Given the fact that elections are just six months away and the GOP-Koch coffers are full, I suggest that the Dems keep their bags packed and hit the campaign trail.
Meanwhile Mark Miller wants a "smooth transition," as if that mattered. Ah, yes, no more civil war. Instead of war we will have dialogue! ad nauseum. Miller said this as if giving his acceptance speech for the Lady Bing award in the NHL. I am not kidding. He said, "There is now in place a system of checks and balances in terms of the Legislature and that is an important benefit for the people of Wisconsin." Wow.
Note to Miller: The Senate won't meet this year. And the Walker-Koch folks don't play bean bags. They will slit your throat if you leave it exposed. Dialogue, checks and balances? Rodney King moves to Madison to urge that we all just get along!
June 6, 2012
See you at Fighting Bob Fest!
It was a hard pill to swallow. It seemed like progressives and Democrats worked hard, remained united, raised lots of money, collected one million recall petitions, put coalitions together, ran good campaigns, and got the vote out. Check, check, check and check. But it didn't work.
Something is wrong and we should take some time to figure it out. Thanks to John Lehman's apparent victory in Racine there is some time for introspection.
One thing is clear. The problems started long before the uprising, the recall, and last night's electoral defeat. Finger pointing is a dangerous game. When you point a finger the other four digits point at you.
Remember that the elections in 2010 saw Wisconsin Democrats with the worst record in the U.S. Wisconsin Democrats lost a Senate seat; lost a House seat; lost control of the Assembly and the Senate, lost the governor's chair. "Pathetic" would have summed it up. We started this round behind the 8-ball and it was not easy.
After the hollering at the GOP party and the sarcastic screech from Lt. Gov Kleefich, "This is what democracy looks like!" Walker has some things to think about. He will have to do some work. There are still the 250,000 jobs to create; there is a question about the quality of the created jobs; there is campaign reform. Now that the recall is over, the John Doe investigation should speed up. Is it possible Walker will be indicted? Who knows, but he is taking it seriously with $160,000 put in a legal defense fund. That ain't hay, as they say.
Assuming that the Democrats are in control of the Senate and remain steadfast, Walker's right-wing agenda will slow to a walk. And those big givers will get tired of questions about the favors they expect from Walker & Co. While the Journal Sentinel mulls the prospect of a Walker vice presidency, Paul Ryan won't be in the cheering section.
First thought. We need to open Fighting Bob Fest XI to get your perspective. Fewer speakers and longer breakout sessions are called for. We have roughly 30,000 visitors per week on Fighting Bob.com--we need 60,000. Fighting Bob Blog Talk Radio must expand exponentially. We look forward to 10 thousand at Fighting Bob Fest.
All this to say, roll up your sleeves and get ready for a wide-open heated Fighting Bob Fest. I can hardly wait. September 15 is the date--see you there!
June 5, 2012
The joy of Election Day!
I always enjoy Election Day. After shaking every hand, speaking to thousands of people, writing issue papers, engaging in debate--now it is up to the voters. You can't sit back yet because you must get the voters out to vote, but tomorrow you will be able to relax.
Progressives should be proud today because you have done everything possible, within the rules, to win.
What a party we will have!
June 4, 2012
This is it! Today is June 4 and tomorrow is Election Day
The enthusiasm is all around us; canvassers are knocking on doors; phone calls are annoying but necessary. An incredible event in Baraboo Sunday night. Honestly, I have never felt so much electricity in an event as I did on Sunday. John Nichols took the roof off and the crowd loved it.
And now we must tackle Citizen's United. It has been a disaster as we predicted it would be. How much was poured into Wisconsin to save Governor Koch-Walker? Somewhere around 50 million dollars. Egad! That is obscene! But, as several of you you have pointed out, with all the millions spent propping up governor Koch-Walker, he has been unable to reach 50 percent in the polls. Could be wrong, but I feel that the momentum is flowing in Barrett's direction.
While I think Walker will lose, this sort of wild-spending must stop. We cannot continue fighting the huge corporations year in and year out. The time has come to take back our state. We must demand public funding of campaigns and I mean demand.
June 3, 2012
The MJS hates the idea of recalls and, as I learned last night, has always opposed the idea of recalls. The genius of recall, fought for by Fighting Bob LaFollette and the progressives, is that the people can rise up and recall public officials who are not representing the will of the people. Above the conference table in the governor's office is the quote that sums it up: "The will of the people shall be the law."
The powers that be don't like ceding control over government to the people. The rabble should be satisfied with letters to the editor, and if they don't like the way things are going they can get ready to "throw the rascals out" at the next election. If you doubt it, read the JS endorsement of Scott Walker. It is pathetic.
Then read the story in today's paper: "If Scott Walker wins the election, he will cement his status as a national figure among conservatives and will be able to dream of a political prize as great as the presidency." Whoa Nelly! Have they lost their wits?
I can only guess if President Walker will take the Marquette pollsters with him to Washington. If he does, what will fill the pages of the JS?
They missed a terrific event in Baraboo last night, but that is hardily a surprise. Hundreds packed the theater and heard John Nichols and others explain the genius of recall. Too bad, citizens of Milwaukee. Get thee to the Internet.
June 2, 2012
Where oh where?
The first question I get from everyone I talk to from old friends to friends in Zumba for Parkinson's class is "Are you hopeful?" When I tell them Barrett will win by 5 percent the reaction is way beyond good--it is a smile, a handshake, often a hug and another smile.
Second question, "Why won't Obama or Biden come to Wisconsin to help us?" I don't have a good answer, so I conclude that it is probably a David Axelrod plan to assume states like Wisconsin with big margins in the last presidential election are "in the bag" this time. So go where there is trouble, focus on marginal states like Virginia. Or it could be that they are afraid of a loss tacked on his chest. So, they say, Obama might help elect Barrett but it is "risky." If he is anything he is risk averse.
I do think Barrett will win. It will be close, but there is so much enthusiasm for the good guys that I believe people will turn out in great numbers. The uprising has made politics fun again. Sure beats hell out of sitting at the Madison Club bar waiting to hear the results.
It is easy for the Koch boys to write a check, but you won't see them going door-to-door. Even if they hire people to go door-to-door or make telephone calls the campaign person must be personable and a believer in the cause to persuade an undecided voter. Yes, it is hard to believe but there are some "undecided" voters out there. There are also some Reagan Democrats who are not comfortable with Walker, Koch or Kleefisch. They get no smiles, no handshake, no hugs. Might get an expletive.
So go in peace but keep your powder dry. Visualize the party on the 6th.
June 1, 2012
The final inning
So it comes down to this. Walker assures us that as a former Eagle Scout, his "integrity has always been high"! (I am not making this up.) But the Eagle Scout won't tell us if he has appeared as a witness in the John Doe hearing and the MJS slumbers on.
Barrett says the emails should be part of the public record. The judge says if a person has not appeared before him he can do what he wants with documents in his control. Thus, logic suggests that if he has not been witness he can (and in my opinion should) release all the emails now.But he doesn't want to. If he has appeared in court and is not a target, he should immediately return the $160,000.
His gamble is that the DA won't say anything before trial; the judge won't say; and none of the 13 former aids given immunity will say--until the election is over on Tuesday.
What happens if the governor wins the election and is then indicted? Good news for Walker should that happen--he has a defense fund at the ready! Whoa Nelly!
As of yesterday, he reported that he took $160,000 for legal defense. He cannot use that money, however, unless he gets gets permission from the contributors. How could he get that permission unless he tells the givers what is happening in the john Doe!
GOOD FOR BILL CLINTON. He will be in Milwaukee TODAY TO HELP GOTV efforts. Obama and Biden? Why aren't they here?
Campaign Reform? Barrett says yes, Walker won't say.