It cannot be said that the citizens of Wisconsin didn’t truly get what they asked for when they had a chance to shitcan Republican Governor Scott Walker, but for some inexplicable reason, opted not to oust the lickspittle Koch whore. Nope, Wisconsin voted this toady to the rich and powerful in twice and well, that clearly wasn’t an accident, now was it? By any metric, Gov. Walker’s tenure in the statehouse has been a disastrous and divisive few years for Wisconsin, near the bottom in job creation and with a host of other problems the Charlie Brown-ish Walker has done little to solve and much to exacerbate.
But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.
Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???
Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:
Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.
Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”
If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”
And they’ll do it all while wearing fucking masks!
Welcome to late period capitalism, baby! Which side of the fork do you reckon you’ll be on?
Worth mentioning that the Republicans who voted to push through the mine over community objections promised that Gogebic Taconite would be creating local jobs. So of course, the first thing, the very first thing that G-Tac did was import their paramilitary mercenaries from Scottsdale, AZ…
Something else worth mentioning? The land is actually open to the public and Bulletproof’s militarized rental cops do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property. And again, this is property that they do not own!.
Here’s a news report on this highly disturbing development from WISC-TV:
Sarah Palin might be a fucking idiot, but as the saying goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day. Via Politico:
“I think that the Democrats there understand that the president’s no-show represents the fact that Obama’s goose is cooked,” Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News soon after networks called Walker the projected winner of the historic recall. She was referring to President Barack Obama’s decision not to campaign for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
As she denounced Obama’s “hopey changey stuff”, the former Alaska governor continued: “More and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote … is the complete opposite of what president Obama and the White House represents today.”
Palin predicted that the Obama administration will try to downplay Walker’s victory and distance itself from the GOP’s win in Wisconsin.
“Jay Carney — can’t wait to see how he spins all this and ignores it, and President Obama himself,” she said. “They’re going to really try to distance themselves from this despite the fact that they, leading their lapdogs in the leftist media, made this a front page story for how many months? Months and months.”
She’s 100% correct.
Democrats can argue all they want that the WI recall election’s blowout conclusion has nothing to do with Obama’s electoral fortunes in the state—or nationally—but they’re just whistling past the graveyard.
It was fucking ridiculous to watch the deer-in-the-headlights pundits on MSNBC last night try to spin Walker’s victory AS IF it was, in fact, good news for Obama.
By that standard the 2010 election must have been terrific for Democrats also…
After a year and a half of heated debate, many brutally cold winter days and plenty of heroic, hard work, it’s judgement day in Wisconsin.
I hope for the best (a Tom Barrett win) but expect the worst (polls are tight, but favor Scott Walker), so first a little levity:
A CEO, a Tea Partier and a union organizer sit down at a table, on which there is a dish of 12 cookies.The CEO takes 11 of the cookies and says to the Tea Partier, “That union guy wants part of your cookie.”
Remember that joke, it’s going to come in hand—quite a bit, probably—in the coming years…
In the final stretch of the recall election, it cannot be denied, the Republicans did what they do best: They divided and now they look set to conquer. Who would have thought that even a $30 million dollar war chest would have been enough to turn the tide that saw well over a million signatures on Walker recall petitions?
Not me, to be honest. I should stop underestimating the GOP, I really should.
Why Scott Walker could be the new Nixon.
Walker himself said the other day that he’s meeting people all over the state who tell him how RESENTFUL they are that public sector employees have better benefits than they do.
A plan for DUMMIES and people who’ve had 30 million dollars worth of cynical propaganda and bullshit fill their mental space for months now…
Obviously there IS a class war going on in America today, but in Wisconsin, the GOP has (brilliantly) hit upon a new recipe for (probable) electoral success: Pit working class people vs OTHER working class people.
If Walker does manage to hold onto his job today, expect much more of this exact same strategy in the future, in other states and even on a national, presidential level. Wisconsin was a laboratory of how to subvert democracy and a popular uprising with lies, cynicism and lots and lots of money.
Whether or not it’s Walker or Tom Barrett who wins when the votes are counted tonight, the GOP has learned a seriously fucked up new trick that has grave implications for American democracy.
Pit the middle class against each other! It’s a genius move. The politics of resentment are in full flower in Wisconsin today.
The GOP will hold the red states until the end of time with that strategy.
This, I think is the biggest take-away lesson of the entire process, especially for the Republicans. A certain segment of Wisconsin’s population has been successfully “moronized” (in the sense that “father of the New Left” Herbert Marcuse used the term in the 1960s). They’ve got a working blueprint for doing it. Win or lose this one, the implications are fucking enormous for well-funded, state-of-the art Republican political campaigns moving forward.
If Walker wins today, as expected, team GOP will have pulled off an election miracle (albeit a very well-funded miracle). When you consider how the palpable anti-Walker tidal-wave that saw over one million signatures gathered on the recall petitions and compare that with where we are today, when the polls are all telling us that Walker will squeak by and get to hold his job… I mean fuck it, it must be said WELL DONE REPUBLICANS.
They might be evil geniuses, but they are geniuses, nevertheless.
Later, as night fell over Milwaukee, Walker rocked the Serb Hall, presenting himself as a man of courage and big ideas who is trying to move Wisconsin forward, only to be stymied by backward-thinking Democrats and out-of-state “special interests.” (We pause here for a moment to laugh loudly enough that the Koch Brothers to hear us.) The governor’s speech was just as spirited as Barrett’s was, but oddly disjointed. “Isn’t it amazing,” he asked the crowd, “that politics is the only business where you get credit for courage just for keeping your word?” He also deplored the recall for what he said was the uncertainty it had created among the “job creators” and the small-business community in the state. “Truth,” he told the crowd, “is on our side.”
Out in the parking lot, I fell into conversation with Phil Waseleski, who was wearing a T-shirt celebrating the U.S. Postal Service that was festooned with Scott Walker buttons. Phil was a letter carrier in the neighborhoods around the Serb Hall for nearly 40 years, but he retired last year when his days were cut back to three a week as part of the fiscal crisis forced upon the USPS by Republican legislators who would like to see it go away entirely.
“A friend once told me, ‘Well, we only need mail three or four days a week,’” Phil told me. “I politely told him, ‘Dave, we’re gonna have to agree to disagree.’ I could have told him, ‘Dave, you know, maybe at that engineering place where you work, they only need you three days a week, and then you could come help us.’
“The politicians, I think, it’s a tough call, because if you don’t keep the postal service in business — you and I will both agree that there’s nothing more personal than taking pen in hand to write to your mother, sister, or brother. Until June of last year, I gave my heart and soul to my job. I worked right through lunch most days.”
Eventually, I asked him why he was here, at the Serb Hall, supporting Scott Walker, whose politics were far more in tune with the people who are trying to strangle the postal service than they are with the people who still work there. Phil told me that it was about his sister-in-law. “The problem is that, when you start handing out free health care out to teachers, that annoys me to no end,” he said. “I never got free health care. My brother’s wife is a teacher and I once asked her, when I was getting my teeth worked on, what it cost her and she said, ‘Nothing.’ It should never get to that point where somebody’s getting free health care. Something’s way out of whack there.”
Something IS, of course, out of whack, but it’s not what Phil Waseleski—a man who was himself a GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE—perceives it to be. Why on earth would one working person who himself saw his work days cut back support a union-busting asshole like Scott Walker in order to see that the hard fought gains of other middle-class people LIKE HIMSELF will get erased???
The answer, of course, is that Phil Waseleski and other fucking idiots like him have been cynically manipulated to essentially cast a vote AGAINST other working people so that billionaire “job creators” like the Koch brothers can move on to breaking the backs of the private sector unions, too, and rape and pillage the state of Wisconsin without much further ado.
Phil, that’s what you voted for, buddy. Do you realize how stupid you—a former GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE with a chest full of Scott Walker buttons—appear to someone who is (there is no delicate way to put this) smarter than you are? You don’t quite get it, do you, Phil?
It’s sheer idiocy for the working man to support Scott Walker and the Republicans. Nothing but sheer blinkered, uncut idiocy… and you, Phil, with a USPS tee-shirt and Walker badges could be the idiot’s poster boy…
Phil Waseleski, are you really the kind of man who wants to cast your vote in a democracy to cut other working people down to size and take what was theirs and give that to people like the Kochs and Diane Hendricks who make more in ONE HOUR than you did in your best year ever?
Charles Pierce must’ve puked in his mouth a little when he heard you speak this nonsense, you old coot!
If you find yourself reading this, Phil, can you please explain to the people who read your comments to Charles Pierce (in the comments either here or at Esquire), how you came to think this way. I cannot for the life of me understand how Walker and his billionaire reichwing patrons were able to convince one working person to resent other middle-class wage-earners, wish to see them economically punished and to reward two billionaires who inherited their money in the first place? It all makes zero sense to me. I need your help.
It’s not exactly a secret that the Republican party’s natural constituency is obscenely wealthy people and older, easily-manipulated idiots, especially Fox News watchers. Phil, as an obvious older idiot, would you mind, please, explaining to Dangerous Minds readers what happened in Wisconsin, from your perspective as an easily manipulated fool?
PS Phil, have you ever seen this clip? Which one of these guys is you? This is not a trick question, I promise:
In the article, Bottari lists who has been charged and what the charges are so far in Wisconsin’s ‘John Doe’ investigation that’s circling ever tighter around embattled Gov. Scott Walker, with the long-awaited recall vote now just hours away:
So far the investigators have charged six people with 15 felonies; one person, who turned himself in to prosecutors, was convicted on two counts:
* Timothy Russell (former deputy chief of staff to Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker) was charged with two felonies, and one misdemeanor related to embezzlement of donations intended for Wisconsin veterans in a special fund, which was created at Walker’s direction. The money was used by Russell and his partner, Brian Pierick, to take a few vacations. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Brian Pierick (partner of Timothy Russell): charged with two felonies involving child solicitation. It appears Russell’s phone records led to Pierick and a nasty story about two men soliciting a 17-year old minor for sex. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Kevin Kavanaugh (appointed by Walker as a county veterans’ official): charged with five felonies related to embezzlement from the veterans fund. Kavanaugh appears to have been raiding the funds separately from Russell. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Kelly Rindfleisch (former deputy chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): charged with four felonies relating to campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Rindfleish’s worked on a secret wifi system in her office just steps away from Walker’s office. Rindfleisch continued to work for Walker’s campaign until she was charged. Read the criminal complaint here.
* Darlene Wink (former aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker): pled guilty to two unclassified misdemeanors as part of a deal that she made with the prosecutors relating to working on campaign fundraising while on the county payroll. Winks office was down a short hallway from Walker’s. Read the complaint here.
* William Gardner (President and CEO of Wisconsin & Southern Railroad): Gardner pled guilty to felony violations of Wisconsin’s election campaign laws in April of 2011. Gardner tried to convince prosecutors that his $50,000 in illegal contributions to Walker, which he funneled through his employees and a girlfriend, was an innocent mistake, except he had done the same thing the previous year. Read the criminal complaint here.
I can certainly appreciate Walker supporters and undecideds who might conclude that there is nothing that has been inserted into the debate by anyone with first hand knowledge of the investigation that would support the claims being made by opponents. I can additionally appreciate that, in America, we are all innocent until proven guilty and that even an indictment, should it occur, is an accusation—not a conviction.
Accordingly, a voter might well decide that the Governor is entitled to the benefit of the doubt at this point in time.
But one can certainly see how a Wisconsin voter might be concerned over what an indictment might mean to the state going forward.
Indeed, a voter who concludes that there is likely to be some truth to the increasing reports of a pending indictment, might view the potential of charges being filed against a sitting governor as another major distraction that will only make an already bad situation worse. It would also seem fair to at least consider that, even if Scott Walker was not involved in the shenanigans going on under his nose in the Milwaukee County Executive office, what does it say about an executive who operated without any knowledge of crimes that were being committed just a few steps from his office by people who have already been convicted or granted immunity in exchange for their testimony against fellow Scott Walker employees?
It would be nice to say that this all ends on Tuesday.
Yet, by all appearances, there is some reason to anticipate that a Walker win may only be the end of the recall process while just the beginning to an, arguably, even more disturbing era in Wisconsin government.
Or not. On this one, it’s up to Wisconsin voters to make the call.
What’s ultimately depressing is reading something like this, from Reuters:
Victoria Marone, who has several “Stand With Walker” signs in the yard of her Milwaukee home, said on Saturday she was worried that the massive union effort could still overcome Walker’s efforts.
“Unions ... are like rabid dogs with their jaws clenched down on your arm and won’t let go,” said Marone, who was a school teacher for more than 50 years.
Walker far outspent Barrett and the Democrats on television advertising in the run-up to the recall.
John Larrabee, a truck driver who also had a “Stand with Walker” sign in his Milwaukee yard, said he agreed with Walker that joining a union should be voluntary.
“This is class warfare,” Larrabee said. “They’re trying to pit those that are successful with those that want to sit on their butt.”
Although the wild rumors of Scott Walker leaving behind his love-child from a college-age tryst seemed just a bit far-fetched (a sex scandal seems so unlikely for a guy with a face like Walker’s, don’t you think?) and truly “too good to be true,” the same can’t be said when an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, a former Attorney General and a former District Attorney all say that Walker IS the target of the so-called “John Doe” investigation… on a federal level.
It would kind of make sense, um, considering that THIRTEEN of Walker’s subordinates have been granted immunity and five people close to him have already been indicted.
With the recall election less than two days away, federal prosecutors are closing in on Governor Scott Walker, according to veteran political reporter David Shuster, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, and former district attorney Bob Jambois.
In a conference call organized by state Democrats on Saturday evening, June 2, Shuster, Lautenschlager, and Jambois laid out evidence that Walker is a target of a federal investigation.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Communications Director Graeme Zielinski added that there is evidence of wrongdoing after Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, and that the investigation includes criminal activity during his time as governor.
Based on conversations with a lawyer who has knowledge of the investigation, “We believe that Scott Walker set up a secret computer network in the governor’s office and Department of Administration offices, and that the John Doe investigation is seeking evidence of crimes he committed in Madison,” Zielinski said.
Walker denied the allegations. At a campaign event on Saturday, Walker answered “absolutely not” to reporters’ questions—raised by David Shuster’s reporting for Take Action News—about whether he had been informed, either formally or informally, that he might be a target of federal prosecution. “I’ve never heard a single thing about that, other than spin from the left,” Walker said. He described the allegations as “just more of the liberal scare tactics out there desperately trying to get the campaign off target.”
“I stand by my reporting 100 percent,” Shuster said in the conference call. “It’s clear to me that he is, in fact, a target in a federal investigation.”
Despite copious reporting, especially in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about the Milwaukee County district attorney’s probe of alleged violations when Walker was county executive—including a secret email network maintained by his staff for the purpose of conducting illegal campaign activity on county time, the theft of funds intended for the widows and orphans of Iraq War veterans, and possible favorable treatment of campaign donors seeking public contracts, not much has been written about the FBI probe.
“The Wisconsin press has only reported about the John Doe—the state component,” said Zielinski. “They have not reported on the federal component of this.”
“I’ve been reporting on federal grand juries for twenty years”—including Justice Department probes of former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, Monica Lewinsky, Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, and Jack Abramoff—said David Shuster, a former reporter for Fox News and anchor for MSNBC, who now works with Take Action News and as a host on Current TV.
In his reporting on FBI involvement in the current probe of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Shuster said he consulted with Justice Department attorneys in the public integrity section and “I got independent confirmation that he’s a target.”
Shuster said that he had learned Scott Walker’s attorneys had been seeking to have their client publicly cleared of wrongdoing for the last five or six weeks, in the run-up to the recall election. Prosecutors could not clear him, Shuster said, because Walker is a target.
The ongoing John Doe investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney has led to criminal charges against three of Walker’s former aides, an appointee, and a major donor. Thirteen of Walker’s associates have been granted immunity—including Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie.
Recent campaign finance filings show that Walker has transferred a total of $160,000 into a criminal defense fund— the only criminal defense fund maintained by a governor of any state in the nation.
Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce is one of the best political writers in America today. Hand’s down. He’s truly a great writer in the great tradition of great writers at Esquire (well done whoever hired him to do a daily blog). His prose and insights are so good that it kind of pisses me off that MSNBC, Current TV or even CNN haven’t realized what a tremendous political thinker and writer Pierce is and hire him on to be a featured pundit. He’s got important things to say about American politics and he should be as well-known as Paul Krugman, if you ask me…
Pierce will be closely following the Scott Walker recall election in the coming week and I expect that he’ll be providing some of the best coverage of what I feel is GROUND ZERO for the rights of the working class in America and the single most important thing that the national Democrats should be supporting—no matter what DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz seems to think... (I do hope she watched the Rachel Maddow segment posted below. I suspect she has and I suspect that it had an effect, too: Hello Bill Clinton, welcome to Wisconsin! Where the fuck is your buddy, Obama???).
The most telling moment came when Barrett treed Walker on the question of whether he plans to transform Wisconsin wholly into a right-to-work state, as Walker appeared to say to a wealthy backer on a videotape released back on May 10. Walker has consistently ducked the question, and he did so again last night, saying that a right-to-work bill would never reach his desk, and that he refused to comment on a “hypothetical”:
“I’ve said it’s not gonna get there, you’re asking a hypothetical..And the reason I say that is I saw what happened over the last year and half. And I don’t want to repeat that discussion. I think most people in the state, Democrat and Republican alike, want to move forward.”
There are enough weasels in that sentence to make a coat. What, exactly, does “moving forward” mean in this context? Does anyone seriously believe at this point that Walker would be reluctant to sign a right-to-work bill because of what’s happened in Wisconsin since he blackjacked the public employees, that he’s in any way chastened, that the people who groomed him and who are financing his campaign now to the tune of $30 million aren’t in this for the long haul? How many people does Scott Walker think will be driving to the polls on Tuesday on a turnip truck?
For his part, Barrett was having none of it:
“If that bill hits his desk, he’s signing it. I say it right here in front of Wisconsin…The Thursday before the Super Bowl, Mitch Daniels made Indiana a right-to-work state. Mark my words, he’ll sign it.”
Dawn breaks, finally, over Marblehead. The recall is specifically about Wisconsin’s attempt to rid itself of a governor whose primary political strategy over his entire time in public office has been the bait-and-switch. But its true national import is not what it may or may not mean to the president’s campaign in November.
In 2010, in addition to handing the House of Representatives over to a pack of nihilistic vandals, the Koch Brothers and the rest of the sugar daddies of the Right poured millions into various state campaigns. This produced a crop of governors and state legislators wholly owned and operated by those corporate interests and utterly unmoored from the constituencies they were elected to serve. In turn, these folks enacted various policies, and produced various laws, guaranteed to do nothing except reinforce the power of the people who put them in office. This is the first real test of democracy against the money power. Its true national import is that it is the first loud and noisy attempt to roll back the amok time that Republican governors and their pet legislatures have unleashed in the states at the behest of the corporate interests who finance their careers. It is the first serious pushback not only against Scott Walker, but against Dick Snyder’s assault on democracy in Michigan, and Mitch Daniels’s assault on unions in Indiana, and Rick Scott’s assault on voting rights in Florida. None of this was in any way coincidental. It was a national strategy played out in a series of statewide episodes, aimed at establishing the habits of oligarchy on a local basis. If Barrett has finally realized that, then he’s finally really in the game because he’s finally grasped the mortal stakes he’s playing for.
Bill Clinton’s out there for him today, raising roofs and raising hell, a day late and a dollar short, if you really want to be cynical, but still utterly overmatching the Triple-A team of Republican surrogates — Bobby Jindal? Nikki Haley, who’s grateful to have fled South Carolina one step ahead of an ethics investigation herself? — that are out stumping for Walker this weekend. Friday morning, on the spot with Fr. Jacques Marquette first made camp, Clinton talked about creative cooperation, and he ran his riffs about how people come together in small towns, but he also hung on Walker the responsibility for the confrontational politics elsewhere around the country, which is the only national message in Wisconsin worth mentioning. There the blog goes on the road this weekend to see what it can see. This thing is so tight I’m going to need Dan Rather’s help with the metaphors.
What happens in Wisconsin is of national, even generational, importance. This is not merely something that should be seen as a “state level” election at all. If you don’t know why I say this, you’re not paying enough attention!
Charles P. Pierce’s Esquire blog will be essential reading in the coming days for everyone who cares about democracy in America. Get into the habit of reading him and being able to savor his writing through the election, you’ll be glad you did.
In this long, but absolutely essential piece, Rachel Maddow lays out a seriously DARK prognosis for the future of this country if the Koch brothers money is able to drown out the Tom Barrett campaign and the Walker recall effort fails. This aired right before the holiday weekend, and I don’t think has gotten around the way it should have. Once again Maddow proves herself to be one of the premiere journalists of our time. I think Ed Schultz has done some great work in Wisconsin, too, but no one can build a case quite like Rachel Maddow can. She’s a national treasure (How did someone so smart get to be on American TV, anyway?):
This past March, standing outside a Shell station in Mellen, Wis., in the state’s far north, Mike Wiggins Jr. told me about a series of dark and premonitory dreams he had two years earlier. “One of them was a very vivid trip around the North Woods and seeing forests bleeding and sludge from a creek emptying into the Bad River,” Wiggins said. “I ended up at a dilapidated northern log home with rotten snowshoes falling off the wall. I stepped out of the lodge, walked through some pine, and I was in a pipeline. There was a big pipe coming in and out of the ground as far as I could see.
“I had no idea what the hell that was all about,” Wiggins continued. But he said the dream became clearer when a stranger named Matt Fifield came into his office several months later and handed him his card. Wiggins is the chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Fifield, the managing director of Gogebic Taconite (GTac), a division of the Cline Group, a mining company based in Florida. He had come to Wiggins’s office to discuss GTac’s desire to build a $1.5 billion open-pit iron-ore mine in the Penokee Hills, about seven miles south of the Bad River reservation. The proposed mine would be several hundred feet deep, roughly four miles long and a half-mile wide; the company estimated it would bring 700 long-term jobs to the area. Fearing contamination of the local groundwater and pristine rivers, Wiggins told Fifield he planned to oppose the mine. He didn’t know at the time that the company’s lawyers would be working hand in hand with Republican legislators to draft a bill that would weaken Wisconsin environmental law and expedite the permitting process.
What followed was a drawn-out fight that resembled other statewide battles over labor, education and voter-registration laws — all of which have been introduced since the election of the Republican governor Scott Walker in 2010. The most bitter of these fights began in early February last year, when Walker proposed eliminating virtually all collective-bargaining rights for a vast majority of the state’s public-employee unions. Around the time that Walker announced the measure, similar laws were introduced in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, and a nationwide demonization of public employees caught fire. Within two months, the National Conference of State Legislators had tracked more than 100 bills, initiated across the country, attacking public-sector unions.
From the beginning, Walker, who declined to comment for this article, seemed cognizant that his move to end collective bargaining placed him at the forefront of a national conservative strategy. His attack on public-employee unions was lauded by Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Karl Rove, and he has received significant financial support from the billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch. In a widely publicized prank phone call with Ian Murphy, a blogger impersonating David Koch, Walker described a dinner he held for his cabinet at his Executive Residence on Feb. 10, the night before he announced the collective-bargaining measure. “It was kind of the last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb,” he said to the faux-Koch. At the dinner, Walker held up a photograph of Ronald Reagan and told his cabinet that what they were about to do recalled Reagan’s breaking of the air-traffic-controllers’ union strike in 1981. “This is our time to change the course of history,” Walker said.
The June 5 recall election against Walker and four Republican state senators will be a decisive and momentous day in American history—no matter which side of the political divide you are on—and not just for residents of Wisconsin. If the reichwing and the Koch brothers get beaten back, it’ll send a definitive message to Republicans—and draw an iron line in the sand—letting them know how far is TOO FAR and what NOT to do if they don’t want to end up like Scott Walker. If Democrats take back control of the statehouse, I get the sense that things would largely calm down in Wisconsin, after two years that have seen friendships ended, family arguments and nasty, nasty local politics, vandalism, etc. Clearly in this way, Scott Walker has been a disaster for life in his state. How many people who live there, no matter what their political affiliation is, would argue that the mood in Wisconsin has improved under Walker?
However, if the Democrats and the unions lose, and it appears that they will lose, it’ll be a sad day indeed and will be seen as a demoralizing lesson in just how DEAD democracy really is when billionaires and out of state interests can come in and defeat the determined solidarity of tens of thousands of Wisconsin’s most politically engaged progressive citizens. If Walker wins, it will be a significant blow to the labor unions and progressive morale in general.
With repetitive TV and radio ads blanketing Wisconsin’s airways (Walker is spending over 20x what his challenger Tom Barrett can afford) the Koch brothers and the GOP have brainwashed people into supporting policies that would beggar their neighbors, friends and relatives and destroy the hard fought gains of the unions in the state where the labor movement was arguably born merely so that the rich can get richer. It’s not like everyone in Wisconsin doesn’t already know what’s going on and I doubt that many people are still undecided if they’ll be voting for Walker or Barrett with just two weeks to go. The polls are TIGHT, and incredibly—when you consider how his governorship has torn the state apart and Walker’s SHITTY record on jobs—favor the governor. It’s going to be all about the ground game and the side who can get out the most voters (something the Republicans excel at ).
You can kick in a few bucks to kick Walker’s ass at ActBlue. Fingers crossed and GO WISCONSIN.
I’ll join the chorus of folks asking why the fuck Obama and the national Democrats aren’t doing more to support the Scott Walker recall efforts in Wisconsin???
Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, Walker’s opponent in the recall match-up, lost to him in 2010 by 125,000 votes, or 5%. You’d think that after all that’s happened, Barrett’s victory in the recall would be a sure thing, but some recent polls indicate otherwise. Probably has to do with Walker having 20x the cash on hand, thanks to his super-rich pals, like the Koch Brothers.
Although I am not a Democrat and have never self-identified as one, I have voted a straight Democratic ticket for my entire life, SOLELY to vote against the Republican candidates. The beginning and end of any perceived loyalty that I have to the Democrats has to do with my lifelong hatred of Republicans and nothing else.
I’m someone who is resigned to voting for the lesser of two evils, because I believe you get less evil that way. I am, however, a staunch socialist, and strongly believe that the outcome of the WI recall election is of supreme importance to the future of organized labor and all working Americans, not just in Wisconsin. If the anti-Walker movement in WI fails to oust that cross-eyed weasel, Charlie Brown-looking dickhead, the implications for the future of labor unions in America should be seen as dire indeed.
SO WHERE THE FUCK IS OBAMA?
Why hasn’t the President already been in Wisconsin several times to support the state’s progressive Democrats and the labor union members who have worked tirelessly for over a year to kick Walker’s dumb ass to the curb? I thought the unions were the Democratic base, just like the GOP relies on billionaires and IDIOTS. Have Obama and the DNC completely written off big labor? WTF???
They couldn’t have done any less than they have if they decided to do nothing at all.
ONE fundraising email! ONE!
And where are the Occupy folks? THIS is the real battle of 2012, not holding down a park or clogging up the Brooklyn Bridge, as important as that might be symbolically, this is THE REAL DEAL. The Wisconsin recall election is equally important to the 2012 election, I think much more so, in some respects. Want to show the hard right what democracy looks like? Get thee to Wisconsin for the next few weeks and help out.
Clearly this is a battle between people power and the millions upon millions of dollars being funneled into WI by reichwing interests who have a big stake in seeing the unions crushed. The WI recall election is going to be a tight one and in the end the single biggest factor in whoever wins will be the ground game. The DNC could, if they wanted to, make a major impact in this regard, but for whatever reason, their support has been tepid, at best.
Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce—who is one of America’s finest political wordsmiths—laid out another, very compelling factor that should be of great concern to the DNC: Call it “The Future Newt Gingrich Factor”:
Right now, if nothing else changes, it looks very much like Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, is going to keep his job. If that’s the case, and assuming he doesn’t go down in the ongoing John Doe investigation in Milwaukee, I predict that he will have an “exploratory committee” set up in Iowa within the month, and he will suddenly discover a deeply held desire to spend a lot of time in places like Nashua and Manchester. Make no mistake: If he hangs on, he will be the biggest star in the Republican party. Chris Christie yells at all the right people, but has he ever faced down the existential threat that schoolteachers and snowplow drivers brought to bear on Walker? Marco Rubio? Has he withstood the wrath of organized janitors and professors of the humanities? If Walker wins in June, it wouldn’t take very much effort at all for Fox News and for the vast universe of conservative sugar-daddies and their organization to decide that Walker should be the odds-on choice for 2016.
Dear Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: That heinous future actually could happen if you don’t get out of the Green Room and get the DNC off the stick here. I’m still not kidding. If the Democrats blow this one, and if it’s proven that the DNC could have helped in any way and didn’t, you should be fired before the sun goes down. In 1990, the DNC declined to help fully a congressional candidate named David Worley in Georgia. The Worley people were begging for money, for organizers, for a lifeline of any kind. Very little was forthcoming. Worley lost to Newt Gingrich by 978 votes. How would the subsequent 10 years have been different if Gingrich’s political career had ended ignominiously in 1990? That’s the kind of chance that you seem to be allowing to go a’glimmering in Wisconsin. Let Walker win, and Democrats not yet born will curse your name. [Emphasis added]
I am less than optimistic about Tom Barrett’s chances because he’s getting outspent about 20-1, and because the numbers stubbornly refuse to move. This should be a base-vs.-base election, but it’s being played, at least by the Democrats, as yet another unicorn-hunt after “independent voters.” Barrett keeps talking about the “civil war” that Walker incited in Wisconsin. But that’s not the argument. There should have been a “civil war” over what Walker was trying to do. There wouldn’t even be a recall without what Barrett calls “the civil war.” The “civil war” was entirely appropriate. Sometimes, in politics, there are issues worth screaming about. I’m no expert, but the end of collective bargaining during an era of flat-lining wages would seem to be one of those. By citing the “civil war” as the reason for voting for him, and without, I believe, intending to do so, Barrett makes all those people standing in the cold last January marginally complicit in what he says as the problem the recall was meant to solve. But the problem with Scott Walker was not that he inspired an outburst of incivility. It’s that he tried to screw the workers of the state of Wisconsin, and that he got more than halfway there, and that he apparently intends to go the rest of the way if he manages to survive the recall. It’s not idle speculation to say that a lot more is riding on this than who gets to be governor of Wisconsin. This is the first real fight of the 2016 presidential election.
If you’d like to support the drive to recall Scott Walker, without giving a dime to the national Democrats, you can donate at ActBlue. Even $5 will help offset the 20 to 1 spending by Walker’s billionaire supporters.
Below, an inspiring trailer for We Are Wisconsin: The Movie premiering soon.
Proving the adage that democracy is hand to hand combat, Kohl-Riggs has gotten himself on the ballot in Wisconsin as a Republican—it’s been legally certified—challenging Scott Walker in the May 8th Republican recall vote.
This tactic presents anti-Walker voters with an opportunity to dump that dickhead even earlier than thought possible. How you ask? Wisconsin election rules allows an open primary. Democrats can vote in the Republican primary, or vice versa, for any candidate they want to support. Should the unions and Democrats be able to mobilize enough votes for Kohl-Riggs during the May 8th recall primary, they could eliminate Walker from the ballot. Instant victory.
This genius funny power play will also force Walker supporters who were planning to vote for “stealth” Republicans running in the Democratic primary to stay out of that race as well.
His campaign slogan: “Arthur Kohl-Riggs: Less of a joke than Scott Walker.”
State election officials say a political agitator running as a fake Republican in this spring’s recall elections has now submitted enough valid nomination signatures to get on the ballot. Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who has spent the last year and a half prowling the state Capitol videotaping lawmakers, entered the race as a fake Republican to force Gov. Scott Walker into a primary.
He had until the end of the day Tuesday to submit at least 2,000 nomination signatures to the state. Government Accountability Board staff said he turned in only 1,813 names. Board spokesman Reid Magney said Kohl-Riggs turned in enough signatures but staffers struck some because the sheets were missing circulators’ names.
The staff gave him until Friday to correct the shortcomings and he did. Board staff reported late Wednesday afternoon he now has 2,182 names.
This is a classic Mexican stand-off. The Walker camp can’t have seen this coming. This is too,, too good and the timing is perfection.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party was quick to dub the recall effort — which also targeted Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and a handful of Republican state legislators — the “biggest” in American history, and boasted that organizers had gathered a whopping 460,000 extra signatures for the recall of Walker, who infuriated many in his state last year by pushing through a law that ended most collective bargaining rights for many public workers.
Meagan Mahaffey, executive director of United Wisconsin – the group behind the recall efforts – told POLITICO that Tuesday’s results sent a “crystal clear message to Scott Walker that voters are done with his extreme policies and his destruction that he’s doing to our state.”
Unions were poised to emerge as some of the biggest winners from Tuesday’s news, but Mahaffey insisted that the movement did not simply represent a battle between Walker and organized labor.
“This is a message to people of all backgrounds and all different types of peope that have worked so hard on this recall. The best outcome for all of us is the same: Recall Scott Walker,” she said.
As the months-long recall campaign had neared its end, State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate had predicted Tuesday’s outcome earlier this week, telling POLITICO he was confident that the final tally would “hit or exceed” their goal of 720,000 signatures and saying the message he hoped would resonate with Wisconsin voters was that “help is on the way.”
“An incredible number of Wisconsinites have stood up to be counted and say, ‘We can’t wait for the next election. We absolutely must get Scott Walker out of office right now,’” said Tate.
Walker himself signaled that he expected his opponents would be able to achieve their goal.
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, the embattled governor predicted that a recall election will indeed occur sometime in June.
But Walker stood by his controversial reforms, maintaining that they were all made “for the right reasons.”
“You either get elected to be somebody great or do something great, and I always tell kids to do the latter,” he said.
What are you going to tell your kids now, shithead?
January 17th will be a most fateful day in the career of embattled Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Tomorrow is the day that labor unions and the state’s Democrats will drop off several hundred thousand signatures to WI election authorities to trigger a statewide recall election. It is widely assumed that the number of Wisconsinites who signed the recall petitions will be well in excess of the 540,208 verified signatures required. Hopefully this will represent a large enough buffer so that Republican efforts to challenge individual signatures would have little or no practical effect.
Wisconsin Public Radio commissioned a recent poll that found a very serious threat indeed to Walker’s administration: if Democrats can manage to trigger the recall vote, 58% of respondents said they’d vote to recall Scott Walker, a jump of 11% since the last poll was taken in April, 2011. Hardly a trend in Walker’s favor. After the Occupy Wall Street movement’s message became part of the national conversation last Fall, it seemed pretty obvious to everyone—including Walker, if his comically hangdog facial expressions are any indication—that Walker’s goose was about to cooked.
Although I fully expect that the recall election will be “on” and that Walker will be ousted (and humiliated, like he so justly deserves), if the man actually cared one whit for the state he governs, or possessed any level of self-awareness, which Walker almost pathologically seems to lack, why doesn’t he just resign? It’s not overstating or simplifying the situation in the least to say that Walker himself IS the problem. With 58% of the state supporting his recall, why doesn’t this creep just accept his fate and fuck the fuck off?
In the event that Walker did survive a recall election, still nothing will get done in the state for the rest of his term. If the governor was truly a civic-minded man, he’d resign—tomorrow, when the signatures get delivered—for the good of this fellow citizens. There seems no possibility whatsoever for vindication in Walker’s case, so why not call it a day, if for no other reason, to save himself the humiliation of what will inevitably follow?
His motivation for wanting more of this seems very odd to me. It’s not mentally healthy, is it? There must something wrong with him.
At this point, Wisconsin needs to move forward. Like with every state, there are crucial issues that need to be resolved. Walker cannot be a part of the solution anymore, he’s simply too divisive of a figure. Whether required amount of signatures have been collected or not, Walker should still go, for the good of the people of Wisconsin. No matter what happens tomorrow, Walker still can’t govern effectively. This is a fact, Jack. The guy has got to go.
It’s his own damned fault, he’s a fuck-up of epic proportions. Just look at that stupid face!
Make us proud tomorrow, Wisconsin. Scratch that, make us even prouder! Make Scott Walker go down in history!
Below, a reminder of when Scott Walker fell for a prank phone caller, Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy, pretending to be billionaire David Koch. What a snake, but what an idiotic snake! In retrospect, this entire clip is worth watching on several levels, not the least being to see how much the conversation has changed since last year. Remarkable.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start the year properly, by offering my personal and heartfelt thanks to the fine, morally upstanding people of the great state of Wisconsin. You—and the brave state legislators who got the ball rolling, let’s not forget them—make me proud to be American and one of your fellow citizens. Wisconsin is the birthplace of the American Labor movement and the home of its rebirth in 2011.
The fight against loathsome Republican Governor Scott Walker has inspired and re-invigorated working people across the country—in Ohio, in Michigan, in Zuccotti Park and other OWS sites and events around the country—but it is in Wisconsin where they’re demonstrating to the rest of us how a revolution is won, or can be won, in an appropriately American fashion, at the ballot box.
And the other side just has guys like this mouth-breathing, psychotic reichwing fruitcake—and ridiculous crybaby—Carl Sosnoski, apparently the owner of an Oshkosh sports bar called “Players” and a heating and cooling contractor (Google Players + Oshkosh, if you’d like to order some pizza or… whatever). Little clown-boy Carl got a little bit too close to Robert Bergman—nicknamed “Fighting Bob”—who was exercising his First Amendment rights by soliciting signatures for the Walker Recall effort and this is what happened:
On Tuesday afternoon (12/27/11) I set up to collect signatures in a middle school parking lot. There was no school in session, and it is a public school. I put out my signs, and pretty immediately a signer pulled in. I went to collect his signature. Another truck pulled in behind him. I headed over to it, and asked, “Would you like to sign the petition to recall Scott Walker?” I always ask this, as I don’t want to assume anything. Right away this man asked me why I wanted to recall Walker. For me this is a red flag. Walker supporters want to waste your time. They think you come from out of state, and think you haven’t a clue as to the damage Walker is doing to the state. And they act like you owe them an explanation. At that point I said, “Just one minute - I’ll get back to you,” so that I could finish up with the first guy.
Knowing the man in the truck was there to harass me, I went to my truck and got my video camera. I went to the first signer, and got the clipboard and put it away, so that it couldn’t be destroyed. I started going the long way around his truck because I have learned not to walk in front of vehicles because people will try to run you over. I got half way around when I heard him say, “What are you doing?”
Here’s a transcript of part of their exchange. The last part you just have to WATCH.
Carl: What are you doing?
Bob: I’m video taping you, sir.
Carl: You’re really kind of a jerk, aren’t you? Aren’t you?
Bob: Okay, if you’ve got questions, the reason I’m doing this? (referring to Mr. Sosnoski’s earlier question about his motivation to recall Walker).
Carl: Yeah, I do.
Bob: Okay, the reason I’m doing this is because I don’t believe in Scott Walker.
Carl: What! That’s not a reason! What’s your reason?
Bob: I don’t owe you any explanations, sir.
Carl: Well, then, you can’t use this tape for anything, you know that. Bob: I can too, sir. I feel like I’m being harassed.
Carl: You are being harassed. And pretty soon, you’re going to be killed! Okay?
Want to see an ugly little Republican man completely losing his shit in a very comical way? Watch the video that many people who know Carl—his wife, family, friends, relatives, and FORMER CUSTOMERS—have also probably watched in the past few days…
Even more outrageous is how the cop—a Walker supporter—handled the matter. The thing is, how “pro-Walker” would this police officer be if the Walker administration tried to fuck over the firefighters and police unions the way he fucked over the school teachers and other state employees? What’s in it for HIM to “support” Scott Walker? What an idiot he is, too. Why would any member of any union support Scott Walker?
Sosnoski said he has contacted a lawyer and intends to fight the citation and possibly explore further action against Bergman.
Good luck with that, you stupid son-of-a-bitch. HE’S GOT YOU ON VIDEOTAPE MAKING WHAT AMOUNTS TO A PRETTY DIRECT DEATH THREAT, YOU FUCKING FOOL!
Why not call more attention to yourself, Republican loser? Carl must be even dumber than he looks! I have to wonder if when he called the police, he said anything even remotely like the rather obvious truth: “Um, yeah, I just made a, um, like, um, sort of, um, death threat to this guy who had the audacity to videotape me doing it. He’s locked himself in his truck, can you come over here to protect me from him?”
Conservatives are always ready to cry “foul” when their First Amendment Rights get stepped on, but when they’re the ones doing the goose-stepping on other people’s rights, hey, that’s a-okay!
BTW, as reported on Daily Kos, “Fighting Bob” Bergman, who worked a double shift last night as non-union machine operator, has personally collected 1411 signatures to recall Scott Walker, and 1403 signatures to recall Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. So far!
“Fighting Bob” was never political in his life until last spring. Interesting to contrast what Walker inspires in his opponents vs. what he inspires in his own brain-dead supporters like this shithead, Carl here, and the creeps who pulled this stunt. I can’t imagine that Walker’s case benefits much with undecided voters from such self-defeating activities like these on the part of his supporters!
“Fighting Bob” and the people of Wisconsin, I salute you and think you’re all heroes. Thank you, very, very much for the important work you are doing, for ALL AMERICANS (including Fox News viewers too stupid to understand how what you are doing benefits them, I thank you on their behalf, too).
The muscle of Reddit is being flexed once again. After their successful actions against GoDaddy, the user-submitted social news site’s group mind is threatening to “take out” Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (WI), pledging its support for his Democrat opponent, Rob Zerban, a critic of the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” Now the Congressman’s office has been forced to clarify his position (well, kind of) on SOPA.
While I’d personally love to see Paul Ryan lose his seat—or worse—it appears that what saw redditors target Ryan initially was his supposed co-sponsorship of the anti-piracy bill, which is not accurate.
“Contrary to false reports, Congressman Paul Ryan is not a cosponsor of H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act,” said Ryan press secretary Kevin Seifert in a statement. The wrath of Reddit, which was recently tested in a successful boycot of domain registrar Go Daddy for supporting the same legislation, is proving to be more fearsome than one might expect from a website that also trades in kitten photos and WTF ephemera. This week, Reddit’s increasingly ambitious users aimed to unseat a member of Congress who supports SOPA, pointing its attention toward Ryan. “Let’s pick ONE Senator of voted for NDAA/SOPA and destroy him like we’re doing for GoDaddy,” said one user. As a result, Reddit users began coordinating opposition research campaigns against Ryan and support for his opponent via a money bomb and widely-popular Q&A session.
Today, in an effort to clarify his boss’s position, Ryan’s flak did not say the congressman opposes SOPA, a law that gives the federal government expanded powers to order American Internet companies to sever ties with foreign domains that offer copyrighted content such as music and films. “He remains committed to advancing policies that protect free speech and foster innovation online and will continue to follow the House Judiciary Committee’s deliberations on this issue carefully,” said Ryan’s spokesman.
What’s fascinating about all this—even if the facts are a bit muddled—is how a nameless, faceless online community has the potential to scare the bejusus out of corporations and rightwing class warriors like Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin pol is considered to be the most vulnerable high-ranking House Republican already, due to voter fears that the so-called “Ryan Plan” that he authored, would end Medicare.
That’s what happens when you piss on the “third rail” of American politics. A Google search for “Paul Ryan” + “vulnerable” brings up over 3.6 million results. Not only that, but the re-invigorated labor movement in Wisconsin hardly bodes well for Ryan’s re-election, either, I would imagine he realizes that adding to these existing handicaps with a Reddit jihad aimed right at his forehead is not in the best interests of his continuing to draw a government paycheck.
[A] politician who supports SOPA might have to worry about political backlash in the form of a highly motivated, spontaneously organized online group – or groups.
Between hacking outfits like Anonymous and communities like Reddit, it becomes apparent rather quickly that the power asymmetry present in our political and media status quo is shifting in ways that are impossible to predict.
Occupy Wall Street has gotten a lot of press these past few months. It may be that Reddit and other online communities have a much bigger impact in the long run than anything ad hoc tent cities and physical protests can achieve.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Rep. Ryan has received political donations of $288,600 from groups who support H.R. 3261 and just $39,950 from groups who are against it. It would appear that his vote has already been bought and paid for. When the House takes up SOPA again in January, it will be telling to see how Ryan tries to squirm his way out of this mess.
If embattled WI Governor Scott Walker can’t win fair and square at the ballot box in the now all but inevitable recall election he faces—WI Dems are making a big announcement on Thursday about the recall campaign’s progress—then why not try something immoral and shysty?
I’ll tell you why NOT, Scott: It makes people hate your fucking guts even more and it makes them all the more determined to kick your ass to the curb.
It’s odd that it didn’t occur to to Walker and his weasely Republicans cronies that this kind of story might prove to be a bit of a public relations NIGHTMARE and that there would be push-back—and plenty of it—with this sort of extremely ill-advised move. From People’s World:
For more than 60 years Ruthelle Frank has not missed an election in her town, her state and her country. She first voted in 1948 and has voted in every single election since then.
She is herself an elected official in her hometown of Brokaw, Wisconsin. She is a member of the Brokaw Village Board.
Now, however, because of the new Republican voter ID law in Wisconsin, 2012 will be the first year Frank can’t vote.
Under the new law people must carry a new state issued photo ID in order to vote. The ID itself is free but one must have a birth certificate in order to get the free ID. Birth certificates, for those in Wisconsin who don’t have them, cost $20. Opponents of the Republican voter ID law argue that this, by itself, amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax.
Frank’s first problem is that she does not have a birth certificate. People born at home in the 1920s in Wisconsin did not receive official birth certificates. Like many others in 1927, Frank was born in her own house.
The ACLU have stepped in on Ruthelle Frank’s behalf to challenge this vileness in court.
WHO would think something like this is smart politically??? Well… Republicans apparently. If you can’t beat ‘em, CHEAT ‘em.