January 31, 2012
When you think it can't get worse
It can get worse but not much. Congress is about to pass a bill into law that instructs members of Congress to avoid using insider information not available to the public in purchasing or selling stocks. Yikes! We need a law for that? Whoa Nelly!This gives weight to a call by one pol to say throw them all out!
Of course, as one Wisconsin congressman noted (hint: he defeated Julie Lassa) it is a hardship to live on a congressional salary. Oh yeah? A salary of $174,000 plus a very generous package of benefits is a hardship? I guess it would be like forcing Mitt to live in one home. But, hey! Cut them some slack. How can a member become a millionaire without cheating? And keep in mind--living on a couple hundred thousand a year ain't no picnic.
Marty Beil was quoted in today's MJS. Beil had AFSCME write a speech for Tommy delivered in Puerto Rico bragging about how well negotiations with public sector unions worked in Wisconsin. So pleased was Beil that his union endorsed Thompson in 1998. Now, as the Walker Blitz wiped out public sector unions and AFSCME is in trouble thanks to Scott, Tommy is cheerleading for Walker! Beil said he cannot understand how Tommy could do such a thing. There is an old saying about dogs and fleas and pols.
Want another Lake Winnebago albeit polluted? As the mining thievs push for a revised mining bill to give them carte blanch to Wisconsin's air and water an argument has broken out.
How big would the new lake, created by the iron ore mine, be? Well, some say it was an exaggeration to say it will be two-thirds the size of Lake Winnebago unless you include depth as well as length and width. In that case, says PolitiFact, it will have the same volume of water as Lake Winnebago. Holy cow. Now you know why the mining companies wrote the bill; now you know why they don't want open debate; now you know why this thing must be stopped. The size of Lake Winnebago my foot!
MARQUETTTE POLL: Once again, MJS quotes the Marquette law school poll without question. Suddenly there is a Marquette law school poll that is funded by____?
January 30, 2012
People's Legislature here we come
A little history: Our first People's Legislature was held in a snow shower, but 1,200 showed up to demand public financing of elections and more. Our second featured the wonderful spirit Doris "Grannie D" Haddock. Grannie D had us cheering, clapping, and there were a few tears as well. At the time she was 98 and still giving it her all. And her "all" was a lot.
Our third was in the early stages of the uprising over Walker's perfidy. We focused on the gap between those who have too much power and those who should have more power.
So here comes number 4! Some say it will be a smaller crowd because it is on a work day. I say everyday is a work day when taking on the Koch brothers, Walker and Fitzgeralds. We have to complete the circle, and to do that we must join arms and go for it! Will you attend a session on a work day? All I can say is we had that day available and we keep our fingers crossed that you will be there at noon on Wednesday. You stood in rain and snow, knocked on thousands of doors, froze your buns at demonstrations...let's finish the job!
How about the John Doe? Deja vue!
Marquette Poll: As we predicted, the "new" Marquette poll is cited for all sorts of things. Walker is ahead, people support the photo I.D. bill, etc...Rarely if ever do reporters mention that this is not a "new" Marquette poll. It is their first poll ever! And is it Marquette or the Bradley Foundation feeding the beast?
You can bet that the next one will whitewash the Walker administration on the John Doe.
January 29, 2012
I have had only positive responses to the suggestion that we demand a wide-open Democratic primary to select the Democratic candidate for governor; then demand that the nominee refuses all PAC money, all corporate money, all union money, and all out-of-state money. The focus is then on Walker and his pals the Koch brothers who are trying to purchase the entire state government. They can't spread the lie that "big labor" is competing with their check-books.
I think our gamble is paying off. I have talked with a number of Fighting Bob folks, potential candidates, people on the street, and others, and all are enthused about Wednesday's session of the People's Legislature (noon until it ends--but we're shooting for ending at 4:00). We need your voices and your input. I urge you to join the crusade.
If we give hope to the thousands who signed recall petitions we can truly recapture our state.
We are planning candidate forums and debates to provide media opportunities as well as the chance to engage the million who signed the recall petetions.
January 28, 2012
No rush to judgment
MJS reports that Scott Walker declined to answer a question about whether he or his attorney had been contacted by investigators in the John Doe proceeding. Two staffers who worked for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive have been charged with illegally doing political work while being paid by taxpayers.
The law firm of Steven Biskupic, former U.S. attorney, has been paid $110,000 by Walker's campaign over past year. Stay tuned.
First some bad news
Our friend Joe Gruber suffered a stroke soon after arriving back in Mississippi to reclaim his condo (destroyed by hurricane).
Keep your fingers crossed. I have walked more picket lines with Joe than I could count. If there was trouble, you would always find Joe there. On Valentine's Day a year ago, Ellen Bravo asked us to picket Walker's plan to gut family leave. We did and the next day the uprising began in earnest.
We love you Joe. See you on the golf course soon.
Standing on the Capitol steps Wednesday evening to protest the proposed mining bill, I was freezing-- but the hundreds of opponents of the iron ore open pit mine were freezing as well and that made it seem warmer. Patti Loew, no longer constrained by public TV rules against active participation, was the MC and she was great. Mike McCabe, Glen Reynolds and George Meyer all stood in the damp cold night urging common sense in the Legislature.
What is odd is this: Walker speaks for the mining companies and others who stand to make a fortune if the mine is approved. Who speaks for the air and water? Whose idea was this? The notion that Wisconsin should give away our state to a Florida company that promises jobs is loopy. While Mitt Romney claims that corporations are people, what would happen if half-way through the Florida corporation collapses?
Johnny Paycheck sang it for us years ago. You can take this job and shove it...Change "job" to "jobs."
January 27, 2012
The People's Legislative Session, Wednesday, February 1 is taking shape. While some have complained that we are meeting on a work day, we really had no choice. So, I agree it would have been better on a weekend but we are where we are.
At least four potential candidates have said they will be there. Only time will tell if all of them will be there. Some have asked us to "stream" the proceedings and we are working on that--it's a good idea. We will have to pass the bucket again. So, while there has been some criticism, there is growing enthusiasm for the concept.
How about the Walker team setting up an alternative e-mail system 25 feet from the County Exec's office when Walker occupied that office? Once again, using employees of the state and local governments to work on politics! Won't they ever learn?
And Tommy Thompson is now worth $13 million? Whoa Nelly. He says he is "lucky and happy," and I am not surprised. Like Newt, he claims that he was not a lobbyist although he worked with one at Akin Gump, one of the biggest lobbying firms in Washington. Corruption everywhere.
John Nichols, Mike McCabe, Ruth Conniff and Nino Amato will be at the People's Legislature. We have no way to predict turnout, but I think we will not be lonely. See you on Wednesday at noon.
January 26, 2012
Wednesday, February 1, we will convene around noon, Alliant Exhibition area (free parking), introduce anyone who wishes to be a potential candidate to oppose Walker, decide on forums to be held statewide, hear the latest from Mike McCabe on out-of-state funding for Walker, and on the Citizens United amendment.
Ruth Conniff will co-chair with me; John Nichols will speak, and, who knows, we might make some history when it comes to money in politics.
Need your input--look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.
Bankers are not bad people!
C'mon folks. Listen to Daddy Mitt. "Bankers are not bad people---just overwhelmed," he said. Really. He said that, and, of course, we all agree. There are some bad, some good bankers, but overwelmed? Heck, there are even bad lawyers. There are even a few bad judges! OK, I have gone to far!
Bad bankers, bad judges, bad lawyers--how about bad pollsters? Headline in JS: GOVERNOR'S JOB RATING UP IN NEW MARQUETTE POLL. What? Marquette has never had a poll so PolitiFact might say JS has "pants on fire" when they write "new Marquette poll" when there has never been an "old Marquette poll." Ah, yes, the unholy alliance strikes again.
Whose poll is it if it is not Marquette's? Did JS ask or are they part of the deal? Recall we have been flashing the yellow caution light about UW-Madison's Pol Sci prof Charles Franklin. He was part of the UW-Madison partnership with extreme right-wing Bradley Foundation's WPRI. Bradley would pay Franklin and his fellow poli sci profs and Franklin would lend the UW's good name to polls. WPRI would give final approval to the wording, timing, subject matter and they agreed to spin results with MJS! In fact, MJS would get the information ahead of all other media. Tsk, tsk, and whoa Nelly. Who conducted this "new Marquette poll"? Why none other than Dr. Franklin: this is the first of a series being conducted by Charles Franklin, co-founder of pollster.com and a visiting professor at Marquette on leave from UW-Madison. Because he is on leave, he will argue that neither he nor Marquette are covered by the Open Records law that tripped him when the WPRI deal was exposed by FightingBob.com.
Franklin can influence the decisions of Democrats thinking about challenging Walker. If they believe Franklin they might conclude that Walker is getting a Gingrich-like surge.
I think that we should know who is paying Franklin or his new corporate entity. What are the questions, who gets to decide? Who spins? Is Franklin back to the old deal with MJS? Looks like it if you read the story today.
My advice: Pay no attention to Franklin's polls and Marquette--old, new or waiting to be cooked.
January 25, 2012
Note to Newt
Newt Gingrich is missing a good deal. Gingrich is yelled at by Mitt Romney for the $1.6 million he got from Freddie Mac. Romney says Newt was lobbying. Newt says he was a historian!
Well, Newt the historian got "chump change" compared to the money paid to Tommy Thompson since he left the position of the Bush appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services seven years ago. Like Newt, he denies that he lobbied. Yah, sure Tommy. Tommy said, "I have made a few shekels" since leaving office. I admit to not knowing the value of the shekel, so let me convert to dollars. Tommy made at least $8.5 million since 2005, and that is at the low end.
Again, that makes Newt look like a cheap date. Like Newt, the firms that paid Tommy millions hired him as a "strategic adviser"--never a lobbyist. If you believe that, call me. I have a deal for you.
I ran against Tommy in 1998 and we got along despite some very questionable moves TT made. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the insider deals with Bear Stearns and others like big tobacco. While not attacking him for his intelligence, the notion of anyone paying Tommy millions of dollars for "strategic advice" is nutso.
January 24, 2012
It beats fiction
Tonight is the second anniversary of an important exchange between Barack Obama, "truth teller," and thin-skinned Justice Sam Alito Jr., not exactly a truth teller, more of a right-wing ideologue. You remember when the president criticized the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United with the Justices sitting a few feet away, and Alito mouthed a response "not true" while shaking his head. Obama, more the scholar than Alito, said the Court had "reversed a century of law" and would open the floodgates for special interests...to spend without limit in our elections.
Which side are you on? I can guess, but guess work is not needed. Headline in NY Times: "Super PAC for Gingrich To Get $5 million Infusion." A casino owner in Las Vegas gave him $5 million during the South Carolina primary and now jumps in to help Newt in Florida with another $5 million. Was the money helpful? It "provided a major boost to Gingrich in South Carolina," says NYT.
What's that you said, Justice Alito? "Not true"? With all due respect sir, I don't think you were correct in your finger-wag at Obama. (OK not a finger wag--a head shake.) As for the president, his comments were seriously under-stated. Citizens United is a disaster not just wrong.
Look at Wisconsin, Justice Alito. CASH POURING INTO WALKER COFFERS. Walker raised $12 million in one year; $4,5 million in five weeks. Where does it come from, Justice Alito, the good fairy?
I predict Walker will have raised more than all Democrats who have run for governor of Wisconsin in modern history--combined. Koch Brothers, Uihlein family business in Illinois. Perry Homes in Houston and on and on.
To add insult to injury, Scott Fitzgerald attributes this money to Walker's successful programs. (I am not kidding.) He said that on the day the UW-Milwaukee released a report showing a disaster in Black employment in Milwaukee; lowest ever, and more African-American men are incarcerated every month than were employed by year's end. Does that grab you Scott one and Scott two? Only 44.7 percent of working-age black males were employed in 2010.
February 1. A week from tomorrow we convene the People's Legislature at the Alliant Center to figure out how candidates can emerge to oppose Walker and to agree on the key issues that must be addressed. We need your ideas asap. We know Feburary 1 is a work day, but time is flying by and this date was open.
Let us know via email if you plan to attend. Thanks. See you there.
January 23, 2012
Got our hands full
Hit the pause button, sit back and make a list of top issues the country must deal with. Imagine giving or writing the State of the Union speech this week.
Issue number 1 in my book is the need to find leaders people will trust. Not many around these days. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Barack Obama... The lack of trust starts with the sad state of our corrupt political system. In order to pay the high cost of running for office (consultants, TV spots, staff) candidates must hone their begging skills. It matters not if a person understands the state budget, but it does matter if he or she can twist arms for money. I get 50 or more money requests from legislators per year and I am tired of it. Hitting up people who support you for money is absurd.
If you are a billionaire, that problem is solved, but there are not many billionaires who will seek office and some of them are not interested in the commonweal. They want more not less for themselves. They do not seem to care about homeless people struggling to keep their noses above the water line, so back to ground zero.
Issue number 2: health care as a right of every citizen. Period. The excuses for not adopting single-payer health care are pathetic.
Issue number 3: Unfair taxes make cynics of all of us, so we must adopt a fair tax system if we expect the middle-class to trust the system.
Issue number 4: Reduce military spending, stop the rush to war.
Issue number 5: Deal with the sad state of education in America. We need to pay teachers more not less, we must make college and tech school free. We cannot afford millions of uneducated young people out of work.
Final issue for a Monday morning: Find iron-clad solutions to climate change.
That's it for the moment. Share your thoughts, please.
January 22, 2012
Watching the GOP primary is like standing on the deck of the Titanic and watching it slip under water. Romney claims Gingrich is joining the "far left" (I guess that is us!) in attacking the free enterprise system. Is he nuts? His problem is not a coalition of Newt and Fighting Bob attacking free enterprise, whatever that means, his problem is that he won't release his tax returns and I will bet $10,000 dollars--oops!--that he won't release all the schedules if he does release his taxes at all. My bet is that in some years he paid no taxes, and, as Mike Papantonio said, even more interesting is what he did with his millions parked in the Cayman Islands. The tax dodgers don't put the money in a bank; they invest with other tax dodgers with all that pre-tax money. Don't you wonder who might be investors with Mittens? I do.
I think Romney is done. Sure, he can hold on for now but all the momentum is flowing away from him. A loss in Florida and it is bye-bye Mittens.
Lessons to be learned. As we proceed with plans to have an open primary to select Walker's opponent, we must ask the candidates to release their income tax records immediately. I did when I ran for Senate and governor. Did I like it? Do I like root canals? No, but it is essential information.
What are the credentials that qualify each candidate for the governor's job? No surprises, please.
Question to ponder: Is Obama too nice to win a debate with nasty Gngrich?
January 21, 2012
Open records open minds
Last night, Charles Franklin, a professor at the UW-Madison, appeared on Wisconsin Public Televison's Here and Now. While the MJS reported last week that Franklin is on sabbatical at Marquette Law School, Here and Now identified him as a "visiting professor" at Marquette. Which is it, and does it matter? Well, if he is on sabbatical and is being paid by UW I would argue that his polling information is a public record. Possibly he came to the same conclusion so someone switched it from sabbatical to visiting professor. I wonder who is paying him? I don't know, but will ask and report to you. Wisconsin voters should have all the information they can get. Time for Marquette to open the books.
One thing is for certain: He is polling on issues and likely Democratic candidates for governor. He will influence the campaign because he will be the "expert" the media relies on.
In my view his information will go from conservative Marquette to their pal Walker. Is that fair? Nope. Why won't so-called PolitiFact find out? Too busy investigating the small stuff. No time for the big stuff.
January 20, 2012
Lots of good thoughts have been coming in to FightingBob.com. This is not a private fight--so jump in!
One letter worth noting said this was not a Democratic Party victory--it was a victory for all Badgers--Democrats, Republicans, progressives and independents who love this "special place" called Wisconsin. (And yes, Fighting Bob Fest has helped.)
So it is a mistake, the letter writer argued, to leave it up to the Democrats to select Walker's opponent in the election next summer. Involve everyone because Wisconsin belongs to all of us not just Democrats.
Making the point, there are not 1.1 million Democrats in the party. Not even close. Several full moons ago, state party chair Jeff Newbauer said "the Democratic Party is not a membership-based organization." What is it then? Well, some would say it is an entity whose primary function is to raise money for Democrats, inform the members of breaking news, etc. One thing is for certain: Mike Tate and his staff cannot beat Walker without help from independents, unhappy Republicans, progressives, Greens, Socialists and Libertarians. The Democratic Party and the big players in Democratic elections have reverted to form. They are reacting now as if we did not have a recall. If you put your ear to the ground the discussion in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is all about pushing candidates for the primary: everyone is back in line, who will get labor's nod, who looks good to pollsters, etc. I say nonsense!
Walker says he plans to aggressively fund raise around the country. No kidding! He will have 20-50 million dollars! The shame of being the object of an AIG founder's home party in New York on recall election day for a fundraiser says all you need to persuade your family to vote for the alternative candidate.
Some have urged a People's Legislature to open the selection process and to maintain the momentum from the recall. I think that makes great sense. As I see it, it would be open to anyone a.) willing to run who would focus on the top 10 issues we would have on the agenda, b.) agree to a strict limit on fund raising, and c.) participate in 7-10 forums on issues to be held all over the state. Why? To publicize in the media what we are "for" not just against.
You know what? This might not work but it has a chance because of the enormous number of enthused petitioners! And because everyone knows, our political system is broken and we have a golden opportunity to fix it.
Another regular letter writer challenged me to remind people that when Barbara Lawton and I ran for governor and lieutenant governor we limited contributions to $100. The writer suggested that I failed in my attempt. Correct you are, but Walker ain't Tommy Thompson, no one had been recalled...yes, it might fail but a strategy to try to keep within sight of Walker and the Koch boys is a sure loser.
Your thoughts please.
Some very bright, talented, and articulate people have indicated they might run. Well, lets help! Meanwhile, demand that Marquette Law School volunteer to open up to the public the polling operation run by UW-Madison poli sci professor Charles Franklin. It is just too convenient that Franklin is on sabbatical and he is using his state-paid position to reside at Marquette Law School to conduct polling! C'mon! Open up!
January 19, 2012
Outside the box?
Think about it. Over one million signatures gathered by volunteers to oust Walker and Kleefisch. Had you been asked one year ago if it could happen you would have said, "don't be silly." "Impossible." "People don't care that much." But it turns out people do care that much and it was possible. Then, as you warm by the fire, you ask, "OK, now what?"
If Walker wins the election next summer, Democrats are in deep trouble and they will say the recall effort was not worth it. And if the Vegas odds-makers took a look today, they would, I am confident, conclude that the odds favor Walker/Koch brothers/AIG/Walker and the Wall Street folks who view this as the most important election in this critical year other than the presidential election. Why? Well, if the big-money folks can't purchase elections by naming the candidates, funding their campaigns, killing their opponents in 30-second TV spots, then, egad! money is not the whole answer when the people are aroused. People still matter.
Mitt says corporations are people! You know that is bunk and so does he, but if repeated enough times it might become a thought. Here is my message to Mitt: "People are people and they still run the joint."
Prediction by two potential Democratic candidates: "This will be a one-hundred-million-dollar campaign." I am not making this up. If Walker gets $30-40 million from Koch, and the Dems are trying to raise enough to poke the tiger in the eye, Walker wins. No brainer. Consultants make a lot of money, pollsters buy new cars, blame the Dems for running a lousy campaign, and then they move on to the next race. Any Democrat who says, "I can raise $15-20 million between now and June 1 is delusional, a lottery winner, or a fraud trying to persuade you to vote for him because he has the ability to raise big bucks from unions. Nonsense. In the past, Dems who could get AFSCME or WEAC to support them usually won the primaries. Now that check-off is gone, public sector unions are gasping for air. Staffs have been cut and there is no hope that the unions can come close to matching the likely Walker treasury. None. So we must think outside the box.
Let me try again to persuade you to support the Tin Cup Society idea.
I talked with Mike McCabe, the Democracy Campaign guru. We agree that if Dems rely on the one million who signed petitions not big money from anywhere the Democrat will win. But disillusion the signers by acting like Walker--raising truck loads of dollars, forgetting to push a progressive agenda, the Walker wins because thousands of petitioners won't vote.
Once again, let me be clear. Democrats should host seven forum/debates all over the state; put the video tape on TV and convince the voters that the million Tin Cup members will win the same way they got the recall petitions. Hard work and faith in the people.
Countering our primary idea is Evan Zeppos. Don't know him? He likes that--he operates mainly in the dark. "I think it's a tragedy that the Democrats may have to go through a primary," he said. If he finished the thought he would say, "Why should people decide when I can do it for them?" I will even give you a discount.
January 18, 2012
Nice way to start
Scott Walker has been flying around the country raising money in Texas, New York and Washington from pals of the Koch brothers. He has become a right-wing star so we can anticipate the right will put plenty of potatoes on his plate.
He has raised more than $5 million thus far and fully expects to use that to prime the pump. He began his day with Bradley Foundation star Charlie Sykes, who has been called our little Rush. Walker was pretty sure that there would be fewer than a million signatures! Some consolation! He finished his day with the founder of AIG at a fundraiser in NYC. You remember AIG--killed Bear Stearns.
Sitting at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday (a creation of the Bradley Foundation) suggesting the recall gives him a new start! Some start. We haven't witnessed anything like this celebration before.
Let's begin with thanks to thousands of volunteers who collected 1.5 tons of petitions; one million signatures; and all without incident. Great job friends, great job. Let this sink in, but keep your sleeves rolled! Now the election begins.
Who should oppose Walker?
Fighting Bob LaFollette had the answer: Let the people decide. First a note about the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI). WPRI is the most powerful entity in Wisconsin and perhaps the nation.
WPRI enetered into a contract with the UW-Madison Political Science Dept. UW was to do polling, WPRI would handle the release of the info. They agreed to keep all the information outside Wisconsin's Open Records laws. We cracked that plot and so they dropped the contract. One of the key Poli Sci profs is Charles Franklin who, convenietly, is on sabbatical. He is polling for Marquette Law School. Thus all the information will be outside the Open Records laws. Clever. Who hired him? He says his "group" will poll on issues and next week will release data on the recall election. Who asked you Charles?
Attention: Polling can be a powerful weapon. Who frames the questions, who asks, etc.? And who would Bradley Foundation want as an opponent to Walker? They begin by selecting the people thinking about running or people WPRI wants to run. They put them in head-to-head contests they want not what we want.
Franklin calls his group PPP. Who funds PPP and who works for PPP?
The list of potential candidates includes Tom Barrett, Dave Obey, Kathleen Falk, Jon Erpenbach, Mahlon Mitchell, Peter Barca, Stan Gruszynski, Kathleen Vinehout, and Tim Cullen. Add some support for one of the wealthiest men in the Senate. Most thought Russ woud run but he is out of the race. His Senate colleague Herb Kohl, who some suggest could pick up the tab if he were to run, appears reluctant.
Looks interesting. Now, various groups are trying to play king-maker in the back rooms while WPRI goes about polling so they can tell us who would be the best candidate. The idea of the old way coming back in light of the uprising to recall Walker is scary because it wold turn off the enthusiasm of the million who signed petetions.
John Erpenbach was on Rachel Maddow's show last night. He estimated that $100 million dollars will be spent on the gubernatorial election. That is insane, but that is the game the Koch boys want prgressives to play. Erpenbach suggested that Wisconsin will be the key player in the nation and that means lots of money flowing to Wisconsin.
Anyone who thinks Wisconsin Dems can raise 20, 30 or 40 million dollars before June is delusional. It cannot be done and equally imortant should not be done.
We have a chance to really reform the system. We can demonstrate that Citizens United is not the final answer. Fighting Bob with other non-profits should raise enough money to pay out-of-pocket expenses, plan forums, get DVDs out all over the state, and continue the fight in the streets. The candidates who run must agree to refuse campaign contributions and, in so doing, make Walker's money his greatest weakness. Prepare to put PPP polling in the waste can. Lets have a wide open primary and whoever wins will defeat Walker.
January 16, 2012
Will the truth set us free?
We start with a common understanding that our political system is broken and corrupt; we know that the Supreme Court has been the enabler. Citizens United ("corporations are people") and Buckley v. Valeo ("money is speech") and we know that Republicans and Democrats often meet at the same trough. Today, in fact every day, both major parties are begging Wall Street for campaign money just when the people need and demand greater regulation of Wall Street. Is Wall Street giving money because they want good government? You know better. Are we happy that Obama is raising lots of money?
This year we must ask, Will Congress weaken Medicare, privatize Social Security and cut the heart out of Medicaid?
Will the governor of Michigan be permitted to take over Detroit? Will Walker be defeated in the post-recall election this summer? Can Tammy Baldwin win the Senate race? Have we really lost our democracy?
How can we compete with the Koch brothers and other right-wingers when it comes to campaign money? Simply stated, we can't.
We must find a new way to win. The idea that Wisconsin Democrats can raise $50 million this year is absurd.
A proposal: Democrats should hold forums on issues around the state. Fighting Bob and other non-profits will focus on issues. All that we would ask of participants who seek office is that they agree that no money will be raised for campaigns. Yes, I am serious. Making money the issue will keep the flame burning, and if we do elections can be won. We know that hundreds of thousands braved the weather, the cynics, and the Walker folks, in the recall effort. They proved that people still count! Now we must take another bold step.
The Koch brothers are billionaires who can, if they want, give 20 to 50 million to elect Walker, Tommy Thompson, and most legislators, and have lots of money left over for the party. Money is their greatest strength--let us make it their greatest weakness.
Start the Tin Cup organization! Let us hear from you. Are you ready to keep the fire burning?
Circus loses brightest clown
Lots of Democrats have told me that if they had to vote for a Republican in this primary they would vote for Huntsman. He seemed "normal," whatever that means in the GOP circus. He speaks Mandarin, he has significant credentials in foreign affairs, he appears to be smart. Frankly, he doesn't seem like a Republican.
Therefore, Huntsman got no attention from the media and was dismissed by the other contestants. He put all his chips on New Hampshire and lost. In light of the fact that Stephen Colbert is doing better than Huntsman in South Carolina, it is time to get out and he will abandon the circus today and endorse another clown, Mitt Romney. Can Romney survive a Huntsman endorsement?
MLK Day: Today we honor Martin Luther King Jr. Some will celebrate by doing everything possible to get Obama out of the White House, along with his "angry black wife." Others will ignore King's message and do everything they can, legal or illegal, to keep as many people as possible from voting. His dream in many important ways is a nightmare. But no matter how hard they try, they cannot erase his voice from our memories. What a man! What a message. What an opportunity. So let us celebrate his life and his willingness to put that life on the line for justice.
Petitions due in today or tomorrow. Yes, they got plenty of signatures. No, we don't have a process for nominating a candidate to run against Walker. Will we? You betcha. We have not come this far to put it in neutral.
January 15, 2012
Time to fight or time to give up?
When asked what we must do to get good people to run for office, I confess I said, "The one thing you cannot do is tell them the whole truth!"
Here is some of the truth you should keep to yourself. Promise not to tell! My friend Tom Harkin, Senator from Iowa, a true progressive, said "You can beat Kasten if spending is about the same; tough if you are out-spent 2-1; almost impossible if you are outspent 3-1." Try 10-1 or 20-1. That is what faces us in the post-Citizens United phase of our democracy. A few good friends say money is not that important. Wow. Do you think wealthy special interests have spent billions when it doesn't matter? C'mon. Plan B is Herb Kohl. Herb will self-fund his campaign were he to run for governor. Really? Forget about his platform--just get his money and lots of it!
One can only imagine what will be written about this era 20 or 30 years from now. My fear is that the historians will look at us and ask, "Why didn't you do more to stop the destruction of our democracy?" You knew it was coming when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people but for some reason, you were not ready to fight. How could you have permitted Alito and Roberts to destroy our democracy?
Will this post-recall 2012 election be the beginning or the beginning of the end?
So, where are we Toto? As many as one million citizens have signed petitions to recall Walker. He will become the first person in Wisconsin history to be recalled. How did it happen? A tremendous number of voters who are mad as hell worked like hell and they did it. One million people! That is incredible! Congratulations to the organizers and the circulators. A tremendous feat. You gave us a chance to right the wrong.
Now, shift your gaze to the election that will be conducted sometime this summer. (My guess is June or July.) Who will the Democrats have heading the ticket? How much money are we talking about? A few people think the unions should name the candidate, but my belief is that would kill the momentum. So put out a call and ask who would like to run, hold a meeting of all who want to run; get them prepared for a rough campaign, hold a primary unless there is only one candidate; and let the chips fall where they may.
An idea: Let us persuade the Democratic candidates to refuse all contributions. Announce that the Democrats will not accept super-PAC money or any contributions over $100 dollars. Turn Walker's money against him. His campaign will raise and spend 15-20 million dollars. There is no way a Democrat could come close to that amount, so why try? There is an old saying that "your greatest weakness can be your greatest strength." Let's give it a go! My bet is that most of the million petitioners are ready to make history!
The Koch brothers and other "corporation are people" types will put 20-30 million into the gubernatorial campaign, same for the Republican challenging Tammy Baldwin; a couple of million in the state legislative races. Are you kidding? I have tried to raise money and our people don't have the capacity to campaign full time and fundraise full time. Cannot be done.
Gaylord told me Democrats should put down the tin cup and run without money. I call for a Tin Cup Club. Want to join? You just might finish the revolution started last year.
January 14, 2012
Freedom of choice?
The National Labor relations Act (NLRA) was designed to promote industrial peace. It passed Congress with bi-partisan support and was signed by FDR in 1935. There were lots of strikes and lock-outs at the time, causing lots of disruptions. Productivity suffered. Congress stated that the Act would increase productivity.
One of the many selling points was the agreement that when a union was recognized it would represent all the employees within the bargaining unit including those who refused to join the union or pay dues for representation. The bargaining unit was to be established by the NLRB after hearings and even court challenges. I think it is safe to say that labor-management relations improved greatly as the NLRB cut a path down the middle. But soon "Romney types" began to fight the unions and a cottage industry was born. Ant-union law firms and consultants were retained to kill the union movement.
Agreement was reached that union membership could not be a pre-condition of employment, but if management agreed with the union employees in the bargaining unit could be required to pay union dues, or a fee for the costs of union representation, and management would collect the dues money and send it to the union.
This was known as "union security" by union supporters and opposed by management of many firms--they called their opposition a "Right-to-Work" (RTW), a non-sequitor if ever there was one.
Union membership keeps dropping because the Chamber of Commerce and other reactionary entities work to persuade union members to refuse dues payment. And the anti-union people try to persuade management to not collect the dues money for the union. (The Walker administration sets the example for public sector unions.)
Are you with me? Reactionary people like the Koch brothers oppose union security in the hope that the unions will weaken and even collapse without the dues collection by management. If the unions collapse the strongest force in politics for the working poor and middle class will lose political strength so the right-wing will have control of elections--almost unchallenged!
The right-wingers at the Bradley Foundation, CATO Institute, etc. etc. are pouring money into campaigns to kill the unions through adoption of RTW legislation. Indiana is poised to act; Wisconsin will be next. A glimpse into our future is playing out in Manitowoc where the Machinist Union at Manitowoc Crane is on strike. Negotiators have agreed on most issues, but one glaring issue is an eye-poke. Manitowoc Crane insists on "Freedom of Choice" for union members. After seven days, a member or all members may opt out of the union!
Naturally, management would use everything in their possession to persuade the union members to quit the union. That would, of course, weaken or eliminate the union. We anticipate one hell of a fight on this key issue. Freedom of Choice, my butt.
So keep eyes open.
January 13, 2012
For heaven's sake stop telling the truth!
NY Times reports that the "leaders" in the GOP are urging Republicans to stop bashing Romney and to focus on Obama! Apparently no one ever told Mittens that if you corner a rat you have a fight on your hands. Gingrich came so close to the presidency he could taste it. Remember when he said, "I am the likely nominee"? Then Romney's Super PAC filled the Iowa airwaves with ant-Newt TV spots and voilà! Newt had to stand by and watch his presidency go bye-bye!
Lots of lessons:
1.) The idea of a Super PAC being independent from the campaign is silly. It is nothing more than a fraud on the American people. Newt had it right--he scoffed at Romney's excuse that he would go to the big house if he told his super-dooper PAC to stop attacking Gingrich. If you believe that you probably think that money does not buy favors in politics.
In reality we owe a favor to Gingrich. He exposed Romney like no one else could or would. When Mittens claimed to create 100,000 jobs at Bain, Newt's response was, "Prove it!" Naturally, he could not. But even the corporate media felt compelled to ask Mittens to prove it.
2.) The Bain story led to another problem for Romney. He will not release his tax returns. Balderdash! Come on Mitt, you gotta do that! What is he hiding?
3.) Very few voters ever heard of Bain and few of them knew what "vulture capital" was all about. Now they are learning and they don't like it. No siree!
So our First Amendment defenders of such nonsense as "corporations are people" now are in a hole. Can they suppress the free speech of Perry, Gingrich and Huntsman? They are going to try!
4.) These GOP candidates have demonstrated why we must have public financing of campaigns or admit that democracy is gone the way of Newt's presidency.
But they are not finished. Now, in a filing in a law suit in Virginia the Republicans are calling for repeal of the ban on direct money from corporations to candidates. (See NY Times editorial today.) Frankly, I don't think it matters. Citizens United ended the game we used to call democracy.
So how we doin' in Wisconsin? The signed petitions will be filed in a couple of days. A Waukesha judge, not just any judge but Mac Davis, ordered the GAB to check on the signatures. It looks like they will not call an election until June or July. During that time there are no limits on how much money Walker can raise. Will there be a Democratic primary or will the grand poo-bahs try to name the Walker opponent?
I say let all of them run. Let the people decide.
January 12, 2012
Romney is like a fish out of water. "Gee, gully, gosh, why are Republicans attacking me?"
OK, so I am a vulture-like bird and I like stripping the carcasses of sick corporations. Pick'em clean, I do! There are winners and losers and I am a winner! Aren't we all in? Isn't that capitalism? Who would shy away from the creative process of business failure? Isn't that ,"Hey, I got mine, screw you"? And, "greed is good"? C'mon! Get back on track. Now!
Romney was quoted after the New Hampshire victory that Obama practices a "bitter politics of envy marked by resentment of success." What baloney. I had never heard that before and doubt we will see it often. Politics of envy! Nonsense.
Then he went on to declare that "the middle class has been crushed" not by the vultures but by government. He is nuts. Reminds me of the old Bob Newhart skit--If you place an infinite-number of monkeys in front of an infinite number of computers, eventually they will type all the great works of literature." Romney got a head start!
January 11, 2012
He created 100,000 jobs. Yah, sure.
Number 1: "If we identify capitalism with rich guys looting companies, we're going to have a tough time protecting capitalism."
And, then, describing the buy-out firms like Bain, Number 2: "They're just vultures. They're sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick, and then they they swoop in, eat the carcass and leave the skeleton."
Who said that? The leader of the occupy movement? Nope!
Quote #1 was from Gingrich, and the vulture comparison comes from Texas via Rick Perry.
The Republicans are in a panic over the attacks on Romney and his Bain record. Why? You know why. If the American public gets a good look at the Bain record, Romney will lose.
I have been checking the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Politifact, because here is a great chance for them to dig into a meaningful story: the Romney-Bain story. I could hardly wait. What did Politifact cover? Deer management by Walker! I am not kidding. What's next? Human interest stories on the polar bear club members?
One must ask if Romney is as dumb as he sounds. He came up with the "I created 100,000 jobs" line at Bain. Not unlike Scott Walker promising the creation of 250,000 jobs! He must know that having placed his record at Bain into the race he would be questioned about each and every Bain deal.
Oh, almost forgot. Romney refuses to release his income tax returns. Why? Are you there, PolitiFact? Why?
January 10, 2012
Mitt's fleeting moment
Watching the Republican presidential candidates rip each other apart borders on comedy, but some awful truths seem to be creeping ever so slowly into the bright glare of the cameras. Their behavior makes me wonder how these five or six people can be considered for any office let alone the presidency.
Romney is, as Newt put it, "a liar." And who can refute that? He supports Roe, he is against Roe, he supports Obamacare, he abhors Obamacare....In what seems like a desperate move, he claimed that he created 100,000 jobs at Bain, and if you believe that you probably would not refute my premise that pigs fly and chickens have lips! His most recent loony-tunes comment: He "worried about a pink slip" from time to time. Who does he think he is fooling with such nonsense? Not even Rick Perry went for that whopper! One nutty statement does require context, but think about him saying, "I like to fire people." Problem for Romney is that it is believable that he enjoys firing people. And now he has to somehow explain that statement. Huntsman quickly said, "Mitt likes to fire people, I like creating jobs!" Ouch!
Sorry Mitt, but it is too late. Me thinks you are done. You thought you could gloss over your lack of depth but you can't. Your Republican pals won't let you grab the brass ring.
Good news: Bill Daley goes home.
January 9, 2012
I am not making this up
You might have seen it live, but just in case you missed it Newt has, in hockey parlance, dropped the gloves. He said to Mittens, "Could we drop the pious baloney?" While he said "baloney" I thought I saw his mouth forming around a different word--bull feathers.
Romney was a "poor governor with a moderate record," Newt says. So much for Mitt! Romney needed someone to poke, so why not pick on Huntsman? I had forgotten that Huntsman was sill in the race. My guess is that he is really trying to get back to China, but in any event he disqualified himself, said Mitt, by taking the ambassadorship to China and even worse, he once praised Obama!
Good news for Huntsman? NoDoz has been recalled, so he can sleep through the balance of the New Hampshire primary. It is stunning that the GOP has moved so far to the right that even accepting a job in the national interest must be punished with political death. They have lost their minds. And they charge that Obama is too partisan because he made recess appointments! Joke of the month: The Republicans would have compromised with the president but he jumped the gun. If you believe that, we have a counseling program available.
Moyers is back! The best mind in politics, Bill Moyers, is coming back to television: Moyers & Company. Check his website billmoyers.com. Here is the odd fact. Moyers' program is not being distributed by PBS! Moyers, according to NY Times, is unsure why PBS declined the show. Many think that PBS has, once again, ducked a fight with those in Congress who want to end public TV. A timid PBS can't go wrong on a steady diet of Masterpiece Theater.
This is where an independent PolitiFact could help everyone. Dig up the dirt and take a hard look. Are we losing the battle to keep PBS?
And so it goes. Has Tommy dropped out of the race for Senate? Haven't seen him around. By the way, Mitt won't release his income tax returns. How about you, Tommy? I can hardly wait to see what you were paid to lobby--Newt style--by the right-wing law firms.
January 8, 2012
Santorum to the rescue
Ah, now we know why America is in trouble. Is it ill-fated wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan? Failing public schools? High tuition? Polluted air and water or fracking? Nope! 'tis feminism, gay rights and pornography. Whew! Glad someone, hell, anyone figured it out before it is too late. (But maybe it is too late!) And aren't we lucky that "someone" is running for president! Rick Santorum is our man. Huzzah!
Rick will be our leader in all sorts of ways that I had never thought of. He will criminalize abortion even if incest or rape caused the pregnancy. That's right: throw the doctor in prison! Unions? Ranger Rick does "not believe state, federal, or local workers should be involved in unions." (Involved?)
And in case you missed it, faith and family are under attack. Yowzers! What's next? Married priests? C'mon! Protect us, Ranger Rick--nice-guy in sweater vest--protect us! Phil Donohoe was asked what he thought of Santorum's rise and he nailed it. In essence, Rick can't wait to bomb Iran! I can see it in his eyes--I can almost hear the drums beating.
Like Gingrich, Santorum sees Ron Paul as a threat to our country because he wants peace! That is dangerous when you think about it. What's next? Reduced expenditures that will not permit us to engage in two land-wars at once? Who will hire displaced workers and returning vets? They are trained to fight so let them fight! Our job is to create the wars. Right Rick? And will the top 1 percent send their kids off to war? Ya, sure, Ole.
Santorum is the most dangerous man ever to seek the presidency. Won't happen, you say? Well, what if the Koch boys dump a billion or so into the race?
Santorum is scary. Koch is scary. I suggest you worry.
January 6, 2012
The gang that can't spend straight
The Republicans are quite something. Unlimited financial resources, tremendous support from right-wing think tanks created by Koch Brothers, Bradley Foundation, Scaif and others, near complete control of corporate media--Clear Channel, Fox. Yet despite all the money they could ever need, they often screw up. For example, no "primary" election has received the attention that the Iowa caucuses did this year, but it may not be over yet! That paragon of virtue and unbiased TV, Greta Van Susteren, and her bosses at Fox News, are claiming the some of the ballots for Mitt may have been counted twice. Whoa Nelly! So, reasons Greta, Fox favorite Santorum might have won.
I am not surprised that they are crying foul and won't be surprised if Romney stole it. After all, they stole the Bush election in 2000--remember the hanging chads? Well, perhaps Karl Rove's boys jumped into he Iowa caucus and played a little. It is the GOP demanding photo IDs to avoid fraud, and the only fraud we know about has been on the Republican watch.
Walker gets another gut-kick. Two of his former aides in Milwaukee County have been arrested! One of them ran the Milwaukee office of Tommy Thompson. What did they allegedly do? Oh, not to worry, they only stole money and lots of it from groups formed to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan! For goodness sakes, is nothing safe?
Read the story and shed a tear for Wisconsin. We are down to cheating war vets?
Here comes the hatchet! Mitch Daniels, radical governor of Indiana, is pushing and will probably pass a private-sector version of Walker's public-sector union bill. Snyder of Michigan, Walker of Waukesha, Kasich of Ohio: a coordinated campaign to destroy labor and the middle class. Indiana is doing a 2012 version of the Fab 14 of Wisconsin. How long can they wait? Not long.
Then there is Newt Gingrich. Sit before reading his racisist blast. He says he is willing to go to the NAACP and urge blacks to demand paychecks not food stamps! Brave Newt--he would actually meet blacks! Wow! What a jerk! There is so much wrong with his nonsensical anti-black appearance proposal that I don't need to respond. I repeat: What a jerk!
Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee is thinking of shutting down Aurora-Sinai Medical Center, a critical source of care for--guess who? You got it. "Low income neighborhoods." The working poor, the uninsured or under-insured! Last year there were 303,402 non-emergency visits and 68,196 emergency visits.
Something doesn't smell right. Aurora has been humming along and recently added lots of beds despite local oposition. Some $500 million was spent on hospitals in the affluent suburbs of Waukesha and Ozaukee counties. Look to your right when driving east on I-94 to see a huge Aurora facility near the Oconomowoc exit. Huge.
Here is the fishy part. Aurora lost $1.1 million in 2010 and 6.7 million in 2009; a slight profit of $419,205 in 2008. But the hospital's finances took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2011--lost $20 million in 2010 and thinks the losses will be 30 million this year! Nonsense. Where is PolitiFact now? Check out the real facts. Aurora wants to shut down Aurora Sinai. To get away with this travesty they will build a case to show that it is too expensive. Nonsense.
January 5, 2012
Romney sure is trying. He campaigned hard in Iowa four years ago and again this cycle. This time he spent millions of dollars, his "independent" PAC poured money in to destroy Newt Gingrich, his most formidable opponent, and he ended up with six fewer votes this year than he got in 2008. Enough to make a tough man cry! But he soldiers on and pretends that finishing first by eight votes in Iowa is a real victory. He is delusional.
Mitt, or Biff, or whatever his pals call him, may be good at lots of things but he reminds me of Gore Vidal's comment about his cousin, Al Gore. As Vidal would have it, when Al was born his parents put him in a Skinner box until he was 19 and then let him out with the promise that he should behave because he was destined to become president.
When we were fighting the transmission line from Canada to Wausau, the line's proponents sent a "gaggle" of lawyers up north from Milwaukee-based law firm to try to persuade the "locals that the line would be good for them." One of our organizers knew where to find the Milwaukee lawyers because they all wore similar new jackets and very nice shoes. They didn't fit in. That's Mitt: He just doesn't fit in.
One can rest assured Mitt is boffo at the country club winter gala, and I will wager that he has a low golf handicap. He fits in at the "club" but not at the American Legion picnic. It seems obvious that nobody likes Mitt. The more he campaigns the less they like him. He might win, but that is allowing a wish to father a thought because Obama will eat him alive. Mitt can't seem to distinguish truth from falsehood. He changes positions so fast to please the crowd that no one believes him.
And here comes a real dangerous man, Rick Santorum. He would make it a crime to have an abortion no matter how the pregnancy occurred. Doctors who perform abortions would go to prison or, perhaps, be executed. Why? Well, life begins at conception. Possibly we could have monitors in every bedroom that would detect love-making. Trained monitors would be alerted to go to the scene of a possible crime--someone taking a morning-after pill. And, one might mandate Viagra monitors for any four-hour emergencies! Are they nuts?
Rick, the reborn super-Catholic, would permit states to outlaw contraceptives. As he said, contraceptives encourage bad conduct. He would bring back "don't ask, don't tell" to the military; dissolve all same-sex marriages. Bomb Iran? Why not. I think he is unbalanced. But Big Ed says he likes him and tells us that he might do somethig about bringing jobs back to America! Whoa Nelly!
If you think the far-right Bradley Foundation folks will play nice after the recall of Walker, check out the NY Times full page ad on A5:
"IN NORTH KOREA PEOPLE DON'T GET REAL CHANGE"
"AMERICAN UNION MEMBERS DON'T EITHER."
The so-called Center for Union Facts says it's time for a new labor day. Guarantee union members a vote every three years on whether to continue to pay union dues. And you thought they were only after public sector unions!
Fascism is around the bend.
January 4, 2012
Michael, Best & Friedrich is the gift that never stops giving. This from today's MJS:
"In a scathing ruling, a three-judge panel decided for the third time Tuesday that a Democratic group has a right to an array of information on how Republican lawmakers drew new legislative districts."
Not only that, but the panel ruled the GOP has filed "frivolous" motions to hide the information.
The judges put an end to the delay: The court will not suffer the sort of foot-dragging and obfuscation now being engaged in by Wisconsin elected officials and their attorneys. As a result, the court sanctioned Eric McLeod and other Michael, Best and Friedrich attorneys.
In what has become a poorly disguised attempt to cover up a process that should have been public from the outset...the Legislature tried to mask the process behind the closed doors of a private law firm.
One experienced Wisconsin lawyer said in 40 years of practice he has never read such a damning decision by a panel. Incredible! Imagine acusing the lawyers hired by the state of disinformation and obfuscation! Wow!
IOWA. Newt called Romney a liar. When asked again if he thought Romney was a liar, Newt again said yes. Why? Because Romney said the Super PAC that his supporters created and funded is really easily manipulated by Romney who claims he would go to "the big house" if he did try to control the PAC. The PAC is given credit for destroying Newt's reputation and his candidacy. Poor Newt! Newt, no neophtyte, said bull roar. In reality Newt is admitting that Citizens United is a disaster because a liar luke Romney can manipulate the so-called independant PACs.
My god: Rick Santorum a leading Republican? Yikes!
January 3, 2012
We lost a game not our soul
OK, I admit that I have always disliked the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, especially the sports section, so you may want to skip this analysis. But as bad as the sports articles in the Journal and Sentinel often were in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, no one could top the article this morning reporting on the Herculean effort by the Badgers football team to just miss a chance to beat a better team.
According to JS reporter Mike Hunt, "But for Wisconsin to blow a second consecutive Rose Bowl in basically the same freakish way it dropped two games in a 2011 season," I am not making this up, a season "that now seems completely wasted...it is hard to forgive or forget." I try to avoid expletives in my blog, but if I were to throw caution to the wind I would tell the reporter to go to hell.
The Badgers had a great season and they played magnificently in yesterday's Rose Bowl. We will never know what would have happened had they had one more play. In an incredibly lucky break for the Ducks, the Wisconsin receiver went down with two seconds on the clock...Well, things happen, the ball takes funny bounces, teams win and they lose. Incredibly, the ball sat on the field and a Duck fell on it. Two seconds to go--oops.
But back to JS: "Bad things don't happen to talented teams like UW on sheer randomness. They happen because of a lack of preparation and poor coaching decisions." Bull feathers!
I represented former Badgers football coach Don Morton when Donna Shalala fired him to make way for Barry. In an interview with the Capital Times editorial board, John Patrick Hunter, everyone's favorite political reporter at the time, asked Don a tough question. "Coach, I have always wondered what goes through your mind when a player breaks into the clear and a perfect pass finds him in the open but he drops the ball." Morton responded without hesitation, "A young man, possibly 19 years of age, just made a mistake and we should all make sure it does not bother him for the rest of his life." We all smiled and nodded. Apparently Mike Hunt would disagree. Send him to the River Styx.
Good lord they fought hard, and so did Georgia, Penn State, and all the other 18-23 year-old young men who played a game yesterday. Ah, but the JS doesn't care. They lost! Dammit! They lost!
Oh, almost forgot, the Defense Department announced more casualties in Afghanistan. The total is now 1,744 dead. The last soldier to die, Pernell Herrera. Is there any perspective on that among JS reporters?
January 2, 2012
Snake oil subsidy ends
We began fighting the irrational spread of ethanol plants decades ago, often comparing ethanol to snake oil--pushed by lead snake-oil salesman Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). ADM, a name that will live in infamy for criminal conduct, worked the Congress into a federal tax credit for ethanol. And the government also gave $20 billion in subsidies.
Forty percent of the corn crop in America goes to ethanol. While this was good news to corn growers who saw corn prices rise, prices of meat, dairy and poultry went up and up and up.
The tax credit cost the government was $6 billion in 2011. The heavy use of pesticides caused pollution of air and water. Bye bye, ADM? No, ADM will survive, but ethanol might not. (State Senator Luther Olsen and his brother invested heavily in ethanol.)
Michele Bachmann should be ready to pack up the tent and move the circus to another state. She and her odd husband Marcus were still delusional on Sunday as she pushed the dream that evangelicals might pull it out for her in Iowa. Her big pitch is that she, alone, will provide protection of life from conception to natural death. I assume she supports "life" from erection to natural death, but she seemed less clear on that.
I couldn't help but think about Stephen Sondheim's beautiful "Send in the clowns" when watching a PBS Sinatra performance and thinking about Iowa. Yes, send in the clowns! As Sondheim writes, "Don't bother they are here."
Obama is good, but he is also lucky. The internal attacks on one another have provided Obama with material that will be impossible for the Iowa Caucus winner to bury. These Republicans appear to hate each other and they should!
Meanwhile, the Vatican has created a structure to welcome U.S. Anglicans home. With strains of "Goin' home, goin' home" in the background, the Pope is ready for the deluge. How exciting can it be?
OK, get ready for a Wisconsin victory in the Rose Bowl!
2012: The fight continues. We are poised to help sanity regain a seat in the Capitol.
January 1, 2012
One hell of a year coming up
Here we go! Batten down the hatches, buckle your seat belts, eyes open--it is 2012. Whether we have a democracy or live in a plutocracy will be decided in the 12 months ahead. Democracy may be a dead letter because of the Supreme Court's ridiculous Citizens United--"corporations are people"--holding. We cannot match their money. Look at Newt. He surged ahead and was leading in the Iowa polls. Then the money folks said, "No you don't Newt," and they poured money into TV spots against Newt and he fell like a rock. Scary.
Now 2011 was exciting, but 2012 will be even more exciting because it is all on the line so we must go "all in." We can predict that voters will recall the governor and lieutenant governor and at least one more Republican state senator. But that won't resolve the issues, because then the Koch boys will pour money into Wisconsin's gubernatorial campaign. If they prevail, start planting your garden. Then it is on to People vs. Koch Brothers, a/k/a the gubernatorial election.
(I was pleased to receive, from a friend, an envelope addressed to "Trouble-Maker Garvey" as a result of February 10, 2011. It was an internal Walker admin email urging "head's up" in an e-mail. The concern was potential union effort because a union-friendly blog post from FightingBob.com called for a strong response to Walker's plans as noted in my blog of that date.)
So Happy New Year. Think about where we were a year ago. Could anyone have predicted that the people of Wisconsin and Ohio would reach out and punch Walker and Kasich in the snout? They did, and because they did progressives are well into the game and ready for the heavyweight championship bout.
First challenge will be in Michigan. Will Gov. Snyder take over Detroit and guarantee a Republican victory in that state in the presidential election?
Take a deep breath, get some rest, and get ready for the fight of your political lives.