February 29, 2012
Talk about ambivalence!
Apparently many Dems and the UAW in Michigan urged members to vote for Santorum in the belief that he is more beatable than Romney. If these were normal times, I would probably agree with that tactic but these are not normal times! So what is abnormal? The amount of money the bad guys can "invest" in people like Santorum and Walker thanks to Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo renders this year anything but normal.
Our response to unlimited money is the Tin Cup pledge. We are asking all who run in November to refuse Super PAC, union and corporate money. Only in-state individual contributions should be accepted. There is no question that this is a gamble, but the idea of the Democratic nominee raising millions of dollars in three months is not a gamble it leads to almost certain defeat.
The Koch boys can put a billion dollars into the Walker kitty and that scares all of us. After a tough primary several years ago, one of the defeated contestants moaned that if they put in another million dollars they could have elected a brick!
If both candidates are raising money the traditional way--GOP knocking on Wall Street doors, Dems knocking on Wall Street doors--Walker wins. Why? The million people who signed petitions want a clean break from money-dominated elections. The Tin Cup plan has a good chance of motivating the million to give $25 and get out the vote. This gives them a clear choice.
Our next meeting of the People's Legislature will be March 25 (not March 24 as reported here yesterday). And 11:00 to 4:00 is the time. Same site, Alliant Center. We need you to make this work.
If we don't get money out of the system, there is no chance of closing the gap between rich and the rest of us; no chance to stop fracking; no chance to make our schools better; no chance to stop the taconite mine.
February 28, 2012
How boring, how anti-climactic, how pedestrian. The governor won't challenge a single signature out of a million calling for his recall. He will be only the third governor in U.S. history to be recalled.
His excuse for not challenging the signatures? Not enough time! He has raised about 12 million dollars since the recall got underway and the Koch brothers have made it clear that they will support their brave governor financially, so are we to believe that Walker could not afford to hire temps to check ballots? C'mon! This work hardly qualifies as difficult so why no challenge? You know why. The signatures are valid and a challenge would demonstrate just how hollow the GOP verbal assaults have been. Walker figured it out. If only a handful of signatures turned out to be worthy of a challenge he would look silly. So, instead, he comes up with a public relations spin: "not enough time." And he still looks silly.
So now what? Well, the four Republican senators are subject to recall, or so the Dems say. Should a couple of them lose, politics in Wisconsin would possibly return to normalcy. The Democrats would have a majority in the Senate, the Republicans would control the Assembly, and it is better than 50-50 that a Democrat will be elected governor.
Think about it. We could focus on the corruption of the Supreme Court, push public financing of elections, demand an independent DNR, monitor the elections in Waukesha, stop the madness of a proposed 21-mile-long and 4-mile-wide scar on the state to permit aconite mining. (Creation of a lake" with the volume of water equal to Lake Winnebago.) Oh boy! Can you see the sun rising? I can.
NOTE: Joe Gruber gets out of hospital today in Mississippi. Joe will be back in Wisconsin in mid-March. Hooray!
Despite the actions of some lawyers recently, there was a reminder of how some lawyers make us proud to be in the Bar. Jack DeWitt was one of those lawyers. He was a lawyer's lawyer and a good man to boot. Jack passed last week and he will be missed. He called me about once a month to comment on something I had written in the Cap Times. Even if he disagreed with my position, he encouraged me to keep on writing.
I think of Wade Boardman, Henry Field, Bob Curry, Nat Heffernan, John Skilton, Dick Cates, Mark Frankel and many more. Add Jack Dewitt to the lawyer's hall of fame. Attorneys who were committed to the law. Lawyers who made us better citizens. Thanks, Jack, well done.
People's Legislature March 24. Same place, but promise to move it to a more central site next session. Candidates will be asked to refuse PAC, union and corporate money.
In other words, put down the Tin Cup! In fact, the Tin Cup Brigade will be vigilant in keeping the candidates to their promise to run on principle and individual, small in-state donations. We can break the back of big money. You did it with the impossible task of recalling a sitting governor. Next up, the miracle of getting those million + recallers to get-out-the-vote. Are you ready?
February 27, 2012
College could be dangerous
Rick Santorum has given us a peek into his soul. Who is he? Read on. He has concluded that colleges and universities are destroying religious commitment among students. He pulled some stats out of the air, or a body part, that say 62 percent of college students lose their faith commitment while in college. Therefore, if we want to fool the devil we had better keep our kids out of universities. It worked for Scott Walker. Why not the rest of us?
Good Lord, where are the boundary lines? Imagine a presidential candidate warning us to keep our kids and grandkids out of higher education! He is looney-toons.
Catch these good words from our would-be leader. He was sickened by JFK's speech to Protestant bishops in 1960 because Kennedy said the Vatican would not control his policies. Kennedy believed, as did our founding fathers and mothers, that there must be a clear separation of church and state. I suspect Rick is making this up as he appeals to religious nuts in Michigan, but it should hit the alarm bell.
Hey, folks, listen up. This nut could be elected. While I doubt it, you never know what a billion from the Koch boys might do. This is scary.
Military response to Afghanistan riots. One of our military and civilian leaders, Ryan Crocker, said, "We can't leave now." Why not? Well, apparently because the people hate us so much we must remain and fight them. Ah, yes, war. Easy to get in, almost impossible to get out.
February 26, 2012
Way way out there
Maureen Dowd writes that Republicans are finally figuring it out. It is not good to watch them eat themselves alive. The Big 4 candidates for president are in a crouch waiting to pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates--be it humanity toward women, to compassion toward immigrants....All four are nuts.
From Ayn Rand's lead fan, Paul Ryan, to the latest crazy talk from Newt at Oral Roberts University (sit down before reading Newt's warning that defeating Obama--the most dangerous president in American history, was a duty of national security because he is incapable of defending the United States.)
I believe that Gingrich is, in essence, calling for either a coup or the assassination of Barack Obama. If Obama is the most dangerous president in history and he is incapable of defending our country, he must be removed. Whoa Nelly! Talk about scary!
Remember "truth in sentencing?" and "life means life"? Many Americans thought that truth in sentencing would provide an end to parole but also reduce costs by informing the public every time a prisoner is sentenced. The court would explain the cost to the state. An informed electorate could make some rational decisions. Take, for example, a person convicted of possession of drugs. Do we want him in prison at $41,000 per year? I don't think so. But the result is that we are going broke trying to fund our bloated prison population. If we don't permit inmates to get out of prison before the entire term is completed our prisons will be so overcrowded that courts will have to intervene to eliminate the awful conditions that result from truth in sentencing. Think California for proof.
Today's NY Times raises another problem: prisoners with cognitive disabilities. Think about a high number of Alzheimer "patients" in prison. In New York, the state is paying $91,000 per year per inmate with cognitive disabilities. Other prisoners cost $42,000. We have 1.6 million in our prisons. Do the math and ask if we have lost our marbles.
The Wisconsin State Journal keeps touting its role as "Wisconsin's Independent Voice." Yah, sure Ole. Read the editorial today calling on the Legislature to rush the mining bill through. C'mon, this is an awful bill, or, more appropriately, two awful bills. The fact that WMC and the mining companiy drafted the bills should end all discussion until we get a "do over."
There has been precious little investigative journalism on the impact of proposed mines. Ah, but the State Journal can think only of JOBS.
February 25, 2012
And there was a car salesman
Ryan Braun, MVP Braun, that is, won his arbitration. But good old "Mr. Baseball," commissioner, car dealer, wealthy man Selig is furious. Nothing wrong with baseball, hollered Selig and his office. Just a technicality, they said, as if technicalities in baseball don't count!
Good lord, Bud Selig, who conned Tommy Thompson into building a new stadium for his team at taxpayer expense; Bud Selig, who got his college degree in political science and history, would have you believe he knows the law! Just a technicality, says Bud. But some have suggested that the guy hired to collect urine for Bud and rush it to Fed Ex might me the problem. The guy's name is Dino. Dino Laurenzi. Dino's dad says he is a "good boy." His dad called him a "straight shooter." Perhaps this time he didn't shoot straight, if you get my drift.
Dino has never been in trouble. Any accusations against him "would be unfounded." Yah, sure.
His web site his bio says Dino is trained in sports medicine and specializes in athletic performance training and rehab. Our guy Dino did not follow the rules, but Selig's assistant said: Dino, "the extremely experienced [urine] collector acted (get this) in a professional and appropriate manner." No he didn't, Bud. No he didn't.
Wonder why we did not allow drug tests in the NFL?
Three judges have it now!
A federal three-judge panel now has the scandalous Wisconsin redistricting case. MJS reports that testimony and arguments went until 9:00 last night. Twain once said a lie gets half-way around the world before Truth gets her boots on. In the redistricting case, nicely reported by MJS, Truth probably never took her boots off!
Secret meetings, emails, memos and meetings; the Walker folks made us the laughing stock of the nation and exposed our judicial process for the farce it has become. Imagine having all or nearly all GOP legislators sign secrecy agreements. Agreements signed at a law firm, paid nearly half a million dollars to draw the lines for the partisans, in order to claim attorney-client privilege? Are they kidding? This is spy novel material. Attorney Peter Earle, an attorney for Voces de la frontera, summed it up with these comments:
They chose to initiate a process in secrecy, hide it from the public, draft intentionally vague agreements with consultants, hired three expensive law firms to be paid over a million dollars, mostly by taxpayers. One of the outside lawyers stated that he drafted consultant agreements to be vague so that the public would not understand the agreements! And swore that politics was not a factor. Whoa Nelly! They deprived the public of the ability to scrutinize what was done, said Earle.
As I look at it, the lawyers for the state and the GOP operated with a determined effort to control the legislative maps and they believed that the only thing that could stop them would be sunlight. Thus they decided to keep the public in the dark. Just the opposite of Open Records. This is a disgrace!
February 24, 2012
More on money
More and more people are joining our Tin Cup Brigade. For those just tuning in, the idea is easily understood but will require one heck of an effort to be successful.
Scott Walker will have all the money he thinks he needs. He will purchase most, if not all, available time on TV in Wisconsin. Word has it he has $12 million in the bank as I write. That is a "downpayment" worthy of note. Frankly, no Democrat can raise that amount of money for the gubernatorial race so we at Fighting Bob.com have decided to ask Democratic candudates to refuse major contributions from corporations, labor unions, and Super PACs.
"Can't win that way" holler the old line campaign consultants who see their payday going down. The fact is no candidate can beat Walker by trying to out-raise him or even to keep pace with his fundraising. Cannot be done. So, if candidate X says, "OK Walker! You are on--I can raise enough money to challenge the Koch Brothers." I respond, "nonsense."
Naturally, all candidates require some money for rent, gas, supplies. Our way of dealing with those minimal expenses? A Fighting Bob fund to make a modest amount available to all candidates who have raised, say, $250,000 for the fund. All money will be spent explaining the new approach. Example: a TV spot that says you will hear a lot of nonsense about the race for governor but not from Democrats. Why? We have decided to call a halt to the scandal of fundraising so that quality people can run for office.
So, focus on Walker's Koch money and explain that the Dems will not spend every waking moment dialing for dollars.
People's Legislature meets soon. Announcement tomorrow.
February 23, 2012
Our tenth year
Hard to believe, but today is Fighting Bob.com's ninth birthday. How did we get started? In a word, we just started.
At our first Fighting Bob Fest, I was chairing the "meeting" when a hand went up. I called on the woman who said it was time that we create a progressive voice using the Internet. I called for a vote and it was unanimous! Four months later, on February 24, 2003, we started. (Check the archives once in a while. Good stuff.) Because we started, Fighting Bob Fest celebrated #10 last September. The People's Legislature got started and a thousand ideas are out there and almost ready for prime time.
I am non-plussed when I read the numbers--10 million page views, 30,000 visits every week, 7,000 commentaries, 4 million visitors, over 3,000 blog posts, 1,400 articles. It boggles my mind.
More than numbers, it is Fighting Bob's soul that cranks me up every morning. And, every day we have a chance to advance social and economic justice. We have a chance to make the public debate more interesting. We have a chance...and more often than not, we grab the chances.
More tomorrow about those who deserve a round of applause.
Thank you. You have written articles, contributed money, raised hell. This, like Bob Fest, belongs to you.
My best, Ed Garvey.
How much is too much?
We learned this morning that our prediction that the Reinhart firm in Milwaukee, a recent hire by the governor, will look at the $500,000 "cap" on legal fees for them in the redistricting case, not to mention Michael, Best at $400,000, as a good start. A cap? Yah sure Ole!
Yesterday we gently explained how outside counsel are selected by the governor and how they are paid. Sure enough, Reinhart was selected by Scott Walker, who also apparently negotiated Reinhart's fees. The Reinhart firm has already billed over $288,000 and that is before you were even informed that Walker put their fee on your tab. Lucky you! Do you want to guess the hourly cost to taxpayers just for Walker-hired lawyers as the trial gets started today in Federal Court? Legal fees usually almost double in trial. Some cynics suggest that the big fees are an impediment to settlement. Nah!
Want to guess what your bill will be? (Remember the tobacco case where a prominent law firm didn't keep time records but "assumed," after we pushed them, that they were paid about $50,000 per hour? Yikes! And Whoa Nelly!)
A panel of three federal judges again prodded the litigants to re-draw the district maps voluntarily. The lawyers said "no." Catch this: The GOP said they were willing to make changes but they do not believe they have the power to do so. Hogwash!
(Then there is the issue of the lobbyist who worked for the GOP. What should his fee be and what is he expected to do on your tab?)
I could write all day about this case, but I will hit only the low-lights.
Jim Troupis, in an e-mail released yesterday, said to fellow lawyer Eric McLeod, "I have kept contracts with consultants purposely vague, making it harder for the public to understand..." His example is the former legislator and lobbyist consoling on this matter. How does Joe Handrick report his time with no obligation to provide detail of his work? They--oops, you the taxpayer--are paying him $5,000 per month to do what? Nice payday I would say.
Troupis was busy busy, but he had time to brief the general counsel of the Republican National Committee three weeks before the Troupis-Mcleod team gave the maps to Democrats.
I will end this for now with one additional item. MJS reported, "Republicans have insisted under oath that partisan interests played no role in how they drew the maps"! And, how about the secrecy agreements GOP legislators signed? Not partisan? Whoa Nelly!
February 22, 2012
Lawyers under oath?
Yikes! What's next? Open government? Open meetings? Transparency? Fairness?
Yes, the three-judge federal court has stirred the pot. Action on the redistricting plan worked out in secret sessions got started yesterday but more fireworks at the starting gate along with a verbal lashing of the lawyers representing the GOP.
The first issue was whether or not GOP attorney James Troupis or attorneys from Michael, Best and Friedrich must testify under oath. Judge Stadtmueller said, "It appears at least from my preliminary scan of the materials he [Troupis] is certainly going to have to testify." That might be the reason Walker hired Reinhart with a $500,000 cap on fees!
It must be pointed out that a "cap" on fees is often anything but a cap. Here is the deal. The governor decides that the DOJ needs help. He gets one of his allies in the legal world to submit a proposal and, voilà! the firm is hired. If the firm exceeds the cap? You guessed right: the state pays the excess. So, when is a cap not a cap?
Reinhart is not inexpensive. Fees capped at $500,000 is a good start for lawyers at Reinhart who will "assist the Department of justice" says MJS. Get out the calculator. The GOP hired Michael, Best & Friedrich at $400,000 to draw the lines, and, presumably, to develop strategy. Now Rinehart under contract at $500,000 means they are edging close to the million dollar mark.
Read these comments from Judge Stadtmueller: "The facts are the facts, and what has occurred here is beyond the pale in terms of lack of transparency and secrecy. Appearances are everything and Wisconsin has prided itself one generation after another on openness and fairness in doing the right thing." He concluded, "And to be frank we have seen everything but that in the way this case has proceeded." Almost all GOP lawmakers signed secrecy agreements! Whoa Nelly!
Bye, bye affirmative action!
Justice Sam Alito, known best for mouthing an insult to President Obama during the State of the Union address while shaking his head, will probably be the deciding vote to eliminate affirmative action in college admissions. Race is only one of many factors as schools try to diversify the student body. Affirmative action puts a young white kid in a class or dorm with an African American and both grow as a result of the contact.
But Alito, the replacement for the moderate and retired Sandra Day O'Connor, will probably write the decision unless Justice Roberts has a sense of humor and asks Clarence, son-of-Scalia and affirmative action exhibit A when affirmative action was much less flexible, to write the decision that will tilt the entire system toward segregation.
The Warner Commission warned that we were moving toward two societies, one poor and black, the other white. I'll bet there will be a hell of a party at the Bradley Foundation. Charlie Sykes with lamp shade on head and party favors handed out by Mike Grebe unless he flies George Will in for the party. I can see it now. And the delegates to that incredible spectacle I-PAC will be up dancing all night drinking champagne! What was the title? Cry the Beloved Country?
Russ Feingold was on Jon Stewart's Daily Show last night. No mention of Walker or candidacy so I think it is safe to scratch Feingold from the list of candidates for governor. Too bad. Russ has a book out today: While America Sleeps.
February 21, 2012
Koch in Kohl out
In what can only be described as an odd meeting with reporters, Herb Kohl said he has no plans to run for governor. While it seemed rather definitive, he did not give it the LBJ "I shall not seek nor shall I accept...." disclaimer. Seemed like he was saying "no," but he didn't say no. He seems to enjoy teasing the media and the politicians. But, to be fair, he may honestly be undecided.
The main reason I find that a few Democratic pols are still pushing Herb is that he alone in Wisconsin politics has millions of dollars that he cold use to fund his own campaign. "No one's governor but yours" bumper stickers would spring up. But the inscrutable Kohl just let it hang out there in space. Clever perhaps, but his indecision could stop Barrett or other candidates from running. There is not much time to fool around.
The Kohl indecision points out how difficult it is to get high quality people to seek office post-Citizens United.
Let's see where this could lead. Suppose Herb got into the race. He could easily win the primary by spending 5-10 million dollars but then what? If the Koch boys plunk 20 or 30 million dollars into the race to save their hero Walker, would Herb up the ante and put an equal amount into the race to become governor? I doubt it, but the question needs asking.
Even with his money, it is far less than the Koch brothers' bankroll. Suppose he doesn't put in tens of millions of his own money, he might win because he has done nothing to antagonize anyone. Then what? A two-year term? Does he run again? Would he, in essence, be clearing the brush from the trail so someone could run and win two years down the road? Would we have solved the money problem by then? Of course not. Does he believe in publicly funded campaigns? Who knows?
It may seem impertinent, but what would he do as governor? I have no idea where he stands on major issues and, I suspect, neither do you. (I will send him my open letter to ask.) That said, if he decides to run, don't be standing in the driveway when the truck moves out.
WHY ARE WOMEN SO ANGRY? If you can't answer that one, don't even think about running for office. Add up the statements from the Catholic Church, Rick Santorum, the absurd bills that have passed the legislature in Virginia, the "aspirin joke" from Santorum's sugar daddy, and I doubt if more than 10 percent of women in Wisconsin will vote for the GOP in November.
Santorum, Gingrich and Romney are, indeed, so bad that there will undoubtedly be a new candidate soon. Meanwhile, the pro-life coalition is off the tracks. Santorum appears to be nuts and the governor of Virginia should share a cell with Rick Santorum.
February 20, 2012
To: Kathleen Falk, Kathleen Vinehout, Doug La Follette, and (apparently) Tom Barrett. (If someone else runs, he or she will be added to the list)
From: Ed Garvey & Fighting Bob.com.
Subject: Tin Cup Brigade vs. old-fashioned money raising.
Why an open letter? Because you have decided to seek the top job in Wisconsin and we need to know you better. We were fooled by Walker. Once is enough.
I hope this is just the beginning of a discussion about Wisconsin's future. We don't have much time so let's get started.
As gubernatorial candidates, you have a wonderful opportunity to share your life's experiences and your vision with millions of people who were once proud of our state but who have lost confidence in our state government. We have lost confidence in part because of questionable leadership, but mostly because of the dominate role of money in politics.
Few believe that justice can be served when members of our Supreme Court refuse to clean up their campaigns. I doubt that any of you believes that Justice Gableman deserves to be seated having lied in a TV spot about his opponent; a TV spot that reminds us of Willie Horton. Tell us your view.
We were astounded that a law firm would represent a justice at no cost while he was sitting in judgment in cases where that same law firm represented clients. Recusal? Of course! What would you do to rectify this?
Did Justice Prosser choke Justice Bradley? He should be asked, under oath. And if he did, off to anger management rehab for him. We expect you to ask.
Thus our disappointment with our state begins at the very top, the Supreme Court, but that is just the start.
One more point. Did Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in essence purchase the Supreme Court with millions of dollars in campaign contributions? We hope you will ask for an independent investigation and demand that contributions to Supreme Court races be prohibited.
Here is the big Kahuna. Will you join with us in demanding that corporations, unions, Super PACs and lesser PACs stop all contributions. Will you join the "Tin Cup Brigade" to motivate the 1.1 million recall signers to get out the vote so people power can top money power?
Saturday I spoke at a "mini-Bob Fest" in Mazomanie; a month ago at the People's Legislature; last September at Fighting Bob Fest; last May in Chippewa at Bob Fest North. Something has happened and I think it is profound. There is an enthusiasm level I have not felt since Bobby Kennedy ran for president. The electorate is awake, alive and ready for battle. Will you join us or will you opt for taking a tin cup around begging for money?
Hot news: You cannot raise enough money to dent Koch's fender, but if 30,000 canvassers turn to a vigorous get-out-the-vote campaign this race can be won.
We are working with lots of groups to give you opportunities to sell your program, your vision, in an open and honest series of forums. Consultants will be nipping at your heels, telling you that we are nuts. You cannot unilaterally disarm; etc., etc., you will lose if you put down the tin cup. Response? You will lose if you spend your time asking Wall Street to fund your campaign. Worse, you will rob us of the enthusiasm of the uprising from last February and March.
We will, of course, post your responses.
February 19, 2012
Ask a Republican lawmaker about Indian treaties and prepare for a blank look. Tribes have rights? Are you kidding me? All the fighting within the Capitol has pitted the tools of the mining companies, led by Scott Fitzgerald and almost all of his colleagues, vs. those people who honor our duty to turn land back to future generations in good shape. Missing at the table? You guessed it: the Tribes.
One minute there is a special Senate committee set up to study the mining proposals. The next minute Fitzgerald eliminates the Senate Committee and turns the issue over to the Joint Finance Committee. Then it becomes obvious that the GOP leaders have always wanted the Assembly version of mining regulation, big surprise. Hell's bells, they wrote the Assembly bill with help from WMC. Whoa Nelly!
Happy to report that Glenn Stoddard is representing the Bad River Chippewa in opposing the proposed Penokee Range iron ore mine, a mine so awful that it could sink Wisconsin by flooding us with polluted water and air.
As Stoddard points out, "These treaties go back to pre-statehood." The GOP would like to dismiss the Tribes as if they were counties or towns. They are not. They are sovereign nations. Be silent and you can almost hear Fitzgerald and Walker squeal.
The GOP hollers "jobs, jobs, jobs," but there are no guarantees of good family supporting jobs. Listen carefully. The Florida-based mining company is not even in Wisconsin fighting for its position. Nope.
What is really going on? These mining companies don't give a tinker's damn about Wisconsin's environment, and they plan to make billions of dollars by extracting countering ore.
Here is my proposal. If the mining companies agree to split the revenue generated by these mines, say 70 percent to Wisconsin, 30 percent to the companies, we would at least listen. (Possibly 60-40 would be OK.) Imagine how that would boost Wisconsin and allow a reclamation program that would save our precious land.
Crazy? Hell no. Sensible? Hell yes. Stop bickering over the small stuff and start saving funds to protect us in the future.
The fourth little Bob Fest held in Mazomanie yesterday was a big success. I can see Wisconsin with 72 mini-Fighting Bob Fests soon.
One vote was unanimous. I asked, "If Walker is convicted and sent to prison, should he be allowed out during the day and returned at night?" The shouting was 100 percent in favor of denying him Huber privileges.
February 18, 2012
Three days before the public and the Democrats in the Legislature got a look at the new legislative lines the maps, drawn by Ray Taffora and Michael Best & Friedrich, were given to Scott Jensen. Yes--that one--the poster boy of the legislative scandal of a few years ago. He is lobbying for a pro-vouncher group called American Federation for Children. Some say he is earning more than $100,000 per year for his lobbying for more vouchers!
Think for a moment. MB&F was hired by the GOP for $400,000, to be paid by taxpayers, to draw the new lines that would, of course, favor Republicans. Republican legislators had to sign secrecy oaths before they were allowed to see the MB&F-drawn maps. Who says? Good question. Was MB&F in charge or were the elected officials in charge?
While the maps were sent to Jensen, the GOP went to court to argue that the GOP memos, e-mails and draft maps should be protected by the courts from discovery in a Democratic Party lawsuit. Were these motions in good faith? No way, says a three-judge panel.
Stay tuned! Meanwhile, read the MJS account. Good stuff.
February 17, 2012
Too cute by half
The GOP leaders, some old, some rookies, thought they were smarter than all of us, including federal judges with jurisdiction over the redistricting plan. "Hubris" is the word I am lookiing for. Bad mistake for lawyers to make. Judges expect and deserve honest representation from lawyers who appear before them. It is dangerous to play games. Lawyers are not just political operatives they are "officers of the court."
But Michael, Best & Friedrich lost their compass, or so it would appear, and they have been slapped and slapped hard. Yesterday the three-judge panel slapped them again. The judges ordered the GOP to turn over the 84 documents the "too-cute-by-half" lawyers shielded with the attorney-client privilege. The judges were not fooled. They said the lawyers engaged in an "all but shameful" effort to keep its efforts hidden from public view. (I would love to be a mouse in the corner at the next attorney meeting at MB&F.)
In an attempt to bury the spirit of open records, MB&F had most GOP legislators come to their law firm and sign a pledge to maintain silence about the redistricting efforts! Robin Vos was to be the lone spokesman, and all others were to ignore public comments.
Catch this: The court said, "Merely hiding political decisions behind the closed doors of a law firm does not make the advice offered any less political, strategic, or policy related." In plain language, stop the nonsense. We are onto your game! Surprise, surprise: Scott Fitzgerald thinks the three judge panel is wrong. Yah, Scotty, yah. You tell them!
I cannot wait to read the 84 emails!
Pat writes that Joe Gruber's progress is up and down. He loves hearing from friends, so Pat urges you keep them coming, along with prayers.
February 16, 2012
Hard to get by on one income
The wife of Dane County's GOP chair is one heck of a payroll person! Take that to the bank. Someone noticed her skills and offered her a job in the Walker administration that paid much less than she deserved even without relevant experience. Starting salary, a paltry $54,300. I ask you, how can anyone get by on $54,000? The Walker administration took care of that matter raising her wages to $81,200. Whoa Nelly.
Talk to George Meyer, former DNR Secretary or call Patty Lowe, long-time Wisconsin Public TV personality. Patty is also Native American. They will tell you that the Fitzgerald blitz is destroying the state. The iron ore mining bill might ruin permanently the state of Wisconsin. It might well create a lake the size of Lake Winnebago (in terms of volume) but it will be polluted! The bill was drafted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the mining company! Really. I am not kidding.
The carrot is a promise to bring jobs to Wisconsin. How many? What wage level? will there be benefits? New schools? George Meyer said the law on mining is just fine. No need for revision of the mining law. But there is if you are a mining company trying to get the watered down regs on the books before one or two senators are recalled and replaced with pro-environmental senators.
Everywhere you turn we have enormous challenges. The UW System budget will get another Walker cut. This time more than $40 million dollars. At midnight the other day the Senate sneaked through repeal of wetlands regulations.
I am almost at a loss for words. This recall had better work! Many of these changes are irreversible.
February 15, 2012
So Walker has an upset stomach and might miss a finger-wag opportunity as our president arrives to tour Master lock. No problem. Stay home--don't spread your virus.
Obama's visit is, in a word, odd. Does anyone really think a tour of Master Lock is needed now? Who asked for the visit? Should he be all smiles and giggles with a guy 1.1 million Badgers asked to leave office? Will he feel compelled to say something nice about this guy who would destroy our environment, wreck our public schools, and kill private sector unions now that he has dealt a body blow to public sector unions?
Does his visit send a Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" message?
Apparently Milwaukee is now safe for a presidential visit, but why do it a full year after it would have helped in the uprising? He would not come to Madison, would not send Biden, the Secretary of Labor or anyone else. Not even a message of support! We were on our own thank you very much. As it turns out he wasn't needed, but he sure blew an opportunity to bolster the determined and gutsy recall canvassers. People he will need in a big way next November.
Maybe the president should get a stomach ache.
LATEST WALKER NEWS; The wife of Dane County's GOP chair must be awfully good at her work in payroll. The GOP noted her skills and gave her a job paying $54,378. But who could work for that pittance? So the powers that be in Walker's administration raised her pay 49 percent--to $81,265. Whoa Nelly.
Peter Barca raised hell but no one else!
Archbishop Dolan still believes Rick Santorum is right: Birth control is bad. If birth control is available, some fear that sex might be fun. Can't have that!
February 14, 2012
Playing with matches
A three-judge federal court slapped Michael, Best and Eric McLeod hard for filing frivolous motions to stall handing over confidential documents in discovery to Democrats focused on redistricting. Despite the order of the court, the GOP, as reported in today's MJS, is trying to keep 84 emails confidential on the specious grounds that they are covered by the attorney-client privilege. C'mon!
It seems as though the GOP is way off track. We were taught as kids that kids who play with matches get burned. I predict that Michael Best & Friedrich will get burned again and soon.
Meanwhile, we have had a very positive response from you on our plan to urge opponents of Walker to put down the tin cup and refuse big money from unions, corporations and Super PACs. Instead, we will focus on getting out the vote, forums and debates.
One amendment that you seemed to approve is to collect money from the canvassers to promote a grassroots get-out-the-vote campaign. Our goal will be set at approximately a million dollars for GOTV. The rest would purchase TV and radio spots to explain to the voters that we are engaged in war with the big money boys.
Keep your emails flying!
February 13, 2012
A Catholic's nightmare: Ricky Santorum
Well, "my wife wrote that chapter"! Ricky is referring to the book of his where he accuses radical feminists of undermining families. While only his name is on the book, we are supposed to believe his wife wrote that chapter? Whoa Nelly!
Rickey acted surprised about the quote--as if he was hearing it for the first time--even though it came up in his losing Senate race 2006. What ideas does he have? Keep women out of combat. No, it is not women's fault, says Ricky. It is (catch this) that men are so protective of women that they would ruin a mission if it meant saving women. It is not that women are bad it is that men are just too darned kind to women. Face it. We are way too protective for our own good. We are too good!
Men have emotions. When you see a woman in harm's way a man responds. Where do these radical feminists come from? From an elite culture dictated, again, by academia, the Hollywood culture and the news media.
I wonder if his wife also wrote his speech condemning birth control. Did one of his kids call for bombing Iran into the stone age? If not his kids, was it his wife again? A great Catholic mind ready for the 14th century.
February 12, 2012
A slight modification
In proposing a solution to the money game in politics at the People's Legislature, we suggested that the Democrats refuse all money from corporations, unions, super PACs and out-of-state donations. The response has been phenomenal. Almost every comment has been positive, but most have suggested that the decision to put down the Tin Cup should be a bit more flexible.
How about keeping small donations from individuals say under $50, and using that money to get out the vote? Or establish a fund to use TV and radio spots to explain what we are doing? I think those ideas are quite sensible. So, what do you say? Try it? Why not?
Here is my modification for your thoughts today. (We will hold another People's Legislature soon for a full discussion.)
Lets ask the 1.1 million recall signatories to send $5 to a central place. Imagine the results if they respond. We would have more than five million dollars. Much more than any Democrat could raise before the election. The promise would be that none of the small contributions would go to a candidate: It will be used to push the "Tin Cup" solution! Assume that we need $3 million for GOTV. Once that goal is reached, all funds go to creative spots making Walker's money the issue. "Wisconsin: Not for Sale!"
Looking at all the fat cats at the CPAC gathering of extremists in D.C. this weekend, I had to laugh. There was UW grad David Keene reminding us that he was a founder of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), Bill Buckley's hoo-ha. Now 40-some years later, YAF in the closet, Keen seems to leaning toward "Old White Curmudgeons for Plutocracy."
February 11, 2012
Talk about a tin ear!
Mark Twain once said, "A lie gets half-way around the world before Truth gets her boots on."
Apply this to Governor Scott Walker. I hope Truth sleeps with her boots on and is ready to fly. Walker promised 250,000 new jobs. So far he has lost more jobs than he has created or coaxed to move to tax-haven Wisconsin. Oh well. Then he condemned Doyle in his first state of the state address for taking money from highway funds, malpractices fund, etc. to balance the budget. Not on his watch would this happen! Take that to the bank.
No siree! Ah, but there is some low-hanging fruit that, like Adam, he could not resist. A couple dozen attorneys general sued five big banks including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup. A multi-billion dollar settlement was announced by the U.S. Attorney General. Wisconsin will get roughly $40 million soon and more later.
Where will Wisconsin's share go? Some will go to injured folks and some to the state directly. What will Walker do (WWWD?)? You have heard by now. Yes, Walker will grab about $31 million and use the money to fill a deficit hole in the state budget in the next fiscal year! No way, says Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. That money must be directed to Milwaukee. Right on, Tom!
Let's see. The budget is not in balance. Money for homeowners damaged by the banks will be used to balance the budget! The guy has no shame. None. And, after making that decision, he flew to Washington, D.C. to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention Friday night. In watching some of it on C-Span, I had to take a deep breath. Walker is a right-wing hero! Obviously, the far right CPAC does not have many heroes but count Scott is one. (You can bet Scott picked up some checks while eating dinner.)
PRIMARY ELECTION: The response to my blog post dedicated to the plea to Democrats that they avoid big union money, big business or Super PAC contributions has been strong. Apparently the post hit a nerve, as you have responded with anger that big unions would try to name the Democrats' nominee before a single primary vote is cast. At a minimum, we have started a debate within the ranks of progressives. Knowing that no Democrat, not even Herb Kohl, can match the millions that will flow into Wisconsin for Walker from the Koch boys and their billionaire friends, Democrats should rely on the more than 30,000 who gathered signatures for the recall and the candidate should rely on the one-million-plus who signed the petitions to get out the vote!
This is our last chance to rescue democracy at least until a constitutional amendment reversing Citizen's United passes. Think about it. No candidate has started with a million "votes" in her back pocket. And no one have begun with top aides of the opponent under arrest. The situation is perfect.
Yesterday Randy Rhodes and Ed Schultz were laughing at us. Randy said, "Wisconsin, for god's sake get rid of this guy."
CPAC is not only right-wing it has gone off the deep end. Invited this year was a white supremacist. Knowing that, how could Walker stand on that stage? Get some courage, Scott.
February 10, 2012
Neal Kedzie denied twice, or was it thrice, that he signed a memorandum promising confidentiality. But when JS published it he suddenly remembered!
Walker will create 250,000 jobs, in his dreams; and he will not use one-time funds to fill budget holes! Yesterday he announced he will use millions from the mortgage settlement to fill a $136 million hole. This guy has trouble with the truth.
Walker is described as a hero to right wing by MJS. The gods must be crazy.
February 9, 2012
You can't be serious
Most people gasped when the president of WEAC and the president of AFSCME traveled to Milwaukee a few weeks ago to inform the mayor of our largest city that he would not have labor union support if he decides to run for governor. Yikes and Whoa Nelly! Who asked? Did the union members vote on this? If they could have stamped the union label on Kathleen Falk's back, I think they would have. But they didn't have to. Everyone understood and no one I talked to thought this was a good idea.
Has anyone told WEAC and AFSCME that the game has changed? Even Marty Beil seemed opposed to this idea. (It is a stretch to call it an "idea" but we have to give it a label. How about "dumb idea"?
With more than one million signers on recall petitions, it looks like Walker can be defeated given the enthusiasm of the 30,000 petition circulators and some strong candidates without big money from big business or big labor.
So what else could labor do to cool the white-hot effort to throw Walker out? Well, here us an idea: How about going forward with endorsement interviews as if we are back in the good old days when a WEAC endorsement helped on occasion? Demand, yes, demand that any Democrat looking for an endorsement must agree to veto the budget unless (sit before reading) a promise is made to restore public sector unions to their rightful place among the angels!
I am not making this up! This announcement is the equivalent of pouring ice water on the uprising. Now the good news. Tim Cullen is not running, but stated that he would never agree to a veto in order to win an election. Kathleen Vinehout agrees with Cullen, but she promises to educate the voters on this issue. Peter Barca will not support this Karl Rove-like promise! Tom Barrett will not promise a veto! Have not heard from Doug La Follette yet, but Kathleen Falk immediately agreed with WEAC! Ugh!
February 8, 2012
Lots of news
First, my sister Jean Henning reports that Joe Gruber is up and walking. His re-hab is making progress although it is slow. If you want to send a note, his address is 1515 E. Beach Blvd. #116, Pas Christian, Mississippi. Joe, your friends are pulling for you.
Ted Olson: He makes me proud of my profession. Wile he is extremely conservative, he joined David Boise to challenge Prop 8 in California and the dynamic duo won! Same-sex marriage is now the law. Congrats!
Obama yields to temptation. The Axelrods of the administration persuaded Obama to forget principle and create a Super PAC. He had a chance to win the right way and change the political culture at the same time. Nope!
Another People's Legislature is coming up to see if any of the candidates in Wisconsin will have the courage to run without the big money. Stay tuned.
February 7, 2012
Somebody should be in trouble
Almost beyond comprehension! At the center of an ethical nightmare, one will find Michael, Best and Friederich. The headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reads as follows: "Lawmakers made to vow secrecy over redistricting."
As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, "Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public Monday."
Almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed. They tried to hide the documents and to stop release of them but a three-judge court, in the strongest language I have seen in my professional life, slapped the lawyers at MB&F with financial penalties and ordered the release of the documents.
All the agreements were signed by Eric McLeod of MB&F. His firm was not doing this pro bono. No, it was being paid $400,000 by the taxpayers!
JS reminds us that McLeod was the lawyer providing free legal services to Justice Gableman. The conclusion was that M&F gave tens of thousands of legal advice to Gablemen. Mike Ellis said that never in his career had he been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
February 6, 2012
War with Iran?
Are you pulling my leg? Is this a joke? Are they nuts? Do any of the candidates care?
The Wisconsin State Journal's front page: "Concern grows that Israel will attack Iran."
AP writes that the attack "could trigger a wider war, terrorism and global economic havoc." We know that Newt has been purchased. He remains in the quest for president only because a pro-Israel guy with mega bucks believes Newt would, indeed, bomb Iran. So, Sheldon gave him $10 million. Damn the consequences!
Who is in charge of this decision that could end the world as we know it? The extreme right-wing in Israel and America. We lost Vietnam, we lost Iraq, we have lost Afghanistan, but pay no attention. Israel, with our participation, will knock out Iranian nukes within hours and all will be well! And the moon is made of green cheese and chickens have lips!
Romney? No better than Newt. Santorum? A hawk to be sure. All three will bomb Iran if they get the bomb and forget all the talk about Israel having a nuclear weapons capacity second only to U.S. The only person in the race for president, including the current president, with common sense on Israel is Ron Paul. He denounces such talk of invasion or bombing Iran as crazy and he is right.
Scratch the surface and the same gang that promised a quick victory in Iraq (and a promise that it would pay for itself) is calling the shots: Richard Pearle, Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld.
If Israel bombs Iran, the U.S. should cut off diplomatic recognition, eliminate any further economic or military aid to Israel. Period! We should demand that Israel give up its nuclear weapons. Let us begin by informing Israel that not one dime will go to support of this fiasco-in-the-making.
Some things often go unexplained. Remember The Bell Curve? Yes, Charles Murray wrote the nonsense about race with financial support from the Bradley Foundation. Now a new book from Murray has emerged from the muck. This one is Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Read the review in the NY Times and get ready for all the right-wing to pay homage. Murray says he is no longer "a complete pariah in some academic quarters." My guess is that only those who have never read this stuff would welcome him.
Bradley gives $250,000 grants to writers who have the courage to tell the truth. I will bet that David Brooks just cut in line!
He calls it the most important book of the year.
February 5, 2012
State Journal gone wild
Reading the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal is an unpleasant chore, but it is a chore I must complete. The paper looks as if it is about to merge with the Walker campaign; not permanently, but for a few months until his election is over. If this is any consolation, the MJS is not much better.
Both WSJ and MJS have down-played the Walker testimony at the John Doe investigation. While it is supposedly secret, WSJ claims he has volunteered to testify. Really? How do they know? And why the near-silence about the four top Walker aides in cuffs?
The mystery of Charles Franklin continues. He has a feature article in the UW-Madison Pol Sci newsletter but is described as "Marquette University Law School Political Scientist" in today's State Journal. One day he is on a sabbatical to Marquette, but that changed quickly when we suggested his work at Marquette would be subject to Open Records if he were on sabbatical. Voilà! He was no longer on sabbatical but was described as being "on leave" from UW. Last year he was in bed (not literally) with the Bradley Foundation's Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI). That contract was cancelled when they were told that Open Records laws applied to them. Off to Marquette!
The WSJ and MJS consider him a reliable pollster. Who is paying him? Are his records open? Is Marquette Law School really the pollster or just a cover?
Of by and for?
Does anyone think that we, the voters, control America? Are we governed by elites who actually get a lump in the throat when we sing America the Beautiful? Well, think about it because the concept of America as we have known it is disapearing--fast.
Look at Sheldon Adelson. (I know, that is asking a lot.) He is the saviour of Newt Gingrich. By giving Newt's PAC $10 million, Gingrich continues to have a national forum for his loony-tune views. Moon colonies, children janitors, bomb Iran (that is the real issue. If Obama offered to bomb Iran next week, my bet is that good old Shelldon would back him for president). Israel, not America, is the concern. Are we not the lucky ones? Thank you, Sheldon! What a guy! Risk my grandson's lives will ya?
Now we learn that Sheldon has a Plan B. One can only guess at Plan C! Plan B is to back Romney by giving him even more money if Newt drops out. What is this all about? Race to the Top? Nope. Gender equity? Nope. How about ending the war in Afghanistan? Nope. It is all about Sheldon's view that we must drop lots and lots of bombs on Iran! Jesus. It is bad enough that presidents wage wars without even a nod to the Congress? Recall the quaint notion that only Congress can declare war. Amend the Constitution? Sure. Only Congress or the president or Sheldon Adedlson can declare war. Sheldon Adelson can wage war? Whoa Nelly. He should be arrested not featured on CNN.
Would Sheldon fight the war on Iran? His kids? His grandkids? Bet the ranch the answer is no. Would he and his mult-millionaire friends pay say 50 percent on income to fund it?
Then we learn that the semiannual meeting of the billionaires Charles and David Koch is taking place in Palm Springs. They gather with other billionaires to decide how much they will pour into Scott Walker's campaign. How about us, Koch boys?
February 4, 2012
Money, money, money
Is there any wonder why voters are disgusted? Romney wins Florida because he had many millions more than Gingrich, Paul and Santorum combined. Walker won because he had more money. Obama wants a billion. Tim Cullen opts not to run for governor because he doubts he could raise the 1-2 million that he would need.
Read carefully. Cullen met with some unions and he thought they would offer some financial support, but they did not and he did not ask so he dropped out. Before criticizing Cullen ask yourself, Could you go union to union asking or begging for money?
Mike McCabe got everyone on their feet at the People's Legislature Wednesday in calling for a return to Bill Proxmire-style campaigns. FightingBob.com was calling on potential candidates to face reality: Walker will have as much money from the Koch boys as he wants or needs. Predictions are he will have 30-40 million dollars. Think about it. Cullen, no stranger to fundraising and lobbyists, opted out of the race because he could not match David Koch's pocket change of a million dollars.
No Democrat can raise two million between now and the primary. So what do the unions and other Democratic Party insiders do? Suddenly there is a boomlet for Herb Kohl. Why? You know why: he could fund his own race. Now isn't that nuts? The most important position in Wisconsin goes not to the best and the brightest but to a guy with deep pockets and few enemies. They rationalize that if Kohl puts in $20-30 million he could win. Besides, he has done nothing in the Senate to antagonize anyone. Deep pockets and no enemies. Perfect!
Walker hired two law firms to represent him in the John Doe. No one knows if he was subpoenaed to testify or just wants to chat with the Milwaukee district attorney. (My gut tells me that Walker is not doing this as a good-will gesture.) Walker's campaign paid Steven Biskupic $100,000 last year according to MJS. Where does Biskupic work? Guess!
Walker said he will pay Sidley & Austin and Steinle and not charge the taxpayers. How generous Scott. Given Chicago prices these days, Sidley is probably charging $600-700 per hour. That's a lot of pizza!
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rarely sends reporters out into the jungle called "Wisconsin," so they keep repeating that only Kathleen Falk has announced a probable candidacy. Had they joined us Wednesday at The People's Legislature they would have to say that Peter Barca, Kathleen Vienhout, Mahlan Mitchell and Doug La Follette spoke at a forum for candidates. Tom Barrett did not but sent a warm email. Jon Erpenbach is considering a run.
What is the hesitation? Money, money, money. Several people told me they thought our idea of a no-money campaign was nuts until they listened at The People's Legislature. It makes sense and the majority loved it. (On to phase two. Don't wake the MJS.)
One delightful announcement: We have invited former President Jimmy Carter to Waukesha to monitor vote counting during the recall.
Super Bowl. The Mara family has owned the Giants from the beginning of the league. Wellington Mara's father was a gambler, and a bookie paid off a debt by giving the Giant franchise to Mara. Mara did nothing to integrate the all-white NFL for almost 50 years. He did nothing about all-white coaches until the player's union forced the issue. The NFL Hall of Fame was not open to blacks but Wellington Mara is in the Hall of Fame.
So I will cheer for the Patriots.
February 3, 2012
'Smart, tough and sharp'
So sayeth "the Trump" in describing Biff Romney (Oops! It is Mitt not Biff). "One more clown joins the circus" should have been the lead, but you know that already. Trump, who last April, in describing Romney, said, "He would buy companies, close companies and destroy jobs." So much for Mr. Job creator
Some pundits thought Trump would endorse Gingrich because two egos that size could cause some damage. But, no, Romney, lucky Romney, gets Trump's endorsement! Does anyone give a damn?
Romney doesn't care about the "very poor" or "the very rich." Just don't talk when he is lining up a putt.
Bishop Raymond Burke is teaming up with Madison's Bishop Morlino. Look out! Remember Burke, when he was in Lacrosse, told Catholic office holders they could not receive communion if they support a woman's choice? We were so delighted when he was sent to St. Louis I offered to help him ship his goods down the Mississippi.
Morlino is not commenting on the enormous scandal in Milwaukee of sexual abuse cases, so numerous that the Milwaukee Archdiocese has filed for bankruptcy! No, that is too close to the heart of the matter. Morlino is really up in arms that employers must provide health insurance that covers morning-after pills, sterilization and abortion. After doing all he could to defeat Obama, he says they feel "betrayed." Whoa Nelly!
Morlino says there is a war going on: secular anti-Christians vs. regular Christians. Morlino apparently believes we are headed toward persecution of the Christians! Wow.
February 2, 2012
The people are angry and ready
As I walked up the steps at the Alliant Center it was disconcerting to realize I was only the second person in the area. Lily was first. Would this be a disaster because we were meeting on a work day? Well, people started coming in and soon we had a good crowd. Whew!
And what passion! They had been out in the cold getting petitions signed and they want a new governor. So do the people! The Democratic candidate will start with 1.1 million votes--that would be like a football team starting on the 30 yard line of the opponent. Now the task is to motivate them to vote so we can close the circle.
Candidates came and roused the crowd. Kathleen Falk, Doug La Follette, Peter Barca, Kathleen Vinehout, Mahlon Mitchell. They were up to the task. Of course we had help: Ruth Conniff, John Nichols, Mike McCabe made the case for a new approach to the race--no out-of-state or Super PAC money; forums throughout the state; no corporate or union money. Risky? Yes, but the old-fashioned way can't work given the Koch boys and their $40 or $50 million.
No candidate can match it, so let's rely on people power! Motivate the million who signed petitions to get out the vote.
We are off to a great start. Everone agrees that the system is corrupt and out of control. We have a plan to change that! Another meeting is a must. We have a chance. Let's not blow it.