Saturday, April 23, 2011
Generally I'm against the idea of recalls. This may confuse some of my friends who know that I have stood with them on the subject of recalling a number of Senators from "the other side" but if they look at the events leading up to this during late January and my posts regarding them, they will understand that this was the basis of elected representatives completely ignoring the wishes (and the polite but somewhat desperate PLEAS) from constituents to compromise or at least slow the process down. In some cases the threat to recall was used as a last resort.
On the other side there is the (feigned) outrage of the right-wing over 14 State Senators "fleeing" the state in order to deny a quorum on the vote to strip Public Employee Collective bargaining units of most of the bargaining rights. I've seen some pretty outrageous comparisons claiming that these Senators leaving the state were tantamount to "soldiers abandoning their posts in a time of war"...(really?) and that they were "cowards". The most disingenuous claim I've seen is the one that says that the Republicans never did this when Doyle "rammed a $1Billion tax increase down our throats".
(for the record the $1Billion tax increase they seem to be talking about was closing the loophole that allowed Wisconsin corporations to "headquarter" in Las Vegas and avoid paying Wisconsin taxes)
True. The Republicans didn't leave the state when the legislature rammed the budget through at 4AM (OI think it was that early in the morning)...but then again, no Governor, including the devil-incarnate Jim Doyle, ever tried to simultaneously take away collective bargaining rights and strike a death-dealing blow to the opposition party like this bill was designed to do. If Doyle "forced a budget down their throats" they would still live to fight on another day. If, on the other hand, the Democrats simple accepted their fate as dictated by SB11, then all Union Dues became voluntary, every year the Union would have to stand for a recertification election, dues could not be deducted from paychecks and automatically forwarded to union accountants, and, "fair share" would have been immediately eliminated which would have made a huge dent in Union dues collections. In other words, voting for SB11 was a suicide pact.
Face it: The stripping of collective bargaining rights was designed to break the unions, rob them of their membership dues and ultimately deprive the Democratic Party of their donations. For the first time in my memory, one party has gained complete power and USED that power to permanently wipe out the opposing party FOREVER. That's what the stakes in this battle were. It has NOTHING to do with balancing the State Budget.
In short, the 14 Senators saw this as an existential threat to not only the existence of public employee unions bnut alsot to the Democratic party itself. They could march into the Republican controlled Senate, debate for one hour, be allowed no amendments, no compromises would be entertained and then be lead into the veal pen for slaughter. They had one, constitutional, desperate move left: deny a quorum.
They knew damned well it would result in Right-wing (faux) outrage and more than likely recall positions. But when your choices are to take your chances with a recall or swallow the poison pill.....well....which choice would you make?
Do I agree? No. But I don't see where they had much choice.
Walker hasn't learned yet that opposition solidifies and strengthens when you make all the choices for the other side "existential". That is, when you give your opponents only the choice of being "hung with a new rope or old rope?"...they will take neither and fight you tooth and nail to keep from being hung at all....no matter how futile or costly the fight.
You see...they have absolutely nothing to lose.
When your opponents have nothing left to lose, they become extremely dangerous. That's what the recalls are all about. They seek to take back at least one house of the legislature in order to keep Walker from making every legislative issue "existential" for the Democratic Party.
There is a way to avoid making every choice "existential". Generally speaking it involves the judicious use of power as opposed to the arrogant use of power. Having dinner one night with an old, soon to be retired southern State Senator and one of the finest gentlemen I ever met, I recalled one of my moronic, callow, political triumphs to him on and detailed how I had left my opponent "ruined" on the political battlefield. The old gentleman asked, "...and how did you allow him to preserve his honor?" I had not done anything like that and I said so. He took a slow puff on his pipe and said, "Then you weren't a politician, you were a bully." He went on to say that the key to politics was to remember who you worked for and whether "destroying" your enemy was really working for your constituents or yourself; for their good or your own ego gratification. Besides, the other person has a constituency also and you shouldn't disrespect their choice. So the answer is always, use the law, procedure, public opinion, whatever you have at your disposal to back your opponent into a corner, but in doing so, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ALWAYS, paint an honorable way out for him to take to avoid humiliation.
There was always a certain genteel nature to southern politics and with few exceptions it was practiced here until the last couple of election cycles. Somebody threw away the rule book for orderly discourse in the public arena and replaced it with the theory that if one guy brings a knife to the fight then you bring a gun and if he brings a gun you bring more guns....in other words, endless escalation of the stakes, the rhetoric and eventually violence.
Paint your opponent into a corner? Yes. Do it honorably, cleverly and well. But paint an honorable way out.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I cannot believe that extremism has taken the place of reasonable political debate and lies are commonly accepted as the normal course of conversation.
And now, today, April 20, 2011...it's SNOWING again and we're forecasted for snow flurries and marginally cold temperatures through the end of the week.....madness....even the climate has gone mad.
Monday, April 11, 2011
here's the rant.
Letting the mantel of fiscal responsibility be grabbed by the Tea Party and Republican Conservatives.
Even calling that an epic fails to capture the magnitude of that failure. Each and every Republican who opens their mouth to decry the growing deficit should immediately be laughed off the stage if they voted for or advocate continued increased tax cuts for the rich. They pound their chests and fight to cut 80 billion dollars in expenses one day while brazenly calling for cutting 5 trillion dollars from revenue the next day. Then they blame Democrats for not caring about balancing the budget. And they still get taken seriously and treated as sincere advocates for government living within its means, even by the President.
That in nonsense, that is lunacy. That is as blatant a con job as stores that hike prices 100% and then hold 50% off sales, and EVERY American knows enough about balancing a check book to know that Republicans are blowing smoke when they claim the key to fiscal solvency is simply tightening the belt on spending. Americans know about having fixed expenses. They know what it feels like when the knife hits the bone, and before they let that happen they scramble to generate more income; even if it means the sacrifice of having to work extra days each week.
And even if no additional work can be found there is one thing NO American family will resort to after they already eliminated lunches and still can't make their mortgage. They won't ask their employer to please reduce their hours at work and voluntarily cut their income further.
The entire Tea Party premise is a FARCE but Democrats are going along with taking that gibberish seriously. And so we "negotiate" with our backs to the wall. Never before in my life time has the Democratic Party ot any level, local state of federal, ever approached negotiations on budget shortfalls agreeing to keep all talk of revenues OFF the table, only program cuts can be considered. I have NEVER seen that, until now. But it's even worse than that. Republicans are merely chided when they continue to call for further cuts IN REVENUE. Sure, Democrats start out opposing it but Republicans manage to get it onto the table. So now we bargain with Republicans demanding more huge revenue AND service cuts. Will the Democratic counter off end up agreeing to huge service cuts only?
by Tom Rinaldo...
Saturday, April 09, 2011
it's probably legitimate.
Of course I'm talking about the dramatic and stranger-than-fiction turn of events that changed an apparent 204 vote victory for JoAnne Kloppenburg into a 7500 vote, recount proof victory for incumbent David Prosser. In case you missed it here's a brief recap.
Because of the actions of Governor Scott Walker, the normally mundane race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court took on a distinct partisan tone. Prosser said he would be a "compliment" to Governor Walker and Kloppenburg claimed she would be neutral..a claim.to which the Republicans scoffed loudly.
The race turned expensive and ugly. Unions backed Kloppenburg and directly spent about $1.5 Million in her behalf...mostly attacking Prosser and aligning him with Walker. 5 separate 527's spent about $2.1 Million attacking Kloppenburg in support of Prosser...all five of them traced back to either Americans for Prosperity or Tea Party Express; both Koch brothers front organizations.
Election night was a nail biter...and the results weren't conclusive (although unofficial) until around noon the next day. When the dust settled...it was Kloppenburg by a mere 204 votes.
and then....this happened
Somehow or another the County Clerk in Waukesha County "by human error" left out 14,000+ votes cast in the Republican stronghold of Brookfield.....only the 14,000 + cast in the contest for Supreme Court Justice; all other races in Brookfield were reported.
Here's the fun part:
The Clerk was a former employee of Prosser's when he was the Majority leader of the Assembly. She worked for the Republican Assembly Caucus and was not indicted for the scandal that took place there because she received immunity in return for her testimony.
The Clerk has been involved in election-related scandals involving inaccurate vote counting and lax security measures in recent history (2005 and 2007 and another in 2010).
Her explanation as to what happened (as you can see from the post) is ludicrous.
The Brookfield City Clerk's figures given out on election night jived exactly with the late reported figures that she gave out on Thursday. The canvassers included a few well-respected Democrats who claim that the canvassing procedure worked and the mistake was found...AND the results are legitimate.
I hate it.
But it's probably true...
But I still hate it.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Did I mention that I'm a naive fool? Look at this link.
That's one VERY NASTY AD against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice candidate Kloppenberg that alleges she put an 80 year old farmer in jail for refusing to plant "native grasses" on his farm....
Let's get the truth out there first: Here's the PANTS ON FIRE AWARD from Wisconsin Politifacts...a fact-checking organization. Joanne Kloppenburg did NOT put an 80-year-old farmer in jail (a judge did for contempt of court) and it wasn't for refusing to plant native grasses (it was at the end of an 11-year ordeal to get him to stop polluting a lake) and Kloppenburg herself asked the judge not to impose a jail sentence.
So why the ad? And what the hell is ASTROTURF anyway?
The ad is because the same folks who are pushing the anti-union/anti-worker laws in Wisconsin are trying to make sure that the last stronghold of progressive power is destroyed by the electorate. They need the electorate to give them control of every last bit of checks and balances: the Assembly, the Senate, the Governor's office, the Attorney General's Office and now, the Supreme Court.
And if you follow the first link you will find that the ads aren't run by 100's or even 1,000s of people...it's the same TWO PEOPLE who have been manipulating the electorate in Wisconsin for the last two years.
I'm pissed....it's fake grass roots....it's ASTROTURF