Russ and Them

24 May
Russ and Them

Not to put too fine a point on it, but sometimes I swear that all there is to one politician’s attack on his or her rival is an extroverted confession of their own flaws and sins.  Take for example all the hoopla Wisconsin Republicans have made about “outside money” and “out-of-state union thugs” meddling in Madison and running the recalls.  Saying little of how next to nothing could be further from the truth, one needn’t do anything more than keep tabs on the company our politicians keep to understand whose pillow talk lies in bed with creeps.  Scott Walker has been the governor for only 16 months, and yet the man has been able to raise at least $25 million, which for a mostly agricultural state like Wisconsin, with a population of only 5.7 million, is eye-gaugingly staggering.  True to form — and the show & tell-all panhandling act of this is too poetically perfect to make up — the day that nearly one million signatures to recall Walker were submitted in downtown Madison, His Nibs was on Park Avenue in New York City at a fundraising event hosted by one of the richest men in America, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, where a mere $2,500 donation got you inside the door.  In case your invite was lost in the mail, here’s what it looked like:

(thanks to for the document)

Just to jog our collective memory, Hank Greenberg is the former CEO of AIG, American International Group, a ginormous insurance company that received over $100 billion in taxpayer bailouts during the 2008-09 fiscal fiasco.  Greenberg also was a “Bush Ranger” back in 2004, having raised around a quarter million dollars to Dubya’s presidential run.

But apparently this kind of association is entirely consonant with Wisconsin conservative values, fiscal responsibility, and Tea Party etiquette.

Of Walker’s $25 million war chest, we would do well to consider that at least 60 percent of that money has come from out of state — meaning that only $2 of every $5 is coming from Wisconsin.  Whichever of those 49 others, Walker has been country-trotting like a cross between a Revivalist preacher and rockstar on tour, raising money faster than a relief organization after a calamity from coast to coast in order to avoid the state which he is supposed to be governing because half of its inhabitants absolutely hate his guts.  Walker has successfully loose-shaken the pockets of rich moneybags who are notorious for funding horrible campaigns and scumbag people. Folks like Texan tycoon Bob Perry, aka the guy behind the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry.  Folks like the living evil of the billionaire Koch Brothers, Charles and David, whose shit-eating grins excrete an effluvium of hell-fire and foul vapors while funding far-right Republican causes and anti-environmental campaigns and own everything that can be owned — except elections (though they’re working on that!) — and have nothing left to waste their endless profits on but politicians and policies that seek to do nothing more than reverse time and take us all back to a late 19th Century society of robber barons and business magnates screwing every working family, woman, man, and anti-child labor law you can imagine.

I’m probably being too harsh.  After all, it is true that Walker’s most generous individual donor is the if not lovely then at least talented billionaire heiress of Beloit and bride of Skeletor, Diane Hendricks.

Woops!  Must’ve been a Freudian Slip.  Sorry Evil-Lyn!

Now that’s the Diane Hendricks we remember well, you know, the one whom Walker assured back in January 2011 that step 1 of making Wisconsin a right-to-work state was dividing and conquering the public sector unions.  Hell, no one likes a lazy baby, especially the widow Hendricks, who was raised on a farm, married before she finished high school, and had seven children — or eight, if you count her ward, Scott Walker, for whom she is his sugar mama and has given him over half a million dollars, outspent only by the Republican Party of Wisconsin itself.

For a fun interactive map comparing Tom Barrett’s out-of-state donations (about 20 percent) to Walker’s (again, 60 percent), I encourage to play around here.

To be sure, Barrett himself has received money from flatlanders, but it’s not even comparable to Walker’s windfall.  One thing both men do have in common is non-Wisconsinites working on their campaigns: Barrett’s campaign manager is a man from Pennsylvania by the name of Jay Hoswer who has successfully overseen races in Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana.  Walker meanwhile has two outsiders comprising his top staff: his campaign manager is from Ohio and his communications director is from Nevada.  (Always Ohio…  What is it with that state?)

But whaddabout all dem union thugs, huh?  Those big-boy union bosses from D.C. and the Chicago Stockyards?  According to the Friends of Scott Walker, Big Government Labor is ready to shell out $40 million to the Madison Liberals.  For real, in a mailer that was sent out earlier this month (and you really should check out this link), “Friends” decried the influence of out-of-state interests who seek nothing more than revenge and power and send us reeling backwards to the Doyle-old days of tax and spend free-falling spree sprawls.  As I began earlier, such incredible cognitive dissonance bespeaks nothing more than a projection of one’s own guilty deeds.  I mean, really, any time a politician has to say “The facts are my friends.  The truth is on our side,” the whiff of shit-doth-stink is enough to knock ya over.

For what it’s worth, so far in 2012 the state and national unions have kicked in $7 million to recall Walker, most of which went towards Kathleen Falk, labor’s loudest cheerleader, who got drubbed by Barrett in the Democratic primary.  Not that such facts make one whit of difference to the scare tactics of Walker’s Friends.

Now, I understand that not everybody has the badge-of-honor of coming from so illustrious a place as New Jersey like I do, but you needn’t hail from there to see from a mile away the agonizing arrogance and hoof-in-mouth disgrace the likes of Chris Christie, who was in our beloved badger state only a couple weeks ago on the stump with Scott.  That warmup of dynamic duos will be complemented only next week by none other than Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina who, in the words of the Wisconsin State Journal, “frequently bashes unions and considers South Carolina’s low union membership rate an economic development tool” and in no uncertain terms laid it out flat in her State of the State address that “unions are not needed, wanted, or welcome in South Carolina.”

And this is something (OK, one more thing) I just don’t get about Scott Walker: he does not even pretend to care about the other half of the state who hates his guts.  All that trotting out the big dogs like Chris Christie and Nikki Haley — both out-of-staters — does is rev up the Republican base in such a way that is simultaneously insulting and injurious to the non-Waukesha County, non-Fox Valley, non-North Woods knuckledraggers factions of the state.  Walker is supposed to be a leader, he is supposed to govern the whole state, not just the state of mind about which he is indecently doctrinal.

Let’s consider it this way: it is widely held that around 340,000 Wisconsinites belong to a union; I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest they’re all eligible to vote.  So too are 4 million other Wisconsinites who are not members of organized labor.  Thus, of the 4.37 million eligible voters in Wisconsin, only around 7.8 percent are represented by a union.  So what the hell is all this hullabaloo about?  Despite the 25 million ways Walker is trying to frame the whole recall as Big Labor versus the taxpayers (after all, public employees pay no taxes, right?), despite this we know that the recall is about so much more than collective bargaining.  For sure, that may have been the impetus that birthed the Occupy movement in the middle of a Wisconsin winter last year, but it was a spark — an important one, certainly — but the inferno of passions and fidelity to a cause has everything to do with what Wisconsin isn’t, which is what Walker represents.

It’s telling that Russ Feingold has teamed up with Barrett as they tour the state to get the vote out.  Or when not Russ, the grandfatherly Herb Kohl.  Or when not them, the Wisconsin 14 (now a sweet 16 — and soon to be even more!).  We’ll be sure to see that veritable badger himself, Dave Obie, growling with grace shoulder to shoulder with Barrett.  They’re all true blue Wisconsinites, the way it oughta be.




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