In a moment of post-ironic solidarity conservatives across Wisconsin came together in mass thanks of the gift they received yesterday over the state’s largest public sector union endorsing the most union-sympathetic candidate running against Governor Scott Walker in a recall election. Following the endorsement of WEAC — Wisconsin Education Association Council — the state’s largest teachers union only twelve days before, the state division of AFSCME, representing some 60,000 public workers, giddily rallied behind candidate Kathleen Falk, former Dane County Executive and two-time loser for statewide office. Conservatives did not respond to our requests for an interview, but in an email a spokesperson summed it up in bold italics: “Told You So!” Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: You Turn Me on Like a Machine!
Not to sound like the beginning gag of a standup comedian or anything, but have you ever noticed that when conservatives drop the term “activist judge” it’s always in reference to a ruling they don’t like? “Legislating from the bench” is another term of art they’re quick at the tongue to traduce, meaning a member of the judiciary creating laws rather than interpreting them. You know, egregious overreaches by the courts such as Brown v. Board of Education or Loving v. Virginia. But such selective slander seldom if ever seems to apply when a conservative judge or court calls the shots. Who labeled Chief Justices Rehnquist or libeled Roberts as “activist” in Bush v. Gore or Citizens United, respectively? Both were arguable breaches of judicial probity. It seems only a conservative can accuse another — anyone — as activist, irrespective of supporting fact or substantive grounds. For just as when Republicans ballyhoo a hue and cry about invasive government only when it comes to business regulations or environmental protections — and never about whom you are sleeping with, or how — their bete noir becomes their best friend when a conservative agenda is gaveled, no matter how abusive of power. It’s heads I win, tails you lose. Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s talk turkey. Or at least about one. The recall against Scott Walker has been going steadily well the last two weeks. The minimum number of signatures needed to trigger a recall election is 540,208, but to play it safe we are aiming closer to the 600,000-700,000 range, as the GOP establishment will undoubtedly challenge the reams and reams of petitions. But this is only half the story, for we are not trying to recall Walker alone, but also his running mate, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Lieutenant Governor. The Attorney General of Wisconsin, J.B. Van Hollen, decided that there had to be two separate petitions for the offices — even though both were elected together on the same ballot. So that in reality puts the total amount of signatures well past the million mark — let’s say 1,400,000 — and still we have only 60 days to collect them. That’s about 23,000 signatures per day, a pretty daunting hurdle to by any measure. While collecting signatures and explaining that there’s a separate one for Kleefisch, I have had dozens of folks ask me quite innocently, “Who even is she?” or “What does she even do?” To which my only grasped straw of a response has been, “Wear way too much makeup.” A catty quip, and probably beneath me, but so be it. But it has made me ask myself, Who is this show-and-tell shill for Sephora — what’s her story? what are her qualifications? and, what for the love of all things holy is up with her hair? Here is what I have disinterred. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine a world where racists and white supremacists are beaten with clubs, barked at by dogs, and hosed down by fire hydrants. Where the Joint Chiefs of Staff are sprayed with gas and bullets. Where extreme religious clerics are tortured and thrown in solitary confinement for preaching violence. Where business executives are robbed and raped. Where bankers and brokers are pepper sprayed. Where polluters of the environment are tagged as “ecoterrorists” and conservationists hailed as heroes. Where the complacency of casual bystanders blamed the perpetrators, not the victims, and questioned authority, instead of despising those with that bumper sticker on their car or blaming them — Blacks, gays, Jews, feminists, pacifists, communists, environmentalists, Native Americans, Latinos, Muslims, unions, liberals, artists, colleges, freedom fighters — for everything wrong in society. This would be, or could be, our opposite world, a world not of shadows but of light. A world where progress is not repressed, gagged, water-boarded, dehumanized, treasoned, trialed and tribulated, before the slow-witted yokels of everyday are finally told that this kind of hate is no longer OK.
As W.E.B. DuBois famously stated, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress … Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.” Read the rest of this entry »
Is there any evidence to doubt that electoral races are more about the cult of personality that surrounds each candidate than the substance of their policy proposals? Jack Kennedy looked good because Nixon came off as something caught between an out-of-work vice principal on a bender and a panhandling hobo with an organ grinder and tiny monkey clapping cymbals. Reagan looked great because he was the Marlboro Man who radiated Norman Rockwell nostalgia together with a Californian confidence and can-do attitude all avuncular smiles, while Jimmy Carter’s worried face and baggy eyes were the caricatured lampoon of spineless, ineffectual Democrat. “Dubya” masqueraded as the guy you’d get a beer with, while Gore was an unblinking robot with as much charisma as the Sears Roebuck wooden crate he came shipped in. And Obama against McCain, good lord! It was like Magic Johnson and Bruce Springsteen rolled up in one going against Archie and Edith Bunker behind the piano caterwauling “Those Were the Days.” Read the rest of this entry »
Running a government is not unlike being a soccer mom: you’re a chaperone and chauffeur, you’re in charge of seat belts and timing belts, gas in the car, breakfast in the kids’ bellies, the right uniform(s) washed the night before, the right equipment packed this morning; you remember to pick up the extra cones or water bottles, to pick up some other kids in the car pool; you’re capable of coaching or reffing if needed, but if not you make at least three calls on your cell during the game: to your aging mother and did she take her medicine, to your other sister and how did her second date go with that new guy, and the bakery to order the cake for your best friend’s surprise 40th birthday. It is multitasking to the nth degree, with an almost superhuman awareness of needs and sensibilities. Running a business is more like being a professional field goal kicker: you’re here to do one thing and one thing only. Read the rest of this entry »
The old saw quips that there are two seasons in Wisconsin: winter and construction. Depending on which part of the state you live in, the former is debatable, but the latter incontestable. From first thaw in April to first freeze and flake come sometime in fall, construction orange is ubiquitous and de rigueur. But while the ties to road construction and Governor Walker are as hot and heavy as the bituminous lathered on our highways, like greased palms giving the glad hand and thumbs up thick as thieves, the kind of reconstruction project I’m talking about is the incremental changes to the very demographic topography of our state. Today’s case in point? The state-sanctioned discrimination and disenfranchisement of tenants — yes, people (like me) who don’t own housing but instead rent an apartment. Read the rest of this entry »
Considering that Governor Walker has substantively removed kids of need from the state’s books by gutting funds from education, Medicaid, and the good lord knows what else, it’s not surprising then that he would do so symbolically as well. Perhaps with an “out of sight, out of mind” rationale, or chutzpah of spring cleaning, Walker removed from the governor’s mansion a commissioned painting depicting three such children on a street in Milwaukee. They are even based on real people — an African-American homeless girl, a Latina member of the Boys and Girls Club, and a Caucasian boy whose father and brother both were killed by a drunk driver. Read the rest of this entry »