Sep 12, 2015

UW-Madison Ups Public Words on Proposed Cell Tissue-Stem Cell Research Ban

UW-Madison Chancellor Addresses UW Board of Regents with Words Aimed at Faculty, Researchers, Students and other UW System Advocates, as GOP Disinformation Campaign Amps Up

Updated - In words intended to assuage allies and use assets to pressure Republican legislators and Scott Walker, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank advised UW System regents Friday proposed legislation criminalizing fetal tissue research imperils the University.

"This is a direct hit," Blank said. "This is a threat to one of our strongest areas in terms of our reputation in the sciences." (Herzog, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

The vast majority of the UW System Board of Regents has been ideologically vetted and appointed by the Evangelical Scott Walker. (Mal Contends)

Blank's escalation—following her halting public advocacy—is part of a massive, behind-the-scenes effort involving advocates for the entire UW System is every key Wisconsin legislative district.

Republicans are countering with their own disinformation campaign, pretending to an expertise in fetal cell-stem cell research—telling policymakers and opinion-makers on background that the bill by the religious right on "body parts," to borrow from Rep. Jacque and Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc), and inserted into their proposed amendment to the Wisconsin criminal code—does not apply to a wide line of research and investigation at UW-Madison, which is of course a lie.

Other levers to derail the research-killing legislation are being utilized, even if the subtle-to-silent PR strategy of the UW System administration baffles and frustrates many. The American corporate left has acted, and reportedly stands ready.

Many still ask, why hasn't the UW been aggressively pointing out that Republicans are standing for cancer, not fighting against it? Have you ever known or are you now a family traumatized by cancer and other ailments that stem cells could be used to treat and cure in the future? Most every family has.

Risky Strategy

This is a risky strategy for the UW System during a year when Scott Walker began his run for the presidency extolling his 'taking on' public employees, public education, community control and workers' wages.

Moreover, students facing massive student loan debt since Ronald Reagan began his attack on higher education some 24 years ago, can not be counted on to sing the University System's praises, much less employ pressure across the state on behalf of UW centers. (Salon) (Dissent Magazine)

The cat is out of the bag one of nation's premier public research institutions is under attack in a state where rural and white-district Wisconsin Republicans and Scott Walker function as surrogates for rightwing groups such the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Evangelical, anti-science groups across the country now at their apex in the Republican Party.

Since the months and even days directly preceding Walker's formal July 13 announcement for the presidency, Walker has made attacking the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Idea a centerpiece of his campaign to destroy public education in Wisconsin, which includes a years-long attack on K-12 public education. (Marshall, TPM) (ThinkProgress)

Former Wisconsin State Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) [(State Assembly (1983-1991), State Senate (1991 to 2015)]—hailed by some for blowing the whistle on his Republican Party as corrupt and beholden to special interests in 2013-14 as Republicans clung to a 17-16 majority in the senate (Craver, The Capital Times)—decided the most effective strategy for challenging the corruption of Wisconsin Republicans is to quit and take his pension, rather than fight.

"When some think tank comes up with the legislation and tells you not to fool with it, why are you even a legislator anymore? You just sit there and take votes and you’re kind of a feudal serf for folks with a lot of money," said Schultz in an important piece in the Madison Capital Times in 2103 (Craver, "The Last Moderate ..."). That Schultz could have said, 'no,' apparently did not occur to the former legislator.


This weekend Scott Walker is in Iowa campaigning, the Badgers football team hosts its first home game and Packers play the Bears on Sunday. One must have priorities.

It is unlikely public attention will be focused on Walker's hollowing out of Wisconsin's public education system and representative democracy this weekend.

Walker now eyes again Wisconsin's public pension system in an effort to bankrupt Wisconsin communities, which remain largely opposed to Walker demanding the end of local municipal control, in another ALEC bill Walker wants to impose onto the state.

In the following weeks, hope for the preservation of the UW System, public education and the effective structure of representative democracy in Wisconsin lies with the 33-member Wisconsin State Senate—more difficult to gerrymander than the 99-member lower house, the State Assembly.

Wisconsin Republicans hold a relatively slim 19-14 majority in the state senate, and an overwhelming 63-36 majority in the state assembly.

Walker, stinging from national criticism questioning his intellect, policy knowledge and ethics, can be counted on take his frustrations out on Wisconsin where his favorable rating has now dipped into the 30s, and sign any legislation which hurts people, impedes science, and degrades the University of Wisconsin-Madison in particular.

"Asked whether the phrase 'cares about people like you' describes Walker, 37 percent say it does, while 59 percent say it does not" in a poll lat month, (Marquette University Law School poll.

On a hopeful note, if ordered by David Koch—who is a champion of efforts to research and cure cancer—and other patrons to back off, Walker's administration will see to it the fetal research-stem cell bill not reach the governor's desk. The "double-high authoritarian" Walker takes orders and often backs down. (Mal Contends) (CounterPunch)

Whether the popular University of Wisconsin System will publicly and fully mobilize is an open question.

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