Showing posts with label J.B. Van Hollen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J.B. Van Hollen. Show all posts

Apr 4, 2014

No Wisconsin Attorney General Candidate Ever Cited The Innocence Project, Until Now

Mal Contends contacted the four major candidates for attorney general, asking three questions pertaining to ethics, the wrongfully convicted, pardons, and the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation.

In this election for attorney general, a small fraction of the electorate will vote in the August 12 partisan primary.

It is likely the campaign for attorney general will not feature the issues of wrongful conviction, impartiality, and the role of the attorney general in advocating for the state vis a vis the cause of justice, though these are areas of concern for any elected law enforcement official.

One question singles out the case of combat Marine, Eric Pizer (2000 - 2004, Iraq, Kuwait) who pled guilty to a trumped-up charge by the district attorney's office of Grant County (a less-than-sophisticated office) for this Marine home just two days after his return from Iraq in 2004.

As the Wisconsin Constitution is vague on the authority of the attorney general (leaving much to the statutes), the discretion of the attorney general is amplified in our state.

This piece is to inform the campaign with the responses to the questions presented below.

Repeated attempts by phone, email, and campaign-contact applications were made to all four candidates; only one candidate has responded with a response to this three-question questionnaire. One candidate promised, but failed to follow through, and two other candidates declined comment and contact.

The four candidates contacted are Susan Happ, Ismael Ozanne, Jon Richards and Brad Schimel.

The only candidate responding is Ismael Ozanne.

Ozanne's responses along with my three questions are below.
Question: Our outgoing attorney general served as co-chair of a Wisconsin presidential ticket's campaign committee in 2008, a common practice of attorneys general.

In his capacity as attorney general, he and his political party (as Intervenor Plaintiff) filed a lawsuit in a voting rights case, Van Hollen v. Government Accountability Board (2008). This seemed untoward to me.

Do you believe it is ethical to serve as political party campaign chair while sitting as our state's attorney general?

Ismael Ozanne:

It is not unethical to serve as a campaign chair while serving as attorney general.  The service as a campaign chair is not the ethical concern.  The ethical concern is serving as campaign chair and then taking official actions as attorney general that are intended to benefit the campaign in question, and not reflecting the law and the best interests of the people of Wisconsin.  If AG Van Hollen thought it was necessary in his official capacity to participate in legal action involving the campaign, he should have either stepped down from any role in the campaign or recused himself from the legal action.

Question: Wisconsin's governor in December 2013 publicly dismissed Marine Eric Pizer's bid for a pardon in an interview with WKOW TV (Madison), continuing his stance against granting pardons. The governor stated in part: "If you pick one [to be pardoned] there's thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't yet know about."

Scott Walker is correct about 1,000s of Wisconsin citizens having a compelling case for pardons.

In light of Walker's position unprecedented in modern Wisconsin history, would your office consider advising district attorneys to open cases for stipulations of time served to secure the freedom of the wrongfully convicted when an array of facts demand this action in the interest of justice?

Realizing this action of seeking justice would be unusual for the office of attorney general, but within its discretion, how much does the imprisonment of an innocent weigh on you?

Ismael Ozanne:

I think that it is unfortunate that Gov. Walker has decided, likely for purely political reasons, not to exercise his authority to grant pardons to deserving people who have turned their lives around.  Pardons are not intended to be used as a vehicle to reverse wrongful convictions.  No prosecutor should want to have innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted stay in prison.  If evidence is brought to the attention of the authorities demonstrating that a mistake has been made, the interests of justice demand that the evidence is carefully reviewed and the individual should be released if exonerated.  As Dane County District Attorney, I have worked with lawyers from the Innocence Project, and will do so in the future.  While these decisions are largely at the discretion of the DAs around the state, I would work with them as attorney general, providing resources and advice in these situations.  The ultimate goal of the system is not simply to secure convictions, it is to do justice.

Question: The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) is widely regarded as both overly secretive and toothless, and a case study in administrative law capture theory.

As attorney general, would you advocate to the Supreme Court for reforms at the OLR for the health of the legal profession, and the judicial branch of government.

Ismael Ozanne:

The Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of government and it has the authority to maintain the system that we use to regulate the conduct of lawyers in Wisconsin.  In the event that I determined as attorney general that there were aspects of that system that needed to be addressed, I would have no problem making my opinion known through the process. 

Oct 19, 2013

Texas Obstucts Women from Voting; Effort Similar to Wisc AG's Failed Suit

Civil rights violations are our business: GOP
Update: Barbara Arnwine and Eleanor Smeal explain the GOP's war on women voting: "The assault on voting rights is a naked attempt to suppress the votes of minorities, students, the elderly, and the poor. But don’t be fooled. This War on Voting is an essential part of the War on Women."

In 2008 Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen tried to push through the courts a new constitutional requirement to vote: An exact match of a voter's name on the databases of various government bureaucracies.


The GOP voter obstruction effort failed miserably, though Van Hollen later showed no shame in trying to stop our sacred right to vote, efforts for which Van Hollen will be well-compensated in the private sector at a cushy GOP firm, (Van Hollen is not seeking reelection in 2014.)

"Nothing in state or federal law requires that there be a data match as a prerequisite for a citizen's right to vote," Judge Maryann Sumi said in dismissing Van Hollen's lawsuit (J.B. Van Hollen v. Government Accountability Board (GAB) et al (2008)) that tried to use the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) as a voter suppression tool.

In October 2008, it was reported by WisPolitics that Reince Priebus (then Wisconsin and now national GOP Chair) and Wisconsin McCain-Palin co-chair Van Hollen met before and at the 2008 National Republican Convention in St. Paul to discuss this new voter obstruction effort which would was employed by the Van Hollen-headed Wisconsin Department of Justice during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Now, Texas is employing the Priebus-Van Hollen strategy to obstruct voting, requiring an exact and up-to-date name match on Photo Voter ID, per newly enacted Texas GOP law.

The New Civil Rights Movements notes: "Think Progress reports that as of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. It sounds like such a small thing, but according to the Brennan Center for Justice, only 66% of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because young women have not updated their documents with their married names, a circumstance that doesn’t affect male voters in any significant way. Suddenly 34% of women voters are scrambling for an acceptable ID, while 99% of men are home free."

Van Hollen had denied any contacts with the Republican Party and the McCain campaign about Wisconsin's invented 2008 voting rule in the GOP's failed lawsuit, a denial that was contradicted by WisPolitics‘ audio recording revealing Van Hollen promising this 2008 legal action to Priebus on alleged "voter fraud" during an address at the 2008 Republican National Convention held in St. Paul.

Texas GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott, Wendy Davis' likely opponent for governor in 2014, has had much to say about new voting requirements and other GOP obstruction schemes, now under challenge by the U.S. DoJ under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, to the chagrin of voting rights poseur and lede Republican bullshitter, James Sensenbrenner. Abbott is running the Reince Priebus playbook.

Writes Dave McNeely:

"In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party's electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats," says the (legal) brief filed by Abbott's office, (defending Texas gerrymandering). "It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan redistricting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates."

Abbott also accused Jose Garza, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, of unethical behavior for telling Latino voters to go ahead to the polls even without the now-required photo ID in a Sept. 14 election in Edinburg to fill a city council vacancy.

It is "unethical for a lawyer to advise someone to violate Texas law," Abbott said. "Confusing and misleading Texans in order to create an unnecessary lawsuit is disgraceful."

Garza hotly shot back that he had never encouraged Texans to violate the law, but to cast provisional ballots if they can't get a photo ID. He said he thinks the law is unconstitutional, and if they are refused that would be grounds for a legal challenge.

"Do not stay home and allow a discriminatory law to suppress your vote and voice," Garza said. "That is my message to Edinburg's voters."
Abbott says he needs to stop voter fraud and ensure the integrity of Texas elections.

As the world looks at American politics, wondering vaguely if the US has lost its collective mind in allowing the Tea Party suicide caucus to threaten the world economy, it also cast dubious eyes on the American commitment to voting rights in a democracy, wondering in the words of Teresa Wiltz in The Guardian if this is "2013 or 1953?"

It's 1953, only worse.

In the words of Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times, enterprising and corrupt voter obstruction efforts by GOP operatives, including five sitting jurists on the U.S. Supreme Court judges, have in dismantling voter protections imposed on America a "gift to both the billionaire political hobbyists who gave us the Tea Party Congress and the noisy charlatans who push for cynical 'anti-voter-fraud' legislation that is crafted to suppress voter turnout."

Jan 14, 2013

Wisconsin Supreme Court Denies GOP Move to Bypass Courts on Voter ID-Obstruction Case

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has again refused to bypass a court of appeals ruling today holding the Wisconsin GOP voter ID law unconstitutional on its face.

Some four weeks before the February primary election of GOP Supreme Court justice, Patience Drake Roggensack, naked acts of political corruption appear unwise.

The Court's decision is a sign that when the voter ID cases do reach the Wisconsin supreme court, the four GOP justices will not rule against the Wisconsin Constitution and overturn the two permanent injunctions of the lower courts because this action would be too blatant a display of corruption—a view that is conventional wisdom among Wisconsin jurists contacted the past months who are not involved in the cases.

The high court similarly refused to take up the GOP voter ID cases in April 2012.

The court also refused today to consolidate the two state cases that are now before two different Wisconsin appellate courts.

Two state appellate courts have held the GOP voter ID law is permanently enjoined from taking effect.

The voter ID law was passed with only GOP votes, with no GOP dissents, and against the counsel of every good government and civil rights organization.

The motion refused by the court was made by Wisconsin's partisan attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen who faces an election in 2014.

Wisconsin's Constitution, Article III, Section 1—"Every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state is a qualified elector of that district."—strongly protects the right of citizens to vote against the efforts of politicians obstructing citizens' constitutional right to vote.

A government that undermines the right to vote imperils its own legitimacy as a government 'by the people, for the people and especially of the people,' (Judge Richard) Niess wrote in a decision striking down the GOP law. 'It sows the seeds for its own demise as a democratic institution' (Treleven, WSJ).

Two other federal cases also have also been filed against Wisconsin's voter ID law:  Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128), (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin); and Jones et al v. Deininger et al (Case 2:12-cv-00185), (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin).

In a federal case, evidence has been obtained by Monica Wedgewood, an intern working for the ACLU, that military veterans would be prevented from voting, if the GOP law were to take ever take effect.

Aug 22, 2012

Corrupt AG Van Hollen Wants High Court to Reinstate Voter Obstruction Law

The Blind Leading the Blind - Brueghel
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) is betting the Wisconsin corporate media will not hammer the Republican Party for Van Hollen's petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to stay the two injunctions against the GOP's unconstitutional voter ID law.

It's a safe bet for Van Hollen and the GOP to make.

Denying the fundamental freedom to vote does not bring a high political price, not from the corporate media.


So, we get a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece citing "supporters" (not mentioning supporters are Republicans and Tea Partiers) who point out that the new ID requirement did not produce problems in the one election in which it was operative.

Omitted are the facts that this February 21 election was the Spring primary election, with no statewide races on the ballot, very low turn-out, and an election in which the state Governmental Accountability Board (GAB) did not record the turn-out as only local races were on the ballot, as the GAB confirmed.

"The G.A.B. did not calculate statewide voter turnout for the February 2012 nonpartisan primary because there were no statewide races on the ballot – just local races," e-mailed Reid Magney, public information officer of the Wisconsin GAB.

Consequently, the February election featured turn-outs in the single digits, as mostly die-hard voters cast their votes.

This is the election the GOP argues is evidence that Voter IDs do not obstruct voters. Another GOP talking point is presented by the media to the public unchallenged.

In any event, people were stopped from voting in February such as 84-year-old Ruthell Frank of Brokaw, now a co-plaintiff in the federal case, Frank v. Walker, (Case 11cv1128), U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Another example of lame media coverage, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel piece omits that the voter ID law was passed in the legislature with only GOP votes, no dissenting GOP votes, no Democratic votes, and that the GOP is pursuing similar voter ID laws in states in which the GOP controls the legislature and governor's office.

Political Culture

And of course the Republican and Tea Parties are openly hostile to the right to vote and pay no discernible price for their efforts at stopping citizens from voting.

In March, Van Hollen admitted that Wisconsin voters would be disfranchised by the GOP's voter ID law, so now his petition to make the law operative (staying the two injunctions) before the November election would in a healthy political culture constitute a high scandal against democracy.

We don't live in a healthy democracy.

United Wisconsin's Lisa Subeck slammed Van Hollen's move:

“Putting politics ahead of the law he is sworn to uphold, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is once again moving to disenfranchise as many as 300,000 Wisconsin voters who lack photo ID. Despite two previous court injunctions permanently striking down Wisconsin’s unnecessary and oppressive Voter ID law, today Van Hollen has requested that the Wisconsin Supreme Court immediately lift the orders that prevent the law’s enactment.

Van Hollen’s flagrantly political move comes just a few short months before the November Presidential election. The timing makes his intentions clear. With the selection of Paul Ryan as a vice presidential candidate, Wisconsin is set to be a crucial battleground in the race for President, and Van Hollen is attempting to disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of seniors, students, minority, and low-income citizens who will be disproportionately impacted by this law. Van Hollen’s latest ploy reeks of political gamesmanship, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court should reject it outright.”
Still, Van Hollen's petition is a stretch. And his effort will likely be refused by the Supreme Court. Too naked a corrupt, partisan exercise even in this unhealthy democracy.

Information on the two state cases, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin v. Walker (Case 11CV4669) and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker (Case 11CV5492) are linked above.

How about Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R)? He championed the 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act, passed to stop state voter obstruction efforts.

No, word from Sensenbrenner's office is he would have no comment anymore on state voter obstruction efforts like Wisconsin's.

Two federal trials on the Wisconsin Voter ID law are set for the Spring 2013.

One Wisconsin Now, a civil rights group, released the following:
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements upon news Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen would petition the state Supreme Court to overturn, in advance of the November elections, Circuit Court rulings that the state’s anti-democratic voter identification bill is unconstitutional.
"JB Van Hollen has spent years, and untold tax dollars, unsuccessfully chasing phantom vote impropriety allegations to justify his support for disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of legal voters. He’s either lying about rampant “voter fraud” or he is incompetent at his job. Van Hollen announced he was going to do this at a Romney-Ryan campaign rally and now he’s using his taxpayer financed office to convince the partisan, conservative Supreme Court majority to do the political thing, not the right thing."
In 2008 as GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s state chair, in coordination with the Republican Party, he used his office to try to purge hundreds of thousands of legal voters from the rolls. And after a six-year partisan witchhunt, Van Hollen has found no instances of voter impropriety that would have been thwarted by voter identification.
Earlier this summer, it was revealed the Republican National Committee was behind anonymous legal efforts to enact the law. A complaint related to state Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and his participation in the suit, filed by One Wisconsin Now, is before the state’s Government Accountability Board.

Jul 19, 2012

Attorney General Van Hollen—Corrupt and Clueless

"Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Department of Justice will appeal the decision issued yesterday in NAACP v. Walker, et al., Dane County Case No. 11-CV-5492. Yesterday afternoon, the Honorable David T. Flanagan issued his decision invalidating and permanently enjoining Wisconsin’s Voter ID law."

So reads the news from Van Hollen's office. No great surprise.

Van Hollen persists in appealing a decision based on the Wisconsin constitution's expansive declaration of voters' rights by stating that a 2008 federal case in Indiana—in which no social scientific evidence was entered into the record—was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"And similar election integrity reforms have been upheld as constitutional by the United States Supreme Court [in CRAWFORD et al. v. MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD et al]," reads Van Hollen's statement.

Judge Flanagan addresses Van Hollen's nonsense stating:

The people of Wisconsin may choose to assure to themselves rights under their own constitution that differ or exceed those guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, State v. Doe, 78 Wis 2d 161, 172 (1977). The question of what is permitted and what is protected by the Wisconsin Constitution is the issue before this court and that issue was not before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Crawford case.
Van Hollen knows this fact. And the phenomenon, "integrity," does not manifest itself often in Van Hollen's Department of Justice.

War on Voting

Van Hollen would have Wisconsin's rights diminished if our rights exceed those guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

That he persists in his efforts to suppress non-Republican voters is simply more evidence of his corruption, echoing Van Hollen's 2008 efforts at voter suppression in which Van Hollen's similarly ridiculous effort was tossed out of court and into the GOP history's bin, the black hole.

In the 2008 case, (J B Van Hollen vs. Government Accountability Board (GAB) et al) Van Hollen tried to create a new Wisconsin constitutional standard to vote by fiat: A perfect match of the spelling of voters' names in state bureaucracies.

Several former judges serving on the GAB Board would have failed Van Hollen's new constitutional standard in 2008, and this GOP effort drew wide ridicule.

"Nothing in state or federal law requires that there be a data match as a prerequisite for a citizen's right to vote," Judge Maryann Sumi said in dismissing Van Hollen's lawsuit that tried to use the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) as a voter suppression tool.

But our corrupt attorney general will not give up his Party's project of diminishing and denying the rights of Wisconsin citizens.

Apr 21, 2012

Corrupt Atty General Van Hollen Repeats 2004 GOP Lies

Wisconsin's Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he "is very concerned about voter fraud as six recall elections near, including one targeting fellow Republican, Gov. Scott Walker." (AP)

The corrupt Van Hollen is doing the same work as his fellow GOP partisans, pushing the same lie about alleged concerns of voter fraud that were expressed by State Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) and former State Sen. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield).

The GOP hacks in 2004 sent letters to former U.S. Atty Stephen Biskupic (2001-08) to "investigate possible wrongdoing in the registration of certain voters in Southeastern Wisconsin" (Stone) and to express Kanavas' concern that "fraud may play a large role in the outcome of the (the-upcoming 2004) election." (Brew City Brawler)

For years before elections Van Hollen and his GOP voter-control partisans have claimed to know fraud is happening and will happen in whatever election is next.

Well then, could Van Hollen point to one case, one case, of voter impersonation in Wisconsin prosecuted, say, in the last 10 years, 20 years? Proclaimed 100-percent certainty that voter impersonation is happening, zero-percent knowledge of where, when and by whom.

Of course not, Van Hollen is repeating the lie of voter impersonation [the voter fraud that so-called voter ID would prevent] in the valid belief that AP will run his statement with no facts or evidence.

Media outlets then pick up the story and run a summary of attorney-general-worried-about-voter-fraud pieces across the state.

Some facts:

Van Hollen previously lied in 2008, claiming the same nonsense about voter fraud as he tried to use a federal law to stop Wisconsin citizens from voting in the presidential election.

Current national GOP chair Reince Priebus "had multiple conversations with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's top aide before Van Hollen filed the lawsuit against the state election agency to compel expanded voter registration checks," perfect matches among bureaucracies (Pitsch. Wisconsin State Journal, Sep 25, 2008).

The Van Hollen-Priebus suit was subsequently tossed out of court by Dane County (Wisconsin) Judge Maryann Sumi, never to see the inside of a courtroom again.

GOP allegations of organized voter fraud has been shown to be a fiction by the Brennan Center for Justice and by a Wisconsin-federal committee looking into past GOP allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 election.

After the GOP retook the Wisconsin legislature in 2010, one of the GOP's first bills introduced in 2011 is a photo ID bill that would "mean folks without driver's licenses - disproportionately poor, minority, or elderly, would not be able to vote." (Neil Heinen. WISC TV) The GOP's photo ID bill is unconstitutional on its face, and has been so found.

A 2004-05 joint investigation by former GOP U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic and former Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann found there was no widespread fraud, though Biskupic  "indicted 14 individuals [with five convictions] for either being a felon on probation or parole who voted in November 2004 or for voting twice in that contest. All but one of those charged with felonies were African-American, and all were Milwaukee residents." (Bice. MJS, April 12, 2007) Voter ID would address none of these cases, as voter impersonation did not happen even as Karl Rove pushed Biskupic to pursue voter fraud cases, however contrived.

Biskupic is now defending the Scott Walker campaign in the John Doe corruption investigation.

Van Hollen, Biskupic, Priebus, Walker and literally every Wisconsin GOP elected official have defended the voter fraud-voter obstruction-voter ID project.

Mar 30, 2012

Federal Judge finds Scott Walker's assault on workers unconstitutional

FDR signs the Wagner Act in 1935
Update: Federal Judge Partially Strikes Down Wisconsin Act 10, the Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill - "... in a clear victory for the public-sector unions in Wisconsin, the onerous recertification and anti-dues check off provisions, which again only applied to non-public safety employees, were enjoined on both equal protection and First Amendment grounds. The court found absolutely no connection between the Walker Administration’s purported justifications for treating these two groups of public employees differently and the need for these two punitive provisions."

"The Labor Relations Act now forbids an employer to say to a laborer: 'Give up your union or give up your job,'" said the great jurist, Robert H. Jackson in 1939. "... Are our great constitutional guarantees in danger? The answer really lies with the people themselves. Civil rights are pretty generally safe except in periods of widespread emotional instability. In such times there are always those who, either because they lack balance themselves or because they see an opportunity to exploit the anxiety of others, institute scares and make drives to save the country from exaggerated dangers by suppressing free speech, or censoring free press, or punishing free opinion."

Jackson was U.S. Solicitor General at the time of this national town hall and had the idea that law and politics ought be the sphere of the American public: Open and public, or civil rights will die.

Jackson could have been speaking to Scott Walker, J.B. Van Hollen and the rest of the GOP regime who concocted the law and after law for cynical, partisan purposes, and even admitted so. See videos of State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Walker below. Repeatedly, Walker cried crisis and danger, and used fear to ram through an anti-citizen agenda, with Walker supporters harassing Wisconsin volunteers.

“Today’s ruling affirms Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans once again overreached in their attack on public workers’ rights to belong to a union. This is a tremendous victory for public workers and the rule of law. These abuses of power should have no place in our public policy decisions. The court has affirmed these were political decisions in an attempt to bust unions, not sound public policy,” said State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).

Scott Walker has a different notion than Justice Jackson on civil rights; mocking and ridiculing them, and bragging about collusion with Attorney General Van Hollen, and using working families' livelihoods as political fodder.

"The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We’ll announce Thursday, and they’ll go out early next week. And we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know," said Walker in his infamous taped phone conversation before ramming through Act 10.

It comes as great comfort that U.S. District Judge William M. Conley rules in Wisconsin Education Association Council et al v. Scott Walker et al (Case: 3:11-cv-00428-wmc; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin) that Act 10, the so-called Budget Repair Bill, is a violation of union members' First Amendment rights.

"[U]nions engage -- indeed, one of their core functions is to engage -- in speech," writes Justice Conley.

Though the Republican Party thought that it could pick and choose which union members' First Amendment rights to violate, the Court disagreed.

"So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," writes Judge Conley.

"Wisconsin citizens have long known Gov. Walker's attack on workers was not honest and today's court ruling shows his attack was not legal," said a statement from former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a Democrat running against Walker. (Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley. MJS)

GOP leader Fitzgerald expanded on Falk's assessment on Fox News last year, saying busting unions will help the GOP defeat President Obama: "If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin," said Fitzgerald.

Nothing about saving tax-payers' money; and all about a corrupt brand of politics that has seen Scott Walker's closest aides convicted and facing multiple felonies in a criminal investigation of Walker's campaign while Walker tries to stall the investigation in hopes of surviving the recall election.

Walker's signature assault on civil rights is under countetattack by those dedicated to the rule of law, and his legal and political malfeasance is only just beginning to be revealed some 14 months into office.

From Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

“Gov. Walker’s extreme attacks on public sector workers has, in part, been reversed by the court of law today and found in violation of the U.S. constitution,” explained Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “This proves that Gov. Walker rammed through his radical and secret agenda without regard to the U.S. constitution, the rule of law, or to what is right and fair for Wisconsin families. There is still much to be done to reverse the harm that Gov. Walker has done to nurses, teachers, snow plow drivers and other public workers. The fight to fully restore public employee’s voices on the job and a strong middle class for Wisconsin continues.”

“This is a better day for public sector workers but unfortunately does not fully restore the ability of public employees to have a meaningful voice in the workplace so that they can speak out on behalf of the communities they serve,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Limiting collective bargaining, as Scott Walker has done, is unjust and un-American. The fight to reclaim Wisconsin and restore the rights of working people to collectively bargain continues.”

While this is a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all working families have the right to collectively bargain. We must stand together until justice is restored to all Wisconsin workers.

In Solidarity,


Mar 21, 2012

Van Hollen Wants Expedited Review for Corrupt Purposes

Stop me before I obstruct again; wait, don't stop me

Attorney General Van Hollen (Republican) says the voter obstruction act will obstruct voters, if an appellate court stays the injunction against it taking effect.

Therefore, appellate courts should stay the injunction, Van Hollen argues, out of his concern the act will obstruct voters.

Why would Van Hollen put forth crazy arguments in favor of the voter obstruction act?

The answer can be found today.

[Attorney Lester] Pines noted he filed his case in October [against voter IDs] and that the Justice Department did not seek an expedited resolution of it until after [Judge] Niess ruled against it.' (Marley. MJS)

'These appeals are not about the April election. They're about the recall elections,' Pines, said referring to expected elections in May or June to recall Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans.

Mar 20, 2012

Attorney General Van Hollen Fronts for GOP

When WisPolitics ran a 2008 blockbuster uncovering an audio recording of Attorney General J.B.Van Hollen promising legal action on alleged "voter fraud" during an address at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, Minnesota, Van Hollen was exposed as a corrupt partisan.

The recording contradicted Van Hollen's earlier claims that "there was no discussion with anybody involved in leadership with the Republican Party (or the McCain campaign for which Van Hollen served as Wisconsin co-chair) about this (2008 voting rule) lawsuit before it was brought."

In some many words, the corrupt Van Hollen is a liar, traits antithetical to the top state law enforcement official.

To no one's surprise Van Hollen's promised effort at voter obstruction was tossed out of court in an opinion that implicitly borders on ridicule.

Van Hollen - 2012

Van Hollen is again carrying water for the Republican Party in its current voter obstruction efforts. And Van Hollen has shopped his latest effort to halt the injunction against the unconstitutional 2011-12 voter obstruction law by now filing suit in the Waukesha-based District II Court of Appeals.

The Alice-in-Wonderland quality of Van Hollen's desperate arguments to obstruct voters is being repeated across the state, if not covered in local broadcast media.

Van Hollen claims he's worried about disenfranchising voters as he defends the GOP law, though the law's disenfranchising voters is the very reason the GOP law has been halted (stopped from taking effect by judicial injunctions) by two judges.

"Continued uncertainty surrounding the conduct of elections represents the potential for irreparable harm to electors and the franchise," said Van Hollen in a line used in one appellate district's case.

Earlier, in another district, Van Hollen said, "If, as we hope, the injunction is overturned before the election, those relying on the injunction may be left without an opportunity to obtain their IDs by the date of the election.”

So, Van Hollen admits the law is going to stop some legal, constitutionally qualified, and registered Wisconsin voters from voting if the injunction is halted (stayed).

And Van Hollen says the law needs to be made operative (injunction stayed) for voters' sake because Van Hollen is concerned the law will stop legal, constitutionally qualified, and registered Wisconsin voters from voting.

If this argument makes no sense to you, it's likely you live in the realm of reason—far from the world of Van Hollen, Scott Walker and the party of voter obstruction.

By the same logic, a political party can pass an unconstitutional law that takes away your rights
- Courts then rule the law an unconstitutional violation of your rights and stop it from taking effect
- The Party's attorney general then says he is going to appeal in favor of the law to appellate judges, creating uncertainty
- This uncertainty, he argues, mandates the appellate Courts to reinstate the law (staying injunctions) out of concern for the rights violated by the law

Crazy arguments aside, the apparent strategy of the Republican Party as Van Hollen makes one motion after another (and one appeal after another) is to amass as many adverse-to-the-GOP rulings as possible and hope the Supreme Court hears their case in time to stop Democratic-leaning voters from casting their votes in the 2012 November election, and as many elections as possible.

As Van Hollen's office continues its efforts, an April district court trial on the law looms.

Several attorneys have told me they cannot believe the voter obstruction law can survive the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the Court has recognized throughout Wisconsin history the voter protections of the Wisconsin Constitution against politicians' trying to stop voters from voting.

But as the four GOP partisans on the Supreme Court have committed one outrageous action after another, I am not as sure.

Mar 18, 2012

Appellate Court Refuses to Stay Injunction on GOP's Polling Place Photo ID Obstruction

"The right to vote belongs to all Wisconsin citizens who are qualified electors, not just the fortunate majority from whom Act 23 poses little obstacle at the polls."
- Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess in League of Women Voters v. Walker

By Ernest A. Canning at the BradBlog

On Friday, an intermediate Wisconsin appellate court denied a request made by WI Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R), on behalf of Gov. Scott Walker's administration, to stay an order issued earlier this month by a Dane County Circuit Court that temporarily suspended the state GOP's polling place Photo ID law.

In Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker --- the first of two cases within the past two weeks to result in an injunction on the voting restrictions, known as "Act 23", enacted by a Republican-majority last year --- Judge David Flanagan temporarily enjoined enforcement of the law on the grounds that it was in violation of the WI Constitution's guaranteed right to vote.

As of now, that injunction will still stand. In the bargain, local election officials are now seeking to comply with Judge Flanagan's order, so that Photo ID will not be required at the polls in the statewide April primary elections, upcoming recall elections scheduled for May and June, or for the 2012 general election this November.

Unless the denial of a stay is promptly reversed by the partisan Republican majority on the WI Supreme Court, the ruling could have an immediate adverse impact on the ability of the state's controversial Governor, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the Republican state Senators facing upcoming recall elections to retain office ... .

In the second case to result in an injunction, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess found, in League of Women Voters v. Walker on Monday, that "The right to vote belongs to all Wisconsin citizens who are qualified electors, not just the fortunate majority from whom Act 23 poses little obstacle at the polls."

Judge Neiss, in granting his permanent injunction less than a week after the Flanagan decision, similarly ruled that the polling place Photo ID restrictions were in violation of the state Constitution. The difference in the two decisions was that Judge Neiss ruled that Act 23 was unconstitutional "on its face" --- that Wisconsin's Republican Governor and GOP-controlled Legislature impermissibly sought to "eliminate the right of suffrage altogether for certain constitutionally qualified voters."

Judge Flanagan, on the other hand, applied classic Equal Protection analysis based on "uncontested" evidence and testimony submitted to the court, demonstrating that the Photo ID law has a disparate impact on minorities, the poor, handicapped and the elderly and that obtaining photo IDs, for many, is unduly burdensome.

His decision also determined that the Photo ID restriction was not rationally related to a legitimate government interest (let alone narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest --- the higher scrutiny mandated when dealing with a fundamental right), given the absence of evidence of in-person voter fraud. In-person voter impersonation is the the only type of voter fraud which can be prevented by polling place photo ID laws. ...

Consider the words of Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of ALEC, the billionaire-funded organization that has drafted the models for voter suppressing photo ID laws.

"I don't want everybody to vote," Weyrich admitted while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980 (see haunting video at right). "Our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added after denigrating those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation, as people who suffer from what he described as "goo goo syndrome."

Feb 27, 2011

Scott Walker Credibility Dropping

Gov. Scott Walker is expected to introduce his 2011-13 biennial budget on Tuesday.

Typically a boring, fiscal affair, Walker will instead act in the shining spotlight as his personal credibility has sunk like a brick these past two weeks.

Highlighted by the news of the Walker-David Koch tapes revealing Walker schemes to use Wisconsin families as political pawns, and showing Walker discussed planting agents provocateur among families protesting his budget plans, 10,000s of Wisconsin citizens have poured into the streets to object to Walker's secretly formulated rightwing agenda.

On April 29, 1974 President Richard Nixon, aside a stack of tape transcripts, delivered an address to the nation about Watergate and Nixon's defiance of the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena looking into illegal conspiracies.

Nixon was at his nadir; his address revealed to the nation a sad, lying man.

More and more, Walker [while attempting to portray a sunny appearance] is resembling Nixon during his lowest days.

But no matter how many flags Walker drapes himself in, seniors, women, the disabled, working families and students see Walker for what he is: A corrupt, dishonest man trying to steal from Wisconsin families, some 60 days into his service regarding the governor's office as a mere step for his personal career.

Feb 23, 2011

The story of the 'Koch' tape is the callous, conniving, and criminal Walker

Thousands of Wisconsin working families are just tools in the political games of Gov. Scott Walker.

This is what the phone tape transcript (Wisconsin State Journal) confirms, among other repulsive actions [for example, conspiring with the Attorney General against the political opposition in the state senate] of Gov. Walker during very trying economic times.

Hear the Walker-Koch tape.

These 1,000s of workers referenced by Walker are not going to be laid off [passive voice]; Walker is actively scheming to lay them off in a politically timed fashion.

Gov. Walker:

If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm and, in this case, you know, we say we’ll wait it out. If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers who’ll be laid off, sooner or later there’s gonna be pressure on these senators to come back. We’re not compromising,And we still’ve got, the attorney general’s office is looking into it for us. So we’re trying about four or five different angles, so each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We’ll announce Thursday, and they’ll go out early next week. And we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know. ... If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm and, in this case, you know, we say we’ll wait it out. If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers who’ll be laid off, sooner or later there’s gonna be pressure on these senators to come back. We’re not compromising ... .
And then there's Walker responding to the suggestion to place agents provocateur among the citizens protesting the budget bill. Walker's concern is PR-minded and political; not that the government is plotting to disrupt a legal demonstration, a conspiracy that is per se illegal and unethical.

There should be a federal DoJ investigation for conspiracy of violation of civil rights by the U.S. Atty for the Western District of Wisconsin.

Ian Murphy: Right, right. Well, we’ll back you any way we can. But, uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. The problem — the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this.
Full phone tape transcript (Wisconsin State Journal)

The following is the transcript of the conversation between Gov. Scott Walker and who he thinks is billionaire donor David Koch, although it is actually blogger Ian Murphy, who goes by the name Buffalo Beast.

Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.

Murphy: Scott! David Koch. How are you?

Walker: Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?

Murphy: I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, but, uh, what’s the latest?

Walker: Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough. I mean-you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters-almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up-getting it all the way to the last point it can be at where it’s unamendable. But they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate’s in-the Senate Democrats, excuse me, the assembly Democrats have about a hundred amendments they’re going through. The state Senate still has the 14 members missing but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things that members in the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit. The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning-he told the Senate Democrats about — and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day, in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk-it’s a little procedural thing here, but-can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted-

Murphy: Beautiful.

Walker: -into your checking account and instead-you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them-which we just loved-to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.

Murphy: Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?

Walker: Ah, I-there’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, uh, mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship and he’s worked with us on other things, to tell him, well, I wasn’t going to budge.

Murphy: Goddamn right!

Walker: Mainly, because I thought he’s about the only reasonable one over there and I figured if I talked to him, he’d go back to the rest of the gang and say, you know, ‘I’ve known Walker for 20 years, he’s not budging.’

Murphy: Now, what’s his name again?

Walker: His name is Tim Cullen.

Murphy: All right, I’ll have to give that man a call.

Walker: Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him and I’ll tell you why: He’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us, um, so I would let him be. I think he is in a position where he can maybe motivate that caucus, but he’s not a, he’s not an ally, he’s just a, he’s just a guy. He was in the Senate years ago. He was actually the Senate (word missing) here back in the ’80s and Tommy Thompson hired him to be the head of Health and Human Services. He went into the private sector, made real money and, uh, became a little more more open-minded.

Murphy: Ha!

Walker: And last fall, he got elected to the Senate seat he was in 25 years ago. He’s kind of one of these guys who, he really doesn’t care, he’s not there for political reasons, he’s just trying to get something done. So he’s good to reach out to for me, but he’s not a, he’s not a conservative. He’s just a pragmatist.

Murphy: Now who could we get to budge on this, uh, collective bargaining?

Walker: Well, I think in the end, a couple of things are one, if the, uh, if the — I think the paycheck will have an impact. Secondly, one of the things we’re looking at next, we’ll probably announce in the next day or two, we’ve been working with our Republican leaders in the Legislature is, we may, we’re still waiting on an opinion to see if the unions have been paying to put these guys up out of state, we think there’s at minimum an ethics violation if not an outright felony.

Murphy: Well, they’re probably putting hobos in suits.

Walker: Yeah.

Murphy: That’s what we do. Sometimes.

Walker: Well, I mean paying for the senators to be put up. I know they’re paying for these guy to be-I mean, people can pay for protesters to come in and that’s not an ethics code, but, I mean, literally if the unions are paying the 14 senators-if they’re paying for their food, their lodging, anything like that, uh, we believe at minimum it’s an ethics code violation and it may very well be a felony misconduct in office because, see, technically, it’s not just a political contribution it is, if they’re being paid to keep them from doing their job, we think that’s an, uh, legally an obstruction, not an obstruction of justice, but an obstruction of their ability to do their job. And we still’ve got, the attorney general’s office is looking into it for us. So we’re trying about four or five different angles, so each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We’ll announce Thursday, and they’ll go out early next week. And we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know.

Murphy: Beautiful, beautiful. Gotta crush that union.

Walker: Well it’s one of those where, in the end, you know, the, the uh, and I’ve had not only Cullen, and I’ve talked to him myself, I’ve had three or four of my other business-leader friends who know him over the years, and just kind of pass the message on to these guys, if they think I’m caving, they’ve been asleep for the last eight years ’cause I’ve taken on every major battle in Milwaukee County and won, even in a county where I’m overwhelmingly overpowered politically, and, ’cause I don’t budge.

Murphy: Goddamn right!

Walker: If you’re doing the right thing, you stay firm and, in this case, you know, we say we’ll wait it out. If they want to start sacrificing thousands of public workers who’ll be laid off, sooner or later there’s gonna be pressure on these senators to come back. We’re not compromising, we’re not gonna —

Murphy: Beautiful.

Walker: The other thing we may do, ’cause the senator I mentioned thinks that these guys — you’ve got a few of the radical ones, who, unfortunately, one of them is the minority leader, but most of the rest of them are just looking for a way to get out of this. They’re scared out of their mind, they don’t know what it means. There’s a bunch of recalls up against them. They’d really like to just get back here and get it over with. So the paycheck thing, some of the other things threaten them. I think, collectively, there’s enough going on and as long as they don’t think I’m gonna cave — which, again, we have no interest in — an interesting idea that was brought up to me this morning by my chief of staff, we won’t do it until tomorrow, is putting out an appeal to the Democrat leader that I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders — talk, not negotiate — and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn — but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them come back and sit down in the state Assembly. They can recess it, to come back if we’re talking, but they all have to be back there. The reason for that is, we’re verifying it this afternoon, but legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way. Um, so we’re double checking that. But that would be the only, if you heard that I was going to talk to them, that would be the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them. And my sense is, hell, I’ll talk to them. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I’m used to that, I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating.

Murphy: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.

Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I got a Slugger with my name on it.

Murphy: Beautiful.

Walker: But in the end, this is, and this is, I even pointed it out last night ’cause I’m trying to keep out the, as many of the private unions as possible, I said this is about the budget, this is about public-sector unions. Hell, even FDR got it. Um, there’s no place for the kind of, uh, I mean, essentially you’re having taxpayer money be used to pay to lobby for spending more taxpayers’ money. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Murphy: Beautiful.

Walker: So it’s, uh, this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it. But, uh, I think, you know, for us, I just keep telling, I call, I tell the speaker, the senate majority leader every night, give me a list of the people I need to call at home, to shore ’em up. The New York Times, of all things, I don’t normally tell people to read the New York Times, but the front page of the New York Times has got a great story, one of these unbelievable moments of true journalism, what is supposed to be objective journalism. They got out of the capital and went down one county south of the capital to Janesville, to Rock County, that’s where the General Motors plant once was.

Murphy: Right, right.

Walker: They moved out two years ago. The lead on this story is about a guy who was laid off two years ago, uh, he’s been laid off twice by GM, who points out that, uh, everybody else in his town has had to sacrifice except for all these public employees and it’s about damn time they do, and he supports me. Um, and they had a bartender, they had, I mean, every stereotypical blue-collar worker type they interviewed, and the only ones that weren’t with us were people who were either a public employee or married to a public employee. It’s an unbelievable story. So I went through and called all these uh, a handful, a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about each day and said, “Everyone, we should get that story printed out and send it to anyone giving you grief.”

Murphy: Goddamn right! We, uh, we sent, uh, Andrew Breitbart down there.

Walker: Yeah.

Murphy: Yeah.

Walker: Good stuff.

Murphy: He’s our man, you know.

Walker: Well, it has been amazing to me the massive amount of attention I, I’ve don all, I want to stay ahead of this every day, tonight I’m actually doing a fireside chat, which the state TV stations are picking up and I guess a bunch of the national ones are, too, and, uh, in the last couple of days when I do the TV shows, I’ve been going after Obama because he stuck — although he’s backed off now — but he stuck his nose in here. And I said, you know, he asked me what I thought about it and I said the last time I checked this guy’s got a much bigger budget deficit than we do, maybe he should worry about that [Murphy laughs] and not stick his nose in Wisconsin’s business. But you know, we’ve had, uh, you know, all the national shows, we were on [Sean] Hannity last night, I did “Good Morning America,” the “Today” show and all that sorta stuff. I was on “Morning Joe” this morning. We’ve done Greta [van Susteren]. We’re gonna, you know, keep getting our message out. Mark Levin last night. And I’ve gotta tell you the response from around the country has been phenomenal. I had Brian [Sadoval], the new governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said-he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he’s new as well as me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. The next question, you know, I talk to Kasich every day-John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, [Rick] Snyder-if he got a little more support-probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.

Murphy: You’re the first domino.

Walker: Yep. This is our moment.

Murphy: Yeah. Now what else could we do for you down there?

Walker: Well the biggest thing would be-and your guy on the ground [Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this is the, well, two things: One, our members originally got freaked out by all the bodies here, although, I told them an interesting story when I was first elected county executive in Milwaukee of all places, the first budget I put through was pretty bold, aggressive, the union went nuts on me and I got all sorts of grief. But a couple of weeks later I’m in a Veterans Day parade and I’m going down the line and usually unless you’re a veteran or, you know, marching with a veterans group, politicians all get polite applause but nobody gets up. I come down the line, 40-50 people in a row, hands up, thumbs up, you know, cheering, screaming, yelling, ‘Way to go, hang in there, Walker!’ And then after about 40-50 people like that, there’s a guy flipping me off [Murphy laughs]. This goes on, you know, 40-50 [recording cuts out].

Walker: [recording resumes] right thing. The people who know it’s right will cheer you, will applaud you, they’ll run through a wall for you. And the people who don’t like it, they’re gonna flip you off. But stop worrying about, you know, them because — the other day, there were 70,000, probably two-thirds were against the bill, one-third were for, 70,000 people at the Capitol. All week there’s been, you know, 15-30,000 a day. But I remind all our lawmakers, that there’s five and a half million people in this state. And just because a bunch of guys who can jump off of work ’cause of their union rules, doesn’t mean the rest of the people in your district aren’t with them. So one thing, per your question is, the more groups that are encouraging people not just to show up but to call lawmakers and tell them to hang firm with the governor, the better. Because the more they get that reassurance, the easier it is for them to vote yes.

Murphy: Right, right.

Walker: The other thing is more long-term, and that is, after this, um, you know the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particulary in some of these, uh, more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them, but they’re gonna need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state. So to the extent that that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously a good thing.

Murphy: Right, right. Well, we’ll back you any way we can. But, uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. The problem — the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this. The teachers union did some polling of focus groups, I think, and found out that the public turned on ’em the minute they closed school down for a couple days. The guys we’ve got left are largely from out of state, and I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences saying, ‘Eh, they’re mostly from out of state.’ My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems. You know, whereas, I’ve said, ‘Hey, you know, we can handle this, people can protest. This is Madison, you know, full of the ’60s liberals. Let ’em protest.’ It’s not gonna affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of the people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let ’em protest all they want. Um, so that’s my gut reaction, is that I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, ’cause sooner or later the media stops finding ’em interesting.

Murphy: Well, not the liberal bastards on MSNBC.

Walker: Oh, yeah, but who watches that? I went on “Morning Joe” this morning. I like it ’cause I just like being combative with those guys, but, uh. You know they’re off the deep end.

Murphy: Joe-Joe’s a good guy. He’s one of us.

Walker: Yeah, he’s all right. He was fair to me, I mean, the rest of them were out there. Although I had fun. They had [senator Chuck] Schumer over from New York on, ripping me, and then they had a little clip of a state senator hiding out ripping me, and it was almost too easy. I walked in and Joe asked me a question and I say, well, before I answer that, let me just point out the amazing irony, the fact that you’ve got a United States senator from New York, a senator, who, by the way, is part of a team that can’t seem to balance the federal budget, talking about my budget. At least he’s coming into work to talk about something, although it’s mine. And you got one of these 14 state senate Democrats, uh, who can’t even bother to show up and deal with the budget he’s elected to do something about. And, uh, I said that kind of tells you the whole story right there.

Murphy: Beautiful, beautiful. But you gotta love that Mika Brzezinski.

Walker: Oh, yeah.

Murphy: She’s a piece of ass.

Walker: You know, a couple of weeks ago [unclear], I was having dinner with Jim Sensenbrenner when I came in to D.C. for a day to do an event, and we were going over to do the Greta show. I had dinner with congressman Sensenbrenner, and right next to us was the two of them and then their guest was [Obama advisor David] Axelrod. I came over [Murphy laughs], I introduced myself.

Murphy: That son of a bitch!

Walker: Yeah, no kidding, huh? I introduced myself. I said, I figured you probably knew who I was since your boss was in campaigning against me. But, uh, it’s always good to let ’em know you know what’s going on.

Murphy: Well, good, good. Good catching up with ya’.

Walker: Yeah, well, thanks. This is an exciting time. This is — you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, or excuse me, the Monday right after the 6th. Came home from the Super Bowl where the Packers won, and that Monday night I had all of my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were gonna do, how we were gonna do it. We’d already kinda built plans up, but it was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb. And I stood up and I pulled out a picture of Ronald Reagan, and I said, you know, this may seem a little melodramatic, but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan, whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before, had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air-traffic controllers. And, uh, I said, to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward, the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover. And, uh, I said this may not have as broad of world implications, but in Wisconsin’s history — little did I know how big it would be nationally — in Wisconsin’s history, I said this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history. And this is why it’s so important that they were all there. I had a cabinet meeting this morning and I reminded them of that and I said for those of you who thought I was being melodramatic you now know it was purely putting it in the right context.

Murphy: [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.

Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks, thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward, and we appreciate it. We’re, uh, we’re doing the just and right thing for the right reasons, and it’s all about getting our freedoms back.

Murphy: Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]

Walker: Well, that’s just it. The bottom line is we’re gonna get the world moving here because it’s the right thing to do.

Murphy: All right then.

Walker: Thanks a million!

Murphy: Bye-bye!

Walker: Bye.


Sep 26, 2010

GOP Voter Suppression and Obstruction Program Are a National Enterprise

- It's the GOP voter obstruction that could be decisive this November in close races across the country. UnAmerican and corrupt, the GOP-Tea Party Alliance works to prevent the wrong Americans from legally voting -

By Michael Leon

Madison, Wisconsin—Not exactly shocking that the Voter Suppression scheme among the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity, and Tea Party Groups is under way here in this important swing state. Thanks to the efforts of One Wisconsin Now the program to obstruct minority and college-age voters have been exposed.

GOP operatives like Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen know well that Republicans lose in high-voter turnout elections, thus the top state's top law enforcement official's energetic work in the corrupt stop-the-vote legal case that was tossed out of court in 2008.

See J B Van Hollen vs. Government Accountability Board et al, (Dane County Case Number 2008CV004085); and WI Elect Board Hits DOJ, GOP Voter Suppression; Brennan Center on Wisconsin Van Hollen 2008 Voter Suppression Decision, and Targeting Black Milwaukee Voters, and Black Voters Across the Nation (Andrew Hacker, New York Review of Books, Sept 25, 2008) for background.

Now, the Democratic Strategist reports the national GOP voter suppression efforts continues at crash speed:

Voter Suppression 2010 Style

By J.B. Green

Democrats have plenty to worry about over the next five weeks, but it nonetheless behooves Dems to get up to speed on the latest voter suppression scams. Toward that end, Demos and Common Cause have partnered to present a must-read report on the topic, "Voting in 2010: Ten Swing States: Problematic election laws and policies in ten swing states could impact enough voters to determine election outcomes." (PDF Executive Summary here)

The report profiles ten states (AZ, KY, CO, IL, LA, MI, MO, NV, NC and OH), where close elections are expected. The report focuses on laws and policies built into the structure of state election codes, rather than the illegal suppression practices that popped up in FL and OH during recent presidential elections.

The fact sheet on Kentucky, for example, reveals the obstacles Democratic candidates face in that state, including cutting off registration 28 days before the election, draconian felon disenfranchisement disqualifying 24 percent of African Americans, no legal mandate to disseminate voter information and a poor record of complying with the legal requirement to register people at public assistance agencies.
The report also credits each state for "exemplary voting laws" where applicable.

There are also reports of a voter caging operation underway in Wisconsin. According to Karoli's post, "Voter Suppression in Wisconsin, Courtesy of the GOP and Americans for Prosperity" at,

Here's how it works: A mailer is sent to registered voters. Any mailers returned by the post office are put in a database and those voters are submitted to be purged from voting rolls. Of course, the targets are never Republican voters. They're Democrats, and generally minority voters in particular....One Wisconsin Now has uncovered this plot with evidence, but don't assume this is limited to Wisconsin. I guarantee you it isn't. They are targeting as many states as they can, but particularly swing states. Expect Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona just to name a few to have the exact same operations afoot.

And here's a recent report on voter suppression in Texas.

In addition to the aforementioned laws and policies, and 'caging,' Dems should be ready for other suppression practices, like switching poll places, intimidation, parking obstruction, misleading and incorrect poll information, inferior computer equipment at polls in minority neighborhood polling places,

Stephen Ansolabehere and Eitan Hersh also have a contribution to the topic in their "Early and Often" post at the Boston Review, in which they note,

Registration problems create barriers to voting and make it difficult for administrators to communicate with voters, identify voters at the polls, and audit elections after the fact. Reforms following the 2000 election sought to improve the accuracy and currency of the voter-registration lists. Most important, all states now have statewide voter files. So how good are the files today?...

This summer the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard University and the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project issued the first comprehensive, nationwide analysis of the quality of information stored on voter registration lists...Nationwide, approximately 1 in 16 entries on the registration lists is unmailable. The magnitude of the problem varies greatly throughout the country. In California, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., about 1 in 50 entries is problematic, but in Arkansas, that number is 1 in 5.

The authors provide a chart ranking every state. This is not just about incompetence and sloppy registration management. The states are all well-aware of their rankings and the reasons for it, and in most cases it's a matter of political manipulation -- almost always to the detriment of Democrats.

Aug 29, 2010

Thank You Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Rightwingers Will Regret It

- Stupid, white people do not mess with the memory of Dr. King and then get away with it -

I spent a lot of time in some neighborhoods on the South side of Milwaukee in 2008.

The area is a microcosm of America. Segregated, apolitical, isolated, islands of peace and social justice activists, often provincial, and with a rapidly changing demographic from what was once a largely Polish and German [white] to a multi-ethnic population, one aspect that stands out and that should inform political commentary is the 2008 mobilization of the heretofore politically withdrawn class, particularly black women.

Milwaukee in 2008 is an experience I'll never forget. The embracing of the political process by many ethnic minorities who never vote, the energy, the hope; it was real. And it sure isn't dead. Reading the various analyses on the GOP-Tea Party resurgence, though, one might believe so.

The Obama campaign brought so many people out to vote, the vote-obstructing Wisconsin Attorney General (and McCain-Palin co-chair) J.B. Van Hollen and the national GOP-vote obstruction teams knew they had only one slim chance to win Wisconsin, and the country: Defense, don't let the other team score. Or in campaign terms, in anti-democracy terms: Don't let the other team vote. [See Targeting Black Milwaukee Voters, and Black Voters Across the Nation (Andrew Hacker, New York Review of Books, Sept 25, 2008) and Block the Vote by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast.] They lost. A record voter turn-out knocked the GOP on its collective ass.

Well, it's been a tough two years. Personally, I would have done much differentally both in degree and substance than the Obama administration has done, but the statist-reactionary kooks on the right have managed to do something that Obama could not do himself in the mid-term campaign. That is re-mobilize the forces that brought us the first black president.

You see, stupid, white people do not mess with the memory of Dr. King and then get away with it.

That's something that the Becks, the Newts and Sarah Palins are going to find out in about eight weeks on election day.
And here's saluting AlterNet for for its rebuttal to Beck and Palin who were decked out in red, white and blue on Saturday exhorting 10,000s of white people, real Americans, to restore their country, seize "honor," and take back their government just like god and the founding fathers intended.