Showing posts with label Politics News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Politics News. Show all posts

May 18, 2014

Nineteenth Century Raciology Comes Back to Welcoming GOP

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault (1819)
Racism is a pillar of today's Republican and Tea Parties.

American right wingers and myriad know-nothings feel a need to dress up their ugly appeals to racism in the cloak of academic research or at least the appearance of a reasoned argument.

Republicans' near-constant appeal to racism and their collection of racial taunts that comprised Mitt Romney's 2012 Republican general election campaign are apparently not sufficient.

Racists need a sense of security, a psychological justification, an authoritative purpose to legitimatize their pathological racial contrivance from whom they need to take their country back.

Nicholas Wade fulfills this need in his A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History (Penguin Press, 2014), along with Charles Murray, Jason Richwine, the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, hate Radio, and Fox.

Wade attempts to bring back the conception of race as a legitimate means of the classification of human beings who, in Wade's view, have a range of intelligence and character differences associated with their "race" that Wade maps out.

It's an old and ludicrous argument properly met with scorn and derision. See Jonathan Marks at In These Times, for example.

There is no need to grapple with Wade; it's akin to arguing biological evolution or climate change with a fundamentalist. Waste of time.

"(I)rrational, unscientific and demonstrably nonsensical," racists longing for purity from unclean, foreign others should be exposed and denounced, not given the legitimacy of drawing serious conclusions, as Norman Cohn reminded the world some 50 years ago.

It is worth considering Wade's conclusions—echoing nineteenth-century racist anthropology—and asking, "What social or ideological needs do they serve," as Noam Chomsky notes of nonsense like Wade's in Chomsky's classic 1971 update of his dismantlement of B. F. Skinner and behaviorism, 14 years prior.

Exposing Wade, George Will, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, the whole bunch of race baiters is easy.

It has been clear since Nixon's Southern Strategy, and Ronald Reagan's infamous racist dog whistles sounded when Reagan kicked off his 1980 general election campaign at the Neshoba County Fair a few miles from Philadelphia, Mississippi and declared "I believe in states’ rights."

States' rights. Sound familiar today?

The White Party has made the calculation that white racists are necessary to its political coalition and minorities need to be further marginalized.

The GOP welcomes racists into the ranks of their party provided they use properly coded language in polite racist company; openly racist chatting is fine unless the racism is exposed a la the Scott Walker emails.

As for Nicholas Wade and his comrades Limbaugh, Walker and the more subtle Paul Ryan with his concerns about the large "urban" vote in 2012 and the "tailspin of culture in our inner cities," even as the five GOP justices on the U.S. Supreme Court continue their program to dismantle efforts combating racism using the same rationales and rhetoric as that assailing Reconstruction (see Raskin, Z Magazine; May 1995), Wade's work of Reconstruction-era raciology should be noted and understood for its service to the Republican Party and racism.

Dec 12, 2013

Judge Posner Ripped Wisconsin DoJ Atty on GOP Anti-abortion Law

Richard A. Posner rips GOP's anti-choice
law, enjoined in Wisconsin in August
Heading into the new year, we can be thankful that the judiciary may become reinvigorated as a Constitutional check on malicious, bigoted underground movements, arising now in the Republican Party in states across the nation

Press reports on the December 3, 2013 oral arguments on Wisconsin GOP's anti-abortion law reveal a hostile Judge Richard Posner immediately interrupting Wisconsin's assistant attorney general Daniel Lennington with long questions that could only be characterized as hostile, cutting and brilliant.

This is the Richard Posner that everyone besides the Tea Party and Scott Walker want—pull up a chair, a hot cup of coffee and listen to Posner and his two colleagues on the panel, David F. Hamilton and Daniel A. Manion.

You can hear attorney Lennington getting hammered (mostly by Posner and Hamilton) at the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Enter 13-2726, for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin v. J. Van Hollen.

Wisconsin's anti-abortion law, Act 37, passed with unanimous GOP support and unanimous Democratic opposition, and was enjoined in August 2013 by U.S. District Judge William Conley.

No one believes Wisconsin Act 37 is anything but an anti-abortion law intended to created barriers to a woman's choice, even if Scott Walker and the Republican Party pretend otherwise.

Reports Michael Tarm:
At times appearing exasperated, Posner repeatedly interrupted Lennington, asking why lawmakers — if it's true they saw the law as primarily a public health measure and not an anti-abortion bill — focused on abortion clinics and not other outpatient clinics, such as those performing laparoscopic surgeries.

'Why did they start with abortion clinics? Because it begins with the letter 'A'?' Posner asked.
"Wisconsin (is) one of several states where hospital admitting privileges are required for abortion providers," reports the New York Times, all states with strongly anti-choice GOP governors such as Scott Walker.

Dec 1, 2013

Book Review: Richard Posner's Path Not Taken

Richard Posner's Reflections on Judging
(Harvard University Press. 2013)
Richard Posner's book Reflections on Judging (Harvard University Press. 2013) is an apologist account of his years on the bench.

The scholar turned judge wants to think that he has been a thoughtful and prudent jurist but on major occasions that he had the opportunity to be on the right side of history, he balked.

The depersonalization, the dehumanization, of the citizens by the court has been furthered under his judgeship. And he doesn't even seem to realize it on reflection.

Richard Posner is one of some 187 federal appellate judges.

He was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and still serves today.

Appointed along with John Shabaz (District Court, Western District of Wisconsin) and a host of ideological nominees to the federal judiciary by Reagan, Posner's assumption to the bench came during the first fruit bore by the Federalist Society, GOP Party hacks like Shabaz, and the U.S. Department of Justice that became a breeding ground for those seeing the judiciary as a means to power ... period, right-wing judicial activists. Witness Chief Justice John Roberts.

Posner skated around Reagan's fronting for the hard right, maybe out of loyalty.

The difference between Shabaz, a genuine misanthropist, and Posner is the difference between open contempt and indifference toward fellow citizens.

Richard A. Posner takes judicial policy making seriously, but reading Reflections on Judging, while aware of Posner's intellect is an exercise in disgust.

There are less thoughtful approaches to American jurisprudence in our society today; there are malicious approaches evolving in unpredictable ways, yielding results threatening the foundation of America, the expansive liberties of her citizens.

Posner seems unmindful as a judge, and amicable and generous as an author.

Posner attempts to explain to the lay reader some elements of appellate jurisprudence, what makes opinion writing a useful enterprise, and deserves praise for the result. I mean how many citizens concern themselves with what the judiciary does, at least since the grassroots movement against Robert Bork in 1987.

In reading Posner one wonders if he is unaware of the injury jurisprudence can inflict unto the human beings constituting the citizenry of the U.S.

It's easy to understand why Posner cites Robert H. Jackson and Louis Brandeis as jurists and intellectuals in history whom he admires. Less easy to explain why Posner never acted with the same thoughtful manner. Reflections is no help here.

But Posner was never a civil libertarian; he essentially did nothing for social justice in life and as an academic, so it's no surprise in reading Reflections that Posner labored over his work as a judge, mindful that that the law serves entities in this country—human beings—while reaching results that are both appalling and illogical.

Posner advocates the approach of  "legal realism" in judging both at the appellate and trial level.

In Reflections on Judging, Posner explains why "legal formalism," "originalism," "textual originalism," and other given names for fallacious approaches to judging, as epitomized by Justice Antonin Scalia, are "gotcha jurisprudence," (p. 182) and not dispassionate, penetrating examinations of the law.

Posner explains in the same paragraph in Reflections.

Justice Scalia is one of the most politically conservative Supreme Court Justices of the modern era—anyone doubting this should read his vitriolic partial dissent in Arizona v. United States—and he is the intellectual leader of the conservative Justices on the current Supreme Court. Yet he claims that his judicial votes are generated by an objective interpretive methodology (the only objective methodology, he claims) and that because it is objective, ideology, including his own fervent ideology, plays no role. Obviously statutory text itself is not inherently liberal or conservative. But textualism is conservative. A legislature is thwarted when a judge refuses to apply its handiwork to an unforeseen situation that is encompassed by the statute's aim but does not make a smooth fit with its text. Ignoring the limitations of foresight, and also that statute is a collective product that may leave many questions of interpretation to be answered by the courts because the enacting legislators didn't agree on the answers, the textual originalist demands that the legislature think through myriad hypothetical scenarios and provide for all of them explicitly rather than rely on courts to be sensible. Textual originalism is 'gotcha' jurisprudence. (p.182)

The jurisprudence of Scalia—dressed up as a quasi-scientific methodology—poses as an epistemological search in which appellate judges committed to originalism occupy an elevated perch, in Scalia's view, and to Posner's scorn.

Scalia poses, regaling in his perception capable of ascertaining the statute, where others refuse to see this dedication.

But Scalia and his statist, superstitious moralism often neglect the American citizen whom Scalia does not take seriously.

Reading Posner's Reflections, sure it's easy to think of Robert Jackson (pp 257-258) and other jurists' concern for the litigant in cases involving civil liberties, the citizen endowed with expansive rights against the state.

In Posner's Seventh Circuit as an example, we have brilliant jurists like Jackson, Diane Wood, Frank Easterbrook and of course Posner.

And the Seventh Circuit has also seen the worst of jurisprudence—for example, Wisconsin's late Judge John Shabaz who terrorized and abused criminal defendants and attorneys during his reign from 1981 to 2009.

In the Robert W. Kastenmeier U.S. Courthouse, federal magistrates often preceded Shabaz' arrival and would presumptively offer a manner of judicial succor, explaining to the courtroom in effect that Judge Shabaz would often bully attorneys and litigants for any or no reason.

Anyone sentient saw in Shabaz' willful, mean-spirited actions a fundamental misunderstanding of what a courtroom is supposed to represent in America, the rule of law as a shield against the cruel tyranny of the power of the state, of the judiciary.

Local Madison, Wisconsin, journalists wrote occasionally about Shabaz' misanthropy in astonishment, as many citizens who had become aware or experienced Shabaz waited and hoped for his retirement or death. This judge was a human repudiation of Article III of the Constitution.

Shabaz is worth mentioning here, not because his opinions were often overturned by the Seventh Circuit [though they were, especially in civil rights cases], rather because Shabaz' aspirations and personal manner are in direct opposition to Posner's.

We are led to believe that Posner is concerned with people, whom the law and the courts ought to serve.


I don't know if Posner knew about this situation in Madison, Wisconsin; I do believe he would have been appalled, but Posner deserves no praise for remaining blind.

Posner's legal realism leads to some consideration of what people are as citizens of the United States, as human beings.

That's a pretty low bar for a judge.

What this country has endowed its citizens with, rights, are the foundation supported by constant affirmation of citizens' humanity. How society lawfully treats human beings, what social scientific evidence demonstrate, and the thought experiments often heard at oral arguments are what could have made Posner a brilliant judge, had he chosen to go that way.

When Posner is not conversant about many topics, it bothers him, or so it is implied in Reflections. Still, Reflections, as edifying a book as it is, reads more like an aspiration of what Posner could have been as jurist, as against his record.

Consider one critical case on which we know Posner has erred badly, to which he admits failure of imagination and empathy, inhumanity, of ability to ascertain.

"I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana's requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo id—a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention." (pp. 8485) [Crawford v. Marion County Elections Board (2008) was later disavowed by its author, Justice Stevens, after his retirement.]
 
The repercussions for protecting voter rights of Americans against the Republican and Tea Party in Crawford are stunning, but Posner offers only a weak rumination about how difficult gathering information can be in the modern world for federal litigation. 

This is not only a cop-out on Posner's part but clearly shows how weak he is on standing up for a citizen's rights in the face of the so-called justice system. The scholar sees so much as impenetrable. 

Posner asserts the complexity brought by advances in technological fields means that subject matter experts often have difficulty making a judge understand the salient issues. Posner, in other journals, has explained that he can't just give up and go home. He has to rule on what is before him.

Judges are, or should be, selected on the basis of their ability to sort through complex issues, so for Posner to argue that an issue before the court is too complex for him to understand is an abdication of the function of the court. Judges have an obligation to study an issue until they understand it. Surely a man of Posner's intellect can accomplish this. Judges have every expert at their disposal, analytical resources, clerks, libraries. Even in this position of privilege, Posner I swear comes across as whining.

Consider human empathy.

Without empathy, an element both Scalia and Posner find irrelevant, the rule of law dissolves as a protector and extension of the citizenry. So, we can understand Crawford in the context as a lack of empathy, as the civil rights movement reminded America voting is part of humanity.

A local Alabama or Mississippi judge hearing a case on a civil rights violation in 1963 could not render an opinion, the racist state power structures made this impossible. The same held true with most of the south, though federal appellate judges as John Minor Wisdom somehow managed to see through the suffocating cloak of racism during this period.

Consider a more contemporary case, Atwater V. Lago Vista (2001), in which a mother and her two young children, three- and five-years old, were pulled over, verbally abused, and arrested in front of gathering witnesses who all confirmed the same story: Young children became traumatized and cried, as their mother was arrested by a vicious police officer for a traffic violation.

"The question is whether the Fourth Amendment forbids a warrantless arrest for a minor criminal offense, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation punishable only by a fine. We hold that it does not."
 —The Court 5-4

As for empathy. Justice Souter for the Court: "The arrest and booking were inconvenient and embarrassing to Atwater, but not so extraordinary as to violate the Fourth Amendment."

Inconvenient and embarrassing.

Justice O’Connor, with whom Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Breyer join, dissented:

The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from 'unreasonable searches and seizures.' The Court recognizes that the arrest of Gail Atwater was a 'pointless indignity' that served no discernible state interest, ... and yet holds that her arrest was constitutionally permissible. Because the Court’s position is inconsistent with the explicit guarantee of the Fourth Amendment, I dissent. ... The Court neglects the Fourth Amendment’s express command in the name of administrative ease. In so doing, it cloaks the pointless indignity that Gail Atwater suffered with the mantle of reasonableness. 
Posner would agree with Souter in this embarrassing case.

People really don't matter all that much, and we just cannot know so much about people under the law.

Posner is no Jackson or Brandeis; he could be but he simply does not allow himself to rise to the occasion.

Keeping his eye on the the prize, human beings with liberties guaranteed throughout the Constitution, makes the non-essential fall away.

I recommend Reflections as thoughtful admissions of failure.

Oct 21, 2013

Wisconsin's Next Governor Could Be State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout

Scott Walker is I assert not going to run for president.

Walker's Democratic opponent for Wisconsin governor remains to be seen.

Mary Burke and State Senator Kathleen Vinehout (Alma, Wisconsin) are currently leading the Democratic field.

The following in one sentence tells why Vinehout will be the Democratic nominee in 2014:

Jan 25, 2013

Bottom Line: Republicans Are Against Democracy

Update II: Civil Rights icon Lewis' backed bill would automatically register most to vote

Update: Wisconsin's Scott Walker is not repulsed by the GOP notion -- proposed to be enshrined in law -- that a minority of voters ought to legally defeat a majority of voters for president. Walker says he’s open to considering the GOP electoral college vote rigging scheme

The voter obstruction programs of the Republican Party across the nation in the last election ought to have made clear Republican Party's hostility to the democratic foundation of the our republic.

The Republican Party has tried to prevent as many undesirable people from voting, as it could for years.

The Democratic Party has no such voter disenfranchisement program.

For the Democrats, a citizen's right to vote is sacred.

Now, Republicans in Virginia and other battleground states are pursuing an effort to rig the election for GOP presidential nominees by dismantling the majority-of-citizens'-votes-prevails practice in states' electoral college votes.

Republicans gerrymand the congressional districts and then allocate electoral votes based on gerrymandered maps. Statewide popular votes total would no longer matter.

So, Obama winning the popular vote in Republican-rigged states would nevertheless result in Obama gaining a substantially less electoral vote total, throwing the election to the Republicans.

This is unAmerican; and one hope for a backlash against this shameful and unAmerican effort.

Dec 19, 2012

Chuck Hegal Should Tell Washington Like It Is, American People Will Rise to His Defense

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)
Update: The Defense of Hagel begins (Foreign Policy)

Impeach the GOP - Smears, lies, defamation and dehumanization are coming fast. What the GOP hates most about possible Defense Secretary nominee, Chuck Hegal, is he is a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran; and the chickenhawks, the geniuses who brought us the Iraq War, are brought into sharp relief about who they are.
Defamation is the way of one fetid American political party: The Republican Party.

Next target of the Republican Party: Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R), one hopes our next secretary of defense.

Former Vice-President Dan Quayle's chief of staff, and now hack at the Weekly Standard, William Kristol is sounding the alarms.

But James Fallows at The Atlantic and decent players in American politics have already had enough. So should we all.

Writes Fallows: "I'm late to this but want to weigh in, about a tawdry aspect of DC politics that I hope has finally gone so far that it will impeach itself. I'm referring to the 'bigot' accusations about former Senator Chuck Hagel."

Fallows is right.

If Hagel is nominated, and the GOP goes full slime, Hegal ought to appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and let the mostly Southern senators on the GOP side of the Committee have it. Say it loud and clear, the GOP is slime.

Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas—the states with the big secession movements now that the black president has been reelected are run by racist, white GOP power structures, and their senators can be expected to lead the opposition to Hegal.

But who cares what they think?

As for the neocons and chickenhawks lining up against Hagel, their credibility on matters of national security and foreign policy is not yet rescued, unless you believe their treatment of Susan Rice is fair and just.

The GOP and its collaborators are slime, and now is a fine opportunity for Chuck Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran, to tell it like it is: The GOP is a disgrace and the American people deserve better.

I think it's likely John McCain will do the right thing in this one instance, but again who cares?

Hagel should educate the American people on who and what the rightwing are.

Dec 25, 2011

Secret Fracture between Tommy Thompson and Scott Walker Shows Moderate-Extremist Split in GOP

Scott Walker
Ruth Conniff has an important story in the Huffington Post [and The Progressive] that is easy to miss during the holidays.

Scott Walker's corrupt and no-compromise approach to ruling (and not governing in a representative democracy) has Republicans from the Tommy Thompson days disgusted with Walker.

When Thompson was governor, he was known to take offense if anyone questioned his commitment to public schools and support for the UW System. But Walker is a different type of Republican: Slash-and-burn, violate civil rights; and so corrupt, Tommy Thompson appears a William Proxmire by comparison.

Paul Fanlund writes in the Capital Times: "The recall is not about public employees nor is it about politics as usual. It is about Walker's toxic brand of political fundamentalism -- heartless and historically unprecedented -- that should repel fair-minded, mainstream voters everywhere."

Yep.

Even Walker knows the gig is up, as he hits the holiday air waves with his wife talking about "peace" in a new awkwardly acted spot.

Writes Kirsten Boyd Johnson: "The most comical part is that this is the best that Scott Walker can do even though he has been outspending his recall organizer opponents four to one in the contest so far."

An excerpt from Conniff's piece:

As the political crisis was brewing in Wisconsin last winter, Governor Scott Walker rebuffed former governor Tommy Thompson's advice to reach a compromise with public employee unions, according to a state senator as well as a friend of Thompson's who was involved in the political drama at the time.

"Tommy was beside himself that Walker was so dogmatic,' says the friend. 'We had lots of conversations about this--about how it was going to do nothing but cause chaos, and it was bad for the state. Businesses aren't going to move here in the middle of all this conflict."

Thompson, along with other moderate Republicans, reached out to Walker, the friend says, and urged him to sit down with union leaders and seek a compromise before Walker pushed through a law curtailing public employees' collective bargaining rights -- the issue that sparked mass protests and the state's first ever recall campaign against a governor.

"After a certain point, Walker quit taking Tommy's phone calls," the friend says. "I think Tommy was giving him advice he didn't want to hear."

Democratic State Senator Bob Jauch says that during the crisis, after he and 13 other state Democrats had fled the state to stall a vote on the collective bargaining issue, he spoke with former officials in Tommy Thompson's administration who said Thompson was trying to persuade Walker to reach a deal. "I heard it from three different people who talked to him," says Jauch.

Jauch also describes a recent meeting with Thompson at a memorial service for the president of the Wisconsin Capitol Correspondents Association, Dick Wheeler:

"I said, 'Tommy, you and I could have solved this whole thing over a cup of coffee.'" Jauch says. "Tommy put his hands on my shoulders and said, 'Bob, it would have been a pot of coffee, but absolutely we could have solved it.' "
---
See Conniff's entire piece.

Nov 9, 2011

Voters Repeal Ohio Collective Bargaining Law in Message to Scott Walker and Koch Brothers

Koch-Backed Anti-Worker Bill Resoundingly Defeated by Voters in Ohio in vote estimated at 63%-37%

Obama Administration and Allies Congratulate Voters for Overturning John Kasich's SB 5

The President congratulates the people of Ohio for standing up for workers and defeating efforts to strip away collective bargaining rights, and commends the teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers and other workers who took a stand to defend those rights.
- from the White House

Across the nation, Americans are good and fed up. Fed up with politicians whose assault on public employees is sold as a boon to the economy. Fed up with political bosses trying to rig elections. Fed up with dirty tricks and nasty ads. Fed up with all of it. From the historic uprising in Madison, Wisconsin, to the Occupy movement that has swept the country, people power is becoming the coin of the realm.

And last night in Ohio, that coin proved more valuable than the checkbooks of moneyed interests on either side of the divide.

By Adele M. Stan

When right-wing politicians in the state legislature, backed by the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers and assorted corporate interests, passed one law that revoked virtually all collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers, and another that rolls back the state's voting rights, citizens got busy collecting signatures to put those laws to the test of the ballot box. On Tuesday night, the people defeated the anti-worker law, Senate Bill 5, by a resounding 61 percent majority. The voting rights referendum will come up on next year, on the same ballot as the presidential election.

In Ohio, Republicans and right-wing groups pulled out all the stops to keep voters from having their say on the anti-worker law signed earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich. But despite the arsenal of dirty tricks arrayed against supporters of collective bargaining for public employees, voters resoundingly defeated the power grab, called Issue 2 on the referendum ballot, by Kasich and his Koch-backed allies in the legislature.

Early voting was shut down by fiat on Friday, even though early voting traditionally runs through Sunday. Robo-calls by an Iowa-based Republican group targeted Ohio Democrats announcing the wrong day for the vote. Racially-charged flyers were distributed by a Virginia group led by Dick Cheney's daughter, Liz. And an organization funded in part by billionaire David Koch's Americans For Prosperity even ran ads with deceptively-edited video of a pro-labor advocate designed to make it look like she supported Ohio's Senate Bill 5, the law that would have virtually ended collective bargaining for public employees. But none of it worked.

An hour after the polls closed, the Associated Press called the election for the bill's opponents.

In the Columbus Dispatch, it was reported this way, under the headline, "Issue 2 Fails":
Senate Bill 5 is dead. The Republican-backed limits on collective bargaining for 360,000 public employees in Ohio were squashed by voters through a resounding defeat of Issue 2.
Anti-Labor Forces Taken Aback; Strong-Arm Tactics and Dirty Tricks Marked Campaign

As AlterNet's Sarah Jaffe reported in August, Kasich, feeling a backlash coming after he signed the bill, made a show attempt at a "compromise" with labor leaders, who were having none of it. Instead, they set about gathering signatures to but the anti-worker bill up for referendum, and succeeded in gathering five times more than the 231,149 required to put the bill before the people in Tuesday's vote. The gamble paid off.

But even as polls showed wide public support for repealing S.B. 5, labor leaders and allies of public employees voiced their optimism in cautious terms, especially as anti-labor forces poured millions into the fight, and showed themselves willing to use underhanded tactics. (Organized labor also poured millions into the campaign.)

To counter the efforts of We Are Ohio, a coalition of labor and progressive groups, the right concocted a group ironically named Building a Better Ohio, which, like We Are Ohio, is estimated to have spent $20 million in the effort to ratify the Senate bill via the Issue 2 referendum. Among the donations disclosed by BBO is the Ohio chapter of Americans For Prosperity, the astroturf group founded by David Koch specifically as a right-wing "ground army" designed to counter the formidable quantity of shoe-leather marshaled by labor unions. (BBO, like other non-profits, is not required by law to disclose its donors, so the list it issued may well be incomplete.)

Americans For Prosperity, acting on its own behalf, also conducted "town hall meetings" designed to rally support for Issue 2. The draft legislation on which the Ohio bill was based apparently came from the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). (As AlterNet's Joshua Holland reported, ALEC was also behind the anti-worker law that fomented the Wisconsin uprising earlier this year.)

Putting Words in Great-Grandma's Mouth

BBO made headlines last month when it launched a campaign ad in favor of the anti-worker bill that featured footage lifted from an ad by the pro-labor We Are Ohio -- footage of 78-year-old Marlene Quinn, who advocated the overturning of S.B. 5, citing her appreciation for the firefighters who saved her great-granddaughter from a house fire. (Under S.B. 5, those firefighters would have lost the right to collectively bargain over conditions critical to the work they do.) BBO put footage of Quinn, selectively edited, in their own ad, coupled with a narration that made it appear that Quinn endorsed the anti-labor law -- and that the law was somehow good for firefighters. (You can view the two groups' ads in succession in this one-minute video by We Are Ohio.)

Kasich said he saw nothing wrong with what BBO did with the footage of Quinn, who demanded an apology that never came. We Are Ohio successfully campaigned Ohio television stations to drop the ad.

Shutting Down Early Voting

Just three months after the Ohio legislature passed the anti-worker S.B. 5, it took up an elections measure designed, according to Democrats, to suppress the votes of minorities and other constituencies that lean Democratic. Among its provisions is a curtailed schedule for early voting. Here's how the Columbus Dispatch described the measure, known as House Bill 194:
House Bill 194 cuts early voting from 35 days before the election to 21 by mail and 17 in person. It also limits in-person voting before the election by barring it on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and the three days before the election. But with the bill now held in abeyance and the current law still in force, county election boards are gearing up for the start of early voting on Tuesday.
Early voting on weekends draws significant numbers of African American and Latino voters. The bill passed, but a petition launched by citizens gathered enough signatures to place H.B. 194 up for referendum on next November's ballot, meaning that the law is on hold for now.

So what's a vexed Republican to do? Ohio Secretary of State John Husted decided to simply shut down early voting before its final weekend, using another law, H.B. 224, to do the deed. According to The Nation's John Nichols, H.B. 224 was written for the handling of ballots by members of the military, and not those of the general public. In Toledo, voters protested the closing of their early-voting center with a rally and demonstration.

Playing the Race Card

When pro-labor forces began gathering signatures for a referendum on the anti-worker S.B. 5, right-wing forces, led by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, decided to gin up their base by getting a measure on the ballot denouncing the health-care reform bill passed last year by Congress. It appeared on the ballot under the title, Issue 3. Because the health-care law is so identified with President Barack Obama, this enabled the right to create a campaign on both ballot measures based on anti-Obama sentiment.

This week, anti-Obama flyers appeared in Ohio mailboxes that featured photos of an angry-looking Obama, and a group of noble-looking white people led by a man with his arms crossed over his chest. "Yes on Issue 2 is our chance to do things OUR way," reads the tag line.

Breaking the story of the flyers, Politico's Ben Smith wrote:
The contrast -- between the shadowed president and the bright white citizens -- is hard to miss, and the details of the proposal are buried by the clear anti-Obama message.
The flyers were mailed by the Republican group, Alliance for America's Future, which is based in Virgina, and led by Liz Cheney. Smith describes the group as "a sort of all-purpose GOP 527 that's been used to keep campaigns at arm's length from their media product." ("527" refers to the IRS classification of this type of non-profit group.)

Robo-calling Dems, Giving Wrong Date for Election

On the morning of election day, an Ohio-based staffer for the Service Employees International Union received an automated, pre-recorded telephone call telling her to vote "tomorrow" -- the day after the election -- according to the Huffington Post. The call was especially odd, according to election experts, because the staffer was a registered Democrat and the call carried a message targeting Republicans, telling them to vote for the ballot measure that would ratify S.B. 5.

But the Republican-targeted message may well have simply been cover for sowing confusion among Democrats about the date of the election. The calls were sponsored by the American Future Fund, a Republican organization led by a state senator in Iowa.

Anthony Caldwell, spokesperson for SEIU Local 1199, told the Huffington Post:
For a group that has coordinated a $1 million mail campaign, I find it highly unlikely they would make a simple clerical error and send out a robocall to non-supporters telling them to vote the day after Election Day.
It Takes More Than Money

If what happened in Ohio on Tuesday proves anything, it shows that once the people have really had it with bought-off politicians who vote against the interests of the people they were elected to represent, no amount of money can defeat the will of the people.

Mar 17, 2011

Hopper GAB Voting Address in Fond du Lac Raises More Questions

Update III: See also the Capital Times (Jessica Vanegeren) report that the alleged Fond du Lac apartment at which Hopper's office claims he is residing is a "$600,000 home owned by a high-ranking employee of Hopper’s media company, Mountain Dog Media."

Update II: A phone call to ask about Sen. Hopper's voting IDs, residency and voting fact base made to Hopper's legislative office [(608) 266-5300] this morning at 8:11 was directed to the phone voice mailbox. Hopper continues to make himself unavailable; not sure what 'threat' a phone conversation would pose.

Update: WISC TV reported yesterday a complaint has been filed with the attorney general's office claiming state Sen. Randy Hopper hasn't been living in his district. Even if Hopper has been living at a Fond du Lac apartment vis a vis a Madison apartment, Hopper still is not living at his listed voting residence, according to the GAB voting database and Hopper's own office.

The GAB voting database as of this morning still lists State Sen. Randy Hopper's (R-Fond du Lac) voting address as: W5192 RIENZI RD:

Search Criteria Data are:
Last Name First Name Birthday
Hopper,       Randal          01/23/1966

Does this not constitute voting fraud? Voting from a place where you no longer reside?

Hopper's office says he's living in an apartment in Fond du Lac.

This raises the question: For how long has he lived there? Why isn't he registered with the GAB at his Fond du Lac apartment, address undisclosed.

Maybe it's those 'security concerns' his office has relayed to the media. Seems a sham though, a way to avoid facing the people he is supposed to be representing.

The filing date on the divorce indicated in Hopper's legal filings [Fond du Lac County Case Number 2010FA000374] reads "08-18-2010."

I'm guessing Hopper was not living in the W5192 RIENZI Road house in October and November, 10 days before the November 2010 election day.

But the GAB says he was legally a resident at this W5192 RIENZI Road house?

Former GOP tool, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2001-08), was all too happy to file voting fraud charges even when as Dan Bice points out, there was no intent to break the law. See Bice, April 12, 2007 (MJS).

Why is not Hopper facing an investigation? Is he not part of the alleged massive voting fraud from which the GOP says they must protect us by restricting voting access for Wisconsin citizens?

As the Republican Party pursues the most stringent voter ID bill in the nation, and seeks to end same day registration, I believe it's fair to ask if Hopper's voting IDs, residency and voting fact base would bear up under the absurd anti-democratic, exclusive requirements sought by the GOP.

Maybe the GOP will write in an exception in the voter obstruction legislation for cheating GOP legislators having affairs in Madison with 25-year-old ex-GOP operatives.

Seems a lame excuse for voting from the wrong address, though.

WTMJ (Milwaukee) reported March 14:

TODAY'S TMJ4 received a letter from a woman claiming to be Randy Hopper's wife, Alysia Hopper. The letter arrived in a letterhead envelope from Alysia Hopper's business. The letter claims Randy Hopper, 'started an affair in January 2010 with a then 25 year old Republican aide.' It claims 'Randy moved out' and 'now lives mostly in Madison.'
Living either in Madison with his girlfriend or in Fond du Lac in the undisclosed apartment, Hopper is not residing at the RIENZI Road house listed this morning in the GAB database.

Personally, if Hopper did cast a vote from the wrong address, I believe there was not intent to commit fraud, just a mistake made in a difficult situation.

But with the GOP targeting Democratic-leaning voters now in the proposed voter fraud witchhunt, why don't the proposed rules apply to Republicans? Just wondering.

Feb 26, 2011

There's something happening here ...

Millwright among crowd on the square
Madison, WisconsinThe rally to protect working Wisconsin families surged to an estimated 100,000 people as the coalition opposing Gov. Scott Walker and his budget bill appears to have broadened into a movement that has the governor desperate and Republican legislators on the defensive.



One characteristic of the crowd and those from the preceding days is the relatively apolitical and casual attitude toward politics that those interviewed demonstrated.

One woman, interviewed as she warmed-up in a bus shelter on State Street near the Capitol square, drove down from Rhinelander and is typical of  rally attendees from small Wisconsin cities, towns, and villages.

"No, I'm not real political. But Walker is hurting a lot of people and I had to do something."


Looking down East Washington Ave from the Capitol
Make no mistake, this is a highly charged political battle and professional political operatives in Wisconsin are uniting to defeat a governor they view as having created a critical mass of opposition that will see his recall in 2012.

For Walker's part, the Walker-Koch tapes (audio and text) alone may have damaged the good faith and confidence of mainstream Wisconsin citizens.

Feb 25, 2011

Massive Madison Rally Saturday for Working Families

- Live video coverage of rally -

Update: The Walker-Koch tapes (audio and text), and Citizen's Criminal Complaint Against Gov. Scott Walker


There is a constant presence at the Capital, inside and out. Crowds could swell to over 100,000 people.

Labor tents are sprawled around the capital square.

Would-be attendees can come at any time during day and night.

Some highlights and happenings

10:30 am  Protest at Koch Bros. Lobby Office; 10 East Doty St.
11:00 am SEIU meet-up at the UW-Madison Memorial Union.
11:00 LGBTQA Rally and march in support of Wisconsin families
12:00 pm TAA Teach-in: The Politics of the Wisconsin Labor Struggle
1:00 pm NAACP Rally at the State Capitol-Hilton Morona Terrace Hotel
1:00 pm Concert at the Capitol – performances by Tom Morello, Bascom Hill, Michael O'Brien, UW Alumni Band, Sam Frederic, Peter Yarrow
1:30 pm SEIU march from the Inn on the Park on the Square (22 S Carroll Street in Madison) to the rally
3:00 pm Rally to Save The American Way – Master of Ceremonies Brad Whitford

Some Rally Info and News Resources

Feb 23, 2011

Scott Walker Is Attacking the Livelihood of Wisconsin Families

It is God-awful bad.

Now is the time for every elected federal, state, county and municipal official to get out in the street.

We have a governor who can blithely tell the state in prime time that he has no compunction about firing workers, destroying the very livelihood of Wisconsin families for his own political ends that he believes "eventually" will become the consensus, as he tells George Will [who can't help but take gratuitous shots at the civil rights and peace movement in Madison].

In the mean time, families will just have to do without their jobs, as Walker and GOP legislative aides from Sen. Randy Hopper's office (R-Fond du Lac) smirk at callers.

This 'budget repair" bill is so loaded with weapons against Wisconsin families; it's difficult to address all the harm. Women, seniors, minorities, workers, anyone who is not a demonstrated Republican or Tea Partier is in some peril.

Here's one huge problem: Walker's threat to begin lay-offs next week if he does not get his way is a direct attack on families

Never has a Wisconsin governor so explicitly demonstrated genuine malice towards the people whom he is supposed to serve.

The sense of entitlement that Walker displays: Now that he is governor he can act in any manner he chooses reveals the mind-set that Norman Cousins described as the "pathology of power."

Walker is King George W. cubed at the height of his delusions from which we are still recovering.

It's crisis time alright; we have a maddened tyrant wreaking havoc onto our families.

People have fought and literally died for the rights such as collective bargaining that we take for granted today, or at least we did until Scott Walker assumed office.

As the great labor historians, Sidney Lens and Howard Zinn, remind us in their work, labor rights were won with blood, cracked skulls and destroyed families.

A recall will happen next year for Walker; and now is the time for militant action and civil disobedience.

This fool, and that is what Scott Walker is, has no conception of what he is doing.

Local Officials Fight Back as Nation Joins the Battle

Update: Scott Walker admits objective on collective bargaining: Weakening unions

- Live Coverage from Madison and AFLCIO Coverage and Not My Wisconsin -

"Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and more than 160 local officials from La Crosse to Milwaukee on Tuesday sent a letter to the governor and Legislature arguing that severe restrictions on collective bargaining undercut local control and the ability to deliver cost-effective, quality services," reports Dean Mosiman.

Democratic state senators say they are not giving up on Wisconsin families. They demand Walker halts the anti-collective bargaining vote until Gov. Walker says he'll negotiate.

Supporters are still coming to Madison from across the United States to what Rev. Jesse Jackson calls the "epicenter of the battle for America's democracy, and it is as American as Lexington, Concord, Gettysburg, Montgomery and Selma."

As Walker stays on target on Wisconsin families, it's worth noting that Finance, Insurance and Real Estate is the number one sector which contributed to Walker's campaign, according to the site, Follow the Money.

Jack E. Lohman has a new piece out. Writes Lohman:

Like, how about giving the governor the authority to sell off state assets (power plants), without bids, at any price they choose, even for pennies on the dollar, to private interests, even to those that fund Walker’s campaign???

As in Senate Bill 11: ...

So a no-bid contract to sell off the state power plants to the (4th highest Walker contributor) oil-tycoon Koch Brothers (see also here) will very likely occur, and consumer energy rates and corporate product prices will increase.

There is no other reasonable scenario. The taxpayers have no say in it, and the unions don’t yet realize that this isn’t an issue about worker rights.

Remember when Walker also wanted to sell off the Milwaukee airport when he was county executive.

Feb 22, 2011

Fireside Crap

Madison, Wisconsin—Gov. Scott Walker's chat with Wisconsin last night has all the sincerity of the AIG derivatives executive's 2008 assurance to investors that their money is safely and productively at work months before the economic catastrophe hit.

But Walker goes in for reverse-Enron accounting, claiming a deficit crisis when no such crisis exists.

Unfortunately for Walker, that pesky non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has debunked the budget crisis notion, as State Rep, Mark Pocan (D-Madison) points out, a fact Walker refuses to address.

Worse, Walker claims he will be forced to lay off workers if he doesn't get his way on the budget; saying he doesn't want to lay people off, even as he refuses to negotciate.

Here is a partial list of highlights and significant omissions from Walker's chat:

  • No mention of the corporate give-aways and their clear relevancy to the budget, or his promises to the super-wealthy
  • Claimed appreciation for working families whose members he is threatening to lay off
  • Using the passive voice to absolve himself of responsibility for laying off workers and devastating families; it's an old politician's trick in the tradition of 'mistakes were made,' Walker said, "If there is no agreement by July 1st, another 5-6 thousand state workers -- as well as 5-6 thousand local government employees would be also laid off," in addition to those workers Walker promises to axe next week if Walker does not get his way on ending collective bargaining, animated by what Walker assures us "isn't a battle with unions," or he would" have gone after the private-sector unions," the Wagner Act notwithstanding in Walker's most bizarre statement of the evening
  • Continued lying about the "budget deficit" as though Walker has no choice but to accept the 6.2 percent increase in state agencies that the LFB says would lead to a short-fall in the vanishingly unlikely event that the legislature adopts the estimate as a budget
  • No mention of the fact that all of Wisconsin's school districts, counties, and municipalities have never asked of Walker to implement his scheme to forbid collective bargaining, and in fact are requesting that he not end collective bargaining (Mosiman). Walker's proposed end to collective bargaining "goes far beyond what we asked for. We were not expecting to abolish the collective bargaining process altogether," said Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. [See also Tarr.]
  • Implying that "millions of taxpayers from across the state" do not include those working families who disagree with Walker
  • Deriding workers demonstrating solidarity as an ominous occurrence as "more and more protesters come in from Nevada, Chicago and elsewhere" overwhelming the voices of the millions of taxpayers from across the state, save public workers who do not pay taxes apparently in Walker world
  • Calling for pension contributions increases without mentioning the unions' offer to do just that as Wisconsin's pension fund remains among the nation's healthiest (Carter)
  • Refusing to mention that public unions have made good-faith offers on pensions, health care, salaries; and that Walker refuses to negotiate
Many more lies are found in the brief address.

The rest is typical divide-and-conquer rhetoric, pitting the unemployed against the employed, the pubic versus the private sector, and demonizing Democratic state senators who are fighting for collective bargain for Wisconsin families.

"Do the job you were elected to do," Walker said. "You don't have to like the outcome, or even vote yes, but as part of the world's greatest democracy, you should be here, in Madison, at the Capitol."

Yes, but aren't Democratic state senators protecting Wisconsin families? Walker refuses to engage the question.

This is not a governor. This is a ruler who is willing to terrorize Wisconsin working families for his petty pursuit of power and narrow ideology. And Walker thinks he is untouchable.

To conclude on a positive note when Walker looks at the camera and lies, he presents a visage more appealing than Richard Nixon's, though a viewer is left with the impression of a well-concealed smirk of someone who just got away with cheating on an exam.

This will change. Walker is desperate as polls show most Americans and an increasing number of GOP governors reject the idea of demonizing public workers and outlawing collective bargaining.

As Alex Pareene writes in Salon of Walker's chat, "It was not a particularly inspiring or convincing performance, and I imagine a lot of Wisconsinites are still suffering from buyer's remorse tonight."

No doubt, but Walker has revitalized the progressive movement in Wisconsin to a degree that this writer has never seen. The world is watching and outside of Appalachia and the Old South, the world stands with Wisconsin workers.

Walker: No Collective Bargaining or Lose Your Job

Forward!
Update II: Live Coverage from Madison-

Update: See Robert Reich: "America is the richest nation in the world, and “we’ve” never been richer. There’s no reason for us to turn on our teachers, our unionized workers, our poor and needy, and our elderly." And ThinkProgress' The Truth Behind The Anti-Union Assault; and Paul Krugman:

Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.
Gov. Walker is threatening 1,000s of Wisconsin families. Lose your rights or lose your job.

This is not governing; this is terrorism of Wisconsin families.

See Walker warns state workers layoff notices could come next week if bill isn't passed (Bauer)

Apr 26, 2010

ACLU Hits Back at Arizona's 'Your Papers!' Law

Update: AP: Arizona's new immigration law is unconstitutional

A civil liberties fight looms on Arizona's new look-like-an-immigrant law on Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment grounds, as the political consequences of the newly signed statute look to dampen the GOP's appeal to America's largest-growing ethnic group.

The Obama adminstration stated last Friday it will "examine the civil rights ... implications of this legislation."

From the ACLU:

Arizona Immigration Law Threatens Civil Rights And Public Safety, Says ACLU

PHOENIX – Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today signed into law Arizona's discriminatory immigration enforcement bill which requires law enforcement to question individuals about their immigration status during everyday police encounters. The law creates new immigration crimes and penalties inconsistent with those in federal law, asserts sweeping authority to detain and transport persons suspected of violating civil immigration laws and prohibits speech and other expressive activity by persons seeking work. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona strongly condemn the governor's decision to sign the unconstitutional law and are dismayed by her disregard for the serious damage it could cause to civil liberties and public safety in the state.

"Governor Brewer and the Arizona legislature have set Arizona apart in their willingness to sacrifice our liberties and the economy of this state," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "By signing this bill into law, Brewer has just authorized violating the rights of millions of people living and working here. She has just given every police agency in Arizona a mandate to harass anyone who looks or sounds foreign, while doing nothing to address the real problems we're facing."

The new law, which will not go into effect for more than 90 days, requires police agencies across Arizona to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have "reasonable suspicion" to believe is in the country unlawfully. To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their "papers" at all times. The law also makes it a state crime for immigrants to willfully fail to register with the Department of Homeland Security and carry registration documents. It further curtails the free speech rights of day laborers and encourages unchecked information sharing between government agencies.

"Forcing local police to demand people's papers and arrest those who can't immediately prove their status will do nothing to make us safer," said Dan Pochoda, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "What it will do is divert scarce police resources to address false threats and force officers to prioritize immigration enforcement over all other public safety responsibilities. It is a dark day for Arizona when the goalof appeasing one state Senator, Russell Pearce, takes priority over fundamental rights and economic needs of residents."

Before the governor signed the bill, President Obama criticized it harshly, calling it "misguided" and saying that it threatens to "undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans." Obama promised to "closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation."

The president's statement is consistent with his longstanding opposition to anti-immigrant laws that attempt to bypass the federal government. As a senator, he lauded the 2007 legal ruling blocking the anti-immigrant law in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, calling the law "unconstitutional and unworkable."

Despite the president's statements, his administration has not taken strong action against state and local anti-immigrant laws, paving the way for extreme laws like the one signed today. Currently, the administration has a prime opportunity to take a stand on the issue, because the solicitor general will soon file a brief explaining the administration's position on Arizona's unconstitutional employer sanctions law, passed in 2007, which creates a state-level immigrant employment verification and sanctions regime.

"Actions speak louder than words," said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "As the federal government sits on its hands, Arizona's anti-immigrant brushfireshave turned into a firestorm. We call on the administration to file a brief categorically opposing Arizona's employer sanctions law to demonstrate its commitment to stopping anti-immigrant laws that interfere with federal authority, wreak havoc on businesses and cause discrimination against Latinos."

Additional materials on the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" signed by Governor Brewer today, including the ACLU of Arizona's analysis and written testimonies against the law, are available at: www.acluaz.org/legislature.html

The ACLU's cert petition in the Arizona employer sanctions case, Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America et al. v. Candelaria et al., is available at: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/chamber-commerce-united-states-et-al-v-candelaria-petition-certiorari

Sep 12, 2009

GOP Goes Bat-Crazy, Enjoy It

Update: See Media Matters - Fox News openly advocates against Democratic Congress, White House and watch Beck's Witch Hunt: The New McCarthyism.

Democratic strategists are enthralled by the 9-12 project, Rep Joe Wilson (R-SC), deathers, birthers and the GOP as the hatred of our black president becomes apparent, branding not President Obama but rather the Republican Party.

The last time the GOP went this crazy, actually impeaching a president after the GOP was trashed in the November 1998 election, President Bill Clinton’s approval ratings spiked upward. Look for more of the same.

Democratic strategists, if they were inclined, do not need to craft a straw man.

The GOP is building its own: Themselves, and apparently are not aware of this development as they scream how much they love America and want America back from the black man who took it a short eight months ago.

Rush, Glenn Beck and company are offending not only the fastest-growing demographics of our electorate, but also are turning off independents and firing up Obama’s progressive base.

And make no mistake. Beck, Rush and Fox are mainstream Republicans.

A Madison business owner with whom I often talk politics — an activist Republican and respectful, old-school politico — assures me that the 9-12 movement is mainstream in the GOP.

Even as President Obama delivers a message of inclusion, service and respect as we honor 9/11 this weekend, the GOP and the tea-bag types are drinking deep of McCarthyite hate. Reports David Paine in the Huffington Post:

This past August, a few months after the 9/11 community finally secured passage of bipartisan legislation that established 9/11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance, a writer for the American Spectator published an article entitled ‘Obama's Plan to Desecrate 9/11.’

The opening sentence read this way:

‘The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.’


Add to this bizarre but typical reprise of McCarthyism an even stranger development: The old-time segregationist religion is being openly revived with such enthusiasm that one wonders if the GOP knows that the 1950s-60s civil rights movement actually occurred.

The ignominious gloom of Ronald Reagan who championed foes of the civil rights movement by kicking off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi — the site of the 1964 murder of civil rights workers Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney (depicted above)— by calling for "states rights" and other anti-civil rights initiatives is casting its fetid vapor today.

As Ed Kilgore writes in Tim Pawlenty Climbs Aboard the Crazy Train:


The ‘state sovereignty movement’ is not, it's important to understand, just a group of people who think the federal government has too much power. Its central feature is the crackpot nineteenth century theory, revived most recently to resist civil rights legislation, that states have the inherent right to nullify federal legislation and court rulings that fall outside the enumerated constitutional powers of the federal government. And Pawlenty knows its extremist provenance: that's why he identified himself with Rick Perry, who's flirted both with nullification and with secession as part of his high-minded contributions to the ‘state sovereignty movement.’
Most Americans find open displays of racial hate and McCarthyite lies genuinely disturbing and indecent.

But we can watch and enjoy the GOP digging its political grave in one of the most outlandish moments of modern American political history.

Aug 10, 2009

Kutler on Nixon

Readers will enjoy the column of Madison's Stanley Kutler, E. Gordon Fox Emeritus Professor of U.S. Institutions, University of Wisconsin-Madison, on the anniversary of the Nixon resignation.

Kutler is a true historian, and a recognized expert on the Nixon administration, a fetid stain on our country, second only to the administration of George W. Bush.

Jun 12, 2009

Rational Budget Talk from Jonathan Chait

Jonathan Chait injects some reality into the national budget debate—applicable to the Wisconsin budget debate.

Chait, one should note, famously wrote of the early Bush-Cheney budgetary statements: "He's [Bush] lying," and that deficits and mounting debt were sure to follow. Chait was right. And he's right again.

From The New Republic:

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column pointing out how strange it is that President Obama is being blamed for huge budget deficits, when the projected deficits we face are entirely due to policies he inherited. In my column, I cited this paper by the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, which found that Obama's budget would reduce the budget by $900 billion over ten years compared with keeping current policies in place.

Yesterday David Leonhardt of the New York Times took up a similar question. Leonhardt looked at the budget from 2009 through 2012, and tried to figure out what had changed in those years since 2001. He found that the business cycle accounted for 37% of the higher red ink. More than half came from legislation signed by President Bush. Seven percent came from Obama's stimulus bill, and only three percent from his regular budget.

It was an admirable and serious article. A good sense of how serious can be seen in the contrast to a Politico story that ran the same day. Politico concerned itself entirely with the perception that Obama is responsible for the new debt without bothering to explore the merits of the perception. It ran quotes alleging as much (GOP Sen. John Cornyn: 'This was not an inherited situation. This was a matter entirely of this administration’s and this Democratic leadership’s making') without pointing out that the allegation is demonstrably false.

This debate such as it is sounds familiar in Wisconsin political circles with the same malarkey emitting from the GOP and its shills.

Apr 10, 2009

You Can't Handle the Truth

Secrecy is not playing well, nor should it. Check out the Tech Ticker video, especially the last 20 seconds.

Also from Tech Ticker:

A New York Times story, citing officials involved in the government's stress test, which declares 'all 19 banks undergoing the exams will pass them. '

This point ... is a continuation of what many believe is a hoax (or outright crime) being perpetrated on the American people by its government.
How do we know? One thing is certain: Trust is not an option.