Published: Thursday 20 September 2012
In today’s United States we can ask, if the battered labor movement were not still a progressive force, then why is it so important to Scott Walker and the rest of the 1 percent to destroy the unions?

 

“Why do working class people vote against their own interests?” I’ve heard that question dozens of times from middle class activists trying to navigate the mysteries of social class and politics. I’ve heard it so many times — often more as a complaint than as an honest question — that I’m tempted to retort, “Why do middle class people vote against their own interests?”

After all, the Republican-leaning middle class has been hammered by Republican policies for quite some time. Just to remind us: Corporations are subsidized to export middle class jobs, as well as working class jobs, and consultants from Bain Capital can tell you how. Then there is Republican tax policy, by which the super-rich gain a larger share of the national income at the expense of the middle class. Still, a large part of the middle class votes Republican.

But this column is about working class politics. Let’s start, therefore, by distinguishing between “politics” and “elections.” For at least two big reasons, elections don’t teach us much about the political wants of workers.

In the first place, working class people tend to be deeply cynical about electoral politics. Most believe that the major parties can’t be trusted because of the 1 percent’s control. So a large percentage of working class people don’t bother to vote.

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Published: Saturday 15 September 2012
Published: Friday 10 August 2012
“Why was Heartland - a 'free-market' think tank most well-known for its role in peddling climate change denial - so invested in supporting Walker in the recall election?”

 

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will keynote the Heartland Institute's 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner this evening at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL

Walker recently won the Kochtopus-funded Americans for Prosperity George Washington Award. Now, two months after his recall election steamrolling of Democrat Tom Barrett, the climate change denying group famous for its Unabomber billboard will embrace Walker with much fanfare

Heartland, whose internal documents were published this past spring by DeSmogBlog, sings praises for Walker's union-busting agenda and his recent recall victory in promoting the event

This year’s keynote speaker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is the nation’s most influential and successful governor. Elected in 2010 ...

Published: Monday 6 August 2012
“Police are combing the nearby woods to see if any more suspects were hiding there, after some witnesses told them there was more than one shooter.”

At least seven people were killed and three critically injured during morning services Sunday by at least one gunman at the Oak Creek Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., near Milwaukee, in what law officials are investigating as an incidence of “domestic terrorism.”

 


None of the seven deceased nor those injured have yet been identified, but law officials said that one of the injured was a policeman who exchanged fire with the gunman. The injured are being treated at a Milwaukee hospital.


A witness at the scene told local reporters that temple president Satwant Singh Kaleka has been shot as he was trying to tackle the gunman. Other unconfirmed reports say that the temple priest also may have been among those shot. 


Police are combing the nearby woods to see if any more suspects were hiding there, after some witnesses told them there was more than one shooter. Police evacuated the temple shortly after they arrived on the scene. Reports say several women were preparing food for the worshippers in the temple’s kitchen.


According to one news report, the shooter was a tall, white, heavily built male, with a “9/11” tattoo on his arm. He was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt. Police found two handguns inside the temple. 


An officer who responded to the scene exchanged fire with the suspected gunman in the parking lot. The veteran officer was shot multiple times. Another officers shot the gunman.


Women and children were gathering for a meal before an 11:30 a.m. service when the shooting occurred. There are about 500 members of congregation attending, said officials.


The FBI is working with local police on the investigation.


Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker immediately issued a statement: “While the situation in Oak Creek continues to develop rapidly, we are working with the FBI and local law enforcement. Our hearts go out ...

Published: Sunday 1 July 2012
Bauerlein and Kroll discuss the role of attorney James Bopp, a key legal advisor behind the Citizens United decision; how Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and others are quietly bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign; and why President Obama has opted to accept unlimited super PAC donations.

 In our extended conversation with Monika Bauerlein and Andy Kroll of Mother Jones magazine, we continue to look at "dark money" -- the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by outside groups who are helping to make the 2012 presidential race the most expensive race in history. Bauerlein and Kroll discuss the role of attorney James Bopp, a key legal advisor behind the Citizens United decision; how Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson and others are quietly bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign; and why President Obama has opted to accept unlimited super PAC donations. "What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United was say that when you are not giving your money in a campaign directly to the candidate's official campaign committee, then we cannot regulate you, because you are free to speak your mind -- and spending a ton of money is a form of speaking your mind," Bauerlein says.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: The special we’ll be doing Thursday morning as the Supreme Court hands down its decision on healthcare will be at 10:00 a.m. Eastern [Daylight] Time. We turn now to dark money, the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by outside groups who are helping to make the 2012 presidential race the most expensive race in history. ...

Published: Sunday 17 June 2012
Last week, President Obama was widely criticized for saying the private sector is “doing fine,” while Mitt Romney attacked public sector unions by calling for fewer teachers, firefighters and police officers.


As the presidential race heats up, the focus is increasingly on the nation's slow economic recovery. Last week, President Obama was widely criticized for saying the private sector is "doing fine," while Mitt Romney attacked public sector unions by calling for fewer teachers, firefighters and police officers. We talk to Ralph Nader about the 2012 election and the lessons of last week's victory by Scott Walker, governor of what Nader dubbed "WisKOCHsin." Nader also looks ahead at the Supreme Court's upcoming rules on healthcare and Arizona's anti-immigrant law.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined by Ralph Nader, longtime consumer advocate, ran for president three times. Ralph, I want to turn to the two recent comments made by President Obama and Mitt Romney that have become, well, the most famous comments so far of the campaign, and it’s around the economy. Speaking in Iowa Friday, Romney invoked the recent election in Wisconsin to criticize Obama for pushing a measure to help states regain public sector jobs.

Published: Wednesday 13 June 2012
“Only if young people are reminded that the large response that sprang up in Wisconsin and Occupy last year is really there waiting for their talent, will they learn the craft that can actually make a difference: the nonviolent direct action campaigns driven by people power.”

Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett reminded us in his 2006 interview withThe New York Times, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” This year, the Koch Brothers and others decided that Wisconsin should be one of the battleground states for escalating the class struggle. They planned to decimate the largest and most organized force for economic justice, the labor unions, especially the public employee unions.

In 2010, the 1 percenters won the first round of their planned escalation, which was to send Scott Walker to the governor’s mansion. It was a comfortable win for them because the contest was in one of their favorite arenas, the Electoral Game.

The 1 percent probably didn’t expect hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites to fight back in 2011. The people refused to cooperate and turned to a different arena, the People-Power Game. In a harbinger of the Occupy movement, they occupied the state’s Capitol and drove their legislative allies to leave the state to prevent Governor Walker from implementing his union-busting plan. The 1 percent had no reason to expect mass direct action because, after all, labor leadership seemed firmly in the pocket of the Democratic Party, the other party controlled by the 1 percent and ...

Published: Tuesday 12 June 2012
“Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 million, four times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.”

 

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker kept his job, but with a high price tag. In a state of only six million people, $60 million was poured into the race, $50 million of which went to Governor Walker. And almost half of that was spent by outside groups -- most of them not based in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was not an isolated event. Since 2010, Super PACs and corporations have spent record amounts of money in elections nationwide. Corporate spending soared during the 2010 election cycle to over $290 millionfour times more than the previous mid-term elections in 2006.

Most of this spending would not have been possible without the Supreme Court's READ FULL POST 16 COMMENTS

Published: Monday 11 June 2012
“Walker is the first governor in American history to win a recall election.”

 

The revelers watched in stunned disbelief, cocktails in hand, dressed for a night to remember. On the big-screen TV a headline screamed in crimson red: "Projected Winner: Scott Walker." It was 8:49 p.m. In parts of Milwaukee, people learned that news networks had declared Wisconsin’s governor the winner while still in line to cast their votes. At the election night party for Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, supporters talked and cried and ordered more drinks. Barrett soon took the stage to concede, then waded into the crowd where a distraught woman slapped him in the face.

Walker is the first governor in American history to win a recall election. His lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, dispatched her recall challenger no less decisively. So, too, did three Republican state senators in their recall elections. Democrats avoided a GOP sweep with a win in the sixth and final senate recall vote of the season, in Wisconsin's southeastern 21st district, but that was small consolation. Put simply, Democrats and labor unions got rolled.

The results of Tuesday's elections are being heralded as the death of public-employee unions, if not the death of organized labor itself. Tuesday's results are also seen as the final chapter in the story of the populist uprising that burst into life last year in the state capital of Madison. The Cheddar Revolution, so the argument goes, was buried in a mountain of ballots.

But that burial ceremony may prove premature. Most of the conclusions of the last few days, left and right, are likely wrong.

The energy of the Wisconsin uprising was never electoral. The movement’s mistake: letting itself be channeled solely into traditional politics, into the usual box of uninspired candidates and the usual line-up of debates, ...

Published: Friday 8 June 2012
The electorate in Wisconsin, San Diego, and San Jose, Calif., that voted Tuesday against public employee unions were not expressing a rational response to the crisis, but rather a tantrum stoked by the lavishly financed demagogues of the right.

 

On, Wisconsin! Or so it was meant to be with a union-led recall in the home state of Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette Sr., the populist governor and senator who once shaped the cry for anti-corporate social justice in this nation. After La Follette there was the Wisconsinite William Proxmire, the great conscience of the U.S. Senate, followed by the equally impressive Russ Feingold, who, despite being exactly correct in warning of the consequences of unfettered banking greed, was turned out by Wisconsin voters in 2010. Perhaps if the original McCain-Feingold legislation—gutted by the Supreme Court—was still the law of the land on campaign finance, the Democrats and their union base would have survived Tuesday’s election.

Certainly that is the excuse provided by what remains of the liberal media, which point to the lopsided advantage in funding for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and to the high court’s Citizens United ruling in seeking reasons for this “billionaire’s victory” over “people power.” But the larger truth is that the spirit of populism has been perverted by the Republican tea party right and that Democrats are left defending government bureaucracy while remaining incapable of responding to America’s widespread economic pain.

At a time when so many are worried about obtaining or holding on to work, it’s difficult to rally around the guaranteed job security and high pensions of some privileged government employees. Not all public workers fit into this category, to be sure. But nonpublic workers who must struggle with the vagaries of private employment have seen more than enough examples of government employee unions, the last stronghold of organized labor, exercising their power to ensure what appears to be outsized compensation for their members.

Of course this argument is a red herring. The budget crises of state and municipal governments were ...

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
“The Wisconsin vote was not one of those pointless Hatfield and McCoy affairs, though the out-of-state millions pouring in gave it that air.”

 

My right-wing friend, ginned up (literally) from his team's impending “victory” in Wisconsin, called me on Tuesday night. I took some of his glow off by noting that I, too, would have been hard-pressed to remove a governor who had committed no crime. Opposition to the recall did not necessarily signal affection for Gov. Scott Walker. Furthermore, I expressed my satisfaction in the electoral reforms being tried in California, changes that would weaken the partisan clubhouse in which my friend found political and social refuge.

The Wisconsin vote was not one of those pointless Hatfield and McCoy affairs, though the out-of-state millions pouring in gave it that air. In addition to not wanting to replace a governor over policy differences, many voters sympathetic to public employees also felt that their extravagant pay and benefits had to be reined in.

Politicians used the neutered terms “unaffordable” and “unsustainable” to justify their positions, but these obligations were also unfair to private-sector workers, who were getting nowhere that deal while having to pay for it. The decidedly liberal states of  READ FULL POST 3 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
“Scott Walker’s win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.”

 

The failed effort to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is widely seen as a crisis for the labor movement, and a pivotal moment in the 2012 U.S. presidential-election season. Walker launched a controversial effort to roll back the power of Wisconsin’s public employee unions, and the unions pushed back, aided by strong, grass-roots solidarity from many sectors. This week, the unions lost. Central to Walker’s win was a massive infusion of campaign cash, saturating the Badger state with months of political advertising. His win signals less a loss for the unions than a loss for our democracy in this post-Citizens United era, when elections can be bought with the help of a few billionaires.

In February 2011, the newly elected Walker, a former Milwaukee county executive, rolled out a plan to strip public employees of their collective-bargaining rights, a platform he had not run on.  The backlash was historic. Tens of thousands marched on the Wisconsin Capitol, eventually occupying it. Walker threatened to call out the National Guard. The numbers grew. Despite Walker’s strategy to “divide and conquer” the unions (a phrase he was overheard saying in a recorded conversation with a billionaire donor), the police and firefighters unions, whose bargaining rights he had strategically left intact, came out in support of the occupation. Across the world, the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt was in full swing, with signs in English and Arabic expressing solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

The demands for workers rights were powerful and sustained. The momentum surged toward a demand to ...

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
“As millions of dollars in dark right-wing money pour into the state to preserve Gov. Scott Walker from his progressive opposition, it seems relevant that he and many top aides are under investigation in a campaign finance and corruption scandal that has been growing for two years.”

 

If the Wisconsin recall is truly second in importance only to the presidential race, as many media outlets have trumpeted lately, then why have those same outlets so badly neglected one of that election's most salient aspects?

As millions of dollars in dark right-wing money pour into the state to preserve Gov. Scott Walker from his progressive opposition, it seems relevant that he and many top aides are under investigation in a campaign finance and corruption scandal that has been growing for two years.

Yet the national media have largely ignored the fascinating details of that probe — which has already resulted in indictments, convictions and cooperation agreements implicating more than a dozen Walker aides and donors. Only readers of the local newspapers in Madison or Milwaukee would know, for instance, law enforcement documents have emerged in court during the past few days suggesting that Walker stonewalled the investigation in its initial phase.

The typical reference to the scandal in the national media notes that Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic opponent, is seeking to “stoke suspicions” regarding the investigation, “in which former Walker aides stand accused of allegedly misappropriating campaign funds.”

READ FULL POST 4 COMMENTS

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012
“The loss of the recall election is a setback, but the Latinos of Wisconsin will continue to fight with our allies for the restoration of our state.”

It seems like only yesterday that hundreds of thousands gathered en-masse at the Wisconsin state capitol to oppose recently re-elected Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s controversial assault on the right of public workers to collectively bargain. 

Community organizations off all stripes joined labor unions, teachers, faith leaders and others in a show of unity rarely if ever seen before in Wisconsin. 

Latino Wisconsinites, myself included, were among those who showed up at the capitol in large numbers -- a clear sign of solidarity with our labor allies. But it was also a reflection of the fact that Walker’s attacks have extended to issues directly affecting the immigrant Latino community, including the abolition of in-state tuition for immigrant students, and support for restrictive voter ID laws which make it more difficult for many in the Latino community to vote. 

From the beginning, Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin’s leading immigrant rights group and worker’s center, was on the forefront of the drive to push back against these attacks.

Voces has always believed that power comes from below, and that when people unite they can overcome injustice to build a better world. In our vision of this better world, Scott ...

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
“Walker won because folks saw a shrinking economic pie, and they believed he was going to do the tough but necessary belt-tightening required for the state to live within its budget.”

 

A few months after last year’s Wisconsin uprising at the state capitol, I stood in front of a packed Quaker meeting house overflowing with labor leaders, religious leaders and radical activists. They carried a wide range of feelings: a mood of failure because Governor Scott Walker had moved through his nefarious legislation, an excitement left over from daily waves of actions and protests, and a shared sense of shock and being overwhelmed. They had just inspired some of the largest impromptu civil disobedience in recent U.S. history, even prompting Democratic politicians to follow suit and flee the state in hopes of preventing passage of the bill. They also were vaguely united around a new possibility, one that I feared then would redirect the energy of the movement: “If we recall Walker, we can win.”

We now see the result. Conservatives are crowing over their guy winning by seven points. They believe Wisconsin is back in play as a swing state for the presidential campaign. Mitt Romney was quick to celebrate, saying this will “echo beyond the borders.”

Democrats worry it is a portent of things to come for states like my own, Pennsylvania, where our Republican governor is slightly more timid but shares the same goal: to slash and burn the social service safety net. That Walker won by a greater percentage then when he was first put in office, certainly gives chilling credibility to Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch’s statement at her victory party: 

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
In a piece claiming that "Wisconsin was a disaster for Democrats and President Obama," The Daily Caller claimed that Democrats and Labor spent millions to unseat Walker and on the entire recall effort, without offering any information related to how much Republicans and their allies spent.

 

Right-wing media are arguing that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's victory in the Wisconsin recall election was a victory for the grassroots over unions and progressives. But, due to Citizens United and a loophole in Wisconsin campaign finance laws, the progressive message was swamped by conservative special interest money.

Following Walker's Victory In Wisconsin, Right-Wing Media Disappear Walker's Massive Spending Advantage

WSJ: WI Race "Shows That An Aroused Electorate Can Defeat A Furious And Well-Fed Special Interests." The Wall Street Journal in a June 5 editorial analyzed the results of the Wisconsin recall election, claiming:

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Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
One has to ask: how did Scott Walker win so easily and what happens now?

 

There was an expression among activists that went “One year longer, one year stronger” a year after the beginning of the “Wisconsin Uprising” here in Madison, WI. The reality is that one year+ longer, the left as an organizing force is “one year weaker.”

The truth? People, as a mass movement in the United States, are attracted to right-wing populism, embodied by the likes of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who recently won the recall election by an astounding 7-percent landslide.

Sure, there are refrains, such as “this was an auction, not an election,” and that “money won this election.” But people still voted and have agency. And Walker won by a long-shot.

Many important questions arise for those who consider themselves, ...

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
Walker outspent his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, seven to one after raising millions of dollars from right-wing donors outside the state.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has survived a historic recall election more than a year after launching a controversial effort to roll back the bargaining rights of the state’s public workers. Walker outspent his opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, seven to one after raising millions of dollars from right-wing donors outside the state. We’re joined by John Nichols, a correspondent for The Nation. "We always like to tell ourselves that if the people get organized enough, they can offset any amount of money," Nichols says. "But in Wisconsin, we got a pretty powerful lesson about this new era we’re entering into with unlimited cash ... It’s something we should be taking a good look at — not merely for Wisconsin, but for the whole country." Nichols also criticizes the Democratic National Committee and President Obama for mostly staying on the sidelines as Republicans nationwide rallied around Walker. "The comparison between tens of millions of dollars and an all-in effort by the RNC and by national Republicans [versus] a tweet from President Obama, I think, sums it up a little bit painfully," he says.

 

Transcript

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
“Wisconsin is a sterling example of what elections will be: the power of mobilized right-wing and corporate money against the power of mobilized people.”

 

That Gov. Scott Walker survived the recall in Wisconsin is a tragic setback for the stunning citizen’s movement that challenged his extremist agenda in Wisconsin.
Its implications are likely to be exaggerated by the right, and underplayed by progressives. Here are some thoughts on its meaning.

1. Extremism will be challenged

Scott Walker is now a conservative hero. The right’s mighty Wurlitzer will argue that Republican Governors and legislators will be emboldened because he survived. The attack on public sector workers and basic worker rights, the sweeping cuts in education combined with top end tax cuts, the efforts to restrict voting rights, they will boast, will now spread even more rapidly across the country.

Really? Walker barely survived the backlash his policies caused. He lost effective control of the Senate even before last night’s recall returns are known. He had to go through a brutal recall, and watch his popularity plummet.

I suspect that most governors with a clue will see this as a calamity that they want to avoid. They’ll be looking to find ways to compromise, to avoid this brutal backlash. No question that the Tea Party and big money right will be lusting for more blood. But I suspect that Walker’s travails -- and those of John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Scott in Florida – will sober Republicans up a bit.

2. This is only Round One

That said, progressives should not dismiss the recall as idiosyncratic, dismissing its import since exit polls showed President Obama would win the state against Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and many voters voted for Walker because they objected to the recall itself, not because they endorsed his policies.

Conservative columnist Russ Douthat suggests that Wisconsin represents the new era of American ...

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012
“Of the $63.5 million dollars spent, $45 million came from Walker’s campaign and supporters, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.”

 

With a 7-to-1 fundraising advantage and record turnout, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defeated a union-led recall challenge by Democratic Mayor of Milwaukee Tom Barrett.

 

The Wisconsin vote captured national attention, and a flood of out-of-state money. Of the $63.5 million dollars spent, $45 million came from Walker’s campaign and supporters, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The record spending total was made possible thanks to the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision — which had the effect of invalidating Wisconsin’s century-old ban on independent expenditures by corporations and unions — and a state law that allowed unlimited contributions to the incumbent in recall elections.

 

Eager to repudiate Walker’s restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees, national unions focused money and manpower on the state, but struggled to keep up with the governor’s fundraising machine.


The nation’s three largest public sector unions sent at least $2 million to two outside spending groups — We are Wisconsin and Greater Wisconsin — which fought for airtime with the Republican Governors Association and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity.


In the weekend before the vote, Greater Wisconsin spent $68,000 for online ads opposing Walker, and $30,000 more for a last-minute TV blitz. The Republican Governors Association spent more, dropping $475,000 on TV ads and $50,000 on Facebook ads opposing Barrett, and $94,000 on robocalls supporting Walker.


Barrett supporters looked to close the fundraising gap by deploying a vast network of union-funded field offices. We are Wisconsin hired campaign staff for an ...

Published: Monday 4 June 2012
Published: Monday 4 June 2012
In late May, Greater Wisconsin took a $500,000 donation from AFSCME and $900,000 more from the Democratic Governors Association to fuel a final online, radio, and TV ad push in the week ahead of the vote.

 

Tuesday’s recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker is the most expensive in Wisconsin history. More than $63.5 million has been spent by candidates and independent groups, the overwhelming majority underwritten by out-of-state sources

The record spending total was made possible thanks to the Citizens UnitedU.S. Supreme Court decision — which had the effect of invalidating Wisconsin’s century-old ban on independent expenditures by corporations and unions — and a state law that allows unlimited contributions to the incumbent in recall elections.

The amount spent since November 2011 trounces the state’s previous record of $37.4 million, set during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.\

The election has become a national referendum on the future of public sector unions, which have been a major force within the Democratic Party for decades.

In the first of two debates, Walker vowed to “stand up and take on the powerful special interests,” suggesting that national unions have propped up his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

While Barrett has received about 26 percent of his $4 million in campaign donations from outside the Badger State, Walker has drawn nearly two-thirds of his $30.5 million contributions from out of state, according to campaign filings released May 29. Walker has outraised Barrett 7 ½ to 1 since late 2011, though Barrett didn’t enter the race until late March.

“It’s big time,” said Mike McCabe, director of the campaign finance watchdog Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which compiled the numbers. “We have a level of outside interference in this election that the state has never been seen before.”

Union money pours in

Campaign contributions tell only part of the story. National unions have ...

Published: Sunday 3 June 2012
Published: Friday 1 June 2012
Published: Sunday 27 May 2012
Published: Sunday 20 May 2012
“Walker received contributions from employees or political action committees at more than half of the 130-plus companies that appear in his official calendars, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.”

 

You don’t have to be a campaign donor or corporate executive to get an audience with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But it doesn’t hurt.

Walker received contributions from employees or political action committees at more than half of the 130-plus companies that appear in his official calendars, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

These employees and PACs gave Walker at least $1.5 million since May 2009, just after he declared his candidacy for governor.

“Wisconsin is Open for Business,” the Republican governor proclaimed in a press release on the night he was elected. His calendars from January 2011 through January 2012 bear out this stance, revealing a steady stream of contacts with top company officials.

Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said the governor’s calendars reflect his priorities.

“Gov. Walker has been working hard to encourage job creators to expand in Wisconsin,” Werwie said in an email interview. “It should be no surprise that those interested in creating jobs in Wisconsin would meet with the governor.”

Center reporters pored through more than 4,400 calendar entries during this 13-month period to tally Walker’s contacts.

The analysis suggested that big donors got more access. Three-quarters of all PACs that have given Walker at least $20,000 are associated with companies that show up on his calendar. In contrast, about a quarter of the PAC donors that gave under $20,000 are listed.

Companies and their executives appear in Walker’s calendars in jobs announcements, factory tours, check presentations, phone calls and private meetings — sometimes labeled “no media,” as with 3M and Caterpillar Inc.

The list includes many big businesses, such as Harley-Davidson, IBM, Northwestern Mutual, Johnsonville Sausage, Walgreens and Uline. No one company ...

Published: Wednesday 16 May 2012
“Tonight, you might say I’m preaching to the choir with a bunch of fellow conservatives,” Walker, the son of a minister, told more than 1,000 supporters that night. “I preach to the choir because I want the choir to sing. So tonight I’m asking you to sing.”

 

On Nov. 10, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gave the keynote address at the annual dinner of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank in Phoenix with ties to the powerful, corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council.

“Tonight, you might say I’m preaching to the choir with a bunch of fellow conservatives,” Walker, the son of a minister, told more than 1,000 supporters that night. “I preach to the choir because I want the choir to sing. So tonight I’m asking you to sing.”

His message: Spread the word “in Arizona and all across America that we can do things better.”

The high-profile event was no anomaly. Two days later, Walker addressed students at a conference at the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he was billed as one of America’s “top conservative leaders.”

Walker’s official calendars from his first 13 months in office chronicle these and scores more hours he spent building credentials with conservatives in Wisconsin and across the nation.

The governor granted more interview time to the national, conservative-leaning Fox News cable channel than any other media outlet — nearly twice as much as to his hometown newspaper, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which had endorsed him in 2010.

Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, said the governor “has multiple media availabilities every week where he is available to answer questions from any legitimate news organization who chooses to attend, liberal or conservative.”

Last fall and winter, Walker halved his overall work schedule, but his PR time hardly changed even as he raised unprecedented millions in response to a recall campaign. Since taking office in January 2011, he has raised more than $25 million -- more than half from other states.

Prime time for conservative hosts

Fox News isn’t the only ...

Published: Sunday 13 May 2012
“Walker is the darling of the vicious business class in America; he’s a hero to every boss who wants to put a boot on the throat of labor”

Wisconsin Democratic primary voters have picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to face controversial Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election. Protests erupted across Wisconsin last year after Walker announced plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Walker and Barrett will now square off in a recall election on June 5. We go to Madison to speak with Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine. Rothschild notes Walker's bid to remain in office has been aided by massive contributions from rich donors nationwide. "Walker is the darling of the vicious business class in America; he's a hero to every boss who wants to put [a] boot on the throat of labor," Rothschild says. "And these people ... have just been opening their wallets."

Transcript: 

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Wisconsin, where Democratic primary voters Tuesday picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to face controversial Republican Governor Scott Walker in a recall election next month. After being declared the winner, Barrett said in a statement, quote, "Wisconsin cannot afford to continue to suffer through Walker’s ideological civil war."

In 2010, Barrett lost the Wisconsin governor’s race to Walker by 5 percentage points. Since then, Wisconsin has been split by an ideological civil war driven by Walker’s attempts to crush union power in the state. ...

Published: Saturday 12 May 2012
Published: Thursday 10 May 2012
“Walker and Barrett will now square off in a recall election on June 5.”

Wisconsin Democratic primary voters have picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to face controversial Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election. Protests erupted across Wisconsin last year after Walker announced plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Walker and Barrett will now square off in a recall election on June 5. We go to Madison to speak with Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine. Rothschild notes Walker’s bid to remain in office has been aided by massive contributions from rich donors nationwide. "Walker is the darling of the vicious business class in America. He’s a hero to every boss who wants to put [a] boot on the throat of labor," Rothschild says. "And these people ... have just been opening their wallets."

Transcript

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to Wisconsin, where Democratic primary voters Tuesday picked Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to face controversial Republican Governor Scott Walker in a recall election next month. After being declared the winner, Barrett said in a statement, quote, "Wisconsin cannot afford to continue to suffer through Walker’s ideological civil war."

In 2010, Barrett lost the Wisconsin governor’s race to Walker by 5 percentage points. Since then, Wisconsin has been split by an ideological civil war driven by Walker’s attempts to crush union power in the state. Protests erupted across Wisconsin last year after Walker announced his plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Thirty thousand teachers, students, and state and municipal workers took part at a rally at the Wisconsin Statehouse in Madison.

Published: Thursday 3 May 2012
“Walker is beloved by rich conservatives, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Richard DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team, and the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) is facing a recall election after he pushed through legislation last year that limited public workers’ bargaining rights. And now a special Wisconsin state law that allows recall targets to raise unlimited amounts of money in the early days of the campaign has helped Walker raise an unprecedented amount of money.

The Associated Press reports:

Walker set the record for a state office with $12.1 million raised last year. Campaign finance records filed Monday show he has already easily surpassed that this year, raising $13.1 million between Jan. 18 and last week. He spent nearly $11 million and had almost $4.9 million in the bank.

Walker is beloved by rich conservatives — as the AP writes his “fan list reads like a who’s who of some of the richest people in America” including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Richard DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team, and the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

If wealthy big donors have sided with Walker, unions have been mustering efforts to get Walker. The Walker vote has been “billed as a critical test of labor muscle versus corporate money,” write Jim Rutenberg and Steven Greenhouse at the New York Times. “But it is only a warm-up for a confrontation that will play out during the presidential election…:”

The same national groups flooding the streets and the airwaves in Wisconsin — the Koch-supported group Americans for Prosperity on the right, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., ...

Published: Monday 30 April 2012
A really stupid one is called ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which masquerades as an “educational” group that simply assists state officials with policy research.

No one likes a smart aleck — or a stupid one, for that matter.

A really stupid one is called ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which masquerades as an "educational" group that simply assists state officials with policy research. In fact, it's a corporate-financed, far-right front group that writes and aggressively pushes anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environmental, anti-immigrant, and other extremist "anti-people" legislative proposals.

ALEC's operatives take these cookie-cutter bills from state capitol to state capitol, getting Republican governors and key legislators to introduce them. Then the organization helps organize astroturf campaigns to ram such ugliness into law.

Gov. Scott Walker's repressive agenda in Wisconsin is an ALEC product. So is Arizona's war on Latinos, as is Florida's murderous "stand your ground" shoot-em-up law. However, all this success led ALEC to get stupid. Its leaders got to thinking they were bulletproof, that they could shove this stuff down people's throats all across the country — and the people would just accept it.

That was wrong. In fact, it was stupidly arrogant. Not only have people rebelled, they've also organized and mobilized. Groups like the Center for Media and Democracy, Color of Change, Common Cause, Occupy Wall Street, and People For the American Way have rallied grassroots people to hit ALEC where it really hurts: its pocketbook. Suddenly key corporate sponsors of this extremist organization were hearing from outraged citizens (and customers) — and now company after company is withdrawing its sponsorship.

Among those recently declaring that ALEC just "doesn't fit our business needs" are Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Mars, McDonalds, PepsiCo, and Wendy's.

 

 

Published: Friday 13 April 2012
“Christie’s bullying style was best illustrated when he insulted and abused another constituent when he asked a perfectly reasonable question about taxes. He demanded that a state trooper bring the man onstage, berated him at length, and then ordered him expelled from the room.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the embodiment of today's Republican Party and everything it has come to represent. You name it, Christie's got it: Disingenuous, smug, nasty? Check. Robotic servant of the corporate class, foisting its lobbyists' prefabricated laws on an unsuspecting public? Check. Hostile toward women? Double-check.

And last night he proved his bona fides as a Republican by proving he meets his party's other criterion, which is an absolute contempt toward the ordinary men and women who have been victimized by its policies. The night before the nation received its latest bad news on unemployment, Christie told a cheering Republican crowd that the nation's jobless were lazy examples of an entitlement mentality.

Needless to say, Chris Christie is now considered a leading Vice Presidential contender.

Bully

Christie's blunt style seemed refreshing at first. Hey, I kinda liked the guy myself.

But "blunt" became "ugly" very quickly: Telling union officials to "cut the crap." Shouting down a right-wing millionaire who asked a blunt question at a Meg Whitman rallyInsulting a nonpartisan state agency for reaching a conclusion he didn't like. Rudely blowing off a constituent during a televised question-and-answer session. Telling Warren Buffett to "just write a check and shut up.'

His behavior ...

Published: Saturday 17 March 2012
“Democrats could end up with full control of the Senate, potentially by a margin of up to 19-14 -- or, if Fitzgerald is defeated by upstart challenger Lori Compas, 20-13.”

With Wisconsin recall elections looming against four Republican state Senators -- as well as Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch -- the state's politics was thrown for another loop Friday when a targeted senator up and quit.

State Senator Pam Galloway, a Tea Party favorite and one of Walker's steadiest backers in the legislature, announced her immediate resignation from the legislature and her decision not to contest the recall election.

The move had dramatic repercussions:

1. Republicans have lost the complete control of state government that allowed the governor to advance an austerity agenda that was defined by attacks on unions and deep cuts in public education and public services funding -- along with the harshest Voter ID law in the nation, a rigidly partisan redistricting of legislative districts and what critics complain has been a battering of the state's open-government tradition.

2. State Senate Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, a Walker ally who is targeted for recall, has lost his position as the dominant player in the legislature.  He now must enter into a power-sharing agreement with Minority Leader Mark Miller, a progressive Democrats who led a historic walkout by his caucus during last year's struggle over Walker's labor law changes.  Committee assignments will be redone to reflect what is now a 16-16 split in the Senate.

3. Governor Walker, who has ...

Published: Wednesday 22 February 2012
Koch acknowledges working hard on behalf of Walker.

One year ago this week, blogger Ian Murphy of the Buffalo Beast pranked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by posing as billionaire David Koch on a phone call. As the crowds at the Capitol protesting Walker's bill to end collective bargaining were increasing in size and volume, the fake Koch inquired how Walker’s efforts to "crush that union" were going. Walker's fawning response helped rocket the Wisconsin protests into the national media limelight.

Now the real David Koch reveals that crushing unions is indeed at the top of his agenda. In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, Koch talks about Walker, unions and the historical importance of the Wisconsin recall fight.

"We have spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We are going to spend more."

Koch didn’t know that when he sat down with Palm Beach Post reporter Stacey Singer that he ...

Published: Monday 20 February 2012
“Governor Walker’s defenders[...] will surely suggest that the billionaire is merely expressing his right to fund independent activities that just happen to be ‘helping’ Walker.”

 

Billionaire campaign donor David Koch, heir to a fortune and a political legacy created by one of the driving forces behind the John Birch Society, makes no secret of his enthusiasm for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

“What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He’s an impressive guy and he’s very courageous,” Koch explained in a recent conversation reported by the Palm Beach Post. “If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power.”

That’s no surprise. What is surprising is that Koch is now appears to be bragging about how he and his brother Charles are using their vast fortune to fund an independent campaign aimed at “helping” Walker. Even in an era when billionaires such as the Kochs are emerging as key financiers of Super PACS and other campaigning vehicles Koch’s admission will raise ...

Published: Saturday 18 February 2012
“Had the process moved forward on Walker’s agenda, the legislation would have been passed within a week. Instead, it took almost a month.”

After she organized Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 Democratic primary challenge to Lyndon Johnson, around the time she joined Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm in forming the National Women’s Political Caucus, Midge Miller got herself elected to the Wisconsin Assembly.

In that latter role, she taught Wisconsin progressives that they ought never be cogs in a political machine. Midge Miller,  arguably the most activist member of the state Assembly during the years of her service from 1971 to 1985, never hesitated to call out Republican or Democratic governors. She never deferred to legislative leaders if she thought they were wrong. She believed in the great progressive tradition of the state that governing involved moral choices and that, while there was always a place for negotiation, and sometimes a place for compromise, there was never an excuse for going along to get along.

The point of progressive public service, argued Midge Miller, was not to be a cog in the machine run by corporate and political elites. It was to make the machine work for the people.

So when Midge Miller’s stepson, Wisconsin ...

Published: Thursday 16 February 2012
“Gov. Scott Walker is in the midst of a recall effort and faces an investigation for campaign corruption.”

Today marks the first anniversary of the Wisconsin uprising that erupted after Republican Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Now, one year later, Walker is in the midst of a recall effort and faces an investigation for campaign corruption. "People have begun to recognize that they shouldn’t just wait for elections," says John Nichols, who covered the protests for The Nation magazine. "They should go to the street and challenge political power at the point where that power is taking away their rights or threatening them in some fundamental way." Nichols is the author of the new book, "Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street."

Transcript:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Today marks the first anniversary of the Wisconsin uprising that erupted after Republican Governor Scott Walker announced his plans to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. Now, one year later, Walker is in the midst of a recall and faces an investigation for campaign corruption. It was February 14th last year when Walker first unveiled the curbs on state workers after refusing to negotiate a new ...

Published: Monday 13 February 2012
“But Scott Walker is not the next Reagan. Not yet.”

In February, 2011, Scott Walker was just another Republican governor. A favorite of Newt Gingrich, billionaire Tea Partisans Charles and David Koch and wealthy advocates for privatization of education, the Wisconsinite had his national fans on the conservative circuit. But he was not a player, and no one (except perhaps Walker) thought he was headed for the national spotlight. Among the Republican governors ushered into power by the Republican wave of 2010, he was ranked with the “assistant Walmart manager” group of drab mandarins, along with Iowa’s Terry Branstad, South Dakota’s Dennis Daugaard and Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin. He didn’t have the national stature of Ohio’s John Kasich or Kansan Sam Brownback, nor the wild-eyed “say anything” appeal of Arizona’s Jan Brewer or Maine’s Paul LePage.

Yet, when the nation’s most prominent right-wing operatives and reactionary Republicans gathered for the Friday night keynote speech that is always the centerpiece of a Conservative Political Action Conference, it was not a Republican presidential candidates, nor a Congressional leader who was standing at the podium. It ...

Published: Friday 3 February 2012
Arizona is a so-called “right to work” state, where protections for private-sector workers are weaker, and Republican legislative majorities in Arizona are bigger.

Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.

After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”

“We need to make big, fundamental, permanent structural changes. It’s why we did what we did in Wisconsin,” declared Walker, who at the annual dinner of the right-wing Goldwater Institute said that compromising with unions was “bogus.”

Comparing governors who have been attacking the collective-bargaining rights of public employees with the founders of the American experiment—“just like that group that gathered in Philadelphia”—Walker told his listeners: “We need to have leaders not just in Wisconsin but here in Arizona…”

READ FULL POST 7 COMMENTS

Published: Sunday 29 January 2012
“If you add up all the caucus and primary votes that have been cast so far for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, the former Rick Perry, the former Jon Huntsman, the former Michele Bachmann and the eternal Buddy Roemer, they still have not attracted as much support as has the drive to recall Scott Walker.”

America is almost four weeks into the voting stage of the Republican presidential race. The candidates are debating. The media is covering the competition 24/7, and in such minute detail that Rick Perry’s quitting of the contest was treated as news. And Republicans in three states have caucused and voted in numbers that party leaders, pundits and the talk-radio amen corner tell us are significant.

Yet at the same time, those same party leaders, pundits and radio talkers continue to dismiss the movement to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a false construct with little real hope of prevailing.

Fair enough, let’s compare.

Since January 3, Republican caucuses have been held in Iowa (with an electorate of 2,231,589), and Republican primaries have been held in New Hampshire (electorate of 998,799) and South Carolina (electorate of 3,385,224).

That adds up to a total electorate of 6,615,612 in the trio of first- (and second- and ...

Published: Monday 16 January 2012
“We honor King today by opposing the new push for right-to-work laws in Northern states and by campaigning to overturn the right-to-work laws passed decades ago by the Jim Crow legislatures of Southern states that were determined to prevent the arc of history from bending toward justice.”

When the Congress of Industrial Organizations launched “Operation Dixie” in the aftermath of World War II, with the goal not just of organizing unions in the states of the old Confederacy but of ending Jim Crow discrimination, Southern segregationists moved immediately to establish deceptively named “right-to-work” laws.

These measures were designed to make it dramatically harder for workers to organize unions and for labor organizations to advocate for workers on the job site or for social change in their communities and states.

In short order, all the states that had seceded from the Union in order to maintain slavery had laws designed to prevent unions from fighting against segregation. The strategy worked. Southern states have far weaker unions than Northern states, and labor struggles have been far more bitter and violent in the South than in other parts of the country. It was in a right-to-work state, Tennessee, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while supporting the struggle of African-American sanitation workers to organize a union and have it recognized by the ...

Published: Sunday 15 January 2012
“If there is one thing that Scott Walker keeps track of, it is the sort of campaign contributor who writes seven-figure checks.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is scared, so scared that he is calling in a posse of Texas billionaires to try and save his political skin.

Facing the threat of a recall election, Walker poured money into a television advertising campaign to convince Wisconsinites that his attacks on collective bargaining rights, his budget cuts for education and local services, and his pay-to-play approach to politics are good things.

Wisconsinites weren’t buying what Walker was selling. On Tuesday, the recall campaign mounted by United Wisconsin will submit not just the 540,000 signatures needed to recall Governor Walker but hundreds of thousands more.

This fight is going to happen. Walker knows he faces an accountability moment that threatens to end his long political career.

But he is not giving up easily. The governor is arming himself with all the money he can get his hands on. Big money. Texas money.

When Walker’s campaign announced a month ago that it had ...

Published: Monday 9 January 2012
“Never in the modern history of the Republican Party has a field of GOP presidential candidates been so united and so aggressive in opposing collective-bargaining rights for public-sector and private-sector workers.”

When I asked Newt Gingrich if he planned to campaign for Scott Walker in the recall election the governor will almost certainly face, Newt answered, “Sure!”

“Scott Walker’s fight in Wisconsin has made him a national leader on issues [that are] important to Republicans,” said the former Speaker of the House. “Of course I would campaign for him.”

The Republicans who would be president disagree on some issues. But they are pretty much united in their affection for the nation’s most embattled governor.

After Walker attacked public-employee unions last February, Mitt Romney announced that he was donating $5,000 to support the Wisconsinite. And Rick Santorum hails Walker’s “tremendous courage.”

What is it about Walker—who is so unpopular that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites are petitioning for his recall and removal—that makes him so appealing to the leading figures in the national Republican Party?

That’s simple. Scott Walker is an anti-union zealot. And anti-union zealotry has become a core premise of the 21st century Republican Party.

Attacks by Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich on public-employee unions may have gotten the most publicity. But other governors, most notably Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, are striving to undermine the collective bargaining rights of private-sector workers.

But nowhere is the ...

Published: Saturday 7 January 2012
John Nichols explains the investigation’s impact on Walker, who is facing a possible recall election.

Tim Russell, a top aide of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, was arrested for stealing money from a military charity fund for families of Wisconsin soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. John Nichols joined MSNBC’s The Ed Show to explain this investigation’s impact on Walker, who is facing a possible recall election. “Even if he’s not personally tied to the wrongdoing,” says Nichols, “he seems to have very bad judgment in the people he hires and trusts.”

 

Published: Tuesday 27 December 2011
“What is happening in Wisconsin and, frankly, a lot of other states, goes beyond Democratic and Republican positioning.”

’Tis the season for lists. And so it should come as no surprise that the Politico, the Washington-insider journal that covers every aspect of national politics, has offered up a Boxing Day analysis of “2012’s Top Unanswered Questions.”

What is surprising, and significant, is that the first item on the Politico list does not involve a Congressional or presidential race.

Rather, it focuses on a fight in the states, where the direction of the nation is being determined by pitched battles between right-wing Republican governors and defenders of public education and public services.

Politico’s top unanswered question for 2012 was: “Can Democrats claim a scalp in Wisconsin?”

Putting aside the clichéd and offensive “get a scalp” language, the analysis turns attention to what will indeed be one of the great political battles of the coming year.

“Few are more reviled in Democratic circles than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who this year forced through a controversial law that significantly curtailed the power of organized labor. Democrats have responded with an aggressive push to put Walker on the ballot in a recall—a battle [t]hat would excite the party’s liberal base and lure an army of deep-pocketed outside groups from both sides of the aisle. Walker, for his part, has already spent about $4 million on TV ads in an effort to polish his image,” writes the online publication. “Walker’s ouster would mark another dramatic victory for labor in its fight against a crop of newly elected Republican governors who have sought to slash collective-bargaining rights. In November, Ohio voters approved a repeal of SB-5, an anti-labor bill championed by Governor John Kasich.”

True enough on ...

Published: Monday 19 December 2011
Walker is more of a fool than even his most consistent critics imagine if he thinks that money will be sufficient to trump a popular movement that has already attracted the support of half a million Wisconsinites.

If money is speech, as the crooked courtesans of our high court would have it, then Scott Walker might imagine himself well-positioned for the recall election he is now all but certain to face.

On the very same day last week when the United Wisconsin movement announced that it's thousands of volunteers had in less than a month gathered more than 500,000 signatures on petitions demanding that the agonizingly-inept governor of Wisconsin be held to account for an agenda that just cost the state another 14,000 jobs, Walker was touting the news that his campaign had raised more than $5 million.

Surely, in the calculus of the corrupt, 5,000,0000 dollars should carry ten times the political power of 500,000 signatures.

But Walker is more of a fool than even his most consistent critics imagine if he thinks that money, especially money raise in substantial portions from out-of-state interests that see his governorship as an investment in anti-labor, anti-public education and anti-democratic policies, will be sufficient to trump a popular movement that has already attracted the support of half a million Wisconsinites.

A One Wisconsin Now analysis reveals that ten percent of Walker’s money came from Texas – including a $250,000 check from the Bob Perry, the Lone Star conservative who warped American politics by attacking Vietnam veteran John Kerry with “swift boat” lies.

Almost ten percent more of Walker’s money came from Illinois.

To be fair, Walker did raise money in Wisconsin. But of his total take, $2,390,000 came from outside the state.

Wisconsinites know that those out-of-state interests are not sending money to Walker in order help the people of Burlington or ...

Published: Wednesday 14 December 2011
Our “leaders” have given up on greatness because there’s no greatness in them, however, there is hope in the people themselves.

"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

What a paragraph! Whatever happened to that BIG idea of America — the creation of a society that embraces and fosters such egalitarian values as justice, tranquility, common effort, the welfare of all and liberty?

We know, of course, that our nation has never attained the fullness of this ideal, but over the decades, generation after generation has at least strived to get closer to it — and made impressive progress. But today, some 224 years after the penning of the preamble, America's corporate-financial-political establishment is insisting that it's no longer possible or even desirable to pursue those democratic ideals that make our country important — and make it work.

What's happened is that, from Wall Street to Washington, we now have too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. As a result of our leaders' dimness, America's uniting and constructive ethic of "We're all in this together" and "Together we can" is being supplanted by a shriveled, dispiriting ethic that exalts plutocratic selfishness and scorns the public interest as intrusive, wasteful, ideologically impure and morally ruinous. They're pushing us toward a forbidding Kochian jungle in which there is no "we" — money rules, everyone's on their own, and such matters as justice, general welfare, tranquility and posterity are none of society's damned business.

So here we are, the wealthiest nation on earth, with massive needs and an industrious population eager to get working on those needs, yet our leaders throw up their hands and say, "No ...

Published: Saturday 10 December 2011
“For decades, the Koch brothers and their foundation have funded ALEC and other groups that are now driving the attack on voting rights in states across the country.”

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch finally got their way in 2011. After their decades of funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators, the project began finally to yield the intended result.

For the first time in decades, the United States saw a steady dismantling of the laws, regulations, programs and practices put in place to make real the promise of American democracy.

That is why, on Saturday, civil rights groups and their allies will rally outside the New York headquarters of the Koch brothers to begin a march for the renewal of voting rights in America.

For the Koch brothers and their kind, less democracy is better. They fund campaigns with millions of dollars in checks that have helped elect the likes of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And ALEC has made it clear, through its ambitious “ READ FULL POST 24 COMMENTS

Published: Monday 5 December 2011
“The Occupy presence, for all its rough edges, might at least lend the performances of works such as these the urgency they deserve.”

On Saturday night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, just before the third act of Faust began, a man began yelling from the audience, “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Wall Street!” It had neither the rhythm of a chant nor the participatory quality of the usual “mic check” that has been used to disrupt so much lately, interrupting public figures including Michele Bachmann, Scott Walker, and Barack Obama. (Maybe having the quorum for a mic check would have cost too many tickets.) It was first received with a boo from someone on the opposite side of the theater, but that was quickly drowned out by a round of applause—something like what a singer might receive at curtain call for a decent performance in a supporting role. The protester was carried away by the NYPD.

Presumably this comes as part of Occupy Lincoln Center, which on December 1 held a protest attended by Philip Glass, Lou Reed, and Laurie Anderson. That night, the Met performed Glass’s opera about Gandhi, Satyagraha. One sign read, according to the LA Times, “Gandhi would be pepper sprayed.” Like the other Occupy actions under the umbrella of Occupy Museums, these protests oppose “cultural institutions that serve the nation’s wealthiest citizens at the expense of the vast majority.” (It doesn’t help that people aren’t being allowed to protest on Lincoln Center’s plaza—apparently, it’s ...

Published: Saturday 3 December 2011
The anti-labor governor’s ‘Recall: No.’ campaign—which has been augmented by a push from ‘Americans for Prosperity,’ a project of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch—argues that the push for a recall election is simply ‘sour grapes.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker campaign is spending a lot of the money that Walker and his aides have collected from out-of-state billionaires to fund a television ad campaign preaching against recall elections.

The anti-labor governor’s “Recall: No” campaign—which has been augmented by a push from “Americans for Prosperity,” a project of the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch—argues that the push for a recall election is simply “sour grapes.” Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch won the 2010 election, the line goes, so the people of Wisconsin should swallow hard and shut up for four years.

This fantasy, that elections produce a “king for four years” or an “elected despot” (to borrow phrases from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, founders who warned against such calculations), has been promoted by the governor in interviews with right-wing talk radio and his regular appearances on Fox News and CNBC programs.

“A minority of voters will get to force a new election in Wisconsin…costing millions of dollars to the taxpayers this spring,” Walker griped in the latest of the appearances on conservative and business-oriented television programs that he is doing as part of a fund-raising push aimed at attracting donations from Wall Street interests and New York–based speculators.

Career politicians will, of course, say anything to protect themselves from accountability.

But Walker’s anti-recall talk strikes a particularly hypocritical note.

Back when he was a state legislator, Walker was an enthusiastic proponent of ...

Published: Wednesday 30 November 2011
“Congress is sensing these political tremblers — and beginning to move.”

In the Nov. 8 elections, the national media gave extensive coverage to a proposed "personhood amendment" to Mississippi's state constitution. This was an extremist anti-abortion ballot initiative to declare that a person's life begins not at birth, but at the very instant that a sperm meets the egg. However, extending full personhood to two-cell zygotes was too far out even for many of Mississippi's zealous antagonists against woman's right to control her own fertility, so the proposition was voted down.

Meanwhile, the national media paid practically zero attention to another "personhood" vote that took place on that same day over a thousand miles from Mississippi. This was a referendum in Missoula, Mont., on a concept even more bizarre than declaring zygotes to be persons with full citizenship rights.

It was a vote on overturning last year's democracy-killing decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the now-infamous Citizens United case. A narrow five-man majority had decreed that — abracadabra! — lifeless, soulless corporations are henceforth persons with human political rights. Moreover, said the five, these tongueless artificial entities must be allowed to "speak" by dumping unlimited sums of their corporate cash into our election campaigns, thus giving them a far bigger voice than us real-life persons.

Missoulians, of ...

Published: Tuesday 29 November 2011
“No one expected conservative communities in Republican regions of the state to take the lead in collecting recall signatures against a Republican governor.”

The petition drive to recall and remove Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surpassed all expectations in its first two weeks, collecting more than 300,000 signatures.

The truly remarkably thing about the total so far is not, however, that it is so large.

What is truly remarkable is where the signatures are coming from: rural and small-town Wisconsin communities are contributing disproportionally high numbers of signatures to the total.

No one, not even the most concerned critic of Governor Walker's assault on collective bargaining rights, expected the recall campaign would move as quickly as it has.

No one expected United Wisconsin's recall drive to gather more than half the required signatures in less than two weeks of petitioning. No one expected whole counties to reach their signature goals in the first week. No one expected conservative communities in Republican regions of the state to take the lead in collecting recall signatures against a Republican governor.

But it is happening.

Wisconsin has one of the highest thresholds in the nation for recalling statewide officials. Citizens must gather signatures equaling 25 percent of the turnout in the previous gubernatorial election. That's a baseline requirement of 540,000 signatures. And they must be collected in just 60 days. (Of course, to avoid challenges, a "cushion" of additional signatures is needed.)

In California -- the last state where a governor was successfully recalled -- citizens only had to gather signatures equaling 12 percent of the turnout in the last election, and they had 160 days to do it.

How could

Published: Monday 21 November 2011
“The grassroots energy across the state, the size of the crowd at Saturday’s rally, the number of signatures already collected: all of these confirm the historic scope and reach of the recall drive.”

As tens of thousands of Wisconsinites rallied in Madison for a mass signing of petitions to recall anti-labor Governor Scott Walker Saturday, it was announced that the drive had collected 105,000 signatures in its first four days.

By the end of the weekend, that number will go substantially higher, say organizers of Saturday’s rally, which marshalls estimated drew 40,000. (Early in the day, as the crowd was building, Capitol Police confirmed that roughly 30,000 were present and the numbers grew as units of firefighters, teachers and state, county and municipal employees poured into the Capitol Square from the edges of Madison’s downtown.)

When the rally was done, activists with United Wisconsin, the group that is coordinating the recall drive, displayed tall piles of newly signed petitions. “After they’ve counted all the new petitions that have been gathered in Madison and across the state,” said former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, “they’ll be well on their way to 200,000.”

The ...

Published: Tuesday 15 November 2011
New concealed weapon law in Wisconsin seen as a great victory for the NRA.

Bob Jauch has earned his “F” grade from the National Rifle Association. The Democratic Wisconsin state senator from Poplar has long fought the gun lobby’s efforts to let state residents carry concealed weapons.

In 2004 and again in 2006, Jauch voted against overriding Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s veto of a concealed carry bill. Both times, his colleagues in the Senate voted to override, in 2004 drawing this bitter reaction from Jauch: “The NRA won today.”

Both times, the Assembly fell narrowly short of mustering the requisite two-thirds vote.

This year, following the election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP majorities in both houses, concealed carry was back. Jauch voted against the bill in committee, and pushed amendments to automatically ban concealed weapons from places including the state Capitol, child care centers, churches and bars. All were defeated.

But Jauch ended up voting for the final bill anyway.

“I think the mood of the public has changed,” Jauch explained in a letter to constituents. And while he does not expect to see a reduction in crime, which is already much lower in Wisconsin than the national ...

Published: Wednesday 9 November 2011
“Folks like the Koch brothers are attempting to ensure that as few people of color and as few young people show up as possible,” says NAACP President Ben Jealous.

Today residents of Mississippi will decide whether voters must produce a government-issued ID in order to cast a ballot and voters in Maine will choose whether to keep or overturn a new law banning election day voter registration, which had previously been on the books since 1973.

These votes occur amidst the backdrop of an unprecedented, Republican-led war on voting. Since the 2010 election, at least a dozen states controlled by Republicans have approved new obstacles to voting—mandating government-issued IDs, curtailing early voting, restricting voter registration, disenfranchising ex-felons. Five million voters could be negatively impacted by the new laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which found that “these new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities”—in other words, those most likely to vote for Democrats.

A key component of the GOP’s campaign has been orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which receives substantial funding from the Koch brothers. ALEC drafted mock photo ID legislation after the 2008 election and in five states that passed ID laws in the past year—Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin—the measures were sponsored by legislators who are members of ALEC.

A new investigation from Brave New Foundation, in conjunction with the Advancement Project and amplified by a host of progressive groups, outlines ALEC’s influence in the war on voting and spotlights the $245,550 in campaign contributions the Koch ...

Published: Tuesday 8 November 2011
Frustrated Americans now have decided to use the polls to spell out their frustration.

Americans who are frustrated with the broken politics of the moment will have plenty of opportunities to Occupy the Polls on Tuesday.

That’s what happened in Boulder, Colorado, last week, when voters shook things up by backing a referendum proposal that calls on Congress to enact a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision that corporations can spend as they choose to buy elections. The same election saw Boulder voters endorse a plan to end the city’s reliance on private power companies and replace them with a public utility.

There are big issues, big races and big tests of the political potency of organized labor, social movements and progressive politics playing out this Tuesday, on the busiest election day of 2011. In some cases, voting offers an opportunity to make an affirmative statement on behalf of a change in priorities. In other cases, there are opportunities to push back against bad politics and bad policies. In still others, there are signals to be sent about the politics of 2012.

Here are some of the big races to keep an eye on Tuesday:

1. OHIO REFERENDUM TO RENEW LABOR RIGHTS

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Published: Thursday 3 November 2011
“The scandal surrounding Block, coming parallel to another controversy involving Cain’s alleged harassment of women who worked for him when he headed the National Restaurant Association, could derail the Cain campaign or at least its manager.”

Herman Cain’s smoking campaign manager, Mark Block, was the Koch Brothers’ man in Wisconsin until two days before Governor Scott Walker’s inauguration. That’s when he made the switch from controversy-plagued campaigning at the state level to controversy-plagued campaigning at the national level.

In January, 2005, Block appeared at Walker’s inaugural ball in a tuxedo to celebrate what “we did” to elect Walker, whose assaults on collective bargaining rights and public education and services sparked some of the largest protests in recent American history and who now faces the prospect of a citizen-sponsored recall.

Block’s presence at Walker’s inaugura was something of a triumphal return to the fold for a veteran political player after he had been unwillingly sidelined politically for a number of years. In 2001, Block paid a $15,000 fine and agreed to refrain from participating in campaigns in an agreement that ended an investigation of illegal coordination between a 1997 Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign he ran and the smearing of the opposition ...

Published: Thursday 13 October 2011
If there is a poster boy for anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-community and anti-democracy policies, it has to be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Politicians of both parties are taking hits from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement for serving multinational corporations and the wealthiest one percent of Americans while neglecting the other 99 percent of Americans.

The list of offending officials is long.

But if there is a poster boy for anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-community and anti-democracy policies, it has to be Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Since Walker took office in January, corporations have gotten sweeping tax breaks, while unions that represent working people have been attacked.

Under Walker, public employees and teachers have lost basic rights, while public schools and public services have lost basic funding.

Walker’s anti-labor agenda was supposed to create jobs. Instead, it has caused a spike in unemployment that has seen joblessness rise in Wisconsin at a dramatically faster rate than it has nationally over the past six months. While neighboring states seem to be weathering the worst of the downturn, Wisconsin has seen its official jobless rate go up 0.6 percent in the six months since the governor’s policies began to take hold.

Walker’s “Wall Street Wins/Main Street Loses” approach sums up an awfully lot of what has angered the Americans who are protesting corporate abuses from Wall Street to Wisconsin.

Could Walker be the first prominent political player to be removed from office by the 99 Percent movement that has spread across the country from the site of the “Occupy Wall Street” protest?

Major unions think so, and they are making the connection as the endorse plans to force a spring 2012 election to remove the anti-labor governor.

“Scott Walker ...

Published: Thursday 6 October 2011
Bruce Colburn: “One thing you can say, there WILL be a recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin this year.”

A highlight of yesterday’s conference was a breakout panel on the legendary movements in Wisconsin and Ohio, which have inspired thousands across the country to stand up and fight back.

Featured speakers included John Nichols of The Nation magazine; president of the Wisconsin State Firefighters Union, Mahlon Mitchell; Mike Pyne of the United Steel Workers; Doug Burnett of AFSCME; Courtney Fully from United Food and Commercial Workers; Bruce Colburn from SEIU; Mary Bell from Wisconsin Education Association Council; and social media guru Scott Goodstein.

 

The panel opened with Mahlon Mitchell, who recounted the events ...

Published: Wednesday 21 September 2011
Even if we are to believe that Walker is not interested in what’s happening with an investigation into potential wrongdoing by his former aides and his campaign, he can’t really distance himself from Archer.

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a phone call that he thought was from billionaire campaign donor David Koch, he described the secret meeting of his cabinet at which he outlined the “budget repair bill” that stripped collective bargaining protections from public employees and teachers, replaced civil servants with political cronies and made it possible to sell off public utilities in no-bid deals with out-of-state corporations.

Walker was talking himself up as a new Ronald Reagan, in hopes of impressing one of the primary funders of conservative projects in the United States. But his comments revealed the previously unknown details regarding the political machinations behind a piece of legislation so controversial that it would provoke mass demonstrations, court battles and legislative recall elections.

“This is an exciting time,” the governor told “Koch“ in late February. “This is, you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, excuse me, Monday right after the 6th, came home from the Super Bowl where the Packer’s won, that Monday night, I had all my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, we had already kind of doped plans up, but it was kind of a last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb and I stood up and I pulled out a, 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 um 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 and or even the federal ...

Published: Monday 5 September 2011
The Wisconsin demands are, on the one hand, for a restoration of well-established rights, but the fervor here contains a revolutionary spirit that should make Wall Street Republicans—and timid Democrats—shudder at the force they have awakened

“My family comes from Oconomowoc and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my dad from the tradition of Joseph McCarthy and my mom from that of Robert La Follette, so I have been well educated in the tensions between reactionary and progressive populism, the poles of our politics down to thepresent. The Tea Party is the rising counter movement against the rights gained in the sixties and thirties, including the rights of teachers, cops, firefighters and all public sector workers to form unions and bargain collectively. In response to the attacks on these rights by Governor Scott Walker, a great social movement has arisen this year in Wisconsin on which the future of America, and the next presidential election may depend.”

 

—Tom Hayden, from a speech to the Democracy Conference, Madison, Wisconsin, August 24


Madison—Thousands marched to the Capitol steps and through the massive rotunda on August 25, “black Thursday,” the day when Republican Governor Scott Walker’s rollback of state worker jobs and paychecks was cutting deep—Wisconsin state employees’ pay was cut by 13 percent. Walker is the point person in a Republican strategy to destroy public sector unions, the steady source of thousands of middle-class jobs and a key institutional base of the Democratic Party. The Republican counter-revolution in Wisconsin has already terminated the dues check-off system that funds unions, such as those for teachers and state workers, wiped out same-day voter registration and made a driver’s license a requirement to vote, and redistricted the state legislature to favor the Republican right. And changing the date of primary elections from September to August disenfranchises a statewide student body that leans blue and green.

Forcing labor unions to go door-to-door to ask their membership for individual dues is expected to result in ...

Published: Thursday 18 August 2011
The Nation's John Nichols joins The Ed Show to discuss what the victory means for Scott Walker's anti-union political agenda

After a summer of outside money and fake candidates, Wisconsin's historic recall elections are finally over. Despite the media's coverage of the "failed recall elections," the actual numbers show that Democrats won five seats while Republicans won four...an overall victory for Democrats. Not only is the state Senate only one seat away from having a Democratic majority, but one of the moderate Republicans currently in the senate was against Scott Walker's union busting agenda. In other words, Wisconsin has a pro-union state Senate.

Published: Thursday 11 August 2011
"Republicans have retained control of the Wisconsin State Senate following a series of historic recall elections organized in response to their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting bill this spring."

Republicans have retained control of the Wisconsin State Senate following a series of historic recall elections organized in response to their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting bill this spring. Democrats needed to win three of the six Republican seats up for grabs in order to gain a majority, but four incumbents prevailed. Independent video producer Sam Mayfield spoke with voters at polling stations in the contested districts of Republican State Senators Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen in southern Wisconsin. She filed this report for Democracy Now!

Transcript: 

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the historic recall election that took place on Tuesday in Wisconsin. Six Republican state senators fought to hang onto their seats after they supported Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting bill. Democrats needed to win three of the seats. Well, the votes are in this morning: four Republicans won. The results mean Republicans will hold the State Senate majority by a slim margin of 17 to 16.

We’re going to begin our coverage with a report from southern Wisconsin, from Portage, where independent video producer Sam Mayfield visited the polling stations in the contested districts of Republican Senators Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen. Both ultimately defeated their Democratic challengers. Mayfield asked voters what this recall means to them.

LEON: They’re taking everything away we worked for for 50 years. And I don’t like it.

SAM MAYFIELD: Why do you care about coming out in August to vote?

Published: Thursday 11 August 2011
"Now we know that revulsion can be channeled into a viable political movement that can sometimes propel progressive candidates into office and at other times at least force conservative candidates to keep watching their back."

Ignore the chest-thumping from the right following the Wisconsin recall elections Tuesday night. The fact that Democratic challengers prevailed in two of the six races, and came within less than 1,100 votes of unseating a third in a race where almost 51,000 votes were cast, is, to paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden, a big effing deal.

One of the two Democrats who won, Jessica King, won in an area that has a longtime Republican congressman, Tom Petri, and which voted for George W. Bush handily in both 2000 and 2004, and which President Obama barely won in 2008. The other victor, Jennifer Shilling, was in somewhat friendlier territory but she defeated a two-term state senator. Nonetheless, as John Nichols points out at The Nation, all of the Democratic challengers were "running in districts that were drawn to elect Republicans, that have consistently elected Republicans for generations, and that all backed Walker last November."

Both King and Shilling overcame a tsunami of money from conservative groups and corporate interests that made these recall efforts, already historic in that it was the first time ever that six state legislators had to face recalls simultaneously, the most expensive legislative elections in the state's history (as much as $40 million, according to some estimates).

Published: Wednesday 10 August 2011
"Voter turnout was reported to be sizable, with some county clerks predicting it would match levels seen in presidential elections."

Republicans kept their majority in the Wisconsin state Senate on Tuesday, retaining four of six seats in a recall election that could foreshadow next year's battle for Congress and the White House.

Democrats need to pick up three seats to have a chance to recapture the Senate, which they lost when Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP took control of the governor's mansion and both houses of the Legislature last fall.

All six incumbents on the ballot Tuesday were Republicans, but two Democrats face recalls next week.

Voter turnout was reported to be sizable, with some county clerks predicting it would match levels seen in presidential elections.

The last race to be decided was a Milwaukee-area district where, early Wednesday, Republican Alberta Darling triumphed over Democratic state Rep. Sandy Pasch. Darling, co-chairwoman of the Legislature's budget-writing panel, had been a key target for unions.

The Democrat had led much of the night, but counting was slow. When a group of GOP-leaning precincts filed their results, Darling took the lead and held it. With 84 percent in, Darling had 54 percent to Pasch's 46 percent. The Associated Press was projecting that Darling would retain the seat.

The recall fracas stemmed from Walker and Republican lawmakers decision to curb public employees' collective bargaining rights and made them pay more for benefits. Anger over those moves led to the recall elections.

Both sides poured millions of dollars into TV ads, automated phone calls and direct-mail. Total spending for all the recall contests, including a seat retained by a Democrat last month and the two next week, easily exceeded $30 million.

A union coalition, We Are Wisconsin, used former Green Bay Packer Gilbert Brown in a last-minute phone campaign urging voters to defeat 24-year Republican state Sen. Robert Cowles. But he was one of the winners, defeating challenger Nancy Nusbaum, Brown County executive ...

Published: Wednesday 10 August 2011
Two of Governor Walker's most prominent allies in the chamber have been removed from office.

Five months to the day after the Republican majority in the Wisconsin State Senate voted to approve Governor Scott Walker's plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from public emloyees, two of the governor's most prominent allies in the chamber have been removed from office.

Western Wisconsin State Senator Dan Kapanke and eastern Wisconsin Senator Randy Hopper were both defeated in recall elections that provided a powerful indication of the state's anger with Governor Walker's assault on worker rights.

Running in districts that were drawn to elect Republicans, that have consistently elected Republicans for generations, and that all backed Walker last November, the Democrats scored a pair of historic victories. "Six months ago no one would have ever expected we would be where we are tonight. The people of Wisconsin have made history," said Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller. "Democrats, moderates, independents and even Republicans fought back against the radical Walker overreach that attacked core Wisconsin values. We fought on Republican turf and added two Democrats to the State Senate.

The Democrats did not take control of the Senate from the Republicans Tuesday, as labor, farm and community activists—who filled the streets of the state's capitol, city, Madison, and other communities with mass protests in February and March—had hoped would be the case. While Kapanke was defeated by Democratic challenger Jennifer Shilling and Hopper was defeated by Democrat Jess King, three other Republican incumbents who were forced into recall races—Rob Cowles in the Green Bay area, Luther Olsen in the center of the state and Sheila Harsdorf in the northwest—prevailed against their Democratic challengers.

A fourth Republican incumbent, Alberta Darling who has for many years represented a suburban Milwaukee district, was declared the victor over Democrat Sandy Pasch early Wednesday ...

Published: Monday 8 August 2011
"American Federation for Children (AFC) is a powerful national network of billionaire campaign contributors that has been pouring millions into school privatization fights across the country."

As co-chair of Wisconsin’s powerful legislative Joint Finance Committee, Alberta Darling was charged by Governor Scott Walker with cobbling together the most anti-public education budget in Wisconsin history. And Darling delivered, with a plan to slash $800 million in funding for public schools across Wisconsin while at the same time scheming to shift tens of millions from the state treasury into the accounts of private schools.

 

Darling was not just doing the governor’s bidding, however.

She was delivering for American Federation for Children (AFC),the powerful national network of billionaire campaign contributors that has been pouring millions into school privatization fights across the country.

AFC is not just shaping the agenda in Wisconsin. Like the American Legislative Exchange Council, which produces model legislation designed to shape state agendas on a host of policies,AFC outlines legislative goals, crafts specific proposals and then works with allied legislators and governors to implement it's agenda.

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Published: Sunday 7 August 2011
Published: Thursday 4 August 2011
"It's too early to tell if Wisconsin is the first bird of an American Spring, but one thing's for sure. In the icy grip of corporate winter, Wisconsinites turned up the heat on their corporate-controlled politicians."

People watching the news over the past week might have thought that Congress was the only place where battles for our future were being won and lost. That's wrong. There are other battles, better battles, battles far from the glare of the Beltway spotlights. And more are on their way.

So forget Washington for a minute. (If you feel like I do right now, that'll be a pleasure.) If you want to see where the next wave of corporate-sponsored political attacks is being launched, look to New Orleans. And if you want a shot of optimism, a ray of light, a sign that battles can be won against overwhelming odds, turn your eyes toward Wisconsin.

That's where the action is.

On Wisconsin

Al Gore said this week that we need an "American Spring." It would be a stroke of Carl Sandburg-ish poetry if we were to someday look back and see that the first signs of our spring appeared in Midwestern farm country. And if that image is too corny for your taste, remember: The corn harvest starts around now. I'm just getting an early start.

The Wisconsin uprising began when Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans in the legislature began their ruthless attempt to strip unions of their rights in that state. They had every right to believe it would be easy. The Democrats had just been routed in their state and across the country, as voters discouraged by the lack of jobs and growth took their revenue on the ruling party. Walker and his colleagues thought they had found their "Shock Doctrine" moment in that state's budget crisis, and used it to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights because they claimed the state "couldn't afford" to pay their wages and benefits.

The unions offered Walker virtually all the concessions he wanted, which took the financial argument off the table, but he moved forward anyway. And then a miracle happened ... Voters who had accepted one injustice ...

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