Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Komen For The Cure Bends To Right-Wing Demands

Another hit for low-income women: The Susan G. Komen For The Cure, a leading funder of breast cancer treatment and research, is knuckling under to pressures from the Right and pulling its support for Planned Parenthood.

A tragedy for poor women - - compounded in Wisconsin by Scott Walker's ideological attack on Planned Parenthood's role in women's health services - -  and a foolish political misstep for the mainstream Komen brand.

Hedge Fund Hits Workers, Wausau-Region With Right Jab

The New York hedge fund that helped force for its upper-income investors the closure of Wausau Paper's historic mill in Brokaw at the cost of 450 jobs reports the $21 million deal is done, but wants even more profit through asset sales in this episode of destructive capitalism by the 1% - - from afar.

Interesting, isn't it, that the hedge fund is named Starboard, the nautical term for the right side.

And it is eye-balling targets far bigger than Wausau Paper.

Props to the Wausau Herald for its earlier coverage, cited here.

More Politics Of Irony: Walker Criticized Ament Over Recall Signatures

Mining Scott Walker's campaign websites offers another wonderful nugget of historical irony- - this time worth a read in light of Walker's ongoing efforts to obstruct and otherwise muddy the recall signature review process:

In 2002, Scott answered the call to lead the reform movement after the pension scandal in Milwaukee County was uncovered. He was the first person to rise and commit to challenging former County Executive Tom Ament when Ament attempted to legally challenge the recall petition signatures against him.

Within a month, more than 150,000 people signed recall petitions demanding their government back. Scott felt that a leader needed to emerge to lead the movement. He was inspired by the hope of the people involved in the recall effort that they could change the government � for the better. 
That same website also contains a long posting about an ethics reform plan Walker rolled out during his brief 2006 campaign for the GOP Gubernatorial nomination - - available here, in full - - but some gems from that posting are below:
"The culture of government has destroyed the integrity and the idea of public service," said Walker. "My plan seeks to restore the public trust, and instill the confidence that our elected leaders are working for the people," Walker added...
  • All appointed employees will be prohibited from organizing or participating in fundraising for Scott Walker's campaign committee. (100 Day Agenda and Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will not accept any campaign contributions (from any source) from the time he takes office (January 3, 2007) until the state budget is signed into law.  (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will call on Legislative leaders to enact a similar policy for all elected state officials. (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will push legislation that prohibits contributions to his campaign from firms that are seeking to do business with the state while the contracts are being bid and awarded. (Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will require every member of his administration to attend ethics training every two years to ensure that all executive staff members are aware of ethics standards and laws. 

Sure Wish GOP's "Most-Hated Duo" Would Come Help Walker

Too bad the primary calendar doesn't bring Gingrich or Romney to the state, or that Walker or the GOP Senate candidates hasn't brought in the national candidates' star power yet.

Sometimes Walker Likes Online Disclosure, Sometimes Not

Interesting that Walker's folks are pushing for disclosure online of recall signatories' full information - but the Walker campaign is still out of compliance with state law mandating full disclosure of donor employment information in hundreds of instances covering hundreds of thousands of dollars dating to 2009, records show.

That's how you muddy the impact of campaign donations and public records.

I have a request in to the Milwaukee County Election Commission asking about Walker's county executive campaign committee filings, too. I don't see them online, and they may have been filed on paper forms rather than electronic spreadsheets.

That's how you muddy the importance of disclosure: minimal compliance.

Reminds me of the way that Tommy's gubernatorial committee used to complicate matters for people pouring through their paper filings at the former Wisconsin Elections Board (now part of the Governmental Accountability Board, GAB): deliberately not filing contributor names alphabetically.

And for Walker: when your office and operatives are running a communications system designed to defeat Open Records requirements, and your donation statements are incomplete, for years, the demand for the recall petitions disclosure on some principled basis rings hypocritically.

DNR Pooh-Poohs Need For Stronger Sand Mining Oversight

Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources says today it plans no new regulations to control silica dust released by newly-increased sand mining statewide to serve energy-mining, or "fracking" operations nationally:

The DNR said last week that the number of mines that have been built, or are in the planning stages, has doubled to about 60 in just the past few months.

Silica is not regulated as a hazardous air pollutant under federal law, although some states do regulate it. For Wisconsin to regulate silica under state law, DNR officials said that it would be required to begin a process in three to five years.
I'm sure the enforcement of existing regulations by the Walker/DNR management team - - including Air and Waste Division manager Pat Stevens - -  formerly of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce/the Transportation Builders Association/the Wisconsin Builders Association, and his boss, Marr Moroney, the DNR Deputy Secretary and former leader of the Milwaukee-area home builders group - - means the situation is nothing to sneeze at.

Suppose An Iron Ore Mine Were Proposed In Chenequa?

Chenequa is a Village in Waukesha County's so-called "lake country" that is 100% residential - - website, here - - and that in recent years has had the highest per-property for a municipality assessment in the state.

It is at the heart of the base of the state's pro-growth, de-regulation Republican Party.

I wonder if GOP legislators would be pushing so hard to ease water law in Wisconsin to encourage mining in the name of jobs if it were Chenequa and its Pine Lake that were in the bulls-eye, and not tribal lands at the Bad River headwaters in Northern Wisconsin.

Bad River headwaters, (Pete Rasmussen photo):


  1. Chenequa, WI

Monday, January 30, 2012

Walker Can And Should Take Every Question

Unless he's been called before the John Doe, I believe Scott Walker is free to answer any question from reporters about any aspect of the entire case that is swirling around him.

If I were advising him, I'd say, "call in the media, open the floor to questions, and take every question until no one has anything more to ask."

Anything would be fair game - - from the days of the Walker group at Marquette University forward to right now.

That is the only way he will ever get ahead of what now looks like the eye of a category 5 political storm heading right at him.

Voters and taxpayers deserve nothing less.

Getting Newtered Hurts; Wisconsin Outbreak Approaching

It's fair to say that Mitt Romney's access to excrescent wealth and Super Pac cash - - along with a healthy dose of self-administered political poison by one Leroy Newton Gingrich - - is putting an end to an out-sized, outlandish campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

So add "Newtered" to the list of causes of political death, along with "swift-boated."

Look for an outbreak of Newtering this spring in Wisconsin to save Scott Walker's political hide.

Early signs have been spotted, and Wisconsin is going to undergo what Gingrich found out the hard way about their being no effective post-Citizens United antidotes on the market:

Why Would Walker Put Staffer Fired For Misappropriating Money In Charge Of Veterans' Fund?

Bad judgement? Irrational loyalty? Living out "Dumb and Dumber?"

Walker and Russell are said to go back years to their days at Marquette: are we to presume Walker didn't know why Tim Russell lost his WHEDA position, or might need work, and why Russell might be available to handle some risky Walker office chores - - like setting up the secret email system for county and campaign operatives?

The WHEDA issue had been aired months ago at the MilwaukeeCountyFirst blog after disclosure by Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan, Jr.

A Conservative Waukesha Writer Raises Basic Questions For Scott Walker

Passing along James Wigderson's post.

Walker Claims Transparency, But His Office Kept Secrets

Then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker told The Lakeland Times newspaper in a lengthy interview during the gubernatorial campaign published on September 8th, 2010, that his work and behavior as Milwaukee County Executive established and reinforced his belief in open government:

When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said.

"I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said.
The story remains on his campaign website.

But by the time that interview was published, a then-undisclosed email system in the County Courthouse that was regularly used by Walker's inner circle and other Republican operatives had been there for eleven months, records now show.

The system operated outside of the regular communications networks in the Courthouse, and outside of the reach of legal, Open Records search and requests.

And was set up by long-time Walker associate and County Executive staffer Tim Russell, according to the criminal complaint filed against Kelly Rindfleisch.

She had been hired in early 2010 for a taxpayer-paid position in Walker's public service office, but in reality was carrying out fund-raising and political work for then-State Rep. Brett Davis' unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Gov., the complaint says. Davis was a Walker favorite.

Rindfleisch was later promoted to Walker's Deputy Chief of staff - - an even higher-paid public position previously held by Russell - -  from which she allegedly and repetitively used the secret communications system, on public time for illegal political purposes, that was located in her office less than 25 feet from Walker's office, the complaint states.

It all makes laughable Walker's earlier call for ethics reforms to restore trust in government.

Rindfleisch faces four felony counts of misconduct in public office filed by county prosecutors in the continuing John Doe probe into the operation of Walker's office and campaigns, records show.

On page 15 of the complaint (use link above), it is alleged that in addition to work for the Davis campaign, there were more than 1,000 emails sent or received among Rindfleisch and three top Friends of Scott Walker gubernatorial campaign officials - - the campaign manager, deputy and communications director - - between Feb. 2 and July 9, 2010 - -  before then-County Executive Walker told the Lakeland Times he had "lived" transparency in County government.

Russell was charged separately with stealing money from a politically-advantageous veterans' fund that Walker assigned him to run out of the County Executive's Office, despite advice from the County's Ethics Board that the fund's operation be moved away from County Government.

Transparent County operations? More like a Nixonian throwback.

Davis, who did not win a primary for Lt. Gov., was appointed state Medicaid director by now Gov. Walker.

Davis' then-campaign manager, Cullen Werwie, remains as Gov. Walker's press secretary despite even though he shows up in some of the email traffic cited in the Rindfleisch complaint, and has been given immunity in the John Doe probe.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Scott Walker Once Had An Ethics Reform Plan

His undated, detailed ethics reform plan appears to have been rolled out during his short-lived run for the 2006 GOP gubernatorial nomination, is still posted on a Friends of Scott Walker campaign website and sure looks ironic now in light of the John Doe probe charges and disclosures. (full text of the Walker plan is below).

This text taken from another posting on Walker's campaign website attributed to a Republican Party chairman introducing Walker at a 2010 campaign speech should make Walker partisans flinch, too:

"Then, after a lot of persuasion and a lot of guts, Scott decided to get into the race for Milwaukee County executive in 2002 on a platform of fiscal conservatism, and returning honesty and integrity to the office of the county executive."
The theft and misconduct charges against former Walker county staffers and the disclosure by John Doe prosecutors of a secret email system for political operatives on set up in the fall of 2009 by a long-time Walker associate and county staffer on county property - - (criminal complaints, here) - - leaves one wondering what the heck happened to this belief that had Walker to announce his big, bold ethics reform plan:
"The culture of government has destroyed the integrity and the idea of public service," said Walker. "My plan seeks to restore the public trust, and instill the confidence that our elected leaders are working for the people," Walker added.
And were these ethics reform pledges, among others, valid during the next four years that Walker served as County Executive, and during the campaign for Governor he ran and won in 2010?
  • All appointed employees will be prohibited from organizing or participating in fundraising for Scott Walker's campaign committee. (100 Day Agenda and Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will not accept any campaign contributions (from any source) from the time he takes office (January 3, 2007) until the state budget is signed into law.  (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will call on Legislative leaders to enact a similar policy for all elected state officials. (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will push legislation that prohibits contributions to his campaign from firms that are seeking to do business with the state while the contracts are being bid and awarded. (Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will require every member of his administration to attend ethics training every two years to ensure that all executive staff members are aware of ethics standards and laws. 

Ethics Reform Plan

Walker: Proposes Wisconsin Ethics System Overhaul 
Citing government ethics as one of the greatest challenges to Wisconsin's democracy, Milwaukee County Executive and Candidate for Governor Scott Walker today released his comprehensive ethics reform plan. Walker's plan calls for a major overhaul of Wisconsin's failing system to restore integrity to our state's government.

"During my 100-Day agenda tour I outlined ethical reforms that could be implemented without legislation," said Walker. "Today's plan is far more comprehensive and will not only require the assistance of the legislature, but also the people of Wisconsin to step forward to make it happen."

Key highlights of the Walker ethics reform plan include:
  • Prohibit political campaign contributions until the state budget is signed into law 
  • Five year ban on paid lobbying of the agency an individual worked in for all
    members of the administration, Legislature and legislative staff 
  • Term limits on all state offices of no more than 12 years
    • 3 terms for Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Attorney General 
    • 3 terms for State Senate 
    • 6 terms for State Assembly 
  •  Return to a part-time legislature
"The culture of government has destroyed the integrity and the idea of public service," said Walker. "My plan seeks to restore the public trust, and instill the confidence that our elected leaders are working for the people," Walker added.
Walker cited the revolving door of professional politician to professional lobbyist and the undue influence of campaign cash as one of the most glaring problems in government today.

While campaigning around Wisconsin, Scott makes it a point to listen to people's thoughts on the future direction of our great state.

Wisconsin is one of 11 states that is considered to have a truly "full-time" legislature, and one of only 6 states that is always "in session" for the full two-year cycle. Most states have a defined time period for the regular legislative session, and these sessions are always shorter than two years. Walker conceded that many of these proposals may not be received warmly in Madison. However, he invites everyone to listen to the people and offer their own proposals to restore the integrity of Wisconsin's government.

"Re-instilling the people's trust in our public institutions will be a top priority for my
administration," said Walker. "I believe this plan begins this process and I look forward to discussing my proposals in the coming months of this campaign."
  • All appointed employees will be prohibited from contributing to Scott Walker's campaign committee. (100 Day Agenda and Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • All appointed employees will be prohibited from organizing or participating in fundraising for Scott Walker's campaign committee. (100 Day Agenda and Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will not accept any campaign contributions (from any source) from the time he takes office (January 3, 2007) until the state budget is signed into law.  (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will call on Legislative leaders to enact a similar policy for all elected state officials. (100 Day Agenda) 
  • Scott Walker will push legislation that prohibits contributions to his campaign from firms that are seeking to do business with the state while the contracts are being bid and awarded. (Walker's current policy in county government) 
  • Scott Walker will require every member of his administration to attend ethics training every two years to ensure that all executive staff members are aware of ethics standards and laws 
  • Scott Walker proposes a five year ban on paid lobbying of the agency they worked in for all members of the administration, Legislature and legislative staff.   
  • Scott Walker will push legislation to combine the State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board 
  • Scott Walker will call for legislation to prohibit state candidates from accepting political contributions from the owners, operators or managers of casinos and racetracks. (Walker proposed similar legislation in 1997 and 1999) 
  • Scott Walker will propose legislation to prohibit closed caucus meetings and to require that all votes in Legislative committees take place in public. 
  • Scott Walker will push for term limits on all state offices of no more than 12 years (3 terms for Governor, other constitutional officers and State Senate and 6 for State Assembly). 
  • Scott Walker will push for a return to a part-time Legislature.  
  • Scott Walker will propose legislation to prohibit the transfer of funds from federal campaign accounts to state campaign accounts.

Authorized and Paid for by Friends of Scott Walker, John Hiller, treasurer. Banners designed by Mark Curnes: info@markcurnesdesign.com

GOP State Sen. Frank Lasee Quits US Senate Primary Race

As I'd blogged about his candidacy, I take note of his quitting.

Walker In Rare "Half True" PolitiFact Territory, But Hold Your Applause

The Journal Sentinel's rating service finds Walker's language about budgets and taxes in a recall push-back ad to be "half-true."

Walker partisans may be turning handstands over "half true," since his total PolitiFact record is in "false" categories more often than scorings with the word "true" - - by a 2:1 margin.

Walker's statements by ruling

Click on the ruling to see all of Walker's statements for that ruling.

And try that "half-true" standard with the John Doe prosecutor and judge and see how far that gets ya.

Mining Bill Manager On One-Percenters' Giving Lists

Know your legislator:

State Rep. Mary Williams, (R-Medford), the Assembly committee chair who pushed through a flawed and chaotic pro-industry mining bill last week, does okey-dokey with big donors far and wide, records show.

I plugged $500 as a benchmark into this searchable data base built with state campaign contribution records to see her donors, in chronological order - - and there are contributions at that level among the most recent 25 from Utah, California, Illinois, Virginia, and Wisconsin addresses far from her district.

Donors at that level have provided more than one-third of all the money she has ever raised, records show,

How Far Down Has Walker Dragged Wisconsin's Good Name?

A Republican State Senator from Rapid City, in western South Dakota, introduced a bill banning collective bargaining for public employees.

But when it got widely-criticized, and even labeled by one leading Republican "a Wisconsin-type solution for a problem that we don't have," the GOP state senator came to his senses and withdrew it.

Remember, South Dakota is already a weak-union, so-called "Right-to-Work" state, and western South Dakota is the more conservative part of a conservative state with a really, really conservative, GOP-led legislature.

And you can't sell Walker's approach there?

After all, the South Dakota legislature has approved a resolution urging public school teachers to throw cold water on the science of climate change: the Assembly version of the resolution said, in part, that "global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact" and added that "climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics" [my emphasis added] could be responsible. 

How conservative is the environment in the South Dakota legislature? One member even introduced a bill - - not approved - - that would have required all South Dakotans over 21 to own a gun.

Yet even in in the South Dakota Capitol, Scott Walker's dropped-the-bomb on-workers-'style' (see transcript) had little appeal.

So from apparently an even more conservative Wisconsin - - South Dakota, we salute you.

Assembly's Toxic GOP Majority Undermines Wisconsin's Credibility

If creating legislation is like making sausage, the shamelessly pro-industry mining bill served up last week by State Assembly Republicans on a party-line vote was made with extra helpings of contaminated offal and fatal levels of salmonella.

Thousands of hours of everyday peoples' time, and of taxpayer-paid state employees, all at incalculable cost, were willfully wasted by GOP Assembly members just to curry favor with business interests and stick it to environmentalists and Native Americans whom those legislators disrespect.

*  The bill was written by Assembly members behind closed doors - - but opened to company officials with a vested interest in digging a 22-mile long open pit iron ore mine on pristine lands near Ashland that are perilously close to the headwaters of the Bad River.

Pete Rasmussen photo
*  Once the tawdry legislative drafting process was finished, the Assembly held a poorly-planned hearing on the bill in Milwaukee County, hours away from northern Wisconsin residents whose waters and lifestyles would be most affected by the bill.

*  Then, after much criticism, the Assembly grudgingly set up a second hearing in Hurley, but that hearing was an overt and arrogant charade because the bill's basic tenets enabling the mine, minimizing permit review times and blocking rights to public participation in the process had been pre-arranged and locked in.

* So its approval in the Assembly - - with its pre-ordained give aways of public land, water, treaty rights and other legal provisions - - with all Republicans voting "Aye," and all Democrats voting "No," was a foregone conclusion.

This bill could have easily been coughed up behind the Kremlin walls in the pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union.

It was clear from the beginning of this bad but real-life theater that the Assembly bill was meant more to serve political agendas and less to dig a mine in Northern Wisconsin.

That fakery included helping the low-wattage, preposterous US Senate bid by Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and letting Assembly Republicans tout their dependability on de-regulation and privatization to business groups and conservative financiers - - but all of them knew the bill would be ash-canned in the slightly less-radical State Senate.

There the GOP has only a one-vote majority, with Republicans having lost two seats last year in recall elections successfully run against GOP arrogance.

And where four more GOP senators are facing likely recall elections this spring, along with Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch - - so watch the special State Senate mining committee chaired by the occasionally moderate Neal Kedzie, of Elkhorn, put on its hazmat gear and dump the Assembly's toxic bill, and try something different.

Even delaying its bill-writing, and bill reconciliation processes with the Assembly until the onrushing recall wave has broken.

A couple of additional observations:

The Assembly did its crude, exclusionary handiwork literally in the face of the public rebellion against the Walker administration's secretive ways.

The Assembly was willing to ignore public health and legislate a giveaway of state waters and lands, as well as long-standing Ojibwe treaty rights, to a special corporate interest even in the face of the paradigm-shifting awareness raised by The Occupy Movement - - and much of that came in response to the effects of special treatment handed by lawmakers to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class in the Wall Street bailouts.

Even Newt Gingrich sees a political opportunity there at Mitt Romney's expense, but the Assembly plowed on. You cannot get more tone-deaf than that.

A self-interested GOP majority in the State Assembly that hears only its own voice, and that of talk radio and right-wing advocacy groups, has played into the hands of the Wisconsin grassroots recall movement.

It is propelled by motivated people stung and marginalized by secretive policy-making on behalf of the 1%.

And those people are pushing back, and hard, with success in sight.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fractured GOP Learning Old Lesson In Its Tea Party Embrace

It was fun in 2010, but riding the tiger through the primaries is a risky endeavor that holds the same attraction for moderates and independents as rubber-necking past a highway crash.

Gingrich Kicks Media Off Campaign Plane; No Moon Ride For You!

The campaign of grandiose ideas from the candidate with the giant head discovers media don't like big airfare overcharges. Hey, rent your own space plane to Moonstate 51, ye cheap scribes.

Ironic, Isn't It? Big Government Foe Takes Biggest Gob Of Free Government Money

That would be Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, (R-Juneau), clocking in as the-number one collector last year of $88-per-day travel and meal money - - up 10% from the previous year, for good, perhaps full measure.

I wish the reporting of these payments would note that the dough is tax-free, constituting a separate, second income legislators have arranged for themselves at taxpayer expense.

Remember when Fitzgerald said government was too big and expensive, with too many people getting handouts?

No wonder that Fitzgerald faces a recall election - - a Wisconsin first for a Senate Majority Leader.

What was yummy for the goose will surely be even tastier for the gander.

The Top-Five Most Read Items Last Week: Walker, Walker, Walker, Walker, Walker

Let's just say he makes good copy:

Jan 27, 2012

Jan 25, 2012

Jan 26, 2012

Jan 25, 2012

Walker One-Liner To Clip, Post On Your Refrigerator

Scott Walker campaigned on a platform of reform [Sic] so simple when running for Milwaukee County Executive in 2002 - - and who knew a decade later his administration would be defined by a John Doe probe, expanding criminal charges and a secret, allegedly-illegal campaign-and-fund-raising wireless email service running full-bore 25 feet from his office - - that he urged voters, for accountability, to write down the platform's few lines and put them on their refrigerators.

Let's play that game again, and add this headline from Friday's Journal Sentinel to your Words of Walker Wisdom refrigerator magnet collection:

Walker: John Doe investigation is not targeting me

Streamline Wisconsin Mining? The Correct Term Is Dragline

Soothing sounds are coming from the State Senate on the mining issue, where Republicans are basically killing the Assembly's atrocious bill to stave off more recalls coming there way, as I predicted  - - but Senators are still mumbling about "streamlining" a process that doesn't need corners cut.

The word "streamline" is too ironic to overlook.

For one thing, these bills would ruin the streams that make up the Bad River watershed and the tribe's precious rice-growing wetlands.

Secondly, "streamline" does conjure up the real image and intent of the mining enablers: The dragline:

That's what will destroy the Bad River watershed. It's an image and reality Wisconsin does not want or need.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Walker Declines To Say "I Knew Nothing"

Nowhere in the tossed word salad that our bobbing-and-weaving Governor regurgitated from a day of studying perjury-free talking points is there a flat-out denial that he didn't know his appointees were doing campaign work - - or an affirmation that he knew what in fact they were doing at work, and with a secret communications system, to boot - - on the public's dime - - 25 feet from his office:

"I think it's very clear when all of this is done, no matter how much time it takes, and again my campaign has been involved with cooperating with them for more than a year, I have every confidence that when this is completed, people will see that our integrity remains intact," Walker said.
Asked about the proximity of his office to space occupied by Kelly Rindfleisch, his then-deputy chief of staff in 2010, and whether he knew what Rindfleisch was doing, Walker declined to comment, saying he wanted to abide by the rules of the John Doe probe and not provide details publicly.
John Doe rules do not prohibit anyone from proclaiming their innocence.

Scott Walker's Road To Ruin Is 25 Feet Long

According to a criminal complaint alleging misconduct in office, and multiple felonies, twenty-five feet is the distance from former Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's office to the office of Kelly Rindfleisch, his Deputy Chief of Staff in 2010.

That shorter, folks, than a first down, without any linebackers, guards or tackles in the way.

The complaint alleges she used her taxpayer-paid job and resources to perform allegedly-illegal Republican campaign organizing and fund-raising using a secret computer email system setup in her office by another Walker staffer and also used by other partisan campaign operatives,.

Did the boss, County Executive and now-Governor Scott Walker - - or the Chief of Staff - - ever walk down the hall and stick his head in her office and say, "Hey, Kelly, what's shaking?"

Did they ever have staff meetings, when people went around the room and discussed what they'd been working on for the people of Milwaukee County - - the folks paying their salaries and benefits - - and what was on their plates?

Was this a public office doing the public work, or was it a partisan consulting firm using public resources . with a communications system hidden from public view, to save campaigns the trouble of paying for their own staff, offices, and equipment?

Special Interest Mining Bill Passes Assembly, DOA In Senate

The Wisconsin Assembly disgraced itself Thursday by passing an industry-written mining bill that would trash the Bad River watershed and undo hundreds of years of water conservation work, plus state, constitutional and Native American sovereignty in Wisconsin.

Fearing a public opinion backlash, and recall elections that have already claimed two members and threaten four more, Republican State Senators will go more more slowly; their first order of business will be to shelve the Assembly's toxic, anti-democratic action.

An excellent, ongoing source of information about this issue is the open Facebook page:

Citizens Concerned about the proposed Penokee Mine

Scott Walker, The New Nixon

These few paragraphs reported by Dan Bice about Darlene Wink, one of two former Walker staffers in the Milwaukee County Executive's office charged Thursday with criminal behaviors on public time, indicate how far, wide, deep and fast Walker's legal and political problems are expanding:

...Wink, cut a deal with prosecutors under which she has agreed to provide information in a related investigation about the destruction of digital evidence and to aid in further prosecutions. This is the first indication that the multifaceted John Doe investigation may be pursuing charges of evidence tampering.

Milwaukee County prosecutors also made the surprising disclosure that top Walker aides set up a private Internet network set up by top Walker aides to allow them to communicate with one another by email about campaign as well as county government work without the public or co-workers' knowledge.
The emails traded by Walker officials via the shadow government could provide investigators with a trove of information as they pursue other angles in the case. Earlier this week, the Journal Sentinel reported that the probe was focusing on possible bid-rigging and other misconduct in the competition to house the county Department on Aging in private office space.
The network was set up by long-time Walker staffer Tim Russell, already charged with stealing money from a veterans fund, and mentioned in a related complaint against his live-in partner for soliciting sex from a Waukesha teenager, among other allegations.

And let us not forget Walker's ethical deficits, which we have seen before - - where political considerations trump legality, common sense, and so on.

These things will stick to Walker, and they underscore why his people who control the conservative dollars flowing to his campaign coffers, would be talking about a Plan B.

If he's weakened - - they are weakened. If were to go down - - they take a fall, too.

Walker fancies himself the heir to Ronald Reagan and his conservative leadershp's legacy, but, more and more, it is Richard Nixon (Tim Russell, meet Alexander Bufferfield), secret electronics and the drip-drip-drip of an unfolding corruption case that come to mind.

When Walker left Marquette and his political science studies before graduation, he must have missed the Watergate class. 

And by the way, commentary about all this should come from the pre-eminent Nixon Scholar Stanley Kutler, my friend and former Constitutional Law professor.

Have at it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tommy Thompson Wants Even Faster Train From Milwaukee To Madison

Hey - - Midwestern High-Speed rail has found a Republican backer, even in railophobic Wisconsin.

On video, the champion is Tommy Thompson, in his own words.

Mr. Amtrak is back.

But, uh oh, that drove the  right-wing Club For Growth nuts.

Even though Tommy still supported Walker for killing the Milwaukee-to-Madison train. Says so in that same video. Really.

But which the Club for Growth wasn't buying. See its release, above, again

Oy! Can't a flip-flopper get a break?

Stay tuned, as all parties watch Tommy Thompson's off-the-rails run for US Senate.

Walker, Eagle Scout, Again Blind To Legal, Moral Questions

Remember the infamous and revealing taped phone call between Scott Walker and a blogger/prankster named Ian Murphy - - whom Walker thought was the Right's uber-financier David Koch?

Murphy suggested that Walker insert provocateurs into the crowds of peaceful protesters at the State Capitol?

Walker didn't say, "Holy cow! That would be wrong. Illegal. Immoral."

No, Walker said that troublemakers might cause a boomeranging political reaction and weaken the fight he'd picked with public unions over collective bargaining.

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

Walker: You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that...My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems.
So: politics trumps the law, or an ethical response from the Governor.

Flash forward to Thursday's arrest and charging of two more former staffers from his days as Milwaukee County Executive.

The complaint indicates that when Walker found out one of the now-charged staffers had been written up in the Journal Sentinel for using county resources to work on his gubernatorial campaign, he didn't say, "Holy cow! That's wrong. Illegal. Immoral."

He said:
We cannot afford another story like this one," Walker said in the email he sent Russell. "No one can give them any reason to do another story. That means no laptops, no websites, no time away during the work day, etc."
Another self-interested politics response. Eagle Scout code, Governor?

A Possible Plan "B" For Scott Walker, Ex-Governor

I know without knowing that state and national political consultants and operatives far above my pay grade are already thinking along these lines because their goal is to keep Wisconsin on its far-right track:

*  Gov. Walker resigns if the John Doe probe gets fatally close to him. Depending on the timing, it could moot the recall effort which is already delayed by Republicans' insistence on the most laborious signature verification procedures imaginable.  Since the Doe probe and related events could last a long time, it is possible that Walker could win the recall election, then have to leave, much as Richard Nixon won re-election in 1972 with Watergate events already underway - - but then resigned when his culpability and involvement in illegal activities was clear.

* A resignation would elevate Lt. Gov. Kleefisch to the office, and, again depending on the timing, could moot the recall against her, too. If that happened before the recall election,  I believe - - and correct me if I am wrong - - it would start another year-long clock before she could be recalled.

* If he left before he'd spent it, Walker's trove of recall-related fundraising could either be returned to donors, gathered up again as a Walker support/legal-defense-if-needed fund, or transferred and/or re-contributed in part or in whole to Kleefisch's campaign account, depending on the law. It's their money, and events may push it elsewhere.

*  Conservative backers, if they cared, would find and fund a slot for Walker somewhere, depending on what happens with the John Doe and whether they choose to extend their loyalty, and how far.

Walker is ultimately a pawn in the right's game, and if need be, is replaceable.

Keep an eye on how this particular scenario, as Dan Bice described it on January 22nd:

In an interview last week, Walker said he has not been contacted by investigators for the Democratic district attorney but would be open to sitting down with Milwaukee County prosecutors to discuss the issues they are investigating.

"I certainly would be willing if they asked me to in the future," Walker told the Journal Sentinel's Madison bureau. "Like I said, no matter who it might be about, we'd be more than willing to in the future."

Asked if he has hired his own attorney for advice regarding the John Doe investigation, Walker declined to answer.

"I've not been a subject of this," the first-term Republican governor said. "At some point in the future, if I am, I'll discuss that with you."

His campaign hired Steve Biskupic of Michael Best & Friedrich in late 2010, when officials subpoenaed campaign emails. Last year, Walker's campaign paid Michael Best nearly $110,000 for "compliance issues."

John Doe Charges Show Walker Was No Post-Ament Reformer

Fresh criminal charges brought today against two more former Milwaukee County employees - - these who worked directly for then-County Executive Walker - - allege persistent campaign fund-raising and other forbidden political activity on taxpayer-paid time taking place right under Walker's nose, as reported by Dan Bice.

The complaint also reveals the existence of a secret email system used by Walker and his aides - - and alleges that records from the system were withheld from release under Open Records requests.

Serious stuff.

Additional charges could come that further implicate top Walker County staffers, campaign officials and long-time advisers; Walker as witness is among the distinct possibilities.

Serious stuff, getting more serious.

Couple these revelations with earlier John Doe convictions for illegal donations to Walker's campaign for Governor, and pending charges of theft by Walker appointees from funds Walker was supposed to have moved out of his office, and a picture of Walker is emerging as a failed administrator - - at best - - of a major public office.

Remember that Walker was swept into that office after Tom Ament resigned as County Execitive in the wake of a massive recall signature effort.

Set aside that irony, given Walker's criticism of the same recall process now being used against him.

Set aside, though don't forget, that people had already been found guilty in the caucus scandal years earlier for similar behaviors.

It now looks like Milwaukee County taxpayers simply traded one form of public dysfunction for another:

In the case of Ament and supervisors who expanded fiscally ruinous pension payments, it was a matter of using a publicly-financed system to pad their retirement incomes.

With Walker, it was a matter of using the same publicly-financed system as a partisan consulting business to help candidacies and campaigns.

In both cases, public offices and resources were misused.

Walker the reformer. Hardly.

I'm looking at this paragraph from the Journal Sentinel's 2010 contorted endorsement editorial for Walker, that praised his "habit of upending the status quo," and does it ever ring hollow now:

If there is one thing Walker has shown in his tenure as county executive, it is an abiding intolerance for the failures of business as usual.

Grover Norquist-Style State Planning Killing Jobs In Wisconsin

Republican State Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, currently facing a probable recall election in the spring, signals deeper cuts in the 2013-'15 state budget, assuming he and Scott Walker survive their recall campaigns. and are in control of the government.

So cutting the most money per-pupil out of local schools among all the states, and coming in at number three nationally in cuts to higher education weren't political satisfaction for these guys at the expense of teachers while snuffing out main street spending?

Six straight months of rising unemployment in Wisconsin while hiring is up nationally? Do they not see a relationship between their budget cuts, micro-management of local public budgets and the loss of business activity and hiring statewide?

Grover Norquist, the anti-taxation Washington, DC power broker who wants government shrunk to fit into a bathtub, then drowned, would be pleased with Wisconsin's lurch to the far-right under Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers, which means these small-government ideologues are comfortable with the unemployment that results when billions in purchasing power is withdrawn from the economy.

Their state planning is failing.

Our Governor Gets One Thing "Right"

Gov. Walker said in the State of the State speech that Wisconsin is headed in the "right direction."

"Right," as in to the political right?  OK, give him that.

Walker has infused Wisconsin with a jaw-droppingly far-right, fact-depleted, anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-urban, anti-teacher, anti-environment, tax-the-poor-a-little-heavier and split-the-state-down-the-middle agenda and (mean) spirit.

Yes, mean. He dropped a bomb on many middle-class citizens and gloried in it its sneaky, signature deceit.

There's no way that was right.

And if losing private sector jobs for six straight months- -  as the nation is adding jobs - -  and falling so far behind in his campaign pledge to create 250,000 private sector jobs - - by 2015 - - that he won't hit the pledge until 2029 - - well, go figure how that's the right track.

Here are a few other things he did not get right - - though he knew better.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Imagine, Wisconsin, A Governor Who Was Interested In The Truth

What does it say about the state of Wisconsin and its politics that the advance text of Governor's Walker's State of the State tonight repeats demonstrably false claims about the budget being balanced, and furthermore, balanced without having raised taxes?

State fiscal records show that two taxes were raised, and Walker's Secretary of Administration recently told federal officials the state was still running a deficit. 

And what does it say - - actually, these numbers speak for themselves - - that the PolitiFact rating service has found 27 of 40 statements of Walker's it vetted to be "mostly false, "false," or "Pants on Fire?" That's a pretty lousing batting average.

We all know there is a certain amount of exaggeration by some elected officials - - "I gladly yield the balance of my time to the Gentleman from the Great State of such-and-such..." - - and that politicians will take credit for something created or achieved when, in fact, scores, thousands of people deserve some or even most of the credit.

But repeating falsehoods, even after true facts to the contrary are publicized?

That, Bucky is a problem.

Walker State Of The State Speech Falsely Claims Balanced Budget

Along with a proven falsehood about a budget without tax increases, Scott Walker's State of the State speech - - and here's a primer on what you won't hear - - contains another falsehood: that the budget is balanced.

Excerpts from the speech contain these lines, reports the Journal Sentinel:

And we balanced the state budget.  We balanced it -- without raising taxes; without massive layoffs; and without budget tricks;
Who is the source of the revelation that the budget still has a deficit? A Democrat?

No - - it's Walker's Department of Administration Secretary, Mike Huebsch, who told federal officials there was a deficit that permitted the state to cut public health plan rolls.

As State Sen. Jon Richards posted to WisPolitics last week:
Rep. Richards: Walker's administration states his budget is not balanced

Contact: Rep. Jon Richards, (608) 266-0650

The governor’s administration certifies that the budget has a deficit in order to kick up to 53,000 people off health care

MADISON—Contradicting repeated claims by Gov. Walker that he has balanced the state budget, his administration told federal health officials late last month in writing that Wisconsin has a budget deficit so it could drop health care for Wisconsin families. That’s according to documents released today by Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee).

On Dec. 29, Walker administration secretary Mike Huebsch sent a letter to federal health secretary Kathleen Sebelius certifying that Wisconsin will have a budget deficit through June 30, 2013. By certifying that its budget isn’t balanced, the Walker administration can now dodge a federal law requiring it to continue providing health care for up to 53,000 residents. The Walker Administration letter contrasts starkly with public comments by Walker, who has claimed repeatedly since June that his budget is balanced.
More details, here.

Walker Repeating Tax Lie In State Of The State Speech

Walker is a piece of work. As predicted, his State of the State speech mirrors a year of deceit.

Again, according to the Journal Sentinel, he will repeat tonight the falsehood that his budget did not raise taxes - - which it did.

Here is what he is repeating - -

"And we balanced the state budget.  We balanced it -- without raising taxes;"
And here is what PolitiFact wrote:
But what about his 2011-"13 budget?

It included some tax cuts, but also tax increases.

That"s according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which both parties have long cited as a neutral scorekeeper on budget matters.

The bureau determined that Walker included three tax increases in the budget totaling $49.4 million over the two-year period.

The largest involved a reduction in a state tax credit for low-income working families, known as the earned income credit. A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe.

In this case, the earned income tax credit is in place for both state and federal taxes. It"s refundable, so individuals with little or no income tax liability may still receive the credit.

Walker"s plan would decrease the tax credit for families with more than one child, allowing the state to collect an additional $41.3 million in taxes over two years from those families. (The credit would actually go up for families with just one child.)

A second tax increase, the fiscal bureau said, is stopping the inflationary adjustment of the state"s Homestead Tax Credit -- the property tax break that appears as a credit on income tax forms for low-income homeowners and renters. The bureau calculated that change would increase taxes by an estimated $8.1 million.

Kedzie And Political Quicksand

As the Assembly stumbles and blunders towards approving a mining bill that damages its credibility and the state's water-dependent environment, attention will turn to the State Senate where a committee led by State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), is supposed to be writing a mining bill presumed to be less flawed and confrontational.

That's the general expectation, though Kedzie has been signalling a shift to the right and loyalty to Walker, so we might end up with a Senate bill masquerading as something better, but in reality is simply re-bottled Assembly sludge, with a dab of lipstick on the label.

If Kedzie comes across as Jeff Stone's brother from another district - - short video, here - -  he could easily find himself on the next recall list.

Voters are less tolerant these days of legislators who carry water for the far-right, out-of-state ALEC machine - - see Kedzie's official bio, and also see consequences/Fitzgerald, Scott/recall- - and who are willing to sell off the state's conservation legacy to anyone with a dragline


and a permit coupon from Walker's commercialized DNR.

Environmental Lawyers Shred Assembly Mining Bill

Great posting from Midwest Environmental Advocates.

Walker John Doe Probe In A Higher Gear

And so is the local paper's reporting.

The extensive piece in the Wednesday Journal Sentinel about the John Doe probe and Scott Walker's former Milwaukee County staff and senior campaign officials is a significant piece of journalism that advances a significant political story by leaps and bounds.

The reporting does a helluva job explaining that the probe is looking at possible irregularities - - and no one has been charged in this avenue of investigation - - surrounding real estate bids, awards, lobbying and politicking that involved millions of dollars in County-paid office real estate contracts.

The corruption investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's time as Milwaukee County executive is focusing on the bid competition to house the county's Department on Aging in private office space, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Investigators are looking for signs of bid-rigging or other misconduct as representatives of the privately owned Reuss Federal Plaza vied unsuccessfully in 2010 to keep the department offices, according to sources familiar with the case. The offices had moved in 2005 to the blue tower, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., in a $3 million deal.

In December, the real estate broker for Boerke Co. who spearheaded the Reuss effort in 2005 and 2010 was arrested and jailed overnight on allegations of failing to cooperate with the ongoing John Doe investigation.

The broker, Andrew P. Jensen Jr., faces an order to talk to prosecutors Wednesday.

John Hiller, one of Walker's highest-ranking campaign aides, said he worked on behalf of the building's owners on the 2005 deal. An official told the newspaper that he also had a role in the 2010 effort.

In 2005, Schlitz Park - which had housed the offices for 20 years - won an initial bid for the offices. But records show a rushed, last-minute rebid resulted in the Reuss group getting the $3 million deal...

In late summer 2010, the county ultimately rejected all private office space options as too expensive and the department's offices moved into vacant space in a county-owned building, a cost-saving move some supervisors had recommended five years earlier.

Around that time, the district attorney's office, which launched the Doe investigation in May 2010, received a tip about possible insider dealing in the lease-space competition. An email obtained by the Journal Sentinel showed the Walker administration tipped off some brokers about strategy months before any bids were formally sought.

None of the players in the deals has been accused of wrongdoing, and Walker has defended the county's actions...
The fact no lease contract was awarded in 2010 could make any potential prosecution more difficult, but misconduct charges do get filed under such circumstances, veteran Chicago criminal defense attorney Robert Loeb said. They hinge on the illegality of the behind-the-scenes acts, not necessarily on whether the contract was awarded.
This line of John Doe inquiry has been reported by the paper's Dan Bice, including in a Sunday column that said:
The next phase, insiders say, is focusing on the role some of Walker's closest associates and county employees had in a real estate deal involving a county agency. The point man on the deal, real estate broker Andrew Jensen, was arrested last month for allegedly failing to cooperate with the investigation. Jensen, who was not charged, is set to meet with prosecutors this week.
The Wednesday blockbuster takes readers to political territory in and around County government several notches above that inhabited by middling Walker staffers and associates recently charged by the Milwaukee County District Attorney with diverting funds from a Walker-founded veterans' charity to pay for personal cruises and airplane tickets - - as serious as that conduct would be, if proven.

But as a former Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel reporter and assistant metropolitan editor, here's what jumped out at me about the Wednesday story: five Journal Sentinel staffers got bylines or contributor credit.


Even in the long-gone era of big newsroom staffs, five reporters does a serious team make.

Add in the copy, content, senior editing and design involvement, and it's even more clear that the paper, already owning the story, is really all-in as that story gets hotter.

If you are Scott Walker, or are on his team, or were with him in County government, trust me: this is not the way you hoped his State of the State speech Wednesday - - or the next few weeks or months - - would unfold

A Primer On Scott Walker's Year Of Deceit, Wisconsin's Decline

(originally posted Tuesday, Jan. 24, 1:52 p.m.) 

Here is what you will not hear, or what will be turned on its head Wednesday night as Scott Walker delivers his State of the State speech and tries to put lipstick on His Year of Living Deceitfully:

*  Walker withheld from the public his intention to bludgeon unions and public employees statewide and strip away nearly all their collective bargaining processes, then used the phrase "dropped the bomb" in a taped phone call to describe his action. And disclosed he'd considered sending provocateurs into crowds of protesters to make mischief.

Name another elected official in American who treats citizens, law and the workplace environment with such contempt.

What we learned as this unfolded was that sneakiness, misdirection and outright falsehoods were to be Walker hallmarks  - - the exact opposite of what he told a Lakeland Times reporter in a September, 2010 gubernatorial campaign interview was the virtue and strength he'd gained in the Milwaukee County Executive's office (more about that later):

When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said "I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said.
*  Little wonder, then that the media fact-checking service PolitiFact has examined 39 Walker statements and rated 27 of them, or 70%, as "mostly false, "false" "pants on fire." The statements vetted went across-the-board: budgets, health care, campaign disputes, education, tax relief, collective bargaining, state finances, the business climate and more.

*  Among his more brazen cynical manipulations that went beyond rhetoric was the disclosure that Walker's budget-appointees are using two sets of state fiscal figures. One allows Walker to claim in releases, interviews and self-promotional TV ads that the state budget is balanced - - but another allows him to claim an ongoing budget deficit for political reasons so the administration can toss low-income adults and children off state-supported health-care plans and pick an ideological fight with the Obama administration.

*  In a related manipulation, Walker claimed he was expanding the scope of publicly-funded health plans for the disabled, seniors and others - - and even invited advocates to a Madison news conference where he made his compassionate announcement - - then had to admit that the federal government had forced him to add people to the programs' rolls because he had removed them from coverage inappropriately. Details here.

*  Walker's ploys extend to environmental matters as he taints the state's political environment, too. Wetlands and waterways in the public domain are being readied for private takeover and probable degradation through multiple pieces of legislation initiated or sought by Walker. This giveaway of public water and land has been as narrow as a special wetlands-filling bill at Walker's insistence for one Green Bay developer (and Walker donor), and as sweeping as wetlands and mining changes statewide written into bills behind closed doors to speed-up development at the expense of clean water, treaties with Native Americans and 224 years of water protections incorporated into the state constitution's "Public Trust Doctrine."

*  Walker and his party pushed through a vote-suppressing ID law, another law with flawed and disenfranchising legislative-redistricting maps, and even - - read the next few words carefully - - openly and without apology ran Republicans posing as Democrats to extend Senate recall campaigns and the 'real' Republicans fund-raising and active campaigning time frames. Taxpayers had to pay the cost of the unnecessary primaries.

So what is the State of the State?

Stressed and suffering on Walker's watch through months of corrosive leadership, mounting job losses and negative publicity nationally.

*  All made worse by the behavior of Walker allies - - from State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser's intemperate outbursts, to Justice Michael Gableman's participation in cases argued by the high-profile law firm Michael Best & Friedrich which did not bill him for representation in a judicial ethics case worth $100,000, according to published estimates.

*  It is the same law firm that is collecting significant fees from state coffers for representing Republicans in their controversial redistricting.

*  And which is representing the Walker campaign in some aspects of the John Doe probe.

Details in the above bulleted points,  here.

All these events and revelations have played some role in fueling the recall campaigns aimed at Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a key Walker ally - - and which no doubt Walker will evade, distort, omit, misrepresent or spin during the State of the State speech Wednesday night.

It is his pattern - - and it exceeds the normal exaggerations in political speech and self-interested strategy.

But we know the truth, and I'll bet he does, too:

The recall efforts - - like those last year that cost the GOP two Senate seats - - are genuine grassroots efforts that withstood establishment political and media condemnation, opponents' vandalism and even scattered assaults, and yet garnered against Walker and Kleefisch, in a mere 60 cold wintery days, a history-making million+recall signatures.

And the necessary signatures also to force an election on Scott Fitzgerald in his conservative district, and in three other GOP-leaning State Senate districts.

This authentic citizen achievement was distorted by a demagogic Walker who has called it a movement of paid workers and outside labor bosses. And, he claimed last year's Capitol protesters were mostly out-of-state, though PolitiFact knocked that down as "false" in February, 2011.

It's not coincidental that the same manipulative, plotting and forked-tongued Governor who revealed himself these last 12 months also has had some donors, associates and even key, former staffers charged criminally - - with others reportedly about to be named - - because of plotting activities on his behalf.

Nor is it coincidental that Walker is now raising millions of dollars out-state for his recall defense from powerful individuals

Just four individuals, using a loophole in Wisconsin campaign law, have given a total of $1 million, the Journal Sentinel reports.

The Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice, whose reporting about the ongoing Walker-related John Doe probe has been outstanding, captured in this memorable column the ironic essence underlying Scott Walker's performance:
Gov. Scott Walker says he isn't worried about a John Doe investigation of his current and former aides.

That's because, Walker said, he is a man of integrity.

"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents," said Walker, whose father was a Baptist minister. "Certainly, they got me to the rank of Eagle Scout, and I continue to have that kind of integrity."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tommy Thompson Again Uses Jewish Terminology To Talk About Money

What is with Tommy Thompson, money and things Jewish?

He blew up his silly vanity run for the Presidency in 2007 by saying that making money was part of Jewish culture.

Today, the AP quotes Tommy, describing his financial success in the private sector this way:

Everybody knows I was broke when I left government five years ago," Thompson said in 2010. " `I've made a few shekels, not as many as you guys think I've made, but it's tough to go back, there's no question about that." 
The shekel is the official currency denomination of Israel, the Jewish state.

Why didn't Tommy say he'd made a few bucks, dollars, greenbacks?

Somehow, someway, money and Jewish images are tied together in Tommy's head.

He's learned nothing from his 2007 experience, when this was the news, and I hadn't seem the AP account above when I linked to a different article earlier in the day for a post in which I thought I could make a brief satirical reference to Tommy's past stumbles:
MONDAY, April 16, 2007, 5:24 p.m By Associated Press
Thompson apologizes for Jewish remarks

Republican presidential candidate Tommy Thompson told a Jewish group today that earning money is "part of the Jewish tradition," a remark for which he later apologized.

"I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money," the former Wisconsin governor told the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. "You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."

Later, he added: "I just want to clarify something because I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things. What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people and I compliment you for that."

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz first reported the comments.

A Wisconsin Assemblyman Parades His Biases

Videotaped arrogance: Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale), admits that the Assembly excluded Native Americans when drafting mining legislation that also covers many water issues, too.

Though the mining bill was written in such secrecy, but with input from the mining company, that no legislator would put his or her name on it as a sponsor.

But drafting input from the mining company? Sure.

From Native Americans whose Bad River watershed will get the mines' polluted silt. No.

And I remember when Stone was considered a reasonable, moderate, thoughtful guy. Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and I used to have coffee with Stone on Water St. to talk about transit, and government.

But these days, the Republicans feel free to air out their biases, Like State Sen Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), another former moderate, but who is now leading the fight for Indian high school mascots and nicknames, and, in the Senate, in favor of wetland fillings and quick mine approvals.

Discrimination is in vogue!

And the public be damned. It's the era of Walker and big money, so let the feast begin.

So let the mining lawsuits fly - - which the reckless Assembly knows are coming - -  with Stone's remarks becoming Exhibit "A."

Walker's Big Donor List

Still think there aren't economic classes in America? The 1% is buying Wisconsin. Digest this data.

Post-Debate Fact-Checking: Stimulus Created 1.2-3.7 Million Jobs Last Year

The next time you hear a righty radio talker or Republican candidate jabber about the stimulus and its impact on hiring, remember these numbers that CNN published right after Monday's GOP debate:

ROMNEY: President Barack Obama's $814 billion economic stimulus program "didn't create private-sector jobs."

THE FACTS: There is no support for that assertion. Between 1.2 million and 3.7 million full-time-equivalent jobs were created last year because of the stimulus, according to an August 2011 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Meanwhile, another government report found the stimulus program has paid $34.5 billion in tax incentives to businesses, including $260 million to hire younger, unemployed war veterans.

Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.