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."
We shouldn't forget Walkers scheme, hatched with Biddy Martin, to privatize the UW turning it into a U. of Michigan clone and allowing the rest of the system to wither on the vine. Personally I thought this was a bait and switch to impose draconian budget cuts while we were all distracted by that shiny light.
Do they actually vet Eagle Scouts for integrity and other Scout virtues? If so, Inspector Eagle Scout was asleep at the wheel. Or do you just have to earn enough badges?
The more he spoke of his honor, the more we counted our spoons.
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