Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall Madness!Posted: June 5, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, Labor unions, morning reads, Populism, Psychopaths in charge, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, Right to Work, Tea Party activists, The DNC, the GOP, the villagers, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Chris Cillizza, grass roots activism, InTrade, John Nichols, Koch Brothers, PPP polling, public employee unions, Rebecca Kleefisch, Scott Walker, Tom Barrett, voter turnout, Wisconsin recall election 65 Comments
Today is the day of reckoning for Wisconsin. Voters will go to the polls today to decide the fate of Governor Scott Walker and five other Wisconsin Republicans: the Lieutenant Governor and four state senators. If the Democrats can win just one of those seats, they will regain the senate majority.
I think everyone here knows the genesis of this recall battle, but here’s a quick explainer from Chris Cillizza at the WaPo. Cillizza also speculates on possible surprising outcomes from the election.
Cillizza allows that Barrett could conceivably win and the Democrats could retake the senate–the latest poll by PPP had Walker leading by only 3 points, within the margin of error. The poll also suggested that Barrett had the momentum as of yesterday. On the other hand, InTrade had Walker’s chances at more than 90% late last night. The truth is no one really knows for sure, because the turnout and enthusiasm on each side will tell the tale. Cillizza, being a Villager, still thinks Walker will win, but thinks the Senate could switch.
When they filed petitions to recall Walker himself last fall, Democrats also filed papers to recall another four state senators — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Sens. Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard, (Galloway resigned earlier this year; Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski is running for her seat.)
They need only win one race to take control.
Fitzgerald is likely safe given his heavily Republican district, although Lori Compas, his Democratic rival, has attracted a lot of media attention.
But Democrats are bullish on the races against Moulton and Wanggaard. Both districts went for President Obama in 2008; Wanggaard’s went narrowly for John Kerry in 2004. Whether Barrett wins or not, they expect to take back the state Senate.
Moulton faces former state Rep. Kristen Dexter; Wanggaard faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D). Outside groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides. State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) also has a shot at beating Petrowski; before Galloway the seat had gone Democratic for two decades.
Cillizza points out that if Barrett wins and the Democrats take the state senate and could get some of the Walker legislation overturned before another election could give the senate back to the Republicans. The other possibility, Cillizza mentions is that Democrats could defeat Walker’s Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, but that’s pretty unlikely. She’s leading in the polls at the moment.
The Seattle Times had a good article on Sunday about the national issues that are at stake in the election today.
Under fire for cutting budgets at the expense of public employees, Walker would be the third governor in U.S. history yanked from office in a recall election. Walker has an edge, but the race is close.
The campaign will mean more than who governs Wisconsin. It’s a test case of the larger clashes in American politics that are driving elections for the presidency and control of Congress, highlighting divisions over the costs of government.
With more than $30 million raised from conservative donors, many of them from other states, and visits from a who’s who of high-profile Republican governors (New Jersey’s Chris Christie, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell), Walker’s campaign to survive the recall has the feel, the money and the stakes of a national race.
The state vote is raising questions that will echo nationwide. Can a tough-minded conservative Republican force cuts in government at the risk of angering public-employees unions and win a swing state such as Wisconsin? Will voters think he’s doing the best he can in a tough time? Or will they rise in a grass-roots backlash against the well-financed Republican effort?
Admittedly, that article has a Republican flavor, but it does do a pretty good job of spelling out the issues. For a more left-wing perspective, here’s a lengthy piece at by Sarah Jaffe of Alternet: Wisconsin’s Recall Drama Down to Nail-Biting Finish.
Wisconsin’s recall is, as reporter John Nichols put it, the kind of “renegade politics” that are disdained by the national Democratic party and even some state Democrats. It is being driven by the same activists who turned out by the thousands to occupy their capitol when Governor Scott Walker attacked workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.
Now, a day before the biggest recall yet—of Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators—the fight will be won or lost where it began: on the ground.
There’s a lot of big outside money pouring into Wisconsin, mostly to pump up Walker’s attempt to hang on to his seat, but the one thing that money can’t buy is an excited, driven grassroots movement. If Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett beats Walker on Tuesday, it will be because of thousands of volunteers getting out the vote person by person.
“This is really a case of Walker raising $13 million against possibly the most widespread grassroots get-out-the-vote effort in the state’s history,” Matt Reiter, co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told AlterNet.
Please try to check that one out. It’s long, and very informative. John Nichols of The Nation (mentioned prominently in Jaffe’s piece) is Wisconsin native, and has written a book about the struggle in his home state. Here’s a piece Nichols wrote yesterday: How To Buy A Recall Election.
Governor Scott Walker is not trying to win the Wisconsin recall election that will be held June 5.
He is trying to buy it.
If the embattled governor does prevail, he will provide essential evidence not of his own appeal but of the power of money to define our politics.
On the other hand, if Walker is defeated, a template will have been developed for a people-power, message-power politics that might be able to challenge big money.
And there is no question that what is in play is very big money.
Read the gory details at the link.
At Salon, Josh Eidelson writes about the possible effects of some Wisconsin voters’ “resentment” of union workers on the recall outcome.
If Scott Walker survives tomorrow’s election, there will be plenty of reasons. Many people will point to his huge cash advantage, for good reason. But no factor will have been more important than the decades of decline in U.S. union membership.
“Unions had their place,” a woman named Jerri told me soon after I arrived in Wisconsin last week. “They did their part back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and then they got too big, and are abusing their power.” Jerri and her husband, Tim (both declined to give last names), were eating at a bar in Wauwatosa, the purple Milwaukee suburb that’s home to Scott Walker. They both work in sales: She’s in retail at the mall; he’s in wholesale, selling caskets. Tim said Walker’s union “reforms” were necessary because local politicians had been “looking out for the union” instead of “people like me.” He said unions are for people who don’t “feel they should have to work very hard.” Jerri complained that unions “are sucking off my teat.” Public workers’ benefits, she said, “should be the same as anybody in any kind of private job.”
That last statement is most telling. While resentment toward unions has grown since the 1950s, it’s not because they got too big. It’s because they got too small. A multi-decade drop in unionization left fewer Wisconsinites who are union members or live in union households. Meanwhile, because governments are less prone than businesses to terrorize workers or shut down facilities to avert unionization, public sector unionization has remained more stable. In 2009, for the first time, there were more total U.S. union members in government employment than in the entire private sector.
That one is pretty scary for those of us who care about quality education and public services.
The Wall Street Journal highlights the importance of turnout in the recall election.
Both sides say few voters remain undecided, after more than $63.5 million in political spending saturated the airwaves and clogged voters’ mailboxes. A weekend survey by the Democratic group Public Policy Polling found Mr. Walker holding a slight lead and only 3% of likely voters undecided. With few voters left to persuade, the main question is which side will win the turnout battle.
Labor groups and their allies knocked on more than 300,000 doors during the past few days and placed more than 400,000 phone calls, said Brian Weeks, the assistant political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.
Unions historically have had a strong ground game. But Republicans said they took a page from labor’s playbook and have developed a coordinated get-out-the-vote effort, which could also give the party a boost in the November presidential election, helping the GOP equal the Democrats’ election-day machinery.
Felicia Sonmez and Rachel Weiner of the WaPo write about the battle of “TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground.” They say that this election:
serves as a proxy for the national battle between Democrats’ much-touted ground organization and Republicans’ fundraising advantage.
With Walker ahead in the polls and leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) in the money race by more than 7 to 1 – and with GOP-aligned outside groups far outspending their counterparts across the aisle — Democrats maintain that their shot at victory depends on a far superior get-out-the-vote operation buoyed in large part by organized labor.
According to Monica Davey at the NYT,
About 60 to 65 percent of Wisconsin residents of voting age are expected to go to the polls on Tuesday, the state’s Government Accountability Board said. That would be a higher turnout than two years ago, when Mr. Walker and a wave of Republicans largely swept state and federal offices here, but not as high as the more than 69 percent turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama easily won the state.
Only time will tell. We’ll have a live blog this evening so we can follow the results together. Now I need you to let me know what else is in the news. I look forward to clicking on your links.
Breaking… Two Wisconsin Democrats win recall votesPosted: August 16, 2011 Filed under: Labor unions, U.S. Politics | Tags: Bob Wirch, Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, public employee unions, Scott Walker, Wisconsin recall votes 3 Comments
Two sitting Wisconsin Democratic State Senators faced recall votes today. One of the races has been decided so far.
Wisconsin state Sen. Bob Wirch (D) has defeated corporate attorney Jonathan Steitz (R) in a recall election.
Wirch’s 22nd district seat is Democratic leaning, although Gov. Scott Walker (R) won narrowly there in the 2010 election. In the Republican-leaning 12th district, state Sen. Jim Holperin (D) is fighting tea party activist Kim Simac (R).
Wirch and Holperin were among the Democratic State Senators who fled Wisconsin to stall the vote on Governor Scott Walker’s union busting bill.
Politico is reporting (via breaking news e-mail) that both Wisconsin Democrats have now survived the recall votes.
A third Democrat, Dave Hansen, easily won his recall vote in July.
Please use this as an open thread.
Tuesday ReadsPosted: March 1, 2011 Filed under: abortion rights, Barack Obama, fetus fetishists, Foreign Affairs, Libya, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: assassinations, collective bargaining, conspiracy theories, public employee unions, Scott Walker, Sirhan Sirhan, union busting 16 Comments
Good Morning politics junkies!! I’ve got a few juicy reads for you today, so let’s get right to it.
First up, the ongoing protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempted union-busting in Wisconsin. There already have been a couple of polls showing that the majority of Americans support the fight for workers’ rights, and specifically the right of public employees to bargain collectively.
Public Policy Polling (PPP) announced last night that if Wisconsin voters could have a “do over,” Walker would not win the election for Governor.
if voters in the state could do it over today they’d support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin.
The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households. Voters who are not part of union households have barely shifted at all- they report having voted for Walker by 7 points last fall and they still say they would vote for Walker by a 4 point margin. But in households where there is a union member voters now say they’d go for Barrett by a 31 point margin, up quite a bit from the 14 point advantage they report having given him in November.
It’s actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again.
Fascinating, huh? In addition, the results of the latest NY Times/CBS poll shows majority support for public employee unions.
Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.
Those surveyed said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits, breaking down along similar party lines. A majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed both cuts in pay or benefits and taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
A couple of days ago, the Los Angeles Police Protective League blog urged support for Wisconsin publish employees who have been protesting in Madison for more than a week now.
An attack on the collective bargaining process in any of the 50 states is an attack on every unionized worker in America. California, long a pro-labor state, is no exception. Following the Wisconsin governor’s lead, a Republican state assemblyman from Costa Mesa has announced legislation to eliminate collective bargaining for pension benefits by California’s public employees. While Assemblyman Allan Mansoor’s bill – aimed at addressing the increasing costs of retired public employees – stands little chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, it serves as a reminder that we must remain vigilant and prepared to take action whenever our basic union rights are threatened.
President Obama actually spoke in vague terms (does he ever get specific?) about union workers. I won’t bother to quote his meaningless words; I just want to note that Scott Walker responded to Obama’s remarks–and, if anything, he was more vague and meaningless than Obama. What a pair!
In Libya, vicious tyrant Muammar el-Qaddafi (or Gadhafi, or Gaddafi–or however the heck you spell it) is getting more out of touch with reality with each passing day. From The New York Times:
Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya is deep into a fantasy world. In an interview with ABC News, he insisted that his people “love me,” blamed the courageous uprising against his rule on “terrorists” and refused to take responsibility for his many crimes.
Only if you believe the old saw, “you only hurt the ones you love.” More details from CNN:
Embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi flatly denied Monday the existence of the protests threatening to end his 41-year rule, as reports of fighting between government forces and rebels raged another day.
In a joint interview with ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour and the BBC, Gadhafi also denied using force against his people, Amanpour reported. Excerpts of the interview were posted on the networks’ websites.
“No demonstration at all in the streets,” he said, speaking at a restaurant in Tripoli.
Told by the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen that he had seen demonstrators in the streets that morning, Gadhafi asked, “Are they supporting us?”
“They love me, all my people with me, they love me all. They will die to protect me, my people,” he said.
Now those are truly spectacular delusions!
At Al Jazeera, there’s a great article on revelations about the Gaddafi family drawn from cables released by Wikileaks.
For my fellow conspiracy buffs, here’s a fascinating story from Salon about the latest appeal for parole by RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan.
More than four decades after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, his convicted murderer wants to go free for a crime he says he can’t remember.
It is not old age or some memory-snatching disease that has erased an act Sirhan Bishara Sirhan once said he committed “with 20 years of malice aforethought.” It’s been this way almost from the beginning. Hypnotists and psychologists, lawyers and investigators have tried to jog his memory with no useful result….
“There is no doubt he does not remember the critical events,” said William F. Pepper, the attorney who will argue for Sirhan’s parole Wednesday. “He is not feigning it. It’s not an act. He does not remember it.”
Of course he doesn’t remember it. He’s a “Manchurian Candidate.”
Pepper also suggests Sirhan was “hypno-programmed,” turning him into a virtual “Manchurian Candidate,” acting robot-like at the behest of evil forces who then wiped his memory clean. It’s the stuff of science fiction and Hollywood movies, but some believe it is the key.
I’m going to leave you with this video of an enraged husband yelling at Christian Taliban pickets outside an abortion clinic where he and his wife went for help with a terrible medical problem. Thanks to Dakinikat who sent this to me last night.
What are you reading and blogging about today?
Monday ReadsPosted: January 10, 2011 Filed under: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, financial institutions, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: and Civil Liberties, Arizona shooting, buried cemetery, censorship, Civil Rights, Darrell Issa, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, House Oversight Committee. Jerry Nadler, House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Huckleberry Finn, LA Heritage Center, literature, Mark Twain, Morning reads, public employee unions, Racism, Republicans, Shakespeare, slurs, war on unions 42 Comments
Good Morning! It’s been a tough weekend. As usual when dreadful events happen, the cable channels are covering the shooting in Arizona 24/7. Things are still happening in the DC despite the horror of that story. I just don’t know how much more I can read about it. Thinking about senseless hatred and violence is starting to make me feel physically ill.
If you do want to read more about the Arizona tragedy, the Washington Post has special section on it: Special Report: The Tucson shooting rampage. The New York Times also has lots of stories and photos on the front page.
Now I’ll see if I can find any other important stories for you to check out this morning.
On Saturday, I wrote a long piece on Darrell Issa, the man who is going have subpoena power as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The man is a thug, and we’d better be paying attention to what he’s doing. I hope when the news about the shooting calms down that people will take a look at that piece. I don’t usually “pimp” my posts, but I feel that this one is important.
Now I see that the Republicans plan to make changes in another important House committee: Republicans banish ‘civil rights’ and ‘civil liberties’ from House subcommittee
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) blasted Republicans for planning to change the name of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties to the “Constitution Subcommittee.”
“Once again, the new Republican majority has shown that it isn’t quite as committed to the Constitution as its recent lofty rhetoric would indicate,” Rep. Nadler, who has served as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties since 2007, said.
“It has yet again shown its contempt for key portions of the document – the areas of civil rights and civil liberties – by banishing those words from the title of the Constitution Subcommittee.”
The Subcommittee on the Constitution is one of five subcommittees of the US House Committee on the Judiciary. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over constitutional amendments, constitutional rights, federal civil rights, ethics in government, and related matters.
I’ve seen people talking about this in the comments, but can I just say that I’m sick and tired of people tampering with Huckleberry Finn? It’s one of my favorite books. I have read it multiple times, and I happen to think it’s a candidate for the Great American Novel.
Mark Twain wrote the book the way he did to deliver some serious messages, one of which was an argument against racism. He did that by demonstrating in his novel why racism is wrong. There is also a strong message in the book about child neglect and abuse and about alcoholism. It’s a brilliant book, and there is no need to censor it. If it is taught in school, then the context of the language Twain used can be discussed and debated. Huckleberry Finn is not a children’s book. High school students are perfectly capable of understanding the book and its importance.
Here’s a piece at Truthdig that offers 10 Reasons Why the Slurs Should Stay in ‘Huck Finn.’ It’s pretty good.
When I was a senior in high school I read Shakespeare’s plays in my English class. There were two teachers who taught the Shakespeare course. My teacher had us read the plays aloud as written. The other teacher, an elderly woman, had students read the “dirty” parts silently. I’m glad I wasn’t in her class. But at least she didn’t make the students skip over those parts entirely or try to censor the plays.
I say let’s read the greatest works of literature as written.
Here’s a interesting and ironic story at the LA Times: 1800s-era skeletons discovered as crews build L.A. heritage center
Under a half-acre lot of dirt and mud being transformed into a garden and public space for a cultural center celebrating the Mexican American heritage of Los Angeles, construction workers and scientists have found bodies buried in the first cemetery of Los Angeles — bodies believed to have been removed and reinterred elsewhere in the 1800s.
Since late October, the fragile bones of dozens of Los Angeles settlers have been discovered under what will be the outdoor space of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes downtown near Olvera Street. According to archaeologists and the chief executive of La Plaza, they appear to be remains from the Campo Santo, or cemetery, connected to the historic Catholic church Our Lady Queen of Angels, commonly called La Placita. The remains are just south of the church.
Pieces of decaying wood coffins as well as religious artifacts such as rosary beads and medals have also been unearthed.
The cemetery, which officially closed in 1844, was the final resting place of a melting pot of early Los Angeles — Native Americans; Spanish, Mexican, European settlers; and their intermarried offspring. But the repercussions of the discovery outside La Placita have been anything but peaceful.
So digging up the bones of early settlers in order to build a monument to early settlers. Ironic.
Dakinikat sent me this Bloomberg article about Goldman Sachs and their investment in Facebook.
News has leaked out that Goldman, supposedly the smartest Wall Street firm, will buy $450 million of stock in closely held Facebook, with Digital Sky Technologies, which invests in start- ups and is partly owned by Goldman, purchasing another $50 million.
The anonymous folks who put out these numbers said the deal sets a value for Facebook equal to that of Boeing Co. and approaching that of Home Depot Inc.
Goldman clearly is capitalizing on Wall Street’s latest diversion: a semi-public stock market for private companies.
Several firms now offer shares of closely held companies or offer estimates of their value, or both.
It seems that Goldman is hyping Facebook in order to increase the value of its own investment in advance of Facebook going public. Shouldn’t that be illegal?
Dak also sent me this link to the Economist about the war on government unions: It’s a long article and I haven’t been able to read the whole thing yet, but it looks worthwhile. Perhaps Dak will do a longer post on this issue.
Bethany McLean from Vanity Fair has a great reportage about Goldman Sachs. These poor guys, they’re so misunderstood.
The Bank Job
One of the biggest disconnects on Wall Street today is between the way Goldman Sachs sees itself (they’re the smartest) and the way everyone else sees Goldman (they’re the smartest, greediest, and most dangerous). Questioning C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein, C.O.O. Gary Cohn, and C.F.O. David Viniar, among others, the author explores how their firm navigated the collapse of September 2008, why it has already set aside $16.7 billion for compensation this year, and which lines it’s accused of crossing.
There’s more on the heinous crimes of the week-end, violent rhetoric from Right (spare me the “Both-Sides-Do-It”), and intimidation of political figures.
How the Tucson Massacre Rattled U.S. Judges
For a moment, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll seemed as likely the main target of the Tucson massacre as Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In 2009, Roll had come under threats severe enough that he and his family were placed under 24-hour protection by the U.S. Marshals Service. After he ruled that a high-profile suit brought by a group of Mexican immigrants could proceed, his phone lines were deluged with angry callers — including at least four that threatened violence.
At the time, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona told the Arizona Republic that the threats had been egged on by radio talk-show hosts critical of Roll’s decision. Critics began sharing his personal information on Web sites as the rhetoric became more heated. The round-the-clock protection lasted a month, though Roll ultimately decided not to press charges against the callers.
For some members of the judiciary, the news that Roll was among the six who died during the shooting spree in Tucson was unsettling in ways that went beyond personal grief from those who knew and served with Roll, who had been placed on the bench by President George H. W. Bush in 1991 at the urging of Senator John McCain. Just minutes after learning of the slayings, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman of Chicago told TIME in an email that the news of the murder was “very disturbing… Just when we were beginning to feel more secure.”
Or I see. There’s a big difference between men’s tears and women’s tears. As “luck” would have it (or as always in these matters), men’s tears are a turn on for women, but women’s tears are a turnoff for men. Or is it? There’s an interesting study out but not all agree on the interpretation of the results.
Crying, Sex, and John Boehner: Not So Fast
The study is, predictably, getting a lot of media attention (WOMEN’S TEARS SAY, ‘NOT TONIGHT, DEAR’), but experts on tears and crying aren’t so sure the findings mean what the Weizmann scientists say they do. “I like their study very much, and I think their results are fascinating, but I have my doubts about their interpretation,” says Vingerhoets. “I suspect the sexual effect is just a side effect: testosterone, which was reduced when men sniffed the women’s tears, isn’t only about sex: it’s also about aggression. And that fits better with our current thinking about tears.”
Sooooo…. What are you reading this morning?