Obama v. Obama on Unions
- Candidate Obama, 2007: And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.
- President Obama, the weekend before the Wisconsin recall election over collective bargaining rights and union busting: It’s good to be back home. I’m sleeping in my bed tonight. I’m going to go to my kitchen and might cook something. Putter in my backyard.
Recalled WI state sen. claims cops were out to get him at DUI trial.
Former state Sen. Randy Hopper claims that politics played a role in his drunken driving arrest in Fond du Lac County following a Packers game last fall.
Hopper got on the stand Thursday morning on the first day of his two-day trial and said his vote to eliminate collective bargaining for most state employees was the catalyst for numerous threats aimed at him.“The day everything broke loose in Madison I had members of the union in my office who said, ‘If you don’t support us, we are going to destroy your life,’” Hopper said. “‘We’re going to picket your kids’ schools, we’re going to tear apart your reputation, we’re going to have you recalled.’”
Remember how union members picketed kids’ schools? Yeah, me neither. I don’t doubt Hopper got some nasty feedback over his vote (he lost the recall election, after all), but this seems to be gilding the lilly a little bit.
Anyway, the backstory is this; Hopper was driving back from the grocery store when someone noticed him driving erratically. That someone was a union member. They called the cops, who then showed up and busted him. Union + union = CONSPIRACY! Those terrible union thugs are out to get Randy!
Of course, no one in the car that reported him had any idea who he was. One of the passengers had to Google Hopper’s name when they found out. And this is fun:
In support of his conspiracy theory, Hopper testified that Fond du Lac Police Department Officer Keywon Brown confided in him in the Festival Foods parking lot that he would have handled the incident differently.
But a Fond du Lac Police Department spokesman says no such conversation between Hopper and Brown ever took place.
“We have spoken to Officer Brown, and he adamantly denies making any such comment to Mr. Hopper,” said Capt. Steve Klein. “The conversation never took place.”Klein said Brown was there to assist but if it had been the city’s case, Officer Brown would have handled it like any other OWI arrest.
“If there was probable cause to make an arrest, then there is probable cause and we would have made an arrest,” Klein said. “Obviously, Mr. Hopper is mistaken in what Officer Brown said to him that evening.”
This is all consistent with the over-arching Republican strategy nationwide: play the victim card every single chance you get.
WI Sen. targeted by recall to resign, breaking GOP majority.
State Sen. Pam Galloway, who faces a recall election this summer, plans to resign from the Senate shortly, leaving an even split between Republicans and Democrats.
“After a great deal of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to put the needs of my family first,” the Wausau Republican said in a statement Friday. “My family has experienced multiple, sudden and serious health issues, which require my full attention. Unfortunately, this situation is not compatible with fulfilling my obligations as state Senator or running for re-election at this time.”
Her statement did not say when her resignation would take effect, and her office said she was not available for an interview. She plans to speak to voters in her district on Sunday.
The recall election will still take place, becoming a de facto special election to fill the vacant seat. In terms of the Senate majority, this is more of a moral victory than anything. According to the report, “The new, 16-16 split will be brief, and one side or the other should take control in May or June, when recall elections are expected to be held for state senators.”
Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald claims this has nothing to do with the recall, but with so much at stake, it may just be a graceful bowing out.
Still, this should boost the moral of recall supporters, while undercutting that of opponents. We got one before anyone even cast a vote.
Wisconsin Summer Recall Wrap-Up: Republicans Call This “Winning”
I have to admit, I was prepared to be disappointed last night. After the last wave of Wisconsin recall elections, I was ready for at least one poll to be wrong and for dems to lose at least one seat. Turns out, all my preparations were for naught — both Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch sailed to easy and comfortable wins. I’m not going to complain.
It’s important to remember the rationale behind the recalls. For Republicans, it was their support of Gov. Walker’s union-busting. But for Democrats, the recalls were about leaving the state to prevent a quorum for that union-busting. Wisconsin residents were supposed to be outraged that dems had gone “fleebagger” — by conservatives’ argument, leaving the state rather than doing their jobs. So, of the two rationales, one proved weak. After the smoke had cleared, not a single Democrat had been recalled.
While losing is being cast as winning by Republicans and the punditry (the GOP keeps their senate majority, albeit barely), it’s important to note that this represents a shift in reasoning; a fact that’s not lost on Wisconsin native John Nichols.
Wisconsin Democrats have won the last two of nine state Senate recall elections held over the course of the summer, meaning that the opponents of Governor Scott Walker’s attacks on collective-bargaining rights have prevailed in the majority of recall elections and claimed the majority of votes cast in what many saw as a statewide referendum on Walker’s policies.
If the recalls really were a referendum on Walker’s agenda, then Walker clearly lost. Because, as Nichols points out, Democrats “claimed the majority of votes cast” in that referendum. Further, voters approved — in every, single race — of Democrats who left the state to deny that agenda.
And keeping their majority? That may not be much comfort to Republicans, as the debate has now been pulled back to the left toward the center.
That means that Democrat have narrowed the Republican advantage in the Wisconsin Senate to a razor-thin 17-16 split, which puts a moderate Republican senator who opposed Walker’s assault on collective-bargaining rights in a position to work with Democrats to temper the extremes of the governor and his allies.
Republicans point out that the Democrats did not succeed in taking control of the state Senate, an ardent hope of the opposition party and its allies as their pursued their efforts to oust GOP senators in last week’s recall voting in Republican districts across the state.
But the final tallies from a summer of recall elections confirm that the governor and his allies have suffered not just defeats in districts located in the north, south, east and west of the state but also a serious blow to their authority inside the state Capitol.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “The narrower majority would make it tougher to win approval of controversial legislation, such as stricter abortion restrictions or tougher penalties for illegal immigrants.”
A few more GOP “wins” like this and Walker won’t have any allies left in the Senate. And, if reports from Holperin’s election headquarters last night are any indication, this is far from over.
Katie Rosenberg, via Twitter:
During Holperin’s speech, the crowd was not chanting for him. They were chanting “Recall Walker.”
We definitely need the GOP to “win” like this more often.
Voter ID Solves Nothing
In the recall elections last night, Wisconsin Democrats came one seat short of their goal of taking the state senate from Republicans. As the night dragged on, it looked like a real possibility, but in the last hour or so, deja vu set in — everyone was waiting for result from Waukesha County and that county’s clerk, Kathy Nikolaus. At that point, the Democrat Sandy Pasch was in the lead — by better than ten points — and then a conservative county’s results came in and turned it all around. It looked bad, given Nikolaus’s recent history. The leader of the state Democratic Party issued an angry statement accusing the clerk of vote tampering, but later walked that back.
I’ve encapsulated that moment in history for a reason. Republicans argue that their new voter ID law, which wasn’t in full effect in last night’s elections, is necessary in “protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin.” If people aren’t sure that some voters are actually legally entitled to vote, then the people won’t have faith in their elected officials, because they won’t be sure those officials were lawfully elected. Never mind that not once in Wisconsin history has a wave of illegal voters thrown an election. Not even close.
Still, Wisconsinites have good reason to doubt the legitimacy of their elections. As Kathy Nikolaus demonstrates so well, the sheer incompetence of one county clerk can throw an election into question. Today, there are no shortage of people who believe that incumbent Alberta Darling didn’t win that race and, rightly or wrongly, question the legitimacy of that election. And in all that questioning, you won’t hear the words “voter fraud” once. The worry is vote tampering. And more.
In the runup to these elections, several groups sent out mailers urging voters to get their absentee ballots in by August 11 — a date past the deadline. And, just to make sure those absentee ballots wouldn’t be counted, they listed an incorrect address. The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin, Inc., and Wisconsin Family Action all sent out similar mailers and all had identical misinformation; an apparently coordinated effort at voter suppression through lies in several Wisconsin districts. Once again, the integrity of these elections are in question and — once again — absolutely no one believes the problem was with the voters.
Even Gov. Walker himself has a shady electoral record, with several of his donors accused of violating campaign finance laws. Most cases involve what amounts to money-laundering to exceed the limit on individual contributions. Many people now lack faith even in the governor’s legitimacy — and none of those people doubt him because of illegal voting.
Needless to say, the voter ID bill does nothing to restore anyone’s faith in Wisconsin elections. The problem is a system that allows abuse and lacks transparency. Showing an ID at the polls does absolutely nothing to address that and it’s not meant to — it’s meant to provide a beard for voter suppression and to create the appearance of election reform, while doing almost less than nothing to address the real problems. And why doesn’t it address those real problems? Why, because those problems advantage Republicans.
Last night, Republicans lost two seats in recall elections. So far, Democrats have lost none. Republicans are taking that as a win, because they didn’t lose control of the state senate. But this is like celebrating the fact that only two-thirds of your house burned down. It was not a good night for them. Spinning this as victory is setting the bar extremely low.
“Dems would be silly not proceed with Walker recall based on tonight,” commented elections whiz Nate Silver. “The results project to a toss-up if you extrapolate out statewide.” This is by no means finished.
But if Walker wins his own recall fight, will Wisconsinites have faith in the results of that election? I doubt it. We’ll see the same illegal dirty tricks and the same Peter Principle incompetence from election officials and the same campaign finance abuses.
If Wisconsinites have no faith in elections, you can’t blame the voters. You have to blame Republicans. And until violations of campaign finance laws and illegal voter suppression tactics come with actual prison sentences — not fines that are simply written off as overhead by corporations with deep pockets — that lack of faith will always be there.
The problem isn’t voters, the problem is Republicans.
News Roundup for 8/9/11
Do what the pretty lady says!
-Headline of the Day-
“Wisconsin Recall Voters Head To Polls To Kick Out Koch Overlords.”
Well, except people like me, who don’t get to play because our state senators are super-popular. But everyone else in Wisconsin is just going nuts. The most common phrase heard at polling places is “I’m just going to mark the shit outta that motherfucking box on my ballot! I will! You’ll see!”
In many districts, the turnout is described as being “near-presidential.” Everyone’s chewing their nails and pulling out their hair and saying, “I swore I was going to give up smoking.”
Which way is it going to go? Who knows? Dems are ahead in most races, but not by much in many — pretty much a dead heat. The odds are leaning one way, but that’s nothing you can take to the bank.
So, if you’re in Wisconsin and don’t have a beloved state senator like I do, why the hell are you sitting here reading this? VOTE! (Wonkette)
-Completely gratuitous comic-
because I’m counting the minutes until the polls close and can’t be bothered to look up other stuff.
Click to embiggen
Recalls are the Beginning, Not the End
At local blog Dane101, Steve Hanson writes what may be a near-perfect metaphor for the Wisconsin recall elections today.
The Tea Party Express has been touring the state for the last few days to mixed response. The first stop of the tour was in Hudson on Friday afternoon. Before their arrival a group of protesters was in place in the parking lot in the riverfront park. Activist Coni Gehler arrived with a Harsdorf’s Special Interests arrow, which she pointed at the bus as people arrived. At first nobody was certain that there actually were any travelers on the bus, since they sat in it for quite a while after arrival, but they slowly trickled out, and eventually about a dozen participants came out. A certain amount of mirth came from the fact that the bus proudly proclaimed that their next bus tour was going to take place in “August and Setpember of 2011.” There were quite a few schoolteachers in the audience, and cries of “spell check” rang out in the crowd. Never piss off school teachers.
An out-of-state group gets local chumps to tour around in a corporate-owned bus. Angry teachers. The facts-be-damned nature of the tea party. And yes, the TPE’s bus really does have a prominent misspelling on its fancy corporate paint job. The teabagger protester with the misspelled sign is a stereotype for a reason.
This was the stop where Tea Party Nation chief moron Judson Philips claimed that liberals “endorse and embrace an ideology that has killed a billion people” during the 20th century. A desperate and ridiculous lie, representative of a desperate and ridiculous right. These people are nearly as angry as they are terrified.
The language at the stop was warlike and disturbing. “This is ground zero,” Vince Schmuki of the Ozaukee Patriot tea party group told the crowd. “You remember what the term ground zero means? We have been attacked… Tuesday is going to be the beginning of our takeover. And we’re going to follow it up the following week, and then we’re going to polish off the enemy in November 2012. Who’s with me?”
Yes, recalling state senators is exactly like killing 3,000 people in a terrorist attack. Between this and Philips’ claimed that liberals killed one out of every seven people on Earth, you begin to wonder if tea party leaders have a little more than a disregard for facts — if they actually believe this stuff, they’re quite literally insane.
And, of course, the Tea Party is rapidly evaporating. Currently, only 18% of Americans have a favorable view of the teapartiers, while 40% view them unfavorably. Regardless of how they view the tea party, 43% believe they have too much influence over the Republican Party.
And who would want to be associated with these people? They seem to believe that the best argument isn’t the one that’s most logical, but the one that’s most offensive. “Andrea Shay King, who hosts a Patriot BlogTalkRadio show. Ms. King managed to be my own personal low point of the evening as she kept referring to liberals as crybabies, and crying out WAAH-WAAH-WAAH to the protesters,” Hanson writes of the Hudson stop. “This variety of clever persuasion was typical of the day.” Seriously, who could be proud of this stuff?
However the recalls turn out tonight, we can be sure of one thing, the fight isn’t over. There are still two more senate recall elections and the governor’s recall next year. But as the tea party dissipates, expect them to become even more desperate. And possibly dangerous.
If the tea party has an ideological parallel, it’s with the “right to life” movement. Both movements don’t have opponents, but enemies. They believe that the people who stand in their way aren’t people with whom they have a disagreement, but that they’re people who are evil. Teabaggers equate progressives with Nazis and Communists for a reason and that reason is that they actually believe this crap. Not that the people above, pulling the strings actually believe it, but that the chumpy puppets like Judson Philips do. And the people in that small crowd in Hudson, Wisconsin did.
When you’re fighting evil, there’s no reason to worry about fairness or ethics or morality. No matter what you do, it’s automatically right, because it’s a blow against evil. Dirty tricks? Who worries about fighting fair when you’re fighting the devil? All that matters is that you win. You’ve got to take back America from the liberals and the commies and the Nazis and Muslims and the gays and the godless. The survival of the nation depends on total victory and failure means we’ll all be marched off to the dreaded FEMA camps by the Obama Youth Army.
No matter how things turn out tonight, expect the remaining teapartiers to become more entrenched. Not only is this a fight for Wisconsin, but it’s a proxy war for national interests. If Republicans go down tonight, it’ll be felt in the hearts of nuts everywhere. Expect prolonged legal battles regardless of the outcome, which should also inflame ‘bagger passions. The anger will grow as their numbers diminish, until all that are left are few die-hard little white-hot balls of hatred and misplaced rage.
In Recall, Fake Democrats are at Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Expense
This is what’s known as “fiscal responsibility” among Republicans.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A Republican effort to stall recall elections by forcing Democratic primaries to be held will cost taxpayers at least tens of thousands of dollars, a check of local election clerks shows.
Meanwhile, the top Senate Republican said Tuesday that all GOP recall targets were familiar with the plan to delay the recall elections by fielding fake Democrats in primaries. Earlier, some of those recall targets claimed they didn’t know about the plan.
So here’s the point; Republicans are playing fast and loose with taxpayer money for political gain. Here’s Greg Sargent’s take on it.
This is not huge money on the state level. But this story is nonetheless very revealing. Keep in mind that the number one justification Wisconsin Republicans offered for taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees — the proposal that got this whole fight started — has been that it’s necessary to protect Wisconsin taxpayers! In his February address at the height of the crisis, Walker claimed he was pursuing the rollback of bargaining rights in order to protect the “millions of taxpayers from all across this state who know we’re doing the right thing.”
Now that Wisconsin GOP state senators are staring into the recall abyss, however, Wisconsin Republicans are willing to waste the money of those very same taxpayers on a scheme to tamper with Dem primary politics in a last-ditch effort to push back the recall elections in hopes of saving their hides.
What really gets me here is that this is the sort of thing that’s been sinking Republicans all along. Voters saw the Assembly lie about the scheduling of a vote, in order to pass it while Democrats were out of the chamber. We saw the Senate ignore an open meetings law for the same reason. GOP efforts throughout all this have been characterized by dirty tricks. People don’t like that. And now, here they are, pulling yet another dishonest tactic.
If Republicans are being recalled for reasons in addition to union-busting — and they are — these would be those reasons. And these would be the reasons that Democrats have been enjoying more success in their recall efforts. And now they’re willing to waste taxpayer money to save their butts.
They may think it’s a brilliant maneuver, but I really doubt it’s helping them any.
No Trick Too Low for Wisconsin GOP
Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog No Quarter has a piece up about dirty Republican tricks in efforts to recall Republican state senators. Long story short, the GOP is setting up fake Democrats to run primary elections against real Democrats.
Republicans are sending around a couple of letters nominating Democrats. “The [Government Accountability Board] is delaying Democratic elections to give them more time to organize,” the letters — which are identical except for a few names — say. “A Democratic primary will push the general election back by one month, so that [the GOP candidate] can have more time to organize a campaign against his liberal challenger.”
The Government Accountability Board is a non-partisan agency which, among other things, oversees elections. The GAB didn’t delay Democratic elections “to give them more time to organize,” they delayed them because Republicans used a private firm to collect recall signatures and, as a result, many of those signatures are questionable.
“By running these fake Democrats, Republicans would force the Democratic challengers to spend money on a primary that could have been used in the general election. Plus, the spoiler candidates could launch negative attacks on the Democrats while the Republican incumbents remain above the fray,” Bice writes. “[Chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party Dan] Feyen confirmed that he sent his letter trying to get a ‘protest candidate’ on the ballot in the Hopper race.” The letters come with petitions to get the candidates on the ballot.
And this has been Republicans’ biggest problem all along — they’ve been using every trick in the book to push their agenda. It’s why the Governor’s union-busting bill is tied up in the courts. It probably has a lot to do with why the state Republicans’ poll numbers are falling through the floor as well — people aren’t big fans of obviously unfair trickery.
And this is obvious trickery. How Democratic are these “democrats” the GOP wants on the ballot? “Both of the fake Democrats have a history of giving almost exclusively to major Republicans,” Bice reports. The two candidates — John Buckstaff and Rol Church — need 800 signatures to force a primary.
Busted, the GOP has not denied anything — probably because they can’t. Talking Points Memo’s Eric Kleefeld posts the state Republican Party’s official response to the issue:
The upcoming recall elections are unprecedented not only in Wisconsin, but in our nation’s history. Unlike the Democratic Senators who deserted their constituents for a trip to Illinois, six Republican state Senators face recall not for misconduct, but for doing the job they were elected to do: taking a stance on a tough issue that came before the legislature. Now, these Republican senators are again busy doing their jobs crafting a fiscally responsible state budget that promotes economic growth, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage with many of their challengers who have had sufficient time to campaign. Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved. The public deserves time to learn about the differences between the candidates and about the Republican plan to control government spending and boost economic growth vs. the Democrat alternative of job-killing tax hikes.
You know how to tell a rationalization from an explanation? Rationalizations are wordy. This isn’t an explanation.
The people of Wisconsin are going to need a better answer than this. I wouldn’t bet on them getting one.