You are browsing the archive for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin – Democrats Come Up Short, but Don’t Score it as a Flat Loss

5:00 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Fred Clark Campaign

Fred Clark Campaign by WisPolitics.com

So the Democrats in Wisconsin came up short in their efforts to flip the State Senate in recall elections. On the binary tally of win-lose, it is a loss. But I am not sure that is the complete story.

It is still an historic effort and that also has to be scored as a win. Remember how we got to these elections in the first place. When the Republicans gained control of the both Houses of the Legislature and the Governors office, they set out on a path of policy that incensed many Wisconsinites.

Their hard right policies and the way they went about enacting them mobilized tens of thousands of Union members, workers and average voters. They went out into the bitterly cold Wisconsin winter to make their extreme displeasure known, and when they were ignored they took advantage of the process to try to recall the six Republican State Senators that were eligible under the law for recall.

They faced an uphill fight all the way. Getting the signatures in the right amount of time, faux Democratic candidates running with the explicit purpose of slowing the process down and allowing out of state money to work longer.

We should not discount that money. Millions and millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers (the nominal owners of Gov. Scott Walker, or maybe they just lease him?) and Crossroads GPS have poured like the Red River in flood into the state.

Then there is the fact that all six of these Republicans were elected in 2008, a year that was a wave election for Democrats. These are what you would call “safe-seats” for Republicans.

All of these made this a truly epic struggle, and yet the people of Wisconsin went out and came within a hair’s breadth of achieving the ultimate goal of flipping control of the State Senate. That they failed by one seat is a pretty strong indicator of how close this really was.

Dad always said (yeah, he was a huge one for sayings) “Nothing ever beat a good try but failure.” Sometimes you do all you can and you still come up short of the goal. But a lot of that determination of failure is dependent on what your goal is.

If you have multiple goals there can be a range of success and failure. Last night in Wisconsin we did see an overall electoral defeat, as long as we focus on the idea of flipping the Senate, but was that really the only goal?
Read the rest of this entry →

Charles Krauthammer Takes a Swipe At Labor And Dems

5:26 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

labor at the table - Rivera Court

labor at the table - Rivera Court

Ugh I don’t even know why I bother to read the Washington Post editorial page. Maybe it is the boost it gives my morning by raising my blood pressure, but in any case I exposed my tender brain-cells the thoughts of Charles Krauthammer this morning.

Chucky has a piece in the WaPo with the title of “The union owned Democrats” the first thing I thought when I read it was “I wish!”. This is a tired old meme from a tired old man. The idea that everything the Democrats do on issues of workplace rules or safety is somehow motivated by the fact that unions overwhelmingly support Democrats.

It could not possibly be because the funders of the Republican party have been wanting to dismantle the counterbalancing force of organized labor for, well, ever. One of the reasons that Ronald Regan has been sainted if not deified by the Republican Party is that he broke the Air Traffic Controllers union and set the DOJ on other unions looking for mafia ties and corruption. It was the start of the major decline of the Labor movement in this country.

What has Krauthammer’s undies in a twist? A couple of things; first off there is the NLRB’s decision to take Boeing to court over the union busting attempt they made by building a factory in South Carolina, which is a right to work state. To be clear (since everyone including Chucky misses this point) it is not about the fact that Boeing decided to build a new plant in a management friendly state, it is their intentions in doing so. You can build wherever you like, but if you do it with the intention of busting your union at your primary facilities, that is illegal.

He also rails against the saving of the Auto Industry by the Obama administration. Take a look:

In 2009, Obama pushed through a federally run, questionably legal, bankruptcy for the auto companies that robbed first-in-line creditors in order to bail out the United Auto Workers.

You know, the successful saving of our domestic auto industry did have some benefits for UAW workers. But they also took on a lot of liability to help out with that. They are now funding the health care that was promised by GM and Chrysler to employees who worked their entire lives on the factory floor. The UAW did it because it would help to reduce the costs of the companies and save jobs, but it was not like they were not taking over an obligation that was the auto companies. It is and was a big blow to the financial health of the UAW, but it was the right thing to do.

Read the rest of this entry →

Water Cooler – No Matter What, Threats Of Political Violence Are Unacceptable

5:07 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Threat level update

Threat level update by opacity, on Flickr

There have been some troubling events in the last couple of days and I feel compelled to talk about them because they relate to issues that I have covered in various posts and Water Coolers. In the last week there has been death threats to 15 Wisconsin Republican Senators over their votes in the collective bargaining stripping bill.

There have also been threats to the Mackinac Center in Michigan. The Center recently got some press for filing Freedom of Information Act requests of the entire labor studies department at the University of Michigan and other professors at Wayne State and Michigan State.

Unlike the Wisconsin case there is no suspect and no one arrested at this point. It is kind of annoying for me to have to say this, since I don’t want to think that the Left would ever stoop to this kind of tactic, whereas I am always willing to believe the worst of the Howler Monkey’s of the Right, but this is unacceptable for anyone, ever.

Let me be really clear, I am not pointing a finger at anyone on the FDL family of sites. One of the things that will always get a post or a comment pulled for moderation is threats of or advocating of violence.

Politics is often heated, hell at a site where we mostly agree on goals we can get pretty damned heated amongst ourselves. Any time there is a move towards violence it is bad for a democracy. I think that we can all agree that our democracy has enough problems without adding a growing culture that accepts change by violence as a viable means of political change.

The young woman who made the threats admitted to doing it when confronted by the police. 26 year old Katharine Windels was angry and overly emotional. She said in her interview that she never intended to follow through on the threat she made, yet she made a very scary threat.

In part her e-mails to the State Senators read:

“Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks”

That is not the kind of thing that is acceptable, even in the heat of a fight where one side seems to be breaking the rules and laws of the State. I know this is remedial for everyone reading it but it is never, ever going to be acceptable to try to intimidate politicians or political groups with violence. Even the mere threat does damage that is hard to correct to our discourse. Anyone one doing it, no matter their political beliefs is anathema to me and should be to anyone involved in politics in any fashion.

Read the rest of this entry →

Breaking News: Eric Cantor And Jethro Bodine Separated At Birth!

5:34 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Bodineism started as a way for me to highlight the nitwittery of the Republicans in the 111th Congress. They say and do really gob smacking things and I post about comparing them to that gormless but loveable hillbilly Jethro Bodine. But I have to wonder if I have actually, through some unintended and accidental sorcery called this disease into reality (I’m probably taking too much on myself with that, still)?

It is one thing to misinterpret the Constitution, it is open for interpretation and people can be honestly wrong, but it is quit another for a Member of Congress in a leadership position to propose action that is completely outside the boundaries of the Constitution. Which is exactly what Eric Cantor is doing.

He is proposing and will force the House to bring to a vote a measure he is calling the “Government Shutdown Prevention Act”. What this Act will say is that if the Senate does not pass a budget measure by April 6th, then HR 1, the Republicans draconian and job slaughtering bill (which, by the way the Senate has already voted down) will become the law of the land.

I hear you all going “But, but, but… Doesn’t the Senate have to pass a bill and the President sign it for it to be law?” Why, yes, yes it does. It seems that the raven haired, square jawed Virginia Republican who is the House Majority Leader does not understand how the body he has been part of for a decade now works.

If there were an “All Time Jethro Bodineism Award” it is certain that Rep. Cantor would be earning himself a place in the nominees. It is easy to dismiss this as insane and a stunt, but I see a bigger picture emerging among Republicans nation wide.

The lawless behavior of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin has shown that he and his Republicans have a shocking disregard for the laws of their state. They have broken and bent the rules to pass their union busting bill and have even defied a court order in the implementation of the law.
Read the rest of this entry →

When What You Study Makes You A Political Target, Labor Edition

5:33 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

labor at the table - Rivera Court

labor at the table - Rivera Court by dfb, on Flickr

At what point does your work make you a target for political harassment? As a blogger I get a small amount of hate mail and a moderate amount of harassing mail (the two are different, one you can see the person foaming at the mouth, the other you can see their grin at wasting your time), but that is kind of par for the course.

However a troubling trend has started from the Right with regards to State University professors. They are nominally State employees, so the Right as begun to use Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to look at all of the e-mails of professors.

It all started with Ken “the Cooch” Cuccinelli, the Attorney General of Virginia, talking about going after a climate science researcher in the totally discredited “climate gate” incident. Since then there have been FOIA requests of a William Cronon of University of Wisconsin in connection with the illegal and unethical actions of the Republicans and Gov. Walker in that state.

Now it is spreading. Talking Points Memo first reported and now the New York Times is picking up the story of several conservative groups in Michigan who are asking for a wide swath of e-mails from three professors from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

The group is called the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It is one of a network of state based conservative groups that is associated with the uber conservative Heritage Foundation, with donors like the Koch Brothers and the Walton family of the Wal-Mart fortune.

From the TMP article:

But where those requests were relatively narrow — looking for emails surrounding a specific incident or specific plans for a strike — the FOIAs sent to state university labor studies faculty are quite broad. The parameters for the request, from a version of the FOIA obtained by TPM and confirmed by Mackinac, cover emails that mention:

“Scott Walker”; “Wisconsin”; “Madison”; “Maddow”; Any other emails dealing with the collective bargaining situation in Wisconsin.

The request covers all faculty emails from “January 1, 2011 to March 25, 2011.”

Read the rest of this entry →

Water Cooler – Lawless In Wisconsin

4:57 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Lawless Center

"Lawless Center by Thomas Hawk, on Flickr"

Everyone who reads these posts knows that I like to take shots at Republicans. No big surprise there, but it is becoming really kind of scary what Republicans are doing in regards to the rule of law.

Dad used to describe the law as a game where the people who know the rules the best mostly win. That is why it was so important that average folks have the best legal representation available, if they did not have it they would be run over by the companies and people who did.

That worked for most of my life, but it seems that the Wisconsin Republicans lead by Koch Brothers wholly owned Governor Walker won’t even follow the rules of the game. They pulled a fast one with sending a bill that had not been passed by the State Senate to conference committee and then declaring that the Union busting provisions were not in fact financially based.

By making this change they could pass the conference committee bill by a simple majority and they did. The problem was that they did not allow the 24 hours that Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law requires.

It got them into legal water hot enough that a district judge put a stay on the Secretary of State from publishing the law, which is part of the process and the law from being implemented.

The Judge said:

“I do, therefore, restrain and enjoin the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. The next step in implementation of that law would be the publication of that law by the secretary of state. He is restrained and enjoined from such publication until further order of this court.”

Now the lawless Republicans in Wisconsin feel like they have found a way around this. They did not have the Sec. State publish the law, but the Legislative Reference Bureau instead. They are claiming that this means that the law will go into affect tomorrow morning.

It is always an incredibly bad idea to try to thwart Judges rulings. They do not take it kindly and they don’t ever forget. It still remains to be seen if Judge Sumi will go further to say that the law can not be enforced until the case regarding the Open Meetings Law is resolved. At a guess I would say yes, like I said, judges do not like it when you try to make an end run around their rulings.
Read the rest of this entry →

Water Cooler – Wisconsin Republicans Go Nuclear

6:02 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Mushroom Cloud Explosion from Nuclear Testing

Mushroom Cloud Explosion from Nuclear Testing by EpicFireworks, on Flickr

This is the third draft of this post, mainly because the first one was all capital letters and obscene language and the second was just obscene language. Now I think I can write about this is a more readable manner.

As you may know the scum sucking Republicans of the Wisconsin legislature pulled what can be best described as the Nuclear Option in their stand off over the union busting legislation pushed by Koch Brothers pony-boy Gov. Scott Walker.

In a stunning move they moved the legislation to conference committee, without passing a bill in the Senate. There they stripped all the monetary aspects from the bill, and then voted to it out of the conference committee. This allowed the 19 Republicans in the Senate to have quorum and vote on the measure. Which they did 18-1.

Now it will go to the State Assembly where it is guaranteed to pass. All along these supposed “public servants’ had been claiming that they had to do this because it was critical for monetary reasons, now they have put their massive hypocrisy on display by passing the bill as a non-monetary one.

This is what the Republican Party stands for, not just in Wisconsin but nationally. For those who say that there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans I give you yet another example of exactly how wrong that is.

Where do we go from here? Well I have strong hopes that the Unions in Wisconsin walk out. If you are not recognized then the only choice that is left is to deprive those who will not negotiate with you of the fruits of your labor.

It is not like poll after poll has not shown that what the Republicans have done is against the will of the people of Wisconsin. They need to continue with the recall efforts and make it clear to every elected official there that when you overreach like this, when you thwart the will of the people like this your political career is over.

This fight is not over. It is time for all of us to stand up for the rights of Labor. We all benefit from the work the unions have done. The weekend, the 40 hour work week, paid actions (for those of us that have them), health care all these things are commonly offered because Labor has bargained for them.

Tonight the Republicans think that they have won, they are going brag and strut. Let them, because this kind of thing is the last straw for a middle class that has been used and abused time and time again. Stand with Wisconsin workers, Stand with Labor in Solidarity.

That is what is on my mind tonight, how about yours Firedogs? The floor is yours.

Water Cooler – Poll Finds Walker Between A Rock And A Hard Place

6:58 pm in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a puppet for the Oligarchy

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a puppet for the Oligarchy by DonkeyHotey, on Flickr"

One of the things that a politician has to know is when the tide has turned against him or her. It is one thing to keep going when you are holding a majority of your base and some of the so-called Independent voters, but it is quite another when you get in the danger zone of over a 10 point spread between your disapproval numbers and your approval numbers. That is where Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is right now.

That these numbers come from inside his state and from a conservative polling firm only make things worse for the man who would take David Koch’s phone call in a heart beat. The Wisconsin Policy Institute has its March survey out and the numbers are bad for Scott Walker and his draconian plans for the public employee unions and the state budget.

Let’s start with his job approval and personal approval numbers. In both cases he is 53% disapprove and 43% approve. Those a dismal numbers for a governor who was elected with 53% of the vote.

If that were not bad enough, 50% believe that the stripping of collective bargaining rights is a ploy to get rid of public employee unions and again 43% believe it is a necessary step to balance the budget. As a practical matter what this means is that the public has seen through the sham of budget necessity and understands exactly what the Governor is trying to do.

To me this was always the reason that the governor and the Wisconsin Republicans wanted to ram this bill through as fast as they possibly could. They knew that if the public was give a week or so to hear the arguments then they would understand that they were being screwed.
Read the rest of this entry →

It’s Not Just Union Busting, It’s Failing To Honor Contracts

6:55 am in banality of evil, Economy by Bill Egnor

CONTRACT

CONTRACT by Steve Snodgrass, on Flickr

The Randites and most Conservatives will go on the whole live long day about the sanctity of a contract. They will tell you how it is of critical importance that people be allowed to freely enter into any kind of agreement and be completely and totally bound by the contents therein.

The reason they like this is that most contracts are made with a vast difference in power and that it lets the party with the most money and power put limits on the party with less. Take cell phone agreements. You probably know (or maybe you don’t) that when you sign up with a phone company you’re generally giving up the right to sue them over any complaint you might have.

With your contract you’re agreeing to have any dispute mediated and in the state of the companies choice, usually with their choice of mediation company. This not only gives them a lot more control but almost guarantees that they will prevail if you want to act up cranky about them screwing you over.

However there is something in the recent State labor disputes that has been overlooked. Gov. Walker and others are saying that it is the pensions of the Unions and their need to fund them that is part of why the States are in a budget whole. You see most public employees have a lower salary than they would in the private sector, because they have negotiated a pension.

It is akin to having your boss take a certain amount of money out every month and put it in a 401K. What is different is that there is defined benefit for taking less pay now. CEO’s of major corporations do this all the time, but they don’t call it a pension plan they call it deferred compensation.

The idea of paying less and then paying a pension is a good one for states as long as they do what they are supposed to do and fund the pension plans. The problem is that because it is a long term issue every time Republicans take the State Houses they cut taxes, without thinking about what it will do to the pension obligations they have. Or maybe they are aware of the obligations and just don’t care.

Funding a pension fund has been an obligation for a long time, it is a bill just like any other, but it has not been treated that way. The way it should work is that if your fund it under then you have to raise taxes to cover it, just as you would have to raise taxes to cover salaries.
Read the rest of this entry →

SCFL Calls For General Strike If Walker Plan Is Passed!

6:37 am in Economy, Government by Bill Egnor

Union Thug

Union Thug by LizaWasHere, on Flickr

As the protests in Madison have continued and even grown in the face of an obdurate Governor and even a major winter storm they have not been alone. This weekend there were rallies in all 50 states in support of the public employees unions.

That first-term Governor Scott Walker has overreached in this labor dispute is beyond question. It is one thing to want to get concessions out of Labor when times are tight (though maybe he should have not given away massive tax cuts in the first place) but to try to end the right of workers to bargain collectively is a bridge too far.

With public sentiment firmly on the side of Labor, and protests growing not shrinking it is hard to see what the Governor can do other than back down. But that is not preventing one union from both planning for the future and turning up the heat.

The Capital Times is reporting that the South Central Federation of Labor, which has 45,000 members, is endorsing the idea of a general strike if and when Gov. Walker’s union busting plan is passed. This is a pretty big step but it is one that I am glad to see.

Without the right to collectively bargain, you are not a union. At that point there is not a lot left to do but deny management the fruit of your labor if they will not agree to recognize your right of collective barging. It is how Labor initially established their rights in the first place. Since that was more than an entire working life time ago, it is probably time to remind folks like Gov. Walker what it looks like when you can’t run your schools or state offices because all the qualified and trained people are gone.

We know that Walker, who fancies himself the new Reagan, has given some thought to what he would do if there were a strike. He has had his National Guard commanders preparing to have troops do some of the work at the state level, but it is really unclear if they would be able to keep the State going.  . . .
Read the rest of this entry →