Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 2012

Voter Turnout High in WI for Recall Elections

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Just a brief update . . . turnout has been reported in Wisconsin as being anywhere from 60 to 80 percent, depending on where you are.  In Racine, where I am, I’ve heard estimates of 65% and up.  In Waukesha County, one of the “reddest” Republican areas in the state, turnout is said to be close to 80%, which on the R side is necessary to give Gov. Walker a chance to retain his seat.  And in Northern Milwaukee (city and county), clerks ran out of ballots early, which is said to be a good sign for the Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, as that’s one area he must win by a big margin.

All I know at this point — as it will be another four hours until the polls close here in Wisconsin — is that voters have taken their responsibility seriously.

I’ll keep you posted on what transpires, especially here in the hotly-contested District 21 Wisconsin state Senate recall race.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Why Scott Walker is Still Bad For WI

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It’s two days before the June 5, 2012, recall election against sitting Governor Scott Walker, sitting Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and against four Republican state Senators (three sitting, one who has already resigned), including my own Republican state Senator, Van Wanggaard.  Basically, everything that can be said about the recalls — why I favor them, why I believe they are necessary and are a form of democracy in action — has been said.

But one thing I realized when reading over my previous blog, “Scott Walker: Bad for Wisconsin” is this — for whatever reason, I didn’t define why I felt Walker was bad for Wisconsin.  Instead, I reflected upon all of the divisive things Walker did early in 2011 which caused a great deal of harm to public discourse and civility in Wisconsin, and hoped my views would be clear.

But in case it wasn’t, let’s try again.  

Since Scott Walker was elected in November of 2010, he has divided this state in harmful, self-aggrandizing ways.  He has not used his “bully pulpit” to good effect, as he could’ve explained why he wanted the so-called reforms as propagated by Act 10 (which repealed collective bargaining for public employee unions, something Wisconsin had since the late 1950s) rather than just do it by fiat.  After Walker used his power to make such a drastic change, he proceeded to get upset because the 14 Democratic Wisconsin Senators left the state in an effort to delay Act 10 by any means necessary as the Wisconsin Assembly had already shown indications of passing Act 10.  The “Wisconsin 14” did this to promote civic — and civil — discourse, because if they hadn’t left the state, Act 10 would’ve been approved within days of Walker “dropping the bomb” on the state’s voters; by leaving the state, every single voter in the state was able to become informed.

At this point, Scott Walker and his Lt. Gov., Rebecca Kleefisch, went on various right-wing talk shows, including many at the Fox News Channel, to discuss these “modest reforms” — things that were no such thing — and to say that the “Wisconsin 14” were a bunch of low-lifes who refused to “compromise” with Walker, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, or the Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Jeff Fitzgerald (brother of Scott).  This was classic Orwellian doublespeak on the part of Walker and Kleefisch; while Kleefisch, to a degree, could be excused for this because her position as Lt. Gov. has very little power, there was no excuse for what Walker said, nor for how he said it.

As we all know now, the Wisconsin Republican Senators eventually passed SB 10 by the vote of 18-1 in order to make Act 10 the law in Wisconsin.  (The lone dissenting vote was Dale Schultz of Richland Center.)  Some of the Republican Senators, including my own Van Wanggaard, had strong ties to unions — Wanggaard being a former policeman and past union representative — yet apparently had no qualms about stripping other union members of their rights, probably because police and firefighters had been exempted from Act 10’s “union-stripping” provisions.

After the Senate Rs did this, the Wisconsin 14 came home to a deeply divided state, where Scott Walker, Rebecca Kleefisch, the Fitzgerald brothers, etc., still said one thing and did something else.  But the people on the ground (like me) who at that time weren’t affiliated with either party were outraged.  Nine Senators — six Republicans and three Democrats — faced recall elections.  Of those, four Rs and all three Ds were retained, while two Rs were tossed from office and officially recalled.

That, of course, was far from the end of the story, as in November of 2011 four more Senate recalls and the recall of Walker and Kleefisch started.  Recall petitioners were told that we’d “never get” enough signatures, but we proved the naysayers wrong; ultimately, Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard, Scott Fitzgerald, and two other state Senators were recalled.

If you’ve read my blogs thus far, you know all this.  You probably also know that Scott Walker has gone to more out-of-state functions than any other one-year Governor in the history of Wisconsin.  He’s raised 60 to 70% of his campaign donations from out-of-state donors, some from extremely wealthy men and women.  You probably even know that in some quarters, Walker is viewed as a hero, of all things, because he “refused to back down” when the unions “told (him) where to go.”

The only part of those beliefs that’s true is that Walker refused to back down about anything.  But what people who insist on “standing with Walker” fail to realize is that Walker set this whole thing into motion himself — it’s not just the way he did things, which was execrable, but what he did that caused this whole mess.

All of this leads me to only one conclusion: Scott Walker is still very bad for Wisconsin.  Because Walker has shown that he cannot and will not compromise with anyone, he’s shown he’s incapable of being Governor — a job where compromise is a must.  And if Walker is retained on Tuesday, we in Wisconsin will be looking at more pain, more problems, and more frustration, as Walker will view this election as yet another mandate to do whatever he likes, even if he wins by .0001% of the vote.

That’s why I urge my fellow Wisconsinites to vote for Tom Barrett on Tuesday, June 5.  Vote for Mahlon Mitchell as your next Lieutenant Governor, and for those of you in Racine County’s District 21, vote for John Lehman as your next Senator.  All three men are moderates who will work to restore civility to Madison, which is why we need all three of them to be elected on June 5.

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Edited to add:  John Nichols explains very clearly why Scott Walker should be recalled and replaced here Here’s a few words from his compelling and cogent blog:

Elected officials weren’t supposed to campaign on one set of themes and govern on another. They weren’t supposed to “divide and conquer” the state. They weren’t supposed to collect $500,000 checks from billionaires, and gather most of their campaign money in other states. They weren’t supposed to have criminal defense funds.

Amen, brother!

Just Reviewed London’s “Hadley Green” trilogy at SBR

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Folks, I previously reviewed book 2 of Julia London’s “The Secrets of Hadley Green” trilogy, that being THE REVENGE OF COUNT EBERLIN.  After reading that book, I was curious and wanted to read the previous book, THE YEAR OF LIVING SCANDALOUSLY, and the follow-up, THE SEDUCTION OF LADY X.  Both were good books that diverted me for a few hours; they seemed reasonably historically accurate with a few quirks (granted, without the quirks, there’d probably be no stories there to tell).

At any rate, here’s the link to these most recent reviews, a “two for one” special at Shiny Book Review for Romance Saturday (as what’s a better time for a romance than Saturday, hm?):

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/sbr-2-for-1-romance-saturday-special-londons-hadley-green-novels/

Enjoy!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Just Reviewed Mosher’s “The Great Northern Express” at SBR

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Finally, a great book!

That’s what I thought when I read Howard Frank Mosher’s memoir, THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS.  Mosher’s memoir is about his cross-country trip promoting his writing after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis, but it’s really about so much more — it’s about what makes up an interesting life.  What makes up the writer’s life in particular.  And Mosher doesn’t stop there; he discusses why he went to Vermont, of all places, how he ended up falling in love with the place, and then about how he found his authentic “writer’s voice” — which, of course, led him to write a number of books where Vermont features prominently as a setting, including WAITING FOR TEDDY WILLIAMS, another book I reviewed at Shiny Book Review a while back as “a baseball romance with heart.”

Whether you’re a writer or not, you owe it to yourself to read Mosher’s excellent THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS.  It’s funny, touching, humane, and literate — exactly what you’d want a memoir to be, especially when it comes from one of America’s best living writers.

So what’s stopping you?  Go read my review, which is here:

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/moshers-the-great-northern-express-one-great-writers-memoir/

Then, go grab Mosher’s book, read it, and wait for this year’s top ten list at SBR — if I have anything to say about it, THE GREAT NORTHERN EXPRESS will be on it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Ed Schultz and John Nichols to be in Racine County Saturday

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After former President Bill Clinton’s visit to Milwaukee earlier today on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, I didn’t think anyone else of note would be visiting Wisconsin on behalf of either Barrett or the recall effort.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Due to the intense Wisconsin recall fight between sitting Governor Scott Walker (R) and challenger Tom Barrett (D), the current Mayor of Milwaukee, political commentators Ed Schultz and John Nichols will be in Racine County tomorrow — in Racine at noon, and in Burlington at 3 p.m.  Schultz, you see, has kept abreast of what’s going on in Wisconsin; Nichols, who writes for The Nation magazine and is an associate editor of The Cap Times (formerly The Capital Times, headquartered in Madison, WI), has been Schultz’s most regular correspondent.

It’s not unheard of that someone with a national radio show and TV show, like Schultz, would come to Wisconsin.  He’s done so before and has made stops in Madison.  But to come to Racine, which is just shy of 90,000 people, is new for him; that he’s also going to go to Burlington tomorrow at 3 p.m., when Burlington has, at most, 10,500 people, just goes to show that Schultz is interested in every part of Racine County, not just the City of Racine. 

As for Nichols visiting with Schultz, Nichols is from Wisconsin and he’s said before that he first voted in Union Grove (yet another small town in Racine County; Union Grove has approximately 4,300 people).  As Nichols obviously knows Racine County; he undoubtedly realizes that the City of Racine has been either first or second in how much unemployment we have for the past seven years running, which may be one reason why both are coming here.  And as unemployment is one of Schultz’s major “themes,” perhaps Schultz will take note of Racine’s problems in addition to his “get out the vote” efforts on behalf of the recalls of Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and the four Republican state Senators, including my own R Sen. Van Wanggaard.

If you’re planning to see Ed Schultz and John Nichols tomorrow, here’s where they’ll be:

12 Noon — at the Racine Labor Center, Racine, WI

3 p.m. — at Echo Lake Park, Burlington, WI

And their final stop will be in Baraboo — which isn’t in Racine County at all — at 7 p.m. at the Ringling Theatre.

See you there.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm