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Tuesday Election News: Romney Finishes 3rd in Alabama, Mississippi

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Folks, you’re going to hear much in the next 24 to 48 hours about Rick Santorum, because Santorum won both Alabama and Mississippi this evening.  While that is correct, the real news is that Mitt Romney, despite spending an enormous amount of money, finished third in both contests.  (Newt Gingrich finished second.) 

You must keep this very simple fact in mind in upcoming days, because assuredly Santorum and Romney are going to attempt to frame this narrative to benefit themselves. 

The fact is that Romney finished third, which proves that Romney is extremely unpopular with Republican voters.  (This makes me wonder just who’s going to vote for the guy if Romney does, indeed, get to the general election against the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.)  There is absolutely no argument left for Romney to position himself as a moderate except to run on his record — and if he does that, he’s going to alienate even more conservative voters than he already has.

What’s odd about all this is that Romney views himself as an “inevitable” candidate; some of his campaign staff and surrogates have even hinted that Romney believes his candidacy to be “divinely inspired.”  Yet finishing third after spending such a huge amount of money is not the way an “inevitable candidate” is supposed to win, something Gingrich pointed out in his concession speech tonight. 

This points out that, at least for the moment, Gingrich has his pulse on what’s really going on with the Republican voters.  Neither Santorum, nor especially Romney’s people — as Romney did not make a speech this evening at all — are going to say this, but it’s the plain, flat truth: between them, Santorum and Gingrich won over 60% of the vote (closer to 70% in Alabama), and that shows that around 2/3 of the Republican voters in these states really do not want Romney as their nominee

This is the real story: how many people are going out to vote in the Republican primaries and caucuses solely to vote against Romney in some way, shape or form.  Any other story, up to and including the fact that Santorum won (providing he doesn’t acknowledge this “inevitable” point), is nothing less than an incredibly distorted framing of the narrative.

Scott Walker: Bad for Wisconsin

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The state of Wisconsin continues to be in turmoil due to Governor Scott Walker (R) and his blatant attempt at a power-grab.  For the third week in a row, protests are going on all over the state — so what does Walker do about it?

Nothing.  (That’s right.  Zero.  Zip.  Diddly-squat.)

But the Republican Governors’ Association and the Republican National Committee, along with “independent” groups like the Koch Brothers’ funded “Americans for Prosperity” and the misnamed “Wisconsin Club for Growth” have television ads all over the state claiming that Scott Walker is “leading” while the “Wisconsin 14” (or “Fab 14” as some are now calling them) have “refused to do their jobs.”  This is an attempted framing of the narrative that’s a complete and utter distortion of the facts, and is one I’m just not willing to allow.

The facts are these.  On February 11, 2011 (a Friday), in the afternoon, Scott Walker sent what he called a “budget repair bill” to the Wisconsin state house (lower house is the Assembly, equivalent to the national House of Reps., while the upper house is the state Senate) which called for an end to collective bargaining along with deep cuts in Medicaid along with the state-run Badger Care program which takes care of low-income adults and children.  Walker stated at that time that if his “budget repair bill” wasn’t passed, the Wisconsin state workers would end up with layoffs (rather than the mandated “furlough days” under the previous Governor, which continue to be in effect through June 30, 2011; these are days the workers do not get paid, and state government does not function), and he urged the bill’s swift passage.

The reason this didn’t happen — the swift passage — is because the fourteen Senate Democrats (out of thirty-three) fled the state.  You see, by doing this, they denied Scott Walker’s bill a quorum in the state Senate.  At that time, every single Republican would’ve voted “yes” on this bill, including my state Senator, Van Wanggaard (R), even though Wanggaard is a former policeman, a former policeman’s union member, and worst of all, a former policeman’s union representative.  (This seems mighty hypocritical to me and I’ve said so; my e-mail to him was very short and succinct.  I said, “Vote against this bill or prepare to be recalled.”  That’s because I dislike hypocrisy with a passion and Wanggaard, along with Scott Walker himself, did not campaign on such radical and extremist ideas.)

At any rate, the “Fab 14” left the state and have been in Illinois ever since.  But the Assembly eventually passed this bill — though legal efforts are underway to see if chicanery was involved as the Assembly had been in session for over 63 hours and somehow, many Dems in the Assembly weren’t allowed to vote while some of the R’s weren’t even in the room yet were counted (by osmosis?  Wisconsin’s state constitution does not allow for votes via proxy; you must actually be in the Assembly chamber to vote.) — while the Senate remains stalled out due to the “Fab 14” staying out-of-state.

Yesterday, two things happened of consequence.  One, the Capitol building was locked, which is against the Wisconsin state constitution (this had been going on for a few days at night, but yesteday apparently was the first day the building was locked as a whole), and two, State Senator Glenn Grothman (R), called the Wisconsin protestors who’d been occupying the statehouse (as is their legal right under the Wisconsin state constitution) “slobs,” re-iterating his comment from the day before, this time on Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” primetime show on MSNBC.

Now, the importance of the Grothman comment was this: O’Donnell brought on four protestors, one a very articulate young, female student, one a skilled tradesman in his forties, one a nurse in her late forties-early fifties, with the other woman’s age being unable to be determined by me (but she was obviously a professional woman); her profession was announced but somehow I lost track.  At any rate, these four were far from “slobs,” yet Grothman refused to relent; instead, he poured on the vitriol, saying that most of the people occupying the capitol building were “students, or unemployed people, having a holiday, banging their drums and screaming” at him, and that this had never happened in all his years in the state Senate.

But this is the age of YouTube, my friends . . . Grothman’s comments are assuredly there by now, and there’s a big problem for him in them.  You don’t call Wisconsin protestors’ by the derogatory word “slobs.”  Especially when some of them come from your district, the 20th (representing West Bend and parts of Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, and Dodge counties), and most especially when you are the Assistant to the Senate Majority Leader (second in line).  This looks really, really bad to call Wisconsin protestors, who are also taxpayers and voters, “slobs.”

The good news from my perspective is that Glenn Grothman is in danger of being recalled.  Here’s a link from the Capitol Times (Madison, WI):

And here’s a story from the Daily Kos:$-and-Volunteer-Drive-Day-2

The fact of the matter is that Grothman, along with seven other Republican Senators, are in danger of recall, while three of the five Senators on the Democratic side who’ve been targeted may have real problems holding their seats (especially considering they’re all out-of-state at this time).  I would tend to think Grothman’s comments regarding the protestors and taxpayers and voters of Wisconsin would drastically hurt him no matter how much money the Republican Party of Wisconsin throws his way (much less people like the Koch Brothers, who are out-of-state but are extremely wealthy; the $43,000 they gave to Scott Walker is pocket change for them).

At any rate, this is what Scott Walker has done so far.  He’s divided the state — right now, according to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute (a reasonably neutral place), 52% would vote for Tom Barrett (the Democratic candidate in the last election) while only 45% said they’d vote for Walker if the election were held today with the knowledge that Walker wants to break public employee unions.  Here’s a link to that:

And the beat goes on, because of Walker were vulnerable to recall today (he is not, as my state Senator Wanggaard also isn’t; they both have to be in office one full year before they can be legally recalled), he’d be in deep trouble because 48% would vote to recall him, while 48% wouldn’t, and the other 4% are “undecided.”  (Note these poll numbers were taken before Walker’s recent budget bill for fiscal year 2011-12; in that bill, Walker would cut something like $900 million from the public schools/public educational efforts.  These numbers to recall will go up, and the numbers of people dissatisfied with Walker will also go up due to that.)

As the Guardian (a UK newspaper) noted, Scott Walker may be an ex-governor far sooner than anyone would’ve imagined; see this link for further details:

You see, Wisconsin voters don’t like it that the state isn’t able to do its business, but most of them are placing the onus of responsibility on the Governor, Scott Walker, rather than the fourteen Senators who did the only thing they could do to slow down or stop the “budget repair bill” — and they are right.

Scott Walker, in short, is very bad for Wisconsin.  Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites all over the state have gone out to protest, while hundreds of thousands more have expressed their support for the “Fab 14” and have written letters to the editor condemning Walker’s actions.  (One or the other.)  And there are all these recalls going on for the Republican Senators that I discussed — those vulnerable to recall now — while assuredly if this “budget repair bill” ever passes with Van Wanggaard’s support, he’ll be recalled as soon as humanly possible, too.

The only hope the R’s have in Wisconsin right now is that people forget all these protests, forget the money-drain having extra police and fire in Madison has been, forget Scott Walker’s grandstanding and inability to compromise (when politics is supposed to be the “art of the possible,” meaning compromise is a must), and forget that his Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, has stood right behind Walker and has not only affirmed her support for the Republican party line, but has said she’d do the same thing in his place.  (The latter is what will end up getting her recalled, too, as she didn’t campaign on such drastic tactics, either.)

So it’s obvious, folks, what needs to be done.  Walker needs to be recalled as soon as humanly possible, as does Kleefisch, as does every Republican Senator who has expressed unwavering support for this horrible bill — now or later.  And if Van Wanggaard is smart, and wants to hold onto his seat for his four-year term (assuredly he’ll be out once he gets recalled; this is the only shot he has to keep his seat), he’ll vote against Walker’s horrible “budget repair bill.”

But no one said he has to be smart, and I for one am hoping he won’t be because I’m itching to work on recalling this man as I cannot stand hypocrisy in any way, shape or form.


** Note:  My late husband Michael couldn’t stand hypocrisy either, and I really wish that he were here to help me work on the recall effort.  Michael was an honest, able, ethical man who was deeply principled and would be appalled at all of this.  I stand against Scott Walker and all he stands for, with the certain knowledge that my husband would back me and understand exactly why I must do this.

Time to vote — also some reflections on Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity”

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I have a simple message today: please, regardless of your political persuasion, be sure to vote.  If there is no one to vote for, figure out who you like the least, then vote against that person even if you end up writing in your own name.  Just go, make your case, and vote.  Our system of representative democracy depends on it.

Voting is a way to say that we, the people of the United States of America, demand your notice, Mr. and Ms. Politician.  And we’re tired of being blown off.

That’s why we must vote, and have our say.  Keep them honest, or at least less dirty.  And make your will be known.  Please, please vote. 

I would also like to suggest that all political ads be removed from the air two or three days before an election.  Most people have made up their minds by this time, and the few that haven’t aren’t going to be swayed by political advertising.  Maybe a non-partisan “please, vote” on voting day would be fine — but the plethora of political ads now is deafening and irresponsible.

In my home state, Wisconsin, I am subjected to ads over and over again, to the point where I can quote them.  I’ve heard from Russ Feingold, incumbent Democrat, and I’ve heard from Ron Johnson, a very wealthy man who’s running for the Senate as a Republican.  (This year, being very wealthy seems to equal being an incumbent; both are despised by the vast majority of voters.  Don’t start on how irrational this is, because I am well aware.)  I’ve heard from Tom Barrett, Democratic candidate for Governor (and current, sitting mayor of Milwaukee, the biggest city in Wisconsin), and I’ve heard from Scott Walker, the Republican candidate for Governor (and current, sitting county executive for Milwaukee County, the biggest county in Wisconsin).  And I’ve heard all sorts of ads for just about any campaign imaginable in Southeastern Wisconsin.

All I can say is this: stop, please.  There is no need for this.  Voters are fed up, and all these ads do is make voters more and more upset that we haven’t a way to fast-forward to Voting Day (this year on November 2nd) and vote already in order to shut the various candidates’ voices up yesterday, by preference.

Finally, I think Jon Stewart’s “Rally for Sanity,” which was held this past Saturday, was on to something.  As Stewart said, we all work together every day — it’s only in the hallowed halls of government that everything breaks down.  If we are going underneath a tunnel, or are trying to merge into traffic, whether a person has a NRA sticker or an Obama sticker on the car is irrelevant — we’re going to let that person in, and most of the time won’t hit them with our car in the process.

Here’s a link to the full text of that speech:

And a relevant quote:

If we amplify everything we hear nothing.  There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned.  You must have the resume.  Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate–just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more.  The press is our immune system.  If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker–and perhaps eczema. 

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good.  Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false.  It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

Mr. Stewart is right on the money in his critique of the overreaction of the mainstream media.  When everything is a crisis, how can anything be evaluated except as a crisis?  Then whatever you say, whatever you do, is “amped up” to the point that it’s blown so far out of proportion that it can barely be recognized.

I don’t know what the answers are to the 24/7 cable news networks in this country.  I don’t know what the answers are to why our own federal government works so improperly, and with so much more “heat” than “light.”

I do know that we need people in Congress to work together.  Find a consensus.  And go from there.

Our country deserves better from our politicians, and it’s time to stand up and demand they take notice.  That’s what the “Rally for Sanity” was saying, and they were right; it’s what many of the Tea Partiers have been saying, and they, too, are right.

We, the people, are better than our representatives.  And the imbalance is palpable.

This must be fixed.  Which is why I say again, for the third (and last) time, please, please vote.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm