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Wednesday Early AM Recall Musings

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Folks, I’m still working hard on an edit that’s nearly completed, so I don’t have a lot of time available to blog.  That said, I watched the election returns this evening and noted the following:

The total amount of votes in the Democratic primary recall race for Governor cast for the four real Democrats was 665,436; the total amount of votes cast for the one real Republican in the race, sitting Governor Scott Walker, was 626,538. 

One thing is clear; anyone who cast a vote tonight in the Democratic primary is likely to vote for anyone other than Scott Walker.  Tonight’s winner, current Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, knows he has a good-sized coalition in place that’s ready and eager to vote against Walker on June 5, 2012.

Other than that, Mahlon Mitchell easily won his race in the Democratic primary recall race for Lieutenant Governor, so he will be taking on current Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on June 5.  And former state Senator John Lehman, D-Racine, easily beat “fake Democrat” Tamra Varebrook, advancing to the June 5 election against current state Senator Van Wanggaard.  (All four Democratic challengers easily won their May 8, 2012, races for state Senate.)

These elections show that many people want to change course in Wisconsin.  We don’t like extremes here on either the D or R side; instead, we like moderates.  Yet we’ve seen little moderation from the current crop of R politicians that was voted in during the 2010 election season, which is why so many people went out and signed recall petitions.  (Simply put: they didn’t listen to us, so it’s time to boot them out and get someone in there who will.) 

No matter how the Rs try to spin it, remember this well: the way Scott Walker and his R cronies behaved in 2011 is why so many voters went out and voted in the various primaries.  And that bad behavior is what’s going to get at least a few of these Rs recalled on June 5.

Scott Walker in Tight Race in WI Governor Recall

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Folks, today a new poll was released by the Marquette University Law School (yes, they do polling, too) that says that if the election were held today, Scott Walker would lose (by a point) to Democratic candidate Tom Barrett.  Walker would win according to this poll against Democratic candidate Kathleen Falk, 49% to 42%, and would beat Democratic candidates Douglas Lafollette (the current Secretary of State) and state Senator Kathleen Vinehout of Alma by a margin of 49% to 40%.

As for how all four Democratic candidates do against each other?  This poll says that Barrett leads with 43%, followed by Falk with 21%, Lafollette with 8% and Vinehout, the least-known candidate, with 6%.

Here’s a link to the article about the poll at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/walker-barrett-in-deadheat-in-recall-showdown-poll-says-8l58n4s-149857945.html

Now, here’s my take about this poll:  I distrust it.  Why?  Because the Marquette University Law School poll has a known bias that helps Republican candidates look better in polling than they actually tend to do.

For that matter, Falk, a former Dane County Executive, distrusts it also.  Here’s what she said in the Journal-Sentinel article sourced above:

. . . Falk questioned the poll’s findings when she talked to reporters during a campaign tour of Union Cab, a taxi cooperative in Madison.

“The establishment naysayers have predicted this whole year incorrectly,” she said. “They said this recall would never get off the ground.”

I’m with Falk on this one, because I don’t think this poll accurately reflects Wisconsin voters.  Falk is likely being undercounted, as the TV ads have tried to make her out to be a “Madison liberal” when she’s clearly a moderate in the Hillary Clinton mode, and assuredly Vinehout is, as she has a huge stronghold in Northern Wisconsin (the area she serves) that apparently hasn’t been polled whatsoever.  And if two of the four candidates being polled aren’t being adequately reflected, what does that say about the entirety of the poll?

As for the political TV ads we’ve seen thus far in Wisconsin, they’ve been heavily negative against Falk and Barrett.  This is mostly because Walker can spend all sorts of money (he’s raised $13 million thus far, with 2/3 of that money coming from out-of-state interests) and neither Falk nor Barrett can match it as the two, between them, have raised $1.75 million.  (Vinehout and Lafollete, who both are “alternative” candidates with strong grass-roots appeal, certainly can’t.)

But for that matter, I don’t understand the barrage of political advertising thus far.  As it stands, this is an election that’s likely not going to be decided by big-money interests.  Everyone in Wisconsin knows what Walker did, and has firm opinions on it, which is why there are very few “undecideds” in the sense of knowing whether or not they approve of Walker.

Where the indecision comes in — and where the big-money ads may come into play — is this: does Scott Walker deserve to be booted out of office after less than two years in the Governor’s chair?  Some of those who don’t like Walker may be indecisive about getting rid of him, precisely because this is a historic move that’s never before happened anywhere in the United States, much less Wisconsin.

My guess is that the 900,ooo-plus that went out to sign petitions recalling Walker have the most to say in Walker’s recall election, to wit: if they go out and vote, en masse, to get rid of Walker, he will be out on his ear.  Which is why now, we’re starting to see news reports on Milwaukee-area TV stations of a more reflective Walker.  On these TV “spots” (mostly on news reports), Walker insists that even if he is recalled, he’s done everything right.  This belief that Walker somehow is right and everyone else is plain, flat wrong is why Walker should be recalled. 

Wisconsin voters must get rid of Scott Walker, no matter who the Democratic candidate is.  Because if we don’t, we will have no opportunity whatsoever to have a responsible Governor who actually listens to Wisconsinites, as Walker himself has already shown us that he’s not listening to anyone and isn’t about to start doing so, either.

So on May 8, 2012, go out and vote for the candidate of your choice in the Democratic primary.   Then, regardless of who wins (it’s likely to be either Falk or Barrett, which I would’ve believed no matter what the Marquette University Law School poll said), go out on June 5, 2012 and support that person.  Because if we do not get Walker out, things will only get worse — not better.  Guaranteed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 2, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen Vinehout Visits Racine

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Yesterday, I heard Wisconsin Democratic candidate for Governor Kathleen Vinehout speak at the Labor Center in Racine, WI.  Vinehout is one of four candidates running to oppose incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) in a well-publicized recall election; Vinehout is probably the least-known Democratic candidate, as she represents Alma in the state Senate (a small border town in western Wisconsin).

While Vinehout may be little-known, she’s a woman of accomplishment; she’s been a state Senator since 2006, was a dairy farmer for ten years, and taught at a university for ten years.  This means she has ability in both the public and private sector, something we badly need in Wisconsin; she also is articulate, friendly, and knowledgable.

Vinehout is the first candidate aside from Tom Barrett (mayor of Milwaukee, who ran against Walker in 2010 and lost) to visit Racine as far as I’m aware; former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk sent her husband to represent her, but she, herself, has not visited Racine, nor has current Secretary of State Douglas Lafollette.  Vinehout being willing to come to Racine when it’s at the southern end of the state — very far from her home in Alma — showed a lot about her character and willingness to get to know every aspect of the state she wishes to represent as Governor.

I was impressed by what I heard from Vinehout; she believes she can roll back the worst of what Walker and the radical Republicans in our state house have wrought, and the way she speaks makes it clear that a razor-sharp intellect is behind her friendly, capable exterior.

To my mind, Vinehout has everything the next Governor of Wisconsin needs.  She understands what’s going on in Racine — we need economic development, we need more money for our public schools, and we need, most of all, hope and optimism.  And it seems to me that Vinehout, despite being the least-well funded of all four candidates, is willing to “go to the mat” for Wisconsin’s people, which also is a very big plus; we know this because she’s a member of the “Wisconsin Fourteen” who stood up to Walker and the radical Rs last year and because she’s visiting as many areas of the state as she can despite being a “grass-roots candidate” (meaning she has passion behind her, but not a lot of money).

I’d encourage anyone who believes in progressive principles to seriously look at Kathleen Vinehout’s candidacy.  Check out her home page at http://kathleenvinehout.org/, or look her up at Facebook — you’ll be glad you did.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Walker, Kleefisch, Wanggaard Recall Dates Set; WI Rs to Put More “Fake Dems” into D Primaries

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As of tonight, the recall of Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch has been set; the primary will be held on May 8, 2012, and the general election will be held on June 5, 2012.  These are not-so-coincidentally the same dates on which the four Republican state Senators (including Racine’s own Van Wanggaard, my current Senator) will have to defend their seats; this should alleviate some of the financial problems court clerks around the state had been concerned about as all the recalls are going to be run at the same time.  While I’m not fond of this — as I’ve said before, I think the state Senator recalls should already be over and done with as the 2011 Senatorial recall elections were taken care of in a far more expeditious manner — it does make logistical and financial sense.

But the GOP has decided to field obviously fake Democratic candidates — “fake Dems” — in the Senate recall races in order to give the Rs more time to raise money (due to a quirk in Wisconsin law, an incumbent facing recall may raise unlimited amounts of money so long as the recall election is forthcoming).  I had predicted they’d do this very thing, but I don’t like their reasoning for it.

From tonight’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article:

Within hours, the state Republican Party said it would run fake Democrats in all the races, ensuring there will be primaries.

“The protest candidates will run as Democrats to guarantee that there is one clear date for the primary election and one clear date for the general election,” said Stephan Thomas, the party’s executive director.

He said the move was made because otherwise some or all of the general elections for state senators would happen the same day as the primary for governor – when Democrats flood to the polls to pick their candidate for governor.

Note that Thomas says quite forthrightly that of course the WI Rs are going to send more “fake Dems” into the fray, just as they did in 2011.  He’s using the rationale that this way, all of the “real” recall races will be held at the same time, as all of the real Democrats running to replace the four incumbent R Senators will now have to face a primary. 

But is this really a good rationale for such a practice?  Considering the WI Rs have a very bad reputation for not listening (except for “mavericks” like Dale Schultz of Richland Center), an even worse one for refusing to explain anything, and the worst one imaginable for failing to understand that their high-handed actions would set off massive unrest in Wisconsin, perhaps doing this again — sending in the “fake Dems,” all so their four R Senate candidates can rake in some more money before facing their day of reckoning on June 8, 2012 — wasn’t the world’s best move.

Because while you’re allowed to do such a thing under Wisconsin law, it’s not exactly ethical.  Voters in the 2011 recall elections were quite perturbed about the Rs doing this, and I’d imagine they will be this time, too; because I remember just how angry people were over this “fake Dem” tactic, it’s not a place I’d want to go if I were a strategist for the WI Rs.  (You can go to the well once too often, y’know.  So why tempt fate?)

Anyway, the other tidbit in this article is that Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is the first ever Lieutenant Governor to be recalled in the entire United States.  (I bet she feels special now!)  Which just goes to show how angry much of the state is; most of the state barely knows who she is, yet she was recalled right along with Walker and the four Senators.

This is why, were I a member of the Wisconsin GOP, I’d want to tread lightly with regards to the whole issue around the “fake Dems.”  Because at some point, enough’s going to be enough.  Once that point is reached, it’ll be hard even for the practical politicians like Dale Schultz (who actually listen to their constituents) to hold onto their seats.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm

WI Recall Election Dates Set

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Folks, it’s official: the 2012 Wisconsin recall elections have been set on the calendar for May 8, 2012 and June 5, 2012, the dates the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) wanted.  The Senate elections are likely to all take place on May 8 unless the Wisconsin Republicans again run “fake Democrats” to primary the Democratic candidates in the four Senate races up for grabs, as they did in 2011.  All four Senators being recalled are Republicans; two of the four being recalled are Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and my own state Senator, Racine’s Van Wanggaard.  

The recall petitions that were turned in to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch haven’t yet been certified by the GAB, so it is unclear at this time whether or not Walker and Kleefisch will be among those who will have to run in elections on one or the other of these dates.  There will definitely be a Democratic primary — a real one this time — for the gubernatorial contest, as there are three Democrats who have declared they’re running for Governor: former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout, and Secretary of State Douglas LaFollette.  That would mean, tentatively, that it’s likely Walker will have to defend his seat on June 5.  (It’s possible that Kleefisch may have to defend her seat sooner than Walker, which will be really interesting.)

Now, let’s take a moment to consider the difference between 2011 and 2012 with regards to the recalls.

In the 2011 drive to recall the Republican Eight, recall petitions had to be delivered no later than April; elections were set for June, July and August.  Two Republican Senators, Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, were not recalled; signatures were not able to be filed against them.

In the six other recall elections pertaining to the original Republican Eight, most were artificially delayed by the Republican maneuver of entering “fake Democrats” into the primaries against the real Democrats running against them.  This tactic allowed the Rs to raise more money, as under Wisconsin law, any incumbent may raise unlimited money to defend his (or her) seat.  This sizable monetary advantage helped four of the six who were recalled, as they retained their seats.  Only Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) and Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) ended up losing their seats (to Democratic challengers Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King, respectively).

In 2012, the Republican incumbents have had nearly a year to raise money, and since November 15, 2011, have been able to raise unlimited amounts of money to defend their seats.  This has given them a significant advantage over their 2011 brethren.  This huge monetary advantage is one reason why I wish the GAB had prioritized the Senate elections. **

There’s no excuse for the elections to have been set so far after the petitions were hand-carried in on January 15, 2011.  The GAB surely could’ve set the Senate recall elections earlier, as they worked far more speedily last year to schedule nine Senate recall elections (the three Dems who were recalled and had to stand for new elections were retained); this time, they only had four to deal with.  So why the delay?

At any rate, the recalls have been scheduled, at least for the state Senate; we’re now on the clock.  Keep watching this space, as I’ll give you whatever updates I can as soon as I receive them.

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** I am well aware that over 900,000 signatures, the revised and corrected total, were turned in to recall Walker, and over 800,000 to recall Lt. Gov. Kleefisch.  The four Senators, between them, amassed around 65,000 signatures to force their recall elections.  That’s why I used the term “prioritized.”  (Hold your fire.) 

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

WI Redistricting: District Court says Maps Can be Redrawn, but Rs refuse; Trial to Resume Thursday

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Folks, this isn’t much of a surprise; the United States District Court (Eastern Division of Wisconsin) today rejected the Wisconsin Legislature’s argument that they cannot re-draw the maps based on a 1954 state Supreme Court decision.  The Legislature is dominated in both the Assembly and in the Senate by Republicans, so in essence it is the Wisconsin Republican Party that has refused as all along, as the Democratic Party and the few Independents in the state government at any level all seem to want to re-draw the maps.  The Court gave the Legislature (the Rs) 5.5 hours today to reconsider their viewpoint; the Rs, predictably, have refused to re-draw the maps.

The only reason this is significant is that now the Republican Party’s refusal is on the record.  Otherwise, nothing has changed from what I reported late last night; the Rs want the maps to stand, the Ds want the maps to be re-drawn, and the District Court seems mystified by the Rs recalcitrant behavior.

Here’s the link to today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/court-rules-lawmakers-can-make-changes-to-maps-bu49vtc-140013193.html

Here’s a relevant quote:

Because lawmakers and the groups suing them could not agree on a settlement, the case will go to trial at 8:30 a.m. Thursday on an accelerated schedule. The trial was expected to last three or four days, but the presiding judge said he wanted to complete testimony by Friday, even if it meant going into the evening.

On Tuesday, an attorney for the state, Dan Kelly, told the judges that lawmakers were open to making changes to the maps, but he argued that a 1954 state Supreme Court decision prevented lawmakers from making changes to the maps after they had approved them. The panel of three federal judges – which includes two judges appointed by Republican presidents – rejected that argument Wednesday, and told the attorneys to tell them that afternoon whether the Legislature would spend the coming weeks drawing new maps.

Republican leaders declined to do that, sending the case to trial.

The only real news here is that the Court will expect this trial to wrap up on Friday evening even if they have to stay quite late in order to get everything done.  This means the Court will not allow the Legislature to obfuscate or delay any longer; these maps must be fixed by April 15, 2012, or things are going to get even messier than they already are.

As I said before, the only thing certain in all this is that the Rs don’t want to do anything.  They seem willing to let this go to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) because they believe they will prevail there due to the 5-4 split between conservatives/Republicans and liberals/Democrats.  But this particular panel is made up of two conservatives/Republicans and one Democrat and they don’t agree with the Legislature; how can the Legislature be sure they’ll get more than two votes at the SCOTUS level?  (Methinks they can’t, especially if the Supreme Court justices dislike the way the Legislature has behaved toward other judges the way I think is likely.  It’s possible that SCOTUS may rule 9-0 against the Wisconsin Rs, even though they don’t seem to think that’s likely.)

Oh, one other tidbit in this article:

The case comes to trial just as Gov. Scott Walker nearly doubles the amount in taxpayer money that can be spent on outside attorneys assisting the Department of Justice. Documents released Wednesday show the cap on the contract with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren is being raised from $500,000 to $925,000.

Those costs are in addition to the $400,000 that Republican lawmakers have committed to two law firms that helped them draw the maps.

So, did you get that?  Walker is going to allow the Rs to get more state money to defend these terrible maps.  Which is why his recall cannot come soon enough.

That’s it for today; trial will resume Thursday, and I’d expect we’ll get a decision on this matter by the middle of next week due to the time-sensitive nature of this problem.  Stay tuned.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 22, 2012 at 6:15 pm

WI Recall Petitions: Far More than Enough to Recall Walker, Kleefisch, and Wanggaard

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Today’s Wisconsin recall update is as follows, folks:

  • Over 1 million signatures have been turned in to recall Governor Scott Walker.  (Approximately 540,000 were needed)
  • Over 800,000 signatures have been turned in to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.  (Approximately 540,000 were needed)
  • Over 24,000 signatures have been turned in to recall State Senator Van Wangaaard (R-Racine).  (Approximately 15,000 signatures were needed.)

Please see this link from today’s online version of the Racine Journal-Times for further details.

As for how these numbers compare?  Well, with over 1 million signatures, it’s highly likely Scott Walker is going to be facing recall; considering recall organizers got nearly twice as many signatures statewide as needed, it seems very, very likely that Walker will be recalled and replaced no matter who his opponent is.

With regards to Rebecca Kleefisch, the main reason there weren’t quite as many people willing to sign to get her out (though still quite a high number at an estimated 845,000) is because she’s a cancer survivor, a former anchorwoman for one of the biggest news stations in the state (WISN-TV in Milwaukee, WI), and because as a few men of my acquaintance have said in the past, “What a shame about her politics; she’s cute.”  (For the conservative men of my acquaintance, let me point out that Lt. Gov. Kleefisch is also Mrs. Joel Kleefisch, as she’s married to a state Assemblyman.)

As for Wanggaard, the fact that 24,000 people signed to get him out is historic; I believe this is more than the amount of signatures that had been gathered to recall George Petak (R-Racine) in 1996, and Petak was indeed successfully recalled and replaced by then-Democratic Assemblywoman Kim Plache.  (I wrote about that historic election here.)  While this isn’t nearly twice as many signatures as needed as seen in the statewide Walker recall, it is still a very high number of people who were willing to sign to get Wanggaard out of office.   (If I were him, I’d be quite worried.)

As for what State Senator Wanggaard has to say about it?  From a different article at today’s online Racine Journal-Times:

Wanggaard, R-Racine, said in a press release that for union bosses and Democrats today marks the start of the “do-over of their loss in the November 2010 elections.”

While others focus on recalls and politics, Wanggaard “will continue to focus on my efforts to help Wisconsin create and retain good-paying jobs,” he said in the release. “Recalls and further division do nothing to show job creators that Wisconsin has a stable business environment and continues to poison the well of politics.”

So did you catch that?  Wanggaard says that people are trying to “do over” the 2010 elections.  By doing so, he’s attempting to belittle the organizers of the recall effort against him, but it’s not going to work.  (And notice, Wanggaard didn’t say anything about how “the people have spoken, but I intend to win them over,” which would’ve made far more sense and wouldn’t have demeaned those who’d signed the petitions against him.)

But at least Wanggaard commented at all (even if it was by a press release); so far, both Walker and Kleefisch have been unavailable for comment.

Oh, one more thing; it appears that State Senators Moulton and Galloway, and the biggest fish of them all, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, have also had more than enough signatures turned in to recall them.  So all six recalls have completed their first phase; now it’s on to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and the courts to first verify the signatures, then figure out when the recall elections will be scheduled.  (As always, I’ll keep you posted.)

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Personal note:  This is bittersweet, as I really want to talk with my friend Jeff about all this.  He knew I was active in helping Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) retain Wirch’s seat; he knew I was planning to help work on the recall petitions against Walker, Kleefisch and Wanggaard.  And he was very much in favor of this, because he felt all three of them deserved to be recalled — he even said so in our last conversation on 11/11/11.

I very much wish Jeff were still alive just so I could tell him about all this; even though I couldn’t do very much due to Jeff’s sudden death (nowhere near as much as I’d hoped or planned to do), I did gather some signatures and I did, personally, sign the petitions to recall all three individuals.  I hope, wherever he is now, that he knows I did my best to get these three people removed from office, and that he’s happy that all three will, indeed, face recall.

And I’ll not even start on my feelings about how I wish I could tell my late husband Michael about all this, too.  Because I know that he, too, would’ve been in favor; he’d probably have called this a “classic overreach” and have signed right along with me. 

Rep. Robin Vos (R) Calls Recalls “Frivolous” Because “They Cost Too Much”

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Representative Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is at it again.

Vos doesn’t like recall elections, even though his own party, the Wisconsin GOP, went after three Democratic state Senators last year — Bob Wirch of Kenosha, Jim Holperin of Conover, and Dave Hansen of Green Bay.  All three easily withstood their recall elections and were retained.  (Maybe Vos only dislikes them because his own party lost when they attempted to unseat these three Democratic Senators.  But I digress.)  He believes they are too expensive, and asked Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board how much it’s going to cost for the election to recall Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch — as that’s a statewide election — mostly because he seems to believe that widely publicizing the estimated cost of the statewide recall election will somehow stop the recall process in its tracks.  Note that the gubernatorial/Lt. Gov. recall election is estimated to cost $9 million according to Wisconsin’s county clerks and the GAB; this cost covers only one election, not with the sure-to-come primary beforehand.  Supposedly, having Kleefisch on the ballot as is usually the case in any gubernatorial/Lt. Gov. election will cost more, something I highly doubt. 

Please see this link for further details:

http://www.journaltimes.com/news/local/breaking/vos-million-estimated-recall-cost-for-taxpayers-not-healthy-for/article_02a8d55c-38ad-11e1-bd17-0019bb2963f4.html

Worse yet, in this article, Vos calls the recalls “frivolous,” saying:

“People cannot say this is somehow worth the cost to have these frivolous recalls.  It’s a shame we’ve come to this.”

I have news for Rep. Vos.  He is misusing the word frivolous, which is defined by the Free Dictionary as:

friv·o·lous  (frv-ls)

adj.

1. Unworthy of serious attention; trivial: a frivolous novel.
2. Inappropriately silly: a frivolous purchase.

Note that these recall elections, while they are expensive, have not been undertaken lightly.  It takes a lot of effort to gather 540,000 signatures statewide in two months, which is what is required to recall both Walker and Kleefisch, as that’s 1/4 of the total votes cast for Governor in the 2010 election.  And that effort, by its very definition, is the epitome of seriousness — in other words, Rep. Vos, no one would ever undertake such a grueling effort unless they were quite serious

So the first definition, that of being “unworthy of serious attention,” fails.

But what about the second definition, “inappropriately silly?”  Do these recalls qualify for that definition, either?

No, they do not.  Once again, the recalls may well be wrong in certain lights; certainly, they are in the eyes of Robin Vos.  But one thing they are not is “inappropriately silly,” especially considering Vos’s own party, the GOP, supported the recalls of Holperin, Hansen, and Wirch last summer.  (I guess we’re supposed to have short memories about that, huh?)

The main reason I see for Vos to do this is because it’s the only play the Wisconsin GOP has left, to wit:  stall.  Obfuscate.  Cast aspersions on the people recalling Walker, Kleefisch, state Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), and more — because it’s the only thing the Rs can do, as they’re very well aware that Walker and Kleefisch will be recalled.  They’re also very well aware that Wanggaard will be recalled, and that other senators who are in danger of recall (including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senator Pam Galloway, R-Wausau) may have to defend their seats as well.

So the way I see it, the only reason Vos is saying and doing all this is because he knows his party will lose these recall elections.  He’s the co-chairman of the Legislature’s finance committee — a very powerful leadership position — yet Vos has to know which way the winds are blowing in Wisconsin.  The GOP’s days are numbered; it’s quite possible that the Wisconsin Assembly (lower house) will go solid blue next year due to the GOP’s overreach.  And Vos’s own seat, which has been a safe Republican haven for at least twenty years, may even be in jeopardy because people are that angry over what the GOP has done.

I’m most unimpressed with Vos on these issues, and believe his logic chain, at best, is suspect.  His understanding of the adjective “frivolous” is flawed.  And he’s crying sour grapes because of how expensive the recalls are, when as Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said here:

 

“The $9 million cost of a statewide recall election is great, but the cost of doing nothing is far greater. This undertaking is the biggest investment in the future of our state and families we can make. 

It would take more than 7 recall elections to equal the cost of Walker’s tax increase on seniors and working families. It would take more than 11 recalls to equal the tuition hike Walker foisted on University of Wisconsin-System students and their families. And Walker’s $2.3 billion in tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations and the super-rich would pay for more than 255 recall elections. Wisconsin simply cannot afford Scott Walker any longer.

At the end of the day, no matter how Scott Walker and his Republican Party try to spin it, the people of Wisconsin called for this election. There is no price tag on democracy.”  (emphasis mine — BC)

Agreed, though they way I’d put it is that Vos’s complaints about how expensive the recall elections will be are an attempted framing of the narrative that should not stand, as it is fundamentally flawed both on its merits and its ethics.

So let’s bring on the recalls already.  Because whether Vos or the Wisconsin GOP likes it or not, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if the GOP can undertake recall efforts as they did last summer, they have absolutely no right to complain now.  (Or as I said the other day with regards to Wanggaard’s impending recall election:  “Them’s the breaks.”)

Politics, US and Wisconsin-style — A Big, Fat Mess

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Tonight’s post is about what’s been going on in politics — but as time is of a premium, let me sum it up for you in four words: a big, fat mess.

Look at the national political scene, for example.  Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House “would not pass” the two-month extension to the payroll tax holiday (something that saves the average worker $40 per paycheck, as was Tweeted ad nauseum with the hash-tag #40bucks).  Boehner stood firm after this Wall Street Journal staff editorial saying the deal was a no-brainer; as the editorial said:

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

As the editorial goes on to state, the House had voted to kill the payroll tax “holiday” on Tuesday — the exact, same bill that the Senate had passed on a bipartisan basis with an 89-10 vote — by a 229-193 highly partisan vote (meaning the Rs were mostly against; the Dems were largely for it).  Speaker Boehner was standing firm, so he said, because he felt the Democrats hadn’t negotiated in good faith, but the Republican leadership (at least, anyone who isn’t currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives) en masse told Boehner he was wrong.

For example, here’s what George W. Bush’s main advisor, Karl Rove, had to say last evening (via this TalkingPointsMemo article, which quotes Rove from an appearance on the Fox News Channel yesterday — that is, Wednesday, December 21, 2011):

“I think the Wall Street journal editorial today hit it on the nail,” Rove said Wednesday on Fox News.

So today, Thursday, December 22, 2011, Speaker Boehner had to give in.  He did so as graciously as he possibly could, but facts are facts; Boehner got his hat handed to him, and he’s likely to end up resigning as Speaker soon because he’s totally lost control of his caucus.  And in so doing, he’s hurt his party, he’s hurt his party’s chances for winning the 2012 elections (from the Presidency on down), and he’s definitely hurt himself; these things are what tends to make a current Speaker a former Speaker, in short order, one way or another — and it’s far easier to resign than to be removed in disgrace.  (And if you resign, you get the lovely “perks” that come with being a former Speaker — I’m not sure if you do if you are replaced, though it’s likely you still would.  But it would still look better for Boehner if he just got out ASAP, and it probably would be a great deal better for his physical health.  He truly did not look well today in his press conference.)

Tomorrow, the House will meet and attempt to pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax “holiday” by unanimous acclamation.  If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t a clue what will happen next.

But I do know that the American public doesn’t like stalemates like this when political theatre threatens to interfere with real people’s lives, and they tend to hold the party who instigated such a thing responsible.  In 2009, the Dems had several highly partisan fights, mostly over health care, and in 2010, they paid for it at the ballot box; now, it’s 2011, and the Rs have had several highly partisan fights, mostly over the payroll tax and the debt ceiling issues . . . my guess is that unless they get their collective house in order, fast, they, too, are likely to pay for it at the ballot box.

Now to Wisconsin’s recent political news.  We continue the fight to recall our Governor, Scott Walker (R), our Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and four state Senators, including my very own Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).   It was reported about a week ago that there are nearly enough signatures to recall Scott Walker, as 507,000 valid signatures (by real Wisconsin voters, no signatures of “Mickey Mouse” or “Adolf Hitler” as has been alleged by some Republican leaders, including state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), himself a target of a well-funded recall election).  

Note that 507,000 valid signatures have been gathered in one month; those of us working on the recall effort (including me) have another full month left in which to get signatures.  And the efforts to recall Kleefisch, Wanggaard, and Fitzgerald (among others) continue unabated; it looks good that all six Republicans targeted for recall will indeed have to face the voters in 2012 for this option: will they be retained, or will they instead be replaced?

Tempers remain high in Wisconsin.  We’re frustrated by a weak economy, months of negative job “growth” (in other words, we have big, big job losses here and little actual growth going on), five or six people going for every one job, and more.  Then, we have a Governor who’d rather cause trouble than govern — which is why he’s going to be recalled and replaced — we have Senators who didn’t have the sense they were born with (including my own, Van Wanggaard), and voted for something they should’ve stayed far, far away from (the whole vote on Senate Bill 10 — that is, when they voted to repeal collective bargaining for most public employees, which has caused all sorts of trouble in the state, economically and otherwise).  And we have a Lieutenant Governor in Kleefisch who is either too weak to affect policy in any way so she has to parrot whatever Scott Walker tells her to say, or really, honestly believes what she’s saying — and I’m not sure which is worse.

Look.  I have friends of all political stripes and I am in agreement with some of my R friends in other states when they say spending is out of control and the government should make absolutely certain every nickel is spent wisely and well.  But I am against nonsensical stuff like what Walker, Kleefisch, Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (also an R), my Senator, Van Wanggaard, etc., have said and done because there was no reason for it except to do one thing: bust unions, and make it harder to get Walker, et. al., on out of there.

But I have news; we will oust Scott Walker.  We will oust Rebecca Kleefisch.  We will oust Senators Fitzgerald and Wanggaard, all by our quite legal recall method — by getting 1/4 of the total voters in the last, highly-charged election.  We must oust these people in order to restore some sense of fairness and bipartisanship to Wisconsin.  

Wisconsin is not a red state, nor is it a blue state; instead, it is a truly purple state.  That’s why what the radical Rs, led by Scott Walker, have done here is so blatantly offensive to the vast majority of Wisconsinites I’ve talked with — including many, many Rs and Indys — and it’s why I fully expect to see Scott Walker and Van Wanggaard, among others, hitting the unemployment line ASAP.

Walker Recall Petitions hit 300,000 Sigs . . . Walker Recall Petitioners Harassed in Racine

with 2 comments

With the statewide Wisconsin recalls of Governor Scott Walker (R), Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and our local recall of district 21 Senator Van Wanggaard (R), have come problems.  But first, the good news . . . statewide organizers from UnitedWisconsin.com and the Democratic Party (two separate things) have both reported that over 300,000 recall signatures have been gathered in the first twelve days.

As the story from the Racine Journal-Times says:

People have signed the recall petitions at the rate of about 1,040 per hour, according to United Wisconsin. The group says signatures have been collected from people in all 72 counties in Wisconsin, including:

• 10,033 residents from Columbia County.

• 4,713 in Pierce County.

• 3,698 in Oneida County.

• 16,845 in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties.

• 8,540 in Portage County.

Racine County numbers were not available.

Now, note these numbers; Racine County is more populous than any of those other counties.  Also, all of those counties are known as Republican-leaning or heavily Republican districts . . . which is bad news for Scott Walker and his backers, for sure.

This may be why recall advocates and petitioners, even in Racine County, are now having trouble with people harassing them, stealing signs, and in one case even driving straight at a crowd of people attempting to gather signatures.  (See this story from the Racine Journal-Times for further details.)  As Kelly Gallagher said in the recent Journal-Times article:

Kelly Gallaher, the organizer for the local progressive group Community for Change, said when she was with a group of people on Friday near a laundromat by River Run Family Restaurant, 3616 Northwestern Ave., someone sped directly at a group of organizers. People ran out of the way, she said. “It was that close,” Gallaher said.

Also on Saturday, a driver deliberately backed his vehicle toward people collecting signatures outside All Sports Pub, 3458 Rapids Drive, Gallaher said. That same day, Gallaher said someone threw a big glass of soda or some other drink at a man collecting signatures outside the Social Security Office, 4020 Durand Ave.

“It’s concerning,” Gallaher said. “My biggest fear is that someone is going to get hurt.”

And what have the local Republican Party folks done about this?  Not a whole lot.  While condemning incidents like this (without admitting they actually have happened, mind you), Racine Republican Party Chairman Bill Folk was more concerned about the recall petitioners getting signatures outside local businesses.  From the Journal-Times article (the same one that quoted Gallagher):

While Folk has not heard directly about people harassing people collecting recall signatures, he said he has heard complaints about people collecting signatures on property where they shouldn’t be, which concerns him.

“If they are not getting permission from the business owners, it’s exposing the business owners to a political segment they may or may not agree with,” Folk said. “They are putting a business owner in an awkward situation politically.”

Of course, Gallagher pointed out that at the three businesses she knew of where inappropriate and scary things had happened, the recall petitioners did have permission to be there.   So this was just another attempt by Folk and his Republican colleagues to divert attention from what’s really going on — and that’s sad.

 
Now, as for some commentary from the peanut gallery (or at least me):
 
Because I am left-leaning, politically, that doesn’t mean I have lost my right to free speech.  As Lieutenant Gary Larsen of the Caledonia Police Department said in the Journal-Times article, you must leave people’s stuff alone if it’s on their property.  And you certainly don’t have the right to drive at a bunch of protestors to “scatter” them — you could hurt someone badly by doing this.
 
I have always advocated that anyone, providing he or she is peacefully going about his or her business, has a right to protest.  I don’t care if it’s the TEA Party or if it’s Occupy Wall Street or if it’s the Walker/Kleefisch/Wanggaard recall petitioners; we all have a right to peacefully protest without having things thrown at us or without having someone aim a car at us for trying to exercise our rights of free speech and freedom of assembly under the United States Constitution.
 
See, this is what we’ve endured in Wisconsin since the Scott Walker administration got into power in January of 2011.  This is why many people of all stripes — all creeds, sects, nationalities, genders, and political persuasions — want Walker and his Republican allies, including Van Wanggaard, out.
 
And it’s definitely why I want them out.  Which is why I’m once again exercising my right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution by pointing out that what’s happened to the petitioners is wrong.  It is shameful.  It should not be allowed to stand.
 
Recall Walker.  Recall Kleefisch.  Recall Wanggaard.  And for the love of God/dess and little green apples, stop harassing the recall petitioners.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 29, 2011 at 10:16 pm