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Statewide Recount in Judicial Race ends today; Waukesha County’s vote total is in

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Today, the necessary recount for the April 5, 2011 Wisconsin state Supreme Court judicial race has ended as Waukesha County has finally finished recounting the votes.  David Prosser still won Waukesha County with a similar vote total to his previous, though JoAnne Kloppenburg picked up 310 votes statewide; as previously written here, and elsewhere, Ms. Kloppenburg won the rest of the state of Wisconsin (though she didn’t win every county, overall, she was the winner) while she lost, and lost big, in the reddest Republican county in the state, Waukesha County.

This means that unofficially David Prosser has won the election by just over 7,000 votes according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  Please see this article for further details:

Here’s a relevant quote:

Waukesha County finished its recount Friday, two weeks after the state’s other 71 counties completed theirs. The county next was to deliver its totals to the state Government Accountability Board.

In Waukesha County, the results showed both candidates gaining votes – 68 more for Prosser, 19 more for Kloppenburg – yielding a net gain of 49 votes for the incumbent.

The board, which oversees state elections, plans to certify the totals on Monday, board attorney Mike Haas said. Kloppenburg would have until May 31 to file a lawsuit over the results.

So there it is; because of repeated and extensive problems in Waukesha County, including torn bags, bags without proper numbers (poll workers write totals and usually then bags are supposed to be left undisturbed until/unless there is a statewide recount), and ballots left in strange places (the worst of these issues wasn’t in Waukesha; it instead was in Verona, which is in Dane County — there, ballots were left out of a bag and on a table, reason unknown), the vote totals reported in Waukesha County remain suspect.  While there also were problems in other areas in the state, Waukesha County’s violations were by far the most egregious, starting with County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’s problems in getting the proper vote total for Brookfield notated into her computer until 36 hours after the April 5, 2011 election ended.

I don’t know what Ms. Kloppenburg and her campaign manager, Melissa Mulliken, are going to do.  But if the problems in Waukesha are as bad as I have been led to believe (I am a member of a group called Election Integrity, which has been giving unofficial first-hand results from observers in Waukesha County and elsewhere), they may indeed file suit and I wouldn’t blame them at all.

Everyone wants to believe that elections are fair and are conducted on the “up-and-up.”  But we’ve found since Nickolaus’s eleventh-hour revelation that there have been severe and systemic problems in Waukesha County for years, with nothing whatsoever having been done about it for whatever reason.  This has made me seriously question whether or not we really do have fair elections in Wisconsin despite observing on April 27, 2011 in Racine, Wisconsin for the Kloppenburg campaign and believing that Racine County’s elections, themselves, have been conducted fairly.  (Note if David Prosser’s folks had asked me to observe for them, I would’ve done it, though I proudly cast my vote for Ms. Kloppenburg in the April 5, 2011 election.  I firmly believe Ms. Kloppenburg’s credentials, working for both Republican and Democratic Governors as one of the state Assistant Attorneys-General, are outstanding, and I believe that if she is ever freely and fairly elected in Wisconsin, she will make an outstanding Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.)

The whole question now is, has whatever happened in Waukesha County tainted this entire election?  (In my mind, that answer is a clear “yes,” but I don’t know how that would work in court.)  And have there been enough problems in Waukesha County to warrant tossing out that entire county’s votes and making them vote again?  Because that possibly would be the fairest way to go about it, with many observers in every polling place in the county, to make absolutely sure that every legitimate vote (for whomever) is counted properly.  And Kathy Nickolaus, if she hasn’t resigned or been recalled by then, should play no part in this, just as she played no part in the state-wide recount . . . her job performance has been proven to be amazingly weak — and I don’t say that lightly — and she should count herself extremely lucky to have been gainfully employed, much less making $67,000 a year, considering how much she appears to have screwed up during her tenure on the job.

I believe this recount was a mandatory one — the only thing the state could do to restore any faith in free and fair elections — and I know the problems in Waukesha County have been proven to be extensive on a variety of counts.  The only thing now is to see how it plays out, and I promise you, I will stay on this story and post updates as appropriate.

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.

It’s NOT a Mandate, Folks; Rather, a Repudiation.

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The election is over, but the bloviating goes on.  Today on WTMJ Radio (AM 620 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), both Governor-elect Scott Walker (Republican) and Senator-elect Ron Johnson (R) used the word “mandate” while presumably wearing a straight face.

Yes, what happened last night is a slap-down for the people presently in power, the Obama Administration and many Democratic Senators and Representatives who followed their lead — along with some who didn’t, but were Democratic incumbents, and got washed out with the tide.

But it’s not — repeat, not — a mandate.  Rather, this is an exercise in the Republicans framing the narrative: they’re doing their level best to show voter rage at not being listened to as a “mandate” for themselves, which shows them to be completely ignorant of recent history.

So I’m going to educate them.  Starting right now.

What happened in this election is what my friends among the Hillary Clinton Democrats (some also under the name PUMA Democrats, with PUMA meaning either “People United Means Action” or “Party Unity My A**”) have been predicting since Barack Obama was named the Democratic nominee over Mrs. Clinton — and that is, many Democrats who were shut out by the Democratic National Committee on 5/31/2008 at their Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting were angry, and joined with the angry Republicans and angry Independents who didn’t feel they were being listened to — and that’s why we have an incoming Republican Speaker of the House (presumably John Boehner from Ohio, though it’s remotely possible the Republicans may select someone else) and a Senate that’s only nominally Democratically-controlled after the election results were known.

What people need to understand is that the Democratic Party fissured as of that moment, 5/31/2008, between those who felt what happened on that day — Barack Obama getting delegates he didn’t earn from Michigan, where he wasn’t on the ballot, and Mrs. Clinton having delegates she fairly earned (because she was on the ballot, and very popular in Michigan) taken away — was OK, and those who felt it was absolutely reprehensible.  Also be reminded that on 5/31/08,  Floridians were told to be happy that their representatives to the Democratic National Convention would only get 1/2 a vote, each — both of those things set badly with over half of the Democratic Party, including many who liked Obama and had voted for him, but could not get behind such blatantly slanted and non-voter-representative tactics.

You see, the DNC (most especially member-and-CNN-analyst Donna Brazile) believed “rules are rules,” and they didn’t care that the voters went out to vote and believed their votes would be respected.  They hid behind fig-leafs such as Florida supposedly voting “too early” when several other states moved up their primary dates as well but no one said word-one to them (most of those were states Obama won handily in), or saying from the beginning, “Oh, that primary doesn’t count because they moved it up without our approval,”  even while Michigan residents were voting in record numbers in their January primary.

Excuse me, DNC, but the voters voted.  They did what they were supposed to do: they voted, and in record numbers.  And they did not care about your rules.  They were told to vote, and they did.  They clearly expressed a preference, one you definitely didn’t like, for Hillary Clinton — and thus, you managed to mute the impact of her historic primary victories.  (Mrs. Clinton was the first woman to ever win a primary in the United States, much less a whole bunch of them.  And she won the most votes from primaries, too; we know that.  Mr. Obama won most of his victories in the caucuses, where many vote totals were disputed; please see Gigi Gaston’s excellent documentary “We Will Not be Silenced” for further details.  Here’s a link: — this should help.  I know the movie, in four parts, is available on YouTube.)

The ill-feeling the DNC caused by refusing to listen has not dissipated in the last two years; instead, it’s simmered and boiled over in many cases.  I know that I am still angry and will always be angry at what happened at that meeting, because it showed that the DNC — the governing board of the Democratic Party, more or less — did not care one whit about the voter’s intentions or the voters themselves.  Instead, the DNC decided they knew better than we did, than what the polls were telling them — than what their own common sense should’ve told them if it hadn’t been taking a coffee break.

I know that while many Hillary Dems did what I did — vote for competent, qualified people wherever possible, including Democrats — some were so angry due to what happened on 5/31/08 (where we were told that we did not count, that our votes did not matter, and when our massed voices crying out for justice went unheard) that they voted a straight Republican ticket.

So the Republicans — including those in Wisconsin, where they won control of both the Assembly (the lower house) and the Senate (upper house) — are wrong when they think they have received a “mandate” to do anything.  What they received was the gift of many Democrats who are angry at how Obama was selected in the first place, along with many who were flat-out frustrated at the policies of Harry Reid (who, inexplicably, held his seat in Nevada) and Nancy Pelosi (easily re-elected, but almost assuredly to retire as former Speakers rarely stay in the House after they lose their Speakership).

So if the Republicans think this is a mandate, they are wrong.

What this was, instead, was a repudiation of the tactics of the DNC on 5/31/08, along with a repudiation of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the entirety of the Obama Administration in particular.

If the Republicans take the wrong message from this, and start cutting unemployment benefits, start cutting health care benefits that are already extant, and mess with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps, or any of the “social safety net” programs that are so vitally needed with the country as a whole having over 9% reportable unemployment (and more like 17% functional unemployment throughout the USA, with some areas having far more), they will be voted out in turn.

Personally, I am disgusted that Wisconsin voted out Russ Feingold, an 18-year veteran of the Senate.  Feingold is an honest, ethical and principled politician; the only thing he’d ever done that I fully disagreed with was backing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008 (though he did not like what the DNC did on 5/31/08 any better than anyone else — such was the impression I received).   I voted for Mrs. Clinton in the Wisconsin Primary, and am as disgusted as anyone I know — and enraged, too — about what the DNC did on 5/31/08, but I cast my vote anyway for Feingold because unlike many politicians, he actually explains himself and has taken it upon himself to visit every county in Wisconsin every single year.  (Plus I looked at it this way, as a HRC supporter: Hillary Clinton is a centrist/pragmatist.  She’d want Wisconsin to have the best possible person representing the state, who in my opinion was Russ Feingold, whether or not she gets along with him.)

What we have now in Ron Johnson, the Republican Senator-elect, is a man who is independently wealthy, has no compassion whatsoever (or at least has evinced none), and believes in TANSTAAFL — an abbreviation for what Robert A. Heinlein called “There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.”  Which in general is a maxim worth living by — and is one of the most Libertarian philosophies around — but at a time where there’s 17% “real” unemployment in the country and where employers are not adding jobs, so many are getting by with unemployment checks while praying for a miracle (including myself), TANSTAAFL has to be modified, or a whole lot of people are going to end up dead on the streets as if the US of A had become a Third World country overnight.

Now, is that what Ron Johnson wants?  Probably not, but he hasn’t examined his beliefs too closely, either, by all objective analysis — his only two stated “platforms” were to cut taxes (whatever question he was asked, he’d say he’d cut taxes, even if it was something about Medicaid or getting our troops out of Iraq or Afghanistan) and to repeal Obama’s health care overhaul.  And while many in Wisconsin are very nervous about the Obama health care plan because of Ms. Pelosi’s blithe “we won’t know what’s in the bill until we pass it” comment (one of the worst things a sitting Speaker of the House has ever said, and definitely a factor in this election), that doesn’t mean all of it is bad.

Simply put, the main reason businesses go overseas is because of our health care costs — Ron Johnson is right about that.  But sometimes they go to Europe, which has nationalized health care, or China, which has something similar, or Canada, which definitely has nationalized health care, and that’s because the state is paying for the health care — the business is not.  That’s what Obama was trying — and fumbling — to say, and why he seems to feel that an overhaul is necessary because way too many people are falling through the cracks now, and it’ll just get worse if the businesses like HMOs or PPOs keep running healthcare as a for-profit business.

Perhaps Barack Obama’s idea (which may as well be called Nancy Pelosi’s idea) wasn’t the best one.  I definitely think it wasn’t.  But it was at least a small step in the direction our country needs to go in, though to my mind encouraging more low-income clinics to be built and forgiving new-doctor debt if they work in those for a few years seems to be a far better option all the way around.

People are suffering in this country.  I am one of those afflicted, and I am telling you right now that if the Republicans believe this was a “mandate” for anything, they are as wrong today as Barack Obama was wrong in 2008 after he was elected President of the US that his election was a “mandate” for anything whatsoever, except the mandate “we don’t like who we have, so we want someone else, and pray for a miracle.”  But I don’t think that counts.

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