Barb Caffrey's Blog

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Tired, ill, and reading

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This past week hasn’t been one of my best.

As to what’s wrong?  Well, I hit the six years, six months mark in my grief observance . . . what a passive way to say that I’ve now been without my husband for over six years and six months.  And I hate it, but can’t do anything about it, save remember my beloved husband Michael as he was while he was alive — and know to the bottom of my soul that we will be together again in eternity if at all humanly possible.

Oh, yeah.  And I’ve been sick, too — sinus stuff and flu symptoms, which hasn’t stopped me from looking for work (and wouldn’t have stopped me from accepting a job had one been offered) . . . still no luck on the job front.

Before I go on, I wanted to mention the passing of Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to ever be nominated on a major party ticket for Vice President.  She’s still one of only two women to be nominated (Sarah Palin being the other) . . . Ms. Ferraro was a tough, strong, smart, capable and confident woman who would’ve made an exceptional Vice President and an even better President, had she ever had the opportunity. 

Ms. Ferraro was a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton for President, and spoke for me as well as for many others after the 5/31/08 debacle that was the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that decided the fate of Mrs. Clinton and the Democratic nomination — not at the hands of the voters, but instead at the hands of the DNC itself.  Ms. Ferraro was astonished and disgusted, and her clear, strong voice helped smooth the waters afterward and made our dissent as HRC Dems more forceful, coherent and logical.  I will miss Ms. Ferraro and her tenacity, and I hope “The Good Place (TM)” will appreciate Ms. Ferraro and bring her joy, peace and whatever else she wants as her productive and happy afterlife.

Now, on to less important stuff.

This past week I’ve read at least six books, most of which I’m going to review at and/or Shiny Book Review down the line.  The best of the lot was Louisa Young’s MY DEAR, I WANTED TO TELL YOU, as it’s a horrifically realistic portrait of World War I, but IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS by Erik Larson was also very good and very horrifying, the latter book being about Ambassador to Germany William Dodd and his family, who served during 1933-1937 being stationed in Berlin and saw first-hand what was going on with Adolf Hitler, Josef Goebbels, and all the others.  The only book I really couldn’t get behind was Gina Showalter’s UNRAVELED, this being the sequel to INTERTWINED (I liked INTERTWINED, mind you) . . . just didn’t buy most of it, and the reason I didn’t buy it was that the characterization wasn’t as solid as in the previous novel.  (When your main character, Aden, is a guy with a bunch of dead people inside his head, you need to believe in him or the concept doesn’t work.  I bought it in INTERTWINED, didn’t buy it in UNRAVELED.  Would still give Ms. Showalter one more chance to sell me on this universe down the line, though, because of the previous, far-stronger novel.)

I’ve also had a problem recently in focusing my attention on one thing, or even on any ten things . . . I believe this is due to exhaustion, and being ill, and trying to pretend I’m neither one.

Well, the time for pretending is over; I hope by saying out loud, in public, even (as blogging is a public endeavor even if no one reads it but me), that I’m going to take some down-time if I can makes sense.

Other than that, I continue to watch Wisconsin politics.  The Governor’s budget repair bill was stalled in the courts, but the Republicans tried an unusual end-around that I’m not even sure I can describe — they believe by doing this rather odd thing (you have to publish a bill specifically by the Secretary of State’s office in Wisconsin or it’s not legal, and after it’s published it takes ten days to take effect; this hasn’t happened as a Dane County court enjoined that with a temporary restraining order, but a different place in the government has published the bill and the Republicans believe that’s enough and the bill — which stops the state from collectively bargaining with employees in public employee unions — is now law.  I have my doubts on that score but have no doubt — zero — that the original judge who gave the temporary restraining order will have more to say tomorrow and that any legal action will be officially blocked by five PM tomorrow.)  Note that the Wisconsin Republicans did this weird “end-around” thing after 5 PM on a Friday because they wanted to make positive news, such as it is, and mute the negative news a little . . . tomorrow I’m sure all the crap will hit the fan, again.

Oh, yeah.  I nearly forgot to add that one of my friends, whom I respect highly, has told me that he thinks I should not write the Elfyverse (my universe, my concept, my voice) or Michael’s universes (granted, all of those were Michael’s concept and me trying to match Michael’s voice, which is very tough) and instead should think of something else to write and do that.

Well, here’s my thought on that — it’s up to me what I do, and these days I’m glad to get any ideas at all.  If I can get one story consistently talking to me so I can do more with it, I’m going to work with it — whether it’s a new story, an existing story in my Elfyverse or an existing story in Michael’s, it doesn’t matter.  Only the strength of the story matters . . . I just hope I’ll start hearing something after I heal up a little, because right now none of my stories are talking to me, at all.

Note that I appreciate my friend for saying what he did even though I feel he’s flat wrong.  Being able to honestly communicate is important, even if you don’t always agree — probably because you can’t always agree, it’s important to have some real communication going on even if it’s, “I really don’t like what you’re doing, Barb, and wish you’d stop.”  (My response wouldn’t be printable, I’m afraid, but that’s the drawback to free, honest and open communication.)

Oh, and last, Writers of the Future bounced both of my stories out in the last two quarters . . . what else is new?

And another update — Scott Walker releases e-mails, shows sharp divide

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We have another update, this time with breaking news.

Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), had to release tens of thousands of e-mails to his office after a Freedom of Information Act request that was recently settled in court.  The suit was brought in Madison by the independent newspaper, The Isthmus along with the Associated Press; Walker agreed to release the e-mails without admitting any fault in the matter, and will pay the court costs, amounting to $7000.

Here’s the link to that story:

Note that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is one of the most conservative newspapers in the state of Wisconsin; they endorsed Scott Walker for Governor.  Keep that in mind as you read this.

For another look, here’s the same story from the Huffington Post online newspaper; note that the HuffPo often tends to be quite liberal.

The letters against, as quoted from the HuffPo, are as follows:

“Your handling of the current situation in Madison is an embarrassment to the people of Wisconsin. You appear to be an ignorant puppet and I am ashamed to have you as governor of the state I call home,” wrote a person who said he lived in Wisconsin and is married to a teacher.

(then, a little later down, another e-mailer said:)

“Please, keep your backhanded ‘thank you’s and empty compliments to yourself,” one person who identified himself as a state corrections worker wrote to Walker. “Actions speak louder than words, and every one of your actions speaks quite clearly to your irrational hatred of the very people that have dedicated their lives and careers to keeping the state running safely and efficiently.”


Other e-mails the AP reviewed came from Wisconsin residents working in the private sector.

“I urge you to protect collective bargaining rights for public employees. Making collective bargaining illegal would be devastating to Wisconsin’s working families and economy,” wrote a resident from Oak Creek, Wis.

While there were some e-mails in favor, most were against.   Note this is not what Scott Walker claimed at the time; he claimed there was a “silent majority” that backed him.  (And the day after he said that, 40,000 protestors flooded the state Capitol.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Updates — Madison judge blocks budget bill; Tim Dillard pitches well; Vinny Rottino

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OK, it’s update time.

First, we have a judge in Madison, Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi, who has temporarily blocked the recent “budget repair bill” from taking effect.  Here’s a link to that:

Note this is a follow-up article, where it says the Attorney General of Wisconsin will file an appeal on Monday.  (I wanted to give the most up-to-date information.)  But it says what Judge Sumi did, and why the Attorney General will be appealing it . . . this is the best article, right now, about what’s going on in Wisconsin.  (She said that the process of the “budget repair bill” with the Conference Committee appeared to violate Wisconsin’s Open Records Law, just as state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, had said at the time.)

Next, pitcher Tim Dillard cemented his case to make the Milwaukee Brewers active roster (as a big leaguer, naturally), as he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief today in a Spring Training game after the starter (whose name escapes me, sorry) ended up only going 1/3 of an inning and giving up four or five runs.  (I normally would be more precise than this, but for two things: one, it’s still Spring Training.  And two, I haven’t yet seen a box score of this game though I looked.  If I am able to find one I will update this post to be more precise.)

I really like Dillard; I always have.  Dillard is a right-handed control pitcher, and I’ve thought for years that if the Brewers gave him a chance, they’d be pleasantly surprised.

Right now with the Brewers, two pitchers are unavailable — Zach Greinke is on the disabled list and will miss at least two and a half weeks of the season with a broken rib (and other bruised ribs), and Manny Parra likely will start the season on the DL also because his back is bad and he’s been so far unable to pitch in a game during Spring Training.  So there’s room for Dillard, and he’s pitching well at a time he needs to — with a new manager, Ron Roenicke, to impress — so I’m really and truly hoping this will finally be his time.

** Shaun Marcum also has a sore shoulder, though Marcum doubts he’ll miss any time at all.  (Just thought I should notate this for the record. **

In other baseball news, I haven’t yet seen anything new on catcher-infielder-outfielder Vinny Rottino, who is now in the Florida Marlins system.  He’d have to play outstandingly well to get called up as he is now about thirty-one years old, and he’s eligible for salary arbitration as he’d had cups of coffee in three separate seasons (so far his lifetime batting average in the bigs is something like .208 but that’s misleading).  Rottino has speed and plays good defense in the infield and outfield; he was converted to catcher late and is more of an “emergency catcher” than anything else as he does not have a strong rate of throwing accuracy from that position, nor is his defense anything more than adequate as best as I can discern from statistics.

Still, I’m really hoping Vinny Rottino will somehow make it up to the bigs again, because he’s an excellent right-handed clutch hitter, and he plays good defense in the infield and outfield.  I don’t know how well he pinch hits, but if he develops that skill as well, he may well prove valuable to someone despite his somewhat-advanced age for a rookie.

Considering Casey McGehee of the Brewers, who is a third baseman, didn’t make it up to the big leagues until he was twenty-six or twenty-seven, and will be twenty-nine this year, and he’s done very, very well, I think Vinny Rottino still has a shot.  McGehee, unlike Rottino, has power and a lot of it, but there have been others who have made it due to their defensive skills before (and their hitting skills; Rottino has speed, remember, along with good defense, and he swiped over twenty bases last year in the minors — AA and AAA, respectively) and I am confident that if some team gives Rottino a chance as a utility infielder/outfielder, they will be pleasantly surprised.

If anyone knows how Rottino is doing in Spring Training (I believe he’s with the Marlins’ minor league squad), please let me know as I’ll be more than pleased to update this blog.

Recall in WI continues to gain steam

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Folks, this is encouraging news for those of us in Wisconsin who can’t abide what Governor Scott Walker and 18 of the 19 state Senate Republicans have done to our state since the first of this year.

Note that the writer of this article is Markos Moulitas, who owns the Daily Kos; he is obviously a partisan Democrat, yet this is a non-partisan article that explains where the polling lies currently in the eight districts where active recall efforts are occurring at present.  This article also states that the Democrats have already obtained 45% of the signatures in two weeks to recall all eight Republican state Senators eligible to be recalled right now.

The two guys that look like they’ll definitely lose are Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke.  But after that, things get tougher for the Dems . . . or do they?

This particular story says that Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, is currently beating a generic Dem. challenger by 8%.  However, the guy who’d challenge her is already known — it’s Sheldon Wasserman, who is a former Assemblymen (Wisconsin’s lower house), and he only lost to her by about 1000 votes in 2008.

My thought here is that the students at Marquette most likely were not polled as they mostly have cell phones (and anything from a dormitory which might be a landline probably wouldn’t be polled anyway), and I know those students are fired up.   I believe every Democratic activist on campus and off in Milwaukee has told every student who attends any college or university in Wisconsin to make sure to file for an absentee ballot to vote in these recall elections — and they certainly would do so for those students in residence at Marquette who live out of state (or even elsewhere in the state where no recall is occurring).  Getting an absentee ballot is quite legal, and asking for one in advance, while rare, isn’t unheard of — often it’s soldiers who get these — and in any event, getting the information in advance as to how to request an absentee ballot is always a good idea whether you’re in a recall district or not.

Anyway, my hunch is that the polling is really wrong regarding Ms. Darling.  As stated, she only won by about 1000 votes the last time she ran; people are enraged now, and many Republicans are mad at her because she was the person who ran the committee in the state Senate which let that awful “budget repair bill” out of the committee and into the whole Senate.  Note that it’s not just Democrats and Independents who are furious with her; many rank-and-file Republicans are angry, too, because she’s the one who had all the power in the world — she could’ve stopped this very easily early on, saying that this bill was too much, too soon, or at any rate took too much power away from the Senate/legislative branch and gave it to Walker and the executive branch instead.  But she didn’t.

My hunch remains that Alberta Darling will be the first one recalled, and that she will be recalled because she screwed up so badly by refusing to just kill the bill at the committee level.

And all the Dems need is three Rs to lose their seats . . . as Markos Moulitsas says, the Dems are in striking distance of six of these seats right now (including Alberta Darling’s), with only Mary Lazich and Glenn Grothman, for the moment, appearing safe.

But what that doesn’t reflect is this: Grothman, providing they get the signatures to force him to a recall, and Lazich too, may be primaried by other Republicans.  Meaning they may well be gone when it comes time to a general election against a Democrat or Independent; if they aren’t gone by then, my hunch would be an Independent would be likely to knock off Grothman or Lazich because once again, people are furious and people want some legislators who will really represent them at the state level — not just rubber stamp legislation because Scott Walker tells them to do so.

Until these polls start asking in those two districts whether other Republicans or perhaps a conservative-leaning Independent has a shot against Grothman or Lazich, I will continue to believe that even in these “reddest of the red” Republican districts, those Senators are likely to end up going home for good.  Because you cannot underestimate the fury in Wisconsin, and as John Nichols and another commentator (a woman who works for Grit-TV; sorry, I can’t recall her name) recently said on Ed Schultz’s MSNBC show, “The only thing that trumps big money is a fired-up populace, especially at the grass-roots level.”  (Then both of them, Nichols and the other lady, said that they have never seen an electorate more fired-up across the entire state of Wisconsin than what we have right now.  And that in their opinions, it’s likely all eight of these Senators will face recall elections.)

Finally, here is Moulitsas’s opinion regarding Scott Walker’s fate:

As for Walker, state law requires an elected official to have served one year before being recalled, which means the governor has a reprieve until January 2012. But it’s pretty clear he’ll get his turn.

And it will be fitting, because Walker has done more to activate Democrats than anyone since George W. Bush scurried back to Texas.

I agree with him, and wish to once again state for the record that many other Republican state Senators who were elected in 2010 will be recalled and replaced (by Dems or possibly Independents, and maybe even a different Republican or two in the “reddest” districts) along with Walker, including my own state Senator, Van Wanggaard, because they have refused to listen to their own constituents and that, my friends, is a no-no that’s way too big to ignore.

I can’t wait to sign the recall petitions.  (Hurry up, November!)

Scott Walker signs union rights stripping-bill into law; recalls pending.

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Just a very brief note, folks . . . following the possibly illegal behavior of the Senators on the Senate-Assembly Conference Committee, Scott Walker today signed the noxious bill which strips public employee union-members of their rights to collectively bargain.

But this is not the end . . . oh, no.   This is far, far from over, and I, for one, will be avidly awaiting the results of the recall elections which will happen in at least seven of the eight districts where Republican Senators can be recalled. 

UPDATE:  All eight Republican state Senators now have active recall efforts going against them.  People are furious about what the state Senate Republicans did here in passing the union-stripping measures without an abstract of the bill in question, without giving the public time to look at it and without even giving two hours notice as required under the Wisconsin Open Records law.  Note that the Conference Committee, especially the Senators on it like Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, are far more likely to get into trouble than the WI state Senate on its own as the Senate most likely voted legally — it’s that the Conference Committee was a) called before the WI state Senate voted and b) didn’t get two hours either that’s most likely to get this bill stricken from the record and a re-vote may well become necessary down the line.

And while we wait to see what the courts will do with this bill, it’s time for the recall process to begin on the eight Republican Senators vulnerable to recall at this time.  (Note that there are also eight Dem. Senators who could possibly be recalled, but the guy funding those recalls is a very wealthy man in Utah who doesn’t live in WI at all.  My best guess is that if any of the WI Dems has to run in a recall election, he or she will win re-election, but it’s possible one, maybe two of them might have people in their district who are madder about them going to Illinois to prevent a quorum than they are about Scott Walker.  I don’t think that’s the case, mind you — I think people are irate regarding Scott Walker — but anything is possible, including the potential stupidity of voting out any of the courageous Democratic Senators who left the state in a legal procedural move to delay this process until everyone in the state following the news could be informed of what was truly going on.)

Scott Walker’s hours are numbered also as Governor, because there’s no way in the world Wisconsin voters will stand for what he and the Fitzgerald brothers (Scott as the Senate Majority Leader, Jeff in the Assembly as its Speaker) just forced down our throats.  We cannot get signatures to recall Gov. Walker until November, but my best guess is that we will get many more than the 540,000 signatures (1/4 of the total of the last vote for Gov. statewide) needed to force a recall election.

For those of you who do not live in Wisconsin, a recall election is a “do-over” election.  And as many people who unfortunately voted for Walker now feel betrayed, it is very likely our next Governor will be a Democrat — whether it’s Russ Feingold (former US Senator) or Tom Barrett (current mayor of Milwaukee, who ran unsuccessfully for Gov. in 2010) makes no nevermind as either would be far, far better as a Gov. for the state of WI than Scott Walker could ever be.

Please go to this Web site for further details as to how the “Republican 8” Senators vulnerable to recall right now will be recalled (the signatures are being gathered right now):

Also, see this site for further details: — for those wishing to get state Sen. Mary Lazich out, there’s a number of places working to recall her from this site.

And see this very good opinion from the Capitol Times (in Madison, WI):

And go, go, recallers!

WI Senate Rs make questionable procedural move

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In Wisconsin, you are obligated to give 24 hours notice before calling a conference committee on any given bill, but the Senate Republicans did not do so today in order to, in advance, get the Assembly’s notice and bring the Assembly back to vote.  And they did it all within five minutes.

Why did they need to do this?  Well, Scott Walker knew he was losing the battle of public opinion, so he had the Senate Republicans strip the language regarding the public employee unions out of the “budget repair bill” — after saying for weeks this was a fiscal issue, now it apparently isn’t? — while the conference committee passed 4-0 (with lone Democrat, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, unable to vote as he pointed out this conference committee was a violation of Wisconsin law and statute as he wasn’t given 24 hours notice, nor was he given any idea of what, exactly, he was voting on as there wasn’t a bill summary as there usually is).

Here’s a story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that goes into most of the particulars (not speaking about Barca’s part in it, oddly enough; the Kenosha News doesn’t have anything yet, either, as of 7:02 PM CST):

Note that I witnessed this extraordinary event by watching WTMJ TV (channel 4 in Milwaukee, WI), and saw Barca’s comments for myself; if I can get a transcript of what Barca actually said, I will be glad to update this post and add his remarks.

Here’s part of the article, quoting Robert Dreps, a noted Wisconsin attorney:

Attorney Robert Dreps, an expert on the state open meetings law, said he did not believe the conference committee could meet with such short notice.

State law generally requires a 24-hour notice for public meetings, but can be called with just two hours notice when more notice is impossible or impractical, said Dreps, who has represented the Journal Sentinel in the past.

“I can’t imagine how they can meet that standard,” he said.

I’ve never seen this before in all my life; a conference committee called before a bill was passed?  With no bill summary?  No 24 hours notice?  Then the Senate passing the non-fiscal items (i.e., stripping the collective bargaining of unions) in an 18-1 vote in about two minutes (starting at 6:12 PM and ending at 6:14 PM)?  Only Dale Schultz, a Republican from Richland Center in western Wisconsin, voted no.

Note that by declaring this a non-fiscal measure, the quorum needed was lower — but that may not be a legal maneuver either.   As I get more information, I will add more and more to this blog in the days ahead.

How can anyone say this was clear, transparent, or “doing the people’s business” in any way, shape or form with a straight face?

More to the point — how does this help the “Republican 8” who are vulnerable to recall efforts this year?  How does this help the people of Wisconsin, period?

*** UPDATE THREE as of 11:43 P.M.:  Note that there is a Web site to help recall the “Republican 8” state Senators who are available to be recalled right now.  Those Senators are Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Dan Kapanke, Sheila Harsdorf, Robert Cowles, Randy Hopper, Luther Olsen, and the most likely one to be recalled of them all, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills (this is a suburb of Milwaukee which contains Marquette University).  At the moment the Web site sends everyone to an Act Blue page, so I have taken down the link . . . if that site goes back to a normal place, not taking people to Act Blue (I’m for Act Blue in general but not when I’m trying to go somewhere else), I’ll restore the link. ***

**** UPDATE FOUR:  The link has been restored to show staging directions — places and people to see to get recall petitions for the Republican 8, so here you go:


Right now, as of 7:11 p.m. CST, the protestors are back on the streets of Madison** and are furious.  This just shows, once again as if we hadn’t figured it out, how duplicitous Scott Walker and his cronies in the state Senate really are.

My best guess is that these Republicans really don’t think they’ll be recalled, or that those who aren’t yet vulnerable to recall believe next year things will have calmed down and that they’ll easily hold their offices.  But I have news — anyone who voted “yes” on this horrible thing in the Senate today will be recalled, whether this year or next.  (I think Dale Schultz is safe as he voted “no.”  The rest of the Senate R’s had best look out.)  Because this clearly was not what the voters of Wisconsin wanted, and if the Republicans really think this was the right thing to do, well, they’re going to have to pay for it with their careers.

As State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) put it,

“This is a travesty is what it is,”Larson said about the vote. “I can’t sit by and let them kill the middle class.”

Larson said Republicans will pay a political price for curtailing collective bargining for public-sector employees.

“Everyone who is party to this travesty is writing their political obituary,”Larson said.

Amen, brother!

** UPDATE **  Here’s an article from the Kenosha News that points out what Peter Barca actually did:

And here’s a statement from that article from state Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Ashland, one of the “Wisconsin 14”:

Before the sudden votes, Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch said if Republicans “chose to ram this bill through in this fashion, it will be to their political peril. They’re changing the rules. They will inflame a very frustrated public.”

Once again, and with feeling — can I get an “Amen, brother” on that one, too?

** UPDATE TWO ***  Here’s something from Talking Points Memo about what Peter Barca attempted to do:

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) attempted to make a motion to delay the meeting or make amendments — and was not recognized for a motion by the chair, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. Barca argued, over Fitzgerald’s attempts to say there would be no motions, that the conference committee violated the state’s open meetings law, which requires at least 24 hours notice before a government meeting, unless there is good cause to act more quickly.

Read more at:

** Note that in Kenosha, which is the southern-most city in Wisconsin that’s right next to the state line with Illinois, there was a protest march in favor of the “Wisconsin 14” Democratic Senators and the public employee unions, which drew 1200 people in the middle of a working day.  This tells you that people remain fired up about this issue and are not going to stop protesting, and that was before what Scott Walker (and his 45-minute meeting earlier today with Senate Rs) and his cronies did this evening.

The protests will continue until morale improves — and in this case, morale will only improve with every single last Republican being recalled, including Scott Walker.  So look for recall after recall this summer, and recalls again in January of 2012 until every Republican who approved of this gets recalled.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm

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.

Odds and Ends

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Today’s post is going to be a catch-all of various things.

First, I had been pursuing a job in Madison, WI; it was a writing/editing gig and I felt I could really help the particular company in question, and that it would be something I could do that would not set off my particular round of health issues (I am partially disabled, physically, though there’s nothing wrong with my mind or work ethic).  But this job has said “no” even though I apparently got to the very last round . . . this might be considered a triumph after eighteen months of unemployment (I’m certain my late husband Michael would find it so), but it’s hard to see it that way now as I’m still among the ranks of the unemployed, nor do I have a job that’s right up my alley as I’d truly hoped this job would be.

So back to the drawing board, there.

As for the Wisconsin protests against sitting Governor Scott Walker and his atrocious “budget repair bill” that would strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights and would drastically cut Medicaid and our low-income health program Badgercare (I’m on the Badgercare waiting list as I qualify, but last I knew there were nearly 100,000 on the waiting list before it was frozen last September), they are still happening.   There are protests all over Wisconsin; there was a protest in Racine a few days ago that I unfortunately was unable to attend that netted two hundred or so in the freezing rain, while in La Crosse a bunch of university professors joined the local teacher’s union (perhaps the one their teaching assistants belonged to; I’m unsure on that — note that when I was a graduate teaching assistant at Nebraska, we were not unionized, though my brother, who is a teaching assistant at Indiana, is) even though they didn’t need to do so for their jobs in solidarity with the protestors.  There have been protests in Superior, which is across the Mississippi River from Duluth, MN, against this “budget repair bill” of Walker’s . . . there have been protests in Oshkosh, Green Bay, Eau Claire, and elsewhere along with the usual places to protest, Madison (our state capitol) and Milwaukee.  In addition, many Republican legislators homes are being picketed, including my own newly-elected state Senator, Van Wanggaard (it’s not a constant thing, but it has happened in the last ten or eleven days more than once, and with more than one person) . . . the state remains opposed to Walker’s union-busting provisions while being divided on whether or not Walker’s budgetary proposals are good or bad for the state.

However, many commercials are being aired by the so-called Wisconsin Club for Growth, which is no such thing — that is a front group funded by the wealthy Koch brothers (they of the infamous “prank call” fame, where Gov. Walker admitted he was trying to bust the unions along with many other things that may get him into hot water with the Government Accountability Board here in WI), and is headquartered in Washington, DC — to recall state Senator Bob Wirch of Burlington/Kenosha.   These commercials are obnoxious, and offensive, aping the “All Points Bulletin” of a policeman’s call to his dispatcher . . . when I heard them, I immediately wrote a letter to Wirch expressing my support for his position and told him I’m glad he’s sticking up for Wisconsin’s voters because goodness knows, aside from the “WI 14” Democratic Senators, no one else is.  (That they’ve had to flee the state in order to avoid a quorum is the only thing they could do to slow this process down.)

I truly hope Bob Wirch isn’t recalled, mind, but even if he is, it’ll take time.

Speaking of recall, I know I’m already planning on recalling Van Wanggaard in a year’s time, the first permissible date as he’s newly-elected, because he obviously does not represent Racine voters — according to a recent article in the Racine Journal-Times, Racine Assemblyman Cory Mason has had 1057 calls against the “budget repair bill” of Scott Walker’s, while he’s had 97 for it, and Racine Assemblyman Robert Turner (my particular Assemblyman) has had over 1000 calls against while only 20 in favor as of earlier this week on Monday.  (What does that tell the rest of you about what Racine thinks about this, hmm?  Do you really think Wanggaard, who’s said he’ll vote “yes” on this bill, is properly representing Racine on this issue?  I know I sure don’t.)

In sports news, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has had surgery on his right pinkie finger (his throwing hand) and may miss the start of the season as he’s not supposed to throw for a month.  They put a pin into his right pinkie finger and Lucroy says he will catch (but supposedly not throw; how is that supposed to work again?  Will he have a coach sitting there who will take the ball out of Lucroy’s glove, then toss it back to the pitcher in question in the bullpen before the pitcher throws again?) and that he doesn’t plan to miss any time whatsoever.

What is a little bit frustrating about Lucroy’s assertion is that he’s a very young man.  He needs to be careful of his health.  If he tries to come back too soon, he’ll be hurting himself, long-term.  He seems to be worried he’ll lose his starting position, or maybe he’s even worried about being sent back to Triple A (AAA) ball due to injury, but I think that’s highly unlikely.  If Lucroy rushes himself now, he may end up worsening this injury down the line and perhaps even shortening his overall career (as throwing arms are important, and messing with your motion due to an injured finger is very common) if he over-does.  I hope the Brewers new training staff (with a new manager came new coaches and staff) will “sit” on him and get him to back off working so hard; it’ll be difficult for Lucroy to sit and watch, but it’ll be much, much better for his team overall if he just lets this heal without hindrance.

Other than that, in Brewers’ news, Zach Greinke said he’s having issues with his new medicine for Social Anxiety Disorder (or SAD) and the sports talkers in Milwaukee seem concerned about it as Greinke said that the new med makes him “more tired” but didn’t really clarify in what way; some talkers seem to believe that means he’ll have trouble with his stamina on the mound, but I doubt this . . . I’ve never had SAD, but my grandmother needed anxiety medicine in her last years of life — I know this isn’t exactly the same thing, mind you — and changing a medicine’s dosage, even, can make you feel more tired at the end of the day, or perhaps when you wake up.  These feelings wear off after a little bit, but can get in your way if you don’t know what’s going on at first . . . anyway, Greinke probably meant that he’s getting used to the new dosage, doesn’t like it, and would rather not have to deal with it, but not that he’ll have any trouble pitching.

At any rate, the way Wisconsin is going right now, I’ll be glad to see the Brewers in action.  I know that I’m ready for some baseball, and I’m more than ready for some healthy interest in something beyond the asinine behavior of our current, sitting Governor.

Gov. Scott Walker Miscalculates over “Budget,” Tries to Bust Unions — Battle Ongoing

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Folks, I’ve never seen anything quite like what’s going on in Wisconsin this past week.

I’d said last November, right after Scott Walker won the right to be incoming Governor, that if he and the Republicans believed him being elected was a “mandate” to do anything other than what he’d said he’d do — that is, govern wisely and well, with consensus — he had another think coming.   The Democrats had miscalculated their position in 2008, which is what led to the 2010 elections going so much in the direction of the Republicans . . . and now, with Scott Walker’s insistence on getting rid of the collective bargaining rights for state public employee unions as part of his “Budget Repair Bill,” he, too, has miscalculated.

When Scott Walker campaigned in Wisconsin, he said he was a centrist, who wanted a balanced budget, who would do modest and effective things — and how that was interpreted was that he wouldn’t change very much (trust me, changing whether state public employee unions are allowed to collectively bargain with the state is a huge change, especially as we’ve had these provisions in place for well over fifty years).  Yet Walker’s view of “modest” is exactly what he put up — a bill that would strip all public employee unions of their right to collectively bargain; a bill that would force unions to re-certify every year; a bill that has caused massive unrest throughout the entire state of Wisconsin, massive protests (over 35,000 today was estimated; 30,000 on Thursday; 25,000 on Wednesday; 15,000 to 20,000 on Tuesday, in Madison alone, with additional protests outside Republican lawmakers’ homes throughout the state and at least two protests at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus andthe University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus, with over 2,000 people showing up to protest at Eau Claire and an unknown number in Oshkosh), and 56% of the state being against Gov. Walker’s so-called “modest proposal.”

Here’s a link to the most recent story, where the Wisconsin Assembly (our lower house) was going to take a vote without the Democratic members even being present; when the Dems showed up and demanded their rights to be heard, the vote was “rescinded” — meaning it’ll have to be taken again, with the Dems present.  That vote will take place next Tuesday, as President’s Day is Monday.

And that’s not all; our Democratic state Senators (upper house) have walked off the job, all fourteen of them, and have gone to neighboring states (currently, they are supposed to be in Illinois) so the Senate will not have a quorum and cannot pass this bill; here’s a link to that story:

There also are many, many stories about how Gov. Walker insists this is a “modest” proposal which shouldn’t “shock anyone,” and a story was aired tonight by Greta Van Susteran on Fox News that quoted Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, as once again calling this a “modest” proposal that “shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise.”

Yet this is a surprise, folks, precisely because Walker and Kleefisch didn’t explain what they planned to do to balance Wisconsin’s budget.  They certainly didn’t say that they planned to de-certify unions, public or private; they certainly didn’t say anything about that in this particular state, where unions have a rich history, the state that gave the United States as a whole the forty-hour work week, vacation pay, worker’s compensation and a form of Social Security for retirement.  (Yes, Wisconsin was first in the nation for all of those things.)  Because if they had, I can assure you, they would’ve lost.  Big-time.

At this point, Walker and Kleefisch are on the “recall road,” because Wisconsin taxpayers truly didn’t expect this out of their elected officials and are protesting in record numbers against this bill.  The Wisconsin constitution allows for government officials to be recalled if they’ve been in office for one full year; right now, Walker and Kleefisch have been in office only about five weeks, so we have a long way to go before we can recall.  But protests like this will not be forgotten, not in a year, not in five years . . . not ever.

All I can say, aside from the fact that I am against Gov. Walker’s proposal because he didn’t campaign on it and it looks like a naked power-grab to me, is that soon, the (R) in back of both Walker and Kleefisch’s name will not stand for Republican.  Instead, it will stand for “recall,” or better yet, “recall and replace.”

I’m telling you now, and for the record — unless Gov. Walker backs down with the demands to disallow collective bargaining in the state of Wisconsin for public unions, he can and will be recalled.  (Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, too.)   Guaranteed.

So I urge you, please do not believe the hype, or Gov. Walker’s attempt to frame the narrative.  The non-violent, peaceful protests here are because of one thing and one thing only: because Gov. Walker overstepped his authority.   Wisconsin’s voters do not like what Walker has done here even if they think he has a point about the budgetary shortfall. **


** Note: I am in this category.  I also believe that anyone who supported the Tea Party’s right to protest should support these folks’ right to protest against a Governor trying to take too many rights away, too quickly, without a public debate. 

** Gov. Walker proposed this “budget repair bill” last week Friday.  And in a week’s time, the state is up in arms.  (Does that really tell anyone out there the state supports Walker?  How about that survey saying 56% are against him I talked about before?  Were those 56% all in error?)