Archive - Aug 8, 2011

If You're Not Madison, You're Not Paying Attention

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Memo to Wisconsin: LEARN.

Normally, this is the kind of column I'd have put off until tomorrow. See, tomorrow brings the first real batch of Wisconsin recall elections, which will determine, probably once and for all, whether Wisconsin can fucking learn anything for a fucking change. And given the recent track record, I figure they might need an extra day to get through all these words. Let's review, shall we?

In November of 2010, Wisconsin elected Scott Walker as their governor, along with a Republican-led legislature. Walker immediately cut taxes, creating a budget shortfall he blamed on the public employee unions. He then tried to cut off the already shriveled, weakened balls of those unions, triggering weeks of public protest and a standoff when Democratic lawmakers fled the state to deny him a quorum. Walker and the legislature pushed through the changes anyway, over the course of several attempts due to earlier attempts being ruled completely fucking illegal.

Walker's term as governor has been such an unmitigated disaster that Wisconsin embarked on this largely unprecedented series of recall elections in the hopes of taking away Walker's legislative majority, because Walker himself (and the newly elected legislators) can't be recalled until next year. You'd think this would be a cakewalk, but it's not, not by a long shot.

Case in point. In that same 2010 election, Wisconsin also voted Russ Feingold out of office. You can say a lot of things about Russ Feingold, but apart from the time he collaborated with then-all-mavericky John McCain, he's not stupid. You can also say a lot of things about the man they replaced him with, Ron Johnson, but the odds are very good that the word "stupid" will be part of all of them.

He voted against the shitty debt deal because it wasn't shitty enough, singlehandledly blocked the appointment of a judge because (a) he says she's an activist judge, (b) some vague sense of affront based on how Obama handled the nomination, and mainly, (c), because he can. I'm not making this up, I'm basing this on the op-ed piece, penned by his own hand, which explains his decision, and most of it is explaining how he has the power to do it.

He's also the guy who conveniently gave himself a ten-million-dollar deferred compensation package from his own company when he left that company to fill the Senate seat he spent almost ten million of his own dollars winning. But extending the debt ceiling? That's just not living within our means as a nation.

But it gets better! After the November elections. After the protests. When Wisconsin had had fucking well enough of Scott Walker and his cronies, a state Supreme Court election took place. On the ballot? Republican David Prosser. Not only was Prosser one of Walker's cronies in every sense of the word, he'd already gotten in trouble for calling two of his fellow Supreme Court judges "bitches", then claiming they'd goaded him into it.

Wisconsin voted, and decided to keep Prosser around. And within months, he'd gotten in trouble again, this time for choking one of the judges he'd called a bitch. He's still in office. Apparently the investigation is still going on, to find out if his claim that he accidentally choked her in self defense holds any water.

So you can see why I'm just a SMIDGE concerned about Wisconsin learning its lesson and actually reversing course tomorrow. There are a lot of motivated Wisconsinites pushing for the recall, yes. There are also millions of dollars in outside money pouring in, and a rich, dairy thickness to the Wisconsin mindset outside of the Madison city limits.

And that's before the Teabagger dirty tricks, like the Koch brothers' group, Americans For Prosperity, wending absentee ballots to Democratic-leaning districts instructing them to mail the ballots to the wrong place, two days AFTER they're due. The only way the disenfranchisement could be more blatant is if the Kochs hired Tonya Harding to break the kneecaps of everyone in Wisconsin getting more than 20 miles per gallon. It is completely fucking ridiculous over there.

I want to be wrong about this. I really do. I live too close to Wisconsin for it to be that fucking insane. But the Prosser election shows that it's likely to be an inexplicably close race, and the right is more than willing to steal and rig a close race, so I'm afraid we all have to steel ourselves for disappointment come Wednesday morning. Again.