Who’s looking out for Wisconsin? You can be certain it's not the Wisconsin State Journal editorial page.

Today the  Wisconsin Democracy Campaign offered its list of the 100 worst pieces of legislation of the Scott Walker era. (Thus far.)

Over the last five years, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald led an unprecedented and systematic assault on democracy in Wisconsin.

The brazen scope of this assault is sometimes hard to see in the fog of fighting one issue at a time.

But when you look at the record in its entirety, the picture that emerges is clear: Not since the days of the Robber Barons in the 19th century has one party in Wisconsin done so much damage to the common good while serving special private interests.

Now the list speaks for itself. It’s arguably too much to consume in a single serving — a hundred specific blows against the Wisconsin tradition of good government.

But here’s a second point: Note how glaringly that list of one hundred insults highlights the irrelevance of our local newspaper’s editorial page.  During the course of 5 years, almost none of these 100 items ever drew a mention.

The news reporters of the State Journal covered, let’s say, some of these items. That they missed a lot is unsurprising. That staff has been cut, and cut, and cut again. They simply haven’t got the staff to cover all of what’s going on. That we understand.

But the editorial page seems to actually flee from commenting on controversial issues. On issue after issue — guns, lead, voting rights, family planning, war, racism, income inequality, etc. etc. — nothing.

 


Why unions have enemies It's no big secret

It’s possible to have a low opinion of billionaires without ever meeting any personally. Unfolding events — wherein Diane Hendricks, Wisconsin’s richest person, will get her fond wish of crushing unionism in Wisconsin — is just the latest example.

Does she even have union problems of her own? We’ve never heard of any. It’s hard to imagine how she ever could.  As a billionaire she can buy anything buy-able in this world. So why would she yearn to crush unionism in Wisconsin? Why does she need to fuck with these [financially] ordinary people?

It’s understandable why large business owners don’t welcome unions. Organized workers ask for a share of the pie, and other benefits. Unions cost business owners money. Or they certainly might. If I were a business owner, I see where I might not welcome a union, but I hope I’d learn to live with it, and consider it just another price of operating in a democracy, because that’s what it is. Laws, rules, regulations, taxes… you might not love ’em when they apply to you, but they can’t just be for the other guy. It’s all part of living in a decent society.

It wasn’t so long ago that the ability for workers to organize was considered a marker for democracy. You’d read about someplace in Latin America where half a dozen union organizers had turned up dead, execution-style, in a ditch by the side of the road. And not for the first time had organizers been killed. And you’d say, well, that is the sign of a very immature democracy or no democracy at all. You’d say to yourself that is one, still-backward, effed-up country, and you’d be glad to live here and not there.

Or you’d read about some other spot where a thousand workers had perished when their shoddily-constructed factory building collapsed. And you’d say to yourself, lord, it is amazing what an already-rich business man can allow himself to do just to get even richer.

And then you’d see video of the leader of a foreign textile union beaten within an inch of her life (yeah, the leader’s a woman) with an iron rod just at the factory gate. And you wonder if you would ever have the courage to agitate for a union in that part of the world.

The whole history of organized labor has been battle after battle. What’s going on in Wisconsin now is not new. The nice part is, in Wisconsin nobody gets murdered. It’s all nice and legal.

We humans have our pluses and minuses. We are excellent at convincing ourselves that we are good, and whatever we’re doing needs to be done. So the governor and his backers will have lily-white explanations for why the ability of workers to organize is no longer a marker for democracy. Why, they’re expanding workers’ freedom to choose. Yeah, that’s the ticket. That sounds real nice.


“Right-to-Work” Theater, part II Why oh why can't we have a better newspaper?

Back in December we said,

No grownup in Wisconsin believes that anti-union, right-to-work legislation would be barreling ahead in our state if the governor weren’t on board for it. (Well, with the possible exception of the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board. Could these be the most gullible journalists ever?)

On the editorial page, the State Journal was pronouncing , Scott Walker right to resist ‘distraction’. It was sprinkled with Walker’s own talking points:

“The right-to-work legislation right now, as well as reopening Act 10 to make any other adjustments, would be a distraction from the work that we are trying to do,” Walker said.

The State Journal thought that sounded great:

He’s right. Wisconsin should focus instead on improving our schools and economy, fixing a state budget deficit and building more cooperation and trust.

No, he wasn’t “right”. His talking-point may have sounded good.  Well… to the gullible. But gullibility is one of the last things we need from journalists. Taking the governor at his word is just silly and has been for a long, long time.

As we said, again back in December:

kabuki dancer bwGentlemen, it’s simple theater. First, in public, the gov claims he’s not for it (because of the “timing”). Second, over the gov’s *wink wink* objections, Republicans in the legislature quickly pass it, in January or February. Third act: What can the gov do, except sign it.

So within a week or two, right-to-work will be rammed through the legislature and signed by the governor. That little kabuki show will be done. Who believes there won’t be more?

 


“Right-to-Work” Theater

kabuki dancer bwNo grownup in Wisconsin believes that anti-union, right-to-work legislation would be barreling ahead in our state if the governor weren’t on board for it. (Well, with the possible exception of the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board. Could these be the most gullible journalists ever?)

Gentlemen, it’s simple theater. First, in public, the gov claims he’s not for it (because of the “timing”). Second, over the gov’s *wink wink* objections, Republicans in the legislature quickly pass it, in January or February. Third act: What can the gov do, except sign it.

The State Journal editorial writers, playing dumb again, praise this little kabuki show as if it were, well, something other than a show. But there they are on stage, *wink wink* actually part of the cast.


“taxpayers should know: Walker has cost them millions of dollars”

Reince PriebusThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a fine editorial describing Scott Walker’s “good-for-himself but bad-for-Wisconsin” decision-making:

…taxpayers should know: Walker has cost them millions of dollars by refusing to fully expand the state’s primary health care program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act.

Wisconsin would have saved $206 million over two years 

Exactly so. And continuing they say

It was another example of this governor’s penchant for sacrificing good policy on the altar of expedient politics.

Well, OK. “…the altar of expedient politics” is one way to put it. It’s a quick reference, but only for those who already know full well what’s going on in Walker’s self-interested calculus. The Journal Sentinel might better have said “on the alter of Walker’s own Presidential ambitions,” and even that’s not enough. Tell us. WHY exactly is he wasting millions of Wisconsin taxpayers’ dollars?

“Some” — OK, it was us — have called turning down millions of federal dollars — in a Wisconsin that badly needs more dollars circulating — a bow to “the insane wing” of the Republican Party by a governor who spends an awful lot of time imagining himself as the most powerful man in the world. The Journal Sentinel’s style guide doubtless doesn’t permit such language, no matter how true it might be. But the editors could’ve done better than “sacrificing good policy on the altar of expedient politics”. Too much left unsaidToo bloodless.

But rarely is anything entirely perfect.

Here’s the point. This was a fine editorial emanating from Milwaukee news headquarters.

Will the Wisconsin State Journal ever do the same for Madison? We have a precious gold star waiting to be awarded………………….

 


Scott Walker and his staff of foul-mouthed criminals

Well, now that we see the emails, it’s clear that Scott Walker didn’t just put together a staff honeycombed with criminals (which he’s now saying is “old news”). It was actually a staff honeycombed with foul-mouthed criminals. What kind of public office has its Deputy Director sending emails containing language like “fucking cunt”? This was the office of the Milwaukee County Executive!?! Pitiful behavior. Pitiful control.


Walker campaign “cooperating with investigation” — what it really means

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist and blogger Daniel Bice hosted an online chat yesterday, answering questions about the John Doe investigation.  Here’s a snippet (emphasis ours):

  • Q: Elizabeth, Milwaukee – First, thank you for covering this from the very beginning! Second, can you help me understand Walker’s comments today about cooperating with the investigation for over a year and his certainty that he isn’t involved? It was just a week or so ago when he said he hadn’t spoken to any investigators. And, if he really was cooperating with the investigation, he wouldn’t be allowed to talk about, right?
  • A: Daniel Bice – I can help you with some of that. When he says he’s been cooperating for more than a year, he is referring to the fact that prosecutors subpoenaed his campaign emails on Nov. 1, 2010, prompting the Walker campaign to hire former U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic to handle the request. That’s what he means by cooperation. As for knowing that he’s not the target, I’m not sure how he can be so certain. Prosecutors generally don’t tell you when you aren’t a target. But maybe he knows something we don’t.