In The News
GOP buffoons are spurring Walker’s recall
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Labor Press
Posted Nov. 3, 2011
Gov. Walker’s concluding second “special session” of the legislature was supposed to focus laser-like on creating jobs. But it turned into a comedy of false premises and an exercise in medieval social mores. Just another farce. Its one success was to further convince Wisconsin to move quickly and even radically to undo the disaster allowed back in 2010.
“It’s not that I support the Recall Walker movement,” noted Wisconsin native and nationally known columnist and TV presence John Nichols, an outspoken and ferocious champion of the “Fighting Bob La Follette” heritage.
“It’s that I can hardly wait!”
In a thunderous speech Oct 27 before hundreds packed into the Potawatomi Woodland Dreams Ballroom for the 10th anniversary gala of the workers rights center, Voces de la Frontera, Nichols pulled no punches, bringing the crowd to its feet with a flamboyant detailed recitation of the state’s current horror show.
“Walker is an economic failure. Walker is an ethical failure. Walker is a moral failure,” said Nichols in his crescendo building attack, each element supported by facts.
Economics? Aside from heading in the negative direction by several thousand in his promise to create 250,000 jobs, Walker took a state under a Democratic governor with a much lower unemployment rate than the national average, about 7.2%, and headed the other way, in large part through his policies and “scorched earth” attitude. Even as the US economy is doing somewhat better, and all the adjacent states are doing better, unemployment here has climbed to near 8%,
That underscores how hard it is for local officials and corporations to attract families to live here given the extremist policies that go against the advice of even law enforcement experts, given how teachers are being treated, given how average government debt is blown up into a crisis. All are points Nichols and other speakers and award recipients made at the event.
The ethical failure is apparent in news stories about how many people who worked with Walker, were hired by Walker or gave money to Walker are under investigation for campaign finance abuse, corruption, dubious financial practices and in some cases authorities aren’t saying for what.
Two years ago, you could find Nation columnist Nichols recording how he hoped for nicer things from the Walker he knew in earlier days. But his eyes opened and now he blasts the Walker who once preached his churchgoing roots and values. “He’s betrayed the basic tenets of Wisconsin principles and forward movement,” said Nichols, citing case after case of the governor’s mistreatment or disinterest in the plight of citizens under his care – and his abandonment of the basic traditions of fair dealing and humane concern the state was long famous for. And that is the moral failure.
If you think Nichols was being hard on the governor, you should hear what legislators say about him and his followers – and that includes many who still pride themselves on bipartisanship and are savaged by the obdurate left for still believing in compromise and negotiation.
You should listen to Wisconsin citizens, not just at Democratic political events or progressive gatherings but in suburban bars, in malls, in school parking lots, in backyards of mansions, in the cafeterias of commerce. You’ll discover how it is GOP behavior that is bulking up the recall and giving the lie to Republican insistence that Democrats are spitting into the wind and annoying an exhausted electorate.
The contrary seems the case. The recall people can’t seem to step on the gas fast enough to satisfy the public – “maybe because we got a lot of help from the Republicans in Madison,” one Recall Walker organizer laughed.
“Even citizens concerned about politics can’t keep up with every strange bill these folks introduce,” said state Sen. Chris Larson in a speech Nov. 1 at the opening of the Organizing for America (the Obama OFA) office on Milwaukee St. It was pertinent because such a politically involved audience almost couldn’t believe the litany of what Walker and his troops were stampeding through in Madison under the guise of job creation. “You’re not expected to keep up, that’s my job,” joked Larson.
“Backing off when faced with facts is clearly not Gov. Walker’s style, and frankly he can’t even seem to control his own flunkies,” one angry legislator told me.
Another, Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler, a former judge and self-described partisan who still believes in manners and conversation, can’t quite fathom how extreme the other side of the aisle has become and “how they just won’t listen.” Even as the Assembly passed a bill that would routinely excuse deadly force against an unarmed interloper, Kessler wondered aloud why a special session on jobs was “not dealing with jobs. I am deeply troubled.”
Free will? It has been muffled by exaggerations about free enterprise. Gun rights and protecting babies are pounded out so hard and so often and with so little connection to the facts that the goal seems to be scaring children along with the grownups. Milwaukee DA John Chisholm called all this storm and raging “a solution in search of a problem.”
It’s not just concealed carry, requiring every shop and church to post signs if they want to keep guns out. It’s not only the curious effort to discriminate against everyone sent to prison over two centuries, by letting employers reject any former felon without reason. It’s not just shooting unarmed visitors without genuine consequence. (Larson quips this bill should be named “Kill the Milkman” or “Death of a Salesman.”)
One of the largest casualties of this agenda, called out by Democrat Rep. Sandy Pasch, is women, denied access to health care and family planning services for themselves and their families, causing hidden costs to other taxpayers. “Investing in women’s health is incredibly cost-effective -- every $1 spent on family planning saves taxpayers $4,” noted Pasch. But this “smart investment” has been destroyed by “an extreme social and special interest agenda.”
It’s not just weakening women’s rights, environmental standards and lowering qualifications for school nurses or forcing Family Care waiting lists and bizarre income tests or promised support for unilateral wage freezes on state workers that allow cronies and political toadies to operate unchecked.
And it’s not just that unbelievable sequence when the Assembly GOP sent officers into the gallery under the glowering eye of GOP Rep. Joel Kleefisch to remove quiet protesters because they had statements of concern hanging around their necks – even as the GOP barred video cameras and approved carrying concealed guns in the gallery! All this was captured on a busily downloaded video on YouTube.
What tops off the growing disgust is the pretense that any of this has anything to do with creating jobs. Few citizens anymore are taken in by the notion that businesses only hoard profits because the government is in the way of their normal beneficence. Every day more and more understand that it is not regulations that are holding down growth in jobs but old-fashioned greed and covetousness, furthered by Walker policies and tactics.
As the president of MICAH (churches allied for hope), the Rev. Willie Brisco, notes with blunt humor, “We all know there’s only one thing that trickles down.”