A week or so ago, we noted that a federal judge named Rudolph Randa — a Poppy Bush hire to the bench — effectively shut down the investigation into the chronically hinky campaigns of Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. I argued at the time that, as bad as the outcome was, Randa really was operating in the brave new world of campaign law, where if you don’t have video of a CEO handing a politician a bag of money with “$$$$” written on the outside, then no corruption exists. I stand by that and say thank you once again to Justice Anthony Kennedy, for deciding that, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Jesus God, is that still stunning.
Since then, Randa’s order has been stayed by one court, and litigation is ongoing. (In the latter decision, the court blocked Randa’s attempt to have the records of the investigation destroyed.) In his ruling, Randa added his own delightful flourish to Kennedy’s fan-dance by congratulating the Walker campaign on how cleverly they had violated the law and declared that the campaign’s efforts in that regard were covered by the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression. So, we may conclude, a stick-up kid can declare his arrest invalid because the phrase, “Give me your money” is protected speech.
However, as time has marched on, it has come to widespread attention that Randa and his wife are the very beau ideal of the judicial moles planted by the conservative movement all over the federal judiciary with the help of various Republican presidents.
A “state sovereignty” resolution the state GOP tried to kill actually made it to the Wisconsin State Republican Party convention for delegates to vote on. Gov. Scott Walker says it “doesn’t align” with party officials, but this may be another case of party officials saying “pay no attention to those kooks behind the curtain.”
To secede or not to secede.
That will be the question for Wisconsin Republicans at next month’s convention.
Earlier this month, the party’s Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”
A version of the so-called “state sovereignty” resolution was first OK’d last month by one of the state GOP’s eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state’s 10th Amendment rights. The measure also calls for ending all mandates that go “beyond the scope of the constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government.”
Top Republican officials hoped to kill the fringe proposal during a meeting of the resolutions panel at the Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee on April 5. Instead, the committee made a few edits to the resolution and adopted it on a split vote.
Now, the matter will go for final approval to the delegates attending the state Republican Party’s convention in Milwaukee on May 2-4.
Gov. Scott Walker, the leader of the state party, distanced himself from the resolution last week.
“I don’t think that one aligns with where most Republican officials are in the state of Wisconsin — certainly not with me,” Walker said at a press event on Friday.
While the right whines about oppression, those who have suffered real oppression stand with Wisconsin against Scott Walker.
Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot are calling on Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to dismiss cases against protesters arrested for singing in the Capitol building.
Two group members appear in a video released Tuesday calling for a petition to drop the more than 400 arrests made last summer.
The video is here:
Walker has told the national media he’s not ruling out a White House bid, and he headlined a Republican Party fundraiser last month in Iowa, which traditionally hosts the first presidential nominating contest, followed by New Hampshire. The governor is also writing a book about his triumph in the 2012 recall election after he revoked collective bargaining rights and set off a political firestorm.
This positioning for the national stage comes as no surprise to Wisconsin Republicans, who joke that Walker has been running for president since he was an ambitious politician-in-the-making at the American Legion’s Badger Boys State. He was picked to represent Wisconsin at Boys Nation in Washington, D.C. and, in a moment he describes as seminal to his political career, met President Reagan. He was only 22 years old when he ran his first campaign for the State Assembly.
Democrats have also been taking shots at Wisconsin’s economic record in the wake of Walker’s fiscal reforms. Wisconsin was recently ranked 44th in private sector job creation. In another potential blemish on Walker’s record, an audit last month found financial mismanagement at the state’s economic development agency.
“Walker has put himself in a perilous position to pander to caucus-goers in Iowa rather than creating jobs and fixing the economy,” said Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association.
Last week, Walker gratified the religious right and provoked the Democratic Party when he said he would sign a bill requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasound exams. The legislation is similar to the controversial law signed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Eager to keep flogging the GOP’s alleged “war on women,” Democrats linked Walker’s promise to sign the abortion bill with the recent vote by a all-male House committee to ban abortions after 20 weeks and Arizona Rep. Trent Franks’ comment that rape victims infrequently get pregnant.
Once again, it hasn’t been a good week for Scott Walker, the twice-elected goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwestern subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. As you know, Walker’s great promise in both elections was that he would turn the state around and make it a friendlier place to despoil the wildernes…er…do business. He’s certainly done any plutocrat could have asked on that score; I’m surprised they aren’t digging for iron ore under the dome of the state capitol by now. The problem — and anyone who’s thinking about him as a presidential candidate in 2016, as I certainly am, should recognize it — is that Scott Walker is really rather bad at this.
Those are the numbers provided by the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, which is basically a trade organization for oligarchs. And they show that Walker has managed to place Wisconsin dead freaking last in short-term job growth and 44th out of 50 states in its overall ranking. It is very hard to get nominated for president as a Republican if the U.S. Chamber is throwing tomatoes at your resume just for laughs. Luckily, though, Walker established a special agency to monitor job growth in the state, so he’s right on top of this problem.
Except, well, no. They’re pretty much screwing up, but they’re having a grand old time doing it.
Auditors also said employees of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a quasi-private entity, made a number of questionable and unexplained purchases, including season tickets to UW-Madison football games and iTunes gift cards, and contracted for services without conducting open and competitive selection processes.
Unexplained! Suddenly, Camp Randall is infested of a Saturday afternoon with ectoplasmic cheeseheads. Unexplained! This looks like a job for…The Most Awesome Man On Television.
Auditors found a number of serious problems with the agency, among them that WEDC didn’t have sufficient policies - including some that were statutorily required - to administer its programs effectively. It also found that WEDC awarded some money to ineligible recipients, for ineligible projects, and for cash amounts that exceeded specified limits.
Wait. If I don’t put in “sufficient policies”that include those that are “statutorily required,” the police come and take me away. I mean, isn’t that what we outside of the world of quasi-private entities call “breaking the law”? Wait, let’s let the agency head explain what this means:
But Reed Hall, the CEO and secretary of WEDC, said in a letter to auditors and again in an interview that agency leaders have already begun implementing changes and working on improvements. He said there were no “intentional violations” of state statutes…
Which is something you can hear said every day in all the finer arraignment courts in the country.
I’m telling you, don’t sleep on this place. Wisconsin is the lab rat for what they want to do everywhere. That they are also screw-ups is comforting, but it’s not a real defense.
If you want to know how much worse our economic recovery could be, check out Scott Walker’s austerity-rocked Wisconsin — which has gone from 11th in job creation to 44th in just two years.
Walker stormed into office in 2011 on the crest of a Tea Party wave and immediately added $117.2 million to the budget deficit with a series of tax cuts that did nothing to spur job creation. He “paid” for these cuts in part with an attack on public workers that he failed to mention in his campaign that he was going to pursue.
The governor and his Republican majorities cut workers’ salaries by about eight percent across the board, eliminated collective-bargaining rights and essentially tied any future wage increases to the rate of inflation.
The growing budget deficit Walker inherited was mostly the result of the financial crisis. Investors enabled by conservative politicians had collaborated to create the worst economic crash since the last time investors and conservative politicians had crashed the economy.
Those who have to govern vs those who are going Galt.
A bunch of Republican governors have been in Washington the past few days for the National Governors Association meeting, just in time to chew out their fellow Republicans in Congress over the upcoming sequestration cuts.
“I think there’s a lack of leadership,” Gary Herbert of Utah groused to Politico on Sunday. “They need to stop having press conferences and start meeting,” echoed Virginia’s Bob McDonnell. “I think the Hill ought to be saying, ‘We’re ready to sit down and work on a budget,’” said Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett.
The drumbeat of criticism continued Monday with a press conference by Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker — all prominent conservatives with national profiles who made it clear they had little use for the congressional GOP’s approach, which has mainly consisted of sitting on its collective hands, blaming the White House, and waiting for the cuts to take effect.
“We’re not here speaking on behalf of Republicans on the Hill, we’re speaking on behalf of Republican governors,” Walker said pointedly. “The difference is, we’re providing leadership.”
Ouch. If this all sounds familiar, though, it may be because the split between the Hill GOP and their counterparts in the nation’s governor’s mansions has been going on for a while. The frustration is real and goes beyond routine D.C.-bashing to score political points. It’s a split between the Republicans who are charged with governing and those who have dug in as a pure opposition party. Indeed, the party’s future may hinge on which faction prevails — the state executives, whose responsibility to govern has made them pragmatists, or the D.C. legislators, many of whom seem content to serve solely as an alternative and obstacle to the Democratic White House and Senate.
That sentiment was in full bloom following Romney’s first post-election comments — made on a phone call with donors earlier this week. On the call, Romney attributed his loss to the “gifts” President Obama’s campaign doled out to young people and minorities. For many, the comments had an eerie echo of the secretly taped “47 percent” remarks Romney made at a May fundraiser.
“There is no Romney wing in the party that he needs to address,” said Ed Rogers, a longtime Republican strategist. “He never developed an emotional foothold within the GOP so he can exit the stage anytime and no one will mourn.”
Added Chris LaCivita, a senior party operative: “The comment just reinforced a perception — fairly or not - that Romney, and by default, the GOP are the party of the ‘exclusives’. It’s time for us to move on and focus on the future leaders within the GOP.”
Speaking of those future leaders, several of the candidates talked about as 2016 presidential possibilities quickly condemned Romney’s comments as well.
“We have got to stop dividing American voters,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. “I absolutely reject that notion, that description … We’re fighting for 100 percent of the vote.” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker added that the Republican party isn’t “just for people who are currently not dependent on the government.”
The strong intraparty reaction — just nine days after Romney loss the presidential race — speaks to the desire within the professional political ranks of the Republican party to move on as quickly as possible from an election that badly exposed their weaknesses.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said on Sunday that he disagreed with Mitt Romney’s recent statement that the governor’s win in last week’s recall election showed that voters oppose hiring more teachers, firefighters and police officers.
“I think, in the end, the big issue is that the private sector still needs more help,” he told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The answer’s not more big government. I know in my state, our reforms allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers and teachers. That’s not what I think of when I think of big government.”
Romney said on Friday that President Barack Obama missed the message from Wisconsin’s recall election, which was held after outrage from some voters over Walker’s law limiting collective bargaining rights of public sector workers.
“He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers,” Romney said. “Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Gov. Scott Walker, fresh from becoming the nation’s first governor ever to survive a recall election, wants to go about mending Wisconsin’s political divide in an egalitarian way: over brats and beers.
Walker defeated Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on Tuesday for the second time in year and a half, turning back a recall effort that began with the collection of more than 900,000 signatures seeking his ouster. It was only the third gubernatorial recall in U.S. history.
Now the rising Republican star is focusing his message on what lies ahead. His term runs through 2014, and he faces a state that’s still bitterly divided over his move to end collective bargaining rights for most public employees.
“It’s time to put our differences aside and find ways to work together to move Wisconsin forward,” Walker said in an interview minutes after his victory. “I think it’s important to fix things, but it’s also important to make sure we talk about it and involve people in the process.”