Friday, August 12, 2011
Edgewood College's walk along Lake Wingra isn't very long, but it's as nice a nature walk as any in the city -- ranging from a boardwalk surrounded by cattails waving in the wind to cool, shaded paths that wind along the lake.
Starting at the parking lot in the northwest corner of Vilas Park, the walk is only a 1.14-mile roundtrip. Nothing, really. But the variety of surfaces -- stretches of boardwalk alternate with a constantly changing wood chip path -- are great for your joints, giving a nice, gentle whole body workout in a short period of time. And there's a great variety of natural features to observe, ranging from an open wetland observation deck deck surrounded by cattails to shaded paths surrounded by trees, wildflowers and woodland plants.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
The words look Photoshopped, but they weren't -- we passed by as they were being projected on the Carroll Street side of the Capitol last night, on our way to The Ed Show's broadcast of the election returns. The night was young, and at the time, I thought the message wasn't hard-hitting enough. I would have preferred something like "14 +3 = 17," just as I wished we would win all three Senate seats we were aiming at.
But in retrospect, the words seem appropriate. We took two giant steps last night, but there is much more to be done. The first step is holding the two Democratic seats still up for recall next week. Then there's working with a radically different state Senate, where Republican moderate Dale Schultz, a former majority leader himself, is what Daily Kos calls the de facto majority leader. He voted against his own party's budget repair bill, which would not have passed with the new balance of power in the Senate (assuming Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch get reelected). Schultz probably won't vote with the Democrats on most issues, but he could really help defeat any more major outrages the Fitzwalkerstan troika proposes. And, of course, we can always dream he'll switch parties -- something that has happened in other states in similar situations.
But the main focus from here on out will be laying the groundwork for the recall of Scott Walker, which now seems all the more achievable. If Democrats could flip two seats in heavily Republican Senate districts, how much more likely they'll be able to oust an unpopular governor in a statewide election with the electorate much more evenly divided than it was in the Senate districts.
It will be interesting to see how Scott Walker maneuvers in these political waters in the months to come. It's probably not too late to avoid defeat if he sincerely admits he was mistaken, makes real efforts to replace ideological grandstanding with actual bipartisan cooperation, and if he really tries to undo some of the most harmful impacts of his legislation.
How likely is that? Looking at the triumphalist rhetoric of the Republicans who seem to feel yesterday's election results were a victory for them and an endorsement of their policies, I'd say the chances are approximately equal to zero.
If the the election keeps being interpreted by Republicans as a green light to continue business as usual, people will be lined up to sign those gubernatorial recall petitions as soon as they can legally be circulated. And they will vote Scott Walker out of office.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The atmosphere was electric with energy last night on the Capitol Square, most of all at the corner from which Ed Schultz was broadcasting the Wisconsin recall election results to the nation and the world on MSNBC. -- especially during those giddy moments when it briefly looked as if Sandy Pasch's surprising lead over Alberta Darling might hold up, and the Democrats might actually win the necessary three seats to take back control of the state Senate.
In the end it was not to be, but two out of three ain't bad. The state gained two excellent new women senators, Jennifer Schilling and Jessica King. And the people who worked so hard on these campaigns accomplished a lot that once seemed impossible -- of six Republican senate districts that Scott Walker swept by an average margin of 13% last November, Democrats narrowed the overall margin and flipped two seats.
Projected out statewide (it's easy to forget that, by their nature, these recall elections were in Republican strongholds), the election results suggest that once areas like Madison and the city of Milwaukee get a chance to weigh in, Scott Walker will definitely have a tough time holding onto office in a statewide recall election. The results also suggest that some of the freshmen Republican senators who couldn't be recalled until January will be vulnerable in 2012 -- whether in a recall or, more likely, the general election. So control of the Senate is likely to swing back to Democrats in any event.
No matter how they spin it, this was not a Republican victory. And although some Republican senators who had long-standing relationships with their constituents were reelected, the election was clearly a referendum on Scott Walker and his policies -- a referendum that he lost.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
The scene at the Ed Schultz broadcast tonight. (Commercial breaks are great for chanting.)
Ed Schultz drew a big crowd broadcasting live from Madison on election eve. The crowd is likely to be even bigger tonight as he returns to the corner of Pinckney and East Washington again tonight to broadcast live as the returns come in.
These were three happy Democrats. They're all pros who know how to count votes and they relish the prospect of the new math: Sen. Lena Taylor, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Sen. Fred Risser. The 84-year-old Risser was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1956 and the Wisconsin Senate in 1962. One of the Fab 14, he is the longest-serving state legislator in American history.
If you're still wondering how it could all have come to this, how Wisconsin could end up with about half as many recall elections this summer as in all of previous American history, here's a hypothesis from the Church Lady -- "Now who could it be? Could it be . . . SATAN?"
TFor more photos, see The Ed Show Comes to Madison, a set on Flickr.