I took this photo in February of last year, not long after Scott Walker dropped his budget bomb. It never was about the money. It was about attacking unions, as Walker made clear in his now infamous "divide and conquer" remark to Beloit billionaire campaign donor Diane Hendricks. Walker was following a long-standing GOP pattern.
Rich corporate interests have used a divide and conquer strategy to pit natural allies against each other for years. Attacking unionized public employees has always been a favorite strategy, and certainly worked well for Reagan when he broke the air traffic controllers union, PATCO.
Like Tom Barrett, who talked at the time about Walker's "divide and conquer" strategy, these Harley workers knew what Walker was doing and called him on it early on. It seems like poetic justice that the Walker-Hendricks clip emerges now in the last stages of the recall campaign, because it's just that pattern of deceit on the part of Scott Walker that led to the recall in the first place. The difference is that a year ago, only a few people knew. Now everybody knows.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
The GOP's "divide and conquer" strategy doesn't apply just to unions and workers. It also applies to women. They hope they can divide women using social issues like right to life and birth control as wedge issues to divide women and overcome Scott Walker's gender gap. But that's getting really old. I wouldn't count on its working in June.
Friday, May 11, 2012
What's most astonishing is that they knew a camera was running, and they didn't care. Game changer? The transcript is also worth reading -- and makes it clear that Walker and Hendricks knew they were being filmed, that this was no hidden spy camera thing. And they didn't care. Even as they speak about there being some things they don't want the press to hear.
Diane Hendricks: Can we talk just for two seconds before we get up there?
Scott Walker: Yeah, yeah, that's fine. Hendricks: - some issues we're just going to avoid a little bit. And by the way, this is Brad and he is part of Rock County 5.0 and he has been filming everything.
Brad Lichtenstein: I've been doing a documentary -
Walker: Oh, cool.
Hendricks: - so what we're going to do and talk about right now is just concerns that Mary (Willmer-Sheedy) and I have that we probably, are a little controversial to bring up upstairs. OK? I don't want to - because there's press up there.
Walker: OK, sure.Even the Fake David Koch couldn't have made this stuff up.
Wisconsin Badly Needs to Return to Its Progressive Traditions, and Tom Barrett Is the Guy to Lead the Way
This sign at the Unity Rally said it all. It was great to see Scott Walker opponents closing ranks behind Tom Barrett. Although he always led in the polls, before and during the primary season, he seemed one of the least favorite candidates of the activists who made the recall happen, many of whom had a hard time giving up their dreams of Russ Feingold stepping in to save the day. But that's all water under the bridge now. Liberals always have been a contentious lot, which doesn't mean they don't know how to unite when it counts. Scott Walker is about to find out just how united they can be.
Nichols gave an impassioned speech about uniting around traditional Wisconsin progressive values, which Scott Walker has so divisively undermined. He also talked about Tom Barrett's record and how consistent it is with those values. As a 5-term congressman from what had been a liberal district, Tom Barrett voted with Russ Feingold on key progressive issues. He voted against NAFTA. He voted against the WTO and exporting jobs to China. He cast courageous votes against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War.
Judging from the polls, the general public always favored Barrett as the best candidate to run against Scott Walker. They seemed to consider the recall election as a do-over of an election that had been contested under false pretenses. In February, 2011, when Scott Walker dropped his budget bomb, a majority of Wisconsin voters said they would for Barrett if the election were held then.
So why were activists so enthusiastic about Feingold and lukewarm at first about Barrett? It seemed to have everything to do with his having served as mayor of Milwaukee. Being a big city mayor in the 21st century -- especially mayor of a city with an eroding tax base and terrible schools -- is probably the worst job in American politics. You can't please everyone, and if you're trying to do the right thing and make a difference, you constantly have to make compromises and burn your political capital. Over in the legislative branch, Russ Feingold was free to vote his conscience in the chamber of the U.S. Senate. He could vote for the right thing, but he didn't have to implement them, or get his hands dirty with the compromises that need to be made to get anything done. No wonder he seemed like a white knight.
Being mayor of Milwaukee in this day and age is a thankless job. We should be glad that anyone cares enough to take it. But it is also a pretty good preparation for the governor's office at a time when Wisconsin faces the problems it does today. Tom Barrett faced some of the worst impacts of the Walker budget in the entire state. He knows the problems he'll be dealing with as governor, and he knows that Scott Walker's ideological polarization and divide and conquer strategies are not going to get us any closer to a solution. If anyone can end the Wisconsin civil war, Tom Barrett can.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
A Wave of Barrett & Mitchell Signs Heads Toward the Capitol As the Candidates Enter the Home Stretch
As Tom Barrett and Mahlon Mitchell enter the home stretch of their run for the governor's and lieutenant governor's offices. Unity Rally march on State Street the day after Mitchell and Barrett's Democratic primary victories.
You'll be hearing a lot more about president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin and Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Mahlon Mitchell, who is running against GOP incumbent Rebecca Kleefisch in the June 5th recall election.
The light was stunning as participants in the Wednesday post-primary rally marched from Library Mall toward Our House. The warm feeling didn't just come from the late afternoon light. The Democratic primary process has been a necessary but frustrating part of voting Scott Walker out of office. The candidates campaigned against Scott Walker rather than against each other for the most part, though of course some of their supporters were more outspoken about why their candidate was the only one who could beat Walker. But for many people, it was all a kind of sideshow and detraction from the main event, and they couldn't wait for the Democrats to choose a candidate and for the real recall campaign to begin. It was a relief to finally have strong leaders to rally around in Tom Barrett and Mahlon Mitchell, and there was an exuberant feeling in the air. Republicans who jeered that it was a "disunity rally" because not all four candidates were there are fooling themselves. The feeling of unity and sense of purpose at the rally were overpowering. It's going to be people power against money power in the next month. I'm betting on people power.
Beautiful afternoon for the rally today. A lot of solidarity, energy and commitment. Got our Barrett-Mitchell yard sign, hot off the press. Had to finish assembling it by stapling it when we got home. Stapled my finger. Small price to pay.
Women voters helped the Democratic candidates outpoll Scott Walker yesterday, and they'll be a major factor in the June 5 recall election. The GOP's war on women has resulted in a major gender gap, both in Wisconsin and in the nation as a whole. It's a big problem for Mitt Romney, and also for Scott Walker. He should be nervous, but maybe he's been too busy networking with rich GOP donors in other states to even notice. (Photo from the recent United Against the War on Women rally.)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Because it does.
Given what's at stake, the predicted 30-35% turnout in the recall primaries today is ridiculous. Help push the numbers higher, and show how much we care, and how badly the citizens of Wisconsin want to get rid of Scott Walker. Vote!
Monday, May 07, 2012
Vote for this Orange Tree Imports window display to help the International Crane Foundation win a $1,000 donation
Orange Tree Imports on Monroe Street entered my photo of their window display to promote the International Crane Foundation in the GelGems retail window display contest (GelGems are the brightly colored decorative window gels used in the display). If their entry wins, the foundation receives a $1,000 donation from GelGems. You can cast your vote here to benefit the International Crane Foundation.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Mifflin Street Block Party: UW's Dean of Students' unique experiment in negative viral marketing sort of succeeds
We stopped by the Mifflin Street Block Party on the way back from the Farmers' Market, having found a rare nearby on-street parking space. More photos in this set.
By previous year's standards, it was a pretty tame event. Not much entertainment, unless your idea of entertainment is to watch people being arrested. The police did what they said they were going to do and made lots of arrests for open alcohol containers on the street, underage drinking and trespassing (including UW running back Montee Ball), and there was none of the violence and sexual assaults that marred last year's event.
Attendance was way down. About 5,000 people showed up, compared to last year's crowd of 25,000. You might say that UW Madison dean of students Lori Berquam's unique experiment in negative viral marketing, the "Don't Go" campaign that launched a thousand parodies, succeeded. In a manner of speaking.