Saturday, February 11, 2012

Issue #47- Remembering a year of protests and other political news

What This Is…
Issue #47- February 11, 2012
In this issue: One Year of Protests, GOP Fabrications, Public Worker's $$ and More

One Day Longer, One Year Stronger…
It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since we got "bombed" by Scott Walker and his budget repair bill.  I have to admit that I didn't think we'd ever continue the fight this long.  By taking things one day at a time and continuing to support each other we have truly accomplished something amazing.  The slogan, "One day longer, One day stronger", has truly served us well in our fight against a truly massive attack on our rights here in Wisconsin. 

What exactly have we accomplished here?  On one hand it seems like we've suffered multiple defeats in the legislative, judicial and electoral arenas.  We still face an uncertain future with no guarantees of success.  Attacks on Progressive values continue across Wisconsin and across the United States.  The forces arrayed against us are massive, politically powerful and extremely well financed.  They seem to ignore our protests and continue to try and build on their "successes". 

Yet here we are, still fighting and gaining momentum in many ways.  It is that, never say die, attitude that leads one to believe in the long term success of our struggle.  We will continue to use any and all avenues available to us to defend our rights and the rights of others as we work to create the best possible society for the majority of us.  We are making connections and building a powerful coalition that encompasses the diversity which makes America a great nation.

There are many events being held around Wisconsin as we remember the anniversary of the initial protests.  Keep an eye out for events in your area and be sure to participate so that our conservative friends remember that we haven't stopped fighting.

Join in solidarity at

The Capitol Square

Meet at Mifflin and Wisconsin
4:15 PM February 14th


I'm proud to be a part of the fight here in Wisconsin and look forward to continuing the battle through another year.  A year which will pass, one day at a time.    

Two Truths Lies and a Lie a a Whole Bunch of Lies…
We face some difficult issues here in Wisconsin.  The problems that we are dealing with are ones that frequently don’t have easy answers.  In order to make the best decisions possible citizens must actively seek out information and stay as informed as possible.  This task is made more difficult as political parties and special interest groups work to spread misinformation about the issues we face. 

Some will argue that this is what politicians do.  Jokes like, "Q- How do you know a politician is lying?  A- Their lips move," have been around for a long time.  We tolerate a certain amount of political spin and expect for politicians to use information in creative ways to justify their policies and proposals.  With controversial issues there will be differing opinions and that is not only acceptable, but a requirement for democracy to thrive. 

There is a line, admittedly a fine line, regarding "truth" in politics that we must be vigilant in maintaining.  The importance of accurate information is magnified in times like the ones we are currently experiencing.  We've seen this before where an administration takes a "crisis" and uses it to advance an extreme agenda.  By putting the public in a panic mode the political climate becomes heavily charged and dissent is labeled unpatriotic, un-American or some other "un".  Individuals or groups are blamed for the "crisis" and targeted in legislation, in public policy and through the media. 

Here in Wisconsin our "crisis" has been created through financial means.  The scapegoats are the unionized public sector workers and anyone who receives government assistance.  Legislation and public policy has been implemented to "correct" the problems and strong propaganda surrounds us through all media outlets.       

One of the great myths perpetuated by the Walker administration is the idea that the recall movement is an out-of-state movement driven by greedy union bosses.  The argument is that these union bosses want to keep their pockets filled and maintain their control of the government's coffers.  In order to do this these union leaders have manipulated their members and have used their influence in the Democratic Party to gather support for an unnecessary recall effort.  An effort directed against the champion of the common man, Scott Walker.  In this myth Scott Walker stands alone against this flood of money from organizations that seek to control Wisconsin.

The reality is that Scott Walker and other Republicans are the recipients of huge amounts of money from out of state individuals, organizations and foundations.  While support for the recall efforts has come in from all over the nation and the world, the level of support pales when compared to the amounts of money Governor Walker has gotten from outside Wisconsin.  While Wisconsinites have been out gathering signatures around Wisconsin, Walker has been gathering money around the country.   

Going hand in hand with the fabrication that out-of-state union money is threatening democracy here in Wisconsin is the idea that the people who are against Governor Walker's policies are also non-Wisconsinites.  The claim is made repeatedly that it is these individuals from outside our state who are the most active in the recall movement.  Having participated in numerous actions involving the protest of the Walker agenda I feel confident in saying that this claim is patently untrue.  Yes, I have met a few people who have been so moved by our efforts that they are here to help, but the ratio of Wisconsin residents to non-residents is astronomical.

On the surface economic issues would seem to be straightforward and easily understood.  We all deal with money in our daily lives and understand most of the concepts involved in our financial transactions.  We understand what makes our personal economies work and what challenges we face.  Unfortunately, the study of economics involves so many variables and other factors that the waters of the financial pond quickly become muddied.  This is compounded by the fact that there is a conscious effort by the economic elite to further confuse and control the system.  However one issue keeps coming to the front of our current debate, either a budget is balanced or it's not. 

There are many other lies, misrepresentations and omissions of fact that are being used to try and build public support for our current governor.  Of interest is that very few of them seem to be positive in nature.  It seems that the Republican strategy is to simply try and make the recall effort out to be a ridiculous and unnecessary effort to undo the will of the public by a bunch of self-interested "whiners".  Inflammatory language is used against the recall activists in order to try and make us look more extreme.  Just the other day on a conservative talk show I heard the protests at the capitol referred to as "riots". 

Another example of the hypocrisy of the current GOP is the idea that the recalls shouldn't be rushed forward, but that we need to take time to really analyze every step of the process.  We need to slow the process down and allow for public input to take place.  Where was that thinking last February during the debate over the budget repair bill?  What about the redistricting that followed?  Wasn't the "debate" during the entire budget process a "beautiful" demonstration of democracy in action?  What about the efforts to push the mining bill ahead?

Conservatives are questioning the validity of the recall process, but have done all they can to undermine the democratic process here.  Whether it is shutting the public out of debate, ignoring virtually all Democratic input into legislation, creating one of the most restrictive voter ID laws, or running fake Democrats in the summer recalls to force primaries (and double the costs of these elections) their efforts to control the political process seem to know no bounds.

The good news is that their efforts have been so obvious and so extensive that the public has become very aware of what is happening here.  Our job is to continue to educate the citizens of Wisconsin so that they can make an informed decision when they cast their ballots in the vitally important elections of 2012.

Along with the doublespeak and manipulation of fact that goes with most of our political figures, Scott Walker seems to bring a level of corruption that exceeds what we should accept.  We can split hairs and argue about what he knew and when he knew it, but the facts seem to point to an administration that feels like they are above the law.  As the facts continue to come out we can't forget that it was a scandal that bears some resemblance to this one that brought Nixon down. 

There has been a lot written about the issues facing the Walker administration and they summarize and analyze things very well.  Corruption in politics is never acceptable and we must do all we can to ferret out the truth about these events.  However, for me it goes beyond simple corruption and illegal actions.  For me this issue gets to the heart of what is wrong with our situation here in Wisconsin. 

If we carefully analyzed every politician and every political organization we will find some level of wrong doing.  Listening to Vicki McKenna (painful, but I do this occasionally to hear the other side) she talked about teachers using school email to organize recall efforts.  I'm sure that it is true that this happens, especially at the beginning before we set up personal email networks. 

However, that argument misses the point.  Two wrongs don't make a right.  There needs to be some level of accountability for everyone and our highest level of leadership should be the most accountable.  We seem to have degraded our political process from one where every effort is made to serve the people, to one where it is most important to win at all costs.  We ignore the wrongdoing of our own side as justified while magnifying the rule-breaking of our opposition. 

It becomes more important to find someone to blame than it is to try and solve the problem.  Scott Walker supporters answer challenges with references to the Doyle administration.  Republicans and Democrats blame each other for the same offenses of which both are frequently guilty.  No individual or group is perfect, but this constant effort to discredit the opposition gets us nowhere and further disables any process that might help correct the problem. 

Kudos to the Solidarity Sing Along organizers who continue to keep a presence in the capitol on a daily basis.

Public Workers $$$…
It has been about a year since the Republicans proposed their legislation designed to balance the state budget and to break the public sector unions in Wisconsin.  It is too early to really see what the full impact of their policy will be, but the early results are not positive for many public workers.  My own family's take home income is down by more than $600 a month and we are facing the prospect of increased costs for insurance down the road.  Public workers all over Wisconsin face these reduced paychecks and fear the threat of future cuts as the GOP continues to use public workers as a major vehicle in their efforts to cut government spending. 

The immediate impact is fairly obvious.  Public workers aren't spending as much money.  We are saving what we can and limiting our spending to necessities.  These cuts in our spending spread out to the communities we live in and affect businesses who rely on consumers to survive.  We can't afford to lose control of our local economies and allow ourselves to return to the turn of the 20th Century model of a "company town".    

A recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal talked about how people are saving more and spending less.  The article stated that this was not good for the economy.  Funny how when corporations hold on to their money they get tax breaks and other incentives to reinvest their profits, state workers in Wisconsin get criticized and penalized.    

There is hope for public workers as we continue to fight against the attacks on our wages and our rights.  We continue our battles in the political and legal arenas.

We continue to follow the battle over the mining bill that is making its way through the Wisconsin legislature.  The forces that support the bill would like to see it speed through in order to avoid public scrutiny. 

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