Tag Archives: Wisconsin

When the law doesn’t apply

I don’t even know what to say about this — it goes so far beyond IOKIYAR* that nothing even remotely polite comes to mind. But here’s the tale:

You all know about how TeaPublican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin lied through his shiny white teeth about how his budget bill, which included draconian cuts to labor rights, had to be passed in order to save the state from a budget deficit that he and his TeaPublican cohorts in the state legislature created by cutting taxes to big businesses and the rich.

We know this was a flat out lie, because when push came to shove, Walker refused to negotiate — even after the unions agreed to all his proposals save the elimination of collective bargaining for all but wages, which, of course, has nothing to do with the budget. And finally, the governor and the other SOBs in the state legislature then stripped the bill of everything to do with the finances — except the parts that had to do with public workers — so it could pass without a quorum since the Democrats in the legislature refused to go along with the plan to ramrod the bill through.

The result, of course, was a budget bill that didn’t address the budget, drastically reduced the effectiveness of collective bargaining and set up the system so that Walker could sell the state’s nukes to the Koch brothers.


But then a county judge put a restraining order on the secretary of state, barring him from publishing the bill — a requirement under Wisconsin law in order for a bill to become law.

So what did state Republicans do? They published it anyway, using the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish it to the legislature’s website on Friday. Stephen Miller, director of the Legislative Reference Bureau, said he didn’t think that would make the bill become law.

“I think this is a ministerial act that forwards it to the secretary of state,” he said. “I don’t think this act makes it become effective. My understanding is that the secretary of state has to publish it in the (official state) newspaper for it to become effective.”

But the state Senate’s majority leader disagreed.

“It’s published,” Scott Fitzgerald said. “It’s law. That’s what I contend.”

And Walker’s administration secretary, Mike Huebsch, gave out the governor’s response.

“Today the administration was notified that the LRB published the budget-repair bill as required by law,” he said. “The administration will carry out the law as required.

That’s right. Because the law does not apply to Republicans, especially when voters have given them a “mandate,” by electing them even with the slimmest of margins, to do whatever the hell they want to do.

Miller, head of a non-partisan office, agreed to publish the bill under his understanding that it would not violate the intentions of the court order, which very clearly said the judge was “restrain(ing) and enjoin(ing) the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10” and blocking the secretary of state’s publication of the bill because that was “the next step in implementation of that law.”

Clearly, Miller did not realize the intentions of state Republicans.

The complaint that sparked the judge’s order alleges that Republicans violated the state’s open meetings act to pass the stripped-down bill. Republicans, who of course can do no wrong and even if they do it doesn’t matter, say they didn’t. I’m sure they will find some tiny legal loophole that they will use to justify their actions, just like they did on the publication issue.

Wisconsin’s rule book give publication rights to both the secretary of state and to the Legislative Reference Bureau — but the part about when a bill goes into effect refers only to the secretary of state’s publication in the official newspaper.

Ah, but means nothing to Republicans. Although I haven’t heard the phrase used, I’m sure they’re claiming “activist judge” status for the jurist who dared to try to stop them, and that, of course, means they don’t have to abide by the ruling. And just in case, they’ll split hairs — the restraining order doesn’t apply to the Legislative Research Bureau.

And besides, the Republican attorney general says that action by the secretary of state isn’t required for a bill to become law. So there. And waterboarding isn’t torture either.

Republicans aren’t just gaming the show about the law either. In Wisconsin, they also want to make sure that nobody ever knows that their party in that state was at one time almost, well, progressive. That ended in the 1950s when Sen. Joe McCarthy nearly destroyed it.

A history professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, William Cronon, wrote a fascinating piece in the New York Times about Wisconsin’s political history. Here’s what PZ Myers of Pharyngula had to say about it:

It’s a great essay, even-handed and informed, and reminded me that yes, once upon a time, Republicans weren’t the party of insane corporate tools who got their instructions direct from god, and that there are common principles of good government that liberals and conservatives could agree on.

Unfortunately, the Republicans don’t agree with Myers’ assessment. They’ve launched a witchhunt against Cronon, trying  in Myers’ words, “to find any damning connection that will allow them to claim that Cronon is an apparatchik and propagandist, rather than an independent historian with a serious scholarly focus.”

Interestingly, using Joe McCarthy’s tactics. I’d think that would raise more than a few red flags, not to mention hairs on the backs of many heads, but Republicans of late have been embracing their inner McCarthyism, quite openly at times.

But as Myers points out, Cronon’s “greatest crime may have been exposing to the light of day a quiet organization, ALEC, that has been drafting the most conservative legislation for our government in collaboration with the wealthiest corporations in the country.”

Oh dear. Republicans tied to wealthy corporations? Say it ain’t so. But what am I thinking. Corporations are people, too, in this cowardly new world where secrecy and bullying are the order of the day.

Wisconsin, oh Wisconsin, that you should be the first to endure this travesty is repugnant beyond repugnant. But while we’re watching Wisconsin, the same thing is happening in every state in the union, on one level or another. It is a full out assault, carried out by operatives who pretend to be interested good governance.

But they left behind that noble sentiment long ago. Money, the collection and hoarding of, is the only real item on the agenda. And to make sure they enact that agenda, the modern Republican party has no qualms about granting itself immunity to the law.

*It’s OK If You Are Republican

The check’s in the mail and other lies

Politicians lie on a daily basis. Some of their lies are bigger than others, some hardly register at all. And some they’ve told so often that those of us still using our brains know full well they’re bullshit.

Unfortunately, my dear colleagues appear to have just fallen off the turnip truck this morning — or whatever morning the latest whopper came out — and believe everything they see and hear.

That’s what those unscrupulous SOBs are counting on — except they were only targeting the “real Americans” who can’t be bothered with actually looking into the veracity of any given statement themselves. Plus, these guys lie with such abandon that it really is difficult to keep up.

But I imagine the must be beside themselves with glee that my beloved colleagues are exactly the same, except they have cameras and newsprint and broadcast waves to propagate their stenography. Overpaid steno pool girls, the lot of ’em.

So, in case you’re having any difficulty discerning the truth, I’ve compiled a handy scorecard.

It’s all about the budget

Really? So that’s why Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican apparatchiks stripped all the actual budgetary measures out of their bill so they could pass the two pieces they really wanted: busting the union and setting up the sale of Wisconsin’s nuke plants to people like the Koch Brothers, who, incidentally, were big funders of Walker’s campaign. And since Walker et al were so successful, now we’re seeing a whole slew of union busting bills in state legislatures, all sans budgetary measures. All about the budget? No. All about busting unions and making rich people richer.

There is no danger from violent, right-wing extremists

Really? That’s because the folks saying that want to keep that option open, and the best way to do that is to deny it exists. And besides, these are people who regularly tout “Second
Amendment remedies” to solve the problems in their minds, when they’re not misrepresenting actual history and geography. But it’s a lie. Why, just recently, Seattle police arrested a white supremacist and charged him with planting a backpack full of explosives along the route of the city’s Martin Luther King Day march route. And that’s just the latest. Meanwhile, conservatives float fake videos to make the protests in Wisconsin look violent and whine that the “rhetoric” will end with somebody getting hurt. No kidding. Just that it’s their side with the violent rhetoric. Meanwhile, my colleagues can’t get past the false equivalency “both sides do it” lie.

And speaking of fake videos …

James O’Keefe caught NPR with its pants down

Really? James O’Keefe? The guy who has never once put out a video he didn’t edit dramatically to tell the story he wanted to tell? Now, it’s already been said that Ron Schiller said some things he shouldn’t have — even after the full video has been seen. But it’s also clear that O’Keefe moved things around and left out others to make it much worse than it was. Again. You didn’t hear, for example, Schiller tell the faux Muslims that they cannot buy the kind of coverage they were seeking from NPR. Nor did we hear that the most egregious things he said were quotes from Republican donors — he did not dispute them, but they were not his original thoughts.

Here is the pattern: “Sting” somebody, edit the tape and put it out, my colleagues will jump all over it, a knee-jerk reaction will cost jobs and funding, release the full video when the message is already out and it’s too late, claim you were being open and transparent when what you were really doing is putting out fodder for Republicans in Congress.

Here’s what these videos are about: Defunding and discrediting non-conservative organizations — generally any organization that does something other than promoting the aggregation of wealth at the top of the food chain and especially not organizations that try to help those at the bottom — preferably ones that generally have a good reputation in the real mainstream. ACORN was the test case, an easier mark. NAACP, Planned Parenthood, CNN, NPR. Let’s see, who could be next? They’re not very fond of AARP for supporting the “job-killing” health care reform bill. The American Cancer Society? The Red Cross? Public Citizen? The Children’s Defense Fund? The League of Women voters? CBS? The New York Times?

Here’s more proof to the lie: Wingnut Sen. Jim DeMented was ranting this week about NPR executives making more money than the president and that if they can afford to pay their CEOs more than the prez, they ought not have federal funding. Really? Public broadcasting’s chief execs made about $600,000 for one and $1.2 million for the other, compared to the president’s $400,000.  That is a lot. But, Sen. DeMented, what about all those bank execs who make tens of millions into the billions and got bailout money?

In the federal government, the president makes about 25 times the lowest paid employees. In the private world, the last number we saw on that came from several years ago — 263 times the little people. And that all came in the last, oh, 30 years. Since Reagan. Before that, about 25:1. With a higher tax rate on the higher portions of income that kept government going.

But I guess that’s to be expected now that the “Me” generation, ushered in by Saint Ronnie, has morphed into the crotchety old “Me First, Fuck the Rest of You” generation.

James O’Keefe? Just a tool.

Speaking of “job-killing” …

The Republican budget will create jobs

Really? Then why do all independent estimates of the effect on jobs of the GOP budget say it will cost jobs? Upwards of a million? Yeah, the Republican budget will create jobs. In India, China and Mexico. Again, because that’s what it’s all about — making labor costs cheaper for the rich people, cutting the taxes on the rich people and making sure they don’t have to pay for a goddamned thing.

Republicans are on the side of the little people, the “real” Americans

Really? Anyone who still believes that is … well, never mind. But get your freakin’ head out of the sand.

Everything else — the abortion debate, the gay debate, the immigration debate, the foreign affairs debate (well, partly on that one — some of that debate is aimed at limiting tax dollars going to foreign countries, except for the ones we like, and therefore reducing the tax burden on the rich), every last one of ’em is just a smokescreen for the real agenda — increasing the wealth of the wealthy.

The conservatives were mighty pissed off at the end of the Robber Baron era, and now that we’re more than a century gone from that and only stupid liberals actual think about how history informs the present, it’s time to bring it back.

The bottom line is that it’s still all about greed. As I’ve said over and over, I don’t understand why anyone would need all that money, except to be extravagant, and even then, you’d have a ton left over. For what? Kinda makes me laugh — all the right wing conspiracy theories about a liberal New World Order in which the rich people collude with the government to run the world — that’s what’s happening. Except it’s a conservative New World Order. And in that, the conspiracy theorists are right — it’s dangerous and very bad for the people.