Supreme Court is On a Roll!

By Thomas Heaney

Just lately, the best interests of the majority are being served!

Google Images

We Americans have more than ample resources to take care of the health of our own people. Obviously, we aren’t doing it. Sadly, Republicans in Congress still adamantly oppose doing anything about this sad situation. They have no problem coming up with the funds to maintain the world’s largest military. Yet, when it comes to funding health care reform they insist we just can’t afford it. Really?

Fortunately, the obstructionist Republican leadership in Washington is not in charge. Despite well funded lobbying to achieve a profit-propelling outcome, the interests of the majority were mostly upheld by today’s Supreme Court ruling.

If he’s not already nervous, perhaps Mitt Romney will be once he realizes the difficulty of selling his anti-populist rhetoric to the electorate. People’s own life experiences tell them Romney’s got it dead wrong.

Problem is, Mitt Romney is the perfect poster boy to honestly deliver the Republican message. Health care in his family is working out just fine. Of course, Mitt’s financial situation differs somewhat from that of most Americans. The problem conservatives now face is trying to sell their vision to an electorate that is demanding more affordable access to health care and outcomes enjoyed in Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. We want what they’re having! Yet, Republicans insist we can’t afford it.

The best hope of those opposed to “Obama Care” was to invest a fortune in negative branding before the majority of its popular provisions kicked in fully. This has NOT worked for Republicans and is not likely to work for them any time soon. No matter what words you use to describe the Health Reform Act, it is what the majority of people in this country want.

Then there is the moral case for taking care of the least of our brethren. What does it say about a country that sees its own citizens hurting and chooses to do nothing? Those religious right members of the Republican party seem to be saying “we are not our brother’s keeper.” From a moral perspective, ALL Americans deserve affordable health care for ourselves, our parents, our children, and our society.

Theological scholars might ask some pointed questions. Who would Jesus exclude from health care? Which pre-existing conditions are identified in the Bible as acceptable? Some might argue that Jesus would suggest that we’re all in this together. That might get the Prince of Peace labeled as a socialist. Would he care? My guess is not so much.

Republicans have offered no substantive plan of their own to address lack of access to health care. Nor have they concerned themselves with trying to contain spiraling costs. Nor have they addressed the moral dimensions of the health care crisis in America. Instead, they mindlessly repeat their mystical assertion about de-regulation and less government somehow ameliorating America’s health care problems. It hasn’t worked yet; why would anybody believe them?

As a society, we are all in this health care crisis together. The President and Congress should be about doing the most good for the most people while making sure everyone receives care. The President has taken some small steps down the path of economic justice for all. We need more steps in that direction to get our people the health care they need and deserve. Republicans should abandon their anti-populist position and bow to the will of the people – as opposed to the will of the deepest pocketed lobbyists!

How We Win This War: One Year Later

By Karen Vieth 

We did it. We volunteered, knocked on doors and engaged in meaningful conversations. We had an out of control Wisconsin governor and numerous legislators who walked in lockstep with him to recall. It was a busy year laden with hard work and an unwavering commitment to justice. Yet, the map on the cover of the Wisconsin State Journal Wednesday, June 6th was a garish red. We managed to flip the Senate, but fifteen recall elections have come and gone, and we are not where I had hoped we would be. The road to recovery for our state now looks rugged and long. I am just now starting to understand that this is only the beginning. To move forward, we must scrutinize our efforts over the past year in terms of Tuesday night’s election results.

The media is alive with news of how much money was poured into this election. Many point to the fact that 60% of Scott Walker’s funds were raised out of state. And if it’s true you get what you pay for with messaging, this is an easy direction to point. Walker outspent Mayor Tom Barrett 7-1; his message infiltrated the airwaves for a month. Pro-Walker flyers found their way into the majority of Wisconsin homes. At my residence alone, I counted seven unique Walker advertisements that arrived in my mailbox. As much as this money advantage helped Walker, it just seems too simple an answer to explain the results. Can an election be so easily bought, and are the residents of Wisconsin so easily swayed by the media? Perhaps. However, I’d like to think that there is more to it than that and that democracy cannot simply be bought and sold.

Last summer, when I was knocking on doors in central and northern Wisconsin, a common theme I heard at the doors was that recall elections were “unfair” and “unjust.” People felt that once a legislator was elected that they should be allowed to finish their term. Regardless of my arguments about deceptive campaigns, broken promises or a failure to represent the people a legislator serves, these beliefs were strongly held. People would concede that they returned items to stores when they weren’t living up to what was advertised, but in the case of recall elections they felt the only justification was criminal wrongdoing. Tuesday night’s exit polls show that 10% of voters feel that recall elections should never be allowed and 60% felt that it was appropriate only when there was wrongdoing. The remaining 30% were okay with a recall election being held for any reason. 10% sounds meager, but in a race like this, that number is colossal.

Yet, the money and the anti-recall sentiment don’t take into account the mistakes that we made. Yesterday, I cleaned out my car. Its cluttered state was evidence of that final “Get Out the Vote” push. As I made piles of signs, posters, flyers and door hangers, I was met again and again by the two dimensional gaze of Scott Walker. Something struck me about this messaging, because the recurring theme on the literature was a denouncement. The “Recall Walker” message was enough to carry Dane County, but this anti-message wasn’t strong enough to convince the rest of the state. Rather than stating what we stood for and what Barrett would do for our state, we clamored behind the anthem of recall. A year ago, when the shock and injustice weighed heavily in the air, that strategy may have worked. But many people are now distanced from the movement and this anger is diluted by Walker’s messaging. People in the state of Wisconsin do not all see how Walker’s legislation will impact their lives. Empty promises of jobs and lower taxes are much more tangible to this crowd.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year, and as a result, my ideas of how we win this war have evolved. Knocking on doors and becoming activists was a good start. It has allowed us many recent successes:

● High voter turnout in Dane County and Madison (66% and 73% respectively)

● Unprecedented turnout in newly canvassed areas such as the Bridge-Lakepoint-Waunona Community Center location (106% turnout of pre-registered voters)

● Lehman’s win over Van Wanggaard, which flips the Senate to a Democratic majority

● A majority of women voters choosing Barrett over Walker (52%)

● New voters registered

● The countless connections we have made during this campaign

The most important question in my mind is, “Where do we go from here?” To win this war, we need to continue to build statewide connections. Knocking on doors and sending out a message is important, but we also need to spend some time listening. The way to create allies is to understand what is important to others and know where we can find common ground. There is no doubt in my mind that many people in Wisconsin voted against their own well-being in this recall election. We need to perfect our messaging to represent people’s interests statewide, so that citizens know what they are voting for, not just what they are voting against. Our networking needs to continue to unite union and nonunion households. Collective bargaining rights, public education, work conditions, women’s rights, a clean environment, employment opportunities, quality housing, and health care coverage are issues that impact everyone. Coalitions need to be formed that can unite against big money and politics that represent out of state interests and the most wealthy in our society. What is most important is that we don’t mistake the loss of one battle as losing the war. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We must begin to rebuild Wisconsin from the ground up, get out into communities, listen to the people and reunite our state.

A Missed Opportunity is Not a Mandate!

By Thomas Heaney

Keeping the Walker Non-Recall in Perspective

cash flow
Google Images

No doubt, the fact that Scott Walker was not recalled is a missed opportunity to remove a dysfunctional anti-populist from office. It is not, however, the calamity for progressives as was reported in many Wisconsin print and broadcast media. The struggle for justice in the Badger State will continue despite having a fugitive from justice in the Governor’s mansion.

True, Walker is still bringing a new level of corrupt dirtiness to Wisconsin politics. His laser-like focus has been on raising cash for pay-to-play donors. Ever the tactician, the governor has a legal defense fund ready to go whenever it becomes necessary. This page in the Walker playbook appears to have been copied from Mafia bosses. Innocent folks don’t raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in case they become the object of a criminal prosecution.

Walker’s real talent is raising money from wealthy interests who expect to be given influence in exchange for contributions. This is, per se, immoral. Much of it is likely illegal, as well. Time will tell. Walker raised at least 7 times more cash than his opponent. Most of Walker’s donations came from out of state. Expensive broadcast media ads likely had a lot to do with the support Walker got from local radio and TV stations. Going forward, progressives must learn to take nothing for granted from the local media.

WIBA-AM, Madison’s knee-jerk conservative voice, even had Wisconsin Republican Party Vice President Brian Schlimming on its payroll as a talk show host. Walker & company’s major spending spree altered the perception about economic reality in Wisconsin. Local media did not refute his bogus job claims. They largely failed to report the ongoing John Doe investigation. There was virtually no mention of the cronyism that became the hallmark of the Walker appointment process.

Perhaps worst of all, the influence of Walker’s deep pocket contributors, like Diane Hendricks and the Koch brothers, went largely unreported. There was a clear messaging problem. It is an outrage that Hendricks contributed $.5M to Walker’s campaign while ABC Supply, her company, paid no Wisconsin income tax. While we have low expectations for corrupt politicians and their financiers, it is sad to see local media omit these critical stories as they create a campaign narrative.

That said, Democrats have a new majority in the State Senate. Walker now owns his record. Wisconsin is still last in job creation. Walker will not be able to cherry-pick job stats every month as he did the month before the recall.

Small businesses lacking cash to give a governor facing recall are not benefitting from the newly created pay-to-play climate. This is a barrier to human capital formation and hinders the action of the so-called free market. Walker’s policies are, in fact, job killing. The potential for growth in good jobs requires an investment in education. Walker cut education at every level. This only serves to hobble any recovery and to hinder the economic future of Wisconsin.

Assuming he stays out of jail and remains in office, Scott Walker will not be able to run away from his record in 2014. In the meantime, survival, resistance to ALEC-driven legislation, and enforcement of state corruption statutes are progressive priorities. Also necessary is a renewed emphasis on voter registration. Progressives would do well to ask Walker voters two years from now if they got what they thought they were voting for. Walker’s trajectory on education and human services is clear. He must be held accountable for his actions. A heavy voter turnout in 2014 is the best shot progressives have.

Governor Walker’s Dysfunctional Relationship with the Truth

By Thomas Heaney

Shameful Domestic Abuse in the Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion

Scott Walker - Shame poster
Courtesy of Google Images

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker already has the dubious distinction of being the only Wisconsin Governor ever to face a recall election. After having posted an indefensible jobs record, this governor has brazenly lied about the deplorable employment facts in our state.

Denial of our economic problems is only making a bad situation worse. Wisconsin is losing jobs by any objective measure. We have lost some of our best teachers due to layoffs. Walker’s cuts are robbing public school children and their communities of their collective future. His cuts to public employees everywhere are compromising health care, fire protection, and law enforcement. We can’t afford another day of what Scott Walker calls reform. He’s fully engaged in selling our state’s business to the highest bidder, regardless of the impact on real people. A realistic campaign slogan for this governor would be “Citizens be damned, we’re busy making money.”

Walker’s lies are all over the airways both as direct campaign spots and “issues ads”. These very expensive campaigns will be paid for one way or another. Walker contributors are expecting a return on the money they contributed (invested). Protections for ordinary folks are being thrown away to appease Walker’s greed-driven wealthy base. This is not economic development. It is serfdom for working folks in service of a political agenda. Keeping Walker in charge amounts to asking for more exploitation of the people he was elected to serve. It is now clear. Service is not in Scott Walker’s repertoire.

In service to his lies, he has been on a nation-wide fund-raising tour. He accumulated an unprecedented war chest in the form of direct campaign donations, PAC contributions, and legal defense money siphoned from campaign donations. Most of this came from out-of-state donors. Inquiring minds want to know. What is in it for them?

Voters of every political affiliation should unite to remove Scott Walker from office. Even those who agree with his draconian, divisive policy initiatives should feel uneasy about the precedents set by this governor. Those who pay to play today are not guaranteed a seat at the table tomorrow. The cost of an ideological civil war to both winners and losers alike is unbearably high. We can’t afford it, not in dollars and not in the bleak future Governor Walker has visited on us.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett, by contrast, is offering a people-based approach. He is also offering a vision of unity to a divided state. Most heartening about his approach is the idea that everyday people can have a voice in their state government.

Walker has stolen transparency from the people of Wisconsin. He has been busy signing model legislation drafted by ALEC. The only way to remedy the fix put it by Walker is to remove him forthwith. Rejecting his leadership will show the nation that we mean business when it comes to rejecting corporate domination of our state government and economic future.

WMC and Governor Himself Tell Lies About Wisconsin Job Creation

By Thomas Heaney

Further reason to recall Walker manufactured by WMC

When a sitting Governor repeatedly and emphatically lies to his constituents, the best remedy is recall. Wisconsinites have a golden opportunity and a civic duty to enforce a standard of honesty in the highest office in our state government on recall election day – June 5, 2012.

By any objectively used measure, job creation in Wisconsin under Governor Walker has been terrible. Governor Walker has deliberately cut public jobs and services in the name of balancing the state budget. In doing so, he has made a bad situation worse. To top it all off, he now refuses to own the shameful record he created, choosing instead to deliberately mislead the public by falsely claiming success.

Everyone in Wisconsin wishes more jobs had been created. Wishing doesn’t make it so. Walker’s current expensive disinformation campaign is itself a clear reason to recall him. Billionaire-funded propaganda is being used to hoax voters into buying the Walker program. Advertising on local news shows is being dominated by bogus claims of job creation. The Governor is heaping lie upon lie in the hopes that low information voters can be made to believe his unsubstantiated fairy tale of economic recovery. Wisconsin’s recovery is the slowest in the nation because of this governor. Get rid of him, and we will be well on the way to a brighter economic future for all of us.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and Walker both have been quoting unofficial job creation estimates. These figures were never to be used as official in any context. Once again, the Walker modus operandi is to begin with a narrative based on wishful thinking and cherry pick the rare fact that might corroborate his position. In the process, Walker deliberately ignores the preponderance of evidence showing clearly how miserable his record really is.

Walker is well aware of his sad job creation record. Yet he disingenuously claims success. His ads brazenly claim to be fact-checks. He’s betting voters don’t know about his lies. Mindlessly repeating the same lie does not make it so. Deliberately telling lies to voters and hoping the truth won’t come to light in time to matter is the strongest reason among many to recall this governor.

The price we are paying for this governor is very high, indeed, when we consider how much of our future is sacrificed. In pursuit of balancing the budget, public schools have been closed thanks to Walker. The governor is has already stolen the future of some school-aged children across the state with his draconian budget cuts. More cuts and school closings are on the way if we don’t change course. Our children deserve the best education we can give them.

Based on his record to date, Walker and his billionaire funders are opting for a less educated workforce. That is a radical and wrong departure from the proud traditions we’ve known in Wisconsin.

Privatization of public services, like medical appointment rides needed by the disabled and elderly, has been a disaster. Folks who used to get rides for essential medical services like dialysis are now forced to pay more for inferior service to Logisticare, an out-of-state service provider with a horrible track record to date.

Key Walker contributors, like the brothers Koch and Diane Hendricks, see Wisconsin as a future Red State. Diane Hendricks’ ABC Supply Corporation pays no state income tax but contributed $500,000 to Walker’s campaign. This is pay-to-play at its worst.

Courtesy of Google Images

Walker’s billionaires are spending millions to change Wisconsin into a place with an exploitable low-wage workforce. They are aggressively moving to replace working government services with for-profit privateers, unaccountable to the public. They are doing this not because they have a better way to deliver services. Their motives are power lust and sheer unadulterated greed. This cancerous, anti-progressive agenda, if continued, will transform the Wisconsin economy into one like Mississippi.

Accountability to the public is anathema to the Walker agenda. While telling lies about his own record, he keeps working to make sure folks who truly want to preserve Wisconsin’s proud traditions of fairness and progressivity don’t have a voice. We have a golden opportunity to teach this future ex-Governor, and his billionaire crony accomplices, a lesson. Walker’s own ads prove he is unfit for the office he holds. Walker is a much better fit for Fox News than he is for the Wisconsin State House. Pay to Play is the way Fox News operates. It should never be the way our Wisconsin State Government operates.

Education is Key to Wisconsin’s Future

By Thomas Heaney

Now, more than ever, Wisconsin needs an educated governor with character!

If heartlessness were a virtue, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would be a saint. This governor has been nothing short of a disaster when it comes to delivering basic services to the citizens of the state that elected him.

Already weakened public education has been bludgeoned under Walker’s rule. Over the last 30 years, business interests have managed to pay less and less of Wisconsin’s bill for public education, thereby shifting the bill to property taxpayers. Already austere public school budgets were decimated by the “budget repair tools” bullied into law by Walker and enabling legislative Fitz-minions.

All of this was done supposedly to put the state budget in order and help future generations. But what about the current generation who are paying the price right now? 70 Students in Rhinelander, WI walked out of class to protest their education being compromised as a result of Walker’s budget cuts. Four high school teachers were laid off this year as a result of Walker’s budget cuts.

Walker’s technical college budget cuts have directly hobbled the ability of our state to pull itself out of recession. Technical colleges are traditionally the immediate response to economic downturn. Dislocated workers need jobs and businesses need skilled workers to recover from the slowdown. Recession is a natural time for society to invest in technical college education. Walker, a college dropout himself, does not understand this. Worse, he seems unfeeling and shows no concern for the suffering he instigated in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Fortunately, not all of Walker’s miscreant dreams have come to fruition. His scheme to separate UW-Madison from the rest of the UW System interested the governor only because he could personally pack the new governing body with his appointees. This would have enabled him to privatize many of the assets of the UW-Madison. That would have made the Koch brothers very, very happy and richer than they already are. Left holding the bag would be generations of Wisconsinites who paid for those assets.

It takes a sociopathic character to trash education the way Scott Walker did and somehow act like he did something good or necessary. Worse, this governor will not allow debate or seriously consider addressing the concerns of those he has wronged. Scott Walker has robbed thousands of quality education. For that he richly deserves to be recalled.

Critical Milestone Election in Badgerland

By Thomas Heaney

Wisconsin Democrat candidates
Photo: Google Images

Wisconsin’s progressives and true conservatives must remove a corrupt Governor drunk on his own power.

On June 5th, 2012 the eyes of a nation will be focused on the recall election of Scott Walker. Wisconsinites are faced with a rare opportunity to reject corrupt corporate cronyism and reestablish a truly representative government accountable to all citizens of the state.

Not so long ago, suggesting a governor in our progressive state might get away with spending the majority of his time and attention focused on fund raising out-of-state would have been preposterous. Yet Walker has delighted the über-right by doing just that. It takes a truly twisted ideologue to stay so singularly focused on defying the will of the electorate during such dire economic times. Giving the people a remedy to such a power abuse is the raison d’etre for Wisconsin’s right to recall elected officials. In Walker’s case it’s not just our right to recall, it’s our duty.

Scott Walker has undertaken a corrupt agenda while simultaneously trying to maintain his powerbase by any means necessary. To achieve his ends, he has worked hard to disenfranchise significant portions of the electorate. He made it significantly harder for a host of the economically weakest among us to vote. This includes the elderly, minorities and the disabled. These are also the same folks most damaged by his merciless unnecessary budget cuts.

Governor Walker simply ignores the plight of people who didn’t vote for him or didn’t contribute to his campaign. He does listen to economic interests and power brokers outside of Wisconsin. The rogue gallery whose support Walker chases after shamelessly includes Fox News, the Koch brothers, and ALEC (refer to:

Walker’s strategy includes covering ALL his bases. So naturally when he leaves the state to get contributions, he isn’t ONLY focusing on contributions for his re-election. He also is raising megabucks for his legal defense fund.

While a lot of publicity has been focused on the May 8th primary election, any of the four Democrat candidates vying for the nomination would be a worthy immediate successor to the Governor. Importantly, none of them would be beholden to lobbyists to the extent that Scott Walker is. It is critical that those of us opposed to corruption in our statehouse keep our eyes on the prize and rally behind the nominee in solidarity.

Perhaps the best reason to recall Walker is his own record of success at fund-raising. The Governor now literally owes his political future to the likes of the Koch brothers and other wealthy lobbying interests. The Governor’s record shows how loyal Scott Walker is to his donors. Recent history indicates Walker’s highest priority will be to pay back his political debts. The rest of Wisconsin simply cannot afford to pay Walker’s political tab out of our collective economic, environmental, and political futures. Wisconsin voters have the tools to remove an unrepentant, corrupt governor. It’s time to put them to good use.