Monday, April 30, 2012

The Three Amigos: Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Doe

Image courtesy of Politiscoop
So, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is coming to Wisconsin on Tuesday to stump for his old pal, Scott Walker.

An occurrence like this is pure blogger fodder.  One could point out how both Christie and Walker are experts at driving jobs out of their respective states as they drive said states into the ground.  One could point out the jobs and the revenue they chased out due to their siderodromophobia (fear of trains).   One could also talk about how their austerity ideology is really hurting local governments and destroying everyone's quality of life.  Or, in a stretch, one could point out how neither of them seems to be around when their constituents need them the most, like in weather-related disasters.

Heck, one could even bring up the question if Walker's campaign is violating the law with an illegal raffle.

But instead of any of those, I just wanted to point out that Walker will be welcoming Christie by covering him with the stain of Walkergate, the John Doe investigation into the illegal campaigning and other criminal acts by Walker, his campaign and his former and current staffers.

To start out with, the first notice I received of Christie's pending visit was from his campaign.  But just not from the campaign, but from Andrea Boom:

Andrea Boom is the Finance Director for Friends of Scott Walker, his campaign.  But Ms. Boom is also so much more than that.

Ms. Boom is also BFF with Kelly Rindfleisch, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Walker while he was Milwaukee County Executive.  Rindfleisch is currently facing four charges of illegally campaigning for Walker and his choice of Lieutenant Governors, Brett Davis, while on the tax payers dime.  According to transcripts released during Rindfleisch's hearings, it appears that Rindfleisch might have been instrumental in getting Boom her current job.

But as I always say, when it comes to Walker, there's more.  There's always more.

A tipster cued me in that Walker and Christie will be having, besides their two fundraising dinners, a photo op right here in Milwaukee.  And not just anywhere in Milwaukee either:

KEI is short for Kujawa Enterprises, Incorporated.  Its Executive Vice President is Chris Kujawa.  Kujawa and Walker go way back, with Kujawa being a long time donor to Walker's campaigns.  In return, Walker would hold his showboating events at Kujawa's business and steer Milwaukee County contracts to them.

But there is more to Kujawa than the apparent pay for play stuff.  Just like Boom, Kujawa is also entangled with Walkergate.

In 2007, Kujawa was running for Milwaukee County Supervisor, with Walker's endorsement.  Involved with his campaign was Brian Pierick and Tim Russell.   Pierick, who was listed as Kujawa's treasurer, has been charged with child enticement, which stemmed as an offshoot of the Walkergate investigations.  However, it was Russell, who was also working in then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's administration at the time, that was actually handling the money.

And I do mean handling.

Russell, the long time Walker aide, good friend and confidante has been charged with embezzling from Kujawa's campaign as well as another politician's campaign and a veterans fund. (Kujawa's name is sprinkled throughout the criminal complaint against Russell, but the meaty stuff starts on page 24 and includes a note written on KEI letterhead on page 26.)

It's a curiosity that any rational mind would consider an endorsement from the vulgar Christie to be a positive thing in the first place.  But then for Walker to thank him for his support by covering him in the stench and slime of his own corruption is truly baffling.  These Republicans sure are odd ducks, aren't they?

The Al-Koch(a) 15

Jan 20th, 2009. The Day President Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th president of the US.  This marked a new day in America as an African American was sworn into the highest office of the land for the very first time in our great  country.  While millions of Americans tuned in and celebrated, I think my highlight of the day was when Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen were singing "This Land is Your Land".

Hope was restored to our nation and we needed it at that time!

Unfortunately for President Obama and the rest of America, a group of bitter men had other ideas.  A group of approximately 15 men got together that very night and started plotting the best way to take down America.  Unfortunately, the guest list was full of familiar faces.  You would think that I was talking about Kim Jong Il, Osama Bin Laden, Ali Atwa, Abdul Rahman Yasin, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon, Grover Norquist, Tim Phillips, and other assorted anti-American Vermin. Sadly no.   The group that got together that night to plot the take down of our President, were all elected officials(and Frank Luntz).
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wall St.)
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA),
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX),
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX),
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA),
Sen. Jim DeMint (SC-R),
Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ-R),
Sen. Tom Coburn (OK-R),
Sen. John Ensign (NV-R) and
Sen. Bob Corker (TN-R)
A group of well known republican officials led by Wisconsin's own Paul Ryan, failed presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, and republican racist pollster and Scott Walkers good friend Frank Luntz wasted no time in meeting.

In his new book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives."by Robert Draper, Draper takes us inside that meeting.
 The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward:
Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: ‘Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it—please?’)
Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)

Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)
Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.
  Daily Kos, is asking Darrell Issa to open an investigation:
  Not only did these Senior members of Congress plot to destroy the American Economy more than it already was destroyed? They actually carried out their mission:  
- Every one of these Senior members of Congress have threatened Government Shutdown over things like:
not funding planned parenthood, not raising the Debt Ceiling which, in-and-of-itself, would cause US Economic turmoil. ... oh, and stay current, these same House GOP members of Congress are still, today, threatening a Government Shutdown.
- Senators: Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign, and Bob Corker have
- Filibustered more Bills than any Congress combined in US History.
- Voted NO on every single piece of Legislation brought to the Floor including: NO on Al Franken's Anti-Rape Amendment, NO on Lilly Ledbetter, NO on Fair Pay Act.
- Representatives: Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra and Dan Lungren
- Voted NO on every single piece of Legislation; including NO on increasing FEMA during natural disasters.
- Have been on tv constantly chanting the lie that they were guilty of ... the lie that "President Obama's policies undermine the US Economy."
 The Daily Beast focused on different aspects beyond the anti-American 15.  The book points out that John Boehner was not invited to this meeting to take down America, but instead he was somewhere whining about the end of earmarks....
Despite the anti-earmark rhetoric in Congress, John Boehner still misses them.  During a conversation with Congressman Ralph Hall of Texas, Boehner regretted that earmarks disappeared, as it had made the task of keeping unruly members under control much easier. He sadly noted “It’s not like the old days, Ralph. Without earmarks to offer, it’s hard to herd the cats.”
John Boehner is finding it hard to keep people in line without the threat of pulling their funding...take taht tea party!

 But I digress...back to the Al-Kocha gang of 15!

 Paul Ryan and his cohorts, who call themselves the Young Guns, spent that historic night in 2009, not working on ways to end the recession, or lower the deficit, or end the wars, or even lower the unemployment rate.   They used their time and "talent" to brainstorm ways to make the President of the United States fail and if all went according to plan, fail miserably!!!

It is no wonder that what passes as humor these days on the right is talk of shooting democrats!   

**  Congressman Ryan did not respond to questions at the time of this writing. As a matter of fact Congressman Ryan has never responded to a single question posed by yours truly!  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Literally Adding Insult To Injury

From behind the paywall at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A 55-year-old Dane County man is in the hospital after his friend mistook him for a turkey and shot him in the face with a shotgun Sunday morning.

Preliminary investigation shows the 55-year-old, who is from Deforest north of Madison, and his 56-year-old friend from Sun Prairie were hunting turkeys at the Kendall Lake Public Hunting Property on state Highway 80 east of Muscoda around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the Iowa County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

The 56-year-old moved from where he had been sitting when he heard what he thought was a turkey behind him. He told deputies he "thought he saw a turkey and fired his shotgun not knowing his friend had also moved his position."

The shot struck the 55-year-old with several pellets in his head, face and neck, the news release said. The injuries didn't appear to be life-threatening, but the man was taken to the Richland Center Hospital by Muscoda emergency personnel.
Imagine, getting shot in the face by your buddy, and then getting told you're a turkey on top of it.

The report does not mention if Dick Cheney was in the area.

And on a more serious note, remember, these are the idiots that Walker and company said can now walk around with guns all the time! Feel safer yet?

Scott Walker Sets An Example For Rest Of The Nation

I know that I'm a couple weeks late with this, but it still cracks me up.

Meet Rob McKenna, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor in Washington State. He has the most interesting campaign strategy:
Rob McKenna, the two-term attorney general who is aiming to become the Evergreen State’s first Republican governor in more than 30 years, told a gathering of Puget Sound Carpenters last week that he’ll strive for a “positive relationship between labor and management,” even lamenting the agenda pursued by Walker.

“We need to have a good strong relationship between labor and management in this state,” McKenna said at the April 11 meeting, according to the audio that was secretly recorded. "Now unfortunately because of a couple of governors — particularly Scott Walker — everyone thinks that someone who’s going to be a Republican governor, they’re going to be Scott Walker. I’m not Scott Walker. This is not Wisconsin. This is Washington state.”

The comments represent the private political discomfort some Republicans campaigning in blue states harbor over Walker’s strident anti-labor policies, particularly his aggressive rollback of collective bargaining for public-sector unions.

While McKenna is in a somewhat unique position running in a deep blue state, his decision to distance himself from Walker is notable, especially as national Republicans rally to Walker’s aid ahead of the June 8 recall.

McKenna has previously stressed his desire to work with unions in public, but this speech represents the most direct and stark break with the embattled first-term Walker.
Oddly enough, that would probably sell in Wisconsin too.

But at least Walker can have a new talking point - how he's setting an example for the rest of the nation.

Unfortunately, it's a bad example.

Double The Hypocrisy, Double The Dumb!

Last Wednesday was Denim Day, an international campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault and rape.  The campaign was in reaction to the Italian Supreme Court's ruling overturning a rape conviction based on the fact that the victim of the rape was wearing tight denim jeans.

In his usual vainglorious, hypocritical way, Scott Walker pretended to commemorate the day and National Victims Rights Week by signing into law a bill called the Wisconsin Crime Victim Rights Preservation Act.  The law is designed to protect victims who were maltreated by public officials and stems from the behaviors of Republican Calumet District Attorney Kenneth Kratz, who was sexting a victim of domestic violence and trying to seduce her.

But there was one problem for Walker though.  He forgot to pay for it:

One prosecutor, though, accuses the Walker administration of posturing on the topic. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco says it comes at the same time the state has cut funding for the victim/witness advocate programs around the state.  
“This critical program, mandated by state statute to be provided by county government, and which provides safety, security and services to victims and witnesses of crimes, has had its state reimbursement fund cut by some $400,000, leaving counties holding the bag without the means to obtain the necessary funds to cover that gap,” DeCecco stated, referring to the ACT 10 prohibition against any county’s raising property taxes. 
“Once again,” DeCecco said, “county budgets providing state-mandated essential services are nothing but pawns in an administration’s game of hypocrisy.” 
DeCecco noted that when the state's victim/witness law took effect in 1979, counties were reimbursed 90% of their costs. Now, he said, the rate has dropped to about 40% even while the size and costs of the programs have grown.
The hypocrisy gets worse when one takes into account that Walker also started a legalized cronyism program, spending more than three quarters of a million dollars, almost twice what he took from the victim witness programs, to reward cronies and lackeys.

But Walker's hypocrisy grows even more due to the fact that as Milwaukee County Executive he was constantly blaming his budget woes on unfunded mandates and even promised to end such things when he was running for governor.

And for the added twist of the knife, Walker also cut funding to sexual assault programs by 42.5%, a trick I'm sure he learned from Sarah Palin.

Donovan: Exit Stage Right

Milwaukee's volatile and labile alderman Bob Donovan has finally been ousted from his position as Chairman of the Common Council's Public Safety Committee.  True to his nature, he has to have a tantrum about it, blaming others and trying to play the victim:

Donovan accused Hines of retaliating against him for taking controversial stands -- an accusation that Hines denied. 
"Over the years, I have spoken out on a variety of issues, and I've probably stepped on some toes," Donovan said. "Some people may perceive this, as I do, as payback. It's a sad day in Milwaukee when an elected official can't stand up and voice his gut feelings and represent his constituents and call 'em like he sees 'em without suffering retribution."
Yeah, that's it! It's retribution!  It had nothing to do with his being a complete joke and failing to live up to his responsibilities as the chairman of this important committee.

Sadly, this won't mean that Donovan will be any less the clown than he has been.

I'm sure he'll still complain about problems that don't exist; advocate for turning Milwaukee into a police state and locking up the kids, even the innocent ones; and issuing racist statements.

The Symbol Of Scott Walker's Legacy

Long time readers of Cognitive Dissidence know that one of the greatest atrocities committed by Scott Walker as Milwaukee County Executive was when he reneged on his promise to preserve the county grounds and sold them for a song to wealthy land developers, some of whom just happened to be supporters of his.

Despite repeated cries of outrage and warning, the County Board and the City of Wauwatosa blindly allowed this to happen.

As we had feared, the worst is coming true.

The Monarch Trail is being threatened by developers and may not survive as one of the rare roosting spots for the migrating Monarch butterflies.

Adding to the travesty is that now the historic Eschweiler Buildings are in danger of being razed, because Walker's years of neglect has made them too costly to restore.

There is no better symbol of the type of "leader" Walker is than the sad tale of the county grounds.

The Biggest Attack Yet

There have been many accusations of Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen Falk, whom I endorsed, going on the attack against Tom Barrett.  Kathleen Falk and her campaign have been accused of using her gender as a crutch (the reality is,it is an obstacle she has to overcome), being a campaign of insiders(in reality you do not run a campaign this big without seasoned political veterans) and now using Russ Feingold as a political prop(again reality is Senator Feingold gave Kathleen Falk a nice compliment and they used it never saying it was an endorsement).

One last side note on this, progressives love Senator Feingold for his independence(and rightly so) and strong voice for WI. If he had a problem with this ad he would have spoken up. 

MediatracKKKers is giddy with excitement the way that the Barrett supporters are relentlessly attacking Kathleen Falk. I do not use the term "giving aide and comfort to our enemies" loosely, but Mediatrackkkers are easily the biggest enemy to our state since Joe McCarthy.  Just ask local morning news anchor Rob Starbuck.

We can also get rid of the myth that Kathleen Falk is the only one on the attack and that Barrett wants to run a clean campaign.  Maybe instead of just taking millions from Rahm Emanuel's friends, Emanuel also taught him how to campaign "the Chicago way".

I personally think that the Barrett Campaign, knows what the Walker campaign knows, that Kathleen Falk is THE single best chance that the democrats have to beat Scott Walker on June 5th!

We have one week before the primary....Please support Kathleen Falk

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paul Ryan Is No Ageist!

[click to embiggen]
As the gentle reader knows, even though he himself had benefited greatly from Social Security, Paul Ryan wants to privatize it so that all the money goes to his supportive Wall Street friends.  Maybe he feels that this is the way to get them to buy the next rounds of $350 wine.

Likewise, he also wants to gut Medicaid and Medicare, again so that wealth that the tax payers have invested in can be redistributed among the fat cats of Wall Street and big business.

This is nothing new to anyone who's been paying the least bit of attention and doesn't get their information solely from Faux News or talk radio.

But what does make it even more outrageous is that he still wants to do so in the face of a new study which finds that more than 10% of people over the age of 65 is living in poverty and that this number is growing every year.  The study also found that minorities and single women are also more likely to be below the poverty level.

But it's not just the elderly that Ryan is targeting.

He toed the line for the Koch Brothers and voted against preventing student loans from doubling.  As his opponent for the fall election, Rob Zerban, points out, this is a really, really bad thing:

“Doubling the student loan interest rate and saddling our young people with an extra $1,000.00 in costs each year, at a time when families are already struggling to make sure their children have the opportunity for higher education, is a recipe for disaster.

“I personally know how important these programs are – they are the reason I was able to attend school and become a job creator that Paul Ryan and his Washington Republican buddies tout. I was able to live my version of the American Dream because our country made a modest investment in me through Pell Grants and Stafford Loans.

“We as a county can never compete in the global economy if we continually put up barriers for young people to thrive in whatever future they choose.  Paul Ryan’s budget does absolutely nothing to help Americans succeed – it is simply yet another giveaway for the oil & gas companies, Wall Street and corporations who fund his campaigns on the backs of our working families.”
So, as you can see, Paul Ryan is no ageist - he hates the old and the young equally.  In fact, he's no bigot at all either since he shows the same callous disregard for women, men, minorities, even his own constituents.

Or could it simply be that he is having emotional pangs about having to break up with his long-time fantasy girl?

Kathy Nickolaus is Out of There!

In a state full of  unqualified incompetent republican elected officials, the textbook example of it is Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.  Nickolaus is so incompetent that even republican hack James Wigderson can not defend her. .  That is saying something, as Wiggy has even defended Brian Pierick and Tim Russell's preying on young boys, anything to advance the cause!

Yet even Nickolaus is indefensible to even the truest of the true believers. Finally she sees the writing on the wall(finally looked in a mirror perhaps) and is not running for re-election.  What no one knew about Nickolaus though was her brilliant sense of humor!
"It's time to close the door on this chapter of my life," Nickolaus said Friday afternoon. "So much has been focused on me, but now it's important that positive energy is spent on the re-election of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald."

She is implying that everything spent on her has been "positive energy". After the laughter stops, we realize that instead of the term "positive energy" she meant to use "incompetence".That fits much better in that statement.
Nickolaus said constant public scrutiny was one factor in her decision to leave the position she's held for 10 years, but ultimately she feels it¹s just time to move on. "I wanted to announce early so that a qualified candidate could get into the race," Nickolaus said.
Nickolaus once again makes us laugh, as if a qualified candidate has been in the office for the last 10 years and as if Waukesha County cares about electing "qualified candidates"
Three people have already filled out the necessary paperwork to run for the position, but Nickolaus said it's too early for her to decide if she'll endorse anyone to be her successor.
Again she cracks us up! Anyone running for office, will define the word running, as running as far away from Kathy Nickolaus's  endorsement as they possibly can.

Good Bye and Good Riddance to Kathy Nickolaus! While the memories are painful, thanks for the laughs!  

Kathleen Falk Has Sisu!

That comes from a must read commentary from Mary Kinnunen, former mayor of Rhinelander:
We sat at the conference table in grand old City Hall with sunlight streaming in. As we compared backgrounds and notes about being a chief elected official, it became clear the person across the table had sisu.

You may have seen that word on a bumper sticker. It’s Finnish, and loosely translates as guts and perseverance. When things get really tough, we Finlanders remember the Winter War, when Finland was invaded by Russia, whose soldiers outnumbered Finnish soldiers 1 million to 200,000 and whose tanks outnumbered Finnish tanks 6,500 to 30.
Finland prevailed.

So when thinking of Walker’s millions of out-of-state dollars, I know the people of this great state have already shown the sisu needed to prevail in the fight we did not start and did not want.

As for who should face Walker, know there is zero evidence to support the claim “Falk cannot win up north.” Around here, Kathleen is known as a hardworking, straight-shooting budget balancer who hunts and fishes. This means she understands conservation more deeply than a political party’s talking points, and that means something to us. Her plan for developing the pulp industry will translate to good north woods jobs and that is huge.

On May 6, Kathleen will be in Rhinelander for a campaign rally. It will take place at Democratic headquarters and no congressman will be standing with her. No party honcho will be introducing her. This is something that runs deeper: The people who live and work here will stand with the woman who has proven herself to earn our trust and our votes.

The person introducing Kathleen will be Morgan, a 15-year-old whom I met at a recall rally in Tomahawk one cold February day — this is what democracy looks like.

Kathleen Falk's Statement On Workers Memorial Day

Hot off the press, so to speak:

Falk Statements on 2012 Workers’ Memorial Day

Falk the Candidate With Real Plan to Restore Workers' Rights

Madison – Kathleen Falk, Democratic candidate for governor and former Dane County Executive, released the following statements in honor of today’s Workers’ Memorial Day to commemorate workers across the country who have suffered injuries or died on the job.
“As the granddaughter of a Milwaukee bus driver, I understand the importance of workers’ rights, which have created the middle class in our country. These rights produced fair workplace conditions, fair treatment regardless of gender or race and ethnicity and a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work over the last half a century. As governor, I will restore the 50 years of workers' rights Gov. Walker took away and my record shows collective bargaining works for taxpayers and for employees.”

In the Democratic primary, Falk has earned the endorsement of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites including: the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, WEAC, EMILY's List, AFSCME, SEIU, SEIU Healthcare WI, AFT, Clean Wisconsin Action Fund, UFCW, IBEW Locals 158 & 159, Young Progressives of WI, the Sierra Club, the Women's Campaign Fund, the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin and Voces de la Frontera.
As far as I can tell, this is the only statement thus far from any of the candidates. It's nice to see that at least one of the candidates really does stand up for the working men and women of this state.

"Mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living." - Mother Jones

Happy Workers Memorial Day.

For those of in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council has sent this message:
Members of his union saw giant parts crush Jeff Smith to death before their eyes last September at Bucyrus (now Caterpillar) where Smith, 30, had worked as a material handler since 2008.

USW members have put a memorial plaque up at their Milwaukee headquarters and created funds for his family. They will also remember Jeff as part of the annual Workers Memorial Day ceremonies at noon Saturday, April 28.

Also speaking at Zeidler Union Square Park between 3rd and 4th on Michigan St. will be Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, who has continued his office’s concern about negligence and safety conditions in workplaces (the federal OSHA is also regularly called in to all incidents).

Chisholm is not the only official much in the news taking time to honor workers. US Rep. Gwen Moore intends to participate as well. Various other dignitaries as well as regular workers have expressed interest. Since this year April 28 falls on a weekend, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council moved activities up to noon to accommodate the higher response.

Both Wisconsin workers and Wisconsin military members who died on the job in 2012 will be included in lists read by union veterans and members of WisCOSH (Wisconsin Committee on Occupational Safety and Health) while union musicians resonate “Taps” across the park.
And here is the Presidential Proclamation for Workers Memorial Day 2012:
Presidential Proclamation -- Workers Memorial Day, 2012

- - - - - - -

For centuries, American workers have called upon boundless drive and initiative to raise our cities, manufacture our goods, and build an economy that remains the engine and the envy of the world. Generations put their lives on the line to pursue prosperity, braving the hazards of the factory floor and the heat of the fields without protective equipment or the right to a safe workplace. Through the unbending conviction of workers, labor unions, and public health advocates, we secured that basic right over 40 years ago, helping protect Americans from death or injury. Yet, despite the progress we have made, it remains a deplorable fact that an average of 12 individuals die on the job every day. On Workers Memorial Day, we honor all who have perished, and we recommit to ensuring no worker ever has to choose between life and a paycheck.

Every year, more than 3 million Americans are injured on the job. Some will never fully recover; some will never come home at all. Tragically, many incidents occur due to preventable hazards that cast our Nation's most vulnerable workers into harm's way -- in the mine shaft, on the construction site, or at the factory. This is unacceptable, and as we reflect on the terrible burden these workers and their families have borne, we must do more to fulfill the promise of a safe workplace for all.

My Administration remains committed to realizing that vision. The Department of Labor and agencies across the Federal Government are striving to defend workers' rights, hold employers accountable, and empower Americans across our country with the tools they need to stay safe on the job. We are pursuing enhanced whistleblower protections that will reinforce every worker's right to raise their voice without fear of retaliation. Over 2 years after the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, we continue to advance and enforce new standards and programs that will help ensure that tragedy was the last of its kind. And, through a variety of public-private partnerships, we are collaborating with businesses, employees, trade associations, and labor organizations to eliminate workplace hazards and strengthen our competitiveness in the global economy.

When the Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, our Nation took great strides toward safe and healthful working conditions for all. Yet, when millions of Americans suffer workplace-related injury or illness every year, and thousands lose their lives, we know we cannot give up the fight.

Today, we reflect on their sacrifice, and we rededicate ourselves to protecting the health, safety, and dignity of every worker.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2012, as Workers Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

Oddly, I have seen nothing coming out of Scott Walker's office to commemorate the day. I thought he was all about protecting the workers. Or was that persecuting them?

It's My Vote, Not Walker's

Team Barrett, in one of their ten daily email blasts, included one about how Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Republican Governors Association will be spending a bundle of money on TV ads to support Scott Walker and to trash Tom Barrett.  They claim this is proof that they're afraid of Barrett.  It could be just that he's in the lead and he's the easiest target.

Well, for you and me, it would be a bundle.  For these two groups, it's about an hour's worth of profit.

Yeah, well, sad to say, negative ads are part of the silly season of politicking.

But the real kicker of the email came at the end:

"The truth is Walker would welcome the opportunity to square off against any of the Democratic candidates for governor except Tom Barrett," said Walzak.  "The fact that Walker and his political cronies are trying to snuff out Tom in the primary should send a powerful message to the thousands and thousands of grassroots activists across Wisconsin dedicated to ending Walker's ideological war on our Wisconsin values: if you want to beat Scott Walker on June 5th, vote Tom Barrett on May 8th."
I'm sorry, but Scott Walker doesn't tell me how to vote.  Nor do the unions. Nor anyone else, for that matter.

I am an independent thinker that can weigh out the pros and cons of each candidate, thank you very much.

Furthermore, I'd feel pretty safe in saying so is most of the grassroots activists who fought for so long and hard to take our state back for the corporate interests and those who would let them buy the state out for a song.

And if they are like me, they'll be voting for Falk, believing her to be the best candidate to not only beat Walker, but to fix the mess he's made of the state.  And if they think that Kathleen Vinehout, Doug LaFallotte or Tom Barrett is the best candidate, well, bless them.  That is one of the great things about this country.  We're all allowed to vote our conscience.  

Regardless of who wins on May 8th, I also feel pretty safe in saying that we will all rally behind that candidate, whomever she or he might be.

And on a side note, if having some ads saying something bad about someone makes them the best candidate,  well, then, I should be crowned the king.  After all, not only did I have squawkers and right wing media slandering me for days and weeks and months, but I had Walker's own henchmen, the utterly misnamed Citizens for a Responsible Government, file a false criminal complaint, using falsified "proof," because they needed a diversion from the beginnings of Walkergate.


Another ad from Wisconsin for Falk:

I can't wait to see what faux outrage I'll be seeing from this one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Feingold About Falk: "She'd be a great governor."

No, it's not an endorsement, per se, but it is a nice thing to know.

Paul Ryan's BIG Lie

I thought I would start out my writing here at Cognitive Dissidence, the same way that I did at Bloggingblue. Pointing out one of Paul Ryan(R-Wall St.) lies. Since I joined the grandaddy of them all, I thought I would address Paul Ryan's lie that is the Grandaddy of them all!!! The lie that Social Security is going broke!

 The 2012 Social Security Trustees Report, will be released soon.   The findings are simple: 

The most important take-away points from the 2012 Trustees Report will be that Social Security has a large and growing surplus; that without any Congressional action, Social Security will continue to pay benefits to America’s eligible working families for decades; and that with modest legislated increases in revenue, it will continue to pay those benefits for the next century and beyond.
There is even a simple fix, to the modest deficit that will arrive in 2033(it is not an immediate problem):

 Social Security’s projected long-range funding gap could be eliminated without cutting benefits, which are modest in size, yet crucial. Congress could eliminate Social Security’s entire projected shortfall, which amounts to around 0.8 percent of Gross Domestic Product (about the size of the Bush tax cuts going to the top two percent of the population), by raising the Social Security tax cap so that the 6 percent of workers who make more than $110,100 a year pay taxes on all of their wages, just like everyone else who makes less than that amount. This would guarantee full payment of Social Security benefits for the next 75 years and beyond. There are many other ways to address the projected shortfall without cutting benefits which are already very modest, averaging just $14,781 a year for retirees – less than is paid in a year of minimum wage work, yet vitally important. Two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for half or more of their incomes. The benefits are also vitally important to children and spouses of deceased workers, to workers who have sustained permanent and serious disabilities and to their families.
Another couple of take - aways from this report;

1. When Paul Ryan tells you that Social Security is going broke: HE IS LYING!

2. To make sure Social Security remains solvent, GIVE TO ROB ZERBAN!

Who Does Walker Want To Face In The Recall?

As the gentle reader is well aware, we here in Wisconsin have been to Hell and are trying to climb our way back up.

Scott Walker has, in fifteen months, undone a century and a half of proud tradition, vibrant success and and exalted status.  He's sold us out to his special interest/corporate/fascist supporters, destroyed our education system, attacked the rights of workers, of women, of children, of the elderly, of the disabled, of the poor and just about everyone but the privileged elite class, commonly referred to as the 1%.

But even the dark cloud of Walker's maleficent reign, there is a silver lining.  Four of them, in fact.

Those four silver linings are the four candidates that have stood up, shouted "Enough!" and have put themselves out there to run for the honor of being the state's champion and being the one to unseat the malicious and avaricious Walker:
  • Kathleen Falk: The former Dane County Executive led her county to unprecedented and unmatched success in job growth and prosperity, even in the height of the Great Recession.  
  • Kathleen Vinehout: One of the heroic Fab 14, the Wisconsin Democratic Senators who left friends and family behind in the beginning of the Republican onslaught in order to buy the people time to raise up as one and protest the evils being forced upon us, often illegally.
  • Doug LaFallotte: The Secretary of State who helped in our struggle against the unnecessary and the unwarranted Act 10, the bill aimed at busting the unions and the middle class.
  • Tom Barrett: The man who's serves as state legislator, U.S. Congressman and most recently, just overwhelmingly won his third term as Mayor of the City of Milwaukee.
Not only are we fortunate to have these four superstars standing up for Wisconsin, but we are fortunate that no matter who wins the primary in less than two weeks, we will all gather behind the winner and propel her or him to the governor's office and start the long arduous task of taking our state back completely and healing the wounds that Walker and his Republican cohorts in crime have done.

But who should be that champion is of contention, among both the left and the right.

On the left, each candidate has their base group of supporters, but many people have either remained neutral or have at least not revealed their intentions publicly.  There has been some disagreements on who is the best candidate, but these, for the most part, end with an agreement to disagree and a pledge to support whoever does win the primary.

For what it's worth, I've already publicly thrown my support for Kathleen Falk.

On Sunday, I saw this article come out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in which Walker opined on who would be the stronger candidate against him:
Walker said he believes Falk is the weaker candidate. 
Belling, who hosts an afternoon show on WISN-AM (1130), pressed Walker on Thursday to "come clean" and "be honest" as to why his campaign was running ads critical of Barrett but not Falk. Go here (starting at 30 minutes) to hear the full interview. 
"Do you acknowledge that, that Falk's the weaker opponent?" Belling asked. 
"Let me explain why I think she is," Walker said. "Because she has clearly staked herself out as being in the pocket of the public employee unions. That has not clearly been attached to Tom Barrett." 
Walker, who holds an edge over the two top Democrats in recent polling, accused the Milwaukee mayor has been "falling over himself" at union functions. But Walker focused his sharpest criticism at Falk and what he believes are his political problems. 
"I think her weakness was coming out early and acknowledging that she - and doing not just acknowledging -  that she signed a pledge saying she’d veto any budget that did not include a full repeal of our reforms," Walker said.
That took me aback.  What in the world would make Walker come out and say that he felt more vulnerable to Barrett than to Falk?  Was he, for one of the extremely rare times in his life, being completely candid and honest with the people?  After all, it is undeniable that Barrett holds a commanding lead over Falk in most of the polls when they are stacked against each other.  However, when they are individually stacked against Walker, they both do equally well.

In support of Walker's statements and the what the polls say, most of Walker's attacks, as well as the myriad of third party smear ads, have been against Barrett.  But I have noticed a definite uptick in the attacks on Falk.

All of this made me wonder if Walker wasn't using some psych ops and reverse psychology to get the Dems to put up a candidate he felt he could beat more easily.

I then started to ponder who Walker would want to face in the general election on June 5.

The obvious answer to that would be Gladys Huber, the clueless, retreaded fake Democrat that the Republicans are running because, you know, they're so very concerned about election integrity.

However, old Gladys isn't even worth the pixels I've already wasted on her. There is no way she will win.  Oh, sure, there will be some of those integrity-challenged Republicans that will cross over and vote for her, but she will be just another black mark of shame on the Republicans and nothing more.

At the risk of angering and alienating some of my friends here in Wisconsin, it's also a pretty save bet that neither Vinehout nor LaFollette will be the candidate.  They don't have the name power, the financial backing or the support that would make them strong contenders in such a short race.  If there was more time, Vinehout might have been able to make it more competitive.  But there isn't and so she won't.

That leaves Falk and Barrett.

Which would Walker really rather end up facing?

The best way to look at it is how do they stack up in regards to the issues and their vulnerabilities.

Kathleen Falk
Walker already said that he thinks Falk is more vulnerable because of her pledge to restore collective bargaining by making it a budget issue and threatening to veto any budget that does not contain this.  This admittedly has been a turn off to many people. I believe that is a reflection of how mamsy-pamsy the Democrats have become where assertively pushing for the restoration of these civil rights is considered "too extreme."  

But all one has to do is consider the fact that Falk has received the endorsements of not only all of the major unions, but also of women's rights groups, minority rights groups and environmentalists to see that she is very much more than a one-issue candidate.  And she is pushing that fact in her latest ad, which is why Walker has stepped up his attacks against her.

Barrett, despite his claims of being a friend of the unions, has not gained their support, with the exception of less than a handful of the smaller ones.  But that is far from his biggest problem.  Walker has already been hammering him on using the "tools" of Act 10, although to be honest, he had little choice, given the severe cuts in shared revenue that Walker imposed.  It's akin to blackmailers trying to frame a bank robbery on the guy on whom they placed a bomb collar which they could remotely detonate.  

But Barrett is also going to have to explain why he was trying to get the unions to give up these same rights even before Act 10 was made into law.  Likewise, he's going to have to be able to explain why he wrote to the state, asking them to take Act 10 even further than what it was.

Tom Barrett
Related to the labor issues is the jobs issues.  As noted above, Falk is able to point out that during the height of the Great Recession, she was able to lead Dane County to prosperity while Walker, who was county executive for Milwaukee County, was losing jobs even before the recession hit, due to his austerity measures.

During the 2010 elections, Walker was successfully able to pin Barrett with the results of Walker's own failings and Barrett was not very successful in fighting that line of attack.  If Barrett has found a way around that this time, I haven't seen it.  In fact, Walker is already trying to spin the numbers to again blame Barrett for his own shortcomings.

Regarding Walker's War on Women, Falk is also less vulnerable.  Falk has been a strong advocate for women's rights and has gained the endorsement of EMILY's List and Women's Campaign Fund.  Barrett on the other hand could be attacked by Walker based on his opposition to and defeat of mandatory paid sick leave, a law that was brought about by public support and a petition drive spearheaded by 9 to 5.

Unless these two campaigns, most notably Barrett's, figures out a way to respond to each of these vulnerabilities, they will have to hope solely on the people to be able to carry them on their disgust of the current status of this once great state.  And when faced against the well-moneyed machine of Walker, greased with the money of the Koch Brothers, the Bradley Foundation and other uber-conservative groups, we need a candidate that will be able to fight and just not get bowled over.

There is simply to much at stake to not have everything in place and every possibility planned for.  Simply running on name recognition or some empty platitudes will prove to be a gross underestimation of the opponent, and I don't us to go through this or something even worse, again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scott Walker and That Courage Claim

By Bert
The fact it is silly has not stopped Gov. Scott Walker from calling himself courageous for well past a year now. Here he is, to take one example, in a speech to the CPAC convention in February: “In times of crisis, what’s made this country great is the fact that there have been men and women of courage," Walker said.  Vainglorious, much?

A funny example, like he's Helen Keller or something, from is a post entitled “Courage: The Scott Walker Story”. Talking points in the vast right-wing echo chamber go on and on and on. So the google is full of this Walker and courage thing. But does repeating it make it so?

These claims of heroic valor – spin, really – rest mainly on the surprise attack Walker and his GOP allies sprung on teachers and other public employees, but even more so on the enormous push-back that it provoked, and which they did not expect. They screwed up in not seeing this coming, and now spinmeisters want to – jujitsu-style – make a blemish into a badge of honor.

The union-attacking actions taken by the state’s GOP led by Walker were not as remarkable as the extent of the open field the party members suddenly found themselves operating on. It was a historic political turn in the election of November 2010 that delivered a Republican governor and both houses of the legislature to Republicans. Walker could also feel emboldened by devoted allies in the state Supreme Court, and by eager collaborators in radio stations, “think tanks”, and web-sites.

They thought they had us right where they wanted us. And they had been waiting – pining really – for this chance.

The fact they were reckless – demanding passage three days after announcing a death sentence to viable unions, threatening National Guard deployments, exempting their allies in Milwaukee’s police and fire union – cannot be retroactively airbrushed into courage.

These doubts about Walker’s self-portrait of valor came back to me a couple of weeks ago as I was watching the movie “My Week With Marilyn”. It’s about that Marilyn, the platinum starlet who epitomizes seductive beauty for most men, and Monroe’s bond that she forms with a novice peon assistant on the set of a movie she made called The Prince and the Showman. The assistant, Colin, is a reserved but nonetheless red-blooded heterosexual man not yet 20. So in one scene during his week with Marilyn the two are alone in the countryside. She has been flirty all day. Then that moment happens when she takes off all her clothes and walks gloriously down into a pond’s water to swim. The young man does not hesitate an instant. He too strips and jumps in the water.

I mean, who wouldn’t? When presented with the highest apex of your desire, when not too long ago it was only a dream and seemingly unattainable, and then in a moment when all obstacles to living that dream are no where in sight, you can’t blame a guy for trying. But it was not a dignified act and not heroic either. Colin might be bold, in the way intense desires such as lust or vengeance or greed can propel rash actions. But he was closer to reckless than to courageous.

Wisconsin’s GOP, cynical hate-filled old hands joined by brand-new eager beavers, could not believe their luck when they arrived in 2010. What happened next was not brave nor heroic. They did what they thought they could get away with, all in order to give themselves what they always wanted.

We Can Do It! She Can Do It!

Swiped from le Facebook:

Wisconsin Rep Chris Taylor: I'm for Falk.

Not a high-tech, professionally-made video by any stretch of the imagination:

But the homemade quality of the video shows that Falk is the people's choice, and not the special interests that others have accused her of being.

Scott Walker's Billion Dollar Buffoonery

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, facing a historic recall in just six weeks, is getting pretty nervous, if one judges this by the size of his lies.

Walker came out on Monday and made a bold statement that he saved Wisconsin taxpayers $1 billion, mainly through his union busting Act 10. Even the pro-Walker news sources had a hard time with reporting that without jeopardizing the little bit of their remaining credibility (emphasis mine):
Gov. Scott Walker said Monday that his policies had saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion so far - savings largely achieved by the Republican governor and lawmakers repealing most public workers' union bargaining and effectively lowering their compensation.

Much of those savings - more than three-quarters of a billion dollars - could be verified, such as state and local workers picking up more of the tab for their health care and pension. But the figures also included a significant amount of savings for local governments that could not be verified.
As is the case of almost all of Walker's such grandiose claims, it started crumbling almost immediately.

For example, Walker claimed that property taxes dropped like a rock. Funny, my property tax went up by 4.5%. But I digress.

But there is something else funny about this claim. He is saying that the average property value dropped by 0.4%, which comes to about $11 savings for a median sized house. What he doesn't mention is that the average home fell about 2.2% in value for the purposes of property taxes. The translates to a $3,500 drop in value, which would be - wait for it - $11 in tax savings.

To make things even more dubious for Walker's claims, it's also been reported that an increase in lottery ticket sales accounted for another $4 drop in property taxes.

And if that wasn't enough, the Wisconsin property tax levy went up 2.2%.

Walker math makes fuzzy math look clear.

It should also be noted that Walker's budget did raise taxes on the poorest of the poor:
Last summer, the state Legislature reduced the amount of money low- income families can receive in tax credits by $56.2 million.

That places Wisconsin among only a handful of states that will effectively raise taxes on their poorest residents in 2012, according to a recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit think tank.

"At a time when low-wage workers are already struggling, this makes it that much more difficult (for them) to feed their families and pay their utility bills," said Jon Peacock with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, an advocacy group that opposed the changes
When the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau crunched the numbers for Walker's budget, they found that there was a small dip in taxes. But they also found there was a huge spike in fees:
In summary, the changes included in the Joint Finance Committee's budget would decrease net taxes by $23,572,000 ($5,135,000 in 2011-12 and -$28,707,000 in 2012-13) and would increase net fees by $111,340,800 ($37,248,900 in 2011-12 and $74,091,900 in 2012-13).
Another problem quickly sprung up for Walker's claim regarding any savings. The numbers he was using apparently were picked out of an rear-facing orifice and had nothing to do with reality:
Gov. Scott Walker and other Republican lawmakers announced Monday that their controversial budget bill curtailing most collective bargaining rights for public workers has thus far saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 billion — though their estimates appear somewhat inflated in Sheboygan County.

The $1 billion figure includes an estimated $1.3 million in savings in the City of Sheboygan, where city officials said the money saved under the budget bill was far less, totaling $420,000.

City Administrator Jim Amodeo said the governor's estimate assumes Sheboygan employees weren't previously paying any money toward their health insurance when in fact most were paying 8 to 10 percent.

"The savings wasn't everything the governor's office said it would be," Amodeo said.
Other parts of the state were also noticing that Walker's numbers weren't matching the ones they actually had to deal with in their budgets. The most telling aspect of Walker's ideological attack on the working people was clearly laid out by Onalaska Mayor Mike Giese:
Giese said, “Time will tell” whether doing away with most aspects of collective bargaining for union employees will save the city any money in the future. But Giese said the approach Walker has taken to dealing with public employees may end up costing taxpayers in unforeseen ways because experienced employees will leave for greener pastures.

“I feel very strongly that the cost associated with turnover in an organization is surprisingly high. Tenure in the job really does provide increased efficiency,” Giese said. “The pennies we gain aren’t going to offset the dollars we lose in lack of stability and tranquility within our workforce.”
Indeed, that was shown by a recent report from the state's Department of Public Instruction that shows just how severe a hit the school systems are taking:
The larger than usual cuts to school staff for the 2011-12 school year support projections from the Department of Workforce Development last fall. The majority of staff cuts, more than 60 percent, were among teachers.
• Statewide, 311 of 424 school districts, or 73 percent of districts, reported cutting teachers this year.
• Overall, public schools in Wisconsin are employing 1,446 fewer teachers this year than they did in the 2010-11 school year. This represents a 2.4 percent loss in full-time equivalent (FTE) teaching staff at a time when student enrollment is stable.
• The largest cuts statewide were to school librarians and career and technical education, special education, and reading teachers. For the current school year, there are 414 fewer elementary teachers in public schools, which is a staffing cut of about 2 percent statewide.
An even greater blow to Walker's claims of prosperity came out on Tuesday, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Wisconsin suffered the greatest percentage loss of jobs over the last year, most of which came from the public sector:
Wisconsin saw the largest percentage decrease in employment in the nation during the 12 months ending in March, a new report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
During that time period, while 27 states and the District of Columbia saw significant job increases, only Wisconsin saw "statistically significant" job losses, the report said.

From March 2011 to March 2012, the state lost 23,900 jobs, for the country's largest percentage decrease, at 0.9 percent.

Of the 23,900 jobs lost in Wisconsin in that period, 17,900 were from the public sector and 6,000 were from the private sector, according to the BLS.

Wisconsin also had the third-worst employment losses for March compared to the previous month, with 4,500 fewer jobs than it had in February, the report said. Only Ohio and New Jersey were worse, with 9,500 and 8,600 fewer jobs, respectively.
Laughably, Walker tried to focus on the fact that there was a decrease in unemployment. But economists have already pointed out that this only shows that a great number of unemployed Wisconsinites have just simply given up looking for work.

Also supporting Griese's statement is the fact that the state's corrections system is so dangerously understaffed that they've had to ask the state legislature to authorize another $1.2 million dollars just to cover the overtime overruns.

Now, I realize that all of these facts and figures might not persuade die-hard Walker backers that his claim of saving a billion dollars from the union busting is that much baloney.

But perhaps, just maybe, if someone they know and love and respect says that the union busting saves the state no money, then they might believe it. So, as the last bit of irrefutable proof, I present the one person who should know better than anyone that Walker's claims are that much poppycock, testify to that fact, under oath, before a congressional panel one year ago:

In case you missed it, the key part of the transcript can be found here, including the offer of evidence that Act 10 was a non-fiscal bill and thus had no impact on the budget.

You know the infamous quote by Joseph Goebbels that goes: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Well, I think Walker just proved that there are limits to even that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Only One

The new ad from Kathleen Falk, the people's candidate:

Very good ad. I'm glad that she is showing that she has the support of not just the unions, but also the environmentalists and women's advocacy groups. That is what sets her apart - her widespread appeal, and not just to the political class.

Walker Establishes Cronyism Program


Even though Walker is claiming the state is broke and doesn't have enough money to fund things like education, women's health programs or services for sexual assault victims, he's found enough money to hand out more than three quarters of million dollars to "select" employees.  Or to be more accurate, cronies, just like Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen did.

Don't let them kid you. Merit has nothing to do with these raises. It's all about if the workers have been good little toadies.

Bruce Murphy, recently of Milwaukee Magazine, had warned of this:

Meanwhile the Walker administration has announced it will begin a system of merit pay for exceptional employees. The idea, ostensibly, is to make government work like the private sector. But private companies are driven by the profit margin and reward employees who contribute the most to that profitability. 
Not so in the public sector. Government leaders are inevitably tempted to reward political loyalty. And all the changes occurring under Walker are leading in that direction. Unions have lost all ability to represent workers. There will still be civil service protection for those threatened with firing, but it’s difficult to see how civil service rules will prevent cronyism in the awarding of merit raises. And that sends a message to all workers: Be loyal or you’ll never get ahead.
But we already knew that over a year ago, just a month after Walker was sworn in, that Madison had become the Crony Capitol of the World.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Walkergate: What's In Whose Wallet?

Two months ago, I questioned how Tim Russell was paying for not just one, but two, high caliber attorneys, Michael Maistelman and Andrew Franklin.  I noted that at the time, Russell allowed his house to be foreclosed on, which was an indication to me that he was having some serious money troubles.  (Which is, unfortunately, something that most of Fitzwalkerstan can relate to after nearly sixteen months of Walker's malicious rule.)

Two weeks later, almost as if I had jinxed them, Russell lost one of his attorneys, Franklin.  Franklin was quickly replaced by Attorney John A. Birdsall.

However, Birdsall didn't last long either, and was gone within a month's time.  Again, per the article, I sensed there was some money concerns between Russell, Maistelman and Franklin..

Now, Russell is on his third criminal defense attorney, David Krueger.  I'm thinking things will go more smoothly, at least as far as representation goes, since Krueger works with Maistelman and is also a conservative.  This will make billing easier since there is only one firm to contend with and Russell should have a higher trust level with a fellow conservative.

So why do I bring all this up now?

Well, due to an open records request from, they just unsealed the transcripts from the hearing in which Attorney Franklin moved to withdraw from the case.  And once you go through the 55 pages (pdf) of transcript, and move past the hemming and the hawing, you realize that it was indeed, for the most part, a money issue.  That, and two law firms fighting over the same bone.

Russell was/is in arrears for thousands of dollars to Maistelman. When Franklin got a hefty retainer fee, Maistelman wanted part of it to help defray his costs.  And that's where the problems started to boil over.

There are, however, some very interesting points from the transcripts that need to be highlighted.

At the bottom of page 15, ADA Bruce Landgraf, the lead prosecutor for Russell's case, makes mention of a possible plea bargain.  Maybe John Doe will be voting in the recall after all.

The next really curious point comes on page 22 (emphasis mine):
ATTORNEY FRANKLIN: February 3rd, I received a $2,000 retainer from someone on behalf of my client.  The second that -- Now, the second I reported back to Attorney Maistelman that I received that, he e-mailed me saying that he wanted a thousand dollars out of it for prior work that had been done.  Something that we had never discussed. I-emailed him and said basically what the heck are you talking about.
Throughout the transcripts, it never says who that generous "someone" is.  I don't think it was Russell, since he was apparently having money problems already. It could be from an innocuous source, like a friend or family member trying to help Russell out.

 But then again, could it have been Walker?  Could it have been one of Walker's benefactors, like the Bradley Foundation, the Koch Brothers or one of the myriad of front groups?  After all, Walker did set up the legal cooperation fund that would cover not only his own hide, but also those of his agents.

Sadly, unless the unidentified benefactor comes forward, we will never know, but it should sure as hell be raising red alarms for anyone.  How far will Walker and his supporters go to cover up the crimes committed?  Was there anything else promised to Russell if he doesn't turn state's witness?

And now for the big news.

I have learned from a source familiar with Walkergate that Walker is offering assistance to Kelly Rindfleisch.

She is reportedly working for one of Walker's vendors, a communications/consultancy firm, although I have not determined the exact name.  I will let you know once I have it confirmed.

The word also is that Keith Gilkes, Walker's campaign manager, is helping her raise funds for her defense, which, like Russell's, must be reaching a considerable total by now.

Wouldn't it be something if it turns out that Walker is using his legal cooperation fund to help Rindfleisch?  He would be declaring her his agent, which would only confirm that she was campaigning on county time.  And yes, I do seriously believe that Walker and his team are dumb enough and arrogant enough to do this and not think twice about it.

Something tells me that Walker and his crew isn't doing this just to help a friend out in need.  I would say it would be rather safe to presume that Team Walker, both the over and the covert campaign teams, are scared to death.  However, in my layman's analysis and ten years of knowing Walker, they are mostly just postponing the inevitable.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part CIV

More signs of Walker's budget continued effect:

Sells Printing Company submitted a WARN notice Friday showing it plans to permanently cease operations on December 31. 
Sells, located at 16000 W. Rogers Drive in New Berlin, has planned a mass layoff from June 22 to December 31. About 67 employees will be affected.  On June 22, 55 employees will be permanently laid off, followed by three more layoff dates through the end of the year.

Walker is claiming to have saved tax payers a billion dollars.  He just might be telling the truth. With everyone losing their jobs, they don't pay income tax.  And without jobs, they lose their houses and then don't pay property tax.

The Letter

Kathleen Falk, along with Representatives Christine Sinicki and Chris Taylor, sent the following letter to Scott Walker:
Governor Scott Walker
State Capitol, 115 East
Madison, Wisconsin 53708

Dear Governor Walker:

We are writing today to request a written answer to a simple question on the minds of women and men across Wisconsin: Why did you sign Senate Bill 202 to repeal the 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, and in doing so remove state legal recourse for women who are victims of pay discrimination?

Our request is necessary because the answer you have provided to the people of Wisconsin does not appear to be honest when compared to the facts.

Most importantly, our request is necessary because women are being paid less than men in Wisconsin for doing the same job, and it’s wrong.

When asked by a Green Bay television station on April 17, you offered the following rationale for repealing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act: “In the past, lawyers could clog up the legal system.”

Since the Equal Pay Enforcement Act was signed into law in 2009, we reasonably assume you are claiming there has been an exponential rise in state lawsuits regarding pay discrimination claims filed by women in Wisconsin.

Contrary to your claim, you have provided no evidence that in the two‐year period since passage of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act that pay discrimination lawsuits are “clogging” the legal system.

In fact, you have not provided even one example of a suit being filed in that time period. Not a single
Sadly, this evidence suggests you were intentionally trying to deceive the people of Wisconsin.

Or you have a different reason for pursuing this attack on the rights of Wisconsin’s more than 2.8 million women.

We ask for a prompt, written response as the issue of equal pay for women in the workplace could not be more important.

The women and the men of Wisconsin are waiting.

Sincerely yours,

Kathleen Falk
Rep. Christine Sinicki
Rep. Chris Taylor
There has still been no reply from Walker.

Walkergate: Will John Doe Be Voting In The Recall Election?

With the election for the recall of Scott Walker, Becky Kleefisch and four Republican senators just a scant six weeks away, people are keeping a much closer eye on the ongoing investigations and trials stemming from Walkergate.

While it's pretty safe to presume that more shoes will be dropping from the investigation, there's no reliable way to forecast when and from where these shoes might drop.  The scandal itself has so many branches - from pay to play to illegal campaigning to illegal campaign donations - and so many players, that only Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm knows.  And despite the efforts of the right to besmirch him, the fact is Chisholm's not talking.

That leaves us with the five ongoing Walkergate trials to see if something might come from them.  And out of the five, two of them are only really worth a passing mention in regards to having any significant impact on the recall elections.  Another case has great potential, but probably won't impact the election.  The last two are really worth watching.

One would think that Brian Pierick, who was charged with child enticement as a tangent to the Walkergate investigation, would make a delightful tool against Walker.  But Pierick doesn't really have a direct tie to Walker like the other defendants do.  Furthermore, his next hearing isn't until after the election, so his case won't have any real impact.

The other case that will have minimal impact is that of Kevin Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has been charged with embezzling from a fund meant for veterans and their families.  However, outside of Walker's questionable decision to appoint Kavanaugh to the veterans affairs board even though he had doubts about Kavanaugh, there isn't a very strong link to Walker.

The charges against Kelly Rindfleisch hold great potential to harm Walker.  She has been accused of working for the campaigns for Walker as well as the person he wanted to be his lieutenant governor, Brett Davis, while working for Walker when he was county executive for Milwaukee County.  Judging by her own words, that amount of campaign work, which included fund raising, was quite excessive, adding up to thousands of hours.  The damage to Walker will only be worsened by the fact that he is the sole person responsible for her hiring and her promotion to his inner office at the county executive's suite.

However, despite the potential this case has, it is doubtful any of it will be seen before the elections.  Rindfleisch's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, has been pushing for a change of venue, saying that the case should be heard in Columbia County*, which he claims is where she lives.  (Keep in mind that she signed papers stating that she would be a Milwaukee resident and was staying at the home of another Walker crony, Jim Villa.)  Gimbel's motion had been denied and he has since filed an appeal.

Because of the appeal, as well as the fact that the regular court date isn't until after the elections, it is doubtful  that this case would have much impact.  The only chance is if Gimbel files something unusual with his defense motions on May 18.

Tim Russell's case also should prove to be very damaging to Walker.  Russell was not only one of Walker's top lieutenants, they've been very close friends for decades.  While Russell has been charged with only embezzlement from the veteran's fund, he is named in each of the other criminal petitions.  Russell had his fingers in all of the operations of Walker's caucus scandal-type of illegal campaigning, from overseeing the online campaigning and fund raising to helping campaign while Walker took his Harley ride all over the state.

A lot of people expressed concern when Russell's newest attorney (his third in the past four months), filed motions to dismiss the charges.  They questioned whether it was a stalling tactic.  In response, I noted that defense motions were due on April 16, so these motions were basically in response to that deadline. I consulted with Tom Foley, one of the best legal analysts I know, and he confirmed that it was pretty much a standard motion, containing challenges to the sufficiency of the complaint and arguments over the definitions and whether Russell's behaviors rise to the level of those definitions.

By happenstance, Russell's final pretrial hearing is June 4, the day before the recall election. This could be significant since the DA's office has been presumably putting pressure on Russell to enter some sort of plea bargain and turn witness against Walker and others that have been involved with the Walkergate scandal.  This could lead to new charges being issued and new information being made available if he should decide to stand with Walker.  And if he would turn state witness, he would be a treasure trove of information.  But the timing would be key as to whether it would have any significant impact on the election.

Which leaves us with the case of Darlene Wink.  She, like Rindfleisch, was charged with illegal campaigning.  However, unlike the others so far, she has already pled guilty as part of a plea bargain.  As part of the bargain, she agreed to be a witness against the other people and to aid in the investigation, including talking about the destruction of digital evidence.  Shortly after this bargain was offered to her, the DA found a mystery dumpster full of papers, which very well might be files that went missing went Walker left Milwaukee County to become governor.

The sentencing hearing for Wink is scheduled for May 15.  If she hasn't been forthcoming enough with the investigators, the hearing could be delayed.  Again, it might be interesting to see what comes of what she shared with the investigators and if the investigators make this information public in a timely fashion with regards to the elections.

So, will John Doe have a say in the upcoming recall election? It's hard to say.  It depends on the course of the Walkergate investigation and related trials.  But if a shoe or several shoes do drop in the next six weeks, I have a feeling their going to be mighty big ones.

The one thing I can say with confidence is that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is not paying attention to the timing of the elections.  He'll bring matters forward when his case his strong enough for his satisfaction and not a minute sooner.

Unfortunately, the Walker's malfeasance has given us enough reasons to recall him without needing his corruption on top of the heap.

*For those that are unaware, Wisconsin has a most peculiar law that allows public officials charged with misconduct in office or campaign violations to have their trials in their home counties as opposed to the county in which the alleged crimes occurred.  They passed this to allow them to get a more friendly jury instead of one that would go strictly by the law.