Just wanted to let everyone know that I’ve moved the blog to Posterous from WordPress. I’ll leave the existing content here at the WordPress site, but all new posts will be made at the following URL. I hope to see you at the new blog!
So today Judge Sumi reminded the Walker administration and Attorney General Van Hollen that her original temporary restraining order from last week was still in effect and that no further action of ANY kind to enact Walker’s “Budget Repair Bill” was allowed in reference to the Walker administration’s bullying of the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish the bill. Her exact quote was:
“Now that I’ve made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin.”
You can read more about today’s activities in the Wisconsin State Journal’s article titled “Judge bars further implementation of collective bargaining law, threatens sanctions”.
Now, the right wing is all upset about this (naturally) and are accusing the Judge Sumi of bias and saying that she should recuse her self because of past dealings with unions. If you can stomach the vitriol you can read about it with what Andrew Breitbart is serving up at his Big Government Web site. I’d like to remind these right wingers of a couple of points here:
- The current case that Judge Sumi is presiding over actually has NOTHING TO DO WITH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING NOR UNIONS. How can that be you ask? Well it’s because it’s the lawsuit filled by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne about the violation of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws. The actual topic of whatever was voted on in the offending Legislative session is irrelevant. Judge Sumi has no conflict of interest with Open Meetings Laws, so she’s free to rule on this.
- Judge Sumi actually has donated small amounts of money to both Republicans and Democrats. Also, she was appointed to the court by Republican Tommy Thompson. Click here for more details.
Besides, if you want to argue about judges and recusing themselves one needs look no further than US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his Republican activist wife Virginia Thomas who up until November 2010 worked for the Tea Party group called Liberty Central. Or one could look at how Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has said he doesn’t recuse himself either, even though he was the former Republican leader in the Wisconsin Legislature. Click here for more details.
So in the last 3 weeks we’ve seen Walker in the Republicans do the following:
- Suddenly announce a vote on the “budget repair bill” minus all “fiscal” items so they didn’t need a quorum and pass it in a special joint committee of the Legislature, then the Senate, and then the Assembly. [3/10/2011 – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article] The only two problems are:
- The Republicans violated Wisconsin’s open meetings laws.
- The State is now changing what employees are paid (to enact savings as they like to say). Seems kinda fiscally to me.
- Out of the blue “publish” the bill after a judge enacts a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the State Government from publishing / enacting the bill as law. [3/26/2011 – Wisconsin State Journal Article]
- Start telling everyone that the bill is law. [3/26/2011 – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Article]
- The DOA starts implementing the bill as law. [3/28/2011 – Wisconsin State Journal Article]
I guess the old saying about being “in for a penny, in for a pound” is true. But seriously, if they’re so confident that this is what’s so good for people and what the people want why do they have to keep thumbing their noses at the law, rushing things through, and operating under the cover of darkness. The only thing I can think of is that Walker and the Republicans know their goose is cooked and the only way to get what they want is to keep playing hardball.
Regardless, things should really start getting interesting as Judge Sumi is scheduled to resume hearings on the restraining order tomorrow morning in Madison. At that time we’ll get an idea about what she thinks about the restraining order that she issued being violated (assuming she thinks it was).
So what a week it’s been here in Wisconsin watching Walker and his goons operate. On Tuesday, March 1st, Walker gives his my way or the highway budget address which is then followed by any and every little petty thing that he and the GOP can do to try to stop the protests and force the Wisconsin 14 back to Madison where the GOP will ram the bill as is through. Either the GOP is really spooked, which they should be as poll after poll shows that the public sides with the unions, or they really are a bunch of petty little brats who will only do things their way otherwise they’ll take their ball home. Anyway, the details…
Full Budget Proposal
- Major cuts to local municipalities and schools with restrictions that local governments can’t raise taxes to offset cuts
- Massive cuts to UW System and Technical Colleges
- End statewide recycling
- More money for roads (and road building firms – massive campaign contributors)
- Decrease Capitol Gains taxes
- Forced sales of dogs to medical research [Link]
Walker / GOP Response
Wisconsin Capitol Now Closed To Visitors (2/28/2011)
So it’s generally been a pretty good couple of days all things considered. There was the big rally at the Capitol Square on Saturday the 26th that drew between 70,000 – 100,000 people. Of these people in attendance there were very few Walker / Tea Party supporters…. and when I say very few I mean like less than 50 people in total. Not too shabby. Walker went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning where he regurgitated the same old garbage that he’s been saying for weeks now. David Gregory actually held his feet to the fire a bit (of course not the level I’d prefer, but you can’t have everything) which you could tell was irritating Walker. I think his generally insecurity as a person came out a bit when he started to have to answer a few “big boy” questions. Also on Sunday the government tried to remove the protesters from the Capitol, ostensibly for cleaning purposes, at 4 PM. There was an announcement made earlier in the day that this would happen and at 4 PM the police started asking people to leave. Some did leave, but others were determined not to and didn’t. The interesting thing though was that the police did not step in, start arresting people, and hauling them out. As always it appears the police know what side they’re truly on and are really cool with the protesters (as they are protesters themselves!). Finally a new New York Times / CBS News poll was released today showed that nationwide the US public “oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent.” This is an increase in percentage points for opposing weakening rights of previous polls from the past couple of weeks. The poll also suggested that Americans would rather increase taxes that decrease services. Interesting.
Which brings me to my pessimistic blog post title. Walker is due to release his FY2011-2013 budget tomorrow (3/1/2011) at a press conference. No one was expecting it to be very pleasant to begin with, but based on the fact that it’s one of the last major weapons in his arsenal that he has complete control over and with the heat he’s been taking I’m expecting him to be more brutal and vindictive with it. The reasons for this belief are that he acts like a spoiled brat (not bratwurst mind you, but the ornery child type) to begin with and we all know how those types like to lash out when they’re not getting their way. Another reason for this is to possible try to prove that his two threats last week to start laying workers off weren’t just paper tigers. In case I haven’t mentioned it he first threatened to layoff 1500 people if the Wisconsin 14 didn’t come back and pass his debt restructuring scheme by last Friday and then warned that he’d “have to” layoff 5000-6000 people if his plans weren’t passed by Tuesday (tomorrow). We’ll see what happens there as there was a new article put out today that details his debt restructuring scheme as nothing more than borrowing money on a 10 year loan which will actually cost the Wisconsin taxpayer $14 Million the first 2 years. If he succeeds in this plan he’ll be joining the ranks of all the other governors that he constantly scolds for “kicking the can down the road” and not “dealing with the problem today.” Hypocrite. We’ll also see where he gives his budget press release from as even though they failed to clear the Capitol building last night, they are slowly but quietly trying to get everyone out as they’re not allowing anyone into the building any more. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has a great blog post on it today.
All that said I have to leave this post with one final thought. I stumbled across the following story today which sums up the whole state of the US economy and Tea Party politics:
“A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, ‘Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie.’ “
So everyone’s good friends at the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank in Washington DC, published a post today commending Scott Walker and comparing him to “great” (and I use that term loosely) Republican governors before him such as Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan. The author, an intern with the Heritage Foundation, waxes nostalgically at how Coolidge handled the Boston Police Strike in 1919 and Reagan handle the air traffic controllers strike in 1981 by firing them all. What the author, Brittany Baldwin, fails to remember are a couple of key things. The Boston Police ended their strike at the urging of AFL because the country was in the middle of a Red Scare after World War 1 as well as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and people were associating the strike with a Bolshevik inspired insurrection and “agents of Lenin.” The other thing that she fails to remember is that within months of Reagan firing the air traffic controllers he ended up rehiring the vast majority of them so in effect it was just a publicity stunt.
The other thing that I find interesting about comparing Walker to Coolidge and Reagan is that both of them failed miserably during their Presidencies at the one thing conservatives are supposed to love above all other things… the economy. Coolidge was President in the 1920s and an advocate of laissez-faire government. This philosophy worked ok for a few years but then ended kinda badly with the whole Great Depression thing and US Stock Market collapse. Reagan and his economic policy, famously called “voodoo economics” by his Vice President George H.W. Bush, didn’t really do much other than expedite a faster redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans and in large part is responsible for the massive federal debt the US has because while he cut taxes he couldn’t stop spending money on national defense and the military industrial complex. Oh yeah, Reagan’s economic plan also ended with a major recession that started a little bit into George H.W. Bush’s term as President and ultimately help elect Bill Clinton in 1992.
Since we know that Walker hearts Reagan, thanks to his phone call with billionaire (Fake) David Koch the other day, I only hope Wisconsin can get rid of him before he ruins Wisconsin’s economy like Reagan because the State really needs to be open for business now and can’t afford the time to clean up first.
What is it with these Republicans currently in charge in Wisconsin? From Walker to the Fitzgerald boys none of them make any sense. They say their primary goal is to fix the budget and that they need $3.6 billion in concessions from the public sector to do that. They say that State workers need to pay more for health care and pension costs. Ok, fine. The unions agreed to all of these financial demands on Friday, February 18th. Now Walker and the GOP say that’s not enough and that the only way to solve the budget problem is to give the municipalities the tools that they need by ending collective bargaining ability of employees. According to the Republicans somehow the collective bargaining ability of employees keeps the local municipalities from being able to solve their budget problems. Huh? If local governments know how much they can spend and how much they need to save why on Earth would they agree to a contract with anybody that was more than what they could pay for? Agreements by definition are between 2 different parties. Nobody is forcing the local governments to sign deals that they can’t pay for. Besides as what’s been repeatedly demonstrated by the employees and people protesting these last 2 weeks is that they ARE willing to and HAVE concede(d) all the money the State and the local governments need to balance their budgets. That sounds like a problem solved to me. The thing that I haven’t even mentioned yet is that a large group of local government leaders from around the State of Wisconsin have just sent a letter to Walker saying that THEY DON’T WANT collective bargaining rights of employees eliminated (Click here for letter). In fact they say that in fact the elimination of these rights causes more problems than it solves. Finally, if ending collective bargaining rights of public employees is the end all solution for solving budget problems why is it that Texas has one of the largest budget problems in the whole country (up to 20% of the state’s GDP) (Click here for article)? Why do I mention Texas you ask? Well because it’s been run by a Republican governor for about 10 years now, is highly deregulated, and is one of the most anti-union states in the entire country. The public employees their can’t even negotiate for salary. So if busting the unions is the answer to budget problems why hasn’t it not just worked in Texas, but why isn’t Texas the poster child for financial security?