One Wisconsin Now Blog

May 2010 Archives

For a group just so-darned-concerned about wasteful government spending, Citizens for Responsible Government sure is excited about spending taxpayer dollars chasing down Scott Walker's political nemeses.

CRG filed a frivolous complaint against progressive blogger Chris Liebenthal, aka capper, for supposedly posting during work hours. A quick google search and a cursory review of capper's posts in question show that the posts were clearly 1.) on a Walker-imposed unpaid furlough day, or 2.) on a specifically enumerated vacation day.

This is nothing other than a thinly-veiled attempt to silence the critics of CRG hero Scott Walker. When Walker's constituent services coordinator got busted for (and admitted to) posting pro-Walker propaganda on the Journal Sentinel and other websites on taxpayer time, CRG was nowhere to be found. Where was the breathless CRG press release demanding an investigation? Where was the CRG complaint against such a blatant waste of taxpayer resources? Crickets.



Of course, this is just one more in a growing list of manufactured, selective outrage episodes from CRG that have absolutely no merit. CRG's 'Recall Doyle' stunt from last year was over before it ever started, yet there was the Journal Sentinel, dutifully reporting CRG's press release. The total effort behind the recall of Senator Jim Sullivan is apparently one press release. Last year, Haas414 pointed out another couple of local officials, Cudahy  Mayor Ryan McCue and Muskego Alderman Noad Fiedler, who found themselves in the crosshairs of CRG's wildly-misfiring Recall-O-Matic.

The latest vendetta against Liebenthal from CRG is even worse than their pathetic, sputtering recall efforts because it's now taxpayer-financed.

When is it going to be time for the media to ignore these baseless stunts? CRG's record of getting it wrong is matched only by he-who-always-gets-it-wrong Bill Kristol. 

Ron Johnson: fat cat Tea Party host

Tea Party attendees likes to think Tea Parties are part of some "grassroots" populist movement of informed Americans. But in fact, they're neither grassroots nor populist.. and Tea Partiers sure as heck ain't informed. Ron Johnson, fat cat CEO, should know; he hosted one.

Sure, Tea Party attendees are mostly middle-class and overwhelmingly white folks. But the fear, anger, and resentment they have for all that taxes and spendin' and buiggubmint "trickle down" from the fat cat CEOs, big business interests, and Republican operatives hosting the Tea Party gatherings.

Look no further than the great state of Wisconsin. Here we have Republican Party operative Mark Block of Americans for Prosperity pulling most of the Tea strings. He shows up at every major Tea Party, directing people to his website, touting Republican Scott Walker as a Tea Party conservative, despite Republican Mark Neumann being decidely more visible in the movement.

But big business Block isn't the only Tea Party organizer 'round these parts. Fat cat CEO Ron "Who?" Johnson is a Fox Valley Tea Party activist and organizer. As a fat cat CEO, he embodies exactly who stands to gain from the policies and ideology pushed at Tea Parties. And there ain't a single person showing up to a Republican operative- and/or CEO-organized Tea Party that will gain anything from MORE tax cuts for the rich and MORE corporate tax loopholes.

For more on the people pulling the Republican/Tea Party strings, see the Shepherd Express expose, "Who's Hosting the Tea Party?".

1,200 petitions to save our schools!

Thanks to everyone who spoke out for Wisconsin's schools and signed our petition in support of the Keep Our Educators Working Act. Today, we delivered over 1,200 petitions to Senators Feingold and Kohl.

Thousands of Wisconsin teachers are facing layoffs, and students from all across the state could be forced into larger classes with less personal attention, fewer course choices and even cuts to instruction time.

The Keep Our Educators Working Act will provide desperately needed money to Wisconsin school districts, save or create over 6,100 jobs in Wisconsin and ensure our public schools, one of the most important factors in a sustained economic recovery, remain strong and able to provide a top-notch education for our kids.


Thanks again to all of you who spoke out on this important issue!

RoJo Seeks MoJo by Paying Liberal Blog?

Ron Johnson hears voices. They speak to him through the tee vee, as he explained about his entrance into the U.S. Senate GOP primary. Johnson determined "prostitute toe-sucker" Dick Morris was talking to him through the Fox News airwaves, so he's got his campaign-sized tea bag and he's hitting the trail.

And how's he spending that personal campaign fortune to win a primary in which the level of discourse will likely be which candidate would be more personally insulting to the President if Obama came to Wisconsin?

He's buying ad space on one the country's top liberal blogs. It's true. Check out this screen shot captured Monday of Johnson's ad on the notoriously-accurate, and thus "librul, socialist hooey," site Talking Points Memo.


And if that's not alarming enough, check out that screen shot with added graphics and a sarcastic speech balloon.


In the current substance-free GOP senate primary, it will be funny to see whether the teabaggers, pack up their teabags for their teabag champion Ron Johnson and teabag their way to whatever candidate is left after the purging of any moderate whoever once resided in the Party of No.

The AP is reporting that Madison business magnate and U.S. historian Terrence Wall is stepping out of the spotlight,  citing a slow start "after reports that he had not owed any income tax for nine of the past 10 years." But wait, there's more! Here's a recap of Wall's record.

Wall paid no net income taxes in nine of the last ten years
The tax documents obtained from the state by the Wisconsin State Journal independently confirm records released last week by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now. The documents indicate Wall, a prominent local real estate developer, paid no net taxes from 1999 to 2008, except in 2005. [Wisconsin State Journal]

Wall's Business: $25-50 Million in Assets Ten-Year State Income Tax Bill: $0
The "T Wall Properties Master Limited Partnership" business listed on Madison developer Terrence Wall's Senate candidate financial disclosure report has paid no net state income taxes in the last 10 years. [One Wisconsin Now]

Wall's 'Pumpkin Patch' Looks Like a $34,000 Tax Loophole
Wall Land Investment, LLC, one of multi-millionaire Madison developer Terrence Wall's companies, has reclassified $2 million in prime Dane County commercial real estate into "agriculture" property, which allows the company to eliminate $34,000 in local property taxes. [One Wisconsin Now]

Wall Blames Great Depression on FDR
Wall claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the Great Depression, despite Roosevelt taking office over three years after the Depression began and enacting policies which lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent by 1937, saving the U.S. from economic collapse. [One Wisconsin Now]

Did Wall Create Delaware 'Office' to Avoid State Tax Responsibility?
Critics are already questioning Wall for registering much of his business activity in Delaware... "There is no evidence that Mr. Wall actually builds anything in Delaware... "It would appear his only Delaware construction project was building a shelter to dodge his obligation to Wisconsin taxpayers." [Capital Times]

More fun/upsetting stories here.

And, for funsies, my favorite Terrence Wall nicknames:
T. Dubya and Terrence Wall Street... any others?
After eight years as head of Milwaukee County government, Scott Walker is both very proud of the job he has done and is so dissatisfied with job he has done that he wants to abolish everything he runs.

Exhibit A:
Eight years ago, the naysayers said we couldn't take back our government here in Milwaukee County. They said there was no way a fiscal conservative could be elected in Milwaukee. They said it couldn't be done but we did it; not once, not twice but three times.
[Scott Walker Convention Speech]

Exhibit B:
Scott Walker, the county executive of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin -- who has, improbably enough, suggested the possibility of eliminating county government -- concurs. "It's reached the point where the public is already there," said Mr. Walker.
[New York Times]

As One Wisconsin Now said last week in our comprehensive debunking of a Walker ad, refering to Walker's earlier call for dissolving his own government: "Just last summer Scott Walker was repeating his call to abolish county government because he had made it so dysfunctional... Now on the campaign trail he's trying to paint a rosy picture of all the great things he failed to accomplish." [One Wisconsin Now]

Stuart Carlson on the 'Brown Movement'

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's record of fiscal mismanagement is well-known. From drastically underfunding critical public services like the County Mental Health Center, public transit and the social services call center, Walker's record of damage is unprecedented.

One Wisconsin Now asked Stuart Carlson, the award-winning editorial cartoonist whose sought-after work has appeared in newspapers across the country, for his thoughts.

Walker is endorsing an irresponsible tax cut plan that would hand over the lion's share of $2 billion a biennium to the rich and big businesses. Walker refuses to say how he'll pay for these Bush-style tax cuts.

Despite the grave budget projection, Walker has repeated four specific budget-busting schemes as the cornerstone of his agenda for Wisconsin:

• Slash income taxes for the top one percent of income earners who make more than $225,000 a year - two-year budget cost: $287 million.

• Reopen the "Las Vegas Loophole" which allows Wisconsin businesses to shelter their tax obligations to Wisconsin families through phantom "offices" in states without corporate income tax - two-year budget cost: $375 million.

• Repeal changes made to the capital gains tax deduction, despite the fact 70 percent of capital gains filings are from those earning more than $200,000 a year - two-year budget cost: $243 million.

• Shelter the assets of the wealthiest Wisconsinites even more by a radical end to tax paid on retirement income, regardless of income - two-year budget cost: $920 million.
[Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2/23/09, 7/8/09, 1/25/10; "Upfront," WISN-TV, 11/8/09; La Crosse Tribune, 11/24/09]

Walker refuses to tell us how he will pay for these tax cuts which would require drastic cuts to education, health care and police and fire protection - and that's nothing to laugh about.

You can learn a lot from a campaign ad.

 Early in May, I discovered one of Wisconsin's most promising underground hip hop talents, and he's running to be Governor, too! This guy's gonna be a star!

 Last week I learned just how kick-a$$ you have to be to run for Ag Commissioner in Alabama.

And this week, I learned Scott Walker really deserves the nickname Slippery Scott.

His latest ad, 'Results,' has Walker deftly dancing through a minefield of half-truths, distortion of the facts and outright lies about his record with that same aw-shucks, George Bush-but-from-Wisconsin demeanor we've come to expect.

The ad is supposed to highlight all the great things Walker has done for Milwaukee County, but about the only facts he gets right in the ad are that his first name is indeed Scott, his last name is Walker and he's currently the Milwaukee County Executive. Beyond that, well...we did the hard work and fact checked Walker's claims in the ad, and here are just the most glaring distortions.




Walker Claim #1:  "In 2002, a pension scandal rocked Milwaukee County. The guy who had the job before me tried to grab millions for himself and friends. We had enough. We took back our government."

OWN Fact Check: In 2007, Walker acknowledged his failure to fix the pension problem when it was revealed that 350 workers stood to gain another $50 million in extra pension benefits. He was also caught breaking his promise requiring his staff to take less-lucrative pension benefits. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 08/01/2007; 07/08/2004]

Walker Claim #2: "In fact, the first thing I did was to give part of my salary back to the taxpayers - $370,000 over eight years."

OWN Fact Check: In 2007, Walker announced he was giving himself a $50,000 pay raise - which will total $200,000 over his four-year term. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/19/2008]

Walker Claim #3: "I cut the government workforce by 20 percent."

OWN Fact Check: A private company that Walker outsourced courthouse security to employed a known criminal and sex offender on guard duty at the courthouse. Additionally, the cost savings Walker pledged when pushing through the privatizations was over $300,000 less than he claimed it would be. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 04/15/2010]

Walker Claim #4: "And I introduced eight budgets without raising the property tax levy from the previous year."

OWN Fact Check: As county executive, Walker proposed budgets that would have increased spending by 35%, far ahead of the 21% proposed by Governor Doyle over the same period. And the actual county property levy increased by 20% during Walker's tenure. [Analysis of proposed and adopted Milwaukee County budgets, 2003-2010; proposed and adopted State budgets, 2003-2010]

Walker Claim #5: "While Washington and Madison run up big budget deficits, we had an $8.9 million surplus."

OWN Fact Check: The state has not had a year-end budget deficit under Governor Doyle, yet Scott Walker has had two year-end budget deficits - 2003 and 2004. Like the state, Milwaukee County has frequently announced mid-year budget deficits, which they are required by state constitution to close by the year end. [Milwaukee County Executive Budgets]

Walker Claim #6: "They say you can't cut waste without sacrificing services - they're wrong. "

OWN Fact Check: Walker has failed repeatedly to provide Milwaukee County taxpayers with high quality, timely needed services. Milwaukee County bus routes are being slashed and fares are the highest fares in the nation; the state was forced to take over social programs for the county's neediest residents; deaths, sexual assaults and unsafe conditions at county facilities for the mentally ill have gone unaddressed; the Sheriff was forced to take charge of the County House of Correction; and the County Courthouse building is crumbling, with notoriously unsanitary conditions and neglected grounds. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/1/2007, 8/23/2007, 9/18/2007, 10/18/2008, 1/1/2009, 2/4/2009, 5/8/2010; WISN-TV, 12/11/2009]

Walker Claim #7: "We invested in our airport and today its one of the fastest growing in America - adding nearly 1,000 new jobs."

OWN Fact Check: Walker has repeatedly attempted to privatize the airport, most recently in 2009. The airport's success stems from the development of the "Master Plan," adopted by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in 1993, while Scott Walker was still in the state Legislature. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/16/2009; "Mitchell Airport Master Plan," 2002]

Walker Claim #8: "We eliminated the waiting list for long-term care for our seniors."

OWN Fact Check: Family Care, which manages county health services for seniors, ran severe deficits -$2.3 million in 2003, growing to $12.2 million by 2004. Walker's solution was to outsource it, putting taxpayers on the hook to bail out the program for the full $12.2 million. [Department on Aging Care Management Organization Projected Deficit Report, Milwaukee County Board Digest, 6/23/05, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/30/2004]

Walker Claim #9: "We even won the gold medal for the best parks in the country."

OWN Fact Check: The gold medal was for "parks administration," not the actual quality of the parks. "Considering the reduced emphasis on parks spending since the 1970s, the county's first-place national award for park management in 2009 was remarkable," according to a county audit looking into the decline of the county parks system and enormous estimated deferred maintenance costs.  [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/14/09, 1/4/10; National Recreation & Park Association News Release]

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is traveling across Wisconsin this week and will likely be talking with media about his priorities and the state of Wisconsin.

With Wisconsin and the nation still emerging from the devastating economic collapse and job loss directly attributable to regressive taxation, deregulation and skewed priorities, One Wisconsin Now invites the media to consider the following questions Scott Walker has so far refused to answer about a host of important issues.



1. Scott Walker has pledged to make four separate tax cuts, which according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau would cost $1.86 billion over the biennium. These include an income tax cut only for those earning more than $225,000; reopening of the Las Vegas corporate loophole; rolling back the capital gains tax recalculation; and eliminating all taxes on any retirement income. With a projected $2 billion state budget deficit before his proposed $1.86 billion in revenue cuts, how exactly will Scott Walker pay for the four major tax cuts components of his plan, all of which would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy and big businesses, and what will he cut from state spending to offset the nearly $4-billion deficit his plan would create? [Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2/23/09, 7/8/09, 1/25/10; "Upfront," WISN-TV, 11/8/09; Appleton Post-Crescent, 11/25/09]

2. Scott Walker referred to BadgerCare , which provides basic health care access to hundreds of thousands of children, expectant mothers and working families ,as wasteful during an interview on the Charlie Sykes show . He has also told media he supports scaling back the successful program - a move which could cost Wisconsin hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid. Just how much does he intend to slash from the BadgerCare programs? [WISC-TV, 10/9/09; "Insight with Charlie Sykes, 3/2/10]

3. Scott Walker touts himself as a fiscal conservative, yet as a member of the state legislature, he voted for five straight budgets that increased spending 84 percent. As county executive, his proposed spending increases would have grown spending by 34 percent -- a much higher rate than the state of Wisconsin budget. How can he claim to have controlled spending while supporting these dramatic increases? [Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau; Milwaukee County Division of Budget and Fiscal Affairs]

4. Scott Walker has refused to fire the administrator who oversees the Milwaukee County Mental Health Center, even after female patients were sexually assaulted by dangerous male patients after the two groups were housed together. Walker defended the practice, even though the county has spent more than $200,000 in outside legal costs due to ongoing legal action related to the mismanagement of patient safety in the center. How can Walker continue to defend the practice of placing vulnerable patients in harm's way and refuse to hold his administrator accountable? [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5//12/10, 5/14/10]

5. Scott Walker's tour is being financed by Air Tran Airlines. Just this week, the Walker administration's proposal for the Mitchell International Airport's first master lease renegotiation for airlines in 25 years was before a closed-door meeting of county supervisors. Is it appropriate for Walker to be traveling at the expense of a business in the midst of these negotiations? [Milwaukee County Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit agenda, 5/12/10]

Further information about the mismanagement and skewed priorities of Scott Walker, which have devastated Milwaukee County, please visit: http://scottwalkerfailurefiles.com

Van Hollen gets another 'thumbs down'

When news outlets across the country caught wind of the latest in Attorney General JB Van Hollen's partisan political agenda after we at One Wisconsin Now busted his office for coordinating with a Republican group on a lawsuit to stop health care reform, Van Hollen and his office received a heavy dose of criticism. Now we learned today that Van Hollen's office has fired back at said news outlets, and once again, earned a heavy dose of criticism.


After giving Van Hollen and his Justice Dept. an initial 'thumbs down' for "mixing partisan politics with their jobs," the Appleton Post-Crescent received a critical response from Van Hollen's assistant Kevin St. John:
Kevin St. John, special assistant attorney general, wrote the May 4 letter to Dan Flannery, executive editor of The Post-Crescent. In it, St. John expressed his disappointment over the thumbs-down.

"I'm sure your paper also returns contacts from Republicans and might even take positions that are aligned with many Republicans," St. John wrote. "But it would be a logical fallacy to conclude that Republicans control your paper or that you are putting party before your principles."

If that had been his argument in a court of law, St. John would have lost his case. It's a far-flung analogy to suggest that Flannery exchanging e-mails with someone who happens to be Republican carries the same weight as Taffora communicating with a Republican political consultant on filing a lawsuit about a law that has become a deeply partisan issue.

It would have been better if the Justice Department just let this one go. No one would have even given it a second thought.

For trying to attract widespread media attention over a political criticism, Van Hollen and crew deserve another thumbs-down.

[Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Related links:

Group coordinating with Van Hollen on health reform suit funded by health insurance industry

Van Hollen Got $10,000 from GOP Campaign Group Consulted in Health Care Lawsuit Scandal

Van Hollen campaign in the loop on health care lawsuit

Van Hollen's Office Defends Contact with GOP Campaign Group

A great cartoon from our friend Stuart Carlson.

How's that Hands Offy, Non-Regulately thing workin' for ya

You can get this and more of Stuart's great work at http://www.gocomics.com/stuartcarlson. You know, if you like the funny stuff.

Tax bills down, WISTAX clams up

Thanks largely to the Recovery Act, the largest middle class tax cut in the history of the US, the overall tax bill for Americans' is at its lowest level since 1950. Since the Great Bush Recession of 2007 and 2008, the average tax bill has dropped a whopping 26%.

As tax bills shrunk for the vast majority of Wisconsinites, one voice is conspicuously absent from the debate - the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. If it were really an alliance of "taxpayers," rather than a cabal of corporate interests who do everything they can to avoid paying their fair share, WISTAX head Todd Berry would be following in George W. Bush's footsteps and leading the cheers

Berry usually isn't one to sit out when tax numbers are the topic. During the state budget debate, WISTAX and Berry diligently pushed conservative talking point criticizing the Governor for raising taxes on the top 2% for the first time in 40 years. Each year, WISTAX pimps for "Tax Freedom Day," a widely-debunked announcement by the Tax Foundation that supposedly marks the day Americans have earned enough to pay their tax obligations to federal, state and local governments. And WISTAX's publication "Focus" regularly excoriates the tax climate in Wisconsin, again parroting right wing Wisconsin's favorite talking point that Wisconsin is a "tax hell."

WISTAX claims to be "independent" and to be interested in making "voters and taxpayers, student and teachers...more active and informed citizens." If that were the case, where's the WISTAX report detailing the achievement of President Obama, Congressional Democrats and liberal leaders at the state level for dramatically lowering the tax bills for the vast majority of Wisconsin taxpayers?

The answer is pretty simple when you look a little closer at who's behind WISTAX. The WISTAX board of directors is full of Republican Party activists, former Republican elected officials and CEOs and other corporate-aligned parties who aren't interested in either the well-being of Wisconsin's working families or appearing to support any legislation or policy advanced by anyone with a 'D' after the name. The current board of WISTAX has funneled nearly $358,000 to Republican and conservative candidates, compared to only $28,000 to Democrats or liberal, or 92.8% to 7.2%.

Given that, WISTAX silence on the dramatic drop in taxes paid by regular Americans is hardly surprising The real shocker is that the clearly conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance continues to be labeled as "independent" or non-ideological in the media, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. 


Republican Mark Green endorsed Republican Scott Walker yesterday. Big deal. What is a big deal though is how fiscally irresponsible both of these so-called fiscal conservatives are.

"In a prepared statement, Green said that 'Scott Walker's common sense and commitment to fiscal discipline are exactly what Madison needs to get our state back on track and our economy growing again.'"

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Funny Green should mention Walker's "fiscal discipline." He voted for the two major George W. Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. You know the ones: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Act of 2003.

How's all that growth and jobs and relief workin' for ya?

Scott Walker, as you know, has a plan for Wisconsin as equally budget busting that will only further erode the middle class. If you haven't heard, tax breaks to the rich and big business is Scott Walker's solution to the economic problems that were caused by giving tax breaks to the rich and big business by George W, Bush and his Republicans rubber stamps, like Mark Green.

 

Once again the Tax Foundation is bringing its big business, low-tax agenda to Wisconsin and trying to convince us that businesses need their taxes lowered and the owners of those big businesses need their taxes lowered.

As we have detailed at WISTAX Watch, the Tax Foundation is intimately tied to the Teabaggers' favorite group, Americans for Prosperity.

Read our report on the ways in which the Tax Foundation skews its statistics. This in addition to the all cost, no benefit way in which groups like the Tax Foundation and WISTAX do business...to support the tax agenda of big business, makes their reports utterly useless for a fair discussion about the financial burdens facing Wisconsinites.

For one thing, Wisconsin is a low-fee state and the report provides no indication this is taken into account. This is a long gripe One Wisconsin Now has with WISTAX and as a recent analysis by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed, our tax burden is squarely in the middle of the country -- despite the extraordinary high quality of life we have and the stellar public services (note: doesn't not include Scott Walker's reckless dismantling of even basic Milwaukee County public services).

Review our report and make your own (no pun intended) conclusions. The tax debate is complicated and has many perspectives. And when it comes to WISTAX and the Tax Foundation -- you're always going to get the "your taxes are too high" argument. Which may be true. But what they won't say is that if rich people and big business weren't able to hide away trillions of dollars in taxable assets in complicated shelters and Bush tax schemes, we'd all pay a lot less -- and we get even more back in public services.

How Did AJP Get Walker Footage from WMC Event?

The source of video used in the American Justice Partnership (AJP) ads in support of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, in the midst of his tight GOP primary with Mark Neumann, suggest a more formal role for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) than the group has indicated.


WMC needs to come clean about its role in getting these television ads on the air during Scott Walker's floundering campaign for governor. Either WMC gave AJP access to the event to get video of Walker for this ad campaign, or it turned over its own footage.



Footage captured from the February 23, 2010 WMC lobby day business luncheon, in which Walker addressed the audience, is being used in two separate ads paid for by the corporate anti-accountability AJP in a more-than $200,000 statewide television campaign to support Walker's primary campaign. The ads are featured in the Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau and Green Bay markets.

During the AJP ads, Walker's video comments are punctuated with thunderous applause. A review of video taken at the same event available on the Wisconsin Eye website reveals tepid if any applause during these comments.

It's ironic they had to manufacture canned applause to Scott Walker's recycled and failed tax policies of George W. Bush. Considering that when Walker is asked how he'll pay for his $2 billion giveaway to the rich and big business, all we hear is silence.

AJP was created by the National Association of Manufacturers and names WMC as a "State Partner" on its website. AJP also claims as "successes" the election of pro-corporate Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman. WMC spent a combined $4 million+ during those races on a series of roundly-criticized attack ads.
Wisconsin Right to Life issued a press release today with a typo that reads: "Wisconsin Right to Life Lunches 'Pass It On' Campaign." They want to honor mothers or something, which is kind of ironic given a video I captured recently.

In the release, WRTL announces they will are "actively searching for positive web content with life and family messages that can quite literally be passed around the world and make a difference in someone's life." They go on to say: "Mothers are the backbone of many families today and too often the only parent present in a child's life," said Lyons. "As we approach another day in which we honor mothers, this video promotes respect for mothers in an unusual but profound way."

I actually have a submission for the video that allegedly "promotes respect for mothers in an unusual but profound way." But the pro-lifers in the video actually show NO respect for a pro-choice pregnant mother at the April 15 Tea Party, calling her a "babykiller."

 

Admittedly, the video is a little shakey as I'm trying to make my way through the mob with a camera phone, following the pro-choice/pro-family ladies as they are harrassed.


And as for the typo in the headline of the WRTL release (seen here) that reminds me of something else. An actual scene from an episode of the Office, called "Launch Party".

 

Kevin Malone: Isn't 7:00 PM a little late for a "Lunch Party"?


Angela Martin: [to Phyllis] "Lunch Party"? It's supposed to say "Launch Party." What's wrong with you?

Phyllis Lapin: How do you feel about the fact that the banner says "Lunch"?

Angela Martin: I feel angry. Angry at you. Angry at you for doing something stupid. Angry at me for believing you could do something not stupid.


 

Phyllis Lapin: I'm so sorry to hear that. That must be awful.

Angela Martin: It is awful. You've made this day awful.

Kevin Malone: Maybe you could just change the U into an A.


 
Angela Martin: Then it would say "Lanch Party," Kevin. Would it really be better if it said "Lanch Party"?


Michael Scott: Ah, a lunch party.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, the 527 group that coordinated with Republican Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen, is largely funded by the health insurance and big pharmaceutical industries.

Records show the RSLC has taken millions of dollars in political donations from the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations, including the American Tort Reform Association. Below is data from OpenSecrets.org, which lists the top 20 funders to the RSLC in each of the last four reporting cycles.

2010
$150,861 | Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs Of America
$140,562 | Novartis AG
$100,970 | Eli Lilly & Co
$ 91,068 | Blue Cross/Blue Shield
$ 82,570 | AstraZeneca PLC
$ 80,823 | Allergan Inc
$ 80,500 | Anthem Insurance
$ 75,000 | Pfizer Inc

2008
$358,071 | Pfizer Inc
$335,339 | Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs Of America
$330,908 | Eli Lilly & Co
$305,000 | American Tort Reform Assn
$192,735 | Blue Cross/Blue Shield
$166,537 | GlaxoSmithKline

2006
$620,300 | American Tort Reform Assn
$466,995 | Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs Of America
$283,250 | Pfizer Inc
$182,808 | GlaxoSmithKline
$182,500 | Novartis Pharmaceuticals
$170,500 | Blue Cross/Blue Shield

2004
$565,000 | American Tort Reform Assn$
$216,750 | Beverly Enterprises
$185,000 | Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs Of America
$183,525 | Pfizer Inc

[Open Secrets]

Additionally, among the largest contributors to the RSLC is the American Justice Partnership, created by the National Association of Manufacturers. The American Justice Partnership has donated $2 million to RSLC since 2006 and its website features advertisements run by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce against Kathleen Falk in 2006, Van Hollen's opponent. WMC spent an estimated $2.5 million in Van Hollen's razor-thin victory. The page, also featuring WMC ads for pro-corporate Supreme Court Justices Mike Gableman and Annette Ziegler, is available at: http://americanjusticepartnership.com/partners.php

[Virginia Public Access Project]

So it's pretty apparent why the RSLC is at the forefront of a national Republican effort to stop health reform. But what's most troubling is the coordination with and political contributions to Republican Attorneys General.

In Wisconsin, it was revealed through email communications obtained by One Wisconsin Now that the top deputy to Van Hollen and Van Hollen's political campaign manager were in on the RSLC-coordinated effort to stop health reform [One Wisconsin Now]. In June 2009 Van Hollen's political campaign received $10,000 from the RSLC [One Wisconsin Now].

In Pennsylvania, it was revealed that "Attorney General Tom Corbett was in communication with a consultant for the Republican State Leadership Committee before he decided to join a lawsuit challenging the landmark health care reform package signed into law in March." [Keystone Progress]

Other states with Attorneys General in on the RSLC-coordinated effort include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

For more information on RSLC political contributions to these Attorney General, see Crooks and Liars.

Leave it to Karl Rove to blast away any doubt of the partisan motivation behind JB Van Hollen's attempt to file suit to stop health insurance reform.


Rove, former Republican Party Chair Ed Gillespie and a gaggle of top Republican strategists and operatives have been quietly building a "massive fundraising, organizing and advertising machine" in an attempt to take back Congress and the White House.

One of the key players in Rove and Gillespie's 'take-back-the-power' network is the Republican State Leadership Committee, the same $57 million Republican campaign outfit that Van Hollen's staff consulted with prior to seeking authorization from the legislature and Governor to file the ridiculous lawsuit to stop health insurance reform from becoming the law, and the same group, chaired by Gillespie, that funded Van Hollen's campaign to the tune of $10,000.

With Rove's tentacles now sliming their way into Wisconsin, Van Hollen's claim that he was "just doing his job" in consulting with the RSLC and pushing the lawsuit against health insurance reform is exposed for the calculated campaign maneuver it really was.

Dave Obey has been an honorable public leader for five decades, true. But he is also known around here for being the one-and-only One Wisconsin Now "Hero of the Week" award winner for a statement about the George W. Bush administration he made during the health insurance reform debate in 2009.

Here's Dave Obey's award-winning statement:
"I swear to god, when I see what some people are saying today, I think they have the memory length of a cocker spaniel," said Obey "I want you to go back and compare what George Bush inherited, when he took office eight years ago and what Barack Obama inherited when he walked into that White House.'

"What Bush did was blow away $6 trillion in expected surpluses and he spent $2 trillion, borrowed $2 trillion I should say, in order to promote tax cuts, that primarily went into the pockets of the most wealthy people of this society and he spent another $1 trillion on the dumbest war in America's history."
[Spooner Advocate]

Another day, another damning revelation that the attempted lawsuit to thwart the will of the American people and stop the federal health reform act was an orchestrated plot whose motive was partisan Republican campaign politics.

And once again, Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen distinguishes himself by upping the ante in the ever-growing pot of sleaze in this GOP game of liar's poker.

Last week, One Wisconsin Now discovered through open records requests that prior to calling on the Governor and the Legislature to authorize the frivolous lawsuit, Van Hollen's top aide, Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora had consulted Ben Cannatti, political director of the Republican State Leadership Committee - a $57 million campaign organization which helps elect Republican attorneys general.

Next our research showed that RSLC gave Van Hollen $10,000 - its only contribution in Wisconsin.

The latest stunning bombshell: Van Hollen's campaign manager, Chirag Shah was a part of the email discussions that included not only Taffora, but also Cannatti and representatives of 13 other states being encouraged to join the lawsuit spearheaded by Florida Republican Attorney General (and aspiring Governor) Bill McCollum.

Shah offered a sheepish and unconvincing explanation to reporters telling the Wisconsin State Journal "he thought he received the e-mails because he asked - independently of Van Hollen - to be added to the e-mail list for the committee, which seeks to elect more Republicans at the state level."

He provided a similar answer to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, saying he was in the loop through the Republican Attorneys General Association.

If he is taken at his word, Shah's inclusion are even more evidence that the Republican State Leadership Committee was calling the shots in this partisan lawsuit.

The exchange was started the morning after passage of the reform bill Monday, March 22 at 10:19 a.m. by South Carolina Deputy Attorney General Bryan Stirling and concluded the next day. Contributing to the email exchange was also McCollum's Chief of Staff Joe Jacquot.

McCollum was the lead author of the lawsuit and Cannatti told Taffora in a previous email that Stirling "has been riding point on coordinating efforts btwn all the various OAGs [office of attorneys general]."

The other states included on the email: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Oklahoma eventually declined to join the lawsuit. The emails from obtained by One Wisconsin Now did not appear to include representatives of either Nebraska or Louisiana, both of whom did join the lawsuit.

All of the attorneys general signing onto the lawsuit are Republicans with the exception of Louisiana. According to media reports, the Louisiana attorney general told several staff he was signing onto the lawsuit in a deal cut with GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal to avoid budget cuts for his office. He and Jindal have both subsequently denied this allegation.

The national news blog Crooks and Liars confirmed contributions by RSLC to the AGs in Virginia, North Dakota and Texas ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. These are not the only contributions made by RSLC to GOP attorneys general in the lawsuit.

And lest Wisconsin forgets, among the largest contributors to the RSLC is the American Justice Partnership, created by the National Association of Manufacturers. The American Justice Partnership has donated $2 million to RSLC since 2006 and its website features advertisements run by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce against Kathleen Falk in 2006, Van Hollen's opponent. WMC spent an estimated $2.5 million in Van Hollen's razor-thin victory.

The documents obtained by One Wisconsin Now prove conclusively that this lawsuit was about nothing more than partisan Republican campaign politics and an abuse of taxpayer funds in each state participating in the suit.

Perhaps the taxpayers of those states can send the bills to Ben Cannatti and the GOP puppet masters at the Republican State Leadership Committee. Certainly a $57 million campaign shack that advertises itself as "the largest caucus of Republican state leaders in the Country" can pay for its own legal bills.

After spending eight years dismantling Milwaukee county's core services, safety net services, quality of life services, and transportation, at a recent listening tour/campaign event Scott Walker made the claim that he will continue his "commitment" to these services. But, there can be no "commitment to continue", because there's never been a commitment to providing these services in the first place.

And he got called out on it by Stephanie Bloomingdale of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP). WFNHP represents nurses at the severely short-staffed and underfunded county Mental Health Complex.

During Walker's tenure, the Behavior Health Division, which runs the Mental Health Complex, has come under severe scrutiny and reprimand for its deadly neglect and mismanagement of the county's most vulnerable: deaths, starvation, rape, assaults, and security lapses endangering the lives of patients, doctors and nurses.

Stephanie asked Walker the following question:

"I'm primarily concerned today about mental health services. And I would like to know Mr. Walker, do you intend to make the significant and severe cuts to mental services that you have year after year after year in this next budget?" Bloomingdale says.

Walker says the objective is not to cut funds going to the Mental Health Complex.

"We have in terms of a goal that we gave the behavioral health division, which includes obviously the mental health complex, kept them intact and tried to give them some help for the 2011 budget in terms of what their goals are. We're not asking as other departments have been asked in the past for cuts to try and balance the budget," Walker says.

Kudos for Stephanie for standing up for her patients, and maybe state and county audits will shed some light on what those goals are that Walker was referring to. While going on record saying he won't make cuts to a program hasn't stopped him from proposing cuts in the past, at least the public has something to hold him accountable to.

The Right is White [UPDATE]

If ever there was a time the Republican Party and the political right proved they were institutions with an active agenda aimed against non-whites, it will be April 2010.

1) RNC Chair Michael Steele admits Republican Party alienates minorities

Any doubt that the GOP has had a white agenda should have been abolished when an African American Republican Party chair admitted it:

Steele told a group of 200 students at DePaul University that African-Americans "don't have a reason" to vote for Republican candidates.

During his remarks he also acknowledged that for decades the GOP pursued "'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South."

Steele was asked to explain why an African-American should vote Republican at a university-sponsored discussion on the conservative movement. The RNC chairman's response: "You really don't have a reason to, to be honest -- we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True."

[Huffington Post]

2) WI College Republicans Chair quits Republicans citing right-wing race issues

Lora Rae Anderson decided the homophobia, hypocrisy, and un-checked racism from conservatives and Republicans was too much for her, and decided toquit the GOP:

"Racial slurs obviously don't sit well with me, but when somebody knowingly racially slurs my friends; I am personally insulted... Needless to say, I will not be renewing my membership to the Eau Claire County Republican Party or the Republican Party of Wisconsin for the year 2010."

[Lora Rae Anderson]

3) Racial profiling gets the OK in Arizona

A new Arizona immigration bill pushed by right-wing anti-immigrant groups and signed by the Republican governor of Arizona "requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally." This of course gives the go ahead to racial profiling. What's more, the co-author has open ties to a noted neo-Nazi. [Blogging Blue]

4) WI Republicans propose constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action

Lyndon Johnson, issuer of Executive Order #11246, had this to say in 1965:

You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.

Thirty-five years later, Wisconsin Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) and Rep. Gary Tachen (R) announced they were introducing a constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action in Wisconsin. They were incited to protect white advantages because Assembly Democrats "tried to resurrect the Minority Business Grants and Loans Program on a straight party-line vote." Grothman said the Democratic-backed bills "tear at the very fabric of our culture." [Sen. Glenn Grothman]

5) WI Republicans conjure ACORN from the dead to block voter rights

Last week the Wisconsin GOP leadership got their followers to be irate about the Wisconsin Voter Protection Act by invoking ACORN - a now-defunct group that advocated for low income families and communities. It's no secret that many of ACORN's constituents included African Americans and non-whites. Now, right wing leaders are taking pride in the fact that they were able to agitate the Tea Party and ultimately kill the voter rights bill which would have, among other things, stopped voter intimidation efforts. [Appleton Post-Crescent, That's Debatable]

6) All-white Tea Party stomps on WI Capitol

The Tea Party takes regular criticism (from the left, not so much the media) for being grossly misinformed by the GOP on a number of issues,  like the fact that President Obama actually CUT taxes on 98% of working families in Wisconsin. But it is more often criticized (by everyone) for the racist and xenophobic overtones of the signs and commentary seen and heard at its events.  The Tea Party leaders make concerted efforts to shed or downplay its all-white image.

But enough has been written on this topic and you can see photographic evidence of the race-based fears and hate at Tea Parties everywhere on the internet (including our Facebook page) and at least one survey study that indicates as much, but I came across an awesome article this morning that poses an interesting hypothetical... Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black. [Tim Wise]

There's actually more, I'm sure. But last month really came to a head (for me anyway). To say that the negative signage, comments, and policies aimed against non-white members of society are only pushed by a small number of folks in the right-wing fringe, and are not institutionally a part of the right wing agenda, is a poor analysis. Last month's examples proved it.

Drill baby, still?

Clips of the right wing chanting "Drill baby, drill!" and "Drill here, drill now!" are a dime a dozen on the YouTubes. I mean, if you saw the 2008 Republican National Convention you surely wouldn't have missed the dozen or so times the arena full of right-wing mainstreamers broke out into pro-drill chanting. Anyway, I thought I'd collect a few highlights and splice them with news coverage of the ongoing oil disastrophe.

 

 

Or watch it here: Drill baby, Still?

And if you're interested, here's a list of people possibly among those chanting "DRILL BABY DRILL!"

RNC WI Delegates

 

No drilling, no spilling.