Category Archives: Scott Walker’s Horcruxes

The GOP, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere, is Anti-Democracy

This is by design: 

The bill includes plans to lower voter turnout by adding a third statewide election in the spring of 2020, even though it will cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars and local election officials have come out strongly against it. They want to make it harder to vote early, which will cost taxpayers millions more in legal costs. They want to take control of state economic development away from the governor’s office. They want to replace the elected attorney general with private attorneys hired by the legislative branch at additional expense to taxpayers.

Is this democracy at work?

I mean, technically, yeah, in that they only have the power they have because we gave it to them. Look, for the last two years we’ve had lots of conversations about norms versus laws, about what we really consider important in government versus what is actually required. Half the shit the Trump crime family does is not illegal (like ghost the sexist shitshow that is the White House Christmas decoration reveal party, Melania, that thing sounds like hell on earth) but we act like our imaginary expectations are supposed to carry weight.

We shouldn’t run a country based on everybody being sensible and having manners. That’s not how anything should function. If you tell me that I am required to do X and Y, and in your own head you expect me to do Z, you can’t throw me in jail for not doing Z if only X and Y are mandatory.

Republicans in Wisconsin CAN do this. Should they? Shit no. But we’re well past trusting motherfuckers not to fuck mothers. If we want them to keep their dicks to themselves we have to strap on political chastity belts.

This editorial starts strong and then gets real, real stupid:

Remember in 2015 when these same three politicians – Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker – tried to gut the state’s open records law before the Fourth of July holiday?  They sneaked it into a budget bill, hoping no one would notice on the holiday weekend.

Wait, you mean to tell us, newspaper that FUCKIN ENDORSED THOSE POLITICIANS, that they turned out to be scumsucking suckers of scum? You mean they did this before? Why, it’s almost like this is WHAT THEY DO. I do declare, Miss Scarlett. See also gambling, shocked, and this establishment.

The modern GOP is designed to pursue power and subvert voting. Especially in Wisconsin. I pay attention to this shit as my side hustle and I’ve noticed that it’s not some kind of weird accident that these people are authoritarian tailpipe tumors who keep pulling underhanded crap. How can people who make a living being knowledgeable knowers of knowledge not pick this up?

We haven’t mentioned political party because this isn’t about party platforms – that’s what elections should be about.

This is about keeping the citizens in charge of their government.

It doesn’t matter which party is coming in and going out of office — we would say the exact same thing. In fact, we would shout it — just as we are now.

ARGHGGHHHH I mean name for me please the equivalent Democratic subversion of power that has occurred, that would warrant this sort of imaginary both-siderism. “We haven’t mentioned political party” so definitely please don’t call us the enemy of the people or get mad at us! Pretty please!

I give up.

A.

Go Tell That Midnight Rider

Don’t like the election results? Neuter them: 

The lame duck legislation would, for example, prevent Mr. Evers from fulfilling a campaign promise to take Wisconsin out of a multistate lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. It will also diminish the governor’s control over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a scandal-ridden public-private agency created by Mr. Walker to foster job creation, by giving the legislature an equal number of appointees to the board as the governor and revoking the governor’s power to appoint the board’s chief executive.

In 2011 the country ignored what was happening in Wisconsin, as a gerrymandered minority-majority rode white resentment to power.

We all know what happened next.

Don’t look away this time.

A.

Campaign Notes: Split Decision

I can’t let go of my beloved tick tock image of Harold Lloyd in Safety Last. I decided to give it an encore after a long night of watching/following the election returns. It still aptly describe the state of a nation with a Republican senate and lunatic president*.

Overall, it was a good night for Democrats: the House was the Big Kahuna. But it has so many moving parts that it’s harder for the average person to follow. Still, Democrats won the majority and there were upsets galore in Virginia, New York, Iowa, California, Texas and a real shocker with Kendra Horn’s win in Oklahoma. There will be more than 100 women in the next Congress. That’s genuine progress.

Like Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, and Ella Fitzgerald,  I prefer to accentuate the positive:

Anyone with a lick of sense knew how difficult the Senate would be since 2/3 of the seats up were held by Democrats. It was worse than expected since three of the No on Kavanaugh red state senators Donnelly, Heitkamp, and McCaskill were defeated. Montana Senator John Tester’s race was just called in his favor, which means that Washington will be spared another real estate developer in office.

I think Democratic expectations were too high last night. It’s going to take more than one election to turn things around. The GOP’s post-2006 comeback took five election cycles. The House fell first for the GOP in 2010 because it’s more democratic. The Senate was never intended to be a democratic institution. Its members were elected by state leges until 100 years ago, after all.

I’m going to use the ultra-punditty “takeaway” format for the rest of the post. It’s otherwise known in these parts as Odds & Sods or First Draft Potpourri. I’ve been stirring the potpourri here for nine years, so why stop now?

Shooting Stars: The three most exciting candidates of the cycle were Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, and Stacey Abrams. They all got the fuzzy end of the electoral lollipop. Ms. Abrams, quite rightly, has refused to concede.

Since I was skeptical of Betomania, I’m more impressed by the results than the idolators.  It has been 28 years since a Democratic candidate received 48% of the vote in a statewide race in ruby red Texas. That candidate was, of course, Ann Richards and if there’s an afterlife I know she’s “so fucking proud” of Beto. Democrats made advances in the state lege, knocked off two House GOP committee chairman, and now believe they can win statewide. I think every race should be run the way Beto ran his: with courage, inspiration, and passion.

We re-learned two important lessons last night with Andrew Gillum’s narrow defeat:

  • Florida is still where political hearts go to be broken.
  • The Bradley effect is still in effect.

The Bradley in question is former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. He appeared to have a substantial lead over of GOPer George Deukmejian in the 1982 race to succeed Jerry Brown as California Governor. Bradley lost. The Bradley effect was born. To be fair, Bradley was more of a black Bill Nelson but, as Bob Marley would surely say at this point, who the cap fit, let them wear it.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Beto O’Rourke or Andrew Gillum. As to the other shooting star, Stacey Abrams has, quite rightly, refused to concede to Thievin’ Brian Kemp for reasons we’ll go into in our next segment.

The Power Of Red State Election Fuckery: Brian Kemp was up to his old vote suppression tricks on election day in Georgia. There were missing power cords, power outages, and other mishaps yesterday. They all seemed to occur in heavily Democratic areas. Incompetence or election fuckery? I think it was both.

Stacey Abrams refuses to concede until all the votes are counted in the hopes of winning enough to force a run-off. She has good reason to keep at it: there are 400K disputed votes.

We all seem to have underestimated the staying power of voter fuckery. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are right on this issue. Their effort to dial back voter suppression is not mere wonkery but crucial to the future of our democracy. The good news is that Dems flipped some state leges and won a raft of Governorships. That will help kickstart the repair work. It’s time to unfuck the electoral system.

Good News: Some really odious people were defeated yesterday. This calls for bullet points, not bullets, since we’re non-violent gun grabber types around here:

  • Dana Rohrabacher got a Harley Rouda awakening.
  • Dave Brat is still the worst.
  • Kris Kobach
  • Dean Heller
  • Corey Stewart
  • Bruce Rauner
  • Claudia Tenney
  • Scott Walker

I saved the best for last. My friend and colleague Scout Prime posted a tweet thread about the defeat of the man Doc calls Governor Deadeyes:

Click on the date at the bottom of the tweet image to read the whole thread. Well done, amiga.

While we’re posting tweets, here are the publisher lady’s thoughts on the killjoys who want to spoil our festive mood:

People seem to underestimate the magnitude of flipping the House. There are some aggressive incoming chairs with itchy subpoena fingers: Jerry Nadler, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, and Elijah Cummings to name a few. In between bragging about his “victory,” the Insult Comedian understands the threat, which led him to issue one of his own:

So much for that “softer tone” thing. Then there was this bit of projection:

The battle has been joined. No retreat, no surrender.

A split decision is much better than losing everything. Two years are an eternity in politics. Team Mueller has been in time-out for the last month. I expect them to make some noise in the near future that will harsh the Insult Comedian’s buzz.

One more thing. The funniest result yesterday was out of Nevada: Dennis Hof won a state assembly seat. It’s noteworthy because of his occupation and another salient fact. Here’s my headline:

DEAD PIMP WINS

How can I possibly top that?

The last word goes to Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton:

Album Cover Art Wednesday will return next week.

You Can Run On For a Long Time

I thought of Sue and Kim this morning: 

They were standing by a lamp post, this middle-aged couple. They could have been my parents, in another life. They could have been yours.

Sue and Kim. He retired after 33 years working for the state. She still worked for the state, on a temporary contract that kept getting extended. They’d had pay freezes for half a dozen years, when they didn’t have pay cuts. They weren’t getting wealthy on their pensions. They weren’t sporting $60 haircuts. They lived in a small town. They were trying to hold on to what they had.

Behind them, around Madison’s beautiful Capitol, people walked with kids and dogs, and cops watched from their bikes and horses. A man in a Badger costume danced on the steps. A man with an accordion played.

“This is where we were 18 months ago when the protests began,” Kim said. “We thought we would finish where we started.”

I hope they were there last night. I hope they stayed up til morning. I hope they saw the moment they were looking for all those years ago.

There were a lot of things I wanted to happen last night that did — get ready for subpeonas, you dogfaced tangerine fascist — and lots that didn’t — Ted Cruz is still in Congress which seems insane to me. But mostly what I wanted was a win for all the thousands of people who stood at the Capitol building in 2011, in the dark in the rain in the snow in the cold, against impossible odds, against the certainty of loss, facing the whole apparatus of power and holding back defeat with drums and songs and kindness and hope.

It’s hard to describe if you didn’t see it. I know seven years is a lifetime ago. But I’m German Roman Catholic and I grew up in Wisconsin with people who were raised in the shadow of the Great Depression. When we want to hold a grudge, we make it a story and we teach it to our children and our children’s children, and until the day I die I will be telling you about the roar.

The Capitol in Madison is made of marble, with a rotunda three floors deep. Thousands strong, and it echoed, like the hammer in a forge, pounding, the kind of sound that rattles your ribs and rises in your throat.

At first it was just the teachers. Then the steelworkers. Then the firefighters. Then the ironworkers and the police officers and the corrections workers, the prison guards came not to make sure the doors were locked but to throw them open. Everyone came. Old women with walkers. Mothers with small children. Everyone, and the sound never stopped, not even in the middle of the night, rumbling down from the basement rising up to the rafters, and it seemed impossible that it would ever fall silent.

It did. The bills to gut worker protection and punish teachers passed. The recall failed. Another attempt to unseat him failed. Scott Walker had his way with the University of Wisconsin and gave away the store to Foxconn and presided over unprecedented racism as the state went for Trump with a vengeance.

If you had told me six months ago that last night was possible I’d have called you a liar. But I’d have forgotten the roar. Seven years is a lifetime but last night, as the vote totals flipped back and forth, it was all I could hear.

I hope Sue and Kim heard it. I hope they and the thousands of others who stood up all those years ago heard it and raised their voices and, in the predawn hours of a victory so long in coming, sang along.

A.

Go Tell That Long Tongue Liar

I voted last week, voted early, to get it out of the way and not have to worry about getting up early or staying out late. I’m coming to the end of a serious hell-period at work and Mr. A is leaving tonight for a week overseas, and the time change is fucking with Kick’s sleep in a way it never has before, and it didn’t seem sensible to leave this to chance.

I didn’t expect it to make me feel like a superhero or anything. I’ve been in the streets every other weekend, family beside me, against misogyny and family separation and the general garbage fire of the world. We are not un-engaged right now. Kick insisted we bake cookies for the volunteers at the local Dem organizing office, insisted her father deliver them.

I didn’t expect voting to make me feel like a superhero; these small things don’t feel like enough. A friend might have to leave the country. Another found swastikas spray-painted in the park where his children play. The synagogue in Pittsburgh, a friend’s father prays there. This is about faces I see every day. Faces I want to continue to see.

My new OB-GYN mentioned to me that if I wanted to get an IUD I should do it soon. While they were still easy to obtain. We both thought about Mike Pence, and shuddered.

To so many people quoted in these Trump supporter stories, the rage seems so abstract: They think someone somewhere is getting something free and they don’t like that. The caravan is miles away. Football players are kneeling, but only on TV. Their taxes have gone up but they can’t tell you by how much. They’ve heard things, think they’re at risk, like the people in Chicago suburbia scared shitless after 9/11: there is no danger here at all.

The small things I can do — vote, donate, take my kid to rallies, write letters, write posts — don’t seem like enough. But I have to believe, as we all hold our breath today and think and wish and work and love, that we are building muscles we can use for years to come.

I went looking for this video this morning, from the 2011 protests in Wisconsin against Scott Walker and Act 10.

I remember all the carping after we lost the recall election and lost the election against Walker again, all the worry that “we” had done this wrong, had talked too loud, run this person or that person and that’s why we lost. We should have had better ways to do this then, and it’s impossible to say that’s wrong. But it’s also possible to say that our rage today is built on those bones.

That loss, those losses, felt like dying, and we said at the time, pay attention, this is what’s coming for all of you. It gave us a language to use to resist, and if we prevail tonight and in the coming days, if we rise up like that again and lose and lose and keep losing those losses will pile high enough for us to climb.

The small things I can do don’t feel like enough, and that’s because by themselves, they’re not.

A.

Someone Told People to Resent Others

This thread is worth reading, referencing as it does the ongoing “resentment politics” that have devastated Scott Walker’s Wisconsin:

As I keep saying, people do not independently come to the conclusion that all minorities are T-bone buying welfare cheats dragging on the system and burning down the ‘hood. Someone TELLS them that. We can’t just accept that outlook as the reality and address it with policy without squarely facing who is pushing the message and how they are doing it.

Because until we counter the voices yelling at them through their speakers, it won’t matter if Democrats DO come out strongly in favor of Medicare for All, if they remind people they were the only ones who gave even half a fuck about reining in rapacious health care companies, if they run ads every other second touting free community college and support for organized labor. It won’t matter if they all turn into St. Bernie Sanders, or for that matter St. Hillary Clinton as she was instead of as she was portrayed. It won’t matter if we run Obama 12 more times.

So long as there is a chorus of wingnut dickbags on Fox and talk radio (and talk radio, in Wisconsin especially, is a mental cancer) telling them Democrats want to give all your hard-earned money to lazy black women who are having too many babies, that will always drown anything else out. So long as cable news continues to poison the well of public discourse and define the narrative as “politics is broken, everybody is bad, just give up,” so long as local papers run four pages on a good day and three of those are syndicated columns talking about “Washington” being the problem, the only thing people are going to hear is what Republicans want them to hear.

It’s understandable, sure, to my fellow palefaces. Give me a choice between studying and shooting heroin, I’m gonna show you my veins. I know these people, I meet them on the regular, and you do not have to dig very far under the surface to find the jokes about people getting fat on soda and public assistance while they, the virtuous, just marvel at the destruction of their neighborhoods by “those” elements.

They side-eye every low-hanging-pantsed dude they see on a trip to the mall because THAT is who they picture taking everything away from them. It’s all one thing. They don’t separate their contempt into rural vs. urban vs. black vs. white boxes. I’m not making a joke. You can’t counter vagaries like that with specifics of policy.

You have to counter it with entertainment and right now we have no show.

A.

Promises, Promises

My dad held very few points of pride when it came to things he did or didn’t do. He never smoked at all, he doesn’t “owe anyone anything” when it comes to financial concerns and he didn’t make a promise he didn’t think he could keep.

“If I said we’re going to do something, we did it,” he always told me. “If I said ‘No,’ I meant ‘No.” If it was ‘Maybe,’ anything could happen. But if I said we’re doing it, we did it unless something really changed the situation.”

He wasn’t kidding. I asked to go to my first baseball game when I was about 8 years old. He promised we’d go that Friday, not knowing it was “Bat Day” in the middle of a pennant race. The traffic was insane, the tickets were hard to get and it was just chaos at old County Stadium. Dad disliked all of those things, but we went and he never complained.

Promises were an important part of my life and I kept that same attitude for my kid. If I said we were going for ice cream, we went. If I said we weren’t doing something, begging only strengthened my resolve. I get the importance of promises, especially when people are relying on you.

That said, the kinds of promises we made as fathers were the kind that led to positive outcomes. They also occasionally were broken when circumstances intervened on us. Occasionally a promised trip had to be postponed due to a funeral or an illness. Sometimes, it became insane to persist in the promise.

When I was 10, Dad promised to take me to opening day. He got the tickets, pulled me out of school and we went to the stadium. In typical early-April fashion, it was about 40 degree, so we were all bundled up. It was also raining, so we did our best to stay dry.

The game was postponed for almost two hours and we were both freezing and soaked. Finally, Dad asked if I wanted to stay and I said, “Let’s go home.” Eventually the game started (we caught the first pitch on the radio in the car on the way home) but it was stupid to stay there and die in the frigid weather to prove a point.

When it comes to promises, Scott Walker and his ilk need to better understand the difference between the inconveniences of Bat Day and the stupidity of not coming in from the rain.

Walker unveiled his latest plan to close a $1 billion gap in the transportation gap by delaying some projects, shuffling money to local municipalities and cutting the department’s budget in other ways. The purpose of making these changes? To keep his promise of not raising taxes:

 

“Governor Walker has kept his word by proposing a reasonable transportation budget that sets the right priorities and doesn’t increase taxes or the registration fee,” said a statement from Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater).

Walker campaigned in 2010 for governor by criticizing Democrats like his predecessor Gov. Jim Doyle for failing to execute work on the Zoo Interchange. But Thursday Walker said it wouldn’t be fair to criticize him in turn for proposing delays to the north leg of the Zoo, saying that it was in better shape than the interchange’s aging core that is on track to be replaced.

“I make promises and I keep promises, and my promise to the taxpayers was I’m not going to raise taxes and fees,” Walker said.

 

Like many Republicans, Walker treats “tax” like it is a four-letter word. Then again, given his educational standing, he might think it is one.

The larger point is that this was a stupid promise. When we lack for revenue and need to get things done, we have to get more revenue. Things in the real world do, in fact, cost money. To that end, we can’t just say “delay this” or “delay that” to make it seem financially responsible. That’s like the guy who knows his brakes are going on his car, but to replace the pads will cost $200. Instead, he keeps riding the brakes for months and months until he literally can’t stop. At that point, he’s warped the rotors and irreparably harmed the calipers, so the job now costs $1500. Sure, he stuck to his guns that he wasn’t going to get them fixed, but at what cost?

Walker can’t back out of his pledge to not raise taxes because his lizard brain can only see the attack ads for his next campaign about how he raised taxes. Him worrying about that is like the captain of the Titanic worry about how all this water is going to tarnish the brass railings on the ship. Trust me, pal, you have bigger concerns.

Speaking of promises, what about that whole 250,000 job promise? What about that whole “Open for Business” pledge? Yeah, not so much on either of them and those are the important ones if you want to get revenue hopping in this state. No one with half a brain or a sense of proportion would have expected him to hit the 250K mark or that just posting “open” signs would have businesses pouring into the state. That said, had he made a stronger effort with better logic to make those things happen, it is far more likely that he could have made good on this third pledge to keep tax rates down.

I don’t like taxes any more than any other person out there, but I can tell you that I do vote for them locally. In a small town like the one in which I live, I can see where my tax money goes: The city well gets fixed. The trash pickup is awesome. My street gets plowed quickly. Same thing with schools: New computers, improved facilities, more engaged kids all come from me checking the box that says, “Take another $10 out of what I make each year to improve stuff.”

I hope people who drive the I-94 corridor that will be delayed or the area near the zoo that’s a total shitbox will also be able to see what happens when we make stupid promises and forgo our responsibility to improving society. Sure, it’s hard to see how things like teacher pay or university subsidies pan out for individuals, but when the potholes are knocking the fillings out of their teeth, I hope they feel the tax break was worth it.

UW to Scott Walker: They call them cuts because they hurt and make you bleed

Last night was a first for me in my time at my current university: I got an email from a parent.

In all of my previous stops, parental “engagement” ranged from the somewhat common to the fairly frequent. I had received calls from parents who wanted to protest a grade, argue about the amount of work I was assigning their precious snowflake or make sure that I knew the child was REALLY sick and needed to be excused from class. In some cases, the calls were polite and helpful while others smacked of entitlement. (In one case, I was told, “The family lawyer will be in touch” regarding a grade. And people wonder where the kids get the attitude from…)

This time, however, it was a mom who wanted to set up a meeting with me and her son. I knew the kid and I hadn’t had him in class in quite some time, so I knew it wasn’t a grade issue. Even more, I’m not in the kid’s area of study, so it wasn’t about something I could do for the kid.

However, the kid adopted me as a “de facto adviser” and apparently that was the concern:

I would like to schedule an appointment with you to make sure (KID) is on the right path to graduate this May.  I know he is registered for the fall semester; however, (ONE OF OUR COURSES) apparently got cancelled…

The class was one of five that we had listed and had to axe due to a series of last-minute budget cuts. By the time we got notice of the need for cuts, the class was full and had a waiting list. However, since it wasn’t required for any of our majors, it had to go.

This wasn’t the only kid to email me this summer and ask about the possibility of graduating on time. A student athlete was concerned about finishing up this year and was looking to load up on discipline-specific courses. She mentioned a couple classes she wanted, both of which had been cut.

I had to break the news to her about the cuts and also nudge her toward an unpleasant truth:

You’re going to be stuck here a while. And it’s not getting any better any time soon.

This is the dark side of populism, especially when it comes to funding higher education.

Gov. Scott Walker recently announced plans to extend his “historic tuition freeze” for another biennium, making it six years since tuition has increased at schools in the UW system.

Walker also noted in his declaration that the schools should not expect any state money to offset the freeze or to cope with previous cuts that have begun to damage the system in an irreparable fashion. During the previous budget debate, System President Ray Cross sought a $95 million increase in funds and was rewarded with a $250 million cut. That swing of more than one-third of a billion dollars led to faculty leaving for other states, losses in program options, increases in class sizes and diminished course offerings. This was also after a budget that froze tuition and provided nothing but cuts.

The idea of “live with what you have” isn’t going to get any easier at the UW schools either, if Walker goes through with his plan to prevent the System from borrowing money to repair its buildings and infrastructure.

Things like tuition freezes, belt tightening and tax cuts all sound good in theory until you start to feel the pain associated with those decisions.

I hate to be the one to break it to Governor Deadeyes and the “decent, hard-working people of this state,” but a) stuff tends to cost money and b) when you make bad decisions you have to live with the ramifications. This is like those credit cards where you get zero-percent-interest offers, low monthly payments and a host of other things that Montel Williams promises you in a 2 a.m. infomercial. You get stuff that sounds great at the time, but it leads to serious consequences down the road, including compound interest, burgeoning debt and a long, painful process to get out of trouble.

The system could survive one round of cuts or one round of freezes, but once you go beyond that, you start to see real problems emerge. Departments across our campuses are told to “churn” positions instead of hiring replacement faculty. Classes that aren’t mandatory for graduation are cut. More kids get shoved into rooms, giving them access to the class, but not the quality of experience they deserve.

Graduations get delayed, student loans continue to build and the entire process becomes self-defeating.

This whole concept of “standing up for working people” sounds great in campaign ads and stump speeches, but that’s because people don’t think about it in practical terms. Like it or not, there are things we spend money on because they have to be done.

The mechanic doesn’t say he stood up against the demands of the automobile when the oil change light went on. “I pushed the reset button and told the car, ‘You have to learn to live within your means.’”

The farmer doesn’t skip the fertilizer and demand that the soil provide more and increase its yield. “In these hard times, the earth can’t expect that I will keep plowing resources into it and receiving the same output.”

The homeowner doesn’t yell at the leaking roof, “Instead of patching you up with some new shingles, I’ll be removing several sections of shingles and expect that you’ll leak less.”

Education is no less of a resource than those and other items that we knowingly invest in because we understand we can’t live without them. When we fail to invest in support and repair, we create a weaker system that will continue to crumble and cost more in the long run.

The mechanic knows without proper maintenance, that engine is going to seize up and cease to function.

The farmer knows that failing to augment and replenish the fields will lead to lower yields and damaged land.

The homeowner knows that a leaky roof will eventually destroy the remainder of the structure.

And yet, our governor and legislature seems bent on proving the opposite to be true in order to appeal to the basest part of our society.

Willful ignorance presented under the guise of austerity serves no one in this state.

We need to learn that before it’s too late.

Fun with statistics: Scott Walker Edition

The old adage goes that there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. In the wake of yet another “no confidence” vote against Gov. Scott Walker’s handpicked board of cronies regents and his “please don’t hit me, I won’t burn the roast again” system president, Ray Cross, Ol’ Deadeyes came out swinging this week.

In advance of the UW-Milwaukee vote on a no-confidence measure, Walker issued a press release that was packed with numbers and data to show that faculty are out-of-touch crybabies who lack a sense of reality. He then peppered it with a couple great quotes:

“The facts speak for themselves,” Governor Walker said.  “The bottom line is UW System funding stands at an all-time high, spending per student at UW-M is up more than 40 percent since 2002-03, and faculty is spending less time in the classroom.   We want to preserve the world-renowned quality of the UW System while protecting students and taxpayers.”

SNIP

“Some faculty bodies, including faculty at UW-M today, appear more interested in protecting outdated ‘job for life’ tenure than about helping students get the best education possible,” said Governor Walker.  “The University should not be about protecting the interests of the faculty, but about delivering value and excellence to Wisconsin.”

Walker has two problems here: 1) The numbers only work out in his favor in a few key situations, including places where he cherry picks data, doesn’t reveal where he got his data or generally oversimplifies things and 2) While painting this as a systemwide situation in general, he’s only looking at UWM numbers specifically, thus leading people to the erroneous conclusion that the whole system is exactly like Milwaukee.

Since data is kind of my thing and since I wanted to have a meaty post this week (because, hey, who wants to grade finals when you’re already being told you’re a lazy, useless asshole), let’s unpack the majority of these Walker-isms one at a time.

Student enrollment has dropped nearly four times more than faculty from 2010 to 2014. 

It’s unclear exactly what he was measuring here, whether it was overall headcount or FTE (full-time equivalency), but let’s go with “students enrolled” given his statement. First, how does something drop “nearly” four times? It either drops or it doesn’t. The magnitude of the drop is probably more important than what you’re getting in terms of a drop. Let’s look at the numbers:

2010: 182,090

2011:  181,269

2012:  180,969

2013:  179,828

2014:  180,979

 

In short, this “enrollment drop” a) has stopped and b) comes out to a 0.6 percent decrease in overall enrollment in the UW System. Here’s a look at FTE numbers:

2010: 156,039

2011:  155,163

2012:  154,843

2013:  153,252

2014:  152,773

Bigger drop. Nearly 2.1 percent over four years.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, a four-year span is a pretty weak sample to examine, for a number of reasons Governor Deadeyes would have figured out if he stuck around long enough to pass statistics. The larger the sample size, the less likely any one item is to lead to an anomaly. The governor used larger spans to help make other points, so let’s pick out those years and do the math here to see how the latest year stacks up against them:

Year           Headcount     % Change      FTE                 % Change

1994:              155,197         +16.6              127,494         +19.8

2000:              160,567         +12.7              135,205         +13

2002:              165,055         +9.6                140,000         +9.1

2004:              166,245         +8.9                142,209         +7.4

If you want to see a real trend, look at these charts, which go back to the 1970s. You’ll learn two important things:

AllEnroll

UWMEnroll

 

  • Enrollment is still on an overall incline. In fact, the overall UW enrollment number for the 2014 year is the third-highest enrollment year since 1973. If you only count FTE, it’s the sixth-largest over that time.
  • The highest year on record was 2010, the somehow crucial year that Scott Walker chose as a point of comparison.

 

In terms of UWM, the data does show the drops from 2010 to 2014 again, but the data still holds to the pattern outlined above: The long view shows we’re getting more kids now than years past when the state actually was putting in a much more sizeable chunk of cash. (If you want to have fun, feel free to play with this graph toy to look at all the campuses. If not, you probably have a better life than I do.)

 

The number of students per faculty member has dropped slightly from 2000 to 2014

 

Again, relying only on what the governor said, this doesn’t make sense. If we pull the number of faculty (not instructional staff or anyone else) from the same site he did for the two years and the students for those years throughout the system, you get this:

 

Year                Faculty                        Students                     Ratio

2000               6,103                          160,567                     26.3 to 1

 

2014               6,384                          180,979                     28.3 to 1

 

 

Even if you want to do it FTE, it still doesn’t make sense:

Year                Faculty                        Students                     Ratio

2000               6,103                          135,205                     22.1 to 1

 

2014               6,384                          152,773                     23.9 to 1

 

 

The only way this works is if he’s only talking about UWM, where the ratio went from 35.2 to 1 in 2000 to 34.4 to 1 in 2014. Even so, that’s a ridiculously high ratio of students to faculty when compared with the overall system. So even if their ratio “dropped slightly,” it was from “Unbearably Large” to “Slightly Less Unbearably Large.” UWM’s own self-serving numbers puts this at 18-1 while the AAUP puts it in the 20-something range. It’s unclear where those numbers came from or how he did this, but sufficient to say, not every number points to Walker’s talking point about fewer kids and more bloat in faculty.

 

Spending per student increased more than 40 percent from 2002-03 to 2015-16.

 

Right! But not the way Walker wants you to think. This idea makes it sound like the state keeps dumping money on students across the board. However this isn’t what the STATE spent on STUDENTS, but rather what STUDENTS spent ON COLLEGE. In short, look at this nifty graph:

uwfundingbysource

 

 

 

 

That’s right. Almost EVERYTHING went up in terms of spending and funding, from scholarships to tuition to donation money and more. State spending, on the other hand, took a nose dive ever since… wait for it… right about the time SCOTT WALKER TOOK OFFICE.

 

 

Faculty average student group contact hours, hours spent in classroom instruction, have dropped 20 percent from 2000 to 2013.

 

The UWM numbers bear this out, but the AAUP response makes a good point: The university shifted to a Research I institution, which requires far more research from the professors and thus less classroom time. RIs are more prestigious and often come with a 2/2 load. Places that are purely teaching based can go upwards of a 4/4 or 5/5 load, depending on needs. Thus the drop from 7.9 hours on average to 6.1 totally makes sense.

 

To have a better sense of things, it’s more instructive to look at the numbers for the cluster of comprehensives (the majority of your UW schools that turn out four-year degrees) to see what happened there.

 

2000:              11.9

2013:              11.6

 

There’s virtually no change in that, even though more of the universities have been pushed to be in the “research added” category, where more scholarship is expected of them.

 

Perhaps an even more important thing is that we HAVE TO get people past this idea that the only thing you measure is time spent in the classroom. That would be akin to saying, “Firefighters don’t deserve to get paid what they do because they’re only fighting fires a couple hours per week.” Or “Police don’t deserve their money because they didn’t solve a murder today.” (I’m not equating danger of job here to faculty.) Add in the prep time, the grading, the individual meetings, the student group advising, the student course advising, the research, the meetings, the course building, the accreditation crap and everything else and you start to get a better idea of what we do in a day/week/month. There’s always an email to answer, a paper to grade, a kid to help, a situation to fix and a colleague to assist. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t working or thinking about work. I also have no memory of any day where I went in, taught a course and left, doing nothing else work-related that whole day.

 

Focusing only on the time spent in classrooms is disingenuous at best and a purposeful con at worst.

 

Full professor salaries averaged $101,700 in 2013-14 school year. Average annual pay for all workers in Milwaukee County was $49,539 in 2014.

 

Again, we have no idea where exactly these numbers came from and Walker hasn’t been forthcoming about that either. It’s always easiest to spin a narrative that contains numbers when other people can’t see how you ended up with those numbers. Walker pulled a similar trick when he first started killing unions in the state with his claim of “thousands” of emails pouring in that supported his moves during the Act 10 fiasco. When the AP and State Journal sued to get them released, it turned out his numbers were total bullshit.

 

Also, we even GRANT him that these numbers are accurate, keep in mind this is only full professors, or people with the highest rank on campus. It’s, again, unclear if he’s going after UWM or the whole system, but consider this: At the four next-largest campuses (after UWM), here are the number of full professors who supposedly make AT LEAST that amount that Walker touts as an average:

 

24 at UWO

7 at UWGB

29 at UWL

24 at UWW

 

And in case you were wondering, almost all of those are in business or nursing, two fields that are in the highest demand for faculty.

 

Let’s look at a few other fields and specialties:

 

The highest paid full history professor at Whitewater makes $75,386.

The highest one at Oshkosh? $71,606

 

The top of the mark at UW-LaCrosse’s English department’s full professors gets $74,192. The best-paid professor in Theater at UW-Green Bay makes $71,611.

 

No professor of journalism at UWO makes even 90 percent of that alleged average. Same thing at UW-Eau Claire.

 

When it comes to associate and assistant professors, things are less rosy, with many of them being hired at around that Milwaukee County Average he’s touting. (Our previous two hires were brought in with doctorates and received less than $50K each.) It’s also kind of unclear who counted in his “Milwaukee County Workers” argument. It’s unclear if the kid cutting grass in the park for the summer is lumped in here or if it’s office staff, garbage collectors or what.

 

And for what it’s worth, Scott Walker makes $147,328, which doesn’t account for his free housing, free vehicles, free bodyguards and more. All that without ever having graduated college.

 

Pretty good work if you can get it.

Bring Out the Dead

We can’t let the corpses lie quiet when there are strip malls need building, you know: 

Madison— Landowners could excavate and possibly develop some of the surviving Indian mounds of Wisconsin — many dating back more than a millennium — under legislation by two lawmakers.

The bill from Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville) would shift the balance of state law more toward private property rights and away from the preservation of one of the state’s unusual features.

The earthen burial mounds, shaped like bears, deer, panthers, birds and people, can stretch hundreds of feet in length or width and are one of the most enduring forms of art in the state. It’s been estimated that 80% were plowed under or otherwise destroyed to make way for farms and buildings, and those remaining sites that are cataloged are protected from disturbance by state law.

[snip]

Under the draft measure, the Wisconsin Historical Society would be required to give property owners a permit allowing them to investigate at their own expense whether their mounds contain burial remains, either through an archaeological dig or through ground-penetrating radar. If the mounds contained no remains, landowners could use their property however they wished.

There’s really nothing bad that has ever come from disturbing a graveyard. That never goes wrong for anyone.

At this point Wisconsin Republicans are not satisfied with harrying the living and have begun bothering the dead. It’s not enough to pick on university professors, union workers, minorities, women, and children who are going hungry. Now they’ve got to screw with THE DECEASED.

Once they’re done with the burial mounds, maybe they can start bulldozing some cemeteries. There are acres of useful land there, just being taken up by lazy dead people leeching off the taxpayers!

A.

You can’t have it both ways: Statehouse Edition

I have seen this interaction take place quite a bit over the years and it usually involves a child, a parent and a purchase.

Child: “I want this and that.”
Parent: “That’s $10. You only have five. You have to choose.”
Child: “But I want them both!”
Parent: “But you don’t have enough money.”
Child: “Can’t you just give me $5 more?”
Parent: “No, but if you promise to (insert semi-painful, menial home task, like cutting the lawn or resurfacing the driveway) when we get home, I’ll give you the $5 then and you can come back and buy it.”
Child: “I don’t want to do that! I just want these two things!”

And around and around it goes until either the parent caves, the kid loses his/her mind or both of them are mauled by nearby shoppers who can no longer stand hearing the conversation.

A dozen stories caught my eye this week. There were two more “I’m-sure-it-wasn’t-the-gun’s-fault” shootings on a couple college campuses. We also had Gov. Deadeyes’ decision to wait until Patrick Crooks was buried before appointing Rebecca Bradley to replace him, thus ensuring no one could hear him spinning like a damned top in his casket. However, the two that spoke the most clearly to how state politicians view reality are linked by the essence of the above conversation:

We want what we want because we want it!

The news that the University of Wisconsin (Madison chapter) sought the right to remove a “cap” that limited the number of out-of-state students it could accept became a point of contention at the statehouse this week. State Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) complained that the university’s approach was not about bringing the best and brightest from all over the world to UW, but rather a cash grab.

The math is simple: Out-of-state students pay almost three times what in-state students pay for the same seat, he argued.

Nass isn’t wrong in this and Blank’s effort to paint this as anything more than a revenue wrangle is disingenuous at best. That said, what the hell did Nass expect would happen when he and his fellow Republicans kept cutting state funding to the UW System?

I can hear the “Trim the fat” line echoing in my head from my friends who think the U is full of gold-plated toilet seats and professors’ lounges that look like this but that’s a false echo these days.

There is no fat.

There is no meat.

There’s barely bone.

As far as higher education goes, this state isn’t the pretty girl at the dance. Professor salaries have stagnated over the past seven years at least, due in large part to diminished aid from the state. Top-notch scholars are leaving because states that aren’t run by idiots (an unfortunately diminishing minority) are giving their state U’s the funds necessary to poach them and their research grants. Even those states that aren’t flush with cash aren’t treating anyone who works on a campus like they’re VD-carrying child rapists.

The UW can’t raise tuition. It can’t raise fees. It can’t cut any more stuff and still call itself a University anything. The only option? The out-of-state cash.

In a similar vein, Scott Walker is feeling the pinch of his presidential campaign approach as he’s dealing with the state’s crumbling infrastructure. A series of road projects have been either slowed or shelved, in large part due to the cuts to the DOT’s coffers. The move looked great for Walker when he thought he would be heading out as a presidential candidate who refused to raise taxes. Now, as a guy who has to drive on these shitty swaths of road that make downtown Kabul look like the Autobahn, he’s looking for a way to not look like a pandering fool as he gets the roads back on track.

Walker asked for an additional $150 million in borrowing so that he could keep things going on various road projects, including those in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley. Democrats wouldn’t piss in his mouth to put out a fire and some Republicans are adamantly against more borrowing (he already got $500 million in borrowed revenue). Walker keeps pitching this as the only potential answer.

Actually, the answer to both of these situations is the same:

You did it to yourself and you can’t have it both ways.

You want to cut back on aid to the university to the point where calling it a “public institution” is laughable? Fine. (I doubt there is any other place out there where you can pay 17 percent into the kitty and essentially dictate all the major rules.) If we can’t get the money from you, we’ll get it where we can. So sorry if the legacy kid with a 2.5 GPA and a father who contributed heavily to your campaign can’t get in the door any more.

You want to cut back on money we need for road building? Fine. We’ll just slow the roads down and operate “within our means” until we can sneak past Oliver Twist for our next bowl of gruel. We also won’t be “fiscally irresponsible” and start projects for which we lack the funds. So sorry if we’ll be working on this for so long your kids will think a “DETOUR” sign is our state flag.

These kinds of approach infuriates Republicans because a) it limits their control in certain situations and b) it essentially undercuts their bullshit talking points about being “creative” when it comes to financial solutions and the need for “austerity” in government spending.

In short, they’re the kid in the store, getting red in the face because they aren’t getting their way. It’s essentially, “No, dammit, I didn’t mean for you to do what I told you to do in a way that is going to come back to haunt me!”

Although economics is a major that was way too difficult for me as a student, the concept behind financial viability isn’t really that hard to understand.

If you want something, you need to have the money.

If you can’t get the money from Place A, you should seek it elsewhere through an equally viable and legal option.

If you can’t get the money from any action you take, you should reconsider your spending habits.

This is the core of what these people shout at the poor when it comes to food stamps or welfare or minimum wage issues.

If you don’t have the money, you can’t eat!

If you don’t like working for minimum wage, go get a better job!

If you can’t make ends meet, you need to reconsider your lifestyle!

In this case, the University essentially got a higher-paying job and the DOT reconsidered its lifestyle. Why this is so vexing to Republicans is utterly understandable:

It’s easier to preach these things than to abide by them.

Please Welcome Back to the Stage… SCOTT WALKER!

Everyone from Steven Colbert to the local radio DJs has been enjoying the recent withdraw of Scott Walker from the presidential race. Perhaps the best one was Seth Meyers’ recent poke in which he noted that Walker’s next job would be as the photo in the dictionary next to the word “duuuuuhhhhh.”

Walker, however, had a different job in mind: Coming back to Wisconsin to continue fucking up this great state. However, to try to garner more support and to convince people he wasn’t just a shitty bobble head programmed to say only three phrases, he’s working on his new comedy act, “Down the Shitter in 70 Days.” Here’s a brief look:

“Hey everyone! It’s great to be back here in Wisconsin… (Waits for applause… Waits for Trump to interrupt him… Remembers he’s not a presidential candidate anymore.) Yeah! Wisconsin!

Sorry I haven’t been around as much. I was trying to figure out how to build a wall across our Canadian border. I mean, we can’t be too careful, right? We don’t want all our kids growing up saying “aboot” all the time. Like Sarah Palin says, we need people who come to America to talk American!

Seriously, though, I’m back for good this time! Like I said when I ran for governor the second time, there’s nothing more important to me than being governor of this state. I didn’t plan to run for president… It just sort of happened… Right? Like an unplanned pregnancy! I tried to hold an aspirin between my knees to avoid running for president, but darned if it didn’t work.

But don’t you worry! My campaign will be the last thing aborted in this state thanks to our efforts to shut down Planned Parenthood…

(A heckler shouts out: “You’re just jealous!”)

“Of what, sir?”

(“That abortions make up 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. Abortions are polling higher than you!”)

“Donald Trump, everyone! Thanks for taking the time, Don, to visit this loozah… (Performs the awkward Trump/Ben Carson high five for the camera. People applaud when he misses…)

“Anyway, while we’re trying to secure more protections for the unborn, we’re trying to take away protections from everyone else. My fellow Republicans at the State House are working on eliminating the civil service protections that keep cronies out of plum jobs around the state. Now, people are saying I’m doing this so I can give out free jobs to people that I owe big money to, but that’s not the case. It’s because the civil service exam involves two things I can’t stand: Passing exams and answering questions.

Besides, this whole thing is rife with corruption…

(Someone in the back yells out “YEAH!”)

“No, no, no, sir. Not the good kind… It’s the kind that leads to people who are incompetent being put into jobs they don’t know how to do, thus creating disaster and chaos. There’s only one way that should happen and it’s called the electoral process…

“And speaking of not knowing what was going on, I’d like to offer a serious note here to all the people who dissed me on the campaign trail for not understanding world politics. It’s not easy to get all involved in that stuff when you can’t see another country from your porch like Sarah Palin could. I did my best to reach out to others… like, any Muslims in the house tonight?”

(One guy claps, everyone else disengages the safeties from their concealed weapons…)

“Hey, guys, c’mon, relax! It’s cool and they’re all on holiday this week, so let me just say I’m sure Jesus loves them and he’ll be cool with them when they start acting right. Until then, let me offer you the blessing of your people by saying “Edie Brickell” to you and yours…

Speaking of Jesus, man, did he pull a flip-flop on me. First it was like, “Scott… Run for president… I’m calling you to do this…” Then he was all like, “Scott… drop out of the race… I’m calling you to do this…” Then he was like, “Scott… I need someone to pick up my dry cleaning… I’m calling you to do this…” Turns out, it wasn’t Jesus. It was just Charles Koch yelling at my through the heating vents in my house…

“Well, looks like it’s just about the end of my time, so I’m going to lead by clearing the stage for another funny guy who leads by failing… Please give it up for John Boehner!”

Watching Scotty Blow It

Other that to say I told you so about the political silly season, I can’t really top what Athenae, Ed Kilgore, and Charlie Pierce have said about Scott Walker’s exit. I am, however, disappointed that Charlie didn’t use Watching Scotty Blow It as the title for his post, so I stole it. It’s Tom Petty larceny at worst:

How Dare Those Unions Politicize Scott Walker’s Political Failures!

 

Why can’t they allow the man a little peace, right? 

Labor tap-dances on Walker’s political grave

His longtime foes are delighted by his political misfortune

Are anyone’s longtime foes not delighted by that person’s misfortune? If Walker was a flaming liberal and he GOT LESS THAN ONE PERCENT IN A NATIONAL POLL, would Republicans be accused of tap-dancing on his grave then? Or would there be sober think-pieces in which Republicans were quoted as saying they’d seen this coming all along and if only he had listened to them?

I mean, organized labor was proved fucking right here, and instead of saying “Hey, wow, those unions that said Walker was bad news turned out to be totally correct,” here comes Politico to chide them for their correctness:

For labor, Walker’s failure as a presidential candidate is especially sweet given the twin humiliations it has suffered from Walker in Wisconsin. A labor-backed effort to recall Walker failed in 2012 after Walker pushed through a bill drastically reducing public employees’ bargaining rights. Then, in 2014, Walker won re-election after Trumka declared Walker’s defeat organized labor’s top priority. Earlier this year, Walker had made Wisconsin the country’s 25th right-to-work state, freeing public and private workers from any legal requirement to pay dues or their equivalent to a union that bargains collectively on their behalf.

They’re so mean! How dare they be so petty? Just because he wanted to destroy the entire way of life they represent, I mean, GOD.

But hey, it’s probably because unions just don’t matter at all, right?

Another possible explanation Walker’s campaign failed to catch fire is that, with union membership down to 6.6 percent in the private sector, even Republican voters who oppose organized labor may not think about unions very much.

I dunno, looking at those numbers, about 6 percent of them seem to think about unions more than they think about Scott Walker.

But hey, Politico, tell us how your King in the North isn’t dead, just resting. Go on, find a way to spin this as good news for Scott Walker!

But Michael Barnone, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, suggested that it might be premature to write Walker’s political obituary. “He can continue to serve as governor of Wisconsin if people elect him and reelect him,” Barone said, noting that Wisconsin has no term limits for governors. “Could he take a position in a Republican administration? I should think so.

“He continues to be, by many measures — certainly by his own — a successful governor,” Barone said.

By many measures, certainly by my own, I am one hell of an astronaut, a renowned pastry chef, Obama’s chief speechwriter and an Olympic figure skater. Silver medal, I mean, let’s not be greedy.

Personally, I think Gov. Deadeyes isn’t very bright and was utterly flummoxed when the game plan that got him to the GOP Super Bowl wasn’t enough to get him the ring. He seemed genuinely confused as to why nobody loved him, unable to change his message when braying UNINTIMIDATED BY GRANDMAS AND TEACHERS didn’t impress voters whose intellectual capacities extend to reading Donald Trump’s hat. I understand his confusion, and I’m not as happy as I thought I’d be seeing him crash and burn.

There’s still a university in Wisconsin for him to destroy, and the state’s pension funds to loot, and untold damage for him to do to people and places I care about. Until he takes his rightful place among the angels and saints in the Fox News afternoon lineup, where he can jerk his CV for the shut-ins and goldbugs who make up its viewership, this isn’t over.

A.

When Gov. Deadeyes Met The Gret Stet Fuhrer Wannabe

The post title is a bit of a stretch: they weren’t in the same studio and Walker was merely Baby Deadeyes at that point. He didn’t become Governor until 2011, but y’all know I have a weakness for a snappy headline. So it goes.

I apparently missed this the first time it popped up at Uppity Wisconsin in 2011. I barely even noticed it at TPM because of the overkill coverage of the 3 hour GOP sludge fest. The year is 1992, Dukkke was trying to get on the ballot for the Republican Presidential primary. Baby Deadeyes was there as a representative of the GOP, trying to keep Duke and his nose job off the ballot.

The most interesting thing about this appearance on Milwaukee public teevee is how many pro-Duke calls they got. I wonder he had a group there:  Cheese-eating, Beer-drinking, Blonds for Duke. That’s pretty darn catchy.

I considered calling the post Watching Scotty Blow David Duke but decided against it since Walker was mounting a somewhat feeble attack on Dukke. It’s a sign of how far right the GOP has gone that Walker doesn’t wear this exchange as a badge of pride:

“I would certainly hope it’s gonna be a majority opposed to putting him on the ballot,” Walker says, pursing his lips.

Duke’s upper body calls out from a TV screen on the wall behind the desk: “Shame on you, Scott Walker, shame on you.” He’s speaking from New Orleans via satellite.

With his eyes still lowered, Walker shakes his head a little and opens his hands as if to shrug, “Well, what can you do.”

Here’s the video. Notice how much the Insult Comedian sounds like the Gret Stet Fuhrer Wannabe, except for da Noo Yawk accent:

Politicians Have too LITTLE Power in Wisconsin Government, Apparently

This is like giving whiskey and  car keys to 17-year-olds and then, when they wrap the Bronco around the neighbor’s tree, giving them more whiskey and a speedboat:

Madison — Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature plan to restructure the agency that runs elections by the fall of 2016, when Walker hopes to top the ballot as a candidate for president.

GOP lawmakers also plan to rewrite campaign finance laws for state candidates to put them in line with recent court decisions. As part of that effort, they are considering at least doubling the amount of money donors can give candidates, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said.

Also on the docket this fall is putting limits on the ability of district attorneys to conduct John Doe probes that allow them to compel people to turn over documents and give testimony. The law also gives them the power to bar targets and witnesses from telling anyone but their attorneys about such investigations.

[snip]

Daniel Tokaji, a professor at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University who specializes in election law, called the accountability board a model for the nation in a 2013 review.

He called the move to restructure the accountability board a “partisan attack.”

“Such attempts at partisan manipulation of the election system are no longer surprising,” he said by email. “The only surprise is how ham-handed the state GOP has been about its goal of making Wisconsin’s election system less fair.”

Which will be super-fun when it is Democrats in power and yes, I said when. Might take a hundred years, but this stupidity will be over someday, and when it is, Robin Vos will be looking up from hell while he is nibbled on by a thousand fire ants, and he will say damn, that was stupid.

Nobody thinks, do they, that this will ever turn around on them, but nobody ever gives up power once they get it. It’s not smart to do so. You never give yourself fewer tools. You never voluntarily relinquish abilities you think you might need some day and politicians always think they will need the ability to fuck with their enemies.

Someday, as he is licked from head to toe by Ebola-infected zombies, Robin Vos will think to himself, I should never have given Gov. Tammy Baldwin the ability to get away with anything just so I wouldn’t die in prison.

A.

Tweet Of The Day: Governor Deadeyes Does Philly Edition

TPM has a hilarious piece about Scott Walker’s recent campaign stop in Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia, you don’t mess with people’s cheesesteaks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) learned that the hard way on Tuesday while visiting two of the city’s popular cheesesteak spots, where he cut in line, left behind his trash, and ordered the famous Philly sandwich — with American cheese and without onions, according to philly.com.

Apparently, Governor Deadeyes thinks he has the right to cut in line because wrecking Wisconsin makes him an important man.  I’m only sorry that Charlie Pierce is on vacay this week so he can’t write another Watching Scotty Blow piece about this schmuck.

The much ballyhooed tweet of the day comes from WaPo reporter Jenna Johnson who was watching Scotty blow:

I hope they booed him too. It’s a safe assumption, it being Philly. Anyone remember this?

Don’t Gopers know that Philadelphia is a Democratic town? The could look it up: President Obama got  85% of the vote there in 2012. Oy, such malakatude.

Scott Walker’s Lex Luthor Party

One thing we have to do immediately is prosecute whistleblowers: 

The state budget passed this week by the Legislature repeals a law that encourages whistle-blowers with evidence of Medicaid fraud to come forward.

Wisconsin has recovered millions of dollars from lawsuits initiated by whistle-blowers since the law was enacted in 2007.

The repeal of the law — no more than a few words and a reference to a section in the state statute — was included in an omnibus motion on Medicaid by the Joint Finance Committee and drew little attention.

There were no hearings or even public discussion by the committee.

Funny, I thought the GOP was all about rooting out fraud in expensive federal programs OH WAIT:

In the largest and most promising lawsuits, the federal government frequently intervenes and takes over the litigation.

The federal False Claims Act has resulted in settlements with pharmaceutical and other health care companies that have totaled billions of dollars.

This isn’t the GOPSexy kind of fraud, where a poor woman lies about her benefits to bilk the state out of $250. This is the kind of fraud their friends do!

Cross represented a whistle-blower in a lawsuit that recently led to a $31.5 million settlement with PharMerica, which provides pharmacy services to nursing homes and other institutional customers as well as other services in 45 states.

The lawsuit alleged the company illegally dispensed drugs, such as OxyContin and fentanyl, without valid prescriptions, and falsely billed the government for them.

Cross also represented a nurse in a lawsuit against Odyssey Healthcare Inc., one of the country’s largest providers of hospice care and now part of Gentiva Health Services, that led to a $25 million settlement.

In another recent whistle-blower lawsuit, Extendicare Health Services Inc., a nursing-home chain based in Milwaukee at the time, and a subsidiary agreed to pay $38 million to the federal government and eight states, including Wisconsin, to settle allegations that it improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid.

It is excellent that we are no longer protecting people who want to help stop that kind of thing.

BONUS Wisconsin stupidity: Don’t drink and legislate.

A.

Understanding Tenure

This might be the last post I’m able to accomplish for quite some time. I’m not sure what the future holds, now that the UW Regents brought to you by Carl’s Jr…. er… Scott Walker have failed to fight back against the plan to eliminate the state statute that protects professorial tenure. Those who have supported this move in the statehouse, especially Alberta Darling, whose name is an anagram for “Blaring Alert Ad,” have said this isn’t the elimination of tenure. Instead, it’s simply moving it from the state law to the regents’ control, so it’s the same basic thing. This is true, much in the way that if you love the smell of the $158 Calvin Klein Eternity, you’ll love the 50-cent version of this “impostor fragrance” spurted on you from the machine in the truck stop bathroom. The classic scent of a “harmonious blend of white flowers and creamy woods” is so much like the spray of cheap alcohol and cat piss you get at “Cum-N-Go” fuel depot.

I understand why people who feel that professors are lazy or don’t do work or generally sit in their offices in tweed coats and smoke alabaster pipes all day think tenure is bullshit. Truth be told, those of use who view tenure as a shield hate people who use it as a sword to fend off actual work and shared responsibilities. However, you shouldn’t get rid of the whole system simply because a few useless assholes are taking advantage of it. That’s like throwing away your Cadillac Escalade because somebody jammed gum into the ashtray.

The purpose of tenure is to provide faculty with the ability to fearlessly study, publish, promote and question ideas, topics and institutions that might not sit well with everyone else. It also allows professors, who are seen as the experts in their fields, to self-define what makes for worthwhile scholarly and professional endeavors. Thus, a professor who wants to understand how pornography shapes the minds of adults and influences heavy users in their sexual relationships later in life can do so without some half-wit popcorn farmer waving a “Gentlemen Prefer Bridget” DVD in their face and then pink-slipping the scholar.

It’s also why I get to do this. Each week (OK, I’ve been slipping a bit recently…) I get to find a topic of interest, create a post, include links, post the material, read the responses, track the readership data and examine the influence of my words. It also allows me to go back and analyze my own writing to see my influences over time and the ways in which certain topics either emboldened or cowed me in my approach to coverage. I was lucky enough to have a friend/colleague/co-asylum-dweller who had a successful blog who would let me post and give me the chance to see how this all works in a real-life scenario. This is basically the world’s coolest writing lab on a platform a lot of my students will need to understand if they hope to be employable.

I’m not sure how many people think this way about these posts or this blog or anything else they get on the Internet. In fact, I’d bet many people think I do this so I can kill time on a Friday while saying “fuck” a lot in front of other people.

And that the whole point of tenure: I got to decide what mattered and play in that sandbox in hopes of bettering myself without fear of getting fired for it or for lack of “a direct and measurable productivity and output statement.”

This is not, as some people say, “a job for life.” You can be fired as a tenured faculty member, but it just makes it a lot harder for hair-brained, hair-trigger idiots to do so. The people who WANT to fire you must show “just cause” under the state law, which means that professors who act all weird instead of teaching, have “crime-based” issues or view students as a smorgasbord of pussy (that one was for you, A), can and are shown the door. It also means that when you write, as I have, that my governor looks like that creature from “Dreamcatcher,” or that he has the IQ of a salad bar, or occasionally looks like Johnny Drama after he rubbed his boner up against Brooke Shields, no one can activate a trap door under your desk and drop your ass into the Rancor pit.

When a state law demands something with strong punitive measures to inhibit lawbreakers (think of speed limits in Rosendale), people tend to take that shit really seriously and think twice before doing something stupid. However, when it’s only supported by a smaller group with little authority and almost no tangible negative associated with it (think of when teachers on the last day of school yell, “No running in the halls!”), nobody really takes it seriously.

What the new policy will look like, no one here knows. The general reassurances of state officials, regents, system administrators and more are nice, but I’ve seen people fired for far less than what has been written here. It’s sad, but what we have held onto by retaining the Wisconsin Idea, we might be unable to accomplish because we now have people fearful of supporting that Idea.

Being a Girl Scout Prepared Me for the Coming Apocalypse, Too

Scott Walker and the Not Quite Ready for Primetime Players Theater Present: The Male Palin! 

According to the video, the final question Hewitt asked Walker was, “Does the prospect of being commander in chief daunt you? Because the world that you describe when you’re talking about safety is going to require a commitment to American men and women abroad, obviously at some point. How do you think about that?”

Walker first acknowledged, “That’s an appropriate question.”

“As a kid, I was in Scouts. And one of the things I’m proudest of when I was in Scouts is I earned the rank of Eagle,” Walker said. “Being an Eagle Scout is one of the few things you get as a kid that, you are not the past, it’s something you are.”

The governor said whenever he attends an Eagle Scout ceremony, he tells the young man being honored that he’s not there to congratulate him, but to issue a charge — that once a Scout obtains the Eagle ranking, he is responsible for living up to that calling for the rest of his life.

He then drew from his Eagle Scout experience discussing his military philosophy.

“America is an exceptional country,” Walker said. “And I think, unfortunately, sometimes there are many in Washington who think those of us who believe we are exceptional means we are superior, that we’re better than others in the world.

“And to me, much like my thought process of being an Eagle Scout is, no, being an exceptional country means we have a higher responsibility … not just to care for ourselves and our own interests, but to lead in the world, to ensure that all freedom-loving people have the capacity, who yearn for that freedom, to have that freedom.”

Speaking to his military strategy, Walker said the U.S. needs to engage in military action when appropriate, but that it must be done with “a plan and a charge that ultimately leads to victory.”

Got that? We shouldn’t engage in military action without a plan. That’s his big thinking.

Scott, Dwight Eisenhower called. He said he and Genghis Khan were shooting the shit the other night over drinks at Grant’s place, and they all agreed you should fuck yourself.

On the Eagle Scout thing, i’s like he realized midsentence he had just said what he said, and started pinwheeling his arms but he couldn’t stop. I don’t actually believe he thinks being an Eagle Scout qualifies him to be CIC. I think he was heading for a metaphor, got distracted by something shiny in the middle of the road, and got run over by the flaming cheese truck of his own stupid imagination.

Which is to say, of course, that anybody who can’t find a coherent sentence with a searchlight and a posse is staggeringly unqualified to be president. The biggest part of your damn job is talking sensibly about shit. It’s not like there’s the part where you talk and then the part where you fight tyrants bare-handed so it’s okay if you aren’t so good at the talking. The talking (thinking and writing included here) is fairly major. You say the wrong thing to Putin and the next thing you know we’re all looking at the world from Sarah Palin’s house.

A.