Springtime, when a young person's fancies turn to thoughts of recalls
At somewhere around 100,000 people in attendance, Saturday's rally in Madison was likely the largest such thing in the city's history. More importantly, it showed that the people of Wisconsin and, indeed, the nation are not anywhere close to giving up the fight to protect the rights of regular working people.
Despite the fever dreams of certain Republican politicians and their sympathizers in the media, Majority Leader Fitzgerald's illegal maneuver that split the bill and rushed through a vote (in gross violation of open meeting laws, among other things, over which several legal complaints have already been filed) that allowed Gov. Scott Walker to sign the union busting provisions into law the protests haven't ended.
Indeed, people seem more energized than ever to see justice done. Recall efforts against eight vulnerable Republican senators across the state are well ahead of schedule in terms of the number of signatures already gathered 56,000 by last count. And pledges to sign to recall Walker when his time comes later this year are steadily growing.
(I urge you to either volunteer to help with the recall efforts and/or, where applicable, sign the petitions!)
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republicans are on the run from their own constituents. Since they can't seem to go anywhere in the state without being met by thousands of protesters even in small towns like Washburn, six hours north of Madison Walker, the Fitzgeralds, and several other GOP legislators are headed to a $1,000-dollar-a-plate fundraiser at a lobbying firm's headquarters in Washington, DC.
It should also be noted that Walker's office has yet to comply with an open records request, filed by Isthmus and the AP, to release the "thousands" of emails he allegedly received from Wisconsinites in support of his budget bill.
This is especially interesting in light of the fact that Walker was all-too happy to quickly release emails between GOP aides and Democratic senators that they thought, anyway, made it look like they were actually negotiating in good faith. Clearly, then, it's not a matter of not having the time or resources to gather and release records.
We've seen nothing from Walker or the increasingly smug and out-of-touch Fitzgeralds to indicate that they have any desire to work with the people of Wisconsin to improve conditions for everyone in the state. They have no desire even to follow the laws by which the rest of us are bound. They all wear their ideological blinders with pride all to the detriment of the rest of the state.
Women disproportionately affected negatively by Walker's budget
Surprise, surprise: The population most negatively affected by Walker's budget bill is women, especially those in lower income brackets.
I'd been noticing bits of the bill that seemed to target women in particular before, but I have to give major credit to James Rowen at The Political Environment for putting together the bigger picture for me. He notes, rightly, that:
- Walker exempted male-dominated police and fire unions statewide from mandatory cuts in bargaining rights and also from out-of-pocket increases in health care and pension contributions.
- That leaves the female-dominated professions, like teaching and nursing - - as was evident by the large number of women in these fields carrying signs at Saturday's rally at the Capitol - - without the same bargaining rights, but with paychecks shrunk.
- AFSCME could provide the data, but I'm assuming that women make up a very large percentage of many public agencies' line and office workers, so the gender disparities continue.
- Women also take the brunt of the across-the-board $20 cut to W-2 monthly checks proposed in the budget.
- Some low-income, female heads of households are going to be paying even more in state income taxes, though, if you believe the spin, the Walker budget is a no-tax-increase plan.
- And when you cut school breakfasts for poor Milwaukee children, who do we think is most likely to try and manage those consequences? Moms and women teachers.
- And Walker's going after family planning funding, too.
That last bullet point was one of the first issues I was made aware of, since Walker's bill eliminates the state's 2009 contraceptive equality law, requiring health insurance providers to cover things like birth control pills and other contraceptives.
Not only that, but Walker's budget also calls for outright defunding programs that provide contraceptive help to low income women. It also gets rid of Title V, "the only state-funded family planning program, which provides not just birth control but the gamut of tests and cancer screenings that keep poor people healthy."
This is part of a larger, national right-wing movement to strip rights from women especially when it comes to reproductive rights. Introduced in January, H.R. 3 (the so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act") aims to eliminate all federal funding for vital organizations like Planned Parenthood.
Study after study shows that investing in affordable, comprehensive birth control access for women results in monetary savings: "Avoiding the significant costs associated with…unintended births saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent on family planning." So why is Walker, who claims with every breath to be a fiscal conservative, taking aim at these programs?
The answer is the same as the reason why Walker talks about job creation one minute while killing thousands of jobs the next: He's lying.
As I've said before, Walker is an ideological purist to the scariest degree. Willing to say or do whatever he thinks is necessary to reach the various goals he's laid out for himself a veritable laundry list of right-wing wet dreams, plus probably a run at higher office Walker presents a formidable challenge to the people of Wisconsin. Because he doesn't seem to care about the havoc his plans will wreak on the state, it's up to the rest of us to put the brakes on his steamroller before it flattens us beyond repair.
The word is Kloppenberg
Speaking of ways in which we can fight to put the breaks on Walkers' nefarious schemes, in addition to the various recall efforts underway there's also a statewide election coming up on April 5. One of the major choices to make on that ballot is between sitting Supreme Court Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenberg.
My endorsement goes 100 percent to Kloppenberg.
A little bit about her:
Assistant Attorney General Kloppenburg has been a litigator and prosecutor at the Wisconsin Department of Justice since 1989, serving under Attorneys General from both parties: Don Hanaway, Jim Doyle, Peg Lautenschlager and JB Van Hollen.
Her legal experience is broad and deep and includes constitutional law, appellate law, civil litigation, environmental prosecution and administrative law. She has argued numerous cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and she has tried cases in circuit courts around the state.
Basically, Kloppenberg has been a law enforcement official for over 20 years and has a deep knowledge of the state constitution and rules. Meanwhile, Prosser rose through the ranks as a GOP legislator before being appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998.
Prosser's record as a Supreme Court Justice, and previously as a legislator and Outagamie County DA, include such gems as:
- Voting against a bill that would have required Supreme Court justice to recuse themselves from cases involving donors to their campaigns
- Opted not to prosecute Green Bay priest Father John Patrick Feeney for abusing underage boys in 1979 because "it would be too hard on the boys." Feeney then went on to rape several other boys before finally being sent to prison in 2004.
- "…in 1981 successfully fought back an effort to kill an old law that was still on the books that made sex illegal for everyone except married couples."
More recently, Prosser's campaign released a statement that claimed his re-election would result in "protecting the conservative judicial majority and acting as a common sense compliment [sic] to both the new [Republican] administration and legislature."
Kloppenberg stands ready to help shift the balance of the Wisconsin Supreme Court back to a more impartial body that serves as an actual check to the power of the Executive and Legislative branches of our government. It won't solve the entire problem, what with GOP darlings Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman still serving, but it will help a great deal.
Read Bill Lueders excellent article/interview with the two candidates here.