Why the Kloppenburg vote is crucial
I've been talking a lot about how JoAnne Kloppenburg is the best choice for Supreme Court Justice in this coming Tuesday's election. I've laid out her many qualifications, and highlighted the problems with incumbent Justice David Prosser.
There's another important element to this story, however, that came up during a recent Dane101 podcast chat where we had the opportunity to shoot the breeze with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).
Pocan made a very interesting point, and it's one I'd like to bring up with you all now:
There's no way a person who is a non-sitting judge, whose name is 'Kloppenburg,' is supposed to beat a sitting incumbent Supreme Court Justice... it's very possible with the interest right now, if people decide to motivate and get out the vote, that Kloppenburg wins. If that happens, that's like the nuclear option for Walker. He at that point goes, 'oh shit.' Because that means we win all the recalls we need to win and take back the Senate, and that also likely means he becomes eligible for recall. That is the worst possible thing that happens. And even if she just gets 48 or 49 percent, the same is true.
Why? Because Kloppenberg only won 25 percent of the vote in the primaries, against Prosser's 55 percent -- but the climate in Wisconsin has shifted so dramatically in the last couple of months that it has, according to even the ultra-conservative National Review, put the contenders in a dead heat (if not with Kloppenburg enjoying a slight lead).
That's reflective of polling that shows formerly undecided Wisconsin residents swinging over to join those who disapprove of Walker's performance as governor. It's entirely likely that those same mid-roaders may now support Kloppenburg over Prosser, the more conservative/pro-Walker candidate.
Dane County Chief Deputy Clerk Karen Peters has said she expects a county turnout of 45 to 50 percent and a city turnout of 65 percent next week, as compared to the 15 or 20 percent usually seen in off-year spring elections. Statewide the numbers may more closely resemble usual turnout rates for contested spring elections, which the GAB puts at about 20 percent.
So if Kloppenberg even just comes close to winning -- let alone if she takes it outright -- Pocan's likely to be entirely correct in suggesting that it means much greater success for the various recall campaigns being undertaken against Republicans, including the governor himself.
P.S. If you need free transportation to the polls in Madison and surrounding communities next Tuesday, Union Cab and Badger Cab have you covered.
Don't mess with grandma
If there's one rule that's been pretty solid in politics for decades now, it's that you don't mess with the elderly -- not in an obvious, public fashion, anyway (plenty of unscrupulous politicians have been more underhanded in their harassment).
First and foremost, the reason for this rule is that it's just immoral to implement laws or structure programs that harm the well-being of our elders. The general public rightly bristles at the notion of policy that negatively impacts the folks who have raised them and are now in a more vulnerable stage of their lives.
On a crass, political level (sadly the only one that seems to matter to some public officials), you don't mess with the old folks because they enjoy the backing of one of the nation's most powerful lobbies. So it has come as no surprise, then, that several members of the state Republican Party have been breaking with Gov. Scott Walker and his plan to force SeniorCare participants to switch their prescription plans over to the federal Medicare Part D program.
Now twin recall targets Sens. Alberta Darling and Randy Hopper have stated that they oppose Walker's plan as well.
Don't get me wrong: I think it's a terrible idea, too. Still, I can't help but express some cynicism toward Darling and Hopper's reasons for coming out in opposition to the proposal now. Seems rather convenient for them, when recall petitions are breathing down their necks (the collection of signatures to recall Hopper seems the closest of any in meeting its goal at the moment).
That is, it's a politically easy thing to support the rights of seniors. It's also right, but it would also be right for Darling, Hopper and other GOP officials to have seen Walker's moves to strip collective bargaining rights, politicize an enormous number of state jobs, and provide no-bid contracts on state power plants, among other things, for the bald-faced and anti-democratic power grabs that they are.
We're not dealing with people who actually strive to do what's right over what's popular (or in this case, not even popular -- just politically expedient within their own party), so you'll excuse my lack of enthusiasm for their sudden "change of heart."
What's wrong with this picture?
Remember sexting DA Ken Kratz? Oh yes, I've written at length about this particularly unsavory character. He was caught sending racy and often harassing text messages to a woman who'd been the victim of domestic abuse and whom he represented in that case.
After the initial charges were made public, too, several other women came forward to accuse Kratz of using his office as a means to secure romantic relationships, among other things.
And for some reason that I still don't understand, the Justice Department declined to press charges (or indeed, to do much of an investigation), instead merely requiring Kratz to self-report to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, which also decided that Kratz had not actually violated any rules.
All that happened, then, was that Kratz was taken off the case. Eventually, too, enough pressure mounted from the publicity surrounding the events that Kratz resigned his position entirely. That same pressure caused the DoJ and OLR both to reopen their investigations into the matter, which some hoped would finally result in proper charges being filed against a man who so clearly violated the rules and ethics of his office, but also sexually harassed a woman already dealing with domestic abuse.
That's the part of this that seems so often neglected in news stories and the investigative approach: Kratz was sexually harassing this woman, and likely others, using his position of authority to do so.
Yet now, some months later, Justice Department investigators have again determined that "Kratz technically didn't fail or refuse to perform his duties, didn't exceed his authority and didn't try to gain a dishonest advantage," and will not file criminal charges.
Really?! I fail to see how using your office to pressure women into sexual contact with you isn't exceeding ones authority and trying to gain a dishonest advantage. But maybe the DoJ doesn't consider sexual harassment to carry the same weight as political maneuvering -- at least, that's all I can think of in terms of how they came to this particularly onerous conclusion. They'd be wrong, of course, if that was the case.
We do too much as a society to downplay the negative impact and seriousness of sexual harassment. Cases like this one only reinforce the belief that 1) perpetrators with enough position and influence will always get off scot free, and 2) the law doesn't take the issue seriously. It's a dangerous precedent to set, both for the people who are victimized and then convinced not to seek justice because what's the point? And for those who might perpetrate the crimes, because who's gonna care?
Kratz should be seen for what he is -- a predator -- and punished accordingly.