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Monday, February 28, 2011

Scott Walker's Health Care Hypocrisy


Scott Walker's Health Care Hypocrisy

Daniel Marans's picture

GOP Cuts Kill 700,000 Jobs


Impact Of GOP's Job-Killing Budget Cuts: 700,000 Jobs Lost

Isaiah J. Poole's picture

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Core GOP Values According to Republicans


Getting to the Heart of Republican Beliefs

From the moment that to preserve our rights a change of government became necessary, no doubt could be entertained that a republican form was most consonant with reason, with right, with the freedom of man, and with the character and situation of our fellow citizens. Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Virginia Legislature, 1809. ME 16:333

The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind. Thomas Jefferson: Reply to Address, 1790. ME 8:6, Papers 16:225

These days, it is very hard to know what Republican beliefs are. On the one hand, those who are weak-willed, immature, avaricious, and always at secret as well as open war against the rights of mankind – those who love to style themselves “liberals” – have been on a media blitz against Republican beliefs since the 1930s and FDR’s administration. On the other hand, the modern Republican party seems to have lost its fortitude after the departure from the White House of Ronald Reagan. George Bush Sr. was a solid President, but he was the first to embody a terrible new attitude in the modern Republic party: a disbelief that any selling of the core beliefs of Republicans should have to be continued, an attitude of “looking at your watch during debates” which undoubtedly cost him the election against Clinton (to the detriment of everyone). The Liberals, who are now fully embodied by Democrats, never cease from selling, selling, selling.

Republican Beliefs, Core beliefs of RepublicansAlso within the Republican party has been the unfortunate rise of the RINO. RINOs, which include men like John McCain and, to too much of an extent, “W” Bush, have pulled out the rug from under the feet of their own party. RINOs are compromised Republicans and, therefore, they have compromised the health of the party.

What Are the Core Republican Beliefs (Not RINOs)?

— The Republican party was officially founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, although the movement had upshots elsewhere, too. The original branches of the party were “Black Republicans”, Radicals, and Conservatives. All three sub-groups were anti-slavery and wanted equal rights and full citizenship for black Americans, although they disagreed about the details of how to bring about this reality. Democrats were very predominantly opposed to abolition. Therefore, foremost among the core beliefs of Republicans are hatred of racism and a desire to see black people advance and thrive. Democrats, today, still attempt to keep black Americans enslaved through their “secret war”.

The United States of America is a Constitutional Republic. We are not a Democracy. The Founders were opposed to democracy except in the limited areas where (according to Jefferson) it could thrive: only within small towns and local communities. Therefore, Republican beliefs include studying the Constitution and keeping government sharply boxed within the strictures where it is meant to be. Unfortunately, too many modern Republicans have forgotten all about the eternal vigilance needed to do this.

Republican core beliefs maintain that, though imperfect (as all nations of any kind are), the United States is the greatest nation in the world. Republicans understand America’s greatness even as they understand that perfect’s not for real; and therefore, Republicans are not obsessed with an impossible Utopia like Liberal Democrats are in their delusions.

Republican beliefs maintain, like the Founders did, that religion is of vital importance to a healthy nation. While it’s obvious that Republicans are predominantly Judeo-Christian, there are Republicans who are a-religious, agnostics, and even “neo-pagans”-and all are acceptable. No Republican, however, can accept the perverse religious cult of progressivism-Socialism.

Core beliefs of Republicans maintain that all people in the United States are equal in the sense that all citizens must have the protected rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of property (yes, property). They do not believe that anybody has a right to success, wealth, or any portion of anyone else’s property. We can all hope for and freely pursue success, wealth, and love, but we are not entitled to any of it.

Republicans believe that “the worker is worthy of his wages”-and nobody else is.

Republican beliefs include the concept that if you do the crime, you must do the time. Judges exist to dispense justice-not invent it.

Republican beliefs include being charitable (voluntarily), honest, and response-able (responsible for one’s self).

Those with Republican beliefs emphatically embrace free market capitalism as clearly the best way to enable independence, dream-fulfillment, and “the greatest good for the greatest number”.

At the core of Republican beliefs is the concept that the family, not the government, is the child’s right and true authority figure.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fascism at Your Doorstep – Special Emergency Powers Legislation

Fascism at Your Doorstep – Special Emergency Powers Legislation

Reichstag Optimized Fascism at Your Doorstep   Special Emergency Powers LegislationBy Jonathryn

The news from Wisconsin today is that Wisconsin State Troopers, under the direction of a political appointee of the Governor, are visiting the homes of legislators who are resisting the Governor’s deeply unpopular legislation. By what reckoning can an executive, using armed men in state uniforms, dictate a legislator’s prerogatives, or the prerogatives of a caucus of legislators? If you chose “brute force,” you answered correctly.

The extremely dubious provocation of sending State Troopers to legislators’ homes gives the impression that what the legislators are doing is illegal. It’s not. And by attempting to refocus the media on where the legislators live with their families and children, instead of the huge mass demonstrations at the capitol, it seeks to exert not only official, state-sanctioned physical intimidation of those legislators in the places where their spouses and children live. By bringing the legislators’ homes into the discussion it invites unofficial state-sanctioned violence in the form of people like Jared Lee Loughner, the man who brought a gun to a political event and injured fourteen people, including sitting congresswoman Gabreielle Giffords, and killed six others, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll.

“Oh no,” one might say, “we can’t know that Walker would even consider violence against his political opposition.” Well, actually, we do know that. In a telephone conversation with someone who identified himself as Conservative billionaire and campaign finacier David Koch, the ersatz Koch suggested using agents provocateur against the protesters in the state capitol, to create the false impression that State Troopers were necessary to storm the capitol, to which Walker replied that you know, well, they had thought of that, but there was just one problem: “You know, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. . . . My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all these problems.”

Yes, how DOES one get peasant’s blood off the carpet? “All these problems” are ever so bothersome.

Apparently, the only thing holding them back is not whether the men, women, and children exercising their first amendment rights to assemble and speak freely would be shot, clubbed, gassed, electrocuted with tasers; but that the optics of State Troopers storming the people’s capitol and clubbing children would be impolitic: “You know, well, the only problem . . . would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has to settle to avoid all these problems.”

And after all, what would be his disposition toward a dead or maimed opposition politician, if his attitude could be summed up as “what are a few dead peasants more or less?”

Any political operation that rounds up opposition legislators, props them at their seats, and forces them to vote at gunpoint in a Potemkin sham of a republican form of government, should be called what it is: fascist. Opposition legislators who would allow themselves to be so used, to create legitimacy in what would otherwise be rightly recognized as the farce it is, like stage props in a fore-ordained “legal proceeding” as legitimate as Saddam Hussein’s unanimous and unopposed election as President of Iraq.

William Shirer, a press correspondent in the 1930s, watched similar manipulations surrounding groundbreaking legislation called the Enabling Act (“Law for Removing the Distress of People and Government”):

The plan was deceptively simple and had the advantage of cloaking the seizure of absolute power in legality. The Reichstag would be asked to pass an “enabling act” conferring on Hitler’s cabinet exclusive legislative powers for four years. . . . How to obtain that majority was the main order of business at a cabinet meeting on March 15, 1934, the minutes of which were produced at Nuremberg. Part of the problem would be solved by the “absence” of the eighty-one Communist members of the Reichstag. Goering felt sure that the rest of the problem could be easily disposed of by “refusing admittance to a few Social Democrats.” . . . Yet one of them, Otto Wells, leader of the Social Democrats, a dozen of whose deputies had been “detained” by the police, rose,–amid the roar of the storm troopers outside yelling, “Full powers, or else!”—to defy the would-be dictator. Speaking quietly and with great dignity, Wells declared that the government might strip the Socialists of their power but it could never strip them of their honor.

The vote was held in the Opera House. The Special Emergency Powers Hitler was requesting was because he had directed the head of state security, Hermann Goerring, to burn down the parliamentary building, the Reichstag. Hitler was essentially forcing legislation to address a problem he himself had created.

First published in The Agonist

Koch brothers and the union-busting Kansas House


Posted on Friday, February 25, 2011

Commentary: Koch brothers and the union-busting Kansas House

The Republican union-busting campaign spread to Kansas this week like a disease, with state lawmakers approving a bill that would gut the free-speech rights of union members.

Now that may not be the most even-handed way of explaining what happened in the Kansas House. However, it is the truth. The kind of truth that you only hear when, say, the governor of Wisconsin thinks he’s talking privately to one of his fat-cat donors.

But as there’s no shortage of analysis on Gov. Scott Walker’s frank admissions over the phone to a blogger pretending to be billionaire David Koch, let’s focus, instead, on what political allies of the real Koch brothers have been up to in their home state.

Kansas House Bill 2130 got final approval in that chamber Thursday and now goes to the Senate. It is a transparent attempt to strip already weakened unions of what little political power they have left.

The bill’s supporters — among them the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity — pretend that the legislation is aimed at protecting workers’ rights.

That’s baloney. Kansas is a right to work state. Not only is it illegal to make union membership a condition of employment, union members cannot be forced to provide financial support to political causes and candidates.

No, what HB 2130 does is attempt to limit the political influence of unions, which tend to support Democrats. It denies union members the right to make voluntary payroll deductions to union political action committees.

Oh, sure, union members would be free, like anyone else, to write a check to their union PAC. But a far less painful payroll deduction for average folks, that wouldn’t be allowed.

And this from the same gang that claims any attempt to limit corporate campaign contributions is trampling on free speech rights – of the wealthy, anyway.

Not surprisingly, Kansas union leaders are livid. And they fully expect more is to come. Perhaps even an attempt, similar to the one in Wisconsin, to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

“I fully expect to see something,” Jane Carter, head of the Kansas Organization of State Employees, told me.

“I think it’s apparent there’s an all-out war on working families.”

Sure feels that way. Between attempts to unravel the new health care plan, cuts in safety net programs and corporations’ drive to cut pay and benefits, working class Americans have every right to feel threatened.

Little wonder that the only income group supporting the GOP’s union-busting agenda, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, is those making $90,000 or more a year.

But then a lot of things look different on Easy Street.

Rupert Murdoch and David Koch Collude Against Wisconsin Workers



While Fox News feeds its rabble the anti-union line, Murdoch's Wall Street Journal columnists front for Koch's Americans for Prosperity and coddle elite investors.

Photo Credit: CNBC
In the week-long battle taking place in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights, you'd expect Fox News to be doing what it's done: misreporting the story, mistakenly characterizing a poll supporting public workers to mean its opposite, featuring Glenn Beck painting the protests of union workers as something cooked up by Stalinists. And you might be tempted to think, well, that's just Fox playing to its base of frightened Tea Partiers who prefer a fact-free zone to the more challenging territory of actual news, where the answers are never pat, and the world is a bit more complicated than it seems in the realm of Fox Nation.

You might think it's all about what brings in the advertising dollars for Rupert Murdoch, CEO of Fox's parent company, News Corporation. But it runs much deeper than that, involving key players at the Wall Street Journal, News Corp.'s crown jewel. The informal partnership between billionaire David Koch, whose campaign dollars and astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity, have fomented the Wisconsin crisis, and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, is profoundly ideological -- the ideology being the exponential enrichment of the two men's heirs, all dressed up in the language of libertarianism and free enterprise. Together with his brother, Charles -- also a big donor to right-wing causes --David Koch runs Koch Industries, the conglomerate that sprang from the oil and gas company founded by his father.

King of the World and Lord of His Majesty's Media

Ginning up the right-wing rabble is a Fox News specialty. Glenn Beck is more than a talk-show host; he's Rupert Murdoch's community organizer. Like Koch, Murdoch embraces a completely deregulatory agenda: one that would leave giant corporations such as News Corp., the second largest entertainment company in the world, according to Fortune magazine, with nary a single regulation to stand in the way of profit-taking. Like Koch, Murdoch has no use for unions, having famously broken the unions of the newspapers he runs in the U.K. Like Koch, Murdoch gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association least year, the only difference being that Koch wrote a personal check for his contribution, while Murdoch's check was written on a News Corp. account.

In AlterNet's coverage of the Kochs and Murdoch over the last two years, we reported how Koch's Americans for Prosperity Foundation synced an annual conference with Glenn Beck's rally last summer at the Lincoln Memorial, offering discounted hotel rooms and bus travel to attendees, as well as day-long shuttle service between the conference hotel and the rally. Perhaps you remember the collusion we reported between Americans for Prosperity and Fox News in creating the furor that pushed Van Jones from the White House. You may recall our report on a 2009 Americans for Prosperity Foundation conference at which one-third of the speakers on a 15-speaker plenary agenda were on the payroll of a Murdoch entity. Two of those speakers, John Fund and Stephen Moore, hail from the Wall Street Journal; Moore sits on the newspaper's editorial board. So it should come as no surprise to find both Fund and Moore carrying Koch's water in this fight.

Together, Fund and Moore play a very particular role in the war to make David Koch king of the world, and Rupert Murdoch his favorite lord. (Murdoch is the lesser of the two billionaires, worth a mere $6 or $7 billion, to Koch's $20-plus billion.) While Fund and Moore talk to those regular folks who find their thrills watching Fox News, they also speak to the elite readers of WSJ, the investors to whom the two sell the notion that what's good for David Koch is good for everybody's bottom line. Writing on the Wall Street Journal Web site last week, Fund offered the standard right-wing rhetoric that paints President Barack Obama in thuggish terms:

[Obama] accused the new Republican governor, Scott Walker, of launching an "assault" on unions with his emergency legislation aimed at cutting the state budget.

The real assault this week was led by Organizing for America, the successor to President's Obama's 2008 campaign organization. It helped fill buses of protesters who flooded the state capital of Madison and ran 15 phone banks urging people to call state legislators.

WSJ's Fund: No Free Speech For the Little People

Speaking directly to Wall Street Journal readers, Fund laid out his case against organized protests in a video on the paper's Web site: they tend to inconvenience upper-middle-class people who are just trying to have a nice life. He complained about a protest staged outside Wisconsin Gov. Walker's Wauwatosa home. "[T]he protesters showed up there, they put up signs, they yelled, and the neighbors were upset because they said, look, this is just a stunt; the governor's not even here. Go up to Madison; go to the governor's mansion. So, again, if it were just the people involved, it would be one thing, but there are neighbors and children involved, and I think this goes too far."

Fund told horror stories of a protest staged outside the Washington, D.C., home of House Speaker John Boehner, in response to an $80 million cut to the federal appropriation, another mounted against the developer who is building a Wal-Mart in D.C., and a demonstration in front of the home of a Bank of America executive.

"So these protests, I think, are violating people's rights," Fund said, "not just engaging in free speech."

When I last saw Fund, he was presenting on a panel at the annual RightOnline conference convened by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which is chaired by David Koch, who also founded the organization. There, appearing before an audience of managers and business-owners, Fund got all folksy, telling a tale of how Ronald Reagan, while in the employ of General Electric, saw firsthand the virtue of "educating" workers in a business-friendly view of economics. The session offered tips on how to talk to one's employees about the Employee Free Choice Act legislation, which would make it easier for workers to organize (panelist Tim Nerenz of the Oldenburg Group said he simply tells his workers, "We don't run a union facility"), and was moderated by Linda Hansen, a close associate of Mark Block, who was then the state director for the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Block now runs the potential presidential campaign of Herman Cain, the radio talk-show host and former CEO of Godfather's Pizza.

WSJ's Moore: Created By Koch, Employed By Murdoch

But in the realm of cable news, it's WSJ editorial board member Stephen Moore who seems ubiquitous. Moore takes speaking fees from Americans for Prosperity, for which he seems to have a pretty steady gig. "We pay Stephen Moore a speaker’s fee on an event-by-event basis, which is based on a specific negotiated honorarium," Americans for Prosperity spokesperson Mary Ellen Burke emailed to me. "This is the same process we would follow when asking any public figure to speak at an AFP event."

Americans for Prosperity is directly involved in mounting support for Walker's plan; last week, the group attempted to bus in counter-protesters to Madison, but apparently got few takers. Undaunted, AFP took part in a "Stand With Scott Walker" rally on Feb. 19, and released a television ad this week by that title. That didn't stop Stephen Moore from presenting himself as nothing more than a journalist to the investors who watched CNBC on February 22, presenting figures in a deceptive way about the level of benefits received by public employees, and couching the battle in Wisconsin as one over pension and benefits -- even though the major unions have offered to yield to the governor's demands for greater worker contributions in those areas.

The Economic Policy Institute released a study showing that when benefits and pay packages are taken together as a whole, public employees earn less than comparably educated private-sector workers. None of those facts stopped Moore from framing the debate as a fight over benefits, which he claimed public employees scarfed up at a 50-percent higher level than those in the private sector.

When delivering the goods for those speaking fees coughed up by AFP, Moore may be apt to throw a little more red meat, engaging a cause almost as close to David Koch's heart as union-bashing -- that of climate-change denial. (Remember, Koch's billions originate in the the oil and natural gas industries; Koch Industries has some 4,000 miles of pipeline in Wisconsin alone. And buried in the bill, according to the blog, Gin and Tacos, is a provision that would allow the no-bid sell-off of public utilities, such as those that produce energy.) At the 2009 RightOnline conference in Pittsburgh, Moore told the cheering crowd he thought global warming was "the greatest hoax of the last 100 years." He went on to say that the agenda to hold the line on climate change was "not just evil, but…contrary to the free-market system that made this country great."

Journalist or Handsomely Paid Activist? You Decide

Moore's career has, in large part, been shaped from the beginning by the fortunes of Charles and David Koch. After getting his masters from George Mason University, at which Koch funds the Mercatus Institute, a free-market economic think-tank, Moore became a fellow at the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, and later at the Cato Institute. From there, he became the founding president of the Club for Growth, which, coincidentally, put out a pro-Walker ad last week about the showdown with public employees in Wisconsin. (Moore was ousted from the club in 2004, and replaced with Pat Toomey, who is now the junior U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.) Moore also served on senior economist of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee under then-Chairman Dick Armey, R-Tex., who now chairs the astroturf group FreedomWorks, which was founded with Koch money.

When Rupert Murdoch added the Wall Street Journal to his holdings in 2007, he became the titular boss of Moore, one of David Koch's favorite sons. Perhaps it works like one of those royal marriages of yore. With those bonds, the lord of right-wing media cemented, perhaps, his standing in the realm of the man who would be king of the world.tea

(Hat tip to CBS News Online's Stephanie Condon for the Gin and Tacos item.)

Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.

WI Governor Scott Walker Shunned; Asked to Leave Restaurant

February 26, 2011 at 08:30:24

WI Governor Scott Walker Shunned; Asked to Leave Restaurant

By Rob Kall (about the author)


When people break the rules badly enough in Amish culture, the community turns their backs to them. It is called shunning.

The other day, a blogger reports, Wisconsin fascist governor Scott Walker went to a restaurant and the people in the restaurant raised such a ruckus, yelling at him, that the restaurant's management asked him to leave. I'd liken that to shunning.

Firedog lake reports,

"Wisconsin blogger Naomi Houser reports tonight (via Howie Klein on Twitter):

"The M******t [a restaurant] in Madison, WI confirms that on Friday night, ******* (one of the owners) politely asked Scott Walker to leave the establishment when other customers began booing him. A bartender at The M*****t said that "his presence was causing a disturbance to the other customers and management asked him to leave.'

The problem is, apparently, right wingers didn't like this action, so they threatened the restaurant. Th proprietors requested that the report be taken down. The blogger who originally posted the story, Mindstain, took down the original posting and replaced it with this:

Come looking for an article about Scott Walker being booted from a Madison restaurant? Yes, you came to the right place, but at the request of the restaurant owner due to abusive phone calls, the article has been hidden for the time being.

This raises a wonderful point. Why should a restaurant owner be afraid to refuse service to any person? Would the same people have started calling that restaurant and making threats if the person they asked to leave was Black? Muslim? Democrat? No. No they would not.

For those of you who know which restaurant it is, please, at the request of the owner, do not share this information. Not only are they getting TONS of supporter phone calls, but very nasty and threatening ones as well. This is their place of business, and as with any business they have the right to refuse service to anyone. When I have talked again with the owner, the content may be visible once more but while you are waiting, please discuss what YOU think about being able to refuse service to ANYONE, even if that someone is a government official.

Thanks so much for your patience.

Naomi Houser
It takes a lot of guts to eject the governor-- to face him and tell him to leave and to face the risk of losing business because you've put yourself at risk by angering one partisan base.

Are there ways that this idea of shunning could be exploited by the left, by the under-attack Middle Class and workers?

What's your take?

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), President of Futurehealth, Inc, more...)

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author
and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Friday, February 25, 2011

No Laughing Matter: Send Scott Walker to Prison

February 25, 2011 at 10:11:23

Koch Brothers "Prank" No Laughing Matter

By Mary Bottari (about the author)


reprinted from PR Watch

Embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker came under fire today after news broke about statements he made in a 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter, Ian Murphy of the Daily Beast, posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Listen to the call here.)

As the Center for Media and Democracy has reported, the Koch PAC not only spent $43,000 directly on Walker's race, but Koch personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association which spent $5 million in the state. Besides the Governor, the Koch brothers have other "vested interests" in the state.

They include Koch Pipeline Company, which operates a pipeline system that crosses Wisconsin. It also owns Flint Hill Resources, which distributes refined fuel through pipelines and terminals in Junction City, Waupun, Madison and Milwaukee. Koch Industries also owns the C. Reiss Coal Company, a power plant company located in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan.

The Koch company opened a lobby shop in Wisconsin two days after Walker was elected. Many protesters have suspected that the "budget repair bill" provisions allowing the no-bid sell-off of any state-owned heating, cooling, or power plant, plus new rules on pipeline transport may be of interest to Koch. The company has denied any interest in these assets.

Pink Slips as Poker Chips Raises Legal Concerns

At the start of the call, Walker eagerly reports on all he is doing: First, he tells the fake Koch brother about a plan to change Senate rules on pay to reel-in the out-of state Democratic senators who are holding out to protect collective bargaining. The new rule would force the Senators to pick up their paychecks in person. This rule was passed in a partisan vote in the Senate yesterday -- a move that went unnoticed by the mainstream press. The fake Koch asks Walker how they might get others in Senate to vote to stop collective bargaining. Walker responds that he's involved the Justice Department in investigating whether the union is paying the absent Democratic senators to remain out of state, or providing them with food, shelter, etc., saying it would be an ethics violation or potentially a felony. Wisconsin legislators are well aware of these rules and have already stated they are using their own money while they are out of state.

But the Governor also explains how he is going to lay off thousands of Wisconsin workers as a tactic to get the Democrats to cooperate: "So, we're trying about four or five different angles. Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I've got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we'll announce Thursday, they'll go out early next week and we'll probably get five to six thousand state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might -- ratchet that up a little bit too."

The move has been called "despicable" and "ruthless " and "sickening." But most importantly, if Walker is choosing to lay off workers as a political tactic when he wasn't otherwise planning to do so, then it is not just morally repugnant, but legally questionable. State and federal contract and labor law has protections against this type of abusive behavior and inappropriate quid pro quo.

This morning the Capital Times quotes the state's former Attorney General: "There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election-law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor-law violations," said Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat who served as Wisconsin's Attorney General after serving for many years as a U.S. Attorney. The head of the state teacher's association, Mary Bell, reminds us: "He literally planned to use five to six thousand hardworking Wisconsin taxpayers as political pawns in his political game. He actually thought through a strategy to lay people off -- deny them the ability to feed their families -- and use it as leverage for his political goals."

Kids and Hired Thugs

Walker also says he considered then rejected the idea of hiring trouble makers to disrupt the rallies, which have been packed with elementary school children and highs schoolers. When fake Koch says "We'll back you any way we can. But what we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers." Walker says: "we thought about that," but he rejected the idea in case it back-fired, but not in the way one might think. He didn't want to "scare the public into thinking maybe the governor as to settle to avoid all these problems."

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said Thursday "very unsettling and troubling." "I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members. I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers," the chief said.

Wisconsin Ethics Rules

Wisconsin has the toughest ethics law in the nation. Public officials are prohibited from soliciting or receiving anything of value if it could reasonably be expected to influence or reward official actions. The rules against "pay-to-play politics" say a public official is prohibited from taking official action in exchange for political contributions, or anything else of value for the benefit of a candidate, political party, or any person making certain candidate-related communications. You can't even take a cup of coffee from a lobbyist.

Earlier in the call, Walker had asked the fake Koch for help "spreading the word," especially in the "swing" districts, in defense of his determination to break the unions, and help get calls in to shore up his Republican allies in the legislature. Walker benefited from a high-dollar "issue ad" campaign by groups funded by Koch group before the election. Americans for Prosperity, which Koch chairs, also promoted and funded a couple thousand counter-protestors last Saturday.

On the same day that the scandal broke here in Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity went up with a $342,000 TV ad campaign in support of Walker --- an enormous sum in a state like Wisconsin. If such ads are effectively coordinated with the Governor's office, they may be subject to rules requiring greater disclosure of expenditures and contributors.

Toward the end of the call, the fake Koch offers to fly Walker out to California, after they "crush the bastards," and show him "a good time," to which Walker responds enthusiastically, "All right, that would be outstanding." But,Wisconsin rules bar state officials from taking action for something of value. After Walker agrees to the junket, the fake Koch adds, "And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well" to which Walker responds, "Well that's just it."


So while Walker did not apparently not recognize Koch's voice, he certainly recognized his name, eagerly recounting his efforts to crush collective bargaining in Wisconsin to an out-of-state billionaire backer and thanking him for all Koch had done for him. The entire conversation raises ethical concerns that warrant much closer examination, especially with Wisconsin's tough pay-to-play rules. A week ago the Center for Media and Democracy filed an open records request for the Governor's phone records, email records, and other communications. Perhaps these records will help us understand all the influences behind the Governor's recent radical actions.

Wisconsin is not Illinois; it has a reputation for being a squeaky clean state where lesser scandals than this have brought down political officials. Governor Walker likes to complain of "outside agitators." It's hard to imagine an outside agitator with more influence and money than the Koch-family.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Walker may have broken the law

The Raw Story

Buffalo Beast tricks Wisc. Gov. Walker into taking call from fake ‘David Koch’

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 -- 11:20 am

Governor's official phone line goes down: 'The number you dialed is not a working number'

Update: Walker's office says call was real

Second update (at bottom): Watchdog calls for probe on possible ethics violation

Prepare for prankgate.

Wisconsin's newly elected Republican Governor wasted no time in taking the fight to public sector unions, but union supporters and the alternative press have spared no expense firing back.

But now, a hay-maker has been thrown.

An alternative paper in Buffalo, New York, which prides itself on being about as beastly as the subjects they cover, managed to trick Governor Scott Walker into taking a call from their editor posing as tea party tycoon David Koch.

The transcript isn't pretty. It's also unclear whether it was real, but efforts to contact Walker's office proved futile Wednesday morning. While the governor's official phone line -- at (608) 266-1212 -- was returning busy signals for a time, it had reverted to an automated error message by 11 am EST.

"The number you dialed is not a working number. Please check the number and dial again."

While the Buffalo Beast's website went down almost immediately after their story was posted, likely due to a torrent of web traffic, bloggers far and wide seized upon the story and were sharing bits of the text by Wednesday morning.

A few highlights included the alleged governor warning the phony oil baron that Wisconsin House Rep. Tim Cullen, a Democrat who's voted with Republicans on numerous issues, was "not one of us;" Walker supposedly commenting that he's "got the layoff notices ready" and bragging that he's got a baseball bat with his name on it; and accepting an offer to be flown out to California for "a good time."

The call also allegedly reveals that Wisconsin Republicans are planning to hold Democrats' paychecks hostage by changing the rules to end direct deposit, placing their printed checks in their desks on the floor of the senate, forcing them to physically come in to pick them up.

The voice alleged to be Walker also said he was trying to find ways to prosecute Wisconsin Democrats on ethical violations if they accepted favors from union organizers.

Moments later in the call recording, Walker allegedly accepts an offer for similar favors from the fake Koch.

Charles and David Koch, two key financiers of the Republican tea parties, were also major financiers of Walker's bid for the Wisconsin governor's office. Their political action committee gave Walker roughly $100,000 in campaign contributions during the 2010 election, according to campaign finance records highlighted by Mother Jones.

The contributions came from the same source -- Koch Industries PAC -- and though through two channels which were both legal under current campaign finance law.

About $43,000 worth of PAC monies went directly to Walker's campaign, while the Republican Governors Association (RGA) sent $65,000 from the PAC to Walker. Wisconsin's governor also received help from the RGA by way of a $3.4 million ad buy on television and direct mail attacks against his political opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

As if the connection weren't clear enough, the Koch brothers front group Americans for Prosperity produced a website called standwithwalker.com, encouraging people to support elimination of labor union rights.

If the call is indeed real, it would not be the first time a prominent politician got pranked over the phone. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin took a prank call in Nov. 2008 from a Canadian comedian pretending to be the president of France, Nicholas Sarkozy.

Update: Walker's office says call was real

Gov. Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, issued the following statement hours after the Beast went to press:

"The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having."

Second update: Watchdog calls for probe on possible ethics violation

The non-profit Public Campaign Action Fund said Wednesday that Governor Walker's revealing conversation with a gonzo journalist pretending to be one of his wealthy financiers could constitute an ethics violation and breach of campaign law.

“In a call with who he thought to be billionaire political donor David Koch, Gov. Walker may have broken campaign finance and ethics laws,” a group spokesman said, according to a media advisory. “If he did, he should resign.

“If you didn’t believe it before, you have to now—this fight isn’t about the budget, it’s about favors for corporate special interests. If Wisconsin law forbids coordination with political donors similar to federal law, Gov. Scott Walker is not just in political trouble, but in legal hot water.”

The group said it was consulting with experts on whether or not to file an official complaint.

This audio was published to YouTube on Feb. 23, 2011 by TheBeastvideos.

Koch Whore: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Gov. Walker in Prank Call: 'This is Our Moment'

“This is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history,” Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says, talking about his fight with the unions in a prank phone call that was secretly taped by a Buffalo journalist Ian Murphy of the BuffaloBeast.com website who was posing as billionaire oilman David Koch.

Koch Industries' political action committee was one of the biggest financial supporters of Walker's gubernatorial campaign last fall, giving $43,000 to his political fund.

David Koch also gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association last year, and Koch Industries contributed another $50,000. The RGA spent $65,000 on ads supporting Walker and an additional $3.4 million attacking Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic opponent.

'Koch': We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems…[something about '60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.

Governor Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, today confirmed the taped phone call was real.

"The governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having."

In the conversation, the man posing as Koch — Buffalo Gonzo journalist Ian Murphy — says he’s got a “vested interest" in the success of the governor’s efforts and, when its all over, offers to fly Walker out to California and “show you a good time.”

“All right, that would be outstanding,” Walker says in response. “Thanks for all your support.”

* * * * *

Listen to tape of phone call at the bottom of this page.

The BuffaloBeast.com website has crashed. Here's is the article Ian Murphy published before the crash:

“He’s just hard-lined—will not talk, will not communicate, will not return phone calls.”
-Wisconsin state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D) on Gov. Walker (source)

Carpenter’s quote made me wonder: who could get through to Gov. Walker? Well, what do we know about Walker and his proposed union-busting, no-bid budget? The obvious candidate was David Koch.

I first called at 11:30 am CST, and eventually got through to a young, male receptionist who, upon hearing the magic name Koch, immediately transferred me to Executive Assistant Governor Dorothy Moore.

“We’ve met before, Dorothy,” I nudged. “I really need to talk to Scott—Governor Walker.” She said that, yes, she thought she had met Koch, and that the name was “familiar.” But she insisted that Walker was detained in a meeting and couldn’t get away. She asked about the nature of my call. I balked, “I just needed to speak with the Governor. He knows what this is about,” I said. She told me to call back at noon, and she’d have a better idea of when he would be free.

I called at noon and was quickly transferred to Moore, who then transferred me to Walker’s Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes. He was “expecting my call.”

“David!” he said with an audible smile.

I politely said hello, not knowing how friendly Gilkes and Koch may be. He was eager to help. “I was really hoping to talk directly to Scott,” I said. He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” Gilkes found this amusing. “I’m calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it’s called. You know, the Snype!”

“Gotcha,” Gilkes said. “Let me check the schedule here…OK, there’s an opening at 2 o’clock Central Standard Time. Just call this same number and we’ll put you through.”

Could it really be that easy? Yes. What follows is a rushed, abridged transcript of my — I mean, David Koch’s conversation with Gov. Walker.

Walker: Hi; this is Scott Walker.

'Koch': Scott! David Koch. How are you?

Walker: Hey, David! I’m good. And yourself?

'Koch': I’m very well. I’m a little disheartened by the situation there, but, uh, what’s the latest?

Walker: Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough. I mean—you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters—almost all of whom are in from other states today. The State Assembly is taking the bill up—getting it all the way to the last point it can be at where it’s unamendable. But they’re waiting to pass it until the Senate’s—the Senate Democrats, excuse me, the assembly Democrats have about a hundred amendments they’re going through. The state Senate still has the 14 members missing but what they’re doing today is bringing up all sorts of other non-fiscal items, many of which are things members in the Democratic side care about. And each day we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit…. The Senate majority leader had a great plan he told about this morning—he told the Senate Democrats about and he’s going to announce it later today, and that is: The Senate organization committee is going to meet and pass a rule that says if you don’t show up for two consecutive days on a session day—in the state Senate, the Senate chief clerk—it’s a little procedural thing here, but—can actually have your payroll stopped from being automatically deducted—

'Koch': Beautiful.

Walker: —into your checking account and instead—you still get a check, but the check has to be personally picked up and he’s instructing them—which we just loved—to lock them in their desk on the floor of the state Senate.

'Koch': Now you’re not talking to any of these Democrat bastards, are you?

Walker: Ah, I—there’s one guy that’s actually voted with me on a bunch of things I called on Saturday for about 45 minutes, mainly to tell him that while I appreciate his friendship and he’s worked with us on other things, to tell him I wasn’t going to budge.

'Koch': Goddamn right!

Walker: …his name is Tim Cullen—

'Koch': All right, I’ll have to give that man a call.

Walker: Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him and I’ll tell you why: he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us…

'Koch': Now who can we get to budge on this collective bargaining?

Walker: …I think the paycheck will have an impact…secondly, one of the things we’re looking at next…we’re still waiting on an opinion to see if the unions have been paying to put these guys up out of state. We think there’s at minimum an ethics violation if not an outright felony.

'Koch': Well, they’re probably putting hobos in suits.

Walker: Yeah.

'Koch': That’s what we do. Sometimes.

Walker: I mean paying for the senators to be put up. I know they’re paying for these guy—I mean, people can pay for protesters to come in and that’s not an ethics code, but, I mean, literally if the unions are paying the 14 senators—their food, their lodging, anything like that…[*** Important regarding his later acceptance of a Koch offer to “show him a good time.” ***]

[BuffaloBeast.com: I was stunned. I am stunned. In the interest of expediting the release of this story, here are the juiciest bits:]

Walker: …I’ve got layoff notices ready…

'Koch': Beautiful; beautiful. Gotta crush that union.

Walker: [bragging about how he doesn't budge]…I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the assembly Democrat leader, plus the other two Republican leaders—talk, not negotiate and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn—but I’ll only do it if all 14 of them will come back and sit down in the state assembly…legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. If they’re actually in session for that day, and they take a recess, the 19 Senate Republicans could then go into action and they’d have quorum…so we’re double checking that. If you heard I was going to talk to them that’s the only reason why. We’d only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them…

'Koch': Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do.

Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it.

'Koch': Beautiful.

Walker: [union-bashing...]

'Koch': Beautiful.

Walker: So this is ground zero, there’s no doubt about it. [Talks about a “great” NYT piece of “objective journalism.” Talks about how most private blue-collar workers have turned against public, unionized workers.]…So I went through and called a handful, a dozen or so lawmakers I worry about each day and said, “Everyone, we should get that story printed out and send it to anyone giving you grief.”

'Koch': Goddamn right! We, uh, we sent, uh, Andrew Breitbart down there.

Walker: Yeah.

'Koch': Yeah.

Walker: Good stuff.

'Koch': He’s our man, you know.

Walker: [blah about his press conferences, attacking Obama, and all the great press he's getting.] Brian [Sadoval], the new Governor of Nevada, called me the last night he said—he was out in the Lincoln Day Circuit in the last two weekends and he was kidding me, he said, “Scott, don’t come to Nevada because I’d be afraid you beat me running for governor.” That’s all they want to talk about is what are you doing to help the governor of Wisconsin. I talk to Kasich every day—John’s gotta stand firm in Ohio. I think we could do the same thing with Vic Scott in Florida. I think, uh, Snyder—if he got a little more support—probably could do that in Michigan. You start going down the list there’s a lot of us new governors that got elected to do something big.

'Koch': You’re the first domino.

Walker: Yep. This is our moment.

'Koch': Now what else could we do for you down there?

Walker: Well the biggest thing would be—and your guy on the ground [Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips] is probably seeing this [stuff about all the people protesting, and some of them flip him off].

[Abrupt end of first recording, and start of second.]

Walker: [Bullshit about doing the right thing and getting flipped off by “union bulls,” and the decreasing number of protesters. Or some such.]

'Koch': We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…[explains that planting troublemakers may not work.] My only fear would be if there’s a ruckus caused is that maybe the governor has to settle to solve all these problems…[something about '60s liberals.]…Let ‘em protest all they want…Sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting.

'Koch': Well, not the liberal bastards on MSNBC.

Walker: Oh yeah, but who watches that? I went on “Morning Joe” this morning. I like it because I just like being combative with those guys, but, uh. You know they’re off the deep end.

'Koch': Joe—Joe’s a good guy. He’s one of us.

Walker: Yeah, he’s all right. He was fair to me…[bashes NY Senator Chuck Schumer, who was also on the program.]

'Koch': Beautiful; beautiful. You gotta love that Mika Brzezinski; she’s a real piece of ass.

Walker: Oh yeah. [story about when he hung out with human pig Jim Sensenbrenner at some D.C. function and he was sitting next to Brzezinski and her father, and their guest was David Axelrod. He introduced himself.]

'Koch': That son of a bitch!

Walker: Yeah no kidding huh?…

'Koch': Well, good; good. Good catching up with ya’.

Walker: This is an exciting time [blah, blah, blah, Super Bowl reference followed by an odd story of pulling out a picture of Ronald Reagan and explaining to his staff the plan to crush the union the same way Reagan fired the air traffic controllers]…that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall because the Communists then knew Reagan wasn’t a pushover. [Blah, blah, blah. He's exactly like Reagan. Won't shut up about how awesome he is.]

'Koch': [Laughs] Well, I tell you what, Scott: once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.

Walker: All right, that would be outstanding. [*** Ethical violation much? ***] Thanks for all the support…it’s all about getting our freedoms back…

'Koch': Absolutely. And, you know, we have a little bit of a vested interest as well. [Laughs]

Walker: [Blah] Thanks a million!

'Koch': Bye-bye!

Walker: Bye.

* * * *

Phone Call - Part 1

Phone Call - Part 2

What Gov. Walker Won't Tell You

February 23, 2011 at 10:43:37

What Gov. Walker Won't Tell You


reprinted from truthdig.com

There is a kernel of truth in Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's claim of a "budget shortfall" of $137 million. But Walker, a Republican, failed to tell the state that less than two weeks into his term as governor, he, with his swollen Republican majorities in the Wisconsin Legislature, pushed through $117 million in tax breaks for business allies of the GOP. There is your crisis.

The state Legislature's Legislative Fiscal Bureau--Wisconsin's equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office and a refuge for professional expertise and nonpartisanship--warned Walker and the Legislature that the measure would create a budget gap. There is your shortfall--and not one resulting from established public employee benefits. Before the tax giveaways, the fiscal agency predicted a surplus for the state.

Now the governor has offered a proposal simple and clear in its intent, and patently dishonest. Walker wants state workers to contribute to their pension fund and is calling for an increase in their payments for medical insurance. Make no mistake: The governor's "budget repair bill" has little to do with a budget shortfall and everything to do with breaking unions, starting with public employees and then perhaps moving on to others as well.

>During his run for governor, Walker had substantial financial support from the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists who have funded various anti-Obama, anti-science, and anti-national government movements. In short, they are opposed to anyone and anything that might diminish their exorbitant profits. And for the Kochs, destroying labor unions is in the top tier of their to-get-rid-of list.

Walker's own hostility to labor unions is a touchstone of his prior political experience. He is out to realize his every long-held political fantasy, with the help of such allies as the National Association of Manufacturers; Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce; and the Chamber of Commerce. Ever since the 1930s, when national law recognized the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively, that gain has been under assault from right-wing ideologues and much of the business community.

Public employees in Wisconsin, as elsewhere, do not have a recognized "right to strike." But they have a right to a union, with the power to negotiate wages and the conditions of work. That is Walker's real target, and after he deals with it perhaps he can move to make Wisconsin a "right-to-work" state, devoid of any protections for labor unions, just like Mississippi. Now we can understand Walker's mantra: "Wisconsin is open for business." What a "popular," appealing position! Everyone likes to complain about bureaucrats and teachers--lazy, incompetent and, withal, overpaid. Never mind that studies portray a public work force earning 8 to 15 percent less than similarly situated private sector employees, with the spread even wider among more educated workers.

The governor and his allies like to frame their goal as one that would destroy the special privileges of public employees--as if a Cadillac class of public workers exists in the state. In truth, many public employees secured increased benefits in the 1970s, a time which saw the notion of a "budget crunch" come into play, and the state bargained its way out of salary increases (incidentally, during a time of rising inflation) in exchange for increased employee benefits.

The "February Thaw" brought out an estimated 50,000 or more public employees, teachers, ordinary citizens and students to demonstrate against Walker's budget repair bill. Montesquieu, the 18th century French political philosopher, wrote about the impact of environment on human and societal behavior. Cold, icy climates, he said, generally dampened human passions, thus lessening chances of "public disorder." Walker should have offered his legislation during the first three weeks of January, when temperatures hovered just above zero.

Confronting the protests, Walker has framed the issue in stark, simple terms. It is, he said, a battle between "protesters" and "taxpayers." That followed the obligatory remarks about outside agitators--shades of Mississippi governors in the 1960s. Indeed, the media obliged him by making the increasingly marginalized Jesse Jackson the centerpiece of the protests, thus seeming to confirm Walker's contention about outside agitators.

After three days of protests, the largest union offered to concede the pension and health insurance payments in exchange for continued recognition of the right to negotiate wage and working conditions. The governor bluntly replied that the time for negotiations had passed, but the truth is that at no time did he offer any negotiation on these matters. If your ideological baggage has no room for workers' rights, then you will rule by dictate and fiat. Walker's baggage overflows with hostility for workers.

Walker insists that the budget shortfall requires that state workers, like everyone else in society, must carry their fair share of the burden. But the governor is causing pain to no one else to remedy the situation. Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder offered a $45 billion cost-cutting budget, but he said he would take only $1 in salary as part of the "shared sacrifice." Meanwhile, Snyder, unlike Walker, has begun negotiations with public employees unions to increase workers' shares of pension and health care costs.

Stanley Kutler is the author The Wars of Watergate (Norton), Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes (Free Press), The American Inquisition: Cold War Political Trials (Hill & Wang), and numerous other books and articles. He taught constitutional and (more...)

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