Earlier today, in a scene straight out of Veep (which is terrifically funny television, btw), the hapless underlings of the National Republican Congressional Committee oh-so-naively invited the entire Internet to sign a petition to repeal Obamacare, which would be webcast on LiveStream as a printer printed out each “signee.” (Who would give a shit about something as bloody boring as watching a PRINTER over the Internet, anyway? Oh, right, Republicans… I get it, I get it. Sorry, it was a brainfart).
The “Watch Your Petition Print” video feed lasted just minutes before frantic GOP staffers pulled the plug on signatories like “Grumpo Prembus,” “Barnacle Jim Long Face,” “Connie Lingus” and “Turd Sniffer.”
Despite their best efforts, the trolling lives on, on a Tumblr blog called The Angry Hand.
Sarah Palin might be a fucking idiot, but as the saying goes, a stopped clock is right twice a day. Via Politico:
“I think that the Democrats there understand that the president’s no-show represents the fact that Obama’s goose is cooked,” Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News soon after networks called Walker the projected winner of the historic recall. She was referring to President Barack Obama’s decision not to campaign for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
As she denounced Obama’s “hopey changey stuff”, the former Alaska governor continued: “More and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote … is the complete opposite of what president Obama and the White House represents today.”
Palin predicted that the Obama administration will try to downplay Walker’s victory and distance itself from the GOP’s win in Wisconsin.
“Jay Carney — can’t wait to see how he spins all this and ignores it, and President Obama himself,” she said. “They’re going to really try to distance themselves from this despite the fact that they, leading their lapdogs in the leftist media, made this a front page story for how many months? Months and months.”
She’s 100% correct.
Democrats can argue all they want that the WI recall election’s blowout conclusion has nothing to do with Obama’s electoral fortunes in the state—or nationally—but they’re just whistling past the graveyard.
It was fucking ridiculous to watch the deer-in-the-headlights pundits on MSNBC last night try to spin Walker’s victory AS IF it was, in fact, good news for Obama.
By that standard the 2010 election must have been terrific for Democrats also…
Veteran Democratic fundraiser Jackson Browne says that he’ll still vote for Obama in November, but the legendary Laurel Canyon singer/songwriter is not exactly prepared to raise any more money for him as he told Sharon Waxman at The Wrap:
Are you involved in the presidential campaign?
No, I’m not. Actually I sort of turned a corner and decided that one of the problems in our political system is the money. However, I’m involved politically, and I’m very interested in the Occupy (Wall Street) movement.
I’m very interested in what people do individually and in groups, and it wouldn’t and shouldn’t be a fucking surprise to anybody that I’m going to vote for Obama—but honestly Obama once again has joined the ranks of the lesser of two evils. The great parade of people that the progressives get to vote for who are the lesser of two evils and who don’t really represent what I believe in any overwhelming balance.
But you’re not gonna—
No, I’m not going to raise money for people who don’t really… Look, Obama told me in a personal conversation that he wasn’t up for any new (nuclear) plants. Obviously, he changed his mind at some point. But what a surprise that one of his main supporters is the energy company, Exelon—which has nuclear plants—and that he would suddenly change his policy.
I don’t know what we would expect. He’s just as a beholden to the people who put him in office as any of the Republicans would be. But what’s a mystery to me is how he installed pretty much the exact same infrastructure in his administration that deals with finances as the administration that we thought we voted out. That’s really a shocker.
It’s a game of chicken. So I’m not going to participate. Every day it’s like a fever. Like, “Oh my God, if we don’t have $27,000 by tonight the DCC won’t think we’re being effective.” I mean I’m sorry, I can’t.
The whole PMRC music censorship flap of the 80s and 90s is a rare—BUT NO LESS DEFINITIVE—example of Democrats being just as bad, if not far worse, than Republicans can be.
The PMRC (“Parent Music Resource Group”) was headed by Al Gore’s then wife, Tipper Gore and Susan Baker, wife of Bush I’s then Treasury Secretary, James Baker, two bored Washington socialite busy-bodies who wanted to “make a difference” and get on tee-vee and stuff. Although the PRMC was nominally non-partisan, I blame the Democrats for supporting it more than I blame the Republicans (they didn’t call those Parental Advisory warnings “Tipper Stickers” for nuthin’).
The whole thing made it impossible for me to vote for Bill Clinton, with Gore as his running mate (both elections) and I didn’t vote for Gore in 2000, either. Clearly at one point in his public career, Al Gore backed censorship and thought crime as a winning political stance—he supported his wife’s efforts all the way—and frankly I didn’t need to know that much more about him. Gore might have rehabilitated himself somewhat with his environmental advocacy in recent years, but I still suspect that underneath he’s a total dickhead, nevertheless…
In 1990, The Oprah Winfrey Show hosted former Dead Kennedy Jello Biafra, Tipper Gore, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, future Fox News pundit, Juan Williams, Ice-T and Nelson George to discuss the PMRC issue.
For those of you too young to have lived through this, here a succinct bit of background from Biafra’s Wikipedia entry that will fill you in:
In April 1986, police officers raided his house in response to complaints by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). In June 1986, L.A. deputy city attorney Michael Guarino, working under City Attorney James Hahn, brought Biafra to trial in Los Angeles for distributing “harmful material to minors” in the Dead Kennedys album Frankenchrist. In actuality, the dispute was about neither the music nor the lyrics from the album, but rather the print of the H. R. Giger poster Landscape XX (Penis Landscape) [NSFW link] included with the album. Biafra believes the trial was politically motivated; it was often reported that the PMRC took Biafra to court as a cost-effective way of sending a message out to other musicians with content considered offensive in their music.
Music author Reebee Garofalo argued that Biafra and Alternative Tentacles may have been targeted because the label was a “small, self-managed and self-supported company that could ill afford a protracted legal battle.” Facing the possible sentence of a year in jail and a $2000 fine, Biafra, Dirk Dirksen, and Suzanne Stefanac founded the No More Censorship Defense Fund, a benefit made up of several punk rock bands, to help pay for his legal fees, which neither he nor his record label could afford. The jury deadlocked 5 to 7 in favor of acquittal, prompting a mistrial; despite a motion to re-try the case, the judge ordered all charges dropped. The Dead Kennedys disbanded during the trial, in December 1986, due to the mounting legal costs; in the wake of their disbandment, Biafra made a career of his spoken word performances. His early spoken word albums focused heavily on the trial (especially in High Priest of Harmful Matter), which made him renowned for his anti-censorship stance.
No one has posted Biafra’s amazing 45-minute long “Tales from the Trial” rant on YouTube, but I’m sure it’s pretty easy to track down.
Below, highlights of Jello Biafra absolutely eviscerating Tipper Gore’s pro-censorship arguments. This is an amazing piece of history, it really is:
Although the wild rumors of Scott Walker leaving behind his love-child from a college-age tryst seemed just a bit far-fetched (a sex scandal seems so unlikely for a guy with a face like Walker’s, don’t you think?) and truly “too good to be true,” the same can’t be said when an Emmy award-winning journalist who has worked for Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, a former Attorney General and a former District Attorney all say that Walker IS the target of the so-called “John Doe” investigation… on a federal level.
It would kind of make sense, um, considering that THIRTEEN of Walker’s subordinates have been granted immunity and five people close to him have already been indicted.
With the recall election less than two days away, federal prosecutors are closing in on Governor Scott Walker, according to veteran political reporter David Shuster, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, and former district attorney Bob Jambois.
In a conference call organized by state Democrats on Saturday evening, June 2, Shuster, Lautenschlager, and Jambois laid out evidence that Walker is a target of a federal investigation.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Communications Director Graeme Zielinski added that there is evidence of wrongdoing after Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive, and that the investigation includes criminal activity during his time as governor.
Based on conversations with a lawyer who has knowledge of the investigation, “We believe that Scott Walker set up a secret computer network in the governor’s office and Department of Administration offices, and that the John Doe investigation is seeking evidence of crimes he committed in Madison,” Zielinski said.
Walker denied the allegations. At a campaign event on Saturday, Walker answered “absolutely not” to reporters’ questions—raised by David Shuster’s reporting for Take Action News—about whether he had been informed, either formally or informally, that he might be a target of federal prosecution. “I’ve never heard a single thing about that, other than spin from the left,” Walker said. He described the allegations as “just more of the liberal scare tactics out there desperately trying to get the campaign off target.”
“I stand by my reporting 100 percent,” Shuster said in the conference call. “It’s clear to me that he is, in fact, a target in a federal investigation.”
Despite copious reporting, especially in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about the Milwaukee County district attorney’s probe of alleged violations when Walker was county executive—including a secret email network maintained by his staff for the purpose of conducting illegal campaign activity on county time, the theft of funds intended for the widows and orphans of Iraq War veterans, and possible favorable treatment of campaign donors seeking public contracts, not much has been written about the FBI probe.
“The Wisconsin press has only reported about the John Doe—the state component,” said Zielinski. “They have not reported on the federal component of this.”
“I’ve been reporting on federal grand juries for twenty years”—including Justice Department probes of former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, Monica Lewinsky, Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, and Jack Abramoff—said David Shuster, a former reporter for Fox News and anchor for MSNBC, who now works with Take Action News and as a host on Current TV.
In his reporting on FBI involvement in the current probe of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Shuster said he consulted with Justice Department attorneys in the public integrity section and “I got independent confirmation that he’s a target.”
Shuster said that he had learned Scott Walker’s attorneys had been seeking to have their client publicly cleared of wrongdoing for the last five or six weeks, in the run-up to the recall election. Prosecutors could not clear him, Shuster said, because Walker is a target.
The ongoing John Doe investigation by the Milwaukee County District Attorney has led to criminal charges against three of Walker’s former aides, an appointee, and a major donor. Thirteen of Walker’s associates have been granted immunity—including Walker’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie.
Recent campaign finance filings show that Walker has transferred a total of $160,000 into a criminal defense fund— the only criminal defense fund maintained by a governor of any state in the nation.
As Britain prepares for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Her Majesty, here is The Queen is Dead - Derek Jarman’s Super 8 film triptych (made in collaboration John Maybury, Richard Heslop and Chis Hughes) for 3 classic tracks by The Smiths: “The Queen is Dead,” “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “Panic.”
Inner city angst, urban decay, alienation, cute hairstyles, and lots of hand held camera work, well it was the eighties.
Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce is one of the best political writers in America today. Hand’s down. He’s truly a great writer in the great tradition of great writers at Esquire (well done whoever hired him to do a daily blog). His prose and insights are so good that it kind of pisses me off that MSNBC, Current TV or even CNN haven’t realized what a tremendous political thinker and writer Pierce is and hire him on to be a featured pundit. He’s got important things to say about American politics and he should be as well-known as Paul Krugman, if you ask me…
Pierce will be closely following the Scott Walker recall election in the coming week and I expect that he’ll be providing some of the best coverage of what I feel is GROUND ZERO for the rights of the working class in America and the single most important thing that the national Democrats should be supporting—no matter what DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz seems to think... (I do hope she watched the Rachel Maddow segment posted below. I suspect she has and I suspect that it had an effect, too: Hello Bill Clinton, welcome to Wisconsin! Where the fuck is your buddy, Obama???).
The most telling moment came when Barrett treed Walker on the question of whether he plans to transform Wisconsin wholly into a right-to-work state, as Walker appeared to say to a wealthy backer on a videotape released back on May 10. Walker has consistently ducked the question, and he did so again last night, saying that a right-to-work bill would never reach his desk, and that he refused to comment on a “hypothetical”:
“I’ve said it’s not gonna get there, you’re asking a hypothetical..And the reason I say that is I saw what happened over the last year and half. And I don’t want to repeat that discussion. I think most people in the state, Democrat and Republican alike, want to move forward.”
There are enough weasels in that sentence to make a coat. What, exactly, does “moving forward” mean in this context? Does anyone seriously believe at this point that Walker would be reluctant to sign a right-to-work bill because of what’s happened in Wisconsin since he blackjacked the public employees, that he’s in any way chastened, that the people who groomed him and who are financing his campaign now to the tune of $30 million aren’t in this for the long haul? How many people does Scott Walker think will be driving to the polls on Tuesday on a turnip truck?
For his part, Barrett was having none of it:
“If that bill hits his desk, he’s signing it. I say it right here in front of Wisconsin…The Thursday before the Super Bowl, Mitch Daniels made Indiana a right-to-work state. Mark my words, he’ll sign it.”
Dawn breaks, finally, over Marblehead. The recall is specifically about Wisconsin’s attempt to rid itself of a governor whose primary political strategy over his entire time in public office has been the bait-and-switch. But its true national import is not what it may or may not mean to the president’s campaign in November.
In 2010, in addition to handing the House of Representatives over to a pack of nihilistic vandals, the Koch Brothers and the rest of the sugar daddies of the Right poured millions into various state campaigns. This produced a crop of governors and state legislators wholly owned and operated by those corporate interests and utterly unmoored from the constituencies they were elected to serve. In turn, these folks enacted various policies, and produced various laws, guaranteed to do nothing except reinforce the power of the people who put them in office. This is the first real test of democracy against the money power. Its true national import is that it is the first loud and noisy attempt to roll back the amok time that Republican governors and their pet legislatures have unleashed in the states at the behest of the corporate interests who finance their careers. It is the first serious pushback not only against Scott Walker, but against Dick Snyder’s assault on democracy in Michigan, and Mitch Daniels’s assault on unions in Indiana, and Rick Scott’s assault on voting rights in Florida. None of this was in any way coincidental. It was a national strategy played out in a series of statewide episodes, aimed at establishing the habits of oligarchy on a local basis. If Barrett has finally realized that, then he’s finally really in the game because he’s finally grasped the mortal stakes he’s playing for.
Bill Clinton’s out there for him today, raising roofs and raising hell, a day late and a dollar short, if you really want to be cynical, but still utterly overmatching the Triple-A team of Republican surrogates — Bobby Jindal? Nikki Haley, who’s grateful to have fled South Carolina one step ahead of an ethics investigation herself? — that are out stumping for Walker this weekend. Friday morning, on the spot with Fr. Jacques Marquette first made camp, Clinton talked about creative cooperation, and he ran his riffs about how people come together in small towns, but he also hung on Walker the responsibility for the confrontational politics elsewhere around the country, which is the only national message in Wisconsin worth mentioning. There the blog goes on the road this weekend to see what it can see. This thing is so tight I’m going to need Dan Rather’s help with the metaphors.
What happens in Wisconsin is of national, even generational, importance. This is not merely something that should be seen as a “state level” election at all. If you don’t know why I say this, you’re not paying enough attention!
Charles P. Pierce’s Esquire blog will be essential reading in the coming days for everyone who cares about democracy in America. Get into the habit of reading him and being able to savor his writing through the election, you’ll be glad you did.
In this long, but absolutely essential piece, Rachel Maddow lays out a seriously DARK prognosis for the future of this country if the Koch brothers money is able to drown out the Tom Barrett campaign and the Walker recall effort fails. This aired right before the holiday weekend, and I don’t think has gotten around the way it should have. Once again Maddow proves herself to be one of the premiere journalists of our time. I think Ed Schultz has done some great work in Wisconsin, too, but no one can build a case quite like Rachel Maddow can. She’s a national treasure (How did someone so smart get to be on American TV, anyway?):
This past March, standing outside a Shell station in Mellen, Wis., in the state’s far north, Mike Wiggins Jr. told me about a series of dark and premonitory dreams he had two years earlier. “One of them was a very vivid trip around the North Woods and seeing forests bleeding and sludge from a creek emptying into the Bad River,” Wiggins said. “I ended up at a dilapidated northern log home with rotten snowshoes falling off the wall. I stepped out of the lodge, walked through some pine, and I was in a pipeline. There was a big pipe coming in and out of the ground as far as I could see.
“I had no idea what the hell that was all about,” Wiggins continued. But he said the dream became clearer when a stranger named Matt Fifield came into his office several months later and handed him his card. Wiggins is the chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Fifield, the managing director of Gogebic Taconite (GTac), a division of the Cline Group, a mining company based in Florida. He had come to Wiggins’s office to discuss GTac’s desire to build a $1.5 billion open-pit iron-ore mine in the Penokee Hills, about seven miles south of the Bad River reservation. The proposed mine would be several hundred feet deep, roughly four miles long and a half-mile wide; the company estimated it would bring 700 long-term jobs to the area. Fearing contamination of the local groundwater and pristine rivers, Wiggins told Fifield he planned to oppose the mine. He didn’t know at the time that the company’s lawyers would be working hand in hand with Republican legislators to draft a bill that would weaken Wisconsin environmental law and expedite the permitting process.
What followed was a drawn-out fight that resembled other statewide battles over labor, education and voter-registration laws — all of which have been introduced since the election of the Republican governor Scott Walker in 2010. The most bitter of these fights began in early February last year, when Walker proposed eliminating virtually all collective-bargaining rights for a vast majority of the state’s public-employee unions. Around the time that Walker announced the measure, similar laws were introduced in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, and a nationwide demonization of public employees caught fire. Within two months, the National Conference of State Legislators had tracked more than 100 bills, initiated across the country, attacking public-sector unions.
From the beginning, Walker, who declined to comment for this article, seemed cognizant that his move to end collective bargaining placed him at the forefront of a national conservative strategy. His attack on public-employee unions was lauded by Mitt Romney, John Boehner and Karl Rove, and he has received significant financial support from the billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch. In a widely publicized prank phone call with Ian Murphy, a blogger impersonating David Koch, Walker described a dinner he held for his cabinet at his Executive Residence on Feb. 10, the night before he announced the collective-bargaining measure. “It was kind of the last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb,” he said to the faux-Koch. At the dinner, Walker held up a photograph of Ronald Reagan and told his cabinet that what they were about to do recalled Reagan’s breaking of the air-traffic-controllers’ union strike in 1981. “This is our time to change the course of history,” Walker said.
The June 5 recall election against Walker and four Republican state senators will be a decisive and momentous day in American history—no matter which side of the political divide you are on—and not just for residents of Wisconsin. If the reichwing and the Koch brothers get beaten back, it’ll send a definitive message to Republicans—and draw an iron line in the sand—letting them know how far is TOO FAR and what NOT to do if they don’t want to end up like Scott Walker. If Democrats take back control of the statehouse, I get the sense that things would largely calm down in Wisconsin, after two years that have seen friendships ended, family arguments and nasty, nasty local politics, vandalism, etc. Clearly in this way, Scott Walker has been a disaster for life in his state. How many people who live there, no matter what their political affiliation is, would argue that the mood in Wisconsin has improved under Walker?
However, if the Democrats and the unions lose, and it appears that they will lose, it’ll be a sad day indeed and will be seen as a demoralizing lesson in just how DEAD democracy really is when billionaires and out of state interests can come in and defeat the determined solidarity of tens of thousands of Wisconsin’s most politically engaged progressive citizens. If Walker wins, it will be a significant blow to the labor unions and progressive morale in general.
With repetitive TV and radio ads blanketing Wisconsin’s airways (Walker is spending over 20x what his challenger Tom Barrett can afford) the Koch brothers and the GOP have brainwashed people into supporting policies that would beggar their neighbors, friends and relatives and destroy the hard fought gains of the unions in the state where the labor movement was arguably born merely so that the rich can get richer. It’s not like everyone in Wisconsin doesn’t already know what’s going on and I doubt that many people are still undecided if they’ll be voting for Walker or Barrett with just two weeks to go. The polls are TIGHT, and incredibly—when you consider how his governorship has torn the state apart and Walker’s SHITTY record on jobs—favor the governor. It’s going to be all about the ground game and the side who can get out the most voters (something the Republicans excel at ).
You can kick in a few bucks to kick Walker’s ass at ActBlue. Fingers crossed and GO WISCONSIN.