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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I would call them the Wisconsin Club for Liars, but ...

... the Burlington, Wisconsin Liar's Club is a perfectly good organization whose name I would be besmirching

by folkbum

Right, yes, this is me giving up on blogging ... right up until the Wisconsin Club for Growth's weekly missive ends up in my mailbox today. (I don't know what smartass signed me up for their emails, but I do enjoy the chuckles.)

One of the big stories from this week is the WCfG's ongoing war against Wisconsin's fair elections watchdog, the Government Accountability Board. Here's their pitch, under the headline "Chaos is the Objective":
Last Wednesday’s recommendation from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) staff guarantees confusion and voter anger when and if people are summoned to the polls for another round of recall elections next year. The GAB staff says the old district boundaries—those used in the 2010 elections—will apply for any recalls, even though new district lines created to reflect the results of the 2010 census, will become effective in August for purposes of incumbent lawmakers seeking re-election.

Recently we warned about the virtual certainty of 2012 recalls triggering a blizzard of litigation. Here’s one way that will happen: Some of the Legislators planning to seek re-election on the normal election schedule and in the new districts, may first have to run again in the old district. It will be expensive for local taxpayers forced to pay for never-ending elections. It will be miserably confusing for local officials forced to administer serial elections with shifting boundaries. And the confusion will ensure at least some of these frivolous contests—and quite possibly ballot access for candidates in the regular elections next fall—end up being decided by lawyers, not the voting public.

The Saul Alinsky school of political vandalism holds that if normal people are subjected to continuous chaos, they’ll throw up their hands in disgust and let the radicals take what they want. Restoring sanity to our public affairs is not going to be easily or quickly done.
Where to start? I guess near the top: "The GAB staff says ..." Yeah, they do say, they do clearly say that the old Senate and Assembly boundaries will be in effect during any recall election in 2012. Do you know why the GAB staff says so? Because of this (pdf):
This act first applies, with respect to special or recall elections, to offices filled or contested concurrently with the 2012 general election.
That's the last line of the bill written by Republicans (or, more accurately, their law firm), passed without a single Democratic vote, and without a single line item vetoed by Republican Governor Walker, that creates the new maps. The plain language of the Republicans' bill is that the new maps simply cannot take effect until the 2012 general election, and old maps must be used for any special elections or recalls before then.

So GAB has a choice, kinda. They could follow the law as written and approved by Republicans, and require that recalls be done under the old maps, or they could ignore the will of the legislature. And they can't do that; they aren't the state Supreme Court, after all.

So Club for Growth blames the Government Accountability Board, which followed the plain letter of the law, for "guarantee[ing] confusion" and "continuous chaos." They do this not because GAB is really at fault; obviously, they are not. But rather they do it because the WCfG doesn't believe in any kind accountability of the type the GAB provides--i.e., restrictions of what outside groups such as themselves can do to influence elections--and they are for Republicans and the belief that the GOP can do no wrong.

The real problem here for Republicans and the groups like WCfG who support them is that the old districts were drawn somewhat more fairly, somewhat more balanced in terms of which direction voters usually lean. So what the GOP faces is potential recalls in districts that favor the end result sought by Democrats, which is more Republicans out of office and more Democrats in. Those Dems would then be incumbents in the next election, which for the state senate districts in question would not be until 2014. In addition to the advantages of incumbency in that election, they will be in office until then to support the Democratic agenda, whether in a minority or majority, and whether Walker is recalled or not.

WCfG and the Republicans don't want that. So it's their strategy to create chaos: the GOP wrote this rule, after all, and who do you think is really going to be filing those lawsuits? Then they'll blame Democrats for all the chaos and use that as an argument against them.

As much as the WCfG wants to invoke the Alinsky bogey man, they're really reading from the Karl Rove hymnal: Identify your own greatest weakness, and accuse your opponents of having it.

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