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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIP, Art Langlas

by folkbum

The Channel 10 TV Auction is among my household's most important annual traditions. It won't be the same without Art.

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mark Block's Student Film Revealed!

by folkbum

Why, yes, I have almost entirely given up on this blogging business. But sometimes a s story presents itself that is just too WTFish to pass up. Like this video:



I mean, seriously. It's like a bad noir monologue--complete with cigarette!--accidentally spoken aloud and filmed by the last guy to be picked for partners in Camerawork 101, drunk. Like the Cain tour bus mistakenly got the "delivery" intended for the Snoop Dogg bus just before the rented cameras showed up. The creepy Cain smile at the end is, um, unfortunate. Especially because, unlike Block, Cain can actually be telegenic and attractive in frame when the filmmakers aren't busy imitating sixth-grade-does-reality-TV-plus-smoking-makes-you-look-cool.

Mark Block, if you recall, was recently touted by Wisconsin's largest daily newspaper for, quote, "direct[ing] Cain's ascent." The paper managed not to talk in that story about all the times Mark Block has been disciplined or nearly so for breaking campaign laws and rules. (You have to rely on folks like xoff and zeedub for that.)

But the savvy thing about Craig Gilbert's report there is that it pretty clearly shows neither Cain nor Block entirely on their rockers. Leave aside that Block seems not to know when to use "who" vs. "that"; instead, listen to the crazy:
Back in January, Block brought Cain unannounced into the Washington Bureau of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, asking a reporter if he'd like to meet the next president of the United States.

Today, he projects that same slightly giddy faith in the man, as well as the conservative movement he's tapping into. Only now it's with an added sense of wonder, because his candidate has at least temporarily achieved liftoff.

"This thing is so deep that anybody that says they understand it is lying to you," he said.
Huh? "This thing"? Which is what, exactly--the unfortunate transposition of book tour with campaign?

At some point, someone's going to have to have an intervention. As James Fallows notes, this isn't the first Cain video to make you wonder if "this thing" isn't an elaborate Onion-style hoax.

Friday, October 21, 2011

FriTunes: Really Big Shoe

by folkbum

My show tonight even made The Official List Of Stuff To Do From The Purveyors Of All Entertainment News (luckily, "Acoustic" is alphabetically privileged and you don't have to read too far to see it).

Also, these guys are in town tomorrow night:



And my ComedySportz team plays Sunday at 2 PM.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FriTunes: Stuff To Do edition

by folkbum

Larry Penn's at the Coffee House tomorrow night (Saturday, 10/15). He's a living Milwaukee legend and you could do worse than spend an evening with his songs and yarns.



Next Friday, 10/21, I'm at the same joint, with my friend Chris Head. That's this guy:



Both those shows are five bucks.

In between, Sunday afternoon 10/16, my ComedySportz team is playing at 3 pm (other matches are at 2 and 4). Those shows are free.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recalling Scott Walker

by folkbum

I want to be on the record here, not because I think my opinion is going to make a bit of difference but because, well, I have a blog and I may as well use it.

A, I don't care for Walker. Never have. Not when he was Rep. Walker, not when he was County Executive Walker, and sure as hell not as Governor Walker. He's left a swath of destruction--his fans would call it "reform," but then again, they don't have to deal with the aftermath--in his wake at every turn in his adult life. He should not hold any office, and helping him with that is, I think, a reasonable goal.

2, I think the DPW and the various grassroots orgs involved, while well intentioned and the ones to carry out this exercise in participatory democracy, are making a huge mistake by going at it in the middle of Packers season and snow and--this is key--in isolation. Wisconsin's Democratic voter turnout was never as high in recent years as in November 2008. Obama remains relatively popular here, and there will be a ton of complementary national resources pouring in from the national party and national orgs to spur Democratic turnout. Pushing ahead with an election this important that would likely be the first under the new restrictive voter requirements, which will take time for legitimate voters to overcome, is just dumb.

Finally, if anyone is going to beat Walker, it won't be Kathleen Falk, as much as she holds a special place in Mike Tate's heart. Jon Erpenbach, as much as he holds a place in the heart of #WIUnion, isn't it either. If it were me, I'd be camped out in Dave Obey's living room. If it takes some buckets and This Is What Democracy Looks Like to talk him into it, so be it. But there's your winning candidate, especially if he promises to step in as caretaker until 2014, just to clean up the mess.

Anyway, this is all me. You guys do what think is best.

Friday, October 07, 2011

FriTunes: The Sports Team from My Locality Has Won its Balling Contest

by folkbum

If there's going to be looting, save me an iPad.

Marine Discusses Wall Street Protest and NYPD: Time for Police to Back Off


Another Dangerous Terrorist Captured -
Oh She's a Bad One for Sure! -
Just Look at Those Eyes
 A Vietnam War combat veteran sees the movement, how it leads, and speaks out. Excerpt:

I remember Vietnam, the real Vietnam, the Vietnam of the Marine rifle squad, the senselessness of it, the suffering. We all knew it as what it was, a huge con.

Now, nobody doubts the War on Terror was the same thing, Afghanistan, the drug producing capitol of the world, Iraq, the farce staged by the Bushites to loot oil and empty America’s treasury.
[See live stream at Global Revolution. Democracy in action; fascism in the street of New York as brave souls - the young, labor, veterans, grow by the day and spread to cities across the country. Panic from the powers that be is next. See also #OccupyWallStreet.]

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The eternal war against dungarees

by folkbum

Today is apparently dress-code day at the daily, with two arguments for the notion that I should be fired because I gave up on wearing a tie, and one against.

Here's what I learned all those years ago when I gave up on wearing a tie to teach: The rapport I develop with students is about a billionty times more critical to the learning environment than how I dress. If a kid is going to call me an m-fer (and that seldom happens), he won't think better of it because I'm wearing a tie. I never did quantitative double-blind research, but experientially I couldn't tell the difference between tie days and not. So I dress in a way that makes me comfortable in my classroom and lets me worry about what, how, and whether students are learning.

I once had a younger teacher tell me why wore his suit and tie to work every day. "This is my uniform, my armor," he said. I didn't say back, but thought it, "And just who the hell do you think you're coming to school to fight?" He doesn't teach anymore.

UPDATED TO ADD: Surprisingly, this is proving quite contentious among the Journal-Sentinel commenterati. There is a strong contingent that believes we teachers should shut up and take our medicine because we all only care about money, as evidenced by our designer clothes and expensive personal grooming. On the other side, there is a contingent that believes we should shut up and take our medicine because we're all a bunch of hippie slobs. I hope it doesn't come to blows!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs


by folkbum

You all know I am an Apple user--not quite the fanboy, but loyal to a brand that has never disappointed me and often impressed me with its ingenuity and customer service.

So this is a bit depressing, and, speaking as one who remembers The Lost Years when Jobs was out of the company and the people left behind ran Apple like any other PC maker, a bit concerning. But I do like to think that at this point Apple has established itself more clearly, with not just fanboys anymore but flat-out ubiquity and product lines that are strong and plainly defined. Jobs's ethos is more thoroughly integrated into what Apple does anymore, and that I hope speaks well for the future of the company.

Thanks, Steve.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

What flavor, and will there be ice cream?

by folkbum

An actual email from the Milwaukee Public Schools department of professional development (click to embiggen):