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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The next-to-last post

(I'm not quitting, per se; tomorrow, I will post some information about where you can find--or avoid--my writing from here on out.)

by folkbum

When I was in high school, back in nineteen-somethingy-something, my junior English teacher, Mrs. Harding, insisted I needed a bigger venue for my wit and wisdom than, say, high school. A TV show, she suggested, no--a TV network. In retrospect, of course, I'm sure a lot of that was some of the same kind of head-patting that I do now as a junior English teacher myself. But I don't think she or I or much of anyone in nineteen-somethingy-something anticipated the wide-open frontier that would be blogging in 2003.

Which is, if you can believe it, when I started this thing: almost nine years ago, which is something like 963 in blog years.

Mrs. Harding, I think, was kind of right. Because of this blog I did end up on TV, several times (national and local); I've been published in the local paper, a local-er paper, local and national magazines, even a real book.

No I never ended up pulling a sweet salary at some think tank or other, and I never gradumated to Real Punditry or anything. Turns out, I like doing the English teacher thing, as Mrs. Harding taught me to do, better.

So this is it. No long, rambly reflection, just a simple see you later, someplace else.

Friday, December 30, 2011

FriTunes: Last FriTunes Evar

by folkbum

From what may be my favorite album of 2011.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Entrepreneurial Spirit

by folkbum

I started a magazine! See?

** See the Siren on the meaningfulness of the award Walker actually received.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays, all

by folkbum

However you are choosing to celebrate this season, please enjoy yourselves appropriately.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Mines for Wisconsin" update

by folkbum

The Government Accountability Board, the body that oversees recall (and other) elections in Wisconsin, has referred the group from my last post, "Mines for Wisconsin," to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office for a possible felony investigation. (I firmly believe "Mines for Wisconsin" is simply the "Christian Civil Liberties Union" with a new name.)

The GAB's statement in full is here. In part:
It is against the law to intentionally falsify a name on a recall petition. If the fliers encouraging people to falsify signatures are genuine, this group may be breaking the law, as would anyone who acts on this blatant attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process.

The Government Accountability Board has referred this matter to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office for investigation.

It is a violation of Wisconsin Statutes 12.13(3)(a) to “Falsify any information in respect to or fraudulently deface or destroy a … recall petition ….” Violation is a Class I felony, punishable by up to 3½ years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
I was not aware of the penalties when I posted last night--I was in too much of a hurry to get the story out before I had to leave the house again to do more than verify that signing a false name was indeed illegal. I have no idea whether, or with what penalties, encouraging that kind of fraud is also a violation of the law, and certainly I have no idea whether the matter will go any further.

UPDATE: The Wisconsin State Journal is running a story based on the GAB's press release. Photo credit there goes to the GAB, not this blog or my friend who actually took the photo.

But, as I prepare to close this blog down for good (don't act so shocked, you had to know it was coming) by the end of this year, it's nice to know that I was able to get one last thing done. Nice way to end it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Christian" group upgrades from book-burning to dyslexic fraud advocacy

by folkbum

Remember a couple of years ago when the book-burners--literally! they demanded to burn a book!--descended on the West Bend Library because something threatened their worldview? One group in particular went even beyond just asking for books to be banned and burned, and actually tried suing the city of West Bend for "damages" because "their mental and emotional well-being were damaged" by the library's having Baby Be-Bop in the stacks. The was the Christian Civil Liberties Union.

[UPDATE: Here they are in action!]

So then today the flyer on the right showed up on the car of a friend of mine (click to embiggen). If you can't see the image or read the text, here's what it says:
ADOLPH HITLER SUPPORTS RECALL OF GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER

"Mines for Wisconsin" encourage you to oppose the Scott Walker recall petition by signing "Adolf Hitler, 666 Hell Street (your city)"

WHY? The recall people don't want thousands of high paying jobs in the mining industry in northern Wisconsin. The president of "MFW" used to work for Kaiser Steel at an open pit mine. The area around the mine was not environmentally affected.

By signing Hilter's name you are sending a message to the recall people who oppose jobs for Wisconsin residents. Many of these potential jobs would be union positions.

It is not illegal to sign "Adolf Hitler" on a petition. Hitler was willing to destroy Germany in order to get his ideals in place. This is similar to what the recall people are doing in Wisconsin.
Though the flyer is signed "Mines for Wisconsin," the phone number and address listed traces back to the CCLU. (I don't know whether the "Bob" listed as a contact is one of the Roberts from the West Bend debacles.)

One wonders, first, what particular flavor of Christianity it is that promotes this kind of lying--certainly not any I know of. Second, though, one wonders why this group would advocate breaking state law, which prohibits signing a false name to a petition like this. (Wisconsin Republicans are trying to get that upgraded to a felony, even.) So no, CCLU, your flyer is wrong--it would be illegal to sign either as Adolf Hitler or Adolf Hilter.

I am not sure that flyering a parking lot advocating fraud like this is enough to get Assistant DA Landgraf investigating, but this kind of thing shouldn't just pass unnoticed.

(Further: Someone with more time to dig should look into Kaiser Steel's mining operations. I doubt that there was no environmental impact of any of their strip mines.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Republicans still blaming the GAB for following the law

by folkbum

There's an old saw among lawyers--well, I don't know if any of them use it, but us common folk have heard it a lot and assume it is so--about how to win your case. When the facts are on your side, they say, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither the facts nor the law is on your side, pound the table.

Yesterday, the Wisconsin GOP pounded the table so hard it darn near broke.

Here are the facts: United Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are two-thirds of the way to their goal of 720,000 signatures to recall Governor Walker (540,000 is the trigger number, but they want a cushion). A certainty--though not technically a fact, yet--is that some of those signatures will turn out to be invalid, either because they are duplicates or phony or incomplete. This happens all the time in signature drives, and is why there needs to be a cushion. It is a fact that UW and DPW have announced that they will be trying to identify and remove those invalid signatures before turning them in (and have already started, reflecting that process in the number released yesterday). Still, that in just one month, more than half a million signatures have been collected and turned into the groups for collation and verification, has to rankle Walker and his supporters.

Here is the law: Wisconsin Statutes §.9.10, which governs recalls. The Government Accountability Board, charged with overseeing all elections in the state including recalls, has some duties to perform when it comes to signatures in a recall election. There's a list of reasons why the GAB could reject a signature, including duplication or phoniness, as well as things like the signer being too young to vote or having a bad date next to the signature. The law also places duties and responsibilities onto the parties collecting signatures and the objects of the recall who would challenge those signatures. Note, for example, paragraph (g): "The burden of proof for any challenge rests with the individual bringing the challenge." In other words, the GAB is not the party responsible for finding and challenging duplicate or phony signatures; rather, it's the challengers, by law, who have the burden to prove that a signature is invalid.

Now, what the GAB has said is that if there are obvious flaws or suspicious aspects to a signature--like a possible phony one--they will flag it to make sure the challenger sees it and investigates it. But the GAB is not empowered to make all these challenges itself. (And, as noted, United Wisconsin is going to try to verify the signatures before they turn them in to minimize how many can be challenged.)

So, here's the table:
Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and the state Republican Party director sued the state's elections and ethics agency in Waukesha on Thursday over its handling of duplicate and bogus signatures in the ongoing recall effort against the governor. [. . .]

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Waukesha County Circuit Court asks a judge to order the accountability board to look for and eliminate duplicate signatures, clearly fake names and illegible addresses. [. . .] The lawsuit says allowing multiple signatures is a violation of the equal protection clauses of the state and U.S. constitutions.
Why, yes, allowing multiple signatures would be a bad thing, and that's why §.9.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits counting them. Here's the law: "(i) If a challenger can establish that a person signed the recall petition more than once, the 2nd and subsequent signatures may not be counted."

Wait, wha? The law says that a challenger has to establish that the signature is a duplicate? You don't say!

Clearly, the law does not give the GAB any authority itself to seek out and eliminate duplicates. Your Wisconsin GOP is suing to demand that the GAB do exactly that. They are doing the same thing--suing the GAB--because the GAB earlier insisted on following the redistricting law as it was written; that case is still pending. Both cases need to be laughed out of court.

(Note that as part of their reform efforts, the state Republicans changed the law governing where lawsuits against the state could be filed. It used to be Dane County, where, you know, the government lives. But now plaintiffs can venue-shop, and both suits against the GAB were filed in ultra-conservative Waukesha County.)

It is utterly unremarkable anymore that the state Republican Party has such disrespect for the law. As if we needed any more reasons to recall them.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shorter Christian Schneider, NRO, WPRI, WTFDUDE?

by folkbum
Vote fraud is just like rape--underreported.
Paraphrasing Illusory Tenant there, citing the Brawler, and via Jonathan Bernstein, who reads "The Corner" so you don't have to.

Schneider's post does double-duty, both legitimizing GOP racism and sticking it in the eye of feminists. I bet he gets paid more for that. And it's also very exhausting to think that I've been fighting Schneider on his "vote fraud" BS for as long as I have. The boy just won't quit.

I'm thinking this could be a thing, you know a trending twitter topic, something like
#ChrstianSchneiderThinks vote fraud is just like rape--underreported.
#ChrstianSchneiderThinks vote fraud is just like bigfoot--hiding in the woods.
#ChrstianSchneiderThinks vote fraud is just like Area 51--real but blurred off of Google Earth.
#ChrstianSchneiderThinks vote fraud is just like Kenny G--everybody likes him but just won't admit it.
Or maybe
#ChrstianSchneiderThinks the McRib is just like rape--everybody's asking for it.
Now you--I'm sure you've got better ones.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unhinged, Violent—Anti-Recall Scott Walker Illegals Need Lesson in Civics

Jeff Karnitz, the guy who got arrested for
defacing recall petitions in December
Too many Republicans frustrated with their inability to persuade fellow citizens NOT to recall Scott Walker are becoming "unhinged."

The next graf here would naturally call on responsible Republican officials to issue a statement acclaiming Article XIII, Section 12 of the Wisconsin Constitution, enshrining the right of Wisconsin citizens to throw the bums out when deemed appropriate.

But it hardly seems fair to single out Republican officials when the Wisconsin Democratic Party officials such as Graeme Zielinski, spokesperson of sorts, incomprehensibly, refuses to defend the rights of Wisconsin families who now are routinely being harassed, attacked, and assaulted by Wisconsinites who apparently dislike Article XIII, Section 12; though their champion, Scott Walker, used to love Recall.

See Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Was for Recalls Before He Was Against Them.

It's clear the anti-recall punks using intimidation really are not all that passionate about their constitutional interpretation of Article XIII, Section 12. I think instead they are potentially dangerous, and certainly undemocratic.

Almost every day, there is another story about intimidation and violation of civil rights that we of every political stripe should be defending.

Tony Galli of WKOW TV has been following a story of one unhinged man, Kevin Stoll of Hartland, phoning pro-recall women late at night, causing at least one to contact police. “It’s 10:30 at night and there’s apparently somebody who knows where you live. It’s just a very unnerving and frightening feeling,” said Michelle who was phoned repeatedly by Stoll.

Check this video below. In any event, if you want to recall Scott Walker: Go for it. And if you don't want to recall Scott Walker: Then don't, but intimidation and harassment are not the methods you should employ. And Graeme Zielinski: Get off your ass.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

RecallFitz Is Calling For Volunteers

by capper

Hey, good people of #wiunion and #wirecall- I received word from Lori Compas, the person leading the movement to recall Scott Fitzgerald. She told me that they are looking to make a big push on the recall effort of Fitzie, which has not been getting the attention it deserves. Lori is asking for 30 volunteers a day for 30 days to make sure they make this a sure deal. If you can at all help, you can more information and sign on to help at the RecallFitz website.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WKOW: Anti-Recall Man Repeatedly Harassed Pro-Recall Residents at Their Homes

Recall Scott Walker
Fight Harassment

Update: Stoughton man cited for allegedly taking a swing at recall volunteer.

We can't ignore this. No matter that politicians see no need to protect this woman's sense of security in her own home.

Waukesha County man uses TV news video to phone and challenge recall signers at night. Police have been contacted.


“It’s 10:30 at night and there’s apparently somebody who knows where you live. It’s just a very unnerving and frightening feeling,” said Dane County resident and Recall Scott Walker supporter named Michelle.

By Tony Galli at WKOW News

A Hartland man told 27 News he used television news video to contact people who signed recall petitions against Governor Scott Walker, prompting at least one person to contact police.

“It wasn’t a harassing call by any means,” Kevin Stoll told 27 News.

A Dane County resident named Michelle, who asked that her identity be kept private because Stoll had already obtained some of her personal information, characterized a call she received from him Nov. 25 as harassing.

“It’s 10:30 at night and there’s apparently somebody who knows where you live. It’s just a very unnerving and frightening feeling.”

Michelle said Stoll was a stranger to her, refused to identify himself and challenged her to defend her decision to sign a recall petition.

“When this person seemed to be getting a little bit hostile, I ended the phone call and immediately contacted the authorities.”

Stoll told 27 News he used video from a 27 News story on the recall effort to get identifying information on people who signed petitions. The story was ninety seconds in length and included less than ten seconds of names, numbers and signatures on recall petitions, but that videotape was in motion and not highlighted.

Another Dane County resident, who also requested anonymity, said Stoll called her home three times shortly after the 27 News broadcast. The resident said she refused to answer Stoll’s final call, but an answering machine recorded it.

“You can’t even defend your position, now you won’t answer the phone,” the caller said in the recorded message reviewed by 27 News.

“You’ve signed a petition, where they put your name and number up on TV and you’re behaving like a (expletive) coward.”

Michelle said a Madison police officer conducted a preliminary investigation into the call she received and told her in the absence of the caller using abusive or threatening language or making repeated calls to her, the hands of law enforcement were tied. A Madison police spokesperson has yet to comment on the department’s handling of Michelle’s complaint.

Stoll indicated to 27 News he may be involved in verifying recall petition signatures, but provided no specifics and mentioned no affiliations with any political groups. Available online campaign finance records show Stoll contributed $400 to a republican district attorney in 2002.

Friday, December 09, 2011

FriTunes: On this day in history edition

by folkbum

Roy Orbison died in 1988.



And yesterday, of course, was the anniversary of John Lennon's death.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Scott Walker's TV Spot Front—Applauds White Pride Speech

White and Proud of It
Update: Call to Mark Neumann campaign for comment has not been returned.

With an assist from U.S. Senate candidate, Mark Neumann, a racist at a December event in Kenosha, Wisconsin gives a white pride tirade as Scott Walker's poster woman and other attendees applaud.

This is known is the political business as: An improper vetting. Or arguably, perhaps you have to appeal to racism to work in GOP circles now-a-days.

The U.S. military has more colorful terms for what the Scott Walker campaign has done in using right-wing activist, Kristi LaCroix as a front-woman extolling his virtues in Walker's misleading $ Multi-million TV spots.

The problem with using Ms. LaCroix concerned her attendance at, her own speech, and tacit approval of an event in Kenosha, Wisconsin on December 1, 2011 [audio below], where LaCroix received a hero's welcome as the next incarnation of Sarah Palin. Oops.

Paul I. Tascoupe reports that a subsequent speaker after LaCroix at the Pints and Politics event featured a racist Republican from the audience acclaiming white pride in a three-minute-long tirade. [The following piece has been edited slightly to give Mark Neumann his due. Apparently, Tommy Thompson had the good sense to skip this event.]

Instead of being booed out of the event by LaCroix and the other GOP attendees, the racist speaker received applause, including a note of encouragement and assistance by Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate, Mark Neumann who helped the racist find the word, "profiling," followed seconds later by Mark Neumann's commitment to "never apologize for the United States of America for any reason ..." to loud applause from the assembled God-fearing, White Americans.

By Paul I. Tascoupe

The woman proclaimed her strong beliefs in “white pride;" said disparaging things about “the "blacks," and called anti-discrimination laws “disgusting” and “ridiculous.”

The proud, white woman continued her proclamations with lines such as:
  • “I stood up and I said, ‘Look, I’m white and I’m proud of that.”,
  • “I want you to understand that I am tired of the white male, the white conservative males, the white Christian conservative male being at the bottom of the heap.”
  • “I’ve seen black groups, black caucus groups, black Congressional groups, black this black that.”
She even goes on to talk about how we were "attacked by Muslim terrorists." [Left unexplained was how this is connected to being "proud" of being "white."

Now I must again say this was - not- Kristi Lacroix's speech, however, not a single person in attendance stood up, gasped, or even attempted to stop this racial onslaught.

Instead the audience erupted in cheers after Neumann talked over the woman's tirade against the "blacks," with encouraging words about the USA. [Not sure how Neumann's direct follow-up was connected to being "proud" of being "white" either, but then again I'm no Republican.]

The following audio clip is from the event, please be warned, this clip has been rated racist.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Republicans' dumb PO rule exemplifies anti-stimulus

by folkbum

The news that the Post Office is set to dump another quarter-million people into the unemployment market next year should thrill exactly no one. Here in Wisconsin, with a craptacular couple of job-creation years behind us (and another in the making), and with 8500 local, state, and federal jobs lost in the last year already, we should not relish the idea that five mail processing centers here will close and cost hundreds more jobs.

Plus, you know, the mail will get slower. That will help attract new business [/snark].

But remember why the Post Office is in this mess: Republicans.

I don't say this purely out of spite. The number one reason why the Post Office is in financial trouble is that in 2006, the Republican Congress (with President Bush's approval) required the PO to do something no single other private, public, or private-public organization anywhere has to do--prepay its health care costs for the next 75 years before 2016.

Right now, today, a chunk of every stamp you buy or fruitcake you ship goes to pay the future health insurance cost of someone the Post Office hasn't even hired yet. This is dumb.

No doubt you can go back to the record--and I mean literally, you can, I'm busy--and find weak-sauce justifications for this requirement, something about being prepared for the inevitable or some such. And let's be fair; in 2006, a lot of people were in denial or oblivion about the bubble part of the economy, and figured that the kind of operating profits the PO was seeing in the mid-00s would continue forever. (Yes, the PO made a profit, without a taxpayer dime.)

But the requirement is still dumb. For one, paying today toward the health insurance cost of someone working at the PO in, say, 2060 seems ridiculous on its face. Who the fizzle knows how many people the PO will have working for them, what the health care market will look like, or even whether SkyNet will be running things completely by then?

Moreover, the nearly $60 billion this will cost--75 years' worth of health care costs ain't cheap--is anti-stimulus. It does nothing for the economy. You ship your dad a Christmas sweater and part of the fee you pay for the privilege goes and sits in a bank account somewhere. Sits there. Does nothing. For 75 years.

With this money, the PO doesn't hire new workers, workers who would buy cars and food and houses and engagement rings. With this money, the PO doesn't buy new equipment, which could have been made by US factory workers who instead sit idle. With this money, the PO doesn't buy local advertising, doesn't build new facilities, doesn't innovate. This money just simply gets hoovered out of the economy to sit idle.

Now I know, grand-scheme, $5.5 billion a year in the face of $15 trillion GDP is not enough to turn around a thoroughly rotten economy. But in an era when a company's decision to hire even a dozen new workers gets headlines and a governor's visit, the effects of this dumb PO rule ought to be seen as significant.

Plus, this is entirely undo-able. The Congress can act right now to remove the pre-payment requirement going forward and even allow the PO to tap the money it's set aside to offset the loss of mail revenue following the bubble's bursting. (Caveat: Suggesting that this Congress can act now to do anything is, sadly, hopeless--Republicans will kill anything they think Democrats favor, including stuff the Republican public overwhelmingly likes.)

So, no, the PO is not in some intractable financial position of its own doing or entirely due to the business cycle. It is being killed by a Republican rule of dubious benefit and severe detriment, and in 2012, the economy and the mail will suffer needlessly for it.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Citizens Uncover Huge County-state Mistakes in Voter Obstruction Efforts

Wisconsin Catch 22 on Voter Obstruction

Update: Here's Richard Pinney's PR with contact info.

Citizens acting to ensure registered legal voters in Wisconsin are not denied their right to vote due to the Voter ID law have uncovered a big snafu with the potential to invalidate the entire law.

State law doesn't require a photo ID to get a birth certificate, but 2/3 of the counties are using forms that say a photo ID is required to get a birth certificate.

Richard Pinney built a website, Get Voter ID, to help people get a voter ID, but in the process found the snafu, a Catch 22 that Republicans love.

In fact, as Pinney notes:
In a systemic state-wide failure, the Election Division of the Government Accountability Board, the Department of Health Services, 48 counties and the Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association all post a link to a mail-in form that explicitly requires submitting a copy of the applicant's 'current valid photo ID'.
So, some folks may need a birth certificate to get a photo ID to vote, but they are told by the State and County bureaucracies they need a photo ID to get a birth certificate. What is this the U.S. Army?

View the complete GetVoterID.org Report here (PDF) with links to all sites-in-error mentioned above and examples of several versions of the mistaken photo ID requirements.

Friday, December 02, 2011

FriTunes: It's getting to be Redbird Season again

by folkbum

I didn't shoot this, but I think this was the show I was at last year:



It's not too late to get tickets for some of these shows.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

NaNoWriMo*

* National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated

by folkbum

A rough estimate: In November, I wrote about 40,000 words, but not one of them toward a novel.

The vast bulk of those words I wrote to students, as feedback on their writing, directions for assignments, rubrics, mentor texts to use as models--much of that while perched at the counter of my favorite local coffee shop on weeknights and weekends because I teach all day, not grade or plan.

A lot of words showed up in emails to my students; emails to parents, counselors, other teachers, administrators, or social workers about my students; administrative referrals or other documentation on the behavior of my students; one looooong form for the state Wisconsin about a student; and four letters of recommendation for students.

There were a lot of words in lesson plans, on anchor charts, for my word walls. Words written for collaborative planning with my department. Words written trying to figure out how to resurrect my school's student newspaper.

Words written on this blog in defense of teachers, in praise of unions, in criticism of my district or legislators or other commentators who get it wrong. Words written for the Bay View Compass about my school district and its technology, plus the interview notes and emails and rough drafts and false starts. Words written on Twitter and Facebook and in comments to other people's blogs about teaching, learning, union-ing, and trying to make a difference in Scott Walker's Wisconsin. Words written about a possible new online collaboration.

(I am not counting the Words with Friends.)

Four words--my name, twice--on two recall petitions.

But not a word toward a novel.

I know some people who did that, who started or tried to start a novel or some other creative writing task. I just didn't get to it.

Well, there's always next November--unless I'm still teaching, in which case I will probably have more important words to write.