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Pierce writes: "Well, on Thursday night, in their final debate, Barrett showed at least that the penny has dropped. He went up one side of Walker and down the other, slamming him on his politics, on his ethics, and on his being a show-pony puppet of monied interests far outside the state in question, arguing that Walker was treating the state as 'an experimental dish for the far right.'"

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker (right) and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett participate in a televised debate in Milwaukee, 05/31/12. (photo: AP)
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker (right) and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett participate in a televised debate in Milwaukee, 05/31/12. (photo: AP)

Democracy vs. Money in Wisconsin

By Charles Pierce, Esquire Magazine

02 June 12


his blog has had its issues with Tom Barrett, the decent man who is mayor of Milwaukee, and who's trying to remove from office on Tuesday next Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. Specifically, the blog wondered out loud whether or not Barrett fully realized that the only issue in the entire campaign wasn't a Return To Civility, or whether or not he could get tough on his "friends," but, rather, whether or not Walker should be governor anymore. There would be no recall at all but for people standing in the snow last winter, and answering "NO" to that question. There would be no recall at all but for a million or so Wisconsinites signing petitions to the effect that Walker should not be their governor anymore. The recall is a simple, basic thing, and a proud part of the progressive tradition in Wisconsin politics, no matter how messy it seems to the national pundits and to the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

(The reason you know this is that one of Walker's main campaign promises is to "reform" the recall process - probably right out of existence, if experience is any guide. Unless, of course, Walker loses. In which case, he warned on Thursday night, there would be big money almost immediately behind an effort to recall Barrett. "I think you start what I call recall Ping-Pong... I think you're going to see this be perpetual recall." Nice little mandate you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.)

Well, on Thursday night, in their final debate, Barrett showed at least that the penny has dropped. He went up one side of Walker and down the other, slamming him on his politics, on his ethics, and on his being a show-pony puppet of monied interests far outside the state in question, arguing that Walker was treating the state as "an experimental dish for the far right." He slapped Walker around for an Atwater-ish campaign commercial that seemed to blame Barrett for the death of a baby in Milwaukee:

"I have a police department that arrests felons. He has a practice of hiring them."

(The John Doe investigation into Walker's time as Milwaukee county executive, which Barrett hammered like a ten-penny nail on Thursday night, continues apace, by the way. It seems Walker may have been less than honest about his self-proclaimed "role" in launching the investigation. Quel surprise, as we say in Mequon.)

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 where 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. your social media marketing partner


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+127 # michelle 2012-06-02 12:54
I guess Tuesday will tell us how smart or how dumb the people of Wisconsin are. I imagine it will predict where many other states and elections are headed. Can the American people succumb to the propaganda put out by superpacs? Will they fall for the antics of the 1%?

With all the calls I am getting on the propositions,I have started talking back to the callers. First I tell them I am sorry they must work for the 1% and undermine their own rights but I understand in this economy there isn't much choice. I point out the lies in their script and tell them I hope in they vote in the interests of the 99%. This morning I talked to a young woman pimping no on prop 29, the tobacco tax, and she admitted she was voting yes. The conversation made her uncomfortable. Raise awareness folks, every freakin' chance you get.
+90 # Reductio Ad Absurdum 2012-06-02 14:16
"Raise awareness folks, every freakin' chance you get."

Michelle, you are so correct, and you've suggested the ultimate strategy. "Power to the people" is not a REQUEST, it's a DEMAND, and it only works if there IS a demand FROM THE PEOPLE. NO group is ever GIVEN power, it has to be TAKEN at every opportunity, and it starts by replacing the BIG LIE with the BIG TRUTH at every opportunity, as you suggest. Courage!
-185 # brucbaker 2012-06-02 13:56
I guess this website is dedicated to trashing republicans and the moderate Constitutional Conservatives, eh?

Do I really have to list all the DEMOCRAT SUGAR DADDIES and outside money coming in to keep the UNION THUGS con-game going? HAVE YOU EVER FOLLOWED THE MONEY for you Democrats and Unions? You wouldn't believe what they HIDE while they tell you how bad the Koch Brothers and the Republicans are... get a clue! You have been CONNED!
+110 # juliajayne 2012-06-02 14:22
Yes, follow the money. Good advice. You do know that if all of these governers can get rid of unions that Democrats and democracy will have been lost? There IS no big monied supporters other than the three unions there in WI for the Ds. The other 7 major money donors, including the Chamber of Commerce are all in for the Rs. That's their game, to get rid of any chance for Democrats to win ever again. Part of a coordinated strategy.

YOU have been conned. Please do tell us what's wrong with regular men and women belonging to unions, btw? Just curious why you side with big money and plutocrats over regular folk.
+99 # humanmancalvin 2012-06-02 14:26
brucbaker..This website is dedicated to telling the truth about Republicans and the moderate Constitutional Conservatives. If it happens to be trash that was created by above stated groups then pretty much yup, you called it correctly. And the regular contributors here at RSN are pretty damned proud of it. And if I may say sir, it has been you and all the other right leaning citizens that have been conned and conned very well.

Will you support our President when he is reelected in November as a proud American and a good citizen?
+51 # LiberalRN 2012-06-02 15:21
Quoting humanmancalvin:
brucbaker..This website is dedicated to telling the truth about Republicans and the moderate Constitutional Conservatives.

And, I would suggest, telling the truth about the Democrats also. I don't see them getting a free ride hereabouts. Not perfect by a long shot, but oh so much better than the Big Money, Big Lies party formerly known as the GOP.
+1 # mdhome 2012-06-04 12:48
If you use abbreviations for Big Money, it also has another , but appropriate meaning.
+66 # fliteshare 2012-06-02 15:07
If you are a member of working class, why would you take the words of the Koch brothers. over the words of those "Union thugs" ?

You think brown nosing will help you get ahead in life ?
+44 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-06-02 15:34
The "Wisconsin Fourteen" senators fled the state to delay Walker's AB 10, the bill that stripped collective bargaining.

"Wisconsin Fourteen"... resonates like Johnny Horton's "1814"... I'm toying with parody verses:

Scott Walker heard the roar that filled the air...
He wondered what was swaying all the palm trees on the square...
He spread the drapes and he looked down and then he felt a chill...
A hundred thousand people chanting "Scottie, kill the bill!"

Mobsters! Rioters! And there's a rent-a-bum!
Violent slobs! Union thugs! And that's just naming some!
Vandalizing occupiers! Rotten, evil creatures!
(Scottie, put your glasses on... they're kindergarten teachers...)
+7 # AndreM5 2012-06-02 17:17
Palm trees? Wisconsin?
+10 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-06-02 18:01
From March 2, Andre, on Bill O'Reilly's FOX show:
+24 # thirteenthpaladin 2012-06-02 16:01

you might find informative and useful a larger picture of the con that is and has been going on, as detailed in another article on this site:

the author, joseph stiglitz, is always worth reading

another man whose writing is always worth reading - a true conservative, btw - is andrew bacevich, whose articles also appear on rsn, making this, then, hardly a site dedicated to trashing moderate constitutional conservatives

not all writers appeal to all people, but facts and factual presentation should appeal to everyone
+23 # Ray Kondrasuk 2012-06-02 17:50
13th Pal:

Facts should, but they don't.

Helluva read: Chris Mooney's latest, "The Republican Brain...The Science of Their Denial of Science... and Reality".
+4 # thirteenthpaladin 2012-06-02 18:37
@Ray Kondrasuk

thanks so much for the tip, the book looks to be very good !

you may already be familiar, but if not, might find this interesting:

thanks again
+33 # reiverpacific 2012-06-02 17:10
Quoting brucbaker:
I guess this website is dedicated to trashing republicans and the moderate Constitutional Conservatives, eh?

Do I really have to list all the DEMOCRAT SUGAR DADDIES and outside money coming in to keep the UNION THUGS con-game going? HAVE YOU EVER FOLLOWED THE MONEY for you Democrats and Unions? You wouldn't believe what they HIDE while they tell you how bad the Koch Brothers and the Republicans are... get a clue! You have been CONNED!

"Moderate Constitutional Conservatives" are seemingly as extinct as truth in journalism -and you certainly don't write like one.
If you want to talk about "union thugs" how about the thugs regularly employed by Rethuglicans to purge voter rolls, redistrict voting constituencies and intimidate the re-count volunteers, a congress of "Nay" sayers who have no ideas of their own but obstructionism on behalf of their corporate masters (I know, I know, some Democrats are up to their necks it it too but we're talking progressives here, not Blue-Dogs).
On the subject of unions do you, or did you ever, work an eight-hour day? Have benefits? Have peer-organized support against a greed-driven employer or management? -Shall I continue?
Methinks thou hast been conned over a lifetime of whatever you have chosen to imbibe for information, like an agent-provocate ur for FOX and it's ilk, who feed on the root that takes reason prisoner.
And for Gawd's sake, quit yelling!
+30 # KittatinyHawk 2012-06-02 18:14
Union thugs you make me laugh. I cannot imagine America if not for Unions. Koch Bros and many Corporate Shills are creeps and if you are one of them good for you

But this is still America I know and if we feel like telling truth about the Nazi GOP we will. If you do not like it ... so be it. One day you will see what is happening, I hope before we are all in concentration camps
-21 # lincolnimp 2012-06-02 22:18
[quote name="brucbaker "]I guess this website is dedicated to trashing republicans and the moderate Constitutional Conservatives, eh?

By George, I think he's got it!!
+26 # DoctorDemocracy 2012-06-02 22:38
Union Thugs? Really? You are promoting one of the most vile cons conceivable: Making your hard working neighbors out to be criminals just because they try to help each other protect their families.

Disgusting. UnAmerican. Inhuman. Welcome to the Right Wing.
+10 # joestecher 2012-06-03 09:30
How DOES that Kool-Aid taste, there bruc, boy? I guess you mut be a millionaire -- or is it Billionaire? Do you really think the Kock brothers care one iota for the people of Wisconsin? All they care about is the money going into their pockets. Wake up bruc and smell tht coffee brewing.
+65 # Archie1954 2012-06-02 14:01
Unfortunately for Americans, the elephant in the room is the same one in all of the states. At least this single Democrat has mentioned it and described it perfectly in words clear enough for almost anyone to understand.
+65 # Hamblaster 2012-06-02 14:19
I am left of center, but pragmatist, and realist. I watch what everyone watches on the cable networks, not just "My Side". I know and love a person whom has been brainwashed by watching FOX News only for years. In Her house, there is much talk about another assasination. Anyway, THAT IS what these people breed on the far right, and in my estimation, it is simply UN-believable that the ~25% of this country whom are MOSTLY southern lower middle class, also known as working poor, are unswayable when it comes to which way they will vote. Then the NEXT quarter who range into the independants of course, who WILL vote AGAINST their own personal interests, and watch as this country becomes controlled and drained of its wealth by the 1% and the factions of the 99% inevitably go to war in the streets against each other, first for food, then for energy, then for water. BUT, some time, after I'm gone I'm sure, there will be a "Russian" revolution in this country, and I suppose the Koch's'll be dead by then, but them and their ilk WILL be targeted by the masses someday, since this bullS*#T is untenable.
+35 # PGreen 2012-06-02 15:10
Such a revolution as you mention is probably feared by the oligarchy; since any who seriously advocate it would be branched terrorists, I suspect that the full power of our fledgling national security state would be brought to bear on them. The "terrorists" would be considered "others" even if born on US soil, and publicly ostracized, so things would have to be pretty bad to ferment a popular uprising. It is hard for me to envision a positive outcome.
It is not surprising that so many working class people vote against their own financial interests because both major political parties are virtually owned by business interests. Filling the void left by the absence of any credible economic alternatives, the rightwing uses social issues-- immigration, affirmative action, abortion, etc.-- to divide and conquer. We also have the highest incarceration rate in the world, mostly for drug possession, which provides a form of social control.
I advocate strengthening the alternative economy, in the form of environmentally sustainable and democratic institutions. Especially ones which can provide jobs.
+21 # dbashaggy 2012-06-02 16:07
I agree, it would be pretty hard to start something that widespread without business's (oops, I mean government's) anti terrorist actions kicking in. It would almost take a national self-awareness on a huge scale that each individual decides at about the same moment to revolt. But such activities can be done without activating anti terrorism. Boycotting, using the alternative economy, becoming more independent energy wise if possible (solar panels, etc.), pay off all your bills and don't use credit, anything that makes you more independent breaks some of the control.
+22 # pamitty 2012-06-02 17:09
I don't understand WHY these folks are so determined to vote against their own self-interests! It makes no sense. I had to work hard to convince a friend that Obama was born in Hawaii.
It will be a national tragedy if Tom Barnet loses!
I wish I were able to vote, those million or so people who want him out are Heros. Them standing in the snow to get this crook out.
If anyone can explain WHY the cons are so closed minded and so stubbornly wrong, OR HOW to get thru to them, I would appreciate it.
Of course I think the fox propaganda, lies, and misrepresentati ons are a big part.
Also At the church I used to belong to, a friend told me I can be a Christian and be a democrat!!! The Democrat views are much closer to what Jesus did and said than the rightwing "Christian" repubs. I do put a lot of blame on the pastors and priests who tell people how to vote! They are so far away from Jesus words and actions that I can't understand the WHY of that either.
Walker HAS to be beaten. The whole country is watching.
+11 # KittatinyHawk 2012-06-02 18:22
Churches...funn y how they are bowing to money instead of God. How they blaspheme against Jesus by going for votes instead of souls.
May they burn in Hell as they warn us of.
I may see them and ask what made them turn away from God
+56 # humanmancalvin 2012-06-02 14:27
For the sake that is is American justice, Walker must go & go now.
+18 # MendoChuck 2012-06-02 15:36
Well as long as we continue ti belittle and put each other down we as a people will never find that common ground.
Without a common ground neither side has any place to stand work together, Will we always be fighting except from a distance?
The 1% know exactly what they are doing and from this guys perspective it would appear that the "Divide and Conquer" seems to be working.
I hope not but only time will tell . . . .
+46 # uncbros 2012-06-02 15:52
Anyone with half a brain knows unions work for workers . Republicans and corporations work for the bottom line. If you think for one minute the 1% care about their workers follow the path of workers strength along side of the decline of unions. Parallel right into the toilet.
Unions protect workers the 15 protect their self interest. Europe have strong unions and safety nets for their people for a reason . They have been around a little longer than us and they know where the truth lye. The founding fathers knew that that is why they set the country up to make the 99% have as much say as the 1% . Not anymore in America . The south is already a third world country the rest soon too be .
+4 # Duster 2012-06-02 17:04
Unions do good and bad. Governments, bureaucracies, banks and busnisness, democracies and dictatorships the same. The sole important advantage of democracy is the opportunity it provides for letting the politicans and public servants we elect know just how bad or good a job we think they are doing. Never for a moment think that democracy is a panacia though. The vicious battles taking place over issues like religion in the work place, abortion and homosexual marriage are issues of democracy - not of the right or the left. It comes down very simply to whether a majority has any right to dictate individual behaviour, and if so, how far those rights may extend. The Bill of Rights exists largely to place bounds on just how dictatorial "the people" can be. The founding father were not encouraging a dictatorship of the proletariate. Quite the contrary they were doing their best to limit just far ANY power group can intrude on the individual. Both the 99 and the 1 have an entirely overpowering potential to interfere with those of us who merely wish to live our lives.
+39 # Fairlady 2012-06-02 16:05
Someone sent me an email the other day,
it goes like this:

Any person who works for wages and votes Republican is like a chicken
voting for Colonel Sanders.
-43 # Raymond Dean 2012-06-02 17:05
What is wrong with "right to work"? Why should unions be allowed to coerce those into paying union dues who do want union representation. Let those who want to unionize do so democratically.
+6 # KittatinyHawk 2012-06-02 18:30
No one has to belong to a Union however, if the Corporations have their way We will all have to do what they say....there will be no choices. I certainly would depend on people like you to save my butt. However with people in Unions, in Fair Trade, those who believe in equality... I would have a fightin chance.

We should have a Right to Work so please ask your GOP friends when they plan on opening up jobs for America...after all they are still getting paid off from those who left
+25 # pbbrodie 2012-06-02 18:32
Because those who refuse to pay union dues still benefit from everything the union does for them, from being paid the same union wage to being represented by the union job steward when the company screws them. Why should the workers who refuse to pay union dues get a free ride?
You obviously know absolutely nothing about unions or how they work and the benefits they provide for their members and free loaders alike.
Right to work is actually right to work for less.
+6 # KittatinyHawk 2012-06-02 18:35
Money vs the People is more like it. Our jobs gone to overseas, poor paying jobs at part time hours make it hard to donate to get our causes won...ask the Humane Society, and other organizations.
Nazis want it like that...they have we don' will get worse.

Wisconsin won't have to worry like other States about anyone buying from them, we are lucky to be able to pay for our needs. So when these States have no money there will be no Governors as there will be no Salaries. Corporations will start cloning so they have robots working for them, but the clones won't have tne needs we had I believe the American Dream is falling down around everyone's ankles, the rich are just too stupid to see it.

No money no more needs for Koch Bros or the like....World better pay attention because the lack of bucks isn't stopping here....fact is poor and middle class are better prepared for losses. As we saw with foreclosures... the wannabes do not have a clue
+6 # KathyD 2012-06-02 20:30
Then the benefits achieved through collective bargaining--pay and working conditions--sho uld only go to those who are in the union, I guess. If you're not, you can negotiate privately with your employer. Good luck with that.
+8 # michelle 2012-06-03 11:17
That has always been a problem--the free ride folks. If we allow for two pay scales, the union and the non-union, we know who will be hired first and let go last. That's why we let the free riders, ride. The history will show yellow dog contracts demanded by management and the union response for closed shop to protect workers.

The right fears unions because there is a leadership infrastructure. Unionization is about more than pay. It provides for due process, safety regulations and representation. Unions are a power base for ordinary folks.
+9 # DoctorDemocracy 2012-06-02 22:43
KittatinyHawk is correct. NO ONE in the US has EVER been forced to join a union. It is against federal law, and has been for a very long time. Believing that just shows how you have been misled into blaming your neighbors who work for a living for the problems created by greed and corruption at the top of the money power.
+16 # DoctorDemocracy 2012-06-02 22:45
I live in Florida, which is a "Right to Work" state. If you read the language of such laws, Raymond, you'll recognize that they are given a truly Orwellian name. What they really mean is that employers do not have to have any reason to fire you. None. Ever. Right to Work really means Right to Be Fired with No Explanation and No Recourse.
+11 # Sophie 2012-06-03 01:01
"Right to work," sounds innocuous enough. Like all of the Repug/FUX gaslighting, up-is-down world--"Right to work" means the opposite of what it states. Educate yourself about it.
+7 # JJS 2012-06-03 12:57
I agree, Sophie. The "Right to Work" statues are actually the "Right to Hire" workers at sub-par wages with no benefits and to be able to fire employees at will with no cause.
+3 # PGreen 2012-06-04 08:38
Unionization is based on a majority vote (hence democratic). But if you decry paying for things endorsed by the majority, you are protesting, not unions, but the social compact which forms society. If everyone could opt out of financial responsibility for everything they don't like, we'd have chaos-- or maybe a militant libertarian society.
0 # mdhome 2012-06-04 15:36
Well, I would opt out for paying the taxes for the DoD.
+16 # Doll 2012-06-02 19:24
What concerns me is the right stealing the election, just as they did during the last recall election. Do you remember that righty judge who was loosing and then somone "found" all these missing votes that just happened to be for him?

Then there was that primary where the unknown Alvin Greene was "elected" to run against Jim DeMint.
+5 # m... 2012-06-02 20:17
A good question for Democrats might be..., Why?! after 30 years of going along to get along.., and circling the wagons as defensive complainers.., and a general election strategy based in, 'We're not them'.., can't Democrats see that they now look like a loosely affiliated 'get-elected' franchise operation filled with well dressed, well mannered, empty, spineless corporate sponsored suit that stands for NOTHING..., except as I already said-- 'We're not them'...??????

Democrats along with the entire Nation are being hammered into the dirt by a few for a few and their Political 'strategy' to deal with it most often appears to be based in some twisted WWII revisionist historical view that 'All is not lost YET, and Chamberlain's way was best and its provable over time'...
+6 # jack113 2012-06-03 15:22
If the people decide to keep the Koch/Walker team they will deserve what is going to come down on them.
+9 # Mac 2012-06-03 20:35
Will Rogers said, "I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat." What is so frustrating to me about the Democrats is that they try so hard to get the "independent" or "swing" voters and compromise the most important Democtratic values to do so.

As to unions, it is the unions in this country that created a middle class and brought the working classes up from wage slavery to a decent standard of living and the highest living standard in the world. Why is there an ever widening gap between the wealthy and the rest of us? It is because the unions are being crushed. When they are finally gone, we will be a country of plutocrats ruling over a nation of virtual slaves.
+1 # mdhome 2012-06-04 12:42
What is the going rate that the Kochs pay for a soul?
-2 # Martintfre 2012-06-05 11:18
Good thing greedy special interest groups like Unions are not involved in this election.

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