Eileen Bruskewitz

Eileen Bruskewitz is a white haired, conservative white woman from a white district, a spunky politician whose yard signs are emblazoned with her first name. She’s running for County Executive. Let’s do a quick free association test:

I say “County….” You say?


That’s right. Basically, the County Coroner is the person that we think about when we think about county elected officials. But Eileen is not running for County Coroner, which is a good thing, because if she were running then we’d see yard signs that said “Eileen Coroner.” Ditching “Bruskewitz” in favor of “Executive” is a public relations choice that any of us who have pondered the difference between bruschetta and pizza can well understand. What the heck is “bruschetta” and what, I wonder, might it have to do with Bruskewitz? We voters are easily confused, but when faced with a sign that says “Eileen Executive,” we get it!

On the other hand, who wants to be confused with some eighties thrash metal band from Zurich? Bruskewitz has fought hard and she has fought fair, but her campaign is running down like a bunny with a brand X battery. It’s over. Dead. Tag it and bag it. In the primary, as the only conservative running in a field of five, she gathered about twenty-two percent of the vote and finished second. Her liberal progressive opponents split the balance four ways. Tomorrow she faces Joe Parisi who beat her in the primary by about 2600 votes.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that not only is our County Coroner an unelected civil servant, but also his job title is “Medical Examiner.” Perhaps that’s why more people associate “Sheriff” or “Clerk” with the word “County” than think of the word “Coroner.” Be that as it may, my original point still holds. Practically nobody associates “Eileen Bruskewitz” with “County Executive.”

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What’s next

The State Capitol policeman who let me into the locked-down Wisconsin Department of Administration today was frank. “My union was eliminated today,” he said. “And it’s doubtful that there will be enough money in the budget to replace the expired bullet proof vest I’m wearing.” It’s hard to know what to say to that. I honestly don’t think he needs to worry about the body armor, but the union is another matter. He’ll have his union back soon. We’ll recall the Republicans that took it from him and we’ll fix the things they broke, starting with public employee unions.

So if you ask me “What’s next?” I’ll answer, “The recall elections.” And there are a lot of things to do to prepare for them. The eight Wisconsin State Senators facing recall because of their egregious political behavior include: (these links are to Facebook pages where information on the recall efforts is being exchanged)
Glenn Grothman
Mary Lazich
Randy Hopper
Alberta Darling
Luther Olsen
Robert Cowles
Dan Kapanke
Sheila Harsdorf

Another website, recalltherepublican8.com, is acting as a clearinghouse for information on Senate recall efforts. I’m not aware of any Assembly recall efforts underway, but they should start soon; and, while Governor Walker gets a free pass until January 2012, we’ll recall him then on the earliest date that he is eligible for recall.

Time flies, and we’ll have Walker out of office in time to repair the damage he’s doing. We’ll have his toadies in the legislature on the run before that! The pressure on him should keep corporate damage to the State low. I woke up this morning wondering if he’d talked with Nestle about selling off our groundwater yet, and I decided it didn’t matter because we can encounter every one of his corporate sponsors when they appear. It’ll be a mighty game of Wisconsin Whack-a-Mole. The message here is that Wisconsin is not for sale to corporate interests. It’s our home, and we’ll defend it.

I hope we learned the terrible lesson of 2010 once and for all. Staying at home and not voting is NOT an option any longer. The women, the minorities, the young people, and the organized workers of the middle class who showed up for the 2008 election were just too busy to participate in 2010. And all we got it out of it was the cross-eyed Koch-sucker who is laying waste to our values and traditions.

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Eat the news, not too much

…most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long, deep magazine articles (which requires thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, like bright-colored candies for the mind.

Fighting off the urge to rant and rave yet again about the breadth of Wisconsin corporate/Republican idiocy, I’m declaring a truce to get the tape off the walls and air out the stench left by Scott Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers. Yes, I know that Scotty Walker and the Fitzgerald Brothers sounds like the name of some wannabe motown white-boys seventies garage band from Mequon, and-in fact-it is. But that’s not what I’m on about here this morning.

This morning I’ll skip all that about teacher lay-offs, and school budgets capped by property tax limits, and why it’s good for corporations to turn the US into a third world economy; and, rather, I’ll simply share this information. I’ve lifted it from Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed. Paul abstracted the list from a great paper titled Avoid News, Towards a Healthy News Diet by Rolf Dobelli:

Fifteen reasons why news is bad for you:

  1. News misleads systematically
  2. News is irrelevant
  3. News limits understanding
  4. News is toxic to your body
  5. News massively increases cognitive errors
  6. News inhibits thinking
  7. News changes the structure of your brain
  8. News is costly
  9. News sunders the relationship between reputation and achievement
  10. News is produced by journalists
  11. Reported facts are sometimes wrong, forecasts always
  12. News is manipulative
  13. News makes us passive
  14. News gives us the illusion of caring
  15. News kills creativity
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Republican disinformation

Republican subversives, the same greedy corporate players that brought us the Citizens United decision and tipped the 2000 election in favor of that incredibly stupid and detached exemplar of vacuity, George W. Bush, have been funneling money into a media saturation campaign in Wisconsin. The campaign is rife with misinformation and deceit. It’s tedious to catalog the lies and to analyze the falsehoods that provide the foundation for Republican Party support of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker himself is cut from the same mold as Bush the younger. He’s not terribly bright. He’s not terribly committed to his work or his responsibilities. He is, however, enormously conceited, smug, and self assured. Tonight we’ll see another example of his hollow posturing as he leaves truth and reason behind in the steam tunnel and enters the Capitol through a sub basement with but one thought in the narrow mind that lurks behind those narrow set eyes: “Will I be home in time to watch the Everyone Loves Raymond re-run on Fox 47?” The governor is on auto-pilot. There’s no room for deviation in his game plan. The corporate vultures that are circling the state won’t wait forever. If he can’t kill the spirit of Wisconsin they’ll be off to some state where community has been destroyed and the best morsels of enterprise lie dead and rotting, easy pickings for the carrion eaters of corporate capitalism. For Walker and the flock he feeds, it’s all about profits and public welfare be damned.

In that spirit, a few weeks ago the Republican Party of Wisconsin cobbled together a web video supposedly documenting the “angry rhetoric coming from pro-union protesters in Madison.” The idea behind the video is that we all do it, no side has a monopoly on excessive use of metaphor when political passions are high. (Note my own identification of corporate investors as vultures in the preceding paragraph. I thought about “seagulls circling a garbage dump,” but we’re not there yet, no thanks to Walker.) The New York Times did a meta-narrative blog piece on the video…

Eugene Robinson, a liberal columnist for the Washington Post, is shown saying that “Violent political rhetoric and the threat of political violence in this country comes almost exclusively from the right.”

That is followed by a sign from the Wisconsin rallies showing Mr. Walker’s picture with a gunsight crosshair over it and the words: “Don’t retreat. Reload. Repeal Walker.”

In all the hours I’ve spent on the Capitol square I haven’t seen that sign. One person might have made it and carried it to a rally, but I doubt it. The visual context of the sign in the Republican advertisement is a narrow shot, with no crowd of demonstrators around it. As an advertisement it’s effective, but it’s a lie. It’s a lie, but it was broadcast as straight news without attribution on the Fox network. It’s a lie, but white supremacist Haley Barbour referred to it on Meet the Press as if it was emblematic of a Democratic mind-set.

A lot of the video in question is “real.” Early in the struggle, there were plenty of signs comparing Walker to Mubarak. Most of us thought that was a pretty dumb comparison. I imagine that tonight there will be some Walker = Gadaffi signage. That’s even dumber. But unless it’s created by a provocateur, I am almost certain there will be no sign tonight with cross-hairs on Scottie. The whole Sarah Palin “kill them to get them out of the way” metaphor is the dumbest of all. We ain’t that dumb!

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Days of unrest, continued

Reinvigorated by the idealism and fighting spirit on display right now in America’s heartland, the movement for “hope and change” has a rare, second chance. It can renew itself and become again a national force with which to be reckoned.
— Van Jones

I caught the last half hour of Meet the Press yesterday, a segment that featured Southern Democrat and white supremacist Haley Barbour. NBC gave Barbour a nice boost, a moment of respect that legitimizes him. I think most young people have no idea of the enormous burden of shame that Barbour and many of his fellow Southern Democrats carry. The migration of white supremacists and racists from the Southern wing of the Democratic Party to the Republican Party following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a kind of wholesale political laundering that shifted national political power from the Democratic Party to the Republicans and laid the foundation for Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.”

Something similar is happening today. Billionaires, oligarchs, and corporatists are exploiting the deep discontent felt by most middle class Americans and playing on fears that they have nurtured for the last eight or ten years in order to influence the middle class to vote against our own best interests.

In Wisconsin, the outcome of this corporate influence, the millions of dollars of slick advertisements, was to stick us with a Governor that only an out-of-state billionaire could love. How embarrassing for us all.

As it happens Wisconsin’s Governor Walker was the opening act on the Meet the Press show that Haley Barbour closed. I didn’t get up early enough to see Walker, but here’s what he had to say…

In the above presentation Walker lies and over-simplifies. The State of Wisconsin is NOT facing a 3.6 billion dollar deficit unless the Governor grants every request his own cabinet agencies have made for funds. Normally, the budget process is a matter of give and take, almost a poker game where agencies ask for more than they expect to get in order to be sure that what they really need won’t be cut. Also, Walker is sweating a fiscal deadline for refinancing the State’s debt. A prudent man would have addressed the refinancing as a matter separate from public employee collective bargaining issues in order not to miss the deadline. If we miss that deadline and lose $165 million in interest, the governor will have only himself to blame for his artless handling of the situation. The taxpayers, of course, will be stuck holding the teabag.

Walker is a teabagger, plain and simple. At River Falls, Wisconsin this weekend, Walker and Minneapolis teabagger Representative Michelle Bachmann were turned away from a rally. The pressure is on. They are now shamed and shunned most places they go. Tomorrow, Walker will finally deliver his budget speech and he will enter the Capitol through a steam tunnel in order to avoid the people he governs. In our two party system, Walker and his fellow teabaggers, unlike the morally bankrupt Southern Democrats of forty years ago, have nowhere to go as we the people return from that awful decade of fear and loathing, incivility and mistrust, back to our own moral center.

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Days of unrest

The men and the women of the Madison Police Department train for crowd situations where an agitator or provocateur may try to create safety risks for citizens and officers. During recent demonstrations around the Capitol Square no such situation has arisen. Crowd behavior has been exemplary, and thousands of Wisconsin citizens are to be commended for the peaceful ways in which they have expressed First Amendment rights. - Madison Police Chief Noble Wray

I just watched Meet the Press for the first time since maybe 1961 when I was home alone with the flu with a limited number of Sunday morning broadcast channels available. I haven’t missed it. Today Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, a Southern Democrat who will announce for the Presidency as a Republican on or about April Fools Day, evoked Sarah Palin and claimed that the workers of Wisconsin have circulated posters of Walker with cross hairs over his face.

And the lie went unchallenged while an evil meme was allowed to be sown.

The host, forgettable except for his clonal resemblance to Anderson Cooper (also forgettable, though perhaps a little less so), showed a clip of a demonstrator with a sign comparing Wisconsin Governor Walker to Egyptian dictator Mubarak and explicitly claimed that this was a dominant theme in the two weeks of rallies, protests and marches.

And the lie went unchallenged and another evil meme was reinforced.

People allow their opinions to be shaped by mainstream shows like Meet the Press (sponsored by Bank of America), but today’s coverage of collective bargaining and Wisconsin politics lacked objectivity-that’s as kind as I can be. As the story continues to unfold in Madison with possible lay-offs, strikes, and budgetary gridlock, it seems unlikely that anyone on the national news scene will get it right.

This afternoon at 4pm, the Capitol will be closed and protesters will be evicted. The decision comes down from the Governor through his Dept. of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch to the Chief of the Capitol Police, Charles Tubbs. Chief Tubbs is a long time state employee, appointed to his position by a Democratic governor, and he must be feeling a little conflicted today. The police unions oppose his boss’s anti-union stance and his fifty employees are union members.

On March 1st, the Governor faces the third deadline for his budget address. The address is required by law to be delivered in January. The governor got an extension to February 23rd. When that day approached and his non-negotiable demands faced strong opposition, he was forced to ask the Republicans of the State Senate for another extension. He now intends to deliver his speech on March 1st in the Capitol, so it’s important to him that he clears the building well before then. He doesn’t want to hear any opposition.

The Governor’s one-way, non-negotiable intentions have forced local government across the state to address collective bargaining before the governor himself spoils the relationships between towns and their employees. So, in La Crosse County, Janesville, Racine, Sheboygan, Madison, and at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, new contracts have been made that include pay raises, pension contributions and health benefits for nurses, teachers and other public workers, benefits that the governor had planned to eliminate.

And the governor is a whiner. The unions told him they’d be willing to pay more for health and pensions and give up raises, but they needed him to agree that he wouldn’t eliminate public worker collective bargaining rights. He said, “No way, my way or the highway, I will not give an inch.” A week or so later he was moved to issue a whiny press release claiming “Union Bosses Say One Thing, Do Another.”

Well, duh-uh.

The month of March will be crucial. The Governor’s speech on March first will give him a chance to come to the table or end his political career. The absent 14 democratic Senators may get a chance to come home and help save $169 million of our money by re-financing existing bonds. The deadline for the re-fi is March 15th, so the absent 14 may have a few more weeks of pizza and motel cable-vision if the governor can’t learn to compromise. But meanwhile we’ll be organizing the recall elections for the governor’s Republican supporters in the Senate, canvassing for Kloppenburg in an effort to restore balance to the Supreme Court, and basically laughing at the noobie governor that Haley Barbour put in the cross hairs this morning on Meet the Press.

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WMC War on the Middle Class

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Coming up this week in Madison

Current law requires the Governor to deliver the biennial budget message to the Legislature on or before the last Tuesday in January this year (extensions are permitted). The Governor must also provide the Legislature with a biennial state budget report, the executive budget bill, and suggestions for the best methods for raising any additional needed revenues.

The governor requested and received a one month extension of the deadline for presenting his biennial budget. The presentation was scheduled for tomorrow at 1:30pm. Whether because he has become persona non grata at the Capitol, or because he wanted to curry even more favor with business, Governor Walker scheduled his address to the legislature for an off-site location at a local livestock feed manufacturing concern. The presentation has since been cancelled and the Republican members of the Senate were okay with his excuse (“the dog ate his homework”) so he’s been granted another delay. The speech is now scheduled for March 1.

Now many of my friends are calling the governor a manipulative SOB, but the situation is more nuanced than that. The governor is not the brightest bulb in the string, and he has a little schedule that requires him to pass the “Budget Repair Bill” before he will share his plans for the next biennium. He needs to pass that bill because it gives him carte blanche to destroy Medicaid funded services and the civil service. It is also a union busting bill and deserves to be killed for that fact alone, and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups points out that “…passage of the bill will give Governor Walker’s administration unprecedented authority to make sweeping changes to Medicaid programs such as SeniorCare Rx, Family Care, BadgerCare, ADRC’s, the Benefit Specialists program and services provided by OCI and the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care, without public input or approval from the state legislature.” It’s these sweeping changes that he requires to shape a budget that will most benefit his supporters and incidentally slash holes in the public program safety net that supports some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

So, we have our fingers crossed that the 14 Democrats in the Senate will stay away, the Budget Repair Bill will not be passed in anything like its current form, and the governor will be faced with doing some hard work to address our state’s fiscal issues over the next few years without a blank check in his pocket drawn on the account of the middle class and the working poor.

Here in the country we’ve experienced almost 48 hours of non-stop sleet and snow and freezing rain. The ground is covered with ice and it’s the end of a three day weekend. We needed this down time, but tomorrow morning we’ll be up and scraping the ice off the wind shield and heading into town. Beth will go to work. I’ll go back to lending a body in support of the organized protest against the Koch brothers fueled hubris of Governor Walker. Here’s what I think is happening. Drop a comment in with other information if you have it. (First time commenters are moderated, but the process is easy).

  • Tuesday at 8am… Jesse Jackson addressing the students at East High School, the very kids who walked out early last week and helped spark the protests. Deke Rivers writes:

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoke at the Capitol on Friday, will be back in Madison to speak at 8 a.m. Tuesday outside Madison East High School, district spokesman Ken Syke said.

    Just before classes start at East High School, Jackson plans to march from First Street and East Mifflin Street to the East parking lot for a rally.

    Then Jackson will speak to East students over the loudspeaker after the school bell rings. The idea is to both inspire and welcome students back, principal Mary Kelley said.

  • The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign promises a citizen vigil resuming tomorrow and continuing through at least the middle of March.
  • The Wisconsin Wave has scheduled picketing of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce convention at Monona Terrace on Wednesday at noon followed by a rally at 4:30pm.
  • PR Watch at the Center for Media and Democracy is reporting live as the protests and demonstrations continue. Their latest update covers the Tom Morello concert ongoing now at Monona Terrace.
  • The revolution is being tweeted using hashtag #wiunion
  • Since teachers return to work on Tuesday, parents and “Friends of Wisconsin Teachers and Public Workers” will gather at the State Street entrance of the Capitol at noon to continue the vigil.

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