We all knew that the right-wing radicals who pass for Republicans these days would run amok when they took over every wing of the state capitol this week. There is no check, no balance, no anything to stop the Talk-Radio-Tea-Party (TRTP) Republicans from taking and filling orders from the Rich (read: WMC) who bought them and brought them to Madison, doing their bidding and reading their scripts. This is not a surprise to anyone paying attention during the recent election cycle, a group that excludes most of the electorate.
Jobs jobs jobs, they say, but the Republicans exist to advance the interest of those who are nothing if not anti-job. The corporations that run America in general and the Republican Party in particular could care less if you have a job. They lost their collective souls years ago, when the first manufacturer figured out that the cost of using cheap slave/child/desperate foreign labor and shipping goods from overseas was cheaper than providing the Americans who bought their goods a living wage. Since then, consultants and shareholders have insisted on a race to the bottom in the service of the bottom line. What is the best way for a company to get a bump in their share price? Announce 30,000 layoffs and a new factory in Mexico.
Scott Walker’s proposed decimation of personal injury law has nothing to do with the promotion of jobs in the state and everything to do with the protection of negligent businesses who don’t care if you get injured or not. The logic goes that, if it is easier for corporations to get away with murder, poisoning and maiming members of our populace, then more of them will come here to murder, poison and maim. They might even employ a few people before shipping those jobs out-of-state and the country, but, hey. ABC Chemical of Oklahoma might decide to come here to rape and pillage the people and the environment, and isn’t that a good thing? Stop complaining about that hacking cough -- you want jobs or not?
But Walker and the Republicans are making it perfectly clear that the first order of business for their regime is not jobs. They are primarily concerned with locking in their own power; making permanent their control of state government for years and decades to come. And they are not even going to pretend to play fair.
We have already discussed their attack on democracy by a radical revision of Wisconsin’s election law; changes that will have the desired effect of eliminating the votes of thousands of eligible voters in demographically Democratic districts. The second prong of the GOP’s mad push for permanent power is in the more traditional route of redistricting. As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, given the numbers involved, the Republicans have made the unprecedented move to shut out the Democrats from having any input at all into the decennial drawing of the lines. As Republicans lawyered-up for the process, they expressly prevented the Democrats from doing the same thing.
You don’t need lawyers to draw district lines. That will be done in the background by Republican demographers (probably in Washington) who will try to design the greatest number of safe districts for the party in power. The lawyers are only necessary to make the newly drawn lines stick. Lawyers for the party out of power are essential to at least try to convince the GOP lawyers that their lines are somehow illegal (such as the creation of racially-segregated districts designed to ghetto-ize Democratic voters). Keeping Democratic lawyers out of the process at the outset increases the chances of expensive litigation once the redistricting is imposed by fiat. The supposed fiscal conservatives apparently don’t mind throwing millions upon millions at their friendly law firms.
As a Republican, you know you have gone off the rails when even the Journal Sentinel’s resident wing-nut, Patrick McIlheran, can’t stomach your tactics. In a short post on his blog that avoids his usual lengthy prattle, Paddy Mac mildly advises his fellow travelers that the lawyer-barring “does not seem gracious or deliberative”, like he ever cared about that before.
For its part, the other members of the Journal Sentinel editorial board also weigh in with an editorial. Titled “Beware Overreaching”, the paper tells those who had already overreached that they “might have forgone the high-priced law firm this year and opted to have the Legislative Reference Bureau do the work”. The mere suggestion that redistricting would be submitted to a neutral body like the LRB must have produced peels of laughter in the dark recesses of the GOP boiler room.
The editorial also outrageously blames the Democrats for their own beating. “Democrats are crying foul. But they should look in the mirror,” scolds Journal Sentinel. Not that the Dems have ever tried a stunt like this before – they haven’t. But, apparently, they were supposed to have “reformed” the redistricting process when they were in power, something that has never been on anybody’s agenda, much less the newspaper’s. If anyone needs to look in the mirror, it is the Journal Sentinel editorial board, who endorsed Walker and now has to rationalize every radical step the unfettered Republicans take.
On its news pages, the paper also tries to provide the Republicans with an out for their legal gamesmanship, “reporting” that, while their work on redistricting was pre-approved, the GOP’s lawyer bills weren’t paid by the Dems because they were not detailed enough (I guess it’s hard to find a way to bill all those phone calls to the RNC political office to the state, but they’ll find a way). The headline of the story (which is all most people ever read) – “Democrats refused to pay Senate GOP’s attorneys for redistricting work in last session” – gives the deliberately misleading impression that the Democrats have done the same thing as the Republicans are doing this year. They didn’t, but that hardly matters to the paper’s right-wing editors.
This plague-on-both-their-houses meme is not new to the Journal Sentinel in their defense of Republican behavior. But they are going to have a hard time maintaining it as the radical Republican agenda unfolds.