Sunday, January 02, 2011

Republicans to Democracy: Drop Dead

Wisconsin is about to enter an extraordinary experiment in the radical right-wing destruction of state government.  With the complete takeover of both houses of the legislature and the installation of GOP establishment puppet Scott Walker, as governor, powerful business interests and Republican political operatives from outside and inside the state are about to create an ugly new era of government by and for the Rich. 

And, for the Rich, there will be no end to the return on their investment in the Boy Governor and the lock-step legislature they bought in 2010. The environment will be exploited and destroyed; state functions will be privatized and handed to well-connected contractors on a grand scale; the poor and working class will be targeted with huge cuts to medical care, child care, food stamps and rent assistance; regulations that protect the health, welfare and natural resources of Wisconsinites will be unenforced and outright eliminated; and public education will be defunded and undermined.  And, of course, there will be the right’s favorite kind of income redistribution: tax cuts. Money that used to be spent on your Badger Care Plus will now fund the new motor on John Menard’s boat.  Without so much as a “thank you”.

Yep – Wisconsin is Open for Business, alright, and screw the rest of y’all. But, for all their supposed faith in Trickle Down economics and alleged focus on jobs, jobs, jobs, the Republicans have something more important as the first order of business on Day 1.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald promises to skip all the silly jobs stuff (perhaps knowing that throwing money at the Rich isn’t going to create one job, anyway) and go straight to the destruction of democracy in Wisconsin.  Job One: requiring Photo ID from voters and eliminating on-site registration.

Having spent three of the last four election days as a poll-watcher in Wisconsin polling places – in Crandon in ‘04, and the last two in the City of Milwaukee – I will mourn the death of the free, uncomplicated, friendly process I have had the privilege of observing as a member of the Democratic Party’s Voter Protection program.  All of our training – open to any Republican or Tea Bagger who cared to attend – was designed to make sure anyone who showed up at the polls was able to vote if they were eligible.  The presumption in every polling place was that citizens were coming in to exercise their sacred franchise in good faith.  As it should be. But, in a bold and cynical move to preserve their own power now and, perhaps, forever, the Republicans are going to turn that presumption on its head.  Starting as soon as next month in the spring primary elections, you will be presumed guilty of voter fraud until you prove otherwise.

Despite endless squawking off of GOP talking points by talk-radio Republicans who know better, this has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with voter suppression.  That we know of – and, believe me, you would have heard about it – no one has ever misrepresented themselves and voted under somebody else's name.  No one has been caught abusing the on-site registration system by voting somewhere other than where they live.  A few felons and other people who weren’t supposed to have voted, but, out of the millions of voters in Wisconsin every cycle, you can almost count them on two hands.  More importantly – and contrary to the constant claims by GOP shills like Mark Belling Charlie Sykes that Democrats have “stolen” elections – no one has ever shown that any of the scofflaws were part of any organized campaign of voter fraud. 

Photo ID is not even a solution looking for a problem; it is a hijacking of the electoral system by a party that knows no shame in their blatant propagation of lies (through talk radio and Fox News) to suppress voters who might not support them.  The Journal Sentinel editorial board – who, due to their idiotic endorsement of Walker, will have the forthcoming death of Wisconsin’s progressive government on its bloody hands – is too kind in its mild wrist-slap of Fitzgerald’s rush to grab ballots out of the hands of the poor, the elderly and the unphotographed.  The editorial presumes a modicum of good faith by those who have none. Photo ID doesn’t just have “the potential to dampen more legitimate votes”. It is designed to do just that.

But this is only the beginning.  The Republicans who are about to take over the State Capitol are not your father’s GOP, or even your older brother’s.  Tommy Thompson was a greedy thug who rewarded his friends and punished non-supporters back in the ‘90s, but he kept the basic structure and mission of the state government in place.  These guys coming in tomorrow are a new generation of radical right-wing revolutionaries, who will destroy state government as we know it; and make sure – through old schemes like redistricting and new ones like Photo ID – that they hold on to power for a generation.  You won’t be able to recognize your polling place in the spring.  And you won’t recognize your state government after they are done with it.

Atop the Capitol, Miss Forward will strain to maintain her composure as the Republicans open the blueprints devised by GOP consultants in Washington and begin to dismantle state government in the service of their corporate masters.  On January 3rd, at noon, shed a tear for her and for us. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

UPDATE: One thing I didn't think I missed during my hiatus were the comments I often got from unbalanced anonymous Republicans.  Many were stupid, which you'd expect, but others were uncomfortably hostile (the worst of which did not survive my screening -- here's a sample).  But, I must say, this one I got today takes the cake:
You forgot Mike...not only is it easy for the "teabagger" as you put it to vote but (here is where we find out how tolerant you are) it is easy for the "acorn nigger or spic" to steal that vote by doing it illegally. We have names of those that voted illegally either more than once or in the wrong district so the Barrett crowd of only one name does not work cause we have names...of those that voted, and thereby stole my vote, illegally.
Brilliant, no? No. But the comment offers the kind of clarity you don't often see about who they (or too many of them) are and why we fight.


Anonymous said...

Yes, because the last 8 year gubernatorial regime was blissful, idyllic, and nothing but positive for the state.

Anonymous said...

Oh pullleaaease Mike, get a grip. Nothing at all partisan about your post is there? For the record the only votes that I or anyone of your policial enemies want to suppress are the illegal ones. So by implication, you WANT the fraud that comes so easily in the system we have now.

You think we want to disenfranchise? What about the disenfranchisement of our legitimate votes with your fraudulent ones? Are we not equally, no, more disenfranchised, as it take two of our legitimate votes to counteract your one fraudulent one.

John said...

I thought you were done blogging?

Anonymous said...

You forgot Mike...not only is it easy for the "teabagger" as you put it to vote but(here is where we find out how tolerant you are) it is easy for the "acorn nigger or spic" to steal that vote by doing it illegally. We have names of those that voted illegally either more than once or in the wrong district so the Barrett crowd of only one name does not work cause we have names...of those that voted, and thereby stole my vote, illegally.

Anonymous said...

Go down to a homeless shelter and try to check in without an ID.


P.S. glad you're back, but how about a little more persuasion and a little less name calling?

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony 1: In fact, Jim Doyle did a great job and the state is much better off than it would have been under McCallum or Green. I wasn't "blissful" or any of that, but it was competent, positive and progressive, regardless of the unfounded names ("Diamond Jim") that you guys tried to pin him with.

Anony 2: There is no fraud. Or, rather, the only fraud is the Republicans pretending there is fraud to be dealt with. To the extent a dozen or so people made mistakes -- honest or otherwise -- you want to use it as an excuse to disenfranchise thousands. You are far more interested in the disenfranchisement that you are in the fraud. In fact you are not interested in the phony "fraud" at all.

John: I changed my mind. I missed receiving classic comments like the next Anony's.

Anony 3: Thank you for welcoming me back with an iconic tea bagger post showing how stupid and racist you are. Do we really think the astro-turf tea bag "movement" is racist? Not necessarily, but the Washington political operatives yanking your chains are glad to have you. "acorn nigger or spic". Beautiful. I can plume this one for months. Oh, and "we have names". Hah. If you did, you'd be down to the DA's office to get them arrested so fast your small brain would spin. Go to the head of the class, Anony 3 -- just another reason I'm proud to be on the other side.

Patrick: What are you doing hanging around with these guys? Oh, and voting is supposed to be easier than anything else we do. That way, everybody and do it. Oh, right. Not what you want.

Anonymous said...

Mike, if you and your political ilk don't want to be called names, maybe you should follow likewise? All of your posts contain derogatory names and perjoratives aimed at what do you expect of those who comment?

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony: You can't seriously equate political labeling based on solid facts and evidence with racial prejudice. Or maybe you are so clueless and defensive, you can. If you want to defend those in your camp out on the racist fringe, be my guest. You own it and them - be proud of your racist fellow travelers.

In any event, I can't help it if I call those now in charge in Madison with the label they deserve: Republicans! Given the party's epic failures in all areas of governance in the Bush years and before, I know it might hurt. But Republicans they are.

Anonymous said...

Mikey, Doyle has destroyed this state, is anti-business and a fat balding coward to boot, Mikey, you are a unhinged left wing whack job that thinks good governance is creating a cradle to grave socialist welfare state. By the way Mikey, hopefully take it just derisively as I mean it to be Required a ID, an ID that is required to buy the cigarettes or a Colt 45 malt liquor 64 once beer down at the corner bodaga. Tell me again how a a ID to vote somehow disenfranchises anybody's right to vote? I think not. Grow up liberal loser, get a private sector attorneys job, you will make more, but you might have to prove your competence and actually win a case, instead feeding off the government for your paycheck.

Mike Plaisted said...

Sigh. Did I mention I missed you, Anony Mikey-Caller?

Point by point: 1) No, he didn't. 2) No, he isn't. 3) See #2. 4) No, I'm not. 5) No, I don't. 6) Hah - a malt liquor joke. But you always have been a racist fuck. 7) Thousands of poor, working class and elderly don't have photo IDs. That's how. 8) I am a lawyer in private practice -- a small businessman. That's as private sector as you get. I thought you guys were in favor of that. Oh, only if you approve. I get it now. 9) I win cases often -- just ask around the Courthouse. 10) I don't feed off the government at $40/hr -- the government feeds off of me.

It's only been a half-hour, but you have already grown tiresome. Go play in somebody else's sandbox.

Anonymous said...


Where in the constitution does it say voting has to be the easiest thing we do? Voting is a responsibility and a chore. While we rarely agree on the issues, I think we would both agree that one has the responsibility to research candidates and issues and--we would hope--make an informed decision.

I'm sure there are thousands of seniors who don't have ID, but since a photo ID is required for almost every form of government assistance, I'm sure the poor and well covered. Since there are what...four to five million people in Wisconsin, a few thousand without IDs is easily addressed. And just as important to a democracy, or democratic form of government, is the mandate that elections be free, open, and FAIR. If people question the validity of elections--think of the hanging chad--our faith in elections and government collapses. I don't think requiring voter ID or ending same-day registration puts an undue burden on anyone who takes his or her role as a citizen seriously.

Patrick (one of those blatantly stupid republicans,hopefully not the bigoted type)

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony Mikey-Caller: I am not posting your last comment, where you used the N-word and said other stupid things. In five short hours, you have already worn out your welcome. Consider yourself shrouded. No soup for you!

Patrick: I don't agree that everyone has to "research candidates and issues and...make an informed decision". There is no literacy test for voting (although there used to be, for the same reason Photo ID is pushed today -- to stop certain people from voting). Stupid people get to vote on a whim if they want -- otherwise, how would Republicans ever win? They don't need to take their "role as a citizen seriously" -- hell, they can show up at the polls in party hats, as far as I'm concerned. There is no constitutional right to get a video at Blockbuster, but there is a constitutional right to vote. That should not be infringed without good reason.

There is no fraud. The illusion of fraud is propagated only by those who want to suppress the vote. And, by the way, I wouldn't bring up the hanging chads, if I were you. The theft of the Florida electoral votes by the Republicans in 2000 was not your party's finest hour.