Profit Über Alles: House’s Antiregulatory Folly Is Their Idea of a Jobs Bill

On Wednesday, in a 241-to-184 vote, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 10, the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) Act, which would require congressional approval from both houses for any major new regulations. Four Democrats slithered across the aisle and voted with the Republicans: John Barrow (GA), Dan Boren (OK), Mike McIntyre (NC), and Collin Peterson (MN).

The claim, unsurprisingly, is that, released from the presumably unbearable burden of regulations, businesses will be able hire more employees. But there is little evidence that regulations hamper the economy.

What we have here is nothing more or less than the Tea Partiers proving to their constituents and, more importantly, to their corporate sugar daddies that they’re doing all they can to “rein in” and undermine the executive branch. Never mind that Obama has put forward fewer regulations than W had at this point in his tenure. Never mind that the bill is highly unlikely to be introduced in the Senate. Never mind checks and balances (I swear none of these guys was paying attention in high school civics class).

This is the House’s pathetically laughable idea of a jobs bill. While the Tea Partiers kowtow to their corporate backers and cozy up to ideological lunacy, the economy continues to teeter on a precipice. It’s immoral and unconscionable for these jackals to play politics and unrelentingly adhere to their crackpot ideology while unemployment levels are so high.

From an editorial in Sunday’s New York Times:

Reins is a terrible piece of legislation that would undermine a functioning regulatory system that protects people from harm. … In a nutshell, the bill would stop any major regulation issued by a federal agency and costing more than $100 million from taking effect unless it received approval from both houses of Congress and the president. Many such rules are issued every year involving everything from food safety to efficiency standards for cars. Disapproval from one house would be enough to kill a rule and force the agency to start all over again. A rule would also die if one house failed to act within 70 days.

The bill is the fullest flowering of the Republicans’ antiregulatory philosophy. Beyond that, it would upend the traditional relationship between the legislative and executive branches. Under long-standing practice, Congress enacts laws—the Clean Air Act, for instance—and then empowers the executive branch to negotiate with stakeholders and write detailed regulations.

Congress delegates this responsibility because it has neither the time nor the expertise to develop the rules or the machinery and manpower to enforce them. Reins would radically re-position Congress to make final decisions that involve detailed technical matters.

Remember, the House of Representatives is currently a body that can’t negotiate its way out of a paper bag. Would we really want them in charge of the minutiae of regulation? And would we want our regulations subject to the enormous lobbying influences that currently reign (pun intended) in Congress? Of course, not. The idea is beyond absurd.

Rabid-right ideologues believe that the private sector is infinitely better than any public sector body. Given how dysfunctional this Congress is, I can almost see their point. But even as toxic as Congress has been lately, corporations and their influence peddling have been far more so. The assertion that businesses and corporations will self-regulate is patently ludicrous.

What should not be lost on the American people is that issues of health and safety and the common good should never be left up to people whose only concern is the bottom line. Because then, of course, human costs will never be counted when they’re tallying up the cost/benefit analysis.

Yesterday’s Huffington Post quotes Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX): “Who do the regulators answer to? No one.” Ah yes, but whom does Congress answer to? Not the American people, clearly. No, members of Congress answer to big money, for whom environmental, health, and safety laws are nothing more than meddlesome interference. Profit über alles.

Rep. Poe continued: “When the regulators go to work everyday, like most people go to work, their work assignment’s a little different. In my opinion, they sit around a big oak table, sipping their lattes. They have out their iPads and their computers, and they decide, ‘Who shall we regulate today?’ And they write a regulation and send it out to the masses and make us deal with the cost to that.”

Rep. Poe is full of crap. Whose well-being does he have in mind when he complains about big oak tables (as if he never sat at one), iPads and computers (who doesn’t use one?), and lattes (that’s really hitting below the belt). As if the process of writing and passing regulations were altogether arbitrary, as if pure profit motive could ensure the well-being of the environment and Americans’ health and safety. Republicans in Congress think protection of the environment, health, and safety should be left up to CEOs and their lobbyists. And this is their idea of a jobs bill.

Usual suspect Steve Nass fires up protest expense feud, insults Rep. Terese Berceau

I’m pondering whether I’ll start drawing social security before or after this feud over protest-related expenses ends. (23 years from now, give or take).

As you recall, Wisconsin’s DOA got the message out that protests at the Capitol were an expensive burden, saying it would cost $7.5 million for Capitol building cleaning – which later got knocked down to about $350,000. We’re back to talking big numbers but this time on security: $8.1 million in security costs during the high protest weeks at the Capitol.

Representatives Terese Berceau of Madison and Steve Nass of Whitewater seem to be designated fighters sparring on this issue.

Dem. Rep. Terese Berceau
Therese Berceau: “I am horrified that Governor Walker’s paranoia toward the people of Wisconsin has now resulted
in Wisconsin taxpayers being forced to shoulder an extra $8.1 million dollars in security costs. At the height of the protests earlier this year I was in the Capitol on a daily and nightly basis. Nothing warranted this cost. I saw seven state patrol officers outside of a second-floor bathroom with no protesters in sight. Twenty-eight state troopers stood outside the Assembly chambers when we were voting on redistricting when almost no one was in the Capitol. At one time, I actually heard a state trooper say, ‘Who do we call to say that two-thirds of us aren’t needed?’ – link to her full statement dated August 15.

I can cosign. And I can understand over-staffing in the early days, but as time wore on, it became clear the crowds were mature and even organizing their own volunteer “marshals” to act as vigilant watchdogs, ensuring civility.

When Nass wrote back to Berceau, he said that Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, County Executive Kathleen Falk, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray were “siding with the siege participants” and egging them on.

(A little perspective on Tea Partier Nass’ relationship with Madison – he thinks that the Indian Mascot law should be repealed because the old name-your-team-after-an-Indian system wasn’t discriminatory while he IS worried about car driver discrimination committed by the “liberal extremists in Madison who hate cars and think everyone should bike to work.”)

Nass is missing the point that the amount of security was out of balance with the situation. But let’s say I do entertain this argument–that Dane County leaders have some responsibility for keeping the crowds strong and present. Then by the same logic, Nass and the whole largely boy band of Republicans bear a heavy burden of responsibility for standing by the legislative equivalent of Walker’s Atom Bomb. They refused to budge an inch on the laundry list of offenses within Wisconsin Act 10 and the rush of legislation that followed, only giving us maybe an 8th of an inch particularly by keeping Wisconsin’s Seniorcare program intact [This is a program which I’ve witnessed get put on the chopping block periodically over the years only to be revived at the last minute as if it’s fated to star in some ritual drama. This I know because I’ve heard my 84-year-old mom worrying about it each time]

As for the Dane County side of enforcement aid, Nass is not addressing squarely what caused tension between DOA and the Dane County Sheriff, David Mahoney, which is that the DOA refused to comply with a court order that opened up the Capitol building to the public and Mahoney responded by pulling his men and women, refusing to use them as “palace guards”:
“The deputies had been told that the doors would be open at 8 a.m. yesterday, but that didn’t happen and the officers didn’t find out why until the afternoon, Mahoney said.
“When asked to stand guard at the doors that duty was turned over to the Wisconsin State Patrol because our deputies would not stand and be palace guards,” Mahoney said. “I refused to put deputy sheriffs in a position to be palace guards.”” -press conference 3/1/11

Nass seems to be assuming that if local enforcement were more involved, the whole security detail would’ve been cheaper. I don’t see anything to prove it. Plus Madison and Dane County have had to float the $ to pay those personnel and they aren’t even reimbursed yet. Why would they want to take on more of the expense and wait this long to get $ – especially from a hostile administration like Walker’s?

Nass finishes off with a pithy paragraph about truth and the “fight to save our state and country”. The thousands who were so moved to assemble at his place of work and our Capitol to appeal to him also ARE OF THIS STATE AND COUNTRY. They also hold truth–apparently as seen through a different lense. They stood in the snow for hours. They didn’t demand Nass stand outside with them. They just wanted Nass and his kind to unthaw enough to move an unseen dial to a middle place inside their hearts or minds and accept the task of governing for all Wisconsinites. Nass has no noble claim of serving state and country. He’s lost that.

Nass stayed inside safe and dry and stubborn, and left too many people out in the cold.


Rep. Nass: Letter to Rep. Berceau re: Round 2 Capitol security costs

Representative Terese Berceau
Room 127 West
State Capitol

RE: Round 2 – Capitol Security Costs and Reading Comprehension

Dear Representative Berceau:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter of August 16, 2011. I appreciate you taking the time to obtain a response from the public sector union bosses and forwarding their thoughts on to me.

I encourage you to review your letter since it fails to accurately depict the content of my letter (not a press release). I stated my opposition to reimbursement of costs incurred by the City of Madison Police Department and the DaneCounty Sheriff’s Department (emphasis added to assist in ease of reading). Your letter dishonestly states I am opposed to paying all law enforcement agencies for their service at the State Capitol.

During the Capitol Siege, I understand that you were busy pandering to the protesters while wearing your orange shirt, but the media documented the statements of Sheriff Dave Mahoney, County Executive Kathleen Falk, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, and Police Chief Noble Wray.

In those statements, it was clear these local Madison officials were siding with the siege participants and even encouraging their conduct. These local actions clearly played a role in the need for the Department of Administration and the Capitol Police Department to seek assistance from other state and local law enforcement agencies in re-establishing law and order at the State Capitol.

If the Madison Police Department and the DaneCounty Sheriff’s Department were permitted to provide service within the State Capitol, then it might not have been necessary to obtain manpower from other agencies. However, the local leadership of these law enforcement agencies ( City of Madison and Dane County) restricted those officers from participating in the proper law enforcement function of securing the State Capitol and removing the obstructing protesters.

I am not surprised that you would attempt re-write history and whitewash the terrible conduct of your colleagues in the professional protest community. However, the intentional dishonesty in your communications are another telling sign of the desperate need of Assembly Democrats to hide their behavior from decent people of this state. While the truth may be your enemy, it is the life’s blood of the citizens that took back their government in November 2010 and will continue to fight to save our state and country.


Steve Nass
State Representative
31st Assembly District

Letter originally located at

To communicate with Rep. Steve Nass:
Capitol Telephone
(608) 266-5715 Or
(888) 529-0031

District Telephone
(262) 495-3424

Room 12 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

Voting Address
N8330 Jackson Road
Whitewater, WI 53190

Nass’ district:
Steve Nass Wisconsin Assembly District 31
Image from GazetteExtra

How much Madison/Dane County did kick in: According to Isthmus “The state has calculated that costs for providing security during the months of protests is more than $8 million. Madison is asking to be reimbursed $682,842 for services it provided, including $555,098 for police, $37,719 for fire personnel, $79,148 for Metro Transit and $10,876 for use of the fire department’s command center. The state expects to pay Dane County $534,081.”

Statement from Madison Police Chief Noble Wray

Wisconsin, Vote Holperin. Success for Simac would be gun powder for the Tea Party

Update on polls:
Daily KOS-PPP poll over weekend:
Jim Holperin (D-inc): 55
Kim Simac (R): 41
Undecided: 4
(MoE: ±2.6%)

LDI projects a 50/50 toss-up between Holperin/Simac

Wisconsin’s recall extravaganza is not over. Tuesday August 16th two Democratic state senators, Wirch and Holperin, defend their seats from the threat of Republican recalls.

I’m not going to spend time writing about Wirch’s race because his opponent is a corporate attorney from Chicago who recently made a backhand comment against Wisconsin’s beloved Friday night fish fries.

Let’s go straight to Kim Simac:

If she wins she’ll deliver more power to her extremist gun-toting, Christian, anti-abortion base, the Northwoods Patriots a group Simac founded and presides over as President. How extreme is extremist? Her actions and philosophies remind me of the Posse Comitatus– a the racist “sovereign citizen” group that terrorized Wisconsin in the 80’s (particularly the part about not paying taxes, arming yourself against the government, and living in the north). I grant I might be sensitive to this stuff. And I’ll grant that the Southern Poverty Law Center says that the Posse is faded now. But all of those outlaws had to go somewhere after they were trained in the woods, right?

[flashback in case you want it – – remember militias?]

Wausau blogger Jim Rosenberg calls Holperin a “flaming moderate” and Simac an “extremist”. He says the fact that the Tea Party Express bus’ came by to campaign for Simac is evidence enough of extremism. What’s escaping Jim and everybody else who’s been laughing at the Express’ crimes against music, is that they’ve been diverted. They made you look over there while Simac’s Northwoods Patriots are merrily forging ahead- being all about the guns, tossing God into your constitution, taking away women’s rights, and making up conspiracies about Obama and the United Nations.

If Simac advances to the state senate, it would inflame the extreme edges of Walker’s base.
“It has been on our minds and in our plans for two years now to have someone from the tea party movement in the state Senate,” says Tim Dake, chair of Wisconsin Grand Sons of Liberty, a Tea Party Patriots organization. “If she wins, it is going to be huge.”-quoted in

To help the teabaggers reach their goal, a new PAC was put in place to fund Simac called “Taxypayers Hoping for Change”.

It must be helping. When I talked to folks in Wausau over the weekend, one friend said the Packer game ads were awful up there with 2 ads for Simac to every 1 for Holperin. Another anecdote: businesses in the district are displaying huge Simac signs while residences are putting up lots of small Holperin signs-sometimes whole neighborhoods full of them.

I wouldn’t rely on this poll, but I can just hear you wondering what the numbers show: In late July polls showed Simac with 46.3% of the likely vote and Holperin with 53.7%.

Simac is cozying up to businesses aggressively in ads as well. When Holperin came at Simac with the fact that she hasn’t paid much in taxes WHILE she ironically whines about paying taxes, Simac cried foul and turned herself into a victim. She called Holperin’s questioning an attack on District 12’s small business constituents. Simac claims a lot of tourist businesses like hers are in dire straights now and so they’re taking losses on their business or having a hard time paying.

Simac runs the Great Northern Adventure Company. At GNAC you can learn how to become an “equestrian”, buy beef and hay, buy Kim’s books, and you can hire Butch Simac to do plumbing or well drilling.[I’m surprised Kim Simac didn’t scrub the word “equestrian”. “Equestrians” are often linked with the “elite”.]

Even business is slow, we usually ask that people who represent us in government at least respect the rules. According to Mizzou “She’s a deadbeat tax payer. Basically, she goes delinquent on her property taxes, dues, fees and pays just before the Sheriff knocks on the door or waits to get sued.” I don’t have the story on all of these episodes, but you can search for Kim Simac and Kim Maillette in the Wisconsin Court System for yourself.

When somebody doesn’t pay their bills they risk being called a “deadbeat”. Simac is working on turning that into “down on your luck”. Walker certainly worked the frugal angle well–clutching those brown bag lunches he carried around in his old campaign ads. Simac is trying the same thing. In one of Simac’s ads she mentions that she’s driving a vehicle with a cracked windshield that won’t get fixed because that costs money that she doesn’t want to spend.

Simac is right now splattering that windshield with bugs and probably repeating the same can’t-afford-to-replace-it line as she drives her 4 door truck on a 2,000 mile trip around Holperin’s district. She’ll take her charismatic and regal bearing with her along with her “blonde hair and tits” [phrase from a North WI twitter pal who will remain unnamed]. Sorry to offend anybody, but it bears mention that some men find a combo of gun-hugging and feminine wiles disarming. She and Holperin both have a lot of ground to cover to reach their constituents. There are 11 counties in the 12th senate district. [link to state map of all districts]

On Guns and Godly Power

Kim’s most interesting and famous business sideline is writing and selling cheesy patriotic books. It’s given her entry into a lot of speaking engagements and even a mention on Glenn Beck’s show.

Here Simac discusses her book “With My Rifle by My Side” with daffy host, Dorothy Spaulding. Simac says her book is about Iraq and the 2nd amendment. “I wrote this book because our children need to learn about our rights and our constitutional rights to own guns..our rights to defend ourselves, to bear arms, and to stand proud as Americans.”

Spaulding and Simac don’t sound like they’ve done their homework on the policy they chat about, but Simac turns on the confidence when she talks guns.
At the 4:15 mark:
Simac:..there are definitely forces that want to get the guns out of our hands.
Dorothy Spaulding: And why do you think that is?
Simac: I think there are people- that there are people that would like to render us helpless.
Spaulding: And that would happen if they took the guns out of our hands.
Simac: We would be a lot easier to tackle if we did not have our arms. And the Founders knew that we deserved the right to protect ourselves and to defend ourselves from others and also our own government.

At the end of the chat, Spaulding says, “You know if the conservatives or the Christians would would all come together they could rule this nation”
Simac: We are the majority.
Spaulding: We are the majority!
Simac: But we have many that are complacent and don’t pay attention so unfortunately I think we are going to have to hit some hard times for people to start to pay attention.”

It really is all about God for Simac to the point that she can’t read that little part in the constitution about separation of church and state. In this segment from the same interview, Simac says that the separation of church and state is really not in the constitution and they “have really twisted that. They really have.”

Simac’s Godly values are also on full display in the mission statement of the Northwoods Patriots: ”
Our organization will work with and for individuals, officials, governments and organizations
at the local, state, and federal levels that are dedicated to protecting Christian values in America, in areas such as:

Hate Crimes Legislation
The Fairness Doctrine
Uncensored Public Prayer
Creation Education
Defending Christian symbols in the public square
Upholding Christian holidays

Marriage between one man and one woman
Right to Life

Electing and supporting Christian Values Candidates and Judges – at local, state and
national levels
Protecting the Constitution as it was written
Upholding the freedoms the Constitution created (the right to bear arms and less
government, less taxes)
The Defense of America”

I was afraid I’d spend too much time in their blog and.. I did. Somebody is just plugging away at the thing by tacking-in articles from Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax, and Freedomworks and nobody is commenting – almost. I located 2 comments that were anti-Northwoods Patriot under their “About” spot and that was it. In April of this year, 133 entries were made. A ridiculous 4 updates per day.

If there is such a thing as a Patriotic Right Wing Nutjob Blog Update Service these folks have subscribed to it and it’s going to work right through the apocalypse they’re waiting for.

Northwoods Patriots informed me that “Sustainable Development” is “government-approved” development. And that “any activity that is preceded by the word “Sustainable,” should be recognized as a “government-controlled” activity.”
The blog then links to a GOPUSA blog where I learn that “It’s high time to recognize the Administration’s blatant disregard for the Constitution, and cleanse Washington of all who allow either Congress or the Administration to embrace the socialist policies recommended by the United Nations.”

The blog also links to 27 stories on abortion- all against it. How it makes sense for an anti-government organization to demand that the government control a woman’s uterus…I don’t get it. But I’m not a Northwoods Patriot.

According to the Northwoods Patriots, you don’t want to mix up funding for contraception and abortion with D.C. They say Planned Parenthood represents a chance to “centralize power and control in a single government based in Washington”. Other articles are from Wisconsin Right to Life and Americans United for Life which coaches the Patriots on how they can locate and instruct a Wisconsin pro-life legislator to make our state “opt-out of one of the abortion [funding] provisions” in a new federal bill.

Oh. I see. Rights are not about me–Jane Q. Citizen, taxpayer, freedom-lover, and All-American woman with a capital ‘W’. The focus is on the rights of “the unborn”.

From her campaign blog:
“Remember, no matter what you hear about this recall election, it is really about the rights of the unborn.. Please don’t let them down!”

You’d think in that case, I’d see all sorts of messages about the “unborn” on Simac’s campaign facebook page, then. Not a whisper, though. She’s telling her facebook fans stuff like this instead: “When it comes right down to it Jim Holperin’s record is clear. He has failed us in the single biggest issue facing this district and this state; jobs”

I can only assume that the pro-life vote is already in the bag so now Simac can move on to matters that don’t require invasion of the American uterus.
If you can stand it, here’s one of those ads designed to secure the pro-life vote. It’s from the Wisconsin Right to life and portrays people getting into the capitol as “mobs”. It says we should not let the voices filling the Capitol drown out the “voices of the unborn” [To be fair this isn’t just for Simac, but for all the pro-life recall candidates.]

As long as we’re on the topic of birth, prebirth, etc. – I have an alert: the Northwoods Patriots blog let me know that Obama’s birth certificate issue is not resolved and the man who fabricated it has stepped forward.

Several posts contain content from Wisconsin’s most arch-conservative state senator, Glenn Grothman, who’s asserted at a Tea Party rally that the workplace rewards women at the expense of men. I could go on and on but I think I’m one of a select few people actually reading this thing anyway. There’s also the sound of silence over at the Northwoods Patriots facebook page which has only 210 fans but also gets updated like a little machine runs it.

Don’t get me wrong – there certainly is a Northwoods Patriots group. I can find video of about 800 people getting together in a snowmobile derby hall in Eagle River for two July 4ths in a row. They’re not all men. But — Gee. I do see a lot of men there. White men.

So if you had to fend off a Simac, how might you spin a scary ad?
Gosh, with Wisconsin’s history, I could make her look like a Posse Comitatus member easily. If you weren’t hanging out in northern Wisconsin 1978 to 1985 you might not have heard of the Posse. The Posse Comitatus was [is?] a band of racist,anti-semite,anti-government, violent,Christian Identity militia survivalists. They had a strong presence in rural Wisconsin through Thomas Stockheimer and Jim Wickstrom who cultivated a cult-following [and I mean cult]. They both moved near Tigerton, Wisconsin.”

Posse is one of several groups that fit into the Christian Identity movement. According to the SPLC the Posse and the C.I. movement are in decline. Back in the 80’s farmers in Wisconsin and the U.S. were losing their livelihood and land after borrowing too much at low interest rates and then getting gouged by rising rates. They were desperate and looking for answers. Posse’s charismatic and evil leaders came along and delivered scapegoats, guns, and a community in 12 states and held national conventions in Wisconsin.

Maybe I should relax? Are you saying ‘That was then, this is now’? The economic conditions of today mirror those of the 80’s recession. Therefore, if a I see Wisconsin groups adding other elements of Posse’s recipe to the mix, well, I’m nervous. You see I’ve been told we need to learn from history so we’re not doomed to repeat it.

Here’s a sampling of the political dirt detractors see fit to sling at Simac:
“Kim Simac said she married Arthur Simac in 1995 and that their ex-spouses married each other sometime later.” This has been called “spouse swapping” by Politiscoop and others.

WeAreWisconsin says Simac did some illegal collusion with the Tea party express to which prohibite “candidates and their agents from coordinating with independent expenditure groups”.

TPM pulled out a quote from an old blog she did which said “At what point will we stop talking about the comparisons to what is occurring today and what actually happened by the regime of the Nazi’s in the past?”

Unpaid tax liabilities. Her response.

And who is Jim Holperin? . . .
He’s the guy I want District 12 to vote for. I want it because he’s moderate and he’s a Democrat who will slow down Walker’s drive-us-off-the-cliff agenda. I want it because he has a relationship with his district and its economy: he’s been serving that region of the world since 1982 and he’s been a Wisconsin Director of Tourism so he knows the commerce that’s brought dollars to NE Wisconsin. I also want it because he’s stood up for the rights of the Ojibwe to spearfish in the late 80’s. If he didn’t take that stand, I doubt he’d be ready to take the stand he took this year. He stood up for people’s rights then. He stands up for the rights of Wisconsin people now.

Madison Feb 26, 2011 - 10

Former Senator Dave Zien and Tea Party Create Scene, Attack Solidarity Singer in Capitol Today

Here’s the report that WORT FM did on this. You’ll hear an announcement and then the news picks up at the 1:30 mark.
I’m sharing some notes and photos from a person who was at the Capitol during an assault on a singer from the Solidarity Sing Along group today. She asked that I share none of the names included outside of Zien’s name.
“Today former senator Dave Zien brought his attack dogs to the capitol.

Two of Zien’s associates attempted to cover 1st floor banner holders with their Don’t Tread On Me flag.

**** stepped in to help us and was assaulted by the Tea Party thugs. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt (although **** had his tooth broken by one of Zien’s goons). About a dozen Solidarity Singers gave statements to police, and the two Teabaggers were hauled off in handcuffs.

By sheer coincidence, Zien’s friend (a Milwaukee FOX affiliate) just happened to be there with his camera crew.

Zien was harassing singers earlier on the ground floor of the rotunda by wheeling around haphazardly and yelling, “Walker for President!” He nearly crushed people’s toes with his wheelchair, yet was not cited for this behavior.

Seated: Dave Zien

**** received a citation for Disorderly Conduct. He acted in our defense. The charge should be dropped immediately.”

WORT FM of Madison will include an interview on this event in its 6:30PM Central news show. [You can listen online HERE].
I am feeling a personal pang of sadness, disappointment, and a bit of shame because I grew up in the former senator’s district which covers Chippewa, Clark, part of Dunn, Marathon, and Barron counties. Despite being opposite him on politics, I don’t assume that Zien is a violent kind of guy, though he is known as an outspoken man.
He was in a really rough motorcycle accident in Florida mid-March and people feared he’d die. I was one of many who asked others to think of him at that time and pray for him if they preferred. Dave was born in Chippewa Falls and lives in Eau Claire.

Anthony Bourdain: Tea Party looks “dumb as a sack full of hammers”

Bourdain says what you already know about the Tea Party.

But it’s a great pleasure to hear it on CNN – – which has been recently slipping dangerously close to Fox territory. It’s just 1 min. 8 seconds.

Anthony Bourdain is a guest with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Bourdain is better known for being a snarky and successful New York City chef on the show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel. Bourdain is asked what he thinks of the Tea Party:

“If I were a conspiratorially minded person I would think that Michelle Bachmann, for instance, was the creation of some evil Democratic group to make them [the Tea Party] all look like looney-toons and dumb as a sack full of hammers.”

If you’re curious, the book he mentioned is by Hampton Sides: Hellhound on His Trail

It’s an account of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the FBI’s  massive global manhunt for James Earl Ray.

A typical rave review on amazon: “You know the ending and still Hampton Sides keeps you turning the pages. Sides’ exceptional attention to detail and his masterful storytelling makes this book a must-read. Sides has raised the bar for narrative nonfiction.”

And from reviewer Andy Orrock-

“Though focused mainly on following the rapidly converging tracks of King and his killer for the first 40 to 50% of the book, Sides also has meaty, fascinating passages on both George Wallace and J. Edgard Hoover. Of particular note, Sides focuses on the ‘cognitive dissonance’ of Hoover leading the hunt for King’s assassin: “A hidebound FBI director charged with finding the assassin of a man he loathed, all the while answerable to (yet barely on speaking terms with) a liberal young attorney general (Ramsey Clark) who revered the deceased.”

Despite that bias, the FBI’s performance in identifying the killer, piecing together his trail and apprehending him (in conjunction with Canadian help and Scotland Yard) is nothing short of miraculous. “

Senator Grothman: Wisconsin’s Infamous Tea Party Troll

The always infuriating Republican State Senator Glen Grothman of Wisconsin’s 20th District talks with Dem. Representative Cory Mason on MSNBC’s The Last Word yesterday and calls protesters “slobs”.

He also uttered this bold lie: “The people that are staying overnight are making a mess of the Capitol”.  And he lied saying that a very small percentage of protesters are police officers or nurses.

[a LINK to footage at Crooks & Liars.]

We in Wisconsin are upset but not shocked. Continue reading

Civil war fantasies: Repeal amendment and a secession reenactment

The Repeal Amendment Over the years I have on occasion made jokes about secession. Usually about Texas, as in, “Hey, Texas. Did you secede yet, or what?”

Now, in “secession-lite”, Texas could have a chance to collaborate with 33 other states to buck the federal system. Tea Partiers & friends now want the opportunity to repeal any congressional action if the legislatures of two-thirds of the states vote to do so. This amendment to the constitution is nicknamed the “repeal amendment”.

From OTB: “Granting the states the power to overturn a Federal law, whether for policy or Constitutional reasons, would do more to bring down the Federal structure of the American government than even the Civil War tried to do. ”

Chris Matthews talked to Kenneth Cuccinelli, Virginia Attorney General- the same guy that kicked off the constitutional fight against Obama’s healthcare law.Matthews is alarmed and calls the legislation “antebellum”.

Odds are the repeal amendment won’t get far: “.. it would require acquiescence by both houses of Congress to a decrease of their own power combined with the agreement of 3/4 of the states“.

If you want to hear Randy Barnett of Georgetown University Law Center yakking on Freedom & Prosperity radio about his brainchild, here’s that link. Barnett says massively unpopular laws such as the health insurance reform act could be battled with the law he proposes, and laws that are tucked into large omnibus packages that were not individually voted on.

He talks about the deterrent effect the repeal amendment would have, and he speculates that it would be used if, for example, the federal government nationalized private pension funds.

A Bad Flashback December 20, 1860 happens to be the day when South Carolina became the first state to secede from the union 150 years ago.  Some proud white folks will be fantasizing about that very day, dressing up like Scarlet O’Hara and Rhet Butler & watching a mock signing of their state’s secession from the Union.

NAACP members from South Carolina–some # it is safe to presume descended from slaves– will on that day be making it clear they are royally pissed off. South Carolina’s NAACP members will be watching and discussing segments of Birth of a Nation – a 1915 film that glorified the Klu Klux Klan.

NAACP calls the reenactment of the secession “disrespectful”. I think the secession worshipers are making it clear that they miss having slaves.

I wonder if slaves are black or not in their modern plantation fantasy.

Sweet Tweet ‘@paxlibri: “South Carolina is too small to be a Republic, and too large to be an insane asylum.” James Petigru.   I couldn’t agree more.’

“I have a dream” vs. “I have a joke”: The day after Rally for Sanity

Yesterday was awesome. We saw the Artist Formerly Known as Cat Stevens play live at the Rally for Sanity! (I’ve missed him.) And I remembered that Kareem Abdul-Jabar is a smart, funny Muslim! Tony Bennett sang! But now I’ve done the walk of shame home from my careless dalliance with those humorous Comedy Central personalities and my mind has cleared.

I’m worried. Because while liberals were laughing and making nice sanity, the insane Tea Party and friends have been making more insaneness like taking “challenger trainings” to literally keep young people and minorities from voting. I can hear you saying, “No! Don’t harsh my mellow, man!”

Hey DUDE, we had a great time. But in politics and in life, crazies have advantage. You can’t turn your back on them to celebrate your saneness. Especially when they have a crazy big bankroll.

I’m not ALL bristly, though. I am thankful this rally brought out 215,000 people to Glenn Beck’s 87,000 which helps me to cancel it out. Do I think that the library mall of Washington DC is the best place for ANY comedians or manipulative pundits to gather masses? Nope. This is the place where Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream.” I now will accept Jon Stewart coming there to say, “I have a joke” because Beck already pissed on it with his religious pandering in August. So thanks, Jon, for the revolution in moderateness. The civil descended upon Washington DC to have a good laugh, shake their finger at the craven media, and pick up litter.

I feel embarrassed. I hoped the rally was going to be a little bit more… strident. But if I’d done a little more homework, I’d have known Jon has always maintained that he is not a leader, he is a joke teller. He stated at the National Press Club following the rally that “We’re not running for anything. We don’t have a constituency. We do television shows for people who like them. And we just hope that people continue to like them so that Comedy Central can continue to sell beer to young people….We wanted to do a really good show for the people…”. And when asked if he and Colbert want people to vote, he said, “I think people should do what moves them. That’s their call to make, not mine.”

Stewart has only promised to remain a jester, helping people to cope with the changing times. Is it really his fault they won’t change the times themselves?

Writer Mark Ames says that the people who gathered at the rally are too afraid of looking uncool: “Let’s gather together in an ironic self-aware way and celebrate how we’re really not rallying or laying anything on the line – not even now, not even when the whole fucking country is collapsing.”

That self-aware irony is being memed into smugness by the Americans for Prosperity here. The site say “smug” means “Exhibiting or feeling great or offensive satisfaction with oneself or with one’s situation; self-righteously complacent“ Oh my Lord. Now I am really embarrassed. I might be in some agreement with AFP.

Alex Pareene at Salon says their call for civility is reminiscent of the original Obama call for non-partisan government. Yawn. This is a non-plus. I do hope Pareene is onto something when he says the crowd got “inspired about our nation” and “excited about sincerity” (which means they’ll vote?)

Maybe I’m just too narrow and serious to get what might be a new way of agitating – without agitating. I’ve gone to rallies from DC to Northern Wisconsin. All with homemade signs that were both spelled correctly and earnestly clear in message. At no time did it occur to me to look cool or feign niceness. I wanted to be a bad-ass protestor! My messages weren’t clever. “No Crandon Mine” or “NO WAR.” Just as direct as a hard rain. We yelled. We marched. We defeated that Crandon mine. But not that war or any war since.

For a while I entertained the idea that at least this Rally for Sanity made the U.S. Look better to the rest of the world. I read this article in Foreign Policy which shows the world’s fearful interpretations of the rise of the Tea Party in America. And then I realized in that context, 215,000 people in the Party of Nice who descend upon DC for laughs is equally frightening for its blissful ignorance of reality. We are still embroiled in two wars, a deep recession, and hey, we’re still fixing the world’s greatest environmental disaster in the Gulf and insert your own laundry list of problems I don’t feel like writing here.

Worry, disappointment, fear, embarrassment…all caused by those nice, very funny people and their intelligently rendered signs. I do retain some hope because they’re smart. They’ll give me greater hope if they also take action.


TPM Summary w. link to full text of Jon Stewart’s final speech.

Activists loved the rally, and they hated it.

My favorite signs: If you can read this…I am a veteran…I am a muslim., This is a good sign.,

This is what 215,000 people looks like from the Washington Monument.

NPR’s highs and lows from the rally for sanity.

Glen Beck rants stoke real life violence.

Jeff Jarvis took hope in the rally and absorbed it’s media criticism with good nature.

And here’s the BBC’s reaction to the rally for sanity.

It’s not an enthusiasm gap. It’s a WTF gap. : The Tea Party drives the Russ Feingold/Ron Johnson debate

I had a weekend in the wilderness of Wisconsin without internet right after Friday’s Feingold Johnson debate. What I experienced was first, withdrawal, and second, clear thinking.

You know, I have decided something. We do not have an enthusiasm gap here. We have a “What the fuck” gap here. [Which I will forthwith call “WTF” for the sensitive.] And by that I mean, our Wisconsin voters are just now figuring out that the Tea Party is now driving the Feingold campaign. Because it’s driving the conversation. And that the Tea Party is not that loose band of tricorner-hat-wearing dudes. It is the right wing Christian flag-hugging bloc that wants to put the ladies in the kitchen, ask for your copy of the pocket constitution, and dog you to wear a handgun on your hip…well maybe if you’re white.

First off, the debate was held in Milwaukee but the 3 journalists asking the questions were from areas geographically parallel to WauSau. Or you might say “from Central Wisconsin”. I grew up on the 45th parallel, but I got out.

The moderators were Stacy Engebretson, Greg Stensler, and Dan Lea. Stacy is with WGBA NBC TV channel 26 where what Bret Farve has had for breakfast has dominated for decades, so I won’t pick on, I’ll instead pity. Greg Stenzler is with a Fond du Lac station playing rock classics, some CBS feel-good news from Charles Osgood, and the Huckaby report which is 2 shades more conservative than Paul Harvey was. Mr. Glenn Lea comes from WAYY where Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are broadcast daily. Urf.

Second, this was not a debate because no rejoinders were allowed. It was a corraling of candidates and their comments. Thus offering protection to the easily tongue-tangled Ron Johnson.

And thirdly, the arrows that should slice through your little progressive heart are some of the questions chosen.

We heard “do we repeal the new healthcare bill or repair it or allow it to play out”. We should hear, “1 out of 4 Wisconsinites under 65 years of age are uninsured. What are you going to do to get health insurance to all of these Wisconsinites?”

We heard “Do you believe in global warming?”. It should be “We are at 390 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now and life as we know it on the planet has evolved to function in a climate holding under 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere so what do we do to preserve LIFE ON THE PLANET AS WE KNOW IT?. ”

Yeah. That’s a downer. This would be more humorous, “97% of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is real. What other generally acknowledged bits of science do you object to?”

And most disturbing: the way that both candidates fell all over themselves to express warmly their affiliation with the tea party [See it yourself, please. CSPAN’s viewer works. Visit the 28 minute mark]. Because as you and I know, only the Tea Party hates a deficit, desires low taxes, and loves their guns. Politico’s article on this said Feingold was “courting” the Tea Party. That was kind. They could have used the verb “pander”.

Who is to blame? Yes the Koch brothers pumping millions into this state, and yes the flag-waving angry over-50’s and their Christian wives who’ve been storming the marble halls, and also you and I for being civil well-read individuals wringing our hands instead of getting out there and shaking hands.

Offering a little levity, there was this one-upmanship around the constitution that would be comical if this election wasn’t an important matter. Feingold, we found out, drives around with a copy of the constitution in his car. The Johnson claims that he’s carried a copy of the pocket constitution for years. Yeah, yeah. WHATEVER.

And Feingold and Johnson answered that stem cell question. Nobody cares to contest this research but the right wing pro-lifers. Most other citizens see this as another area of science with potential to save lives and make money.

Today it’s the pocket constitution, tomorrow it’s going to be “the pocket bible”. Today it’s asking the candidate to prove his pro-gun creds, and tomorrow it’s “Candidate, what gun are you packing?” and I assume that’ll be open carry style.

Even in this dark classroom, I want to be a good student. And I know you’re a good student. You read. But getting an “A” on our assessments of this debate and the play by play and the next and the next isn’t the job. Because it’s a little late for logic, it’s time for alarm. Like I said before, “WTF”

Here’s Democurmudgeon’s play-by-play of the debate.And you can easily hop around the Friday October 8 debate video tape of the debate here at C-SPAN.

Tonight’s 10/11  7pm CST debate may be found at Wisconsin Public Radio and at Wausau’s WSAW TV.