The American Bear


Another Walker crony is headed to prison…


A former associate of Gov. Scott Walker convicted of embezzling money from a veterans’ group has been sentenced to two years in prison.

A jury found Kevin Kavanaugh guilty of theft in October. Prosecutors say Kavanaugh stole more than $51,000 intended to help veterans and their families.

The 62-year-old Kavanaugh apologized in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Friday. Judge Michael Guolee called the apology “worthless.”

Kavanaugh will also serve two years of supervision after his prison sentence and must pay more than $51,000 in restitution.

As Milwaukee County executive, Walker appointed Kavanaugh to head the county Veterans Service Commission. Prosecutors say he skimmed money from phony withdrawals from a veterans-service organization.

Kavanaugh is the fifth Walker aide or associate to be convicted in a secret probe. A sixth is awaiting trial.


(via sarahlee310)

Walker’s Administrative Power Grab Ruled Unconstitutional | The Progressive

In a small but significant victory for the balance of formal power in Wisconsin, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith ruled Governor Scott Walker’s Act 21 unconstitutional as applied to the Department of Public Instruction.

Act 21 neutered the legislature and set the groundwork for behind the scenes domination of all state agencies by the Governor and the politically appointed Department of Administration secretary.

This control is wielded through rules that state agencies have to make in order to implement laws. Under Act 21, the Governor approves the scope of proposed rules and also has the power to void or approve of the final rules. In a hearing of the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules last year, Walker’s own Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, had this to say about the new process: “We can pass as many laws as we want, but if we can’t enforce them then they’re meaningless.”

The case against Act 21 was brought by leaders of state and local teachers’ unions against Walker, Secretary of the Department of Administration Mike Huebsch, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers last year. They argued that since the superintendent is an elected constitutional officer of the state, neither the Governor nor the DOA Secretary has the power to determine or influence rules in the Department of Public Instruction.

Superintendent Evers, technically a defendant in the case, filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment earlier this year.

Judge Smith agreed with the plaintiffs, finding the law “unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.”

(Source: sarahlee310)

[T]he NRA recently declared [WI’s] Scott Walker to be ‘one of the strongest pro-gun Governors in the country.’ He ‘has proven his dedication’ to halting any regulation on firearms. Further, the ‘NRA was fully vested in this race with a comprehensive campaign that included tens of millions of online ads and hundreds of thousands of television, radio and print ads… in this remarkable victory for freedom.’ Another “Round” Fired by the NRA at America

Another “Round” Fired by the NRA at America | Jeffrey Sommers

The United States is breaking records for domestic massacres at a rate nearly superseding that of heat records wilting with every passing summer scorching day.  The latest mass shooting occurred yesterday in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was just preceded by a worker in Milwaukee who went “postal” and shot his manager dead, before turning the gun on himself.  Wisconsin has just observed the fifth such mass killing in the past 8 years. The state’s employment environment is precarious.  Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in June, the most recent month for which records are available.  Moreover, its job creation record the past 12 months has also been one of the worst in the United States.  Yet, a mere forty years ago people in Milwaukee enjoyed full employment and mean wages 30% above the national average, along with the least inequality between white and African-American workers.  Today sees the inverse.  Now with wages 30% below the national mean and the greatest inequality between white and African-American labor in the United States, Milwaukee and its suburbs are rife with division and tension.  Fueling hatreds are shout-radio jocks injecting xenophobic rants as matches into the tinder of people’s economic insecurity.

Once a stalwart of enlightened progressive values, the area has descended into a state of high anxiety and finger pointing as the problems people face mount daily.  Milwaukee now personifies the once typical northern industrial region that had high-value added, high-pay factory jobs with benefits, later traded away by the “job creators” of the Bain Capital ilk and replaced by low paying jobs with no benefits of the type heralded by Bain’s two “successes,” Dunkin Donuts and Staples.  Quick kills on Wall Street made road kill of the Wisconsin worker and middle class American Dream.

The local police are treating the massacre as “domestic terrorism”.  The perpetrator, Wade Michael Page, was an itinerant white supremacist military veteran who only resided in Wisconsin for a short time.  We don’t know if the divisions created in Wisconsin specifically or the United States generally had any impact on him.  Regardless, he marched into a Sikh temple and started unloading rounds on unsuspecting victims.  America, an often violent country with a significant number of people who once bullied like to bully others, was unfortunately true to form in this tragedy targeting people of one of the world’s most peaceful faiths.  What we know is that Wisconsin, and America, are deeply divided.  Indeed, its Governor, Scott Walker was just caught on video this past January declaring to one of his billionaire patrons that the key to advancing his policy agenda was to “divide & conquer” labor.  The NRA and Tea Party takes their cue from the famous Green Bay Packer couch of lore, Vince Lombardy, who affirmed, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  This played well on the green & gold sleet and ice of 1960’s era Green Bay football fields, but it’s no way to run government.  I loved Lombardi, and still do the Packers, but when you “destroy” an opponent on the football field, they lick their wounds, have a few beers, and return to play again no worse for the wear next week.  When you destroy communities, they often never recover.

… the NRA recently declared [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker to be “one of the strongest pro-gun Governors in the country.” He “has proven his dedication” to halting any regulation on firearms.  Further, the “NRA was fully vested in this race with a comprehensive campaign that included tens of millions of online ads and hundreds of thousands of television, radio and print ads… in this remarkable victory for freedom.”

In short, our NRA/Tea Party leaders in Wisconsin rule by divide & conquer and take their cues from and are funded by those opposing any reasonable regulation of guns.  The time for hand wringing and prayer is over.  We need to put the NRA in the crosshairs of public scrutiny and ask if their extremism is serving the public interest.  We should also squarely confront ourselves and the leaders who have divided and failed us. Wisconsin’s massacre, unfortunately, is no mystery.  Do such tragedies happen outside of America?  Yes.  With our frequency?  No. Unfortunately, in the current environment of Yosemite Sam gun deregulation, angry man American media, and growing economic insecurity, you can likely expect more. [++]

Many polling locations here in the inner city of Milwaukee are running out of ballots and voter registration forms. Based on the anecdotes I’m hearing from the field, it’s safe to say that hundreds and hundreds of people have not voted as a result. Gary Younge, a reporter with The Guardian • While out in Milwaukee, Younge discovered a lack of forms at some polling stations. This is also being confirmed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Probably not the best of news to come out of Wisconsin right now. source (viafollow)

10 Numbers You Need to Know on Scott Walker Recall Day | Mother Jones


Sitting US governors before Scott Walker who faced a recall via ballot box. Those two governors are North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier, whom voters recalled in 1921, and California’s Gray Davis, who got the boot in 2003.

6.4 percent

Walker’s lead over Barrett in RealClearPolitics’ polling average, a number that takes into account polls from as early as August 2011.

$63.5 million

Total spending on Scott Walker’s recall election by candidates and outside political groups through the final days before the election. That sum shatters the previous record of $37.4 million in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

7.5 to 1

The margin by which Walker is beating Barrett in the political money wars. Since January 2011, Walker’s campaign has raised $30.5 million; Barrett has raked in $4 million since entering the race in March.

$3 out of every $5

The proportion of Scott Walker’s recall donations that have come from donors outside of Wisconsin. Walker’s opponent Tom Barrett has highlighted this statistic to back up his attack on Walker as a right-wing “rock star.”


Volunteers signed up for the labor-backed We Are Wisconsin coalition. In the 96 hours before Election Day, that volunteer army knocked on 1.4 million doors throughout the state and made 1.5 million calls to eligible voters.

3.5 million

The number of voter contacts the Republican Party of Wisconsin made in the past year. Spokesman Benjamin Sparks describes it as “the largest grassroots campaign Republicans have ever had in the state.” (In the most recent count, there were 3,270,637 registered voters in Wisconsin.)

1 in 3

The proportion of people who say they’ve stopped discussing politics with someone because after a disagreement over Walker or the recall elections.


Current and former Walker aides, associates, and supporters granted immunity by a circuit court judge in exchange for testifying in the two-year-old “John Doe” investigation examining activities that took place in Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive.

60 to 65 percent

Official projected turnout among voting-age adults in Tuesday’s election. The highest recorded turnout in a Wisconsin midterm gubernatorial election was 52 percent in 1962. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel political guru Craig Gilbert writes that the 60-to-65-percent-turnout forecast is “more or less insane.” But then again, these are not normal times in Wisconsin.

See more stats on Dark Money behind the Walker recall.

(Source: sarahlee310)

How is this possibly even an issue? Half-a-million is boutonniere money in advertising dollars, but half-a-million for field organizing can be the difference in getting 10,000 people to the polls and, since the numbers in this race seem stuck on ‘by an eyelash,’ it’s going to be won or lost on the ground. Perhaps, if she can be reached in one of her regular 25 Green Rooms, DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz could be asked about this.

Charles P. Pierce, on the DNC’s refusal to spend money on the Wisconsin recall, in a piece titled “Why the Democrats Lose.”

Every national Democrat should be beaten over the head with this article this morning. (via quickhits)

(via quickhits)

Chris Christie: "Do the Right Thing" and Reelect "Courageous" Scott Walker | Mother Jones


It’s not just the Republican Party’s biggest donors rallying behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the run-up to his June 5 recall election.

Christie and the labor unions do agree on one thing: a lot is at stake in Walker’s recall fight. A win for Walker would seem to validate his anti-union, deregulatory agenda; a loss would deal him a stunning rebuke, a rejection of the hard-line conservative policies peddled by Walker and fellow GOP governors including Christie, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, and Florida’s Rick Scott. From now until recall time, Christie said, “Wisconsin is going to be the center of the American political universe.”

h/t: Andy Kroll at Mother Jones

Not Just Labor Rights; Scott Walker Is Also Dismantling Women's Rights | John Nichols

The list of reasons for voting Walker out of office is so long that it is hard to imagine what more could be added to it.

But there is the matter of what the governor’s critics refer to as “Scott Walker’s War on Women.”

Because Walker signed anti-choice laws enacted by legislative Republicans who do not believe women can or should make decisions regarding their own bodies, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has decided to suspend providing certain basic health services to women. Among other things, Planned Parenthood will stop providing drugs to women for abortions in the first nine weeks of pregnancy—a method the provider says are used in about a quarter of the abortions it provides in Wisconsin.

Why? The law signed by Walker criminalizes a physician’s failure to follow specific protocols laid out by the the anti-choice legislators—and interest groups—that drafted the legislation.

“In just one year, we have seen how women can lose ground in their health care options as a result of who holds power,” explains NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin executive director Lisa Subeck.

Specifically, Subeck is referring to Act 217—a law that, she correctly notes, adds unnecessary and intrusive restrictions for abortion providers and subjects physicians to felony criminal penalties.

“It is unacceptable that women in Wisconsin are losing health care options because Governor Walker has enacted a law that is hostile to abortion providers, and that means women in Wisconsin will suffer,” says Subeck. “This is what happens when out of control politicians like Scott Walker practice medicine without a license and interfere in the relationship between doctors and their patients. In the end, it is women who lose out.”

She’s right.

It's official: Wisconsin Democrats have gathered enough signatures to trigger a recall of Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.



In fact, they exceeded the minimum amount of signatures required by almost 400,000. Now, pending approval by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board tomorrow (a formality), the recall will be finalized and put into motion. The primaries for recall candidates will be held May 8th of this year, and the general is scheduled for June 5th.

Christ, it took them long enough. Keep drawing it out as long as you want, Scotty. You’re out.