Uncomfy conservatives and their enablers now even busier dismantling dissent | WisCommunity

Uncomfy conservatives and their enablers now even busier dismantling dissent

You've got to admire the chutzpah (pronounced "chuts-paw" by Michele Bachmann) of Republicans and conservatives and their opinion-leader enablers. First they mounted a bald attempt to seize permanent control of government -- and that's hardly an overstatement, since at least one GOP party official a couple years ago said flat out that was their goal. But the effort hasn't been going entirely as planned, so they're doubling down.

How, exactly, do you go about seizing control when the public isn't keen to vote your political cabal into undismissable majorities? Well, there are ways, as we are learning in Wisconsin. For example:

* Trying to eliminate or make much more difficult our state's constitutional provision for recalls of state elected lawmakers. The recalls can be for any reason the voters choose. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as of this morning has now written at least two editorials backing this dumb-down of what we ought to rename Constitutional Recall.  

The Journal Sentinel editorialists went so far as to claim the summer recalls "were unwarranted" because they only focused on "one issue." Which issue? Well, you know, the issue of the GOP blitzkrieg dismantling Wisconsin's infrastructure, draconian wage cuts for the middle class and interference in the state's long-established democratic form of government. But no matter. Hey, average people actually are beginning to use the recall, and, worse than that, it works! Bad precedent, if you're a media megalomonopoly. WE decide, and YOU comport!

Besides, as GOP Rep. Paul Farrow told the newspaper, the recalls were begun by "one small group." Well, actually, one large group (progressive activists, unions and voters at large) and one other large group (Koch-fueled wingnut organizations from afar). Even the Journal Sentinel has edited from its brain trust the memory that Republicans were happy to mount their own recalls, until the entire operation backfired on them. Now that they're not just for the GOP any more, recalls are politically incorrect and utterly verboten!

* Ignoring the state's Open Records Law and the Open Meetings Law, while working in closed legislative chambers without significant public notice to dumb them down some more.

Violating the Open Meetings Law was how the GOP majority in Madison eventually succeeded in passing Scott Walker's onerous anti-union bill. And then, when others objected to that, the conservative-dominated state Supreme Court said, well, who ever would have thought the Open Meetings Law would apply to all government bodies? It does apply to all of them, the court said, except for the biggest and most important -- namely the state's elected legislature. 

Result: More sneaky snark at the Capitol. You're lucky if you can find the single photocopied meeting notice that's posted on a bathroom mirror somewhere just 20 minutes in advance of whatever meeting and vote Republicans don't want you to know about, or Democrats to weigh in upon.

* Trying to marginalize binding voter referenda, which suddenly are no longer a good thing.

Do City of Milwaukee residents want a near-universal paid sick day ordinance for their community? Seventy percent of voters said yes back in 2008. A coalition of conservative Republicans and business leaders couldn't get courts to agree, but then got the elitest rulers of the legislature to undo the will of the common people. It just wouldn't do, having the riff-raff deciding what's in their own best interest, when the elites are so much better at deciding what's in THEIR own best interest. When the commoners were, for example, voting in favor of a referendum to cap property taxes in California, well, that was people power! Now, it's just misguided communism.

* Making the vote a problematic process, by criminalizing it and bureaucratizing it to death.

Is your vote registration information in the slightest way erroneous or out of date because some underpaid city clerk screwed up the entry? You're a potential felon who's trying to steal an election along with a vast criminal conspiracy of like-minded socialists! Not because the law says that, but because the state's anti-change artists say so. Students, the poor, the elderly, minorities and anyone else who has a funny sounding name or even looks funny or has funny ideas is now judged by a different standard, and presumed guilty at the polls unless they prove conclusively each and every time that they're not what they appear to be, at least in the eyes of oh-so-victimized Republicans. And by the way, if you dress like a thug, a slob or a hippie? It's the dark hole for you, pal! Yes, dress codes aren't just for radical New Berlin school teachers anymore.

* Gerrymandering legislative districts so that Republican majorities are safer from defeat, in the event the GOP's vote suppression program doesn't work as well as expected. 

If you can't win on the basis of carefully explained ideas or even just simple, mindless rhetoric, well, then, stack the deck! Also, make sure to force public employee unions to take expensive annual votes on whether they're really unions, and make them get 51 percent of all members to say yes, over and over and over. Do that, the Repubs imagine, and maybe we'll get lucky.

* Neutering the Government Accountability Board, so it can't be accountable when it tries to oversee fair elections. No more tinkering with the partisan election clerks who are tinkering! No more trying to help the public figure out which anonymous out-of-state wingnut groups are spending how much to disinform and distort the campaigning. Pay no attention to that man behind the cretins!

* Gov. Walker's power grab from a compliant legislature in which he decided he shall now exercise veto judgment over all administrative rules, no matter how picyune. El gubernador supremo has spoken! This new power will, of course, instantly look dicatorial to conservatives at the very moment a Democrat next becomes governor, but right now, it's GOP gold. And them that has the gold makes the administrative rules. 

* Making centralized political decisions on behalf of thousands of local governments across the state, in the name of saving money while imposing new costs on those units. All the while never minding the GOP mantra that centralized government is bad while local government is the best possible kind. Except when it isn't.

* Calling the cops at the slightest insult or provocation, then blaming the cops for being liberal lackeys if they don't immediately detain the alleged perps. Also, making legal protests illegal and battening down legislative buildings so average citizens can't observe or comment. And perhaps, at some, charging citizens a usage fee for the wear and tear they cause every time they visit the Capitol for any purpose. It's like the student protest era of the 1960s, only amped up and applied to everybody.

* Get stem cells out of the hands of lefty university professors, just to be sure they aren't cloned into a new army of liberal protestors. And before shutting the whole operation down, be sure to get a favorable legal opinon from State Attorney General Jar Jar Binks.

There's a lot more but it all adds up to this: Throw so much crap out there that progressives won't know where to turn next. It's the political equivalent of an arsenal of concealed weapons. And they have to be concealed, lest the voters become too resentful too soon. Because, like Scott Walker said to the fake Koch brother: "This is our time."



September 23, 2011 - 11:42am