hearts and minds

August 23, 2011

An Independent “Spin” on the Wisconsin State Senate Recalls

Filed under: Politics & elections,Wisconsin legislature — Hearts & Minds @ 3:30 pm

Following is a “spin” on the 2011 state senate recall process from a stubborn Independent, who has never been a member of either major political party, and who is not quite satisfied with the distortions and outright lies being presented ad nauseum by hack knee-jerk loyalists of both parties. Spokespersons from each Party weave a story which assures the public that their own Party won the recall battle, and we now must endure the battle of the spin-doctors. But the important question is not which Party won. It’s “Did the people win or lose?”

Republican leaders in Wisconsin have been whining about them, starting even before the senate recall elections were over. They’re complaining about supposedly unjustified recalls allegedly wasting time and money. And they’re actually blustering and threatening to eliminate the people’s constitutional right to recall elected officials – unless it’s for what Republican leaders think is “a good reason”.

Well, damned if it wasn’t Republican/Koch Party leaders who started the recall ball rolling themselves this year by announcing they were going to recall the 14 Democratic senators who got a backbone when they saw tens of thousands of Wisconsinites spontaneously and persistently protesting the Koch Party scapegoating and attack on the working class. These Democratic senators prevented a quorum and a railroading and thereby let the people have a chance to hold their own public hearings on the draconian bills and to become aware of the autocratic process being employed by Republican leaders, when the Republican leadership refused to hold public hearings or allow consideration of any amendments on the proposed legislation – legislation which none of them had breathed a word about during the election campaigns the previous year.

Democrats, grassroots people and Independents then responded to the Republican intention to recall Democratic senators by announcing that, in return, they would recall the eight Republican senators who backed Walker’s legislation and who were constitutionally eligible for a recall. So the recall fight was on, and Republicans started it, no question about that.

The Republican and tea party astroturf effort to recall Democrats resulted in only three recall elections of Democratic senators. They didn’t even try (or were unable) to get enough petition signatures in all the other districts with Democratic senators eligible for recall.
Meanwhile the Democratic, labor movement, and Independent grassroots effort to recall Republicans resulted in six recall elections of Republican senators in their own districts. That’s a six to three score against the rubes who started the Senate recall campaign, just for starters.

Now, how did the recall elections themselves turn out?
The Republican and Koch Party leaders were unsuccessful in winning even one single recall election against a Democratic incumbent.
The Democratic and Independent grassroots volunteers succeeded in winning two recall elections against Republican incumbents.

So the Republican leaders started this recall fight, without a doubt, last spring.
But the Republican leaders couldn’t even put up a good fight after they started it.
The Wisconsin people who worked on the campaigns won the state senate recall fight in 2011, hands down – six to three in the regionals, and two – zip in the finals.

And now (would you believe it?) the whining Republican poor loser leaders absurdly (a) claim that Republicans won because Democrats “only” defeated two Republican incumbents (while they defeated zero Democratic incumbents)! and (b) say that the recalls that the Republicans themselves started were a waste of our time and taxpayer money, and that they intend to use their control of the legislature and the executive branch (not to mention their control of the Supreme Court) to tie the people’s hands and take away or restrict our right to recall elected politicians in the future. What a crock of horsepucky!

It’s reason enough to be plenty sore at Republican leaders and funders just for being such bad mannered, autocratic, lying aristocrats, and for implying that we the people are as stupid as they must think.

These senate recall elections did not involve the entire state. Recall elections were only held in nine out of 33 districts, which is less than one-third of the population of the state.

Let’s see what Republican/Koch Party leaders think about the people’s right to recall elected officials when the people pull off a badly needed and sorely deserved statewide recall of the suddenly born-again kumbaya-chanting, bi-partisan Governor Walker who got his previous elective office through the Wisconsin recall process, in a particular recall campaign which Republican leaders once cheered, but are now calling unjustified.

Throw the two-faced, fork-tongued bums out!


  1. If you’re Independent, Obama’s Republican!
    Your spin is worse than those you criticize.
    I’m independent. On fiscal responsibility, I side with the Republicans right now.
    My take on recent events in Madison can be found at http://sytereitz.com/2011/08/circus-madison-goes-on/ .

    Comment by Syte — August 23, 2011 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

    • Whether I’m independent or no has nothing to do with what Obama is.
      And a true Independent does not have to split the difference between the two major parties, or always say they’re both wrong.
      I don’t claim to do that. Never have. Never tried to.
      When I write a critique, like the essay I just posted, I do so with particulars and, right or wrong, I make my case.
      You didn’t make a case with your comment.

      Comment by clydewinter — August 23, 2011 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

      • Clyde –

        Your critique is brewing with venom at Republicans –“whining,” “Koch Party” (repeated 4 times), “draconian bills,” “autocratic process,” “whining Republican poor loser leaders,” “crock of horsepucky,” “bad mannered,” “autocratic,” “lying,” “aristocrats,” “as stupid as they must think,” “born-again kumbaya-chanting, bi-partisan Governor Walker,” “two-faced,” “fork-tongued,” “bums.”

        Not the usual way Independents talk. Not mature or professional, either. Nor convincing. Insults don’t make a case.

        You DO differ from Obama – his Alinsky tactics are a bit subtler than your over-the-top name-calling.

        As for making my case, I provided the link to my article on this subject; here it is again: http://sytereitz.com/2011/08/circus-madison-goes-on/ .

        Comment by Syte — August 23, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

      • Thank you for your time and for your comments, Syte.

        What is “the usual way that Independents talk”?
        Don’t the words of that phrase pretty well contradict themselves?
        I guess I diverged too far for your tastes (or your opinions) from the Independent party line with this essay.
        At least from the polite, mature, professional, not over-the-top wing of the Independent party line.

        Sorry. I shall return to the more reasoned, careful, inoffensive manner with which my essays are always identified next time.
        Or when we’ve got our government back and democracy in the hands of the people instead of the corporations.
        Whichever comes last. That’s a promise.

        On second thought, Syte, I will dash off, right here, a revision of my essay that seriously addresses and accommodates your criticisms, rather than sarcastically rebuts them. I’ll leave the admittedly embarrassingly heavy-handed one on the post, but here is a much shorter and more to the point and less surly exposition of my essential points:


        Republican leaders and associated funders and individuals started the recall fight in 2011.
        First they tried to railroad sweeping legislation (which they had never indicated was their intention during the preceding election campaign) into law without public hearings and without considering amendments.
        Second, they specifically initiated the use of recalls by announcing they would petition for recall all Democratic senators, and beginning to do so.

        Democratic leaders and associated funders and individuals then responded by declaring they would recall all Republican senators who supported the new Governor’s surprise bill and blitzkrieg tactics and who were eligible for recall.

        The Republicans and allies succeeded in qualifying only three Democratic senators for recall elections. In comparison, the Democrats and allies succeeded in qualifying six Republican senators for recall elections.

        In the senate recall elections that followed, Republicans and Koch partiers failed to defeat even one Democratic incumbent, while two Republican incumbents were defeated. The score? Six to three in the preliminaries, 2-zip in the finals, Democrats beat Republicans, hands down, in the recall fight that Republicans themselves started.

        In the wake of this embarrassing defeat, Republican leaders and allies have sought to wave a magic wand and blow some smoke, strangely claiming that Republicans won the recall elections because only two Republican incumbents were defeated, and because the senate was not actually transformed to a Democratic majority by the recalls. Of course the Democrats and allies hoped and tried to flip the senate majority with the 2011 recalls. But it’s patently stupid to say that since one side scored a shutout, but didn’t do it with a grand slam, that the winner lost.

        And Republican leaders have unaccountably and without any justification, accused Democrats of wasting citizens time and taxpayers money with the 2011 senate recall elections. I say “without any justification” because it was Republican leaders themselves who started this recall fight. Apparently, Republicans have tried to blame the Democrats for the recall elections because they failed to unseat even one Democrat incumbent with their own plan, while losing two of their own incumbents.

        And after having initiated this recall battle themselves, and losing it so thoroughly, Republican leaders have now initiated the astounding proposal to revoke (or restrict, to their very particular partisan liking) the constitutional right and authority of the people of Wisconsin to recall elected officials. That shows an amazing amount of arrogance and contempt for the people and democracy.

        It is far more important how the people fare in this struggle than which party is perceived to have won and which party lost. The recall elections of 2011 took place in nine senate districts out of a total of 33 in the state. That represents less than one-third of the people of Wisconsin. The best electoral way to resolve this question and to ensure that the people ultimately win, is to effectively organize, inform the people, and initiate a statewide recall election of Governor Walker in 2012 (along with any other elected official who has suggested restricting the people’s existing constitutional right to recall elected officials).

        (Thank you for your criticism, Syte. The revised essay is easier to read, more focused on the point of the essay, and contains 440 words instead of 750 in the posted version I committed to publication. Let that be another needed lesson for me. Sorry for the initial abrasive, defensive response to your comments. But your criticism of my initial posted version applies in spades to your own over-the-top criticism of everyone who was and is taking part in the entire Wisconsin uprising this year. Your analysis is packed with loaded words, insults, and name-calling, none of which makes a case. It’s not uncommon for people to be most critical in others of faulty behavior in which they themselves heavily indulge, and that clearly applies to you and your writing in this instance.)

        Comment by clydewinter — August 24, 2011 @ 1:13 am

  2. When I see something written by Clyde Winter, I pay attention to it, and read every word. I always learn something useful, as we all struggle with the 5 tools needed to survive the 21st Century! They are, as defined in Chapter 8 of “THE LIMITS TO GROWTH, The Thirty Year Update”;
    Chapter 8 is worth the price of the book! Thanks, Clyde, for making plain old fashioned good sense once again.
    PS: It's also of note that the third recall, that should have won, failed because the filthy rich donated millions of dollars to sabotage Rep. Sandy Pasch so that Scott Walker's top ally in the state Senate, can remain in that role. Once again the questionably delinquent voting machine in Waukesha County came through with the swing votes mysteriously, days after all the other voting was tallied. The worst of it for me is after these last two election aberrations, I'm not sure my vote has an honest count!

    Comment by James Zinzow — August 23, 2011 @ 8:05 pm | Reply

  3. Even though I mostly feel that these recalls are a waste of time and money, I think it is important for people to be active because someone has to, and I appreciate the work that is done by those who are politically active. I am not inactive in politics because I don’t care enough: I am inactive because it isn’t the kind of thing I do. I have to keep the food machines moving. Others keep the political machines moving. Meanwhile, too many get too hung up on the “win/lose” scenario. There are no winners when their time is spent in battle, tearing up the airwaves and roads while they should be trying to lead the people toward useful futures for themselves. Government is supposed to be a tool of the people to make a better future, not a weapon wielded against everyone that disagrees. So you want less/more government; what do you want people to be doing AFTER that? What things do you think people should be doing for themselves/others and the future of the planet/species? How does less/more government accomplish that? What people will help government accomplish those goals? These hyped spin stories on the news are not about being useful to our own futures: they are about selling advertising and making a Spectacle to sell more advertising. The bigger the Spectacle, the bigger the ratings.
    Meanwhile, the men (always) in dark, smoky rooms figure out deals to keep the wheels of commerce turning and rolling along, regardless of what government they have to buy to do so (a minor cost to them).
    The more we work toward a focus on useful people on a reusable planet, the less their machinations are demanded. Whether our efforts are toward frugal living (“If you want Change, keep it in your pocket.”) or getting arrested in protests against destructive authoritarians, the goal is to be part of the real, necessary world, not the imagined ones of the Spectacle Sellers.

    Comment by Dan C — August 24, 2011 @ 10:42 am | Reply

  4. You missed a small difference, Clyde-

    • Republicans were using recall appropriately, to recall legislators who had broken laws by failing to attend sessions and who had to go to Illinois to avoid arrest by police.
    • Democrats were using recall inappropriately, to advance their opportunity to get rid of legislators whose votes they did not like, without waiting for elections.
    • How you want to spin the results of the recalls is your choice, but fiscal conservatives still hold the cards in Wisconsin after the people voted.

    Claiming that Republicans started a fight is like saying that when police arrest a law-breaker the police are starting a fight. Whether somebody broke laws in office in relation to the execution of their duties is relevant to the recall process.

    Finally, the consideration of restricting recalls is quite reasonable when radical liberals begin, for the first time in history, to abuse the process. If you look at my article at http://sytereitz.com/2011/08/circus-madison-goes-on/ , you will see that only 19 states permit recall of state officials at all, and that only 13 state legislators have been recalled in the United States since 1913. Attempting to recall 6 legislators who broke no laws because you did not like their vote, as the Democrats have done, is a very expensive, disruptive and a gutsy precedent to set.

    Your second article is much less venomous than your first, although you still retain some name-calling, like “stupid.” I also disagree with your attempt to put me in the same over-the-top name-calling category as your first article. I make an effort to avoid name-calling and to stick to facts. Please point out to me the examples of name-calling you have found, as I pointed out to you. Like you, I would love to eliminate them.

    Comment by Syte — August 25, 2011 @ 9:24 am | Reply

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