Wisconsin

A Murmur Before the Buzz

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during their annual convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 July 2016. (Photo: Charles Mostoller/Reuters)

Of course this feels inevitable:

Hillary Clinton is being urged by a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers to call for a recount in three swing states won by Donald Trump, New York has learned. The group, which includes voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, believes they’ve found persuasive evidence that results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania may have been manipulated or hacked. The group is so far not speaking on the record about their findings and is focused on lobbying the Clinton team in private.

(Sherman)

Two important caveats from New York magazine:

• It would take overturning the results in both Wisconsin (10 Electoral College votes) and Pennsylvania (20 votes), in addition to winning Michigan’s 16, for Clinton to win the Electoral College.

• The academics so far have only a circumstantial case that would require not just a recount but a forensic audit of voting machines.

There is a reason this feels inevitable. Still, though, neither are these signals that should be raising or dashing hopes, nor sounding alarms from sea to shining sea that the Russians have finally won.

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Image note: Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Sherman, Gabriel. “Experts Urge Clinton Campaign to Challenge Election Results in 3 Swing States”. New York. 22 November 2016.

The Carly Fiorina Show (Next Level)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the WSJ/FBN Republican presidential debate, 10 November 2015, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show. It was before a conference.”

Anna Epstein

The Carly Fiorina Show really does distinguish itself according to strange rules forged in some alternate universe. Then again, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is a Republican, and running for president at that. And this year the conservative market licks its lips for lies, as Dr. Ben Carson so aptly reminds. Ms. Fiorina, for her own part, works hard to keep up.

Which brings us to the WSJ/FBN debate; Steve Benen observes:

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, reminded Carly Fiorina, “In seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?”

If anything, Baker’s numbers were tilted in the GOP’s favor, since Obama’s totals are dragged down by including the early months of his presidency, when the economy was in free fall. Nevertheless, the point is accurate―since World War II, more jobs are created under Democratic presidents than Republicans―prompting Fiorina to reply, “Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.”

She’d just been reminded of the opposite, which made the exchange a little unnerving. I kept waiting for one of the candidates to drop the pretense and declare, “I reject this version of reality and replace it with one I like better.”

(more…)

The Scott Walker Show (Cancelled)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum, 30 January 2015, in Washington, D.C.  Earlier in the week, Walker announced the formation of 'Our American Revival', a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016.  (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Via Alexander Burns and Patrick Healy of the New York Times:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has concluded he no longer has a path to the Republican presidential nomination and plans to drop out of the 2016 campaign, according to three Republicans familiar with his decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Walker called a news conference in Madison at 6 p.m. Eastern time.

“The short answer is money,” said a supporter of Mr. Walker’s who was briefed on the decision. “He’s made a decision not to limp into Iowa.”

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Image note: In the Beginning .... ― Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum, 30 January 2015, in Washington, D.C. Earlier in the week, Walker announced the formation of ‘Our American Revival’, a new committee designed to explore the option of a presidential bid in 2016. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Burns, Alexander and Patrick Healy. “Scott Walker Said to Be Quitting Presidential Race”. The New York Times. 21 September 2015.

American Terrorism

Detail of Wanted poster offering thirty million dollars for the murder of Dr. George Tiller;  in May, 2009, Dr. Tiller was gunned down at a church service.

We should not be surprised that anti-abortion terrorists are offering bounties.

Laura Bassett of Huffington Post gets the unfortunate duty of explaining:

According to abortion rights advocates, Joseywhales’ post is just one example of an alarming spike in death threats and violent acts against abortion providers, clinics and companies that work with them since the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood were released. Two Planned Parenthood clinics have reported arsons, anti-abortion protesters are showing up in large numbers at doctors’ homes, and commenters on conservative websites and online forums are calling for the bombings of abortion clinics across the country, according to Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Saporta is so alarmed by the escalation of threats against providers that she asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to intervene.

“In my 20 years at NAF, I have never seen such a volume, intensity and escalation of hate speech, threats and criminal activity, and we would like to prevent a serious violent act from occurring,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “We have enlisted law enforcement’s help.”

If history is any indication, death threats against abortion providers should be taken seriously. Two abortion doctors have been murdered during Saporta’s tenure at NAF: Dr. George Tiller in 2009 and Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Slepian was shot in his home after returning from synagogue, and Tiller was shot in the head while attending church services on a Sunday morning.

Saporta had worked with them both.

And that’s the problem; it easily sounds like the kind of big talk many enjoy around the internet, a manner of vice and hatred that allows one to feel better for ephemeral and illusory sensations of empowerment.

But there is history.

“I’ll pay ten large”? Yeah, it sounds like someone has been watching too much television, or something. That a certain business executive “should be hung by the neck using piano wire and propped up on the lawn in front of the building with a note attached”? Yes, at some point it is problematic that this is what a person so needs to say in order to feel better about life, the Universe, and everything, otherwise known as self.

Except for the fact that we know where this goes. Arsons and shootings and even that weird aspiring mass murderer in Wisconsin a few years ago.

(more…)

The Marco Rubio Show (Fadeout)

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) listens to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, 13 May 2015. (Photo: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

One of the interesting things about the Trumpapalooza going on in the GOP nomination contest has to do with the cover lesser candidates are getting. Then again, this is the GOP nomination contest, so taking cover from seemingly inevitable flak has its drawbacks; rhetorical martyrdom is the way to score points with the conservative base, so perhaps Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was hoping for louder criticism:

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio sounded the alarm about the state of U.S. armed forces in a foreign-policy speech today. But his claims and campaign promises don’t account for the impact of improvements in U.S. military technology or in some cases their production schedule.

Rubio, a Florida senator, said the U.S. Navy is “now smaller than at any time since before World War I” and the Air Force “has the smallest and oldest combat force in its history.”

Yet the numbers of ships and planes don’t define U.S. military capabilities.

Mike Dorning and John Walcott of Bloomberg Politics consider the issue, and let us simply pause for a moment to appreciate the magnitude of Mr. Rubio’s utter stupidity.

When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made the same argument — that the U.S. Navy is smaller than at any time since 1917 — during a 2012 campaign debate, President Barack Obama responded with a mocking rejoinder.

“We also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Yes, really. Mr. Rubio hoped to get attention by recycling a damaging argumentative failure from Mitt Romney’s disastrous 2012 presidential campaign.

(more…)

The Scott Walker Show (Sounds About Right)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015. Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

Okay, so this is how we’re going to do it―

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) affirmed on Sunday that he would not seek to end birthright citizenship as president, seemingly bringing to an end a days-long grapple for a definitive position on the issue.

“No,” said the Wisconsin Republican when asked if he was “seeking to repeal or alter the 14th Amendment,” during an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

Walker’s position on the topic―which has moved from the fringes of the Republican Party to a mainstay of the campaign trail―has not so much evolved as jumped around in the past week ....

―with Sam Stein explaining the joke for Huffington Post, and you deciding whether or not you really want the detail, since it’s not actually funny, and, well, you know, we might also suggest simply nodding and saying, “Sounds about right”, would suffice.

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Stein, Sam. “Scott Walker Completes The Journey Back To Not Repealing The 14th Amendment”. The Huffington Post. 23 August 2015.

More Fun with Censorship

The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona's strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents. A.R.S. §15-115 A.R.S. §15-716

Call it a lesson learned. When I was young, parents the problem was kids listening to rock music, and the solution was to put stickers on albums warning parents that their children might hear explicit words.

These days the problem is apparently smart kids learning biology, and the solution is to put stickers on textbooks warning kids that they need to talk to their parents about what the state of Arizona thinks.

True, we are not certain what lesson was actually learned, but the tale is hardly unfamiliar.

And now, the update from the one and only Laura Conaway:

The board acted at the urging of the same group that backed gay discrimination bills in Indiana, Arkansas and Louisiana, the Alliance Defending Freedom. Based in Arizona, the Alliance insisted that Gilbert’s biology books were out of compliance with an Arizona law requiring school districts to present childbirth and adoption as preferable to abortion. msnbcBut soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks.

From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.

Last night, though, a local viewer emailed us Gilbert’s solution, and it turns out to be much smaller than expected.

As you can see below, teachers are adding this small sticker to the inside back cover of the honors biology textbooks.

The stickers read:The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona's strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents. (A.R.S. §15-115, A.R.S. §15-716)

The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents.

And there is a political moral to the story. Remember that this intrusion of the moral authority of the state government of Arizona is brought to you by small-government Tea Party Republicans.

To the one it is part of a conservative notion whereby small government means using local government to tamper in people’s lives, like citing square footage in order to censor Zombie Jesus. Or, you know, TRAP laws, by which Republicans use zoning regulations to shutter businesses providing goods and services they don’t like. Women’s health care, for instance. The infamous abortibudget, for instance, in which Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich refused to use his line-item veto to strike anti-abortion provisions from the state budget. Here’s a fun one: Abortion providers must obtain transfer agreements with local hospitals. This is similar to the admitting privileges debate in other states; many abortion providers can’t get local admitting privileges because they do not admit enough patients to the hospital. But Ohio, knowing this wasn’t popular with the courts, went with another idea. A “transfer agreement”. A doctor needed a transfer agreement with a local hospital before providing abortion services. The hospitals, meanwhile, are explicitly forbidden under law from entering such an agreement. It’s no wonder Mr. Kasich didn’t want to discuss the anti-abortion law he signed, and the only real question remaining is why the Cleveland Plain Dealer tried to scrub that episode from history. One need not be a paid pundit to recognize, also, that it is always Christian supremacist moralism.

At least it’s not forcible insertion this time.

But it is using the state to deliver a moral message intended to undermine reality. And this in itself is problematic.

Which leads to the other. Only Tea Party activists in Arizona could rush to follow in the footsteps of Tipper Gore and somehow manage to screw up even worse.Parental Advisory: Explicit Content

No, really.

Come on.

At some point, we must admit the entire Tea Party brand really is that stupid.

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Benen, Steve. “Ohio’s Kasich approves sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights”. msnbc. 1 July 2013.

—————. “The gag rule Kasich doesn’t want to talk about”. msnbc. 31 October 2014.

Conaway, Laura. “Arizona town decides not to censor books, adds stickers instead”. msnbc. 14 August 2015.

The Scott Walker Show (Virtue of Citizenship)

Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during the South Carolina Freedom Summit hosted by Citizens United and Congressman Jeff Duncan in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S., on Saturday, May 9, 2015. The Freedom Summit brings grassroots activists from across South Carolina and the surrounding area to hear from conservative leaders and presidential hopefuls. Photogapher: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) continues his curious cowardice.

BASH: Earlier this week you said that the Boy Scouts of America should keep its ban on gay leaders because the policy protected children and (INAUDIBLE) scout values. And then your campaign clarified to say that it was really protecting the scouts from the political and media discussion about that.

I’m having trouble understanding that. What―at the end of the day what is your position?

WALKER: I’m not talking about personal protection. I’m talking about―for me the reason why I didn’t have a problem with it is I just think it pulled scouting into a whole larger political and cultural debate as opposed to saying scouting is about camping and citizenship and merit badge and service awards instead of pulling all these other issues out there. And I just hope that they (ph) can (ph) stay focused. That’s all.

BASH: So, but should there be a ban on allowing gay men to be scout leaders?

WALKER: That’s up to the people who run the boy scouts.

One thing that people find unique, I guess, whether you like it or not, is I actually answer questions. People ask me a question, I’ll answer a question―

BASH: You’re not really answering this one.

WALKER: Sure. I said in this case that’s what I thought. I thought the policy was just fine.

BASH: OK.

WALKER: I (ph) was (ph) saying (ph) when I was in scouts it was fine. You’re asking what should the policy be going forward? It should be left up to the leaders of the scouts.

BASH: Do you think that being gay is a choice?

WALKER: Oh, I mean I think―that’s not even an issue for me to be involved in. The bottom line is, I’m going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background. I’m going to fight for people and no matter whether they vote for me or not.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: On behalf of people is to do that properly you have to understand or at least have an opinion on who they are and where they’re coming from.

WALKER: But again, I think―no I don’t have an opinion on every single issue out there. I mean to me that’s―I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question.

So I’m just saying (INAUDIBLE) I don’t know what the answer to that is. And again I’m going to spend my time focused on things that I do know and what I can work on.

There is actually a lot going on in this exchange from CNN’s State of the Union, but the first thing to remember is that the questions come in a week when Boy Scout Leaders voted unanimously to approve a middling policy that lifts the formal ban on gay and bisexual employees and volunteers, reinvesting the question of discrimination at the troop level. Mr. Walker, apparently displeased with this turn of events, explained: “I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values.”

(more…)

A Downing Downer (Doobie Doo Double Down Downer D’oh! Mix)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in January, 2015. Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite.

Of all the ghosts that might haunt a would-be candidate, London is something of a heavy metaphorical monkey. And why not mix metaphors, since five months later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s trip abroad still haunts him:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says British Prime Minister David Cameron confided in him that he was concerned about the direction of American leadership. But there’s a problem with the Republican’s tidy critique of President Barack Obama: Cameron doesn’t remember it that way ....

“I heard that from David Cameron back in February earlier when we were over at 10 Downing,” Walker said. “I heard it from other leaders around the world. They’re looking around realizing this lead from behind mentality just doesn’t work. It’s just not working.” ....

As Zeke Miller makes clear for Time, while this sort of halfwitted pandering might or might not play in Deer Valley, it certainly didn’t impress Downing Street:

Walker, who has taken several trips overseas in recent months to study up on foreign policy in preparation for an all-but-certain presidential bid, told a roomful of Republican donors Friday that world leaders, including Cameron, are worried about the U.S. stepping back in the world. “The Prime Minister did not say that and does not think that,” a Downing Street spokesperson told TIME.

There is always something of a fun question, each cycle, about foreign leaders and to what degree they should involve themselves in our American elections. And the question certainly has its proper context. Still, though, it also seems an obvious and appropriate question: If you wish to drag Downing Street into an American electoral process, why do so in such a clumsy manner? After the Chatham gaffe, Mr. Walker seems prepared to double down on the D’oh!

Seriously, if one wishes to name drop a foreign government, at least do so in a way that doesn’t move them to publicly call bullshit.

Because, you know, really, it doesn’t do your foreign policy credentials any good to go out of your way to offend our nation’s international neighbors and partners.

Then again, this is Scott Walker.

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Image note: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), in January, 2015. Detail of photo by J. Scott Applewhite.

Miller, Zeke J. “British Leader to Scott Walker: I Never Dissed Obama”. Time. 12 June 2015.

Governor Scott “Forcible Insertion Is Cool” Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, 26 February 2015.  Photo by H. Darr Beiser, USA Today.

This is a basic difference:

Walker told Loesch that criticism he received about the ultrasound bill was merely an attack from the “gotcha” media, and that he was in fact just trying to provide women with “a cool thing.”

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” he said.

(Blue)

The question of how one advocates using force of law to insert foreign objects into a woman’s vagina for no medical purpose is beside the point.

Try that again: Using force of law to insert foreign objects into women’s vaginas. If this notion seems remotely appropriate to you?

Hello?

Governor Rapist Walker?

No, Governor, it is not cool.

This is not one of those things you should need reminding of.

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Blue, Miranda. “Scott Walker: Ultrasounds Should Be Mandatory Since They’re ‘A Cool Thing'”. Right Wing Watch. 26 May 2015.