So, It's the anniversary of the infamous fake Koch call, and last year we were getting our heads and our activism together for the long haul, much of which is now a reality of incredible progress, incredible success, incredible outrage, and incredible momentum to carry through with this passion for restoring the Wisconsin we recall.
It's also the anniversary of a personal awakening which I wrote about, but since I couldn't get any Wisconsin media outlets I had access to at the time interested, and didn't yet realize the power-house Kos would be to the Wisconsin cause, I dropped the story and hit the streets with the message - literally. There was too much work to be done.
I had become alarmed at the portent of findings I assembled to figure out how past events had converged in this outrage. I rather suddenly realized that the upcoming Supreme Court election would be key to just how hard our road ahead would be. We all know now that that road was tilted several more degrees against us with Prosser's re-election; that it was covered with slime and had a blind intersection where a truck from Waukesha with no brakes was set loose on us just as we reached safety at the first stop. But we marched ahead despite that wreck, and despite any and all obstacles thrown in our way.
So, as we reminisce over last year's latest outrage, let's look back from that time to what got us to that point. With slight updates of tense, here's what I wrote one year ago. Eat your cheese-curd on the way; you'll need the strength.
What happened in 2010 Wisconsin? I'll attempt to condense it for you as much as possible. It's a whole lot of sadness.Anniversary postnote:
First, the players:
On one side - Governor Jim Doyle (D), the Wisconsin Elections Board, (both of which can now be referred to as, "the former"), and us, the people, the (also now the former) Superbowl champ cheeseheads.
On the other side - Mark Green, Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the Club For Growth, Americans For Prosperity and their tea-brained minions, the National Rifle Association, our good buddies the Koch brothers - David and Charles, gay-bashers, gun-nuts and the end product of this disgusting assemblage of corrosive corporatism, the imperial Governor Scott Walker.
In 2006, while campaigning to unseat Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, U.S. Congressman (R-Wi-8) Mark Green was embroiled in a battle with the Wisconsin Elections Board. One year prior, Green had converted leftover federal campaign funds to his state race, but the Board blocked that conversion by retroactively applying a ruling, finalized one day after Green's conversion, against such conversions. Green filed suit in Wisconsin's Supreme Court, which obediently cleared the fund conversion, but only after he had already lost the election to incumbent Doyle by almost 8 points. Green then filed for dismissal of the case, but all holy hell of scorned Republicans had already broken loose by then.
Appointed to Wisconsin's Supreme Court in 1998 by Tommy Thompson, then elected to a 10 year term in 2001, David T. Prosser "reluctantly" concurred on the 2007 dismissal of Green v Wisconsin Elections Board, but used his opinion to denigrate both his own court and the Board, writing that the court "used every imaginable pretext to avoid making a decision", and even regarding their actions as antithetical to an 1856 decision (Bashford v Barstow) which flipped an election and removed an incumbent Governor from office following a disputed vote count. The implication for Green's unsuccessful bid to unseat Doyle inspired the outraged Wisconsin Republicans on towards vengeance.
WMC, a sort of Chamber of Commerce on steroids, has long meddled in Wisconsin politics, but came to loggerheads with the Wisconsin Elections Board in the mid 90's over issue ads targeting State Senate Democrats and Supreme Court justices, which gradually stacked that court with corporatists the likes of Prosser.
This conflict culminated in Prosser, the Elections Board, WMC and two of it's still unidentified corporate donors starring together in the 1999 blockbuster conflict-of-interest saga "Elections Board of the State of Wisconsin v WMC Issues Mobilization Council, Inc., ABC Corporation and XYZ Corporation", the decision of which accused the Board of a "violation of due process" and a "witch hunt" for "magic words" for contending that WMC was subject to regulation because their ads expressly advocated the defeat or re-election of legislators. The decision further notes, without question:"Respondent WMC Issues Mobilization Council, Inc., (IMC), is a non-stock, non-profit corporation which receives financial support from respondents ABC Corporation and XYZ Corporation. To protect their privacy, IMC has refused to name ABC and XYZ."In Prosser's opinion, he declares a level electoral playing field for both "deviant" citizens and "pure", though anonymous, ABC & XYZ type corporations by citing the First Amendment, thus reinforcing the democracy-devouring concept of corporate personhood (my emphasis):"The First Amendment is not what it used to be. It is fashionable today to protect deviant speech and expressive conduct. But pure speech which discusses public issues and public officials is vulnerable to the impulse for government regulation."Prosser joined in the dismissal of the suit, and thus dealt a fatal blow to regulation of powerful special interest groups in Wisconsin's elections, over 10 years before the landmark Citizens United debacle. We now know where that mutually beneficial arrangement has lead us, and that relationship will once again wreak havoc on our democracy before the trilliums blossom again in Wisconsin, unless progressives act quickly and decisively. You see, in less than six short weeks, Prosser's own re-election looms like a total eclipse over this once-progressive state of Fighting Bob LaFollette.
Following Green's solid defeat, over his next 4 year term Doyle was continuously demonized in a vengeful campaign of corporate retribution, with WMC now joined by the Wisconsin chapter of Club For Growth, the Kochs ill-gotten fortunes via Americans For Prosperity, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and fueled further by the psychopathic outrage ginned up over the defeat of the NRA's lie-fueled campaign to turn Wisconsin into a conceal-and-carry Mecca for gun "enthusiasts". Doyle's opposition to re-defining marriage to exclude same-sex partners also set the homophobes to drooling for Doyle's demise. They passed it anyway in a Constitutional referendum.
Prosser's less-than-subliminal suggestion of forcibly removing Doyle from office in his 2007 "opinion" was never lost on any of these conservative muckrakers and meddlers, who showed their concurrence in spades for the 2010 election, in which any Democratic candidate (it was Milwaukee Hero Mayor Tom Barrett in this case) would be incessantly depicted in an onslaught of corporate-funded "issue" ads as the protégé of the despicable, cheating, gun-hating, gay-loving Doyle.
And who's Walker? Doesn't matter. Insert any corporate stooge here, but it's Walker who won by 5 points. And we lost Feingold in the melee. And the whole legislature. The Elections Board is gone now too, bashed beyond repair by their defeats at the hands of WMC's hand-picked Supreme Court, their elections oversight duties now folded into the Government Accountability Board along with the former Ethics Board, so the same agency that oversees elections can oversee its' own ethics. Yet the retribution isn't consummated without tearing down the last bastion of democracy we have left, the unions.
And while we fill the streets daily, Prosser's election swoops in quietly like a vampire bat, waiting for progressives to tire and rest after their latest ordeal, and take it's next meal from democracy.
Progressives here would deeply appreciate any help in promoting the opposition to Prosser, but I don't even see a donation page yet. We are sooooo screwed.
But we did rise up and fight on; oh man, did we ever! And Prosser, Walker, Koch, WMC, et al have all kicked us back again, so we come back even stronger - every day stronger.
Forward! But look back once in awhile just to refresh the outrage.