Monthly Archives: February 2011

For Whom The Bill Toils

While the eyes of the world were focused on Madison, Wisconsin. OK: the eyes of the nation. The eyes of the world were looking at Libya. While the eyes of a lot of people were focused on Tea Party Governor Scott Walker’s bill to strip collective bargaining rights, and in his own words from this afternoon’s press conference, cut “$165 million” from the state’s budget (these days, $165 million barely gets you a bridge), a prominent Wisconsonian and a Wisconsin native, gone to Delaware to git himself rich and moved to Wyoming to become a fake cowboy, were featured speakers at that “grass roots” Tea Party Patriots “Summit” in Phoenix, Arizona over the weekend.

And, to clear up any confusion about a Fox News reporter named “Eric O’Keefe” here’s a picture of the OTHER Eric O’Keefe, speaking in Phoenix:

Eric O’Keefe, Sam Adams Alliance Chair, Director
Wisconsin Club for Growth, Citizens in Charge, etc.

And why is that important?

Because you can  slap a name on a letterhead, fill out the paperwork, get a couple buddies to agree to serve on the board, and then, when you’ve got your 501 (c) (3) status, you can accept “charitable” donations and your donors can stick Uncle Sam with the bill as a tax deduction. And, when you’ve twinned your Hydra’s head, and gotten your 501 (c) (4) you can spend as much cash on political campaigns as you like without ever having to disclose your donors. Continue reading

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Hyperbolic Parables for the Weekend 2

As ended Hyperbolic Parables for the Weekend:

Parable the Second: The British are Coming! Oh, wait.

Once upon a time, I went to Philadelphia, and I couldn’t sleep. I took a walk, and, blogging from the “guest” computer by the check-in desk in the wee hours of the morning, I wrote …

Flag at Independence Hall, Philadelphia
(photos: Hart Williams)

3 AM In Philadelphia

July 16, 2008
Continue reading

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Wisconsin Money Slush: O’Keefe and Jacob to Kliesmet

If you live in Wisconsin, you’re probably familiar with a fellow by the name of Chris Kliesmet.

Scott Walker and Chris Kliesmet from CRG Network
October 4, 2009

But I don’t live in Wisconsin. I live in Oregon. And my relatives live in Nebraska, and in October of 2006, we all learned WHO Chris Kliesmet was.

I didn’t intend to find this story. It literally fell into my lap, as I was checking the tax returns of Wisconsin Club for Growth Inc. (WCFG), which I’ve talked about at length (“Who Is Behind Wisconsin Club For Growth?” and “” among others in the past week.) But this was what dropped into my lap, as did my jaw when I saw it, the 2009 Wisconsin Club For Growth, Inc. tax return:

Wisc Club for Growth INC 990 for 2009

Now, why would that $126,500 grant to Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG) cause slack-jawed astonishment? Why?

Well, perhaps because I’ve covered the two (of the six people* involved in this transaction before), UNDER ENTIRELY DIFFERENT NAMES as “giver” to “receiver.” Continue reading

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Hyperbolic Parables for the Weekend

We’ll get back to this five-year continuing investigation of the Koch Machine in a moment. But first, some short parables that might be helpful in processing all that I’ve told you and all that I’m going to tell you. Besides, it works better than “Parabolic Hyperboles for the Weekday.”

Monument Valley

The First Parable: Monument Valley National Park

Once upon a time, my wife and I ventured in our Western travels to see Monument Valley, that place made legendary by a gazillion John Ford/John Wayne westerns as “THE ARCHETYPAL WEST,” so much so that you couldn’t film a car commercial for many years, and in some cases to this very day, without putting Monument Valley in the background. Continue reading

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Things Go Badder With Koch™

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Citizens Club for Sam Adams in Charge of Growth Alliance, Wisconsin.

I realize that I’ve jumbled three separate groups into one long unwieldy name, but it’s accurate when you realize that it’s all the same people in all the same groups.

Let me show you pictorially what I mean:

Michelle Malkin, Paul Jacob, Joe The Plumber, Sammies, 2009

Here’s deadly alien arachnid life form Michelle Malkin, Citizens in Charge President (for life, self-appointed) Paul Jacob and Joe the Wurtzelbacher Not-Licensed-as-a-Plumber from 2009′s “Sammies” Awards put on by the Sam Adams Alliance, and its President/CEO/Chairman (for life, self-appointed) Eric O’Keefe, who happens to be a founding member of both Citizens In Charge, and the Club for Growth, not to mention Club for Growth, Wisconsin.

Jacob was receiving his “lietime”* achievement award, and Malkin and the Plumber were paid headliners, advertised to boost ticket sales.

[* Note from proofreader: this is a typo, but it's too good to correct.]

It’s only appropriate that Eric O’Keefe’s organization would give a “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Jacob, considering that it was O’Keefe who hired him in the first place. here, in his own words, Paul Jacob: Continue reading

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Ripped from Today’s Headlines

The New York Times has an interesting editorial on tap today. It says, in part [emphasis added]:

EDITORIAL

Spreading Anti-Union Agenda
Published: February 22, 2011

… Conservative leaders in most states with strong unions have in the past generally made accommodations with organized labor, often winning support on social issues in return. That changed this year after wealthy conservatives poured tens of millions of dollars into the election campaigns of hard-right candidates like Mr. Kasich and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

As Eric Lipton reported in The Times on Tuesday, the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who have long been staunch union opponents, were among the biggest contributors to Mr. Walker. (Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group financed by the Kochs, will begin running anti-union broadcast ads in Wisconsin in the next few days.)

Some public sector unions have contracts and benefits that are too rich for these times, but even when they have made concessions, Republican officials have kept up the attack. The Republicans’ claim to be acting on behalf of taxpayers is not believable.

In Wisconsin, union leaders agreed to concessions requested by Mr. Walker: to pay nearly 6 percent of their wages for pension costs, up from nearly zero, and double payments for health insurance. At that point, most governors would declare victory and move on. Instead, Mr. Walker has rejected union concessions and won’t even negotiate. His true priority is stripping workers of collective-bargaining rights and reducing their unions to a shell. The unions would no longer be able to raise money to oppose him, as they did in last year’s election, easing the way for future Republicans as well.

The game is up when unionized state workers demonstrate a sense of shared sacrifice but Republican lawmakers won’t even allow them a seat at the table. For unions and Democrats in the Midwest, this is an existential struggle, and it is one worth waging.

Which is fine, as far as it goes. But the following email was forwarded to me, from Eric Odom, who started the first “Tea Party ” website on the same day that Rick Santelli made his now-infamous rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for CNBC. Odom was then IT (or “new media”) chief for the Sam Adams Alliance, also in Chicago, and worked directly under Eric O’Keefe, about whom the last two blogs covered. The letter:
Continue reading

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Who Is Behind Wisconsin Club For Growth?

I told you last blog “(“, 20 Feb.), but that’s OK. I didn’t put the pieces together until I watched this clip on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show last night:

note to email recipients: if this video doesn’t show up,
pls. go to YouTube to watch it, or this blog post.

Note particularly — in between the description of the fundamental betrayal of democratic process State Rep. Gordon Hintz outlines in entirely justifiable outrage — his references to Club For Growth, which he has “never heard of before.”

Which is as they want it to be. Let me give you some objective evidence: Continue reading

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Water, Tea or Koch?

Before yesterday, nobody outside of Wisconsin had ever heard of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. Few INSIDE Wisconsin had.

Why a Wisconsin “think tank” would use as their logo
the postal abbreviation for Michigan is anybody’s guess

But, in the Great Cheddar Rebellion of 2011, they provided the “look over there!” moment for the flying monkey corps. (None of which, being outside Wisconsin, had ever heard of the MacIver Institute, either.)

Which isn’t that surprising. They were only founded in lat May of 2008, using the standard “State Policy Think-Tank” model, written by Kurt Weber, and quietly franchised via the Cato Institute until there is an affiliated “Policy Institute” in virtually every state in the Union, almost always coincidentally pushing the Koch agenda in those states with an initiative process, and other things in states without. There is the Maine Policy Institute, who was accused of illegal politicking in 2006, but had charges dismissed, as they are in every state, and at the Federal level as a matter of routine. Were they breaking the law? Surely. Would anyone ENFORCE it? Never. Continue reading

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Cheese Whizz, or The Empire Strikes Back

John Fund opens his Greco-Roman wrestling in the Wall Street Urinal today with this astonishingly dumb formulation: “Who’s in charge of our political system—voters or unions?”

OK: Is it dumb, or is it evil? (Recall Occam’s Dull Razor: Never ascribe to evil what stupidity will explain just as well.)  The implication is that unions are NOT composed of voters, that they are anti-democratic and somehow bullying our “political system.” Continue reading

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Haley the Barbourian and the Invisible Empire, Revisited

Note: This originally appeared on April 12, 2010, but has become timely again. Barbour’s been  in the news again for cozying up to the KKK element again.

Haley Barbour’s silence speaks volumes
By Eugene Robinson
Friday, February 18, 2011; 12:00 AM

Does Haley Barbour really have a warped and offensive view of America’s racial history? Or is he just playing a dangerous game?

Perhaps both.

The Mississippi governor, considered a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, keeps displaying what appears to be an astonishing level of ignorance about our nearly 400-year struggle with issues of race. At this point, it’s more than a pattern. It’s either a pathology or a plan.

The latest outrage – and I don’t use that word lightly – came Tuesday, when Barbour was asked to comment on a proposal for a state license plate honoring one of the most notorious figures of the Civil War era, Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. I question whether any Confederate officer is worthy of such recognition, given that they were all committing treason. But even for the Sons of Confederate Veterans – the group proposing the license plate – Forrest should be an embarrassment.

h/t to magii, who gave me the tip that started this posting

“Haley the Barbourian and the Invisible Empire” is NOT a story by Robert E. Howard, unfortunately, but a real live narrative that came to light yesterday when Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, former Chair of the RNC and former constituent of Sen. Trent Lott, (R, Miss.) decided to trivialize the national outrage over Virginia Governor Johnny T. Secesh’s proclamation of “Confederate History Month” minus any reference to slavery.

Continue reading

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Reverse Engineering the GOP Platform

I subscribe to Vanity Fair. In fact, it’s the only magazine that I do subscribe to, which probably indicates to a vast unschooled male population that I’m gay. Au contraire, mon frères. You’d think that as a former editor of Hustler, Players, Adam, Velvet, Video X, etcetera, that I’d at least subscribe to Playboy. Nope. When they decided on their faux-feminist Cynthia Heimlich maneuver, they lost me. I don’t pay to be insulted. (Those of you who decry talk radio and Faux Nooz ought to consider the wisdom of such a policy.)

At one time, Playboy was the best magazine in America: best writers, best artists, generally after looking at the airbrushed pictures. And, in the early ’90s, under the editorship of the increasingly creepy Tina Brown, Vanity Fair was the best magazine in America. Snagged Annie Leibovitz from Rolling Stone. Best writers. Etc. But, a taste that I acquired not from multiple wives, but from my gay friends in Hollywood, I loves me the fashion stuff, and after ignoring Hitchens, I still find it a monthly fix.

You can tell a lot about the life of a culture by its style, and its “elite parties” and its fascination with wealth and crime.

And, one of the staples of VF, going back as far as I can remember in this, its second incarnation — VF was big in the 1920s before being shut down, and reincarnated decades later in its current form — has been the “Proust Questionairre” on the back page, wherein some famed celebrity of the Vanity Fairian demographic takes the Proust Questionairre, accompanied by a photograph or artistic illustration of said celebrity. It comes from a popular questionnaire of the 19th Century, and was said to reveal one’s true character. (You can take VF’s version HERE, and compare your answers to famous celebrities. I don’t know about infamous celebrities, however.)

This month’s Questioneer? The Grand Old Party. Continue reading

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