Monday, January 30, 2012

The Walker Nixon Connection Grows

Maybe it's a psychic (or perhaps psychotic) event but Scott Walker is channeling Richard Nixon as reported in the Isthmus:
"With new arrests every week, the FBI probe of Scott Walker's closest aides and supporters is continually uncovering stories that would be front-page news in any other political era. How strained are things around the governor's mansion, where Walker's own spokesman, Cullen Werwie, now has immunity in the FBI probe? No wonder the governor says he wants to hurry up the recall election. So serious are the charges against some of the people closest to Walker, corruption is rapidly becoming a major issue for the coming recall campaign, eclipsing union-busting, budget-cutting, and the fact that, despite massive corporate tax breaks for "job creators," our state continues to hemorrhage jobs. But stealing money from the widows and orphans of Wisconsin's fallen soldiers? That is truly a new low. Obviously, Walker's base isn't going to be too psyched about the child-enticement scandal involving longtime Walker aide Tim Russell and partner Brian Pierick — or the fact that they used Walker's name as a handle on Internet porn sites. But the sociopathic theft of funds intended to help veterans and their families is a much bigger deal, and fits a larger pattern of corruption that could really hurt Walker. "
"The drip, drip, drip of Milwaukee County's investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's old office turned into a stream last week as two of the former county exec's appointees were booked on an embezzlement rap and another man on sex crime allegations. Given that the district attorney indicated there likely will be more — maybe many more — hearings, witnesses, grants of immunity, charges and all the other sundry unpleasantness of honest-to-goodness political scandal, we're really lacking only one thing. This baby needs a name. I say this not just because something short and catchy will provide journalists with a serviceable descriptive replacement for what UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden said is fast becoming "a complicated web of activities involving charities, sex abuse, pro-Walker websites and travel." But also because without one, its complexity and duration threaten to outstrip the grasp of our short attention spans, leaving the guilty with a better shot at spinning the facts to their favor and avoiding political consequences. So I put out a call last week for nominations, and let me tell you, we've got some work to do. The most popular suggestion by far was "Walkergate." Even Madison state Rep. Brett Hulsey — a consummate Walker-basher on social media and one of the most energetic state Democrats I know — was a fan. "The Walkergate label seems to apply ... because we all want to know, 'What did Walker know and when did he know it?'" he said."
Anyone of a certain age cannot help but be intrigued.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Billy Bragg & Wilco - All You Fascists

Some Saturday night music for those who have had enough.

MLK Day In Fitzwalkerstan

A couple of videos to give some flavor of the surreal aspects of life in our beloved state. I heard the live broadcast on WORT and was gobsmacked at the time. Meanwhile Scotty seems to be on his way to becoming the Wisconsin Nixon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Which Side Are You On Wisconsin?

The Walker wind machine, well oiled with corporate money, begins its onslaught against the public interest. Care2 make a difference puts the corporate media's latest attempt at manipulation in perspective:
"As the recall campaigns in Wisconsin turn to the second phase–the actual election– new polling shows Republicans in the state still hold a slight advantage with Gov. Scott Walker leading several possible Democratic challengers. The poll numbers are not new, nor do they reflect any changing landscape in Wisconsin. But they will get a lot of attention. For starters, they show the truth in the old political adage of “you don’t beat somebody with nobody”. Walker currently polls better than possible democratic challengers, but close enough that should any of those “possible” challengers turn into actual challengers the governor is in for a race. The poll numbers also ignore the fact that one of the big stories in Wisconsin is not simply the possibility that Walker gets recalled. Sure, that would be fantastic. But in the meantime, Democrats in the state are building one of the most organized and up-to-date voter rolls leading into the 2012 elections. And lets not forget the millions Walker and Republicans have been forced to raise, and spend, during a time when they should be padding war chests for 2012. My point is this. Whether or not Walker actually loses in a recall election is not the determining factor of whether or not the recall campaign is a success. Wisconsin is the flashpoint in a movement against an encroaching plutocracy that will not be pushed back in one state with the recall of one governor. Republicans know this and will do anything to drive the narrative into one of inevitable defeat and failure. Plain and simple, don’t believe the hype."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Henry Kissinger's Latest Gig

The latest event by the guy who bombed Cambodia and deposed a democratically elected government in Chile should not be a surprise but still gives a new take on what it is to be a mercenary. The Moscow News elaborates:
"Henry Kissinger, the grand old man of American realpolitik, has stepped into the growing breach in Russian-U.S. relations, holding a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the White House in Moscow on Friday. The two men, who are “old friends” and have met eight or 10 times since the early 1990s, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, talked over Russian-U.S. relations and “a range of global issues..... Kissinger, a former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has acted as a semiofficial go-between between U.S. presidents and world leaders over the decades. He has held talks with every Russian leader since Brezhnev. A day before the meeting with Putin, Kissinger met with beleaguered U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul – who provoked controversy by meeting with opposition protest leaders on his second working day in the Russian capital. McFaul wrote on his blog Thursday that Kissinger was “back in Moscow to continue the kind of strategic dialogue with the Russian government that is so important to our partnership.” The American Embassy in Moscow did not respond to e-mailed questions to McFaul about his talks with Kissinger by press time Monday. Also on Friday, Kissinger spoke to a group of Sberbank’s board members and leading customers in Moscow. Kissinger spoke about the need for Russia and the U.S. to cooperate in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons – particularly in North Korea and Pakistan, Sberbank’s website reported. “Kissinger regularly plays the role of elder statesman to ensure smooth relations between the U.S. and countries with which it is unlikely ever to have a close, friendly relationship but with which it wants to maintain a cooperative relationship,” Chris Weafer, chief strategist at investment bank Troika Dialog, told The Moscow News on Monday. “China and Russia are the two most important countries on that list currently.”
Which explains a lot about where we are at with our relations with rest of the world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unemployment As a Form of Slavery

The dismal unemployment rate of African-American men in Milwaukee has hit a historical nadir according to a study by a University of Wisconsin Milwaukee report. As per the Milwaukee Journal:
"According to the UWM analysis of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, only 44.7% of the area's working-age black males ages 16 to 64 were employed in 2010, which is "the lowest level in metro Milwaukee ever recorded in census data." Only two of the nation's 40 largest metro areas analyzed in the study - Buffalo and Detroit - reported lower black male employment rates in 2010 than Milwaukee. "No metro area has witnessed more precipitous erosion in the labor market for black males over the past 40 years than has Milwaukee," according to the report, which echoed findings in recent years by the Journal Sentinel. "The 2010 data, however, revealed a new nadir for black male employment in Milwaukee."
Which is a weird way of saying the unemployment rate among Black men is 55.3%. It would also be enlightening to know the percentage of Black men who have the right to vote in Milwaukee.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

American Presidential Elections Pseudo-Events?

The American political pseudo event known as the election cycle continues with Gingrich's apparent victory in South Carolina. The Republican party continues it's lock on the Angry, Old, Rich, White, Guy part of electorate while evading any meaningful discussion of reality in America with the exception of occasional lapses of lucidity from Ron Paul and the even more coherent and ignored Buddy Roemer. Currently I am reading Chris Hedges'"The World As It Is, Dispatches On The Myth Of Human Progress". He makes reference to pseudo events and "junk politics" which aptly describe the current state of what passes for political discourse in a declining empire. I thought the following passage was worth passing on :
""Pseudo-events--dramatic events orchestrated by publicists, political machines, television, Hollywood, or advertisers--however, are very different. They have, as Daniel Boorstin wrote in his book "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America", the capacity to appear real even though we know they are staged. They are capable, because they can evoke a powerful emotional response, of overwhelming reality and replacing it with a fictional narrative that often becomes accepted truth....Reporters, especially those on television, no longer ask whether the message is true but whether the pseudo-event worked or did not work as political as political theater. Pseudo-events are judged on how effectively we have been manipulated by illusion."
Bear in mind every time you watch television it pseudovision 24/7.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

RotFront - Sovietoblaster

It's Saturday night, time to turn on the Sovietoblaster.

Red Elvises "Cosmonaut Petrov"

Fitzwalkerstan's Slide Into Oblivion Continues

In the same week which saw petitions with over a million signatures calling for the recall of the corporate tool known as Scott Walker, new job loss statistics painted a bleak picture of ongoing job loss in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal explains:
"According to data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development, the state lost an estimated 3,900 jobs in the private sector in December from November. In the same month, the United States gained an estimated 212,000 jobs, outstripping expectations of most economists and raising hopes that employers are gaining confidence at the national level."
The chart above, courtesy of BadgerStat, rather starkly depicts the reality of "job creation" under the Walker administration.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Scott Walker's Latest PR Triumph

I couldn't resist this latest Walker public relations fiasco relating to this now hastily removed billboard overlooking what could just about any abandoned industrial lot in Wisconsin. As reported by Wonkette:
"Some unintentional American Heroes of comedy placed one of a series of billboards touting the jerb creation skillz of Wisconsin’s Kochgobbler governor Scott Walker directly in front of a shuttered GM factory that sent 10,000 people to the unemployment line. It’s such an apt visual, seeing his fat head up there surveying the landscape of other peoples’ misery with a weaselly, self-satisfied grin. And how is the whole job creation process going in Wisconsin these days? “In every month since June, the state has lost jobs both overall and in the private sector,” according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Has everyone in Wisconsin remembered to sign the recall Walker petition yet? They’re due next week! The billboard has already come down, boo, after the pro-Walker group that sponsored it heard that the Internet was making fun. Oh well, it could not really get much worse for Scott Walker anyway, who is so hated in Wisconsin that he’s been forced to exile himself from his own state to go beg evil factions in the rest of the country to give him money to support his villainy. From the AP: State law allows those targeted for a recall to ignore normal campaign donation limits until the recall election is set. Walker reported raising more than $5 million as of mid-December, with roughly half coming from outside Wisconsin, and has been traveling the country seeking donations. He was in Texas on Thursday speaking at a conservative legislative forum. Ha ha, shouldn’t Texas have to keep Scott Walker, if they are buying him? "
Texas would be a fitting place no doubt.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Scott Walker; Unindicted far

From Daily Kos:
GOV. WALKER ACCUSED OF OVER 1,000 VIOLATIONS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW, COULD FACE $557,500 FINE By Scott Keyes on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm "Wisconsin law requires gubernatorial campaigns to disclose information about contributors who give more than $100. Again and again, Walker appears to have skirted that requirement. One Wisconsin Now examined the Walker for Governor’s finance records and found 1,115 instances where the campaign received contributions of more than $100 but did not properly disclose who gave the money. In total, “Walker has improperly reported well over $500,000 in contributions from inside and outside of Wisconsin,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. According to the group, which has filed a complaint with the state Government Accountability Board, Walker’s violations could result in a fine of $557,500"
If it were not for the fact the state's judicial system was not already corrupted beyond repair we might hope some redress from our local tyranny.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Russian Urban Exploring

Lana Sator has a blog dedicated to forgotten, never finished, and other military objects in modern day Russia.

Devo - Beautiful World

It's a beautiful day in Fitzwalkerstan.

Economic Inequality Then and Now

Just finished Louis Adamic's 1934 classic on class violence in America, Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence In America, and was struck by the relevance of his observations made almost 80 years ago:
"The humanistic or social interests of the country have been fighting a feud with Big Business for seven or eight decades.Occasionally the social will gets worked up and acting through political parties and the Government, imposes itself upon business and makes it behave, or tries to make it behave, at least for a little while, until business , with its single minded purpose, finds a way to rid itself of social control..... Society must always compel business to function for the social good, and not only for the social good but for the good of business itself. Business would have ruined itself and the country long ago , were it not for occasional spurts of social action to curb it."
This could have just as easily been written anytime in the past 4 or forty years. It also sheds some light on the origins of anti government rhetoric so popular on the Right and emanating from Corporate sources. Even in 1934 Adamic recognized the potential for catastrophe Corporate interests represented:
"They control, it is safe to say, every important process of the country's economic activity and, therby, directly or indirectly influence every other phase of our national life. Indeed, every now and then they threaten, with their enormous money power , to gain full sway over the Government and overcome the social will."
Very insightful reading considering it predates rampant globalization, the rise of the transnational Corporate entity, media concentration, the Koch brothers, Citizens United, and all the other more modern aspects of unrestrained capitalism.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Russia’s Smouldering 'White Revolution'

People keep asking me about the so-called "White Revolution" in Russia. If it really represents the incredibly diverse Russian public opinion it will still be unpalatable to Western Corporate Oligarchies. Nicola N. Petro gives a breakdown of the forces in Russia propelling a movement with unpredictable outcomes:
"Five groups of the protest movement As presently constituted, the protest movement can be divided into roughly five groups: (1) The most popular group consists of artists, poets, television personalities, writers, and journalists. People like Artemy Troitsky, who came to the last rally dressed as a condom, Leonid Parfyonov, Boris Akunin, Dmitry Bykov, Olga Romanova, singer Alexei Kortnev, and socialite Kseniya Sobchak. They all make it a point, however, to declare that they are 'non-political,' that their concern is to give the nation back its 'moral voice.' 2) Another large group at these protests have been Russian nationalists like Vladimir Tor, and 'true communists' like Sergei Udaltsov. Udaltsov, a scion of the Old Bolshevik elite—one of Moscow’s streets is named after his great-grandfather—parted ways with other communist organizations when the failed to adequately reflect, in his view, worker’s interests. His latest project, the Russian United Labor Front--Left Front, also objects to mere party politics and calls for power to be transferred directly to the working masses. Tor, on the other hand, is one of the perennial leaders of the right wing 'Russian March,' which also counts blogger Alexei Navalny among its participants.[3] He also abjures the divisive term 'party politics', preferring to speak on behalf of the whole Russian nation. While many at Sakharov Square might wish to distance the protests from his appeal 'Russia for Russians,' as Tor pointed in his address to the crowd, the nationalist protesters in Manezh square in Moscow who battled riot police last February share one important bond with the current protests--an uncompromising hostility to political authority. 'Without the heroes of Manezh,' Tor reminded the audience, 'there would never have been a Bolotnaya.'[4] (3) Smaller in number, but much better known, are the perennial leaders of the Old Opposition, figures like Vladimir Ryzhkov, Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov, Garry Kasparov, and Grigory Yavlinsky. While some have worked in the government, they have all publicly broken with Putin, and now demand that the entire political system be reconstituted. Their personal ambitions have prevented them from agreeing on a common political strategy, much less a joint list of candidates. As a result, while theoretically they could represent the beginnings of a political opposition, in practice they have placed themselves at a safe remove from the political process. NAvalny_Sakharov_square_meeting The blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny was released from prison on 20 Dec, four days before the Moscow rally. He was jailed for 15 days for marching in one of the previous unsanctioned opposition protests. ‘I see enough people here to take the Kremlin and the White House right now, but we are a peaceful force,’ Alexei Navalny told the crowd. (Photo: drugoi.livejournal) (4) A fourth group is one I call the new Internet Opposition. It is composed of people like Alexei Navalny, Evgenia Chirikova, Grigory Melkonyants, and Ilya Yashin, who have developed a core following among Russia’s rapidly burgeoning internet community. Navalny is the most charismatic of this group. He has made clear that he considers himself a politician, and that he will run for office (under a different system). For now, however, his political views are hard to pin down. He is all things to all people, refusing, for example, to even discuss whether a (hypothetical) political party he might lead would be on the left or the right side of the political spectrum.[5] With the exception of Navalny and Yashin, who were once active in Yabloko (Navalny also served briefly as an advisor to Belykh in Kirov), their rise to prominence has been largely due to persecution by the authorities and devotion for a single cause, be it corruption, the environment, or election monitoring. Their persecution has garnered them “street cred,” but not much else. Some in the Old Opposition thinks these youngsters look to them for guidance, and that they will ride into political office on the latter’s coat tails. I very much doubt it. (5) The latest addition to protest movement are individuals who have been part of, or directly benefited from, the Putin regime but have since abandoned it. They include former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, and “A Just Russia” deputy Ilya Ponomarev. While they too reject the Old Opposition and share the values of the Internet Opposition, at the last two mass rallies they were met by resounding disapproval. Prokhorov, for example, chose not to address the crowd in Sakharov Square after being hectored by shouts of “Go back to Courchevel”—the Swiss ski resort favoured by Russian nouveau riches. The crowd’s antipathy to individuals with practical political experience are once again on full display here. Thus, by default, the government retains the sole practical political agenda and, as such, its dominance is unassailable. It can easily afford to wait for opposition leaders to devour each other as they have so often in the past. It can then step in to co-opt the best and the brightest by giving them the opportunity to apply themselves in the only meaningful political game in town. ‘… the government retains the sole practical political agenda and, as such, its dominance is unassailable. It can easily afford to wait for opposition leaders to devour each other as they have so often in the past."