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22 February 2012

FollowUp 14: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

Behind Governor Scott Walker and the reason that he might survive a recall election is billionaire David Koch.  Stacey Singer, a report for The Palm Beach Post, was granted a rare interview.  The entire interview is interesting.  Where it applies to Wisconsin, even more so.

David and Charles Koch fund Americans for Prosperity, working to stop the Affordable Patient Care Act and shift society to the ideals of Ayn Rand.
Asked about his efforts to sway public opinion, Koch acknowledges his group is hard at work in places such as Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker is facing off with public unions and grappling with a likely recall vote.
"We're helping him, as we should. We've gotten pretty good at this over the years," he says. "We've spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We're going to spend more."
By "we" he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an "It's working" television ad buy in the state. It credits Walker's public pension and union overhaul with giving school districts the first surpluses they've seen in years. The unions and the left see things differently.
The ads are being run mostly in Northern Wisconsin, an area that is more conservative.  The strategy is to get out the vote as opposed to swaying people from what they already believe.  Those seeking to replace the Governor had best be turning out their supporters if they want to be successful.

The bit about school districts seeing surpluses is a lie.  Assuming that union-busting and pension-busting would result in more funds for school districts, contracts tend to be for two or three years depending upon the school district.  Many school districts that were scheduled to negotiate new contracts accelerated their negotiations last year.  So, most school districts have not been affected by the changes yet.  Americans for Prosperity talks about this as one of their several lies about how well Wisconsin is doing.

I understand that the ads credit Governor Walker for digging Wisconsin out of a debt left by former Governor Jim Doyle.  There are three problems with this:  first, Governor Doyle cut back on state spending, after huge debt from his predecessors, Republicans Tommy Thompson and Scott McCallum; second, there was no appreciable debt when Governor Doyle left office; third, Wisconsin is in debt now, thanks to the loss of tax revenue put in place by Governor Walker.
A year ago, a blogger posing as David Koch famously prank-called Walker and goaded the governor to say it would be "outstanding" if Koch would fly him to "Cali" as a reward for crushing the public unions. The Koch brothers' conglomerate, Koch Industries, holds regular political meetings in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and the events have attracted the likes of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
At the time of the prank call, Koch told The New York Times, he didn't even know the Wisconsin governor's name. He knows it now.
"What Scott Walker is doing with the public unions in Wisconsin is critically important. He's an impressive guy and he's very courageous," Koch says after a benefit dinner of salmon and white wine. "If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power."
Mr. Koch holds a great deal of antipathy towards unions.  According to the interview, this is largely based on his father's conservative anti-communist values.
David Koch says his father had no idea who the Bolsheviks were when they first came to his west Texas office asking for his help. Once Fred Koch saw the horrors of Stalin's purges, he was committed to fighting communism's spread. Trade unionism and the welfare state represented a creeping, insidious move toward the Bolsheviks, he believed. He became a founding member of the anticommunist John Birch Society in 1958.
"My dad was a great man. People loved him. I mean they loved him," David Koch says, a far-off look in his eyes. "He was like John Wayne. Just like John Wayne."
I had wondered about the connections between the modern conservative movement, the shift to government controlling details of our lives in the Bircher style, and the McCarthy era paranoia.  Apparently this is a real connection.  Funding Americans for Prosperity and various Tea Party functions is easy when their corporate annual profit is around $100 billion.  Progressives and Wisconsin Democrats in particular had best be gearing up because the Koch brothers are not slowing down.

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.
4 December 2011, FollowUp 2.
11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.
15 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.

6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.
11 April 2012, FollowUp 22.
14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.
13 May 2012, FollowUp 30.
23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.
2 June 2012, FollowUp 34.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.

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