Monthly Archives: March 2012

Welcome to Salem or Joe McCarthy Redux

Ssssshhhhh! Evwebody be veh-we, veh-we quiet. We’re huntin’ some wascawe witches. They signed a wecaw petition so we know exactwe where they wiv!

A mob of Elmer Fudds has gathered with pitchforks and torches, intent on hunting down, shaming, exposing, and otherwise intimidating as many people as possible that they can identify on any recall petition.

[Note to mob: signing a recall petition is not a partisan activity. The recall petition is merely a document the signing of which makes possible the recall of a public official by the citizens of this state through the exercise of a constitutional right. It’s not based on a political “party” and therefore is not party-san – get it? If you still don’t understand, Mrs. Higgins wants a word with you]

I saw this coming. As soon as the GAB announced it would post copies of the petitions online, I knew – because Walker supporters tend to be ignorant, violent show a bigoted lockstep mindset that would make Hitler envious (Seig heil!) – that it would be open season on anyone who had the temerity to exercise a constitutional right. [And no – before anybody starts, I am NOT comparing Walker to Hitler. Walker’s not that smart. I’m only talking about mindless followers.]

Walker supporters had already demonstrated their capacity for blind hatred, through foul language, bullying, and criminal behavior including assaulting recall volunteers and vandalism.

So I knew that they would love to have access to names and addresses.

But it didn’t have to be facilitated by the state.

So, when I learned the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) had posted the signed petitions on its website, I wrote the director of the GAB:

Walker supporters who oppose the recalls are doing everything possible to intimidate and harass those who support the recall (including assaults and death threats) as has been documented in numerous incidents around the state. You are making it easier for them to do so. You also will make people think twice about signing anything in the future.

As a public servant and in light of your responsibilities, you should be doing everything possible to protect the public and the process, not harm them. Your “practice” harms both, which is especially offensive because you are doing it voluntarily, on your own initiative.

The law allows the public to ask to examine, inspect, and copy public records upon request. The law does NOT require the records to be available 24/7 or without a request.

I ask you to respect all of us and comply with all portions of the open record law – including requiring a request be made to examine the record – and applying the balancing test before releasing the record. And I ask you to remove the online versions.

Kennedy refused.

I wrote again:

On Facebook, someone has started a page called: “I Will Be Getting Your Info off the Recall Petition,” complete with a picture of a burning home.!/pages/I-Will-Be-Getting-Your-Info-Off-the-Recall-Petition/176773262429358

The first comment? “Crazy right wingers know where you live. Imagine the possibilities!”

People were already getting death threats and being verbally and physically assaulted – including rocks thrown through windows.

Why in the world do you want to expose people to more harm? You may not care about that – but I hope you at least care about the potential liability of your agency.

He still refused.

I wrote again:

And here’s another comment posted by “I Will Be Getting Your Info Off the Recall Petition” on his facebook page:

You know who you are. WE know who you are. This is gonna get FUN!!!/pages/I-Will-Be-Getting-Your-Info-Off-the-Recall-Petition/176773262429358

I again ask you to change your practice and not put the petitions online.

He still refused. That was in January.

Enter “Verify the Recall,” an effort by “Skew the Vote,” “We the Wingnuts of the Republic,” and “Wisconsin Grandsons of the KKK.” (They call themselves True The Vote, We the People of the Republic, and Wisconsin GrandSons of Liberty, but learn anything about them and you’ll agree with me.)

In a group effort by thousands of (crazy, insane, obsessed, deluded) people around the country who were concerned about the fraud committed by thousands of union thug Wisconsinites (because no way would they ever get enough real signatures), they took the information from the GAB website and made it their own. Only better. Their online version was searchable.

And thus the hunt began.

Individuals, public officials, public employees, judges, employees of newspapers and television: anyone is a possible victim. Why? Because under the guise of “transparency” the witch hunters are launching a rabid attack against those who dared disagree with them.

Of course “Verify the Recall” says this is about “transparency” not intimidation.

Right. And Walker says he likes teachers.

But I say, look for yourself. Take a gander at the VTR facebook page. Some of the “transparent” posts are copied below.

So you be the judge. And jury. And executioner. Just like the good folks at VTR. All you need is its database – and your own firewood.

From the Verify the Recall facebook page:

“Have you investigated your own ‘corner of the world’ at yet?”

“Recall signatures include those of local elected officials, school leaders…”

“The University of Wisconsin System’s chief spokesman said he regrets signing a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker”

“MMSD’s New Superintendent Daniel Nerad’s Signature Highlights the Challenges Faced by VTR Data Entry Volunteers”

“29 Wisconsin Judges Signed Gov. Walker Recall Petitions. Verify The Recall Volunteers: your data entry efforts continue to pay dividends!”

“Landmark Legal Foundation is requesting an investigation of 29 Wisconsin circuit court judges who signed a recall petition”

“Verify The Recall Volunteers: Your efforts have allowed for stories like this to break into the news!!! Click on the recall petition images — they are ALL from! YOU HAVE MADE A REAL IMPACT IN WISCONSIN! BREAKING: Wisconsin Judicial Commission Stacked with Democrats, Prosser Investigation Led by Democrat”

“This is what vetting our representatives looks like. Check to see if their views are similar to your own, and if not, defeat them”

“Verify The Recall provides media transparency as reported by Breitbart’s Big Journalism… More Wisconsin Journalists in Trouble for Signing Walker Recall Media Trackers reports that a news anchor and a colleague at WISC-TV, the Madison, WI affiliate of CBS, have both signed recall petitions against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and that both are under investigation.”

“Verify The Recall More transparency in the media thanks to Verify The Recall! EXCLUSIVE: Madison TV News Anchor Appears to Sign Recall | Media Trackers”

“Verify The Recall: Bringing transparency to election races at all levels! Are Partisan Politics Finding a Seat On The School Board? Although it’s a nonpartisan elected position, the politics is playing an increased role on the Menomonee Falls School Board and the upcoming election. And it’s not just happening in Menomonee Falls.”

‎”Verify The Recall: Bringing transparency to the media!Genia Lovett column: Post-Crescent journalists shouldn’t have signed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker”

“Verify The Recall introduces transparency in the UW System … On Campus: The University of Wisconsin System’s chief spokesman said he regrets signing a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.”

“Verify The Recall More transparency out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin … Recall signatures include those of local elected officials, school leaders. More than a dozen local public officials, including a majority of the Eau Claire City Council and school board, were among those who signed recall petitions aimed at Gov. Scott Walker and other state Republican lawmakers.”

“6 State Journal staffers signed recall petitions; all but 1 not involved in news Wisconsin State Journal editors learned this week that six staff members signed petitions calling for the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.”

“In addition to other discoveries VTR has made, I found one of our local school board candidates listed, but not the other three. Their candidacies do not designate a political party, so this helped make up my mind who to vote for…”

“I would also suggest that you look up your school board members who have run as non-partisans. If they publicly show their partisansip and want to recall our Governor and his Act 10 which gives the school boards tools to help with the budgeting, they will probably not be good representatives of the taxpayers when negotiating new teacher contracts.”

“I would definitely suggest also that you look up your aldermen, school board members etc to see if they signed. Know the sussex hamilton has a couple of instances where certain officials changed the spelling of their names and one who signed twice, 1 correctly and 1 wrong..interesting also the guy ran as a republican for another office..and the other also signed recall for Darling not spelling her name correctly..all I can say is WOW , this is how these public officials fool people into thinking they are conservative and they are not…so THANK YOU VTR and all who worked on this transparency!

“Remember you can look up those running for office to see if they signed. Hannah C. Dugan running for judge branch 23 signed”

“Whoever came up with the idea to put the Scott Walker recall petitions at might be in line for some kind of journalism award.”

Scott Walker: the Great Divider

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published an “opinion piece” which, in essence, stated that recalls should be limited to cases of misconduct in office, because recalls are distracting and divisive and “too easy.”

Excuse me? Thousands of people across the state, many of them enduring threats and assaults, spent countless hours standing in the rain and snow during two cold Wisconsin winter months to collect almost a million signatures and that was “too easy”?

And Walker’s not the one doing the dividing????

Codswallop. I wrote the editor of the editorial page:

Dear Mr. Haynes,

Should I ever doubt the reason why the newspaper industry is dying, all I need do is re-read the recent “opinion” piece, “Tighten up rules governing reasons for recall elections.” to erase all doubts from my mind.

First thing is: if you’re going to publish an “opinion,” make sure it’s an informed opinion based on facts, not fiction.

The person who wrote the piece (nice how it’s anonymous) based the entire premise on this misstatement: “It’s bad enough that recall fever has dragged Wisconsin into the muck of bitter and ugly political contests such as the kind we saw last summer. Worse is that it’s taking attention away from legitimate political fights such as the Republican presidential primary and local contests on April 3. And even worse is that it’s contributed to such a poisonous atmosphere in Madison that it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to get the people’s work done.”

(Please note: “the people’s work” is not eliminating consumer and tenant rights, women’s rights, repealing equal pay, disenfranchising voters, cutting people off from medical insurance, raising taxes on the poor, or otherwise harming the vast majority of “the people.”)

You must be living in another dimension, because in this one, “recall fever” isn’t to blame for anything. The “poisonous atmosphere” is due to Scott Walker and his Republican sidekicks. It’s due to their lies, their secrecy, their back room, behind closed and locked doors deals, their late night votes, their blatant violations of the constitution, state laws, and court orders, their abuse of power, their selling out the people of this state for their campaign donors and special interests, their throwing the poor, the elderly, students, women, consumers, tenants, the environment and minorities under the bus to advance their private agenda.

Scotty made clear from the beginning that this was all about him and his power to do what he wanted – and he would negotiate nothing.

The mining bill died because it was a bad bill, a bill written by a private company for its sole benefit, a bill that would poison our pristine north woods and the watershed of the Bad River tribe in exchange for unsubstantiated claims of “high paying jobs” (which likely would have gone to out of state workers).

So when you (or whoever the anonymous author was) blame an inability to compromise and “political gamesmanship” due to “bitter feelings” arising from the recalls you ignore the truth and you slaughter the facts.

Walker lacks the ability to compromise; Walker and his Republican sidekicks chose to jam through not just the mining bill, but numerous bills using “political gamesmanship” including calling votes before the time scheduled for the vote and while the members of the other party weren’t even in the room.

And the statement that “the recall” is “taking attention away from legitimate political fights such as the Republican presidential primary and local contests” eliminates facts all together and proceeds straight to complete fabrication.

People aren’t paying attention to the Republican presidential primary because of the Republican candidates. When the choice is between Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and Tweedle Dumber, most folks would rather have a root canal then have to pay attention to what can best be described as the “Titanic” meets “The Three Stooges.”

If it’s impossible “to get the people’s work done” then point your finger in the right direction: at Scott Walker.

Not long ago, your paper endorsed him for Governor, claiming his experience as Milwaukee County Executive (a job he obtained through a recall – imagine that!) showed he was better qualified than his opponent. Of course, news reports have shown his time was spent running up debt as he kicked the can down the road for the county and took actions that exposed the County to millions of dollars in liability. And there’s that little matter of the John Doe investigation (it seems much more likely that Walker’s illegal campaign activities have dragged Wisconsin into the muck, if muck there is). And perhaps you should listen once again to his conversation with “David Koch.”

The Fourth Estate should be supporting Walker’s recall, demanding his resignation, and staunchly defending the existing recall/democratic process – not supporting Robin Vos’s plan to change it.

His proposal to change the recall process only protects the guilty. Misconduct as the only reason for a recall? These guys took secrecy pledges, have wasted millions upon millions of tax dollars to implement special interest laws – were willing to send bounty hunters to Illinois to kidnap the 14 and drag them back to Madison: they wouldn’t recognize misconduct if it bit them on the ass – or looked back at them in the mirror.

Instead of blaming “the recall,” place the blame squarely where it belongs –  on Scott Walker.

Howdy, Stranger!

Before the internet was invented, I never knew how many friendly people there were in the world. In fact, one of the best features of the internet is how it lets thousands of complete strangers, strangers I have never met, tell me how much they want to have sex with me.

I receive many kind and thoughtful invitations every day. For example, “Local HookUp” sent me this: “Subject: You Have Been Invited To Hook Up For Sex,‏” while at the same time, “Someone on the ‘Facebook’ of sexy dating” is looking for me. Or how about an opportunity like this? “Final chance to go to a Swingers Party – Hello, Did you know that there are swinger’s parties all of the time?”

I didn’t know, thank you, and much preferred it that way.

A large number of these friendly people seem to not know two critical details: 1) I am a woman; and 2) I am straight.

In one day I received this:

“Women that love Threesom.
Sleep with 2 women at the same time this week – Our Threesome Dating Community is looking for new members like you that want to have threesomes …”


“Sleep with sexual college women – We would like to invite you to join our Sugar Daddy dating community today!”


“Someones wife needs your attention – We wanted to let you know as soon as possible that someone’s wife needs your attention …”

And this:

“Married women looking to sleep with new people – Married Women Looking to have sexual encounters!”

This friendly group doesn’t include the helpful people who want me to be able to have sex as often as I wish. wrote me about “Trusted:SexualPenisPills.” CanadianPharmacy is offering “Viagra©-Cia1is©-Levitra©-8O%-0ff‏” while “Best-Penis” wanted to tell me about “Max-Gentleman*Enlargement*Pills.” Perhaps that is what was referring to in his email about “forget about sexual rest.” Or I could listen to the sound advice from and “BUY NOW VIAGRA CIALIS !!!”

And if that doesn’t work, I can always use “7 of the Most Powerful Opening Lines for Prospecting.”

But I can’t help thinking that all these friendly people would get discouraged and stop sending me these emails – unless someone, somewhere, is hitting “reply” and ordering that “New Mind Control Video!!!” Or couldn’t resist the “Hard to resist bonus offers at Lucky Cash Club.”

But seriously – dudes – some of you actually respond to this stuff? You do realize that the person writing you is not really “Denise Richards” but is some guy at a keyboard in some country you can’t pronounce who hasn’t bathed in three weeks and lives with a goat?

You knew that, right?

The Days of Walker Madness

Sung to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”:

On the first day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, a palm tree in downtown Madison,

On the second day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, David Koch’s phone call,

On the third day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, legal deadly force,

On the fourth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, voting limitations,

On the fifth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, cream puffs as the state dessert,

On the sixth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, regulated uteri,

On the seventh day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, repealed consumer rights,

On the eighth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, no more contraception,

On the ninth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, leader in jobs lost,

On the tenth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, an end to equal pay,

On the eleventh day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, a secret email system,

On the twelfth day of madness, Scott Walker gave to me, abstinence education.

What’s Cooking?

Brian Williams stands on a set featuring a gourmet kitchen on the right, complete with center kitchen island, and a dining room on the left.

“Good evening. I’m Brian Williams and this is Cooking with the Candidates, an informal gathering of the remaining candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency.

Tonight you’ll have an opportunity to see the candidates as you’ve never seen them before, in a casual and intimate atmosphere as they share their favorite family recipes. Viewers will be able to observe them not as distant, out-of-touch, rich, white politicians, but as ordinary people working together to prepare a three course meal as they share candid, unscripted moments.

Now let’s meet the candidates.”

(Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney enter stage right. All are dressed in dark suits with matching shirts, ties, shoes, and flag pins).

“Greetings,  gentlemen, and welcome to the NBC test kitchen. Does anyone know what happened to Ron Paul?”

Rick, Newt, and Mitt: “Who?”

Brian: “Maybe he’ll be able to join us later.”

Mitt glances around, looking puzzled: “What is this place called again?”

Brian: “A kitchen.”

Mitt: “Oh yes, that’s right. I believe I have one in each of my homes. It’s where the cook lives, isn’t it?”

Rick: “Mitt wants every home to have a kitchen. What a snob!”

Newt: “When I’m elected, every American home will have a cook by the end of my second term.”

Brian: “Gentlemen, I’m sure the viewers are excited to watch you get to work, so if you can put your aprons on we can get started.” (He picks up aprons from a chair and hands them out.)

As Newt and Rick awkwardly tie on their aprons, several people in white coats and chef hats enter stage left, pushing a cart loaded with cooking ingredients.

Brian: “Excuse me, but who are you?”

Mitt (still holding apron): “That’s my personal chef de Cuisine, sous chef, and their assistants, found them at the Cordon Bleu School in Paris when I was living there.”

Brian: “I’m sorry Mitt, but they aren’t allowed to help.”

Mitt: “Day-zoh-lay, my friends.” (They exit stage left, taking the cart with them.)

Newt: “This is exactly the problem. Mitt is an elitist who doesn’t understand what Americans are going through.”

Brian: “Gentlemen, if we can get things moving along. The supplies are in the fridge and the recipes are on the counter. Let’s start with the main course. Rick, you brought a soufflé recipe, I believe you described it as a frothy mixture of egg whites, spinach, and–”

Newt: “I know what real patriots want and that’s real American food like hot dogs and cookies. I wake up in the morning and I know that somewhere there’s a cookie. I don’t know where it is but I know it’s mine and I have to go find it.”

Brian: “Gentlemen, please, if you could step over to the kitchen–”

Rick: “You know Brian, I have to disagree. This is a serious dish, a presidential dish offering the ingredients that real Americans – God-loving Christians – want and need. Newt has become a hindrance to a conservative alternative.”

Newt (crossing to a knife rack on the kitchen island and grabbing a knife): A hindrance, froth boy? If I can dump a wife while she has cancer, you think I can’t do worse to you?”

Mitt: “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”

Rick (circling around the other side of the island to grab a knife): “Listen you whoring Tiffany’s addict, suffering is a part of life. And it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life. There are all different ways to suffer. One way to suffer is through lack of food and shelter and there’s another way to suffer and that’s one I’m going to show you.”

Brian: “Security!”

Mitt (standing between Rick and Newt, seemingly blinded by the studio lights, raises a hand to shield his eyes): “I love this kitchen. The counters are all the right height.”

Newt: “Stop the pious baloney, you pandering Papist.”

Newt lunges toward Rick. Rick lunges toward Newt. Mitt, trapped between them, remains immobilized by the lights, smiling brightly at the studio audience.

All three fall to the floor.

Ron Paul enters stage right wearing Elmer Fudd hunting gear, with a rifle over one shoulder and a trio of dead squirrels hanging by their tails from his left fist. “Did I miss anything?”

What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen

Sometimes it’s better to not see well.

Years ago I swore on all that is holy that I would NEVER . Eat. Bugs. I didn’t care how hungry I was. If I was stranded on a desert island or lost deep in a primeval forest for months with nothing available to eat but grubs, I would NOT eat them. I would starve first.

And I’ve kept that pledge. Not counting the occasional gnat I inhale while riding my bike.

Then tonight I made a batch of manoomin. Wild rice. The good stuff harvested in canoes. Not like that flavorless paddy raised junk sold in stores.

And I love the stuff. It’s expensive but wonderful. And I never had trouble with it. Until tonight. When I made a fabulous side dish: wild rice cooked with broth, dried currants and cranberries, seasoned with Garam Masala and the finishing touch – chopped walnuts.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sounds great! When are you inviting me?” Let me finish.

I sat down to dinner. Placed a large serving on my plate. Picked up my fork. Scooped up some rice. Placed it in my mouth. Chewed.  Swallowed.

And it was good.

Then I looked at the rice. Really looked at it.  With my new glasses. The good ones which let me see lots of fine details. And saw that instead of the normal small, straight grains of rice that I was accustomed to seeing, about half the grains were curved.

I looked even closer.

And that’s when I realized the rice wasn’t all rice. Dear sweet mother of all that’s unholy it was full of thoroughly cooked worms. Or grubs. Or larvae. But whatever they were, they were definitely, absolutely, positively: bugs.

I tried not to panic. I tried not to be ill. I tried to think what kind of bug I had just eaten, how many, and whether they would kill me. Or if it was a parasite that was already eating my brain. I discreetly tested one by squishing it with my fork. It squished just like a bug. I mentally retraced my steps in the kitchen. The rice had looked normal before cooking. Surely if bugs had been in it I would have noticed, right?

I looked across the table at my spouse. He was contentedly finishing his meal. My stomach did a triple forward half-gainer. I said nothing and carefully left the rest of the rice worm casserole on my plate. Later, I scraped it off my plate and into the trash, along with the remnants in the serving bowl.

Then I rushed to my computer to research worms in wild rice.

What I found was encouraging. Yes, the search results included disgusting stories involving meal worms and pantries and a video showing dozens of worms wriggling out of harvested wild rice. But the worms weren’t poisonous. And weren’t parasites. Which didn’t settle my stomach, although at least I knew I didn’t need to call the Poison Control Center.

Feeling vindicated at pitching the leftovers, I looked further, even contacting a Native-American I know to ask about the rice: “Today is the first time I noticed what looked like worms after I cooked it – are they really worms?”

Her answer: “No not worms … it breaks up when cooked … Splits open.”

Now my stomach is still twisted in knots. I threw away perfectly good rice. Or maybe rice worms. Expensive ones. I’m not sure which.  Because logically, I know it’s really just rice. But what good is logic when I keep seeing that video. And the worms. The worms.