Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans Are Scared of Dissent

From the Badger Herald in Madison, Wisconsin comes the news that on the heels of the prank phone call last week which so embarrassed Republican Governor Scott Walker, which originally was intended to follow the prank interview of Sarah Palin where a French Canadian comedian pretended to be Nicholas Sarkozy, that two Republican Wisconsin Senators are going to try to make these kinds of free speech calls illegal.  It is however legal for law enforcement to practice this kind of deception. 

While this kind of call is embarrassing, no one was bilked out of money; this is not the same thing, even remotely, of some kind of attempt to rip off consumers.  This is about the red side politicians having red faces, nothing more, nothing less, and trying to safeguard their dubious dignity because they say stupid things.  Trying to deny that is the reason for the unnecessary law, a law which would make government bigger not smaller, is ludicrous.

Although representatives deny any connection to the recent prank call on the governor, two legislators began circulating a bill Monday that would ban making trick calls masking the caller’s true identity.

Sen. Mary Lazich, R-Waukesha, and Rep. Mark Honadel, R-Milwaukee, authored a bill that would prohibit tricking the call’s recipient into believing the caller is someone they are not for malicious purposes.

“While use of spoofing is said to have some legitimate uses, it can also be used to frighten, harass and potentially defraud,” Lazich and Honadel said in an e-mail to legislators.

The bill language forbids a caller from intentionally providing a false phone number and convincing the person receiving the call that it comes from someone other than the actual caller.

The bill would make it illegal to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain any information of value from using a caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information. It would also prohibit individuals from masking their voices or providing a fake phone number to the call recipient, said Jason Vick, spokesperson for Honadel.

A district attorney would enforce the prohibition on call spoofing. A person in violation of the law would be subject to a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 for each call made, according to the bill.

However, law enforcement and government regulatory agents who use phone spoofing to fight crime would be exempt from the law.
These politicians who claim they want smaller government are red-faced with embarrassment over having plans for dirty tricks and for bad faith maneuvers; they should be red-faced for being hypocrites too.

What this reminds me of is nothing so much as the historic Sedition Act of 1798, which prohibited people from stating unpleasant things about their government to their embarrassment, signed by our second President, John Adams, to his long enduring shame afterwards.  Adams lost to Jefferson in his next election, in part for signing this kind of legislation into law.  We can only expect the same to result for legislators and Governor Scott Walker for trying this move on the state level.  No surprise that Walker doesn't seem to be familiar with U.S. history; he is a college drop out.  We can only surmise that he either didn't take American History, or didn't pay attention to this bit; he clearly didn't learn this particular lesson of history in any case. (For a fascinating and erudite insight that you will never get from Governor Walker on early American history, check out this post on the blog of Laci the Chinese Crested, btw.)

This comes at the same time that despite a provision in the Wisconsin Constitution, it is reported that protesters are not being allowed back into the state capital building, where Governor Walker will be making a speech about his budget later today. 
When the Capitol was scheduled to open for business at 8 a.m. Monday, scores of protesters — along with other members of the public, including one Democratic Assembly member — found themselves shut out.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin sent a letter to the Department of Administration calling the barring of protesters during business hours unconstitutional. One union protester, retired electrical lineman Jerry Collins, said: "It's our building, it's Wisconsin's building. It's not Gov. [Scott] Walker or the Legislature's building."

Also Monday, the Wisconsin State Employees Union filed an unfair labor practices complaint against Walker with the Wisconsin Employer Relations Commission, alleging that he failed to negotiate in good faith.
Clearly, the Republicans don't trust the citizens who elected them, the citizens they represent.  Aren't these the same Republicans that say we should be comfortable allowing everyone pretty much to carry guns, all kinds of guns, anywhere and anytime.  Want to bet that no one is being allowed into the capital who dissents who has a gun now, if they don't allow in people with signs?  The next time you hear anyone talking about how much trust we should have for our fellow citizens, remember this - and laugh at them.

There were protest rallies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia over the weekend.  Those rallies, and these measures, are what the massive failure of the Republican / Tea Party agenda looks like.  Walker thinks he is making a larger career on his actions in Wisconsin by currying favor with the Republican big donors by doing their bidding; I predict it is more likely what he is doing is guaranteeing he will be a one term governor, and I would also expect that many of those who are supporting him in the legislature won't be returning either in subsequent elections.  The polls are showing consistently that the American public are not in support of the Right Wing extreme, radical agenda.


  1. Governor Walker is making an impact ... but he may not like the firestorm that he has started.

    On Thursday, the faculty members at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse voted 249 to 37 to join the AFT-Wisconsin statewide labor federation that is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. They could have done this in 2009, but Governor Walker's budget-repair proposal galvanized the UW-La Crosse faculty's resolve to form a union. They join UW-Eau Claire and UW-Superior who had previously joined.

  2. As Walker tries to make jobs non-union across the state - which is his stated intent, to make jobs which are currently public sector union jobs instead be political appointee positions - he is going to continue to stir up pro-union feeling.

    At the rate he is going, he might even lose not only any chance of enacting his budget, but the unions might withdraw their concessions if he continues to be so intransigent.