Wisconsin was riveted the week of September 20 by reports that more of Governor Scott Walker's top aides may be implicated in an ongoing "John Doe" investigation into potentially illegal campaign practices related to Walker's 2010 gubernatorial race. Although the investigation, first reported on by Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been underway for at least a year, a recent FBI raid on the home of Walker's chief lieutenant, Cynthia "Cindy" Archer, has the state abuzz with speculation about who may be the target of the investigation.
News Articles By Mary Bottari
Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren announced that she was running against Scott Brown for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts on the eve of the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse. For many, Lehman's unthinkable bankruptcy September 15th, 2008 marks the day when the wheels came off the bus and the U.S. economy went over a cliff.
With 30 million Americans unemployed and underemployed, Social Security, Medicare and public workers under attack, Warren's video announcement got straight to the point.
"Middle-class families have been chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don't think Washington gets it. Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists," she continued. "A big company like GE pays nothing in taxes and we're asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education, we're telling seniors they may have to learn to live on less? It isn't right, and it's the reason I'm running for the U.S. Senate."
A Wisconsin worker was fired Thursday for reminding fellow workers that photo IDs required for voting are free under Wisconsin law.
A man identifying himself as Chris Larson called into "Sly in the Morning," a popular Madison radio program on WTDY-AM, and said he had been fired and escorted out of his workplace earlier in the day for sending out an email to remind employees to tell the public that they can obtain a state license for free. Larson said he worked for the Department of Safety and Professional Services, which is under Secretary Dave Ross.
The man was reacting to recent news stories that the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles may be hiding the fact that the IDs, which are newly required for voting in Wisconsin, are free. Hours after his dismissal, a small crowd gathered in front of his place of employment to protest his firing.
As President Obama gets ready for his big jobs speech Thursday, America's nurses have a message for him. "Heal America, Tax Wall Street!" the signs read as nurses rallied in front of 61 Congressional offices this week. The nurses are proposing a bold alternative to the "cut, cut, cut" rhetoric emanating from Washington, D.C.
Their proposal? "It's time for the Wall Street financiers who created this crisis and continue to hold much of the nation's wealth to start contributing to rebuild this country and for the American people to regain their future," explained Rosanne DeMoro, Executive Director of National Nurses Union (NNU), in a press release. The nurses are joining groups across the nation and around the world who are calling for a financial transaction fee on high-volume, high-speed Wall Street trades, to tamp down dangerous speculation and to raise revenue for heath care, jobs and other critical needs.
For the first time in the state's history, Wisconsin recalled two sitting state senators simultaneously. While it was a difficult and historic achievement in two districts that voted for Scott Walker in 2010, it fell short of the three seats needed to flip the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and put the brakes on Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda.
While Walker's collective bargaining bill sparked the recalls, voters were also worried about the state budgetary moves which cut $800 million from local schools while giving out $200 million in tax breaks for big corporations. No jobs plan (other than tax breaks) has been proposed and, contrary to spin from the Governor, joblessness is growing in this state at twice the rate of the federal level.
A new study released today by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) shows that, despite rosy statements about the bailout's impending successful conclusion from federal government officials, $1.5 trillion of the $4.8 trillion in federal bailout funds are still outstanding.
The analysis, presented in charts and an online table and program profiles, is based entirely on government records. This comprehensive assessment of the bailout goes beyond the relatively small Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) program to look at the rest of the Treasury and Federal Reserve's multi-trillion dollar response to the financial crisis. It shows that while the TARP bailout of Wall Street (not including the bailout of the auto industry) amounted to $330 billion, the government also quietly spent $4.4 trillion more in efforts to stave off the collapse of the financial and mortgage lending sectors. The majority of these funds ($3.9 trillion) came from the Federal Reserve, which undertook the actions citing an obscure section of its charter.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) throws open its doors to consumers this week, officially starting its mission to safeguard Americans from overly complex financial products and malignant banking practices. The bureau is the culmination of a national grassroots effort to hold the big banks accountable for the 2008 economic collapse caused by Wall Street's insatiable appetite for dangerous mortgage products. Millions of Americans signed petitions to create the bureau and new polling shows that 74% of Americans think it is a terrific idea.
Although he passed away in 2006, states are now grappling with many of the toxic notions left behind by University of Chicago economist, Milton Friedman.
In her groundbreaking book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein coined the term "disaster capitalism" for the rapid-fire, corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock. The master of disaster? Privatization and free market guru Milton Friedman. Friedman advised governments in economic crisis to follow strict austerity measures, combining radical cuts in social services with the full-scale privatization of their more lucrative assets. Many countries in Latin America auctioned off everything standing -- from energy and water utilities to Social Security -- to for profit multinational firms, crushing unions and other dissenters along the way.
In the 2010 elections, Republicans emerged with seven more governor's mansions. They also won control of 26 state legislatures, up from 14. In many trifecta states, where a new Republican majority won control of both houses and the governorship, an odd thing happened. A steady stream of almost identical bills -- bills to defund unions, require Photo ID's make it harder for democratic constituencies to vote, bills to privatize schools and public assets, bills to enshrine corporate tax loopholes while crippling the government's ability to raise revenue, bills to round up immigrants -- were introduced and passed. An almost identical set of corporations benefited from these measures.
It is almost as if a pipeline in the basement of these state capitols ruptured simultaneously, and a flood of special interest legislation poured out. The blowout preventer -- political power-sharing -- was disabled. The source of the contamination? The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
This week, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled its ALEC Exposed website to display an archive of over 800 ALEC "model bills." This archive will allow reporters and citizen journalists to identify the ALEC bills moving in their states. We encourage researchers to search for some of the measures written about below.
In the wake of allegations that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser placed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a chokehold in her office, women's rights organizations and elected officials across the state are calling for him to step down until investigations are complete.
Tense Confrontation Over Collective Bargaining Ruling
On June 13, the day before the state's highest court issued their politicized contentious split decision upholding Governor Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining law, members of the court were debating whether to issue an opinion. At that point it was uncertain if the court would get involved, since no hearings had been held and no facts had been presented to the court. Prosser and the conservative justices tracked Justice Bradley and Chief Justice Abrahamson down in Bradley's chamber. According to new reports, Bradley demanded Prosser leave her chamber after he made disparaging remarks about Abrahamson. That was when Prosser is alleged to have put his hands around her throat and placed her in a chokehold. "It was in no way playful," said one source who was present.