The Three Amigos: Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Doe

Image courtesy of Politiscoop

So, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is coming to Wisconsin on Tuesday to stump for his old pal, Scott Walker.

An occurrence like this is pure blogger fodder.  One could point out how both Christie and Walker are experts at driving jobs out of their respective states as they drive said states into the ground.  One could point out the jobs and the revenue they chased out due to their siderodromophobia (fear of trains).   One could also talk about how their austerity ideology is really hurting local governments and destroying everyone’s quality of life.  Or, in a stretch, one could point out how neither of them seems to be around when their constituents need them the most, like in weather-related disasters.

Heck, one could even bring up the question if Walker’s campaign is violating the law with an illegal raffle.

But instead of any of those, I just wanted to point out that Walker will be welcoming Christie by covering him with the stain of Walkergate, the John Doe investigation into the illegal campaigning and other criminal acts by Walker, his campaign and his former and current staffers.

To start out with, the first notice I received of Christie’s pending visit was from his campaign.  But just not from the campaign, but from Andrea Boom:

Andrea Boom is the Finance Director for Friends of Scott Walker, his campaign.  But Ms. Boom is also so much more than that.

Ms. Boom is also BFF with Kelly Rindfleisch, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for Walker while he was Milwaukee County Executive.  Rindfleisch is currently facing four charges of illegally campaigning for Walker and his choice of Lieutenant Governors, Brett Davis, while on the tax payers dime.  According to transcripts released during Rindfleisch’s hearings, it appears that Rindfleisch might have been instrumental in getting Boom her current job.

But as I always say, when it comes to Walker, there’s more.  There’s always more.

A tipster cued me in that Walker and Christie will be having, besides their two fundraising dinners, a photo op right here in Milwaukee.  And not just anywhere in Milwaukee either:

KEI is short for Kujawa Enterprises, Incorporated.  Its Executive Vice President is Chris Kujawa.  Kujawa and Walker go way back, with Kujawa being a long time donor to Walker’s campaigns.  In return, Walker would hold his showboating events at Kujawa’s business and steer Milwaukee County contracts to them.

But there is more to Kujawa than the apparent pay for play stuff.  Just like Boom, Kujawa is also entangled with Walkergate.

In 2007, Kujawa was running for Milwaukee County Supervisor, with Walker’s endorsement.  Involved with his campaign was Brian Pierick and Tim Russell.   Pierick, who was listed as Kujawa’s treasurer, has been charged with child enticement, which stemmed as an offshoot of the Walkergate investigations.  However, it was Russell, who was also working in then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s administration at the time, that was actually handling the money.

And I do mean handling.

Russell, the long time Walker aide, good friend and confidante has been charged with embezzling from Kujawa’s campaign as well as another politician’s campaign and a veterans fund. (Kujawa’s name is sprinkled throughout the criminal complaint against Russell, but the meaty stuff starts on page 24 and includes a note written on KEI letterhead on page 26.)

It’s a curiosity that any rational mind would consider an endorsement from the vulgar Christie to be a positive thing in the first place.  But then for Walker to thank him for his support by covering him in the stench and slime of his own corruption is truly baffling.  These Republicans sure are odd ducks, aren’t they?

NC man revels on video as he shoots neighbor’s anti-Amendment One sign

Yep, some of these pro-Amendment One people are clearly sociopaths. Thanks to Joe My God’s supporters, this fool’s YouTube was downloaded and mirrored before the violent @sshat took it down.

Joe Jervis:

How is NOM going to spin THIS? I have spoken to the Kannapolis, North Carolina police department and they are looking into what will be classfied a crime if the shotgun was fired onto property that includes a home or business.

Late Night FDL: Cardinal’s Pulitzer, Emmy Winners Optimistic About Journalism’s Future

That really shouldn’t have to be a headline, right, but how many of these do I complain about to you guys, panels of journalists talking about how journalism’s glory days have passed by and kids today don’t read and everybody’s just interested in Kardashians now and everything sucks? I either attend one of those things or read about one happening elsewhere once a week, which is why I drink so much.

Finally, on Friday, I went to one that was inspiring instead of hectoring. It was in conjunction with The Daily Cardinal’s 120th anniversary, and was actually two panels, one of Emmy/Peabody winners and another of Pulitzer winners. They had in common that they got their start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s oldest student newspaper, and they were speaking primarily to an audience of journalists and other journalism students.

In the morning, there was a lot of talk about ethics and transparency in traditional media. Chuck Salituro of ESPN said the network now bans its journalists from writing “as told to” books for sports figures, because of the inherent conflict in being the ghostwriter for someone you’re covering (IMAGINE). Both Steven Reiner and Peter Greenberg of CBS talked about video news releases and the perniciousness of their use in smaller markets.

They also spoke about “experts” paying to opine on various news subjects. And all these things were allowed to happen, were allowed to flourish, because the new economics of journalism placed ever more pressure on people to produce material, and the temptation to take the easy path was greater.

(As an aside: Why is it that every Q&A ever includes at least one person who stands up and says, “MY QUESTION IS I HATE YOU?” It’s like a law of nature.)

In the afternoon, the print folks took over and a lot of the questions they were asked about the “future of news” resulted in my two favorite answers: It’s always been endangered and it’s actually less endangered now because new voices have less expensive platforms to work through.

Abigail Goldman, formerly of the LA Times, said that one day we’ll look back on this as a golden age of journalism, because students are learning to be entrepreneurial, to scramble, to push themselves through the noise online. “Those who do good work will rise,” she said, and, “The medium doesn’t matter. The story does.”

Neal Ulevich, who photographed the Vietnam War for the AP, said the web has been good for getting news photos attention, and noted that a lot of the imagery coming from war zones now comes from cell phone cameras. “It’s not about the technology. It’s about the image.”

Which is very true. What we have now, in journalism, are tools we didn’t have before, and the ability to combine those tools, to specialize in terms of subject matter but broaden our work in terms of the ways we cover things. Immediacy isn’t always bad. Twitter isn’t ruining everything. Asking people to send in a cell phone video is not going to kill us all. And as long as the story isn’t trivial, the coverage won’t be.


Occupy May Day Is Tomorrow

[Editor’s Note: Be Here or Be Square. Check out FDL’s May Day 2012 coverage page.  Brian Sonenstein has more on May Day 2012 at Firedoglake.]

PhotobucketMay Day, a holiday created in part to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, Illinois, has become a global celebration in almost every country except, ironically, the United States. That Ends Tomorrow.

A General Strike has been called and not just in America but throughout the world.


Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth. In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower. “We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

May Day is an international workers’ day celebrated in more than eighty countries to honor labor and left-wing movements. Originally organized to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre, the day has broadened to include workers’ rights, immigrant rights, and anti-war efforts. The occupy movement is calling on the ninety-nine percent to no longer stand idly by and remain complacent. May Day is an opportunity to flex our collective power to show the plutocracy that their time is over, that profits over people will no longer be the modus operandi… So will you call out of work for the sons and daughters fighting an illegitimate war, endangering themselves to enrich CEOs? Will you buy nothing in support of the ten million foreclosed homes expected in 2012? Will you march out of classes for the millions of uninsured children in this country? Will you general strike with me?


BEGINNING MAY 1, 2012 NO WORK – NO SCHOOL – NO SHOPPING – NO BANKING – NO TRADING THE PEOPLE OF THE PLANET WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS #OLA & #OLB are calling on all people of the world to start planning NOW for a Global Strike. The goal is to shut down commerce worldwide and show the 1% we will not be taken for granted, we will not be silenced, WE WILL NOT MOVE until our grievances are redressed.

Occupy Together:

May Day is an international day of celebration to honor the labor movement. This year the Occupy movement has made a call for mass action—the May First General Strike (#M1GS): a day without the 99%. Over 115 US cities have organized in solidarity with this call to action… If you are inspired by the day of action but don’t live near any organized events you can still take part. If you can’t strike, take the first step. We can work to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the people little by little in our everyday lives. Here are some examples to get you thinking: Move Your Money – Share a meal with others and and talk about subsidized agriculture and factory farming or make a meal with friends to serve to local homeless people a la Food Not Bombs – Start a Personal/Community Garden – Have a Free Store/Fair: Get together and share your unwanted items with others – Screen a Movie: Invite your friends or neighbors over to watch a documentary – Have a Skill Share: Give a free class to share your skills and knowledge. This could be as simple as giving a knitting demonstration or as complex as teaching someone a new language. We have the power in our hands to change the course of our day to day realities if we are willing to participate and reach out to our neighbors and communities. In the words of Steven Biko, ”the greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Big business should not be in control of us, we are the many and they are the few.

[cont’d.] (more…)

It’s All Fun and Games Until Jesus Loses an Eye

Hey kids! Remember this?

Americans United has protested a Virginia county official’s announcement that citizens who are offended by Christian invocations at board of supervisors meetings can “leave the room.”

AU attorneys wrote to the Campbell County Board of Supervisors Aug. 24 after Board Chairman Steven M. Shockley expressed support for sectarian prayers and advised dissenters to step outside.


Wright urged the Virginia local officials to avoid terms from one faith tradition such as “In Jesus’ name we pray.” (The North Carolina case, Joyner v. Forsyth County, is sponsored by Americans United and allies.)

Wright’s advice didn’t sit well with some board members. According to the Brookneal Union-Star, the supervisors criticized the ruling.

Addressing the citizens gathered in the room, Shockley said, “If you’re offended by the name of Christ or Lord and Savior, you are welcome to leave the room.”

Or this one?

The leading Republican proposal to restore “voluntary prayer” in public schools would let local school authorities require the saying of a prayer at the beginning of each class day. Students who do not wish to participate could sit silently or leave the room, the measure’s prime House sponsor says.


“We want to let local school boards make the decision,” said Rep. Ernest Istook Jr. (R-Okla.), who has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment on school prayer. “It does not require that prayers be held. But why should an ACLU attorney from New York City tell the people in Chandler, Okla., that they cannot have prayer in the public schools? That’s the essence of it.”

God-botherers don’t like it when the sandal is on the other foot (Breitbart link, don’t feel obligated to click it):

The father of two students who attended the high school journalism conference where White House-endorsed “anti-bullying” advocate Dan Savage attacked the Bible and Christianity has spoken out vehemently against Savage and against the conference organizers.

“My son and daughter both attend Arrowhead Christian High School in Redlands, CA,” Philip Naman told Breitbart News. “They were at the event.

“My son is the first boy you see leaving on the video. My daughter is right behind him. They felt that they were there to hear about journalism and this man’s fight against bullying. They had no idea, and neither did I, of who Dan Savage actually was.

“As he started to insult the children’s God, Bible, and choice of lifestyle, my son felt he had enough and calmly got up to leave. My daughter followed him and then the rest of their 22 classmates all got up and left.


“The attitude of the conference coordinators was as disturbing as Dan Savage’s,” he says. “They reportedly said that as journalists the kids should have been able to sit there and take it all in. They felt the only thing that they had failed at was to not clearly tell the attending schools about Dan Savage. If they had to warn the schools, why would they let him speak?

Because good journalists leave the room when the people say things they don’t want to hear.

Don’t Forget NOLA!

This is sad, beyond sad.

In the link is a blog post which describes a recent article by Dahr Jamail, internationally reknowned Al Jazeera reporter who is often profiled on Antiwar Dot Com and elsewhere.

The topic is the death of fisheries in NOLA/Gulf.

Blog author Stuart Smith, an attorney in NOLA fighting BP does a masterful job of highlighting Jamail’s story while adding in his own experiences.

That’s the setup . . . the news is as grim as it can get.

So while everyone is all gaga about May Day and protest, let’s bow our heads, drop our eyes and well . . . say a fucking prayer or something for them . . . and us all.

Ugly, Sad, Wretched. For How Long? Forever?

Watercooler: May Day Eve

Happy May Day Eve, y’all.

How inspiring to see people all over the United States embracing the historical meaning of May Day again (along with the ongoing resurgence in celebration of its even older meanings). For many years, we’d lost our history, a history the US had a major part in but which became more celebrated elsewhere in the world. Now a new awareness is blossoming everywhere.

If my spoons hold out I’ll be attending a very full day at Occupy Austin tomorrow. If I can spare the time & battery power tomorrow, I’ll be trying to liveblog events here as well as my usual coverage on Twitter. I won’t be editing tomorrow, but the FDL crew have assembled a fantastic team. If you’re an occupier, an activist, or involved with any kinds of action be sure to submit them tomorrow.

Not everyone can take the streets tomorrow. Maybe you aren’t physically able. You might be unable to take off work, or not live anywhere with an activist community. But we can all honor May Day somehow in one of its meanings — the workers’ holiday or as the ancient holiday of fertility and creative impulse.

Make some art. Play outside with a loved one. Have a picnic lunch or dinner in a public space. Find ways to give thanks to the workers who help you sustain your well being. Honor your own work, whether you’re in a factory, at a laptop, or raising a family. Do something nice for yourself — but make it about sharing love, not money.

Just the thoughts of this dirty hippie occupier on the night before a busy day. What are your thoughts tonight? What are your plans for May Day? Share in this open thread.

p.s. this was the most lively May Day video I could find!

FDL Movie Night: How to Start a Revolution

Noble Peace Prize nominee Gene Sharp is a kindly, orchid-growing octogenarian who literally wrote the book on non-violent overthrow of dictatorships. Jailed for nine months in 1953 for protesting the Korean War draft, Sharp went on to write The Politics of Nonviolent Action and twelve other books, including the seminal From Dictatorship to Democracy, a 93-page document that lays out 198 steps to toppling dictators. Available for free download in 40 languages, From Dictatorship to Democracy was written in 1993 to aid the Burmese freedom movement.

How to Start a Revolution delves into Sharp’s influence, from  Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Burma, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan through Egypt and Syria. Leaders in Iran and Venezuela see him as a dangerous man, those who wish to change their governments recognize the profound logic in this theories: Dictators stay in place because of the inaction and acceptance of the populace. Withdrawing cooperation with the government, change can occur. Sharp says:

Psychological weapons, social weapons, economic weapons and political weapons [are] ultimately more powerful against oppression, tyranny and violence.

Sharp’s colleague, Retired U.S. Army Colonel Robert Helvey, who was sent by sent by the International Republican Institute to teach seminars in nonviolent strategy for a group of Otpor students in Serbia, recounts his experiences training the students in nonviolence, while Sharp’s assistant at the Albert Einstein Institute–based on the first floor of Sharp’s Boston townhouse– Jamila Raqib, explains her reason for being so dedicated to Sharp and his work.

Director Ruaridh Arrow, our guest tonight, tells of his trip to Egypt’s Tahir Square during the revolution there:

When I finally reached one of the organisers he initially refused to talk about Sharp on camera. He feared that wider knowledge of a US influence would destabilise the movement but confirmed that the work had been widely distributed in Arabic.

The key to how to start a revolution is more that just printing signs in English and having symbolic colors and logos, all of which are very useful, but rather to remember:

Dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are. People are never as weak as they think they are.

Labor Not Loyalty on May 1st

"We show our love by living for our loved ones. We also prove our love by dying, when necessary, for them." Albert Parsons

Two key steps have helped to ruin May Day in the United States.  First, Labor Day was created at a completely different time of year — labor day without the struggle, labor day without the history, labor day without the labor movement.  Second, Loyalty Day was created on May 1st.

Loyalty Day is a monstrosity for a few reasons.  We already have Veterans Day (created by ruining Armistice Day), Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Day, an Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Day (created, believe it or not, by Congress in 2011), and of course the xenophobic blood-curdling celebration of every September 11th.  That should be enough.  We already have a dangerous excess of loyalty.  According to the International Social Survey Programme, the United States is number 1 among nations in the percentage of its people who say that everyone should obey the law even when the law is unjust, and also number one in the percentage of people who say everyone should support this country even when it is wrong.  Conscious intentional harm.  Institutionalized stupidity.  How low can we go?  A 13-year-old girl in Pennsylvania was just punished for refusing to stand and robotically chant a fascistic Pledge of Allegiance.

This May Day is 9 years since Bush declared Mission Accomplished in Iraq, and the hell of the war on Iraq really began.  It’s 7 years since the Downing Street Memo was made public and the lies about Iraq really fell apart.  It’s 6 years since Nancy Pelosi publicly committed to not impeaching Bush or Cheney no matter what they did — and the hell that was to be whatever followed Bush and Cheney effectively began.  Loyalty Day has been a day for major public violations of the oath our public servants take to protect the Constitution.  Treason Day would be more accurate.

The alternative to loyalty that we need to develop is not treason or barbarism.  It’s participation in government of, by, and for — rather that upon, against, and onto — the people.  For that we need to be rid of Loyalty Day, and we need to replace it with what May 1st was always supposed to be: May Day.

Two key steps are helping to restore May Day to us.  First, recent immigrants from the rest of the world — which has continued to celebrate May Day even as we who began it have forgotten it — have brought it back as a day to demand rights for immigrants.  Second, the Occupy movement is building a broad movement combining demands for civil rights, economic rights, and peace.  And as part of that process, we are studying people’s history instead of the sort of history approved by the Texas School Board and other big buyers of lousy text books.

May Day in year 126 since May Day began is showing signs of out-shining the May Days we’ve seen for many years.  May Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre and the struggle for an 8-hour day in Chicago. (more…)