Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Is Scott Walker stupid or what? More to the point, does he think we’re all stupid?

Peter Suderman at reason.com writes about the sorry campaign of Scott Walker. Just a few months ago Walker was considered a top-tier candidate. Now he’s buried at the darkest part of the very deep bench. What happened? “Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.” How friggin’ hard is it to say what you believe in? (Especially when you are a conservative who’s convinced of his righteousness.) Apparently, it’s pretty hard. Unless, that is, your only concern is how you sound to the audience in front of you. You know, like a craven politician might do.

But Walker is no politician, at least according to him. No, he’s “just a normal guy.” Well, one who happens to have run for or held elected office for his entire adult life. Seriously, he claims he’s not a career politician. This is a man who first ran for office at the age of 22 and has held elected office since age 25. Now he’s 47. He’s been a politician since he became a grown up, for God sakes. He lamely claims, “A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who’s been in Congress for 25 years.”

No. A career politician is someone who runs or holds office for his entire adult life. I mean, is he an idiot? Does he think we are? It’s hard to believe he could be this clueless about what he is.

More from Peter Suderman about Walker’s “cringe-worthy campaign” and his inability to stick to his own positions:

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had “very legitimate concerns,” and that the idea of building a wall would be “a legitimate issue for us to look at.”

It’s not exactly a “damn right we should build a wall!” But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was “just a joke” and that he’s “never talked about a wall at the north.”

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

The same thing happened with Walker’s comments on birthright citizenship. Questioned on camera by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt about whether he supported ending birthright citizenship, as Donald Trump has called for, he nodded his head and said “yeah, absolutely, going forward.” When Hunt pressed him further, “We should end birthright citizenship?” he nodded again and said, “Yeah, to me it’s about enforcing the laws in this country.”

A few days later, when asked about it again, he shifted course by explicitly declining to take a position. “I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other,” he told CNBC’s John Harwood. Yet just a few more days after that, he did take a position, telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that was definitely not in favor of ending birthright citizenship.

That’s three different positions in the space of week—and yet when asked about the shifts, a campaign spokes erson complained about efforts to “mischaracterize” his position.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.

This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to The Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

Even when Walker holds what looks to be a relatively clear position, he has a difficult time describing it. After his campaign released an imperfect but detailed-enough Obamacare replacement plan last month, he was asked about whether he can justify its redistributive effects. Politically speaking, the best answer to this entirely predictable question would have been that Walker’s plan is designed first and foremost to help the broad middle class.

Instead, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent notes, Walker offered a stumbling, semi-coherent invocation of “freedom,” “freedom,” and more “freedom,” and insisted that redistribution simply wasn’t an issue for his plan—even though it is, both in the sense that it changes the relative redistribution from how it is now, and in the sense that it puts its own alternative system of redistribution into place.

Another conservative-led state underperforms:

Wisconsin ranked 40th in the nation in private-sector job growth during the one-year period between September 2013 and September 2014, according to the latest detailed job numbers from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The numbers come from the Bureau’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which economists say is the gold standard of job metrics. Because the QCEW is so thorough, the numbers take a long time to report.

They showed Wisconsin added private-sector jobs at a rate of about 1.16 percent from September 2013 to September 2014. By comparison, private-sector jobs grew by 2.3 percent nationwide.

All neighboring states fared better than Wisconsin, and when matched up against a broader region of 10 Midwest states, only Nebraska fared worse.

The Walker administration also released less-accurate monthly job estimates early Thursday morning, which were much more positive. They showed Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in February of 2015.

Not only is the state faring poorly due to Governor Scott Walker’s policies, he also feels the need to lie about it. How typically conservative.

On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court barred the State of Wisconsin from enforcing its photo ID voter law. The law was passed more than three years ago by the Wisconsin state legislature, but legal challenges have prevented it from being enforced except for one state primary election in 2012. Earlier this year, a federal judge concluded that the ID requirement would deter voting by a substantial number of the 300,000-plus registered voters who lack a proper ID. That ruling was overturned by a panel of three judges of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for its use in the November election until the Supreme Court acted.

Before going on, let’s stop for a minute and absorb the fact that more than 300,000 Wisconsinites–about 9 percent of registered voters in the state–currently lack the required identification to comply with the law. This isn’t a trivial number. The supporters of photo ID laws would have you believe that virtually everyone has such ID because it’s basically impossible to do anything in American society without one. Well, that’s factually false, as the evidence in this case showed.

In any event, before the case went to the Supreme Court, Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit asked for a vote of his fellow judges to rehear the case en blanc, but the ten members of the Seventh Circuit deadlocked in a 5-5 tie, thus letting the panel’s ruling stand. On Friday, Posner published a blistering opinion denouncing Wisconsin’s photo ID law and the panel’s decision, calling allegations of voter impersonation fraud “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.” Judge Posner’s opinion is a thorough beat down of the photo disenfranchise movement, and I encourage you to read in its entirety. (It’s not that long.)

Judge Posner’s opinion is especially fascinating consider his background. He was appointed to the Seventh Circuit in 1981 by Ronald Reagan. He’s regarded as conservative in his views, though as Wikipedia notes, “in recent years he has distanced himself from the positions of the Republican party.” Perhaps this is because in recent years the Republican party has veered further to the right as it has become beholden to it’s more extreme elements, but that’s just supposition on my part; you’d have to ask Judge Posner about it. In any event, as Wikipedia points out, Judge Posner was identified by The Journal of Legal Studies as the most cited legal scholar of the twentieth century. Without question, he’s an influential and conservative judge.

In 2007, Judge Posner wrote the Seventh Circuit’s opinion upholding the State of Indiana’s recently enacted photo ID law in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. Indiana’s was the first of the post-Obama wave of photo ID laws enacted by Republican-controlled states. After the Seventh Circuit’s ruling, the case went to the Supreme Court, which also upheld the law as constitutional. Now here we are in 2014, and Posner has written a scathing rebuke of Wisconson’s voter ID law, as well as the greater move to restrict voting rights. What caused him to, by all appearances, change his mind? The details are in his opinion.

To start with, Judge Posner addresses differences between the Indiana and Wisconsin cases, noting that the latter “involves a different statute and has a different record and arises against a background of a changed political culture in the United States.” The cases are “importantly dissimilar, not only in their terms but in the evidentiary records of the two cases.” In Indiana’s case, for example, no evidence was presented of in-person voter fraud, but neither was evidence presented that the law was likely to disenfranchise “more than a handful of voters.” In contrast, eight persons testified in the Wisconsin case that they wanted to vote in the November 4 election but were unable to obtain the required identification.

Judge Posner addresses the difference in scale of affected registered voters. In Indiana, it was estimated that one percent of the voting population lacked the required identification, whereas in Wisconsin that number is nine percent. Further, the Wisconsin law is much more restrictive than Indiana’s and provides little leeway with respect to identification. Evidence showed that many of those affected also lacked the documents needed to obtain a photo ID (e.g., a birth certificate). In addition, evidence showed that a “substantial number of the 300,000 plus eligible voters who lack a photo ID are low-income individuals… who have encountered obstacles that have prevented or deterred them from obtaining a photo ID.” And for good measure, he debunks the panel’s assertion that a photo ID is required to fly (it isn’t), as well as in other circumstances that the panel claimed required a photo ID, but actually don’t.

Judge Posner notes that “[t]here is no evidence that Wisconsin’s voter rolls are inflated, as were Indiana’s—and there is compelling evidence that voter impersonation fraud is essentially nonexistent in Wisconsin. ‘The [state] could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past.’ There are more than 660,000 eligible voters in Milwaukee County. According to the state’s own evidence, in only one or two instances per major election in which a voter in Milwaukee County is turned away from the polls because a poll worker tells him he’s voted already is there even a suspicion— unconfirmed—of fraud. An expert witness who studied Wisconsin elections that took place in 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012 found zero cases of in-person voter-impersonation fraud.”

Voter-impersonation fraud “is by all accounts a tiny subset, a tiny problem, and a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government. Those of us who live in Illinois are familiar with a variety of voting frauds, and no one would deny the propriety of the law’s trying to stamp out such frauds. The one form of voter fraud known to be too rare to justify limiting voters ability to vote by requiring them to present a photo ID at the polling place is in-person voter impersonation.” “Some of the ‘evidence’ of voter-impersonation fraud is downright goofy, if not paranoid, such as the nonexistent buses that according to the “True the Vote” movement transport foreigners and reservation Indians to polling places.”

He then tackles the question of whether the Indiana case sets a precedent that must guide future voter ID cases.

The [Seventh Circuit] panel is not troubled by the absence of evidence. It deems the supposed beneficial effect of photo ID requirements on public confidence in the electoral system “‘a legislative fact’-a proposition about the state of the world,” and asserts that “on matters of legislative fact, courts accept the findings of legislatures and judges of the lower courts must accept findings by the Supreme Court.” In so saying, the panel conjures up a fact-free cocoon in which to lodge the federal judiciary. As there is no evidence that voter impersonation fraud is a problem, how can the fact that a legislature says it’s a problem turn it into one? If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials? If the Supreme Court once thought that requiring photo identification increases public confidence in elections, and experience and academic study since shows that the Court was mistaken, do we do a favor to the Court—do we increase public confidence in elections—by making the mistake a premise of our decision? Pressed to its logical extreme the panel’s interpretation of and deference to legislative facts would require upholding a photo ID voter law even if it were uncontested that the law eliminated no fraud but did depress turnout significantly.

If the Wisconsin legislature says witches are a problem, shall Wisconsin courts be permitted to conduct witch trials? Ya gotta love it. The scary thing, of course, is that some conservatives actually do think witches are a problem. But I digress.

Finally, Judge Posner gets to the true underlying motives of the post-Obama voter disenfranchisement movement. “Judge Evans, dissenting from our decision in Crawford, called the Indiana law ‘a not too thinly veiled attempt to discourage election day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.’ But he cited no evidence to support his conjecture–a conjecture that now seems prescient, however.”

And now, six years later? “There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, if there is no actual danger of such fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens.”

Hear, hear.