Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flip-Flopping an Entire Political Philosophy

Recently the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel determined that Senator Alberta Darling flip-flopped on the issue of continuing to pay Milwaukee police after being fired from the job. If they are going to start monitoring Darling on doing that kind of thing, they are going to have a very busy summer.

Alberta Darling has not only been on both sides of several specific issues but she has more importantly performed a full flip-flop of her entire political philosophy. At one time she was legitimately viewed as a moderate Republican but that has not been true for some time. If there was any doubt about the surrendering of her "moderate" credentials one doesn't have to look very far. Right wing extremism has been in overreaching overdrive all year and Alberta Darling has been more than willing to enable and even advocate for it.

Following the most extreme elements of her party, Alberta Darling voted to defund Planned Parenthood's family planning services. They had this collective right wing knee jerk as if the funding were going toward abortions. However state law already prohibits such funds from being used for abortions and they know it. It was nothing more than a naked attack based on extreme ideology. Planned Parenthood has used such funds for services like providing contraceptive supplies, pregnancy testing, screening for cervical cancer and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Yet Alberta Darling, a former board member of Planned Parenthood, has now taken up an irrational and extreme position opposing such important services. [Milwaukee Journal, 10/18/90]

Consider some of the following to get an even better view of how far Darling has gone on women's health issues:

  • When she first won a seat in the Assembly the headlines read, "Pro-choicer wins special election in the 10th". It went on to describe how her first campaign was greatly aided by groups like NARAL. [Abortion Report, 4/6/90]
  • After her first win in the Assembly, Darling reaffirmed that her abortion rights stance was "very clear...very strong". [Milwaukee Journal, 6/17/90]
  • In 1996 Alberta Darling actually declared that the Republican Party had put the ultra-conservative abortion issue behind them. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/11/96]

This year Alberta Darling also voted to allow people to carry concealed guns just about anywhere that they want to bring them. That vote is also quite divergent from the old Alberta Darling. Shortly after starting her political career she commented on how her district supported gun control. A few years later she actually proposed legislation regulating certain kinds of handguns. During that time she commented that it was a public safety issue and that those kinds of handguns should be regulated like automobile ownership. [Milwaukee Journal, 1/14/91 and 4/12/94]

So while it is perfectly appropriate to take a look at Alberta Darling's more specific political flip-flops, we also should be looking at the fact that she has flip-flopped her entire political philosophy. Sorry, but she is not even close to being the same person that her district first elected. These are all sad signs that her many years as a career politician have caused her to grow completely out-of-touch not only with her district but also with her(former)self.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wanted: More Republicans with an "Empire State of Mind"

Friday evening the State of New York became the 6th state to take a strong stand for marriage equality. After a long debate the measure passed the state Senate by a vote of 33 to 29. Obviously this is a huge development because the state is not only the third largest in population but it also doesn't have a residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license. The fact that New York City is widely considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement just adds to the relevance of what happened last night.

All but one of the Democrats in the New York Senate were joined by 4 courageous Republicans in standing for equality. So obviously this legislation could not have passed without the help of moderate and even some fair-minded (real) conservative Republicans.

  • One key example is that of Republican Senator Stephen Saland. Two years ago he voted against a similar bill but on Friday finally had a change of heart. He said that it was "a vote of conscience" and affirmed that he knew that he was now "doing the right thing".
  • Fellow Republican Senator Mark Grisanti said that he could not, "...deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer...the same rights that I have with my wife."

Even though the New York Senate only provided 4 Republican votes, there was an extensive bipartisan coalition that helped bring about Friday night's result. Once again unions proved to be a critical ally to the LGBT community as they helped mobilize support for the effort. But credit also should be given to individual Republican donors/supporters and key corporations who also joined the coalition very early.

UPDATE 1: This is a must-read from the New York Times. It gives many of the behind-the-scenes details that brought about this victory for equality.

UPDATE 2: I'm clearly on the same page with Emily.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sorry Tommy but it's about more than health care reform

Tommy Thompson is apparently trying to do some damage control after being repeatedly hit from the right wing of the Republican Party. It seems that his primary objective is to reinvent history regarding his support for President Obama's health care reforms. Even if we let Tommy completely revise history on that point, there are many other reasons for the attacks that he is getting from the extreme right wing.

It seems that there has always been some kind of consternation with Tommy, his advisers and the radical wing of the party. Unfortunately for all of us, those right wing radicals are now running everything (into the ground). So what makes Tommy think that he will be accepted by these radicals now that they are finally running everything?

Again, Tommy's current defense focuses primarily on his ever changing view of health care reform. But there are many other reasons that the radical right wing overlords are not fond of him. For example, they lost their collective minds when big business was asked to pay their fair share through combined reporting. But Governor Doyle was certainly not the first Wisconsin Governor to push this policy. Thompson unsuccessfully attempted combined reporting in both 1993 and once again in 1999. He practically has combined reporting as bookends at both ends of his time as governor. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tax change that infuriates business, 12 years in making, isn't a surprise", 2/18/99]

You don't even have to stop at health care reform and combined reporting when you are counting the ways that the current Republican establishment disregards/derides Tommy Thompson. Many of them would probably cite run away spending and the lack of sufficiently extreme positions on social issues.

It is clear that Tommy loves the speculative attention that he gets whenever he talks about running for an open seat in Wisconsin. Even if he were serious this time, sadly the Republican Party of Wisconsin has gone completely off the deep end. This new extreme brand of Republican and Tommy's actual record will never mix well. Sorry Tommy, this longstanding problem is not going to be remedied by simply spinning your position on health care reform. It is about so much more than that one issue.

Friday, June 03, 2011

That was then this is now: Open Meetings Edition


"Access to open meetings and public records is an essential component of effective citizen oversight of the workings of our democratic government. Raising awareness, sharing information, and promoting compliance with open meetings and public records law is part of the ongoing mission of the Department of Justice." - J.B. Van Hollen, [Capital Times, September 12, 2007]


"As the state's chief law enforcement officer, I am deeply committed to promoting compliance with Wisconsin's open meetings and public records laws." - J.B. Van Hollen, [Capital Times, March 16, 2009]


"Nothing captures the essence of American democracy better than 'government of the people, by the people, for the people,' and a citizen's access to public records and meetings of governmental bodies is a vital aspect of this principle. That is why, as your attorney general, I am deeply committed to promoting understanding of, and compliance with, Wisconsin's open meetings and public records laws. Educating the public and public employees on these laws is one of the most important parts of that goal." - J.B. Van Hollen, [Capital Times, August 29, 2010]


"Even by the low standard that Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sets for himself when representing the interests of the people of Wisconsin, his move to try to eviscerate the state's open meetings law is unacceptable...If Van Hollen gets his way, Wisconsin's open meetings law would ultimately be rendered meaningless — as would the promise of open and honest governance that the legislators of the 1970s outlined and embraced for themselves and for all branches and units of government in Wisconsin. Van Hollen may not be the ablest lawyer. But he is no fool. He knows that he is attacking the underpinnings of the open meetings law." - Capital Times Editorial, [Capital Times, May 31, 2011]