Is Scott Walker a "Goggle-Eyed Homunculus" Leading a Pack of "Nihilistic Vandals" or Is Esquire's Charles P. Pierce Just a Multi-Chinned Four Eyes Angry that Not Everyone Thinks Teachers Shouldn't Pay More for Benefits?

Tomorrow is the big recall vote in Wisconsin and, while it's far from certain how things will turn out, most polls are looking pretty good for the target of the action, Gov. Scott Walker, who is beating his challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by about 5 points to 7 points in most polls. Those polls are a week old or so, so who knows how they are going to turn out.

But when the Reason-Rupe poll took the pulse of Wisconsin residents May 14-18th, it found that about 71 percent of adults favored public sector workers increasing the amount they pay for their health benefits (from 6 percent to 12 percent of premiums) and pensions (from less than 1 percent to 6 percent of salary).

Which suggests that whether Walker gets booted or not, government workers are going to have to kick in more for benefits. At least if the voters have any say in the matter. Wisconsin is a high-tax state that is part of an industrial Midwest that had serious problems long before the current recession. The whole area is not lighting any fires economically and public-sector workers enjoy higher levels of total compensation than similar workers in the private sector. That's the essential backdrop for Walker's move to eliminate collective bargaining at the state level for benefits: The state can't particularly tax its way out of the situation and it makes sense that public-sector workers should pay more for their benefits.

Or, to hear the legacy media folks tell it, this is really about Kansas billionaires against the little guy. Take it away, Esquire's Charles P. Pierce:

Scott Walker [is] the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage its midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin....

In 2010, in addition to handing the House of Representatives over to a pack of nihilistic vandals, the Koch Brothers and the rest of the sugar daddies of the Right poured millions into various state campaigns. This produced a crop of governors and state legislators wholly owned and operated by those corporate interests and utterly unmoored from the constituencies they were elected to serve. In turn, these folks enacted various policies, and produced various laws, guaranteed to do nothing except reinforce the power of the people who put them in office. This is the first real test of democracy against the money power. Its true national import is that it is the first loud and noisy attempt to roll back the amok time that Republican governors and their pet legislatures have unleashed in the states at the behest of the corporate interests who finance their careers. It is the first serious pushback not only against Scott Walker, but against Dick Snyder's assault on democracy in Michigan, and Mitch Daniels's assault on unions in Indiana, and Rick Scott's assault on voting rights in Florida. None of this was in any way coincidental. It was a national strategy played out in a series of statewide episodes, aimed at establishing the habits of oligarchy on a local basis.

Whole thing.

From the above sort of writing, you wouldn't know that, for instance, that Walker's budget increases total outlays over the next two-year cycle, that tax cuts amount to 1 percent of projected tax revenue, or that Wisconsin's unemployment rate is well below the national average.

If this sort of fact-free invective, however grammatically impressive and (judging from the pictures available online) transparently self-referential, is what passes for critical analysis of how to fix the budgets and futures of broke-down and busted state coffers, good luck to progressives the world over. It was nice knowing you.

Full disclosure: David Koch is on the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, which publishes this website. Read more here and here.

Watch "3 Lies About the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Recall," originally released on May 17, 2012:

Here's the original text for the video:

Ever since he took on Wisconsin’s teachers unions and denied them collective bargaining rights, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has been Public Enemey No. 1 for public-sector unions all over the country. Walker faces a recall election on June 5th and may well be chased out of the governor's mansion after just one year in office.

Is Walker the heartless budget-cutter his opponents claim - slashing spending, cutting taxes, and driving Wisconsin’s economy into a sinkhole?

Hardly. Here are three lies at the heart of the Wisconsin Recall.

Lie #1: Gov. Walker Cut Spending

Gov. Walker has cut the rate at which Wisconsin's state budget is growing, but he hasn’t actually cut spending. In fact, the state's biennial budget is scheduled to increase by about 3 percent on Walker's watch, rising from $62.6 billion (2009-11) to $64.3 billion (2011-13).

A big reason for that bump is that Walker's budget includes a historic increase in state spending on Medicaid, after the federal government cut its contribution to the state-run health insurance program for the poor.

Walker has been widely vilified for a 7 percent cut in state aid to schools over two years, which he says will be paid for by cost-saving measures such as requiring teachers to kick in more for their pensions and healthcare.

But the bottom line is that Walker hasn’t actually cut overall state spending.

Lie #2: Gov. Walker Slashed Taxes

Gov. Walker's tax cuts will save Wisconsonites about $136 million dollars[*] in the next fiscal year, which is just 1 percent of the total tax money the state collects.

It’s not like Wisconsin is some sort of under-taxed haven. In 2009, the Tax Foundation ranked Wisconsin as having the fourth-highest combined state and local tax burden in the country. If cutting taxes and letting individuals spend their own money is a way to spark economic activity, Wisconsin still has a long way to go.

Lie #3 Gov. Walker Destroyed Jobs

Walker has been battered for a projected drop of 24,000 jobs in the Badger State over the course of one year. His opponents say this is proof that his entire first term has been an abysmal failure.

Walker's supporters are pointing to another jobs survey that shows an increase of 23,000 jobs over the same period.

Whichever's more accurate, these numbers represent neither catastrophe nor triumph since they account for less than 1 percent Wisconsin's labor force.

One thing that both sides can agree on is that Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 6.8 percent is well below the national average of 8.1 percent.

There's no doubt that Wisconsin's economy has plenty of room for improvement. That'll only happen if Gov. Walker can get serious about cutting taxes and spending.

[*]: The Wisconsin's Legislative Fiscal Bureau's June 2011 tally of Walker's tax cuts was completed before passage of Act 212, which brought an additional tax reduction of $1.3 million next fiscal year.

Written by Jim Epstein and Nick Gillespie.

About 3.30 minutes.

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  • Ice Nine||

    Tomorrow is going to be so much fun.

  • Paul.||

    NPR reports they're "neck-and-neck". Too close to call, etc.

  • The Overfiend||

    It's gonna be awesome watching the reactions after he wins tomorrow.

  • Ice Nine||

    You'd probably be surprised to learn that I agree.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I hope you're right and he does win. Remember the polls don't include all the Union vote fixing.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Foreign billionaires used secret money to steal our democracy.

  • R C Dean||

    But enough about Soros.

  • sarcasmic||

    tl;dr

  • R C Dean||

    I don't suppose you guys could give us an update on the last round of polling, maybe in the PM links?

    The hysteria and invective from the left on this is a pretty good sign that (a) they think he's going to win, (b) a Walker victory will be a major blow to the unions as a political force, and (c) the unions as a political force are very important to the left's aspirations.

  • John||

    Union membership has dropped to damn near nil in Wisconsin. The left has been funding itself for years like this. First make paying union dues mandatory. Then use the union dues to fund leftist political causes. This is a huge and probably the biggest leftist cash cow. Also, if union members no longer have collective bargaining rights, the biggest reason to vote Democrat has just gone away.

  • Zeb||

    The thing that really amazes me is that the Democrats basically come out and admit this. You'd think that they would want to pretend that is was all for the benefits unions give to the proletarians. They want the unions to be strong because they are a major provider of their financial support.

  • ||

    John, while union membership in general has declined in Wisconsin, that is not true of the "new unions", IE teachers and public employees.

    While membership in "old unions", mostly building trades and industrial unions, is declining, membership in "new unions" is increasing in nearly every state.

    The only union members who seemed to be showing up in any numbers at the WI protest appeared to be teachers and public employees.

    The "old unions" have pretty much learned their lesson and are keeping demands restrained because they know employers cannot and/o will not meet inflated wage demands.

    No such restraint exists for the public sector.

  • R C Dean||

    John, while union membership in general has declined in Wisconsin, that is not true of the "new unions", IE teachers and public employees.

    Beg to differ:

    Public-employee unions in Wisconsin have experienced a dramatic drop in membership—by more than half for the second-biggest union—since a law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker sharply curtailed their ability to bargain over wages and working conditions.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....99718.html

  • ||

    Thanks for that correction but I was referring more to trends pre-Walker.

    The general trends over time have been that "new unions" are growing while "old unions" are shrinking.

    The members of "old unions" are less reliably Democrat although their leadership, who are increasingly people who have never actually worked at the trades they represent, are for the most part de facto agents for the party.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I bet that a good number of formerly dues paying union members will suddenly decide they have something more important to do than vote tomorrow.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's hard not to wonder what the national implications of a Walker win would be. If he can shrug off union nonsense in Wisconsin, then that may very well be a sign that many Americans are open to "tough" decisions that involve cutting budgets rather than spending more.

  • John||

    The problem is that the Unions have manage to bounce a blank check. They have taken so much that the choice is to either get rid of collective bargaining or go broke. Even New York is starting to realize this. The only place that refuses to face reality is California.

  • Ice Nine||

    It's hard not to wonder what the national implications of a Walker win would be.

    I think you just might see the Mother of all National Implications when the polls close in Wisconsin on Nov 6.

  • Brett L||

    If he wins, I expect that every state except California and Illinois that has mandatory dues contributions will strip them out at the next opportunity. Well, in New Jersey, I expect Christie to try. Not sure if he has the legislative support. Pataki is already making noises about cutting union contracts, and killing the mandatory dues collection is probably the best way to start.

  • plu1959||

    Bettors at Intrade seem to think a Walker win is a sure thing.

  • John||

    None of this was in any way coincidental. It was a national strategy played out in a series of statewide episodes, aimed at establishing the habits of oligarchy on a local basis.

    So what if it was? In Pierce's world I guess only his side is allowed to run a national campaign for anything.

    Pierce really is a paranoid nut. I don't think he is trolling. I think he is that angry, delusional and paranoid. The question here is not why is Pierce nuts, because he clearly is. It is why does the legacy media continue to allow clearly deranged people like Pierce and Andrew Sullivan platforms.

  • ||

    Because you can't be a shithole banana republic if you don't control the media?

  • West Texas||

    Yeah, I'm curious under what circumstances he might think it would be legitimate for certain progress to be rolled back.

    In other words, some voters are more equal that others?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    I think he is that angry, delusional and paranoid. The question here is not why is Pierce nuts, because he clearly is.

    Pierce isn't nuts or paranoid. He's a emotionally stunted nerd that never got over being shoved in lockers figuratively and literally, by people of greater charisma, charm, and ability in high school, and he's determined to make the rest of society pay for it.

    He's exactly the kind of man-child dork that comic book companies are catering to these days.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Wow, Red Rocks! You're so Alpha and cool!

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Were you next in line behind Pierce for the photo with Nimoy?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And if I were? What are you going to do, take my lunch money?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Is "lunch money" code for "reduced lunch tickets"?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The absurd thing is that you think those are insults.

    I suggest you see a professional about your projection and self-esteem issues.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    No, what's absurd is your silly white-knighting for Pierce. Have some skittles and iced tea, you'll feel better about yourself.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Ah, is there nothing more amusing than the impotent rage of the Internet Tough Guy?

  • The Hammer||

    White Knighting, or calling you out for getting a little overzealous in ascribing his motives and saying something stupid?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    A wild SOCKPUPPET appears!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Spoofing me now?

    Really?

  • The Hammer||

    Jesus Christ, RRR, "People of greater charisma, charm and ability?" Seriously?

  • Raven Nation||

    Plus, I always find the irony of the left seeing vast conspiracies somehow relaxing. So many leftists, and the academics I know, just KNOW that conspiracy theory is only found on the right (thank you Richard freaking Hofstadter). But many on the left live in a world run by a vast right-wing and/or libertarian conspiracy.

  • PapayaSF||

    Oh yes. Right now some friends are having fantasies about how employers are intentionally not hiring and performing other acts of sabotage against the economy in order to defeat Obama.

  • Raven Nation||

    Which is oddly consistent with statist thinking i.e. if you believe that the economy society can be centrally organized in such a way as to provide happiness for everyone, then you can also organize it to be destructive.

  • PapayaSF||

    Absolutely. It's also a wonderful way to explain away the failures of leftist economic policy. It all *should* have worked, and when it doesn't, it must be sabotage.

  • Raven Nation||

    Yeah, it's interesting that apparently Stalin used the term "wrecking" whenever one of his 5 year plans didn't work out.

    Of course, many on the right also explain why "targeted" tax cuts, etc. don't work.

  • Whahappan?||

    Kulak wreckers!!

  • Pro Libertate||

    The government is the money power. They take our money and use it to increase their power. Even the largest business is nothing compared to the government.

  • Randian||

    Eagerly looking forward to "JoshSN" to show up with tears staining his keyboard.

  • ||

    As long as they are salty ham tears that can fill up a 32oz cup.

  • Ska||

    That cup would have to be banned twice in the wonderful city I call my home.

  • ||

    Tomorrow evening is shaping up as a very good time to stay away from facebook. More than most days, even.

    My local paper ran an editorial in favor of Walker, which really had me scratching my head, until I actually read it. They think Walker is Satan, but recall elections are bad for the stability of our democracy. How do people learn to think that way?

  • tarran||

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    That's my favorite line from that movie.

  • ||

    Tomorrow evening is shaping up as a very good time to stay away from facebook

    I think you might be right...in fact, it might behoove me to stay away for the next week or so.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Okay, what's up with all of the TOS references and pictures? Did I miss something?

    Just heard that Richard Dawson died. Always liked him.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That sucks. I used to watch Hogan's Heroes 5 times a day when I was a kid. RIP Richard.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I loved that show, and I used to watch Match Game regularly.

  • Zeb||

    I loved him as Family Feud host. I'm pretty sure he was pretty drunk most of the time and he kissed every female contestant without exception.

  • Ska||

    A true master of the game show hosting. So fucking good at it that he had to be in Running Man.

  • ||

    Only in a rerun.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He basically seized control of Match Game from the panel. He's like the God of Game Shows.

  • Zeb||

    Are you sure you're not thinking of Gene Rayburn? I think Dawson was on the panel.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's the point. Gene was second banana to Dawson.

  • JW||

    It was a jokeless coup.

  • AlmightyJB||

    civil discourse

  • Mike M.||

    The funniest part in all this absurdity is that Block Yomomma and the real hardcore Wisconsin commies didn't even want Barrett to go up against Walker again in a rematch, they really wanted Kathleen Falk instead, and they couldn't even get that.

    But yes, tomorrow's ass-kicking is going to be great.

  • ||

    Re the author photos, it's hard to work out which one's worse - the one where he's a pretentious douche, or the one where he looks like an old sofa

  • R C Dean||

    The Pierce author photo is amusing. He's all urban street cred with his fedora and jacket, and then throws it all away with the circa 1984 nerd glasses.

    I'll give Pierce some slack on the nanu-nanu pic. Who among us wouldn't be kinda goofy if we got the chance to meet Leonard Nimoy?

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Any doubt this is the type guy who would be in back of the protestors urging them to hurl molotov cocktails, but wouldn't have the balls himself to get out in front?

  • Paul.||

    Any doubt this is the type guy who would be in back of the protestors urging them to hurl molotov cocktails, but wouldn't have the balls himself to get out in front?

    He looks like movement in general isn't one of his favorite activities.

  • ||

    LOL!!

    First time I have ever LOLed on HnR!

    +1 internets to you, good sir!

  • ||

    Everthing you really need to know about Charles P. Pierce is summed up in this one quote:

    If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.


    Even if it's intended as irony, that's the work of a pretentious, and clueless, douche

  • ||

    What. the. fuck?

  • Killazontherun||

    Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age brought us all the HMO mess that decoupled price from service in creating a tertiary system unchecked by market signals.

  • ||

    OT, except on the general and always relevant subject of what douchebags bigspending liberal Democrats are.

    One thing to remember about Ted Kennedy is that he almost singlehadedly destroyed the Carter presidency because he thought Carter was too fiscally conservative.

    You're in big trouble when your own party won't pass your budgets because they're not lavish enough.

    Of course Kennedy's attacks on Carter's spending almost always resulted in a "compromise" where the final appropriation was even more than either party had requested in the first place.

  • The Overfiend||

    Wow...

  • ||

    What makes the article funny is the fact that its gist is "for all his many flaws, Ted kennedy was a truly wonderful, wonderful person.'

    Trouble is that only a douche could believe that things like Kennedy's unfailing devotion to passing higher spending and inventing bigger programs were virtues.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    And Hitler would have brought peace to the Jews.

  • ||

    I saw an article on yahoo about how this recall election really doesn't mean anything. So yeah, Walker is going to win.

  • Zeb||

    What really gets me is that people like this seem to really believe that any politician supported by conservative rich people must be bought and paid for. Does he consider at all the possibility that the Kochs, etc. might just have sought out candidates who already agreed with them to support?

  • ||

    Don't be silly. Only rich liberals do that. Or so I've been told.

  • Killazontherun||

    This produced a crop of governors and state legislators wholly owned and operated by those corporate interests and utterly unmoored from the constituencies they were elected to serve. In turn, these folks enacted various policies, and produced various laws, guaranteed to do nothing except reinforce the power of the people who put them in office. This is the first real test of democracy against the money power.

    It's only democracy when we win. With all these fascist fat cats stealing our democratic elections with money induced mass false consciousnesses, our only choice is enforcing a Dictatorship of the Proletariat through the state bureaucracies we control no matter which party is in power. We didn't want to do this, we wanted to trust the people, we really did, but it is clear they are too weak of will to be trusted to do what is in their own best interest.

  • R C Dean||

    With a single change ("corporate" - "union"), that is a nice summary of the TEAM BLUE pubsec kleptocracy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And they're a hair from openly saying this kind of nonsense.

  • ||

    A hair? They're already openly saying it, dude.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not in their platform in those exact words.

  • ||

    We have let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. We do not believe that government should stand in the way of innovation, or turn back the clock to an older era of regulation. But we do believe that government has a role to play in advancing our common prosperity: by providing stable macroeconomic and financial conditions for sustained growth; by demanding transparency; andby ensuring fair competition in the marketplace. We will reform and modernize our regulatory structures and will work to promote a shift in the cultures of our financial institutions and our regulatory agencies.

    See? It's right out there in the open, dude.

  • Almanian...still||

    We will reform and modernize our regulatory structures and will work to promote a shift in the cultures of our financial institutions and our regulatory agencies.

    MEIN FUHRER!!!! I CAN WALK!!!

    /Dr. Strangelove

  • plu1959||

    Its true national import is that it is the first loud and noisy attempt to roll back the amok time that Republican governors and their pet legislatures have unleashed in the states at the behest of the corporate interests who finance their careers.

    Way to shift the center, Turdnugget. "We're going to increase spending by 5% instead of 10%." "OMFG!!! AMOK TIME!!!11!"

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