Thursday, April 3, 2014

Journal Times Gives The Finger To Democracy

What the mutherfuck?! Can they possibly get more shady?

On the heels of Sunday's shitnugget of an editorial on Medicaid expansion that was so full of debunked bullshit, one would think the editors of the Journal Times might lay low for a few days.

Not so much.

Today's post-election gobsmacking editorial read:

"Americans For Prosperity involvement in local races isn't bad"

And good morning to you too, assholes. The Siren knows what you're thinking: isn't this the same paper who gave Paul Ryan his own column to write whatever he wanted even while he was running for re-election until they were shamed into stopping it?

Yes, it is.

It isn't that it is so surprising the Journal Times would have this position - it is just that the editorial is so stupid. The best way to highlight the dumb logic is to let you read it - but the JT counts clicks on the internet, and they don't much care whether its because you like them or loathe them. So we're reprinting the editorial here - and guess what? We're gonna do it with notes!

We haven't done this in a while. As always, the Siren's thoughts are in red.

Americans For Prosperity involvement in local races isn't bad
In December every year, residents open their mail and shake their heads when they look at their tax bill. 
It’s one of those unavoidable evils of the world and is universally irritating. Yet for some reason, when local municipal and school board elections come around in the spring, people seem to forget they ever received a tax bill and “forget” to vote, meaning they don’t care enough to even bother.
Okay, wait a minute. You fuckers already tipped your teabilly hand. Taxes aren't an "unavoidable evil" they are a social contract. In exchange I get a road to drive on, someone who will come and put the fire out in my house, clean water to drink and a teacher who puts up with my kids all day and tries really hard to get them to understand the math that I can't do.
No one wants to over pay in taxes, but the assumption they are "universally irritating" and therefore without merit is lame and lazy.  
People "forget" they got a tax bill and "forget" to vote? Who is writing this shit? Municipal races have always had lower turnouts - no matter what state or town you live in. People like politics and nonpartisan races aren't that sexy. They also don't provide an easy "D" or "R" frame of reference.      
For instance, in Racine County in Tuesday’s election, only 13,193 people cast ballots out of 111,593 registered voters, according to preliminary county results. That is just under 12 percent and pretty pathetic.
True. What's also pathetic is a local newspaper who does minimal candidate coverage because it doesn't generate revenue. Oh and doesn't endorse candidates because it makes the subscribers mad. People don't vote for a lot of reasons:
They aren't familiar with the candidates to make a choice. 
They aren't that unhappy with the incumbents. 
Less political advertising.
They don't care.

Because of that selective memory we all have, it’s not a bad thing when you hear about groups like Americans for Prosperity coming into the area and reminding people to vote in local elections, specifically the school board election in Kenosha.

Americans for Prosperity weren't "reminding people to vote" they were advocating for specific candidates. Through clever issue ad loopholes their candidate preference was clear. That's a really big difference than doing nonpartisan voter engagement.
Just hearing the mention of “Americans for Prosperity” gives some people goosebumps. After all, it’s the evil conservative group funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Your words, not ours. No argument here. Let us just remind the JT that Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin is one of several conservative groups targeted by a John Doe investigation. One man's snark is another man's truth. 
Obviously, the group has an agenda for wanting to get involved in local elections.

Obviously? Do tell.
In Kenosha for example, despite Act 10’s provisions sharply restricting collective bargaining, the Kenosha Unified School Board still voted last year to approve new union contracts before the existing ones expired. That brought the group into the area, David Fladeboe, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said in a Kenosha News story.

Gotta love the blame the victim philosophy here - they dared vote on a contract which AFP opposes, so naturally the School Board opened themselves up to outside interference from a group with deep pockets and a sketchy history.  
As part of a strategy toward creating more awareness for the issue, the group reportedly had a field team working on the race, doing phone banks and canvassing in the district, according to the Kenosha News.

What issue? Union busting? Common Core opposition? School Vouchers? AFP has a lot of issues with public schools. 
In a news story by Wisconsin Public Radio, state Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, said he thought the involvement was unnecessary.
“Local races are the last bastion of unspoiled democracy, with friends and neighbors working for a candidate,” Wirch said in the WPR story.
But where was Wirch with this type of concern when union members from around the nation came to Wisconsin to help fight the passage of Act 10? He didn’t have any problem then.

Stop right there. The protests in Madison were not a "local" issue. That was a statewide concern and a weaselly comparison. Wirch is right. 
Similarly, Jo Ann Taube, who had the endorsement of the teachers’ union and ended up being ousted from office, said “I’m amazed they’re (AFP) interested in a school board election in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where school board members receive a stipend of $4,500 a year.”
It’s not about the money the candidates make. It’s about the decisions that candidates make when they are in office. It’s hard to say how much of a factor Americans for Prosperity played in the Kenosha Unified election, but ultimately two new board members were elected.

Local races run on pennies compared to others in the state. When a national group comes in with basically unlimited resources like AFP, you can bet it is a big factor and that is why it is a problem. They aren't from here, they don't stay here, they don't have students in the schools - they do, however, have ideology about education to promote that changes the tone and perhaps the outcome of the election. That's not democracy, that's a hijack.
Granted, state and federal elected officials make laws and get to determine how much money to send cities and school districts. But local elected officials are the ones who determine how that money is spent.

Less and less under Scott Walker. So much for local control, suckers.
Should that money be spent on Sister Cities overseas and a cable access channel, or should it be spent on police overtime and road repairs?

Why is it one or the other? These guys know better than this - its a false choice. Bullshit.
And at the school board level, the board members pick the superintendent, set staff wages and budgets and decide when and if a school should be shut down.
As with all campaign literature and advertising, there should be full disclosure about which group is funding what. That way, voters can make a better-informed decision about how they should interpret the information they see.

And Americans for Prosperity don't have to reveal who they get their money from. We know in large part it is from the Koch brothers, but not much else can be known. Last time we checked, the Koch boys have no mailing address in Kenosha - or in Wisconsin.
But the bottom line is, residents who make it to the polls and vote are ultimately the ones who determine how our government is run. If groups like Americans for Prosperity can help create more awareness for the issues and turn out more voters, then more power to them or any other group trying, as long as they are willing to disclose who they are. 

Yeah, if those lazy bastards don't want to get up and go to the polls, let the Koch brothers decide who gets elected. Someone's gotta do it. What a stupid, stupid piece of crap.