Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wisconsin Stalinists Republicans Target Professor for Criticism over Gov. Walker’s Efforts to Gut Workers’ Rights

Wisconsin Stalinists Republicans Target Professor for Criticism over Gov. Walker’s Efforts to Gut Workers’ Rights

Gov. Scott Walker's aggressive tactics to crush collective bargaining in Wisconsin include a dark underbelly TPM's Josh Marshall writes.

    Marshall highlights a situation involving University of Wisconsin professor William Cronon who wrote a blog post at Scholar as Citizen examining the "sudden and impressively well-organized wave of legislation being introduced into state legislatures that all seem to be pursuing parallel goals only tangentially related to current fiscal challenges - ending collective bargaining rights for public employees, requiring photo IDs at the ballot box, rolling back environmental protections, privileging property rights over civil right ...."

    Cronon also authored a piece for The New York Times in which he compared Gov. Walker's (pictured) efforts to push an anti-workers' rights measure through the state legislature to the infamous work of former U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy.

    Professor Cronon's criticism, Marshall writes, triggered a harsh reaction from the Wisconsin Republican Party. It lodged "a state open records request to gain access to Cronon's personal emails to get a look at what communications or discussions or sources or anything else" that went into Cronon's work.

    Marshall writes:

        Now, 'personal' is up for some reasonable debate here. This is his university email. And he's a Professor at the University of Wisconsin, the state university. So he's a state employee. Still, he's not an elected official or someone doing public business in the sense you'd ordinarily understand the term. Nor are they looking at anything tied to the administration of the University, which is legitimately a public matter. In the ordinary sense we tend to understand the word it's his personal email. And the range of requested documents leave no doubt about what they're after.

    Cronon has responded to the Republican Party's move, noting its use of the state open records request is a "perversion" of the law, Marshall noted.

    In his New York Times column, Cronon said Gov. Walker's conduct, which has spurred enormous protests at the state capitol, "has provoked a level of divisiveness and bitter partisan hostility the likes of which have not been seen in this state since at least the Vietnam War. Many citizens are furious at their governor and his party, not only because of profound policy differences, but because these particular Republicans have exercised power in abusively nontransparent ways that represent such a radical break from the state's tradition of open government."

    In a guest post for ACSblog, former Wis. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager lauds state Judge Maryann Sumi for temporarily halting Gov. Walker's bill to strip collective bargaining rights from workers, saying it was a blatant violation of the state's open meetings law.

Stalin salutes in comrades in the Wisconsin Republican Party from the grave. Stalin's purges, control of the media and iron fisted control of workers seem to be the same guiding principle of Walker and every Republican governor in the nation. Criminal-in-Chief Rick Scott of Florida,  

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is one of the most entertainingly shameless figures in American political life. In the 1990s, Scott headed Columbia/HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit hospital in America. While Scott was running Columbia/HCA Healthcare, it got involved in a bit — okay, a lot — of fraud. As Forbes reported, the company “increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors ‘loans’ that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

The scale of the fraud was so immense that Columbia/HCA Healthcare ended up paying more than $2 billion (PDF) back to the federal government in the single largest fraud case in history. (The previous record holder? Drexel Burnham.) Scott resigned shortly before the judgment came down.

Today, Scott is enjoying a second act as governor of Florida. And, as Suzy Khimm reports, he doesn’t seem all that chastened. Before running for office, he turned his $62 million stake in Solantic, the urgent-care clinic chain he founded after resigning from Columbia/HCA Healthcare, over to a trust in his wife’s name. Solantic doesn’t take traditional Medicaid, but it does work with the private HMOs that, under a 2005 pilot program, were allowed to contract with Medicaid. And Scott is now pushing a bill that would expand that program across the state making those HMOs — the ones Solantic works with — the norm for Medicaid.

Asked about the apparent conflict of interest, Scott said, “If you look at everything that I want to accomplish in health care in Florida is basically what I’ve believed all my life. I believe in the principle that if you have more competition it will drive down the prices.” And I believe him. But he could have sold his stake in Solantic when he got into government. Since he didn’t, the fact remains that Scott is pushing a policy his family stands to profit from immensely . Which is, for Scott, real progress. In the 1990s, he made his money off single-payer health-care programs by cheating them. Today, he’s making his money off single-payer health-care programs by running them. No matter how you look at it, it’s a step up.

Conservatism seems to be just another name for organized crime.