Monologues of Scott Walker: Job creation cannot be measured in "jobs"

"Job creation cannot be measured in 'jobs,' per se, but in the extent to which
one spins jobs numbers to give the illusion one has created them."
- Excerpted from the presumed inner monologue of Scott Walker
 29 Sept. 2013
Dear friends and other readers, including, but not limited to, the Fundraiser in Chief of Wisconsin, Scott Walker,

Welcome to a new exercise in dissent at MoD, Monologues of Scott Walker, in which we provide a summary and analysis of the presumed inner and outer monologues of one Scott Kevin Walker, who refuses still to communicate with those he governs in any coherent or meaningful way (including, but not limited to, by refusing to instruct his staff to reply to their emails or phone calls to his office; by refusing to attend events which are open to the public or invite public comment or conversation; and by refusing to attend events which are neither publicity stunts nor fundraisers).  If you happen to be the governor in question, and you're reading this, please know that the doors to alternative modes of communication remain open, and we welcome you to make use of them.  Many others in positions of power and/or publicly elected office often do, in fact, communicate with their constituents, and there are many resources at your disposal if you are uncertain as to addressing the difficulties of doing so, or scared about accidentally saying something true, or encountering people who may not give you money, at one of those events.

This inaugural monologue highlights the primary message the ever-campaigning governor would like to convey: 

Hmm.  Tone's a little off, but the truth level is spot-on.

It's not hard to read between the lines when one has a record like yours, Governor Walker, and since you refuse to communicate with us in any real way, I'm sure you'll understand the necessity of providing a more coherent summary of what your spin and your actions are saying to the people of Wisconsin.  Were it not so damaging, I'd almost admire your well-bought skills in distorting your record of failure and presenting it as a record of success, meeting every latest documentation of your dismal jobs record with a misleading press release touting the "success" of your industry-stalling, worker-stomping, economy-halting policies, in a move my dad, Rick DuBois, so beautifully sums up thus:
"The damage is done, his sheep have been fed b*llsh*t and are delighted with it."
This week has seen some especially creative spin, to accompany some especially damning evidence of your incompetence in the job creation department.

The facts:  A report from Business Journal ranked you 6th Worst Governor in the US in job creation, 40th out of 45 governors evaluated.  Sen. Dave Hanson (D-Green Bay) sums up that news aptly:
“When a publication like the Business Journal says our Governor is 6th worst in creating jobs, folks should listen to them. Even by his own standards, the Governor is not even half-way to keeping his promise of creating 250,000 jobs in his first term.”
WMC = Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce = Walker 2014
All interests, all conflicts, all the time.
Your response: put out a press release and get your cronies at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (the unofficial propaganda arm of your campaign enterprise) to dump a staggering $800,000 into an ad campaign that willfully distorts another study, from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, to give the impression that you are actually leading the nation and the Midwest in job growth (which, of course, you aren't, as everyone who looks at the real data knows).  The Philly Fed, incidentally, immediately responded to denounce your blatant manipulation of this jobs data, discrediting the spurious "rankings" their numbers cannot be used to  suggest.  Ironically, Federal Reserve Bank data also demonstrates that Wisconsin is 49th in economic recovery, but that bit somehow missed inclusion in your ad. Your buddies at the Journal Sentinel tried to soften that blow by stressing how those rankings aren't a very clear indicator, and a more clear indicator might be to look at better data:
The most accurate reading of the state's employment trends show Wisconsin ranks at No. 44 in private-sector job creation in the most recent 12-month period. In the same time frame, also using accurate data, Wisconsin ranks as the nation's fifth worst in terms of the erosion in private-sector wages, in which the state's 2.2% decline is twice the rate of the national 1.1% average.
Know what they call that kind of picking and choosing, and blatant distortion of data?  Propaganda.  Luckily for you, propaganda is a very effective political tool.  Less luckily, we're paying attention.  And most of us aren't idiots. Sorry. Blame college. Or the recall. Or something.

Because the blame game you play has become a joke.  Even in the midst of trying to pretend your record is good, you constantly admit the truth by pointing the finger and blaming others for your dismal jobs record.  Which is it?  Make up your mind!  Are you going to keep claiming that contrary to well-documented study after well-documented study, your "reforms are working" OR are you going to keep blaming the recall, and Obamacare, and the recall, and Syria, and the recall, and Obamacare, and the recall, and the protests, and the recall, and workers, and Europe and Obama, for your failures?  Or are you too busy traveling and fundraising and eating brown bag lunches on your 44 flights (!) from Madison to Wauwatosa (to the tune of $183,839.16 in travel expenses from Jan-June in this year alone - not counting commercial flights or the trip to China) on our dime to think about that right now?

Free campaign strategy tip:  You can't both say your record is awesome AND constantly blame someone else for your horrible record. (Just kidding.  That tip wasn't free.  Please send a check for consultation services for however much you usually pay your Koch/ALEC/WMC cronies or Scott Suder or Chief Erwin or the people tending your criminal defense fund to me at the address at the end of this message.  Not sure what the going rate is but it sure seems like you can afford it!  Many thanks!  Let me know if you need my EIN or SS# for tax purposes.)

Finally, since we're talking about abuses of power and distortions of your record, I want to close by addressing the issue that's most important to me as a parent and a taxpayer: your record of abuses to public education.  I could not be more ashamed or disgusted by the revelation this week that the "Read to Lead" program was in fact, pure grandstanding.  By failing to even appoint members of the development council to get this much-photographed, much-publicized, much-spun (and totally superfluous) program off the ground, you have made clear what we already knew: the whole thing was a big publicity stunt to get us to think you cared about public education (which you have proven unequivocally that you do not). A full year and a half after the fund was established, $0 of its $400,000 have been put to use and the council has yet to be formed, proving beyond the shadow of any remaining doubt that you care absolutely none about the students in our public schools, and that you will go to any lengths in your "investments" in defunding and destroying public education in this state.  This news, coupled with your Tea Party rallying call for "public hearings" on Common Core State Standards that Wisconsin has already committed to implementing in our schools (and rejection of which would force us to give up federal funding, depriving us of access to our own tax money, like you love), makes Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who stood by your side for "Read to Lead" photo op after photo op, look like a total tool in your ruthless manipulations, and makes us wonder why he wasted one moment of his time trying to partner with you on education initiatives when you show nothing but disrespect for him, our schools, our educators, our taxpayers, and our students.  

As a parent, and someone who cares deeply about preserving the quality and excellence of our wonderful public schools in Wisconsin, I am just disgusted by this latest evidence of your hypocrisy.  I call on everyone who cares about public education to follow closely your actions, and the actions of your legislative cronies (who care more about promoting and preserving institutional racism in our schools than the quality of education), and how they are tied to the out-of-state special interest groups using Wisconsin as their testing ground for how far privatizers can go before people unite to stand up and say ENOUGH to defunding education, demoralizing educators, and violating the public trust.  I am saying enough now.  And I welcome others to join me.  They can start by connecting dots and following the amazing work being done by the team of watchdogs at Public School Shakedown, led by Ruth Conniff.  They can start by attending school board meetings (or, better yet, joining the board or serving on committees!) and getting a better sense about how for all your lip-service to "local control," you are tying districts' hands and making real control more and more difficult at the local level.  They can start by standing up for teachers, volunteering in classrooms, showing their support and appreciation for the hard work they do, following the news of what's really going on in public education, and keeping a sharp eye on intrusions into them by unscrupulous privateers.  

I'm keeping a sharp eye, actually, on all of your unscrupulous intrusions in to our public and private lives, and looking forward, in every way, to voting for your replacement in 2014.

Heather DuBois Bourenane
Unintimidated voter and public school supporter, Wisconsin

Update: 8:00pm, 9/29/2013.  This just in.  More number-crunching and calling out from the brilliant brain over at Jake's Economic TA Funhouse

Wisconsin GOP: Return to Institutionalized Racism is "The Best Path Forward"

The Vatican. The Smithsonian.  The Hague.  Barnes & Noble.  Hooters.

There's nothing more institutional than the name associated with an institution.

And when that name is racist, you're cementing approval of that racism into the very walls of the institution. 

I'm white and I don't find this offensive at all.
What's the problem?
Just today, I learned of an effort to draw attention to the need to rename Florida's Nathan Bedford Forrest High School, one of two schools in the United States that still bears the name of the first Grand Wizard of the KKK (the other school's in Tennessee).  The Florida school has paid tribute to Bedford since its anti-segregation inception in 1959. There's an effort now to petition the local school board to have it renamed.
And while I was still puzzling over how this overt vestige of racism is still considered acceptable in 2013 America, I read the news from Wisconsin, where a long and ongoing battle over racist mascot names has been taken to the next level by Republican legislators.

The message is simple.
Source: Democurmudgeon.
When they aren't too busy focusing on creating jobs legalizing rubber duck races, Wisconsin Republicans are actual drafting legislation that would turn back the hard-fought advances toward equity in public schools by "rewriting" the law requiring schools to abandon racist mascot names, and shift authority on the matter from the Department of Public Instruction to (guess who?) Scott Walker's Department of Administration.  Because one belligerent district refuses to comply with the name-change requirement, our children will be subjected to continued humiliations and the unconscionably bad example of normalizing racism in the classroom.  Even in their own press release, Sen. Mary Lazich accidentally betrays the true purpose of the backward-looking bill: to ensure total control so that no schools will have to change their mascots, to "avoid imposing costly re-branding on school districts."  Using words like "treasured mascots" and referring to the "principled positions" of school districts who refuse to abandon their beloved traditions [of racism], the Republican legislators' complete disrespect for how deeply offensive these racist mascot names are to many Wisconsinites is now on display for all to see. The repulsive irony is best seen in the words of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the blatant disregard for civility and equity is "the best path forward."  

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The most significant change would shift the burden of proof from the school districts to those filing complaints. Now, districts must prove their mascots, team names and logos do not promote discrimination, stereotyping or pupil harassment.
The bill also would require the hearings to be conducted by the state Department of Administration rather than the Department of Public Instruction. That would shift control of the hearings to Walker's administration and away from state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers.
Now, instead of school districts having to prove to DPI that their mascot names aren't offensive, Wisconsin tribes will have to come to Madison and stand before the DOA to prove that they are.  And then, one assumes, be told that while we respect their concerns very much, we're sorry, but they're wrong.

What could possibly be racist about that? 

"Logos of some of the Wisconsin high schools that have Native American mascots: Top row: Menomonee Falls Indians, Muskego Warriors, Mukwonago Indians, Waunakee Warriors. Bottom row: Fort Atkinson Blackhawks, Mosinee Indians, Kewaskum Indians, Ozaukee Warriors. Republicans announced Thursday that the Assembly would consider a bill within weeks rewriting the process for forcing school districts to drop their Indian mascots, shifting the burden of proof and possibly inflaming the ire of Native Americans." - Image and caption: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Time's Leading Question to Kids: "If you had a choice, what type of school would you pick?"

"If you had a choice, what type of school would you pick?"

Time for Kids' inappropriate question, and its distortion of a complicated issue,
manipulates public school children and plants seeds of doubt and suspicion
about the quality of their own schools


At the excellent public school my kids attend, Time for Kids is often a regular part of the curriculum, providing relevant readings in contemporary issues and debates to promote reading and encourage discussion of current events.  The magazine bills itself as "a weekly classroom news magazine that motivates kids to read! Issues cover a wide range of real-world topics kids love to learn about - and it's the best nonfiction text you'll find!"
I've volunteered many times with struggling readers who enjoyed the colorful presentation, age-appropriate topics, and challenges to address hot issues and debates that are part of every issue.  I haven't always loved the way the magazine oversimplified complicated issues or presented every topic, but hey, I'm a really critical reader, and the kids seem to enjoy it. And anything that gets kids to enjoy reading is ok with me. Usually.

Some things cross the line. 

Rah! Rah! Schools of Choice! Time for Kids
cheerleads for the profiteers in an article that
circulates in public schools around the country.
In its September back-to-school issue (Edition 3-4, September 13, 2013), the magazine's cover features a girl who looks as sweet as she does empowered, in a martial arts uniform, fists raised and ready to strike (or is it defend?), with the headline "LEARN THIS!  Schools centered around a theme are becoming increasingly popular. Find out about them."  The caption tells us the girl pictured "studies tae kwon do at Whitehall Preparatory and Fitness Academy in Columbus, Ohio."

Hmm, a kid thinks.  Themed schools.  A tae kwan do school?! I'd like to find out more about that.  But, as a parent, I also know enough to recognize that trigger words like "preparatory" and "academy" usually indicate non-traditional public schools or charters.  And the all-caps directive (LEARN THIS!) coupled with the suggestion that kids need to find out what "popular" things they're missing out on makes the public school advocate in me stand up at full attention. 

Inside, the cover story by Melanie Kletter greets us with a pennant-type banner with the bold words "SCHOOL OF CHOICE" and the teaser: "Theme schools are popular.  What sets them apart?"

The article tells kids that some "theme schools" focus on fitness.  "I love learning sports in school," an 11-year-old says.  Others, we're told, focus on agriculture, science, art, technology, and language.

It's a really short article.  And it does not provide any evidence that the "theme schools" cover anything that isn't also covered in traditional public schools, or provide a tangibly more "exciting" way of doing so.  The final section, "Learning is Exciting" nonetheless concludes that these charter schools "are coming up with new ways to make learning exciting" and that "students are more motivated to learn when they are interested in a topic" (as if "interest" can only be stimulated through the "excitement" of a themed school).

Like all superficial assessments of an issue in today's press, this article includes an obligatory and irrelevant counter-argument.  Its superficiality is striking.  What might the potential drawback or controversy about charter or magnet schools be centered on?  That they're just one of many for-profit gimmicks in the national effort toward dismantling traditional public education?  That a focus on one area of study or interest will come at the expense of a well-rounded education? That charters and magnet schools suck money from regular public schools so that only the very few get the "benefit" of their "exciting" curricula and the vast majority of school children pay the price in budget cuts at their own schools?  That they often have little oversight and less stringent requirements for assessments and teacher qualifications than traditional public schools?  That they have been the subject of scandal after scandal after scandal as unscrupulous administrators took advantage of their relative freedom from scrutiny to line their own pockets?  That they consistently underperform regular public schools almost everywhere one finds them?  That they can pick and choose students, leading to segregated schools and unequal opportunities (especially for students with disabilities)?  That there's no hard data linking "themed schools" to superior academic performance or how "exciting" learning can be?   


Time for Kids doesn't mention any of those concerns.  Instead,  Time for Kids poses what is perhaps the most disingenuously superficial "counterargument" one might come up with in this debate:
"Many theme schools have longer school days.  That has some people concerned. They say students may miss out on outside activities."
That's it.  That's the whole "controversy" in a nutshell.  Not a claim one would take very seriously, given the plethora of "activities" the article implies are available at theme schools.  Longer days.  Almost too much time for learning. This is the journalistic equivalent of saying your only flaw is that you "work too hard" in an interview.
And the article concludes with another quote from a student who says learning Chinese is "fun, and it gives my brain a challenge."  Followed immediately by the core question of the article:
"If you had a choice, what type of school would you pick?"
The implication here that students currently do not attend their own schools "by choice" (ie they're forced to attend them), and that they are neither being challenged nor having fun, revives all of the very worst unfounded stereotypes about public education and has absolutely no place in an article written primarily for students who are supposedly expected to be critically engaging with these issues.

Worst of all, it misleadingly co-opts the language of education privatizers and their deep-pocketed lobbyists who define "school choice" in much broader terms, largely to promote the use of public funds for private and religious school education in the form of "vouchers" paid for by tax dollars.  To pretend, as this article does, that the phrase "school of choice" can be used to describe an innocent preference of the student for one "theme" or "activity" over another is both absurd and irresponsible. 

I want to make one thing clear:  I don't have a problem with theme schools, in principle, or theme-based academies, as that term (with all of its baggage) is more generally understood by parents and educators.  There are many excellent schools all over the country, and the vast majority of them are operated within traditional public school frameworks.  I also don't have a problem with Time for Kids covering them, or painting them in a favorable light.  But the fact that this article willfully distorts what is actually a very complex and heated debate as if there's nothing to be debated is both condescending to the intelligence of our students and irresponsible journalism.  This topic would be much more appropriately addressed in the "Debate" section of the publication, or with a more honest inclusion of the actual reasons parents, students, and educators are leery of expensive novelty schools that drain resources from the public school budget and increasingly serve the financial interests of education privateers.  

This article buys in, hook, line & sinker, to the "school choice" rhetoric that special interest groups have paid so dearly to inject into our politics and policies.  It's a shame and disservice to the public school children reading this piece that Time for Kids has chosen to inject it into their school day as well.

My kids love their public school and so do I.  And I resent that Time for Kids welcomes them back to school by spinning - and distorting - privatization rhetoric around them to make them feel like they're missing out on the "exciting" possibilities of a theme school. Since my kids don't have a "choice" whether or not they read this near-propaganda, I expect Time for Kids to hold itself to a higher standard of honest reporting.

Wisconsin taxpayers and students already have a great deal of "choice" through both open enrollment and a recently expanded voucher program.  And the overwhelming majority of us choose traditional public schools, which are the "schools of choice" in a productive, equitable democratic society.

Why is Time for Kids manipulating public school children with leading questions that use the language of privateers to plant seeds of dissatisfaction about the quality of their own schools?
Many thanks to my friends and fellow education advocates (who worked tirelessly to fight against the special needs vouchers proposed here in Wisconsin that would create dangerously irresponsible learning conditions for our children): Joanne Juhnke, for bringing this article to our attention, and Anna Mueller Moffit, who takes the lead in encouraging parents to contact Time for Kids if they share these concerns over the misleading message they are sending to our kids:
What "school choice" really means.
I plan on writing them and letting them know how many "schools of choice" discriminate against kids that don't want to "choose" for their school. Amazing how the influence of big money and special interest groups has infiltrated our children's reading material paid for by public schools.

9/11 and the dangerous unity of Islamophobia

There are many, many things I will never forget about 9/11.  

And one of them is how much worse we have become, as a nation, at being decent human beings.  

We like to tell ourselves that 9/11 brought us together.  But that's not really true for all Americans.  And for those who were "brought together" by a mutual hatred for people they neither know nor understand, it's a dangerous unity, and a patently un-American one at best.

Proof in point.  This morning, Scott "Divide and Conquer" Walker had the temerity to post this status update on facebook:

The responses are full of jingoistic fare, heartfelt memorials, and critiques of the governor's hypocrisy in claiming to be "united" with the people of this state or this country.  Here are two of many telling examples:

In 2013, too many Americans use 9/11 as a barely disguised excuse to "remember" how we're supposed to stay "vigilant" against the threat of a people we define solely by their religion; a religion most of us know little about, but have learned to fear and distrust, if not outright hate.

Orientalist thinking did not begin on 9/11.  But the rise in tolerance for intolerant attitudes toward Muslims - and people from the Arab world in general - has become a shameful hallmark of post-9/11 America, and has become normalized in the mainstream in ways that I never would have thought possible, even as someone who studies this topic and teaches the discourse of racial discrimination.  

The proliferation of hate and our collective tolerance of it has led to wars we can't end, attitudes we feel powerless to change, hate crimes we try to dismiss, overt racism we simply ignore, and hateful thinking that we do too little to address or prevent. We owe it to the memory of everyone who was affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001 to change that.

There are many ways to change.  Through education.  Through dialogue.   Through friendships.  And, perhaps most importantly, by remembering that the strength we find in unity does not discriminate. 

Each of us only has one life to live.  These lives are our own, to do with what we please.  But we share one world in which to live them.  Let's find ways to make that world a better place for all of us.


[Note: this piece has been edited to remove a link to a satire piece from the Daily Currant that totally punked me.  I'll believe anything about hatemongering Islamophobe Ann Coulter. Sorry.]