Scott Walker’s anti-environment agenda is taking another long leap forward

REUTERS/Jim Young
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker walking off the stage after speaking at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, in January.

As I read about Scott Walker’s environmentally regressive budget message I was thinking of my old friend and Strib colleague Tom Hamburger. Tom tells a good story and can – thanks to schooling at Tulane and apprenticeship on a little paper in Arkansas – color a choice quotation with a sonorous Bubba accent.

It was Tom who first told me about the unofficial motto of Dixie’s political class. Whenever a headline revealed that Louisiana (or Alabama, or Georgia) had once again placed 49th in the nation on some ranking of economic health or social progress, he said, its Capitol corridors would ring with cries of joy and triumph for avoiding last place once again:

Thank God for Mississippi!

Those of us who care about environmental health and progress have long since grown accustomed to times of gridlock, more or less, where most of the progress is ever more incremental, rollbacks of hard-fought gains are a constant threat, budgets are always on the block.

But perhaps we can take some small comfort in looking to the governorship of Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and recognize that, without a doubt, things could always be worse.

In most coverage of the budget message that Walker delivered last week, the prime emphasis has been his shocking proposals to cut funds for higher education and even attempt a reshaping of its mission as laid down in state law. (That, and requiring drug tests of people on public assistance.)

The politics of resentment

Hostility to colleges and universities shouldn’t come as a surprise in a governor who didn’t finish his bachelor’s degree, who has few fans among the faculties or students or staffs, who has built his political foundation on tax-cutting, budget-slashing and appeals to the politics of resentment.

To say the least, Walker’s political agenda is relentlessly pro-business. It is of course possible to promote  both business growth and environmental stewardship; earlier generations of Republican leaders did so as an article of faith, feeling that conservation was in fact conservative.

But it’s ever so much easier now to pit the former against the latter, whether the topic at hand be mining, renewable energy, groundwater conservation, public lands, climate protection ….

And so we have, again without real surprises, a Walker budget for the next biennium whose hallmarks include fresh assaults on environmental programs and the state agencies and employees who implement them.

Let’s start with his proposal to stop expanding public lands through acquisitions or easements under the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

No more dough for public land

Named after former governors Warren Knowles (a Republican) and Gaylord Nelson (a Democrat), the fund’s investments have protected some 560,000 acres of land across Wisconsin in the past 24 years.

They have also supported conservation efforts by nonprofits and local governments, on a matching-funds basis, to make the lands available to the public for hiking, hunting and fishing, as well as for wetlands protection and flood control.

According to its website, the program’s annual budget took a deep cut with Walker’s 2011 “budget repair bill,” falling from $86 million to $60 million. Walker now proposes to suspend all new spending under Knowles-Nelson for purchases or easements through 2028.


A video produced by Gathering Waters, Wisconsin’s alliance for land trusts, on the value of the Stewardship Program.

As we’re reminded  by James Rowen, the seasoned journalist who blogs on environmental matters for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Purple Wisconsin feature (and on his own site, The Political Environment), this gutting follows Walker’s order that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sell off 10,000 acres of public lands under its control.

Walker’s manhandling of established DNR policy through top-level appointees has been a continuing saga. The new budget advances those efforts by consolidating gubernatorial authority and shrinking the ranks of potential troublemakers.

Wisconsin has a citizen board of overseers with broad authority to tell the agency what to do, not unlike the citizen board at Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency.

Neutering a citizen board

Up until 1995, the board actually appointed the DNR chief; now the governor gets to do that. But to make the chief even freer to do his bidding, and his alone, Walker has proposed that Wisconsin Natural Resources Board’s powers be restricted to just giving advice.

This means, for example, that it could still suggest a comprehensive study of frac-sand mining’s environmental impacts. But it could no longer simply order one, as it did last month.

(Governing boards at the Departments of Agriculture and of Trade and Consumer Protection would also be downgraded to advisory roles.)

The Walker budget relieves the DNR of about 66 staff positions. By some accounts, that is more FTEs than any other state agency would be shedding for the next biennium (although the Department of Corrections comes close, at 60 guards, whose third-shift work covering prison towers turns out to be unnecessary).

At DNR, the layoffs are specifically focused on scientific staff. According to the Journal Sentinel’s analysis,

The employees include scientists and others with master’s and doctoral degrees who perform research for the DNR on environmental regulation and wildlife management policy.

Walker’s budget would cut 18.4 positions in the Bureau of Scientific Services. The bureau has a total of 59.4 budgeted positions, although 9.4 are currently vacant. That would be a 31% cut in total budgeted positions and a reduction of nearly 20% of the positions now filled in the bureau. [Little math error there, that last figure should be 36.8%.]

All told, Walker’s budget would cut 66 positions from the DNR. Of this, more than 25% would come from the science group.

Let’s get rid of the scientists

Other cuts are focused on the agency’s enforcement staff, which Wisconsin environmental groups interpret as an effort to make the DNR less muscular in its regulation of, say, the big new Gogebic Taconite mine taking shape in the Penokee Hills near Ashland. Or to reduce the role of sound science in framing policy on such touchy subjects as wildlife management, habitat protection and hunting seasons.

I looked in vain for insight on the prospects for Walker getting these proposals through his legislature untouched. The occasional Republican can be heard to join the chorus of Democrats decrying these moves against agencies and programs which, it must be noted, have not obstructed Walker and his party from any number of other actions that environmental progressives regard as clear steps backward for Wisconsin.

For now, the state is firmly in the grip of one-party governance, and there’s no doubting that much will be done in Walker’s second term to continue Wisconsin’s retreat from exemplary, progressive stewardship of natural resources.

No, there won’t be enough time for the state to plummet, Mississippi-like, to a last-place ranking on environmental measures. But it’s easy to imagine that Scott Walker would count cries of “Thank God for Wisconsin!” as the crowning accolades of his anti-environment governorship.

Comments (46)

  1. Submitted by Gerald Abrahamson on 02/10/2015 - 10:39 am.

    Give them what they want…

    “this gutting follows Walker’s order that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sell off 10,000 acres of public lands under its control.”

    Buy the 10k acres surrounding the capital in WI, fulfilling Walker’s order. Then clearcut those 10k acres. Hey, gotta make a PROFIT !! Then turn the land into a toxic waste dump. All for PROFIT !! And name it the “Walker Took a Toxic Waste Dump on You Facility”.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 10:46 am.

    Alinsky’s rules for radicals:

    #5 Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

    “Tom tells a good story and can – thanks to schooling at Tulane and apprenticeship on a little paper in Arkansas – color a choice quotation with a sonorous Bubba accent.”

    Let’s get rid of the scientists indeed.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 12:32 pm.

      While whining about Alinsky, it is amusing

      that the greatest users of Alinsky tactics lately seem to be those on the right.

      Fortunately, the rule about ridicule does not seem to have worked very well, Mr. Swift, in recent political discourse about such thing as same sex marriage.

      People have made all sorts of unscientific and ridiculous claims in an attempt to stop same sex marriage. Even so it appears to be poised to become the law of the land.

      Sometimes the ridiculer looks ridiculous. And voters, especially in Minnesota, are quick to spot this. Perhaps you are generalizing too much from what you see in South Carolina?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 12:59 pm.

        Topic: “Anti-environment agenda”

        Response: Same sex marriage; what I see in South Carolina

        Please explain the linkage, Bill. I’m at a loss. It makes no sense, has no context, and goes beyond the bounds of any logical fallacy I’m familiar with.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/10/2015 - 01:14 pm.

          How about this one

          Let’s keep it to one state you don’t reside in for your armchair analysis. I am from Wisconsin, all 18 of my formative years spent there. Literally every person I know, family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, if they have even an iota of higher education, they want out. They are literally begging me to find them work and or housing here. Personally I think he’s decided the reason the Kansas experiment was a failure was the lack of 100% capitualtion by the residents and he aims to make then state uninhabitable for anyone who might question his authority.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/10/2015 - 02:38 pm.

            “They are literally begging me to find them work and or housing here.”

            I’m sorry to hear that Matt. I had no idea people from Wisconsin were so dependent on others. Best wishes on finding suitable arrangements for everyone.

            • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 04:26 pm.

              One of the things

              that makes that easier to do is the difference in minimum wages between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Lots of people who live in Hudson or Superior actually work in Stillwater or Duluth.

              Minimum wage differences affect border towns | Star Tribune http://ow.ly/IQ3Oc

              You can’t blame the folks in Wisconsin for wanting to better themselves. Eventually they will figure it out and elect a governor like Mark Dayton. Either that or just move to Minnesota.

          • Submitted by Robert Owen on 02/10/2015 - 03:55 pm.

            Why one state?

            You’ve commented about New Jersey’s governor a few times. Now you’re on this threat about Wisconsin’s governor.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/10/2015 - 03:20 pm.

      Good one

      The man who claims that he posts comments solely for the purpose of infuriating liberals is sniping about someone else’ purported ridicule.

  3. Submitted by Nancy Hassett on 02/10/2015 - 11:59 am.

    Chairman Walker

    If Walker had been born in another country, he’d be the leader trying to turn his position of power into a dictatorship.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/10/2015 - 12:14 pm.

    WIS-teria Climbing MINNPOST?

    Hysterical rubbish, this seems, Ron. Wisconsin seemed to be doing just fine on my recent visit.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/10/2015 - 04:49 pm.

      It takes a little time…

      It took Minnesota 9 or 10 years of implementing the kind of policies Wisconsin has just gotten started implementing to go from the budget surplus Jesse Ventura “returned to the taxpayers,” to the point where the national economy collapsed in 2008, just before G. Bush handed the banks $750,000,000,000 and Obama the keys to the whitehouse.

      Then it took another year or two for the Minnesota deficit to fully bloom to the $6,000,000,000+ level Tim Pawlenty oversaw, year-by-year, on his way to running for president and taking his current position as head of the Financial Services Round Table.

      Can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “seemed to be” is the key to your observation, and that it may be seeming a lot different (than it used to) to lots of folks living, working, going to school in Wisconsin than it does to those just passing through.

      Next time you go, see if you can find a few average working people, maybe a teacher or snowplow driver or two, a few tuition-paying students, or one of those deadbeat scientists that used to fan the flames of hysteria when they worked for the DNR before the upcoming budget cuts, and ask how things seem to them.

      And speaking of rubbish, in case you missed it, just the other day Ron put together yet another eye-opening article on a whole bunch of nasty liquid rubbish that, SOMEhow, leaked out of the private sector’s grip and created a toxic cesspool in Canada so big you need an airplane to take in the scope of the public sector resource that has been severly, maybe even irretrievably, damaged by that “lapse.”

      The dam the mining company in question built to contain it seemed to be doing just fine too for quite a while. And then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t.

      http://www.minnpost.com/earth-journal/2015/02/canadas-worst-mine-disaster-grew-dam-built-wrong-place

      And a whole bunch of people that agree with the Scott Walker approach to environmental science and oversight are doing all they can to get the same kind of “acid-mine drainage containment facilities” set up and taking on sludge ASAP, pretty much right in the heart of some of the most beautiful country in Minnesota, and on Earth, and put it all at risk for the next 200 to 500 years, or 170 to 470 years after the mining company has closed up shop and disappeared with their profits and relatively temporary jobs.

      But, apparently, anyone working hard to point out the potential lunacy of doing something like that is, in your book, putting out hysterical rubbish.

      • Submitted by richard owens on 02/11/2015 - 09:00 am.

        Polymet will leave tailings

        …of the consistency of talcum powder from crushed sulfide ores in pursuit of nickel and copper.

        An environmental disaster awaits our precious lakes, flowages and pits along the Laurentian Divide.

        The environmental risks are much more hazardous than Minnesota’s traditional iron ore mining.
        When rain falls on the waste from iron mining it makes rust.
        When rain falls on sulfide ore waste, sulfuric acid is produced.

        The XL pipeline has been made popular by sugar-coating the awful damage it has already done, permanently destroying Alberta’s land in pursuit of filthy carbon fuels. The Tar Sands tailing ponds need floating fake falcons and noisemakers to keep waterfowl from landing in the ponds and then DYING.

        Scott Walker’s behavior is fun to ridicule but we should not be smug.

        It will happen here too. The money and the promises will persuade our politicians to support this horrible trade-off, while opponents get steamrolled and voted out of office.

        I hope I’m wrong but Scott Walker’s destruction of Wisconsin will have a MN corollary

        (I hope I am wrong).

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/10/2015 - 09:58 pm.

      Nope

      Unlike economics, where anyone with even a basic understanding can look at Wisconsin’s numbers and see what a disaster Walker’s policies have been, it is much more difficult the environmental damage his policies are doing.

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/10/2015 - 01:15 pm.

    History

    …will not treat Mr. Walker kindly. While we wait for that judgment, we can only soothe ourselves with the knowledge that “Fighting Bob” LaFollette – the Republican former Governor of, and U.S. Senator from, Wisconsin – must be rolling in his grave.

  6. Submitted by Eric Paul Jacobsen on 02/10/2015 - 02:44 pm.

    Walker wins easily because our language is too full of slogans.

    ‘To say the least, Walker’s political agenda is relentlessly pro-business. It is of course possible to promote both business growth and environmental stewardship; earlier generations of Republican leaders did so as an article of faith, feeling that conservation was in fact conservative.’

    Mr. Meador, if you had not included the misleading term “pro-business” in the first sentence quoted above, you would not have had to use that second sentence to qualify it.

    Demagogues like Scott Walker succeed so easily because most of their rhetoric is borrowed from Reagan-era propaganda – propaganda which, thanks to its inexhaustible advertising budget, pervades the way we speak and write, even as journalists. But we need to stop giving the ideologues of the right free advertising. The term “pro-business” is seldom accurate, and journalists should shun it. “Relentlessly anti-tax” is a more accurate description of Walker’s policies. Of course, every short-sighted business leader imagines that everything would be better if his or her own taxes were lower, but more far-sighted business leaders know better.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/10/2015 - 09:36 pm.

      I would say a compounding factor

      For Wisconsin at least, is demographics. The western part of the state, where I am from, has historically been left-leaning, my parents representation in both the assembly and senate are democrats. The decline of the family farm model in dairy production has literally depopulated these areas, and while Madison and Milwaukee proper have a large liberal base, this no longer is enough to overcome the Republican southeast, and isolationist North. Were I to have a single wish granted it would be the annexation of a sizable chunk of western Wisconsin to Minnesota, with whom we always shared far more political and cultural affinity than we ever did with “Northern Illinois”.

  7. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/10/2015 - 03:04 pm.

    As Governor Pawlenty before him and Governor Jindal now are

    finding out –

    The horrible things that they have done or are doing to their states will in the long run make them non-issues in the GOP presidential primary.

    While the destruction of health care, the environment, and a great education system may be red meat to some of those on the right, nomination of such a person as a presidential candidate will lead to a certain loss for the GOP regardless of whom the Democrats select as a candidate.

    Then the tough work that Dayton has done in Minnesota will be necessary in Louisiana and Wisconsin to recover from the insanity of Jindal and Walker

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/10/2015 - 04:04 pm.

      True

      Is true: TPAW, right after his 2006 reelection was all set to travel to the arctic with Will Steiger. I do not believe he would have come back driving a Prius and catching rain water at the Governor’s mansion; but, he was positioning himself into a place for compromise, showing that someone identified with the Right side of the GOP (as opposed to Arne’s opposite corner) could cooperate with someone like Steiger on areas of mutual agreement. He soon caught Presidential ambitions and he would rather play a set with Ted Nugent than ever be caught in a tent with Steiger. Which is all too bad. TPAW, Walker and Jindal had and have the single greatest accomplishment and opportunity of their lives in serving as Governor’s of their states. All three threw away that opportunity in order to “position” themselves for the next job they will never get. Too bad for them and even more too bad for the citizens of their states. There is easy compromise to be found in the middle 70% of voters; yet few have the smarts and courage to do it. Best example of one who did: Jim Ramstad. Too liberal for the far right, too conservative for the far left and a 70% vote getter time after time.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/10/2015 - 10:47 pm.

    Compare

    Mr. Haas, please see a list of states that people want to leave the most: http://www.gallup.com/poll/168770/half-illinois-connecticut-move-elsewhere.aspx#1. Most of them, as you can see, are left leaning. This page has all kinds of statistics showing that generally right-leaning states are doing better. By the way, this is 2013 survey so Minnesota was still enjoying Pawlenty’s results. Of course those who want to say that Dayton turned things around in 3 years should stop complaining about George W. Bush.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/11/2015 - 08:05 am.

      Funny

      Bush took over following a period of sustained economic growth and a budget surplus, and left with the worst recession in decades and huge deficits. Obama got the country growing again and has shrunk the deficit, but it took time because of the mess Bush left.

      Pawlenty similarly left with a struggling economy and a big deficit, which included the de facto standing deficit from the school shift. Dayton used a completely different approach, and Minnesota is performing very well again. Certainly much better than Wisconsin, which has a lagging economy, huge deficits in a period of growth, and is in the process of destroying its educational infrastructure.

      While there certainly is going to be some delay in results when a new governor or president takes over, the reality is that the economy performs better under Democrats. You can keep telling yourself this is a coincidence, but at some point you might want to pay attention to the actual results.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 02/11/2015 - 09:37 pm.

        Jindal too

        As Bobby Jindal wraps up his time as LA Governor, he too leaves behind a financial mess with no attempt to fix it. It is amazing, from TPAW, to Walker, to Jindal, to Brownback, each one tried the exact same approach: cut taxes, slash spending and wait for private sector investment to come to the rescue. And they’re all still waiting. Each has or will leave office with their state in far worse shape than they found it. Not only did that private sector investment not come to the rescue; but, you see organizations like the Chamber of Commerce saying things like: “maybe we do need a focused tax increase to fix the roads and schools we need for business to be successful”. And these failed Governors still won’t listen because they all think they could be President and don’t want to ruin it by not pretending their ideology works. Sorry boys, Mark Dayton, by his own admission was one sorry US Senator, and we all know he won’t go down as one of our great orators; but, he practices a simple ideology: you spend to get the schools and infrastructure needed for success and you tax to pay for it. And guess what? It works and the primary reason why is because it attracts private sector investment because they want good schools and infrastructure needed to give themselves and their employees a nice place to work and live.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/11/2015 - 09:29 am.

      Well Ilya

      We’ll just have to disagree, as I know my own experience, and it certainly is not reflected in your study. But then, I wonder if you’ll accept that statistics don’t always tell the whole story.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/11/2015 - 10:58 am.

      Read Before You Cite

      The article that you reference says that over half of the residents of only two states–Illinois and Connecticut–would move to another state if given a chance. The margin of error for the survey is + or – 5%, and the preference for moving from either state is within that margin (kind of an odd poll–the results for Illinois add up to 101%).

      I don’t see any conclusions to be drawn from this survey, and the fact that it asks a hypothetical question (“Would you if you could?”) is only part of the problem.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 02/11/2015 - 01:41 pm.

      A Gallup poll?

      Ask President Romney about the validity of polls.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/13/2015 - 01:15 pm.

      If you want to play dueling Gallup links, here is the

      survey of “economic confidence”:

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/181514/economic-confidence-index-highest-minn-lowest.aspx?utm_source=Economy&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

      Note that six out of ten are blue states, with Minnesota on top. Now look at the list of ten states with the worst economic confidence: all red states.

      By the way, did you miss the presence of Nevada, Alabama, and Mississippi on the list of states that people want to leave and the presence of Hawaii, Oregon, and *Minnesota* on the list of states that people do NOT want to leave? If you look at the whole map, the following states have an “above average” percentage of residents who would like to move, in addition to the ones you listed: Arizona, Virginia, Indiana, and Georgia. Among the states with a lower than average number of residents who want to move are Vermont and Iowa.

      I don’t trust Gallup, but since you do, Mr. Gutman, that’s what I’m citing.

  9. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/11/2015 - 08:21 pm.

    Answers

    Mr. Hintz, Bush had to deal with 9/11 fallout if you remember. Additionally, you may find these articles interesting: http://www.gallup.com/opinion/chairman/181469/big-lie-unemployment.aspx and http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2015/02/11/unemployment-is-dropping-thanks-to-a-republican-policy-that-obama-opposed/.

    Mr. Haas, it is not my study but Gallup’s, the most respected firm in this business. On the other hand, I do not question your own experience but you should understand its limits – my wild guess is that a lot of people asking you are left-leaning. Of course I know that statistics don’t show the whole picture and quite often obscure it (and is frequently used to achieve political goals regardless of the statistics’ limitations – just think of all “racism proving” statistics). However, in this case I do not see any red flags – after all Illinois is the state where quite a few governors are in jail and you cannot enter a highway without paying a fee.

    Mr. Holbrook, are you questioning Gallup’s ability to conduct a poll? That is odd… But regardless of margin of error, Wisconsin is outside of it compared to top 4… And that is what I wanted to point out.

    Mr. Myron, are you anti-statistics and anti-science?

    Mr. Gleason, why don’t people who earn more in minimum wage in Minnesota move there? Maybe because the cost of living eats up all the difference?

    Ms. Hassett, will you please provide any justification for your assumption that Walker would try to be a dictator in another country?

    And finally, this article says that Walker didn’t finish college. If I remember correctly, neither did Bill Gates.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/12/2015 - 09:39 am.

      My Questioning

      I am not questioning Gallup’s ability to conduct a poll. I am questioning your ability to interpret that poll.

      What you wanted to point out is that people living in “red” states are more content than those in “blue” states.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 02/12/2015 - 01:55 pm.

      I can’t be anti-science…

      I’m a democrat. I’m not anti statistic either, I just question not only your interpretation, but even your reliance on it in attempting to prove your point.. According to Politfact: “9 out of the 10 poorest states voted Republican in the last presidential election. (In fact, they voted Red in the last four elections.)

      According to the latest Census data, 9 of the 10 states with the lowest per-person income levels were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho, West Virginia, Kentucky, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

      The Census data also show that 9 of the 10 states with the lowest median household income were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

      And 9 of the 10 states with the lowest median family income were Red: Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana and South Carolina.

      The only Blue state on each list: New Mexico.”

      Like Mr. Haas, I too am from Wisconsin, although I lived north and west of Milwaukee…right in the middle of the cluster of districts that voted overwhelmingly for Romney. My parents still live there (still democratic voters, thank god) along with many relatives and friends that I still keep in contact with. Most of my extended family is republican, along with many of the friends I still remain in contact with. First of all, those districts are crammed full of older retired people, many of which are enjoying a lifestyle thanks to the wages and benefits that the very unions they now despise negotiated for them. That’s right…ex union members that worked as carpenters, factory, brewery, tool & die, press operators, etc…all union. And when you ask them about the hypocrisy of their position ( and I have), you get the same stock answers..”It was different then” or ” We worked harder.” They simply have been able to rationalize that they deserved those wages and benefits, but no one else does.The other thing that really stands out is that from my experience, virtually all of them are rabid listeners of right wing talk radio and Fox news. They have had twenty years of being worked into a lather and being told that Democrats are the enemy. Their love of Scott Walker isn’t so much a validation of his policies, as no one has actually benefited from any of them, but a hatred for the other side. It’s a simple as a Packer fan hating a Bears fan.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/12/2015 - 01:56 pm.

      Funny

      When I mention the analogy to your previous contribution its scrubbed. The of my somewhat tongue in cheek response was to illustrate the hypocrisy of disbelieving polls that disprove your ideology (i.e. your poorly thought out soliloquy on race relations in America) while readily embracing those that do. I don’t see Wisconsin in that poll, perhaps they forgot to include it?

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/13/2015 - 03:35 am.

      Wrong

      Gallup is not the most respected pollster in the business. Its actually the worst large polling firm around, and has a huge Republican bias. You can measure polling accuracy with actual results, and Gallup is just terrible. I absolutely question their ability to conduct a poll.

      http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/fivethirtyeight/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/

      I read your links, and its Republican arguments I have seen before to try to diminish better economic numbers under Democrats. I see one of them is by Gallup, which may explain why they are such a terrible polling firm.

      Bush did have to deal with 9-11, but I think what really hurt was his response in getting us mired in unwinnable wars, one of which had nothing to do with 9-11. Maybe 9-11 would not have happened with Gore as president. He certainly would have had a better foreign policy team than the incompetents appointed by Bush.

  10. Submitted by Tom Karas on 02/13/2015 - 06:55 am.

    getting back on track

    It is interesting to see that in the new Walker budget there is something like $250k for a report about the health effects of wind turbines and impact on property values. Both elements have been proven to have little validity, many times by many states and countries which also brought up the point that it seems that perceived health problems were in direct relation to the size of the lease payment offered. But where there is a will, there is a study to be created and no doubt, wind farms in Wisconsin will be found to have negative effects that are unique to the state of Walker/Koch. Maybe the cheese folks are just way more sensitive than other humans?

  11. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/13/2015 - 08:08 am.

    Pro government Walker

    For all the anti-government sentiment gobbled up by those who follow the likes of Walker, how is it they’re ok with Walker giving the government MORE power, particularly in the hands of ONE individual? I suspect that they’re not really paying that much attention.

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/13/2015 - 08:06 pm.

    Polls

    Mr. Holbrook, my main point was that not that many people wanted to move out of Wisconsin. The comparison between red and blue states was secondary but it is a fact that among “top” 10 states 7 are blue and only 2 are red. I don’t see how else this can be interpreted other than that living in a blue state doesn’t make you happy.

    Mr. Haas, if I understood you correctly, you try to point out that I do not believe statistics on race but embrace this “flee the state” one. In fact, I never dispute the racial disparity statistics; I just state that it does not prove racism because statistics itself is not about racism; it is about what may or may not be a derivative of racism. This poll was explicitly about desire to leave the one’s own state so there is no ambiguity here. And yes, Wisconsin is in the table – just scroll to the very bottom of the page where entire results are provided; Wisconsin is 14th or 15th from the bottom (in this case the closer to the bottom, the better).

    Mr. Hintz, I understand that for you the NYT is the ultimate authority but not for me and trying to prove Gallup’s bias by NYT reference is not serious. But even if we take NYT seriously, presidential polls are ones of the most difficult to conduct; on the other hand, there is no political bias in figuring out what state people want to leave and the question was absolutely neutral. Of course, you would dismiss anything that argues against your point of view instead of analyzing it but that is not a way to conduct a serious discussion. You have to prove that the particular Gallup poll we are talking about is biased and I doubt you can do it (of course, the same is true with your dismissal of the articles I referenced). Oh, and I just noticed that Ms. Sandness found a poll by Gallup that shows that Minnesota is the best state in economic confidence – are you going to dismiss it as biased? By the way, Wisconsin is No 9.

    As for Gore preventing 9/11, you can’t be serious. Clinton ignored al Qaeda in Afghanistan while bombing Sudan on one hand and 9/11 happened 9 months into Bush’s presidency (and I am not even talking about Clinton’s agreeing to bomb Yugoslavia). And, the war in Iraq was won quickly and decisively; it was the liberal idea of helping people that got us into troubles.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/17/2015 - 07:59 am.

      Backwards

      Its not the New York Times that is the ultimate authority for me – its the objective facts they are using in this case. Again, it is possible to measure polling accuracy by examining the actual results. There are no opinions involved – its just math. And that math shows that Gallup is a really bad pollster.

      The bias in the Gallup polls isn’t about whether the questions are neutral. The bias refers to the fact that the Gallup numbers were not only wildly inaccurate, but skewed toward Republicans. I can’t say whether this is international or whether Gallup is just really bad at polling, but whichever it is, Gallup is totally unreliable.

      Presidential polls are also the easiest to conduct because news outlets are willing to spend money for more extensive polling. A number of pollsters got very accurate results. Just not Gallup.

      The New York Times and Nate Silver, who analyzes polls rather than conducting them, was extremely accurate in its predictions, getting every single state right. I take the New York Times seriously on this issue because they are objectively really, really good on polling, and I discount Gallup because they are really bad at it. It has nothing to do with political beliefs. Its just math, and Gallup is bad at math.

      Who can ever know about 9-11, but there is a clear paper trail of Clinton staffers warning about Al Queda and the Bush Administration ignoring them.

      The “helping people” part is an important part of war. Just coming in and blowing things up and killing the people you don’t like doesn’t solve anything – you have to prepare for the aftermarh Even with the “helping” the outcome wasn’t very good in Iraq.

      • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 02/17/2015 - 09:17 am.

        About fifteen years ago, Gallup polled me online

        After I had answered the questions, I had the option of seeing the current cumulative results, including the self-identification of the respondents. Forty-five percent of the respondents self-identified as Republicans, thirty percent as Democrats, and only twenty-five percent as independents, who can be either right-leaning or left-leaning. In other words, Republicans were over-sampled and independents were under-sampled.

        According to Gallup’s own numbers, 42% of Americans identify as independent, 25% as Republican, and 31% as Democratic, so either they are deliberately sampling Republicans or there is something wrong with their sampling methods.

        • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 02/17/2015 - 10:15 am.

          Interesting

          You would think that the foremost concern of a polling company would be to get the numbers right. Candidates and media outlets pay for polls so that they know how people are going to vote. You aren’t getting your money’s worth if the numbers are wrong, and the self-identification numbers in your case (which I have also seen to some extent in other outlier polls) should give off a pretty good indication that the numbers aren’t accurate.

  13. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 02/17/2015 - 11:03 am.

    Walker and the revenge of incompetence

    Walker lacks education. Listening to him, seeing his actions, it’s impossible to not infer a small, petty and darkened interior universe. Walker very likely harbors a resentment of the better minds arrayed against him—scientists, university professors, cultural creators, and others.

    The late Isaac Asimov said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    If Asimov were alive today he could have been referring to Walker.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/17/2015 - 02:53 pm.

      Walker completed 3 3/4 of a 4 year program. He lacks a degree, not an education.

      I will spare the reader the list of incredibly ignorant things the “better minds” of academic note have said and done, as well as the list of incredibly ingenious things people without a college degree have produced.

      By all means, hate the man, hate his politics, but at least be honest about it.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/17/2015 - 03:31 pm.

        Your standard BA degree is approx 120 credits over four years. Walker was 34 credits short of graduating near the end of his 4th year, putting him about 75% of the way there in terms of credits.

        It may have been any number of things that led to his leaving Marquette. Regardless, I think there is a point to be made about him not necessarily being a good steward of the investment he put into his college education, both time and money… getting 3/4ths of the way to the end and then just leaving, without the ‘brass ring’ (a degree).

        Here is an interesting article for perspective:
        http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/article/2013/dec/18/scott-walker-early-years/

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 02/17/2015 - 03:33 pm.

        “He lacks a degree, not an education.”

        Conversely, I know those who lack education, yet have degrees. With education, what you get out is directly related to what effort you put in. I would surmise that Walker was more interested in building relationships and personal clout, than building knowledge.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 02/17/2015 - 08:04 pm.

        Which part

        The part where he quit, or the part where he quit to avoid being rung up for cheating. As I recall, he was pulling a 2.3 WHILE cheating, so there’s that to consider as well.

      • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 02/18/2015 - 12:26 pm.

        No degree is fine, it’s the quality of his thinking

        I don’t hold his lack of a degree against him. I’m referring to his qualities of mind, which are decidedly poor. He embodies popular anti-intellectualism, for which there’s little political repercussion in America right now, especially among the tea party.

        Walker’s most recent example comes out of a BBC question to Walker about his views on evolution. “I’m going to punt on that one,” he said, claiming that politicians “shouldn’t be involved one way or another.”

        This is mistaken on two counts. First, behind his dodge is the implication that there’s legitimate debate about evolution. This mistake is easy to avoid if you think critically about the issue at all. It would be great if reporters rose to the responsibility of the times and pressed him on this and on climate change, asking him for specific arguments backed by evidences.

        Second is the mistaken view that evolution is not a political topic. Historically in the US, to our embarrassment, it has very much been a politicized topic, with right-wing fundamentalists and evangelicals attempting to sneak their religious views into the public schools and undermine the science content of school textbooks. There’s a great need for politicians who will champion science, not lightweights like Walker who implicitly hold science to be just another political football to play with.

        With around a quarter of the population scored as being ‘scientifically literate’, and that percentage likely being too high if a stricter standard of literacy were used that measured the ability to think scientifically in practice, we’re facing an ongoing crisis. If we use this statistic as a rough substitute for critical thinking ability, it’s frankly appalling how ill equipped the public is to make quality decisions. That we have people like Walker who casually contribute to this cultural climate non-thought is unacceptable. Asimov’s quotes is spot on.

        Another example regarding Walker is his agreeing to sign a pledge to never raise taxes to deal with climate change. That’s bad enough, but when Walker was in election season against Jim Doyle and criticized him for his support of climate legislation, Walker also said, “Governor Doyle has put his trust in international politicians, bureaucrats, celebrities and discredited scientists…”

        “discredited scientists”?

        Walker has also raised money for the Heartland Institute, a climate conspiracy theory and denial outfit.

        Last but not least is Walker’s recent move against the University of WI system in an apparent attempt to appeal to the more misinformed elements of conservatism who view the secular universities as indoctrination centers that no longer deal in ‘real education’. Viewed as bulwarks of liberal elitism, resentment is rife on the right against universities. Right-wing columnist Kurt Schlichter even expressed his wish to see the university system collapse.

        Beware the politician who thinks that firing environmental scientists is a good idea, that lobbing false accusations against scientists is somehow smart, or who plays the dunce in the face of settled scientific questions.

  14. Submitted by jason myron on 02/17/2015 - 04:16 pm.

    Scott Walker

    is Sarah Palin with a bald spot.

  15. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/17/2015 - 08:54 pm.

    Polls and personalities

    Mr. Hintz, you ignored my mentioning the poll that Ms. Sandness mentioned and that is favorable to Democratic states – are you ignoring that one, too? Anyway, polls are not a precise science and there is no reason to disregard the poll I was mentioning (other than that you do not like the results). Or you think they asked more Republicans who want to leave Democratic states? Of course, if Gallup is so bad, why would people pay them money, as you actually pointed out…

    Will you please provide reference to “Clinton’s staffers” warning Bush about terrorist attack? And why didn’t Clinton do more himself? Of course, I am not talking about liberals screaming if Bush ordered Muslims to be checked more carefully in airports…

    And no, defeating your enemy is the goal of the war, not helping it afterwards…

    Mr. Ecklund, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Myron, have you met Mr. Walker to make any personal judgment about him? Sure you don’t like his policies but your bashing him personally doesn’t look good… Argue with his policies. And again, Bill Gated does not have a degree either…

  16. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 02/18/2015 - 09:17 am.

    It’s not Walker’s lack of a degree, it’s his lack of thinking

    I don’t hold his lack of a degree against him. I’m referring to his qualities of mind, which are decidedly poor. He embodies popular anti-intellectualism, for which there’s little political repercussion in America right now, especially among the tea party.

    Walker’s most recent example comes out of a BBC question to Walker about his views on evolution. “I’m going to punt on that one,” he said, claiming that politicians “shouldn’t be involved one way or another.”

    This is mistaken on two counts. First, behind his dodge is the implication that there’s legitimate debate about evolution. This mistake is easy to avoid if you think critically about the issue at all. It would be great if reporters rose to the responsibility of the times and pressed him on this and on climate change, asking him for specific arguments backed by evidences.

    Second is the mistaken view that evolution is not a political topic. Historically in the US, to our embarrassment, it has very much been a politicized topic, with right-wing fundamentalists and evangelicals attempting to sneak their religious views into the public schools and undermine the science content of school textbooks. There’s a great need for politicians who will champion science, not lightweights like Walker who implicitly hold science to be just another political football to play with.

    With around a quarter of the population scored as being ‘scientifically literate’, and that percentage likely being too high if a stricter standard of literacy were used that measured the ability to think scientifically in practice, we’re facing an ongoing crisis. If we use this statistic as a rough substitute for critical thinking ability, it’s frankly appalling how ill equipped the public is to make quality decisions. That we have people like Walker who casually contribute to this cultural climate non-thought is unacceptable. Asimov’s quotes is spot on.

    Another example regarding Walker is his agreeing to sign a pledge to never raise taxes to deal with climate change. That’s bad enough, but when Walker was in election season against Jim Doyle and criticized him for his support of climate legislation, Walker also said, “Governor Doyle has put his trust in international politicians, bureaucrats, celebrities and discredited scientists…”

    “discredited scientists”?

    Walker has also raised money for the Heartland Institute, a climate conspiracy theory and denial outfit.

    Last but not least is Walker’s recent move against the University of WI system in an apparent attempt to appeal to the more misinformed elements of conservatism who view the secular universities as indoctrination centers that no longer deal in ‘real education’. Viewed as bulwarks of liberal elitism, resentment is rife on the right against universities. Right-wing columnist Kurt Schlichter even expressed his wish to see the university system collapse.

    Beware the politician who thinks that firing environmental scientists is a good idea, that lobbing false accusations against scientists is somehow smart, or who plays the dunce in the face of settled scientific questions.

    (And, in case anyone missed it, there’s this: http://www.uppitywis.org/blogarticle/university-minnesota-scientist-drops-bombshell-about-walker-says)

Leave a Reply