Willy Street Blog @ “2″

Neighborhood blog to continue hyper-focus

What do you give the neighborhood that has everything? Well certainly not another person with an opinion. When you start a blog, its like any good essay, pick a few central themes and nurture them with attribution and reasoned analysis. But it is no small challenge to write about by far the most engaged, opinionated, funky, and cool neighborhood in the nation.

Willy Street Blog was born in March 2012, in the midst of the recall drive, but soon turned away from state politics as plenty of great voices were already speaking to the issue. In a city that features stupendous local reporting from numerous outlets, why should anyone bother to read some random blog?

The key is to really not care.

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Scott ‘Baghdad Bob’ Walker

Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf a.k.a “Baghdad Bob” was the Iraqi Information Minister under Saddam Hussein.

I’ve been wanting to write a post involving “Baghdad Bob” for quite a while and now I think I’ve finally found a reason. If you don’t know who former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf is, he was the face of the Iraqi regime during the beginning of the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein was nowhere to be found but al-Sahaf, dubbed “Baghdad Bob” by the American press, was on the television spinning fantastic lies about how the war was going for Iraq.

It was of course going badly but you had to respect the man for doing his duty until the end. But what dictator survives without his very dedicated communications staff, and Bob’s role was to obsfucate the truth as much as possible.

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Solidarity Sing-Along Fills Recall Enthusiasm Gap

Solidarity Sing-Along at the Capitol Square on Recall Day, June 5, 2012

The Solidarity Sing-Along started March 11, 2011 with a simple mission:  ”…a strong commitment to effecting change through peaceful action and purely non-violent means.” It has been a moving, poetic response to the brusque, machiavellian  way in which Scott Walker and the Republicans have governed this state. Over a year later the enthusiasm in some ways has carried this revolt on its shoulders, and it was stronger than ever on Tuesday (June 5) at the Capitol.  Continue reading

I Guess The Recall Can Start…The Media is Here

Speaking truth to Ailes in front of the Fox News set on the Capitol Square in Madison on June 4. 2012.

It must be time for the Recall as the television news organizations have come to town, not long after the DNC finally did. Glad they both finally noticed. I was strolling around the square today after being singing a few stanzas with the Solidarity Sing-A-Long in their usual spot at the foot of the Capitol’s State Street steps.  Continue reading

Overpass Light Brigade Epitomizes Recall Spirit

The Overpass Light Brigade pose with all the signs they brought to an overpass near Miller Park Saturday June 2, 2012. The various permutations were displayed to passing motorists. Photo by: Jenna Pope

Since Scott Walker and his allies picked a fight with the good citizens of Wisconsin, they have hit back with an immense avalanche of creative and innovative retorts and actions to register their displeasure with his policies. One such group is the Overpass Light Brigade whose activities have crescendoed in the last few weeks and may just be one of the differences in this election.

Enter Lane Hall, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his wife Lisa Moline who are not necessarily activists but could not bear to sit on the sidelines for this fight. They started with simple letters using battery-powered LEDs that spelled out “Recall Walker” and made regular appearances on the Lincoln Drive overpass to the Milwaukee Art Museum along the lakefront.  Continue reading

Why We Should Stand With Mahlon Mitchell

Mahlon Mitchell, candidate for Lieutenant Governor

It was a year ago today (June 3, 2011) that I attended the Democratic State Convention in Milwaukee. It had been an historic spring and now there were Senate Recalls to plan for and how to sustain momentum for a Gubernatorial Recall drive later in the year. It’s good to look back because I found some video I shot that is foreshadowing of the election only three days from now.

On the main floor I heard many great speeches and even sat next to Senator Fred Risser, one of the Wisconsin 14. Risser has been my Senator off and on since I was born. Retired US Representative David Obey gave the best speech of the night when he inveighed against the Tea Party, and their in-state standard bearer Senator Sunspot himself, Ron Johnson.  Continue reading

Walker Hubris Shines Through During Debate

There were no real surprises at last night’s debate between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Barrett took an aggressive stance, because he had to, and Walker just had to not mess up. I half blame the media and the electorate for not demanding more from Walker.

Walker should have to try harder to convince people he should remain in office. Instead he just has to put out there enough obsfucations, dog-whistle talking points, and mis-characterizations of why there is even a recall election at all to distract from not only his failure as a leader, but also his criminality. Oh yes, he should be so lucky to be recalled rather than have to resign due to legal problems.  Continue reading

Walker’s May Day or Mayday?

A Hawker-Siddeley HS125-400, similar to the one the author flew when the engine failed.

A Hawker-Siddeley HS125-400, similar to the one the author flew when the engine failed.

May Day over the history of the world started as a pagan celebration, has been co-opted by Christians, labor activists, Communists, and Anti-Communists (that’s why America has a separate Labor Day). The State of Wisconsin’s employment outlook has not improved and it reminds me of the day several years ago when I was flying a jet and one of the engines failed and we used the phrase “Mayday…”

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Mellencamp Tells Walker to Leave “Small Town” Alone

Kerfuffle reminds me of the day I saw the “Pink House”

John Mellencamp was born in a small town and wrote really cool songs about his experiences. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker grew up in a small town (Delavan, Wisconsin), but that doesn’t mean super liberal, collective bargaining-loving Mellancamp is happy with the governor’s use of “Small Town” at his campaign events. In fact you could say many of Mellancamp’s 1980s classics such as “Small Town”, “Pink Houses”, and “Jack & Diane” were love letters to his childhood and identity with the working class. Mellancamp’s publicist Bob Merlis has notified Walker’s campaign the singer believes that the song is being ideologically misappropriated by Walker.

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Kohl-Riggs to Primary Walker

Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a local Madison filmmaker and journalist, has submitted 2,300 nomination signatures to run for governor in the upcoming recall election. Kohl-Riggs is against Scott Walker’s policies but he has decided to fight back by running as a Lincoln Republican since he feels Walker, Paul Ryan, and others have brought a Joseph McCarthy-like “stain” on the traditions of the political party that was shaped by Lincoln.

The nominating signatures were submitted to the Government Accountability Board today (April 10) and if approved Kohl-Riggs will ensure that Walker will have a challenger from his party. Whether Walker even acknowledges Arthur’s candidacy will lay bare the extent of his Hubris. Republicans have doubled-down on their arrogance and hypocrisy by once again running “fake” candidates in the democratic primary, the legality of which may be questionable.  Continue reading