[edited 2/24 4:56 to add Madison Police chief cite]
In case you missed it, there's a revealing YouTube recording of a converation between Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and Ian Murphy, who called the Governor's office posing as David Koch. YOu can watch the video here (the video is in two parts--the second video should appear as a side link).
The Koch brothers' family fortune is based primarily in oil, and they have benefited hugely from the various subsidies provided for Big Oil by the federal government. Politically, they are Ayn Rand acolytes--radical libertarians who view most people as mere "parasites" and themselves as the producers meritoriously entitled to everything they have and more. Accordingly, when David Koch ran for vice president on a libertarian ticket decades ago, he stood for abolishing things like Social Security, federal regulatory agencies, welfare, and public schools. The brothers are worth about $20 billion apiece, and they have been and are using that money to push their radical agenda throughout the countrym "funnel[ing] money through 501c3 tax-exempt foundations, and [giving] money to other foundations, lobbying organizations, and right-wing think tanks. They have PACs; they support candidates. [They fund] Tea Party groups Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and Citizens for a Sound Economy." See, e.g., Peter Fenn, Tea Party Funding Koch Brothers Emerge from Anonymity, US News, Feb. 2, 2011 (relying on Jane Mayer's reporting in Covert Operations, The New Yorker (Aug. 30, 2010), that the Koch brothers spent $196 million over the last ten years to support conservative causes and institutions).
It shouldn't be surprising, then, that the Koch brothers are involved in the Wisconsin GOP governor's effort to kill public unions. See, e.g., Rick Ungar, Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort to Kill Public Unions, Forbes, Feb. 18, 2011 (noting that Koch owns a coal company subsidiary in Wisconsin, timber plants in the state and pipelines, and has laid off workers to boost profits).
Walker bragged about the various ways he had thought up to threaten the Dems to enable the anti-union vote. He was consistently ingratiating with the Fake Koch. He bragged about the way he is getting media coverage and that his anti-union effort is spreading to other states with newly elected right-wing governors (Kasich in Ohio, Scott in Florida, Snyder in Michigan) and that all they have to do is adopt his "don't budge" posture to finally do this. When Fake Koch asks him at the end "what else can we do fer ya?" Walker essentially response by saying that "the more groups there are calling lawmakers to tell them to hang in there, the better" [coordination with Fake Koch to get Koch-funded groups making "citizen" calls to lawmakers to support union busting?] and ""in the weeks ahead, the guys will need the message reinforced why this is good for the economy and the state" [coordination to continue to spread misinformation claiming that unions are the cause of the deficit]. And the most chilling is Walker's response to Fake Koch's suggestion that "we'll back you up. We're considering planting some troublemakers" : Walker says "We thought about that". He goes on to say that he decided against it since that would just get media attention and he is comfortable ignoring them. After some more blathering about liberals and the media, Fake Koch says "good catching up" and Walker responds "Yeah, this is an exciting time" and tells Fake Koch about a cabinet meeting he held "right before we dropped the bomb" where he drew a direct parallel with Reagan's union-busting moment with the air traffic controllers and said this union-busting moment in Wisconsin "is our moment; this is our time to change the course of history."
If you don't have time to listen to the full conversation--Gov. Walker did 90% of the talking, with comments like "beautiful" or "time to crush those [union] bastards" from the Fake Koch on the other end of the line-- here are a few excerpts from my own hastily jotted notes (bolded statements below are ways Walker said he is planning to push the Democrats to be there so the Senate can vote to bust the unions).
- Walker on how he is going to make Dems let the vote to end collective bargaining on most everything take place
- If the Dems are not there for two days, then the Senate clerk will stop the payroll process--they'll still get a paycheck, but they will have to be present to pick it up, and when they come to the Senate office to do so, they will be "locked in the desk".
- (in response to a question whether Walker is talking with the Democrats)
- I'm talking to one guy only (later identifies him as Tim Cullen). He's the only reasonable one. I'm telling him that I'm not budging.
- Fake Koch suggests that he will call Cullen and put pressure on him.
- Walker responds "He's reasonable, but he is not one of us...he is not an ally...But [after he worked in the public sector for a while] he was in the private sector and made some real money so he [humorously stated] became more open-minded"...he's not a conservative, just a pragmatist."
- (in response to a question on who they could get to budge on the collective bargaining issue)--Walker responds that he is "trying four or five angles" :
- the paycheck (see above) is one thing;
- another effort is to see if they can hang an ethical or even a felony on the Dems if they can show that the "unions are paying to put them up out of state" because that wouldn't be "just political" it would be "being paid to keep from doing your job" so Walker noted that he had the Attorney General looking into that;
- And he remarks (very cheerfully--as though this is the greatest thing in the world) that layoff notices are ready with the "at-risk" notice going out next week to five or six thousand workers and maybe he will "ratchet that up"
- Fake Koch responds "Beautiful--we have to crush the union"
- Walker answers (paraphrased) "I'm not caving; I've done this on every battle and I've won. They'll be sacrificing thousands of state workers." (said almost gleefully)
- Walker says that (paraphrase, but fairly close to a full quote from my quick scribbling) "another interesting idea that they are thinking about is an appeal to the Democratic leadership to talk ("not negotiate") but to require that all fourteen will have to come back and sit in the Assembly and then they can recess to come over here and talk to me, because legally, once they are there and in session they don't physically have to be there, so the 19 Republicans would then be a quorum and can pass the bill without the Dems being there. And when they come over, I'll talk. They can yell at me for an hour, who cares." (ho ho)
- Fake Koch's response was "yeah, and you could have a big baseball bat"
- Walker responded with a jolly laugh "You'll be glad to know I do have one" (ho ho ho).
NB: At a point towards the end of this particular part of the conversation, Walker says that there are only a few "radicals" among the Democrats and that most of them are just "scared and would like to get it over with" so he thinks the paycheck gambit and the other things he is "threatening them with" will work
Walker's conversation suggests a complete lack of any sense of sympathy with the thousands of workers whose pension rights, rights of association and livelihoods he plans to end. It suggests a comaraderie with wealth that is the underlying foundation for the governing philosophy of this oligarchic-sympathising, plutocracy-promoting governor. The baseball bat "joke" and the use of words like "lock em in their desks" and "threatening them" and bragging about layoff notices all reveal an unsympathetic picture of a person who looks up to money, power and privilege and simply doesn't give a damn about ordinary folk. The fact that Walker admits considering "bringing in troublemakers" suggests a clear violation of his oath to protect the citizens of Wisconsin, and a clear ethical violation for an employer in dealing with his employees. [Added 4:56 pm It looks like others have recognized the "unsettling" nature of Walker's easy admission of considering hired thugs to make trouble for protests. See, e.g., Sargent, Madison police cheif finds Scott Walker's comments about protestors 'disturbing', The Plum Line, Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2011 (quoting Madison Police Chief Noble Wray as saying "I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers").]
The state of Wisconsin could easily afford tax increases. Laying off thousands of state workers will only deepen its fiscal woes.