Open Letter to Wisconsin Voters

Now this might be more of a statement on those people I am connected to through social media, but I don’t think so. Sure, there is an overwhelming collection of people picking up the Blue Flag on my feeds. At the same time, I’ve had the Red Flag shoved in my face as well as people lamenting the Two Party System and how it doesn’t work. I think last night shows the truth behind the last of those statements.

Overwhelming numbers in the referendum voted to increase the minimum wage and to take federal money to expand health coverage in this state. Obviously those are the issues the majority of Wisconsin feels strongly on. Which is why I find it so confusing that my state voted in the candidate that has openly stated his opposition to both of those issues. All because there was a bolded red R next to his name. Or due to some “issue group” running an add about “Madison Liberal Mary Burke…” Because of course Madison Liberals are the problem, it says so on our television.

A while ago I was given the advice to not discuss politics, religion or issues on my blog or in social media. That it would alienate potential readers. Honestly, I think that is bullshit. Our lack of discourse as a community is what has led to this division among party lines. Which is why no matter what the issue is,  our government representatives will vote in line with whatever the party leadership tells it to. The party leadership that is bought and sold by people with money. And I don’t mean the middle class or the “Union Mob Bosses.” I’m talking millionaires, billionaires and corporations.

Last night on the national coverage, they threw out the staggering numbers. $100 million dollars spent to win a single gubernatorial election. Not to mention the statistic that was really interesting to me. Of the vast amount of people from the Nixon administration that were sent to prison for corruption back during that term, most (if not all) of the things they were jailed for are now legal. Lends a new view to the “I am not a crook” gag from back then. (Kids, Google it… trust me.)

To lend this back to my purview, look at the dystopian novels that are such a trend – especially in YA today. A small group running the government, trying to oppress and hold down the majority. They are split off into groupings based on the work they do, all of which is being done to the benefit of those in power. The protagonist is the plucky youngster that dares to rise against the power. Are you all practicing your three fingered salute? Because with the direction things are heading, you’ll soon be giving it as the Koch Brothers pick your children in a lottery to fight in a Running Man style reality show for food and basic health care as the prize.

Open your eyes and vote. Don’t vote Democrat. Don’t vote Republican. Vote the issues. If someone has an opposing view don’t open a discussion on politics and issues with “FOUR MORE YEARS! We kicked your ass this election!” Because that is what has gotten us to this point.

If you think $7.15 an hour isn’t a living wage, then consider who is in support of raising it. If you vote for the person that is holding back the bill to increase that, you’re voting against your beliefs.

Freedom of Religion is just that… freedom. It means the government cannot arrest you, seize your property or otherwise oppress you for your religious views. That doesn’t mean that you as an employer can enforce your religious beliefs on reproductive rights on people from other religions. Every other religious belief in the world is protected just like yours is.

And if your party has been dragging its feet and stopping up Congress for 8 years in an attempt to get the sitting President out of office, and you’re not happy with it (as a staggering majority of the American people are not by all the polls), then why would you elect more of those politicians? Seriously.

Do I think Mary Burke was the answer this election cycle? Not 100%. But I do think she’s a better option than Scott Walker. I am an Independent. I vote the issues. And I think that dividing our state to keep them fighting themselves and ignoring the state politicians is a bad platform to stand on. And I voting for a third party candidate will not affect change without changing the current electoral system, which is heavily geared to a two party format.

And you Democrats (or at least those unhappy with Walker and his policies) that stayed home and didn’t vote… You’re the reason this is happening as much as the Republicans that support the Democratic issues but still vote the Party Line. Or to put it into terms that Oliver Queen would deliver… “You’ve failed this state.”

Open Letter to Political Posters

Okay, maybe I am overusing the “open letter” concept, but there are far to many people that fit this bill to call out any one person. Also, in these situations, if you call out any singular person they are bound to take it personally. And don’t get me wrong, this is on both sides of the aisle. As it were.

getalongA while back a normally moderate friend on Facebook posted a note railing against taxing corporations and the rich. His issue was the math didn’t work as it left less money for those entities to advance the economy. This isn’t a blog about that issue. Hell, it isn’t even about the governmental shut down. Don’t even get me started on that. It is about people. Friends.

Some of my family don’t seem to realize that I am a moderate. A moderate liberal, but a moderate. The current state of the Republican Party makes it so that they cannot produce someone that I can see voting for. It’s not going to happen. I’m not sure if many of my friends realize this as well. Most of us don’t discuss it. I have family members that can’t stop taking about the “revolution” and beseeching me to check out the Drudge Report for the “real facts.”

So here we go. If you support the Republican Party, that is your choice. Hell, even if you lean so far to the right that you walk in circles. Your call. I support your right to do so. What I do not support is your right to refer to me as a “Loony Lefty” or make value-based statements on my decisions. Once you start making personal attacks against my person and decisions, in an effort to maintain our friendship, I will “de-friend” you in social media. That goes for family too. It’s in my nature to love you, I don’t have to like you.

This came from one of the aforementioned people who lean so far to the left they circle-walk posting to my friends thread how us “lefties” were a “lost cause.” Now, similarly to some of my friends who are walking circles the opposite direction, I might think that people who are willing to shut down the government and put thousands of workers on unpaid furlough in an effort to force the reversal of a piece of legislation that has not be overturned any of the forty plus times you have challenged it is a “lost cause.” My comments in support of tax reform or campaign finance reform doesn’t even hurt anyone. But that isn’t my point. I don’t rage against that machine, so why would you do so to me?

I am fully aware that the statement that sparked this wasn’t made by a friend of mine, but a friend of a friend. At the same time, I have had to reinitiate the Alfano 30′ Politics Rule™ which states that political discussion will not happen within 30′ of me. Though realistically, I tend to do this around family or people I am not very familiar with. The arguments just aren’t worth it.

Seriously I have online contacts that treat me better than some friends and family. Charles St. Michael (a YouTube guy with as dark a sense of humor as I have) leans towards the right. Me the left. Both of us are mostly moderate in our leanings. I don’t agree with many of his political views. He doesn’t agree with many of mine. His posts are still funny. His cooking show still gives me ideas. And were we in a face to face setting, I would still buy him a beer and talk to the dude. Without knowing him personally, I get the feeling he would do the same.

I have an author friend who marks herself as a fiscal conservative so therefore is Republican. Whereas I cannot come to terms with fiscal conservatism closing down a government and costing the people millions in an effort to advance their political agenda. She doesn’t see it the same way. I’m not going to stop reading her books. I won’t refuse to review them on WLP. And I would still buy her a drink at a conference and talk with her. She’s funny and energetic and her stories are entertaining. I don’t think she’s written me off as a Loony Lefty as I am still on her friends list.

That is the answer. To those circling to the left as well as the right. Politics needs to be discussed. But never at the cost of friendships or other relationships. Politics should never replace respect. I bring this out for the younger people. My grandchildren (yes, I do have those), as the schools are starting to lean away from classes like Civics. Though my son (our youngest) did have to volunteer back in 2008 for a political party of his choice for school. We waited to see who he chose, we even allowed him to convince us as to why he thought we should vote for that presidential candidate. Luckily, he chose the one we were voting for anyhow. But I see those programs going away in many schools.

For this moral to the story, I will give you two pop culture choices…

Keep Calm and listen to Bill and Ted

Keep Calm and listen to Bill and Ted

Dalton will tell you when it's time to be "not nice"

Dalton will tell you when it’s time to be “not nice”

Politics and Writing

Two different times (in as many weeks) I’ve seen people that I like and respect in the writing community post on authors and/or aspiring authors and discussing politics online. The issue for me here is that I seem to be on the other side of the discussion from both people, but I still respect and value their opinion. My hope is they will realize this should they come across this posting. It really stems on my opinions of citizenry as a whole, and how it has evolved to this point.

Should you be interested in the blog posts that I am referring to, I will link them. Both are well written and thought provoking. Again, I may disagree with them, but that says nothing for the worthiness in reading them. The first came from Julie Butcher and is a blog posting over on AMWriting written about Online Political Behavior for Writers. The other comes from one of my local authors Alex Bledsoe over at his blog on Bullying and the Political Pile On. Both raise excellent points, but points I’m not fully in line with.

With the AMWriting post, the answer of Online Political Behavior for any writer or aspiring author was “just don’t.” In particular, the end line was basically a question of what’s more important to you, a career in writing or being right on the Internet? This makes it out to be an all-or-nothing concept, relating it to the similar discussion about authors calling out bloggers/reviewers that gave them a bad review online. Here’s the difference for me – name calling and threatening a blogger who gave you a bad review is a career killer, tweeting/blogging your political opinion is not. In a best of circumstance, Internet name-calling and threatening will only weaken your writing’s fan base. If a political opinion is stated intelligently and with some civility, that is not only your right in this nation, but – in my opinion – is a duty.

Consider that civics used to be a big part of our education in schools. Now also consider that in some schools, it still is. My son (who is now 21) had an assignment to look at the candidates in the upcoming presidential election, choose one, and dedicate some volunteer time to that campaign office. He looked into the issues himself, read a lot of CNN and MSNBC, watched a lot of The Daily Show (sad that this is one of the best sources for unbiased news reporting) and decided that Obama’s platform sounded the most solid to him. When did this stop becoming a priority for people?

I am what I would define as an independent. I choose to vote based on platforms and the individual, not the party line. My wife’s family are all Republicans and (as near as I can tell) they are because that’s just the way they’ve always been. My wife, myself and our son are the political black sheep of the family. Even my stepson and stepdaughter are Republican. Personally I see no reason for it other than “that’s how grandpa voted, so that’s how we are,” but that is their right. Here’s where things get interesting.

Forget the presidential elections for a moment. I not only live in Wisconsin, but I am a state employee here. While not a teacher, I am a member of the teachers union. In the last elections here, while I wasn’t 100% happy with the job Governor Doyle had done, I was definitely not happy that Scott Walker won the election. I had no trust in him based on his record and stances as the County Executive in Milwaukee. I couldn’t believe that Ron Johnson beat out Russ Feingold for Senator. Near as I could tell, he won it by flooding the airwaves with anti-Democrat commercials, literally spending over 9 million dollars to secure the election (then getting that amount back as a “severance package” from the business he left for office). Sure, my candidates lost, but how bad could it be?

Collective bargaining rights were stripped. Bills were pushed through allowing for the non-bid sale of public utilities to private companies with only the approval of the Governor. Citizens were being denied access to the state capital. And the penultimate, for the first time in 42 years I was ashamed to be a Wisconsinite. For the first time in my life I was seriously considering what was keeping me living in this state.

What does this have to do with writer’s having an online political opinion? Some people in this state who voted for this Governor were shocked at what he was doing. Part of this could be attributed to people not talking about politics. We have a constitution that assures us our freedom of speech and the ability to live without fear of persecution. So how would that align with keeping my mouth shut so people will buy my book? Honestly, if anything I have to say on politics offends you that much my books will likely offend you even more.

There is a bit more to it than that, but those issues I think relate better to the other blog I referenced. In Alex Bledsoe’s blog he was relating left leaning bloggers to bullies. The idea is that pointing out the news of the issues that face us is preaching to the choir (as most if not all of their readers are also left leaning). The inevitable chorus of support, the “pile on” of the grade school playground. Having seen the “business end” of the pile on more than once in my day, I’m not sure I agree with the single-sideness of this statement. (I should mention that he lumps himself in with the “left-leaning” bloggers to those who haven’t read the linked blog.)

As for why I think that view is a little off is that same reason of having been a state employee in Wisconsin this past year. The right in this state has started a war on the state employee, they have used us as a target to put in front of people to fuel their attacks on the unions in an attempt to cripple the Democrats come presidential election time. Forget the “pay their fair share” and why this was a pay cut and not a “just like everyone else” adjustment. In the past year I have been called a thug, a union stooge, lefty, a member of the “Looney Left” and worse. Skip everything else about Walker, the Fitzgeralds and Grothman (not even getting into Grothman’s legislative attacks on women’s rights and single mothers) they demonized teachers, nurses, police, fire fighters and a host of other public employees to further their big business agenda.

When faced with a recall election, the Governor that has condemned the “out of state interests” he claims are driving this recall, went out of state and collected over 12 million dollars to fund his campaign. Think of the last time you saw 12 million dollars for any single state election. All of this in the face of attacks on the character of the protesters.

Look at a the national stage. A young woman wished to testify before the Senate on the issue of birth control as preventative care and was turned aside in favor of an all-male religious panel. When she did give her testimony (to those that would hear it) a conservative talk show host (who I’m betting preaches to the choir on a daily basis) took a personal attack on her, calling her a slut, a prostitute and suggesting she posts videos of herself in sex acts since she wants to “get paid to have sex.” The pile on is something that happens on the left and the right. For my part I think the “pointing and laughing” analogy from the blog is shown more on the right than the left, but I’ve been the target of some of those jeers.

It boils down to a simple idea. It can be expressed in a song. Hell, it’s being expressed in a Super Bowl commercial. Respect. I am a state employee. In this current political environment I cannot vote Republican. I am not a stooge of “big union bosses” nor am I a thug. I simply do not share the same beliefs as you. If you take the time to listen to me instead of hurling party-line insults at me or Fox News talking points, you might see where there is room in the middle.

When it boils down to it, I will not go gentle into that good author. I will speak my mind, but (in the words of Dalton from Roadhouse) be nice. If you decide that my having a political opinion that differs from you means we cannot associate online or you cannot read my fiction, I’m sorry to hear that. If you feel you can’t do business with me because of it, I question your professionalism but admit the right to your opinion. But consider how much different the political landscape would be if we all followed the rule my mother instilled in me when I was a kid – treat others as you would want them to treat you. (“It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on” helps me to keep a level head.) Or, in short… Pepsi for All.

Man I Need A…

Consider me to be firmly in the camp of “coffee is to the writer as gasoline is to an automobile.” That being said, I frequently go two to three days without coffee. On some of those days I don’t even have soda – when I do it is a can or a medium soda at the place we’re eating at. A while back some friends thought I was kidding. It was inconceivable to them that a guy who orders a quad shot latte or quad espresso wasn’t horribly addicted to caffeine.

While I am in the camp of coffee is the fuel that makes an author go, I also know there are exceptions to the rule because this is my rule – not the world’s. One of the writers in my writing group is Mormon. No coffee, no cola – the most caffeine he ever has is if I bring in one of my Devil’s Food based cupcakes. The rest of you can start breathing again.

Now that you’ve all started your hearts beating again after that scare, here’s another for you. Twice in my life I’ve cut out caffeine entirely. Once I was addicted to it and went cold turkey, during the years of Crystal Pepsi. The other time was several years ago when a virus gave me an open ulcer. Even though it was viral related, my diet had to be altered. Here’s a scary thought for you – I couldn’t even have decaf because it had a trace amount of caffeine in it. Chocolate too. For about 15 months. The saving grace of that was the three days in ICU with a morphine drip keeping the migraines under control while my body acclimated.

Last year when my wife and I sat down and looked at the budget, we found that coffee (as I write best in coffee shops) was a major expense. This meant limiting the time I spent in coffee shops (and thus writing) or limiting myself to a brewed cup each day ($1-2 depending). In this time I found that I could go without coffee for several days at a time. No headaches, especially after upping my water intake thanks to the Change Write Now challenge. This meant a savings of money and I could justify a latte when I did stop in for one. I started limiting it to days I really needed to get work done, or days when a migraine was coming on.

The reason this came to me today (instead of doing a blog post about the ending of Change Write Now, which was an awesome end game) is because this morning was one of those days where I say, “Yeah, I need a cup of coffee.” Which isn’t the only reason. A tweet from Lela Gwenn got me thinking about my need for coffee this morning which paralleled a discussion in college during finals week. Yes, this is how my brain works. Sit down, strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride, kids!

So back in college, I came home from a rather grueling final. Since we’re over twenty years past, I’m not even sure which it was. It may have been the one involving Heart of Darkness – the mere mention of that novel still make me pee a little. The content of the final is unimportant, just that is was the sonofabitch final that semester for me. I came back to my room where a friend was with his girlfriend, plopped in my chair and exclaimed, “Damn I need a beer after that one!”

This is a test of how well you know Zombie Joe (even though I wouldn’t be given that nickname for another 15 years past that point). What could happen in this instance to royally torque my chain? If you guessed having a friend’s visiting girlfriend tell me that I shouldn’t “need” a beer and that expressing a need for alcohol is a warning sign, you would be totally correct. I have lost family members to alcohol before, it was one of the main reasons I avoided partying all the time in school. One of the best ways to piss off the person who remembers favored family members being taken by alcohol every time they do have a beer (meaning even a singular one) is to rip open the scab of that never healing wound with indignant righteousness.

Now I don’t remember much what happened after that, which is a testament to just how pissed she made me. What I do know is that I kept my mouth shut better than I thought I would. I had lost a friend to mixing it up with his girlfriend in the past and didn’t want to repeat it. But it bears mentioning that sometimes words are just words. That scab still exists today, but you don’t see me hopping up on a soapbox every time someone wants a drink, do you? Hell, at Romantic Times I spent some time at Brothers extolling the virtue of the $2 vodka special with Juliet Blackwell – and we had just been introduced minutes before.

The end result is that sometimes you need a coffee, sometimes you need a beer – unless you’re Mormon or some other religion that bans the indulgence. If that need is every day, then there’s an issue. Every day coffee use isn’t that large of an issue and even some reports show that one to three cups a day is good for your memory. For my memory I was taken back to the fervor of a person who must have shared a similar scab to my own but dealt with it in a much more militant fashion. It also reminded me of some of the divisiveness that seem to be plaguing the nation these days, where people attack and condemn their opposition rather than open civil discourse.

In other words, have a drink and chill out – pick your poison. 😉

The Death of a Rule

The following is a blog about my string of political comments as of late, and my offer to my friends with opposing viewpoints. If you’re here for my Change Write Now stats or ongoing projects list, feel free to skip to the bottom of the page. You can even use the handy included anchor link. 😉


Back in the day I invoked the Alfano Politics-Religion 20′ Radius Rule. It simply stated that no discussion of politics or religion could carry on less than 20′ away from me. While this sounds like a boon to me, it was meant for everyone’s benefit. My observations were that people tend to get pissed off talking about one of those two subjects. Being that I’m already kind of an asshole, it made sense that limiting the reasons for people to get pissed around me meant that friends and I could carry on. All seemed to go well.

Cut to the here and now, otherwise known as over 25 years later. I’ve learned over the years and this includes the rather helpful ability to not give a shit what people think of me. That isn’t foolproof as all writers are at least partially neurotic about their work and how it will be received. I’ve also learned that while one person can change the world, not everyone has to agree with you. That is where some of this comes in with relation to social networking.

I have several friends, acquaintances and followers who are Republican. Many of those are pretty strongly in the conservative subsection of that group. While I don’t really consider myself a Democrat, I rarely see anyone I would vote for in the Republican Party. Were one to come along, I would vote for them but this cannot happen because almost all (if not all) of the Republicans wouldn’t. This is fine as while I don’t agree with you, I’m not going to say you must agree with me.

With everything that has gone on over the last year and as this current year rolls on, I find myself adding caveats to the opening of the rule. If it is a problem of beliefs, I will “agree to disagree” even though I loathe that phrase with the  heat of a thousand suns. If there is a difference of viewpoints based on differences between us as people I can do the same. The caveat to this is that your argument has to stand up to some form of logic or reason.

If you support the far right due to a fundamental belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and the far right supports that in their “family values/family morality” campaign, then that is your right. If a leading spokesman for that campaign cheats on a terminally ill wife and then asks a wife for an “open marriage” and you forgive and still support him, how can you still claim “family values” in that scenario? This was a rhetorical question, obviously.

Without calling anyone out, earlier in 2011 when the Governor Walker situation came to a head I had a discussion with a friend. I would point out policies and legislation that the state Republicans were putting forth that were damaging to the state as a community and as a whole. It seemed that each new piece of information I put forth was met with “Unions bad!” If your reason for supporting a Governor who divides the people of the state to make them fight with each other and not pay attention to what he’s doing is that you’re anti-union, then I think you need to take a look at your motives.

Another example is another person that after the last presidential election asked my wife, “Are you satisfied with your vote? Are you really?” The reason this person voted Republican was that their family votes Republican. This is free licence for you to walk into a voting station and not pay attention to who you’re voting for and why. This is also free reign for a political party to push an agenda without losing voters. And for the record I responded to the question above with, “Why yes. Yes we are. You?”

Overall though, I’ll support my friends in their differences but there are lines. So if you see me spouting a little political due to current events, know this is because I am paying attention to them. The biggest benefit to Wisconsin that Governor Walker has done (in my opinion at least) is he’s made people start paying attention to politics again. He’s given us incentive to be aware of who we’re voting for and why. He’s made me look at current events and ask if Herman Cain is a bad choice due to his sexual misconduct, how does that make Newt Gingrich the moral compass of a nation?

And while I’ll support your choice to be of a different mind then me, please do the same. Don’t tell me why I’m “wrong” or you’ve then entered into a challenge. You can tell me why you support the opinion that is different than mine, but be prepare to back up the discussion. Spirited discussion will keep us all paying more attention to this process and making more informed decisions. If we reduce our discussions to flinging talking points at one another nothing will ever be solved.


Change Write Now Stats (01/19/12)

  • Food – just under 100 calories shy for the day
  • Water – enough that I think I can swim now
  • Exercise – had to fit in during the day, but done
  • Writing – think I am almost done with current project
  • Habits – both met, although almost weighed myself
  • Sleep – still getting six hours total


  • Reading (print) – still on Silver Tongued Devil… reading time has been scarce this week
  • Reading (Nook) – on hold (see above)
  • Listening (iPad) – just picked up book 2 & 3 of the Iron Druid from Audible

Yet Another Wisconsin Politics Post

This past few weeks have been a bit rough here in Wisconsin. Usually we are saying that around here due to the weather and it’s freakish desire to torture us. This year it is more about the political climate than the frigid one – even if one could argue the political climate is more frigid than our weather.

I want to set the scene here for my liberal friends, my conservative friends and those that consider themselves neither end of that fence. I am an independent. I fully support the best person for the job. Normally this involves me voting Democrat.

I am also in a union. I pay my union dues, but I am not an active member. I don’t vote. As an effect of these issues in Wisconsin, I am looking at becoming an active member of my union. There are a few of my friends that are very anti-union, but I have the belief that the unions have given us so much. Even when I didn’t want to be active in it, I wanted to be in it. My feelings on it can be expressed with a quote from Stephen King…

If you like a weekend, thank a union guy. If you like a 40 hour work week, thank a union guy. If you like a day’s honest pay for a day’s honest work, thank a union guy.

So now you know where I am coming from. Where my beliefs are – at least on these issues. Hopefully this will give you an idea of where I am coming from. And why in the upcoming days I may include an open letter to Governor Walker and the Wisconsin GOP.

With the middle of March upon us and this bill signed and simply waiting for publishing for it to become law, there are some things that I would urge anyone against this law to do. First and foremost though would be to educate yourself on it. That means if you are on the liberal side of things checking out something other than MSNBC. If you are in the conservative side of things, check out something other than Fox News.

If you come to the conclusion that the cuts in the educational budget, the cuts to health care and the non-bid sale of public utilities to private companies with no oversight is too much for you, stand with the public unions in their protests.

If you are anti-union, ask yourself why and look at the numbers. As a union member I make significantly less than I would in a similar private sector job. This is while the GOP is telling you that we are swimming in pools of taxpayer money like Scrooge McDuck. I don’t see regular pay raises, and with the introduction of furlough I have seen a drop in pay. This is not greedy unions trying to steal taxpayer money.

Consider the above part and then ask why we are giving huge tax breaks to the rich. Read the article that gives the opinions of millionaires that a million dollars (it may have even said four million) is not considered rich. Consider Fox News reporting that teachers are rolling in it at 50k a year with benefits a year after they reported that $250k a year for the people liberals wanted to tax being “just above poverty level.”

Still, unions are large supporters of Democratic politicians. Of course special interests and businesses are even larger supporters of Republican politicians. So what happens when you cut the purse strings of the unions while awarding huge tax cuts and extremely lucrative resource sales to big business like the Koch brothers?

If after this you come about to a decision to appose this bill (now signed into law), then here are some steps you can take.

  1. Talk about it in your community. Do you have kids in school? Ask their teachers what they think. Better yet, see if there are any town meetings on it.
  2. Go to demonstrations in your local community. What better way to lend support than getting involved in your government?
  3. Go to the state capital and let your voice be heard. Even if you are just walking around if you stand with them, your numbers will be counted. Your local community may even have a bus heading there. Many do.
  4. If you are concerned enough about the direction this majority party is taking our state, sign a recall petition. I hate the idea of recall, but a message needs to be sent.
  5. Boycott supporters of this administration. Here is where you need to be careful. As far as I have seen, the large corporations funding campaigns are the Koch Brothers (a huge list of paper products from paper towels to toilet paper) and Walmart. Others such as Johnsonville Meats (the brats, I know) and Sargento supported them through the owners, not the businesses themselves. Stop purchasing according to your comfort level.
  6. Write letters. Write to the companies with your intent to boycott them due to their support of Walker and therefore this bill. Write your Senator. Write your Congressperson. Write your local officials.

I have been walking the walk as well. Most of my writing time this past month has been taken up reading political articles in the various papers, watching shows on both sides of the issues and writing to my Senator as well as the minority leader. I even went down to the protest this past weekend. I wanted to be there to show we aren’t giving up. And I am still in pain because of it. (If I go this weekend I am bringing my cane – even if I do hate using it.)

For the rest of the week, I will try and post links to some of the stuff I have been following with my opinions on it. Comments/Discussion is welcome as long as things remain civil. I do reserve the right to bring out the virtual “ass-whoopin’ boots” and remove comments that are inappropriate or delve simply into name-calling.

I stand with the Fighting 14…

Here are a couple facts you might not know about me. At 41 years old, I have never lived anywhere but Wisconsin. I was born in Madison, and have lived here my entire life. One of my earliest memories of grade school was learning to sing On Wisconsin in class. For 41 years my veins have pumped Crimson and White (official colors of the Badgers for you non-Wisconsinites). Last night my blood started pumping pure red.

Wednesday night is D&D Encounters Night at Misty Mountain Games. It is a weekly event I run for players in the Madison area. My table is top-heavy with people associated to the University Wisconsin-Madison and other public service. Scott works as a tax collector for the Department of Revenue. He’s also the one that was following the reports and told us about the modified collective bargaining bill was drawn up, approved and voted on.

The level of disgust I was hit with at that moment was intense. I couldn’t believe it. None of this rang true as being a democratic process to me. But I had an event to run for people. My players have been pretty steady for the past months, so they are all my friends. I wasn’t going to tank the week’s game when there was nothing I could do even if I did. That is not my way.

After dropping off one couple that I drive to the game, I headed to MATC to pick up my son. From there we stopped for dinner even though I was feeling sick and beside myself. Is this what our democracy has come down to? Like some sick subplot from Spartacus Blood and Sand? How is this even possible and how can this administration continue on with their lies?

Once home I checked out the reports for myself. I watched the videos. I checked out the photos. I watched the news and the Twitter feed. In the midst of all of that, I found what I needed. The simple statement in the press that the 14 Democratic Senators in Illinois would be returning to stand with us and “retake our government.”

Sure, it may smack of the “I’m with CoCo” movement – but this is far more important. This is about our rights and what we expect from our government. Walker’s administration has refused to hear the voice of the people and continue to perpetuate the myth that an “overwhelming majority” support him in this push. He also claims that he campaigned on a platform about removing collective bargaining, which has since been proven to be a lie.

It is for those reasons and many more, that I will be standing with the “Fighting 14” of the senate. For various reasons I have not made the trek down to the capital. I have had others to pitch that fight for me. In my own stunning display of “do as I say, not as I do” I have told my son no more demonstrating down there. We discussed how we were concerned for his safety. When it boils down to it though, I will be down there. We stand together or divided we fall.

Stand with the 14 while they fight for us. While they REALLY do what they were elected to do. Pledge your intention to recall Scott Walker once we are able to. Or like me, keep your eyes glued to the news and wait for notice of something that has been done that will allow us to move forward with impeachment proceedings.

Totally Not About Writing

I suppose that title was better than Zombie Joe Rants About Political Happenings In Wisconsin. That just doesn’t roll off the tongue. Although it does bring the touch of irony to it. Back in college I supported the Alfano 20′ Radius Rule. I stated that no discussions involving politics or religion could go on within 20′ of me without triggering me finding somewhere else to be. I had to adjust this for my political science class and religion class – of course.

But things change. I served for about a year as a Sunday School Teacher at a church I wasn’t officially a member of. I have been an employee for a state university (and therefore a state worker) for over 10 years. As such, I have had to refine that rule. It’s more of a guideline now. And the political landscape in Wisconsin has lead to me throwing it out the window.

The best way to describe me is as an Independent politically. Vote for the best person for the job, no matter what party they are from. Of course with the veritable tsunami of crazy going on the past couple years, I can comfortably say I will never vote for any “Tea Party” Republicans. And the band leader, the virtual Glenn Miller of this Crazy Train is Scott Walker. (And yes, I did just link big band to Ozzy there. That one shocked even me.)

Once voted in he made sure to tell Doyle not to push through any bills, contract agreements, etc. Now that he is the one in office, he is trying to push these things through as fast as he can. It seems the idea is to get them through before people can look too closely at them. After all, his hob-nailed booted Republican buddies control the game court, right?

Now consider that this financial crisis is one that he created. The reports from the end of Doyle’s term was that Wisconsin was one of the best states financially. That was until Walker pushed through a bunch of budget strains that were considerations to his political backers. Didn’t know that? You can check out the articles on them over at It is a rather enlightening report.

Now consider that his opinion of the high speed rail proposal was that he would use that money to repair roads. That federal money that was specifically put towards funding high speed rail projects. No matter if you supported that plan or not, simply assuming you can use the money given to you for one project for something entirely different shows a dangerous sense of entitlement in my opinion. It ranks right up there with setting the National Guard on call in the same breath you are announcing the thing that will piss people off making you think you will need the National Guard.

Why bring this up now? Because taking away the collective bargaining rights of the state transportation employees puts a significant amount of federal funds for buses in jeopardy as well. That information was also posted over at So this bill could wind up costing the state. It could wind up costing the city. In the end, it will wind up costing us. You think Scott Walker is going to foot that bill?

My personal favorite though is the calls from several people (friends included) as to what will teachers really lose. Or how do we honestly think this will affect the students. What happens if our teachers only work their contracted hours? I don’t know about you, but I went to college studying to become a teacher. I did so knowing that I would never have an abundance of money. Teachers are not rich people. Now cut their benefits. Cut their salaries. What does this say towards the teachers, especially when this could have been avoided by not passing huge spending for special interest groups?

Now consider state employees. Does everyone really think we make money hand over fist? I was born in Wisconsin 41 years ago. I remember having to learn the Badger fight song in grade school before I even knew what football was. Trust me when I say the money is totally not what draws us to these jobs.

Furlough time came down. I’m taking a pay cut. It stings, but I can handle it. I get 8 days during the year to put towards writing. Awesome. My wife has a really strong private sector job, so we should be fine. Now tell me that the health benefits that were worth the lower pay are going to suddenly be not so good. Tell me you’re taking away a serious percentage of my pay. And tell me this sitting in your mansion after giving fat money deals to the people that helped put you there.

Some of my conservative republican friends and followers posted some comments with bite to them when the Republicans won big this last election. I’m not kidding, there was even one that was literally a “ha-ha” in the method of the Simpsons. I have been asked by family members, “So were you happy with your vote? Were you really?” (This was in reference to my wife and I voting for Obama.) Is this the utopia that I am to expect from the spotless Republican regime?

Here’s the thing, and I am going to modify a Rowdy Roddy Piper quote so that all of you can understand. “Brother, [karma’s] a bitch… and she’s back in heat.”

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.