Sunday, March 27, 2011

Welcome To My World, Professor Cronon

Professor William Cronon is a history professor at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.  He also recently became a blogger.  His inaugural post was an amazing piece showing the influence of a Koch Brothers-funded group, ALEC, on the Republicans' war on America as they systematically try to destroy unions, disenfranchise voters and destroy public services in several states around the country.

Within a couple of days of posting that highly popular article, the Wisconsin GOP got into action and filed a open records request against Professor Cronon's email.  Cronon correctly explains the McCarthyite reason behind this request:
Cronon theorizes, based on the keyword requests, that Wisconsin Republicans are trying to catch him in violation of state university rules by using a state email account to engage in “lobbying and electioneering to try to unseat these Republican legislators.” In other words, he says, Wisconsin Republicans want to damage him professionally in response to his criticism of them.

“That’s what they’re hoping to find,” Cronon says. “They’re trying to intimidate me. What they’re saying is that if an academic raises these kinds of questions, we’re going to make his life really uncomfortable. Intimidating people from asking legitimate questions is a McCarthyite tactic.”

Cronon says the Wisconsin GOP will not find evidence of what they’re looking for. “It’s not there,” he says.
When questioned about their intimidation tactics, WISGOP not only willfully admitted it, they tried to turn the facts upside down and accuse Cronon of trying to intimidate them. As Greg Sargent writes:
That is quite remarkable. Wisconsin Republicans are not only unabashedly doubling down on the request, but they’re also accusing Cronon of intimidation, because he is objecting to their demand for access to his private emails. Also note that the party offers no explanation for why they think there are any questions over whether Cronon behaved in an “ethical manner.” That alone should raise suspicions that the Wisconsin GOP’s use of the open records law — one that’s ironically meant to foster good and clean government — is really about retaliation against Cronon for his criticism of elected officials. 
It’s worth noting that at a time when the national media had largely moved on from this story, this will only renew media scrutiny on Wisconsin Republicans and could add more energy to the drive to recall them.
Republicans can be so desperate to discredit an opponent, that I could see them going as far as making up things. Sadly, I also wouldn't be surprised if Cronon has received threats against him and/or his family.

And yes, I say these things with an unfortunate certainty, because these things have already happened to me.

The day after we launched Milwaukee County First, we were assaulted on the radio by Charlie Sykes (who also went after me personally), Mark Belling, and Vicki McKenna.  Judging by their vile squawks, one would have thought we were the Visigoths setting out to sack Rome.  Shortly thereafter, I had a number of open record requests filed against my emails and my time sheets.  One of these "investigators" was none other than Orville Seymour, half of the misnamed Citizens for Responsible Government.  (Orville spends more time filing open record requests than he does working on the apartment building he owns, which explains why people refer to him at the same time they talk about Lee Holloway.)

When these searches turned up empty, as did their fears that we were going to be just like CRG and try to bully people, things quieted down for a year.

Then came along Darlene Wink.

Wink was the co-vice chair of the Milwaukee Republicans and also one of Walker's aides when he was county executive.  Wink was also leaving remarks on JSOnline during county hours.

About a month after this story broke, those fine folks at CRG decided to try to take the heat of off Scott Walker by filing a criminal complaint against me, alleging that I was blogging on county time and on county equipment.  To support their false allegations, they submitted "proof" which ended up meaning that they were complaining that I blogged on my furlough days, vacation days, and even on holidays, like Labor Day and Memorial Day, on which the entire county was closed. On one of my posts that they submitted, they went as far as redacting the entire top portion which specifically mentioned that I was on furlough that day!

All I can say is "Thank God, that I am so lucky to have so many dear, deardear, dear, dear, dear friends.

The charges were never pursued since they were unsubstantiated.  Further forensic reports also specified that I indeed never blogged from work.

And no, CRG, nor Charlie Sykes, who gave them air time, ever bothered to apologize for their libel.

Since that time, I have also received an untold number of threats to my career and even to my life.  I have also had an actor or actors going around trying to impersonate me, leaving vulgar and inappropriate comments using my name and avatar.  Fortunately, I have been around long enough that most people, even those that disagree with me, recognize these trolls for what they are.

So you see, the unfortunate events that Professor Cronon is experiencing is not new, but are very typical of Walker's brand of politics.

One thing that I can take slight pleasure in all of this is that it looks like CRG is losing their stranglehold on local government.  They have been behind a number of failed recall attempts over the past several years.  And it was WISGOP themselves who are going after Professor Cronon, when normally they would have sent a front group like CRG after him.  And when the Republicans played their usual tit-for-tat game and started attempts of recalling Democratic Senators, they went to Utah to bring in a gang of professional political hit men to do the job, instead of working with CRG.

But it is this kind of thuggish behavior exhibited by Walker and the GOP, either directly or indirectly through front groups will not silence the people. Rather, it will only serve to keep the flames of anger burning bright as we see one right after another being trampled on, all for the sake of their own greed.

As I have said on more than just one occasion, their downfall will be their failure that there are somethings more important than money.


  1. Wow! What a powerful piece! When will this all stop? As my husband said, 'Welcome to McCarthyism 2011.'

  2. Thanks, Capper. Keep hope alive.

  3. Interesting how selectively you pick those who defended you thus defining loyal as those who happen to agree with you at the moment.

    That's kind of where you are trying to go with this post, right?

  4. Cindy, as far as "defending" him with "loyalty", I think he was merely rehashing those who pointed out the facts of the circumstance. When it comes to facts, there aren't two sides to the argument.

    As far as the point of the post, at the risk speaking for the ever so capable Capper, I took the point to be that when the GOP cries of "thugs" trying to "intimidate" them, it's merely projection meant to distract and divide, as the current incarnation of the GOP and the broader conservative movement will stop at nothing to smear and intimidate individuals who dare try to shed light on them.

  5. Interesting and unfortunately, very typical. Some of the best leaders among us simply will not serve in capacities that open them up to the cheap shots and character assassinations that have become routine in public service.

  6. "...against Professor Cronon's email..."

    To an extent, that's correct. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court says that such email is subject to release, with any 'personal' data redacted...

    If the content of the e-mail is solely personal, it is not a record under the Public Records Law and the e-mail cannot be released. If the content of the e-mail is personal in part and has a connection with the government function in part, then the custodian may need to redact the personal content and release the portion connected to the government function. The record custodian’s inquiry focuses on the content of the e-mail and asks whether that content is connected to a government function. This is more of a pragmatic inquiry than an elaborate legal analysis.

    What Cronon is doing, instead of taking this matter to court for legal analysis, is attempting to try this in the court of public opinion; inciting to mouthy hatred the already-hateful far-left progressives who overfill Wisconsin, ideologues who couldn't stand to both lose an election AND lose their precious 'public-sector union RIGHTS!'. Those public sector unions should never have existed in the first place: public sector unions do not demand pay and fringe benefits from an 'evil corporation' as 'real' unions do, but from the taxpayer; then the unionists pay a portion of their taxpayer-generated salaries as union dues to union leaders, who promptly hands much of it over to the Democrats, who then pass legislation favorable to union bosses; making the entire process an unholy alliance between unions and Democrats and their moocher voters.

    Let Cronon take his fight to court, or else gather his emails and flee the state, as was the example set by the Wisconsin fleebagger senators.

  7. Excellent blog..and it is a sad state that we find ourselves captive to the likes of Gov Walker until January. Hope it will be a Kloppenburg win on Tuesday.

  8. It's not so much McCarthyism as now it's called The New Traditionalist Movement. Here is a link to the basic tenants, which includes another link to the entire essay. The essay was written by Eric Huebeck, apparently he has a connection to Paul Weyrich a founder of the ALEC.

  9. Cindy is correct. She did write in my defense and I unintentionally omitted her. I went to correct this slip, but unfortunately, I cannot get the RSS for that post anymore.

    Cindy was braver than most, since she was going against most her her fellow conservatives and should be commended for that.

  10. Serr8ted-

    Please explain why Professor Cronon should have to expend his own money for an expensive attorney to hash out legalities in what is nothing more than a witch hunt and a dishonest effort to discredit him?

    Then explain why you are OK with Walker withholding his emails until he is actually sued in court by two news agencies.

    Frankly, to me, your statements smack of dishonesty and hypocrisy.

  11. Please explain why Professor Cronon should have to expend his own money for an expensive attorney to hash out legalities in what is nothing more than a witch hunt and a dishonest effort to discredit him?

    He won't pay a thin dime. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has legal staff; this matter will reach the courts, unless UW-M decides to release the emails.

    Then explain why you are OK with Walker withholding his emails until he is actually sued in court by two news agencies.

    You obviously appreciate the tit-for-tat reactions that we're having in today's political maelstrom, being of the Left and well-aquainted with Saul Alinsky's tactics. This is exactly what we who oppose the Left need to do.

    Democrats own Saul Alinsky, and mastered his tactics long before Republicans finally woke up. It's about time we responded in kind, I say; hopefully in time to save this great Republic from the 'designed decline' Democrats are orchestrating. We on the 'far-right' exist because of and as a response to the far-left, a much more dangerous political persuasion and direction. Just look to the far-left: Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky; when you see the 'clenched fist' logo taken by many of the Wisconsin union supporters, you'll see the obvious marks of Communism. That's where the Democrats are taking us.

    Dr. William Cronon, supposedly a pragmatic 'centrist', chose to frame his blog narrative as a hit piece on Republicans; on Governor Scott Walker and the Fitzgeralds and on the 'shadowy' American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (a think-tank, Cronon, not a Soros-funded attack group!) while also holding himself as immune from any questions as to his motives. He's certainly learned how to manipulate the minions of the far-left, as evidenced by his blog's success, and Krugman's (and his previous) NYT editorial.

    To cloak himself as a 'scholar' and at the same time lob firebombs from his basement isn't proper. He's deservedly gotten some attention, and questions need answering. He should produce the emails as requested, or stand behind a lawyer and get busy in court.

    No, I'm neither dishonest nor hypocritical. I stand with those opposed to the far-Left, and will do so for as long as is necessary.