Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fitzgerald's contempt, redux

Back in January, I wrote an essay entitled "Contempt, thy name is Fitzgerald."  That piece was, in large part, born from the reservoir of moral outrage and disbelief that pooled in my psyche after watching the events that transpired on March 9, 2011 in the halls of the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The horror of bearing witness to Wisconsin democracy dismantled in the dark of night was a major influence in my decision to start writing this blog.  I also had a front row seat to many of the incredible stories of the Wisconsin protests, and I did not want these stories lost to the passage of time and fading of memory.

In my original essay about Scott Fitzgerald, I chronicled the events of that sad night.  I discussed the contempt that Fitzgerald exuded as he steamrolled over the rule of law.  Contempt for Peter Barca, contempt for those of us watching this unfold in the committee room, and contempt for the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who had come to the Capitol to have their voices heard.  I felt that I had been well-positioned to comment on this event, as I was standing within ten feet of Scott Fitzgerald when all of this transpired.

That essay was one of the more well-circulated  pieces I have written.  It was a tribute to Lori Compas and her team fighting tirelessly to recall Scott Fitzgerald.  It was also a cathartic piece that helped put into words events that felt almost indescribable.  I thought I had done a comprehensive job, for a very amateur blogger, of shining the light on Scott Fitzgerald, his ties to ALEC, and how his personal priorities colored his legislative actions.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Last night, after coming home from the general election kickoff rally at the Madison Labor Temple, I came across an article posted on the Wisconsin State Journal online titled "Senate recall challenge by Compas is giving "Fitz" fits." I read through the article, which provided a safe, some would even say fairly balanced, view of the fight for Fitzgerald's seat.  Both candidates were interviewed, but nothing earth shattering emerged. 

Until the very end of the article, that is, when I came across the line that made me gasp: 
"For the record, Fitzgerald said he doesn't buy Compas' Pollyanna image. He knows some people are painting the race as a David-vs.-Goliath contest. But Fitzgerald said he thinks her husband is one of the main forces behind her campaign, as well as unions and protest groups."
Now let that sink in for just a moment.

Scott Fitzgerald, in that passage, made one of the most ignorant and misogynistic comments I have ever heard uttered by a Wisconsin politician.  Glenn Grothman follows as a close second.  Scott Fitzgerald thinks so little of women that he believes that Lori Compas couldn't possibly have led the recall effort on her own.  That it had to be her HUSBAND, a MAN, who was really in charge.  It is 2012, and a sitting politician actually said this out loud.

Aside from being a decent person who views women as my equals, there are other reasons I found this statement so offensive.  The first is that I have met Lori Compas personally, and spoke to her on several occasions as she and her team gathered recall signatures.  Early in her effort, as a relative unknown, she addressed a crowd of cops and firefighters at our public safety workers recall event at the Labor Temple.  From that appearance and others, it was obvious to me that Lori was exceptionally driven.  She exuded not only competence, but a warrior's spirit and singularity of purpose.  She organized a truly grass roots team that accomplished what the Democratic establishment in this state thought impossible.

I also watched, through social media, Lori call out Scott Fitzgerald at a public listening session when Fitzgerald alleged fraud in her signature gathering campaign.  Lori absolutely destroyed Fitzgerald in that exchange, and it was painfully obvious that he was outmatched in both intellect and ethics.

The other reason I found Fitzgerald's comments so offensive is that he was also, by proxy, insulting my wife.  My wife is a dynamic small business owner, a wonderful mother of three children, and an extremely passionate, intelligent, and dedicated political activist.  She has worked tirelessly to help reclaim our state from the destructive force of the Walker administration, and she certainly didn't need the guidance of a man to do so.

I want everyone reading this to be clear about one thing:  Fitzgerald's comment that Lori could not have been the driving force in the recall campaign was clearly not some random gaffe taken out of context.  It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an anomaly when it comes to Republican politicians in Wisconsin or nationally.  This comment merely reflects the core values of the current Republican party.  I do not believe that history will be kind to this dark period of the GOP.

Fitzgerald spearheaded the attack on teachers in this state, a profession which is disproportionately comprised of women.  Fitzgerald represents the ideals of the party that just repealed, yes repealed, the Equal Pay Act in Wisconsin, and voted for that repeal.  This was the law that was designed to deter gender and other discrimination in the workplace, and provided penalties for employers who paid women less than men for the same work.  Senator Glenn Grothman, the sponsor of the bill to repeal the equal pay law, actually said, out loud, that: "You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious."  In a nutshell, Grothman argued, without any hint of self-consciousness, that women's priorities are having babies, not making money.  


We must also look at Fitzgerald's statement in the context of the national GOP agenda.  In the Republican world, it is perfectly acceptable to limit women's access to contraception, to defund preventative health care for women, and to impose upon women invasive and humiliating medical procedures.  In the GOP world, it is OK to let a woman die in order to avoid having an abortion.  In the GOP world, at least according to one presidential candidate, a fetus conceived from sexual assault is a "gift from God." The contrast between the political parties is stark when it comes to women's rights, people just have to decide which side they are on.

On this day that we honor the mothers in our lives, Scott Fitzgerald owes Lori Compas an apology for his degrading comments.  They may play well to his base, but they are morally reprehensible.  He owes my wife, and the women of Wisconsin, the same apology.  He owes an apology to the Wisconsin parents who have told their daughters they could be anything and do anything they put their minds to.  He owes an even greater apology to the parents who consciously chose NOT to tell their daughters this because they didn't want to plant even the smallest seed of doubt about their daughters' ability to achieve their hopes and dreams with the same competence and confidence of the men in their lives.  If a society truly values equality, such an affirmation is unnecessary.  

I highly doubt such an apology will be forthcoming.  Fitzgerald is a man driven by hubris and corrupt with power.  However, even if he determined an apology would be politically expedient, comments such as these cannot be undone.  These comments are completely consistent with the values that Scott Fitzgerald represents.   I urge the people of his district to demonstrate on June 5th that Fitzgerald does not represent THEIR values, and show him the door.  It's time for Wisconsinites to say "enough is enough."



  1. Replies
    1. I'm confused, since when is Fitz fighting for the 99%, Labor or removing the influence of money from our political system?? Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here.

    2. Yes, those descriptions are referring to the blogger who runs this site. The stuff about Fitz doesn't start until below "SUNDAY, MAY 13, 2012".

  2. Very Well put!!!

  3. And that any woman with any sense of morals from either party would vote for these cretins confounds me beyond belief.

  4. U R Awesome. Thanks for such a great response.

  5. I now have a physical reaction every time I read a new story about these cretins. I am becoming speechless & if you knew me, you'd realize how amazing that is.

  6. Thank you very much for writing that, Brian!

    The misogyny that comes through in the statements made by Fitzgerald and Grothman is appalling. Thanks very much for so eloquently calling them out on it.

  7. This is an awesome post! Thanks for the update.

  8. This is one of the best blog post's I've read. You have a wonderful talent for writing, Brian, and I'm definitely bookmarking your blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  9. What is wrong with women....what are they thinking....aren't they paying can they support any of these horrid republicans....what the hell is going on in their heads.....

  10. Excellent piece. Well thought out and written..... and GO LORI COMPAS!

  11. You are right on target. Couldn't agree more. Thank you and keep writing!

  12. Fitz could never write anything that resembles the truth. Way to go!!!!!

  13. I always benefit from reading your posts Brian. You're an eloquent writer and giving a voice to the outrage so many of us feel is very helpful. Thanks for writing, and for everything you do!

  14. As always Brian you inspire me with your writing and your right-on-target points. Eloquently written. Thanks for all you do, and for giving a voice to all of us so terribly outraged by what we have experienced in the last year and more. Keep it up! We need you and your wife in our struggle here!

  15. Excellent article. Keep safe.

  16. I'm hoping that comment becomes a 'tipping point' for people in that senate district and it helps to overcome all the structural advantages that Fitzgerald has over Compas.

    It's a district that has been so solidly Republican for so long that Fitzgerald has had only token opposition so that he feels he is untouchable. He certainly felt that way as majority leader, which was clear from his actions.

    But, he's a bully and blowhard and, if challenged, he flies into a rage and will say or do anything to win. He certainly won't campaign fairly against Compas, even if he has significant advantages in funding, name recognition, and party affiliation.

    Every person in Wisconsin should view the archived wiseye tape of the senate session on 2/14/12 and watch Fitzgerald go into a rage on the senate floor and verbally attack his democratic colleagues and Kathleen Falk because a vote was going to be delayed until the next day. In a continuation of his 'hissy fit', he made the senate reconvene at one minute after midnight that evening to pass his bill- on Valentine's day! That meant that everyone had to stay in town and the capitol police had to stay on duty at extra costs to the taxpayers so that Fitzgerald could make his point. (They were in session for 20 minutes).

    Now, we see it come out in how he has conducted himself in this recall election.

    He sent out postcards to every constituent in his district who had signed the recall petition, informing them that their name was listed in case they wanted to remove it. Many who had signed petitions, especially elderly people, found that very threatening.

    When the numbers of valid signatures remained intact, he presented completely ludicrous challenges to the GAB that were tossed out.

    Now, he's got a Texas company doing push-polls throughout the district attacking Lori Compas, her credentials, her positions, and her character, but he refuses to debate her in an open forum.

    Her character, bravery, and tenacity are clearly exposed during this campaign. But, we also get to see the real Scott fitzgerald.

    I hope the voters in that district are paying attention to who he really is, now that she has exposed him for who he really is.

  17. A well written article, summating the bully style of politics offered by a man who previously has run un-apposed. My personal original goal was the recall of Fitz, but following that I was concerned about who would than challenge him in June. I was impressed with the listening sessions Lori held, and her carefully considered position statements. If a democrate can win the office, and maintain a tight fiscal policy of responsible spending - the republicans will be hard pressed to leverage any argument against them short of the power grabbing and bigitory angles that have come to light in their positions. For those that read and study issues deeper than the short sound bites given in superficial news coverage, this really is not much of an issue. Wisconsin has been a fairly conservative state when it comes to spending, but we have always been willing to support our neighbors and those struggling to support themselves or their families. Hopefully we can find a way to take back the caring side of Wisconsin.

  18. The horrible fact is that the Republican Party has spent decades making itself synonymous with personal identity (religious, racial, class) for millions of uninformed, misinformed and resentful Americans. They didn't do this in secret. The Democratic Party just ignored their creation of a media empire that Goebbels would envy. The Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, courted the billionaire elite while treating organized labor and the rest of their base like castoff mistresses. Meanwhile, the GOP can call upon its brownshirts in the Religious Right to vote for any Republican AND threaten anyone who disagrees with them, secure in the belief that Democrats, unions, liberals, gays, etc. are all combinations of Satan, Stalin and Hitler. Yet, we all grew up wondering how the Nazis of the Third Reich could so easily reduce the once totally emancipated European Jews to subhuman status. Hell, look how easily the GOP is making unions and public employers pariahs!

    We are at the cusp of an American fascist regime. Everyday we can hear fools who burn with envy and hatred for the fellow worker who has a better pension or health care, but never envy billionaires like the Koch brothers. That's too much like being jealous of God. Those are the fools who will vote for Walker. And the Democrats were fools to ignore their ignorance for so long.

  19. Thanks for the great article..