by Lisa Mux & Phil Scarr

If the Americans for Prosperity event we attended in Waukesha a few weeks back was a motivational rally, the pro-Walker gathering in Wauwatosa Saturday afternoon was feeding time in the hyena paddock. It was less Tony Robbins and more Tony Soprano. The modest crowd was there to Celebrate Scott Walker and his desecration of Wisconsin’s long Progressive history. It was politics as a full-contact sport. And Tommy Thompson was Tony Soprano’s hit man on meth.

Featuring divisive politics, a cleaving of public and private sector workers, driving wedges where none should be, the organizers pulled no punches. They divided the historic events at the capitol in Madison over the last year from their “real” Wisconsin, one populated by taxpayers instead of citizens.

The list of speakers included Leah Vukmir, Alberta Darling, Scott Stone, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Robin Vos, Van Wanggaard and Tonette Walker. It was a who’s who of Wisconsin conservative politics. Oddly, Scott Walker was nowhere to be found. But like the Dear Leader, he was there in spirit and the crowd and speakers lustily chanted his name like a spell to ward off the progressive demons protesting nearby (when they weren’t busy stealing the progressive chant of “Shame, Shame, Shame!” that echoed so nicely in the Assembly). Despite this impressive list of speakers, only two really stood out: Jarrid Madden and former Governor and HHS Secretary, Tommy Thompson. The two served as bookends for the conservative movement.

Jerrid Madden

The biggest hit with this crowd was Jerrid, a high school student from Mukwonago. Sure, the professional politicians received a fair amount of applause, but this kid took down the house. As a woman next to us exclaimed, “God bless him!”, Jerrid began to preach the Gospel of Walker. “I’m a sixteen year old and I’m the new generation of conservatives,” he declared. “Scott Walker is doing exactly what he said he was going to do, repair Wisconsin’s budget, and this included the very necessary change to limit collective bargaining so public sector employees’ benefits were more in line with the benefits of the construction workers who built the buildings they teach in,” claimed Jerrid, to thunderous applause, and contrary to Wisconsin’s reality.

“My single father is a construction worker who owns his own business,” Jerrid continued. He said his dad “works all day, every single day; it makes no difference if it’s snowing, sleeting, raining or as hot as Hell’s Gates. He pays 100% of his pension and insurance BUT he also pays the salary, pension and insurance for my public school educators. With the budget repair bill they pay a little bit into their entitlements which helps my dad keep a roof over the heads of my two brothers and myself, and it also helps keep his business up and running so he can feed us and save for our future. I thank Governor Walker for all he’s done to help all Wisconsin businesses succeed. Yes, Wisconsin’s open for business!”

Karl Marx wrote about how, one day, there would be no class distinctions. Wages would be the same across all professions. Lawyers and teachers, doctors and janitors, everyone just the same. This was the final stage of Communism. A “perfect,” classless society. Surprisingly, Jerrid seems to be arguing for something quite similar. Construction workers and teachers are, to him, the same and should be paid the same and receive the same benefits regardless of the market demand for their skills and the distinctions we make between professions. This is an interesting proposition from an avowed conservative youngster. His father the construction worker and his teacher deserve to be compensated in exactly the same way. A noble proposition and one I applaud. But I’m not sure it’s what Jerrid intended.

Perhaps Jerrid should consider what would improve his dad’s ability to grow his business. As it turns out, the Europeans are much better at supporting self-employment and at creating small businesses than we are in America. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, compared to the other OECD nations, the United States ranks near the bottom of numerous measures of self-employment and small-business employment.

OECD Self-employment Rates

Why should this be? CEPR considers access to universal health care as the number one driver of small business creation.

One plausible explanation for the consistently higher shares of self-employment and small-business employment in the rest of the world’s rich economies is that all have some form of universal access to health care. The high cost to self-employed workers and small businesses of the private, employer-based health-care system in place in the United States may act as a significant deterrent to small start-up companies, an experience not shared by entrepreneurs in countries with universal access to health care.

Conservatives are all about dragging us down to the lowest common denominator while progressives want to lift everyone up.

Jerrid was a tough act to follow, but Tommy Thomson’s blood was boiling and he was ready to dish up the reddest of meat to the salivating masses thronging in the mosh pit below. The young men in their camouflage pants, Packer jackets and perhaps, concealed weapons, were ready to eat at Tommy’s trough.

Tommy Thompson

Tommy was so consumed by his passionate labors in this conservative abattoir he couldn’t stand still! He delighted the attendees by reciting Walker’s butcher’s bill for the state. But even though Thompson’s passion overflowed, it seemed, in the end, to leave the crowd cold. The mixed audience reaction was surprising considering all the bloody red meat he tossed into the reactionary mosh pit below. He had his supporters, the occasional shout of “We love you, Tommy” wafted above the crowd, but many just clapped politely. Much of the carnage Thompson threw to the crowd remained unconsumed as Tommy wandered off the stage. The reaction of the crowd must have felt like a knife in the heart of his aspiration to snatch Herb Kohl’s Senate seat.

(A full version of Thompson’s speech is available here)

While we’ve all seen the Republican party shamble further and further to the right, it was heart-wrenching to witness Tommy’s struggle with the language of the conservative “Young Turks.” His commitment to these new conservative principles rang hollow as he danced around the podium in a desperate attempt to appear “modern” to Tea Party ears. As he stormed across the stage in a frenzy of crazy, proudly displaying the Big “W” on his back which stood for “Wisconsin”, “Walker” and “We Win,” Lisa and I decided it stood for “Wobegon” instead. Like a denizen of that mythical Minnesota Town, Tommy’s reinvented self will never be real.

The best thing about the afternoon was the pizza beforehand and the drive back to Waukesha.

22 Responses to Tommy Thompson: The Mad Hatter of Hart Park’s “Celebrate Walker” Rally

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Jerrid will either evolve and be voting Dem by 2016, because by then he will actually learn some real history and start coming in contact with people outside of the 262. Either that, or he will be getting paid by some GOP official or ideology tank and never get a real job or a real life. Wonder which way he’ll go.

  2. Henrietta says:

    Jerrid doesn’t realize that his dad is not the only one paying taxes.

  3. WestBankof Miss says:

    Finally. I have been saying this for months. Pulling everyone to the same level smells like Communism. What have Republicans in Wisconsin become? Really…their Republican grandfathers would no longer recognize the party. Wake up. Many of us have walked away from this “poor me” party. No longer the party of “getting ahead”, it has become the party of the undereducated puppets of a state govt. that is manipulating them into a frenzy. Don’t kid yourselves. This state govt. is USING you to advance their agenda. This agenda will build a very small group of RICH and a huge population of “worker bees”. Don’t think for one second that the Republican politicians of this state have any respect for the working class. They look down their noses at everyone. They are perfectly satisfied to create jobs that KEEP everyone scraping by. We DESERVE more respect!! This is NOT Forward Wisconsin. Demand nothing but excellent education to build a workforce that can fight back against this monster.

  4. Keith Schmitz says:

    One other thing. Did you get the impression that this was financed through the “grassroots”?

  5. Zach W says:

    Excellent writeup, you two!

    I wish I could have been there to see the crazy for myself, and I’m disappointed Dave “blaze orange” Westlake didn’t make an appearance.

  6. Ed Heinzelman says:

    “One plausible explanation for the consistently higher shares of self-employment and small-business employment in the rest of the world’s rich economies is that all have some form of universal access to health care.”

    Not only does universal access to health care reduce the costs to small and entrepreneurial business…but it levels the hiring playing field as well. That expert potential new hire won’t slip away from a small business he or she would really prefer to work for…if they don’t have to make a decision to accept a job with affordable benefits over one with more expensive or more limited benefits. Growing a business requires hiring the right people as much as anything else.

  7. Lisa Mux says:

    One thing we didn’t include is that to warm up the crowd before the event they blasted tunes such as Metallica’s “…And Justice for All”, a song about the corruption of justice …and not ironically.

  8. Lisa Mux says:

    Oh, and several (male) speakers kept stating that conservative women are prettier than liberal women. That was interesting.

  9. nassarine nass says:

    I wonder if they had permission to play Metallica’s Justice for All. I’m sure they were collecting money for the Recall Vote.

  10. Jeff Simpson says:

    I think Tommy has rabies. Where is Sean Hannity this is the definition of unhinged.

    This is the perfect reason why the teaparty is such a joke. There is absolutely nothing about Tommy that says “Small government”. Not only has he been in government his whole life, he couldnt wait to be done. He has the nerve to say he wasBROKE when he left the Gov Mansion. $150/k yr and full benefits and pension(all taxpayer funded) is not broke by most people’s standards. Then he became a lobbyist to make millions off of they taxpayers. What exactly in his resume speaks to lower taxes and smaller government? NOTHING!

    Finally a capitalist moment: Someone needs to sell American Flag winter jackets!

  11. Tomato Addict says:

    Thanks for braving the weather and conserv-o-babble to give us a report.

  12. John Foust says:

    I wonder if Jerrid understands how public education is funded.

  13. MD says:

    Tommy Thompson: “Get the (blank) out of our way, because we are movin’ ladies and gentlemen! And we are going to take our state back! … We are a red state! And we are not gonna let ’em take us back to a blue state! … We are RED! They are BLUE! And when we get done, they’re gonna be black and blue! BLACK AND BLUE, ladies and gentlemen!”

    Thanks for posting the video so we can see and hear him ourselves.

    It’s sure a different impression than you’d get from the Green Bay Gazette, the Chicago Tribune, or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which quotes almost everything he said except his thuggish threats. According to the media, his speech was “fiery” and “rousing” — descriptions that convey none of the crazy.

    Common, media. What’s up with that? This guy is running for US Senator. Don’t cover for him by omitting the parts of his speech that would alienate most voters, if only they knew.

    • Lisa Mux says:

      MD- I appreciate your comments. Some people don’t understand why Phil & I go to these events. For me, it’s about making sure people know what is REALLY said, what REALLY happens, because, you’re right-other media sources called his speech “fiery” and “rousing” when the correct adjective is “unacceptable.” If we ignore this, it’s not going to go away, it’s only going to get worse.

    • Jim M. says:

      Good catch MD. After two months of physical attacks on the recall petitioners by the right wing zealots like those gathered at the Wauwatosa rally, here we have a leader of the state Republican Party & a US Senate candidate urging attendees to leave the Democrats “Black and Blue”. Even more shocking is that NO ONE in the mainstream media, much less the progressive blogosphere is holding him accountable for his inflammatory words. This sort of language on the one year anniversary of the Arizona shooting that claimed six innocent victims, and the permanent disablement of Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords. WHAT could Tommy Thompson have been thinking to stoke this kind of hatred in the name of supporting Scott Walker?

  14. Lisa Mux says:

    Phil and I held him accountable by making him the focus of our post (above)with video, and by condemning his words (see our post). We will continue to attend these events in our area and hold politicians like Thompson accountable.

    • Jim M. says:

      Yes, Lisa, my mistake. You and Phil are the ONLY bloggers in Wisconsin who are holding Tommy Thompson accountable for his very unacceptable words. Thanks to both of you for imbedding yourself among the nutballz at the pro-Walker rally to record video evidence on what his supporters are saying.

      Should your souls ever darken and if you want to journey to the dark side, there are probably two jobs waiting for you at the McIver Institute. Let’s hope that never happens.

  15. Lisa Mux says:

    Sorry, Jim, it’s been a rough day. Feeling a bit defensive & acting kind of like Tommy, myself. It takes a few days for the “rally” to wear off of me, but I should be back to my normal self in a few days. 🙂

  16. Sky Walker says:

    I was wondering about the Self-Employment Chart …

    It looks like an Exact list of the countries about to “Default” in Europe..

    Starting with Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland … etc … pretty much in order there… what was the point of showing this chart again?

    More “Self-Employment” means more financial distress / in need of a Bailout?

  17. Jerrid Madden says:

    hey thanks for the great article

  18. Marie says:

    I think it’s funny nobody mentioned the people out side of the park that were blaring the blow horn while we sang the National Anthem. Or the signs that said the 1% meet here. If I’m part of the one percent, then I wonder what the people with money are.

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