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Always Foward with Education & Reason

Republicanism at Death’s Door PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 17 December 2015 15:13

republicanToday's Republican Party appears to be terminally ill. Gone is Reagan’s optimistic faith that our best days are ahead of us, replaced by a dark fatalism about America’s decline and eventual demise.

MADISON - When political parties die they don’t suffer heart attacks. They contract terminal illnesses. The end does not come abruptly. There is advance notice.

Notice has been given. The Republican Party appears to be terminally ill.

The GOP was the party of Lincoln. It was the party of Teddy Roosevelt. The party of Eisenhower. It was a party dedicated to creating opportunity for all. Today it’s given itself up to the 1%. Today’s Republicans clearly have lost confidence in their ability to peddle their ideas to another 49%, and have resorted to a dizzying array of voter suppression tactics to whittle down the size of the electorate and blatant manipulation of political boundaries in hopes of rigging election outcomes. But they still aren’t sure enough people will buy the feed-the-rich, screw-the-poor policies they are selling, so they desperately turn to shameless — and shameful — appeals to racism and xenophobia to dredge up enough energy to stay alive.

Gone is Reagan’s optimistic faith that our best days are ahead of us, replaced by a dark fatalism about America’s decline and eventual demise. A true love of country and a sincere belief in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty have given way to paranoid obsessions with walls and borders and surveillance.

The Republican Party has lost its way. It has become a party that deserves to die.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 December 2015 17:06
Democrats Must Learn "The Art Of Losing Purposefully" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 17:56

vince-lombardi-at-lambeauMike McCabe of Blue Jean Nation makes the point that Democrats (and Progressives) may gain more in the long run by standing up for their values than by being "smart" campaigners.

MADISON - A great football coach once said “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

That line is often attributed to legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Lombardi wasn’t the first to say it. Maybe he heard it first from college football coach Red Sanders, who said it close to a decade before Lombardi made the aphorism famous. Maybe he lifted his signature saying from the 1953 John Wayne movie Trouble Along the Way. It’s doubtful Lombardi actually believed winning is the only thing. Roughly three years after he made the “only thing” remark, he was quoted in a magazine article offering an amended version: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

Good coaches are good teachers, and they realize that more can be learned from a loss than a win. They tend to see long winning streaks as fool’s gold, because they know from experience that bad habits have a way of forming while their teams are stringing together wins, and those habits are only exposed as damaging after they lead to a defeat.

So it is in politics. You win some and you lose some. But when you lose, you need to lose with a purpose. Something has to be gained from every defeat. Seeds planted during today’s loss grow into the fruits of tomorrow’s victory. How you lose is what defines you.

In recent times, Republicans have lost much more purposefully than Democrats. Democratic Party dominance in the 1960s and especially Barry Goldwater’s landslide loss in 1964 inspired the 1971 Powell Memo that was a blueprint for a merger of corporation and state and an accompanying Republican renaissance.

The Democratic establishment’s response to what the Powell Memo has wrought has been curious to say the least. I wrote in my book Blue Jeans in High Places about a young woman in rural Wisconsin who ran for a seat in the state Assembly. Democratic operatives coached her to avoid being pinned down on issues and to steer clear of controversial stands. The Democrats’ nominee for governor similarly advised her to be as vague as possible on the issues and said her job as a candidate was to be “present and pleasant.” She followed the script. She lost.

In fact, the Democrats lost twice in that instance. Not only was that election lost, but nothing was said or done to get voters to start thinking differently or challenge the other side’s orthodoxy. Nothing was said or done to create conditions favorable to winning the next election.

Since my book was published, I’ve lost count of the number of former candidates for state and federal offices who have told me they received the same coaching. They followed the same script. They also lost. Twice. Democrats across the country are making a habit of running scared for the sake of “electability” . . . and losing anyway.

You lose in politics sometimes. But every loss has to have a purpose. There was a purpose to Goldwater’s defeat. Present and pleasant serves no purpose.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 December 2015 15:21
Seniors React - "Don’t Take My Home Phone Away!" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 11:29

telephone-poles-farmsPhone companies are changing and copper phone lines are expensive to maintain. Modern technology is making copper lines obsolete. But Sen. Kathleen Vinehout wonders if state law should allow phone companies to dump their landline customers in the name of profit.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 12:02
We Must Choke Off The Islamic State PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Russ for Wisconsin   
Monday, 14 December 2015 15:50

isil-in-desertMADISON - In the days after Sept. 11, President George W. Bush delivered one of the best speeches I've heard from a president.

"Fellow citizens," the president said, "we'll meet violence with patient justice — assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come."

In a brief moment with Bush as he left the House chamber after the speech, I told him that "we will get this done together." I believed then, and now, that protecting America is a cause beyond politics.

For many years, fighting terrorism and preventing the emergence of affiliated groups has been one of my highest priorities. As a former member of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees, I know firsthand that the way forward is to build a bipartisan strategy to protect America both now and for many years to come. And destroying the Islamic State — or ISIL — must begin immediately.

russ-feingoldOur plan must make use of every type of resource — military, financial, intelligence-based and diplomatic. Every option must be on the table, because choking off the lifeblood of such a dangerous group will require a comprehensive and sustained strategy.

Military: First, we must continue to hunt down and kill ISIL's leaders. As part of an assembled coalition, targeted, limited military action should weaken and dismantle ISIL's leadership. I support Defense Secretary Ash Carter's announcement of an expeditionary targeting force to conduct precise raids. In addition, Congress must complete its responsibility to pass and send to the president an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to define our military engagement.

Financial and other assets: Crippling ISIL requires blocking its access to supplies and income. As a member of the Senate, I worked with the Treasury Department on the issue of freezing the assets of terrorists, and we must do so now with ISIL. We also must destroy ISIL's ability to sell the oil resources they're stealing — including from their new outpost in Libya. And we must find ways to end arms sales to the group so it loses its ability to take or hold territory while brutalizing local populations.

Intelligence: Because our first priority always must be protecting the immediate safety of American citizens, we cannot use short-term thinking that only responds to threats one-by-one. Instead, our strategy to destroy ISIL and other groups must be a long-term, global plan that anticipates threats before they materialize.

So we must expand our intelligence efforts significantly, and that begins by increasing our funding of the collection and analysis of human intelligence to infiltrate ISIL. We also need to reallocate our intelligence gathering to make sure we aren't missing potential threats, and that's why I'm calling on Congress to enact the reforms envisioned by the implementation of the bipartisan Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission Act, which would strengthen how we gather information around the world. We cannot just defeat ISIL today, we also must anticipate the next radical group before it poses a threat. For example, we must not ignore affiliated groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, which pledged its loyalty to ISIL earlier this year.

Diplomatic: We must undertake a massive diplomatic effort to address the underlying political problems in the region and help foster stability and democracy in countries such as Syria and Libya, where ISIL has formed a new beachhead. We must assist Turkey in closing its border. ISIL must be debunked and demystified as a group that can govern — we have seen video of bread lines, as these terrorists care little about the people who live in the land they occupy. The world must see this reality of how ISIL fails even basic tasks of governance.

Here's the bottom line: Unless stability and democracy grow in the region, all other efforts will not succeed, because ISIL or its subgroups simply would return and exploit the same chaos.

Finally, if we are to win this fight, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past with yet another rush toward a full-scale ground invasion led by tens of thousands of American troops. The last invasion of Iraq cost our country trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives and greatly destabilized the region to the terrible detriment of our security.

Invading Iraq constitutes one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in the history of the United States, and proved that we cannot invade our way to safety in the 21st century. So our response to the threat from ISIL cannot be reactionary or one-dimensional. And as we saw in the years after the Iraq invasion, our military cannot act as a government in the middle of a country that lacks stability and democracy, because those conditions are a recipe for our troops to become targets for insurgents and lightning rods for unstable, anti-America sentiment. We also must avoid the type of mission creep that could cause our troops to remain indefinitely.

Instead, we need a modern, comprehensive and bipartisan strategy that harnesses all of America's strengths. The attacks in Paris and San Bernardino are a reminder that ISIL, al-Qaida, and their affiliates threaten all of us, but that we can only destroy them by working with our partners and allies, through cooperative intelligence, economic, diplomatic and military efforts. We will get this done together.

By: Russ Feingold


Russ Feingold is the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin. He has announced he will run again against incumbent Republican Ron Johnson in 2016.

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