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Blue Jean Nation "Right turn at the fork" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Sunday, 29 January 2017 11:29

occupy-democrats-posterThe Occupy movement on the left and the Tea Party movement on the right took different paths to effect political change. The new strategic blueprint called “Indivisible” is currently all the rage on the left, but may not be new at all.


ALTOONA, WI - During the Great Recession — the worst economic downturn in America since the Great Depression — more than 8 million jobs were lostfamily incomes dropped and poverty spiked. Nearly 4 million homes were foreclosed each year.

These traumas brought millions of Americans to a fork in the road politically. Some went right at the fork, others went left, giving rise to two landscape-altering social movements.

The Occupy movement on the left, with its “We are the 99%” catchphrase, changed the national conversation by bringing income and wealth inequality to the forefront of public consciousness. Democrats weren’t focusing on it to speak of, nor were most liberal advocacy groups. Before Occupy, the term “one-percenter” wasn’t part of our political vocabulary and little attention was being paid to how the nation’s rich were getting vastly wealthier while the poor were growing poorer and the middle class was disappearing. Occupy changed that. Occupy made talk of economic inequality commonplace. That’s no small achievement.

The Tea Party movement on the right, with its “Don’t Tread on Me” mindset, changed the Republican Party. In so doing, Tea Partiers changed Congress and state legislatures across the country. They put the fear of God into mainstream GOP politicians. Those politicians were given a choice. Either grant Tea Partiers their wishes, or face their wrath on the campaign trail. A few, like House Republican leader Eric Cantor, took their chances at the ballot box. Most others fell in line, spooked by how the Tea Party made examples of the likes of Cantor.

Other than obvious ideological differences, the big distinction between the Occupy and Tea Party movements is that one deliberately steered clear of involvement with elections while the other jumped into elections with both feet. That says a lot about the right and left today. One side is dogged in its pursuit of political power and will go to any lengths to get it. The other prefers to protest and march and picket.

Any honest assessment of the overall impact of these two movements has to conclude that the Tea Party has had the bigger influence on our country’s direction. Which suggests the ballot is mightier than the placard. Which calls into question the strategic impulses of the forces gathering in America to resist the turn the nation has taken.

A new strategic blueprint called “Indivisible” is currently all the rage on the left. The brainchild of some former Democratic congressional staffers, it suggests people on the left can block the Trump agenda by copying tactics the Tea Party used to stymie President Obama’s. They claim to offer “best practices for making Congress listen” to the people. Question: If former Capitol Hill staffers know the best practices for making Congress listen to us and now have a fail-safe blueprint for resisting Trump, how did they manage to become so utterly powerless in Washington and why couldn’t they prevent the Tea Party takeover of Congress?

A part of the Tea Party’s approach — the most important and effective part — is conspicuously missing from the strategy cooked up by these Capitol Hill operatives. Tea Partiers not only condemned Obama’s every move, they contested Republican elections. They ended up being unable to deny Obama a second term. But they did end Eric Cantor’s career and the careers of a slew of his establishment Republican colleagues. They seized power in Congress to the point where they could dictate terms to House Speaker John Boehner as well as his successor Paul Ryan.

Considering who concocted the left’s new recipe and what key ingredient they chose to omit, it looks less like an effort to cook up a Tea Party-style insurrection on the Democratic side and more like an attempt to head one off at the pass.

— Mike McCabe

 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Trump’s fascist overtones" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:12

wdc-trump-naziMADISON - I’m deeply, deeply concerned about our democracy today.

I watched Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address with a mixture of disbelief and horror, and I’d like to share my reactions with you.

First, there were several key words and phrases and beliefs that he failed to express in his speech:

Words missing from Trump's inaugural address

And second, there were some very dark echoes in it: [cartoon credit: Dr. Seuss circa 1940-41]

The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address

We’ll be keeping an eye on these thunderclouds in the days and weeks ahead, even though our primary focus remains on Wisconsin.

And speaking of Wisconsin, we just posted a piece on Gov. Walker’s latest push to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps. His backers loved it, as you can see here:

Walker wins praise from WMC, Koch group for food stamp rules

Some of these same backers threw so much money behind Justice Annette Ziegler in her race to stay on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that she has no challengers. It’s the first time in more than a decade that one of these races has gone uncontested. Big money has cleared the field:

See who funds Justice Ziegler

These are dicey times, but I remain hopeful. The glorious women’s marches last Saturday (I was at the gigantic one in Madison) fill me with confidence that millions of active citizens will win the day and that we’ll keep our democracy—and make it stronger. [photo credit: Kerry Schumann]

I’m glad you’re in the fight with me.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. I’m on Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow (Wed.) at 4:30 to talk about Trump and fascism. And I’ll be speaking in New Glarus on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Toffler’s Pub (200 5th Ave). Next Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be speaking in Cross Plains at the Crossroads Coffeehouse (2020 Main St.). I hope you can catch me one of these times! See details on our calendar here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:25
 
Blue Jean Nation "Trotting out the whipping boy" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 11:06

walkerWalker’s golden shower economics haven’t been the answer, which leaves him in need of a whipping boy, a scapegoat, someone to bear the blame for his administration’s failings. This time it's food stamp recipients.


ALTOONA, WI - For as long as there have been politicians, there have been whipping boys. Politicians need someone to punish for their own shortcomings.

No one is better with the whip than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He is highly skilled in the use of divide-and-conquer tactics, a master at pitting one group of struggling and vulnerable people against another.  It’s his favorite play, the governor’s political equivalent of Vince Lombardi’s Power Sweep or USC’s famed “Student Body Right.”

Walker turns to this page in his playbook repeatedly, whenever he’s feeling the least bit threatened politically. He just did it again, proposing stricter work requirements for those receiving food stamps in Wisconsin.

He is counting on Democrats to rush to the defense of food stamp recipients. He wants them to accuse him of beating up on the poor. He needs them to. They surely will oblige, which is critical to the successful execution of the governor’s play.

Once they do what they always do, Walker can paint the Democrats as the party of handouts, the party devoted to taking from those who work and giving to those who don’t. And he can pit those who are having a hard time making ends meet but don’t qualify for food stamps against those who rely on them to eat.

Most importantly, he can divert attention from the dismal failure of his feed-the-rich economic policies. With Walker at the helm, Wisconsin is leading the nation in shrinkage of the middle class. The state is dead last in new business start-ups and entrepreneurial activity.

When Walker does what he always does and the Democrats respond how they always respond, the questions that most need asking don’t get asked. The debate that is most needed is never had.

Wisconsin should be debating how to create an economy where if you work you won’t be poor and won’t go hungry. It is undeniable that we don’t have such an economy today. We should be aspiring to an economy where food stamps and other forms of welfare become unnecessary.

We should be talking about the fact that government spends more on corporate welfare than it does on social welfare that makes up the proverbial safety net. We should be discussing how to create an economy anchored in a free and fair market for everyone, not crony capitalism for a favored few. We should be demanding that Walker’s corporate welfare office be shut down.

We should be acknowledging that demand and not supply is the primary driver of economic growth and that feeding the rich in hopes of stoking supply has been a miserable failure, never producing more than a trickle for the masses and causing the grotesque economic inequality and the slow but steady extermination of the middle class we are experiencing today.

Wisconsin is a shadow of its former self economically. Walker’s golden shower economics haven’t been the answer, which leaves him in need of a whipping boy, a scapegoat, someone to bear the blame for his administration’s failings. That’s where food stamp recipients come in handy to him, so long as the Democrats play into his hands and do their part to help him isolate and stigmatize them.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 January 2017 11:19
 
Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Monday, 23 January 2017 14:10

union-members-at-capitolThe Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee scheduled a public hearing on the Wisconsin Retirement System pension fund after recent audits revealed it's performance fell to 9th among ten comparable state pension plans.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 January 2017 17:58
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