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Blue Jean Nation "Spreading it thick" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 07 April 2017 09:46

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

— Mike McCabe

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Learn more about the author at www.bluejeannation.com

Last Updated on Friday, 07 April 2017 10:05
 
Rep. Barca - 'Opioid Treatment Bills Don’t Go Far Enough' PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:06

drugaddicts-youngAssembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca speaks out on the bills debated Tuesday aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic.


MADISON - I applaud the bipartisan effort that led to the acknowledgment of this serious epidemic, but these bills could have a much greater impact to positively affect so many lives. In order to help Wisconsinites struggling with opioid addiction, we need to increase funding for treatment programs and expand BadgerCare.

peter_barcaInstead of working with Assembly Democrats, Republicans tried to shut down the debate. It’s time to put people over politics. We need to follow the example of 31 other states and accept the BadgerCare expansion. We need a more complete and aggressive approach to this devastating epidemic.

Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, is the most significant source of coverage and funding for critical substance abuse and prevention treatment. In the 31 states that have chosen to expand Medicaid, 1.2 million individuals with substance abuse disorders have gained access to coverage. By failing to expand BadgerCare, Wisconsin taxpayers are losing out on access to opioid treatment and resources paid for with federal money.

By June 30, 2019, Wisconsin taxpayers will have lost more than $1 billion. We need to follow the example of every one of our neighboring states— Republican and Democrat—and expand Medicaid. Just this past week, we saw the legislature of Kansas vote on a bipartisan basis to accept the federal Medicaid fund—we’d like Wisconsin Republicans to do the same.

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Olivia Hwang contributed this story. Rep. Barca spoke about legislation aimed at the opioid epidemic on Facebook Live; the video is available here: https://www.facebook.com/RepPeterBarca/videos/1514005181956851/.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 April 2017 11:25
 
'Don’t Grant “Forever” Access to Wisconsin Groundwater' - Sen. Larson PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Tuesday, 04 April 2017 16:35

ruralSen. Chris Larson responds to SB 76 relating to the replacement, reconstruction, and transfer of high capacity wells in Wisconsin and the decision by Senate Democrats to reject a third reading on the bill.


MADISON – The GOP is jamming through a bill that creates an oasis for the wealthy, and a desert for the rest of us. SB 76 creates high-capacity well permits with no consideration of future negative impacts. It will result in environmental damage, such as lakes, streams, and rivers running dry due to over pumping. It will let corporate factory farms suck dry the livelihood of neighboring family farmers, destroying our Wisconsin tradition of fairness and opportunity while decimating a key part of Wisconsin’s identity.

chris-larsonTechnology, along with modern pumps, allow bad actors to steal the water right from under our neighbor's feet. Looking at cumulative impacts is not only smart conservation science but protects the Wisconsin tradition of being a good neighbor. Unfortunately, SB 74 ignores the science, threatening the quality and supply of our water in Wisconsin. Over- pumping is already draining our groundwater faster than it can safely be recharged. The state has a critical role in protecting our water future; this bill utterly fails to do so.

For the past six years, corporate interests have bought better laws for themselves at our expense. Over and over they have tilted the playing field and even changed the rules to win their political games. This bill is too dangerous to rush through. My Democratic colleagues and I stood up for our neighbors by using a procedural move to delay a vote on its passage. Considering that passing SB 76 will haunt our rural communities for generations to come. I hope my Republican colleagues will use this time to weigh the serious ramifications their actions will have on our communities.

This proposal attacks a founding principle outlined in Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine, that our state waters are shared by all, and owned by no one. Should Republicans decide move forward with this bill and turn their backs on our heritage, this bill will be found unconstitutional and create wild uncertainty for responsible businesses.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 April 2017 15:17
 
Blue Jean Nation "Dismal is as dismal does" PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Saturday, 01 April 2017 14:50

politically-homelessPeople are starving for elections that are more empowering, but today's politicians and the journalists who report on them do not live up.


ALTOONA, WI - Read any run-of-the-mill news story about an upcoming election and you get a good idea why so many people find media coverage of politics unbearably exasperating. You also can see why fewer and fewer people see any reason to read what the reporters write and yet another reason why the companies employing them are slowly but surely going out of business.

The story treats the election like a horse race. It handicaps the race. It tells readers who is likely to win the election, but gives readers no useful information that would help them decide for themselves who should win the election.

The story quotes an “expert” or two — some campaign operative or other political industry insider — repeating for the umpteenth time the conventional wisdom that elections are all about money. They go on to say which candidates will have the most of it and are therefore worth paying attention to. Neither the reporters nor their sources seem to have learned a single thing from what just happened in the 2016 election. Their stock in trade is conventional wisdom, and they are sticking to it.

Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi followed the pack for the duration of the 2016 presidential race, watching how the candidates campaigned and how the media covered the circus. He came away amazed by how the whole process “was dysfunctional and that people were turned off by it. The people who did campaigning for a living, both politicians and the press, were wrapped up in their own little world.”

Maybe those wrapped up in that little world are right about money being the only thing that matters in elections. Maybe they’re wrong. I happen to believe they are wrong. But here’s one thing I know for sure: If they’re right and elections are all about money, then the people can’t win. Some politician with the most money will win, but you won’t. Your own elected representatives will have no choice but to ignore your wishes because they will be busy catering to the wishes of their biggest donors.

Elections should be about what kind of society we want to live in and how we could create such a place together. Instead, we’re told by manipulative politicians that somebody living somewhere else is to blame for all our problems. We’re told somebody somewhere is getting something we’re not. We’re put at each other’s throats. And we’re told by cynical journalists that those politicians are all we’ve got to choose from because the odds are hopelessly stacked against any alternative no matter how inspiring that alternative might be.

To hell with that. People are starving for elections that are more empowering and for election coverage that is more nourishing. Satisfying these cravings will require a new politics. And a new journalism.

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Find out more about the author and Blue Jean Nation at www.bluejeannation.com

 
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