Tuesday June 2, 2020

Moving Forward with Facts & Reason

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WI Democracy Campaign "Good News, Bad News" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Friday, 07 April 2017 14:15

money-behind-politics8 Wisconsin referendums show voters oppose Citizens United, Walker crushes Iowa workers, insurance company gave $44K to Walker, and more...


MADISON - First, the good news: The popular grassroots movement in Wisconsin to overturn Citizens United keeps on chalking up the victories:

Eight Wisconsin referendums all pass opposing corporate personhood

Now, the bad news: Scott Walker has been advising Republicans in Iowa about how to go after working people, with disastrous results:

Iowa takes Walker’s advice, crushes workers

We’re starting to take a closer look at where Walker is giving talks around Wisconsin. For instance, earlier this week, he talked about health care at Gundersen Lutheran, and here’s what we found:

Gundersen Lutheran bigwigs gave $44K to Walker

We also noted that an insurance company, United HealthCare, that is being sued for fraud by the U.S. government has also been pouring money into Wisconsin political races:

Accused insurer contributed nearly $42k to Wisconsin candidates

And when we saw that the Wisconsin legislature was meddling again in the affairs of Dane County, we registered our objections: 

WDC opposes Assembly Bill 109 on Dane County zoning

I hope you enjoy these offerings—and the nice weather this weekend, finally!

Best,

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

P.S. Please send us a tax-deductible donation so we can continue our urgent work. Just click here or send your check, payable to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, to us at WDC, 203 S. Paterson St., Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703.

 
Blue Jean Nation "Spreading it thick" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
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

***

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
Commentary
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.

****

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
Commentary
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
Commentary
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.

****

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

 
“From Healthcare to Climate to Constitutional Crisis” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Matt Brusky   
Friday, 31 March 2017 10:31

climate_crisisWe discuss the demise of RyanCare, Trump’s dangerous executive order on climate change, LWV & the conservative campaign to call a Constitutional Convention, GOTV for Spring elections on Tuesday, April 4th, and more...


STATEWIDE - We conduct an autopsy of RyanCare while looking ahead to emerging threats and opportunities in the battle for the future of health care in America. The panel speculates on the future of Paul Ryan in the aftermath of his healthcare debacle.

We discuss Trump’s dangerous executive order reneging on our international obligations to fight climate change.

We welcome the executive director of Wisconsin League of Women Voters, Andrea Kaminski, to unpack the conservative campaign to call a Constitutional Convention.

We encourage listeners to participate in the upcoming public hearings on the state budget that start on Monday (see list of JFC public hearings below). This is GOTV (Get Out The Vote) weekend for Spring elections on Tuesday, April 4th. Citizen Action reminds you to vote for Tony Evers on Tuesday and get out and volunteer this weekend.

We close the podcast celebrating the arrival of an election opponent for controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke in 2018.

LISTEN NOW - EPISODE #287
MP3 Download
Citizen Action Press Clips

Citizen Action of Wisconsin · 221 S 2nd St, suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53204, United States

You can also keep up with Citizen Action of Wisconsin on Twitter or Facebook.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 April 2017 14:46
 
Sen. Chris Larson: 'Irresponsible Republican Bill Proposes Arming Teens' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 10:52

gun-control-debatesRepublicans are not willing to stand up to rich gun manufacturers looking for profits at any costs, even our kids’ safety.


MADISON - Republican legislators here have made a decision to blindly ignore public safety concerns by introducing legislation to put more handguns into the hands of teenagers; circumvent safety training for concealed carry; and open the door for more guns in school zones, school grounds, and even directly in our schools.

chris_larsonIn the wake of recent, tragic shootings that devastated several Wisconsin communities, this bill is a slap in the face to our neighbors that are demanding real solutions to our state’s gun violence public health crisis.

Wisconsin should be focusing on making our communities safer with laws that are both proven and have widespread public support. One such policy is having stronger background check laws, which has support from 85% of Wisconsin voters. In the 19 states and Washington, D.C., who have universal background checks, 47% fewer women are killed by their intimate partners, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot and killed in the line of duty. Additionally, the majority of Wisconsin voters – 65% – oppose allowing guns near our schools. With 26,252 gun-related deaths nationally in 2015, this proposal takes Wisconsin in the wrong direction. Republicans are rejecting common sense and logic by ignoring public safety and the needs of our community.

We have the solutions and public support to make our communities safer. Unfortunately, Republicans are not willing to stand up to rich gun manufacturers looking for profits at any costs, even our kids’ safety. Instead of fighting this public health crisis, Republicans in control of the Legislature are proposing to give guns to teens with no training – an idea that is unwarranted, absurd, and dangerous.

 
Rep. Peter Barca on 'Permitless Carry' Bill PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Wednesday, 29 March 2017 10:36

guns-stopvAssembly Democratic Leader says allowing individuals to carry firearms without proper safety training, especially on school grounds, goes too far.


MADISON - Wisconsin Republican legislators have proposed a bill to allow individuals to carry firearms without proper safety training.

peter_barcaThe authors of the bill put forward extreme provisions that go beyond even constitutional carry by allowing guns in schools, secure mental health facilities and police stations, while placing the burden on these facilities to protect citizens. This will also create confusion and a lack of clarity on where weapons are allowed, which is troubling.

Law enforcement, school administrators, Democrats and Republicans have been long opposed to allowing guns on school grounds, yet this bill changes that safety presumption. Additionally, the authors have some explaining to do as to why they reduce the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for illegally carrying in a school zone. This is a serious legal breach that should be treated as such.

Finally, when concealed carry was enacted, there was a clear bipartisan emphasis on proper training to make sure those with a concealed carry permit to understand the gravity and responsibilities of carrying a gun, especially in high risk facilities. Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm without a background check or safety training has implications almost certainly do not fully understand.

 
Russ Feingold: 'Making Our Votes Meaningless?' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 11:09

merrick-garland-scotusAs Republicans in Washington move to substitute their own Supreme Court pick under Trump for President Obama's, the very legitimacy of our democratic system is at stake. Stand up for the legitimacy of our Supreme Court.


MIDDLETON, WI - Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election by approximately 5 million votes. Donald Trump lost the 2016 election by approximately 3 million.

neil-gorsuchSo when Republicans block President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year in order to install their own pick under Trump, they completely undermine the meaning and weight of the votes all those Americans cast.

And undermining the meaning of our votes undermines not just the legitimacy of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court -- but the very legitimacy of our democratic system itself.

Stand for the legitimacy of our Supreme Court and our democracy. Sign the LegitAction petition opposing President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee today.

Real signs are emerging that Republicans won’t be able to move past a filibuster (or eliminate the filibuster itself) if Democrats and Independents draw a line in the sand here. We need to show Democratic and Independent senators that we’ll have their backs if they stand for us.

Thank you for standing up for our democratic legitimacy,

Russ Feingold

 
‘Alt facts’ Promote Fear of Foreigners PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive   
Sunday, 26 March 2017 08:41

statue-of-libertyDon't let baseless fear and lies stand between us and our new neighbors and friends.


HOWARD - These days there are so many “alternative facts” being generated for the sole purpose of making people afraid. Especially troubling to me is the fear of foreigners. The belief that refugees and immigrants are dangerous. Although fears are not new, they are based on misinformation and lies. It’s untrue that refugees are not screened before entering the country, and that banning them will keep the U.S. safe from terror. Refugees undergo more rigorous screenings than any other individuals the government allows in the U.S. As a matter of fact, we know that in the past 30 years not a single death in the U.S. has been attributed to people from the countries covered by Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders banning Muslims.

It’s untrue that immigrants are violent or criminal. In actuality, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens. Research shows higher levels of immigration may even have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates. It’s untrue that immigrants don’t want to learn English. Over 50 percent of first-generation immigrants speak English “well” or “very well,” and more immigrants want to learn English than classes can accommodate.

It’s untrue immigrants and refugees are somehow not like us. They’re students in search of an education. They’re families trying to make ends meet. They’re our neighbors, our friends.

They’re Americans.

- Laura Kiefert

 
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