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Blue Jean Nation 'Work at the crossroads' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Saturday, 20 May 2017 14:11

matc-studentsWe can steer clear of the social, political and economic turmoil and upheaval this new economy has the capacity to create. If heads are buried in the sand, chaos will reign.


ALTOONA, WI - Those in power in Wisconsin’s Capitol want everyone to notice that the state’s unemployment rate has come down some. They are equally eager to have everyone to look past other troubling facts, such as wage and job growth that is lagging behind the national average, a poverty rate that’s higher than it’s been in 30 years, and a middle class that’s disappearing faster than anywhere else in the country. They pay no attention to rising economic inequality and hope no one notices that the income gap is growing faster in Wisconsin than in other states.

As unwilling as they are to acknowledge much less do something about these politically inconvenient realities, they are even more reluctant to engage the public in any kind of discussion about even greater challenges that lie ahead.

There is a reason why most Americans believe our kids will be worse off than their parents. The U.S. is hurtling toward an increasingly jobless economy and everyone can see it coming. Even the politicians can see it but don’t want to deal with what is plainly visible on the horizon. Instead they look for scapegoats, telling frightened workers that immigrants are stealing their jobs. Or they offer empty promises that closed factories can be reopened and lost assembly line jobs will somehow magically reappear. This is the cruelest kind of hoax.

sherman-park-youthToday’s immigrants aren’t replacing yesterday’s factory workers on the assembly lines, robots are. Immigration is not the culprit, technology is. Even if new factories replace the old shuttered ones, how many people will work in those plants? Driverless vehicles are coming. When they arrive, what happens to the truck drivers and bus drivers and cab drivers?

Call this emerging American economy what you will. Some call it global, some call it high-tech. Others label it an information or knowledge economy. Still others see little left but a service economy. Probably the most accurate description is post-human. Workers have every reason to feel vulnerable, and those feelings are only going to intensify.

Fewer and fewer workers have union representation. There was a time when virtually every American household included at least one union member. Today, less than 11% of all Americans and only 6% of private sector workers belong to a union. Labor unions were an outgrowth of the industrial revolution. That revolution came and went. In what came after, unions struggled to adapt and steadily lost membership. Workers lost bargaining power.

In the short term, steps can be taken to empower working people, from affordable and debt-free education and job training to universal access to everything from health care to high-speed Internet. But in the longer term, if our society is going to hold together in an increasingly jobless economy, we are going to have to renegotiate the social contract. Totally new approaches to maintaining social cohesion are going to have to be considered. Maybe part of the answer is moving to the 30-hour workweek that Amazon and other companies are trying out. That would make work available to more people. Maybe the time will soon come for a universal basic income. That would require all of us to see the value in making sure no one is left behind. Maybe making union representation a civil right could be a piece to the puzzle. Perhaps some combination of these or other ideas will light the way.

If minds are open, we can steer clear of the social, political and economic turmoil and upheaval this new economy has the capacity to create. If heads are buried in the sand, chaos will reign.

— Mike McCabe

 
When Officers Die, Words Are Not Enough PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley Press, State Senator Dist 25   
Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:37

police-officersTime for Assembly to Step Up for Spouses and Children of Law Enforcement Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.

Read more...
 
Wisc Democracy Campaign 'Koch Buys Wisconsin' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:26

koch-brothersMADISON - This week brought two more examples of how the Koch Brothers have Wisconsin in their back pockets.

First, we reported that the Koch Foundation has poured money not just to UW-Stout but to many other UW schools, including UW-Madison, as well as to private colleges in our state.

Koch support to Wisconsin higher ed tops $1 million

Then, we noted that the Republican legislature is doing the bidding of the Koch Brothers by pushing a bill that would make regulations on corporations vanish after seven years on the books. Poof, they’re gone:

Koch and other big business groups back bill to bury regs

While on the subject of corporate influence, we posted an article on how recent WEDC recipients have been feathering Walker’s nest:

Walker got $51K in campaign contributions from WEDC recipients

And finally, we exposed a so-called “riot” bill as an infringement on the First Amendment:

“Riot” bill is unconstitutional

I hope you find these offerings interesting.

Best,

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

P.S. Remember, this Monday evening is our annual event at the Lussier Family Heritage Center, registration starting at 5:30. We’re delighted to have former GAB director Kevin Kennedy as our keynote speaker, and Kim Wright from Midwest Environmental Advocates will also talk, and we’ll have some spoken word from Deshawn McKinney, president of the UW-Madison Wisconsin Union Directorate. The address is 3101 Lake Farm Rd, just south of South Towne in rural Madison (yes, there is a rural part to Madison!). Please RSVP your attendance BEFORE Monday. Hope to see you there.

 
OUR REVOLUTION - "Change never takes place from the top down" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Our Revolution, Kyle Machado   
Saturday, 20 May 2017 12:20

bernie-sandersIt always takes place from the bottom up, so join us now.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than a year ago, people from all backgrounds and across the political spectrum came together to work for a society and government that serves all people - not just the 1%. That work is more important now than ever, and we can't do it without YOU!

Today, there are hundreds of local Our Revolution in communities across the country and beyond. These groups are started, led, and run by volunteers just like you. They are single mothers who've never been politically engaged before, farmers who make time to attend meetings and talk with their neighbors after a long day of work, high school students who knock doors for progressive champions after band practice. Thousands of volunteers are making significant impacts in their communities - and more join the work every day.

Start a local Our Revolution group in your community today!

Local groups are forming candidate research teams and backing progressive slates in City Council elections, holding rallies to fight proposed cuts to local health care clinics, and gathering to phonebank for progressive champions like khalid kamau and Rob Quist. They share a commitment to our country, to their communities, and to the progressive values that brought us together.

Our Revolution groups are encouraged to be autonomous in how they engage in political action, but will generally focus on an amalgamation of Local, State, and National issues and campaigns, which may include:

  • Electing real progressive champions at all levels of government
  • Growing the movement at the local level through engaging
  • Pushing for progressive legislation and issue campaigns that put people over profit
  • Transforming state and local parties to meet the needs of working people, not the 1%

We are working to build sustainable grassroots power in every community. To be poised for success in elections in 2018 and beyond, we need your perspective and participation!

Our Revolution groups are sprouting up all over the country. Click here to read the “Creating a local group” guide!

Your involvement in a local group will make our communities and our country stronger. No matter the magnitude of challenges we face together in the coming years, we know we can weather them together, and our full strength remains to be seen. We can't wait for you to join us.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 May 2017 13:01
 
Larson 'Lock Your Doors, Protect Your Neighbors' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Friday, 19 May 2017 10:53

david-clarkeMADISON, WI – Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke announced Wednesday that he has accepted an appointment as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

With this disturbing news, it’s clear that Trump continues to betray the nation’s trust with his appointment of Milwaukee County Sheriff as the newest member of the Trump Deportation Team. This is the same person who attempted to incite violence against the very institutions he has sworn to protect by telling people to get their ‘pitchforks and torches.’

In January, Clarke threatened violence to fellow air passengers saying, ‘next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.’ That threat came after a passenger on a plane shook his head at him. Sheriff Clarke has, again and again, shown our community and the nation a disturbing pattern of bizarre, irresponsible and menacing behavior. Our neighbors are right to be concerned with the damage Clarke could wreak on the national stage.

chris_larsonTrump knows that Clarke will back bad policies that betray our values, harm our neighbors, and enforce policies that rip families apart. As Milwaukee County Sheriff, Clarke recklessly pursued joining the Trump administration in their implementation of 287(g), which gives local law enforcement the ability to operate as federal immigration agents. Many of our neighbors oppose the program as it allows law enforcement to stop and question people based on just their appearance.

It’s no wonder Clarke was seeking an escape from his Milwaukee County mess before the next election, as he is facing communitywide anger for his gross mismanagement of the Milwaukee County Jail, including the recent tragic death of Terrill Thomas by dehydration. In a span of just months, four families lost their loved ones due to Clarke’s negligence and lack of supervision over his department.

Clarke has a history of mocking, belittling and intimidating our neighbors. He is yet another bad actor in a cast of clowns.

 
Wisc Democracy Campaign 'Momentum for Fair Voting Maps' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 11:38

wi-dist-maps-currentJefferson County became the third Wisconsin county this year to go on record in favor of outlawing gerrymandering.


MADISON - It used to be a sleepy issue, but lots of people in Wisconsin have woken up to it: It’s the issue of gerrymandering—the rigging of our political maps for partisan purposes.

Last week, Jefferson County became the third county this year alone to go on record in favor of outlawing gerrymandering and adopting fair voting maps.

Fair map movement gains momentum

matt-rothschildAnd if you’re in Milwaukee or Marshfield, I’ll be speaking tomorrow night and the next night on this very subject. On May 16, in Milwaukee, I’ll be at the Jewish Museum, 1360 N. Prospect St, starting at 7:00 p.m. And this Wed, May 17, in Marshfield, I’ll be speaking at an “Open Forum on Fair Elections and Gerrymandering,” starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Roehl Public Library, 105 S. Maple Ave. I hope to see you and your friends at one of these events. You can view our calendar of events here.

In the meantime, we’ve updated our redistricting resource page, which I hope is helpful to you:

In other news, we submitted written testimony last week against the bill in the Assembly that would police free speech on campus:

WDC opposes bill restricting free-speech in the University of Wisconsin System

We also opposed another bill, sponsored by the GOP, to roll back our protections against -- of all things! – child labor:

Bill to loosen child labor laws sent to Walker

Please give your legislators an earful on these bills.

Best,

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

P.S. And please don’t forget our annual meeting next Monday, May 22, at the Lussier Family Heritage Center, 3101 Lake Farm Rd, in rural Madison. The program starts at 6:00 p.m. Former head of the Government Accountability Board, Kevin Kennedy, will be speaking, as will Kimberlee Wright of Midwest Environmental Advocates, and DeShawn McKinney, President of the UW-Madison Wisconsin Union Directorate. And I’ll say a few words myself. It should be fun. If you haven’t already, please RSVP today to Beverly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
LWV Wisconsin; 'Victories for voters and other news' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 11:23

voter-usMADISON - Thanks to all who contacted the Joint Finance committee co-chairs about Elections Commission staffing, based on our Call to Action yesterday. They heard you! The budget committee voted to keep 5 of the 6 elections positions that were slated to be cut in Governor Walker’s budget recommendation. Good work!

Congratulations to the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging that state’s voter suppression law. The law was enacted hastily in 2013 after the Supreme Court gutted parts of the Voting Rights Act. It imposed a strict photo ID requirement and made other changes. The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to reinstate the law, leaving in place a lower court ruling that said the law targeted African American voters “with almost surgical precision.”

LWV US President Chris Carson said last week: “President Trump’s ‘Election Integrity Commission’ is an unnecessary distraction from the real work to protect against foreign hacking and interference in our electoral process.” Read the full statement here.  

4 Wisconsin Counties Now on Record Opposing Gerrymandering
Jefferson County has joined Wood, Lincoln and Dunn counties in calling on the legislature to pass nonpartisan redistricting reform.

When Does Political Gerrymandering Cross a Constitutional Line?
This New York Times article explains why the Wisconsin redistricting case now in the U.S. Supreme Court may be the “holy grail” that sets a standard for when partisan gerrymandering goes too far.

Education Advocate Judy Crain Receives Chancellor’s Award
Congratulations to LWV WI Legislative Committee member Judy Crain on winning UW-Green Bay’s highest community honor recognizing her outstanding education advocacy.

***

Help defend voting rights and fair voting districts with a secure online contribution to the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. Or click here to print a contribution form to mail in with your check. LWV WI is a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS tax code, and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

 
Russ Feingold 'Obstruction of justice now on the record' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Sunday, 14 May 2017 16:47

donald-trumpMADISON - The articles of impeachment that were being prepared against Richard Nixon before he resigned included obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice was also the key charge in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

james-comeyOn Thursday, the Trump Administration -- and even the president himself -- bragged that the firing of James Comey was intended to end the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian intelligence operations in the 2016 U.S. election.

Does Trump’s admission amount to impeachable obstruction of justice? We must have a special prosecutor leading an independent investigation to find out.

If you haven’t signed the LegitAction petition calling for a special prosecutor yet, please do it now. This situation is developing rapidly.

On Thursday, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired James Comey in part because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

Also on Thursday, Trump’s spokesperson said, “We think that we've actually, by removing Director Comey, taken steps to [make the Russia story come to its conclusion].”

Then, on Friday, Trump publicly threatened now-former FBI Director Comey with the prospect of releasing tapes of their conversations.

This is one of the most serious crises in presidential legitimacy our nation has ever faced. We cannot trust the investigation into this matter to anyone else that Trump can fire.

Join the call for a special prosecutor today. Sign the LegitAction petition now.

There are so many questions about Trump’s behavior and the legitimacy of the 2016 election that, in a sense, it’s not surprising to see an illegitimately elected president behaving without legitimacy. But we can’t lose sight of the bigger fight here.

Thanks for standing up today,

Russ Feingold

Last Updated on Monday, 15 May 2017 17:05
 
Veterans, Who Know War, Say "Try Peace" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Saturday, 13 May 2017 08:16

Memorial DayVeterans, especially combat veterans, need to talk about the real costs of war. The veterans’ silence results in enabling power hungry politicians and greedy business persons to push war as the solution instead of creating a more peaceful world.


TUCSON, AZ - We approach Memorial Day honoring the ultimate sacrifices made by 1.4 million American military men and women who died in America’s wars since 1775. We must discuss the horrific impact of war on surviving soldiers and civilians. For only they can teach us working for peace is a better option than fighting wars.

Each death in war brings everlasting tragedy to a family. Each death damages the hope of loved ones.

Humans are brutal. We have many wonderful traits. But we must admit to a brutal streak. And we must hope that we do not exhibit that trait ourselves and are not forced into situations where we too become brutal.

Historians view history as a long string of wars. The most destructive war thus far was World War II. Between 45 million and 85 million men, women and children perished in combat, destruction and resulting disease and famine.

Historians estimate 400 million to 670 million soldiers and civilians died in the largest 35 wars. Wars always kill far more civilians than soldiers.

ChildrenThis drawing and caption of children at the graveside of a Civil War relative killed at Gettysburg depicts our basic problem.

Because a relative served in a long ago war, many children especially boys are socialized into thinking being a soldier is the good thing to do.

Society (families, media, schools, movies, religions) encourage this, many times glorifying war. Recruiters prey on these emotions.

As a future infantry officer, I spent a year of my life being taught how to kill people (fortunately I was sent to S. Korea rather than S. Vietnam in 1969).

"You bet I'm goin' to be a soldier, too,
like my Uncle David, when I grow up.”
"On Decoration Day" Political cartoon c 1900 by John T. McCutcheon.

The military does an excellent job of training men and women to kill. But our generals have no idea of how to train/educate people to “unkill.” Many of our 22 million veterans who were in combat and had to participate in, or were near, the killing, deaths and maimings have memories and emotions they try to control all their lives. Most don’t discuss these memories at all or very much with family and friends. Such discussions are extremely difficult to have.

The veterans’ silence results in enabling power hungry politicians and greedy business persons to use the military industrial complex to push war as the “solution” to problems/challenges nations face.

The result of silence is that millions of veterans are not teaching their children, friends and community that war is not the answer. Killing does not solve problems. It just makes problems more difficult to resolve. You can’t kill a religious idea or political idea with a bullet.

The military teaches team work and being in the military and combat encourages camaraderie. But each vet is on his/her own when it comes to controlling or squashing the bad memories and thoughts.

StatueAmerica spends over $600 billion per year on wars, weapons and designing more weapons.  We spend only $50 billion on the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.

Nine nations have 15,000 nuclear weapons.  Scientists say if just 1% of those weapons are exploded in a nuclear war, tens of millions would die in the first hour.  Millions would die later from the radiation effects and fire storms.  Firestorms, sweeping large areas creating dark dust clouds, would cause an extended winter of possibly 10 years with drastically shortened food growing cycles.  Two billion would be threatened with famine.  Life on earth, as we know it, would be gone.

Khatyn Memorial commemorating the loss of life in Belarus during World War II.

For decades we have had politicians creating more wars instead of creating a more peaceful world via diplomacy, cooperation, helping other nations improve safe water supplies, educational systems, infrastructure, health, food production and strengthening the United Nations to help improve the lives of peoples across this world.

Small steps for America are:  Veterans, especially combat veterans, need to discuss with their families some of what they did in “their” war.  Or skip their personal experiences, if they cannot talk about it, and talk about the horrendous cost in lost lives.  Vets can write letters to the editor of their local papers saying War Is Not the Answer and tell the readers what needs to be done.

Today our nation is controlled by Republican war mongers and meek Democratic followers.  We must all think ahead to November 2018.  We will have an opportunity to vote out of office those who foolishly advocate war.  But right now we must talk about why we must fight harder for Peace than we do for War!

******

Buzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton, WI now of Tucson, is a long time progressive activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, elected official, union organizer, impeachment organizer, VP of WI Alliance for Retired Americans and a retired state government planner.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 May 2017 13:42
 
Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s Economy: An about-face in 4 steps' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 09 May 2017 14:02

skilledworkersFor many, it’s hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet. Change is possible, but it will require us to understand growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.


ALTOONA, WI - When it comes to Wisconsin’s economy, those in power go to great lengths to direct everyone’s gaze at moderating unemployment in the state. They don’t want to acknowledge or discuss that while it’s possible to find work, for many it’s extremely hard to find work that enables you to make ends meet and stay in the middle class. Persistent stagnation and rising inequality are big parts of the full story of Wisconsin’s economy.

For years now, Wisconsin has depended on an economic development strategy devoted to empowering a few thousand of the wealthiest among us in hopes that some of what they have will trickle down to everyone else. Not much has trickled. At the heart of these feed-the-rich policies are tax breaks targeted to the wealthy and taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses with few strings attached.

Wisconsin needs to do an about-face. Instead of seeking to empower a few thousand people and then pray they work some magic for the rest of the population, the state should focus on empowering all of the more than 5 million people who live here. This turnabout can be accomplished in four steps.

The first step is to substantially boost wages. That means raising the wage floor and turning the minimum wage into a living wage. The federal minimum wage has been boosted more than 20 different times, and every increase was greeted by claims it would be a jobs killer. Jobs didn’t disappear. In fact, new ones materialized. The national economy grew steadily through every minimum wage increase. And states that increased their own minimum wages have seen faster job growth than those that didn’t. Makes perfect sense, actually. Put more money in workers’ pockets and they don’t pad their net worth with it or stash it in tax havens in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, they spend it. And that stimulates the economy.

Step two is to restructure Wisconsin’s tax system. When you add up all  the state and local taxes we pay, the wealthiest 1% pay the lowest overall tax rate. That’s gotta change. There’s no need for new taxes, but there is a pressing need to make sure everyone pays the ones we already have. Requiring those in the top 1% to pay their fair share is key to doing something about economic inequality and empowering 5 million people who currently pay a bigger portion of their incomes in taxes.

The third step is to make education and job training as affordable for our kids and grandkids as it was for their parents and grandparents. Debt-free education and training has to be the state’s goal. A high school diploma alone is no longer a sure pathway to the American Dream. Wisconsin needs to clear a path that does not leave young people buried under a mountain of debt.

Step four is equipping every last person living in Wisconsin with indispensable 21st Century tools such as high-speed Internet and access to mobile phone service. Fully participating in the global economy and 21st Century American life is not possible without these tools. Wisconsin is lagging badly in this regard, and failing to catch up is a recipe for further economic stagnation and greater inequality.

An about-face is possible, and it can be done in four steps. But it will require a fundamental change of economic philosophy. Sustainable growth and prosperity gush up, they do not trickle down.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 May 2017 14:21
 
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