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Ed Garvey Is Gone But Not Forgotten PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 16:27

ed-garvey-goneEd Garvey, Wisconsin Progressive, labor attorney, Director of the NFL Players Association, and Democratic leader died this morning at a Verona nursing home. He was 76. He had been battling Parkinson's disease, which led to his retirement in 2013.


TUCSON, AZ - Ed Garvey, the friend of many, the leader of "what could have been" and a good man has died and I am saddened.

When he and Barbara Lawton ran for governor and lt. governor in 1998, they were a fantastic team that offered hope and moxie to the people of WI. But big money talks. Gov. Thommy Thompson was running for his fourth term and as the ALEC (Am. Legislative Exchange Council) representative in the race, Thompson had most of the money.

Schools and local governments were already being financially strangled and local control had disappeared with the 1993 cost controls to rein in unions and stop local spending.

Here we are decades later and local control has been killed along with public unions. Barbara and Ed were right. We could have and still can create a WI good for families and the environment but not under Gov. Walker, a dour ALEC replay in some respects of Thompson.

I will not forget Ed in the drizzle.

US Rep Dennis Kucinich was running for president in the WI primary and Ed and I invited him to speak in Madison. The rally is set up at the small private airport in Madison early in the evening. A good crowd waited. Kucinich's plane is late. We had a speaker's platform set up, it's getting dark, looks like rain. I ask Ed to talk to take up time. Plane lands, drizzle starts, ends up Kucinich is exhausted, needs to eat, and we find some one to go get a vegan dinner while he rests!

I go back outside and get Ed's attention. I ask, "Can you speak some more while they get Dennis rested and fed?" Ed says "I already talked for 20 minutes," goes back to the mic and explains what is going on, laughs and says something like Buzz wants to know if I can speak some more. Crowd laughs, we held the media there, Kucinich gave a great speech and made the news.

Oh, Ed, you could talk, think, had no fear and you gave hope! Thank you! Your were and are an inspiration to many! You fought for progressive ideals for decades as we have to do now.

Read more...
 
Blue Jean Nation "More scaffold than platform" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 17 February 2017 10:09

dems-v-repubThe platforms created by both the Republican and Democratic Parties last year are excessively wordy campaign advertisements with nothing enduring or permanent to say. Neither is likely to satisfy the strong yearning Americans have for a government that serves them for the benefit of all.


ALTOONA, WI - For one week a year, party platforms are relevant . . . to a few thousand people who are delegates to their party’s convention. More than 300 million other Americans pay them no mind that week or any other. The Sunday morning TV news programs don’t examine them. The radio talk show hosts don’t discuss them. After all the balloons and confetti have dropped and the conventions have broken up, even party insiders stop paying any attention to their own platforms. Candidates don’t follow them. Neither do elected office holders as they conduct the public’s business. Anyone willing to actually read the major party platforms can see why.

Reading the platforms is a painful exercise. They are dreadfully long. Page after page induces the gag reflex. They are excessively wordy campaign advertisements aimed at influencing who knows who. What becomes clear as you plow through them is that there is nothing enduring or permanent about them. They really are scaffolds, not platforms.

The Republican scaffold drones on for nearly 60 pages and in it the party declares itself the “Great Opportunity Party.” It takes repeated swipes at President Obama, insisting that for “the past 8 years America has been led in the wrong direction” but making no acknowledgement that Republicans held a majority of seats in Congress and controlled most of the nation’s statehouses for nearly that entire time.

The authors boast the document “lays out — in clear language — the path to making America great and united again.” It goes on to call for everything from “protection against an electromagnetic pulse” to “confronting Internet tyranny.” There’s a section on Africa that touts “AIDS relief under PEPFAR” without explanation. There is a reference to the “Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla” with no description of what the law is or does or fails to do. In another whack at Obama, it refers to the “Solyndra debacle” and assumes readers remember what that was.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 February 2017 14:33
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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Take Action: No blank checks!" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Thursday, 16 February 2017 15:57

capitol-night-wiscMADISON - It’s outrageous that the Republican leadership in Madison gave a blank check to two pricey law firms to contest the ruling from a panel of federal judges ordering them to redraw the district maps they rigged last time around. I’m asking you to contact your legislator, or the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader, and demand that they not waste your money this way:

Take Action: No blank check!

Amid all the budget proposals he made last week, Gov. Walker snuck in a couple items that will further chip away at clean and open government, which has been one of his favorite targets. Here are the latest assaults:

Walker slashes good government boards

On the special interest front, we’ve discovered that some of the big vegetable growers donated tens of thousands of dollars to the legislative campaign committees—donations that, until November 2015, were illegal:

Mega farms slather legislators, fundraising committees with cash

Hey, don’t forget! Tuesday is Election Day, and the big statewide race is for superintendent of schools. Here are the largest individual donors to the candidates:

Campaign 2017 updated

You may have other races in your area. For instance, there are primaries for circuit court judge in Manitowoc, Polk, and Trempealeau counties. For information about what is on your ballot, visit https://MyVote.wi.gov.

Before I sign off for this week, I’d just like to say that I’m encouraged by all the displays of nonviolent resistance across the country to the authoritarian moves coming out of the White House. These give me – and I hope they give you – hope that our democracy will withstand the current threats.

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 today so we can press on with our urgent work in defense of democracy. Just click here. Thanks!

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2017 16:31
 
Wisconsin Has A Proud Legacy to Build On PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley Press, State Senator Dist 25   
Friday, 10 February 2017 16:19

wisc-dairy-farmGov. Walker talked this week about "working and winning", but his plan is to continue borrowing and raiding Peter to pay Paul. Our priority must be Wisconsin’s roads, schools and jobs. Wisconsinites never have, and never will stop putting in a hard day’s work.

Read more...
 
Blue Jean Nation "Messaging isn’t half the solution" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 10 February 2017 13:36

kellyanne-conwayMessaging is a popular buzzword in today's political circles, but real leading is done by example. When people see public service treated as preparation for cushy jobs on K Street or elsewhere, actions speak louder than words.


ALTOONA, WI - In this post-truth, alternative-fact world, “messaging” is a popular buzzword in political circles. Those who win are convinced superior messaging is the secret of their success. Those who lose are convinced that faulty messaging was their downfall and all they need to do to win is get better at it. There are messaging gurus on both sides. They get a lot of attention and make a lot of money doling out advice.

debbie_wasserman_schultzMessaging has become something of an obsession, especially on the Democratic side. To hear Democratic insiders tell it, bad messaging is why their party has lost power all across the country and improved messaging will bring about a Democratic resurgence. It won’t. At least not on its own.

Don’t get me wrong here. Effective communication is pretty darned important in politics. But if you stand for nothing, it doesn’t matter how clever and polished your messaging is. Your message is still about nothing. If your ideas have gone bad or your steps take you in the wrong direction, sweet words can’t rescue sour thinking or rotten actions. If the messenger isn’t trusted, the message will be rejected no matter how artfully it is expressed.

As recently as a generation ago, public service was widely seen as noble. Many if not most Americans no longer think of public service that way because they have a hard time seeing today’s elected officials as public servants. The best imaginable messaging can’t change that. Saying over and over again that public service is noble won’t make people think it is. They’ve seen too much evidence of self dealing and ladder climbing and nest feathering. They’ve seen too many public offices used as stepping stones to far more lucrative gigs. They see the revolving door. They see career politicians holding some office one day and then trading on the connections they’ve made the next to pull in $250 or $300 an hour or more as lobbyists or campaign consultants.

It does no good to tell people of the value of public service. They have to be shown. Leadership is required. Messaging is a lot of things, but it is not leadership. Real leading is done by example. When people see public service treated as preparation for cushy jobs on K Street or elsewhere in the political industrial complex paying six- and seven-figure salaries, that example trumps any messaging to the contrary. The only way to restore faith in public service is to replace countless self-serving acts of “me politics” with public-spirited acts of “we politics.”

No matter how much the messaging gurus are paid to persuade us to think otherwise, what generations of parents have been teaching their children still rings true. Actions speak louder than words.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Friday, 10 February 2017 14:24
 
Ringhand Says Governor’s Re-election Budget has Democratic Ideas PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janis Ringhand, State Senator Dist 15   
Wednesday, 08 February 2017 15:34

assemblyLikes I-39/90 project plan, changed tune on education funding, but says devil is in the details. Looking forward to working with colleagues throughout the budget process.


MADISON - Clearly, this is budget contains many Democratic ideas as the Governor prepares for his re-election campaign.

I am pleased that there will be no further delays in the I-39/90 project from the Beloit to Madison. This project that is vital for safety and economic development in Rock County.

Governor Walker has changed his tune when it comes to funding education and is no longer proposing to further cut public education funding. He finally grasps that a great public education system is good politics.

No Governor has ever had his budget adopted intact. It is a long process and there will be many changes made to his re-election proposal. Changes that, I hope are for the better.

When it comes to the state budget, the devil is in the details. Nothing good happens when hyper-partisan Republicans lock themselves in a room to make late-night changes to the budget.

I look forward to working my colleagues throughout the budget process to ensure that we have good schools, good roads and a state budget that works for everyone.

 
DeVos Has Spent Millions On Politicians PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Friday, 03 February 2017 12:27

money-behind-politicsBetsy DeVos and her family invested $3.2 million to help elect 21 US senators who will now vote. Will Monday’s Vote on Senate Floor Be Payback time? Will Sen. Johnson Pay Her Back or Recuse Himself?

Last Updated on Friday, 03 February 2017 15:59
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U.S. Senator Ron Johnson Should Oppose DeVos Nomination PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7   
Thursday, 02 February 2017 17:14

kidsMADISON, WI – I urge U.S. Senator Ron Johnson to oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.

ron_johnson_sen_commEach of our children deserves a quality education. Unfortunately, here in Wisconsin we know the devastating consequences of DeVos-style slash and burn policies that leave schools and children behind.

Our traditional neighborhood schools have been severely and intentionally underfunded for the last six years. At the same time, unaccountable voucher profiteers have been handed more and more of our scarce public resources with little oversight and no accountability. In this hasty stampede to the bank, they have trampled our children’s future.

chris-larson-speaksAs the state with the longest-running voucher program in the country, Wisconsin has seen its blatant failure. The facts don’t lie; despite the extra costs, students in voucher schools perform no better, and in many cases worse, than their traditional public school counterparts. In Michigan, where DeVos doled out millions in campaign contributions to pro-voucher politicians, a similar negative effect has been seen.

Betsy DeVos has proven that she supports the same kind of irresponsible policies that have and will continue to hurt the children of our great state. We cannot subject more of our nation’s schoolchildren to the same destructive patterns. Senator Johnson has a sworn duty and obligation to our community and to each of our children to oppose the nomination of Betsy DeVos.

If Senator Johnson chooses to cynically reject the will of the people by voting to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, he will be to blame for hurting our children’s futures.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2017 17:24
 
LWV "Three Questions for the Supreme Court Nominee" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 15:57

scotus-questions2The League of Women Voters believes that any Supreme Court nominee should share his or her views on these three fundamental issues.


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The next Supreme Court nominee, whom President Trump will nominate this week, will play a major role in the course for American democracy over the coming decades. That may seem like an exaggeration, but the Supreme Court is currently divided four to four on most major issues. The incoming justice will ultimately be the deciding vote on crucial issues that shape the direction of our country.

The League of Women Voters believes that any Supreme Court nominee should share his or her views on fundamental issues. We have three questions for the nominee:

1. Must the Executive Branch obey court orders from the federal judicial system?

Our system of checks and balances is the basic tenet of a free democracy. To prevent authoritarianism, the Founders made sure that that no one branch of the government could dominate the others. But in recent days, it appears that the Executive Branch is challenging that system by refusing to obey the federal court orders. The Supreme Court nominee must take a stand, one way or the other, on the role of federal courts in our system of government.

2. What is the appropriate role for voting rights in our democracy?

Our nation was founded on a belief that voters should be in charge of our government rather than government being in charge of the voters. However imperfect at the beginning, citizen voting rights have grown through constitutional amendments to include women, racial and ethnic minorities and young people. But we are seeing efforts to roll back voting rights, with laws designed to make it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote. The Supreme Court nominee should let the American people know his or her position, whether voting rights enforcement is a vital component of our representative democracy or if the nominee thinks limitations can be justified under our Constitution.

3. Is big money in politics a fundamental part of our electoral system, or can limits sometimes be justified?

Some believe that corporations, organizations and individuals should be able to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, and to do so secretly. Others see this as an existential threat to our democracy. The Supreme Court nominee should state his or her beliefs related to the influence of money in our elections.

Judicial nominees should not be required to tell us how they will decide future cases, but they should share with the public the basic principles they support or oppose. For the Senate to carry out its constitutional duty to advise and consent on judicial nominees, truthful answers about basic principles are required. A presidential nomination is not a blank check. The Constitution requires the Senate to do its duty.

The League of Women Voters urges the Senate to explore these three fundamental questions with any nominee before voting to confirm or reject the next Supreme Court justice.

By Lloyd Leonard
Senior Director for Advocacy
January 31, 2017

****

Learn more about the League of Women Voters at http://lwv.org/

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 February 2017 16:16
 
Blue Jean Nation "Right turn at the fork" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
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

 
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