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Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive

Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive. Before moving to Green Bay in 2008, he was the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Milwaukee County. A graduate of UWM in 1971, he moved to Madison, where he was Executive Personnel Officer and Technology Manager for the State Department of Employment Relations. He is a former Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County, Director at the Human Resources Management Association of S.E. Wisconsin (now SHRM), and Technology Commission Chair for the City of Franklin. Bob is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1965-1971).

Let’s Get Real on Gun Control

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 December 2012
in Our View

rambo-squirrelGREEN BAY - In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President and other responsible leaders have again raised the issue of gun control as a possible answer to reducing gun violence in America. The most common solutions discussed are a return to the assault weapons ban repealed in 2004 and closing the loophole that allows the purchase of guns at local gun shows without the normal background check.

But the gun lobby has trotted out the usual diversion tactics to muddy the waters. It is a common tactic in public debate.

Shouldn’t we put a cop in every school or theater, or arm teachers, or publish the names of all gun owners, or require mandatory psychiatric care for any relative we think is a little bit weird, they say. While we’re at it, let’s round up all the semi-automatic pistols and violent video games. Why not cancel all the cop shows on TV? The beat goes on. Another media circus.

And in the end, they hope, we will all just throw up our hands, again, and say the problem is too big to solve so we should just do nothing.

Cory Booker had the best point on Meet the Press last Sunday. We are not even arguing about the real problem.

There are good reasons besides hunting for law abiding citizens to buy guns. Personal safety is one of them. I would even argue that more progressives and liberals should get guns. If something happens, like a month long power outage, we wouldn’t want the conservatives to be the only people in the neighborhood armed.

But that’s not the problem, nor is the general state of psychiatric care in the country. We are not going to stop all gun violence with a single law. But we can make things a little better.

Experience shows that, if you want to pull off a mass shooting at a school or theater, you want to arm yourself with a military style long gun with a high capacity banana clip like the AR-15. It’s been the weapon of choice in several of the recent shootings. And a return to the assault weapons ban can make it just a little more difficult for these shooters to get them.

And, as Cory Booker said, evidence in his city shows that law abiding citizens don’t commit crimes with guns. In fact, he said that of all the gun crimes committed in Newark in one recent year, only one was committed by someone who had gotten the gun by going through the normal background check at a registered gun dealer. The problem is the secondary market where nearly 40 per cent of the guns in this country change hands.

If you buy a gun at a gun store with a background check, you have to swear that you have not committed a felony lately, or been dishonorably discharged from the military, or been treated for mental illness, or are addicted to drugs, or need to be restrained from committing domestic abuse.

These are common sense questions to keep the guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. Why shouldn’t everyone who wants to buy a gun be required to answer them? Why keep the secondary market loophole open that allows people to buy a gun without a background check? What’s all this nonsense about taking the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens?

We are not going to stop all future gun violence at schools like Sandy Hook. We are not going to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy. We are not going to all love one another. Those delusions ended in the sixties.

But we can do something to make the shootings a little less easy for the shooters, and that is a start. The first step is to keep the discussion on the real issues.

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Progressive Giant of Appleton Passes

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
in Our View

Dr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGENDr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGEN, M.D., who helped found the modern Democratic Party of Wisconsin, dies at the age of 94.


APPLETON – In today’s politics and political parties, leaders often seem to come and go with the 24 hour news cycle. We often forget who got us here. Not so with Dr. Marv Kagen, a true giant from the “greatest generation” who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights and helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire.

Marv Kagen, M.D. always reassured his family he would live forever; he had the right idea, living 94 years from April 11, 1918 until November 23, 2012.

Marv's childhood was spent in the back room of his family's Kagen Drug Store during the Great Depression in Chicago, Illinois. When he could see over the counter, he went to work greeting customers with his life-long trademark: "Glad to see you. How may I help you?"

Marv was always agreeable and kind, believing the customer was always right. He also had a great sense of humor, formed in his youth by watching comedy shows from orchestra pits in Chicago theaters.

Dr. Kagen attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois and the University of Illinois Medical School where he earned his Medical Degree at the age of 22. During World War II, he served as a physician in the U.S. Coast Guard and afterwards, he returned to Chicago to study Dermatology. Marv met and married registered nurse Virginia Johnson in 1947, and moved to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1948, where his son Charlie joined Marv in the Kagen Dermatology Clinic in 1984.

Dr. Kagen loved serving people and was a founding member of the Wisconsin Dermatological Society. He was also active in the American Academy of Dermatology.

Marv was a stand-up guy, organizing people for civil rights beginning in the 1940s. When ordered by his superior officer to flunk all "colored" candidates for the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, he responded, "I will not do that." Several days later, Dr. Kagen was sent to sea on the USS Calloway. Later, in the 1960s, Marv and his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights for all.

Marv Kagen helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire, commenting, "I may be well-off, but I have never been rich enough to be a Republican." 

Dr. Kagen was opposed to making war, and in 1966 he ran for Congress against our involvement in Vietnam, saying later that it was the greatest challenge he had ever taken on. Kagen was also a champion of our environment, as Appleton Health Commissioner he was the first to ban indiscriminate use of DDT in 1959.

Marv married trial attorney Mary Lou Robinson in 1974, and together they served the needs of their community on issues of social justice, conservation and community health for four decades.

In 1992, Marv and his son, Steve Kagen, M.D., began their campaign to guarantee access to health care for everyone. They sought to make health care a Civil Right by outlawing the once common insurance company practice of discriminating against patients with pre-existing medical conditions - and after 18 years of effort, they succeeded with the passage of our nation's new health care law in 2010.

When asked what he enjoyed most in life, Marv Kagen said, "That's easy. Everyday in my office I'd see the richest and the poorest people in town, and I'd give them all the same treatment at the same price. Nothing beats making people feel better."

Dr. Marv Kagen was so loving and kind to everyone; he was always reassuringly positive to his family, his friends and his patients. He told his children he had a sign on his forehead that read, "You can handle it."

Marv loved helping people, and his loving phrase lives on in our minds: "Be kind to yourself, and if you force anything force a smile."

Dr. Kagen is survived by his great friend Mary Lou Robinson (Hollandtown, WI), former wife Virginia Johnson Kagen (Appleton, WI), children Suzanne (Tom) Sipple (Lawrence, KS), Steve (Gayle) Kagen, M.D. and Charlie (Francoise) Kagen, M.D. (Appleton, WI); grandchildren Melissa Kagen, RN-NP and husband US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Van Auken (Alexandria, VA), Michael Kagen, M.D. and fiancée Zainab Nayeri, M.D. (Chattanooga, TN), and Thomas Kagen, Stephanie Kagen, R.N., Corinne Kagen and Camille Kagen (Appleton, WI); sister Helene Toland, nieces Debra Toland Josephs, Sandy Toland and nephew Scott Toland (Denver, CO); his cousin Maynard Kagen (Chicago, IL) and many other cousins and friends.

Marv was preceded in death by his parents Abraham and Fanny Berger Kagen; his brothers, Leonard A. Kagen, M.D. and Irving N. Kagen, M.D. 

The Kagen family extends their sincerest gratitude to the professional staff at Heartwood Homes Senior Living, his physician, Michael Johnson, M.D. and AseraCare Hospice for the loving care they provided.

A memorial celebration will be held Saturday December 1, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM at Wichmann Funeral Home 537 N. Superior Street, Appleton, WI. 

Online condolences may be expressed at www.wichmannfargo.com.

Because of Marv Kagen's passion for life-long learning, the family asks friends to donate their time and money to area public schools.

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Scott Walker Says No to State Role in Health Care Reform

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Monday, 19 November 2012
in Our View

scott_walker-fakesmileMADISON - Wisconsin won't create a health insurance exchange, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced Friday, joining several other Republican governors to reject a key component of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Wisconsin was one of the few remaining holdouts until Friday, the original deadline for states to declare whether they would run a health insurance exchange, before the Federal government gave stalling States an extension to Dec. 14. The exchanges are online marketplaces where uninsured people and small business will shop for coverage and find out if they qualify for financial assistance or Medicaid benefits beginning in 2014.

Many other states have declared they would leave the operation of the exchanges to the federal government, or partner with federal authorities rather than take charge themselves, as the law intended.

Walker decided to turn the health insurance exchange in Wisconsin over to the federal government rather than do the job himself, citing in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius his opposition to Obamacare and his belief that states like Wisconsin still wouldn't have enough say over their health care markets even if they manage their own exchanges under federal guidelines.

"No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents," Walker wrote. "If the state option is chosen, however, Wisconsinites face risk from a federal mandate lacking long-term guaranteed funding."

Walker had previously rejected a $38 million dollar Federal government grant to establish the exchange, and joining the effort at this late date would have been time consuming and expensive. States also have the option of taking over the exchanges after the feds do the heavy lifting, further reducing the incentive for Walker to get involved. From his own political point of view, Walker has little to gain and much to lose from the successful implementation of an exchange in Wisconsin.

Local control of the exchange establishment would have allowed Wisconsin officials to tailor the program to the particular needs of its citizens and given smaller local health care vendors greater access to the bidding process. By dealing only with the larger vendors on a national basis, the Federal government may have less leverage in negotiating the best prices for Wisconsin citizens.

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Today Is Election Day, So VOTE!!

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 06 November 2012
in Our View

voteGREEN BAY - Election Day is today, Tuesday, November 6, 2012, so make sure you vote. As long as you’re in line when the polls close tonight, your vote will be counted. We can’t afford to let Romney bring back the same bad ideas that crashed our economy. We need to move forward with President Obama.

Yesterday was President Obama’s last day on the campaign trail, and it was a nonstop sprint to the finish. Obama supporters aren’t resting and neither was the President. He crisscrossed the country asking for every American’s vote.

Bruce Springsteen joined him in Madison, Wisconsin, and Columbus, Ohio, where Jay-Z also joined in. Then, the President and the First Lady returned to Iowa, where it all began in the winter of 2007, for one final grassroots rally in Des Moines.

Must Watch: The President’s grassroots events in Ohio and Iowa will be streamed live at www.barackobama.com/live.

It’s more important than ever to vote today and make your voice heard in this election. The 2000 election was decided by just 537 votes, and this year could be even closer and the stakes are higher than ever before. So make sure you vote, and that everyone you know does too. Go to vote.BarackObama.com to find out when, where and how to vote. Remember, as long as you’re in line when the polls close, your vote will be counted.

We have come a long way in a few short years. We’re out of Iraq, we brought Osama bin Laden to justice, the auto industry is back, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is over, we’re less dependent on foreign oil and we’ve created nearly 5.5 million new jobs in the last 32 months. We have more to do, but we’re on the right track.

President Obama has a clear, specific plan to build on that progress over the next four years. It’ll help create jobs, develop American energy, train the best workforce in the world, reduce the deficit in a balanced way and do some nation-building here at home. It’s a plan that moves us forward, not back.

When you vote, think about which candidate you trust. We can’t trust Mitt Romney. He’d take us back to the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, like fewer rules for big banks and more huge tax cuts for the wealthy. And he’s written off 47 percent of the country. President Obama fights for the entire country.

Voting for Barack Obama is a vote for all Americans, not just a lucky few. He’s always had our backs, and now its time to have his and help finish what we started in 2008. We can’t afford to go back, and you can't afford to stay home. Vote today. It’s the most American thing you can do, and it’s how we keep moving forward.

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President Obama Will Win Re-election Tomorrow

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 November 2012
in Our View

obamaGREEN BAY – We here at the Green Bay Progressive are making a prediction on the result of tomorrow’s Presidential election. President Barack Obama will win.

We don’t generally make endorsements any more. Nobody listens to those anyway. But we have been watching the polls closely. It is easy to get lost in all the numbers, but truth generally lies in the simplest conclusions.

First, all the polls, right and left, generally concede that the result in 42 of the 50 States is basically decided. That leaves the election at 234 votes for President Obama and 209 for Mitt Romney. Only eight “swing” States, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada will decide the election. And it leaves Obama much closer to the 270 votes needed for a win.

Of the swing States, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada may be within the margin of error, but most of the polls consistently give the President a decided advantage in each of them. If Obama wins these States as predicted, even if you give Romney Florida and Virginia, the President has a win with 274 Electoral College votes. And we are not even counting Colorado and New Hampshire.

There are few scenarios under which Mitt Romney can win, and all of them will require upsets in States where Obama holds a 2 or 3 to 1 advantage in positive poll leads. While campaign enthusiasts often talk of enthusiasm and “closing the gap” in the final days of a campaign, it is generally more wishful thinking than reality.

All of this requires that everyone will get out to vote as predicted. Storm damage out east could suppress the vote there, and everyone is worried about Ohio, where local Republican officials have tampered with the election process and absentee voting to such an extent that all the votes may not be counted for weeks.

But lacking some major surprise, Romney will appear to lead in the beginning, with President Obama not sealing the deal until after the west coast and Hawaii come in at 10:00 PM central. Then, we predict an Obama-Biden victory. The numbers say so.

Nobody loses their job for saying the election is too close to call, but we want to be different and stick out our neck. We hope tomorrow proves us right.

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