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Blue Jean Nation "Gators don’t drain swamps" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Monday, 02 January 2017 09:19

donald-trumpPresident-elect Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” during his campaign, but his cabinet picks represent a who's who of billionaires, conservatives, and Wall Street insiders.


ALTOONA, WI - America’s president-elect famously promised to “drain the swamp.” Surrounding himself with alligators is a curious way of going about making good on that promise. Alligators like swamps.

Donald Trump hasn’t made all of his appointments yet, but the cast of characters he’s pulled together so far has more wealth between them than the poorest one-third of American households. That’s 17 men and women who have more money than 43 million families combined.

There’s oil tycoon Rex Tillerson. Trump wants Exxon Mobil’s chief executive in charge of international diplomacy as Secretary of State.

The “king of bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross is being put in line to become Commerce secretary. If Trump gets his way, Ross’s deputy at Commerce will be Todd Ricketts, the billionaire son of the billionaire founder of the brokerage firm Ameritrade.

Linda McMahon, the billionaire co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is being tabbed to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon is Trump’s biggest single political donor, having given $7.5 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, which was more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.

Betsy DeVos, the daughter-in-law of the founder of the home care and beauty product distributor Amway Corporation (since renamed “Quixtar”), is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, started the shadowy soldier-for-hire company known as Blackwater. Her qualifications to oversee the nation’s schools pretty much begin and end with her family’s lavish spending to push taxpayer-funded subsidies for private and religious schools. Anyone paying careful attention to elections in Wisconsin should be familiar with DeVos’s political handiwork. Her front group known as the American Federation for Children has poured more than $5 million into Wisconsin just since 2010 to sway state legislative races and cement legislative majorities favoring privatization of education.

Then there’s Goldman Sachs.

Trump told South Carolina voters “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs” when he was trying to talk them out of supporting Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”

That was then. This is now. Trump picked Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head up his White House National Economic Council. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs. Trump’s chief strategist and White House counselor, Steve Bannon, started his career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

Quite a crew being put to work draining the swamp. Alligators all of them.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 January 2017 11:43
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign 'Shortfall!!!' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Tuesday, 27 December 2016 11:22

wis-democracy-campaignAs we approach the end of 2016, our friends at the Democracy Campaign need your support to continue their good work.


MADISON - I hope you had a nice holiday weekend.

I’m back at work today, going over our fundraising figures for 2016, and I had hoped that we’d be further along than we are in meeting our budget, but I see that we’re $10,000 shy.

So if you and our other faithful supporters could send us a tax-deductible gift right now, we’d be in a much better position at the start of 2017 to throw our energies into the urgent task of defending our democracy, which is in peril both here in Wisconsin and now in the country. Note: Walker has actually been telling Trump to do to the country what Walker did to Wisconsin!

With your support, we’ll expose the corruption, the power grabs, and the dangerous policies, and we’ll campaign for a real democracy, where everyone has an equal voice and an equal chance.

You can send your tax-deductible gift electronically when you click here or you can mail it in, as I usually do with my own donations. Our street address is 203 S. Paterson St, Suite 100, Madison WI 53703.

I look forward to hearing from you in the next few days, and to working with you in the year ahead.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director

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

****

The Democracy Campaign is working for a real democracy that allows the common good to prevail over narrow interests. We specialize in tracking the money in state politics and work for campaign finance reform and other democracy reforms. WDC is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and charitable contributions supporting our work are fully tax deductible.

 
Looking Back on 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Monday, 19 December 2016 22:07

trump-clinton-debateSen. Kathleen Vinehout hopes to find common ground on the issues of concern to Wisconsinites. For the residents of the 31st Senate District, most of were related to water. People were also frustrated with the negativity of the past election cycle.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 10:40
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Blue Jean Nation 'We are better than this' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 13 December 2016 13:54

Franklin Delano RooseveltFDR and the greatest generation of WWII had the courage to expect freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear for the whole world. Today's Americans are just afraid.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 December 2016 14:30
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'Making friends with discomfort' Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 09 December 2016 13:32

trump-ryanThose alarmed by the actions of the radical right are going to have to warm up to agitation and provocation. American now stands at a crossroads.


ALTOONA, WI - Several decades ago three young students journeyed through dusty rural California in hopes of meeting famed migrant farm worker organizer Cesar Chavez. Once they found Chavez, they sat with him and asked, “Cesar, how do you organize? ” Chavez replied, “well, first you talk to one person, then you talk to another person, then you talk to another person….”

The students assumed Chavez misunderstood their question and clarified that they wanted to know how mass movements are built. Chavez repeated, “first you talk to one person, then you talk to another.”

The key to making change is as elementary as Chavez’s secret of organizing.

It comes down to discomfort.

Comfortable people don’t move. They stay where they are because they are comfortable where they are. To make them move, they have to be made uncomfortable.

It’s like the basic law of physics . . . and object at rest will remain at rest, unless some force makes it move. A corrupt political establishment will stay corrupt and a failing political system will keep failing us, unless some force makes the powers-that-be change their ways.

That force is discomfort.

Last Updated on Friday, 09 December 2016 14:06
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Blue Jean Nation 'Should write ’em off but can’t' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 30 November 2016 15:07

wisdems-flagThis country needs a Democratic Party that is both healthy and relevant, and a Republican Party with unchecked power will run our government into the ground and our country over a cliff.


ALTOONA, WI - I am one of those people who has every reason to write off the Democratic Party. But I can’t.

I am the son of non-college educated working class people. Dairy farmers. I grew up in what is now red America. That place and that upbringing made me what I am. My values were shaped by the work my family did seven days a week from before dawn to after dusk. And by barn raisings where people came from miles away to help a “neighbor” struck by the misfortune of a tornado or fire. And by Les Sturz, who came to our aid in muddy fields to help us harvest our crops only weeks after burying his father who hung himself in a shed after learning the bank was foreclosing and their farm was going to be taken from them.

They taught me the value of hard work. But they also taught me the importance of looking out for each other, and how we are all in this together. They taught me about the common good. They taught me none of us is self made. If my accomplishments ever stand out, it’s because I am standing on the shoulders of others. Of the four people who were unquestionably my most influential and impactful teachers, not a one of them had a college degree.

My dad and mom lived through the Depression and revered FDR, and that reverence made them lifelong Democratic voters. They both passed away many years ago, but while they were with us they told me so many things that now make me think they’d probably not care much for today’s Democrats if they were still living. Like so many non-college educated working class people, they’d have reasons to feel today’s Democrats look down on them and write them off.

Considering where I’m from and who brought me up, I should probably hate Democrats. But I can’t. It’s not that I don’t believe they deserve the scorn directed at them. They do. It’s not even that I choose not to hate because of how counterproductive hating is. It’s like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die, but it also is a powerful and virtually irresistible temptation and sometimes I succumb.

The reason I can’t write off Democrats the way they’ve written off so many in places like where I’m from is that I love my country and my country needs a Democratic Party that is both healthy and relevant. Today’s is neither. I believe in checks and balances, and a Republican Party with unchecked power will run our government into the ground and our country over a cliff.

Returning the Democratic Party to health and relevance will not happen until Democrats stop regularly breaking the first rule of politics and cease insulting and disrespecting people like those who were my best teachers. And regaining health and relevance also will not happen until Democrats move beyond identity politics and stop disregarding the first law of governing: What government does needs to be done for the whole of society. Everyone pays, everyone benefits.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 15:18
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign '5 Reasons to Recount in Wis!' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 17:22

trump-clinton-debate3The recount is important for five reasons, (1) it was close, (2) late deductions were from Trump, (3) Outagamie County had more people voting than voters, (4) Trump’s wild charge on illegal voters, and (5) it’s always good to test the machinery.


MADISON - I’m glad there’s going to be a recount here in Wisconsin.

Here’s why:

Five valid reasons for the Wisconsin presidential recount

Requiring an accurate count is a bare minimum for our democracy.

Another bare minimum is respect for the Fourth Amendment. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court, sharply and oddly divided, just took another whack at it, as I explain here:

Wisconsin Supreme Court shreds 4th amendment

One more thing: Today is Giving Tuesday, when people all across the country are encouraged to make charitable online donations. So I’m urging you to make a tax-deductible donation right now to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. It’s easy: All you have to do is click here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 10:52
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Stein’s Recounts Will Hopefully Affirm the Integrity of the Vote PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 11:39

jill-steinStein is acting to preserve your right to know your vote is recorded and counted accurately, and she is paying the tab to do so.


MADISON - Friday Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a recount petition asking for hand tally of all WI votes cast.  On Monday petitions were filed in Pennsylvania counties and Stein filed a sister petition with the courts.  She intends to file her Michigan recount petition on Wednesday.  These are the states with the closest Nov. 8 election results.

Stein is acting to support the most basic power in a democracy:  The right to know your vote is recorded and counted accurately and that all votes cast are so counted/recorded.

veterans-seniorThe America Revolution led to the establishment of our Constitution.  Under that framework, our laws have been developed by elected state and national legislatures.  The specific purpose of this government is to create a political environment wherein the Rule of Law is top dog  --  NOT the Rule of King or Queen whose every word or whim becomes law and violation of which is punishable by death.

Though our founders put the Rule of Law on the throne of power, they were certainly not pure.  Their groups of men and women working together as parties were as corrupt as many human beings before or after the Revolution.

You may remember the 1960 Kennedy Nixon presidential election. The famous Nixon campaign quote, the gist of which is, “they stole the election fair and square.”  Then, as today, political parties were corrupt.

Americans understand the VOTE is the only real power we have in our democracy “to throw the bums out” and put in new people.  Americans are very concerned about the corruption in the voting process.  Five in ten Americans say they have ”little” or “only some” confidence that their votes will be accurately counted.*

Stein petitioned the WI Election Commission (WEC) to require a hand recount of 100% of the ballots cast.  Election experts urged her to request recounts in three states:

  • Because of the close vote totals,
  • Because of the wide ranging hacking and attempted hacking of computers in the Democratic Party offices, campaign officials offices, federal and state government offices taking place and allegations of foreign powers doing the hacking, and
  • Because of the ease with which various voting machines can be hacked.

Stein says citizens in a democracy deserve to know their votes are recorded properly.  These recounts will reassure Americans three election systems are reliable.  Or these three states will prove the need for radical changes to American election laws, equipment and procedures.

In the unlikely event that Clinton is declared the winner in these three states, she then would become president.  (Clinton’s lawyers have now said they will help Stein’s lawyers.  Clinton has filed no recount petitions.)

Over 130,000 people contributed an average of $45 to help Stein raise $6.4 million thus far to pay for the recount and the lawyers’ efforts.

Wednesday Stein is due to pay the estimate $1.1 million WI recount cost to WEC.  The recount will start Dec. 1st.  The federal deadline to get all local and state work done in WI, PA and MI is Dec. 13th.  Electoral College votes Dec. 19th.  Jan. 6th the Joint Session of Congress meets to review results, raise objections if any, and certify the winner.  The new president is sworn in Jan. 20th.

In our democracy, our vote is the only way we can remove or elect our federal leaders.  We cannot recall them, as we can in WI.  Only the federal Congress can impeach and remove federal officials.

Thus, we have only our “VOTE” to protect us from tyranny.  When we are denied the right to vote, or when our votes are not counted accurately, that is when we have lost the power of democracy!

Of all the presidential candidates, only Stein had the courage to start and implement the largest presidential recount effort in our history!  May she succeed.

****

Buzz Davis, now of Tucson, AZ, a member of Better With Bernie Gone Green and Treas. of Progressive WI – Lets Rebuild America, is a long time progressive activist, member of Veterans for Peace, a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, elected official, union organizer and retired state government planner.    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2016 11:57
 
Blue Jean Nation 'Election was tale of 2 rules' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 24 November 2016 14:59

trump-clinton-debateElections are about representation, and never, ever insult the voters.


ALTOONA, WI - Never insult voters. That should be the first rule of politics.

Hillary Clinton broke that rule when said out loud that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “deplorables” and “irredeemable.” She said what she and many of her own supporters surely believe to be true. And she probably lost the election at that very moment. Mitt Romney made the same mistake in 2012 with his “47 percent” remark when he assumed he was speaking privately to supporters who undoubtedly shared his belief that close to half of Americans are deadbeats and slackers. Breaking the first rule did him in as well.

Which brings me to what should be the second rule of politics: Elections are about representation.

Sifting through supposedly scientific exit polling data in hopes of explaining one of the biggest upsets in American political history, a mystified Washington Post reporter concluded that “people weren’t voting on issues. Like, at all.”

They usually don’t. Like, hardly ever.

Oh, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that an occasional election could become a referendum on some burning issue. But that’s not the norm. Elections aren’t generally about issues. They are about representation.

Voters are shopping for someone who represents them, someone who is saying what they are feeling. A few among us might be single-issue voters, but most of us are just looking for someone who reflects our current thinking generally speaking, and hoping those we elect will look out for our best interests. It’s simply not possible to find candidates who agree with you on every single issue. It is possible to find ones who seem to share your values and appear to be thinking what you are thinking.

Politics is about relationships. Academics try to treat it as a science, but like friendships and marriages it’s far more art than science. Issues don’t typically decide elections. Connecting with voters decides elections. Hillary Clinton lost here as well. She ran on her qualifications, her experience, her readiness for the job. The problem for her was that voters weren’t in the mood to buy what she was selling. If large numbers of voters had been more or less satisfied with the direction of the country and more or less satisfied with how our government is functioning, maybe they would have looked for a steady, seasoned hand. Maybe they would have put a premium on what Clinton offered. But tens of millions of voters were thinking America is on the wrong track and their belief in government has been badly shaken. Donald Trump’s talk of draining the swamp better reflected their thinking.

Most of those tens of millions were willing to overlook what they intensely disliked about Trump because overall he had done more to connect with them than Clinton had. They overlooked what they find distasteful about Trump not only because he said what they were thinking. It’s also what he didn’t say. He didn’t tell working class people who supported Obama in the past two elections but Trump in this one that they are irredeemable.

Democrats have been losing most elections for the past several decades, and after each beating they react with a mixture of utter bewilderment and anger directed at tens of millions of voters who are obviously (to Democrats) ignorantly voting against their own interests. Even if they don’t say it, they think it: These voters are deplorable, irredeemable.

Going forward, Democrats would do well to think long and hard about the first two rules of politics.

— Mike McCabe

 
Paul Linzmeyer 'Thoughts After the 2016 Election' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Paul Linzmeyer   
Thursday, 24 November 2016 12:28

clinton-trumpWe must start a dialogue now with one another to understand how we can aspire for the goodness in our state and how together we can make our state a model of “we the people…with liberty and justice for all”.


GREEN BAY - This election has torn our country apart.  While many of us are repulsed by the rhetoric of the campaign, there is one silver lining from this election and that is the cancer that has been in this nation forever is finally exposed.  The exposure of bigotry, hatred, marginalization and fear is our “soft under belly”, which could bring down this grand experiment, our democracy.  However, there are really very few truly evil and hateful people in this country.

The Trump and Sanders campaign exposed a strong populist desire for change that the Clinton campaign failed to understand.  Perhaps, the Clinton campaign had no way to actually come to grips with this need for change as they are part of the problem.   But the Trump campaign fed off the cancer and helped it spread its unprecedented debasement of us as people and a nation.

Trump’s election campaign slogan of “make America Great again” is so wrong.  If we reference the democratic standard of “we the people…. with liberty and justice for all”, we have never been “great” as we have continuously and still do have social, economic and environmental injustices for many of our people.  And unfortunately, this trifecta of injustice is spreading to a much greater portion of the population.

As “perfect” is the enemy of “better”, so is “great” the enemy of “good”.  Goodness is defined as integrity, honesty, uprightness, probity.   Goodness, morality, and virtue refer to qualities of character or conduct that entitle the possessor to approval and esteem.  This is what we should aspire, not greatness.  Greatness is a concept of a state of superiority affecting a person or object. Greatness can also be referred to individuals who possess a natural ability to be better than all others.  The concept of greatness should be abhorrent to us as it opposes everything of what our democracy stands.  Rather than pursing greatness, we should aspire to what is good for all us, as people and as a nation.  Rather than the tide of goodness raising all of us, greatness signifies winners and losers.

Wisconsin secured the Trump’s election but it was clearly because the turnout of voters was much lower than in 2008 and 2012.  I believe in the people of Wisconsin and in our “Forward” aspiration and our “can do” spirit.  We need/must start a dialogue with one another to understand how we can aspire for the goodness in our state and how together, we can make our state become a model of “we the people…with liberty and justice for all”.  Now that we see clearly the cancer that could kill us, we should work diligently and passionately to overcome it.  As a cancer survivor, I believe fully that we can do this.  I could not have possible survived by my own greatness (which I would never describe myself), but only because of the goodness that was aspired to by family, medical staff, friends and the community.

 
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