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Wisconsin Has A Proud Legacy to Build On PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley, 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.

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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

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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

 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Trump’s fascist overtones" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:12

wdc-trump-naziMADISON - I’m deeply, deeply concerned about our democracy today.

I watched Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address with a mixture of disbelief and horror, and I’d like to share my reactions with you.

First, there were several key words and phrases and beliefs that he failed to express in his speech:

Words missing from Trump's inaugural address

And second, there were some very dark echoes in it: [cartoon credit: Dr. Seuss circa 1940-41]

The fascist overtones in Trump’s inaugural address

We’ll be keeping an eye on these thunderclouds in the days and weeks ahead, even though our primary focus remains on Wisconsin.

And speaking of Wisconsin, we just posted a piece on Gov. Walker’s latest push to make it more difficult for people to get food stamps. His backers loved it, as you can see here:

Walker wins praise from WMC, Koch group for food stamp rules

Some of these same backers threw so much money behind Justice Annette Ziegler in her race to stay on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that she has no challengers. It’s the first time in more than a decade that one of these races has gone uncontested. Big money has cleared the field:

See who funds Justice Ziegler

These are dicey times, but I remain hopeful. The glorious women’s marches last Saturday (I was at the gigantic one in Madison) fill me with confidence that millions of active citizens will win the day and that we’ll keep our democracy—and make it stronger. [photo credit: Kerry Schumann]

I’m glad you’re in the fight with me.

Best,

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

P.S. I’m on Wisconsin Public Radio tomorrow (Wed.) at 4:30 to talk about Trump and fascism. And I’ll be speaking in New Glarus on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Toffler’s Pub (200 5th Ave). Next Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be speaking in Cross Plains at the Crossroads Coffeehouse (2020 Main St.). I hope you can catch me one of these times! See details on our calendar here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 12:25
 
Blue Jean Nation "Trotting out the whipping boy" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 11:06

walkerWalker’s golden shower economics haven’t been the answer, which leaves him in need of a whipping boy, a scapegoat, someone to bear the blame for his administration’s failings. This time it's food stamp recipients.


ALTOONA, WI - For as long as there have been politicians, there have been whipping boys. Politicians need someone to punish for their own shortcomings.

No one is better with the whip than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He is highly skilled in the use of divide-and-conquer tactics, a master at pitting one group of struggling and vulnerable people against another.  It’s his favorite play, the governor’s political equivalent of Vince Lombardi’s Power Sweep or USC’s famed “Student Body Right.”

Walker turns to this page in his playbook repeatedly, whenever he’s feeling the least bit threatened politically. He just did it again, proposing stricter work requirements for those receiving food stamps in Wisconsin.

He is counting on Democrats to rush to the defense of food stamp recipients. He wants them to accuse him of beating up on the poor. He needs them to. They surely will oblige, which is critical to the successful execution of the governor’s play.

Once they do what they always do, Walker can paint the Democrats as the party of handouts, the party devoted to taking from those who work and giving to those who don’t. And he can pit those who are having a hard time making ends meet but don’t qualify for food stamps against those who rely on them to eat.

Most importantly, he can divert attention from the dismal failure of his feed-the-rich economic policies. With Walker at the helm, Wisconsin is leading the nation in shrinkage of the middle class. The state is dead last in new business start-ups and entrepreneurial activity.

When Walker does what he always does and the Democrats respond how they always respond, the questions that most need asking don’t get asked. The debate that is most needed is never had.

Wisconsin should be debating how to create an economy where if you work you won’t be poor and won’t go hungry. It is undeniable that we don’t have such an economy today. We should be aspiring to an economy where food stamps and other forms of welfare become unnecessary.

We should be talking about the fact that government spends more on corporate welfare than it does on social welfare that makes up the proverbial safety net. We should be discussing how to create an economy anchored in a free and fair market for everyone, not crony capitalism for a favored few. We should be demanding that Walker’s corporate welfare office be shut down.

We should be acknowledging that demand and not supply is the primary driver of economic growth and that feeding the rich in hopes of stoking supply has been a miserable failure, never producing more than a trickle for the masses and causing the grotesque economic inequality and the slow but steady extermination of the middle class we are experiencing today.

Wisconsin is a shadow of its former self economically. Walker’s golden shower economics haven’t been the answer, which leaves him in need of a whipping boy, a scapegoat, someone to bear the blame for his administration’s failings. That’s where food stamp recipients come in handy to him, so long as the Democrats play into his hands and do their part to help him isolate and stigmatize them.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 January 2017 11:19
 
Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Monday, 23 January 2017 14:10

union-members-at-capitolThe Legislature’s Joint Audit Committee scheduled a public hearing on the Wisconsin Retirement System pension fund after recent audits revealed it's performance fell to 9th among ten comparable state pension plans.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 January 2017 17:58
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