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Blue Jean Nation "An election without winners?" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 28 October 2016 14:18

sick-partiesThis election may end with both of the parties in splinters, leaving American politics more up in the air than it has been in living memory.


ALTOONA, WI - Someone will be elected. But it’s possible no one will win.

In a presidential election featuring the two most unpopular major party nominees ever, it looks increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will become our next president. It’s just as likely that winning the White House will actually hurt the Democrats’ overall standing with the public.

Some hate Hillary. Some can’t stand Bill. Some don’t care for political dynasties and resent another Clinton presidency. Some despise Democrats in general. Some are turned off by how the Democratic establishment treated Bernie Sanders’ candidacy as an unwelcome intrusion and stacked the deck to assure Hillary got the party’s nomination. Some are just exasperated by the choice they were given, between two intensely disliked celebrities. Some are in an anti-establishment mood and see Hillary as the living embodiment of the political establishment. All will hold it against the Democrats for not showing any respect for these kinds of feelings.

There is a very real possibility either or both of the parties could splinter.

Today’s Republican Party has become an uneasy alliance of wealthy capitalists, the religious right and working-class whites. What these three factions want the party to be is very different, and keeping any of them satisfied without granting them their every wish is growing more challenging by the day. Lose any of them and the party’s governing majority across the country starts to crumble.

In cobbling together this fragile coalition of strangers, Republican leaders and right-wing media personalities created a monster that has gone on a rampage and is tearing their party limb from limb. Both Wall Street and Main Street Republicans have to be hoping and praying for Trump to lose. It will be hard enough to stitch the mangled body back together if Trump goes down to defeat. If Trump wins, it’s his party. That would be the death of it.

The Democratic Party has lost much of its blue-collar following and is now left with a composite of highly educated professionals, racial minorities and progressive populists. The party’s leadership clearly has cast its lot with the professional class, as evidenced by the favored status of corporate Democrats like the Clintons within the party, and has actively sought to snuff out populist impulses. The teens and twenty-somethings of the millennial generation — the party’s future — were outraged by what party insiders did to sabotage the Sanders campaign. Sanders won far more votes from millennials than Clinton and Trump combined, and these young voters will not soon forget how the skids were greased for Clinton. Minority voters are taken for granted, but young black millennials in particular appear to be increasingly questioning their elders’ loyalty to the Democrats. All of this leaves the Democratic Party vulnerable to upheaval or even disintegration as well.

All of this leaves American politics more up in the air than it has been in living memory.

— Mike McCabe

****

Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics. Mike wants to hear from you.
Blue Jean Nation, P.O. Box 70788, Madison, WI 53707
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone: 608-443-6086
http://www.BlueJeanNation.com/

Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2016 14:36
 
A Crucial Vote You Haven’t Heard About PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 09:09

mta-madisonMADISON - For a while now, I’ve been trying to interest reporters in Wisconsin in one of the most under-covered story of the last year: the fact that we now have 78 communities – second only to Massachusetts – that have voted overwhelmingly that they want to amend the U.S. Constitution to proclaim that corporations aren’t persons and money isn’t speech.

On Nov. 8, Wisconsin citizens in 19 more communities can express themselves on this vital idea. Check it out here:

A crucial vote November 8 you haven’t heard about

In another promising development on the reform front, Assembly Democrats held a press conference last week laying out their ideas for redoing the disastrous campaign finance bill that passed last fall. We’ve added a couple of our own ideas, as you’ll see here:

Assembly Dems point way toward reform

Meanwhile, we keep reporting on the role of big money here in Wisconsin.

For instance, we discovered that outside groups – from the left and the right -- are outspending the candidates themselves by a long shot:

Special interest electioneering groups outspending legislative candidates

We also found out that an outside group that was created for Gov. Walker’s failed presidential run is still bringing in money, including $100,000 from one New York company:

Who’s still donating big bucks to Walker’s presidential support group?

And we noted that the vast majority of Republican legislators received a 100% on their report cards from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce:

WMC honors legislators in its pocket

I hope this info is useful – or at least mildly interesting – to you.

Talk to you soon.

****

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan nonprofit watchdog group now in it's third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260, http://www.wisdc.org

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2016 09:35
 
What Do Rigged Elections Really Look Like? PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by John N. Powers, Wittenberg   
Monday, 24 October 2016 10:15

capitol-nightPower to draw new legislative district boundaries after 2010 election gave GOP 60% of State Assembly seats with only 46% of the votes and resulted in restrictive voter ID laws, environmental laws written by corporate lobbyists, John Doe changes to protect politicians and attacks on labor.

Read more...
 
Blue Jean Nation "So long Abe" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 11:48

lincoln-walks-awayLincoln defined government as “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We need Lincoln’s spirit now more than ever.


ALTOONA, WI - No dictionary ever captured the essence of democracy’s meaning better than Abe Lincoln did in his legendary Gettysburg Address. Lincoln defined it as government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

For a century and a half after the Civil War the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln. Today’s GOP, however, has separated from Lincoln and the relationship seems destined to end in divorce. Modern-day Republicans have rejected Lincoln’s commitment to equality as they flirted for decades before eventually jumping in bed with white supremacy. They also have renounced Lincoln’s idea of democracy. For years now the likes of Rush Limbaugh have been saying over and over again that America is a republic, not a democracy. And dittoheads across the country dutifully repeat the mantra.

It’s silly to argue over whether America is one or the other when we were so obviously intended to be both. The U.S. was set up to be a democratic republic. The republic the founders gave us also can accurately be described as a representative democracy or a constitutional democracy. The founders wisely and ingeniously struck a balance between majority rule by elected representatives of the people and protection of individual and minority rights by rule of constitutional law. To say we are a republic but not a democracy is to not only disregard the true meaning of these words but also to disrespect the founders’ delicate balancing act.

They understandably wanted no more to do with monarchy and sought to replace a king’s rule with democracy. But they also were rightly fearful of mob rule and felt the need to temper the democratic will with “inalienable” rights for individuals that could not be voted out of existence. They did a better job designing the system than we have done taking care of it. While some among us waste time bickering about whether America is a republic or a democracy, evidence mounts that we may no longer be worthy of either name.

At a time when the republic faced perhaps the greatest threat to its continued existence, Lincoln gave the country not only the perfect definition of democracy but also reason to believe a new birth of freedom in America was possible. In our time, all of us — whether Republican, Democrat, independent or something else — need to channel our inner Lincolns and dedicate ourselves to a new birth of democracy and equality. We need to figure out how to restore government of the people, by the people and for the people. We need to imagine an economy that is of the people, by the people and for the people and strive to make it so.

We need Lincoln’s spirit now more than ever. The party of Lincoln has waved goodbye to Abe. The rest of us need to summon him back.

— Mike McCabe

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:01
 
Lying In The Bed You Made - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 14 October 2016 11:08

bed-nailsConservative Republicans and talk radio hosts are falling over each other in their effort to distance themselves from Donald Trump, but as parents have been saying for generations, you made your bed and now you’ve got to lie in it.


ALTOONA, WI - A weird political year got weirder still when the flamboyant conservative radio and TV personality Glenn Beck said voting against Donald Trump is the “moral, ethical choice” even if it means Hillary Clinton is elected president.

Charlie SykesBeck is hardly alone among conservative pundits having pangs of conscience about what the Republican Party is turning into. Milwaukee’s conservative radio host Charlie Sykes recently owned up to his role in creating an environment where the likes of Trump could thrive, acknowledging that he and other right-wing media personalities have “created this monster.” And then Sykes announced he is ending his radio show.

Most of Sykes’ conservative media peers have gone to great lengths to deflect responsibility. Acting as if he and right-wing commentators like him had no hand in making the Frankenstein that is now laying waste to the GOP, Jonah Goldberg self-righteously proclaims Donald Trump’s supporters “oblivious to the fact that he needs more than his base to win. And once again, conservatives who’ve made a career thumping their chests or their Bibles about the importance of character and morality found themselves making excuses for a man who personifies everything they claimed to oppose.”

Other conservative heavyweights like George Will and David Brooks also have expressed horror in recent days at the ugly turn American conservatism has taken. Brooks says “Trump breaks his own world record for being appalling on a weekly basis” and his “performances look like primate dominance displays — filled with chest beating and looming growls. But at least primates have bands to connect with, whereas Trump is so alone, if a tree fell in his emotional forest, it would not make a sound.”

Brooks concludes: “It’s all so pathetic.”

Will calls Trump an “arrested-development adolescent” with “feral appetites and deranged sense of entitlement.” He goes on to say Trump is a “marvelously efficient acid bath, stripping away his supporters’ surfaces, exposing their skeletal essences” without displaying a hint of awareness of his own culpability as an intellectual architect of modern “conservatism” that has now morphed into Trumpism.

Will then grasps for straws, wishfully speculating that maybe “Trump is the GOP’s chemotherapy, a nauseating but, if carried through to completion, perhaps a curative experience.”

As parents have been saying for generations, you made your bed and now you’ve got to lie in it.

That would be all well and good, if not for the fact that the rest of us are going to have to suffer the side effects of their sleep disorders.

— Mike McCabe

 
Paul Ryan, Donald Trump Push Ayn Rand Philosophy Of Selfishness, Divisiveness PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Solen for Congress, Lauren Young   
Friday, 07 October 2016 12:20

donald-trump-thumbs-upDownplay service, sacrifice. Decisions made from Rand’s selfish philosophy that the “noblest activity” is to “pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim.”


MOUNT PLEASANT, WI - Dorothy Parker wrote that Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, “is not a novel that should be thrown aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

Unfortunately, Paul Ryan did not hurl the poorly written Atlas Shrugged with great force. Every decision he makes comes from Rand’s selfish philosophy: that the “noblest activity” is to “pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim.”

paul-ryan-speakerPaul Ryan thinks his noble purpose is Paul Ryan, something exemplified by his gathering of political power at the expense of both his constituents in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District and the rest of the Americans who have been denied important legislation because of the Speaker’s commitment to party politics and obstructing Democrats in general and President Obama in particular.

ryan-solen-in-armyOn the other hand, Ryan Solen, Paul Ryan’s Democrat opponent, has made his way in the world trying to do good for others. Solen served his country for eight years in the United States Army, including a deployment to Iraq. He puts his wife and four children ahead of himself and he is running for Congress not for political power but to help the nation in a meaningful way. In fact, his promise to the voters in the district is to work to enact term limits in Congress to prevent career politicians who legislate as a means to getting reelected. Solen proposes that House members serve six two-year terms for a total of twelve years and that Senators serve two six-year terms for the same total of twelve years. Ryan Solen has pledged to serve only twelve years in the House regardless of whether he is able to pass term limits.

Paul Ryan’s devotion to Rand is not news. What is news is that Donald Trump, too, describes himself as an Ayn Rand fan. He said The Fountainhead, “relates to business (and) beauty (and) life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything.” That book that is, incidentally, shelved in the Fiction section.

Paul Ryan and Donald Trump’s perception of people are sadly identical. They believe in the divisive idea that there are only “looters” and “makers.”

Paul Ryan now tries to distance himself from Rand. He can’t. His most recent budget proposal is to cut food stamps to people in job training programs and higher education. He wants to cut benefits to the “looters”— veterans, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled. This is the opposite of how Ryan Solen plans to legislate. Solen is more concerned with, among other things, balancing the federal budget so that we can use the interest we had been playing towards improving our education system from kindergarten through college.

Paul Ryan wants to give the money to those who need it the least: the “makers”—the wealthy and his political donors.

Like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan cares only about Paul Ryan. The most important question in the November 8 election is not, “Who is John Galt?” Nor is the question, “Who is Donald Trump?”

The question is, “Who is Paul Ryan?”

Voters should consider that carefully and choose Ryan Solen who supports everyone.

***

Ryan Solen is an Army veteran of the war in Iraq and is seeking to represent Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. He is a Digital Forensic Specialist and Computer Security Analyst. He is a married father of four and enjoys reading, writing, doing karate with his family, and relieves stress with his vintage Lego collection.

He is the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s Nominee to run for the U.S. House of Representatives to replace Paul Ryan. For more information, please visit www.solenforcongress.com.

Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2016 12:54
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "The road ahead..." PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Wednesday, 05 October 2016 14:47

scott-walker-dodgerScott Walker dodges the bullet again, thank John Doe prosecutors, next steps in campaign finance reform, and much more...


MADISON - Boy, the week started off badly!

The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday not to take the John Doe II appeal was a blow to clean government in Wisconsin:

Disastrous duck by U.S. Supreme Court! Walker off scot-free?

One final word on this matter: The courageous defenders of clean government, who stood up for transparency and accountability and were vilified for it, are owed a debt of gratitude for their valiant efforts:

John Doe prosecutors deserve our thanks

Now that the sting of the loss is beginning to wear off, I look at the road ahead for clean and transparent government:

Next steps in the fight for campaign finance reform in Wisconsin

Meanwhile, our research director, Mike Buelow, keeps cranking out interesting stories about which dark money groups are throwing money around right now:

Outside groups spending tops $1.7M in legislative races

One of those groups is American Federation for Children—you know, Scott Jensen’s school voucher front—and we’ve anointed them with our highly coveted “Influence Peddler of the Month” award:

Influence peddler of the month - American Federation for Children

So we’re not slowing down a bit. I was asked on one radio show this week if I’m discouraged. No, I don’t get discouraged because I know the vast majority of the people, in Wisconsin and in this country, are on the side of clean, open, and transparent government. And the special interests would love it if we got discouraged!

So it’s just another day, another fight.

Thanks for being a part of this great struggle for real democracy.

***

Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689, 608-255-4260 & www.wisdc.org

Join us on Facebook ~ Follow us on Twitter

 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Heat on Walker Continues" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Saturday, 01 October 2016 10:28

walker-orange16 Democratic Assembly members urge Dane County DA to file new charges against Gov. Scott Walker.


MADISON - I’m just back from a road trip yesterday, which took me up to Green Bay and then down to Racine, and that reminds me to let you know that I’m available to come talk in your own community if you can arrange it. Just shoot me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Meanwhile, before the weekend is in full swing, I’d like to tell you what we’ve been up to this week.

One key development, which got virtually no coverage in the statewide media, is that 16 Democratic Assembly members wrote a letter on Thursday urging Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to file new charges against Gov. Scott Walker. Check it out here:

Wisconsin legislators keep heat on Walker

You know we’re against dark money, whether it’s coming from the Wisconsin Club for Growth or from a group that’s close to the Democrats. That’s why we exposed this new dark money group that’s cropped up in the Green Bay area:

New Dem electioneering group on air in 18th Senate race

And our research team did some original work examining the local government background of our state legislators to figure out why so many Republicans have been curbing local control. In fact, even though many had actually served in local government, respect for their roots has given way to party loyalty:

Votes on local control show special interests, party loyalty outweigh community

That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend! Go Badgers…

***

Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan political watchdog group headquartered in Madison.
We are a nonprofit watchdog group now in our third decade of working for clean, open and honest government and reforms that make people matter more than money in politics.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, 203 South Paterson Street, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3689
608-255-4260

 
Caring For Our Most Vulnerable PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Friday, 30 September 2016 13:54

boy-in-docFrom sexual assaults at the Lincoln Hills School for youth to financial mismanagement and neglect at the King Veteran Home, Gov. Walker and his Republican legislature have let down our families. We can’t delay action any longer.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2016 14:28
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Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Why we took on Wisconsin Club for Growth" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
Tuesday, 27 September 2016 09:45

walker-recallMADISON - On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed a formal complaint with the IRS against Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Here’s why: All we want is some modicum of justice. All we want is someone in authority, somewhere, to rule that the flagrant scheming by Walker and Wisconsin Club for Growth was wrong and to hold them accountable.

Some background: Scott Walker’s campaign strategist, R. J. Johnson, was simultaneously running Wisconsin Club for Growth. Walker and Johnson turned Wisconsin Club for Growth into a funnel for huge, secret donations that they then used to finance ads to help keep Walker in office, Justice David Prosser on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Republican state senators in the majority.

This was not only a scheme to circumvent the Wisconsin campaign finance law that was on the books at the time, which imposed limits on donations, required disclosure of donors, and prohibited coordination between candidates (like Walker) and outside groups (like Wisconsin Club for Growth).

It was also a scheme that ran afoul of IRS regulations.

You see, Wisconsin Club for Growth is registered with the IRS as a (501)(4) “social welfare” organization.

According to an Aug. 9, 2016, notice by the IRS, “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”

But, as was made clear in the recent blockbuster article in The Guardian newspaper, “Because Scott Walker Asked,” the “primary activity” of Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 and 2012 was to engage in electioneering.

Our complaint also alleges that Wisconsin Club for Growth engaged in improper and deceptive fundraising practices.

In essence, Wisconsin Club for Growth was raising money not for itself and its own independent “social welfare” efforts, but for electioneering activity guided by Scott Walker and R. J. Johnson.

Walker personally met with millionaires and billionaires and directed them to give to Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September 2016 10:23
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