Friday April 28, 2017

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From people looking forward with education and reason.

Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

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: one4all@bluejeannation.com
Phone: 608-443-6086

Blue Jean Nation 'Wisconsin’s biggest problem'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 27 April 2017
in Wisconsin

wisconsin-rustedIn recent years, Wisconsin appears to have lost its ambition to be first or best. Roads are going to hell, we rank 49th in Internet speed. We’re lagging badly in renewable energy development and jobs. Recovery starts with wanting to be a state of firsts again.


ALTOONA, WI - Wisconsin has more than its share of problems. Our state leads the nation in shrinkage of the middle class and is dead last in new business start-ups. The roads are going to hell. We rank 49th in Internet speed. We’re lagging badly in renewable energy development. We used to pride ourselves on having some of the best schools in the nation, but in recent years have watched them slip toward mediocrity. Many parts of the state now have a public health crisis on their hands when it comes to drinking water.

The biggest problem of all is that Wisconsin appears to have lost its ambition to be first or best. For the time being the state seems content to be average or even bring up the rear. Wisconsin has, temporarily at least, lost its pioneering spirit. Past generations made Wisconsin a state of firsts. First in the nation to establish kindergartens, first to set up a vocational, technical and adult education system. First to pass a law providing workplace injury compensation, first to create an unemployment compensation program. First to create primary elections to take the business of nominating candidates away from party bosses in smoke-filled rooms and put it in the hands of the people. First to base taxation on the ability to pay. Social Security was cooked up here.

Today, about the only way Wisconsin leads the nation is in the disappearance of the middle class. For Wisconsin to become what it has the potential to be, the state’s pioneering spirit has to be rediscovered. We have to aspire to be first again.

For example, it should be Wisconsin’s goal to be the first state in the nation to be fully powered by renewable energy. You know some state is going to get there. It’s only a matter of time. Why shouldn’t Wisconsin be that state? The race is on, but Wisconsin has not yet shown it is serious about competing in that race. Time for that to change.

Wisconsin needs to make education and job training as affordable for our kids and grandkids as it was for their parents and grandparents. We can settle for nothing less than debt-free college and vocational preparation.

Access to high-speed Internet and mobile phone service are 21st Century necessities that must be brought to every household. Everyone in Wisconsin should have them. Wisconsin ranks 49th in Internet speed. We should take all necessary steps to be first.

No one anywhere in Wisconsin should turn on a water faucet and be afraid to drink what comes out. Wisconsin should lead the nation in protecting water quality. No one in Wisconsin should be unable to go to the doctor when sick. Instead of turning down available federal funds for medical care, they should be used to leverage expansion of BadgerCare and ultimately make it a health coverage option for everyone in the state.

No more Wisconsin communities should be forced to go backward and turn paved roads into gravel. Wisconsin now has the fourth worst roads in the nation, with nearly three-quarters of them in mediocre or poor condition. It should be our goal to have the best ones in the country.

It all starts with wanting to be a state of firsts again.

— Mike McCabe

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Blue Jean Nation 'Treasure in sport, rarity in politics'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Monday, 17 April 2017
in Wisconsin

dick-bennettWisconsin's remarkable success in Basketball is based upon Dick Bennett's five pillars: Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Qualities in short supply elsewhere in the Capitol these days.


ALTOONA, WI - Any idea which college has won the most NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament games in the past four years?

If you’re guessing North Carolina, guess again. If you think it’s Duke, you’re thinking wrong. Kentucky? Incorrect. Kansas? Wrong again. Villanova? Louisville? UCLA? Gonzaga? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The answer is the University of Wisconsin, with 13 tourney wins and four trips to the regional semifinals known as the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four appearances and one run all the way to the national championship game.

The Badgers have made it to the national tournament the last 19 years straight. That streak started under coach Dick Bennett. The program’s remarkable success is built on a foundation of Bennett’s five pillars: HumilityPassionUnityServanthoodThankfulness. In fact, those five words to live by are literally cemented in the foundation of the arena the Badgers call home.

These pillars are nowhere to be seen at the State Capitol. They are conspicuously missing in the behavior of state lawmakers. Three of the secrets to the Badgers’ sustained success on the hardwood are most noticeably absent in the marble corridors of power — humility, unity and servanthood.

Authentic leadership requires humility. Good leaders give credit and take blame. Today’s politicians routinely do the exact opposite.

Unity is indispensable in any team endeavor. If you picture Wisconsin government as a team, then it currently looks like a dysfunctional one. The team’s captains don’t seek unity, they consciously sow seeds of division instead.

Perhaps the ingredient of success that is most scarce in politics nowadays is servanthood. A true public service ethic has withered away. The aims of those who govern mirror the greed and self-centeredness that dominate American life. Those who hold office are supposed to be servants but act like masters. They rule, they don’t serve.

At least they don’t serve the masses. They scratch the backs of a wealthy and privileged few and get their backs scratched in return. They let a few use as much water as they want, to the point of drying up lakes and streams. And they get rewarded for it. They let others pollute as much as they want, to the point of poisoning countless neighbors. They get rewarded for that too. A thousand other transactions just like those are completed and rewards reaped.

When all is said and done, the qualities that have made the Wisconsin men’s basketball program a powerhouse are in terribly short supply in Wisconsin politics. What makes a successful team also makes a successful state. And it’s nowhere to be found in the Capitol these days. Coaches are fired for managing teams the way our state is being managed. Right there is one way life really should imitate sport.

— Mike McCabe

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Blue Jean Nation 'Spreading it thick'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Friday, 07 April 2017
in Wisconsin

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

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Blue Jean Nation 'Casualties mount in the water wars'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Friday, 24 March 2017
in Wisconsin

kewaunee-countyWisconsin sits on the greatest natural resource left in the world, clean fresh water, but the lawmakers who currently control the Capitol allow a privileged few to take as much water as they want and pollute as much as they want, even if it makes us sick.


ALTOONA, WI - Water is the new oil. Plenty of old skirmishes — both political and military — broke out around the world over oil. Water will be the cause of more and more new ones.

Pressure to divert water from the Great Lakes is intensifying. The mighty Colorado River is being siphoned to irrigate cropland and supply thirsty cities from Denver to Phoenix to the point where it now runs dry at its end, no longer reaching the ocean at the Gulf of California as it did for millions of years.

water_drinkingToxic tap water produced human tragedy and a white-hot media spotlight in Flint, Michigan. Far less attention has been paid to the fact that excessive lead levels are found in almost 2,000 water systems across America, including more than 80 communities in Wisconsin. Not many people know that the incidence of lead poisoning of children in Wisconsin is almost exactly the same as the rate found in Flint. Milwaukee’s lead poisoning rate is nearly double Flint’s.

Wisconsin is one of the most water-rich states in the nation. Yet the state’s groundwater is imperiled. Lakes and streams are drying up because of an unchecked proliferation of high-capacity wells for massive animal feedlots and large-scale crop irrigation. Water quality protections have been stripped away due to politicized resource management, resulting in indiscriminate manure spreading by factory farming operations that produces contaminated drinking water in places like Kewaunee County.

It boggles the mind that lawmakers who currently control the Capitol are responding to all of this with efforts to further weaken water protections and make it even easier to get permission to drill high-capacity wells. And it’s hard not to notice that the wealthy interests who want to do all the drilling have been showering large political donations on the governor and state legislators.

Here we have a privileged few being allowed to take as much water as they want, even if it makes lakes and streams and neighbors’ wells dry up. We have a politically connected few being allowed to pollute as much as they want, even if it makes others sick.

That our government is no longer adequately protecting everyone’s right to clean drinking water is a telltale sign of how government has been captured by powerful interests. That politicians are allowing a few big industries to hog all the water or to poison it for others is a measure of how sick our democracy has become.

Oil and water don’t mix, but they do have a lot in common. Both are precious natural resources and both have a way of bringing out the worst in us. Both inspire greed, and both can corrupt. As the water wars escalate, the question is whether greed will govern us or will we summon the wisdom and resolve to make sure what government does when it comes to water is done for the good of the whole of society.

— Mike McCabe

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Blue Jean Nation 'Anatomy of an identity crisis'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 09 March 2017
in Wisconsin

identity-crisisAmerican values? Conservatives and Republicans seem more confident in their beliefs, and they define Democrats by default. Trump is promising both guns and butter. But, what are your core values?


ALTOONA, WI - If my travels over the last several years have taught me anything, it’s that America — or at least our little corner of it here in Wisconsin — is in the midst of an identity crisis. I’ve been given the opportunity to meet with every imaginable kind of group — urban and rural, young and old, haves and have nots and used to haves, white and black and brown, left and right. One time we meet in a church or a school. Another time it’s a bowling alley or tavern. Next time it’s a VFW or American Legion hall. After that, a public library or bookstore.

Everywhere I go, I’m given a chance to share some thoughts. But I also get to ask questions and listen. I’ve asked the same questions at every stop: What are your core values? What do you stand for?

When I talk with conservative or Republican audiences, I’m struck by how quickly and confidently and uniformly they answer. Six themes surface time after time. Less government. Lower taxes. Free market economics. Individual liberty. Old-fashioned family values. Patriotism.

Sometimes the freedom they profess to love seems to clash with their definition of family values. Sometimes their love of country takes the form of military might or homeland security. Other times it comes out sounding like fear or even hatred of foreigners.

When I meet with Democrats or left-leaning groups and ask them my questions, what I typically hear is crickets. I get puzzled looks. Pregnant pauses. A few might bring up issues or causes they care about. I stop them. I ask again. What are your values? What principles form the basis of your positions on issues? Sometimes answers never come, only shrugs. When answers are offered, they generally are neither confident nor uniform.

In the vacuum that forms, Republicans define Democrats by default. Since Republicans say they are for less government and lower taxes, that puts Democrats on the side of more government and higher taxes. This current understanding will probably persist until either Democrats reach a consensus on what values guide them or a blossoming Republican identity crisis reaches full bloom.

Now that the GOP is Donald Trump’s party, the commitment to limited government is fading. Trump is promising both guns and butter, with his demands for a massive military buildup and a trillion-dollar domestic building program. Free trade is giving way to protectionism. Intrusive government authoritarianism is increasingly trespassing on personal freedoms. Both in style and in substance, Trump is at odds with what Reagan-style conservatives consider traditional social values. Those on the right are having a harder and harder time recognizing their party and agreeing on what it should stand for.

So again I ask both Republicans and Democrats: What are your core values?

Here are mine:

  1. Freedom with responsibility. Each individual has a right to be free. But with that right comes an obligation to make sure others are free as well.
  2. Democracy, both political and economic. Both our political system and our economy should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.
  3. Equality. We are all created equal, with inalienable rights. No one starts at third base.
  4. Caretaking. This means looking out for one another, and having each other’s back. It means taking care of the land and water and air.
  5. Service. To community. To country. To each other.

— Mike McCabe

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