Monday March 27, 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 '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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Blue Jean Nation "First things first"

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, 27 February 2017
in Wisconsin

spicer-fbOur freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment have never been more threatened than they are today. We have to stand up for a free press, and a first step is seeing through false choices.


ALTOONA, WI - Forty-five words. That’s all it took for our nation’s founders to grant us five bedrock freedoms. In just 45 words, they gave us freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition our government.

These five freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment have never been more threatened than they are today. Press freedom is under assault as the president brands the news media an “enemy of the American people.” Both of the First Amendment’s religious freedom clauses are being ignored as non-Christians are subjected to increasing discrimination and even targeted for deportation. The first of the two, namely the establishment clause, is disregarded as more and more American taxpayers are being forced to fund religious schools.

Free speech has become anything but free as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech and corporations are citizens with speech rights, thereby blessing unlimited corporate election spending. Lawmakers in states all across the country are now trying to criminalize freedom of assembly and peaceful protest.

These are dangerous and threatening times for the First Amendment. The rise of fake news is a serious threat, but not the only one or even the biggest one. It’s not just that lies are being widely and quickly spread, it’s that a highly organized effort is being made to persuade the public that no news can be trusted, that no one is telling the truth. Journalism is being delegitimized.

Ongoing and escalating attacks on the separation of church and state gravely threaten religious freedom. State-endorsed religion is a small step from state-sponsored religion, which is another small step away from state-imposed religion. Heaven help us if we continue down this road toward the establishment of a state church.

The equating of money and speech is transforming a central First Amendment right into a commodity that must be purchased at great expense. Calls to limit the capacity of the rich and powerful to buy politicians and own our government are savaged as assaults on free speech. We are essentially being told we can try to deal with corruption in government, or we can have free speech, but not both. This is a false choice, and must be seen as such. We can have freedom and democracy. We can guarantee all people the right to speak freely without at the same time granting them a license to buy off our elected representatives and corrupt our government.

Rescuing the First Amendment begins with seeing through such false choices — and ultimately refusing to make them. But for the rescue operation to ultimately succeed, we the people are going to have to prove that the land of the free is truly still the home of the brave. We’re going to have to demonstrate genuine courage in defending dissent and condemning attacks on peaceful protest. We’re going to have to stand up for a free press and make it clear we do not see journalists as our enemies but rather as indispensable defenders of democracy.

If we don’t, those 45 words describing five precious freedoms won’t be worth the parchment they were written on.

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Blue Jean Nation - 'More scaffold than platform'

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, 17 February 2017
in Wisconsin

dems-v-repubThe platforms created by both the Republican and Democratic Parties last year are excessively wordy campaign advertisements with nothing enduring or permanent to say. Neither is likely to satisfy the strong yearning Americans have for a government that serves them for the benefit of all.


ALTOONA, WI - For one week a year, party platforms are relevant . . . to a few thousand people who are delegates to their party’s convention. More than 300 million other Americans pay them no mind that week or any other. The Sunday morning TV news programs don’t examine them. The radio talk show hosts don’t discuss them. After all the balloons and confetti have dropped and the conventions have broken up, even party insiders stop paying any attention to their own platforms. Candidates don’t follow them. Neither do elected office holders as they conduct the public’s business. Anyone willing to actually read the major party platforms can see why.

Reading the platforms is a painful exercise. They are dreadfully long. Page after page induces the gag reflex. They are excessively wordy campaign advertisements aimed at influencing who knows who. What becomes clear as you plow through them is that there is nothing enduring or permanent about them. They really are scaffolds, not platforms.

The Republican scaffold drones on for nearly 60 pages and in it the party declares itself the “Great Opportunity Party.” It takes repeated swipes at President Obama, insisting that for “the past 8 years America has been led in the wrong direction” but making no acknowledgement that Republicans held a majority of seats in Congress and controlled most of the nation’s statehouses for nearly that entire time.

The authors boast the document “lays out — in clear language — the path to making America great and united again.” It goes on to call for everything from “protection against an electromagnetic pulse” to “confronting Internet tyranny.” There’s a section on Africa that touts “AIDS relief under PEPFAR” without explanation. There is a reference to the “Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla” with no description of what the law is or does or fails to do. In another whack at Obama, it refers to the “Solyndra debacle” and assumes readers remember what that was.

The Democratic scaffold runs 45 pages and contains a whole section on the Postal Service and addresses everything from reforming the criminal justice system to promoting arts and culture. It is chock full of platitudes, proclaiming for example that “bridges are better than walls” and offering a “simple but powerful idea: we are stronger together.”

As the Republicans repeatedly took shots at the man who was president, Democrats directed their gaze at the man who would replace him in the Oval Office, with declarations such as “Donald Trump may talk tough, but he has consistently outsourced his own products.”

Considering how little attention politicians pay to American territories such as Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, it seems odd that both party scaffolds discuss them at length.  Neither actually says much, but both spill a lot of ink saying it. The Republicans call for “Puerto Rico’s future admission as the 51st state of the Union” but reject the idea of statehood for the District of Columbia. The Democrats stop short of promising statehood to Puerto Rico or any other U.S. territory while supporting statehood for D.C.

Reading the two documents, one thing that becomes clear is that the Democratic establishment was very comfortable and satisfied with its 2016 presidential nominee, the Republican establishment not so much. In the GOP scaffold, a disclaimer is very prominently displayed saying the document was “Not Authorized By Any Candidate Or Candidate’s Committee.” The Democrats saw no need to include such a disclaimer.

What Democrats spent more than 26,000 words to say and what took Republicans over 35,000 words to express is not likely to satisfy the strong yearning Americans have for a party that could plausibly stand on a platform that can be summed up in one sentence: The will of the people is the law of the land, and what government does is done for the benefit of the whole of society.

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Blue Jean Nation "Messaging isn’t half the solution"

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, 10 February 2017
in Wisconsin

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.

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