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Russ Feingold: 'Making Our Votes Meaningless?' PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Russ Feingold   
Tuesday, 28 March 2017 11:09

merrick-garland-scotusAs Republicans in Washington move to substitute their own Supreme Court pick under Trump for President Obama's, the very legitimacy of our democratic system is at stake. Stand up for the legitimacy of our Supreme Court.


MIDDLETON, WI - Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election by approximately 5 million votes. Donald Trump lost the 2016 election by approximately 3 million.

neil-gorsuchSo when Republicans block President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court for nearly a year in order to install their own pick under Trump, they completely undermine the meaning and weight of the votes all those Americans cast.

And undermining the meaning of our votes undermines not just the legitimacy of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court -- but the very legitimacy of our democratic system itself.

Stand for the legitimacy of our Supreme Court and our democracy. Sign the LegitAction petition opposing President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee today.

Real signs are emerging that Republicans won’t be able to move past a filibuster (or eliminate the filibuster itself) if Democrats and Independents draw a line in the sand here. We need to show Democratic and Independent senators that we’ll have their backs if they stand for us.

Thank you for standing up for our democratic legitimacy,

Russ Feingold

 
‘Alt facts’ Promote Fear of Foreigners PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive   
Sunday, 26 March 2017 08:41

statue-of-libertyDon't let baseless fear and lies stand between us and our new neighbors and friends.


HOWARD - These days there are so many “alternative facts” being generated for the sole purpose of making people afraid. Especially troubling to me is the fear of foreigners. The belief that refugees and immigrants are dangerous. Although fears are not new, they are based on misinformation and lies. It’s untrue that refugees are not screened before entering the country, and that banning them will keep the U.S. safe from terror. Refugees undergo more rigorous screenings than any other individuals the government allows in the U.S. As a matter of fact, we know that in the past 30 years not a single death in the U.S. has been attributed to people from the countries covered by Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders banning Muslims.

It’s untrue that immigrants are violent or criminal. In actuality, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born citizens. Research shows higher levels of immigration may even have contributed to the historic drop in crime rates. It’s untrue that immigrants don’t want to learn English. Over 50 percent of first-generation immigrants speak English “well” or “very well,” and more immigrants want to learn English than classes can accommodate.

It’s untrue immigrants and refugees are somehow not like us. They’re students in search of an education. They’re families trying to make ends meet. They’re our neighbors, our friends.

They’re Americans.

- Laura Kiefert

 
Trump-Ryan Care Suffers Stunning Defeat PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig   
Saturday, 25 March 2017 09:42

paul-ryan-sadMILWAUKEE - It was one of the greatest victories for American democracy in years when Donald Trump and Paul Ryan were forced to pull their dangerous health care replacement bill just minutes before the scheduled vote.

Against all odds, and without power in Washington, average citizens stopped Trump and Ryan dead in their tracks!

A few short months ago, pundits thought that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was a foregone conclusion. If it was not for the unprecedented democratic resistance in Wisconsin and across the country, they would have been right.

Right-wing talk show hosts are already spinning that the crash and burn of Trump-Ryan Care had nothing to do with grassroots protests. But it is well known the Republican leadership was trying to rush the bill through because they were afraid of coming home to face their own constituents during the next Congressional recess.

While this victory should renew our faith in the potential of American democracy, we need to understand that we won a major battle, but have not yet won the war.

I am proud to say that Citizen Action of Wisconsin is leading the charge against the unthinkably cruel attack on health care rights. We turned up the pressure on House Republicans this week by holding 10 major organizing actions across Wisconsin.

This is far from over. We must gather our energies for the next stage of the fight. We need to keep on fighting until we have established health care as a fundamental right in America--once and for all.

******

We need your help. We can continue to organize a powerful opposition if we have the resources.

Make an express donation to fund this effort by clicking here.

 
Blue Jean Nation "Casualties mount in the water wars" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Friday, 24 March 2017 17:48

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

Last Updated on Friday, 24 March 2017 18:10
 
Erpenbach - More Accountability Needed for Taxpayer Funds at King Nursing Home PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District   
Friday, 17 March 2017 16:20

veteran-olderFunds provided by families and the federal government for the care of our nursing home residents should be used at the veteran nursing homes first.


MADISON - Caring for our veterans is one of the most sacred duties we work to achieve as a state. We have been entrusted by the Federal government to care for elderly and disabled veterans and their spouses at our veteran nursing homes. These facilities should have the gold standard of care. Unfortunately, like many other operations of the state, infrastructure and maintenance delays and failures have affected the lives of those in our nursing homes, most notable at the Veterans Home at King. This is NOT a money problem. Even when state finances were tight just after the recession, the veteran nursing homes have been building surplus of funds.

While the federal government has decided not to limit how states can spend surplus revenues, we can still make the right choices here in Wisconsin and invest in our veteran care with money that was paid to care for veterans. The first step in that process is taking back control of transfers out of the veteran nursing home surplus fund. Currently about $35 million of revenue sits in this surplus fund. This money can be transferred out of the fund at any time not by the Legislature, but by a political appointee, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The only way the Legislature even knows about the transfers are because of a statutory required annual report to the Legislature on the Veterans Fund.

Why does the veteran’s nursing Home fund have a surplus? These revenues are derived from an exemption from the nursing home bed tax, the federal per diem paid to facilities for the care of veterans, federal service related disability payments made for the care of disabled veterans, the higher state rate for reimbursement for Medicaid, and private payment from veterans and their families.

The 2013 budget included language that allowed for unlimited transfers from the veterans nursing home fund into the Veterans Fund without Legislative approval. The Legislature added JFC passive review, but the Governor vetoed it. DVA can now transfer, at any time, surplus from our state veteran’s nursing homes facilities. Unfortunately, turning back the clock and granting facility upgrade requests is not an option. $18.5 million in facility improvements in the last state budget were zero funded by Governor Walker. Our only choice as a Legislature is to move forward. That is why I am proposing a bill to reestablish Legislative oversight of all funding for the veterans homes. The DVA will transfer a total of $21 million away from the Veterans Nursing Homes just this biennium. Passing the buck on financial oversight is wrong.

A state that supports their veterans spends state money for programs for veterans and does not use money meant for the care and comfort in nursing homes for agency administration and rent. Funds provided by families and the federal government for the care of our nursing home residents should be used at the veteran nursing homes first.

For more information on the Veterans Fund please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 March 2017 16:33
 
Bewley - Ready to Help Wherever Needed PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Janet Bewley Press, State Senator Dist 25   
Saturday, 11 March 2017 11:35

girl_scoutsOn National Girl Scouts Day, March 12, 2017


ASHLAND, WI - One of the things I enjoy most about being a State Senator is visiting local schools to talk with fourth graders about state government. I always try and include time for questions and answers. Fourth graders can be very curious. I get lots of questions about my family – do I have children, did I have brothers and sisters – and my preferences – what’s my favorite color, do I like dogs, cats, or lizards? (I like turtles.)

janet-bewleySometimes you get a question you’re not expecting, a question that throws you for a loop. Earlier this month, after fielding questions about how old I am and if I know any famous people, a student raised her hand and asked “why do you do it?”

I must have paused long enough for her to realize I wasn’t sure what she meant, so she added “why did you want to be a Senator?” And the answer that immediately came to mind was to help. So that’s what I told her. “Like the Girl Scouts,” she replied. I didn’t have lots of time to think about it at the time, as other students had more questions for me to answer. But she was right.

This week offered me another opportunity to both think and talk about what it means to help. On Wednesday, Representative Mary Felzkowski and I hosted a “Troop Meeting” at the State Capitol in honor of 105th anniversary of the founding of the Girl Scouts of America. Over those 105 years, Girl Scouting has helped millions of girls and women build the courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place.

The continued influence of Girl Scouting is evident by the strength of the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Alliance, which represents 56,000 girl members and 17,000 adult volunteers. Girls from every part of the state came to Madison to celebrate and receive awards for their accomplishments. I was proud to join with Representative Felzkowski and other colleagues to welcome these young women to the Capitol.

As I was thinking about what I would say, I remembered the words of the Girl Scout motto that I recited as a young girl back in Cleveland. “Be Prepared. A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency."

Ready to help out wherever needed. Those are good words to live by. Words that are just as important today as they were in 1947 when the Girl Scouts adopted the motto. I have often talked about my admiration for the men and women who got us through the Second World War and rebuilt our country after the Depression.

I learned this week that the Girls Scouts also helped the war effort. Instead of selling cookies, they sold special calendars and war bonds, tended victory gardens, and scrapped metals and fat to be reused.

We are lucky we live in much safer times. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the Girl Scouts in some way on March 12th – support a local troop by buying an extra box of cookies, take a moment and encourage a young girl you know, find a way to help someone who needs it.

 
Blue Jean Nation "Anatomy of an identity crisis" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 09 March 2017 14:16

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

 
VP Mike Pence Visits Janesville to Speak on Obamacare PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning   
Friday, 03 March 2017 15:24

aca-workingMany people around here want and need important parts of the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans still have no plan of their own to replace it.


JANESVILLE - Vice President Mike Pence was here today with other top Republicans to unite his party around a replacement of Obamacare.

It is very telling that Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Secretary Price spent more time in invite-only meetings than speaking to regular Wisconsinites who are afraid that their health care will be taken away from them.

martha-laningIf they had spoken to a family no longer under a mountain of debt from medical bills, a part-time teacher who can finally afford preventative care, or a recent college graduate who no longer goes to sleep at night praying they don't get sick, they'd know that the Affordable Care Act is helping millions of our friends, families, and neighbors.

mike-penceThe fact is that the ACA is more popular than ever after helping 150 million Americans with pre-existing conditions gain crucial health care coverage, increasing mental health and substance abuse health coverage substantially, and insuring millions of young adults who can now stay on their parent's health insurance until age 26.

Republicans still have no plan of their own to insure the millions of Americans who got access to lifesaving health care under the ACA. And the few ideas they have put on the table would lead to worse care that is harder to get and more expensive.

Instead of trying to rip coverage away from Americans, we should be working to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and finding ways to expand access to affordable health care.

****

Martha Laning is the Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 March 2017 15:53
 
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign "Gableman’s partisanship" PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Matt Rothschild   
Thursday, 02 March 2017 16:54

michael_gablemanWe look at Justice Michael Gableman speaks at GOP fundraiser, Citizens United, a new “Influence Peddler of the Month”, and Trump & Fascism.


MADISON - It’s been a busy week so far.

We got a tip from one of our members that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is no longer even pretending to be nonpartisan, so we checked it out and it’s true:

Gableman, Club for Growth leader to speak at GOP fundraiser

We also noted that GOP legislators are on board with the effort to amend the U.S. Constitution – not to overturn Citizens United– but to foolishly require a balanced budget:

Wisconsin GOP backs article V convention. No Dems allowed!

For our “Influence Peddler of the Month,” we dug up a group you may never even have heard of:

Influence peddler of the month - Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association

And we just unveiled our handy primer on Fascism and Donald Trump: “A guide for study and resistance.” Feel free to share it far and wide:

New feature: Trump & Fascism

Thanks for taking a look!

Best, as always,

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

*****

Learn more about the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign at www.wisdc.org.

 
Trump Throws Another $54 Billion at War PDF Print E-mail
Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 09:44

vietnamwarPoliticians like Trump shovel praise upon our military, but feel that they, themselves, were too good to serve. It is time they learn the lessons of history. Wars do not beget peace.


TUCSON, AZ - Americans how long will it take for us to understand we have been “had?”

It is family, school, faith and community members who help each generation learn it is better to talk to people than fight, kill and destroy. These are the great Americans.

donald-trumpI am repulsed by so many politicians like Mr. Trump who shovel praise upon our military but who, themselves, feel they are too good to serve our Nation.

Nearly all the wars since WWII have been illegal wars of aggression under our Constitution, United Nations Charter and treaties. Yet the military, CIA, presidents like Bush, Obama and Trump and individual Congressional members keep howling for blood.

Did the Romans stamp out Christianity by all their killing? Did the US win in Vietnam by killing a million Vietnamese? Are we winning the hearts and minds of Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, or North Africans by killing their families, lovers, babies and friends by the hundreds of thousands?

I say no! You cannot kill ideas with a bullet. Thinking human beings know that.

When Democratic and Republican presidential candidates call out “We will hunt down and kill all Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc. members and their families” we know our Nation is being run by idiots.

Or, is it being run by lying actors who push wars for the benefit of the military/industrial/politician complex that makes big bucks off of continuous war?

On Nov. 6, 2018 we will elect a new Congress (all the House members and 33 senators will be up for election.) Is it time to throw the bums out, keep the few good ones and start turning America into a Nation of peace builders and turn our backs on war mongering?

Take your choice on Nov. 6th. And if you choose continuous war, get ready to donate your sons and daughters to war’s meat grinding machine – the draft will return because the American volunteer military is broken.

Trump and fools in Congress can throw another $54 billion on top of the $600 billion the Pentagon already gets for more tools of war. But the military system is broken and cannot be fixed with more dollars.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 11:02
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