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Jim Jordan's Controversial Path: From Capitol Hill to Global Implications

Posted by Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert lives in Howard and is a Partner in the Green Bay Progressive. Mem
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on Wednesday, 11 October 2023
in Wisconsin

jim-jordan-2023As he runs for Speaker, a Green Bay progressive discusses Jim Jordan and his dubious qualifications.

GREEN BAY - I've spent a considerable amount of time diving into the world of politics, observing individuals and their actions. Jim Jordan, a Congressman from Ohio, has caught my attention on numerous occasions, but for all the wrong reasons. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, the actions and behavior of Jim Jordan raise serious concerns about his integrity, both as an individual and as a representative of the American people.

1. The Ohio State Scandal

First, let's talk about the Ohio State scandal. During his tenure as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, there were allegations of sexual misconduct by the team doctor, Richard Strauss. Multiple wrestlers have come forward, claiming that they reported the abuse to Jordan, and he did nothing. It's deeply concerning that someone in a position of power and responsibility could overlook or ignore such grave allegations. If these claims are true, it reflects a lack of moral responsibility on his part.

2. The Freedom Caucus and Ideological Extremism

Jim Jordan is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group that has often been criticized for its hardline stance and resistance to compromise. While it's essential to hold onto one's beliefs, it's equally important to understand the necessity of collaboration in a democratic system. Jordan's approach with the Freedom Caucus has been about digging in heels, often at the cost of progress and to the detriment of the American people.

3. The "Big Lie" and January 6

trump-insurgents3One of the most concerning aspects of Jordan's political career is his support for the "Big Lie" – the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. By perpetuating this unfounded claim, he contributed to the events that led up to the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. This wasn't just about a differing opinion or political strategy; this was about undermining the very foundation of our democracy: the belief in free and fair elections.

4. Boehner's "Terrorist" Remark

John Boehner, a fellow Republican and former Speaker of the House, referred to Jordan as a "legislative terrorist." This strong descriptor from someone within his own party highlights the divisive and confrontational tactics Jordan employs. It's alarming when a colleague feels compelled to use such language.

5. Liz Cheney's Perspective

Liz Cheney, another Republican representative, has been vocal about the importance of truth and integrity within the GOP. While she didn't call out Jordan by name, her insistence on holding members accountable for perpetuating the "Big Lie" and for their roles in the events leading up to January 6 speaks volumes. When individuals within the same party voice concerns, it's essential to sit up and take note.

6. Opposition to Bipartisanship

One of the pillars of a successful democracy is the ability of politicians from opposing sides to come together for the greater good. However, Jordan has frequently shown a lack of interest in bipartisanship. For instance, he voted against the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. This was a deal crafted by both parties to prevent another government shutdown and increase spending caps. Voting against such a measure demonstrates an unwillingness to work across the aisle for the nation's benefit.

7. Disregard for Health Care

In 2017, Jordan was at the forefront of pushing for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a clear replacement. The ACA, for all its controversies, provided millions of Americans with health coverage. Advocating for its repeal without a comprehensive replacement plan shows a disregard for the well-being of many citizens.

8. Skepticism on Climate Change

In a time when the majority of scientists worldwide are raising alarm bells about climate change, Jordan's position remains skeptical. He's made statements questioning the human role in global warming and has consistently voted against environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions. At a time when urgent action is needed, such a stance is both radical and dangerous.

9. Contempt for Congressional Oversight

Jordan has often been in the spotlight for his combative stance during Congressional hearings, especially those aiming to hold individuals accountable. Whether it was during the impeachment hearings for former President Donald Trump or questioning witnesses during the Benghazi hearings, Jordan's aggressive approach often seemed more about creating a spectacle than genuine oversight.

10. Stance on Gun Control

In the wake of numerous tragic mass shootings in the U.S., there have been widespread calls for tighter gun control to prevent further loss of life. However, Jordan remains an ardent defender of expansive gun rights. He has consistently opposed measures such as universal background checks, which have broad public support.

11. Obsession with Impeaching Joe Biden

Since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Jim Jordan has been vociferously vocal about impeaching him. This isn't based on clear evidence of high crimes or misdemeanors – the Constitutional requirement for impeachment – but appears to be more of a political vendetta. It's important to understand that impeachment is a grave and consequential process that shouldn't be used as a tool for political retribution. Using such a critical constitutional tool in this manner undermines its gravity and can erode the public's trust in our democratic processes.

12. Relentless Pursuit of Hunter Biden

Jim Jordan's interest in Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, has also raised eyebrows. While it's essential for politicians to be held accountable, there's a thin line between legitimate inquiry and political witch-hunting. The relentless focus on Hunter Biden, especially in the absence of concrete evidence of wrongdoing tied to Joe Biden, has often been viewed as a retaliatory move, especially in light of the investigations into former President Donald Trump and his associates. This pattern of "tit for tat" politics isn't what our nation needs. Instead of focusing on genuine issues affecting everyday Americans, such distractions serve to further polarize and divide.

13. The Prospect of Jordan as Speaker of the House

The role of the Speaker of the House is one of great significance. As the leader of the House of Representatives, the Speaker wields considerable influence over the legislative agenda, and they play a pivotal role in guiding the nation's policies. With Jim Jordan's track record, his ascension to this role could be problematic for several reasons.

Given his history of deeply partisan behavior and confrontational tactics, Jordan as Speaker might further deepen the divide in an already polarized political landscape. Instead of fostering an environment of collaboration and bipartisanship, there's a genuine concern that under his leadership, the House could become even more fractious.

Moreover, his penchant for pursuing personal vendettas and retaliatory politics, as seen in his obsession with impeaching Joe Biden and investigating Hunter Biden, raises questions about his ability to prioritize the nation's needs over personal or partisan grudges.

The Speaker's role is also to represent the House on the national and international stage. Given Jordan's controversial stances on various issues, from climate change skepticism to his association with the "Big Lie" about the 2020 election, having him as a representative voice could send the wrong message about where America stands on critical global issues.

14. Jordan's Stance on Ukraine: A Dangerous Path

Last, but certainly not least, is Jim Jordan’s vow to not to fund Ukraine. In the complex web of international relations, Ukraine holds a crucial position, particularly given its ongoing conflict with Russia and its strategic importance to Europe and NATO allies.

By vowing not to fund Ukraine, Jordan not only undermines a key ally in a volatile region but also sends a message that the U.S. might be wavering in its commitments to its allies. This could embolden adversaries, such as Russia, to take more aggressive stances, knowing that Ukraine might lack the support it needs from powerful allies like the U.S.

The repercussions of such a decision could be manifold:

Increased Instability in Eastern Europe: A less-supported Ukraine might be more vulnerable to external pressures and aggressions, leading to increased instability in the region.

Strain on NATO: U.S. commitment to its allies is a cornerstone of NATO. By not supporting Ukraine, it could strain relations within the alliance and raise questions about the U.S.'s commitment to collective defense.

Loss of U.S. Credibility: Other allies around the world, seeing the U.S. not stand firmly by Ukraine, might begin to doubt America's reliability. This could weaken diplomatic ties and make international collaborations more challenging.

Potential Humanitarian Crisis: A less secure Ukraine could face intensified conflict, leading to potential humanitarian crises, with increased displacements of people and civilian casualties.

Strengthening of Adversaries: A weakened alliance between the U.S. and Ukraine might embolden not only Russia but other global powers looking to challenge U.S. dominance in various regions.

Wrapping Up

laura-kiefert-2018In the intricate dance of international diplomacy, every decision, every stance taken, sends ripples across the global stage. Jordan's vow against funding Ukraine isn't just about one country; it's about upholding the values, commitments, and strategic interests of the U.S. on the global front. It's a dangerous path, one that could have repercussions far beyond the borders of Ukraine, affecting the very fabric of global geopolitics and America's place within it. We need leaders who understand these nuances and act with foresight, ensuring that the U.S. remains a strong, reliable force for good in the world.Leadership positions, especially one as crucial as the Speaker of the House, require individuals who can rise above party lines, unify differing factions, and work towards the collective good of the nation. Based on Jim Jordan's past actions and stances, there's a genuine concern that his leadership might steer the House, and by extension, the nation, in a direction that amplifies division rather than healing it. The American people deserve leadership that is balanced, thoughtful, and prioritizes the well-being of its citizens above all else.

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Your Vote, Your Voice

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 11 October 2023
in Wisconsin

voting-dropboxSenator Smith talks about bills that protect and expand access to the right to vote and how they will positively impact the ease of voting.

MADISON - Over the past several weeks, I joined several colleagues in the State Senate and State Assembly in introducing legislation to remove barriers to voting. From encouraging young voters’ participation to allowing voters the chance to override unpopular policies, we believe that the People’s ability to be heard should not be restricted by politicians who choose to ignore the People’s will.

Let’s start with a longtime favorite of mine, automatic voter registration. While the process of registering to vote is relatively easy, some people have a misconception that it is a complex process and decide not to even try.

univ-student-voteOur legislation would eliminate one hurdle by acknowledging that U.S. citizens of a certain age should be automatically registered to vote. If a young man is required to register for the draft when he turns eighteen, he deserves a voice for electing the people who determine military policy. If your life is regulated by actions taken by legislators (and it is), you should be automatically registered to vote in support of the candidate you think aligns with your best interests.

Our Voter Protection Act would make that a reality. Any interaction with a state agency, be it getting a driver’s license, getting a marriage license or registering property, would also automatically register you to vote.

Another barrier to voting is simply not being aware of the times and places you can do so. The Voter Protection Act would require local governments to clearly post voting locations, times and how to vote. It would also severely restrict voter suppression and intimidation, which discourage people from voting through spreading disinformation or threatening voters.

Another piece of the puzzle is voter education. The Voter Protection Act would provide important information about voting to high school students and prepare them for the responsibility they will gain when they turn eighteen.

It’s important we also encourage better knowledge of the voting process itself. Transparency helps all citizens understand the careful security measures taken by election administrators to safeguard the integrity of our elections. Another bill we introduced would require training for election observers so they have a firm understanding of how the process they are observing is meant to play out.

vote-poll-workersAnother bill in the package would require anyone holding elected state office to also work at a polling location during elections in which they are not a candidate. It’s important for those who make the laws poll workers follow have a worm’s-eye view of our voting procedures.

Your voice cannot be heard if you can’t get to the polling place at the designated date or times. Our legislation would make Election Day a legal state holiday. While this would only apply to state employers, we hope this signals to private businesses the importance of ensuring their employees have the opportunity to vote on Election Day.

jeff-smithEvery one of our lives is directly impacted by the decisions elected officials make, and every citizen deserves to have a say. That’s why we believe it’s reasonable to restore the right to vote for certain persons barred from voting while serving their probation or parole sentences. Rehabilitation through community reentry programs should also include the opportunity to participate in our democracy as a voter.

We are also advocating for repealing restrictions imposed on local governments for advisory referenda questions. To strengthen the People’s voice, we have introduced the Power to the People resolution. This gives people the ability to initiate binding referenda, in which voters may advance ballot initiatives to change policies that are popular with voters but for whatever reason have been ignored by the People’s representatives.

Your vote matters. With this package, we hope to help build a Wisconsin in which your right to express your opinion through your vote will never be restricted or withheld.

Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 04 October 2023
in Wisconsin

working-women-aflcioSenator Smith reflects on the importance of union jobs and fair wages to building a strong middle class and giving every Wisconsinite the quality of life they deserve.

MADISON - This past weekend, I was proud to stand with United Auto Workers in Hudson, who are among those striking for fair wages and better working conditions. I was inspired and galvanized to be there as workers stood up for long-overdue wage increases, cost of living adjustments and job security.

As corporate profits skyrocket, wages for workers have not kept pace. Auto workers, who accepted a wage freeze during the 2008 financial crisis, have seen their wages drop by more than 20% in the past two decades when adjusted for inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also gave up cost of living adjustments, which are increasingly important as the cost of living soars.

Meanwhile, CEOs’ salaries are sky-high. General Motors CEO Mary Barra made nearly $29 million in 2022. That’s 362 times the median GM employee’s earnings, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With the successful conclusion of the writer’s strike, we’ve seen very recent victories in bargaining for a better standard of living. As automation becomes increasingly efficient, the workforce is changing at a rapid rate. It’s important that worker protections keep pace.

union-workersIn the sixties when I was growing up, union membership was common. I grew up near the Uniroyal Factory, the paper mill was close and Presto was just a couple of miles north. Many of the kids I grew up with had a parent who worked in one of those places.

Their parents could support their families because they earned union wages and benefits. It was an era where working families could depend on an income that sustained a comfortable quality of life.

The union jobs in our community provided our neighbors with a chance to feel secure in their lifestyle and build Eau Claire’s middle class. On union wages, it was possible for a middle-class family to own a cabin up north, to take a couple of weeks off for a family vacation or a week off during deer hunting season. It was common for families to have one parent working outside the home and one inside the home.

This is not necessarily the norm now. These days, it’s increasingly difficult for workers to have that quality of life. Between rising cost of living and stagnating wages, often both parents need to have a job outside the home in order to make ends meet.

Children today deserve the kind of childhood my neighbors had growing up, with parents who are paid fairly for the work they do and have time to devote to their families.

jeff-smithBut decreasing rates of union membership make it hard for parents to have that time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2022, only 11.3 percent of workers were represented by a union. While the overall number of union members went up, the percentage of workers represented by a union went down, as non-union jobs were added at a faster rate than union jobs.

Unionization is about quality of life. By striking for better wages and a higher standard of living, union workers are building back that quality of life we have lost in recent decades. We’ve got to get it back.

Anti-union politicians turned this state upside down and backwards by gutting public sector unions twelve years ago, and their attacks on unions have continued since then. They say they support families, but won’t support the policies that make families thrive. Every worker deserves a good quality of life and the opportunity to make their family prosper.

Work gives us dignity, but only when we are paid fairly for the work we do. We can’t afford to let workers fall by the wayside. Rather than continuing to let corporate profits rise, we should compensate workers for the success they helped create with better working conditions, stronger pay and better benefits. We should stand in solidarity, with fairness and equity our goal.

Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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The Shell Game of Politics

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 27 September 2023
in Wisconsin

shell-game-youtubeThe legislative process should involve deliberation and public hearings on proposals before the body, but it’s easy to manipulate. Sen. Smith writes about the “shell game” Republicans play to divert attention from their true agenda.

MADISON - If you’re not familiar with the phrase “shell game,” it’s a trick as old as the hills. A fast-talking swindler places three shells (or cups) on a table and places a ball underneath one of them.

While they distract you with a lot of talk, they quickly move the shells around, too fast to track. Then they ask you to choose under which shell the ball is hidden. If you pick the correct one, you win the prize.

But often your eye has lost track of the moving shells, the fraudster has already pocketed the ball and there is no longer any chance of winning this rigged game. In many ways, politics can be a shell game. It’s certainly full of a lot of fast talking and a lot of misdirection.

For example, take the recent proposal offered by Republicans to fund refurbishing the publically-owned stadium leased to the Milwaukee Brewers. Keep in mind that the owner of the Brewers is a billionaire and the team itself is worth $1.6 billion.

assembly-wi-robin-vosDespite this, Republicans released a proposal offering nearly $700 million to upgrade the stadium. It sure sounds good that $400 million on that is projected to come from the income tax paid by ballplayers.

But remove the $400 million in revenue from players’ income taxes and Wisconsinites are left on the hook to make up the difference.  That means $400 million not going to pay the state’s financial obligations –revenue for local governments, police, fire protection and more.

The Legislature passed historic changes to our shared revenue formula this year, and authorized cash-strapped Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee the ability to raise sales taxes.

This deal eats into that progress by forcing taxpayers to ante up for the Brewers beautification project. Despite complaining about “government handouts,” they sure do seem eager to support one.

(Oh – and while you’re distracted by that, the plan also removes the local members from the stadium district board. But don’t pay attention to that.)

Another shell game involves gerrymandering. As I described in last week’s column, the Republicans who have maintained their majority by drawing themselves into safe districts have suddenly discovered the “Iowa Model” of redistricting.

Never mind that there have been considerable innovations since that 2013 model was introduced. Or that nonpartisan groups have spent years gathering public input about our legislative maps and they do not support this proposal.

Using language like “nonpartisan” to distract, Republicans don’t want you to notice that they conveniently and surreptitiously omitted safeguards against politicians manipulating legislative district boundaries to stay in power.

But when a swindler sees that you may be catching onto their act, they get even more desperate.

we_wisconsin_senateFor several years now, Republicans have rammed through legislation without genuine debate or public input. Their redistricting proposal is the latest and best example. They introduced it on a Tuesday, voted it through the Assembly on Thursday without holding a public hearing or asking for any public feedback.

jeff-smithThis is the shell game Republicans have been playing for quite a while. Even when a bill gets a committee hearing, Republican legislators have avoided debate and possible amendments in committee by voting with a paper ballot rather than holding in-person meeting(s).

This is one of the most frustrating parts of my job. The Legislature is a deliberative body. It’s our job to debate and discuss legislation and listen to our constituents’ thoughts about potential laws before us. Reducing public access to this process subverts the very work we are sent to Madison to do.

This process may seem boring, but lulling the voters to sleep makes the Republican shell game even slicker. For the unscrupulous, it’s easy to distract citizens with rhetoric so we don’t even notice when they cast debate aside and pull a fast one without public input.

Keep your eye on the ball and tune out the rhetoric.

Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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Continued Gerrymandering Games

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 20 September 2023
in Wisconsin

assembly-wi-robin-vosSenator Smith discusses recent developments in the fight for fair maps and how we can approach redistricting with an eye to incorporating public comment and lessons learned from other states.

MADISON - The most common question I get as a state legislator is "Can't you all just work together?" In this terribly divided country we're living in, that's a big ask. But it's abundantly clear that people want their elected officials to work things out together.

Last week we were treated to the perfect illustration of why we aren't working together. The Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Vos (R-Burlington) called a press conference in the middle of a floor session on Tuesday for an important announcement. Of course we were all curious what the import ant announcement might be, so I went to the room to find out. As it turned out, Speaker Vos announced he had come to the realization that Wisconsin needed to adopt a redistricting plan like what Iowa had. He wanted us to know that he had been thinking about this over the weekend.

After over a decade of continual opposition, the Speaker's epiphany was shocking to say the least. Wisconsin has gerrymandered political maps that heavily favor Republicans. Only a reformed system of redistricting where legislators don't approve their own maps would cure this problem, and this isn't it.

The Iowa redistricting law was the standard-bearer back when I joined Representative Spencer Black to introduce redistricting reform in 2009. As the Assembly Committee on Elections Chair at the time, I was there when we held our first and only public hearing on the bill. It's common for legislation to take a couple tries and plenty of public input before it becomes law. But sadly, after Republicans took control of the Governor's office and both houses of the Legislature and approved maps heavily lopsided in favor of Republicans, there was zero chance of redistricting reform.

janet-protasiewiczWhile Speaker Vos has been conjuring a path to redistricting reform, he was issuing threats to impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz before she takes any action on the court. Now the Speaker is convening a secret panel of former justices to help justify his decision to start an impeachment proceeding of Justice Protasiewicz, who was elected by an 11% margin (a landslide in Wisconsin politics).

Speaker Vos is using an outdated version of the bill from 2013 for a reason. The bill I authored in 2021 would draw maps and approve them in the most nonpartisan way allowed under current law. If the Speaker and other Republicans cared about redistricting, they could have made a good-faith effort to reach out to those of us who have been working on this issue for years. If they had done so, they would've known that in response to public input and other states' innovations, we are seeking to further update the bill in preparation for 2030. My co-author, Representative Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish B ay) and I are engaging good-government stakeholders to create a new Wisconsin model of redistricting modeled from all the other states that have passe d redistricting reform.

jeff-smith-2022Those constituents who ask why we can't work together might be best answered by pointing out that the powerful majority party isn't interested in what the minority party has to offer. There have been no public hearings and no inclusion or consideration of ideas from anyone else. We used to hold in-person executive sessions during the committee process, a time to introduce amendments and learn about the motivation each senator had for attempting t o fix or change a bill. Now committee chairs send members a paper ballot fo r us to vote either yes or no on bills they choose are worthy in their mind to move forward. You may wonder why we can't work together, but we aren't even given a chance to work together in committee. We hardly know each other.

What you are seeing in the news these days is a direct result of unaccountable legislators who are gerrymandered into power with no concern that they must answer to you. The Speaker's ultimatum - adopt his unvetted bill continuing his Party's control or he will impeach Justice Janet Protasiewicz - leaves Wisconsin in a "Vos-tage" situation.

Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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