Monday, September 27, 2010

Advancing Wisconsin hiring

An organization I once had the great fortune of working for is now hiring.

Advancing Wisconsin, a non-profit advocacy campaign group, is now hiring field canvassers to help spread the word door-to-door about progressive candidates up for election this year.

The job -- and it is HIGHLY rewarding -- would entail going to on-the-fence voters' doors and asking them to consider the progressive candidates in races that are up for grabs. There would be no persuasion of voters whose minds have already been made up -- if someone is already convinced either way, there's no point in using this time to either preach to the choir or talk to someone who's ears are not listening. Rather, the target group is undecided voters who need to hear what the candidates stand for.

So if you're interested in signing up for Advancing Wisconsin, please visit their website or go to their Facebook page.

Who's worse for Wisconsin? Scott Walker or Ron Johnson? (PART I)

Two candidates in particular, gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker and senatorial candidate Ron Johnson, both Republicans, are stark examples of how bad the GOP has really gotten in the past few years. The first represents the Republican Party's growing tendency to field candidates who are grossly incompetent at what they do when they enter government; the second represents another trend of Republican-sponsored candidates, who are becoming more and more clueless it seems of this year's campaign issues by each passing week.


Friday, September 24, 2010

"Enthusiasm" gap ruining chances for "change"

The people are fed up. They are sick and tired of Democrats, and mad enough to vote every single one of them out of office in order to make their point.

But if there's one thing the people hate more than Democrats right now it's -- Republicans.

A new poll confirms it. While 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the job performance of Congressional Democrats, Republicans in Congress are getting an even worse grade -- a 68 percent disapproval. In other words, more than two out of every three Americans feels that the GOP is doing a poor job. Many Americans think that President Barack Obama is doing poorly as well. But former President George W. Bush and potential Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin receive even lower marks than Obama, indicating that more Americans are fed up with Republicans than Democrats.

Despite a stronger distaste for Republicans among the American people, Democrats are still likely to lose seats come November. Nearly sixty percent of those who identified themselves as oppositional to Democrats say they have a strong interest in the outcome of this midterm election, while only about four in ten who support the Dems and Obama say the same.

That "enthusiasm" gap could spell disaster for Democrats. With more conservatives coming to the polls, revved up and ready to "take back"/"take away" Congress, and with less progressives having that same enthusiasm, there's no doubt that the GOP is going to prevail this year, possibly taking both chambers as a result.

The vast majority of Americans, however, don't support the Republican Party or its principles. Most Americans either support Obama or wish he'd move further left -- the number of Americans who think he's too liberal are simply a substantial minority.


When we won in 2008, "change" was our rallying cry. Many of us, however, were content to make our voices heard but to never speak up afterward. Change doesn't take place in a singular event -- the world doesn't change substantially because one man gets elected president. Change requires a social movement, an entire community of people coming together, frequently, to demand boldness in our nation's policies.

Gandhi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." If we are to exact the change we want for this nation, we have to do more than sit and gripe about things. We have to take to the streets, demand it out loud, fire ourselves up, and show America that we won't give up. Change never came in an instant -- it only comes through perseverance, through a continual struggle towards a goal that unites a common people.

So yes, DO vote this year. But go beyond that as well -- engage yourself in local races, national, statewide, or otherwise. Join a non-profit organization and commit at least 10 hours a month to that group. Take part in online discussions -- don't YELL, but actually try to discuss things, and see if you can't change a mind or two.

But most of all -- be aware of complacency, especially your own. When we become lazy, when we become lethargic to our movement that we fought so hard to establish, we will lose all subsequent battles 10 times out of 10, guaranteed.

The other side is fired up this round. We must do our best to show that we won't give up, that we won't let them take control over Washington. They've made a mess out of things before...let's not allow them the chance to do it again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recession over, but economy still struggling

A new report out details how the “Great Recession” officially ended in June of last year (2009). That means that, for the past year or so, we have been living in a time of recovery.

But it doesn’t feel that way to the Average American. Most will hear this news and say to themselves, “bull----.”

The problem lies in semantics. When a recession ends, whether it be this one or any other during our nation’s history, it means that the economy is no longer in decline, and in fact is starting to show signs of growth. It doesn’t mean, however, that the economy is back to its pre-recessional strength -- in fact, it may take years for it to reach that level again. The unemployment rate will remain high, people’s wages won’t be as good as they were before the bust, and many people will still struggle to make ends meet.

So when people read about how this recession is over, it’s understandable that they won’t suddenly be dancing in the streets rejoicing at the news.

Until there are long-term job opportunities for those without work, recession or not, our economy still has a ways to go before people will (rightly) believe things are better once more.

This election year, Wisconsin matters -- for real

At the end of this month, President Barack Obama is set to make another visit to the Badger State. A week after his appearance, Vice President Joe Biden will also be coming to Wisconsin to host a fundraiser for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Democratic nominee for governor. Obama was last in Wisconsin for Milwaukee's Labor Fest on Labor Day to unveil his latest economic plans.

With so many stops to one state, one has to wonder: are we really that important to the president? Do we really deserve to be spotlighted this much? Wisconsin represents a small proportion of the nation overall -- our population represents less than 2 percent of the United States' totals. The number of electoral votes that our state holds -- the key to winning the White House a second time for Obama -- is also less than stellar when compared to the rest of the country.

Despite these facts about our political insignificance, Wisconsin does indeed matter this year. We have high-profile gubernatorial and senatorial races. The Senate race in particular could affect the nation at-large in a significant way: if Russ Feingold is one of just a handful of Democratic Senators to lose their seats, it could spell disaster for Obama, who might have to work with a Republican-led Congress in 2011.

In addition to those races are the competitive match-ups in two of Wisconsin's northern Congressional districts, one held by current Democrat Dr. Steve Kagan, the other an open race for retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Obey, who has held the seat for four decades. Ron Kind's Congressional seat to the west is also competitive this year.

Besides these important races, Wisconsin may also be important for another reason: it's highly representative of the nation as a whole. In 2006, Wisconsin was named the most representative state in the country, coming "closer than any other to state-by-state averages on 12 key measures," including "four that measure race and ethnicity, four that look at income and education, and four that describe the typical neighborhood in each state."

We're a "purple" state, one that has both Republican and Democratic strongholds. We have both religious zealots, a strong atheist/agnostic population, but mostly tolerant people from a variety of belief structures. We have big urban centers and small rural farming towns. In short, our state is much like a shrunken-down version of the United States. In politics, a common phrase often thrown out during presidential election years is, "As Ohio goes, so goes the nation." It's possible that, in this midterm election year, Wisconsin might be the key to victory.

National political organizations are eyeing up Wisconsin. The Democratic Governors Association has listed the state as a "top ten target." Celebrities are taking part in political advertisements for Democrat Russ Feingold -- while some of the candidates themselves on the GOP side (for local and national office) are also celebrities.

Then there's the money. Campaign spending is already up in Wisconsin, and all indications are that it's going to go even higher, breaking records for midterm election years. Milwaukee has already seen $3.8 million in campaign ads alone. Ron Johnson, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has said he may use up to $15 million of his own cash to win Feingold's seat. In response, Feingold raised nearly half a million dollars in a single day from over 15,000 supporters.

And both Scott Walker (the Republican nominee for governor) and Tom Barrett have raised over $10 million dollars already, with two months left until election day -- but they've already spent almost four-fifths of it, which means there will be more fundraising and more spending coming.

All of this attention comes with a big concession -- by November, we're all going to be sick and tired of it. Campaign commercials are bad enough on their own. By all accounts, the mud will be slung harder than ever this year.

But with all of that aside, it's a bit humbling to consider that our larger-than-some-but-still-kinda-small state means so much to the national picture. We as a state have a big opportunity to really shift the national dialogue, to take part in the ever-changing political landscape, and to shape it to own our wants and desires. From the farmers who see the need to assist those that help feed America, to the small-business entrepreneurialist that wants bigger tax incentives to help get himself or herself off their feet, to the single mother in downtown Madison who is concerned with how she will pay for her son's medical expenses...we all have a historic chance to tell those in Washington what we want, what we need, and what we need to get rid of.

We ought to embrace this opportunity rather than scoff it off. So while some might see this election year as just another annoyance, take this time to really understand the issues, involve yourself in some intelligent debate with your neighbors, and make an informed decision at the polls come November. I guarantee, no matter the outcome, Wisconsin can't fail if her citizens are engaged.

It's time we show the nation just how important we cheeseheads really are.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Besides Great Wall of China, Walker's jobs plan only man-made object you can see from space


Meanwhile, real Wisconsin citizens are still unemployed. Scott Walker's jobs plan, while attempting to mock Tom Barrett's 67-page plan full of real ideas, is actually a spit in the face of the unemployed workers still struggling to make ends meet.

Why aren't Wisconsin citizens choosing the mature candidate? Why are we even considering this guy?

Blogging Blue, Wonkette, Left on the Lake, Scott Walker's site.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lt. Gov. Lawton to speak to FFRF

Current Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton has accepted an invitation to speak at the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s annual convention this year, a historic gesture as she would become the highest-ranking person in government ever to speak to the organization (while holding office).

Though the group works to keep the “separation of church and state” intact -- the true desires of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson who coined the phrase himself -- few sitting politicians, if any, tend to associate themselves directly with the association.

Lawton, who cannot attend in person due to conflicting family plans, will deliver her speech via video recorded message. The current Lt. Governor had previously considered a run for governor earlier this year, but dropped out due to undefined family circumstances.

Lawton saw no problem with giving the speech, and felt that she would have given it regardless of if she had run for office this year or not.

“This is a clear statement of my patriotism and my understanding of a democracy,” she said, “where we have people of faith able to answer their calling to the fullest, and where there’s a protection of integrity of our Constitution and the line between church and state.”

One doesn’t have to be anti-religious to support the idea of the separation between church and state. In fact, if anyone is to benefit from that separation, it is the various religious beliefs that currently exist in our country.

The wall between church and state (in theory) prohibits religious organizations from having any direct influence in government work and from receiving special treatment from the state. But it also prevents government from having a hand in dictating what religious practices should be permissible. Without a separation of church and state, and from the perspective of a religious institution, the meaning of and enforcement of God’s Word would be defined by representatives elected by the people, essentially subjecting the law of God to a democratic vote -- an idea that most religious leaders and organizations would reject, for God’s Word is infallible, not determined by what the people at-large have to say.

Some argue against a separation of church and state because it may allow certain religious to have a place in our society that others might not recognize as valid. That’s the problem of those individuals, however, and shouldn’t be a concern of the state. The only time that government should get involved in matters of religion is when a church (or any other place of worship), or an individual practicing their belief, infringes upon any of the protected rights of any other person without their permission. If a specific religious organization or individual tries to enforce their beliefs over an individual, without that individual’s consent, it is the right of the government to step in and halt such practices.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation adheres to these tenets. They are not a group that is concerned with eradicating religion completely, but rather promoting that the government remains neutral (or acts more neutral) when it comes to religious beliefs in our society. Though I disagree with them on several matters of religion, as I’m sure Barbara Lawton does as well, when it comes to the separation of church and state, they should be looked upon as being an authority on the matter.

Every patriotic American, especially those who wish to preserve their own religious beliefs, should fight to preserve the “wall of separation” that Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers fought to create when they formed our country.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Walker over Neumann, 56-42.
Johnson over Westlake, 59-36.
Barrett over John, 84-12.
(Sent from phone)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"No" to crossing over -- why this progressive won't vote in the WI Republican primary

Tuesday is primary election day. Democrats will vie with other Democrats, and Republicans will vie with other Republicans, for the official party nominations for various offices up for grabs in the general election in November.

In the governor's race specifically, Democratic candidate Tom Barrett faces no real challenge; he's expected to win his party's nomination with no trouble at all. The GOP race, on the other hand, is shaping up to be something else.

Scott Walker and Mark Neumann are involved in one of the most heated primary battles this state has seen in some time. Neumann is a former Congressman and businessman (he couldn't stress the latter enough) while Walker has been Milwaukee County Executive for the better part of the last decade, and before that a member of the State Assembly.

Walker has criticized Neumann for not being a true conservative (he crossed party lines to help balance the budget with Democrats during his time in Congress) while Neumann accuses Walker of being a "career politician" -- a label I handily reject as being a negative thing, though I do find other things wrong with the candidacy of Scott Walker (2) (3).

Why does this matter? For the better part of a week, I have been contemplating voting in the Republican primary versus giving my vote to Barrett, who will undoubtedly win on Tuesday night the Democratic Party's endorsement for governor.

Wisconsin has an open primary, which means that you don't have to belong to a political party in order to vote in their primary. This CAN lead to Democrats voting in Republican primaries, and Republicans voting in Democratic ones as well, causing a messy outcome if so desired by those respective camps.

So, if I wanted to, I could vote for Neumann over Walker, because frankly Neumann is the candidate I would support more. In the general, no matter which Republican wins however, I will vote for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Which made me question whether I should really be participating in the GOP primary. On the one hand, if it boils down to these three candidates, and if I ranked each one, it would make sense for me to take part in it. Barrett is my top choice -- but if I have to choose between the other two, Neumann would squeak by Walker as my choice for governor. In that sense, I'd rather have my top two choices running against each other rather than my preferred choice vs. my least preferred choice.

On the other hand, would it be morally sound for me to do such a thing? I have no real intention of supporting Neumann whatsoever. My supporting him in the primary would simply be to ensure that the least favorite of my choices would have a tougher primary election to win. But is it RIGHT for me to take part in an election that, open or not, is designed for those who are Republican-leaning voters to choose their desired candidate?

In my mind, it is not. I have to consider the fact that, were it the other way around, I would see a conservative voting in a Democratic primary as trying to spoil the desires of progressives, who would want a certain candidate to represent them in the general election. Morally, it isn't right help determine the opposing side's candidate if it's going to be a candidate I will want to lose in the end. It'd be like personally setting up an amateur boxer to fight against Evander Holyfield, and then, after encouraging that amateur to indeed face him, betting on Holyfield once the date of the event came upon my calendar.

After coming to this realization, I determined that I can't and won't participate in the Republican primary come Tuesday. It wouldn't be right, it wouldn't be fair, and it wouldn't be moral. I will proudly cast my ballot for progressive candidates that I feel will represent Wisconsin in a positive and meaningful way, including Mayor Barrett for governor. I encourage my progressive colleagues, who may be considering voting in the Republican primary as well, to do the same.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On 9/11 anniversary, Scott Walker calls liberals "hijackers"

In my eyes, the title of this blog post is precisely what Scott Walker is trying to do with his latest tweet.

That may seem an exaggeration, but consider what it is he actually wrote (credit due to Capper):

"Look @ the liberal union rally against me @ courthouse. They want 2 hijack the primary."

Ordinarily, this might not be such a sensitive subject. But consider the date that he makes this tweet.

Today is September 11, 2010 -- the ninth anniversary of the hijackings of several planes and the deaths of thousands of Americans at the hands of radical Islamic fundamentalists. Today is a date of remembrance, of reflection, of unity, of understanding that, left, right, center, or otherwise, we are all Americans first and foremost.

I was all set to write a simple blog today, one that wouldn't be tinged in politics. I was set to write how, despite the Quran-burning controversy (that happily didn't take place), that the American people should look at today as a day we can all come together, as one people out of many, E Pluribus Unum.

But Scott Walker's words cannot be ignored. We cannot let him get away with such insensitivity, such insinuations, especially on a day like today. Does this image say "hijackers?"

Describing liberals as such -- on this day of days, no less! -- is a terrible thing to do. No one should describe anyone as a hijacker on 9/11 in order to gain politically, in order to display some sort of childish "holier than thou" moment on your Twitter account. A protest against your policies, Scott Walker, is in no way a "hijacking."

This man, this Republican Party-anointed candidate for governor -- what sense decency does he have, if any?

I must apologize for the rant, I really must. I may be coming off as angry, as furious even at what this man has written (in under 140 characters, no less). But I don't appreciate being called a "hijacker" on this anniversary. It seems, I don't know -- a little extreme. And I won't stand for it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Career politician? No -- EXPERIENCED politician

A lot of talk this year has been about the importance of turnover in national offices.

You hear it from various campaign groups, as from candidates for office facing long-time incumbents. "He's a career politician," they'll often say, in a tone that leaves the listener with no doubt about how terrible a thing that really is.

In reality, our nation has no problem with career politicians. We may say that we oppose a person because they've been in office for a long while -- but that's usually in conjunction with opposing a person whose political views we may also find wrong.

Our founding fathers, in fact, had quite the debate themselves over term limits. When the Articles of Confederation were drafted, and subsequently put into place, they required each person holding office in the national Congress to relinquish their seat after serving one three-year term. They could only return to office following another three years, during which time another person would serve in their seat.

One founder, Benjamin Rush, who is often overlooked for his role in the foundation of our country, rejected the plan laid out by the Articles and suggested a new idea, a new vision of what a "career politician" might be:

"The custom of turning men out of power or office," he said "as soon as they are qualified for it, has been found to be as absurd in practice, as it is virtuous in speculation. It contradicts our habits and opinions in every other transaction of life. Do we dismiss a general -- a physician -- or even a domestic, as soon as they have acquired knowledge sufficient to be useful to us, for the sake of increasing the number of able generals -- skilful physicians -- and faithful servants? We do not. Government is a science; and can never be perfect in America, until we encourage men to devote not only three years, but their whole lives to it" (Emphasis added).

The founders eventually accepted his recommendation -- when the Constitution was written, it allowed representatives, senators, even the president, the right to continually run for office without term limits.

We should not remove our political leaders from office if they have served us well. If the people want to have the same person serving them, it is their right to elect, re-elect, and re-re-elect the same person to office for as long as they desire.

Yes, campaign rules must be changed in order to provide the common man (or woman) the right to challenge a powerful incumbent. But beyond that, all things being equal between the two (or more) candidates for office, the people should have the right to keep any incumbent in power should they want to continue doing so.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two milestones: 300th blog and an American flag

Last night, I posted my 300th blog (you can read it here). It's been a great experience continuing my writing on politics since graduating college, where I wrote for three years as part of the UWM Post.

I've come a long way since my first post here, and I'm proud of the work I've done on this tiny blog that doesn't necessarily have the largest audience in the world, but still allows me to get my word out there.

Today, I also received a special gift: a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. in honor of those who have fought for protecting First Amendment rights. It's an honor to have such an item, and it will be one I cherish for as long as I own it.

It delights me that these two events occur on the same day. With that said, I will be taking a short break for the next few days -- a family vacation up north. It won't be a LONG trip -- just long enough to let you know that I won't be doing any significant blogging within the next five days.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend -- watch this History Channel video on the holiday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Progressives dictate Obama approval ratings

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have been dealing with dismal polling numbers within the past few months. Specifically, Obama's approval rating has taken a large dive since he's taken office. With an economy in shambles, it's only natural for the American people to start thinking that maybe he isn't doing enough to make things better.

Approval ratings can be mixed bags. Obama's ratings don't necessarily mean that the American people disapprove of his ambitions -- a certain percentage may in fact be liberals who find that the president hasn't moved far enough to the left.

This was the case, in fact, with health care reform. When 49 percent of Americans disapproved of reform, with 46 percent approving, it was because 10 percent of Americans believed that the bill didn't go far enough, that the bill wasn't as liberal as it could have been. So in actuality, 56 percent of Americans were happy with or wanted more changes to health reform, while a minority of Americans, 39 percent, disapproved of reform because they thought it went too far.

With President Obama's ratings, it's highly likely that the shift that we're seeing is due to more progressive voters being disappointed with his failure to enact real liberal reforms. This is quite evident given the most recent polling showing Obama's numbers rising slightly.

A new CNN poll shows that Obama's approval rating went up since last month by three percentage points. Political experts attribute this bump to Obama successfully removing 100,000 troops from Iraq (declaring that combat operations were officially over this past Tuesday). And while a large number of troops still remain in the nation under an "advisory" role, most Americans see this as Obama fulfilling a campaign pledge to get us out of Iraq.

With more progressives pleased at what Obama has accomplished, he has seen a rise in polling numbers. If Obama wants to see those numbers continue to rise, and if Democrats want to see similar numbers, they need to move left, not center-right, in order to achieve that goal.

The number of Americans disapproving of the job performance of Obama and Democrats because of their ideology will not change in the near future. The shift in Obama's approval ratings in recent months is due to a growing number within his base disapproving his job performance, not because a growing number of Americans disapprove of his ideas. As Obama stays true to his progressive ways, his approval rating will go up.

The people voted for "change" in 2008 -- and they still want it.