Monday, October 26, 2015

Will Wisconsin Republicans apologize to Kevin Kennedy?

Allegations against Lois Lerner found to be untrue. Will WISGOP acknowledge the same for Kennedy?

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, in a desperate attempt to change elections rules to benefit their own interests, are attempting to decimate the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board. They would replace the GAB with partisan-based elections and ethics commissions.

In the run-up to their proposal, legislative Republicans made every effort to make Kevin Kennedy, director of the GAB, look like a partisan ideologue himself. In doing so, they questioned his professional friendship with Lois Lerner, who had been at the center of a national Republican witch hunt, having been accused of targeting conservative-leaning groups during the IRS scandal.

When State Sen. Chris Kapenga had questioned Kennedy’s professional relationship with Lerner during hearings on the GAB, it summoned memories of McCarthyism-era tactics, of guilt by association. “Have you no decency?” responded Kennedy, mimicking the line made famous by Joseph Welch.

The state Republicans’ tactics are indeed McCarthy-esque. Whether Kennedy knows someone on a personal level or not doesn’t make him guilty of a crime or even mismanagement. If it had, then Republicans in the legislature need to start asking Scott Walker those same sort of questions, since six of his aides were convicted as a result of a John Doe probe.

This past week it was revealed that Lois Lerner had done nothing wrong in regards to her actions at the IRS. Conservative groups were not improperly targeted, and accusations against Lerner were officially tossed out.
We found no evidence that any IRS official acted based on political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives that would support a criminal prosecution.
Kennedy was ridiculed for his association with Lerner. The GAB had, after all, investigated several conservative organizations and Scott Walker for illegally coordinating campaign strategies.

That investigation was a bipartisan effort, involving Republican and Democratic district attorneys, and had been prompted by all six judges on the Government Accountability Board.

Yet the Republicans continued to insist that the GAB had specifically targeted conservative groups. They cited the Kennedy-Lerner professional relationship as rationale for their doubts.

Now that Lerner has been found innocent of any and all targeting of conservative groups, such related assertions against Kennedy should also be invalidated. He is owed an apology, and the Republicans in the State Senate ought to call off the entire plan to dismantle the GAB.

It is blatantly clear that the move to change the GAB is itself politically motivated. It is legislative Republicans, not Kevin Kennedy, who are out to ruin the elections process in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin poll shows voters prefer a new (and liberal) direction

Democratic candidates and politicians receive higher marks than their Republican counterparts

The Wisconsin Survey poll, which was conducted through a partnership of Wisconsin Public Radio and St. Norbert College, shows a general distaste of where things are heading in both the nation and the state.

Nationally, Wisconsin residents view things going in the wrong direction, with 62 percent of respondents saying so. The direction that the state is taking didn’t fare much better: 57 percent said they felt Wisconsin was moving in the wrong direction also.

But when it came to attitudes on specific candidates and politicians within the state and country, it’s clear to see that respondents overwhelmingly supported a Democratic vision.

President Barack Obama received an approval rating from state residents of 51 percent, with 47 percent disapproving. That’s a net approval rating of four percent.

To contrast that, Gov. Scott Walker received an approval rating of just 39 percent, with three-out-of-five voters (60 percent) disapproving. That’s a net disapproval of 19 percent.

When it comes to our two U.S. senators, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson receives a 38 percent approval/49 percent disapproval ratings. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin flips those numbers, and got a 49 percent approval/35 percent disapproval rating.

Forty-six percent said they’re more likely to vote in the Democratic Party presidential primary, while only 40 percent said they’d choose to vote in the Republican Party primary.

Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders defeat three presidential contenders (Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson) in potential head-to-head contests.

Democratic candidate Russ Feingold handily defeats Ron Johnson in a rematch of their senate battle from six years ago, by 51 to 40 margin.

Overall, most respondents were willing to call themselves Democrats or leaned Democratic (47 percent) as opposed to being labeled Republicans or Republican leaners (39 percent).

Despite all of these numbers, Republicans in the state will continue to hammer out a conservative agenda. They have to -- in 2016 many of them may be out of a job. So they’re doing their due diligence to make sure that any efforts to clean up their dirtying of Wisconsin politics won’t be so easy.

But it won’t be impossible. Yes, statewide gerrymandered legislative maps have made it nearly impossible for Democrats to win a majority in the legislature. But Republicans have messed the state up so much that it is entirely possible yet for Democrats to win in extra high numbers, given the right conditions.

It will take a lot of ground work, pounding pavements and knocking on doors. And it will take an enormous information campaign, allowing residents to get a full picture of what the Republicans have been up to in the capitol. The list is a long one indeed -- there is probably a red-button issue that every resident can conjure up in their own mind that Republicans have fully endorsed.

Sadly until we’re able to replace these failed leaders, Republicans will continue to govern just as they have. We the people need to stand up to them whenever possible. And when bad legislation does get passed, we need to vow to remedy it further down the line -- by putting some fresh new faces in the state legislature, and eventually the governor’s office itself.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

There should be a #wiunion convention

Event could galvanize progressives from across the state, using new technology to advance ideas

Shouldn’t there be a #wiunion convention?

There are plenty of #wiunion followers that attend other progressive events in the state. Presence at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual convention and Fighting Bob Fest bring in plenty of revelers from #wiunion and beyond.

But there ought to be an event specialized for those that follow the #wiunion hashtag. Progressives, young and old in the state, use the #wiunion banner to champion causes that deserve to be promoted, and to defend the state’s tradition of moving “Forward” throughout its history.

Especially in these trying times, when democracy and transparency in the state are being challenged, when women’s health choices are being threatened, when workers’ rights are being whittled away, and when other important aspects of our state’s identity are disappearing, we need to have a serious discussion on how to get back on track, on how to rally the state back towards a path of righteousness and justice.

A #wiunion event could be simple: it could be modeled off of TED Talks, allowing individual speakers who identify as part of the #wiunion brand to speak on issues that are important to them. More than a forum for complaining, it could be an event for ideas generation, of producing discussion and positive initiatives for progressives in our state to get behind during the campaign season and beyond.

Such an event would obviously energize the tech-savvy among us, but it would encourage progressive minds across different skills sets of technology to join a community of thinkers that they may not have known about previously. And it could be broadcast to millions of residents using the power of the Internet.

Speeches could be given across a broad base of categories and would feature bloggers, community leaders, elected officials, traditional media, and everyday people. It could be an event that would encourage a true democratization of ideas, of assembling people dedicated to a larger cause of progressivism with a simple goal in mind: repairing Wisconsin, and going beyond repair into making the state even better than before.

Maybe it’s all just a pipe-dream. Maybe there will never be a #wiunion convention at all. But I think it’d be an event that would garner a lot of interest and attention from across the state.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Republicans plan to dismantle GAB -- because it worked

Exposure of blemishes is why Republicans plan to do away with nonpartisan elections agency

This next week the Republican-held state legislature is set to dismantle the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board in favor of a more politically-charged model.

The board would be replaced by two separate entities, a commission on campaign ethics and a commission on elections. It would be comprised mostly of political appointments, members of political parties who undoubtedly will make judgments based on their partisan nature.

Currently, members of the GAB cannot be part of the organization if they are currently part of a political party, or have recently donated to a political cause or candidate.

Why are Republicans recommending these changes? Because they believe that the GAB has been an utter failure.

They are completely wrong.

“It's time to reform the Government Accountability Board,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wrote on his website recently. “It became even more evident that there is a need to overhaul the GAB following an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.”

But the audit to which Vos refers to didn’t make any recommendations that suggested such bold changes. It simply stated that the GAB had to respond to inquiries at a faster pace, and that the body had to “consistently [provide] names of three qualified individuals who may be retained as a special investigator.”

Put another way, the audit (PDF) made suggestions that would have strengthened, not weakened or dismantled, the GAB’s efforts.

The real reason that Republicans are so adamant in their destroying the GAB is the fact that it worked so well. In initiating nonpartisan John Doe investigations, the GAB helped find and prosecute six staffers of Gov. Walker who had committed crimes while he was Milwaukee County Supervisor.

The second John Doe investigation, the details of which have since been made public, helped shed light on the dirty money that had been funneled during the Walker recall campaign, from Walker himself to conservative organizations.
Gov. Scott Walker prodded outside groups and individuals to funnel millions of dollars into Wisconsin Club for Growth — a pro-Walker group directed by his campaign adviser — during the recall elections in 2011 and 2012, according to court documents unsealed for a short time Friday afternoon.
That coordination included a $700,000 donation from a mining company, which was followed up with Walker signing a bill into law that was favorably to them. To any rational mind, that action stirs up suspicion; to Republicans, the GAB suggestion that it needs to be looked at is suspicious.

Why? Channel 3’s Neil Heinen explains it perfectly:
“Lawmakers don’t like enforcement of elections laws if it makes it harder to get elected, like they don’t like open records and meetings laws,” he said.

The move to do away with the Government Accountability Board is a deliberate one, intended to get rid of a functioning model that has exposed blemishes on the Republican Party’s record in the state as a corrupt purveyor of dirty campaign violations. Get rid of that board in favor of a partisan body, and it will become all the more difficult to expose those violations to the public eye for scrutiny.

And that’s precisely what Republicans are hoping to accomplish: less scrutiny, less accountability, and more corruption in our state so that they can win office.

Friday, October 16, 2015

State still has more unemployed workers under Walker than before the Recession

Wisconsin reduced number of unemployed workers at a faster rate under former Gov. Jim Doyle than Walker

With another monthly jobs report just released (PDF) this week, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is bragging about the unemployment rate reaching a 14-year low of 4.3 percent. This is despite the fact that 1,300 private sector workers lost their jobs last month.

Nevertheless, we should celebrate this success for what it is, right?

Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is a bit of a misnomer at times. It doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s happening in our state. Taking a look at the raw number of unemployed persons, for example, reveals a startling fact.

In March of 2008, shortly before the recession began in Wisconsin, we had 135,795 workers that were unemployed. Today, under Gov. Scott Walker’s “bold leadership,” we have 137,400 workers that are unemployed.

We have more unemployed individuals now than we had before the Great Recession. That means, for all of his bluster and spinning, Wisconsin hasn’t recovered yet under Gov. Walker with regard to the number of workers currently on unemployment.

For comparison’s sake, Minnesota recovered to its pre-recession number of unemployed persons back in 2013. There are less individuals unemployed in the Gopher State than before the recession.

This is why we can’t look at the unemployment rate without providing necessary context. Propping up the unemployment rate alone makes it sound like we have made an immense improvement. While things have improved, they’ve done so at a rate that is staggeringly slow.

Our unemployment rate is lower -- but we have not yet reached the same numbers of unemployed workers since before the recession occurred. We have more unemployed workers now than at that time.

Many right-wing supporters of Gov. Walker -- including the governor himself -- have errantly tried to imply (through ad campaigns and comments on news articles alike) that the loss in jobs and workers was all due to Doyle, without providing the background of the global economic recession’s effects on the labor force in the state. But even when we compare Doyle’s post-recession numbers to Walker’s, it’s clear that the current governor’s “bold agenda” is failing us.

Recovery began while Jim Doyle was still in office. And Wisconsin lessened its unemployment totals by about 2,412 workers every month during the last 18 months of the Doyle budget (which extended into June of 2011).

Under Walker, that number has slowed, to about 2,036 less workers on unemployment per month.

That’s still the right direction to go in. But it’s a rate that’s more than 15 percent slower than what Gov. Doyle’s pace was.

Walker’s supporters often tout how much better we are under his watch as compared to Doyle. They also like to selectively ignore a few significant historical events like a global recession.

But here it is, more than four years into Walker’s tenure as governor, and we’re pacing slower, in terms of removing individuals from the unemployment lines, compared to his predecessor.

Wake up, Walker supporters. It’s. Not. Working.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A better way forward for transgender students

Democratic legislators present a more progressive vision for transgender youth in our state’s schools

Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd
and Rep. Sondy Pope
Assembly Republican Rep. Jesse Kremer’s bill to require districts to enforce gender barriers in school restrooms across the state creates a separate but (un)equal distinction for students that identify with a gender that doesn’t correspond with what they were born into.

These students deal with real struggles on a daily basis. Three-quarters of trans students don’t feel safe at school. Almost 60 percent have been denied the right to use the bathrooms that correspond to their identity. More than 40 percent of transgender students have attempted suicide.

These statistics demonstrate that real challenges are posed to schools and administrators across the state. But the answer is not to discriminate or single out these students.

Fortunately, Democrats in the legislature have offered up a better way forward than Rep. Kremer’s vision.
Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, and Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee, sent legislators a memo Tuesday seeking cosponsors for their own proposal, which would require the state Department of Public Instruction to develop a model policy regarding transgender students. The bill would also require each school board in the state to adopt its own policy.
Rep. Pope and Sen. Harris Dodd present a logical path towards creating a more welcoming and accepting environment. We should applaud their efforts and encourage other lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, to support this measure.

Most alarming about Rep. Kremer’s original bill is that he didn’t even ask members of the transgender community for input when he wrote it. His response to his bill possibly being perceived as “mean-spirited” also resulted in a “blame the victim” rant.
If [transgender students] really are concerned about this and they do identify as someone else, I don’t see why they’d like to make a big stink about it. If you’re making a big deal about it ... you obviously are inviting harassment and bullying already. Why would you not want to avoid that and go quietly to the district and make other arrangements?
Emphasis in bold added.

We’re fortunate to have lawmakers like Rep. Sondy Pope and Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd in the legislature. Their ideals and dedication to creating a hospitable atmosphere to all students is clearly evident in the legislation they’re proposing. Rep. Jesse Kremer, on the other hand, let’s his bigotry and ignorance shine through with his proposal and his alarming defense of it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Walker criticizes GAB with irrelevant, false claims

Governor touts debunked claim about a process that wouldn't even be changed by proposal he supports

Hearings in favor of destroying the non-partisan Government Accountability Board, charged with overseeing elections and ethics violations in the state of Wisconsin, are currently underway in the state legislature. Expressing his support for the measure, which would replace the GAB with two separate partisan boards, Gov. Scott Walker did what he does best --

He took to Twitter and sent out ill-informed tweets to his fanbase.

His comments reflected criticisms brought up during his recall election. In one tweet, the governor insisted that the GAB had readily favored accepting recall signatures from fictitious cartoon characters and a long-deceased fascist dictator:

And Walker reiterated the claim again the next day, apparently in an attempt to reach fans of Warner Bros. since his previous tweet dealt with Disney:

The claim that Walker is making isn’t a new one. It was previously concocted by the MacIver Institute, a right-wing advocacy group that frequently touts up Walker-based proposals using less-than-informed pseudo-news practices.

The claim by MacIver was that the GAB would accept these phony signatures as valid. But that wasn’t the real story, and PolitiFact Wisconsin soon explained how wrong they were.
For such signatures to actually be counted, they would have to pass undetected through petition circulators, the recall committees, a pair of Government Accountability Board reviewers, Walker’s representatives and other groups that review the petitions. If such signatures were found, Walker could formally challenge them to the board to get them stricken.
“Mickey Mouse” would only be accepted as a name on the recall petition if it went unchallenged. Even then, if spotted by the GAB workers it would be flagged for follow-up, allowing challengers the opportunity to question the validity of the signature in a way that made it simpler for them to do so.

None of this even matters because the bill that Walker and legislative Republicans are pushing for wouldn’t change any of the methods for catching fraudulent recall signatures. It merely replaces the non-partisan GAB with two partisan boards.

Walker tries to sully the name of the GAB with these criticisms, but in reality they’re flawed arguments, childish at best. They neglect to account for the process that’s required for challenging signatures, and have wouldn’t be remedied by the proposed bill that the governor is pushing.

Changes may be needed to help the GAB -- but proposing to throw the baby out with the bathwater is unnecessary. Republicans need to backtrack and rethink what they're proposing.

Monday, October 12, 2015

GOP lawmakers seek to force concealed carry on state campuses

Despite evidence to the contrary, Rep. Kremer and Sen. LeMahieu continue to use tired NRA "logic"

Wisconsin lawmakers are proposing to force college campuses across the state to allow individuals with concealed carry permits to have weapons inside UW and technical college buildings.

Under a bill proposed by State Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and State Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), state colleges could no longer post signs discouraging weapon-free buildings, and would have to allow guns in the hallways of campuses across the state.

“The unfortunate reality is that campus gun-free zones merely serve to concentrate populations of vulnerable targets on campus and surrounding areas,” say the lawmakers in a memo introducing the proposed bill.

Kremer and LeMahieu believe that the current policy -- of allowing each campus to provide its own framework of where weapons are allowed -- is failing students. In reality, these lawmakers are failing to realize that concealed carry doesn’t make things safer.

The statistics don’t lie: concealed carry doesn’t reduce crime, and there’s some evidence that suggests it may encourage more of it. According to one study:
“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder...
Whether gun-free zones lead to higher rates of attacks is another contentious opinion. Concealed carry proponents like to believe that mass shooters target gun-free zones, but in the past 30 years of research there’s been no indication that such areas were chosen on that basis. In reality, the shooters tend to pick areas that are significant to them (63 percent of active shooting sites between 2000 and 2013 were in areas the shooter had a relationship with, according to the FBI).

There’s no indication that concealed carry even works to fend off mass shootings, either. Concealed carry is allowed at all Oregon college campuses, for example, and indeed there was a concealed carry permit holder nearby when Umpqua Community College was attacked by a mass shooter earlier this month. That fact didn’t stop the shooter from killing nine individuals before taking his own life.

When Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and nineteen other individuals were shot by a mass shooter in Tuscon, Arizona, a concealed weapon nearly did more damage than good. A permit holder very nearly shot an innocent bystander, stopping only upon realizing that the man he had set his sights on was trying to stop the shooter as well.

But what about Wisconsin? Surely these few incidents aren’t indicative of how concealed carry works everywhere. Perhaps it works better here.

Sadly, concealed carry legislation, which was implemented in our state in late 2011, hasn’t produced the results it was promised to create. Upon signing the bill into law, Gov. Scott Walker pronounced that the state was now “safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

Since that time the rate of violent crime has gone up by 22 percent. Murder rates jumped by 20 percent. Put bluntly, the state was not made safer after concealed carry was passed.

We can’t be sure that the same results will be true of college campuses across our state. But there's no reason to believe that concealed carry will do any good either, especially since there haven’t been any real problems with the policies our colleges and universities have put forth. Kremer and LeMahieu are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist -- and conveniently, their “solution” to this non-problem greatly benefits the gun lobby.

When concealed carry was passed many proponents tried to quell fears by assuring those opposed to the law that businesses and institutions would not be forced to allow guns on their premises. It seems now that promise is being reneged upon, and that our institutes of higher learning will now be forced to allow guns inside their walls whether they want to or not.

This is the wrong path to take. Unfortunately, it’s also a path we’re doomed to follow, if the Republicans in our state legislature get their way.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

School restrooms bill is derived from ignorance and misinformation

Rep. Jesse Kremer's proposal seeks to solve a problem that doesn't exist

Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) seems to believe that accommodations to transgender students represents a considerable threat to their peers. His fears are greatly misplaced.

Kremer is proposing a bill that would limit the rights of local school districts to grant transgender students the dignity to use restrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with. The lawmaker apparently disregards gender identity and is more preoccupied with anatomy to care about what’s best for students overall.

His words towards those students are especially alarming. (Emphasis in bold added)
I don't see why they'd [transgender students] like to make a big stink about it. If you're making a big deal about it ... you obviously are inviting harassment and bullying already.
Bullying and mistreatment of transgender students, it seems to Kremer, is the fault of those students themselves. His comments echo other examples of closed-minded individuals choosing to blame the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence or harassment.

Kremer also believes that policies aimed at accommodating these students, like one implemtned in Madison, pose incredible harm to others. “This opens up a real good window for sexual predators if they want to take advantage of it,” he said.

But the evidence doesn’t back up his rhetoric. In schools across the nation, policies are being enacted that open up restrooms to students who correspond with a gender that wasn’t assigned to them at birth. And the results thus far are positive.

“In school district after school district after school district, officials reported no problems as a result of their transgender non-discrimination policies,” Media Matters reports. Their research tasked them with contacting 17 different school districts that represented more than 600,000 students across 12 states in the country. Not one of them reported any issues of privacy concerns for other students.

More often than not, the only harassment that does occur in the schools is directed toward transgender students themselves. That’s the whole point of accommodating them -- three-quarters of transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school, and six in ten have reported being denied use of the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Rep. Kremer claims that the bill he’s proposing derived from an incident in his home district where a transgender student, born with female anatomy but identifying as a male, used boys restrooms. But there is no indication that the actions of this student resulted in harassment of any kind from kids pretending to be transgender just to sneak into the other restrooms. Kremer's fears are unwarranted, and undocumented.

It may make some people who are unfamiliar with it uncomfortable, but transgender students deserve to be treated as the gender they identify with. There’s scant evidence of any issues with such policies elsewhere in our state, nor anywhere else in the country for that matter. Even if there were, why punish the transgender youth? Since when do we punish the needs of some students because of what the actions of others might be?

Furthermore, this legislation tramples upon local government decisions, an ideal Republicans supposedly stand behind. As the liberal group One Wisconsin Now points out, “It’s worse than big government -- it’s Big Brother.”

Kremer should do the decent thing and withdraw this horrible piece of legislation. He’s ignorant on the subject, which is evident in his own admission that he never spoke to anyone who identifies as transgender on the subject before he wrote his bill.

You’d think that someone in the legislature would do their homework before preparing to impose a law restricting local school districts from crafting their own policies. But that’s just part for the course when it comes to Wisconsin Republicans like Rep. Jesse Kremer.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sheriff Clarke, gun-free zones, and what may actually stop mass shootings

Milwaukee Co. Sheriff said gun-free zones were to blame, but Oregon colleges don't have gun-free zones

In the wake of the mass killings that took place at an Oregon community college this past week, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke had a solution that he was happy to share with FOX News viewers.

His answer wasn’t all too surprising: more guns and less restrictions.

“We should get rid of these gun-free zones,” he told host Megyn Kelly. “I think it’s heartless to expect people in these gun-free zones to be lined up and slaughtered with no way to defend themselves. These gun-free zones have become killing fields. That is the one constant in all of these mass murders.”

He isn’t alone in this thinking. Within hours of the shooting that killed 13 individuals at Umpqua Community College, cable channel pundits and presidential candidates were already propping out the gun-free zone argument, touting the campus as being targeted because it didn’t allow its students to carry weapons.

There’s just one problem with that viewpoint: no campus, community college or university in the state of Oregon is a gun-free zone. None.

So Clarke and others like him are proposing to change...nothing. They argue that gun-free zones are to blame for this latest tragedy, but it’s just the opposite: the area they’re talking about allowed guns. And that allowance didn’t stop the shooter, as they claimed it would, even when a concealed carry permit holder was just a few hundred yards away.

Concealed carry on its own is a terrible anti-crime policy. As crime has gone up more than 20 percent since it was implemented in the state, it’s clear to see that it’s failed to make Wisconsin “safer” as Gov. Scott Walker promised it would. And studies have shown that concealed carry doesn’t decrease crime. In fact, just the opposite may hold true: there may be a correlation between an increase in gun crimes and concealed carry laws.

Conservatives tend to criticize gun restrictions as trying to put a “feel good” policy on top of a problem that can’t be solved so easily. Meanwhile, they try to shift focus of attacks onto other issues. It isn’t bad people with guns: it’s music lyrics, video games, television and movies. They were even willing to throw the Confederate flag under the bus in order to protect their Second Amendment rights from being the subject of debate.

But those restricting policies, which they abhor and criticize to no end, actually work -- they’ve been successful in places like Australia, which saw it’s own violent gun attack in the 1990s. Since enacting stricter gun laws following the incident, their violent crimes have diminished.

And the idea that more guns will lead to less crime, though still celebrated extensively by gun rights enthusiasts, is also getting a closer look. Studies now conclude that more guns actually leads to MORE crime, and that states with higher regulations have seen a decrease in violence.

Sheriff Clarke and others like him are willing to parade around these tired NRA slogans in order to push forward a pro-gun agenda. These ideas aren’t just shortsighted, they’re just plain wrong, in more ways than one.

Clarke suggested that the real reason that 13 people lost their lives was because the immediate geographical area didn’t allow themselves to defend against a violent attacker. That area DID allow such a defense -- and it still failed to prevent a tragedy.

Shooters don’t target gun-free zones. There’s no credible evidence to suggest that they do. But when shooters come into zones that allow individuals to carry weapons, and it STILL fails to stop a “bad guy with a gun,” what then? Do we reassess the meme? Or are we so entrenched in retelling it that we will, as Sheriff Clarke did, repeat it without caring if it’s true or not?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Walker's approval rating slips again as WI sees the beginnings of a leftward swing

Latest Marquette Law School Poll shows a preference for liberal leaders in the state

Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating slipped down once more in the latest Marquette Law School poll, down to 37 percent approval. Nearly three-in-five Wisconsinites disapprove of the governor’s job performance.

And can we blame them? Walker has consistently and repeatedly changed his course for the state since taking office in 2011. He campaigned on bargaining with public sector unions as a candidate in 2010, but once elected he led a crusade to dismantle them.

He justified doing so because the civil service program would remain intact, leaving in place some important worker protections. Today, he attempts to dismantle that as well.

He promised us safety through his deregulation of gun laws in the state, but instead we got more crime.

He promised to create 250,000 jobs in the state and 10,000 new businesses. We have yet to reach the first goal (nine months after it was originally “due”) and the businesses he counts include Girl Scout troops and American Legion posts. When this failure became clear, he changed his jobs promise into a “bold goal” -- an Orwellian edit to be sure.

Even when he implied that he’d stay in Wisconsin to finish out his second term during his 2014 re-election campaign, he ended up running for president. It seems now that he will fulfill that pledge at least, not because he wanted to but rather because he was such a dismal candidate.

Let’s face it -- Wisconsinites feel jilted by this governor. And that’s the underlying reasoning behind his low approval numbers.

Though short on policy questions the Marquette poll reveals some interesting trends. Among them, Russ Feingold is winning the race against incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders all defeat respective Republican presidential challengers. And President Barack Obama has a positive approval rating in the state at 51 percent.

Wisconsin is beginning it’s pendulum swing back to the left. It's better late than never, I suppose, and with this swing we can begin to undo the damage that Walker & Co. has wrought to our state.