Monday, November 30, 2015

Ten years of writing -- a thank you letter to my readers

Whether you've just started reading my work, or have been reading for years...thank you!

This month marked the tenth year that I seriously began the hobby of writing my opinion on current events.

I had dabbled in writing previously, but in November of 2005 I began writing guest columns for the UWM Post, the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

I’ve written on countless topics since 2005. I’ve been on the right side of history on many of them, missed the mark on some, but am proud of the stances I took and the ways that I defended them over the years, primarily through citation and diligent research.

I started this blog site about six months after graduating in 2008. And I’ve written elsewhere as well --, Wisconsin Daily Independent, Elite Daily, AMERICA Blog, and the Cap Times have all been home to my published work. I’m grateful to each of those publications for disseminating my ideas to their audiences.

Overall, I’d say I’ve written over 2,000 pieces of political opinion...and I don’t intend to stop now.

We may have passed the Thanksgiving weekend, but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read my rants over the years. Whether you’re new to my work, or you’ve been following me for a few years now, I want to let you know that I am appreciative of you spending a few moments of your day reading what I have to say about the world around us.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Liberty Counsel bullies Mt. Horeb Schools, transgender student with legal threat

Conservative organization describes girl in school district as having a "mental disorder"

The Mt. Horeb School District’s Early Learning and Primary Center had planned to discuss an important topic with students in its care -- that is, before a conservative organization threatened them with legal action.

One of the students, born as a boy but who identifies as a girl, entered the district this year. In order to produce a hospitable environment for that child and others to learn in, officials in the school district determined it was imperative to explain to the children what that meant exactly.

But the district also understood that some parents would object to their children being exposed to the discussion. So they sent home a letter to parents alerting them that a conversation between teachers and students would happen regarding gender identification in general.

In the letter, they assured parents that they “respect[ed] the beliefs and convictions of all families,” and that, if anyone wanted their children withdrawn from the discussion, it was their right to do so.

The letter was sent four days before the talks were scheduled to occur. That’s admittedly not a lot of time for parents to get in touch with school administrators to let them know of any objections -- on that, the district erred.

Some concerned parents took issue with the timing, but also with the topic itself. The school had planned to read a book called “I Am Jazz,” which details the life of a child that identified more with the gender that was opposite to what they were genetically born as.

Those concerned parents contacted the Liberty Counsel, a self-described “policy organization with an emphasis on religious liberty issues.” They sent a scathing letter (PDF) to the district explaining that the short notice wasn’t the only issue they had with the topic at hand.

“The District is not free to override parental rights and religious beliefs, by subjecting impressionable children to confusion about something as important as gender and sexuality,” their letter stated, adding that, “If harm results to children, including gender confusion, violations of restroom privacy, or other harms, all options will be explored, including a federal lawsuit against teachers and staff in their official and individual capacities for violation of parental rights” -- emphasis theirs.

The Liberty Counsel seems to be concerned for potential “harm” caused to children by introducing the topic of gender identity to kids. But here’s the thing -- there’s no confusion brought in the classroom whatsoever. By the age of four, most kids already know what gender they gravitate towards being. In most cases, this gender identity corresponds with what the child is anatomically. In some cases, it doesn’t, and the child identifies with the opposite gender that they were born as. And in some cases, they identify as neither, or both male and female.

No discussion is going to cause children to feel differently about who they are. It might, however, open the eyes of some children who were already confused about their gender. That’s what the Liberty Counsel is truly afraid of.

What’s worse than these threats of legal action is how this family of the child involved must feel. All they want is a place that their child can feel accepted at -- but according to the Liberty Counsel, that child is experiencing nothing more than a “mental disorder” for identifying as a girl -- a stigmatizing classification that the American Psychiatric Association dropped years ago.

Just as it’s not the school’s place to tell parents what to believe, it’s not the Liberty Counsel’s place to tell students that they are broken. The school did the proper thing by telling parents they had the option to opt out of the lesson plan. The Liberty Counsel, however, decided to bully the school and this child’s family into canceling the lesson altogether.

I bet the Liberty Counsel feels like they won a big victory for “religious liberty” by shutting the district down. In reality, the Liberty Counsel has exposed themselves to be the real oppressors, disallowing open discussion on a topic that is very important to a little girl and her family in a small community in Wisconsin.

Monday, November 23, 2015

7th Circuit Court makes right decision on unconstitutional "admitting privileges" law

Law "would actually endanger women's health" according to court ruling

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that Wisconsin’s law requiring abortion clinics to have “admitting privileges” to area hospitals is unconstitutional.

The law, which was signed by Gov. Scott Walker in 2013, would have greatly limited the number of abortion providers in the state, including one in Milwaukee (PDF) that would had to have closed were it not for the 7th Circuit Court decision this week.

Admitting privileges, which (according to is “the right of a doctor, by virtue of membership as a hospital's medical staff, to admit patients to a particular hospital or medical center,” is the latest way for many conservative lawmakers to limit abortion services to women without outright banning the practice.

Texas also sought to institute such a law, only to have federal courts strike it down as well. But before the courts could intervene, the state law in Texas resulted in dozens of clinics being shut down, which may have resulted in hundreds of thousands of self-induced abortions according to the University of Texas. That’s a dangerous outcome of the law, and is one of the many reasons why it was struck down as a barrier to abortion services in that state as well as many others.

One additional reason? The “admitting privileges” rule is an undue burden that isn’t necessary. From Daily Kos (emphasis in bold added):
...when there’s an emergency, admitting privileges become irrelevant. Under a 1986 federal law known as EMTALA, hospitals are required to provide care to anyone who needs emergency care...


Think of it this way: If you’re walking down the street and have a heart attack, it doesn’t matter who your personal doctor is, or whether he/she has admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where you are: You can be taken to any hospital emergency room, get admitted, and receive treatment, even if your doctor isn’t there, and even if you don’t know a doctor within 30 miles of the hospital.
The 7th Circuit Court stated quite clearly in its ruling that there wasn’t any need for admitting privileges, and that the requirement didn’t do anything positive for women in the state. “There is not a rational basis for your statute because it doesn't provide any health benefits for women seeking abortion,” Judge Richard Posner, a Reagan appointee, said during oral arguments earlier this fall.

In the court's decision today, Posner wrote, “What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women's health -- and the abridgement challenged in this case would actually endanger women's health.”

He’s absolutely right, and the court made the right call. Women have an inalienable right to make this decision for themselves. That decision shouldn’t be hindered by any state law that requires unnecessary and sometimes unattainable barriers for abortion providers.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Violent Trump supporters demonstrate what it really means to say “All Lives Matter”

Problems with racism exist nationally, but hit home hard in Wisconsin as well

Frequently when Black Lives Matter protesters make their presence heard at any given event, it’s almost a guarantee that those who oppose them and their efforts will counter with the shrill line of “All Lives Matter.”

They must feel clever in making that assertion. After all, all lives DO matter -- to say otherwise suggests that there is preference for one group over another. Therefore, in the minds of the All Lives Matter camp, they hold the erroneous opinion that the BLM movement is promoting itself over all other lives.

But this misses the point entirely: it’s not that BLM supporters are saying only black lives matter, but rather that it’s time that black lives start to matter as equally as white lives. All lives ARE supposed to matter -- but it seems that in reality, black lives matter less than white lives do, and tragic events over the past few years seem to demonstrate such.

In short, the “Black Lives Matter” moniker isn’t a promotion of black lives over all other lives, but rather for black lives (and others) to achieve real equality in America.

Right now we live in a nation, to paraphrase George Orwell, where all lives are equal, but some are more equal than others. The letter of the law may say that black lives are equal to white lives, but in practice that’s clearly not the case.

A recent campaign event held by Donald Trump grants us more visual detail of what the All Lives Matter counter-protesters are all about. During the event, a BLM protester is visibly pushed, shoved, and kicked by Trump supporters. As he’s being escorted out of the area -- still being shoved while leaving -- chants of “All Lives Matter” begin.

This is precisely the irony that the All Lives Matter crowd is apparently unaware of -- as they kick and berate a black man, they insist that all lives are equally important. The abuse they lay onto this individual is evidence that all lives don’t really matter to them. Their words don’t match their actions.

They are proud to expel and beat this man as Trump himself says to “get him out of here” indignantly on the microphone. What they don’t realize, however, is that their violent acts justify exactly what the Black Lives Matter movement is trying to expose: that the lives African Americans aren’t valued as equally as white lives are in America.

This certainly isn’t the only incident that puts this willful ignorance of a problem into light. Countless examples in law enforcement and the criminal justice system demonstrate the unfair treatment of blacks as well. When a black woman is sentenced to twenty years in prison for shooting a warning shot against an abusive husband, but a white teen is acquitted of all charges for driving drunk and killing four because his upbringing was “too affluent,” there’s clearly a double standard evident in this country for everyone to witness.

But these actions being a part of the presidential campaign trail, the fact that a frontrunner’s supporters are proud of their violence against a physically defenseless black individual (all while Trump seems to look on approvingly), is even more telling of the problem.

The process of selecting a presidential candidate should itself be an all-inclusive event, discriminating against none and surely putting no one in harm’s way for expressing an opinion. A protester at a closed event can rightly be removed, but not through violent means that puts his health at risk.

Our state has its problems with this as well -- black lives should matter, but they don’t seem to matter much in Wisconsin. We’re seemingly satisfied with an education system that has the largest achievement gap in the nation between white and black students. Our justice system is equally riddled with problems: blacks are imprisoned in Wisconsin at a rate that’s higher than any other state in the country.

These issues need to be addressed. And until our elected leaders fix them, we cannot allow anyone to say with a straight face that “All Lives Matter.”

Actions speak louder than words. And our actions, throughout the U.S. and in Wisconsin, are undoubtedly showing us that some lives don’t matter as much as others. We have the power to change that -- and we must change it, sooner rather than later.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The disturbing reality of Trump's anti-Muslim comments

GOP presidential contender produces imagery reminiscent of Nazi Germany

It’s a cardinal rule in politics that, if you want an opinion to be respected, it better not involve a Nazi or Hitler analogy.

But there’s really no other analogy that comes close to what Donald Trump has said about Muslims in America this week.

Trump suggested that it might be necessary to create a national database on all known American Muslims in the country. He wouldn’t rule out the need to give out special IDs to Muslims either, saying that, “certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country” once he becomes president.

Yikes. That to me conjures up images of Star of David emblems on the lapels of Jews in Germany. Only in Trump’s America, it might be a crescent moon on Muslims.

Trump also suggested that we may have to close down mosques across the country. He’s not alone in that thinking – 27 percent of Republicans support shutting down ALL mosques in the U.S. Among Trump’s supporters, nearly two out of every five support shutting them down.

Imagine the uproar there’d be if someone had suggested we should have closed down churches following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Yet the movement that purports to promote the idea of religious liberty only seems willing to do so when it’s their preferred belief structure that they’re defending.

Heaven forbid an elected official has to comply with the law when one of her constituents asks her to perform a service that every citizen is entitled to; but when it comes to Muslims, apparently some conservatives believe their places of worship should be shut down entirely.

That, in fact, is the exact opposite of religious liberty – that’s religious tyranny, promoting one belief as valid and dismissing another, and it’s wholly un-American.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sheriff David Clarke's disgraceful response to the attacks in Paris

Sheriff suggests that events should be used strategically by GOP to win elections next fall

The acts of terror that swept Paris are nothing less than shocking, despicable, cruel, and heartbreaking.

This violence has resulted in more than a hundred deaths, countless injuries, and a nation in shock. The world stands behind France, and those held responsible will face justice by authorities.

National leaders were quick to show their support for the people of France. Several prominent landmarks around the globe also displayed their heartfelt sorrow and sympathies for those affected by the attacks:

Sympathies and feelings of unity weren't the only feelings being shared, however. Others were more quick to place blame on others -- some, on liberal policies. Shocking and unbelievable tweets were collected by Mother Jones, which compiled the worst reactions on social media following the attacks.

Among them was a tweet from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a pro-gun (and pro-”parking in handicapped-accessible spaces during a Veterans event”) elected official who had no qualms suggesting using the events in Paris to promote his conservative causes:

This isn’t Sheriff Clarke’s first time saying such blatantly disrespectful things, and it probably won’t be his last. He is unfit for office, and should be removed by the people during his next election, if not sooner.

To use a tragic event like what we saw in Paris for personal gain, to promote the exploitation of the deaths of 127 victims (and hundreds of others who were injured) simply to propose winning a national election a year from now, is a disgraceful and pathetic suggestion, monikers that are equally fitting for Sheriff David Clarke himself.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

On at least three measures, Scott Walker is worse than Jim Doyle

On several measures, the current governor fares much worse than his Democratic predecessor

In 2010 while campaigning for governor, Scott Walker claimed that he could do a much better job than what the current officeholder, former Gov. Jim Doyle, was doing.

In no way was Doyle a perfect governor. He had his own set of challenges, and on many issues I disagree with how he handled things.

But if we’re looking strictly at how Walker’s time in office compares to Doyle’s, it’s clear that the better of the two was the Democrat.

Walker ran on being able to create more than 250,000 jobs in his first term in office, a promise he has failed to deliver more than three-quarters into his second term.

But Walker has failed in other arenas as well, and in several ways he’s worse than his predecessor.

Reducing Unemployment

On unemployment, Walker talks a huge game on how Wisconsin is now seeing significantly lower numbers. But it’s mostly talk, and doesn’t take into consideration that we still have more unemployed workers in Wisconsin today than what we had before the recession took off in the state in 2008.

In other words, we haven’t recovered on unemployment yet to pre-recession numbers.

But let’s take a look at how Walker has done compared to his predecessor. Former Gov. Doyle, who was in office in the heyday of the recession period, set in motion a budget aimed at alleviating poverty and helping people get back to work.

From the worst month in unemployment numbers to the last day his budget was in effect (in June 2011), Wisconsin saw numbers drop by about 2,554 less unemployed workers per month.

How does Walker fare? Since June 2011 to September 2015, we’ve seen improvement but not the same as how Doyle performed: Wisconsin saw a drop of about 2,093 less workers on unemployment per month. That’s a performance rate for Walker that’s 18 percent slower than what it was under former Gov. Jim Doyle.

Crime went up under Walker

We should also take a look at crime in the state under both governors. The change from Doyle to Walker is significant, and not in a good way.

In 2010, the last full year of Doyle’s time in office, the violent crime rate was around 248 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants in the state.

Walker’s numbers are again worse than Doyle’s. In 2014, the last available year of FBI crime statistics, Wisconsin saw a violent crime rate of more than 290 incidents per 100,000. That’s nearly a 17 percent increase in violent crime in the last four years of data.

This is in spite of Gov. Walker’s promise that his policies would make our state safer for law-abiding citizens. After passing concealed carry into law in 2011, for instance, crime in the state jumped by significant margins.

It’s clear that on the issue of crime Wisconsin was much better off under Doyle’s leadership than Walker’s.

Approval Ratings

Although not a barometer for a specific piece of legislation that either Doyle or Walker championed, it’s important nevertheless to examine how citizens of the state viewed both individuals.

At his worst point, Gov. Jim Doyle saw an approval rating of just 36 percent, and a disapproval rating of 56 percent. Keep in mind, however, that this was a time of growing unrest, of social upheaval and “tea party” politicians instigating fears of the recession lasting for a long time. Only six governors across the nation during this same time period had approval ratings over the 50 percent mark.

Walker remains in office, and has led during a time of national recovery. Yet his current approval rating, at 39 percent and at the start of his second term, is just three marks higher than Gov. Doyle’s was at the end of his tenure. Much worse, Gov. Walker’s disapproval rating is four points higher than Doyle’s disapproval was.

Looking at both the approval and disapproval numbers, Doyle’s net rating was -20 percent when he left office. Less than one year into his second term, Walker’s net approval sits at -21 percent.


This isn’t a defense of Jim Doyle so much as it is a reprimand of Scott Walker. We did indeed see some major struggles under Doyle’s tenure, and he could have done a lot of things differently.

But he also did a lot of things well, including passing legislation meant to strengthen the equal pay laws in the state (legislation that the Walker administration repealed), as well as creating a domestic partner registry for same-sex couples (which the Walker administration did not support).

Scott Walker maintained throughout his first campaign in 2010 that he could do better than Jim Doyle. On the measures listed above, and on others not mentioned, he’s doing significantly worse than his predecessor. It’s time that we recognize of the most recent governors in Wisconsin’s history, the Republican option was the worse of the two.

Numbers on unemployment were obtained through the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Numbers on crime were obtained through the FBI website.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Yes, Gov. Walker, you do deserve criticism after Oscar Mayer

Looking beyond Kraft Heinz, Walker has failed to stimulate economic prosperity in the state

Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t want to politicize the loss of 1,200 jobs at the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison. And he doesn’t appreciate critics that are “[looking] for someone to blame” for the losses casting their eyes in his direction.

But here’s the thing: recent criticism of the governor isn’t just about the most recent loss of jobs in the state’s capital city. Sure, a case could be made that Walker and his associates at the failing Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation should have seen the writing on the wall, and that early efforts to appease Kraft Heinz with offers to stay in Madison should have been made.

Beyond that, however, is a disturbing trend that the governor has failed to address: in this year alone, more than 10,000 layoff notices have been made to workers across the state. The 1,200 jobs lost at Kraft Heinz merely serve as a exclamation point on a larger problem, of an economy in shambles under Scott Walker’s watch.

Walker has tried so hard to make this state a pro-business one. He repealed legislation that strengthened equal pay for equal work laws, passed right-to-work (for less) legislation, removed collective bargaining rights for state workers, allowed corporations to write their own legislation (and subsequently signing it into law), and replaced the Department of Commerce with a quasi-private organization that has spent millions of taxpayer dollars more wildly than a teenager with a parent’s credit card.

After all of that, a company with nearly a century of history in his state’s capital city couldn’t find it in their best interests to stay, much less move elsewhere in the state. They instead plan to pack their bags and move in 2017.

So yes, the governor’s actions do deserve some criticism. But not just his actions with one organization or company: what he’s done for his entire tenure, his failure to produce the number of jobs he promised to create, and his relentless insistence that the state is prospering despite producing one of the slowest economies in the nation, should all be on the table for scrutinizing.

Republicans in the legislature and the governor himself put forth a slew of laws to the detriment of Wisconsin citizens in the hopes of luring businesses elsewhere to flock to Wisconsin. Instead of creating a corporate climate that appealed others to rush here, we can hardly keep the companies that remain in the state within our borders.

The citizenry isn’t blind to this: Walker’s recent failed presidential run has opened their eyes, and voters across the state now prefer a more liberal direction moving forward.

Walker will remain in office until at least 2018, and Republicans will do their best to try and manipulate election laws even further than they already have to retain legislative districts. Still, there’s reason for being optimistic: Wisconsinites from Beloit to Bayfield are waking up. And they’re not happy with the state that Walker has changed Wisconsin into.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Shouldn’t Gov. Walker, you know, apologize to the president?

Walker errantly blamed POTUS for anti-police rhetoric, but won't acknowledge evidence that shows he's wrong

During his ill-fated run for the Republican nomination for president, Gov. Scott Walker wrote a scathing op-ed piece that derided the number of police officers seemingly targeted by a growing number of anti-police criminals.

Walker blamed recent occurrences of these “assassinations” (as he called it) in part on the lack of support for law enforcement from President Barack Obama.

“In the last six years under President Obama, we’ve seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric,” Walker wrote. “Instead of hope and change, we’ve seen racial tensions worsen and a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.”

Those are very strong allegations for the governor to make against the sitting president. They’re especially strong because they stand against the reasonable evidence: Obama has expressed his support for law enforcement on numerous occasions, and in fact violence against police has been on the decline under his watch.

Police shooting deaths are down by 16 percent this year, a trend that has been largely ignored through the rhetoric of conservative politicians like Gov. Walker.

The governor really should have corrected himself when he first made the allegations. But now it turns out that one of the two examples found within his op-ed of police “assassinations” was actually a “carefully staged” police suicide.
Initially hailed as a hero after his death, Fox Lake, Illinois, police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz is now likely to be remembered by another label: a betrayer.

What once appeared to be the killing of an officer in the line of duty turned out to be “a carefully staged suicide,” George Filenko, Lake County Major Crimes Task Force commander, said Wednesday.
Walker used Gliniewicz’s original tale -- that he had been murdered by three suspicious characters -- as an example of Obama failing to calm down anti-police rhetoric, resulting in a hero’s death.

Instead, Gliniewicz was a criminal himself, and had staged his own death.

When questioned about the change of events, Gov. Walker responded as he typically does when he’s found to be wrong: by not acknowledging it at all.
Gov. Scott Walker is not commenting on news that a police death he called an “assassination” in a column bashing President Barack Obama and anti-police rhetoric was actually a suicide.
The problem is further confounded by additional problems: while violent crime has gone up under Walker’s watch, nationally there has been a decline in such crime. To put it a different way, Walker has done a worse job keeping his constituents safer while Obama has actually improved things in the country overall.

In light of this statistical evidence, and especially after it’s been revealed that one of the “assassinations” Walker blamed the president for was really a suicide by a disgraced cop, the governor really ought to have a statement on the issue. And that statement should be an emphatic apology.

But I guess being governor means never having to say your sorry.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dean Knudson provides the biggest cop-out excuse yet of the Oscar Mayer plant closure

GOP transformed WI with unprecedented jobs reforms, and all workers got back were Kohl’s Cash rewards

It was announced this week that the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison would be shutting its doors down for good over the next year or so. The closure means 1,200 employees will be out of a job, with the corporate arm of Oscar Mayer moving to Chicago and its blue collar jobs most likely heading to Davenport, Iowa.

Naturally, many are upset about losing a historical Madisonian landmark that has been around for as long as anyone living in the community can remember. Political leaders were not exempt from this sense of loss, and expressed their outrage, sadness, and bewilderment at the proposed move.

Democratic State Sen. Jon Erpenbach expressed himself through his Twitter account:

And Cap Times reporter Jessie Opoien quoted Erpenbach’s additional statements in another tweet:

But one other lawmaker chose to stand up for Oscar Mayer, and expressed disgust at Erpenbach’s characterization of the plant closure. Rep. Dean Knudson, a Republican in the state Assembly, noted that closures were happening around other parts of the country too, and took issue with Erpenbach and others for politicizing the closure.

Knudson is right about one thing: there are closures elsewhere (though the Madison closure accounts for more than 46 percent of the layoffs of all of them). But why should that exempt criticism? Didn’t we pass legislation to not only ensure businesses would stay in the state, but that they’d be tripping over each other to get here too? That’s the way that Gov. Scott Walker characterized each and every job “reform” that he and legislative Republicans passed.

Ending the Department of Commerce and replacing it with the private-public hybrid Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation was supposed to create jobs. It hasn’t, and the group has spent millions of dollars in failing to produce meaningful job growth in the state ever since its inception.

Ending collective bargaining rights for state workers, and making Wisconsin a right-to-work state was supposed to free up dollars for investment, resulting in a trickle-down effect and creating more jobs. That hasn’t panned out either, and some economists believe we actually lost jobs as a result of those policies.

The state’s law strengthening punishments against businesses that paid women less than their male counterparts was supposedly stifling job growth, according to Walker and Co. But the law’s repeal early in his tenure didn’t secure new business development -- it only lessened the ability for women to seek equality in the workplace.

And yes, closures happened elsewhere. But Iowa and Illinois, where Oscar Mayer is moving its corporate and blue collar jobs away from Madison, both have higher corporate tax burdens than the state of Wisconsin.

If removing collective bargaining rights, reducing the impact that union workers have in bettering their lives in the workplace, repealing equal wage laws, and wildly spending untold millions of taxpayer dollars through the WEDC cannot retain one of the biggest manufacturing plants that the capital city of this state has to offer, then what can?

And it’s not just Oscar Mayer: Wisconsin is set to see more than 10,000 layoff notices in 2015 alone. We could even double the number of layoffs seen last year.

But yeah, I guess Rep. Knudson is right -- we shouldn’t politicize this. Because, if Republicans have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t politicize anything bad that ever happens. That’s in poor taste, and I suppose their sensitive egos just can’t handle it.

Forgive me for the blatant sarcasm -- I’ve had enough of these BS commentaries from supposed “masters” of economic success. Wisconsin is failing, and much like the Roman Emperor Nero, Republicans would rather play the fiddle and watch the state burn to ashes than do anything positive for a change, much less accept valid criticism of their effectiveness as leaders.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

GAB update: Scott Fitzgerald hopes to isolate wayward Republicans from constituents

GOP leadership won't disclose where secret talks are occurring outside of the Capitol

Senate Republican leaders, hoping to sway wayward members of their caucus to support a bill that would dismantle the Government Accountability Board (which oversees elections and political ethics complaints), have scheduled a meeting outside of the Capitol building.

From WEAU:
The Senate was expected to convene Tuesday to vote on the bills but GOP Senate leaders canceled the floor period. They instead scheduled a private meeting where Republican senators can hash out their differences.
One has to question why the meeting was scheduled outside of the rotunda. Perhaps Wisconsin residents, concerned with the partisan nature of what would replace the GAB, are voicing their worries to wary Senate Republicans who have yet to step in-line with other hardline conservatives.

And perhaps Senate leaders hope to isolate these rebellious Republicans in order to prevent even more constituents from voicing their concerns.

Whatever their reasoning, it’s clear that Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald doesn’t want anyone interfering with the caucus’s discussions. The location of the secret meeting isn’t being disclosed (emphasis in bold added):
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's spokeswoman, Myranda Tanck, said Tuesday afternoon the Republicans were meeting outside the building. She didn't immediately respond to an email seeking the location.
Wisconsin residents should see clearly now more than ever: when it comes to openness in government, Republicans just don’t care.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Let's save the GAB -- contact these Republican State Senators

Elections oversight deserves to be in nonpartisan board's hands

The Government Accountability Board is on life support...for now.

Though a bill meant to dismantle the GAB (replacing it with two partisan-derived commissions) passed the Assembly, the Senate has yet to take the matter up -- and for good reason.

The votes just aren’t there for Republicans.

Several members of the GOP Senate caucus are signaling their distaste for the proposed changes, which would remove nonpartisan judges from overseeing the elections processes in the state.

Hardline conservatives have lambasted the GAB as a failed experiment. But the board is consistently lauded nationally for being a prime example of what statewide elections commissions should look like. Editorial boards across the state (even those that haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with the GAB) have also expressed their support for keeping the Government Accountability Board intact, and have questioned the real motivations behind the proposed changes.

No, what really irks some conservatives is how the nonpartisan GAB saw clear through the smoke and understood how ravenous the Scott Walker campaign for governor had been in trying to steer fundraising from donors to third party interest groups.

Millions of dollars changed hands this way, including a hefty donation from a mining company that scored a huge win following the election -- the governor’s signature on a much desired pro-mining bill (which happened to be written by the very mining company that had made the donation in the first place).

Coordination between certain groups like these and candidates’ committees is illegal. Any level-headed Wisconsinite would look at this situation, and determine that it warranted an investigation.

And that’s exactly what the GAB saw, and did. Because of this investigation, however, conservatives have repeatedly sought to somehow expose the GAB through government audits. When those audits turned up no damning evidence against the GAB, these spiteful conservatives decided to dismantle it anyway.

But some conservatives see through this ruse -- a handful of Senate Republicans, understanding that the Government Accountability Board isn’t the witch-hunting caricature that some conservative groups claim it to be, are using their rational and critical thinking skills to slow down the plan to dismantle the GAB.

In doing so, they are allowing us the people a chance to have our say. There are seven Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed some concern about the proposed changes to elections oversight in the state. They are:

  • Sen. Robert Cowles
  • Sen. Sheila Harsdorf
  • Sen. Jerry Petrowski
  • Sen. Howard Marklein
  • Sen. Luther Olsen
  • Sen. Richard Gudex
  • and Sen. Terry Moulton

    Each of these senators, whether they represent you or not, deserves contact of some kind over the next few days. Please call or email them (clicking the links will take you to their government home pages), urging them to stand steadfast against the transparently deplorable attempts to dismantle the Government Accountability Board.

    A partisan elections board is not an unfamiliar thing to Wisconsin. It was because such a board failed to stop corruption that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board model was adopted. Now, because corruption was uprooted and exposed by this board, some lawmakers want to change things to the way they were.

In any other place, moving towards that change would be called that idiocy. In Wisconsin, it’s apparently what state Republicans want to see happen. Well, hopefully not all of them.