Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sheriff Clarke uses tragedies in Chicago to try and score political points

But Clarke disregards murder rates in his home county, which mirrors Chicago's numbers

There should be no doubting about whether Chicago experienced a surge in violence this year. More than 750 murders took place in the Windy City this year, attributable to a rise in gang violence.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, not one to miss an opportunity to peddle his right-wing views on guns, blames Chicago’s rise on their restrictive laws.

“It’s time Democrat (sic) ghetto hellholes like Chicago pay attention to what’s happening in their pro-gun controlled cities instead of learning the hard way that criminals don’t care what laws are on the books,” Clarke wrote.


There is, of course, some glaring problems with Clarke’s assertions – namely, that it isn’t Chicago’s gun laws that are at fault. In truth, Chicago’s notorious gun restrictions have been watered down substantially over the past five years. And similar assertions by Donald Trump – who said Chicago has the toughest gun laws “by far” – were deemed false by Politifact earlier this year.

What’s more, Chicago’s rate of murder is almost exactly what the city of Milwaukee’s rates are. For every 100,000 citizens in Chicago during 2016, there were approximately 27 murders. That’s a gruesome number, to be sure – but the rate in Milwaukee during 2016 was approximately 25 murders for every 100,000 citizens. *

Clarke doesn’t have an answer for why the murder rate is so high in his home county – he doesn’t even acknowledge it in his op-ed. Nor does he acknowledge other gun control successes, like New York City’s low murder rate of 3.8 murders per 100,000 this year, a city that has more restrictive gun laws than Chicago.

Clarke’s main assertion, that Chicago’s problems stem from its gun laws, is flawed. Milwaukee has much less restrictive gun laws, but you are nearly as likely to be murdered there as you are in Chicago.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff needs to step off of his high horse, recognize the problems happening in his own home county, and stop trying to score political points off of the tragedies that are occurring elsewhere. His solutions have proven to be failures – and if he wants to be part of the conversation on what can be done to help, he needs to offer something much more constructive.

* Numbers on murder rates are based off of projected population growth, and approximate statistics on murders obtained for Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Melissa Sargent provides the voice Democrats in Wisconsin need right now (and perhaps in 2018, too)

Democratic legislator recognizes that, on the issues, Wisconsin citizens support progressive values

Melissa Sargent, a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Assembly representing parts of Madison, recently wrote a poignant op-ed that was published in the Capital Times. It provided great insight into what progressives need to stand for in the aftermath of the 2016 election season.

Her essay included reasoned arguments in favor of pushing for progressive policies, and (dare I say?) sounded very...


“People support strong progressive values and legislation,” Sargent wrote, giving examples to back her case:
  • ”Progressives support public education and Republicans cut from it," Sargent wrote, singling out how the GOP gutted over a billion dollars from schools. Public education is clearly a priority for most Wisconsinites, and progressives are leading the charge on providing it the funding it needs statewide, Sargent points out.
  • On gun policy, Sargent echoes the sentiments of a majority of Wisconsinites. “Only 12 percent of Wisconsinites are against universal background checks for all gun purchases,” she writes. “Progressives don’t want to take anybody’s gun. They want guns to be safe, secure and in the hands of law-abiding citizens.”
  • Sargent also observed that while many in the state want economic growth, most do not want it at the expense of environmental protections. “Our heritage and culture are built on the protection of our natural resources and the promise of clean air and water.”
  • On marijuana legalization – yes, even on that contentious issue – Sargent brings reasonable arguments, and an agreeable position that most Wisconsinites back. She knows that, “prohibition has led to an increase in racial disparities and missed opportunities for state revenue.” And she rightly cites that 3-out-of-5 Wisconsinites agree with her that it's time to decriminalize recreational marijuana use.
This is precisely the message that Democrats need to convey to everyone they encounter across the state. Progressive values are Wisconsin values; and Wisconsin values are progressive values.

Image via Melissa Sargent's Assembly website
A few names in the Democratic Party have been suggested as possible choices to run for the governor’s office, whether Scott Walker runs again or not. But it surprises me that Melissa Sargent’s name hasn’t been among them.

Sargent’s story is inspiring enough – she has been in the legislature since 2013, but before that she was a small business owner. What caused her to take the leap into politics? Her children.

Several people in her neighborhood had urged her to run for a vacant Dane County board position. Sargent was hesitant, but when her children came home and complained about doing a community project for school, she told them to tough it out, according to Then she chose to heed her own advice and run for office, campaigning for that board position while still pregnant with her youngest son.

Her story would resonate with all of Wisconsin’s citizens. We're a hard-working state; Melissa Sargent is a hard-working legislator. And her progressive streak would embolden the Democratic Party’s base, something previous candidates for governor regrettably couldn’t do.

Those who fear that she’d be a Madison-based politician need to listen to what she says about that, too:
I am not a progressive because I am from Madison. I am a progressive because I know that government works best when it works for all of us. I know that Wisconsin is a progressive state in the sense that we believe in helping those around us. I know that when we all do better, we all do better.
Sargent is providing a strong voice for progressives following some pretty devastating defeats. Her leadership, optimism and dedication to fighting for what’s right in the state should be recognized. And she ought to be considered as a possible contender in 2018’s race for the governorship for the Democratic Party.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Discounting NY, CA, Madison and other “blue” areas: is it “rural elitism?"

Nobody's opinion is better than anyone else's on the basis of geographical location

If you don’t count Texas, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by more than 3.6 million votes in the popular vote totals for president last month.

That statistic is misleading, though, because of course Texas voters count. Every single voter who cast a ballot in the state of Texas is a citizen of the United States, and discounting their preferences is a stupid way to make sense of, or otherwise qualifying, the results of an election.

So, too, is discounting the worth of “blue” states votes that went for Clinton. But conservative sites like the Daily Mail and Drudge Report are peddling the idea that, if you don’t count New York and California, Trump won the popular vote by more than three million votes.
All of the voters in those two states matter because they’re all American citizens. To suggest that, “Oh, it’s just New York or California that gave Clinton a popular vote win” is a snide, shorthanded way of saying those states, and their residents, don’t really matter.

Others were quick to notice the problems with such logic:

Many across the country have suggested that urban areas are worth ignoring, and others have said we have the Electoral College precisely because we want to prioritize smaller states and rural areas, to ensure the candidates travel to places outside of New York and California (click here for why that’s illogical thinking).

This idea, of discounting geographical areas on the basis of whether their urban or not, isn’t limited to the national level either. Responding recently to Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, who recently described Madison as a “communist community,” former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz pointed out that derision of this nature is about much more.

From the Isthmus, Cieslewicz writes, “I’m going to guess that [Duffy’s remarks were] a calculated attempt to feed red meat” to a conservative audience, adding that, “Duffy got a rise out of just the folks he wanted to irritate.”

Cieslewicz is quick to say that we should “get our fellow Badgers to think of us as maybe the eccentric uncle in the family but not as the obnoxious cousin with the trust fund and the attitude,” and maybe he’s right to a certain extent – my conversations with people in rural areas usually indicate that Madison is considered too “hoity toity” for their tastes.

But dismissing certain geographical areas for helping boost the popular vote totals of Clinton is also something we cannot overlook. People who scoff at urban centers as being “different” than themselves are in dangerous territory. If they fail to step back their rhetoric, they risk becoming “rural elitists,” of considering themselves somehow better than a substantial part of the country.

No one is better than someone else because of where they live. Everyone’s opinions should be judged based on their merit, not their zip code, and we shouldn’t try to subtract votes from either candidate just because a substantial portion of them came from an area that votes a certain way. Yes, people do live in “bubbles.” But it’s important to acknowledge when you yourself live in one, and to try and see the world from a different perspective whenever possible.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Trump says he's focused on “jobs, jobs, jobs” -- but so did Scott Walker in 2011 (how’d that work out, by the way?)

Walker’s so-called “focus” on jobs, and “trickle down” economics slowed the state’s performance

President-elect Donald Trump came to Wisconsin earlier this week as part of his “thank you tour” across the country. Trump was greeted by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Gov. Scott Walker, and presented by these three with Green Bay Packers jerseys, probably dooming any remaining chances that the green-and-gold had of making the playoffs this year.

What can I say, I’m a bit superstitious when it comes to football.

Trump did his part in thanking his Wisconsin hosts, through the only medium he seems comfortable using: Twitter.
“Thank you Wisconsin!” Trump wrote. “My Administration will be focused on three very important words: jobs, jobs, jobs!”

If that sounds familiar, that’s because Gov. Scott Walker said the same thing almost six years ago, during his first inaugural address in 2011.

“We will work tirelessly to restore economic growth and vibrancy to our state” he said back then. “My top three priorities are jobs, jobs, and jobs.”

"Hipster" Scott Walker was focused on jobs years
before Donald Trump was (but not really)
How did that work out? Not so good. The rest of the nation created jobs during the recovery at a rate that was 34 percent faster than our state under Walker’s watch.

And when people called Walker out on it? Well, it wasn’t HIS fault. He’s blamed his failures on the recall elections (even after it was shown they didn’t hinder job creation at all). He’s blamed his political opponents. He’s blamed the war in Libya, Obamacare and the fiscal cliff. Heck, he’s even blamed workers themselves.

One thing he’s never blamed? Himself. And he really should, because his policies have left us 55,000 100,000+ jobs behind where we should be, had we kept pace with the rest of the nation.

Now, we have a Republican president-elect who is echoing our Republican governor’s words. I’m hoping he will he be more successful in creating jobs than our governor was -- his success is, after all, America’s success -- but I’m not optimistic. As Joe Conason points out:
While Trump’s proposed corporate tax cut may well bring home money for business investment, the overall history of tax cuts as a Republican economic panacea is worse than disappointing. So far every signal suggests that he will pursue the same plutocratic approach favored by all presidents of his party, only more extreme.
“Trickle down” economics didn’t work for the nation in the past. It didn’t work for Gov. Scott Walker either. And it probably won’t work when Donald Trump tries it.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Jesse Kremer thinks college campuses -- safer than his own hometown -- need concealed carry

Kremer wants guns in campuses, but evidence shows concealed carry doesn't make state safer

State Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) really wants guns to be allowed in college classrooms.

Current policy at university campuses across the state allows students to carry weapons to classes and about campus itself. But universities are granted discretion on whether concealed carry within buildings will be tolerated. Many have opted to place signs outside of their buildings stating that no concealed weapons would be allowed indoors.

This is the right of the universities to do. But Kremer wants to change that. Last year, he introduced a bill that would have done away with the right of campuses to discourage concealed carry inside their buildings, but the bill went nowhere. He intends to submit the bill again this year to an even more conservative state legislature.

He defended his position in a forum recently in Madison. From the Daily Cardinal:
Kremer argues students might face violence within classrooms that they would then be unable to protect themselves against.
Kremer may need to check out the FBI Crime statistics, because campuses are one of the safest places to be on a per capita basis. In fact, the rate of crime on UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee campuses are safer than the village Kremer hails from.

The violent crime rates listed below demonstrate as much:

The rates above indicate that not only are campuses extremely safe places to be at, but that they’re also safer than Kewaskum is by huge margins. Even the campus at UW-Milwaukee, nestled in a city with high crime rates, is 2.7 times safer than Kewaskum on a per capita basis.

Kremer’s obsession with guns has resulted in his submitting legislation in the past (and likely future) that is, in reality, a solution in search of a problem. The campuses are already safe, and concealed carry won’t suddenly make them safer.

That’s a fact that Kremer won’t likely acknowledge. He continues to peddle concealed carry as a way to reduce crime and make Wisconsinites safer. Does he know that Wisconsin actually saw an increase of crime after concealed carry passed, including a 72 percent increase in the murder rate, debunking the deterrence rationale completely? It’s hard to tell.

One thing we can be certain of, however, is that we don’t need Kremer’s proposal to become law. It’s not needed, it’s not wanted, and his obsession needs to be quelled.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Six years on, Walker’s failed jobs promise should be remembered

State would have created 55,000 100,000+ (see update) additional jobs if it had kept pace with US average

UPDATE: I'm not a statistician by nature, but I do like to look at numbers from time to time. Still, when I mix up the numbers, I'll admit to it -- and Jake made sure to correct me. See why the state is actually 100,000 or more jobs behind at Jake's Economic TA Funhouse (and thanks for the catch!)

Scott Walker made a very ambitious claim more than six years ago during his first campaign for governor. He claimed that, if elected, his policies would create 250,000 private sector jobs in his first term in office.

It’s important to remember a promise like that because Walker was elected, in large part, because of it. At the time his critics lambasted him for pulling the number out of thin air. Walker chose the number specifically because it had been done in the past, but his six-point plan didn’t explain specifically how he had arrived at the number for himself -- even when it was blown up to size 50-font to make it 68 pages long (yes, that actually happened).

We're six years out from that promise, so Wisconsin should be in pretty good shape by now...right?

The newest quarterly jobs report was released this week, detailing job gains in all fifty states, plus DC, from June 2015 to June 2016. Where does Wisconsin rank?

In officially creating 25,105 private sector jobs during that time, Wisconsin is ranked 31st among the states and DC. Heck, Wisconsin is even behind the U.S. Virgin Islands from June 2015 to June 2016. The territory created jobs at a rate of 1.04 percent from year-to-year; Wisconsin’s rate was 1.02 percent. Overall, the U.S. grew jobs at about 1.5 percent year-over-year.

The second quarter federal jobs report shows that the economy in Wisconsin is still struggling more than six years since Gov. Scott Walker’s promise to make the state a leader in jobs growth. The promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first four years is a failed one, even with two and a half more years to get the job done.

The second quarter jobs report provides an additional advantage for observation: it was in the second quarter of 2011 that Scott Walker’s first Republican rubber-stamped budget went into effect. We can easily see how Wisconsin under Walker’s watch has done, and compare it against the rest of the nation during that five year period.

Since 2011, Wisconsin has grown private sector jobs at a rate of 6.99 percent. That’s an average rate of growth of about 1.4 percent per year.

That sounds pretty decent, but don’t celebrate quite yet: the U.S. rate of private sector jobs growth during that same timeframe was about 9.39 percent, or about 1.88 percent per year. In other words, the rest of the nation has, on average, created jobs at a rate that’s 34 percent faster than Wisconsin.

If we had created jobs at the national average rate, Wisconsin would have created more than 55,000 additional jobs over the past five years. But we didn’t create jobs at the national rate -- and have instead seen 20 consecutive quarters of below-average jobs growth in the state since Walker’s first budget took effect.

Scott Walker said in 2011 that his top three priorities for the state would be “jobs, jobs, and jobs.” Yet Wisconsin has fallen behind the rest of the nation on every private sector jobs metric. It's important to remember his promises from six years ago, because apparently they don't matter to the governor anymore.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Scott Walker is wrong to suggest changes to recount law

The law is meant to give every candidate assurances of a sound and fair election

After attending the Christmas tree lighting at the state Capitol, Scott Walker spoke to reporters on the need to change the recount process in Wisconsin.

“It’s certainly something to look at,” Walker told reporters.

Here we go again.

Walker has, in the past, spoken on the need to change the John Doe law and the Government Accountability Board (though only after he received what he deemed as unfavorable treatment from those respective institutions). Not that’s it’s news to anyone who pays enough attention, but when Walker (or any of his surrogates) says “let’s change something,” it’s expected that his Republican-run legislature will go after it on command.

The bells are ringing, and it’s only a matter of time before GOP legislators react to Walker’s recent calls for changing the recount.

On that issue, Walker added to his comments above, “To me, it seems like a recount is most valuable if you think it was close and you want to challenge it to make sure that all the votes that were legitimate and legal were cast.”

A lot of people may agree with that sentiment, and it’s a reasonable way to look at how one should generally use the recount. But it’s also not a decision for Walker, nor anyone else, to make.

If a candidate believes there’s a need for a recount, they have the right to challenge the results of an election that they’re involved with. It doesn’t matter if that’s Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein, or anyone else -- any and every candidate has the right to receive assurances that the election was sound, conducted fairly for all parties (and voters) involved.

There are conditions to this. A candidate who isn’t within 0.25 percent of the winner doesn’t have the right to request a state-funded recount -- they must provide the funding themselves.

Green Party candidate for president Jill Stein did precisely that. The state bears no expense toward the recount, and she is using the law exactly as it was intended.

Walker is free to gripe about the recount, but he’s wrong to suggest that the law needs changing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

State lawmakers should ignore calls to arm up our schools

Concealed carry on school grounds makes little sense, given its failure to deter crime elsewhere in WI so far

Perhaps because of their big electoral wins in November, several voices on the right are now calling for an even stronger conservative agenda, including even more loosening of gun laws in the state of Wisconsin. Among them is Owen Robinson of Boots and Sabers, who is advocating for concealed carry to be legal on school grounds across the state.

He recently wrote in the West Bend Daily News:
There is no rational justification for continuing banning guns on school grounds… Despite the dire warnings of opponents of the Second Amendment, Wisconsin has not turned into the Wild West and neither has any other state that permits concealed carry.
Of course, the notion that Wisconsin must turn into the “Wild West” in order for something to be seen as a failure is utterly preposterous. Concealed carry itself was sold on the idea that it would deter crime in Wisconsin. It has not, and in fact violent crime and murder rates have gone up since its implementation, the latter going up by more than 72 percent in the first five years of concealed carry being signed into law.

So we can dismiss the notion that concealed carry has been a success. We should similarly dismiss the idea that it would make our schools safer.

Teachers should not be armed in the classroom -- accidents can and have happened, and we shouldn’t be delusional to believe that arming more educators will somehow make things safer.

The track record for concealed carry holders stopping mass shooting events has also been spotty, at best, and at worst non-existent.

To believe that teachers -- who would not be trained as law enforcement officers are -- would somehow be able to shift the trend is a fantasy of lawmakers hellbent on arming society to the teeth.

To reiterate the main point: concealed carry doesn’t deter crime. Nor does it lower instances of violence. Wisconsin is a case study in that.

We shouldn’t willingly ignore the evidence in order expand the practice of concealed carry into the classrooms. And we shouldn’t ignore the fact that a majority of Wisconsinites -- including a majority of gun-owning citizens in the state -- oppose the idea also. In short, calls for allowing concealed carry on school grounds should be ignored; and Gov. Scott Walker, should he receive such a bill on his desk, should soundly veto it.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

“Jobs fail” streak under Scott Walker continues unabated, 40 percent slower than under Jim Doyle

Latest release demonstrates the worst second quarter jobs report yet under Walker’s administration

Wisconsin’s jobs report for the second quarter of 2016 came out last week, detailing how many actual jobs were created from June of 2015 to June of 2016.

The numbers are not that inspiring. The state added 25,656 private sector jobs during that time period, a rate of growth of about 1.04 percent. The current rate of jobs growth pales in comparison when compared to the previous governor’s last budget.

Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, passed his last budget in 2009. Since budgets in Wisconsin are two years in length, his last budget lasted until June of 2011 -- six months into Gov. Scott Walker’s first term in office. In the final year of Doyle’s last budget (from June 2010 to June 2011) Wisconsin created 39,909 jobs, a 1.7 percent rate of private sector jobs growth. The latest jobs report, then, demonstrates a 40 percent slowdown in jobs creation since Doyle's budget expired.

We can’t yet compare Wisconsin’s latest jobs numbers to that of other states -- Walker’s administration released them a month early, a practice they’ve been keeping with since the 2012 recall election. The nation’s jobs numbers, including breakdowns of state-by-state totals, won’t be out until next month. But we can get a little creative with the numbers to demonstrate how bad it’s gotten under Walker.

We can, for instance, compare the rate of private jobs in Wisconsin since Walker’s first budget took effect to 2016 with numbers from states starting in 2011 to just 2015 -- that is, see how many states still fared better than Wisconsin when we're given a one-year disadvantage. And this is where the numbers should really start to worry you: Wisconsin, from June 2011-2016, did worse than 29 other states and DC during the years of 2011-2015.

When compared to the rest of the nation, Wisconsin is far behind the rest. From Lisa Speckhard of the Cap Times:
When Gov. Scott Walker began his term in January 2011, he vowed to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs before the end of his first term. Since that time, private-sector jobs have increased by 198,700, representing a 8.2 percent increase. Nationally, private-sector jobs have increased by 12.2 percent since January 2011.
In other words, Wisconsin under Scott Walker is creating jobs at a rate that’s 32 percent slower than the national average.

This hasn’t stopped Walker’s Department of Workforce Development from trying to play with the numbers to make themselves look better. Earlier this summer, the Walker administration put out a release, using less reliable monthly jobs estimates, claiming that Wisconsin had created almost 50,000 jobs from June 2015 to June 2016.

That’s obviously not what we’re seeing now, under more accurate data. Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse shows us the difference:
Private sector jobs Original June release +49,900 (+1.66%) 
Actual QCEW report +25,656 (+1.04%) 
Jake also points out that, “the 1.04% growth is well below the national rate of 1.92% in that time period.”

Still not convinced? Let’s see a graphical representation of how well Wisconsin has done under Walker:

Remember that the first bar in the graph (the second quarter report ending in 2011) is an all-Doyle budget cycle. Since that time, we have not had a report that has outpaced that last Doyle year.

Some other things to consider:
  • Gov. Walker made a promise that his administration would create AT LEAST 250,000 jobs in four years. It’s been almost six years, and we have yet to reach even 80 percent of that pledge. If we keep up the current pace, we won’t make it to Walker’s jobs pledge until the halfway point of 2018.

  • When criticism of his jobs creation methods was levied in his direction early in his first term, Walker claimed that it was protesters and the recall election that stunted growth. Once we got past all that, Walker claimed we would “see a significant increase” in job creation going forward. The graph above puts that argument to rest -- four years out, we are seeing private sector job growth that’s 36 percent slower than the year of Walker’s gubernatorial recall election. 
Put simply, the policies of Scott Walker haven’t grown jobs in our state. If anything, what little growth we HAVE seen happened IN SPITE of Walker’s trickle down policies. A new set of policies is sorely needed, and unfortunately we’re not going to get it from this administration or this legislature.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A popular vote for president would expand the campaign map, would not shrink it

So-called “conventional wisdom” about the effects of changing to a popular vote vs. keeping the Electoral College are veritably false

It didn’t take long for Donald Trump to change his position on the Electoral College.

Just days after the election this year, Trump had implied he preferred abolishing the Electoral College in favor of a popular vote system selecting the president. In prior years, Trump expressed the same distaste for the current system.

After winning last week, Trump told 60 Minutes’s Lesley Stahl, “I’m not going to change my mind just because I won. I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.”

But earlier this week, Trump did change his mind...

...and suggested he’d have an easier time campaigning under an alternative, popular vote model:

The argument Trump is making here is a common one made by defenders of the Electoral College, that a system based on a popular vote would limit where candidates would campaign. This line of thinking suggests that candidates wouldn’t travel to other areas of the country that they otherwise do under the Electoral College, opting instead to stay in California, New York, Florida, and Texas, the most populated states.

In other words, the “small” states would lose out, and only a handful of cities would gain the attention of the candidates.

But as I pointed out last week, a popular vote system wouldn’t result in less travel for candidates to engage voters across the country -- it could actually require them to travel MORE places to court voters.

To do the absolute bare minimum of campaigning in order to reach a majority of Americans in the most populated metro areas across the country, a candidate would have to travel to these 24 areas:
New York, New York
Los Angeles, California
Chicago, Illinois
Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland
San Francisco, California and San Jose, California
Boston, Massachusetts
Dallas, Texas
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Houston, Texas
Miami, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Detroit, Michigan
Seattle, Washington
Phoenix, Arizona
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cleveland, Ohio
Denver, Colorado
San Diego, California
Orlando, Florida
Portland, Oregon
Tampa, Florida
St. Louis, Missouri
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Charlotte, North Carolina
Those areas are within 18 different states, plus the District of Columbia -- so 19 different geopolitical areas within the United States. That sounds like a small amount of travel, but consider these two items:
1. This list is the BARE MINIMUM needed to reach over 50 percent of the nation’s citizenry. Assuming two or more candidates were competing, you could count on them overlapping in their campaign travels. The list above assumes a single candidate wins every one of those cities with 100 percent of the vote. That’s not going to happen, and will likely result in even more travel for the candidates than just the metropolitan areas on this list.
2. The 2016 states map that candidates traveled was smaller than the list above. After the two major candidates were selected at their respective party conventions, the campaigns traveled to just 12 different states 94 percent of the time. They traveled to four states 53 percent of the time. And most of their travels ignored so-called “small states” altogether.
The old adage suggesting that a change to a popular vote for president would result in candidates “camping out” in big cities is certainly false. If anything, the two points I make above suggests a change would expand the campaign map, requiring candidates to travel to more places than they would under the system offered by the Electoral College.

It’s time once and for all that we begin the process of removing the current system, and providing the American people with a system that instead respects their popular vote wishes. If we’re to call our nation a leader in democracy, the least we can do is respect the democratic preferences of the governed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A quick note about the absurdity of the Electoral College

A migration of less than two percent of Clinton voters to the Midwest would have won her the race

Here is a quick little note about the absurdity of the Electoral College.

If just 1.8 percent of Hillary Clinton voters from the state of California -- less than one in every fifty voters who cast a ballot in her favor -- had instead moved to one of three states just thirty days earlier, we could have seen a Clinton victory over Donald Trump.

Wisconsin’s ten electoral votes would have required an additional 27,000 votes from California in her favor. Michigan would have required an additional 12,000 votes. And in Pennsylvania, Clinton would have needed 68,000 of those additional California votes votes to win.

That’s 110,000 ballots that Clinton actually had, but that she needed in three different states. Had the voters in California -- again, just 1.8 percent of the total she won there -- lived in those three states instead, she would have won the presidency.

But simply because of geographical state borders, which make no distinction from one U.S. citizen to another in any other facet of our government, we give votes from different states higher or lower weights. We reward states for having smaller populations with more importance, despite Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan citizens being equal to California citizens in every other way imaginable.

And that’s an absurd thing to do, in what’s supposed to be the world’s example of how a democracy should be. Each citizen's vote should carry the same weight as every other. The Electoral College needs to be removed -- a point agreed upon by the president-elect himself.

Total state counts and 1.8 percent figure based off of final results found here, as of 11/14/2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nazi graffiti found in Monona park

We must condemn racism, whether invisible or overt, before it becomes normalized in our communities

You would like to think that these reports of racial-based graffiti can’t happen in your town. When they do, it’s terrifying.

In my hometown of Monona, Wisconsin, incidents of graffiti came to the attention of some residents who went to a small playground in the community of under 8,000.

From the social media site Nextdoor, an eyewitness account:
Someone has tagged a bunch of swastika's and "Trump" signs with a sharpie in multiple locations on the nice playground gear in Oneida Park. Pretty sad seeing our children play here. When my son told me about it, I went and tried to clean it off but the product I was using wasn't the right tool for the job. Might go back later with a stronger cleaner. Please keep an eye out. Anybody know who you'd report this to for proper cleanup?
I myself, living not far from where the incidents in question happened, had to see it with my own eyes to believe it. By the time I had arrived, some of the images had been removed by the City of Monona. But some remained in place…


Picnic table

It is disturbing to see this imagery, especially in light of the election this past week. White supremacy, whether the pundits will acknowledge it or not, played a big role in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. And it’s not just something that’s apparent in certain areas -- it’s in local communities, even in liberal Dane County.

This type of blatant hate speech troubles me. It also redoubles my belief that a true and honest discussion on race needs to happen in this country, as well as locally. We cannot continue to ignore the signs of racial strife, and these visible examples of racial hatred, that keep making themselves seen. But we also cannot ignore the invisible parts of society where this hatred is also happening.

Let us not close our eyes and look the other way. Let’s engage each other, and find solutions to problem of institutional racism. And let’s condemn behavior that normalizes bias and racial discrimination.

UPDATE: Several reports indicate that some of the graffiti may have been anti-Trump as well. That is equally disturbing. The swastika emblem shouldn't be used in either event; it is an image of hate that shouldn't be tolerated in this community or elsewhere.

Friday, November 11, 2016

More on the Electoral College (a lengthy rebuttal to Jonathan Krause)

Arguments in favor of preserving the Electoral College are flawed

I’ve already said a bit on the Electoral College this week in my most previous post, after it was revealed that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump for president. But because Trump won more Electoral College votes, he technically won the election.

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My commentary in that post was not meant to imply that Trump should be denied the presidency; both he and Clinton were playing by the same set of rules before the election took place. But I do fear that future elections could play out the same way, and that it’s necessary to get rid of the outdated method of selecting -- rather than electing -- our president.

Another bit of commentary, taking the opposite view, caught my eye this afternoon. Jonathan Krause, Programming and News Director of radio station WOSH in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin, felt that the preservation of the Electoral College was necessary.

On his blog “My Two Cents,” Krause wrote:
Because a Democrat has won the popular vote for President -- but did not win the White House -- for the second time in 16-years, calls are growing stronger to do away with the Electoral College. "THIS IS NOT HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS!" is a common argument for simple, direct majority rule on the election of a President. Which would be a great argument if the US was a true democracy -- and not a representative democracy.
That part in bold (my emphasis, not his) is one of four parts of his essay I take issue with. We are a representative democracy, but the president is the one office that’s meant to represent the entirety of the nation. He or she is selected on the basis of all of the states’ votes (even considering the Electoral College).

We have representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate. But the president is an officeholder who is supposed to be, at least in modern practice, chosen by the people. Millions of Americans cast a ballot for the selection of the president, yet an outdated method of selecting him or her renders many votes invalid. By using the “representative democracy” approach of argument, Krause defends a “minority rule” way of choosing the chief executive. That doesn’t make any sense, especially in these modern times.

Krause also writes, “The Founding Fathers developed the electoral process through a series of compromises after winning the Revolution.” That’s a real simplification of what really happened, and I’m sure Krause himself was trying to be more brief in his blog post. Yet it glosses over history -- and some pretty important facts on how our founders felt on the Constitution themselves.

We had won the Revolutionary War, and then we had eight years of government without the U.S. Constitution. Those eight years were governed by a document called the Articles of Confederation. One of the main problems with that document was that it reduced our government to minority rule -- if but one state disagreed with a proposed law, that law would not pass at the national level. Other problems, such as the inability of the government itself to enforce laws that DID pass, led the lawmakers of the day to call for a Constitutional convention.

Here’s the important part to this story: the Constitution the founders proposed and passed was not considered perfect, even at the time. Many defenders of the Electoral College argue in favor of it because of its association with the founding fathers -- but even the founders understood that the government they founded wasn’t perfect.

Indeed, that is what is meant by striving for a “more perfect union” -- a recognition by its authors that the document itself wasn’t perfect, but that the nation would find ways to get it closer to perfection as time progressed. That’s why there are mechanisms for changing the Constitution in the first place.

Need more proof? Here’s what Thomas Jefferson once said:
Some men look at Constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them, like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well: I belonged to it…

...but I know also that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times…
We must exercise caution in changing the Constitution, but we must also not revere it as sacrosanct. Our founders certainly didn’t -- they changed the document, and how we select the president, in 1804 with the 12th Amendment. Certainly, we of a “more enlightened” time should be able to tweek it also, to suit how we select the president in a more responsive way to the will of the people?

Speaking of the will of the people leads me to my third qualm with Jonathan Krause’s blog post. He wrote, regarding the mechanisms of the Electoral College itself, that, “each state was granted the power to determine their own way to select their electors -- with most deciding to be ‘winner take all’ -- while a handful now distribute their electors by Congressional Districts won.”

That again glosses over history. Krause’s take on the Electoral College is that two options were available to the original 13 states -- “winner take all” or Congressional Districts. Yet at the start of the Constitution, half of the states weren’t “winner take all” -- rather, electors were chosen by the state legislatures, employing almost no democracy whatsoever. And for many states thereafter, this remained the way electors were chosen, up to the end of the 19th century.

But since that point in time, democratic preference has been tied to the selection of electors, with 48 states choosing the “winner take all” method. Were we to take the traditionalist view, we might argue in favor of going back to that old system. No one is advocating for that, however, because it’d be absurd. It’s equally absurd that we select the president using the archaic Electoral College. The methods for selecting electors have evolved, and now it’s time for that method to become extinct, in favor of a national popular vote.

Finally, the last issue I take with Krause’s piece is that he makes the same tired argument about the Electoral College preserving a system that requires the candidates to travel to states they may not otherwise go to with a popular vote in place. Krause writes:
Maybe we here in Wisconsin wouldn't mind not getting all of the candidate visits or the endless barrage of campaign ads every four years. But we also wouldn't want to be completely ignored in favor of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and the other major population centers that by themselves would have the votes to elect the President.
The emphasis in bold added by me.

That is one of the most frequent arguments made by defenders of the Electoral College -- and it’s also wrong, statistically speaking. Consider this: to feasibly reach a majority of U.S. citizens, traveling only to the largest metropolitan areas in the nation, would require going to the following areas:
New York, New York
Los Angeles, California
Chicago, Illinois
Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland
San Francisco, California and San Jose, California
Boston, Massachusetts
Dallas, Texas
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Houston, Texas
Miami, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Detroit, Michigan
Seattle, Washington
Phoenix, Arizona
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cleveland, Ohio
Denver, Colorado
San Diego, California
Orlando, Florida
Portland, Oregon
Tampa, Florida
St. Louis, Missouri
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Charlotte, North Carolina
These 24 metro areas are located in 18 different states plus the District of Columbia. Now, a candidate going to 19 of the 51 geopolitical boundaries within the U.S. sounds like a small number. But for comparison, let’s look at the 2016 presidential race -- after Trump and Clinton completed their respective parties’ conventions, 94 percent of their campaign travel time was confined to just 12 states total. Two-thirds of their campaign time was confined to just six states.

The 24 metro areas mentioned above are just those that are the bare minimum a candidate could go to in order to do the least amount of traveling and reach a majority of citizens. We must keep in mind, however, that not all of those metro areas are going to be responsive to a single candidate. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t campaign in Dallas, Texas; and Donald Trump wouldn’t waste his time in Chicago, Illinois. In short, the two major party candidates would need to travel to more metro areas (probably including some in Wisconsin) in order to reach a majority of citizens, and to create their own coalition that wouldn’t include their opponent’s base.

In other words? The “conventional wisdom” that says the Electoral College preserves an interest for candidates to travel to areas outside of “just a handful of big cities” is turned on its head. If anything, it’s more likely a popular vote would result in MORE travel, not less.


I’ve no doubt that Jonathan Krause wants to preserve the Electoral College because of well-intended reasons. I want to end the Electoral College, too, because I feel it is best for our country.

Yet the arguments Krause makes in favor of preserving the old system are flawed -- and the reasons for eliminating the Electoral College are impossible to ignore. The president is meant, at least in modern times, to be chosen by the people; the Constitution is meant to be amended when societal changes warrant it; the Electoral College has evolved many times over the history of our nation, and now it is an unreliable way of picking the president; and candidates would be foolish to only camp-out in three or four major cities to win a popular vote.

As mentioned earlier, we should always proceed with caution when it comes to changing how our Constitution works. Yet we shouldn’t be deifying our nation’s founders either -- they were human, after all, and their document had its flaws. It stands to reason that, over time as the world changes, the Constitution needs to change with it.

The people deserve to have their preferences heard in Washington. And as the only elected office that’s meant to serve the entirety of the citizens of this nation, the president ought to be selected through a system that respects every citizen’s vote equally. A national popular vote achieves that end, and ought to be implemented in future elections.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hillary Clinton got more votes than Donald Trump, or: why it's time to abolish the Electoral College

Your vote matters less than other people's votes across the country -- and that's a system we should no longer endorse

I could dissect and examine the reasons why Hillary Clinton lost what should have been an easy, by all means winnable election against Donald Trump. But I don’t think it’s necessary for me to do so -- thousands of commentators have already lamented the results of the election, and I want to take a look at it from a different angle.

Namely, that Hillary Clinton didn’t lose at all. She lost the Electoral College, to be sure, but she won a majority of support among voters across the nation.

Clinton outperformed Trump among the electorate by more than 300,000 votes (at the time of this posting). That’s a small number, to be sure, especially when you consider that hundreds of millions of Americans voted. But it’s a number that shouldn’t be ignored nonetheless.

Yet because the rules state that our president gets selected by the Electoral College -- a system that’s archaic and needless at this point in our nation’s life -- a voter’s choice in Wyoming means more than a voter’s choice in California.

It also means that millions of voters’ preferences get ignored completely. In Wisconsin, for example, Clinton lost to Trump by a mere 27,257 votes. Because of the Electoral College rules, however, Trump receives all ten of Wisconsin’s electors, effectively squashing the voices of 1.3 million Hillary Clinton voters in the Badger State.

Their votes don’t mean anything in this “winner takes all” system set up by the Electoral College.

Some have offered up the solution of creating a Nebraska-like system for the rest of the country -- wherein each district tallies up their votes and produces sends a single elector based on that vote, rather than a state winner-takes-all. But that solution creates the same problem, plus introduces the additional problems typically associated with gerrymandering.

No, the only solution to this fiasco is to demolish the Electoral College and amend the Constitution, allowing for a national popular vote to choose the president (preferably with instant runoff voting included). Whoever serves in that capacity, after all, is the president of all who vote. It’s only reasonable, then, that we make it so every voter is equal to every other voter.

And guess who agrees? Donald Trump, from November 2012.

Friday, November 4, 2016

ENDORSEMENT: It is imperative that Russ Feingold wins back his old Senate seat

A vote for Ron Johnson is a vote for irrational thinking; Feingold brings intelligence to the Senate

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The race for the White House is taking center-stage, and all signs are pointing towards a win for Hillary Clinton. But even if Clinton defeats Donald Trump, she’s going to need a change in Congress to get her agenda passed.

Several Senate seats across the country are competitive, and is presently predicting a 60 percent chance that the Senate will flip over to Democratic Party control. That will allow a President Clinton the chance to push some of her agenda, and give her some leverage when dealing with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It will also allow her an easier path to filling her appointments within her cabinet and on various federal courts.

But she’ll need every senate victory she can get on Tuesday night. One of those competitive seats is right here in the Badger State, between incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and former Sen. Russ Feingold (D).

The most recent polling between the two candidates is tighter than ever before. Feingold and Johnson are, for statistical reasons, in a virtual tie. It is imperative that Feingold defeat Johnson and reclaim his old seat.

Understanding the U.S. Constitution

Feingold, for one, respects and understands the meanings behind many aspects of the Constitution. As the only senator to vote against the USA PATRIOT Act in the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Feingold showed true leadership and a commitment to the rule of law in voting against the act.

At the time, many didn’t understand why he voted the way he did. But when it became clear that the law allowed the executive branch to engage in unprecedented levels of surveillance on its citizens, Feingold’s vote was championed as the right move to take.

Ron Johnson, meanwhile, thinks he’s a constitutional scholar, too. He opposed the Violence Against Women Act because he thought the law was unconstitutional.

The unconstitutional provision? Allowing American Indian’s to prosecute men in tribal courts when they abuse a Native American woman on tribal land.

Yet that’s a misguided view of what is Constitutional or not. If a person commits a crime within a tribal jurisdiction, they should be tried in that court, plain and simple. And nothing in the U.S. Constitution prevents Congress from passing a law that allows tribal courts from doing so.

From (Emphasis in bold mine):
It is true that the Supreme Court held back in the 1970s that tribal courts do not have criminal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans, but that decision concluded that “Indian tribes...give up their power to try non-Indian citizens of the United States except in a manner acceptable to Congress.” More recently, the Court’s 2004 decision in United States v. Lara recognized that Congress “does possess the constitutional power to lift the restrictions on the tribes’ criminal jurisdiction over nonmember Indians.” The reasoning of that decision would also apply to a law expanding tribal jurisdiction further to include non-Native Americans who engage in violence against women on reservations.
Having a basic understanding of how the Constitution works is a key function that we should expect from our elected leaders. Feingold shows he understands our nation’s founding document, while Johnson struggles with it.

Comprehending Science

Ron Johnson isn’t a man of science. Recently, he recognized that climate change may be occurring. But he didn’t see any problems with climate change -- just the opposite, he spun it as something beneficial to the people of this country.


Johnson rhetorically asked a Wisconsin radio station host, “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.”

So a warmer world wouldn’t be that bad of a thing, apparently, according to Ron Johnson. Except that it would. As I pointed out last month, climate change won’t just raise temperatures, but will also create droughts in some areas (including Wisconsin), floods in others, extreme weather events and more. Florida itself could disappear if the ice caps melt, for example.

Russ Feingold, though, trusts the science behind climate change and supports actions to reduce the detrimental effects of man-made climate change on the environment. It’s why he’s earned the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters as well as the Sierra Club.

The fight against man-made climate change, Feingold points out, “was bipartisan before people like Senator Johnson were elected and started saying absolute nonsense about sunspots and other reasons to avoid the issue.” We need to send a senator back to Washington who recognizes the grave importance of this issue. That person is Russ Feingold.

Listening to Wisconsinites

While serving as a U.S. Senator, Russ Feingold made a point of visiting every county in Wisconsin to listen to the citizens of this state. Whether rural or urban, Feingold wanted the people to know he was their senator.

And in announcing his run for his old seat, Feingold did it again: in the first 101 days from when he officially announced, Feingold again traveled to and held listening sessions in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.

“From coffee shops, to jobs sites, to main street businesses and bars, I'm going to continue traveling across Wisconsin this year to listen to the thoughts and concerns of Wisconsinites,” Feingold stated at the time.

Wisconsinites respond well to political leaders that listen to their concerns. Taking the time to listen to people -- even those that disagree with you -- is an ideal that is shared across this state.

Ron Johnson, though, doesn’t share in this ideal. “I'm not quite sure why Senator Feingold constantly brags about doing it,” he said in response.

That strikes me as contemptuous on Johnson’s part. Johnson might as well ask, “Why does Feingold get credit for listening to people?” Yet, in asking that question Johnson shows that the opinions of every Wisconsinite don’t matter as much as they do to Feingold.


On the issues, Russ Feingold shows that he’s the right person for the job. But he also demonstrates this by showcasing his willingness to listen to every citizen of this state. Johnson is just the opposite: he’s willing to ignore science, he’s unknowledgeable on the Constitution, and he’s doesn’t want to meet with Wisconsinites unless he absolutely has to.

For the reasons outlined above and more, Feingold deserves to return to his old senate seat.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

“Snarky” Gov. Walker sends tweet about Clinton/Obama ties, fails to see that people WANT more Obama

Governor’s attempts to convince voters to oppose Hillary pushes more toward her

Scott Walker has been taking to Twitter during the last few weeks of the campaign.

OK, that’s not news -- the Republican Governor of Wisconsin has always been a fan of social media, though he has often been ridiculed for some of his more “interesting” tweets.

But his recent presence on the social media site has been snarkier than usual. Take his recent tweet earlier this week about former Sen. Russ Feingold’s support of the Affordable Care Act.
Walker’s snarkiness is effective here, but it misses the broader point. The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” has done a lot more good than harm for the country.

Yes, premiums have gone up. But Russ Feingold has recognized that problem, and has promised to work with both parties to find a solution. The GOP solution has been to complain, and offer no better alternative.

Other aspects of the health care law have been positive -- ending the discriminatory practice of refusing care to patients with pre-existing conditions, for example, has been beneficial to millions of patients across the country. Even pregnancy counted as a pre-existing condition before Obamacare was passed. But today, we no longer allow insurance companies the ability to deny coverage to their customers in need of care based off of previous health events or conditions.

Scott Walker’s snarkiness on Twitter continued later this week when he tried to be snarky to both the president and to Hillary Clinton.

Unfortunately for Gov. Scott Walker, people actually like President Barack Obama. In fact, recent polling as of this date demonstrates that a majority of the country approves of the job the president is doing, with around 52 percent favoring Obama in the Real Clear Politics average from October 8th through the 30th.

For comparison, George W. Bush left office in 2009 with dismal numbers -- just one-third of the American public approved of his job performance, with 61 percent disapproving of the job he did as president. Bush’s approval was so bad that it was difficult for him to be seen with Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Bush’s damaged brand was also credited with a Republican congressional candidate losing a run-off election -- in Mississippi.

Obama, on the other hand, is still considered a popular president -- more than half the nation still supports him, and he’ll likely leave office with much higher approval ratings than Bush got.

So Walker’s attempts to tie Hillary Clinton to President Barack Obama, in an effort to say “you really want four more years of this???” is laughable. People do want four (or eight) more years of Obama. And they'll vote for Hillary Clinton to get it.

Scott Walker will continue to be a snarky governor on social media. It’s what he does. But his snarky attempts to try and paint Hillary Clinton in negative light for being supportive of President Barack Obama’s policies won’t be effective -- if anything, it will push more voters to Hillary.

So...thanks, Scott!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Republican Mike Gallagher says he has courage, but doctors video to score political points

Gallagher’s moral courage is lacking, especially after crafting a deceptive campaign ad

Republican candidate for Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional district Mike Gallagher is running a political advertisement calling out his opponent, Democratic candidate Tom Nelson, for saying he lacks courage.

Gallagher has a U.S. military background. “Joining the Marines the day he graduated college, two combat tours, yet Nelson questions Gallagher’s courage?” the ad asks.

Certainly Mike Gallagher has shown tremendous courage in serving his nation dutifully overseas. No one should question that service.

Yet Nelson hasn’t questioned that service. The quote that the Gallagher campaign used in its ad deriding Nelson’s words is taken wildly out of context in an attempt to distort what Nelson was really talking about during a television interview.

Tom Nelson did not question whether Gallagher served valiantly or not; rather, Nelson asked whether Gallagher demonstrated moral courage in continuing his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for president, even after video of Trump surfaced that exposed him bragging about being a sexual predator.

Gallagher has yet to denounce his candidate, continuing to endorse Trump for president. And that, Nelson contends, is how Gallagher lacks moral courage.

Here’s Nelson’s full quote, in context:
My opponent has stood shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump after everything he has said, all of the vile comments. That question is about moral courage. Whether or not the candidate for this office has the moral courage or not to oppose Donald Trump, and I will oppose him.
Gallagher would have been right to criticize Nelson if he had questioned his service to this country. But that’s not what Nelson did -- instead, he questioned why Gallagher continued to support a candidate that is obviously unfit to serve as president.

Gallagher lacks moral courage for continuing to back Trump. And that characterization by is further justified in his latest misleading campaign ad. Taking your opponent’s words out of context doesn’t show courage in the slightest bit. If anything, it shows cowardice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ron Johnson channels Dale Gribble in climate change comments -- people like it “a little bit warmer”

His failure to take the issue seriously makes him unfit for a second term in office

To hear Sen. Ron Johnson put it, global climate change isn’t a problem at all. Humans will actually thrive under the warming temperatures, he says.

“Climate has already changed, always will. I’m just not an alarmist. We will adapt,” Johnson told a Wisconsin radio station recently.

He was certain that the warmer temps would be welcomed. “How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic?” he asked rhetorically. “Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.”

Johnson doesn’t want to do anything about climate change either, calling those who bring it up “alarmists,” adding that their actions and proposals will do “a great deal of harm on our economy.”

He acts as though climate change is a propaganda tool for some hidden agenda. Ron Johnson, in short, has become Dale Gribble.

But that sort of thinking is just plain idiotic. Yes, people love the beaches and coastlines that Florida and Texas have to offer, and so they flock to them for vacations even in the heat. But climate change will affect those areas too, in negative ways.

It goes beyond the temperatures -- should they continue to rise globally we’ll see water levels rise on coastlines worldwide, which will be devastating to states like Texas and Florida. In fact, according to estimates from actual scientists, a complete melting of the polar ice caps would result in the entire sinking of the state of Florida, and much of the Texas coastline would also disappear.

Weather patterns across the globe will be altered as a result of climate change, too. The severity of storms will increase, droughts will destroy the farming industry, and massive hurricanes will become commonplace.

But hey -- the temperatures will be warmer! And that’s what matters, according to Johnson. People love going to the beach, they love vacationing in warmer why the big fuss about global warming?

There’s plenty to fuss about, even if our sole focus is on temperatures alone. We’re already seeing the negative effects of climate change with regards to rising temps -- over the past ten years, heat-related deaths have become the number one killer of Americans when it comes to weather-related fatalities. And it’s only going to get worse: excessive heat events across the country are expected to rise by 475 percent by the middle of this century (PDF).

Sen. Ron Johnson likes to joke about and scoff off climate change as an “alarmist” piece of propaganda. But for many Americans, climate change is real, and is a matter of life and death. That Johnson refuses to take it seriously demonstrates in part why he’s unfit for the office he currently holds.

He doesn’t care about you, the voter, or other Americans threatened by this crisis. He just cares about monied interests that want to ignore the problem exists in the first place.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Activist who advocated for placing instigators at Trump rallies is rightly fired. Now what about Scott Walker?

Conservatives are inconsistent with their outrage, forgetting about governor's similar comments on instigators

UPDATE: Scott Foval just released this statement:
"This scheme to cast legitimate organizing activities as a sinister plot is nothing but a ruse. When O'Keefe's team of grifters attempted to find illegal activities going on , they were disappointed to discover, in fact, that I and my associates were only involved in above-board, legal, legitimate organizing work to counter Trump's campaign of division, misogyny, hatred, and xenophobia. Despite our attempts to redirect the conversation and actions towards positive, results-oriented, legal and ethical political organizing, O'Keefe's crew of imposters continued to walk down a path of deception and manipulation. Our team took the high road, deciding to not indulge the imposters in their dubious scheme, rather attempting to put our energies and intentions towards positive activities that garner electorally relevant results. All who view these recordings should remember that they were speculative conversations where we attempted to correct a misguided idea put forth by O'Keefe and his cronies, and we did not take the bait."
More updates will be coming as they develop. Stay tuned...original post below...

Conservatives are outraged because new footage from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas shows a high-level member of a liberal organization suggesting ways to agitate supporters of Donald Trump at his rallies.

[Scott Foval of Americans United for Change] made false comments that are wrong about inciting violence at the rallies. Foval has since been fired from Americans United for Change, which had a contracting relationship with Democracy Partners.

"I mean, honestly, it's not hard to get some of these a------- to pop off," Foval purportedly says at one point in the video. "It's a matter of showing up, to want to get into their rally, in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt. Or 'Trump is a Nazi,' you know. You can message to draw them out, and draw them out to punch you."
The outrage over Foval’s comments are understandable. His words demonstrate part of what is wrong with politics today, that it has become a win-at-all-costs affair. Just because they come from the left doesn’t mean we should dismiss them, and I wholeheartedly condemn his suggestions as wrong.

But I do have to wonder: where was this outrage from the right when Gov. Scott Walker also considered putting agitators in the crowds? In 2011, during the mass protests that engulfed the Capitol Square in Madison, Walker took a phone call from a man he thought was billionaire conservative donor David Koch.

And when the fake Koch asked Walker about placing “troublemakers” into the large crowds protesting the anti-collective bargaining bill that he was trying to pass at the time, Walker told the caller that “We thought about that.”

Ultimately Walker also told the fake conservative donor that he and his advisors decided not to instigate the protesters, but it wasn’t out of compassion or ethical consideration; it was because doing so might help the protesters’ cause more than his own. In fact, that was his only concern:
My only fear [about planting troublemakers in the crowds] would be is, if there was a ruckus caused, is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems.
Scott Foval was rightly fired from a liberal organization for suggesting he could work outside the law on a variety of issues, among them purposely instigating Trump supporters to engage in violence. His tactics should be shunned by all, especially those on the left.

O’Keefe’s Project Veritas organization has a history of selectively editing its undercover sting operations, but Foval’s words seem pretty clear to me. And they should be rejected.

At the same time, the outrage from those who view this as unsavory should be consistent. Many on the left have already condemned Foval, and he has been terminated from his employment for his words. Many on the right, however, are inconsistent with their outrage. They are flabbergasted with Foval’s recent actions, but in 2011 they dismissed Walker’s disturbing considerations as not worth acknowledging, in many instances.

In politics today it is hard to find consistency across the political aisles. What may harm your opponent today you may ignore about your own side tomorrow. If Americans are truly in favor of reshaping the political landscape, that sort of thinking ought to be rejected at once.