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.

Image via
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

Image via
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!