Thursday, February 28, 2019

State Supreme Court Race — Hagedorn's Bigotry Is More Troubling Than Neubauer's Faith In Science

If you view both candidates as "biased," surely one of their biases is worse than the other's.

There is a stark difference between supposed conflicts of interest held by the two candidates for state Supreme Court in this year's spring elections.
  • Liberal-leaning Lisa Neubauer reportedly attended a climate march, a political action to be sure, done in support of the scientific consensus that human-caused global warming is negatively impacting the world.

  • Conservative-leaning Brian Hagedorn's bigoted beliefs and actions in support of them have turned heads, and resulted in right-wing business groups denouncing him. He has financially supported a private school that discriminates against LGBT faculty and students (including inflicting punishments on them if their family members are gay). He has also accepted money from and spoke to a known hate group in recent years.
Both beliefs by the Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates are political, and represent actions taken by them that their ideological opposites find worrisome.

Yet in Neubauer's case, the action she took is grounded in scientific evidence. Climate change is real, and those still in denial about 1) its impact on the world, and 2) how humans are responsible for its exponential growth over the past several decades, are, to put it bluntly, wrong.

Could Neubauer have a conflict of interest in any case arising before her that has to do with the environment? It's possible.

But so too could Hagedorn have a conflict of interest when it comes to the rights and privileges that should inherently be recognized to an entire group of people.

Hagedorn has tried to defend his past comments chastising the LGBT community, in which he likened the legalization of gay relationships to bestiality. Attacks against those types of comments, he and his campaign have insisted, are attacks against Christianity itself, a notion that many Christians I know would not agree with.

But if he's so adamant about propagating his beliefs, perhaps Hagedorn ought to consider hanging up one set of robes for another, retiring from the judiciary and joining the clergy.

Ours is a government that must respect the rights and privileges of all, and not exclude those who we deem as "different" from societal privileges just because we don't like or live like them.

I remain unconvinced that Hagedorn's biases wouldn't influence him were he to get a seat on the state's highest court. And I do not view the biases of the two candidates as of their biases is clearly "worse" than the other.

If we must view both Hagedorn and Neubauer as conflicted, surely we should favor one over the other — and for me, the individual who stands beside reason and scientific inquiry, rather than the person who tries to defend their documented and frequent bigotry, will get my vote.

Featured image credit: Richard Hurd/Flickr

A Lesson On 'Wing-Walking' For Republicans After The Cohen Testimony

At what point will the GOP walk away from Trump?

The Republican Party is hedging all of its bets on a president whose past is catching up with him. At some point, they'll have to make a decision: will they remain tied to Donald Trump, or will they see the writing on the wall and make moves toward discrediting him?

Following the testimony of Michael Cohen to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday — during which Republican members of the committee frequently attacked Cohen's credibility rather than ask any pertinent questions about the president's behavior — I was
reminded of a small lesson that was taught to me when I was in college many years ago.

"The First Rule Of Wing-Walking," which referenced wing-walkers of the 1920s and 30s who would walk on the wings of small aircraft to entertain hundreds of onlookers below, was that you don't take a step in a new direction unless you are certain it's a safe move to make, one that will leave you in a better position than you had before.

The principle can be applied to politics as well — it doesn't pay to change your positions on a whim, and you're better off thinking about each possible move like a wing-walker would. In other words, many lawmakers won't make a change unless it's going to end up placing them in a better place politically.

For the Republicans, that means staying true to the president, even after all of the controversial statements, questionable foreign policy choices, and domestic mishaps that have occurred in his administration so far — at least for now. Eventually, members of the GOP may change their minds, but only if new footing can be found that encourages them to step away from Trump.

That new footing may come about as revelations from the special counsel investigation, being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, detail possible misdeeds by the president.

The report, however, may not come out for quite some time, even as news media keep getting told over and over again that it's coming out "soon." Its continued delay could put Republicans in a pickle.

The longer they stay true to Trump, the more egg on their face they'll have if they continue to defend him up to the report's release, especially if said report does indeed implicate Trump in criminal activities.

If that scenario plays out, one of two things will happen: Republicans, taking note of the sinking ship that Trump has become, may walk away from him, and join some Democrats who have already become vocal about it in seeking his removal from office. That'd be a very hard move to make, but one that some may see as more beneficial than staying loyal to Trump.

I worry, however, that Republicans may do the opposite, and make a very disturbing choice: defending the president's actions as no big deal or innocuous, even if some of them may be felonious in nature.

If they select that second option, it proves a point on what I've long assumed about the GOP — that Republicans make terrible wing-walkers.

Featured image credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikimedia

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Nearly 7-In-10 Say Mueller's Final Report Should Be Made Public

AG William Barr must release Mueller's final Russia report, when it is finally submitted

A recent poll demonstrates that the American people, by-and-large, want an impending report from Russia special counsel Robert Mueller to be made public once it is submitted to the attorney general.

By law, Attorney General William Barr, who will receive Mueller's final report, will determine whether it becomes public or not. Democrats have said they will subpoena the report to make it public should Barr decide not to do so.

If Barr does indeed decline to release the report, it would be a serious injustice to the American people.

We've been aware since 2016 that Russia worked to interfere with our nation's elections, to sow doubts in voters and to prop up Donald Trump to win the presidency. An investigation into that matter deserves to be seen and scrutinized by the public.

Much more than that, however, Americans deserve to know what role their president played in the entire ordeal. There's substantial evidence, already made public, that Trump and members of his inner circle were cozying up to the Russians before and during the 2016 campaign.

One way or another, whether Trump is exonnerated or proof of malfeasance is uncovered, the American people deserve to know. Save for the redacted portions of any report that are done for national security reasons, the public deserves to know the truth, after months and years of investigation, what exactly was going on.

I'm not alone in thinking this way — in fact, nearly 7-in-10 Americans agree that the special counsel's final report, whenever it is submitted, should be made accessible to the public at-large.

That's not too difficult of an ask to make, and for Barr to make happen. For the sake of accountability, and for the American people to know whether their president is an agent of Russia or not, Barr must make the report public. And Democrats would be justified in compelling him to do so, should Barr make the errant decision to try and hide the report.

Featured image credit: James Ledbetter/Flickr

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Political Heat Returns (Don't Call it A Comeback — I've Been Here For Years)

After more than a year away from the site, Chris "re-opens" Political Heat

A little more than a year ago, I stepped away from Political Heat because I was pursuing projects elsewhere.

I had separate writing gigs focusing on political issues at the national stage as well as on state matters. It was time to "retire" from this blog and move onto these other projects.

After giving it some thought, I think it's time to bring Political Heat back. My writing on the site may not be as frequent as it once was — I still have other paid writing projects to tend to — but there's still a need to discuss local, state, and national issues from a Wisconsin perspective.

I'm happy to "re-open" Political Heat after this hiatus. I'm hopeful that, if you're a returning visitor, you'll be equally happy to read it again — or that, if you're a new reader of mine, you'll enjoy what I have to say on myriad topics affecting the state and elsewhere.

Featured image credit: Teemu008/Flickr