Friday, May 1, 2015

It’s time to vet Martha Laning

On June 6, Democrats from across Wisconsin will come to Milwaukee to cast their votes for who they want to be chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin at this year’s state convention.
We could talk all day about who is running, the differences between the candidates, their platforms, and their vision for the party as we get closer to the crucial election of 2016. But of the five candidates who are running to represent the party and our values, one candidate’s background remains somewhat of a mystery.
Over the past few days, social media has been buzzing about Martha Laning (but not for the positive reasons you’d assume). Laning, for those who don’t know, recently joined the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and then ran for the state Senate in the 9th district. When the votes were totaled, she had lost by a 20-point margin.
But we know little else about Laning, where she truly stands on the issues, and what she would do if she were to become chair of the party, (she has yet to release any documented plans).
One thing that has begun to catch peoples’ eye is her statement of economic interest that she had to file as a candidate in 2014 in order to attempt to run for public office. Here is a copy of the statement made available through the Wisconsin GAB: 

One thing jumps out more than anything, which are the multiple companies and corporations in which she has at least $50,000 of investments. However, of these companies the one that stands out beyond any other is Target Inc. Laning states on her website that Target is one of her former employers.
Target, for many years, has been a leader in shutting out worker’s rights to organize and form a union. So much so, that at one point in time they had a video that they made new employees watch explaining how Target is working to defeat unionized labor. It is literally an “anti-union propaganda” video. You can check out that video for yourself here:
Target has been anti-union and has stood out beyond many companies in rejecting the notion of raising the minimum wage. It is not inappropriate to ask whether or not Laning feels that Target employees have the right to unionize, or take a stand against Target for not being in favor of raising the minimum wage. If not, having a chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin who directly profits from this anti-union, anti-wage company, a company that fights against the values of the Democratic Party, is simply inappropriate and she should publicly give up her investment in the corporation from her days of being a corporate leader at Target.
Think of it this way: would we be ok with having a chair that was a corporate leader of Walmart and still held huge investments in the company without denouncing its labor practices? That’s highly doubtful.
But the question on her stance over the minimum wage doesn’t end there. Lately a video has resurfaced of a debate when she was running for the state Senate where she said that raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hr is “tough to chew on” and that giving workers a 39% increase in pay is too tough on business owners like herself.
Perhaps her views on the minimum wage have flip-flopped over the past six months, but once stating that she wasn’t in favor of $10/hr means that she certainly wouldn’t be in favor of $15/hr. The “Fight for $15” is at the core of the Democratic movement, pushing businesses and government leaders to raise the wage so hardworking people who work fulltime can live a decent and not be forced onto public assistance.
Anyone’s view on an issue can change or evolve over time (for example, President Obama and his “evolving” opinion on same-sex marriage), or you can just flip-flop. But the belief in raising the minimum wage and standing up for working people is at the core of the Democratic Party. It’s what makes us different from the other side that believes wealth should trickle upwards and that income inequality isn’t an issue. The leader of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin should never, at any point, have held the view that a simple $10/hr is “too much” and have the interests of business ahead of the interests of hardworking people.
When you consider her investment in Target from her days of being a corporate leader, her holdings in several other massive corporations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and her fundamental belief (before flip-flopping) that $10/hr would hurt business, it’s no wonder why she won’t take a stand against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the trade deal that has the potential of lowering wages, outsourcing jobs, and filtering earnings to the top rather than to those who work hard and deserve good pay for the labor.
Some people might wonder why all of this is an issue at all, and simply dismiss the fact that Laning has such massive corporate holdings and was once a corporate leader for a company that is blatantly anti-union. The reason why this is an issue is because it’s at the core of the debate of growing income inequality. The rich get richer while everyday people are forced to struggle.
While Laning’s dedication to the party and its values are questionable at best, she certainly espouses corporate values, and is the embodiment of corporate America.
All of this calls into question why any elected official or labor leader would support Laning. Perhaps it’s because she has never been truly vetted and had they known this information, their willingness to stand with her might not have come to be. Why would any labor leader want to stand with Laning knowing her pro-corporate, anti-union history? I’ll have more on that in the near future.
Finally, why does her running mate, state Rep. David Bowen, stand alongside her corporate values knowing full well that Laning has anti-wage and anti-union tendencies?
Laning is so fresh to the scene, and so new to the Democratic Party, that it’s time for a thorough vetting. These are questions that we need to ask, and these are facts that we deserve to know.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mitch Henck wrongly supports putting marriage rights to a vote

Some rights go beyond democratic preference

Radio personality and political commentator Mitch Henck says we should let the states decide on the issue of marriage equality through a vote of the people.

Mitch Henck
“That way people can feel good about, it or accept defeat a lot more easily than if just a few judges decide for you,” he says.

OK then. Let’s presume that’s the best method. Let’s allow the states to decide same-sex marriage.

For that matter, let’s let the states decide on the issue of interracial marriage. Loving v. Virginia determined in the 1960s that bans on those marriages were unconstitutional. But it must have left people feeling uneasy after a “few judges” decided that, right? So let’s undo that decision.

For that matter, let’s undo Griswold v. Connecticut, which allowed women the right to contraception. Surely some religious groups had gripes with that decision as well.

And Brown v. Board of Education was a Court-decided case also. That one REALLY had people upset. But should that decision instead be left to a vote?

I think my point is clear here: some issues simply require an esteemed decision from the Supreme Court rather than a democratic vote. Democracy should not be two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner -- there are occasions when democratic preferences need to yield to fundamental rights.

Marriage equality is one such issue. Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same protections and recognitions for their unions that straight couples receive. The difference between so-called “traditional” marriages and same-sex marriages is negligible, especially when you realize marriage is a contract between two consenting adults.

Within that contract, certain privileges are bestowed upon a couple with regard to property, inheritance, taxation, and child custody, among a myriad of many other rights. In all there are more than 1,100 federal privileges granted to couples in legal marriages at the federal level, and more privileges at the state levels, too. Those privileges are unfairly denied to same-sex couples.

And Mitch Henck wants to leave it to a vote whether that changes?

Democracy is a powerful tool that can be -- and should be -- used to allow the people to determine the direction their governments take. But it shouldn’t be the only aspect of what makes society grow. Recognition of fundamental rights has long been an evolving process, and one that typically requires intervention from the courts to move forward.

Henck’s conclusion, that we ought to allow states the right to deny privileges if they deem it proper, ignores that concept. He’s right to say that a democratic vote would make people happier, even the losers who would have to accept that they are now in the minority.

But fundamental rights shouldn’t be determined by a simple majority. The prevention of rights requires more, a justification that can pass a test that deems the exercise of such rights a harm to society or to people in some possible way.

Marriage equality presents no such harm. The Supreme Court should declare it a protected right, and Mitch Henck should understand that democratic preference of the states should not overrule the freedoms these people are seeking.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

You might be on the losing side of the cultural wars when...

you have to resort to this:

apologies for my dirty windshield but these folks were on 4 overpasses today at rush hour between Silver Spring Dr and the Zoo Interchange on Highway 45 south going towards Milwaukee.
Now you'd think these are maybe just your typical bigoted anti gay wing nuts...sent out by the Wisconsin "Family Council"...but they're not.
As soon as I saw what the website on that banner was ( knew who was behind this.
None other then "Pastor" (and as a Christian I'm using that term loosely here) Matt Trewhella.
Who is he you might ask? He might not be on your radar cuz he wasn't on mine til about a year ago I happened to be watching the public affairs program called "In Focus" on WVCY (which bills itself as a local Christian tv station...but about 50% of the time they're promoting right wing politics) and this guy was on talking about this very Walker should "defy" federal judges and "tyranny" when gay marriage comes to the states.He's not joking.Take a look at this excerpt from his website once:
When the Supreme Court acts outside the parameters of the Constitution it is incumbent on the lesser magistrates, within their spheres of authority, to maintain allegiance to the U. S. Constitution and not blithely obey federal lawlessness.
Hence, when Walker states that “the federal courts have ruled so I must obey” he is hiding behind a lie; a fiction created by federal courts but repugnant to the very U.S. Constitution itself.
Nowhere are states compelled to a suicide pact with a lawless federal government. The people of the states should not be forced to accept a federal court which makes opinions repugnant to all common sense and the clear created order of God and says “two men or two women can marry.” Again, marriage and family is the core foundation upon which societies are built. Such a ruling is an attack upon family.
This isn't the first time this "pastor" has said anti gay things.
In 2013 he referred to LGBT folks as "filthy people"
“Your children would be getting perverted in their minds by these filthy people,” Trewhella claimed, before turning his venom to straight people who don’t condemn gays and lesbians: “I have no respect for people who are parents, who actually have children, and have no problem with homosexuality or homosexual marriage. They are the most base people on the planet to have totally abandoned every God-given vestige to protect your child from the filth of homosexuality, to blatantly go along with it is disgusting.”
“It’s disgusting to watch, it’s disgusting to see,” Trewhella said.
He also said this later on that year:
 During an October show on the supposed connections between the gay rights movement and pedophilia, Trewhella played the notorious 1961 Boys Beware PSA, which even he thought wasn’t anti-gay enough and actually “sold the foundations” for gay rights by calling homosexuality a “sickness” instead of sin.
“That’s what people used to think about homosexuality,” Trewhella said wistfully. “They still knew it was wrong, they knew it was disgusting, it was a bad thing and you were messed up in the head if you wanted to practice those types of sexual behaviors.”
“It’s the depraved nature of man and that’s why it needs to be suppressed through the force of law, otherwise it proliferates within the culture to the point now where homosexuals who can’t reproduce actually adopt other people’s children to raise them.”
He has a profile in the "Encyclopedia of American Loons" and for good reason.
He makes both Glenn Grothman and Julaine Appling look like moderates when it comes to right wing hate of gays.
The fact that this kind of person is not only a "Pastor" at a church (no matter how small it likely is) and even worse is allowed to spew hate like that on a "Christian" TV show just absolutely disgusts me.
But hey...if theres one thing thats clear its the fact that history will not be on the side of people like this 20 or even 10 years from now...and they know it.
Hence the desperate display today.