Saturday, May 30, 2015

While the Wis Dems were busy fighting over who should be party chair...

Scott Walker was doing this...

I was thinking that picture looked familiar then remembered cuz it was from this too!
Walker is slashing and burning everything he can get his hands on in the state with his budget while the Wis Dems are busy lobbing bombs at each other and having knock down drag out fights on Facebook over the conspiracy theory of the day surrounding any given DPW candidate.
Look the end of the day one of these 5 people is gonna be leading our party and I sure hope we can get past our pettiness to support them.
I think our friends over at Wi Soapbox said it the best:
Yes, democracy, but you know what, this isn't government... It's a political party. What boggles my mind more than anything with the whole chair race is that people who do comparatively little for the party itself or understand the whole party apparatus are the ones who are most critical of it. All of us in the blogging world are guilty of this in some measure, but political parities aren't there to serve everyone who may agree with them. They are there to serve their members and work with candidates who can then appeal to a broad base of support and become elected.

That's how it works if you're a Democrat, a Republican, a Socialist, Communist, Free Soil, Constitution, Whig, Green, whatever political party of your choice. The party is there to serve it's members interest, and those members who are most active and do the most for the party get the biggest say. Don't just armchair quarterback or say, "well I paid my money." Get out there are do walk packets, run for a county officer position, stuff bags, do lit drops, carry a sign... That's how you get active.
I personally can't wait to go to the convention next week and vote for our new party chair while hanging out with great friends.We may be dysfunctional at times..but we are a family and have to keep our energy focused on fighting the REAL crooks in the state..Walker and company...not ourselves.

No, Scott Walker: Women don’t need “more information” through forced ultrasounds

Scott Walker belittles the intelligence of women to make an important decision on their own

Gov. Scott Walker says a law he signed that forces women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound against their will -- sometimes including using transvaginal ultrasounds -- is strictly to give women “more information” about what they’re doing.

At a campaign stop (but not officially a campaign, guys, really) in New Hampshire, Walker was asked by a woman in the audience about the law.

“I’m pro-life,” Walker said, “but if someone’s pro-choice don’t you want an informed choice?”

The thing is, Wisconsin women were already receiving an informed choice about their options before the law was passed.

Wisconsin law mandated (and still requires) that women seeking abortions receive counseling about their decision before undergoing the procedure. They then have 24 hours before coming back to the clinic. Then, and only then, can they have the abortion procedure performed.

That’s a lot of information already out there to women seeking abortions. But is Walker right? Do women need to be more informed by seeing an ultrasound before making a decision?

The answer is no, they don’t. A recent study that included more than 15,000 subjects asked women whether they wanted to view an ultrasound before receiving an abortion. Of the group that said no, 99 percent went through with the abortion. What about the group that “needed more information,” as Scott Walker likes to call it?

Of the women who saw the ultrasound, 98.4 percent still decided to proceed with the procedure.

So why, then, are we still forcing women to have an ultrasound when their minds are already made up?

It can only be for one of two reasons: either Walker is pandering to a base of constituents who comprise a very important voting bloc in his impending presidential election campaign; or, Walker truly believes that women are too stupid to make an important decision, with the information already in hand, on their own.

Whichever answer it is, Wisconsin women deserve better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Republican budget measure could allow high school drop-outs to teach our kids

Loosening of standards the wrong way to help rural areas retain competent teachers

A provision slipped into the budget bill last week could mean that children of Wisconsin might be taught by unlicensed teachers in classrooms across the state.

In core classes (science, math, social studies, or English) a school could hire a non-licensed teacher if they have attained a bachelor’s degree. In all other classes, even that requirement wouldn’t be necessary, and high school drop-outs with “relevant experience” could be hired on.

It’s a move that Republican Rep. Mary Czaja says will help rural schools to find and retain qualified teachers in those areas.

But changing the qualifications to find qualified teachers isn’t the answer to staffing these schools. The executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance agrees.

When asked whether they wanted qualifications loosened for teachers to help in hiring, Director Jerry Fiene responded with disgust.
“Heavens no,” said Jerry Fiene, executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance. “This totally destroys any licensure requirements that we have in Wisconsin. It’s very concerning.”
Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Executive Director Jon Bales agrees:
“This is characteristic of bad and ineffective policy,” Bales said. “We think this puts all kids at risk.”
Even with rural schools not asking for this measure, Gov. potential presidential candidate Scott Walker has expressed support for the plan (though it should be pointed out that even under this bill, he wouldn’t qualify to teach core subjects that require a bachelor’s degree).

Addressing the challenges that rural schools are facing when it comes to hiring competent and qualified teachers is an important task that Wisconsin legislators should address. But they shouldn’t do it by changing the definitions of “competent” or “qualified.”

Achieving higher teacher numbers with looser standards for those teachers is the wrong direction for Wisconsin to take. It puts us on par with other states with those same standards, but lesser quality in educational outcomes.

We don’t want that for our students. Wisconsin lawmakers should oppose any efforts to change the standards for teaching licensures in the state.

Darling and Nygren put Wisconsin up for sale during campaign event

Fundraising during budget consideration seen as huge conflict of interest

UPDATE: Sen. Alberta Darling has now canceled the event. Read more at the Cap Times.

Original Post:

Every two years, lawmakers in Wisconsin put together the largest piece of legislation that will be seen for the remainder of that cycle: the state budget.

With a myriad of funding proposals being considered for the budget, it’s imperative for lawmakers to at least appear neutral when it comes to special favors being placed in the bill. And so, it has been tradition in the state to tone down campaign fundraising while legislators consider the all-important budget.

For State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), that tradition must seem silly -- so they're ignoring it altogether.

The two plan to hold a fundraiser Thursday to raise money for Darling’s campaign committee, Friends of Alberta Darling.

The event costs $500 a person ($1,000 to reach the “Host” level), just steps away from the state Capitol building.

In wake of the WEDC scandal, where millions of dollars have gone unaccounted for, and a $500,000 loan may have been granted inappropriately to a campaign donor to Gov. Scott Walker, the Darling fundraiser raises not only funds, but also doubts about the ability of the legislator to make the tough choices she’ll be facing when she considers the budget.

How can you say no, for example, to a patron who donates to your campaign, when they ask for a line in the budget benefiting their business to be considered?

As the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, which operates “to serve as the principal legislative committee charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues,” both Darling and Nygren should know better.

It’s a shame that Wisconsin appears to be for sale during this final month of budget proceedings.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Scott Walker should fix his mistakes, or just resign already

We need to fix what Walker's done to Wisconsin, with or without him.

What has happened to our beloved Wisconsin? The state that I’ve called home for my entire life is slowly crumbling. At almost every problem you can observe, you can see Gov. Scott Walker’s fingerprints are there.

Jobs are recovering from the recession at a slower rate than the rest of the Midwest region, and we’re not doing well nationally either. What jobs DO get created pale in comparison to what we had pre-recession, as income growth has been dismal since Walker took office as well.

The jobs creation agency that the governor put in place of the Department of Commerce has been mired in controversy. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has handed out millions of taxpayer dollars as loans, funds that have rarely been accounted for, and that may have been improperly granted to donors of Scott Walker’s campaigns over more deserving businesses.

Our schools are getting their budgets cut, teachers are left with little to no job security, and the governor is now proposing removing standards for obtaining a teaching license.

Women are earning less than what they earned since the governor took office, likely due to the fact that the governor and his Republican-led legislature repealed a law that was meant to be a stronger enforcer of the equal pay law.

These are just a small tidbit of things that we’ve seen under Walker’s leadership -- the list really could go on, and on.

Now, the man who worships Ronald Reagan (and makes bodacious claims of voting for him despite being under age at the time) is planning a run for the presidency, claiming that the president who allowed his administration to illegally sell weapons to Iran to fund a war in Central America is a better foreign policy leader than the president who killed Osama bin Laden.

We can do better than this disaster of a governor. The good news is the people of Wisconsin are finally opening their eyes to this governor’s track record -- only two of every five respondents in a recent poll approved of Walker’s job performance while 56 percent disapproved of the way he was running the state (PDF).

So where do we go from here? We need to undo the damage that Walker has wrought to Wisconsin.

We need to raise the minimum wage so that the people of this state earning the least can afford to provide for their families. We also need to restore the cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit that Walker imposed on working families.

We need to fully fund our schools, from kindergarten to college, and lessen the burden of fees for students attending universities in our state, beyond the “tuition freeze” sound bites that the governor is so accustomed to making.

We need to treat every person in this state -- women, gay and lesbian, transgender, white, black, Latino, Asian, and more -- fairly. Especially among minorities, Wisconsin is failing, becoming one of the worst states when it comes to racial disparities in the nation. That needs to change.

That's just a start. In short, we need a governor that gets Wisconsin’s traditions. Yes, we’ve been a high-tax state in the past -- but what we’ve gained from those taxes has been an enormous blessing. We have some of the best educated students in the country; a parks system that is envied across the country; citizens who, in times of need, are tended to, taken care of, and brought out of trying times that they themselves could never have imagined escaping on their own.

Our current governor doesn’t get that. He’s too busy running for higher office, and when he’s in our state he’s only for appeasing corporate interests.

That’s not the legacy of Wisconsin. We thwarted such thinking in the beginning of the 20th century. And in time we’ll do it again.

I’m making a special request: Gov. Scott Walker, make the call now. Either govern our state, and do it in a way that makes Wisconsin a better place, or just resign already, and run for president so we can move on at home. We’re tired of the controversy you have brought to our state, and we’re sick of you ignoring the problems at home while you’re campaigning.

If you are going to leave, leave already. Don't drag it out any longer.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Scott Walker fails history, and cuts to education could mean your kid might, too

Two American history gaffes in one week, plus per-pupil spending dipping below national average, are ominous signs of what’s to come

Scott Walker isn’t a friend to U.S. history.

In two separate tweets this week, Team Walker got significant events of our nation’s early beginnings very wrong.

In the first, Walker’s Twitter account tried to celebrate the founding of Jamestown.

There’s just one problem: Jamestown was founded 408 years ago, not 505.

That’s a minor slip to be sure, although how it can be blamed on a typing error is questionable.

It pales in comparison to another slip-up this week by Walker. Tweeting an image of a quote from Thomas Jefferson, Team Walker pushed for “smaller, more conservative government.”

The problem here? The quote can’t be attributed to Thomas Jefferson. He never said it.

Walker joins a long line of politicians who have slipped up on quoting the author of the Declaration of Independence. The problem is so frequent that the official site for all-things Thomas Jefferson ( has set up a page listing all of the spurious quotes that people mistakenly assign to him.

Fact-checking and being knowledgeable on history isn’t Walker’s strong-suit. It’s pretty clear to see, whether you look at his own comments or those of the staff he hires, that he doesn’t place a priority on historical accuracy.

Which is why he might be so comfortable with huge cuts to education. No clearer is his distaste for growing the minds of our children than in his proposed budget bill, which puts per-pupil spending in the state below the national average for the first time in Wisconsin history.

It’d be one thing if Walker was simply embarrassing himself with these American history gaffes. It’s disgraceful that he’s pushing budget cuts that would make the entire state an embarrassment.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Welcome back, Russ

Feingold declares himself a candidate in rematch against Ron Johnson

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold indicated this week that he will run to reclaim the seat he lost in 2010.

“People tell me all the time that our politics in Washington are broken, and that multi-millionaires, billionaires and big corporations are calling all the shots,” Feingold says in an online video introducing himself as a candidate.

Elected to serve three consecutive terms prior to his loss, Feingold was best known for putting forward a bipartisan bill (along with Republican Sen. John McCain) to curb campaign contributions from corporate interests.

Much of that law, known as McCain-Feingold, was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in what many (including current justices) have called one of the biggest judicial mistakes made by the Court in recent years: the Citizens United ruling. The 5-4 decision paved the way for unlimited funding from corporations into U.S. elections.

Shortly after the ruling in 2010, there was one senator more than any other that the corporations supportive of that ruling wanted out of office: Russ Feingold. Several other factors (the rise of the Tea Party, for example) led political newcomer Ron Johnson to victory over Feingold.

The election represented “the most expensive campaign for federal office in state history” up to that time.

Feingold, who is notable for imposing limits on his own spending during previous election cycles, refused money from third party groups (such as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee) to run ads against Johnson, a move that, while noble, may have cost him his seat.

That may not be an issue this time around. A March article from the Hill states that Johnson is the second-most vulnerable senator facing re-election this year, and with good reason: recent polling indicates that Johnson is vulnerable (PDF).

Only 32 percent of Wisconsinites polled recently had a favorable view of Johnson, while more than three-in-five had negative feelings about him. And in a matchup between the two, more voters preferred Feingold (54 percent) to Johnson (38 percent)...a full month before Feingold had even announced he was running.

The election will likely tighten in the months to come -- we’re still more than a year out from Election Day 2016 -- but Feingold may be one piece of the puzzle to Democrats winning back the Senate. Forty-four seats are held by Dems, and two seats are held by independents who caucus with Democrats. They only need five more seats to get the majority back (and only four if a Democrat is elected president).

Republicans will be defending 24 seats in 2016, with Democrats only defending 10 seats -- all of which are in states that President Barack Obama won in 2012 (seven of the Republican seats are also in Obama states, including Wisconsin).

That puts the Dems in a very good position, one that they can easily capitalize on in the next year or so. Having Feingold run against Johnson again may be a huge help -- with him already leading the incumbent, resources that would have been spent on Wisconsin can be dedicated to races elsewhere.

We’re nowhere near knowing if that will indeed be the case. But Feingold’s entrance into the Senate race against Ron Johnson certainly opens up that possibility, and brings added excitement to the state’s Democratic Party, which is in desperate need of a big win like this could be.

As for me, all I have to say is this:

Welcome back, Russ. You’ve been missed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You might be a Scott Walker supporter believe Obama’s trying to take over Texas

Nearly two-in-five Walker supporters nationwide believe in wacky conspiracy theory, a higher rate than typical GOP voter

Are Scott Walker supporters more paranoid than typical GOP voters? It seems to be that way. 

A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that 32 percent of Republican voters believe in the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama is planning to use a military exercise to invade the state of Texas.

For real. 

Thankfully, a higher number of Republican voters (40 percent) consider that idea as nonsense (although 28 percent are unsure one way or another).

In the same poll, Scott Walker is leading the rest of the Republican field of declared or potential candidates to run for president in 2016. He holds 18 percent of the Republican vote, with the next highest contender being U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) at 13 percent.

Among Walker’s supporters, 38 percent believe the Texas-Invasion conspiracy theory, with 36 percent of his supporters believing the story to be false. Twenty-seven percent were unsure.

Only two other GOP candidates for president (Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky) polled higher in believing the conspiracy theory. Those two candidates aren’t considered real contenders for the nomination, however: the combined totals for the two fare lower in Republican voters’ preference for the eventual nominee than Walker’s support overall (Cruz is at 10 percent while Paul is at two percent). 

So the most popular “conspiracy-supported” candidate for president on the Republican side is Scott Walker. It stands to reason that, if you’re paranoid about Obama conspiracy theories, Walker is your man.

Let’s hope voters come to their senses before the primaries get under way.

Change is needed in wake of the Tony Robinson decision

Decision by Ozanne was proper, but feeling of disgust remains

Madison is torn over the decision not to pursue charges against a police officer who killed a young man just a few short months ago.

Tony Robinson, who was shot after an altercation with Officer Matt Kenny, was shot and killed after several 911 calls were made following erratic behavior on his part, apparently due to drugs that were in his system at the time.

Kenny, who felt threatened and was attacked by Robinson, shot the teen seven times.

There are good arguments about what should be done on both sides. Given the strict information of the case, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne determined that no charges should be filed against the officer.

I’m inclined to agree with that decision. But that doesn’t mean that changes shouldn’t be made, or that Tony Robinson deserved to die that night. I support what Ozanne has said, but that doesn’t mean I am any less frustrated with what has transpired.

Aaron Camp, who blogs at the Progressive Midwesterner, made some pretty astute points in his recent post on this issue:
If you’re wondering why Kenny did not use a taser in order to stop Robinson without killing him, that’s because of an absurd policy in Madison that prohibits law enforcement officers from using a taser except when another officer is present at the scene. Madison’s taser policy should be amended to allow for officers to use tasers to stop suspects without another officer being present, and similar policies in other jurisdictions should be amended as well.
Amending that policy would be a great start. But it shouldn’t end there.

Community leaders and law enforcement need to look over the entire policy on when lethal force should be used by officers. Dialogues have started between Police Chief Michael Koval and other leaders. They ought to continue, and a reasonable course of action should result from this tragic incident.

I remain disgusted at several comments I read on Twitter and elsewhere on this issue. Many of these comments make it very clear that racism, in Madison and beyond, remains a silent problem in our society. With race inequality being what it is -- in both Madison and the state of Wisconsin -- we can’t sit by and watch things get worse, and call it “progress.”

We need to tackle these problems. We need systemic change in our city, and beyond its jurisdiction as well.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Is Walker's abortion bill driven by his higher ambitions?

The sudden introduction of a restrictive abortion bill may be due to presidential aspirations

Republicans in the legislature and Gov. Scott Walker have indicated they plan to pass into law a bill that would ban all abortions in the state after the 20-week mark.

It’s unclear what the importance of this bill would be. The number of abortions after 20 weeks in America is less than 12 out of every 1,000 performed. And they’re typically performed for reasons other than convenience, despite what some people might argue.

Women aren’t using abortions after 20 weeks as a form of birth control -- with the procedure costing more than $10,000 in some cases, that’d be a ridiculously expensive method. Rather, the reason for this procedure is often due to health concerns, and results in a painstaking decision that is tough but ultimately deemed necessary by the patient and her doctor.

Still, I get the rationale behind a 20-week ban. I’m a pro-choice individual, but I’m also personally very much for preserving the life of a fetus. That’s my personal opinion, and I’m not advocating that as law...but I understand why some people do.

Those who DO find themselves supporting this law ought to know something about Walker’s motivations: they are not based out of his pro-life stance.

Per the Capital Times in Madison:
Walker’s announcement of his support for the ban came the day after he took some heat from conservative leaders over an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Frank Cannon, president of the conservative group American Principles in Action, called the interview “the very worst interview on the life issue I have seen from a Republican in recent memory.”

Walker had previously declined to comment on whether he would sign such legislation.
(Emphasis in bold added.)

So it seems that Walker’s true reasoning behind pushing a bill of this nature isn’t based out of some moral obligation. It’s to appease conservatives on the national level, in preparation for his impending presidential campaign.

It’s clear that Walker is using the state of Wisconsin as a means to fulfill a checklist before he runs for higher office. His budget proposal, which scraps a multitude of popular programs and makes horrendous cuts to education across the state, makes that very clear.

His sudden desire to pass this bill is based out of the same reasoning. He’s pushing it now to save face with conservative media on the national scene. This is especially apparent due to how he tried to appear moderate on the issue during his gubernatorial race last year.

Instead of trying to win the confidence of the state of Wisconsin, Walker’s now trying to court conservatives in Iowa.

Anyone who once had a shred of respect for this governor ought to think twice in the future about his motivations. It’s clear that their interests and Walker’s no longer align. The governor is no longer driven to serve the people of this state. He’s got more important things to worry about, apparently, than us.

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.