Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Right-wing blog Wants To Replace Statues Of "Fighting Bob" With WHO??

Wisconsin Governor fought for countless reforms, and was ahead of his time on several issues

An editorial on Right Wisconsin, a conservative-based blog in the state, is apparently advocating that we should remove the statues of Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, beloved governor and U.S. senator from Wisconsin’s Progressive era, from the state Capitol building and U.S. Capitol.

A bust of La Follette’s head sits in the Capitol in Wisconsin, while a full-sized statue is in the National Statuary Hall in DC.

The editorial from Right Wisconsin is making light of recent Confederate statue removals (by cities themselves or by force from citizens) and trying to suggest there is an equivalency somehow in removing figures that are from the past. That is a false equivalency, to say the least — La Follette stood for empowering the people, while the statues being removed elsewhere in the country stood for keeping entire races of people defined as second-class citizens.

But brushing aside the subtleties of Right Wisconsin’s byline-less editorial, it would be wrong to remove La Follette’s likeness for other reasons. Namely, because they wish to replace him with statues of William Rehnquist, who served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and was a Wisconsin-born jurist.

While that is a high honor worthy of recognition, replacing La Follette with Rehnquist would be a slap in the face of what Wisconsin stands for, and what Americans across the nation support overall.

La Follette backed huge reforms long before they were implemented. He was an ardent critic of big businesses crafting backroom deals with lawmakers, and fought against similar corruption within the government. He stood for women’s suffrage, saying early on that the right to vote for all women “will result in a more enlightened, better balanced citizenship, and in a truer democracy.” He also fought for protections of rights regardless of skin color, and was invited to speak by civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois in Atlanta about the fight for equality.

And he vigorously fought for electoral reforms, including implementing the primary system of selecting candidates and instituting the 17th Amendment, giving voters the right to select their own U.S. Senators through a direct vote.

What about Rehnquist? His record on rights is much, much darker. As a clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson in the 1950s, he wrote a memo defending the “separate but equal” doctrine for keeping Jim Crow laws legal. Rehnquist also was part of the 5-4 majority that halted vote counting in Florida during the 2000 presidential recount. And although he later supported the rule, he was a vocal opponent of the necessary Miranda statement that all police officers must give to suspects they arrest.

Now, you tell me who deserves a spot in the National Statuary Hall: an individual who stood for expanding individuals’ rights, or one whose record included efforts to limit who could take part in American society? My vote goes to "Fighting Bob," and I think most Wisconsinites would agree we should keep his statues right where they are.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Measure the good vs. the bad with Foxconn deal, and you'll understand the skepticism

Mitch Henck complains about complainers, and I give my thoughts on that

Local commentator Mitch Henck doesn’t get why people are upset with the new Foxconn deal that was recently brokered by the state and the tech company.

“Alright, would you rather have the jobs not be here?” Henck asked rhetorically in his latest video column. “Understand that jobs are very vital, and we need them. [The state] is bringing up to 13,000 jobs" as a result of the deal, he argues.

Henck is fine to defend the deal if that’s his opinion, but he makes a lot of assumptions throughout the video. The idea that 13,000 permanent jobs could be created is a fiction. In fact, that number is only estimated by the company itself to be around 3,000 jobs to start with the potential to bring more in the future.

Much has been said, too, of the billions of dollars we’re giving away in tax incentives to Foxconn. The $3 billion in tax incentives isn’t even all of it — according to state Senator Kathleen Vinehout, the company will also forgo paying local property taxes for the next thirty years.

And concerns abound about the environmental impact of Foxconn’s arrival. A new bill in the state legislature this week would give the company tremendous leeway to pollute their surroundings — including potentially waiving the need for an Environmental Impact Statement.

Henck’s argument is that this deal is all about jobs, jobs and jobs, and that we should be grateful for the plans that Gov. Scott Walker has laid out for us to get those jobs. But there has to be a measured approach to the impact that the Foxconn deal will have for whatever area they locate to, as well as the rest of the state.

I liken it to this: if a new pill allowed balding men to regrow their hair, but came at the expense of losing their toes, would it be worth it? Some might actually make the sacrifice. But others would understand that toes, while the smallest extremities on the body, provide a very important role for the rest of the body when it comes to balance.

In other words, the sacrifices that get made may not be worth the impact of the overall goal. A man who constantly falls over all of the time may not be attractive, even with a full head of hair. And a company that may provide for thousands of jobs may not be worth it if comes at the expense of local governments or creates environmental hazards.

Scott Walker has failed to create jobs in any other way. And bringing more jobs to the state is a positive move. But if the only way Walker can do so is at the expense of the financial and physical health of the people he serves, then it’s hard to consider that a success, in my book.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Shower Thoughts And Twitter Bans

Why President Trump Is Wrong To Block Chrissy Teigen (Or Anyone Else, For That Matter)

I, like many individuals in the Millennial age bracket, do a lot of thinking in the shower. So-called shower thoughts are altogether profound and yet very simple in reasoning. They produce an “aha!” moment in your head as you have them, and then oftentimes, hours later, you end up saying to yourself, “Well, yeah, that’s so obvious now that I think about it.”

(Don’t even try explaining them to your significant other.)

My most recent shower thought involved President Donald Trump. I’ll get to it in a minute, but it involves his habit of blocking people from his Twitter account, which I’d like to explain a little bit more first. The latest (famous) victim is supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who has provided years of commentary to Trump’s tweets, yet was only blocked this past weekend for such a ridiculous reason.

Teigen wasn’t blocked for her pointing out a hypocrisy made by the president, or for noting a flaw in Trump’s policy positions. She wasn’t even blocked for threatening the safety of the president. She was blocked for sharing these five simple words:

“lol no one likes you.”
Chrissy Teigen has the right to free speech, of course, and her post about how a majority of Americans disapprove of the president’s time in office thus far (at least, that’s how I analyzed it) isn’t wrong. But it did earn her the ire, apparently, of President Trump.

The question is, does Trump have a right to block Teigen, or any other citizen for that matter? Free speech does require us to understand there are consequences to what we say, but should one of those consequences end up being restricted access to the president’s opinions?

We may soon find out. A group of citizens is suing the president for similarly being blocked on social media by him. Although they do not have the same clout as Chrissy Teigen, they do consider this blockage by the president a violation of their rights, namely their access to information disseminated by the him.

While there isn’t an enumerated right to access the president’s Twitter feed (an unforeseen circumstance by the founders, to be sure), they may have a point: the right to know what your government is up to is one that may fall under a penumbra of rights that do exist in the Constitution, and may possibly be connected to the Freedom of Information Act.

But one may argue, “aren’t some of these users engaging in harassment or bullying?” That’s hard to say, but it may not matter. Which brings me back to the “shower thought” that I alluded to earlier, which goes like this:

“The president is not my great aunt, and neither should treat me the same way as the other does.”

I’ll try to explain. When family members or friends on social media get annoyed with your commentary, and they feel the need to respond, you are certainly within your rights to block those individuals from seeing your posts. They may whine and bemoan your decision, but nothing other than your own choice to change your mind can alter what has happened.

But there’s something different about the president doing that — he’s the most public of all public figures, after all, and his words (be they spoken or thumb-typed) deserve the scrutiny of everyone who lives in this country. While your great aunt may not need to know every public utterance you make, what the president has to say in public does matter a great deal to millions of Americans.

Admittedly, my shower thought is a bit lengthy, but I think you get the point: there may be circumstances that do warrant a “presidential ghosting” on social media — perhaps when harassment goes beyond words and into the realm of leveling threats against the POTUShim — but those instances should require tangible proof that they’re necessary for the protection of the president, his family or other members of his administration. It shouldn’t need to be said out loud, but social media blocking by the president shouldn’t come about as a result of a minor annoyance, disagreement or grudge that the commander-in-chief holds against you.

Every citizen deserves access to the official communications of the president, which the White House has deemed Trump’s tweets fit under that category. Even citizens who are annoyingly hounding the president should still have access to what he has to say. And the president, even if he’s feeling a bit grouchy that day, doesn’t have the right to limit your access to official government records.

The advent of social media (which is still a relatively young invention) brings about new thoughts and theories about what is permissible or not for private and public spheres alike. But on this issue, the ability to access the official word of the White House should not be restrained, whether it’s through traditional print media or through the president’s social media postings. No matter how short his temper is, Donald Trump doesn’t have the right to block you from seeing his public postings.