Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Baraboo Reflection

By Jeff Simpson

By now, you have probably heard that the children of Baraboo High school are public enemy #1, because of a picture they took at least Spring's prom.

Yes it appears, that most of the boys from the class of 2019 were giving the Nazi salute.  The photographer swears that he was telling the boys to say good bye to their parents, the camera, Scott Walker, their anonymity, or whatever the story is he is telling at the time.

One of the students who was there, and did not Heil to the camera, was Jordan Blue, whose memory is different from the photographers.

  "As soon as I heard the photographer say, 'Raise your hand,' I knew what was going to happen," senior Jordan Blue told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz. Blue, who is in the photo, refused to participate.
"Did he say anything to make it clear that it was raise your hand in this way as in this Nazi symbol?" Diaz asked.
"He did not say raise your hand in a Nazi symbol way. And I'm pretty sure my classmates just interpreted as raise your hand, let's do this as a joke," Blue said, adding that he thinks the others knew what the symbol represented.
The command to raise your hand, is almost automatically turned into a Nazi saluteI wonder why that could possibly be,....

Maybe they watched the Republican National Convention, where one of the main speakers, Laura Ingraham spoke of nationalism....

Of course Ingraham has the highest rated show on Fox.  Ever since she came back from her suspension vacation after making fun of the parkland shooting survivors.     (Quick note - the Parkland Shooter - Nikolas Cruz - recently registered as a Republican.  I guess his long ties with the NRA makes this the logical next step. )

Maybe they attended a rally for the Donald in West Bend and one of their parents bought a Nazi flag as a Souvenir.

or ran across these guys there:

Or possibly worked for the Republican Paul Nehlen Campaign.  Yes, Nehlen did not come close to winning, but he was praised by The Donald for his "kind words". 

Or Maybe they caught Richard Spencer's speech:

What does the head of the Alt-Right movement Richard Spencer have to do with Wisconsin?  Well a student at UW-Madison wanted to start an alt-right movement on campus and was forced to go through many road blocks, which then led to Republicans Jesse Kremer and Robin Vos to pass a law that says if you disrupt a speaker at the University System you can be expelled. 

The student that Vos and Kremer were writing legislation for, was convicted of arson on black churches, which definitely led to his appeal with the WISGOP. 

What has the Alt-Right Movement really done, since they were also praised by the Donald as "having some really fine people " as part of their movement.    I mean we can overlook the Alt-Rights role in this, all they have done is hold a White Power rally in Charlottesville, NC and shoot up a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

FYI: the guy who keeps praising the Alt-Right movement, he won Wisconsin in the last Presidential vote.   Plus Wisconsin's Governor ,was the only elected official, to be a featured speaker at a White power rally in Florida and it barely made the Wisconsin Media blink.(Stormy Daniels was more exciting to cover).

Then there is far right hate radio that made fun of the whole topic:

The list goes on and on.....

Did the photographer say raise your hand in a Nazi salute....I personally do not think so. 

Did the Photographer ask the kids to put their hand in the air and most of them used the Nazi salute for fun....I believe so.   

However, before we run to Baraboo with our Pitchforks in hand, maybe we should stop and look in the mirror first and realize all these kids are doing is modeling our behavior. 

Next time you look at that picture of the Baraboo Boys with the Nazi salute,  take a second look and you will see that it is just a reflection of our current society. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Top Ten Election 2018 Thoughts

By Jeff Simpson

It is a new day in Wisconsin with the end in sight finally of the Scott Walker reign.   Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes will be the next Governor/Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.    Scott Walker will be forced to do something he has not done since getting kicked out of college - find a job not on the taxpayer dime.  Apparently the same fate has been bestowed upon Rebecca Kleefisch but she appears to be a comet, completely disappearing, but showing up every four years. 

The Democratic Party also won the US House but lost seats in the US Senate.   The Blue wave turned into some occasional heavy rain storms but in too many other areas no rain in sight.   It was like being in the winter in Alaska, no sun, no rain and hell mostly froze over. 

However we need to look at Wisconsin, what went right, what went wrong and how do we fix it. 

The first thing we need to do is acknowledge the successes.   Very few seats were uncontested(although still room for improvement) and there were some incredible candidates on the Democratic Ticket, who unfortunately did not win, but it is important that they do not disappear from the fight.

Secondly and best news of the night, Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes are the new leaders of Wisconsin.  Along with Josh Kaul, Sarah Godlewski and Doug LaFollette swept the statewide races (More on this later). 

This means that in 2020, when the Republicans sign secretive agreements to gerrymander even worse, and before Rick Esenberg can testify that the maps are Constitutional (before he even sees them) they will have to be signed off by Tony Evers.   

Gone are the days of Scott Jensen having final say on all maps, and bills.   No matter what else happens, that was a net positive.

Josh Kaul winning is also a net positive for the people of Wisconsin.   Brad Schimel might be the most partisan person ever born.   He is the former Waukesha Attorney General that the GOP changed the law for, so they could move their trials. to his court room.  Schimel is known for giving Republicans a slap on the butt and saying "Go Get Em Tiger" to any major Republican that crosses his path.  That and not being bothered to test rape kits. 

Doug Lafollete also won easily, but I knew that when Nation consulting decided to find a Democrat to primary him, ensuring his victory in this election cycle.

Turnout was huge and Madison and Milwaukee showed up. 

Robyn Vining Won her race for Assembly seat 14 against Agustus Gloop.

Not a terrible night but things could/should have been so much better.  Let's dig a bit deeper. 

1.  I love that we beat Scott Walker as much as the next person, BUT we need to stop declaring total Victory.     No one won last night.  When the nation projects a Blue Wave and we pick up one seat it is not a successful night.

2.  The Democrats are still using the Gerrymandered seats to dismiss the numerous defeats across the board.  Yes, I am not naive enough to think that gerrymandering does not make a difference.  It was unbelievably unethical  how they gerrymandered the state.

It is also impressive.

The GOP nationally, and locally,  realized that power is fleeting and elections are cyclical and decided to change the rules.   They had a multi level plan, but one of their main action steps was understanding the importance of local elections and in turn, being able to rewrite the maps.   You can be so much more successful when you pick your voters, instead of relying on the voters to pick you.

The problem though is this is the fourth straight election where we have had to play by the same rules and lines   The Democrats have a good number of people who make alot of money, and have during every one of the last four elections, and yet they can not seem to figure out how to win an election anywhere.  In Wisconsin that is - seems our brethren in Kansas have figured out some secrets.

3.  The WISDEMS have never been able to stop chasing the money.   Moneyed donors are pheromones to Wisconsin Democrats.  Understanding that you need money to run (unfortunately) but if you chase the money you are running from very thing that you need to win.  The real winners of this election cycle are the consultant class once again.  Their checks are in the bank.  They will be on vacation, enjoying some much needed downtime, while we sit here and watch the lame duck session bring Wisconsin even further down the rabbit hole.

How do we win?  We can break that down also!

1.  Look Deep Inside.  
The first thing to do is form a committee and take a deep deep inside look into what happened.  Nothing off the table, do not worry about feelings hurt and ask and demand raw honesty.  A few years ago, the WISDEMs did form a committee but it was laughable as it was mainly intended to push the blame on everyone but themselves.   On this committee you need some WISDEM party members and some people who refuse to pay dues but are liberal/progressive activists etc. 

Then they need to interview and listen to, every candidate on the D side of the ballot, activists, party members etc...  With such questions as What re your impressions of being a candidate, what were the successes, what were the failures, what would be your advice to future candidates, what would you need to run again, what were the success and failures of the help you received from the WISDEMS, etc...

Then let's start building an infrastructure that uses the advice given.

2.   Get over yourselves.   We still, even after the fiasco of electing the Donald, have too many party party members that think because they pay their $25 that have "stars upon thars".   They truly believe that paying $25 makes their opinion matter more, they are more liberal/progressive/smart/logical/pragmatic etc...   We have to understand that if we rely only on the dues paying members of the party then we will continue to lose every single election. 

It is time to welcome all people in.  I understand that you pay your $25 and you want extra privileges, you get to vote for the chair and attend meetings where people talk down to you, and can attend an annual picnic.   Take those privileges and enjoy but when it comes time for election, lets open the doors and welcome everyone.   Here is a suggestion, maybe open the door for a $5 membership fee, it allows you access to so many more people. 

3.  Chill on the direct mailers.   We have to stop running elections like its 1972.  We can reach people in so many more (less expensive)  ways than killing trees and filling recycle bins. 

3.  STOP PAYING CONSULTANTS!  What in the world have they won?  We have to have this conversation after every single election, for some reason.    Its like Groundhogs day every two years in WI.  We run a campaign, exactly like the last campaign and then when we get beat and whine about the maps and tell each other how great we are.

A consultant is by definition, a professional who provides expert advice.  The rules for the last 8 years have been the exact same, and so have the results.  You would think that having four straight chances at something you could eventually start having some success. 

Hire the right campaign coordinator and go from there.   Get someone with skin in the game, instead of a mercenary.  Stop with the conflicts of interest.  I documented numerous times that Mary Burke's campaign was run by someone who owned a lobbying firm.   Nothing to see here.   A partner at Nation Consulting is the DNC Secretary.   We can not keep having so many Blurred Lines and wonder why we fail.

4.  Use Wisconsin Businesses.   How many candidates are spending tens of thousands of dollars on Amazon, Uber, Printers in DC or New York, Firms from DC, New York, San Francisco, etc...    The message of I am going to protect small business in WI, I just have no interest in using them, is one that does not play well.  Yes Republicans do the same thing, make sure and point that out as often as possible.

A perfect example of what not to do would be the Bryce Campaign.   Kudos to them for raising over $7 million dollars.  I remember talking with Marge Krupp and she was excited to raise $100k for her run against Paul Ryan.   However while I praise him for raising so much money a quick look at his campaign finance report and it is hard to see any of that money staying in WI.   When you send tens of thousands of dollars to a "strategy" group based in the heart of the Midwest - New York City, who is used to working with billionaires and your candidate is Joe Sixpack, not sure why anyone thought that was a good idea.

The deadbeat dad meme and multiple arrest record of Randy Bryce was too much to overcome as Bryce lost to Paul Ryan's Chauffeur by 13 points.  The problem was that these overcome able  problems should have been addressed at the beginning of the campaign and not made it look like the campaign was trying to hide something or surprised that the allegations came out.   Making the impact of the ridiculous accusations substantially more than it should have been, 

As someone who used to work for a multi national company, we all know that when ever Wisconsin comes up in a conversation at the GSG, they all have plenty of redneck/hick jokes ready to go.   It is hard to then from thousands of miles away, tell someone who they would never associate with in public, how to win over voters in Janesville, Racine and Elkhorn WI.    Bryce's comms director grew up in DC and New York, and now was in charge of communicating with people in Clinton, Mukwonago and East Troy.   Which leads to Bryan Steil in Congress and I would guess some very nice holiday bonuses at GSG.

5.   Use your resources. 

Mike Crute ran a progressive radio show on a progressive station here in Madison.  After the last election all of the major corporate owned radio stations purged the Progressive shows and then doubled down on far right wing shows.   So Crute bought his own radio station and broadcasts his own line up of Progressive radio1510Am on your dial.     A perfect vehicle to help spread the Progressive message. 

Yet the real resistance in the Dem Party these last few years, have been the Democratic Insiders resisting anything that Progressives no party approve have done.  I know as being part of a Progressive blog(there are not many of us left), we get more pushback and resistance from inside our own party than anything the Republicans throw at us. 

As I have pointed out on more than one occasion, the GOP has their network of radio, tv and blogs and use them all.   At anytime you will heard a perpetual stream of candidates on their shows or giving interviews.  Anytime they want to push something or start a message for the echo chamber there they are.  No questions asked.

If you want to be a Republican, be a Republican.   You are not going to get that from any of the blogs I know or Crute.  However we are all progressive, have similar goals and can help push the right message.   If your feelings get hurt because we criticize something that we disagree with, then you are in the wrong business.  Instead of having the lets work together when we agree attitude, it comes back to The Sneetches.   How dare you question us, we have "stars upon thars" and you need to know your place!

When they do take a break from fighting With progressing outlets, it is usually to complain that they do not have enough money or exposure. 

Crute spent an extended period explaining this recently on his show.  I highly recommend checking it out for an insiders view of what happens within the party.

Listen here! 

It is hard to complain about lack of coverage and people not knowing your candidates when you have built in outlets to reach people and you treat them worse than your opponents because they are mad that you do not agree with them 100% of the time.

6,  Study successes all over the country (there were some). 

In Kansas they beat the Trump candidate easily, and the best advice they gave is "run your campaign" not always chasing and responding to your opponent(which I felt the Evers campaign did a very good job of).

In Texas, Beto O'Rourke unfortunately lost his race, but there are lessons to learn from his enthusiasm and positivity.  He also emphasized no corporate PAC money. 

In Kentucky, Veteran Amy McGrath had a very high profile in this election thanks to her original campaign video. 

Ms. McGrath, was urged by the DCCC to got hard and negative at her opponent and she refused to get slimy.   Congrats on her for that, but there is a difference between going slimy and answering BS attacks.  Good for Ms. McGrath, we will hear from her again.    One thing that I have always found interesting, the reddest states and thee hardest core Republicans who wrap themselves up in the flag and have changed their middle name to "support the troops" are never scared to smear a veteran if it will help them win an election.  It was Paul Ryan's SuperPac that did the smearing of Ms. McGrath

Boy are we quick to anger at Pete Davidson for making a joke about a Veteran but then hold The Donald and Paul Ryan up on pedestal as they attack vet after vet.   Party over People. 

7.  PROMOTE the Hell out of the bottom of the ticket.   

Notice that the four candidates that the Democratic Party outright supported won.   That is not a coincidence.   Check out their generic lit piece and wonder why we only picked up one seat. 

If the down ballot member running is an afterthought to The Democratic Party, why wouldn't they be with you?   Another example, President Obama came to Milwaukee for a GOTV rally and look who was on the stage.

Know who isn't on stage?  Julie Henszy.    Who is Julie Henszy you ask(and shouldn't)?  She ran for Leah Vukmirs old Senate seat outside of Milwaukee and lost to Drunken Dale Kooyenga by around 2000 votes.   A few kind words from Obama, could have gotten more people out to the polls for her and maybe been the last minute adrenaline shot need to push even further across the finish line.  We will never know though because the bottom of the ballot is insignificant to party insiders. 

For example, while Julie Henszy wasn't on stage, our old friend Tonya Bjork was backstage getting pictures with President Obama and her kid.    It is much more important to pat each other on the back, and tell each other how great they are, than it is to win elections.   Until that changes we will continue to be in the minority.

The correct response here would have been to have it go as it did and at the end bring up everyone who is on the ballot that could make it there that morning and introduce them and let them get a team picture with president Obama. We ran some great candidates and a team pic with Obama would have shown the Dems to be a much different party than their opponents.

Drive big turnout in the lower ballot races, and that will trickle up.   Drive big turnout in the top of the ballot and the Democrats win, and no one else does. 

8.  Can we finally admit, that many people are left behind in this economy?  

I have found, since the Hillary campaign really started this, that too many good liberals want to show everyone how "Woke" they are.  It usually starts out with someone saying something that is not politically correct but comes from a good place.   Then instead of having a conversation about it, the WOKE superstars start attacking.   They save their venom for people that are mostly on the same team because they all their friends to know how inclusive they are and want to be at the forefront of flogging the "bad liberal".

Let's look at it another way.  We are all in this together.  If you are an African American female, you head out into our current world with alot of strikes against you. If you are a single white mother who is trying to work and raise kids on your own with the rising costs of healthcare also have strikes against you. Instead of comparing "woes", lets join together and start eliminating those strikes against everyone.

White Privilege is a very real thing, but not everyone who is white has the same amount of privilege in this country.   If you are living in a mostly rural, mostly white area and the factory, your family has worked at for generations,  just closed down, you do not want to be preached at about white privilege.    Sure you can send your son out into the world and be pretty sure he will come back if he gets a speeding ticket, but you also send him out knowing if the car breaks down you do not have the money to fix it.   

The white family, that was working at the closing Beechworth Windows in Ladysmith, and the African American family in Grover Heights Milwaukee and the Latino family in Cambria all have more in common than not.    Let's focus on our commonalities - healthcare, good education for the kids, a roof over your head, a job that pays a fair wage and where you can be safe at, the ability to buy healthy, fresh food, have transportation and can maybe take a vacation every year or so.     These things transcend race and each of the families have too many obstacles, although they may be different, to get their slice of the American Dream pie. 

9.  Grow with the times.   

I admire that so many Democratic candidates worked so hard doing doors upon doors. I question the effectiveness of it though.   I would guess that except for maybe some married women whose husband was gone, Robin Vos has not knocked on a door in years, yet he runs the show.    I think doors are still important but there has to be more.   I do not have the answer but it is out there.

We also need to figure out more ways to reach people in (free) social media platforms.

Stop fighting yard signs.  Yard signs do not vote but they are like mini billboards that you can place all over your district,.   Which beats actually having to spend limited resources buying billboards.  They also help start conversations between neighbors.   The conversation between neighbors is what will change the world.

Use the WISDEMS platform to push all candidates not just the top of the ticket. 

Be ready to learn and listen when you do #1.

10.  Keep fighting and Stay Positive.  Never Give Up. 

Complete election results here!  

Our friend Dom has his take here.  

Vox take on it is here, where they emphasize the long term plans of the Republican Party that put us here.

I appreciate that we had an OK election night in Wisconsin.  I will forever be grateful that Scott Walker lost to a teacher.  It was awesome.   However we have a long way to go to take back our state and it needs to start now. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Scott Walker - A Weasel To The Bitter End

On Tuesday, Karma came to Wisconsin riding atop of a Blue Wave.

As the gentle reader is assuredly aware of Walker losing his seat - and any future aspirations of being president. It was poetic justice done in slow motion.

It was a long, tense night as the counts came trickling in. Walker and his opponent, Tony Evers, never were more than a few percentage points away from each other. Finally, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the race was called and Evers was declared the winner.

But then Walker's inner weasel manifested itself in full force. He refused to concede the race. In fact, he sent out his Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, to beg for money as they were preparing for a recount.

On Wednesday afternoon, Walker finally conceded the race.

But he wasn't done. With all things Walker, there's more, there's always more.

Walker is now goading on the Republicans in the state legislature, to pass some lame duck session bills to hamstring Evers by cutting his powers before he takes office:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday he would discuss whether to look at limiting Evers' power with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). FItzgerald is open to the idea, according to an aide.

"If there are areas where we could look and say, 'Geez — have we made mistakes where we granted too much power to the executive,' I'd be open to taking a look to say what can we do to change that to try to re-balance it," Vos told reporters.

"Maybe we made some mistakes giving too much power to Gov. (Scott) Walker and I'd be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change that, but it's far too early to do that before I talk to Scott Fitzgerald."
Talk about sore losers.

But Walker is probably feeling extra salty about this loss because Karma kicked his ass all over the state.

Walker has spent the last eight years vilifying teachers, especially the Superintendent of Public Education, Tony Evers. He and his Republican comrades have constantly tried to limit Evers power as Superintendent. Now Evers has returned the favor by ousting Walker from power altogether.

For the past 16 years, Walker has spent attacking and sabotaging Milwaukee County, which has the state's largest population of African Americans and other minorities. It was Milwaukee County that delivered the death blow to Walker's career with tens of thousands of ballots that weren't counted until the very end.

In 2011, an opened bag of 17,000 questionable ballots was "found" in the very red Waukesha County, which gave Walker's judicial rubber stamp, 30,000, an insurmountable lead. This allowed Walker to immediately pass some of his most nefarious laws, including Act 10, his initial volley against unions. in 2018, Walker was mewling about 47,000 uncounted ballots, which he claimed were "questionable." These late counted ballots were what secured Evers victory.

But the most sweetly ironic part of it all was that just last year, Walker and the Republicans changed the recount rules, making it much more difficult for a candidate to ask for a recount. Under the new rules, a race has to be within 1% point for a candidate to call for the recount.

Because of Milwaukee's late surge of votes for Ever, Walker lost by 30,000 votes, or 1.1%. Walker's change in the law came back to bite him in the ass by preventing him from asking for a recount.

The whole election - well, Walker's entire career actually - was summed up perfectly by Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO:
Scott Walker was a national disgrace.
All of this leads me to ask one question - Is it wrong that I'm still smiling?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Welcome To The Main Attraction! Now Go Forth And Vote Dammit!

The moment of reckoning is at hand.  Will the fabled Blue Wave of 2018 sweep the state and the nation or will the special interests again be allowed to buy another election and make the people pay - even with their lives?

My wife and I will be voting early today before going out for breakfast.  Then take the Hellhounds for a quick walkies before hunkering down to monitor the news and social media sites for any signs of interference such as Russian hackers or Walker declaring martial law for no damn good reason.

In honor of my friends who passed away this past weekend - Phil Neuenfeldt and Vegas_Jessie - I will be voting to carry their torches forward and fight for the working class, for women, for minorities, for our health and all other rights.  Eight years of the failed Koch experiment in Wisconsin and two years of Trump's Fourth Reich is more than enough to know that they are utter and complete failures and need to be moved to the bad memories file as soon as humanly possible.

I hope you will join me in this effort.

Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm.  Don't forget your picture ID to satisfy the Republicans' Jim Crow laws.

The following are the people that I am voting for or would be if I lived in their districts.  Please, let us join our voices to take our state and country back.  We need to vote in numbers too great for them to tamper with.


Senate - Tammy Baldwin

First Congressional - Randy Bryce, aka IronStache

Fourth Congressional - Gwen Moore

Sixth Congressional - Dan Kohl

Seventh Congressional - Margaret Engebretson

Eighth Congressional - Beau Liegeois


Governor/Lieutenant Governor - Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes

Attorney General - Josh Kaul

State Treasurer - Sarah Godlewski

State Senate

Senate District 1 - Caleb Frostman

Senate District 5 - Julie Henszey

Senate District 7 - Chris Larson

Senate District 19 - Lee Snodgrass

Senate District 21 - Lori Hawkins

Senate Assembly

Assembly District 7 - Daniel Reimer

Assembly District 15 - Lillian Cheesman

Assembly District 84 - Erica Flynn

Milwaukee County

Sheriff - Earnell Lucas

City of Milwaukee

Fifth Aldermanic District - Nikiya Dodd

Monday, November 5, 2018

Wisconsin Loses Labor Giant

I am sad to report the passing of Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Emeritus Phil Neuenfeldt, who succumbed to cancer after a long battle.  He was 67 years old.

From Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO:
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO announced today that former President Phil Neuenfeldt, a stalwart of Wisconsin’s labor movement, died yesterday in his home. He retired as president in September at the organization’s biennial convention.

“Phil Neuenfeldt embodied the vision and values of organized labor, and he will be tremendously missed,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “It was a tremendous honor for me to serve with and to call him a friend."

“Phil was one of the great leaders of the labor movement, and I know he would want us to carry on the fight to which he dedicated his life,” said Bloomingdale. “We will wipe away the tears and soldier on, and tomorrow elect leaders who we can partner with to deliver economic justice for Wisconsin’s working families.”

“Phil would no doubt agree with Mother Jones, who advised, 'Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” said Bloomingdale.

Details about memorial services and a celebration of Neuenfeldt’s life will be announced at a later date.

Phil Neuenfeldt was a member of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) Local 1916. He began his career on the shop floor in the manufacturing sector at GE and held various positions of leadership in his local union, including chair of the bargaining committee. He started at the Wisconsin AFL-CIO in 1986 and served as Legislative Director, Secretary-Treasurer, and President. He is a Navy veteran and proud Father and Grandfather.
Phil was well-known and widely-admired by friends of Labor for his unwavering support for working families and his tireless fight against the likes of Scott Walker and the other special interest meat puppets.

Phil's death has hit me hard on a personal level as well.  Not only did I respect and admire Phil for his unflagging leadership, but he was a good friend - perhaps a better one than I had realized.

Whenever I saw Phil at some event or heard him speak, he always talked me and this blog up.  He would joke around that if he saw me in the crowd, he'd have to check his social media that night to see what I had to say.  He always kept encouraging me to keep up the fight in the way that I do best and to never let the bastards get me down.

I could never express how much his votes of confidence for a minor loud-mouthed union thug meant to me.

Phil was a giant in Labor, just as he was a giant in life, towering over everyone.  But he was a gentle giant to his friends.

Just last week, while my wife and I were vacationing up north and were off the grid, Phil sent me a direct message on Facebook, trying to pick up my spirits during these ending days of the election cycle:

Think about it.  Just days before his death, he sent me one more message to help keep me carry on the fight. That is the kind of man Phil was.

So, I ask not for your condolences or sympathies.  I ask you to help me and my brothers and sisters carry Phil's torch forward.  Please vote on Tuesday.  Not only vote, but make Phil's goal come true and vote out Walker and the other Republicans that have waged an eight year long war on working families.

On behalf of Phil and myself, thank you.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Scott's Pre-Existing Lies!

By Jeff Simpson

I am one to criticize the Dem party when they deserve it, so I want to praise them when they also deserve it. 

The Dem party, statewide has done a great job standing together, being consistent on their messaging that the Democratic Party is the party that will protect pre-existing condtitions clause of the ACA (Obamacare). 

That message has resonated (imagine the effect a consistent message has) and it has caused Scott Walker and the GOP fits.

Scott Walker and his gopher Brad Schimel have been suing in federal court to get rid of Obamacare for years, which would end the pre-existing protections safeguards and put millions of Americans at risk. 

The WISGOP even had a vote earlier this year where all Republicans voted to remove Pre-existing protections in Wisconsin.   The proof is in the pudding!

Walker, if he has one strength, it is that he is politically savvy.   The fact that he realized the voters were on to him, so he decided to jump on the ACA bandwagon(while he is still suing to end it).

Which at this point, people saw it as the desperation move it is and were not buying it.  Like the boy who cried wolf, the Governor who has attacked anything Obama for 8 years now wants us to believe he supports it.   Like any product "As Seen On TV", no one is really buying it.

Hence even more desperation:

Our friends at OneWisconsinNow checked into and had a new Note to Media and Scott Walker:   There is something very very new about you talking about pre-existing conditions protections. 

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson

Please, whatever you do, whoever you vote for on the rest of the ticket ...we need to get this Governor on the unemployment line and quick! 

Please vote Evers/Barnes on Tuesday Nov. 6th.  

Friday, November 2, 2018

The West Bend Wave

By Jeff Simpson

Once again, West Bend made national news, challenging "Florida man" for biggest the Darwin Awards. 

Let's rewind a bit first.  The Guardian decided to follow The Donald around the country to his "I Love Me" rallies and assigned a different emotion to each rally they attended.  The emotion they assigned to the WI rally (where Scott Walker, Leah Vukmir, Paul Ryan, et al spoke), was HATE.

On the morning of the fourth rally, the outside world blasts its way into Trumpland. Shortly after 10am, as CNN anchors are telling their viewers about a series of pipe bombs mailed to the Clintons, the Obamas and to George Soros, they have to rush off air because the network has received its own explosive device.
At the same time, Jacob Spaeth and three of his buddies are lining up in a field in Mosinee, Wisconsin. They are all wearing the same distinctive red T-shirt. It bears a cartoon sketch of a smiling Trump urinating profusely over the CNN logo.
Today, after the CNN pipe bomb became headline news, a merchant says he’s sold about 15 of them in quick succession at $20 each.
Spaeth, a 19-year-old college student, doesn’t want to comment on the bombs. But he’s happy to discuss CNN.
“It’s not just CNN, it’s the whole media. They are very unfair to Trump. They’re manipulating kids, telling them that Trump is a horrible guy and that he wants bad things.”
Spaeth never watches CNN – he occasionally sees clips of it on Facebook. He gets his information from Infowars, the website of Alex Jones. Jones, a conspiracy theorist, is on the record as saying 9/11 was a government set-up and that the 2012 Newtown school shooting in which 20 children were killed was fabricated. Within hours he will be broadcasting that this week’s pipe bombs are also a hoax.
Spaeth embodies one of the most puzzling aspects of my week in Trumpland. Throughout the five rallies, I talk to scores of people, all of whom, without exception, are welcoming and pleasant. Yet hours later, in the pressure-cooker of the rally, they will turn on me and my mainstream media colleagues and hurl insults at us.
Spaeth admits that when he went to a Trump rally in Minnesota last month he took part in the finger-jabbing and the chanting of “CNN sucks”. It made him feel happy to be able to express his feelings so openly among like-minded folk. “I don’t see it as bullying,” he says.
There’s only one explanation for this pattern of behavior: that Trump enables good, civil Americans to metamorphose into media baiters. “Those people, fake news,” the president says sneeringly at almost every rally, pointing to the caged pen where reporters are cooped up during his speeches.
It’s a trigger mechanism: as soon as he says it, the chants begin. “CNN sucks! CNN sucks!” Many of the people chanting are also laughing – it’s that humor thing again. But CNN is taking no chances: they bring private security guards to every rally.
Tonight, he talks about the need to “bring our nation together”. It’s an extraordinarily cordial message coming from him. But listen closer. His call to unity is in fact a veiled attack on his political enemies.
In the name of “peace and harmony”, he tells politicians to stop treating their opponents – for which read Trump – as “morally defective”, and he references the “mob” – for which read Democrats. Remarkably, he is actually mocking the very concept of national unity while calling for it.
But wait there is more, there is always more.  Also attending the rally in Mosinee, was  Steve Spaeth from West Bend.  The hometown of Owen Robinson( who thanks to guys like Spaeth, the moral he pushes for is improving).  

Spaeth was more than happy to give an interview!   

Tonight in Wisconsin, the crowd are focused on only one thing – hearing their leader. It includes Steve Spaeth (no relation), 40, who runs a home exteriors company in West Bend. I ask him who he regards as his political enemies, and whether “hate” is too strong a word.
“Not at all,” he says. “I have a deep and absolute disgust for these human beings.”
Which ones?
He rattles off CNN, Soros, Clinton, Waters, Booker, “Pocahontas” AKA Elizabeth Warren, and others.
Why do you hate them?
“They want to turn America into a socialistic country. It’s disgusting.”
I ask Spaeth how far he is prepared to take his hatred. In reply, he tells a story. The other day he talked to his sister, who is liberal and votes Democratic. He said to her: “If there is a civil war in this country and you were on the wrong side, I would have no problem shooting you in the face.”
You must be joking, I say.
“No I am not. I love my sister, we get on great. But she has to know how passionate I am about our president.”

Yes Mr. West Bend (does that statement qualify him for Mayor now) will shoot his sister in the face if this guy tells him too:

I highly recommend anyone that is mesmerized with the Donald and the current GOP spend an hour and watch this old 70's movie The Wave.  

Dr, Phillip Zombardo,  the Stanford professor best known for his famous 1971 prison experiment, feels the answer lies in what people are willing to do to go from a feeling of powerlessness to one of being empowered.   “For most people it’s an awful lot,” remarks Dr. Zimbardo.  “People will transgress a lot of personal values to step across the line.”

Please do not stay home this election, we need to stop this dangerous crap before it gets out of control and lunatics like Spaeth actually start shooting people. 

Vote on Tuesday!   Vote blue and if you can not bring yourself to do that, vote libertarian or write in ...we need to change out those in power badly. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Elect Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes For Integrity and Honesty

By Jeff Simpson 

The election is one week away and time to make my endorsement of  the Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes

Any reader of CogDis knows that we have never been fans of Scott Walker.  We have written about his failings as a Governor, failed Presidential candidate and human being numerous times.  We have covered him from his bromance with Tim Russell, to his infamous fundraising email asking you to give him all of your kids Christmas money, to his wanting to "wall off Canada" to his public drunkenness, to his son stealing a state van and his being a keynote speaker at a White Power conference

After all of that, and plenty more, an endorsement from me is far from a surprise.   However, this endorsement is different.  It is not I endorsing Tony Evers, as much as it is some of the people who know him the best.   

We pointed out recently, that four of his highest ranking officials within his administration, recently co-wrote a letter endorsing Tony Evers, and pointing out that Scott Walkers main priority is Scott Walker. 

Then Peter Bildstein, former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, decided to expand a bit more on this: 

Even early on, however, I noticed that not everything was as it should be. At more than one Cabinet meeting, the secretary of the Department of Administration, Mike Huebsch, told us never to send him or the governor any electronic documents of consequence, and to avoid the use of our state-issued cellphones. “If you send me an important report electronically, I won’t open it,” I remember him saying, “and if you call me on your state phone, I won’t answer it.” If we had any important documents, they were to be “walked over” and hand-delivered to the governor’s office. As a result, open-record requests by the media or political opponents would be almost futile. This lack of transparency would be a hallmark of the Walker administration.

Things have gotten so bad, even the Scott Walker friendly Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Tony Evers! 

Evers may lack polish and seem boring at times. But electing a lifelong educator instead of a professional politician should appeal to many voters tired of the bickering and partisan games at the state Capitol.
Change is needed at the top after eight years of Gov. Walker sowing division, undermining good-government protections, and skimping on basic services such as roads while running up debt.
The State Journal endorses Evers for governor in the Nov. 6 election. 
Even though, some of the most qualified people in his administration endorsing his opponent should be enough, however, as we know there is always more. 

WSAW7 recently committed a blatant act of journalism.   Ed Wall, Walkers former Corrections Secretary, recently came out with a "tell-all" book regarding his time in Walker's administration and how incompetent and lacking anything but blind ambition that defines Scott Walker.

Thats were a blatant and rare act of journalism happened.  WSAW7  did an open Record Request and found that, while Walker took every opportunity to smear Mr. Wall, was actually lying and Wall was telling the truth. 

As 7 investigates has previously reported documents show one of the governor’s main aides in 2012, Alex Ignatowski, received a letter from Racine County Judge Richard Kruel expressed shock over the treatment of a Racine County juvenile housed at Lincoln Hills, and held onto that document for more than one month.

Judge Kruel’s letter to Gov. Walker was written one year after the governor’s 2011 budget closed most of the state’s youth prisons, causing all of the state’s juvenile offenders to be moved to the Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake Schools in Irma. Opponents of the move have argued this decision led to years of problems inside the youth prisons, including inmate and staff injuries, under Walker’s leadership.
Full statement from Gov. Scott Walker to 7 Investigates
7 INVESTIGATES : You have personally said you did not order a cancellation of the independent review into Lincoln Hills?
GOV. WALKER: I did not.
7 INVESTIGATES: You did not? And no one on your staff did, as well?
GOV. WALKER: To my knowledge, no.
7 INVESTIGATES: Have you Investigated that at all.
It is hard to get your Wisconsin calendar correct if you are never in the state.   When the Governor says he has no interest at all in visiting the prisons in your state, or pardoning anyone, you see how he feels about actually doing his job. 

After eight years, we see that Scott Walker has an interest in, and does one thing very very well -  Fundraise! 

Wisconsin, we deserve more! 

Please join me in voting for Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes on Tuesday November 6th. 

Time to restore, honesty, character, decency, morality and virtue back to the Governors Mansion! 

PS:  One last observation.  When was the last time you saw Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch working together?  Could it be that he does not respect her and she does not fit into his Republican climbing ambitions?   

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Dr. Can Cure The Delevan/Darien Dilemma

By Jeff Simpson

As this election season is coming to a frantic close, public education is still a top issue and we keep hearing that the current occupant of the Governors mansion is the "Education Governor". 

Sometimes the evidence is so strong that it is hard to see.  There is an exhibit 1, on how much of an education Governor that Scott Walker truly is along with the WISGOP,  right in the small town of Darien, WI - population 1,580.   While they still celebrate Cornfest(and who doesn't) one thing they no longer can celebrate is their local elementary school. 

The only public school in Darien was recently closed. 

The Delavan-Darien school board voted to close Darien Elementary School—the only public school in Darien—after the 2017-18 school year and approved 16 teacher non-renewals, bringing the total number of non-renewals to 39. This is after a $3.5 million referendum on the April 3 ballot, failed by more than 500 votes.
While schools are closing all over, what makes this school closing so unique, is it is the district that our "education Governor" attended.

Now as he travels the state and, falsely claims that he spent record amounts of our money on public schools, he refuses to acknowledge this his own home district is in trouble.     The record cuts to public education, along with record amounts funneled to his donors and friends in the private school voucher for profit industry, led by American Federation For Children - and formerly convicted felon Scott Jensen. 

The buck has never once stopped at the Governors office and this time it truly does not stop there alone.   Assembly District 31 Rep Amy Loudenbeck (R - Herding Goats). also likes to advertise her attempts at fighting for public education. 

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck: “Madison politics can be a bit like herding goats. It’s hard to get everyone moving in the same direction, when everyone is talking at the same time and no one is really listening. I’m Amy Loudenbeck. Whether it’s fighting for quality health care options, increased funding for education, or more workers in our district; I’ll listen to your concerns and be your voice in Madison. It doesn’t matter what your breed of politics is, Wisconsin is better when we all work together.”
I know it is silly season but we need to start holding politicians accountable for their actions and their votes.   There are some major problems

1.  fighting for quality health care options - By fighting for, she means turning down a billion dollars in medicaid money to help insure fellow Americans. 

2.  Increased funding for education -   By fighting for here, she means voting for the budgets that cut public education more than any state in the country and more than any time in Wisconsin history. 

3.  More workers in our district -  By fighting for here, she means overseeing 8 years of multiple business closings, almost 500 dairy farms closing and dead last in small business start ups

With friends like this.....

But wait there is more, there is always more. 

What else is in Ms. "fighting for funding for education" Loudenbeck's district? The shuttered Darien elementary school and 40 laid off teachers.  Luckily for the children of our state, while most other school districts in her district have had to go to referendum to survive(because Amy appears to be losing that fight) and many of these districts soundly support their local public schools. 

Why is Ms. Loudenbeck losing the battle for more education funding? Maybe it is by design, since a major funder of her campaign is the aforementioned American Federation for Children.   If you are going to be in the WISGOP, you do NOT cross Scott Jensen

That is why it is IMPERATIVE that we change the culture and the leadership in Madison. 

If you care at all about public education and do not want to see your local school next, please join me in voting for Tony Evers/Mandela Barnes.

However it can not stop there.  We need to send him a legislature that actually wants to govern.   We need to start voting out the false friends of education and vote in real public servants! 

That is why I also implore you to vote for Dr. Brittany Keyes from Beloit

Keyes, 31, has worked as a physical therapist for Beloit Health System since 2015.  Her practice has an emphasis on sports injury rehabilitation. She provides medical coverage at area high school sporting events and is in her third season as a volunteer assistant coach for the junior varsity football team at Beloit Memorial High School. She serves as strength and fitness coach for the team.
She was captain of the rowing team at the University of Iowa and was first team All-Big Ten in 2008.  She won a variety of sportsmanship and academic awards from the Big Ten.  She was a bronze medalist in the USA Weightlifting National Collegiate Championships in 2009.
Keyes is a founding board member of a Stateline area food cooperative and has an extensive record as a volunteer for various organizations during the last decade.
She is married to a teacher and the couple has a young daughter.
“Wisconsin needs people in the Assembly who will work for us, not the political donors,’’ Keyes said.  “I have a young family and I want to make Wisconsin the best place possible for all families.’’
It is time the 31st Assembly district was actually represented by someone who wants to do what is best for the people in her district and not whatever Robin Vos tells her to do.  Imagine if the 31st had a representative in Madison, who actually wanted you to have heath care and fully funds our local schools. 

You can make it happen on Tuesday,  November 6th, with a vote for Dr. Brittany Keyes! 

Please like her Facebook page and check out her endorsement in the right leaning Beloit Daily News

If you have a couple hours, or a couple bucks in the next week, please give Dr. Keyes some help. 
Also do not forget to call family and friends in the 31st district and encourage them to vote the Doctoral Ticket - Dr. Evers and Dr. Keyes.   

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Vukmir Blames Left, Baldwin for Domestic Terrorism, Then Leads Crowd In 'Lock Her Up!' Chant

On Wednesday evening, instead of overseeing security measures or the investigation of the multiple bombs found earlier in the day, Trump came to central Wisconsin to rally for two Republicans that are losing in the polls.

Scott Walker is trailing his opponent, Tony Evers, by anywhere from three to seven points, depending on which poll you look at. Tammy Baldwin's opponent, Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir, aka Nurse Ratched, is down by 15 points.

Apparently, Vukmir felt that this wasn't enough and wanted to be down by even more, judging by her antics on Wednesday.

Before the rally, she gave an interview on Faux Newz, during which she blamed the day's bombs on "the extreme Left, which Tammy Baldwin is happy to be part of."

This isn't the first time that Vukmir tried to tie Baldwin into terrorism. She also accused Baldwin of teaming up with the mastermind behind the attack on the Twin Towers:

But wait! There's more! There's always more.

After the interview, Vukmir went to warm up the crowd. And what better way then to get them to start chanting, "Lock her up!" I mean, it's not like Hillary Clinton was one of the targets of the Trumpkin bomber...

I think she might have just reached her objective. After word of this stunt gets out, she should be down by at least 20 points by election day.

Cross posted from Crooks and Liars

The Janesville Gazettes Going Away Present To Paul Ryan

By Jeff Simpson 

We have pointed out before that the Janesville Gazette is having trouble letting Paul Ryan go.  After Paul Ryan announced he would no longer be running, the editorial department at the Gazette wore black for days.   I would guess that anytime The Donald makes major news, that you can find the editorial staff at the Looking Glass, drowning their sorrows in what might have been!   

After much thought, different ideas, and cake the Gazette had to figure out what parting gift could they give their dearly beloved.   With the dwindling state of the newspaper industry, coupled with Paul Ryan's extravagant tastes, made a nice dinner out of the question. 

The Gazette did the next best thing. and decided to give Paul Ryan one last parting gift, endorsing his clone.   They felt that if they can not have Paul in office, his driver would be the next best thing.    

What really freed up their time though to do this, was they let Paul Ryan's SuperPac - Congressional Leadership Fund write the endorsement for them.    

The 1st Congressional District race is a story about Randy Bryce’s shortcomings as much as Bryan Steil’s qualifications.
With a lengthy arrest record and a history of falling behind on child-support payments, Bryce is in no way congressional material. How Bryce managed to defeat Cathy Myers, a school teacher and Janesville resident, in the Democratic primary would be a mystery except that Bryce benefited from a much larger campaign war chest.
The paper that loves Paul Ryan complaining about a candidate having too big of a war chest.  Thats rich(pun intended).  

  A candidate’s character matters less today than it once did, but Bryce’s personal failings are extraordinary, even by today’s crumbling standards for our nation’s leaders. The problem is not so much Bryce’s past mistakes but that he showed an inability to learn from them. He didn’t rack up merely one OWI in 1998 (plenty of voters can identify with this). He was then picked up three times for driving with a suspended license and was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear. 
Really?   The Gazette, who refused to endorse in the last Presidential Race, has decided that Randy Bryce's history is outrageous but The Donald's is not. 

 And lest there be any doubt as to whether Bryce is a “changed man,” the state of Wisconsin placed a lien on Bryce’s property in 2015 for delinquent child-support payments to his ex-wife. Bryce paid off the debt only after announcing his candidacy last year.
The "money shot" from the paper that perennially posts about the great family man that Paul Ryan is, now judges how Randy Bryce raises his child.   Apparently they know more than Randy's ex-wife who says:
Boudreaux says she is very grateful to Bryce for the "supportive and respectful co-parenting relationship we have" for their 12-year-old son
Now I do not know who to believe, the Janesville Gazette editorial board or the mother of Bryce's child.   Diane Hendricks would be so proud! 
His background more closely resembles the kind routinely encountered by probation officers, not 1st Congressional District voters. To attempt to twist his arrest record into a symbol of the everyday working man, as Bryce’s campaign has done, is perhaps one of the most cynical and offensive ploys we’ve ever witnessed.
Because no normal person has ever committed the crime of driving to work without a license. 

 While we’re not fans of negative campaigning and believe every candidate must make a case for himself, Bryce’s personal failings are too egregious to ignore. The stakes are too high for someone of Bryce’s caliber to slip into office.
There is no place for negative campaigning only negative editorials and endorsements. 

 As for Steil, he is sometimes derisively described as a clone of House Speaker Paul Ryan, though Steil is no Paul Ryan (and we mean that as a compliment to Ryan). Indeed, it’s an impossible comparison for Steil to live up to, as it took Ryan years to develop into the powerful statesman he’s become.

Some people compare Steil to Ryan as a criticism, but we think he is dreamy.   

Steil has a lot to learn, including fleshing out his policy positions. One of our criticisms of his campaign has been its underwhelming message and lack of policy specifics. For all the criticism we’ve leveled against Bryce, his platform (as radical as much of it is) leaves no question on where he stands. We can’t say the same for Steil’s.
While Steil, has no substance at least he isn't the radical socialist leftist that Randy Bryce is.   Did you know he actually thinks all people should have health care and a living wage? 

But we’re not too concerned about Steil’s future, and we suspect he’ll take a path similar to Sen. Ron Johnson’s. As a businessman without any previous political experience when elected in 2010, Johnson had a large learning curve to overcome. He’s matured as a politician and today exhibits a strong handle on many issues affecting Wisconsin.

We like Steil’s eagerness to tackle the nation’s spending problem and hope he can make progress on one of Ryan’s major goals, entitlement reform. Securing the financial future of both Social Security and Medicare should be a top priority for the next Congress, and Steil has an opportunity to shine on this front.

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group of course that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”― Dwight D. Eisenhower
As Steil learns the job, he’ll likely close the knowledge gap with Ryan. He’ll have to put up with comparisons to Ryan for a while, but we’re confident he’ll leave his own mark on Congress.

Now I feel bad, I would not want anyone compared to the real Paul Ryan!  

The Gazette, in fawning over Paul Ryan and anyone in his entourage(life Steil) has really done a disservice to the great city of Janesville and our state of Wisconsin.   
They still need to change their name to the Paul Ryan Messenger!

Please vote for Randy Bryce in the 1st CD, instead of Paul Ryan's chauffeur!   

We need someone who actually cares enough to stop things like this from happening in the future(Janesville GM plant)!