Thursday, February 14, 2019

Small Government WISGOP Strikes Again

By Jeff Simpson

Everyone knows that we have appeased our African American brothers and sisters by declaring February(the shortest month of the year) as Black History month so we can appease them and get back to forgetting their history 11 other months a year. 

The Wisconsin Assembly Black Caucus, and specifically Rep. David Crowley, authored a Black History Month Resolution he wanted to get passed to honor the one month a year we have allowed Black History to be discussed. 

Then what in reality is no surprise whatsoever, the WISGOP stepped in to block and edit the resolution. 

The Wisconsin Legislature's Black Caucus, which is composed entirely of Democrats, drafted the annual resolution to honor dozens of prominent African-Americans from Wisconsin. An early draft included Kaepernick, the one-time San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the movement of kneeling in protest during the national anthem at games.
The resolution draft credited Kaepernick, a Milwaukee native, as an athlete and political activist who "has sought to raise attention to racial injustice and systemic oppression."
But Republicans blocked the resolution until Democrats agreed to leave Kaepernick out. He does not appear in the updated text. A final version has not been approved.

Noted Historians Robin Vos and Jim Steineke, thinking of themselves as Livy and Tacitus, have decided that the Black Caucus was not qualified to decide which Black Americans to honor so in a move of unequaled arrogance, the two white privileged gerrymandered lawmakers offered up a counter-proposal to the Black Caucus original proposal that would be acceptable for the all white GOP gerrymandered caucus

Republicans on Tuesday introduced a different resolution with the same text as the black caucus' proposal, but replacing Kaepernick and Milwaukee Rev. Greg Lewis with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and former Wisconsin Secretary of State Vel Phillips.
Democrats objected, blocking a vote on the GOP proposal.
Because of their objection, Vos suggested black Democrats were trying to distract from the Assembly's planned vote on a middle-class tax cut plan.
"I know that because we are making headway on actually doing something that’s going to affect every middle-class Wisconsinite you’re trying to figure out any way to talk about something different," he said.   

Ok, we need to let that statement truly sink in.    This guy, who for some reason the Republicans have made their speaker, has decided that the Assembly Black Caucus can honor African Americans, during black history month BUT only as long as he approves of the African Americans that they would like to honor. 

This from a guy who received a whopping 18,711 votes in the last election(his opponent received 10,487 votes).   For contrast, Rep. David Crowley, running unopposed received 20,820 votes in 2018.   Vos, in earning his 18,711 votes has raised $300,000 (about $15.75 per vote).   

Rep. Steineke, was not scared to go on record:

But Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna reportedly said Republicans wouldn’t support the resolution that included Kaepernick “for obvious reasons,” referring to the former quarterback’s protests during the National Anthem.

To still be upset about his protesting police brutality, two years ago is a simpleton reason to reject this Resolution.  Not only are the protests old news, but it is an issue that has more layers than an onion

That all aside, I would guess that no one in the Republican side of the legislature has any idea how much time and money that Kaepernick has been giving to charity since the protests started. 

This is the results of Republican Gerrymandering,   In Wisconsin with 5.8 million people, an insignificant unpopular childhood, could lead to a person deciding all major decisions and policies in Wisconsin because they received 8,224 (less than 1%) more votes than their opponent. 

8,224 votes have taken us down the far right rabbit hole in Wisconsin.    We are all worse off because of it.   



Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2019 WisDems Party Chair Race

By Jeff Simpson 



The press release came through today that Martha Laning has decided not to run for re-election. 

MADISON -- Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning, who has served in the role since being elected in 2015, has offered the following statement on her decision not to seek re-election in the Party’s June leadership race:
“Four years ago, I ran to become Chair because I knew that Wisconsin Democrats needed a strong party infrastructure, a robust and engaged grassroots network, and a clear vision for what it means to be a Democrat. Like so many people in our state, I was deeply concerned about how the policies of Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans were taking opportunity away from our kids, jeopardizing the future of our communities and turning Wisconsin into a state none of us recognized anymore. I wanted to do my part to help.
“Four years later, I am incredibly proud of the Party we have built. For the first time since 1982, Democrats hold all five constitutional state offices, lead by Governor Tony Evers who will put the people first as he champions our Wisconsin values. We re-elected our Senator Tammy Baldwin so she could continue her work improving the lives of Wisconsinites and protecting those that need it most.
“These victories didn’t happen by accident. We launched an unprecedented year-round, every-year organizing program to empower activists across our state to inspire, engage and turn-out Democratic voters. We bolstered our candidate services team to support down-ballot candidates and helped them run competitive campaigns. We ensured the Party had the financial resources to support our ambitious plans.
“Given these accomplishments and the bright future ahead for Wisconsin Democrats, I believe this is the perfect time for me to transition to my next challenge. I will not stand for reelection as DPW Chair this coming June and welcome the opportunity to support new leadership as they take the helm this summer. I remain committed to the Party and to our Democratic values, and I will continue to lead the Party with the same transparency and vigor as we prepare for the next Chair’s race and leadership transition following June’s election.
“It has been an honor to work with so many caring and passionate activists who give their time  to help make our vision a reality. I am humbled to work with a staff that doesn’t see the work just as a job, but as a calling to build a stronger Wisconsin. Chairing the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has been an incredible opportunity, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work we’ve done together to move Wisconsin forward.”

As is typical of past Chairs, taking credit for the wins and not discussing the losses, patting herself on the back as she walks out the door.   

It is great that we won all Constitutional offices, but with the strong winds blowing a blue wave we were pretty much stopped there. 

As Thomas Paine would say: "We have it in our power to begin the party over again.". 

It is time for new ideas, new people, someone who lives and breathes progressive principles.    It is time to take the fight to the Republicans instead of sitting back and allowing Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald the ability to guide the discourse. 

That being said, let me offer up a few names who I personally would like to see run.

1.  Bob Harlow - Regular readers here know. that I was team Harlow in the WI Governors race, as he was the first one in all the way until he dropped out.    Bob is personable, hard worker, enthusiastic and full of great ideas! 

2.  Robert Hansen - The Former chair of the Milwaukee County Democratic party, (of which that has tended to be one of the few places in the state that has had Democratic success.   Hansen, quit his job to work on the Campaign of Randy Bryce and worked part time with Senator Chris Larsen.   Not sure any one person in Wisconsin, who can bridge the gap between the insiders and progressives, between the members and the people who should be members, than Hansen.   In the aftermath of the election while ex aides and cronies were being recycled at an amazing rate, Hansen was left out.   If anyone can do the work and deserves a chance it is Robert Hansen. 

3.   Tim Burns - an unabashed Progressive but it seems like a big step down to run for Wisconsin Supreme Court to running the WISDEMS.   I like Tim, but think he should focus on bigger things (State Senate maybe?) .

4.   Kathleen Vinehout - Kathleen ran for Governor, giving up her seat and is now out of Government. Vinehout might not be ideal, but I always felt she was a solid Democratic Rep for Wisconsin.   I have had some problems with her positions, but not enough IMO to disqualify her.   One of her strengths is, since she has been in Madison for so long she knows who the vipers and snakes are and will do her best to make sure they are no longer relevant in the Party. 

5.  Angela Lang - Angela ran Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC) and in my mind, BLOC was the MVP of the 2018 election.   Let's let her take her vision of community and organizing abilities Statewide. 

2020 is an important election and we need a real leader as WISDEMs Party Chair.  We can not afford to have another two years of "Welcome to the new boss, same as the old boss.". 

Let the games begin. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

WILL - The Republican Apology Machine

By Jeff Simpson 

The latest in far right extremist candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court is Brian Hagedorn.   Hagedorn, as typically the case with Republican Supreme Court candidates, feels that our friends in the LGBTQ Community are less than human

The revelations come after an exhaustive review by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of a blog Hagedorn kept from April 2005 to August 2006 called “Anno Domini” (Latin for “in the year of our Lord”). In it, Hagedorn, an evangelical Christian, complained that the Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas’ anti-sodomy law would lead to the legalization of bestiality.
“The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable,” he wrote in October 2005.
“There is no right in our Constitution to have sex with whoever or whatever you want in the privacy of your own home (or barn),” he also wrote.
Hagedorn also talked about complaining to his supervisor at the law firm for which he worked at the time about their posting supportive images and stories from LGBTQ people during Pride month. “What was being sold was not tolerance, but homosexual propaganda,” Hagedorn wrote on his blog. “Moreover, this served to create a hostile work environment for Christians. In the end, I was told too bad.”
Yes if that sounds familiar, if by some horrible event that allows Caveman Hagedorn to get elected to the Supreme Court, one can imagine he, Rebecca Bradley and Julianne Appling, eating wafers, drinking little cups of cheap red wine and watching old sermons of George Alan Rekers in the old offices of Prosser and Gableman. 

Ok lets scrub that and get to the topic at hand.

Now back to the topic at hand.  The Republican Apology Machine. 

It is almost like these occurrences are daily and they have a plan in place to handle these regular occurrences.   It is called WILL  - Wisconsin Law and Liberty, the anti education, Republican apology machine, that makes up "studies" and their head honcho Rick Esenberg.   

Esenberg gained notoriety, when it came out that he agreed to testify, under oath, that the maps that the Republicans drew in private, were Constitutional, site unseen

Esenberg is the Founder and President of Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty(WILL) :

An old military adage calls for the cavalry to “ride to the sound of the guns.” As a tactic, it has both its strengths and weaknesses. As a sentiment, it is a call for courageous engagement. At the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, we hope to answer that call. Through education, litigation, and participation in public discourse, we seek to advance the public interest in the rule of law, individual liberty, constitutional government, and a robust civil society. We strive to do so, moreover, in partnership with like-minded individuals and organizations – often our clients – who are committed to classical liberalism and constitutional government.
We recognize that these ideals are neither Democratic nor Republican, but American. Our focus is primarily, if not exclusively, on Wisconsin – a state that has become one of the focal points of our ongoing debate about the proper role of the government within society and of the courts within government. As a non-profit and non-partisan organization, we litigate in the areas of property rights, the freedom to earn a living, voting rights, regulation, taxation, school choice, and religious freedom. As an educational organization, we strive to advance the debate concerning law and public policy in these and other areas.
Amazingly, the "non partisan" WILL, seems to always run to the rescue of the Republicans exclusively.   This time was no exception, as Rick Esenberg rushed to the "rescue"?

My overall reaction is that this is a tired trope. Brian Hagedorn is an evangelical
Christian (I am not) and he holds views that evangelicals tend to hold regarding
marriage and human sexuality. He is also someone who sees the Constitution as a
document that ought to be interpreted in accordance with its text, history and structure (I
agree) and not as a vehicle for imposing whatever the judge sees as "justice" or "good
policy." If you take that view, decisions like Roe and Lawrence are very hard to justify ­
no matter how you feel about abortion or homosexuality.
On a general level, I think there are two problems with the increasing tendency to say
that certain types of religious people should be excluded from public office or limited in
their exercise of the authority of public office because "the dogma" or whatever it gets
called lives "too loudly" within them. The first is that it is inconsistent with
Constitution's prohibition of religious tests and establishes a regime of religious liberty.
The idea of America is that people of different religious understandings could live
together and participate in self government. There was to be no requirement of a
qualifying orthodoxy and the notion that one can't be a traditional Catholic or
Evangelical Christian amounts to the imposition of such an orthodoxy.
Second, Judge Hagedorn would not be required to recuse himself. The key case here is
called Republican Party v. White. In that case, which struck down a rule that prohibited
judicial candidates from announcing their position on legal or political issues, Justice
Scalia (writing for the majority) explored a taxonomy of bias and made clear that having
a point of view on a contested matter is not "bias."
As for the particular views expressed here, opposition to same sex marriage was the
position of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and about 60% of Wisconsin voters in 2006.
The issue is no longer open for review by the Wisconsin Supreme Court because of the
United States Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell.
Nor can the Wisconsin Supreme Court depart from decisions like Roe and Lawrence.
But the idea that these decisions are constitutionally problematic is widely held. The
problem is that nothing in the Constitution addresses abortion or sexual relationships.
Nothing in the Constitution even establishes a general right of privacy in the sense of
being left alone. The Supreme Court hasn't adequately explained where these rights are
to be found, resulting, for awhile in a cottage industry for law professors who tried to
offer the rationale that the Court did not. To say, as Justice Kennedy did in Casey, that
there is some extra textual right to define the mystery of one's existence is unsatisfying
because it has no logical boundaries. Decisions like Roe, Lawrence and Obergefell are
troubling because, even if we like the particular outcome, they provide judges with
broad authority to undo democratic decision making. The legal criticism of these
decisions is not so much about their outcome, but about who decides. Judges or
legislators?
Thus, the point he's making about Lawrence is not that gay relationships are like
bestiality. It's clear from the context that he does not think that (he thinks the law in
Texas was not prudent) but that the principle that constitutionalizes the issue has no
logical stopping point. If you have a constitutional right to sexual self­expression, why
might it not be extended to other forms of expression. A legislature can draw that line
because it can make ad hoc decisions but courts rule by abstract principle and have to
try to apply them consistently.
People who are pro­life tend to have a sour view of Planned Parenthood because,
notwithstanding its claims to the contrary, it is very much an organization about
abortion. But a judge can oppose a group ­ say the National Rifle Association or Center
for Immigration Studies ­ and still be able to recognize its legal rights.
I think Brian is a well­trained and careful lawyer who understands the difference
between his religious and political views and what the law requires. To deny that any
such distinction exists is a bad faith reading of what he wrote and fundamentally
misunderstands the role of courts and judges.
So I'd say this stuff is not particularly relevant.

 Heady stuff for a lawyer to voluntarily put out.   Most normal people would pay a few thousand dollars for this.   Of course most normal people are not running for Supreme Court on a platform of whatever Republicans do is lawful. 

So lets look at Mr. Esenberg's statement a little closer. 

 Brian Hagedorn is an evangelical Christian (I am not) and he holds views that evangelicals tend to hold regarding marriage and human sexuality.   

- Some questions,  How did the non partisan WILL and Mr. Esenberg know what Mr., Hagedorn thinks and believes?  Did they meet before this letter was drawn?  If so, will that time be on Mr. Hagedorns Campaign Finance Reports?  Also what views on marriage and human sexuality do evangelical Christians "tend to hold"?   From what I can see, the views they "tend to hold" is everything I do is fine, but I will be preaching and judging every move you make. 

Or should I say, the single greatest cause of atheism today. You know who I’m talking about, right? The type of people who acknowledge Jesus with their words, and deny him through their lifestyle. The ones who preach the importance of traditional family values, all while holding a rally and offering standing ovations for a man who preyed on 14-year-old girls. The ones who look to excuse the despicable allegations directed at Roy Moore by literally quoting the bible, comparing his molestation to Joseph and Mary. I give you the most hypocritical religious group in America, Evangelical Christians.

Of course Mr. Hagedorn will only call balls and strikes.   The Bible says so. 

In that case, which struck down a rule that prohibited judicial candidates from announcing their position on legal or political issues, Justice Scalia (writing for the majority) explored a taxonomy of bias and made clear that having a point of view on a contested matter is not "bias."

An evangelical Christian, believes strongly in:

4. Evangelical Christians are strongly motivated to share the gospel either one-on-one or through organized missions. Emphasis is placed on the Great Commission's call to share with the world the Christian message of salvation through Christ, and to "be publicly baptized as a confession of faith," according to PrayerFoundation.com.
5. Most, though not all, evangelicals believe there will be a rapture in the end times where the church will be "caught up with Christ before the Great Tribulation, leaving nonbelievers behind to suffer on Earth," states the Pew Research Center. This idea has gained attention through the "Left Behind" book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and the related movies.
Of course you can trust someone who feels that he needs to share his version of the Gospel and believes that the end times are coming and people who disagree with him will be left behind in some sort of Thanos finger snap, to put aside what God and Jesus command to rule fairly on sinners and those who will be left behind in the Rapture. 

*   As for the particular views expressed here, opposition to same sex marriage was the
position of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and about 60% of Wisconsin voters in 2006.

True it was not very politically expedient, or acceptable in society to be for gay marriage(though I always was), but it dishonest to compare Mr. Hagedorn to these others since, there is a chasm between not publicly approving of gay marriage and comparing it to bestiality.   Only the furthest right wing extremists have ever had that view. 

*  If you have a constitutional right to sexual self­expression, whymight it not be extended to other forms of expression.   

It could extend to bestiality, or it could extend to a man and a woman, a man and two women, a man and women of different races,  a man and a 14 year old girl, a man and a porn star or playboy playmate(sans condom),  or even a man who just decides to grab a woman by the pussy nd start kissing her. 

*  People who are pro­life tend to have a sour view of Planned Parenthood because,
notwithstanding its claims to the contrary, it is very much an organization about
abortion.

While i get that Esenberg is old school, and has to give a shout out to the anti choice people as often as possible, it is not the least bit surprising that he is wrong yet again,
 Abortions accounted for 3 percent of the nearly 10.6 million total services provided by Planned Parenthood clinics in 2013, according to its annual report.
Some services it provided in addition to abortions were:
4.5 million tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
3.6 million contraception related services
935,573 cancer screenings including breast exams and Pap tests
1.1 million pregnancy tests and prenatal services
 *  So I'd say this stuff is not particularly relevant.

Tell that to Matthew Shepherd and too many others! 

In the end, despite Esenberg's poor excuse(and possibly illegal and/or unethical) of an apology, the reality is that Brian Hagedorn is not fit to be a Judge now, much less receive a promotion to the highest court in the land.    It is time we started ending our excuses for every racist, bigot, homophobe who thinks they should run for higher office just because they will vote for what we want. 

We can do better than this as a society and as a community.   I do not expect WILL to ever start caring about the people of Wisconsin, but it is time the people of Wisconsin sent them a message. 

In Wisconsin we expect more!