Friday, February 28, 2020

Milwaukee Mass Shooting Sponsored By The NRA and GOP

On Wednesday, Milwaukee became the site of the latest mass shooting. Anthony Ferrill, a 51 year old electrician and long time employee at the Molson Coors brewery chose to bring two handguns - one equipped with a silencer - to his job site. He shot and killed five coworkers before turning one of the handguns on himself, committing suicide.

Authorities have not given an official motive, but it is known that Ferrill was a gun nut and was often seen going around the neighborhood carrying a gun. We also know that Ferrill had an ongoing dispute with one of the victims and felt that he was being discriminated against due to being African American. It also appeared that he had a dysfunctional thought process:
About a year ago, the co-worker said, Ferrill started saying he believed brewery workers were coming into his home, bugging his computer and moving chairs around.

"I was: 'Are you serious, Anthony? What?' We all kind of joked about it, saying we should maybe get him an aluminum hat. Things just started getting weird. But he was dead serious about it," the co-worker said.
The usual suspects on the right have started their normal litany of excuses including that Ferrill was evil, that it wasn't the right time to discuss guns, etc.

However, those are mere excuses to distract from the fact that Republicans have been willfully refusing to take any action to pass even the most common sense gun laws. Mitch McConnell has been sitting on such a bill for over a year now.

Likewise, Wisconsin Republicans, under the thrall of the NRA, have been even worse. They have systematically dismantled almost all the gun laws in the state. Not coincidentally, Wednesday's shooting was the eleventh mass shooting in the state since 2004.

But there's more. There's always more.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had called the legislation to a special session to pass two common sense gun laws - one to stop the loophole in background checks and a red flag law. In a poll, more than 80% of Wisconsinites supported these two bills.

Not only did the Republicans refuse to have an honest debate about these laws, but State Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, went beyond the pale to avoid any such debate, much less pass these two laws:
But it wasn’t until 8 p.m., after most of the activists had gone home, that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, called the session to order with no other lawmakers in the room. He adjourned the session a few seconds later, avoiding debate or a vote on the gun control measures Democratic lawmakers had been advocating for throughout the day.

“I think if there are bills that would make sense to Republican legislators, that we would call ourselves into regular session or extraordinary session to take those up,” Fitzgerald said. “I think the governor knows the bills that he’s offered are not going to pass the Legislature … As they’ve been presented by the governor, there’s no momentum for them.”
You can almost see the NRA's hand sticking up his backside.

On Wednesday morning, Evers again implored the state legislature to review and reconsider the bills. About an hour before the shooting occurred, Fitzgerald again absolutely refused to even entertain the idea:
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, early Wednesday afternoon made clear that the state's gun laws would not change under a Republican-controlled Legislature despite a call for a review from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

"We’re going to have that discussion about the Second Amendment forever," Fitzgerald told reporters in Franklin, about an hour before the shooting at the Molson Coors brewery. "A lot of the provisions that are in place already, people are satisfied with."

His comments came just after Evers again called on lawmakers to take up legislation aimed at keeping guns away from people who are dangerous, underscoring the deep divide between Evers, Democrats and Republicans on the issue of gun restrictions.
It should be noted that while most politicians on both sides of the aisle only offered the perfunctory thoughts and prayers, one politician showed that he truly gets it and has the courage to say it as it is. Shortly after the shooting, State Representative Jonathan Brostoff issued a statement that read in part:
“But in times like this, thoughts and prayers are not - and never have been - enough. In the past 16 years, Wisconsin communities have suffered ten mass shootings, and countless other fatal and near-fatal incidents involving firearms. Time and again, public opinion polling shows that Wisconsinites are in favor of common sense gun reform legislation. We have committed community groups like Moms Demand Action and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort who have organized their communities and continue to keep these issues at the forefront. We have a governor who specifically called a special session of the Legislature this session in order to address gun violence. And yet, time and again, bought-and-paid-for Republican politicians in this state do everything they possibly can to block simple and popular reform measures from making their way through the political process, all while more and more Wisconsinites die as a direct result of their antipathy and inaction. So today, I have one question for any politician who continues to block these life-saving reforms: how many NRA dollars are Wisconsin lives worth?”
It should also be noted that Fitzgerald is running for Congress, to replace the retiring James Sensenbrenner, which goes a long way to explain why he is so ready to bend over backwards for those NRA

Monday, February 17, 2020

Chris Larson: The Only "Only" Choice For Milwaukee County Executive

Because of the abbreviated amount of time left by Chris Abele when he suddenly abandoned his bid for reelection, the people who decided to throw their hats in the ring really needed to scramble to develop a base, raise money, get nomination signatures, etc.

The candidates also had to immediately try to differentiate themselves from the others and grab people's attention and their support.  This led to a flurry of press releases and statements that each candidate was the only one to do this, the only candidate to be that, the only candidate that could rub their belly and pat their head at the same time, etc.  Most of these "only I" statements were exaggerations, irrelevant to the job they were applying for or just plain false, meaning that they were indeed not the only one to fit whatever given boast.

But one candidate, Chris Larson, stands out because he is the "only one" in many regards.

Larson is the only one to have both experience in Milwaukee County as a county board supervisor and in the state as a state senator.  That is a valuable amount of knowledge on how both governments work and how to bridge the great divide between Milwaukee and Madison. 

Larson is the only one to consistently take on Scott Walker and his mini-me, Chris Abele.  Larson fought to stop or at least minimize the damage done by Walker both as county executive and as governor.  Not the least of these was leading thirteen other state senators, the Fab 14, out of the state to give the people the chance to understand what Walker wanted to do with Act 10 and to organize and fight back.  Larson has also been a strong and consistent advocate for a living wage and workers right.  Recently, he held a press conference announcing the introduction of restoring workers rights lost under Act 10.  Granted, nothing will probably come from it now, but at least someone was willing to get the conversation started.

Likewise, Larson was the only one willing to stand up to Boss Abele in 2016 and challenge him because Abele was only trying to finish the job Walker started in destroying Milwaukee County and giving it away to the rich.  In fact, Larson beat Abele in the primary, even though Abele spent $42 per vote against Larson's $2 per vote.

Abele only won the general election that year after dropping a multimillion dollar money bomb on his campaign and getting a lot of help from the Republicans.

Larson is the only candidate to have viable, doable plans to address some of Milwaukee County's greatest woes, including the lack of dedicated funding for our transit system and parks system, addressing the needs of our senior citizens, our homeless and our mentally ill.  He does not offer just general, vague statements on what he is going to do but is ready to implement these plans.  He is also not offering any pie in the sky nonsense, such as "we'll just ask the Republicans for more money."  He understands full well the animosity the Republicans have towards Milwaukee, a lot of which has to do with their racism and the fact that Milwaukee is home to the largest African American community in the state.

These are just some of the reasons that Larson is the only candidate to earn more endorsements than all of the other candidates combined, including all of the unions.

Well, he can add one more endorsement to that list - mine. 

I am happy and proud to stand with Larson, just as I did in 2016, and just as he has stood with us for all these years.

Please join me in supporting Chris Larson for County Executive, donate what you can and most importantly, join me in casting a vote for Larson tomorrow and again in April.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Abele Comes Clean: He Ain't No Democrat

For years, I have opened myself to the scorn and wrath of the establishment Democrats, the corporate Democrats and Republicrats by pointing out that Chris Abele was no Democrat.  For years, these same people would try to ostracize me, demonize me and vilify me.

They're rationale for defending Boss Abele was always the same - He gives us so much money! He's our biggest donor!  Meanwhile they kept ignoring the simple fact that all the money he would give them was only a fraction of the amount of damage he would do to them.

But I have been vindicated in my assertions.  Ironically, the vindication came from none other that Abele himself:
Outgoing Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who is a Democrat, says if he ever runs for office again it would probably be as a political independent — and he’s not all that thrilled about attending the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

That being said, Abele says he supports Milwaukee hosting the DNC as good for business and the community. He said he promised Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez any logistical support that Milwaukee County government can provide.

“It’s great for the community and I think a Republican convention would be great for the community, too,” Abele said, during a Friday luncheon appearance at Marquette University Law School.
Abele went on to issue some of his usual vainglorious humble bragging, before getting to the real reason for his sudden decision not to run again:
Abele is not seeking re-election after serving about nine years as Milwaukee County executive. He said he will focus on his venture capital fund, philanthropy and lobbying the Wisconsin Legislature on issues including changing the way Wisconsin funds local governments.
This lines up with his statement on how having both Democratic and Republican conventions here.

He's all about the money. He wants to make more and more money as well as save it from having to have to pay taxes, which he hasn't done in years either.

Gee, how noble of him.

That said, Abele isn't really done with politics either.  He's got a lot of money invested in various candidates - such as David Crowley, Lena Taylor and Jason Fields - so that he can be the behind the scenes emperor of all of Milwaukee, undoubtedly with the intent to maximize his ability to monetize both the city and the county.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

WISGOP Suffer Major Setback In Their War On Democracy

Wisconsin Republicans probably won't be able to silence the voices of over 200,000 people in the spring elections.

At the end of last year, a right wing front group for the Bradley Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Election Commission, demanding that nearly a quarter of a million people be purged immediately from the voter registration. The Republicans were in a panic because the spring elections were just around the corner and they know that when people vote, the Republicans lose.

But the Republicans thwarted themselves while creating the election commission so that it was very partisan. The commission decided to hold off doing the purge due to an appeal filed by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and a federal lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters.

The Republicans, in an state of utter desperation, launched a three prong attack against democracy:
  • The front group filed a motion with the original court to find the election commission in contempt
  • They also filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court to bypass the appellate court and take the appeal directly, since they had a 5-2 conservative majority
  • Republican legislators filed in the federal lawsuit, asking for it to be dismissed, even though the legislators have no standing in the lawsuit
On Monday, the original court sided with the Republicans, finding only the three Democrats on the commission in contempt. He ordered the commission pay a $50 a day fine and that the three Democrats need to pay a $250 per day fine. But because the commission consists of appointed citizens who were acting in their official capacity, the taxpayers will be the ones ultimately footing the bill for this blatant act of partisanship.

The ruling was not a complete surprise since the judge presiding on the matter, Paul Malloy, was appointed by former Republican Governor Scott McCallum. Malloy also has a history of controversial statements and stunts, trying to present himself as a tough on crime type of judge.

Also on Monday, the state supreme court decided not to intervene in the appeal, leaving the matter to go to the appellate court first, despite the conservatives majority. This happened because on of the judges recused himself because he is up for reelection in the spring and would be directly affected by a decision. A second conservative justice betrayed his special interest masters by siding with the two impartial justices in deciding against the case.

State Republicans were outraged that justice was being done, demanding to know what kind of service they were getting after spending so much money on them.

On Tuesday came the major blow. The state appellate court issued an order to immediately stay the circuit court order, meaning that the targeted voters will remain in the registration for now. Furthermore, because the spring primary elections are only a few weeks away and the general elections - including the presidential primary - is on April 7, it is extremely unlikely there will be any changes before then.

And even if the Republicans prevail when it gets to the Wisconsin State Supreme Kangaroo Court, there is still the federal lawsuit hanging over their heads, so there is a change the voters will get to keep their voices through November as well.

In summary, the Republicans lost two major battles in the past two days and will get to pay for it with their tax dollars. Now excuse me while I go savor this moment and wait for the Republicans' heads to start popping.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

WISGOP Thwarts Themselves Again

After taking over all the branches of government in Wisconsin in 2011, the Republicans immediately got to work to secure their power and punishing those who tried to hold them accountable. Unfortunately for them, their incompetence has sprung up on them time and time again.

In 2018, Scott Walker lost his bid for reelection by a narrow margin. Normally, he would have been able to call for a recount, but the Republicans had changed that law, making it more difficult to get a recount. And thus, Walker was unable to challenge the vote and is becoming more and more irrelevant every day.

Another thing that the Republicans changed was abolishing the Government Accountability Board (GAB), which acted as a watchdog on Wisconsin elections and investigating any possible infractions of election laws. The Republicans had their undies in a bundle because it was the GAB that approved the John Doe investigation into Walker. They cried that it was all political and a partisan attack. What they wouldn't admit is that board consistent of retired judges, all of whom were Republican.

To replace the GAB, they created the Wisconsin Election Commission, which was comprised of six people, three Democrats and three Republicans. So much for not wanting the watchdog to be political.

This has become an outstanding issue now which again is biting the Republicans in the ass.

The Republicans, through a front group, filed a lawsuit to have nearly a quarter of a million people purged from the voter registration because they might have moved, based on a voter caging stunt. It was purely coincidental [end sarcasm] that the majority of the caging happened in areas that vote Democratic.

The judge granted the petition and went a step further, saying the purge should happen immediately.

Unsurprisingly, the three Democrats on the elections commission are blocking the purge from happening, citing an appeal by the commission and the fact that the League of Women Voters have filed a federal lawsuit to stop the purge:
The Wisconsin Elections Commission deadlocked Monday over whether to remove the voter registrations of more than 200,000 people in response to a judge's order.

The commission's inability to reach a consensus means the voters will stay on the rolls for at least the time being. An appeal in the case is ongoing and the commission faces a separate lawsuit that is trying to make sure people are not pulled from the rolls.

The three Republicans on the commission sought to take many of them off the rolls, but they were blocked by the three Democrats on the commission.

It was the second time in as many weeks that the commission broke down along party lines over the lawsuit, which has drawn national attention because of Wisconsin’s top-tier status in the 2020 presidential race.
As one could expect, Republicans are having meltdowns all across the state, accusing the Democrats in general, and specifically the three on the commission, of breaking the law, being anti-democratic. etc.

At the rate they're going, it won't be long before the Republicans end up suing themselves.