Month: May 2015

Why I’m pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning for Wisconsin Democratic chairperson

I’d never thought that I’d say this, given how I’ve criticized Martha Laning multiple times on this blog, but I’m actually pulling my endorsement of Jeff Smith and endorsing Martha Laning in the race for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Obviously, you’re probably wondering why I would do something like that. It’s because of this letter from the Jeff Smith campaign, which was sent to at least one DPW member that I’m aware of, in which Smith offered Laning the post of DPW Executive Director if he were to be elected chair, and then criticized Laning in the same letter, which is something I’d never do if I was offering someone a job. After I notified Laning’s campaign of Smith’s letter via Facebook, the Laning campaign issued this statement, in which Laning strongly stated that she had refused Smith’s offer and criticized Smith for mentioning the offer in campaign literature. What Smith did was the single most asinine thing I’ve ever seen someone who I’ve sincerely endorsed ever do. I think that a candidate offering an opposing candidate a job if the candidate making the offer wins is, in my opinion, downright unethical. Do I think that Jeff Smith would make a good leader of the DPW? I think he would. However, I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support Jeff’s campaign after he sent out that letter.

Do I agree with everything Martha Laning has said or done in her life? No. Do I agree with every single political position Martha Laning has taken? No. Is Martha Laning the most electrifying person in all of politics? No. What I can say about her is that Martha Laning has promised a more inclusive Democratic Party of Wisconsin. If she is elected chair, I will hold her accountable to that promise. Laning also has some interesting ideas, including helping candidates send out literature in foreign languages to Wisconsin voters who don’t speak English as their first language and providing more funding to county-level Democratic organizations in Wisconsin.

Also, regarding the race for First Vice-Chairperson of the DPW, if Laning is elected chair, David Bowen, a Wisconsin State Representative representing a district containing Shorewood and part of Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, would automatically become first vice-chair, because the chair and first vice-chair of the DPW are required to be of the opposite gender, and no male candidate is running against Bowen that I know of. Consider my endorsement of Laning as, by extension, an endorsement of Bowen. If one of the male candidates is elected chair, I would encourage DPW delegates to vote for Dottie LeClair. This is an extremely rare example of a dual endorsement from me; the only reason I’m issuing a dual endorsement is because of the way DPW conducts elections for chair and first vice-chair, as well as the fact that both male and female candidates are running for DPW chair and first vice-chair.

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Bruce Rauner paying former charter school executive $250,000 per year out of the budget of a social services agency

You may remember Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner hiring Beth Purvis, a former Chicago charter school executive, to a newly-created post that could best be described as an “education czar”.

Well, you may be surprised about where the money for Purvis’s ridiculously high $250,000/year salary is coming from.

Rauner is paying Purvis’s $250,000/year salary out of the budget of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS is not responsible for overseeing education in Illinois (the Illinois State Board of Education oversees K-12 education at the state level in Illinois), instead, it’s a government agency that, among other things, administers social safety net programs run by the state and provides assistance to people with developmental disabilities. This revelation comes not long after Rauner authorized a funding cut of $26 million from DHS, which would make it harder for Illinoisans who need the state’s social safety net to survive and get their lives back on track to get the help they need.

Democratic Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who is the chairman of the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee, has called for Rauner to testify over cutting funding meant to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and using it to pay the ridiculously high salary of a mouthpiece for Rauner’s political agenda to destroy public education in Illinois (official letter here). I agree with Harris on this issue, because it’s absolutely ridiculous for Rauner to cut funding from the most vulnerable Illinoisans and give it to his political cronies.

How the Republican agenda hurts rural Wisconsinites

I’m going to share something that Wisconsin State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), wrote for the Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper The Cap Times a week and a half or so ago. In her op-ed, Hesselbein talked about how the Republicans’ state budget in Wisconsin hurts rural Wisconsinites especially hard:

  • On public schools, the Republican budget cuts $150/pupil from Wisconsin’s K-12 public school districts in the 2015-2016 school year and $135/pupil from Wisconsin’s K-12 public school districts over the biennium (the two-year period of the budget). Additionally, Republican Governor Scott Walker wants more charter schools, which get public funds that would otherwise go to public schools, in Wisconsin. Furthermore, the Republican budget cuts funding used to create homeschooling lessons and online educational materials, which are produced by Wisconsin MediaLab. These cuts could force some rural school districts in Wisconsin to consolidate, costing small towns jobs they need to survive.
  • On rural sanitation, Walker proposed, in the original state budget proposal, to eliminate a fund that helps low-income Wisconsinites replace failing septic systems, but it had its funds restored by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature.
  • On rural roads, Walker proposed eliminating funding for removal of deer carcasses from rural roads in Wisconsin, which would have caused an even greater hazard to people driving in rural areas of Wisconsin. This also had its funding restored by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) of the Wisconsin State Legislature.
  • On rural health, the Republican budget eliminates both Wisconsin’s Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program and a loan forgiveness program designed to encourage medics to work in rural areas of Wisconsin. The program also cuts $25 million in Medicaid funding to most of Wisconsin’s community health centers.
  • On local government property insurance, Walker proposed eliminating Wisconsin’s Local Government Property Insurance Fund, which insures street sweepers, salt sheds, and other things that local governments in Wisconsin own and use to carry out street maintenance and other duties of local governments in Wisconsin. The City of Middleton, the Village of Waunakee, and the Village of Cross Plains, three incorporated municipalities in Hesselbein’s state assembly district, currently pay a combined total of $120,419 ($51,342 for Middleton, $49,214 for Waunakee, and $19,863 for Cross Plains) in premiums for insurance provided by the state’s local government insurance fund. If this fund is eliminated, local governments all across Wisconsin would have to pay more for local government property insurance from the private sector, if that kind of insurance is obtainable from the private sector. In its review of Walker’s budget proposal, the Wisconsin State Legislature delayed the demise of the program by two years.
  • On higher education, the University of Wisconsin Extension (UW-Extension) maintains a presence in all 72 Wisconsin counties, providing assistance to Wisconsinites in areas such as agriculture, 4-H youth development programs, and family living. Walker’s proposed funding cuts to the entire University of Wisconsin System (UW-System), which includes the UW-Extension, could result in the loss of 65 to 80 county-level Cooperative Extension positions, making it harder for Wisconsin’s farmers to get help they need from the UW-Extension.

Pointing out how Republican policies hurt people who live in small communities and rural areas is something I wish Democrats in Wisconsin and other states did much more often. However, unlike some other states, reaching out to rural voters is a necessity for Democrats to win statewide in Wisconsin for two reasons: Hard-partisan voters and the urban Democratic strongholds of the state don’t provide Democrats with enough votes to win statewide in Wisconsin, and suburban areas, outside of the heavily-Democratic suburbs around Madison, are some of the most Republican areas in the entire country. This is something that isn’t a necessity in, for example, my home state of Illinois, since the Chicago suburbs aren’t as staunchly Republican as the Milwaukee suburbs in Wisconsin are, so Illinois Democrats can win statewide with either an urban-suburban coalition or an urban-rural coalition, with most Illinois Democrats preferring the former, which, sadly, leaves rural voters in Illinois mostly ignored by Democrats. However, the urban-suburban coalition can’t be formed in Wisconsin, because the Milwaukee suburbs are the strongest of the GOP strongholds in Wisconsin, so it would take an urban-rural coalition for Democrats to win statewide in Wisconsin.

In short, Scott Walker proposed a budget that either would or would have cut funding to rural school districts, septic tank replacement programs, rural road maintenance, rural health care, local government property insurance, and university extension programs in Wisconsin. This would result, or would have resulted, in a lower quality of education for rural children, rural Wisconsinites having a harder time paying for septic system replacement, lower-quality rural roads, rural Wisconsinites having a harder time getting the health care they need, taxpayers having to pay more for insurance of local government property, and Wisconsin farmers having a harder time getting help from the UW-Extension. While Rob Brooks, a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Saukville, has outright admitted that Walker proposed a “crap budget”, the Republicans who run the Wisconsin State Legislature intend to keep some of Walker’s budget cuts that will make life for rural Wisconsinites harder.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert INDICTED on federal criminal charges

Former Republican U.S. House Speaker and current lobbyist Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who presided over the lower branch of government for eight years from 1999 to 2007, has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a scheme in which Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a former acquaintance that he wronged for some reason:

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges alleging he agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance blackmailing him, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors said.

The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.

[…]

Hastert, 73, of Plano, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be arraigned later at U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.

The full indictment is available here.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hastert, I’ll provide a bit of a refresher about who Hastert is. Hastert is a longtime member of the same Republican old boys network here in Illinois that has produced the likes of George Ryan of licenses-for-bribes infamy. During his tenure in the House, Hastert was a big supporter of pork-barrel spending projects (example of that here), especially if they benefited Northern Illinois and not other areas of Illinois and the rest of the country. As House Speaker, Hastert allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from Turkish people that federal authorities were wiretapping. After Hastert left Congress, Hastert received a $35,000/month contract to lobby on behalf of Turkey.

However, Hastert isn’t being indicted over pork-barrel spending or his corrupt ties to Turkish interests. Instead, he’s being indicted for trying to evade federal currency transaction reports, which the federal government requires financial institutions in this country to file for any deposit, withdrawal, or other type of monetary transaction of more than $10,000. Hastert has also been indicted on a related charge of lying to the FBI about his scheme to pay millions of dollars in hush money to someone, whose identity was not revealed in the indictment for legal/privacy reasons, who he wronged. Although not confirmed, some sources are reporting that the charges may stem from actions that Hastert took when he was a high school teacher before entering electoral politics.

Just like his right-wing political cronies George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Hastert blatantly violated federal laws. However, unlike Bush and Cheney, Hastert might actually have to serve time in prison for his crimes.

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum wants to make income inequality even worse

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) announced yet another bid for the Republican presidential nomination earlier today. This time, he’s trying to appeal to working-class voters, saying that “working families don’t need another president tied to big government or big money”.

However, Rick Santorum is not a real champion of the working class.

For starters, Santorum has a long history of taking far-right positions and making offensive remarks on various issues, especially on social issues like abortion and marriage equality. For example, Santorum has staunchly opposed marriage equality, going as far as to claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to people marrying dogs, which is absolutely false and absurd. On LGBT rights in general, Santorum has claimed that the Boy Scouts allowing openly gay people to join the Scouts would “murder” the organization, another absolutely false and absurd claim. On abortion and reproductive rights, Santorum has staunchly opposed the idea that women should be able to make their own decisions about their reproductive health, going as far as to say that survivors of rape who get pregnant via rape should “accept what God has given”, effectively saying that he thinks that women should be forced to carry an unwanted fetus to term.

When it comes to economic issues, Santorum’s “appeal” to working-class Americans is phonier than a $3 bill. For starters, Santorum supports eliminating the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and instituting a flat federal income tax rate. I have two things to say about this ridiculous idea. First, a flat income tax would make income inequality, already a serious problem in this country, even worse, because the wealthiest Americans would receive most, if not all, of the tax cuts from a flat income tax. Second, who the hell would be responsible for collecting taxes if the IRS were eliminated?

Rick Santorum is a phony and a far-right crackpot who would make an absolutely horrible president.

ANONYMOUS GUEST POST: How the Washington Generals learned to stop worrying and love the Harlem Globetrotters

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post was emailed to me by an individual who I will not publicly name, but is a resident of the State of Wisconsin who I will refer to as Progressive Activist A. The blog post is almost completely unedited (I did make a slight edit to remove a reference to a graphic that was not provided in the email) and not originally written by me, but written by Progressive Activist A with help of unnamed Milwaukee County (WI) Democratic Party members. The blog post compares the Republican Party of Wisconsin to the Harlem Globetrotters and the current Democratic Party of Wisconsin leadership to the Washington Generals. Below this author’s note is the blog post, and below that are my notes about the blog post.


In Wisconsin the Democrats are getting ready to practice democracy. In just over a week the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will be holding its annual, statewide convention.  There they will ask their delegates to vote to select a new Chair, or leader, for the statewide party.
The firmly blue, democratic leaning city of Milwaukee is the site of the convention. Milwaukee, the city that is surrounded by a collar of white suburbs that voted in Scott Walker as County Executive and then backed it up by voting in Tea Party darling in democratic clothing, mouthpiece and pawn of the uber-right Bradley Foundation, Chris Abele.
Oh well, democracy is a relatively new concept and is not yet perfected.  But still sometimes one has to wonder. Shouldn’t we be at least slowly moving towards a more perfect form of democracy?  As I look around it seems that not only are we no longer moving towards a more perfect democracy, but rather that we are running and leaping away from a more perfect democracy.
Most people by now should know that it is possible to become President of the United States by losing the popular vote (the vote of the citizens of the U.S. who cast ballots in elections) and winning the vote of the electoral college. But that rarely happens so most people shrug it off.  “That’s just politics” they say.
Most people by now should know that the combined Republican Party and Tea Party (or GOTea) has been working to prevent a great many Americans from voting.  Or at the very least, making it very hard for non-White, upper class Americans to vote.  This practice is called voter suppression and when you bring it up in discussion, most people shrug it off.  “That’s just politics” they say.
Between extreme redistricting and voter suppression techniques, the GOTea has sought to create a playing field for itself so tilted in their own favor that they can’t lose.  We have even seen them in Wisconsin pick their own judges in court cases who have allowed GOTea defendants to willfully destroy evidence and get away with it.
Kind of like the basketball team, the world famous Harlem Globetrotters.  You are all familiar with the Harlem Globetrotters right?  The Globetrotters are beloved and dazzle audiences as they…..well….trot all over the globe. Using trick shots, well practiced stunts and not to mention confetti, ladders, garbage cans and other props not allowed in the regular game of basketball, the Globetrotters delight their audience by essentially out-playing, out-tricking and out-cheating their perpetual counterparts, The Washington Generals.
The Globetrotters also bring to the show with them, their own referees who are part of the whole stage show. Referees who turn their back on the play off the game to watch confetti being sprinkled by one Globetrotter as the rest of the Globetrotters set a ladder up under the basket and practice a slam dunk, fire drill and score twenty points in five seconds. All the while their counterparts in the Washington Generals helplessly look on.
Everybody wants to join in the fun and be a Harlem Globetrotter. Nobody wants to be a Washington General.  Except in Wisconsin that is.  In Wisconsin there are some folks within the Democratic Party of Wisconsin who apparently have watched the Globetrotters decimate the Washington Generals by a typical score of say…..242 – 16. They watch and say, “man, it must be really nice to be a General!”
They probably don’t like the perpetual losing part as much as they love and adore the idea of having steady, lucrative work for life that doesn’t involve the risk of injury, the hard work and practice, the devotion required of players in the NBA.
They probably don’t tell themselves “I love to lose” but rather, they spin it into something like “It sure would be easy if all I ever had to do is show up and automatically end up in second place, just one step away from total victory.”  In other words, they think they would like to pursue being perpetual silver medalists, to use an Olympics metaphor.  They are refusing to realize that coming in second out of two is total and absolute failure.
And it is all about coming in second….as in second class citizens.  These would-be Washington Generals either haven’t thought about or don’t care about the people in Wisconsin who would become, have nearly become, second class citizens to the ultra rich and powerful.
And although there are five current candidates running for the office of Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, they are divided into two basic camps. Those who would learn from our past errors as well as the oppositions past victories and switch away from our previous losing ways in favor of a new winning plan.
And those who enjoy, indeed they profit from, the old status quo system.  It may mean that the citizens of Wisconsin lose and lose big, but by golly their jobs are secure as the old two party system is the only game in town.  Sure it may not have all the perks of winning every game, of being the Harlem Globetrotters.  But it does carry incredible job security to be a Washington General.
Under outgoing, current Chair Mike Tate, the DPW went from supporting, at least to some extent, all its candidates for legislative office in Wisconsin, to hitting up all its legislative candidates for cash for the DPW itself. They spoke of a 72 county plan but instead they concentrated on the heavily populated counties of Dane and Milwaukee which contain the cities of Madison and Milwaukee, and largely ignored the rest of the state as well as those who bravely entered the political ring as Democrats.
Also recently, the DPW has had only had one simple piece of advice for its candidates for legislative office.  And that message was “money, money and more money.”  The only way to win the DPW would say was to outraise and outspend the GOTea candidates.  Money was the answer to everything, the alpha and the omega.
One problem though, the GOTea has always been the party of corporate interests.  At a time when the GOTea is pushing for a nationwide takeover of American and state governments by the corporations, how in the world do you expect Democrats to be able to outraise and outspend the Republicans???  Farmers and factory workers, teachers and union members have all been financially decimated by Republican policy. They can’t donate more than the trillion dollar corporations and their billionaire owners.
But still the DPW kept saying that big money was the only possible solution to the problem of big money in politics. Democratic candidates had to have big money to pay for professional campaign staffers to come work for them in Wisconsin where the shiny suits and New Jersey accents stuck out like sore thumbs.  Folks in rural Wisconsin like anywhere else, don’t like people from out of state coming in and telling them how and who to vote for.
Mike Tate’s DPW kept telling candidates that big money for wardrobe specialists and hair stylists was the only way to win. Candidates would ask for the DPW’s VAN list, which is the list of democratic voters in their district and Tate’s DPW would say sure, for a couple of thousand dollars we will hit the print button on our computer for you.
Also the DPW kept telling candidates that they, like the DPW itself, needed the big money, corporate spin doctors of firms like Nation Consulting.  A huge player in the public relations business if they wanted to win their elections, it was the only way. Pay our specialists, pay our consultants, pay our hairdressers and image people.  Money, money, money and spend, spend, spend.
Guess how that worked out?  All three branches of Wisconsin government are firmly in GOTea control.  In other words, the big money, spend, spend and spend some more plan did not work.  It did not work at all!  In fact it worked so poorly that Mike Tate knew last year that he was going to have to step down as Chair of the DPW.
And so we will be saying goodbye to Mike Tate as Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  And in all honesty Mike Tate is a good person with a very democratic heart. Things just came apart under his watch, not all of it his fault by any means, but things really came apart for his party in Wisconsin.
But in some ways, depending on who wins the election to replace Mike Tate, it could end up as essentially we have a new Tate.  Consider it Mike Tate version 2.1.  We may be stuck with the status quo, to keep trying to raise big money to give to the consultants, campaign managers from out of state, old friends and career cronies.  In other words we could all end up with a big plan to stay the same, which is to concede that the GOTea will always be the Harlem Globetrotters and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin should remain as it has, the Washington Generals of Wisconsin politics.
And this is why a good many people are very concerned about the candidacy of Jason Rae.  Jason Rae has been part of the big money, spin doctoring business  And Jason Rae many people scared that he is going to copy Mike Tate’s plan from the last election.  That seems to be how Rae plans on winning his bid for Chair of the DPW. Only this time there is a huge difference, this time focusing on Milwaukee County and forgetting completely about the rest of Wisconsin could actually work out for the Jason Rae big money machine.
You see, under the election rules of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the Chair will be elected from among 5 candidates by plurality after a single round of voting. This means that getting 21% of the vote is all you need to win.
And guess what? Under the current (but hopefully not the future) way that the DPW chooses delegates to vote for its Chair and other officers, Milwaukee alone has enough votes to take it all.
And so Jason Rae and the staff of Nation Consulting have been focusing on Milwaukee with a fevered interest.  They know there is big money at stake for themselves in Milwaukee, even if it is only second place, Washington Generals money.  Hey its the only game in town folks.
And a big part of the Rae/Nation machine has been focusing hard, daily, on claiming for itself, the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  We have received so far, thirteen requests by Milwaukee County Democratic Party members to use this blog to let people know that under Rae/Nation, that the Chair of the Milwaukee County Dem Party is choosing their delegates to the state convention based on how much they support Jason Rae.  If you do not support Jason Rae and pledge to vote for Jason Rae, then you don’t become a delegate and you don’t get to go to the convention and vote for your candidate of choice.
Democracy?  Democrats?  Check the definitions at the top of this page again if you need to.  Because these tactics hardly represent the concept of democracy or the mission of the Democratic Party.
Now technically by the bylaws, charter and constitution of the DPW, Chairs are allowed to subjectively screen party members to find the best, most active people and reward them with delegate/voting status at the convention.
The system was not meant to be used to push for one candidate and one candidate only.  But the loophole exists and Rae/Nation is pushing it for all its worth to promote their own interests which are of course, going to be mostly financial in nature.
So under the current system, which most of the party seems to want to change to be more inclusive, our next Chair could be elected with the support of only 21% of the delegates over the opposition of 79%. This is not a recipe for party unity. This is a recipe for party implosion and even death.  And that would mean the complete and final decimation of any reasonable quality of life for Wisconsin’s citizens for as far as anyone can see into the future.
And Nation Consulting and its people in the Democratic Party are out to make it happen.  Big names in party politics, seemingly unconcerned about the DPW becoming the perpetual losers in Wisconsin politics, the Washington Generals of the badger state.  They are looking after their own interests first and let the rabble be damned is what is happening if you judge them by their actions and not their professionally spin doctored words.
Not that Thad Nation, owner and bossman of Nation Consulting has reason to care about the Washington Generals, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin or any of the state’s citizens.  Although Thad Nation is a known political insider to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, he is a huge financial supporter of the GOTea.
It sounds quite insane when you hear it altogether, doesn’t it?  Get rid of Mike Tate because his plan didn’t work out at all but hire his Jason Rae to maintain the losing plan so that the big dogs and insiders can maintain a lucrative lifestyle.  Why would anyone vote for that?
Let me ask you again….why would anyone vote for that?  There is no darn good reason to, not a one!  At a time when Wisconsin is not only socially but economically and politically torn apart, now is the worst possible time to maintain the status quo, to stick with the plan that so far has never worked.  Now is the worst possible time to stick with big money in government, special interests and shady, backroom deals.
Now is the best possible time to return to open and transparent politics in Wisconsin which are to the benefit of everybody. Now is the best time to return to politicians being held accountable for their actions and being made to work for all citizens of the state, not just their donors and the lobbyists.  Now is the worse time to maintain the status quo as our state sinks lower and lower in the rankings, as our standard of living lowers, as our people flee to other states in search of work and security.
Now is the worst time to vote in favor of the recent status quo.  Now is the worst time to give up on ever being a Harlem Globetrotter.
Thank you to the members of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County who reached out to us and trusted us to write and promote this article, we hope we have done right by you all.

Here’s some of my own notes regarding the blog post:

  • Chris Abele is the current Milwaukee County Executive, first elected to that post in a 2011 special election to replace Scott Walker, who vacated the post to become Governor of Wisconsin. Abele has governed Milwaukee County in a very conservative manner, in fact, he’s a political ally of Scott Walker despite being a Democrat.
  • Although not mentioned by name in the blog post, the Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chairwoman is Marlene Ott. The blog posts references Ott, who has endorsed Rae, trying to fill her county’s delegate slate with as many supporters of the Jason Rae for DPW Chair campaign as possible.
  • The blog post contains a large number of grammar errors, which I’ve left in the blog post because I’m not the one who originally wrote it.
  • Actually, 20%+1, not 21%, would be the minimum percentage of delegates that a candidate for DPW Chair in a five-way race would need in order to be mathematically able to win.
  • The reference to That Nation being a funder of Republicans is a reference to Coalition for the New Economy, a political organization led by Nation, giving money to right-wing political organizations that have supported Republican candidates and/or right-wing causes.
  • The Milwaukee County Democratic Party members who helped write the blog post were not named by the person who sent me the blog post.
  • The blog post is displayed without lines between paragraphs due to a bizarre technical problem that I’ve not been able to fix.

Wisconsin’s largest newspaper takes note of my work exposing Nation Consulting’s ties to right-wing political groups

Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this piece, which is mostly about Jason Rae and Martha Laning, two of the five candidates for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Bice mentioned two of my blog posts about Thad Nation, the founder of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based consulting firm Nation Consulting, and tens of thousands of dollars that Nation indirectly gave to right-wing political groups through a front group called Coalition for the New Economy. The right-wing groups that received funding from Coalition for the New Economy have opposed Democratic candidates and progressive causes, and some of those groups have received funding either directly or indirectly from the far-right Koch Brothers. Nation employs Jason Rae, one of the candidates for DPW Chair, although Rae, to my knowledge, hasn’t been directly involved with Coalition for the New Economy. However, Bice forgot to mention that Rae either is or was an associate director of Wired Wisconsin, a Thad Nation-led political front group that has advocated for legislation that would make it easier for landline telephone companies to either eliminate or increase the price of landline telephone service in Wisconsin. Rae joined Wired Wisconsin in mid-2010; it’s not known to me whether or not Rae is still directly involved with Wired Wisconsin. Obviously, nobody who works for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is going to mention anything about Rae’s ties to Wired Wisconsin, since that organization has paid for advertisements in that newspaper.

Bice also mentioned the fact that Martha Laning, one of Rae’s four opponents, is a relative newcomer to the DPW, having only joined the DPW in early 2014, and that Laning didn’t even know that one had to join the party and pay party dues in order to become an official Democratic Party member in Wisconsin until right before she became a party member. To be fair, I don’t know exactly how to join the Democratic Party in my home state of Illinois (I’m not an official Democratic Party member here in Illinois), and I’m guessing that very few people outside of political insiders know how to officially join their home state’s Democratic Party organization. Additionally, Bice brought up the fact that Laning hasn’t voted in every election in Wisconsin that she’s been eligible to vote in. While I’ve always been a civic-minded person since long before I was eligible to vote (in fact, the only election I’ve missed since turning 18 years of age was the 2008 Illinois primary for president and other partisan offices, and that was because I forgot to register to vote in time for that election), not everyone grew up with an interest in politics. However, Bice made absolutely no mention of either of the two main reasons why I’ve been critical of Laning. First, Laning claimed that Scott Walker and his Republican allies “have good ideas” in a 2014 television ad for her failed state senate campaign, despite the fact that Walker has driven down wages, busted unions, stripped rights from Wisconsinites, and has led the fight to destroy Wisconsin’s middle class since being elected governor. That is clearly an example of appeasement of Republicans by Laning. Second, Laning had to be pressured by DPW officials into supporting an increase in Wisconsin’s minimum wage. That tells me that Laning isn’t a sincere progressive and doesn’t appear to have any real political values.

I’ve received numerous Facebook friend requests and admiration from many Wisconsin progressives for my work in exposing Thad Nation’s ties to right-wing political groups that have waged a political war on Wisconsin’s middle class and progressive traditions. I thank everyone who has supported my work!

Illinois Department of Transportation is running the worst ad campaign ever

If you’re a taxpayer in the State of Illinois, your taxpayer dollars are paying for…well, this horrible TV ad:

Yes, that is an actual taxpayer-funded public service announcement (PSA) from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). While the intent of IDOT’s “The Driving Dead” ad campaign is to encourage people to drive safely in order to have a lower risk of being killed in an automobile crash on our state’s roads, I didn’t get that message at all from watching the PSA. I saw either the PSA shown above or a different one from the same ad campaign at least once during the FOX broadcast of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race last night, and it was not obvious to me that it was a PSA designed to encourage people to drive safely until I stumbled upon the ad campaign’s website. Who the hell came up with this ad campaign?

Let me make it clear that I’m not against taxpayer-funded PSAs at all, but there certainly has to be a much better way to encourage people to drive safely on our state’s roads and highways.

Bhuaigh Comhionannas!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The title of this diary is in the Irish language; the English translation of the title is “Equality wins!”. I am providing an American English language version and an Irish language translation of my article. The translations are courtesy of Google Translate, because I have no actual working knowledge of the Irish language.

NÓTA AN ÚDAIR: Is é an teideal an dialann i nGaeilge; Is é an leagan Béarla-theanga an teideal “Equality Wins!” Tá mé ag soláthar leagan Meiriceánach Béarla agus aistriúchán Gaeilge de mo earra. Is iad na haistriúcháin caoinchead Google Translate, toisc go bhfuil mé aon eolas ag obair iarbhír ar an nGaeilge.


A strong majority of voters in the Republic of Ireland have voted to ratify an amendment to the Irish Constitution that will allow gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same right to marry that heterosexual couples currently enjoy. With all 43 Dáil (lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish national legislature) constituencies having counted votes, there were a total of 1,935,907 valid votes cast in the marriage equality referendum. Of those valid votes, 1,201,607 votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 734,300 votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. Rounded to the nearest hundredths of a percent, 62.07% votes were cast in favor of marriage equality, and 37.93% of votes were cast in opposition to marriage equality. As only a simple majority is required to ratify an amendment, marriage equality is officially law of the land in the Republic of Ireland.

This is an historic victory for supporters of equality for two major reasons. First, the Republic of Ireland will now and forever be known as the first sovereign country to approve marriage equality in a public referendum. Second, the Republic of Ireland is an historic stronghold of the Catholic Church, which has aggressively defended discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and has strongly opposed all efforts around the world to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Irish voters have bravely stood up to the Catholic Church and other supporters of discrimination by voting to ratify the marriage equality amendment. Love has won in Ireland!


Tromlach láidir na vótálaithe i bPoblacht na hÉireann tar éis vótáil leasú ar Bhunreacht na hÉireann a chuirfidh ar chumas lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun taitneamh a bhaint as an ceart céanna chun pósadh go taitneamh a bhaint as lánúineacha heitrighnéasacha láthair a dhaingniú. Le gach 43 Dála (teach íochtarach an Oireachtais, na hÉireann náisiúnta reachtas) dáilcheantair a bhfuil vótaí a chomhaireamh, bhí iomlán de 1,935,907 vótaí bailí a caitheadh sa reifreann chomhionannais pósadh. As na vótaí bailí, bhí a caitheadh 1,201,607 vóta i bhfabhar comhionannas pósadh, agus cuireadh chaith 734,300 vóta ina gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Slánaithe go dtí na chéadú gaire de faoin gcéad, bhí chaith 62.07% vóta i bhfabhar an chomhionannais pósadh, agus bhí 37.93% de na vótaí arna gcaitheamh i gcoinne comhionannas pósadh. Toisc go bhfuil ach tromlach simplí de dhíth leasú a dhaingniú, tá comhionannas pósadh hoifigiúil dlí ar an talamh i bPoblacht na hÉireann.

Is é seo an bua stairiúil do lucht tacaíochta an chomhionannais ar dhá chúis mhóra. Gcéad dul síos, beidh an Phoblacht na hÉireann anois agus go deo ar a dtabharfar an chéad tír ceannasach chun comhionannas pósadh cheadú i reifreann poiblí. Dara, is é an Phoblacht na hÉireann ina dhaingean stairiúil an Eaglais Chaitliceach, a bhfuil a chosaint aggressively idirdhealú in aghaidh lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha agus tá láidir i gcoinne gach iarracht ar fud an domhain chun ligean lánúineacha aeracha agus leispiacha chun pósadh.

Vótálaithe na hÉireann a sheas cróga suas go dtí an Eaglais Chaitliceach agus lucht tacaíochta eile idirdhealaithe ag vótáil an leasú chomhionannais pósadh a dhaingniú. Grá bhuaigh in Éirinn!

Wisconsin legislators to Scott Walker: YOU’RE FIRED FROM YOUR OWN CORPORATE WELFARE AGENCY!!!

It’s official…the members of the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature’s Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee (JFC) have effectively fired Scott Walker from the corporate welfare agency he helped create, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC):

The state’s Republican-led budget committee Thursday retained legislative oversight of Gov. Scott Walker’s troubled job-creation agency, removed the governor from its board and pledged further changes later this fall in the wake of a recent critical audit and a (Wisconsin) State Journal investigation.

The Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines for the changes to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., but only after rejecting a series of Democratic ideas to reform the agency and more than an hour of debate during which even Republicans conceded that the agency needs fixing.

“We know that it’s time to reform this,” said Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson. “We can’t do it in the middle of the budget.”

Knudson even made the sobering admission that he didn’t believe in the mission of the agency – to leverage state tax dollars to help create jobs.

Walker has been the chair of the WEDC’s board of directors since it began operations in 2011. It’s not clear who would replace Walker on the WEDC board, although it would all but certainly be another Republican.

For those of you who haven’t been following the WEDC debacle in Wisconsin, I’ll provide a quick refresher. Since its creation in 2011, the WEDC has, among other things, mismanaged money, violated laws, has had officials spend taxpayer money on items like college football tickets and alcoholic beverages, handed out tax breaks to companies that have shipped American jobs to foreign countries, and has given loans to companies that haven’t paid back a single penny of the money that was loaned to them. In fact, State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) have both called for a federal criminal investigation into the WEDC’s activities. For U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to not launch an investigation would mean that Lynch and the Obama Administration are complicit in a cover-up of at least possible violations of federal law at the WEDC, so Lynch better launch an investigation, preferably right now.

For the JFC to fire Walker from his own corporate welfare agency is an obvious example of damage control by the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature. Preferably, I’d like to see these state-level corporate welfare agencies replaced by North Dakota-style state economic development banks, but Republicans and corporate Democrats are never going to support anything like that.