Month: June 2015

Corporate Democrat Chris Abele would represent Scott Walker’s third term in office if he were to run for and be elected Wisconsin Governor

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Executive Chris Abele has been making public appearances outside of Milwaukee County in recent days. Recently, and to my knowledge, he’s appeared on a talk radio program in Madison, Wisconsin, and he’s also appeared at a Democratic Party picnic in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Both of these locations are 60-90 miles or so away from Milwaukee, if I’m not mistaken. This seems to be unusual for Abele to make appearances at events outside of Milwaukee County.

While there was some speculation that Abele may run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin next year, Russ Feingold is already running in that race, and, for someone who is not known as a big-time fundraiser, Feingold has raised a ton of money for his campaign, so I’m guessing that Abele thinks that he doesn’t have a realistic path to victory in that race, although I could be wrong about that. I’m speculating that Abele may want to run for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018, and, outside of a few social issues, Abele would pretty much represent Scott Walker’s third term in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion if he were to run for and be elected governor.

Before being elected the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, Abele once threw fireworks at a neighbor’s house. Since being elected Milwaukee County Executive, Abele has:

  • Enacted Scott Walker-style austerity measures in Milwaukee County, which have hurt Milwaukee County’s economy
  • Has openly antagonized Democrats, progressives, and labor union members
  • Tried to get the Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to prohibit counties from passing living wage ordinances designed to boost local economies
  • Actively supported corporate welfare for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks
  • Actively opposed efforts to allow Milwaukee County voters to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether or not they want to get rid of Walker/Abele-style big-money politics
  • Allied himself with Deanna Alexander, a far-right Milwaukee County Supervisor who has made overtly racist and sexist remarks about Democrats, women, and ethnic minorities
  • Spent large amounts of Milwaukee County taxpayers’ money on items like a large SUV for himself
  • Has repeatedly had his vetoes of progressive ideals overridden by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.

Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, a Milwaukee County employee and progressive patriot, has documented Chris Abele’s horrible track record as Milwaukee County Executive at his blog over the past few years.

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chris Abele’s right-wing record as the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county. When I say that Abele wouldn’t be significantly better as Wisconsin Governor than Scott Walker, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. Hopefully, one or more actual progressives, or at least someone who believes that the government should serve the people and not big-money special interests, runs in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin Governor a little more than three years from now.

Did Phil Mickelson bet on himself losing golf tournaments he played in?

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson, known for his aggressive, daring style of golf and his right-wing political views, has been found to have been involved with an illegal gambling ring:

Nearly $3 million transferred from golfer Phil Mickelson to an intermediary was part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to two sources and court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest and most popular players, has not been charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation. But a 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

Although the full identity of the “gambling client” has not been officially revealed, the initials of the “gambling client” were listed in court documents as P.M., and ESPN is reporting, citing unnamed sources, that the “gambling client” is Phil Mickelson.

While Mickelson is probably not going to face federal criminal charges due to the nature in which illegal gambling rings are prosecuted at the federal level in the United States (federal prosecutors only go after illegal gambling enterprises and the individuals running them, not individual bettors in illegal gambling enterprises), this raises a series of questions regarding Mickelson’s role in the illegal gambling enterprise:

  1. Did Phil Mickelson bet on golf tournaments?
  2. If the answer to question #1 is “yes”, did Mickelson bet on golf tournaments in which he was a competitor?
  3. If the answer to questions #1 and #2 are both “yes”, did Mickelson deliberately lose golf tournaments that he bet on?

To answer those questions, the PGA Tour, the United States Golf Assocation (USGA), the R&A, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), the Augusta National Golf Club, and any other golf sanctioning bodies in which Phil Mickelson played sanctioned golf tournaments in should conduct an investigation in order to determine whether or not Phil Mickelson deliberately lost golf tournaments in order to receive monetary payouts from Gregory Silveira’s illegal gambling operation.

The special election that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin doesn’t want you to know about

There is absolutely nothing on the website or social media pages of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) that I have been able to find regarding an upcoming special election in the Waukesha-based 33rd State Senate District of Wisconsin, where Democratic candidate Sherryll Shaddock is running against Republican candidate Chris Kapenga.

While the DPW is trying to ignore the fact that there’s an election scheduled to take place on July 21st, Sherryll Shaddock is the Democratic nominee in an upcoming state senate special election in Wisconsin. Shaddock is running against Chris Kapenga, who, as a state representative, tried to work with corporate Democrats like Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to prevent Wisconsin counties from enacting living wage ordinances in order to boost their economies. Shaddock, on the other hand, supports fully funding public education, restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government, protecting Wisconsin’s environment, allowing women to make their own decisions regarding their reproductive health, and protecting local control over matters that are best left to local governments to deal with.

While it would be glorious if Shaddock were to win election to the Wisconsin State Senate, she doesn’t need to win the election in order to secure a moral victory for her party. Given how wildly unpopular Republicans have become in Wisconsin in recent months, and given that the 33rd Senate District is about 20 percentage points more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole is, if Shaddock were to secure at least 35% of the vote, then Democrats and progressives in Wisconsin can easily make the case that the Republican agenda is very unpopular in Wisconsin.

I strongly encourage voters in the 33rd Senate District of Wisconsin to show up at the polls on July 21st and vote for Sherryll Shaddock for Wisconsin State Senate.

Ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people should be the next fight in the LGBT rights movement

Thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued earlier today, same-sex couples across the entire United States of America can now enjoy the same legal right to marry that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. To put it mildly, this is a huge victory for love and equality in America.

However, in 32 states, some, if not all, LGBT workers, can legally be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

  • In 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), all workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 states (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but state employees can be fired on the basis of gender identity, and private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 5 states (Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 2 states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin), all workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but all workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.
  • In 1 state (New York), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and private-sector workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.

If the source I linked to above has inaccurate and/or outdated information, please leave a comment on this blog post with accurate information for a particular state.

While it is a huge victory for the LGBT movement to secure marriage equality in all 50 states, the fight for full equality for gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people is far from over. The next big fight in the LGBT rights movement should be to push for laws prohibiting public and private employers from firing people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

How taxpayers effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting

You might be shocked to find out about this, but taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, which was perpetrated by 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof and claimed the lives of nine people, including Reverend and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney (D-Ridgeland).

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit investigative news organization, detailed how taxpayers effectively subsidized the mass murder at Mother Emanuel in their report:

Alleged Charleston gunman Dylann Roof wrote that he was never the same after discovering a website with “pages upon pages of these brutal black on white murders.”

The pages that left Roof in disbelief were the product of a white-nationalist group subsidized by American taxpayers.

The Council of Conservative Citizens Inc. is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare, also known as a 501(c)(4). Such groups pay no federal taxes, a form of government subsidy.

To summarize all of that, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist organization, incorporated as a nonprofit “social welfare” organization, legally exempted itself from federal taxation, and published racist screeds on its website that prompted Roof to perpetrate a mass murder in a place of worship. In other words, the federal government effectively subsidized the Charleston shooting by exempting the CCC from federal taxes.

The CCC may legally be a “social welfare” organization, but, in reality, they are not a social welfare organization. The CCC is a white supremacist organization that, among other things, publicly supports far-right, anti-immigration politicians and political parties, glorifies black-on-white violent crimes, absurdly blames Chicago’s high murder rate on a misperceived lack of guns in the city, and has posted ads from at least one company selling Confederate flags online to its website. Furthermore, the CCC’s president, Earl P. Holt, has donated to many Republican politicians, including, among many others, Joni Ernst, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Jim Oberweis, Louie Gohmert, Todd Akin, Tom Emmer, Allen West, and Steve King; in fact, in some campaign finance reports, Holt listed himself as a “slumlord”. For the federal government to effectively subsidize such a hateful organization is, in my opinion, absolutely disgusting.

Scott Walker compares women working and earning a salary to welfare

AUTHOR’S NOTE: While the blog post references the Republicans’ misleading attacks against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over the salaries that her U.S. Senate staffers made, the author of the blog post is a Bernie Sanders supporter, and both Hillary and Bernie support equal pay for equal work.

Republican Wisconsin Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker has, once again, made downright offensive remarks about women. This time, he went onto a right-wing talk radio show hosted by Adriana Cohen and effectively claimed that giving women equal pay takes away from men and compared women working and earning a salary to collecting welfare benefits:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has gone on the offensive against women again, despite the backlash against his previous ugly remarks about rape victims seeking abortion. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Boston Herald Radio host Adriana Cohen asked him about the issue of equal pay for women, using largely discredited numbers to accuse Hillary Clinton as a hypocrite who pays her staff unequally. Walker could have scored the easy point on hypocrisy and left it at that. Instead he doubled down on why he finds it so offensive to be for equal pay in the first place.

“But I think even a bigger issue than that,” he said, “and this is sadly something that would make her consistent with the president, and that is I believe that the president and now Hillary Clinton tend to think that politically they do better if they pit one group of Americans versus another.”

Walker added that Democrats’ “measure of success in government is how many people are dependent on the government, how many people are dependent, on whether it’s Medicaid or food stamps or health care or other things out there.”

If you’re willing to listen to Scott Walker, you can listen to Walker’s remarks here. You can also view the Right Wing Watch piece that Slate columnist Amanda Marcotte referenced here.

Women earning a salary equal to their male co-workers for the same type of work is not a form of welfare or being dependent on the government; it’s being treated fairly. Full-time working women earn 77 cents for every dollar that a full-time working man makes in this country. Furthermore, working women earning the same amount of pay as working men helps men, especially married men in households where their wives work at a job that pays a salary or wage, because equal pay for women means a higher household income, and, therefore, more money for entire families to spend on goods and services.

To me, it sounds like Scott Walker apparently believes that women shouldn’t earn a salary for their participation in the workforce, and he also apparently believes that women earning more pay somehow threatens men. The former is absolutely absurd, and the latter is absolutely false.

Why President Barack Obama’s use of the N-word is acceptable

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post includes quotes that contain racist epithets.

The right-wing corporate media in this country is manufacturing yet another, for lack of a better term, non-scandal scandal over something involving President Barack Obama. This time, it’s over Obama’s use of a six-letter racial epithet that begins with the letter “n” in an interview by comedian Marc Maron.

Here’s what Obama said while being interviewed by Maron:

Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.

You can listen to a podcast of the full Maron interview of Obama here.

I firmly believe that the president used the N-word in an appropriate context. The underlying message of what the president was saying was this: Just because one removes racial epithets from their vocabulary doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t a racist anymore. There are many people in this country who don’t use racial epithets (at least not in public), yet hold prejudiced views of ethnic minorities.

The president isn’t the only Democratic elected official to have used the N-word in such a context. One person who has used the N-word in an appropriate context who I can think of off of the top of my head is Melissa Sargent, a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Sargent, a white woman who grew up in an interracial family, wrote this op-ed, in which she talked about having racial epithets directed at her when she was a child, for a Madison, Wisconsin-based newspaper last year.

Here’s the part of Sargent’s op-ed where she used the N-word in what I would consider to be an appropriate context:

I grew up in Madison. I have two brothers and a sister. One of my brothers and my sister were adopted; they are African-American.

We did all the normal things that kids do around Madison. We played in the park, went to the beach, and rode our bikes. When it came time to go to school, we naturally walked there together. When I was in fourth grade, our mom made us all matching outfits to wear on the first day of school so my brand new first-grade sister would feel more connected to us. We were proudly marching arm-in-arm, wearing our Hawaiian print shirts when I started hearing the catcalls: “Nigger-lover, nigger–lover, nigger-lover.” As a child it was hard to comprehend why they were mocking me. The words were beyond my years, but I could feel the hatred in their voices.

That was just one of many times I witnessed this kind of treatment toward my family. I knew then that my brother and sister, and their future children, would have a much different experience in the world than I.

The rest of Sargent’s op-ed was about fear institutional racism in this country; the op-ed was written not long after Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sargent was quoting racists who used the N-word to verbally attack her and her family, which is what I consider to be using the N-word in an appropriate context. The message that Sargent was conveying is that she has been subjected to overt racism because her parents adopted black children.

Make no mistake about it, the Southern Strategy is absolutely disgusting and, to this day, the modus operandi of most Republican politicians. However, when the late Lee Atwater, a far-right Republican political consultant who ran George H.W. Bush’s winning 1988 presidential campaign, used the N-word while describing the evolution of political messaging used by right-wing politicians in this country in an anonymous interview by political scientist Alexander P. Lamis, it was technically in an appropriate context.

Here’s what Atwater said about the Southern Strategy in his 1981 interview by Lamis, which was uncovered by The Nation magazine in late 2012:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968, you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

(slight grammar edits mine)

While I despise Atwater and his racist style of politics, what he said is right. In 1954, politicians could get elected in many parts of the country, especially in the South, but also in many other places across the country, by using the N-word and other forms of overt racism to appeal to white racists. By 1968, using the N-word in political messaging was considered disqualifying for major party politicians in much of the country (although it was still considered acceptable in many parts of the South), and racist politicians resorted to using dogwhistles like “states’ rights” in order to defend racist policies. Technically speaking, Atwater used the N-word in an appropriate context, since he was talking about political messaging that racist politicians used in the mid-20th century.

Usually, using the N-word and other racial epithets are considered highly inappropriate and racist. However, if one is having an intelligent conversation about racism, and uses the N-word in the context of an intelligent conversation about racism, then it can be, depending on exactly how it’s used, considered appropriate to use the N-word.

U.S. Open golf championship shaping up to be one of the most memorable in decades

Normally, I don’t watch golf tournaments, but I made an exception for this year’s U.S. Open championship, largely due to FOX heavily promoting their coverage of the tournament during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series automobile races that I watch on most weekends (NASCAR’s top series has an off week this week).

What those watching the U.S. Open have seen over the last three days has been one of the greatest first 54 holes of a major golf championship in history.

The biggest story of the tournament hasn’t been Tiger Woods missing the cut. The biggest story isn’t the difficulty and physical demands of the Chambers Bay golf course, where the tournament is being held this year. The biggest story isn’t Jordan Spieth trying to win the second leg of golf’s grand slam (winning The Masters, the U.S. Open, the (British) Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, the four major men’s golf tournaments, in the same year). The biggest story isn’t FOX covering a major golf tournament for the first time.

All of those stories I listed in the above paragraph are big stories of this tournament, but the biggest story of the tournament has been Jason Day, an Australian who is 10th-ranked professional golfer in the world, collapsing from benign positional vertigo on his final hole of the second round of the tournament, then coming back in the third round and shooting a round of 68 (2 under par) to tie Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Brendan Grace for the championship lead at 4 under par after 54 holes. Day’s third round performance was absolutely phenomenal, especially when one considers that Day was not physically well throughout his third round.

Tomorrow’s final round of the U.S. Open golf championship is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing final rounds of a major golf championship in a very long time. Should two or more players tie for the lead after all players are finished with their final round, an 18-hole playoff would be played by those tied for the lead on Monday.

JoAnn Kloppenburg is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court once again

You may remember Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge JoAnn Kloppenburg, then a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General, from the contentious 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court race, where she narrowly lost to conservative incumbent David “The Choker” Prosser by a few thousand votes in a race that featured an infamous vote-counting snafu in Waukesha County, the most populous right-wing stronghold in Wisconsin.

Well, she’s back! Kloppenburg is making another run for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, who is the lone moderate on Wisconsin’s highest bench. Here’s her campaign announcement video.

There are going to be three main differences between Kloppenburg’s 2011 campaign and her 2016 campaign:

  • In 2011, Kloppenburg ran against David Prosser, an ultra-conservative state supreme court justice who is a controversial figure in Wisconsin politics. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by Patrick Crooks, who, while technically a Republican, has generally sided against the conservative majority on the constitutional crisis involving the Wisconsin Constitution amendment that gives the justices on Wisconsin’s highest bench to power to vote for one of their own to be chief justice. The amendment is currently subject to an ongoing lawsuit involving a dispute over when the amendment is supposed to go into effect. It’s not clear as to whether or not Crooks will run for re-election at this time, and Crooks’s campaign has not commented on Kloppenburg entering the race that I’m aware of.
  • In 2011, due to the union-busting Act 10 having been enacted not too long before the supreme court race that year, there was far higher turnout than what would normally be seen for a state supreme court race in Wisconsin. This year, turnout is probably going to be either at the level of what would be expected for a supreme court race in Wisconsin (typically about one-third of that of a midterm election in Wisconsin) or somewhat higher, depending on whether or not one or both major parties has a serious nomination contest for president ongoing by April of next year. I’m guessing that the 2016 presidential primaries in Wisconsin will be held in April, although the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s state government may move the primaries up to February to try to give Scott Walker a better chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, but there’s nothing confirmed about that at this time.
  • Kloppenburg’s potential opponents include incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge Joe Donald, Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge Rebecca Bradley, and Former Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. I know very little about Donald, other than the fact that he was originally appointed to the Milwaukee County bench by Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, and the fact he’s been praised by Ed Fallone, the Marquette University professor who ran for state supreme court in 2013 on a progressive message and platform (losing to conservative incumbent Pat Roggensack, who is now the acting chief justice of the court pending the lawsuit regarding the chief justice amendment that I explained above). Van Hollen and Bradley are right-wing judicial activists, especially Bradley, who has known ties to far-right judicial activist groups like the Federalist Society and has donated money to Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns. Donald is all but certain to run; I’m not sure if Van Hollen and/or Bradley are interested in running or not.

I am not endorsing a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court at this time, but I may do so at some point before the spring 2016 elections in Wisconsin.

Monticello, Illinois officials caught pumping raw sewage into city streets

There has been at least one documented instance of officials in the city of Monticello, Illinois, which has a population of slightly over 5,000 people and is located in Piatt County in the central part of the state, pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into city streets, where it flows through storm drains and into the Sangamon River. Now, the Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing the city over it:

The city (of Monticello, Illinois) is accused of pumping raw sewage into its streets. Now the state is taking the city to court. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is suing the city of Monticello. Court documents state the city pumped almost a million gallons of raw sewage into the Sangamon River.

One city council member says it’s been happening for years. Court documents state it all started with a thunderstorm. On July 12, 2014, Monticello got three inches of rain and the city didn’t have a place to put all of the water.

Pictures residents took that day show water being pumped from the sewer into the streets. Normally, rainfall is supposed to flow into the storm drains, which eventually goes into the Sangamon River. The drains can’t handle a lot of rain and it gets diverted into the sewer lines, but when that happens the sewer could overflow.

Guess what Monticello, Illinois is spending its money on instead of investing in a new water treatment plant to replace the nearly 80-year-old water treatment facility…:

“Until now, nobody’s really paid attention,” said Alderman Joe Brown. “We’ve been putting money towards athletic fields instead of our sewer lines. So hopefully they’ll take it serious. Hopefully we’ll re-allocate the money so that we can fix our infrastructure.”

(emphasis mine)

The city of Monticello, Illinois clearly has serious problems with its sewage system, yet the city is spending money on athletic facilities instead of new sewage lines or a new water treatment plant. It’s clear to me that officials in Monticello clearly have the wrong priorities.

Sadly, what is going on in Monticello is only a microcosm of what is going on in the entire country. While stadiums, arenas, and other athletic facilities get millions of dollars in taxpayer money, our nation’s roads, rail lines, water lines, sewage systems, and other forms of infrastructure are falling apart.