Month: September 2015

UNCONFIRMED REPORT: Trey Gowdy, leader of Benghazi witchhunt in the House, will NOT run for re-election

The Washington Examiner right-wing website, citing Republican Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) as its source, is reporting that U.S. Representative Harold Watson Gowdy III (R-SC), commonly known as Trey Gowdy, will not run for re-election to his House seat next year. Gowdy chairs the House Benghazi Committee that has been waging a political witchhunt against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The report of Gowdy’s retirement has NOT been confirmed by Gowdy himself, his campaign committee, or his congressional office. Gowdy currently represents the 4th Congressional District of South Carolina.

If this report is true, then that’s a clear sign that the giant waste of taxpayer money known as the House Benghazi Committee is beginning to be an electoral albatross for Republicans. While I’m not a Hillary Clinton supporter (I’m supporting Bernie Sanders for president), the House Benghazi Committee has clearly been nothing more than a waste of Congress’s time and taxpayers’ money.

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ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.

Tammy Duckworth wins MoveOn email straw poll for Illinois U.S. Senate race

With a whopping 91% of the vote, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hoffman Estates) has won the MoveOn Illinois U.S. Senate email straw poll. That means that Duckworth has been endorsed by MoveOn, a progressive political organization.

If I’m not mistaken, one must have been from Illinois and have been on MoveOn’s email list in order to get a ballot (for the record, I received an email ballot and voted for Duckworth). Although Wikipedia lists three candidates (Duckworth, former Chicago School Board member Andrea Zopp, and radiologist Robert Marshall) as running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, only Duckworth and Zopp appeared on MoveOn’s straw poll ballot.

The email in which MoveOn announced the straw poll results emphasized Duckworth’s military service (she lost both of her legs after a Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting over Iraq in 2004 was shot down) and support for the nuclear deal with Iran and attacked Republican incumbent Mark Kirk for being one of the most vocal opponents of the Iran deal:

The results are in, and MoveOn members in Illinois have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate!
Rep. Duckworth knows the costs of war more than most, having served in Iraq as a helicopter pilot before losing both of her legs in combat…
[…]
In contrast, current Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of the biggest war hawks in all of Congress. In addition to voting to invade Iraq, he railed against President Obama for pursuing diplomacy with Iran, even claiming that the President’s goal was to “get nukes to Iran.”
Make no mistake about it, Mark Kirk is dead wrong when it comes to his absurd claim that the Iran deal would result in President Obama giving nuclear weapons to Iran. In fact, the Iran deal would keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands and prevent another war that would cost thousands of American lives and billions of American taxpayer dollars. MoveOn members in Illinois have made it clear that Tammy Duckworth would be a better Democratic challenger to Kirk than Andrea Zopp, who voted for Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close dozens of Chicago public schools, mostly in predominantly-black neighborhoods, would be.

Bernie Sanders gives apparent response to Mark Pocan attacks without mentioning Pocan by name

Earlier today, Bernie Sanders sent out an email, in which he stated that his campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination isn’t about Bernie Sanders himself:

As you know, we launched our campaign almost five months ago and we’re doing very well so far. We’ve seen leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, and continue to gain ground in states across the country.

And while we will never raise as much money as our opponents who receive huge donations from wealthy individuals and super PACs, I have been amazed by the outpouring of grassroots financial support that we have secured. In just a few months, we have received almost 1 million individual contributions online. Incredibly, these donations average less than $30 per contribution. In other words, while my opponents hold fundraising events in which a handful of millionaires make huge contributions, we are gaining extraordinary support with modest contributions coming from the working families and middle class of our country.

That’s what my politics is all about. That’s what I want to do throughout this campaign. And I want to thank all of you for your support.

Let me be very clear. As I have mentioned before and will mention again and again, this campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It’s about putting together a grassroots movement of Americans who stand up and say: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

(emphasis mine)

The rest of Sanders’s email lists key parts of his campaign platform, such as making higher education truly affordable, rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, reducing wealth inequality, making America less dependent on dirty fossil fuels, and ending systemic racism in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

Although Sanders didn’t mention U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) by name anywhere in the email, the email appears to be a response to recent attacks by Pocan, in which Pocan publicly dissed Sanders by referring to him as a “75-year-old socialist” (Sanders is actually 74 years old, although Sanders will be 75 on the date of the general election for president next year) and proceeded to bash progressives in the Democratic Party for supporting Sanders based on his “populist message”.

While Democratic insiders don’t seem to understand this, Bernie Sanders has spent his entire political career fighting to make America a better place to live. Every political campaign that Bernie has taken on has been about the people, not about himself.

ENDORSEMENT: Kati Walsh for U.S. House Speaker

With Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner exiting stage right, I’m pleased to announce that I’m going to make a very special endorsement. I proudly endorse Kati Walsh for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Since I’m guessing that very few, if any, readers of this blog know who Kati Walsh is, I’ll talk a little bit about her. She’s a resident of Madison, Wisconsin and an elementary school art teacher in the local public school system in Madison. She’s also a very strong advocate for public education.

Now, many of you are probably thinking that Ms. Walsh is not a Member of Congress. Of course she’s not a Member of Congress. However, there’s no legal requirement in the U.S. Constitution that the speaker be a sitting member of the House, so anyone could legally be elected speaker by the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, the U.S. Constitution could be interpreted as allowing for someone who doesn’t meet the constitutional requirements to be eligible to be elected a U.S. House member (at least 25 years of age, U.S. citizen for at least seven years, resident of the state in which he/she seeks to represent) to be elected speaker. Heck, there’s nothing prohibiting me from receiving votes for speaker, even though I’m not a Member of Congress, and I have zero interest in being speaker.

Do I think that Ms. Walsh will get a single vote in the upcoming election for speaker? Of course not. The vast majority of the Republicans will vote for one of their own House members, probably Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with a few hard-line conservative Republicans voting for Tea Party-types in protest. On the other hand, nearly all Democrats will vote for Nancy Pelosi, with the exception of a handful of centrist/conservative Democrats who will vote for either a Republican or a different House Democrat.

However, I’ve always thought of the idea of a citizen speaker (i.e., a U.S. House speaker who is not a House member) would be interesting, as a citizen speaker would have the power to preside over the House, but not be able to vote on legislation before the House, effectively making the speaker’s post non-partisan and technocratic in nature. If Kati Walsh can teach a class of elementary school children, then she’ll have no problem presiding over the U.S. House of Representatives and its 435 adult members.

Republican Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen compares women to cars and refers to women as sex objects

In Wisconsin State Assembly debate on legislation to prohibit federal funding to be used for women’s reproductive health care, Wisconsin State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menominee Falls) referred to Planned Parenthood as a maintenance garage and falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood treats women like sex objects:

Where the hell did Brandtjen get her expertise about women’s reproductive health? Motor Trend magazine? The truth of the matter is that Brandtjen, despite being female herself, has zero understanding of women’s health issues and apparently thinks that women’s reproductive health measures are like fixing a transmission on a car, which is obviously not the case, since women don’t have any kind of car parts inside of them.

Also, Planned Parenthood does not treat women like sex objects. Planned Parenthood, which Republicans and what few anti-women’s health Democrats are still in office have long wanted to defund at every level of government in this country, treats women like people who have a right to control their own bodies.

Women’s health care is a serious issue, and the Republican approach to women’s health care in this country would lead to more unintended pregnancies, more sexually transmitted diseases, and more pregnant women dying.

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan attacks vast majority of constituents for being progressive and supporting Bernie Sanders

Despite having, by some standards, the single most progressive voting record in either house of Congress, U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-2) has done everything possible to sound like a moderate DINO while in office, especially when it comes to backing corporate Democrats, which Pocan has done repeatedly.

Now, Pocan, who hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate that I’m aware of, has tried to claim that supporters of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign don’t exist at all and openly attacked the vast majority of his own constituents:

…In the case of Sanders, nobody is saying, “What I really want is a 75-year-old socialist.” Right? But it’s that message that they kind of like. It’s that populist message on the left.

First off, Pocan gave an incorrect age for Sanders: Sanders is actually 74 years old, but will be 75 years old on the date of the 2016 general election. Pocan attacking Sanders for being old is clearly an ageist attack by Pocan. Secondly, Pocan implied that Sanders supporters don’t exist at all, which is clearly not the case, as Sanders drew 10,000+ people to a rally in Madison, Wisconsin a few months ago. It’s quite clear to me that there’s a statistically-significant amount of support for Sanders in Pocan’s district. Finally, the kind of “populist message on the left” that Pocan is attacking is the kind of message that resonates with a very large segment of voters in this country, especially in Pocan’s home district. That’s because a very large percentage of Americans agree the progressive values of restoring the American middle class, making higher education truly affordable, and making America a more equal country that people like Sanders espouse.

Mark Pocan is just the latest establishment Democrat to join the War on Progressives within the Democratic Party. Pocan attacked the vast majority of his own constituents, who are fiercely progressive and are of a more-than-a-century-old progressive tradition in Wisconsin that dates back to the days of Robert Marion “Fighting Bob” La Follette. It’s clear to me that Pocan regards progressives, who are the vast majority of people and voters in the 2nd Congressional District of Wisconsin, as a political enemy.

If Democratic members of Congress won’t support Bernie Sanders, than that, in and of itself, is justification for Sanders supporters to run for public office and use the primary process to defeat corporate and establishment Democrats within their own party, which there are a ton of at all levels of government in this country.

Hillary Clinton’s higher education affordability plan? Ridiculous work requirements!

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said this to the editorial board of the far-right Des Moines Register, a newspaper that endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election for president:

Make no mistake about it, work requirements for college students would encourage less Americans to attend college and would make America even more of a low-wage economy than it currently is. It’s extremely difficult for college students to work even a part-time job while attending several college classes per day. Furthermore, the vast majority of college students who do work while in college work low-wage jobs, such as flipping hamburgers at fast food restaurants. People go to college to work a good-paying job after graduation, not work a low-wage job while attending college.

On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has a real plan to make college more affordable by taxing Wall Street speculation to pay for truly affordable higher education without a ton of strings attached. With countries like Germany moving to steal our nation’s future by making higher education more affordable, America can’t afford another Clinton workfare scheme.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee took $33,400 from Big Pharma’s big jerk Martin Shkreli

You may have read about Turing Pharmaceuticals owner Martin Shkreli being a total jerk on social media in response to his company raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a medical condition that can be fatal to people with AIDS and developing fetuses, from $13.50/pill to a whopping $750/pill. If not, you can read about it here.

However, when I was looking on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website about political donations that Martin Shkreli made, I managed to find one political donation that I am 100% certain is of Turing Pharmaceuticals’s Martin Shkreli, and that is a $33,400 donation that Shkreli made to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) on July 18th of this year:

Screengrab of FEC Independent Expenditure Search

The fact that the DSCC is taking money from people as odious as Martin Shkreli is disgusting and not in line with the progressive values that the Democratic Party should stand for.

I’ve created an online petition where you can tell U.S. Senator and DSCC Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and the DSCC to take the $33,400 they accepted from Shkreli and donate it to charity, preferably one whose mission is to help find a cure for AIDS. You can sign that petition here.

Turn out the lights…Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is over!

Ladies and gentlemen, our long, national nightmare is over.

Scott Walker will not be our nation’s 45th President of the United States, as he has officially dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Long story short, Scott Walker defeated himself. Walker ran a horrible presidential campaign, most notably proposing some downright asinine ideas (such as eliminating the National Labor Relations Board and building a fence along the U.S.-Canada border). Other factors that brought down Walker’s campaign is the national corporate media not giving Walker as much of a free pass as the corporate media in Walker’s home state of Wisconsin has done, the rise of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and Walker’s support for the Milwaukee Bucks arena giveaway alienating anti-corporate welfare types within the far-right Tea Party that dominates the Republican caucus/primary electorate in many states. Right before Walker dropped out of the race, Walker was polling at 0% among Republicans according to CNN opinion polling, which obviously doesn’t sell well to Republican voters as 0% financing on a new car.

I’m not done criticizing Scott Walker by any stretch of the imagination, as he’s still Governor of Wisconsin with a majority of Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, and Walker still has a little over three years left in his second term as governor. I thank everyone in Wisconsin and across the country who has opposed Walker’s horrible policies, but I’ll also remind everyone that the fight for progressive values will never end.

I’ll leave you with a video of me singing a modified version of an old Willie Nelson song (lyrics here) commemorating Walker’s exit from the presidential race: