Month: June 2016

Kathleen Vinehout for Governor of Wisconsin? NO WAY!

It’s become public knowledge in Wisconsin political circles that State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) really wants to run for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin in 2018.

However, Vinehout is not a progressive, and, in fact, her views on some political issues are in line with far-right Republicans like Scott Walker.

Prior to being elected to the Wisconsin State Senate, Vinehout was a member of Democrats for Life, an anti-abortion organization. As a Wisconsin State Senator, Vinehout voted with Scott Walker and the gun manufacturers’ lobby for legislation designed to make it easier for off-duty and former police officers to carry out school shootings in Wisconsin public schools. While Vinehout is great on most economic issues and issues related to ending corruption in politics, her views on social issues are very right-wing and more in line with Republicans like Scott Walker.

While I will not move to Wisconsin to run for governor myself, after this year’s general election, I will write a blog post strongly criticizing a second potential Democratic candidate for Governor of Wisconsin. Make no mistake about it, the individual who I will criticize is the embodiment of a Scott Walker Democrat, and, if the individual were to run for governor, the individual would have a lot of support from the Democratic establishment, but I will not provide any more clues as to who the individual is at this time.

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Donald Trump violates U.S. federal election laws by sending fundraising emails to foreign politicians

Current and/or former elected officials in no fewer than six foreign countries have received campaign fundraising emails from the campaign of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. The countries in which current and/or former elected officials have received fundraising solicitations from Trump include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. In at least one case, a former head of government of a foreign country received a fundraising solicitation from Trump.

Trump has only recently started using emails to solicit campaign donations, and it first became clear that the Trump campaign’s email list had serious flaws when Katherine Clark, a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party, received a Trump email, despite the fact that Clark is a known supporter of the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. However, no laws were violated by Trump when his campaign sent an fundraising solicitation to Clark, because Clark is a United States citizen.

However, numerous current and former members of parliament in at least six foreign countries have clearly indicated that the Trump campaign has sent fundraising solicitations to individuals who are not United States citizens. Under the federal election laws of the United States, it is illegal for an American presidential candidate to solicit campaign donations from individuals who are not United States citizens.

At least two members of the Australian House of Representatives, Tim Watts and Joanne Ryan, reported via Twitter that they had received emails from the Trump campaign asking for campaign donations:

Both Watts and Ryan are members of the Australian Labour Party.

In case you are wondering who the former head of government who received a Trump campaign fundraising email is, it is former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, who was the last member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, which is now defunct, to serve as prime minister:

The fact that the Trump campaign tried to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, which is not owned by Trump, to Campbell for a big discount proves that the Trump campaign is completely incompetent.

Ida Auken, a member of the Danish Parliament, also received a fundraising email from Trump:

Auken is a member of the Danish Social Liberal Party.

Anders Adlercreutz, a member of the Parliament of Finland, confirmed to Josh Marshall of the American political website Talking Points Memo that members of the Finnish Parliament have received Trump fundraising emails:

Adlercreutz is a member of the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

The Iceland Monitor has reported that Katrín Jakobsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament, was one of at least three members of the Icelandic Parliament to receive campaign fundraising emails from Trump. Jakobsdóttir is the leader of the Icelandic Left-Green Alliance.

However, the strongest critic of the Trump fundraising emails to foreign politicians is Natalie McGarry, a member of the British House of Commons from the Glasgow area in Scotland. After receiving a fundraising email from Donald Trump, Jr., who was acting on behalf of his dad’s presidential campaign, McGarry wrote a response to the younger Trump in which she strongly criticized the elder Trump’s hateful, bigoted rhetoric and told the younger Trump that she hoped that American voters “reject your father fundamentally at the ballot box”. McGarry is not a member of any political party, although she was a member of the Scottish National Party until 2015. An online friend of mine posted to her social media page McGarry’s letter to the younger Trump, and it has been shared online over 1,700 times:

None of the foreign elected officials donated any money to Trump, to the best of my knowledge.

Donald Trump has proven that his presidential campaign is absolutely incompetent when it comes to operating an email list, and he has broken the law by attempting to solicit campaign donations from foreign politicians.

Katrina Shankland knows more about the NFL’s player salary structure than Scott Walker does

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of the blog post is a New England Patriots fan who lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is, like the vast majority of Wisconsinites, a Green Bay Packers fan. Anyways, the Chicago Bears are a bunch of losers.


At a recent private, invite-only “listening session”, Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, while claiming that the NFL’s free agency system should be a model for paying public school teachers, demonstrated that he has no knowledge of how the NFL’s player salary structure works. Here’s what Walker said:

If the Green Bay Packers pay people to perform and if they perform well on their team, (the Packers) pay them to do that…They don’t pay them for how many years they’ve been on the football team. They pay them whether or not they help (the Packers) win football games.

Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, issued this brilliant response to Walker’s absurd claims about the NFL player salary structure and absurd comparison between NFL player salaries and Wisconsin public school teacher salaries. I encourage everyone who is reading this blog post to read Shankland’s statement in full, but I’ll summarize three points that Shankland made in her statement:

  • NFL teams often have a total player payroll that is well under the league’s salary cap, whereas public school districts in Wisconsin are barely able to make payroll thanks to Walker’s funding cuts to public K-12 schools in Wisconsin
  • NFL players have a strong labor union representing them, whereas Walker and his Republican allies severely weakened Wisconsin public school teachers’ unions by restricting collective bargaining rights.
  • For the third point, I’ll directly quote Shankland: “…the NFL does pay their athletes regardless of whether or not they win games. Ask the Chicago Bears about this.”

For those of you who are wondering, the Chicago Bears compiled a record of 6 wins and 10 losses, and failed to make the playoffs, in the 2015 NFL season. Oh, and NFL players do not lose a penny of their base salary if their team loses a game.

The salary and unionization structure of NFL players and that of public school teachers in Wisconsin are not identical by any rational person’s imagination. I applaud Katrina Shankland for having a far better knowledge of the NFL player salary structure than Scott Walker does.

Donald Trump: The ultimate anti-globalization hypocrite

As I write this blog post, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is, with the aid of a teleprompter, giving a major speech outlining his anti-globalization views and his economic agenda.

While Trump talks a big game about how globalization is a threat to America, and the truth of the matter is that globalization is a threat to America, Trump is a total hypocrite when it comes to globalization. Here’s one example of Trump’s anti-globalization hypocrisy:

Donald Trump blasts companies like Ford and Apple for manufacturing products outside the United States. He even threatened to stop eating Oreo cookies after he learned some production was moving to Mexico.

But Trump does the same thing. Many of his products are made outside the United States. Most Donald J. Trump ties are made in China. Some Donald J. Trump suits are also made in China.

Donald J. Trump signature men’s dress shirts are made in China, Bangladesh or “imported,” meaning they were made abroad.

Yes, you read that correctly…Donald Trump, who gained political fame by railing against countries like China and Mexico stealing U.S. manufacturing jobs, has his name emblazoned on clothing manufactured in countries like China and Bangladesh!

Donald Trump isn’t the solution to America’s globalization problem. He’s part of the problem, and he’s a total hypocrite about it.

Donald Trump’s new anti-immigration policy would ban Canadians from the U.S.

While Republican party bosses and the corporate media want to convince you that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is softening his hard-line Islamophobic rhetoric, the reality is that Trump’s new Islamophobic proposals are, in some ways, even more absurd than the Islamophobic proposals that Trump ran on while campaigning for the Republican nomination:

Donald Trump may be finally gearing up to do what many Republican leaders have hoped: soften his rhetoric and pivot to the center.

He hasn’t done that yet. But there are growing signs that the presumptive Republican nominee is aiming to make his campaign more palatable to a general election audience.

His campaign is putting the finishing touches on a policy memo that would change his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. Instead of focusing the ban on Muslims, Trump would ban immigrants coming from countries with known terrorism links, training and equipment.

(emphasis mine)

“Countries with known terrorism links, training, and equipment” is a very broad characterization of countries. By that standard, people from first-world countries with mostly non-violent, law-abiding people, but have a small minority of people that engage in terrorism of either the Islamic fundamentalist variety or any other variety, would be subject to Trump’s immigration bans. Even the Republic of Ireland and Canada, both of which have a relatively recent history of terrorism not associated in any way with an Islamic fundamentalist ideology (in the Republic of Ireland’s case, Irish republican terrorism, and, in Canada’s case, Quebec seperatist terrorism), would qualify as a “country with known terrorism links, training, and equipment”.

Banning Canadians from entering the U.S. is just plain ridiculous policy. In the past two centuries, we’ve had very few problems with Canada (and its predecessor, British North America) being a neighbor of the United States. In fact, in Vermont, there are some places where streets and buildings are partially in Vermont (and, therefore, partially in the United States) and partially in Quebec (and, therefor, partially in Canada). Trump’s policy would result in entire communities being walled off. On a related note, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the first high-profile Republican presidential candidate who was forced to end his campaign after he publicly supported building a wall on the U.S.-Canada border.

Donald Trump isn’t pivoting to the political center. Instead, he’s finding even more bizarre ways to embarrass America.

(TRIGGER WARNING) Donald Trump allegedly raped an underage girl repeatedly during the 1990’s

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post contains a graphic description of sexual assault. Reader discretion is strongly advised.


It’s not just a lack of campaign funds and using his campaign money to enrich himself (see here and here) that are major political problems for Trump. Now, Trump is being sued in federal court for allegedly raping an underage girl multiple times in the 1990’s at sex parties hosted by ultra-wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein of “Lolita Express” infamy. Here’s the details on the Trump rape allegations:

In the court filing, “Defendant Trump” allegedly “initiated sexual contact with Plaintiff at four different parties. On the fourth and final sexual encounter with Defendant Trump, Defendant Trump tied Plaintiff to a bed, exposed himself to Plaintiff, and then proceeded to forcibly rape Plaintiff. During the course of this savage sexual attack, Plaintiff loudly pleaded with Defendant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defendant Trump responded to Plaintiff’s pleas by violently striking Plaintiff in the face with his open hand and screaming that he would do whatever he wanted.”

In the next section, she adds that “Immediately following this rape, Defendant Trump threatened Plaintiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sexual and physical abuse of her by Defendant Trump, Plaintiff and her family would be physically harmed if not killed.”

The defendant is asking a federal judge to waive New York state’s five-year statute of limitations in sexual assault cases. You can view the full text of the lawsuit here.

This isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of rape. Trump’s first wife, Ivana Trump, publicly claimed that Trump made her feel “violated” during sexual intercourse. That prompted the Trump campaign to falsely claim that marital rape isn’t a crime (in all U.S. jurisdictions, marital rape is a criminal offense).

It isn’t just Donald Trump’s bigotry, use of campaign cash to line his own pockets, failed businesses, and penchant for fraud that are disgusting. His sexual behavior is also disgusting and unacceptable, and, if Trump wants to talk about the sex lives of Democratic politicians, I’ve got no problem talking about Trump’s sex life.

Congressional Black Caucus members admit they’re afraid of their own constituents

The only strongly vocal defenders of the undemocratic superdelegate system used every four years at the Democratic National Convention is a majority of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group that includes black Democratic members of both houses of Congress. They recently passed a resolution defending the superdelegate system, which grants Members of Congress, Democratic National Committee (DNC) members, and “distinguished party leaders” automatic delegate slots at convention, and grants them the power to vote for any presidential candidate they want at convention:

The letter — which was also sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz — follows a Wednesday CBC meeting where members discussed for over an hour the impact of eliminating superdelegates on the African-American community, according to CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.).

“We passed a resolution in our caucus that we would vehemently oppose any change in the superdelegate system because members of the CBC might want to participate in the Democratic convention as delegates but if we would have to run for the delegate slot at the county level or state level or district level, we would be running against our constituents and we’re not going to do that,” said Butterfield. “But we want to participate as delegates and that’s why this superdelegates system was created in the beginning, so members would not have to run against their own constituents.”

A majority of Congressional Black Caucus members are openly on record as saying that they’re afraid of having to actually campaign for a delegate slot at their party’s national convention. If any politician is afraid of competition, he or she shouldn’t be in public office.

One thing that is roughly equivalent to the superdelegate system is the exemptions from qualifying for the U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, and most PGA Tour events in golf for most top professional golfers. However, golf is an athletic competition, so exempting the top professional golfers (the U.S. Open and the British Open exempt a few amateur players from qualifying as well) from having to go through one or more qualifying tournaments in order to get into a professional golf tournament is justified. A political party nominating a presidential candidate is not an athletic competition, but something that should reflect the will of the voters who choose to participate in a particular political party’s nomination contest. Due to elections in the United States being governed mostly, but not entirely, by a patchwork of state laws, a national primary election for any particular party’s nominee is virtually impractical, so the next best way would be for a convention of delegates elected by voters who chose to participate in a political party’s nomination process to nominate the presidential candidate. Currently, the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination process consists of a patchwork of delegates elected by Democratic voters and superdelegates who have a fast lane to the convention. There should be no fast lane to a delegate slot at a major-party national convention. Additionally, the Democratic Party has a very diverse primary/caucus electorate from a national standpoint, so a national convention composed of entirely elected delegates should be very diverse.

ENDORSEMENT: Zephyr Teachout for 19th Congressional District of New York

I proudly endorse Zephyr Rain Teachout for the Democratic nomination in the 19th Congressional District of New York.

My endorsement of Zephyr is not based on the fact that she has the coolest name in American politics (she certainly does) or because of the cool outfits she wears in parades across her congressional district (see here and here), it’s because she’s an absolutely awesome person. If elected to Congress, nobody, and I mean nobody, will be a stronger and more effective advocate for removing the undue influence of big money in American politics than Zephyr. Zephyr is one of only two congressional candidates in the entire country that I’m aware of (the other being 6th Congressional District of Wisconsin candidate Sarah Lloyd) who has openly talked about how free-trade deals have hurt farmers and rural America. Zephyr is the only congressional candidate that I’m aware of who has talked about how large companies have locked away technologies that can be used by small businesses. Zephyr understands that climate change is real, and that real solutions are needed to curb or reverse global warming.

Zephyr has the Working Families Party line and faces Will Yandik in the Democratic primary, and the winner of the primary will face Republican opposition from the winner of a contested primary between John Faso (who has the Conservative, Independence, and Reform Party lines), Andrew Heaney, and Bob Bishop. I strongly encourage New York Democrats to vote for Zephyr Teachout on June 28. You can view Zephyr’s campaign website here, and she’s also on Twitter and Facebook.

Republicans in Wisconsin and Missouri disrespect the American flag

On June 14, 1777, exactly two years to the day of the founding of what is now known as U.S. Army, the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the first version of the national flag of the United States of America. In 1916, then-President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring June 14 to be Flag Day.

Sadly, some politicians have used Flag Day to disgrace the American flag.

First off, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, sent out a Flag Day tweet featuring a 48-star flag, which hasn’t been in official use since July 3, 1959:

The U.S. flag has officially featured 50 stars since July 4, 1960, the first Independence Day since Hawaii became the most recent state to join the Union.

Even more disgraceful, in my opinion, was a decision by two of the three members of the Republican-controlled Cole County, Missouri commission to not lower the U.S. flag on county grounds to half-mast, as ordered by the president to commemorate the terrorist attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Cole County, Missouri includes Jefferson City, which is Missouri’s state capital:

Following this weekend’s shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, President Obama ordered that, “as a mark of respect for the victims,” the United States flag be flown at half-staff “upon all public buildings and grounds” through the end of the day Thursday. Officials in Cole County, Missouri decided this didn’t apply to them.

The three-member commission that governs the county voted 2-1 against lowering the flag. “We (the commission) still have control over how the flags are displayed,” Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher (R) told the Jefferson City News Tribune. “Lowering it too much takes away from the honor. I feel for these victims and for their families, but I don’t feel this was a time for the flag to be lowered.”

Commissioner Kris Scheperle (R) similarly suggested that the Orlando shooting just doesn’t rise to the occasion. “I want to honor those who have served our country,” he said, “but we can’t lower it for every event like this that occurs. I do feel for those who were gunned down, but I don’t think it warrants lowering the flag.”

After public outcry, the Cole County commissioners decided to reverse their original decision and obey the president’s orders to lower the U.S. flag to half-staff after all.

While America celebrates our national flag, Republicans are busy disgracing our flag.

ENDORSEMENT: Susie Lee for 4th Congressional District of Nevada

As Democratic voters in the 4th Congressional District of Nevada go to the polls today, I’ll take this opportunity to encourage voters in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, which includes the northern part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, to vote for Susie Lee in the Democratic congressional primary.

While Bernie Sanders has been busy trying to sell former gangster and convicted car thief Lucy Flores to progressives, the truth of the matter is that a majority of general election voters in the 4th Congressional District aren’t going to vote for someone with a felony record. People simply don’t like being represented in Congress by criminals, so a vote for Lucy Flores is effectively a vote for Crescent Hardy, who is nothing more than a right-wing rubber stamp for right-wing Republicans like Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. I’m saying this as someone who voted for Bernie in the Illinois primary.

While there are a total of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in Nevada’s 4th Congressional District, only three of them have a realistic shot of winning the nomination: Lee, Flores, and Ruben Kihuen. Of those three, only Susie Lee is actually a current resident of the 4th Congressional District of Nevada. On the issues, Lee supports building an interstate highway between Las Vegas and Reno (currently, one has to drive through either California or Utah in order to drive between Las Vegas and Reno without having to drive over mostly two-lane roads), and Lee also supports protecting Social Security and Medicare.