Tag: Brad Schimel

Wisconsin Republicans want to put guns in the hands of criminals nationwide

President Barack Obama recently pledged to use executive action (fact sheet here) requiring, among other things, licensing of the dealer and background checks on the purchaser on all gun sales in the United States. This executive action is clearly designed to make it much harder for criminals to obtain firearms.

Now, Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin and a failed Republican presidential candidate who dropped out after his own party firmly rejected him on the national stage, is asking Brad Schimel, the Republican Attorney General of Wisconsin, to sue the federal government in an attempt to overturn the president’s executive actions.

Should federal courts side with Walker and Schimel, it would, once again, be ridiculously easy for a known criminal or someone else who is not legally allowed to possess a firearm to obtain a gun and kill people. For example, in 2012, Zina Haughton and two of her co-workers were shot and killed at a Brookfield, Wisconsin spa by her estranged husband, who purchased a gun online despite being under a restraining order that legally prohibited him from possessing a firearm. Had there been a strictly-enforced requirement of background checks on all gun sales in 2012, Zina Haughton would almost certainly be alive today.

Scott Walker and his far-right political allies in Wisconsin want to make it easier for criminals and others who shouldn’t be allowed to possess firearms to obtain firearms. That is absolutely asinine, and the vast majority of Americans think that it’s asinine as well.

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Joe Biden’s “Susan Happ” problem

With Vice President Joe Biden likely to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, I do want to bring up an historical parallel between Biden’s likely presidential bid and Jefferson County, Wisconsin District Attorney Susan Happ’s failed bid for Attorney General of Wisconsin last year.

The parallel between Biden and Happ is this: Both Biden and Happ are/were, prior to running for higher office (or, in Happ’s case, after winning a statewide Democratic primary in Wisconsin), viewed favorably by voters not because of their actual track records or positions on the issues, but because they liked the candidates personally. In Biden’s case, he’s seen by many voters across the country as an approachable guy with an interesting personality. In Happ’s case, she was seen by many voters in Wisconsin as someone who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a television ad.

Happ’s campaign to become Wisconsin’s top prosecutor fell apart not long after Happ won a contested Democratic primary with a narrow majority of the vote. Republicans and the far-right corporate media in Wisconsin viciously attacked Happ’s record as a county-level prosecutor, making her look like a corrupt prosecutor who gave out light sentences to Democrats and political cronies, when, in reality, it was a major distortion of Happ’s record. The sustained attack on Happ damaged her campaign and allowed Republican racist Brad Schimel to be elected Attorney General of Wisconsin.

Biden has a legitimately awful record, especially as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, including, among other things:

  • Helping put right-wing extremist Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court despite serious sexual harassment allegations against Thomas
  • Voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall regulations on banks and other financial institutions, which led to the Great Recession
  • Voting for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages prior to being ruled unconstitutional by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court
  • Publicly claiming that “abortion is always wrong”
  • Helping enact legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush, that made it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy
  • Helping enact legislation that expanded the prison-industrial complex in the United States
  • Voting for George W. Bush’s unjustified Iraq War

It wouldn’t take much for one of the Democratic presidential candidates already in the race to brand Biden as an awful politician, if Biden were to run.

I believe that there is an important lesson that is to be learned from the failure of Susan Happ’s campaign for Wisconsin Attorney General last year. When one runs for public office, his or her track record can, either fairly or unfairly, be used against him or her by any political opponent. While Joe Biden’s decision on whether or not to run for president is entirely Joe Biden’s decision to make, I would caution him that his record as a U.S. Senator would likely come back to haunt him politically.

Martha Laning makes a huge impact in her first week as Wisconsin Democratic chairwoman

It’s only been a week since Martha Laning was elected Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), but she has already made a huge impact in Wisconsin politics by being, to my pleasant surprise, a critic of some forms of corporate welfare and a supporter of good government.

On Thursday, Laning sent this letter officially asking far-right Republican Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to do his job by helping to facilitate the release of official Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) records. As uncovered by audits, the WEDC, a state corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin created by Scott Walker and Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2011, has repeatedly refused to comply with federal and state laws, as well as mismanaged Wisconsinites’ taxpayer money. While I’d never support the campaign of someone like Schimel for any public office, it would be the right thing for Schimel to help release records pertaining to the morbidly corrupt and incompetent WEDC, because Wisconsinites should have the right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being spent.

That’s not the first time Laning has railed against some forms of corporate welfare and publicly supported good government policies.

In this interview on Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) stations across Wisconsin, Laning outlined the Democratic strategy in Wisconsin for the November 2016 elections and beyond, as well as gave some of her own opinions on various political issues in Wisconsin and nationally. Laning emphasized messaging heavily in the WPR interview; in fact, Laning pointed out a major flaw in the Democratic messaging that has been used in recent Wisconsin election cycles: many Wisconsinites don’t know what the Democratic Party stands for! Additionally, Laning publicly supported Move to Amend, an organized political movement that is pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution designed to remove the undue influence of money from our nation’s political system, and, to my pleasant surprise, sharply criticized a state tax break for Wisconsin manufacturers that all but eliminated taxes on Wisconsin manufacturers, even emphasizing how tax revenue funds things that are commonplace in society, such as roads, the judicial system, police departments, and fire departments. Regarding the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, Laning strongly suggested that “several” potential candidates would at least consider running for Governor of Wisconsin as a Democrat, although she declined to name any potential candidates. Laning also strongly implied that she would prefer whoever Wisconsin Democrats nominate for governor in 2018 to emphasize “building strong communities”, “opportunity for all”, and “fairness”.

Needless to say, this is not what I expected from Martha Laning when she was elected to lead the Democratic Party in a critical swing state. I was expecting Laning to be a backbencher of sorts as DPW Chair, mostly working behind the scenes and rarely issuing public statements of her own about political issues. Instead, Laning has, to my pleasant surprise, publicly railed against preferential tax breaks for large businesses and has strongly supported restoring Wisconsin’s once-proud tradition of good government. Will I agree with every single thing Martha Laning does as DPW Chair? Likely not, as I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time. Do I think that Martha Laning will be a wonderful DPW Chair? She’s certainly off to a great start!

When it comes to climate change, nobody is going to shut me up

Wisconsin has become the second state to ban public employees from talking about climate change, when the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (Wisconsin BCPL) voted 2-1 along partisan lines to ban Wisconsin BCPL employees from talking about climate change. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk and Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans, voted for the measure, while Secretary of State Doug La Follette, a Democrat, voted against it. Currently and as far as I know, Wisconsin’s climate change gag order only applies to Wisconsin BCPL employees.

This is clearly an attempt to gag Wisconsin BCPL Executive Director Julia Nelson, whose father, Former Democratic U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, came up with the idea for Earth Day. Apparently, Adamczyk and Schimel have not read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which gives Nelson and everybody else in this country free speech rights. Furthermore, Adamczyk and Schimel apparently think that the Wisconsin BCPL is their plantation where they can control every single aspect of Nelson’s life. Adamczyk and Schimel are clearly violating Nelson’s First Amendment right to free speech, and that is highly unacceptable.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to shut me up when it comes to climate change. Recent climate change, caused primarily, if not exclusively, by human activities like pollution, has already had a major negative impact on this country. For example, global climate change has either led to, or made worse, California’s ongoing drought and flooding in coastal areas caused by rising sea levels.