Tag: passed

Hillary Clinton’s claim on the rationale behind Bill Clinton’s support for DoMA is total bull

In case you missed it, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was caught red-handed trying to rewrite history. Specifically, Hillary tried to claim that the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996, was a defensive measure designed to appease religious conservatives, who were pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have banned same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the country.

A 1996 memo, written by Clinton Administration officials Jack Quinn, George Stephanopoulos, and Marsha Scott, gives some insight as to the rationale behind what prompted Bill Clinton to sign DoMA, which was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress with all but one Republican and many Democrats voting for it, into law. While the memo mentioned efforts to enact marriage equality at the state level in Hawaii in the mid-1990’s, nowhere in the memo does it reference any kind of movement to enact a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In fact, the memo clearly referenced the fact that Bill opposed marriage equality in 1996.

Chris Geidner has done a ton of research on Bill Clinton’s role in regards to DoMA, and he has found zero evidence to back up Hillary’s claim that Bill supported DoMA as any kind of defensive measure to prevent religious conservatives from enacting a federal constitutional amendment enshrining anti-LGBT bigotry in the U.S. Constitution. To put that another way, Hillary’s claim on Bill’s rationale for supporting discriminatory legislation that was struck down by a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court long after Bill was out of office is a bunch of bull.

I’m from an area of Illinois that is full of Religious Right extremists, and I’m very familiar with the Religious Right’s political modus operandi. If they had enough support to amend the U.S. Constitution to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution at any point in modern American history, they would have done so as quickly as possible. Their whole political modus operandi is to do everything possible to shove their religious beliefs down everybody else’s throats. For the Clintons to try to rewrite history by claiming that DoMA was some kind of defensive measure designed to ward off the Religious Right’s attempt to enshrine their bigotry in the Constitution is flatly absurd.

Wisconsin Republicans are delivering a kill shot to democracy

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a link to an article that includes an error. Specifically, Wisconsin State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) lives in Milton, Wisconsin, not Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, although Jorgensen did live in Fort Atkinson prior to the post-2010 Census gerrymandering of Wisconsin’s state legislative districts.


Republicans that control Wisconsin state government are delivering a kill shot to democracy by enacting a series of laws designed to effectively destroy democracy in Wisconsin.

The Progressive magazine columnist and Madison Common Council member Rebecca Kemble wrote a must-read article about Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin, which you can read here.

The Republican efforts to destroy democracy in Wisconsin consists of the following three pieces of legislation:

  • 2015 Wisconsin Act 64 – While bribery and many forms of political corruption are still illegal in Wisconsin, this law effectively decriminalizes bribery and corruption in Wisconsin by removing the only effective tool in Wisconsin state law to prosecute bribery and corruption: the John Doe investigation. Republican Governor Scott Walker, himself the target of two John Doe investigations that led to a total of six of his associates either being convicted or pleading guilty to various crimes, has already signed this bill into law.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 387 – This legislation, among other things, allows coordination between non-federal candidates for public office in Wisconsin and outside groups like SuperPACs, ends the legal requirement that candidates disclose their campaign donor’s employers, and eliminates campaign contribution limits in Wisconsin. When this bill was voted on in the Wisconsin Assembly, not a single member of the Assembly voted against the legislation. That’s because, in one of the most ridiculous political stunts that I’ve ever seen, Democratic members of the Wisconsin Assembly recused themselves from voting on the legislation citing a conflict of interest, but the conflict of interest statute they cited specifically exempts state legislative votes on legislation to change state laws and regulations.
  • Wisconsin Assembly Bill 388 – This legislation would abolish the officially non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), which is composed of six retired judges and is responsible for both state-level election administration and enforcing state ethics laws in Wisconsin, with separate state elections and ethics commissions composed of political appointees of major-party state legislative leaders and the governor. If this bill were to become law, major-party state legislative leaders could legally appoint themselves or other elected officials to the state elections commission in Wisconsin and remain in elected office, which would be a brazen conflict of interest.

The Wisconsin GOP’s effort to destroy democracy in Wisconsin reminds me a lot of the right-wing Fidesz party in Hungary entrenching itself into power by gerrymandering electoral districts to benefit Fidesz and other right-wing politicians, as well as amending the Hungarian Constitution to undermine civil liberties and entrench Fidesz into power in Hungary. The kind of partisan takeovers normally seen in places like Eastern Europe is taking place right here in the United States, specifically, in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin State Assembly votes to gives taxpayer money to millionaire NBA team owners

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly voted to give millions of dollars taxpayer money from ordinary Wisconsinites the owners of professional basketball’s Milwaukee Bucks in order for them to build a new arena by a 52-34 vote, with 5 members not voting at all, 4 members casting paired votes in favor, and 4 members casting paired votes in opposition.

Here’s the Wisconsin State Assembly members who voted for the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare giveaway:

  • Scott Allen (R)
  • Joan Ballweg (R)
  • Peter Barca (D Minority Leader)
  • Mandela Barnes (D)
  • Janel Brandtjen (R)
  • Robert Brooks (R)
  • Bob Gannon (R)
  • Evan Goyke (D)
  • Gordon Hintz (D)
  • Rob Hutton (R)
  • John Jagler (R)
  • Adam Jarchow (R)
  • La Tonya Johnson (D)
  • Andy Jorgensen (D)
  • Robb Kahl (D)
  • Terry Katsma (R)
  • Samantha Kerkman (R)
  • Frederick Kessler (D)
  • Joel Kleefisch (R)
  • Dan Knodl (R)
  • Dale Kooyenga (R)
  • Jesse Kremer (R)
  • Mike Kuglitsch (R)
  • Tom Larson (R)
  • Amy Loudenbeck (R)
  • Cory Mason (D)
  • Jeffrey Mursau (R)
  • John Murtha (R)
  • John Nygren (R)
  • Alvin Ott (R)
  • Jim Ott (R)
  • Kevin David Petersen (R)
  • Warren Petryk (R)
  • Jessie Rodriguez (R)
  • Dana Rohrkaste (R)
  • Joe Sanfelippo (R)
  • Michael Schraa (R)
  • Christine Sinicki (D)
  • Ed Skowronski (R)
  • John Spiros (R)
  • Mark Spreitzer (D)
  • Jim Steineke (R)
  • Lisa Subeck (D)
  • Rob Swearingen (R)
  • Paul Tittl (R)
  • Tyler Vorpagel (R)
  • Robin Vos (R Speaker)
  • Dana Wachs (D)
  • Leon Young (D)
  • JoCasta Zamarippa (D)
  • Josh Zepnick (D)

In addition to those, Mark Born (R), Dianne Hesselbein (D), Bob Kulp (R), and Tom Weatherston (R) cast paired votes in favor of the Milwaukee Bucks corporate welfare deal. However, under Wisconsin Assembly rules, paired votes, which can only be recorded if members casting the paired votes have an excused absence, do not officially count as votes in favor or in opposition to legislation, but are officially recorded as paired votes in the official vote tally. Personally, I think the paired votes rule should be repealed in any jurisdiction that allows paired votes, since it seems  like a relic of the pre-automobile era, when it was very difficult for a state legislator who lived a long distance from the capital city of a particular state to get to the state capitol building.

This deal is a terrible deal for Wisconsin taxpayers from every corner of Wisconsin, and it would have been cheaper for the State of Wisconsin to let the Milwaukee Bucks leave for another state than to keep the team by way of corporate welfare for a new arena.

While proponents of the deal have claimed that the deal will pay for itself over time, the fact of the matter is that the deal would certainly not pay for itself. Over a 20-year period, the State of Wisconsin will pay $3.5 million annually to the Bucks, which will play 41 games per year (not counting any preseason or postseason games) in the new arena, starting with the 2017-2018 NBA season. It would require the Bucks to have an average home game attendance of 170,732 or greater to make up for the money that the state gave the Bucks owners to build the arena through the 50¢ cut of a $2/ticket surtax that the state receives. Since the maximum spectator capacity of the arena is going to be roughly somewhere between one-tenth and one-eighth of the break-even attendance figure of 170,732, it’s absolutely unrealistic to expect the state portion of deal to pay for itself over time.

By the way, here’s how I calculated the 170,732 figure for determining break-even attendance for the state portion of the deal:

  • State portion of expenditures to the Bucks is $3,500,000/year
  • There are 41 home regular season games for each of the 30 NBA teams, including the Bucks
  • The portion of the Bucks ticket surtax that the state receives is 50¢/ticket
  • 3,500,000/41/0.5=170,732, rounded up to nearest whole number

In fact, if one were to factor in every revenue and expenditure factor of the deal, such as any tax revenue created or saved by the Bucks deal and the costs that taxpayers in Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are on the hook for, the break-even attendance figure for the entire Bucks deal would probably still be more than any reasonable estimate of the maximum spectator capacity of the new arena. This is for two reasons. First, the portion of the money going to the Bucks owners that Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee taxpayers are going to be on the hook for is in the low nine-figures. Second, there isn’t a ton of tax revenue that will be created or saved by the deal due to a large number of tax exemptions associated with the deal. To put all of that another way, the deal isn’t going to pay for itself. Even if the state portion of the deal repays itself and them some, it would still short Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee a large amount of taxpayer money that could have been better used for local government services that serve a public purpose and that Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee are legally responsible for.

Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as from Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.

The Koch Brothers’ political organization thinks there’s more than two million people in Montana

Zach Lahn, the Montana state director for the Koch Brothers-funded political organization Americans for Prosperity, claimed that “millions of Montanans” oppose expanding Medicaid after the Republican-controlled Montana House of Representatives passed a Medicaid expansion bill: