Sunday, May 11, 2014

#164 May 11, 2014- Politics Matter

Politics Matter. . .
Wisconsin has been a political battlefield since 2011 when the first efforts to recall state senators began.  The conflicts have continued nearly non-stop since that tumultuous year and have divided a state that has historically been one where clean politics and bi-partisan cooperation have usually been considered the norm.  This is especially true when we compare Wisconsin politics to those of neighboring states like Illinois, and with the bitter conflicts that have divided other places in America.

The election of Scott Walker changed Wisconsin politically, socially and economically, and the change was not for the better.  We see the evidence of the divisive nature of our current climate in many ways.  Whether it is in the massive number of lawmakers deciding to leave office in order to escape the toxic environment, or the struggles to balance local and school budgets, or the fact that friends, family and neighbors find it difficult to talk about important issues with each other, the end result is the same.  We are more divided now than we were just a few years ago. 

There may be no more polarized place in swing-state America as national trends are amplified by fierce campaigns, an impassioned electorate, and a...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Craig Gilbert

Democrats have made huge gains in the suburbs since the Reagan years, but they haven’t made any progress in the areas around Milwaukee.
The New York Times|By Nate Cohn

Wisconsinites have learned the hard way that elections really do matter.  For too long we failed in our duties as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable by exercising our voice at the ballot box.  Scott Walker was elected by a significant minority of eligible voters, yet has not hesitated to govern as though he speaks for the majority.  Once gaining power, Walker and his supporters quickly worked to attempt to solidify their control of all aspects of our state government.  Progressives and those who speak for more moderate policies found themselves fighting to maintain a voice in state government. 

Ray Ciszewski, of St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee, understands all too well the burdens that voter ID laws create.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Judith Browne Dianis

In about six months we will have another opportunity to speak out against the policies that have divided and damaged our state.  The campaign will be difficult and it will be bitterly contested.  We've already seen the attack ads begin, and that was only the opening salvo in what promises to be a vicious, no-hold barred struggle to reclaim our state.  A struggle that will test the resolve and the strength of those who rose against Walker's policies in 2011.  Despite a few challengers it seems clear that the November election will feature Walker vs. Mary Burke.   

Scott Walker's had four years to do it his way. From the 250,000 jobs broken promise to the disastrous WEDC, Walker has stumbled badly. Yet he blindly touts his '
Green Bay Press-Gazette

She’s a political novice—and that may be what it takes to knock off Wisconsin’s governor, of whose jobs plan she says: ‘I’ve seen eighth-graders’...
The Daily Beast

Calling herself “a fiscal conservative,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke broke bread with Milwaukee business leaders Tuesday and pitched her ideas on jobs, education and the...
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Bill Glauber

The November 2014 election is of huge significance for Wisconsin Progressives.  Walker is a strong candidate in the state, but his strength lies in his ability to mask the reality that his policies create for a majority of citizens.  This election provides the potential to begin the push back to changing the debate about a number of issues of great importance to the health and well-being of the citizens of our state and of our nation.  The fight may have begun in 2011, but it is continuing to escalate as we move forward.

The key issues in the conflict revolve around the role of government in our society, and the type of community that we want to be a part of.  On one side you have the Conservative, austerity movement that seeks to privatize as much as possible and leave individuals isolated and divided.  This vision of economics hasn't worked, doesn't work and won't work here or anywhere else.  The idea that we need to support the wealthy and the corporations while letting the common citizen struggle is inherently flawed and runs counter to the values espoused in our founding documents.  Documents that speak of "liberty and justice for all," not just the privileged few. 

Wisconsin lawmakers have cut taxes 43 times since 2011, reducing revenue by $1.9 billion over that period and limiting investments in Wisconsin’s...

Conservative economic pundits just love to justify "business-friendly"...
Los Angeles Times

Don’t be too depressed by Thomas Piketty’s arguments. Inequality is a choice.
The New York Times|By David Leonhardt

There is a certain amount of irony in the data that shows the "liberal bastion" of Dane County is actually one of the most successful areas in economic terms.  

I oppose the idea of Dane County seceding from Wisconsin and becoming its own state, but, if Dane County, which is regarded as Wisconsin's...

This privatization effort has centered around public education.  The idea that all students, from all backgrounds should receive a quality publicly funded education is one that should be supported by all who value our democratic traditions. 

Vos promised GOP delegates that he and fellow conservatives were ready to fight the party moderates on an array of issues in coming years.|By Lee Enterprises

A new report reveals widespread fraud and mismanagement in our...
Bill Moyers

Yet, we see a continual effort by those in power, Democrat or Republican, to undermine our public schools and to restrict the power of those who work and learn in them.  Educators, students, family and invested community members find themselves struggling to make their voices heard over the powerful lobbying efforts of school privatizers and privateers. 

What follows below is nothing original. It's simply another reminder. I know this is an unpopular thing to say in certain education circles but someone has to say it: Common Core State Standards a...

The Chicago Teachers Union passed a resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards, in what may have implications for its parent union.

Along with education, health care has become a venue where the differences between political ideologies is clearly demonstrated.  Access to health care should be a basic right and should be promoted by anyone who wants to have a government that insures the "general welfare" for its citizens.  Yet, we have seen a concerted effort to limit the availability of health care for our most at-risk citizens.  These efforts have been disguised as "good economic policy", "limiting government", or "letting the market decide," but in reality are simply another example of profiting from the needs of others.   

His rejection of federal Medicaid dollars either costs Wisconsin lots of money or lots of lives.

Republicans have begun to see the effects that their policies have had on different demographic groups, but their efforts are often motivated by political, not social justice goals.  While the same argument can be made against the Democrats in many ways, the choice between parties is still quite clear when we look at policies and intent.  

Leaders at the state Republican convention tried to send a message that the party was broadening beyond its overwhelmingly white voter base.|By Lee Enterprises

When we put all of these things together it becomes clear that 2014 could be a turning point in Wisconsin politics.  We can either continue on the path of divisiveness and inequality, or we can change course and work to chart a path towards a more socially just society.  In order for this to happen we will need to communicate our ideals and hold all candidates responsible for upholding our values.  We can't trust in any party or candidate, but must remember that in a democracy, the people have a choice in what their government looks and acts like.  We can't allow ourselves to get the government we deserve through apathy or ignorance.    

The Good, The Bad and
The Ugly. . .

The Good . . While I find myself constantly at odds with President Obama on issues involving education I applaud a majority of his work.  Those on the right have been attempting to undermine his presidency from day 1.  The American people need to get some honest facts in order to be able to make reasoned decisions about the policies that our president has fought to implement.

Hey, Obamacare Truthers: Gallup just found the number of uninsured Americans is the lowest its found since 2008, when it started polling.

Senator Paul proclaims that more Kentuckians have lost their insurance under Obamacare than had insurance to begin with. - Math Fail!
Addicting Info

There is a local movement to attempt to change the way that public money is invested in building projects.  Currently we are seeing companies exercise their political influence to gain access to public money.  This movement seeks to put the people in charge of how tax dollars are spent and what projects are approved in Madison.  

The Bad . . . Only one bidder, and one that has been among the biggest education profiteers?  Monopolies rarely, if ever, work to benefit the majority of people, and this one has harmed too many students, schools, communities and educators.

The global education company Pearson has won a contract from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers to develop test items, deliver tests, report results, and analyze...

Justice is supposed to be blind, but we all know that judges are human beings, and as such will have some bias when making decisions.  The key is that they must reference the law, and that there are processes to appeal and challenge rulings.  

A study covering 1953 to 2011 found that “the votes of both liberal and conservative justices tend to reflect their preferences toward the...
The New York Times|By Adam Liptak

Walker supporters, and defenders of the "Money is speech" line of reasoning are enjoying this ruling.  However, the fight is not over yet. 

U.S. District Judge Rudolf Randa issued the 26-page decision late Tuesday, calling on prosecutors to immediately stop the long-running investigation into possible illegal coordination between the various groups.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Bill Glauber

Less than a day after a federal judge halted a probe into conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, prosecutors filed an emergency appeal Wednesday of the unprecedented decision.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel|By Jason Stein

There are two things to know about the federal court decision this week...
Talking Points Memo

The Ugly . . . Too often I hear people talk about how racism is a historical problem, but not a problem in modern America.  The message that we would like to believe is that racism is a problem that existed in America, but that we overcame it.  The reality is quite different.  Progress has been made, but we certainly have a long way to go.      

LaTonya Smith is upset with the personal attention she got at Hobby Lobby recently. She was being watched, closely.|By Lee Enterprises

The federal government’s vigilance in enforcing the court-backed desegregation of the country’s schools is a shadow of what it once was.

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