Posted by: JanF | July 21, 2015

Working together towards a common goal

The latest dustup in the progressive blogosphere has exposed a rift in the progressive movement.

It is something that should not be a rift and maybe it does not reach the level of rift but is still a pretty strong disagreement that is generating more heat than light.

The goals of the #BlackLivesMatter movement are fundamental to our core Democratic Party principles and should not just be picked from a grab bag of progressive issues to focus on in the coming election. Racial justice issues need to be addressed because they are a matter of life and death. It can be argued that economic issues are a matter of life and death and that is certainly true. But a rising economic tide that raises all boats does nothing but drown those who have no boats, who can’t swim, or who are being held down.

Maybe the rift turned into a flame war because we, as Democrats, haven’t had to deal with a primary process for 7 years and we forget the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008. Maybe it is because we remember the bitter battles of 2007 and 2008 and don’t want to give an inch lest our ideal of Perfect Progressivism will not match up to the eventual nominee selected to carry our banner into the general election in 2016.

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The annual San Fermin festival in Pamplona, Spain known as The Running of the Bulls often features accidental gorings as thousands of sanity-challenged people run alongside the fighting bulls in the streets of the village.

In America, we have the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary where the running of the bull is not restricted to 9 days in July but started in January 2015 with the Steve King Iowa Pigslop and will last 543 long painful days until the Republicans crown a “winner” at their national convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.

As of today, there are 14 announced candidates and 2 waiting to jump into the fray. One of those two, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, is trying to ratchet up the enthusiasm by releasing his logo over 9 days … one day at a time (hello? is your PR person a 13 year old girl???). It started out with what looks like a toilet plunger in the lower right hand corner and here it is 4 days in … with yesterday’s “piece” unveiled on Twitter:

There were several guesses made as to how the logo would end up and this one, while lacking in madd photoshop skillz, looks juuuust riiiiight:

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Posted by: JanF | July 5, 2015

The Scott Walker Story: Intimidated, again!

Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature did Gov. Scott Walker’s bidding and elided The Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system’s mission statement. The Wisconsin Idea had been part of the statutes for well over a century and promised this:

Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.

You can see why this scared the Walker Administration: education, search for truth, public service. Not welcome in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! The Walker Way overrides the Wisconsin Way and the Wisconsin Idea.

The outcry was fierce and Walker had to back down … the change was withdrawn (and blamed on a staffer, which is also the Walker Way).

Lesson learned, right? No. It. Was. Not.

On Thursday night, right before the long holiday weekend, Walker’s GOP legislature snuck a provision into the omnibus Budget Bill they were “crafting”, a provision that would essentially repeal the state’s Open Record Law. When this change was exposed by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and questioned by the press, the Republican leaders refused to identify who had asked for the change. But you don’t have to dig deep to realize that the Open Records laws were behind the surprising interest of the normally docile press in Wisconsin, in investigating irregularities in WEDC, an agency set up by Walker to pick winners and losers in the economy with a special focus in including Walker campaign donors in the winners circle.

The outcry was even more fierce this time and came from some surprising places: the teaparty Attorney General and the right-wing talk show radio hosts in Milwaukee who created Scott Walker as an empty vessel to fill with their ideology. There had been signs that the right-wing talkers were realizing they had used Abby Normal’s brain when they built their Frankenstein and this time they Tweeted their dismay and spoke out in editorials, one on the front page of the normally pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Posted by: JanF | June 5, 2015

How did that turtle get on the fence post?

Yesterday, June 4th, was the anniversary of the day that Congress passed the 19th Amendment, granting the right of women to vote, and sent it to the states for ratification. That act was an example of what happens when people of good will come together to right a wrong. It happened again in 2006 when a Republican president signed the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act … a bill that had passed 98 to 0 in the U.S. Senate and 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives.

Since 2006, this happened.

First, in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts declared that there is no racial discrimination in America, none, zero, zilch, nada … and that the quaint pre-clearance rules in the Voting Rights Act should be relegated to the dustbin of history. Then, to exactly no ones surprise, in 2013 and 2014, teaparty governments in states that would have been subject to pre-clearance passed some of the most onerous voter suppression laws in the country.

Hillary Clinton, June 4, 2015:

‘You find a turtle on a fence post, it did not get there on its own.’ Well, all of these problems with voting did not just happen by accident. And it is just wrong, it’s wrong to try to prevent, undermine, inhibit Americans’ rights to vote. Its counter to the values we share. And at a time when so many Americans have lost trust in our political system, it’s the opposite of what we should be doing in our country.

From HillaryClinton.com:

During a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, Hillary Clinton called for expanding Americans’ voting rights while decrying Republican efforts to restrict them. The latest in her long history of fighting to expand voting rights, she called for universal, automatic voter registration for every American in every state when they turn 18. She called for a new national standard of no fewer than 20 days of early in-person voting in every state, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting. And she urged Congress to restore key sections of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court invalidated

VIDEO from CSPAN:
Hillary Clinton Remarks on Voting Rights

Secretary Clinton was at Texas Southern Universty to accept the inaugural Barbara Jordan Public-Private Leadership Award from The Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at the university. She spoke to the gathering:

… like every woman who has run for national office in this country in the last four decades, I stand here on the shoulders of Barbara Jordan and so does our entire country. […]

… unfortunately, Barbara isn’t here to speak up for them and so many others. But we are. And we have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country—because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people, and young people from one end of our country to the other.

Because since the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, many of the states that previously faced special scrutiny because of a history of racial discrimination have proposed and passed new laws that make it harder than ever to vote. […]

Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? […]

We need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person to vote than the right of a corporation to buy an election. […]

But of course, you know what we really need? We need more elected leaders from Houston to Austin to Washington who will follow in the footsteps of Barbara Jordan and fight for the rights and opportunities of everyday Americans, not just those at the top of the ladder. And we need to remember that progress is built on common ground, not scorched earth. […]

As Barbara Jordan famously reminded us, when the Constitution was first written, it left most of us here out. But generations of Americans fought and marched and organized and prayed to expand the circle of freedom and opportunity. They never gave up and never backed down.

And nearly a century ago on this very day, after years of struggle, Congress finally passed the 19th amendment to give women the right to vote in the United States.

So that is, that is the story of progress, courageous men and women, expanding rights, not restricting them. And today we refuse, we refuse to allow our country or this generation of leaders to slow or reverse America’s long march toward a more perfect union.

Commentary and full transcript below …

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Posted by: JanF | April 17, 2015

Good news for Montanans

There are still places in America where sensible, commonsense regulations can be crafted in a bipartisan fashion. Montana is one of them.

Back in 2010, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy famously posited that unlimited corporate money donations could not possibly lead to corruption or any erosion of people’s faith in the fairness of elections. That fantasy theory became the law of the land as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of corporate “free speech” and Citizens United.

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Posted by: JanF | April 17, 2015

He can run but he can no longer hide …

It appears that the lies that Scott Walker has told for his entire career, and his uncanny ability to stay one election ahead of any inquiries into his activities, have finally caught up with him.

Scott Walker won the Wisconsin governor’s race in 2010, in a low turnout election year, after lulling people into thinking that both parties were essentially the same. He did not bother to mention to the voters what he was telling his donors: that he intended to crush unions in Wisconsin, starting with the public employee unions. And he never shared his plan to cut $900 million from state aid to K-12 education. Gov. Scott Walker beat a recall in 2012, an election that 900,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to force, by blanketing the airwaves with ads bought using out-of-state money he got by gaming the campaign finance laws. Scott Walker then won reelection in 2014, in another low turnout election, by flat out lying in campaign ads and public statements about his position on abortion and on unions and by glossing over his job creation record and the impending budget deficit.

In all three of those elections, he was able to get away with the lies because the captive press in Wisconsin was too lazy to investigate and report with any rigor: on his malfeasance in the Milwaukee County Executive’s office, his sleazy 2010 gubernatorial campaign activities which led to some of his staff being convicted of felonies, and, in 2014, the facts that put a lie to his boasts about job creation, the truth about the pending budget deficit, his plans for private-sector unions, and his disregard for the election financing laws of the state.

So Scott Walker won and was able to launch his presidential campaign in 2015 from the Wisconsin governor’s mansion based on the myth of his electability: “Three elections in 4 years in a state Obama won! They love me!!”

Gov. Walker forgot one little thing: once he entered the national arena, he had to dupe the entire country and he could no longer count on the Wisconsin press to print his words without investigating his deeds.

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Later today, the first candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating contest will throw her hat into the ring.

No, not her. She is doing a great job right where she is. She is just a reminder of what is at stake.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will officially enter the Democratic Party nominating contest. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth … and then the Republicans will weigh in, too! I believe their slogan will be “First the black guy, now the girl!?!1!!”

It should come as no surprise that I expect to weigh in as well and my theme for 2016 will be simple: we need to nominate the strongest candidate possible for the general election. This is not a “take the party back to our grassroots!” election, this is not a time to show our purity and consider only candidates who have never met anyone on Wall Street, this is not a time to dredge up the parts of the past that are unlikely to be good predictors of the future: it is a time to come together and emerge as strong as possible from the primary season and well positioned for the general election.

There are core Democratic Party principles that should guide all of our candidates. There are also hot button issues that make a candidate less attractive or more attractive to certain groups. But the only litmus test should be: can our candidate win in 2016?

Reason number 1: The Supreme Court (and the appellate courts and the district courts).

The next president could have the opportunity to choose 3 or 4 new justices for the Supreme Court. The chance to tilt the court to the left is a real possibility.

President Barack Obama appointed two justices for the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen. Justice Sotomayor became the first Latina on the court and holds dear the values most Democrats embrace.

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Posted by: JanF | March 30, 2015

Democrats can’t afford to lose the presidency.

I sat down at my keyboard this morning ready to write about the 2016 presidential election, this time to weigh in on the Democratic Party’s nominating contest. I had read a troubling interview, from the Sunday morning talk shows, given by one of the not-quite-announced Democratic candidates and it reminded me of how important it is to keep our eye on the big picture.

After scanning my news feed, I found I didn’t have to start from scratch because Michael Tomasky, in an article in the 150th Anniversary Edition of The Nation, had already made many of my points for me. His piece, snarkily titled “Lesser-Evilism We Can Believe In” included a sub-heading that asks this important question: “Should we put government in the hands of a party determined to subvert it, or a party — however flawed — that believes it still has a role to play in securing the common good?”

(p.s. I chose the latter)

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Posted by: JanF | March 28, 2015

Kansas’ Kris Kobach, Konstitutional sKolar

From the State of Denial Kansas: Secretary of State Kris Kobach will file appeal to Supreme Court over two-tier voting.

Last year, the beKnighted GOP Secretary of State of Kansas, Kris Kobach, lost his battle to keep Those People from voting in His State. He designed a new rule (and helpfully shared it with the State of Arizona) that required people to prove their citizenship before they could register to vote. This requirement ran afoul of federal laws which state that such documents are not required. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Kansas and Arizona were welcome to issue such rules for their own state elections but that they could not require people voting in federal elections to comply with that additional paperwork requirement. That led to a two-tier system of voter registration for the 2014 election.

Not satisfied that he was allowed to keep his own rules for His State, Kobach has announced that he will appeal to the Supreme Court to reinstate the proof of citizenship requirement because it is confusing to have two sets of rules in place for the voters of Kansas. Setting aside for a moment the breathtaking audacity required to complain when the rule he put in place is what is leading to the confusion, his interpretation of the constitution is rather creative:

“It’s a really profoundly important case,” Kobach said. “The founding fathers were emphatic that the states get to decide who is a qualified voter and who is not. It was a critical point in the Constitution that the federal government would have to follow the states on this matter.

“In other words, the qualifications for voting for a member of Congress in Kansas would have to be the same as those for voting for a member of the Kansas Legislature and it was the states who would set the rules and Congress would follow, not vice versa. What this federal agency has done is turn the founding fathers’ notion on its head.”

Yes, the founding fathers did say that the states could decide who a qualified voter is. But the U.S. Constitution was amended several times since then as it relates to voting and federal laws were put in place to make it illegal to set up unreasonable barriers to voting BY THE STATES.

And in case you didn’t get the message, a war was fought over states rights and your side lost. Rather Konvenient for Kris Kobach to Kompletely miss the last 150 years of history.

If the rules are confusing, change them to match the federal law, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 which includes this instruction:

The federal form doesn’t require any documents, but instead requires prospective voters to attest to their citizenship by signing a sworn statement under penalty of perjury.

That the only requirement. Let your people vote.

The March from Selma to Montgomery:

On 25 March 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had been campaigning for voting rights.

Dr. King:

I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” (Speak, sir) Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, (Speak, speak, speak) plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, (Speak) and truth bear it?” (Yes, sir)

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, (Yes, sir) however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, (No sir) because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, (Yes, sir) because “no lie can live forever.” (Yes, sir)

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

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