Mary Burke becomes the right’s new hero

Some conservatives in this country have found an unusual new political hero: Mary Burke, the likely Democratic nominee in this year’s race for Governor of Wisconsin.

First, the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by right-wing extremist Rupert Murdoch, ran a piece attacking Scott Walker for running a television ad attacking Burke over Trek Bicycles, a company which Burke was once an executive for, shipping American jobs to China. The Wall Street Journal piece clearly attacked Walker, a far-right Republican who had a reputation of being a hero to the far-right until very recently, from the right and compared his campaign strategy to that of Democratic President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Second, Tom Bevan, the executive director of the right-leaning website RealClearPolitics who is known for writing articles bashing Democrats, wrote this piece, which also criticized Walker for attacking Trek Bicycles. Bevan even went as far as to compare Burke’s campaign strategy to Mitt Romney, one of his favorite Republicans.

Of course, it’s not surprising that many on the right would support someone like Burke, who wants to export more Wisconsin farm products overseas while millions of children across America go hungry, is a political ally of the right-wing business organization WMC, and tried to ram a charter school down the throats of residents of Wisconsin’s second-largest school district, among other things. I’ll say it again and again: Burke is quite conservative, and she’s only slightly to the left of Walker.

After the right’s political heroes over the last few years consisted of far-right Republicans like Ron Paul, Scott Walker, and Ben Carson, their new hero is a Democrat who is running against Scott Walker.

The absurd double standard behind Wisconsin GOP ethics complaint against Trek Bicycles

In case you missed it, the Republican Party of Wisconsin recently filed an ethics complaint against Trek Bicycle Company, alleging that a full-page newspaper ad that Trek ran in response to Scott Walker’s attacks against the company violated campaign finance laws because, in their view, Trek running an ad defending itself amounts to an illegal contribution to likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke.

By the Republicans’ standard, progressive organizations like One Wisconsin Now and the Wisconsin Business Alliance, which have issued their own responses to Walker’s attacks against Trek, as well as…you guessed it…Republican SuperPACs that have run television ads in support of Scott Walker’s election efforts, are all in violation of campaign finance laws but have not had ethics complaints filed against them by the Wisconsin GOP.

I’m a big supporter of restoring good government and getting the undue influence of big money out of politics, but there is an absurd double standard behind the Republican ethics complaint against Trek. They have no problem whatsoever with right-wing SuperPACs, such as Americans for Prosperity and Ending Spending Action Fund, that have run television ads in support of Scott Walker’s campaign for the office of Governor of Wisconsin, contributing to Walker’s efforts to get himself elected, but when Trek runs a newspaper ad defending itself from Walker’s attacks against them, they throw a fit and claim that Trek is illegally contributing to the Burke campaign.

In fact, my blog posts endorsing Democratic candidates for public office, including Jon Richards, Sara Geenen, and Janis Ringhand, among others, would constitute an illegal contribution to the campaigns in question under the Republicans’ standard of an illegal contribution. A key part of the Republican modus operandi in Wisconsin is to censor any political speech that supports Democrats and/or criticizes Republicans. Should the Wisconsin GAB uphold the Republicans’ ethics complaint against Trek, that would have a chilling effect on political speech. Repealing the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision via a federal constitutional amendment is something that needs to be done, but censoring political bloggers is flatly unacceptable.

In short, Republicans have no problem whatsoever with right-wing SuperPACs contributing to Scott Walker and other Republican candidates by running outside ads in support of Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, but claim that Trek Bicycle Company running an ad defending itself from Republican attacks against them is, in their view, an illegal contribution to Mary Burke’s gubernatorial campaign. That’s an absurd double standard.

Marina Dimitrijevic isn’t progressive, she’s two-faced

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, who appears to be the slight frontrunner in a very close race for the Democratic nomination in the 19th Assembly District, recently praised corrupt right-wing extremist Scott Walker:

What sets her apart from her opponents, Dimitrijevic says, is her record of working with everyone – even Republican Gov. Scott Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive – to get things done.

At the same time, however, Dimitrijevic’s campaign volunteers have reportedly been telling voters that “if you’re against Walker, you’re for Marina”.

Marina Dimitrijevic isn’t a progressive, she’s two-faced. The voters of the 19th Assembly District of Wisconsin are not going to support a candidate who says one thing about one of the worst elected officials in our country’s history, while her supporters are saying something completely different, that’s for sure.

If you’re tired of two-faced politicians like Marina Dimitrijevic, vote for Sara. Sara Geenen, that is. Unlike Marina and the other candidates in the Democratic primary, Sara is a true believer in progressive policies. More importantly, Sara won’t say one thing about somebody or something while her supporters say something else.

If you live in the 19th Assembly District, vote in the Democratic primary for Sara Geenen on August 12.

Had I been running in a Democratic primary against Mary Burke, I would have attacked her over Trek shipping jobs overseas

There’s been considerable backlash to a creepy television ad by Republican Governor Scott Walker’s re-election campaign attacking Trek Bicycles, a company which likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke was an executive for prior to entering politics, for shipping American jobs overseas.

There’s several points that I want to make about this issue:

  • Walker has absolutely no standing whatsoever to attack Burke and Trek Bicycles for shipping American jobs overseas. After all, Walker celebrated Harley-Davidson Motorcycles shipping American jobs overseas by riding a Harley in…you guessed it, China, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Scott Walker’s very own corporate welfare agency, gave over $19 million in tax breaks to companies that shipped American jobs overseas. That is flagrant hypocrisy by Walker, and the only reason he’s attacking Trek over shipping American jobs overseas is because he’s a political opportunist who has no real values.
  • Had I been running in a Democratic primary against Mary Burke, I would have had no problem whatsoever attacking Burke over Trek shipping American jobs overseas. The fact that Burke has personally benefited from a company that shipped American jobs to countries like China is just as much of a fact as Trek continuing to manufacture some of their bicycles in Wisconsin is.
  • Had Kathleen Vinehout run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination this year (she was unable to run for governor due to injuries sustained in an automobile crash), she likely would have attacked Burke over Trek shipping American jobs overseas as well.

Unlike Republicans and corporate Democrats like Scott Walker and Mary Burke, I believe that economic globalization is the main reason why our country’s economy isn’t as strong as it should be. We’ve had decades of Republicans and corporate Democrats supporting free-trade policies like NAFTA and Most Favored Nation status for China, which have resulted in the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs over the past two decades. I can take you all to my home county in Illinois and show you all first-hand the negative effects of economic globalization. In Vermilion County, Illinois, we had a General Motors (GM) foundry just outside of our county’s largest city a little over two decades ago. Not long after then-President Bill Clinton got NAFTA enacted, the GM foundry closed, and the site of the GM foundry is a large empty space today.

While I would never support Scott Walker, and I hope that Mary Burke wins the Democratic nomination and goes on to defeat Walker come November, I’m not going to defend companies that ship American jobs overseas and politicians who support companies that ship American jobs overseas.

Who I’d like to see run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2016

Earlier today, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was handed yet another political defeat when a federal court dismissed his bogus anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA) lawsuit. Basically, Johnson sued to prevent Members of Congress and congressional staffers from receiving subsidies for their health insurance under the ACA, and the courts dismissed Johnson’s suit because Johnson didn’t have any legal standing to sue:

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Monday brought by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and one of his aides attempting to force members of Congress and their staffs to stop getting subsidies for their health insurance under Obamacare.

Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, argued that members of Congress and their staffs were required to get insurance on their own under Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is widely known. But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in Green Bay ruled Monday that Johnson and his aide, Brooke Ericson, didn’t have legal standing to bring their case because they hadn’t been injured.

“Given that the plaintiffs receive, at worst, a benefit, they cannot claim to be injured under an equal protection theory,” Griesbach wrote.

Ron Johnson has done nothing but embarrass Wisconsin since being elected to the U.S. Senate four years ago, and it’s not too early for anyone who wants to see Wisconsin’s Dumb Senator voted out of office to start thinking about who should be the Democratic Party’s nominee in the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin. Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and U.S. Representative Ron Kind are the two most talked about potential candidates, and I listed many other potential Democratic challengers to Ron Johnson here.

I’m going to narrow that list down some more to name several Democrats who I’d personally like to see run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin two years from now:

Lori Compas – Executive Director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance (Fort Atkinson)

You may remember Compas as the professional photographer who tried to recall Republican State Senator Scott Fitzgerald from office two years ago. Compas is now the executive director of the Wisconsin Business Alliance, a progressive business organization that advocates for progressive, pro-middle class policies.

I questioned Compas’s eligibility to run for U.S. Senate in 2016 in an earlier blog post, and, after re-reading Article I, Section 3, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution (which deals with eligibility requirements for U.S. Senate candidates), Compas is eligible to run for U.S. Senate in 2016 if she wishes to do so.

While Compas has remained politically active in Wisconsin, I highly doubt that she’s interested in another run for public office (which is a shame, since I have a funny idea for a campaign ad featuring Lori and me), as Compas seems to like her current job very much. However, in the unlikely event that Compas decided to run against Ron Johnson, I’d be the first person in the progressive blogosphere to support her. She’s one of the coolest people one could ever come to know about, and she’s very progressive.

Melissa Sargent – State Assemblywoman (48th Assembly District, Madison)

Sargent is not your ordinary state legislator. She’s one of the most progressive state legislators in the entire country, and she loves nothing more than a group of progressive-minded people peacefully protesting against right-wingers who want to take away rights from the American people. Furthermore, Sargent is the only Democratic member of either house of the Wisconsin State Legislature to support legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Wisconsin.

Sargent probably has ambitions for higher office, but probably not for U.S. Senate. Sargent’s state assembly district is one-third of Democratic State Senator Mark Miller’s state senate district, and Miller may retire in 2016. That means it’s more likely that Sargent would run for state senate in 2016 than she would for U.S. Senate.

Chris Taylor – State Assemblywoman (76th Assembly District, Madison)

Here’s a detailed article about Democratic State Assemblywoman Chris Taylor. Any other information I could provide would be redundant.

Taylor considered running in this year’s race for attorney general, but declined to do so, and she’s been floated for a number of other higher offices. In fact, she’s been rumored to be considering running for governor in 2018 should Republican incumbent Scott Walker win re-election. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Taylor were to consider running for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Jennifer Shilling – State Senator (32nd Senate District, La Crosse)

I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about Democratic State Senator Jennifer Shilling, but, from what little I know about her, she’s a wonderful public servant.

Should Ron Kind run for U.S. Senate, Shilling would probably run for Kind’s U.S. House seat instead of running for U.S. Senate. If Kind doesn’t run for U.S. Senate, I don’t think that Shilling would run for U.S. Senate, although it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility for her to do so. Shilling has an even-numbered state senate district, so she would have to give up her state senate seat if she were to run for higher office.

Mark Pocan – U.S. Representative (2nd Congressional District, Madison)

By some standards, Mark Pocan is the most progressive member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Indeed, Pocan is a champion of progressive, pro-middle class policies.

Pocan is one of the more likely people to run against Ron Johnson should neither Russ Feingold nor Ron Kind run. Pocan’s district is solidly Democratic (meaning that, should he run for higher office, his successor is all but certain to be another Democrat), so Pocan doesn’t have a whole lot to lose by running for higher office.

Kelly Westlund – Democratic Candidate for U.S. Representative (7th Congressional District, Ashland)

Westlund, a former Ashland alderwoman who is currently running for U.S. House against Republican incumbent Sean Duffy, is, in my opinion, the best Democratic candidate in Wisconsin this cycle. She’s very progressive, she understands the issues quite well, and she cares about the people she seeks to represent.

However, I highly doubt that Westlund would run against Ron Johnson. Should Westlund defeat Duffy in this year’s congressional race in the 7th District (obviously, I hope she defeats Duffy), she would run the risk of handing the seat to a Republican should she run for higher office. Additionally, Westlund seems like the kind of person who is committed to public service and not someone who would use one office as a launching pad for a campaign for another.

Of course, there’s many other people out there who may decide to run for the Democratic nomination in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race two years from now, including some Democrats that I’m not fond of for various reasons. However, I can assure you that the potential U.S. Senate candidates that I’d like to see run will represent Wisconsin very well if one of them should run against Ron Johnson and defeat him two years from now.

Chris Abele wants to own both major political parties in Wisconsin

Chris Abele, the county executive of Wisconsin’s largest county, claims to be a Democrat, but, since being elected Milwaukee County Executive in 2011, Abele has donated money to Republican state legislators:

For years, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was a deep-pocketed liberal who used his moneybags to underwrite the campaigns of prominent Wisconsin Democrats.

Abele donated nearly $200,000 exclusively to Democratic candidates and parties — plus more to other liberal political groups — since 2000, according to state and federal records.

But that has changed.

The longtime lefty has discovered the Republican Party.

Late last year, he gave the maximum donation of $500 each to Republican Reps. Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield and Joe Sanfelippo of West Allis. Sanfelippo is running against liberal Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan.

Abele’s donations to Republican state legislators have allowed him to get Republican Governor Scott Walker and the far-right Republicans who run the state legislature to pass legislation to give him more power and create a state panel to gut Milwaukee County’s mental health care system, among other things. Additionally, Abele tried to get his Republican cronies to pass legislation that would prohibit counties from enacting ordinances that guaranteeing workers a living wage, but that legislation was shelved (at least for now) after Wisconsinites spoke out against it in droves.

Even Former Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) Chairman Joe Wineke, who is best known for getting his ass kicked by Tammy Baldwin in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary in 1998 and mostly bashes progressives on social media these days, said that Abele “might be the biggest phony in the history of Democratic politics”.

I’ll go even further than what Wineke said about Abele: Abele’s end game is to buy complete control of both major political parties in Wisconsin with his own money, which would effectively make Abele a dictator. Abele hates democracy and wants all political power in Wisconsin in his hands, which is a dangerous idea, especially when one considers the fact that Abele is worse than Scott Walker when it comes to workers’ rights and the fact that Abele is nearly as vindictive as Joe McCarthy was. I’m often reminded by James Madison, the namesake of Wisconsin’s second-largest city, who believed that money causing elected officials and other public servants to serve the interests of the wealthy and not the people was a basic threat to democracy. By that standard, Abele is a serious threat to democracy.

Unlike Chris Abele, I believe that political power should be concentrated in the hands of the many, not in the hands of a single person or a few people. Thanks to the Milwaukee County Board, which placed a non-binding referendum on the ballot over Abele’s veto, Milwaukee County voters can speak out against Abele’s style of big-money politics by voting “yes” on the advisory referendum supporting a federal constitutional amendment to get the undue influence of money out of politics.

I actually agree with Scott Walker on something: Repealing Common Core State Standards

I have always considered myself to be a proud progressive and a political opponent of Scott Walker, and I would NEVER support Scott Walker for any public office in this country. However, there is one issue where I actually agree with Scott Walker: Repealing Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

There are two main reasons why I oppose CCSS: standardized testing and career preparation.

CCSS is tied to high-stakes standardized testing, and the idea of teaching to standardized tests has many drawbacks that outweigh any benefits to standardized testing. Teachers should have to teach to standards, not standardized tests. More importantly, I believe that CCSS has too much emphasis on career preparation. Remember that CCSS deals with K-12 education standards, and I don’t think it’s the proper role for K-12 schools to prepare students for careers. K-12 schools should prepare people for collegiate education, and colleges should prepare people for careers. The only time that a student in a K-12 school should ever have to think about what career they want to go into is when he or she is asked what he or she wants to major in when he or she attends college.

However, where I disagree with Walker and his Republican allies are the logic behind their opposition to CCSS and their suspected intentions behind their opposition to CCSS. Republican opponents to Common Core are claiming that Common Core standards are “average” and that Wisconsin should set higher standards than every other state. That is absurd logic, because, if academic standards are treated as competition between states on which state can set their standards higher than other states, that would eventually lead to states setting academic standards that are not developmentally appropriate for K-12 students, especially elementary school children.  Additionally, I’m suspecting that Walker and his allies want to replace CCSS with a set of academic standards that mandate the teaching of religious dogma, such as creationism, in public schools. No student in a public school should ever be taught inaccurate information for religious or other reasons.

Common Core State Standards should replaced with common sense, developmentally appropriate academic standards that mandate the teaching of factual information and prepare students for the future without overemphasizing career preparation. However, if I were a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature, and I was asked to vote on a bill to repeal CCSS, I would vote against it unless certain protections (such as mandating that evolution being taught in public schools and requiring that a panel consisting of members appointed by the state superintendent draft up new academic standards) were included in the legislation.

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