Weekly Update December 6th, 2015

See you this Wednesday!!!
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Join us December 9th at 7pm for our Holiday Potluck at Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion.  

If you can bring a dish to share, please contact us to let us know at southwestdems@gmail.com
Hope to see you there!


RSVP here.

Make a contribution here.

When
December 9th at 7pm

Where
Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion
10777 W Coldspring Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53228
Join our Democratic Ambassador Program

Democrats believe in the power of community. We know that as long as we can get our message out and get voters to the polls, we can win. That’s why our neighborhood ambassador program is so important. We’re creating one-on-one relationships, neighbor-to-neighbor to ensure local voters know about upcoming elections, candidates and issues. And it isn’t a one-way communications tool. It also allows us to hear directly from the community as to the issues they care about most. A good ambassador understands the character and demographics of their neighborhood, listens to the community and connects year-round with their neighbors to promote the idea that we are all in this together. We know that relationship-building is our best chance for increasing Democratic turnout and performance in local, state, and federal elections.

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Former President Jimmy Carter's Cancer is Gone!

"My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones. I will continue to receive regular three-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab," Carter said in a statement.

Carter, 91, first revealed the news in front of a Sunday School class he was teaching at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia.

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." Formally abolishing slavery in the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.
How the NRA Rewrote the Second Amendment
By Michael Waldman
 

"A fraud on the American public." That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum.

Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an individual right to a firearm widely accepted, but increasingly states are also passing laws to legalize carrying weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.

Many are startled to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun until 2008, when District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capital’s law effectively banning handguns in the home. In fact, every other time the court had ruled previously, it had ruled otherwise. Why such a head-snapping turnaround? Don’t look for answers in dusty law books or the arcane reaches of theory.

So how does legal change happen in America? We’ve seen some remarkably successful drives in recent years—think of the push for marriage equality, or to undo campaign finance laws. Law students might be taught that the court is moved by powerhouse legal arguments or subtle shifts in doctrine. The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the Constitution into the mainstream teaches a different lesson: Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political maneuvering. The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree.

The Second Amendment consists of just one sentence: “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today, scholars debate its bizarre comma placement, trying to make sense of the various clauses, and politicians routinely declare themselves to be its “strong supporters.” But in the grand sweep of American history, this sentence has never been among the most prominent constitutional provisions. In fact, for two centuries it was largely ignored.

The amendment grew out of the political tumult surrounding the drafting of the Constitution, which was done in secret by a group of mostly young men, many of whom had served together in the Continental Army. Having seen the chaos and mob violence that followed the Revolution, these “Federalists” feared the consequences of a weak central authority. They produced a charter that shifted power—at the time in the hands of the states—to a new national government.

Read More at The Brennen Center for Justice.

We've come so far since the 1st DemTEAM training, and I'm proud to have been a part of it as well as the opportunity to play a role in the others. With that said, there's an opportunity to learn about what it takes from people who run campaigns as well as candidates and those who have gone on to elected office. If you ever thought about getting involved, here's your chance!
 

When: Friday January 15th and Saturday January 16th
Where: Milwaukee Area Labor Council

Cost: $30 for participants paid upon acceptance at http://www.actblue.com/page/demteam.

Scholarships: Available based on need. Email our Training Coordinator at chris@milwaukeedems.orgto apply.

Application Instructions: Please complete this application online through this form.

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GOP blocks bill to stop terrorists from buying guns
By Khorri Atkinson

Senate Republicans rejected a bill that aims to stop suspected terrorists from legally buying guns, on Thursday.  The vote came a day after at least 14 people were killed during the San Bernardino massacre in California by two suspects, including a woman said to have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Forty-five senators voted for the bill and 54 voted against it. One Democrat, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, crossed party lines.

The measure would have denied people on the terrorist watch list the ability to buy guns.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who sponsored the legislation, argued that former President George W. Bush initially proposed the legislation in 2007, and the Obama administration also supports it. 

“If you need proof that Congress is a hostage to the gun lobby, look no further than today’s vote blocking a bill to prevent known or suspected terrorists from buying guns and explosives,” she said. “Congress has been paralyzed by the gun lobby for years, while more and more Americans are killed in mass shootings. The carnage won’t stop until Congress finds the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and protect the nation.”

The NRA did not respond to a request on Friday for comment. But the gun rights lobby group told MSBC last month it wants to ensure that Americans who are wrongly on the terrorist list are are afforded their constitutional right to due process.

However, the bill would allow people to legally challenge a denial by the Justice Department to purchase a firearm, if they believe they were mistakenly placed on the terrorist watchlist.

The GOP-controlled Senate refusal to pass new gun control measures came weeks after the Washington Post reported that suspected terrorists had successfully purchased more than 2,000 guns from American dealers between 2004 and 2014, even though law enforcement is notifiedwhenever someone on the FBI’s watchlist attempts to purchase a firearm.

Also on Thursday, the Senate failed to pass another bill that would have expanded background checks to gun show and online firearms sales. The measure would also prevents convicted felons and the mentally ill from having access to weapons.

The four Republican senators who are running for president — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham — all voted against both gun control measures. 

Jessica Mackler, president of the American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic group, blasted the presidential hopefuls, saying that Americans should “keep in mind how their representatives addressed gun violence: cowering in inaction in the face of repeated, senseless tragedies in our communities.” 

Originally posted at MSNBC.
 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Founded in 1952, The Southwest Regional Democratic Organization is the official DemocraticParty of Milwaukee County regional unit for the following areas: Zip Codes 53129, 53130, 53132, 53214, 53219, 53220, 53227, 53228, the part of the City of Greenfield in 53221 and the entire Village of West Milwaukee.

Weekly Update November 29th, 2015

Join us December 9th at 7pm for our Holiday Potluck at Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion.  

If you can bring a dish to share, please contact us to let us know at southwestdems@gmail.com
Hope to see you there!


RSVP here.

Make a contribution here.

When
December 9th at 7pm

Where
Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion
10777 W Coldspring Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53228
We've come so far since the 1st DemTEAM training, and I'm proud to have been a part of it as well as the opportunity to play a role in the others. With that said, there's an opportunity to learn about what it takes from people who run campaigns as well as candidates and those who have gone on to elected office. If you ever thought about getting involved, here's your chance!
 

When: Friday January 15th and Saturday January 16th
Where: TBA

Cost: $30 for participants paid upon acceptance at http://www.actblue.com/page/demteam.

Scholarships: Available based on need. Email Training Coordinator Chris Larson at chris@milwaukeedems.org to apply.

Application Instructions: Please complete this application online through this form.

2,000 Kohler workers represented by UAW 833 are on strike! 

Support these working families in their fight for a fair contract by donating food, diapers, baby formula and baby wipes, etc.

Donation points:

MILWAUKEE (East Side)
Riverwest Public House Co-operative
815 E Locust St, Milwaukee
Drop box inside the bar (non-perishable items only)

MILWAUKEE (South Side)
Voces de la Frontera
1027 South 5th Street, Milwaukee
Drop box inside (non-perishable items only)

MILWAUKEE
Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association
5130 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Bring donations by 4pm Wednesday Nov. 25th, so items can be delivered in time for the holiday.

SHEBOYGAN
UAW 833 Emil Mazey Hall
5425 Superior Avenue: Sheboygan, WI
Make out a check to "UAW Local 833" and mail it in, or drop off supplies at the hall.

Other ways to support the strikers:
- Stand on the picket line in Kohler
- Update your cover photo with this event photo
- Set up a donation point at your union hall or community space and deliver supplies to the strike (message us with details)
- Pass a resolution in support of the workers with your local
- Share news and photos on social media
Become a sustaining member by donating just $5 a month.
Join the Party or Renew Your Membership Today!
Violent anti-choice rhetoric must end, or anti-abortion violence never will
By 

Words matter. When we dehumanize people – when we call them demons, monsters, and murderers – we make it easier for others to do them harm. Let’s not pretend that we don’t know that.

How we talk about abortion matters. We know it, and anti-choice extremists and politicians know it. Anti-abortion activists are not making WANTED posters or revealing doctor’s addresses for fun. They’re doing it to harass and intimidate, and they’re doing it knowing the long history of violent fanatics using their rhetoric to justify crimes against providers and clinics.

According to an anonymous police source, after Friday’s attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, the alleged perpetrator made a comment in its wake about “no more baby parts”. He specifically targeted the facility.

The shooting may be the most horrifically violent attack on a clinic in the country’s history, but it was far from the first. There have been four arson attacks against centers that provide abortions just since July, when David Daleiden and the euphemistically named Center for Medical Progress began releasing deceptively edited videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing fetal tissue donation. Or, as anti-abortion activists and politicians have referred to it, “baby parts”.

The attack in Colorado, which left three people dead and nine wounded, was shocking, but it was also the predictable result of a culture that demonizes abortion, uses fantastical and false rhetoric about Planned Parenthood and allows politicians and activists to make false representations about women’s reproductive health.

Read More At The Guardian.

 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update November 22nd, 2015

Join us December 9th for our Holiday Potluck
View this email in your browser
Join us December 9th at 7pm for our Holiday Potluck at Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion.  

If you can bring a dish to share, please contact us to let us know at southwestdems@gmail.com
Hope to see you there!


RSVP here.

Make a contribution here.

When
December 9th at 7pm

Where
Kulwicki Park Brooks Pavilion
10777 W Coldspring Rd, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53228
Obama: U.S. Will Welcome Refugees ‘As Long as I’m President’
"As long as I'm president we are going to keep stepping up"

Pushing back against efforts to bar Syrian refugees from resettling in the U.S., President Barack Obama vowed Saturday that his country will be a welcoming place for millions fleeing violence around the world “as long as I’m president.”

Obama commented Saturday at a learning center in the Malaysian capital that serves the poor, including some refugees. He met with boys and girls wearing crisp white and black uniforms and neckties as they sat at tables and worked on painting and puzzle projects.

Obama said the youngsters “represent the opposite of terror, the opposite of the type of despicable violence we saw in Mali and Paris.”

Most of the children the president met with are Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group. Tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar to escape persecution by the country’s Buddhist majority, with many ending up in Malaysia, where Obama was attending a regional economic summit.

Obama noted that the world is currently focused on the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, where years of civil war have forced millions to flee to other countries to escape the bloodshed. But he said the world must not forget about some 60 million people who have been displaced around the globe.

Last week’s Paris attacks have led U.S. lawmakers to seek to halt or delay the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. out of concern that terrorists could try to slip in with them and carry out similar attacks. Obama has rejected that idea and pledged to veto any bill sent to him to block Syrians from entering.

Speaking of the children he had just met with, Obama said: “Anybody who had a chance to see those kids, hopefully you understood the degree to which they’re just like our kids. They deserve love and stability and protection.”

He said more and more countries are recognizing that they need to do more, vowing that “as long as I’m president we are going to keep stepping up.”

Read more at Time.
Marquette poll: Scott Walker's approval rating still hovers below 40 percent
By JESSIE OPOIEN

Gov. Scott Walker has been out of the presidential race for nearly two months, but his approval rating among Wisconsin voters is largely unchanged.

Walker abruptly ended his campaign on Sept. 21 and returned home to an approval rating of 37 percent a little more than a week later. A Marquette University Law School poll released Thursday showed the governor's approval rating at 38 percent.

Since the end of his presidential bid, he has toured the state in an effort to reintroduce himself and rebuild support among Wisconsin voters.

Even lower than Walker's approval rating is that of Republicans in the state Legislature. Just 31 percent of voters approve of how Republican lawmakers are doing their job, while 60 percent disapprove.

Read more at Cap Times.

We would like to with you all a Happy Thanksgiving 
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WEDC May Have Violated State Law Issuing $21 Million in Tax Credits
Written by GBP Staff  

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting for the first time today that Gov. Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) may have violated state law in issuing $21 million in tax credits to companies when it likely lacked the legal authority to do so.

The finding by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau came in a private Aug. 19 letter to the WEDC. In addition, recent audits have found cases where WEDC staff continually violated WEDC’s own internal policies as well as state law.

Key findings of the audit found that:

  • Companies receiving state incentives were not always required by records to verify they actually created the required number of jobs. 
  • WEDC did not follow state law in awarding contracts and that WEDC officials did not properly vet applications for assistance to determine whether businesses met eligibility requirements to qualify for taxpayer assistance. 
  • WEDC staff also made questionable decisions in providing taxpayer dollars to corporations that went on to eliminate and outsource hundreds of Wisconsin jobs.

Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said the agency is too far gone to save.

“WEDC is beyond repair. Time and time again we see them ignoring state law," said Hansen referring to reports that claim WEDC may have given out $21 million in illegal tax credits.

Another recent report by Channel 27 found that in 2014 Johnson Controls received $1 million in state tax credits supposedly to create 266 jobs but on Friday the corporation announced it is closing the very facility and eliminating 277 jobs that it received the tax credits for.

“They have given millions in taxpayer dollars to corporations that sent Wisconsin jobs to Mexico, moved jobs from one Wisconsin community to another and closed plants and eliminated jobs. And we see it again with Johnson Controls,” said Hansen.

“This has got to stop", said Hansen. "Wisconsin workers should not have to pay to eliminate their own jobs nor should taxpayers be on the hook for commitments made by a rogue agency that continues to flout state law. It is way past time to admit that WEDC is a failure and shut it down.”

Hansen concludes “There is no way to re-brand WEDC. It is a failed agency with a flawed structure that has done nothing but invite corruption and the waste of taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers and legislators from both parties should not settle for anything less than a complete tearing down of WEDC and a complete rebuild of our entire economic development program--including determining exactly what our state’s economic development mission should be.”

Read more at Green Bay Progressive.

Will the 'Efficiency Gap' End Gerrymandering?
A lawsuit in the politically riven state of Wisconsin suggests a solution for fair re-districting.
by 

Wisconsin is finding itself a bellwether for voting rights issues. In 2013, Republican lawmakers destroyed electronic documents that the courts had ordered be preserved in order to review the fairness of the state's 2011 re-districting process; the documents were deleted, and a hard drive physically damaged, apparently to prevent their review. Government watchdogs and citizen activists have condemned the state's new map and the secrecy surrounding its development, and, in July, a group called the Fair Elections Project filed a lawsuit, Whitford v. Nichol, challenging it. The case describes Wisconsin's map as “one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history.” It also notes that fewer than four percent of state governments between 1972 and 2010 benefited a single party in the way that Wisconsin's districting plan does. This lawsuit, however, has the potential to impact states well beyond Wisconsin since it offers a way of measuring how fairly a given map treats the two main political parties.

For some time now, voting rights advocates have been struggling to address the new face of voter suppression. While some efforts, such as stricter voter ID requirements, clearly target low-income and minority citizens, others, such as gerrymandering, have a broader reach. As state legislatures re-draw voting district boundaries, in recent years, gerrymandering has returned to the national spotlight. Drawing “safe” districts has been credited with producing intense partisanship in Congress, but the GOP also sees controlling state re-districting processes as the key to keeping a Republican majority in Washington. A “safe” district has had its boundaries drawn so as to ensure that a candidate from a particular party wins. For example, a district drawn to include a voting base that generally casts 60 percent of its votes for Republicans and 40 percent for Democrats will be “safe” for a Republican candidate.

Read more at Pacific Standard.


 
 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update November 15th, 2015

 
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Why John Kerry and the French president are calling ISIS "Daesh"
by  and 
 

In his statement describing the Paris attacks as an "act of war" against France, President François Hollande said the war "was waged by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, by Daesh, against France."

John Kerry also referred to Daesh in Vienna at an international conference on Syria. This is not a term most Americans are familiar with, but it's part of a larger dispute — largely between western governments and western media outlets — over how to refer to the group we call ISIS. One that puts the strategic agenda of governments against the goals of clear communication.

A short guide to ISIS's many names

There are, broadly speaking, four things that people call the group: ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State, or Daesh. This is largely ISIS's fault; a big reason the group has so many names is that it keeps changing it.

When the group's predecessor organization was created in 1999, it was called Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which means Unity and Jihad. In 2004, the group's founder, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pledged an oath to al-Qaeda, changing his group's name to Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn — or, as it was called in English, al-Qaeda in Iraq.

After AQI took over huge swaths of Iraq in 2006, the organization declared itself to be a state in northern Iraq, and started calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq. When it took a bunch of territory in Syria in 2013, it began calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham — ISIS.

Al-Sham is a difficult-to-translate Arabic term referring to a specific geographic area along the eastern Mediterranean that includes Syria. Some English speakers translate al-Sham as "the Levant," which refers to a broader region in the Middle East that generally overlaps with al-Sham. This is how you get ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), as the White House and others call it. Others still approximate al-Sham to Syria, which yields the same ISIS acronym.

The full name in Arabic is transliterated like this: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham — which produces the acronym DAIISH (usually spelled Daesh in English). That sounds an awful lot like the Arabic word "dahes," which the Guardian translates as "one who sows discord." ISIS kind of hates this insulting connotation, and so banned the name "Daesh" in its territory.

But it doesn't use ISIS either. Crucially, the group now claims to be a caliphate — that is, the successor of the original seventh-century founding Islamic nation. As such, it dropped the geographic identifiers from its name, and simply calls itself "the Islamic State."

Read more at Vox.
 
Terror in Paris: What we know so far
By Jethro Mullen, Paul Armstrong and Don Melvin
 

Investigations into the series of terrorist attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris are moving forward, with people taken into custody and two of the gun-wielding suicide bombers identified.

French President Francois Hollande has blamed the Islamic extremist group ISIS for the wave of violence Friday that put parts of Paris under siege. He called the coordinated attacks on restaurants, bars, a concert hall and a sports stadium "an act of war."

ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacres in a statement that said eight of its militants wearing explosive belts and armed with machine guns attacked selected targets across the city.

It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 people died.

To find out more, please visit CNN.

Tell Scott Walker to veto two bad bills

So much for the Wisconsin Senate sticking up for good-government principles.

The Republican-run Senate caved last weekend to the Assembly’s demands for weak oversight of state election and ethics rules.

The only hope now, as the Assembly prepares to send two bad bills to the governor Monday, is a pair of vetoes. Unfortunately, Gov. Scott Walker has shown little interest in preserving a nonpartisan and independent GAB to settle partisan disputes over campaign tactics and spending. The governor, it appears, would rather put the politicians in charge of policing themselves.

We hope we’re wrong about his intensions. The public this week should encourage Gov. Walker to veto Assembly Bill 387 and Assembly Bill 388, given the significant damage these two pieces of legislation would do to clean and transparent government in Wisconsin.

Read more at Wisconsin State Journal.

Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin break the ice; hold coffee-table summit in Turkey

US President Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin of Russia huddled on Sunday for a coffee-table summit, breaking the ice for the first time since Moscow launched air bombardments in Syria. Sitting in leather armchairs on opposite sides of a small table, the pair leaned forward in animated talks on the sidelines of a summit in Turkey's Mediterranean resort of Antalya, state television showed.

According to Russian news agencies, the pair met for 20 minutes. The two heads of state held the summit in an unlikely venue, nearby a potted palm tree as other delegates wandered by and security agents partially obstructed the view of the television camera. 

Obama, who was gesturing to reinforce his points, and Putin were flanked at the coffee table by White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice and another unidentified man, apparently a translator. None of the content of the conversation was divulged to the journalists covering the summit.

Hours earlier, the former Cold War foes shook hands as they took places for a family photograph of the Group of 20 top world economies, a summit now dominated by the Paris bombing and shooting assault, which killed 129 people. It was Obama and Putin's first meeting since Russia launched its declared anti-Islamic State air bombardment in Syria at the end of September. The West suspects the campaign is really aimed at propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Relations between the two powers have deteriorated, in particular over Russia's backing for pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine and now its air campaign in Syria, launched just after Putin's last meeting with Obama in New York in September. But world leaders gathered in Turkey are seeking to put aside differences to deliver a united message against extremist attacks.

"We will only be able to deal with the terrorist threat... if all the international community unites its efforts," Putin said before his meeting with Obama.

Read more at DNA.
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2nd Democratic Debate

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley Hosted by CBS. Face The Nation host John Dickerson and CBS’ Nancy Cordes are the co-moderators for the November 14th, 2015 Democratic Debate on CBS, joined by Kathie Obradovich and Kevin Cooney

Watch the full debate here.

Why aren't conservative intellectuals disgusted with the GOP?
By Damon Linker
 

Partisan liberals might consider it an oxymoron, but there is such a thing as a conservative intellectual. Indeed, I used to be one.

Though I've moved away from the right since those days, I maintain many friendships with highly educated, impressively smart conservatives. Their number is many, their intellects mighty. This column is directed at them, because there's something I genuinely don't understand.

I can't grasp how an intelligent, well-read man or woman, regardless of ideological commitments, could watch the Republican debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday night and not come away disgusted. I certainly did. It was a familiar feeling.

I began to experience it regularly in the run-up to the Iraq War. That disgust propelled my leftward migration over the following years, and it's intensified since the rise of the populist insurgency known as the Tea Party.

Somehow, my friends on the right don't seem to hear anything troubling, anything intellectually offensive emanating from the mouths of the Republican candidates. And I just don't get it.

I don't just mean the obvious stuff. You know, the unprovoked and petty anti-intellectualism of Marco Rubio denigrating philosophers by contrasting them unfavorably to welders (and presumably people who work at other skilled trades as well). Or Rand Paul's nonsensical, conspiratorial musings about the Federal Reserve. Or Donald Trump's xenophobic promises to build a 2,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and round up and deport eleven million undocumented immigrants. (If they're undocumented, how will we find them? House to house sweeps by armed agents of the state through poor and heavily Latino neighborhoods? That's either absurdly unfeasible, as Jeb Bush and John Kasich pointed out, or a program for American fascism.)

And neither do I merely mean the dumpsters full of dubious assertions that are by now so deeply embedded in conservative ideology that every candidate tosses them out without making even the most cursory effort to bolster them with facts. Like the claim that America's relatively slow growth rate in recent years is a product of our tax burden (when in fact tax rates were considerably higher during the high-growth decades following World War II). Or the related contention that taxes can be drastically cut without massively increasing the budget deficit because the cuts will spur such enormous growth that tax revenues will actually increase. Or the endlessly repeated alliterative vow that ObamaCare will be "repealed and replaced," while neglecting to admit, let alone defend, the fact that the replacements favored by the GOP candidates would almost certainly leave millions of those currently covered by the Affordable Care Act without insurance.

Actually, that's more than enough to leave me pretty disgusted.

And yet, at Tuesday's debate, there were so many other things that got me going more than usual. I'm talking about specific policy proposals that amounted to nothing more than transparent nonsense. Maybe a credulous viewer with no knowledge of history, public policy, economics, or how the government actually works could respond to these proposals with a nod and a cheer. But informed viewers? Educated men and women of the right? Conservative intellectuals? They should know better — and know enough to realize when they're being sold, or helping to sell, a bucket of BS.

The appropriate response to someone attempting to turn you into the victim of a hoax or a swindle is anger. It's insulting to be treated like a sucker, a chump. And yet, my conservative intellectual friends appear not to be bothered in the least.

And that I just don't understand.

Here are three concrete examples from Tuesday's debate of Republican candidates doing their best PT Barnum imitation.

1. More than once in the debate, Carly Fiorina proposed reducing the federal tax code — not the forms ordinary citizens use to file their taxes, but the body of laws that govern taxation in the United States — to three pages. From its current length of more than 74,000 pages. (The actual code amounts to something closer to 3,000 pages, with the rest taken up by supporting material, but let's leave that aside.)

Now, could the tax code be shortened and simplified? I'm sure it could be! Maybe we could go back to its length in 1984 (26,300 pages). Or even to its size at the end of World War II (8,200 pages), when the population stood at 140 million people and the economy was many times smaller and vastly less complex than it is now. But no: Fiorina wants us to believe the code can be shrunk to three pages. Which is obviously, indisputably, offensively ludicrous. How can conservative intellectuals be anything but outraged by such hucksterism?

Originally published at The Week.

 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update November 8th, 2015

Join us for our monthly membership meeting.

This month we will hear from Supreme Court candidates Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg and Judge Joe Donald.

We will also get the opportunity to meet Gwen Connolly, who is running for Branch 44, and Jean Kies, candidate for Branch 45.

WHEN
November 11, 2015 at 7pm - 9pm

WHERE
Greendale Public Library
5647 Broad St
Greendale, WI 53129
United States
Google map and directions

Visit our Website to RSVP!
Don’t Know Much About History
By 
 

Ben Carson is blundering through American history again.

I’ve written before about how Carson’s belief that the Founding Fathers were “citizens statesmen,” one of his favorite defenses of his own neophyte venture in politics, is woefully incorrect. Now the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has taken up the standard against Carson’s misreading of history.

Per the Journal (h/t Talking Points Memo’s Katherine Krueger), Carson posted on Facebook Wednesday night, “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” The Journal goes on to quote two American historians to say that this is nonsense – “That’s just patently false,” Benjamin Carp, an associate professor of history at Brooklyn College who has written several books on the American Revolution, told the Journal. Carp estimates that most of the signers had held elective office.

Chastened, Carson went back and edited his original Facebook post, changing his assertion to read, “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no federal elected office experience.” (Emphasis mine.)

That’s too cute by half and, perhaps not surprisingly, still wrong.

Read more at US News and World Report.
Strong unions strengthen democracies and deliver peace
By  and 

Strong unions make strong democracies. It sounds simplistic, but each of us have experienced this fundamental premise in our nations. As labor leaders in the United States and Tunisia respectively, we know full well that when workers come together for a voice on the job, it boosts the economy, eases social unrest and creates the conditions for peace, prosperity and the protection of rights.

To be sure, we come from very different countries, each with its own set of economic and political challenges. But we have seen the healing power of unions firsthand.

In Tunisia, organized labor was the primary catalyst in winning and sustaining democracy as states around it descended back into totalitarianism. The coalition to build a strong, inclusive democratic alliance became known as the Quartet, bringing together labor, business, human rights and legal organizations. This effort earned the Quartet, with strong leadership from the Tunisian labor movement, the Nobel peace prize.

Read more at The Guardian.

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Join the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County for the 4th Republican Debate. There will be laughter, horror, and drinking games, and we will be live tweeting all the action.  We will be joined by a film crew from America with Jorge Ramos.  

The primetime debate at 7 p.m. CST on Fox Business Channel. Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker will moderate.

WHEN
November 10, 2015 at 7pm - 10pm
WHERE
Ugly's
1125 N Old World 3rd St
Milwaukee, WI 53203
United States

Google map and directions

RSVP today!
The Mugging of Democracy in Wisconsin

It happened in the dark of night. Almost no one was around. But just about at midnight on Nov. 6, the Republican-dominated Wisconsin State Senate struck at the heart of open and clean government in Wisconsin, dealing it a mortal blow.

By a vote of 17-15, the Republicans passed a horrendous campaign finance bill that will open the floodgates of dark money, which will drown our democracy and breed corruption and criminality.

Only one courageous Republican, Rob Cowles, dared to break with his party on the campaign finance bill. He voted no, joining all the Democrats.

The rest of the Republicans rammed the bill through the bill, which doubles the amount that individuals can give to candidates and allows unlimited donations to political parties and legislative campaign committees. It also allows coordination with “issue ad groups” and opens the door for coordination, at times, with “express advocacy” groups.

The Senate Republicans managed to make a horrible bill even more horrible than many good government groups thought it would be.

First, they went back on the reported deal that would have required donors who give $200 or more to candidates to list their employers. Now the requirement is out the window, so it will make it extremely difficult for the media, the public, and prosecutors to find out who is throwing money around to win special favors -- and who is breaking the law in the process.

Second, they made it easier for candidates to coordinate with “express advocacy” groups – that is, groups that run ads saying “Vote for” or “Vote against” a particular candidate. Under the Senate bill, it would now be OK for a candidate to coordinate with an express advocacy group unless the candidate (or a person or group representing the candidate) would “specifically request” the group to run an ad and unless the group “explicitly assents” to that request.

Read more at Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

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Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update November 1st, 2015

Speaker Ryan Has Three Goals: Destroy Social Security, Medicare And The USPS
By  Bill Brickley

Koch Brothers darling Multi Millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan is leaping back on to the national stage as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mr Ryan was initially hesitant citing family concerns (despite the fact he is an opponent of paid leave for ordinary Americans)  but eventually was swayed by other GOP leaders to take the job. Ryan, who seems fixated on reducing retirement benefits for both the American public and especially federal workers, will have a larger platform to try to make these cuts a reality. Clearly these ideas are unpopular to many but as Paul Krugman brilliantly stated, Ryan is “the best con man they got.”  Republicans are using him to sell their treasure trove of unpopular policies to the apathetic American Public

Ryan was an architect of George Bush’s  failed plan to partially privatize  Social Security in 2005. More recently Ryan has teamed up with Congressman Darrell Issa to push the idea of reducing Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) benefits for Federal Workers. In a letter to the Congressional Budget Office they emphasized that the CBO should consider “different options for reforming FERS, based on changes made in recent years to other large pension plans, both public and private. The report should include, but not limit itself to, adjusting the retirement contributions of federal employees, altering the formula for computing pension benefit payments, and expanding the defined contribution component while reducing the defined benefit component.” This sounds quite ominous for Federal Workers. The intent is crystal clear.

Read more at NH Labor News.
How the GOP almost forced a Social Security disaster: Everything you need to know about their disgraceful hostage-taking 
Prior to last week's budget deal, the GOP was doing everything it could to dismantle Social Security. Here's how 
By 

The comprehensive budget deal that passed Congress last week involved the temporary release of three hostages: One hostage was the debt limit, which will not need to be raised before March, 2017. A second hostage was the federal government, which might not, depending on who you ask, experience another shutdown for two fiscal years. The third hostage was Social Security.

Like the hostage-taking over the debt limit and funding the government, the Social Security hostage involves something that should be routine. But these days, with this Congress, nothing is routine. To understand the Social Security hostage-taking, it is important to understand a technical aspect of Social Security with which no one but experts should be concerned.

When workers have Social Security contributions deducted from their wages, those deducted monies are premiums for Social Security’s insurance against the loss of wages in the event of death, disability or old age. Those deducted funds are sent by their employers to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Read more at Salon.

Ben Carson’s History as a Medical Malpractice Trainwreck

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson isn’t as good of a doctor as he’s made himself out to be. Carson is actually a walking medical malpractice suit waiting to happen. Thom Hartmann and Ring of Fire host Mike Papantonio discussed Carson’s shady history of medical malpractice.

Watch the video on YouTube.
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This man is not a wonk: Why Marco Rubio is just another intellectual fraud 
One prominent conservative pundit is ready to anoint the senator as the new Moynihan. Not so fast. 
By 

After spending most of the past few months either kowtowing to Donald Trump or forestalling complete anarchy in the House of Representatives, Republicans now find themselves on the verge of what they hope will be a much better position. Former vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is the new Speaker of the House and Senator Marco Rubio seems poised to overtake Jeb Bush as the establishment’s favored candidate. The adults, some elite Republicans hope, will soon be back in charge.

As you might imagine, this has got New York Times columnist and self-styled reasonable Republican David Brooks very excited. “So after all the meshugas,” he writes in his latest op-ed, “Republicans could wind up with two new leaders going into this election.” This, Brooks says, would be “a pretty excellent outcome for a party that has shown an amazing tendency to inflict self-harm.” Why? Because Rubio and Ryan, according to David Brooks, are not “celebrity candidates” but rather “wonks.”

Read more at Salon.
Bernie Sanders Launches His First Television Ad
"People are sick and tired of establishment politics and they want real change."
By Igor Boblic

The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched his first television ad on Sunday.

The 60-second spot, titled "Real Change," is slated to go on air in the key early states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and is backed by more than $2 million. The ad focuses on Sanders' background and policy record, stretching back to his time as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

“People are sick and tired of establishment politics and they want real change," Sanders says in the commercial.

Read more at Huffington Post.

Join Us Wednesday November 11th for our regular SW Dems monthly meeting at the Greendale Library. 

We have invited several Judicial Candidates to introduce themselves to our members.  

Program begins at 7pm.
 
WhenWed, November 11, 7pm – 9pm
WhereGreendale Public Library, 5647 Broad St., Greendale (map)
DescriptionRegion 5 Democrats will hold their monthly meeting at the Greendale Public Library (enter through rear at 5600 Parking St.). Region 5 covers Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee (Southwest), West Allis, West Milwaukee. For more information contact Rob Hansen, chair, robpdamilwaukee@gmail.com

Milwaukee County Democrats Monthly Meeting,
Mon Nov 16, 7pm,
J & B's Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill, 5230 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee
.
At this meeting the party's Chair, Vice Chair, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Membership Secretary and Treasurer will be elected for two-year terms. Any member who has paid their dues as of November 11, 2015, will be eligible to vote in the election and/or be a candidate for office. Persons wishing to have their name on the printed ballot shall submit a declaration of intent to run on or before 5:00 p.m. Sunday, November 8, 2015, via email, to elections@milwaukeedems.org.The announced candidates will be posted on the DPMC website http://www.milwaukeedems.org/ no later than 5:00 p.m. Monday, November 9, 2015. Registration will be from 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Registration will close at 7:30 p.m. and no person arriving after 7:30 p.m. will be eligible to vote. Anyone still in line when registration closes may receive a ballot.

WHEN
November 16, 2015 at 7pm - 9pm

WHERE
J&B's Blue Ribbon Bar and Grill
5230 W Bluemound Rd
Milwaukee, WI 53208
United States

Google map and directions

R
SVP
Republican Translator: Your Go-To Guide For Understanding GOP Catchphrases
By  

When you don’t have winning policy to run on, sometimes the only thing left to do is deflect and distract. One of the easiest ways of doing this for Republicans is by coming up with words and phrases that can easily be repeated. And ideally, repeated often enough to be believed, even at the detriment to the voting base that believes them.

As much as the GOP may not like this, it’s extremely important for voters to be aware of what they’re actually hearing when politicians and conservative pundits speak. To aid in understanding what’s actually going on, here’s a handy guide to understanding common catchphrases:

States Rights: This is often used with issues that conservatives want to throw hissy fits over (gun rights, marriage equality, slavery, etc.) and don’t want the silly federal government to pull its trump card — the Supremacy Clause.

Liberal Media: Any media outlet that isn’t Fox News and won’t cater to scripted questions and answers. Otherwise known as fact-based, honest reporting.

Gotcha Questions: You’ll hear this one a lot when Republicans are asked questions they don’t know the answer to, or know that an honest answer will hurt their image. It basically means they’re embarrassed they just got caught being an idiot.

Judicial Activism: Any time the Supreme Court sides with the Constitution over conservatives’ bigoted opinions on how they think things should be run (ex. Obamacare, marriage equality, etc.).

Playing the Race Card: When they know they’re racist, but want to blame whoever calls them out on it.

Entitlements: Programs citizens have paid for and are, in fact, entitled to (Social Security, Medicare), but the GOP wants taxpayers to think they’re somehow getting ripped off by the poor.

Right-to-Life: Control over the medical decisions of women. This phrase has nothing to do with “life” because the same people who claim to be “pro-life” are also pro-war, pro-death penalty and anti-taking care of people who are already born.

War on Terror: Sending troops to influence nations with an abundance of oil.

Liberty: To have the ability to control others, but still keep all of their own rights intact.

Freedom: To make sure Wall Street and the wealthy are taken care of and guilt-free in all of our economic woes. Basically, as Republicans seek to regulate women, gays and minorities, they seek “freedom” for corporations and big banks to flush our economy down the toilet while reaping all the rewards for themselves.

Socialist: Any words that come out of a Democrat’s mouth. The actual meaning is neither here nor there.

Capitalist: BFF who writes checks to make policy that will make them lots and lots of money. This has nothing to do with actual capitalism, which should be ethically regulated to keep things fair for all.

Obamacare: The scary word used to deflect from increased accessibility to private health care.

Democrat Party: This is used to get under the skin of liberals everywhere – and it does, because it’s simply bad grammar.

War on Religion: The hissy fit thrown when conservative Christians don’t get their way dictating the lives of others.

Religious Freedom: The thinking that you have the freedom to control others via your religion.

Job Creators: The very wealthy. This is the one of the oldest tricks in the books for the GOP. If they call all the rich on top “job creators” their imbecilic base will vote for them. When, in fact, if tax breaks for the very wealthy worked we’d have had an abundant economy at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term instead of the biggest recession since the Great Depression. (Hint: it’s a lie. Growth happens from the bottom up like everything else. Get money in the hands of those who need it most and the wealth spreads upwards. It doesn’t work the other way around, as has been proven time and time again. What we need to do is raise wages.)

Big Government: Republicans LOVE actual big government. Don’t believe it? Look at the Defense budget. Look at their love for controlling the lives of women and the LGBT community. Look at how much they want to spend on subsidies for the already wealthy. “Big Government” is another deflection word to make their voting base scared that the United States wants to control every aspect of their lives. When, in fact, that is what the GOP has been trying to do for decades. Democrats, on the other hand, don’t want “big government” they want functional government. However, that doesn’t sound nearly as scary.

“Taxes are stealing”: This is used to make people hate the government. Here’s the thing, without taxes how are we going to pay for things like say, the military, or oil subsidies, or $8 million/day in aid to Israel. It’s not that Republicans hate taxes, they hate taxes they themselves and their wealthy cronies have to pay for. They’d LOVE to make a regressive flat tax that would tax the poor and middle class more and the wealthy less. They’d LOVE to make sure 99% of the nation is paying for all the things the 1% is dictating through policy lobbyists. Republicans don’t hate taxes. No no. They hate actually being the ones to pay them. In an ideal society, we’d have a progressive structure that made it so more money stays in the hands of the less fortunate so they can stimulate the economy from the bottom up. Taxes should also be used for fixing infrastructure, education, health care etc. You know, things that actually benefit the taxpayers, not just the very wealthy.

Patriot: Warrior for the 1%.

Tax and Spend: The scary phrase they use with the GOP base who haven’t quite caught on to how things really work. The government has taxes so they can fund government. Tax and spend. Just like “get paid and spend.”

Elitist: Someone who had the audacity to learn the facts and repeat them.

Class Warfare: This is used any time someone points out that Republicans are hating on the poor in favor of benefiting the wealthy. “Stop with the class warfare.” Oh, you mean telling it like it is?

Family Values: The phrase used any time they want to be bigoted assholes and get away with it. The only “family value” the Republicans have is the dollar amount they can squeeze from middle and working class families to pay for tax cuts for the rich.

Free Market: Unregulated Capitalism.

School Choice: Privatization of education for profit.

Ronald Reagan: To make people think about the 1980s and distract from the mess they’ve created over the last 30 years through bad economic policy. Honestly? Any time someone hears “Ronald Reagan” they should think “mediocre actor,” “terrible leader.”

To be honest, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to words and phrases Republicans use to distract their voting base and the public at large from knowing their true intentions as policy makers. However, now you have this handy guide. Remember to pull it out whenever a Republican starts talking. Perfect for debates and family holiday gatherings.


 
A proven way to reduce poverty? Give poor people money
By 
 

Poverty is such a longstanding, deeply-rooted problem that it’s hard to believe there could be a relatively straightforward way to address it. But here’s one: Give poor people money. 

That’s a highly controversial idea here in the United States, where so many social programs are focused on helping people find work, rather than offering them services or sending them checks.

But elsewhere around the world, things work differently. Virtually every developed nation has a lower poverty rate than the US. That’s not because all their citizens have jobs and earn a decent living. It’s because they provide direct assistance to those at risk, in the form of cash, housing subsidies, pensions, and child benefits.

Read more at Boston Globe.

 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update October 25th, 2015

Weekly Update for 10-25-15
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"Wisconsin is Open for Corruption"

This week Republicans passed bills to make Wisconsin open for corruption.

First, Republicans voted to decimate our state’s campaign finance laws by enabling individuals and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money campaigning, in many cases without any disclosure of their identity. Also – for the first time in modern Wisconsin history – corporations would be able to give unlimited money directly to political parties and campaign committees.

Second, Republicans voted to dismantle our non-partisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) and turn our elections and ethics watchdogs into partisan lapdogs. Perhaps worse, they have to ask for funds from the Finance Committee to launch major investigations, in some cases from the people they would be investigating.

Third, Republicans passed what many have called the “Corrupt Politician Protection Act” because it exempts political crimes from John Doe investigations, while other crimes are still included.

Next week, Republicans plan to undermine our civil service system and open the door for corruption and cronyism during an Administration already rocked by scandal.

When I talk to people and around the state, not one person has ever told me they want corporations to have an ever greater influence over our government.

No one has ever told me we should have partisan control over our election process.

No one has ever told me we should make it easier for political corruption to go undetected and unprosecuted or that we should open the door to more cronyism in state government.

With these new extreme changes, I fear for the ability of everyday citizens to have a say in their government. As Republicans open the door for corruption, the door on Wisconsin’s era of clean, open and transparent government has been slammed shut. I hope Wisconsin citizens will call their legislators before the Senate takes action on these horrendous bills.
The Debt Ceiling Is Coming!
Can John Boehner, Paul Ryan, or someone do anything about it?


It’s finally clear why Rep. Paul Ryan changed his mind and chose to run for speaker. He wasn’t interested in the fundraising, traveling, or the time away from his kids. He also wasn’t much interested in having to twist the arms of characters like Reps. Louie Gohmert and Steve King late into the night. What changed his mind, surely, was a glance at the calendar: Ryan will only have to serve as speaker for a handful of days before the apocalypse will arrive and our institutions will cease to exist.

The debt ceiling deadline has been moved up two days to Nov. 3, according to the most recent estimate from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. That is 11 days from now and considerably fewer legislative days. So far the House hasn’t moved a bill, and neither has the Senate.

There’s another problem emerging in the House of Representatives, too, if you can believe it: The votes supposedly aren’t there. And we don’t just mean that a majority of Republicans aren’t willing to raise the debt ceiling. That’s never the case. Instead, it’s that even if Speaker Boehner/Ryan were to call up a “clean” debt ceiling increase with no conditions attached, and even if such a bill got unanimous Democratic support, there still wouldn’t be enough Republicans to vote for it.

Or so they say.

Buried relatively deeply on Politico’s front page, beneath stories about Benghazi and the Jeb Bush campaign’s pay cuts, is a piece about how we are a handful of legislative days from surpassing our statutory borrowing limit and no one is doing anything. Earlier this week the plan was to pass a stringent Republican Study Committee–backed bill that would have frozen all new regulations, among other deliciously fantastical conservative goodies. But GOP leaders have backed away because even that did not have enough support among Republicans.

Read more at Slate.com

Paul Ryan’s Haunted House
What can he learn from the ghosts of speakers past?
By Josh Zeitz


If all goes according to plan, on Thursday House Speaker John Boehner will hand over the big gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. It’s little wonder that Ryan was loath to accept the job. Who’d want to rule a party racked by internecine warfare—a party that deposed its own leader without an apparent game plan to avoid a government shutdown and default? In no small way, the House has become ungovernable, and the speakership, as one columnist recently observed, a “dead end.” 

Ryan can at least take comfort in history. Simply put, we’ve been here before.


By the standards of its day, the 50th Congress, which sat between March 1887 and March 1889, was the most “feeble” in the history of the American republic. These problems were particularly acute in the House. Stymied by deep partisan and sectional fissures and constrained by arcane procedural traditions, the institution earned the disdain of voters from all political parties and persuasions. “[N]o other body in the world takes up so much time and spends so much money doing nothing,” groused the editors of the Washington Post, who scorned the “wonderful inertia of this unwieldy and self-shackled body.”


Many people thought that the House needed a dictator to make order out of chaos. Which is precisely what it got. With his ascension in late 1889, Rep. Thomas Brackett Reed of Maine—Czar Reed, as his opponents soon dubbed him—applied ruthless energy and discipline to the task of making Congress work. He remains to this day one of most commanding incumbents to occupy this sometimes powerful but more often unwieldy constitutional office. Like a small handful of speakers who preceded and followed him, he ruled the House and did not for one second let it rule him.


Read more at Politico.

I wanted to let our members know about a podcast I regularly listen to, The Best of the Left.  Every few days a new episode is posted and based on a topic in the news.  It is always an educational listen and the website provided great links for you to share on social media.  Below is a link to a recent episode for you to enjoy along with some other activism information from their website related to the episode.

#961 Working our way toward anti-democracy (Voter Suppression)
 

Air date: 10-16-15

Direct Download

Today we take a look at a few of the tactics used to suppress voter turnout from the civil rights era to the modern era


Activism: Automatic Voter Registration via @BrennanCenter

Take Action:

Find the Brennan Center for Justice list of Automatic Voter Registration laws

Let your federal legislators know you support the Automatic Voter Registration Act through ContactingTheCongress.org and your state reps know you support voter expansion through automatic registration via OpenStates.Org

Additional Activism/Resources:

Find out if you’re registered to vote at: CanIVote.org

Sources/further reading:

"The Case for Voter Registration Modernization in 2015” via the Brennan Center for Justice

What Alabama Can Learn From California on Voting Rights via Ari Berman at The Nation

"Gov. Brown approves automatic voter registration for Californians” via LA Times

"Dem unveils automatic voter registration bill” via The Hill

"Make It Easy: The Case for Automatic Registration” via Democracy Journal

"Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out” via LA Times

"Hillary's Game-Changing Voting Reform” via the Brennan Center for Justice

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

Right-wing business and social groups behind gutting of state’s election laws
Written by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
 

Wealthy business and conservative ideological groups that collectively spend millions of dollars to support Republican legislative and statewide candidates at election time are supporting bills to weaken state campaign finance law and dismember the state’s election and ethics watchdog.

Both measures were approved Wednesday by the Assembly and go next to the Senate on a fast track to Gov. Scott Walker's desk, where they are certain to be signed quickly into law.

One measure, Assembly Bill 388, was approved 58-39 by the Assembly. AB388 replaces the nonpartisan, independent Government Accountability Board with two partisan commissions with limited investigatory powers.

The other measure, Assembly Bill 387, was approved 61-0. All but one Republican, who was absent, voted for the bill, and 36 Democrats were present but abstained from voting. AB387 neuters the state’s campaign finance laws by: doubling campaign contribution limits to candidates; allowing unlimited donations to political parties and party committees; allowing unlimited dark money donations to so-called independent groups, which can coordinate with the candidates themselves; and dropping the requirement that donors to candidates have to identify their employer to further hide the influence peddlers.

AB388 and AB387 are supported by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization. WMC is one of the most influential special interest groups in the state. WMC has spent nearly $26 million on outside electioneering activities to back Republican candidates in legislative and statewide elections with smear ads and mailings paid for by secret fundraising and spending. Once elected, WMC uses its lobbying muscle to influence state spending and policy decisions on a wide array of issues including taxes, environmental deregulation, labor and education, among others.

In addition to WMC, AB388 has the backing of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative ideological group founded and funded by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch. Americans for Prosperity issued a statement thanking the Assembly for approving legislation to dismantle the GAB, accusing the model, independent watchdog agency of being “desperately partisan.”

The Koch brothers are longtime backers of conservative causes and Republican and conservative candidates for federal, state and local offices throughout the country. Like WMC, Americans for Prosperity refuses to disclose how much it spends on its phony "issue" ads, but the Democracy Campaign estimates the group spent nearly $5.6 million on broadcast ads and other activities in Wisconsin elections for statewide office and the legislature from January 2010 to date.

The bulk of Americans for Prosperity’s secret electioneering spending was in the 2011 and 2012 recall elections when it spent $3.7 million to help Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP state senators targeted for recall.

AB387 also drew public support from the state’s largest anti-abortion group, Wisconsin Right to Life, which applauded passage of the bill in order to relieve “unconstitutional burdens” on free speech rights.

Wisconsin Right to Life, has spent only a modest amount – about $260,000 – on outside electioneering activities during the past 16 years, but marshals a well-organized and geographically dispersed membership to get to the ballot box and later to influence the legislative agenda


Originally published at Wisconsin Gazette.
 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Weekly Update October 18th, 2015

 
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Monday Help Save Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (And Our Vote)

 

On Monday, Assembly Dems are having three events around the state to talk about the GAB and campaign finance bills. Please attend if you can! Show the media we care; get up to the minute info on how to defeat these bills.

  • MILWAUKEE: 10 am, Monday, October 19th, City Hall (200 E Wells St). Speaking: Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (She was fabulous in hearing on Tuesday!)
  • MADISON: 10:30 am, Monday, October 19th, Assembly Parlor (2nd Floor West), Capitol Building. Speaking: Dane County Legislators, Jay Heck-Common Cause
  • GREEN BAY: 10:30 am, Monday, October 19th, Rotunda, Brown County Courthouse (100 S. Jefferson St). Speaking: Sen. Hansen, Rep. Genrich, Rep. Stuck, Rep. Hintz
Iran nuclear deal takes effect
By Julian Hattem
 

The nuclear deal with Iran takes effect on Sunday, setting in motion a series of events that will put President Obama’s diplomatic gamble to the test.

Iran is months away from putting in place the limits on its nuclear program that would trigger relief from economic sanctions, and an international inspection regime is only just beginning.

Still, Sunday’s "Adoption Day" represents a big moment for the Obama administration; having prevented the deal from dying in Congress, Obama officials must now see whether Iran can deliver.

“We are moving now to the implementation stage, and it is essential that we will maintain our vigilance, our unity of approach and our common purpose,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech at Indiana University this week.

“Now, the Middle East remains a deeply troubled place, but every problem in the region would be made much worse if countries were to move towards nuclear weapons.”

Whether the diplomatic effort will succeed is an open question.

Critics note that Iran has shown no willingness to change its behavior after reaching the deal, even staging a ballistic missile test that the United States on Friday called a breach of international sanctions.

In the coming months, the onus will be on Iran to fulfill its end of the nuclear bargain. The country has agreed to shut off thousands of centrifuges, drastically reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and remove the core out of the Arak heavy water reactor and fill it with concrete.

Read more at the Hill.

To find out more or to read the full text of the Iran Nuclear Deal, check out Whitehouse.gov

 
Larry David's Bernie Sanders joins 'SNL' political impersonations hall of fame
By Lisa Respers France
 

Larry David may have been born to play Bernie Sanders.

The "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star nailed it Saturday during a "Saturday Night Live" skit parodying the CNN Democratic debate. As Democratic candidate Sanders, he quickly "dialed it up to 10" and spouted such quips as "I don't have a super PAC. I don't even have a backpack."

To watch the clip and to see more great SNL political impersonations, check out CNN.
 
Legislator unmoved by appeal on what UW prof calls ‘product placement’ by gun lobby
By Pat Schneider
 

State Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, is one Wisconsin legislator unmoved by a constituent’s plea to back off a campus carry bill, saying it would make the professor's workplace safer.

“Bad guys don’t respect (a no guns allowed) sign,” Steineke tweeted to Chuck Rybak, an associate professor of English at UW-Green Bay, in an exchange detailed by Rybak on his blog. Banning guns in campus buildings, so potential shooting victims can’t carry them, “makes you an easier target,” Steineke wrote.

Rybak told Steineke that he won’t carry a gun to protect himself.

“Will anyone stand for me in the legis(lature)?” Ryback tweeted.

Rybak is challenging a bill circulated this week by Rep. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) and Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) that would revoke an exception to the state concealed carry law that allows universities and technical colleges to ban guns inside campus buildings.

The bill drew swift opposition from students and faculty on the UW-Madison campus.

Rybak said the prospect of guns in the classroom, following a recent spate of shootings on college campuses, makes him view students running across the Green Bay campus in much more sinister light than he used to.

The real driver of a bill that would make a shooting scenario on a Wisconsin campus more likely, he said, is consumerism.

“Bills like this, disguised as ‘gun rights’ or ‘second amendment’ initiatives, are really nothing more than product placement for a specific business interest seeking expanded markets,” Rybak wrote.

“Guns are no different than networked, smart devices in this respect — their content must be everywhere, all the time, or something is wrong,” Rybak wrote Wednesday.

Read more at The Cap Times
 
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How Scott Walker spent $90,000 a day to lose an election
By Jenna Johnson

When Scott Walker dropped out of the presidential race late last month because he could no longer afford to continue, many of his fundraisers and supporters were stunned. They couldn't believe the candidate had burned through so much money so quickly.

Walker's campaign raised $7,379,170 between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to federal paperwork filed on Thursday. And during that time, they spent $6,393,957 and had bills for $161,133. Given that Walker's campaign lasted just 70 days — from July 13 to Sept. 21 — that means each day cost more than $90,000.

When Walker dropped out of the race, the campaign had nearly $1 million left, although that money will likely go toward paying ongoing contracts, leases and other expenses that can continue even when a campaign stops.

So how does a campaign spend that much money that quickly? For Walker, money went toward a payroll of more than 80, generous paychecks for top staffers, dozens of consultants and vendors who were paid tens of thousands of dollars, and elaborately staged campaign events. For a candidate who bragged on the campaign trail about finding deals at Kohl's and packing sack lunches to save money, the reports show that the campaign spent lavishly even as fundraising dollars began to disappear.

[Here's why Scott Walker suspended his campaign]

The campaign's payroll for those three months totaled nearly $2 million in salaries, taxes and benefits. Additionally, the campaign engaged dozens of consultants and vendors who were collectively paid more than $800,000. Walker's campaign was known for paying more than many of its rivals, and at least 20 employees were paid at least $30,000 in less than three months. Walker's two college-age sons, Matt and Alex Walker, were both on the payroll but were among the least-compensated staff members, making less than $5,000 each. Five employees earned more than $50,000 in salary and benefits during that three-month period: Campaign manager Rick Wiley received nearly $52,000. Political director Matt Mason, $61,000. Communication director Kirsten Kukowski, more than $58,000. Treasurer Kate Lind, $57,730. General counsel Jonathan Waclawski, $57,600.

 
Read more at Washington Post.
AG Schimel Fights Court Ruling To Release Training Videos
By Gilman Halsted
 

Attorney General Brad Schimel is asking the state Supreme Court to block the release of training videos that the Democratic Party sought under the open records law.

The party sued for release of the tapes last year, claiming that they include Schimel making inappropriate comments while training prosecutors how to convict sex predators. This week, a unanimous appeals court panel upheld a lower court ruling ordering their release.

Read more at Wisconsin Public Radio.

 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Founded in 1952, The Southwest Regional Democratic Organization is the official Democratic Party of Milwaukee County regional unit for the following areas: Zip Codes 53129, 53130, 53132, 53214, 53219, 53220, 53227, 53228, the part of the City of Greenfield in 53221 and the entire Village of West Milwaukee.

Weekly Update October 11th, 2015

SW Dems Newsletter Issue #30 for 2015
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The Southwest Region Democrats will be holding our monthly meeting at the Greenfield Public Library. Please join us and Citizen Coalition for the film Ethos-A Time For Change, featuring Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Michael Moore, Howard Zinn and more... 

Region 5 covers Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Milwaukee (Southwest), West Allis, West Milwaukee. For more information contact Rob Hansen, chair, robpdamilwaukee@gmail.com.

WHEN
October 14, 2015 at 6pm - 8pm
WHERE
Greenfield Public Library
5310 W Layton Ave
Greenfield, WI 53220

Google map and directions

RSVP on our WEBSITE.
Communities, social media celebrate National Coming Out Day
By Amanda Jackson

Sunday is National Coming Out Day, a day of celebration for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people and their allies. 

Social media were buzzing with posts and videos in honor of the occasion. 

The Rhodes brothers emotionally came out to their dad in a video posted to YouTube. "I just don't want you to, like, not love us anymore or anything like that," said Austin Rhodes, who was fighting back tears. 

His dad responded, "You know I love you both. That'll never change."

Austin Rhodes' concerns are not necessarily unfounded. Coming out -- announcing their sexual orientation or gender identity to families and friends -- can be a challenging moment for LGBTQ people. 

Even in an era when LGBTQ people are more accepted in society, a point driven home by the Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage earlier this year, some still find discriminationor bigotry because of who they are. 

National Coming Out Day was first celebrated in 1988, when tens of thousands of LGBTQ people and their allies converged on Washington for the first National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights. The event, routinely held October 11, is now marked with many different celebrations nationwide, including rallies and parades, often coinciding with Gay Pride festivals.


Read more at CNN.

On Tuesday, there are 7 public hearings at the Capitol including
* elimination of our current campaign finance law
* elimination of the Government Accountability Board and
* elimination of Civil Service system

Joint Elections Committees will "hear" public testimony on the GAB deform bill, campaign finance overhaul, and electronic voter registration.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
9:00 AM - Rm 412 East
http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1203699

Join us for a press conference. "MoneyOut,VotersIn-Wisconsin" and Wisconsin United to Amend will take part:

Gutting the GAB& Deregulation of Campaign Finance
Press Conference
Hosted by OurDemocracy2020 and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Capitol at 415 NW at 8:30 am on Tuesday, October 13th
https://www.facebook.com/events/905881739494341/

Please contact your representatives in the state assembly and senate to share your opinions. We do not need more money flowing in drowning out our voices. We need more transparency. We need accountability, not more coordination between politicians and groups that are able to hide the source of their cash.

For those interested in knowing when hearings are happening, bookmark this page, http://committeeschedule.legis.wisconsin.gov/?viewType=List&committeeID=-1&filter=Day&targetDate=10-13-2015

Campaign Watchdog GAB Threatened

In Wisconsin the agency that oversees election, lobbying, campaign, and ethics laws is the Government Accountability Board. Its six members are all retired judges who have been appointed by the governor and approved by the state senate -- in a process that ensures the board is insulated from partisan political pressures. Because the GAB took actions the Republicans who control our state government did not like, GOP legislators and Governor Walker intend to replace the current GAB with a partisan board, possibly modeled on the Federal Election Commission.

FEC members are divided between three Republicans and three Democrats. The result is complete gridlock: the FEC has been unable to enforce even such weak campaign laws as we have at the national level. THIS is what the GOP wants for Wisconsin.

We CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN. We need YOUR SIGNATURE on a petition TODAY!

Visit Grassroots Northshore to sign the petition.

Donate To The Southwest Dems Today!
 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

Founded in 1952, The Southwest Regional Democratic Organization is the official Democratic Party of Milwaukee County regional unit for the following areas: Zip Codes 53129, 53130, 53132, 53214, 53219, 53220, 53227, 53228, the part of the City of Greenfield in 53221 and the entire Village of West Milwaukee.

Weekly Update October 4th, 2015

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AFSCME Mourns Loss of Wisconsin Leader Marty Beil
By Cynthia McCabe

The live, on-air interview with AFSCME union leader Marty Beil wasn’t even over and MSNBC host Chris Matthews could barely contain his glee.

“You look like the real thing to me sir, I’d like to meet you some time,” Matthews said.

Beil deflected the personal attention, and without hesitating pointed to the tens of thousands of protesters amassed behind him on the Wisconsin statehouse grounds.

“Chris, this is where democracy is,” Beil said with pride. “Right here. The people walking and the people talking.”

A grinning, impressed Matthews ended the segment with more praise. “This guy was great. I mean this is the kind of evocative leader you want to get (in) the labor movement.”

For thousands of families across Wisconsin and countless more across the nation, Beil was indeed the real thing. A fierce and courageous advocate for working people, he died at his home in Mazomanie, Wisc., Thursday at the age of 68.

Read more at AFSCME.

Join us Wednesday October 14th for a special screening of Ethos - A Time For Change.  
Deaths from gun violence vs. deaths from terrorism, in one chart
by 

In his impassioned address in the wake of Thursday's horrible shooting at an Oregon community college, President Obama issued a challenge to the media. "Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports," he asked.



To read more and to view the chart, visit Vox.
2014 Census Data Confirm Dramatic Impact of the Affordable Care Act
By Thomas Huelskoetter

 

New census data released today on poverty and health care measures for 2014 provide indisputable proof that the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is working to improve access to health care across the country.

Since these new data only cover 2014, they do not include the full second open enrollment period of the ACA’s marketplaces and thus understate the full impact of the ACA. As evident from the recently released National Health Interview Survey, however, the national uninsured rate had dropped by about one-third to a historic low of 9.2 percent as of early 2015, with 15.8 million people gaining coverage since the ACA’s marketplaces opened in late 2013.

Yet while today’s data are not fully up to date, they do provide a comprehensive state-level look at the impact of the ACA and officially confirm, for the first time, that the uninsured rate has dropped in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Read more and study the data at American Progress.


 
Still at it
Republicans advance latest bill to unravel Affordable Care Act

by Stephen Ohlemacher

Last week, House Republicans advanced legislation to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health law — legislation that could actually reach the president’s desk for a certain veto. The House GOP has voted more than 50 times to repeal all or parts of the health law. Almost all the bills died in the Senate.

Democrats note that official congressional estimates say that gutting the law will result in 15 million fewer people with health insurance by 2025.

For this effort, Republicans are using a special process that prevents Senate Democrats from blocking the legislation. Obama will still veto it, but the vote could provide a blueprint for dismantling the law if Republicans retake the White House in 2016.

Read more at Wisconsin Gazette.
RFK Spoke at Roseburg, OR on Gun Control 47 Years Ago: He was Killed 10 Days Later: Watch His Speech

Two days ago, a young man opened fire at a small college in Roseburg, Oregon, killing nine people and injuring twenty. It is the same city that 47 years ago Senator Robert F. Kennedy stood making an impassioned speech for gun law legislation.

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States. In fact, we are into the 276th day in 2015. Yet, there have been 294 shootings in which at least four people were shot in one spree or setting. What do we hear from our politicians about it? On the Democratic side, we have individuals demanding stricter gun control. On the Republican side, we have individuals stating that we actually need more lenient gun laws. We need everyone carrying guns so they can shoot bad people. We have the National Rifle Association taking to the airways with scare tactics and speaking in a totally inflexible tone no matter how tragic these killing have become.

Incredibly, on May 27, 1968, Robert Kennedy came to Roseburg, Oregon, and stood in front of a very hostile crowd of lumber workers, hunters, and others carrying signs “Protect Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms”. Senator Kennedy was running for the Democratic presidential candidate position, and was in Roseburg arguing in support of a crime bill pending in the U.S. Congress to restrict certain access to purchase guns. Senator Kennedy’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated on November 22, 1963, by an individual who purchased his rifle through mail order.

To read more and to watch RFK's speech, visit Ring Of Fire Radio.

Plain Talk: Civil service reform is anything but
by DAVE ZWEIFEL

 

Apparently our state government isn't corrupt enough yet.

That's the only conclusion one can draw from the Republican-controlled Legislature's latest attack on yet another state institution that represented all that was clean about this state — the civil service system.

Not only was its enactment back in 1905 a model for the rest of the nation, it is still rated among the best and fairest in the country, keeping cronyism out of hiring state workers and insulating them from the politicians asking for favors.

We learned about the need for a civil serice system back in high school civics class. Without it, politicians would hire friends and relatives and often fire state workers so they could replace them with people who had done them favors during election time. And when the next election rolled around, workers were told to contribute to the campaign or face the loss of their jobs. It was not a pretty scene and government suffered because of it.

Read more at the Cap Times.
 
Copyright © 2015 Southwest Regional Democratic Organization, All rights reserved.

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