On April 3, we will go to the polls again. There seems to a fly in the election ointment. I was speaking to a friend who regularly works the polls at Webster Middle School. He noted that when working the February Primary there were around 200 fewer names on the roster than during the previous election. Yes, people move and people die, but 200 from a single location? Before we do anything else we must protect our access to the ballot. To do that go to MyVote.com. Make sure you are listed. You can also get an absentee ballot if you want. Let's be honest, though, our readership may not be the demographic that is targeted. So, share this information with your friends and on social media. We cannot allow our Democracy to be hacked.
Next, you can help elect Judges who respect the people of our community. Others prefer to protect the NRA and we have seen all too graphically where that leads.
This coming Sunday Grassroots North Shore will be holding an event, Rescuing Wisconsin.
Five “knights in shining armor,” willing to take the time, money, and effort required to run for office will be at the Grassroots North Shore Candidate Forum on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:15, on March 11th (at North Shore Presbyterian Church in Shorewood).
* Rebecca Dallet, Candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court
* Andy Lamb, running against Jim Ott, Assembly District 23
* Chris Rahlf, taking on Rob Brooks, Assembly District 60
* Emily Siegrest, challenging Daniel Knodl, Assembly District 24 and
* Josh Kaul, running against Brad Schimel, Attorney General
Of these only Rebecca Dallet will be on the April 3 ballot. Come meet Judge Dallet and, if you like what you hear as much as we do, help get her elected. We have three actions planned in her support:
- We will be making calls from both the GRNS office on five separate dates. You can also sign up to make calls from a member's home in Whitefish Bay.
- Sign up for one of Ozaukee County's days of action and talk to voters.
- We will have postcards (stamp included) for you to send to friends in support of Judge Dallet.
In addition, we will have three stellar candidates who are running for the State Assembly and Josh Kaul for Attorney General.
So, if you haven't RSVPed yet, do so NOW.
See you all this Sunday.Read more
Thank you to Pat Slutske for today's opener:
In his book, On Democracy, political theorist Robert A Dahl provides a great deal of information about the prerequisites, characteristics, and benefits of democracy. Among his five prerequisites for a democratic process are voters with enlightened understanding. Recent elections have revealed, if not produced, a phenomenon referred to as the low information voter. A person who may vote, but who is generally poorly informed and/or misinformed about politics; who has little interest or understanding of political affairs; who rarely watches the news; and who can't name major political figures or national events yet vote anyway on this limited knowledge basis. (Dahl, Robert A., On Democracy, Yale University Press, 1998.)
Despite their glaring lack of knowledge or interest, they are the people who could be heavily tapped into in coming elections. Making them into voters committed to a candidate can be accomplished in several ways: wow them, woo them, manipulate them, or educate (enlighten) them. To wow a low information voter, simply provide them with a charismatic, cool or celebrity candidate - they will be drawn to these superficial characteristics and become loyal adherents. To woo them, drop them some crumbs about how the candidate is in support of what they hold dear – like, let’s say, social issues. And while wooing is to an extent a form of manipulation, it is subtle. Overt manipulation involves using catch words and phrases, symbols, or, if you will, dog whistles, to capture their attention so that the rest of the message is internalized without being given any thought. This is how information not based in fact becomes gospel.
But note that Dahl considers enlightened voters as a requirement for democracy. People who have been able to access factual information from a myriad of sources and through the use of their own rational and logical thought processes are able to make an enlightened decision. However, when government is conducted behind closed doors and the only information available comes from wowing, wooing, and manipulation, along with sound bites and campaign rhetoric, the education and enlightenment of a voter can be difficult. And, for the record, this is not by accident.
On close inspection, many of the changes that have transpired over the past several decades put the foundations of democracy at risk. And when these changes are organized along a time-line, the chronology and sequencing appear to indicate that they are not random occurrences, but rather a methodical, strategic plan to erode, degrade, and eliminate democracy. Current examples of efforts to eliminate enlightened voters are the WI Legislative assaults on the WI Government Accountability Bureau, The WI Legislative Audit Bureau and WI Open Records laws. These aggressive actions against agencies and laws that help the cause of enlightenment, can be categorized as brazen and destructive attacks on democracy.
Is democracy on the ropes? Not yet! But it is being pummeled from many directions. It is our duty, as enlightened citizens who do see and understand the insidious objectives behind these actions, to stand up and be heard. Tell our legislators we know what they are doing. Write letters to editors of publications, both local and national, decrying these moves to take away our democracy. Share this information with others to help them become enlightened.
Please keep an eye out for doings at Grassroots North Shore:
- On Feb. 28th we will be hosting Rep. Jonathan Brostoff who will be presenting MythBusting Foxconn. The Foxconn plant is coming to Racine County? Our governor is promising thousands of jobs and a major boost to our state's economy.
Or will it? Join State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff as he covers these promises and the reality of this deal, and what if could mean to our future. You will come away from this event able to discuss the impact of this deal.
- Starting on March 10, we will be hosting phone banking and postcard writing events in support of Rebecca Dallet. Please sign up. This is what we do. This is what we are good at. She will go after criminals even when those committing the crimes are big business or our own elected officials.
Most of us know about five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although that may describe some, it does not work to change anything. We need something else after anger, something constructive and that is where elections come in. Who can save us? We can save ourselves by electing those who will work for us.
Who Can Save Wisconsin? How Do We Help Them?
Republican leadership continues to threaten Wisconsin’s air and water, education system, the individual’s civil rights, and even the ability to travel in a safe, convenient transportation system. Citizens wonder how long we can progress on this path, and who will arise to wrest control of state government back from an authoritarian, backward-looking administration.
Five “knights in shining armor,” willing to take and spend the time, money, and effort required to run for office will be at the Grassroots North Shore Candidate Forum on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:15, on March 11th (at North Shore Presbyterian Church in Shorewood).
* Tim Burns or Rebecca Dallet for the Wisconsin Supreme Court
* Andy Lamb and Liz Leblanc Sumner, both running against Jim Ott,
Assembly District 23
* Chris Rahlf, taking on Rob Brooks, Assembly District 60
* Emily Siegrest, challenging Daniel Knodl, Assembly District 24 and
* Josh Kaul, running against Brad Schimel, Attorney General
Although they are signing up to be our standard bearers and representatives in the true sense of the word, they cannot do it without us. We need to show up for them, as we hope they will show up for us. Take this opportunity to support, question, and listen to our candidates.
Oh, and don't forget to VOTE on FEB. 20TH for Supreme Court Judge. I know that for many of us it is the only thing on this Primary Ballot. It is, never-the-less, vital. Right now, our Judiciary is the only thing protecting us. Please, don't let it slip further out of our control.
You may have noticed a distinct change in our newsletter. Our vice-chair, Nancy Kaplan, has had a small stroke. She will be in rehab for the next two weeks and then home for the hard work of brain retraining. The good news is that her cognitive abilities are at 100%. The bad news is that her right hand and left eye are still somewhat impaired. Until she can rejoin us, we will soldier on. If you would like to send her well wishes she is at Jewish Home & Care Center, 1414 N Prospect Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202. You can also send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read more
The good news: it looks like we are winning the fight for fair maps.
The bad news: The Republican Legislature has not given up finding ways to subvert the will of the people. It feels like an unending game of Wack-a-mole.
On April 3rd, Wisconsin voters will have a question on their ballot asking if they want to eliminate the Office of State Treasurer from our state constitution and transfer the office’s duties to the governor’s administration.
This is a sneaky attempt at yet another power grab. We urge you to VOTE NO. Here are a few reasons why:
- This position was meant by our state’s founders to be the legislature’s fiscal watchdog. Without it, we’d lose critical checks and balances needed to stop unchecked power.
- If passed, this amendment gives the governor and lieutenant governor unprecedented ability to “repurpose” funds away from the permanent school funds that support public education.
- It would also give the governor and lieutenant governor new and stronger control over thousands of acres of public lands and would remove even more critical checks and balances that have helped preserve our environment since our founding in 1848.
- If the office is removed, Wisconsin risks all budgeting, contracting, payments, and accounting being consolidated under the direction of the governor. There would be no separation of duties or checks on power.
- Risking the integrity of our financial reporting means risking $23 billion in federal funds -- almost 30% of our state budget.
- Passing this would make Wisconsin the only state in the country without a constitutional financial officer.
- The authors of our constitution created this position for a good reason. Eliminating the office compromises a fair and transparent process.
What can you do? A lot.
- Take the pledge to share this information with five people and ask them to share it with five more people who will . . . you get where this is going.
- Join us for a session where will help you construct a letter to the editor to share with media outlets. Honestly, it is not as intimidating as it sounds. We have talking points to share with you and a list of outlets where you can send your letter. RSVP
Mark your calendar and rsvp for Grassroots North Shore's next event:
Rescuing Wisconsin, March 11, 2018 at 4:30pm - 6:30pm
Listen, Question, Support our Wisconsin Candidates
* Tim Burns or Rebecca Dallet (whichever wins Supreme Court primary)
* Andy Lamb (running against Jim Ott, Assembly District 23)
* Chris Rahlf (taking on Rob Brooks, Assembly District 60
* Emily Siegrest (challenging Daniel Knodl, Assembly District 24)
Last Tuesday was a good day for Progressives in Wisconson. We saw national headlines like ABC's "Democrat's upset in Wisconsin race sparks hope elsewhere". In the 58th Assembly District West Bend's Democrat Dennis Degenhardt won 43 percent of the vote; in 2016, Hillary Clinton won just 28 percent of the vote there, and no Democrat even bothered to contest the Assembly seat. Of special note are the results in the city of West Bend where we participated in canvassing. in 2017 Clinton got only 24.83%. This time around the Dem, Degenhardt, got 51% of the vote last week. That is an increase of over 26 points. CANVASSING WORKS!
The big win, however, was the upset in Wisconsin’s 10th Senate District, where Democrat Patty Schachtner, a medical examiner, beat Republican Adam Jarchow, a member of the State Assembly, by nine points. New York Magazine summarized it:
The rural district’s voting history did not suggest an easy win for Democrats. For the last 17 years, the seat was held by Republican state senator Sheila Harsdorf, who stepped down in November to serve as Governor Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary. In the 2016 election, Harsdorf won by 26 points and Donald Trump won by 17 points; Romney easily took the district in 2012, though Wisconsin went to Obama.
Both sides poured large sums of money into the race: Americans for Prosperity spent at least $50,000 on ads for Jarchow, and together Greater Wisconsin and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee spent around $40,000 on Schachtner.
When asked whether she thought resistance to President Trump helped her win, Schachtner dodged the question.
“I’m just worried about western Wisconsin right now,” she said. “Right now, in western Wisconsin, Wisconsin values is what keeps us going.”
The most important analysis came from Scott Wittkopf at his Progressive Values Blog where he analyzes Patty Schachtner, the candidate, and the campaign.
While Patty’s opponent was focused on an historically successful, conservative message of less taxes, greater personal liberty, and less government in people’s lives (based on authoritarian values of self-interest); the Schachtner campaign did something different from most other Democratic campaigns – she didn’t attack Scott Walker or Donald Trump, or try to connect her opponent to Walker/Trump via an attack strategy. Instead, she communicated her strength – her empathy – a moral responsibility to care for others as yourself (think of The Golden Rule). And what that would mean to the people in Western Wisconsin on important issues.
The first sentence on the home page of her campaign website evokes the progressive frame of empathy:
While our current elected officials have been busy playing politics, Patty has been busy helping people.
She then tells you why that’s important to people’s lives in Western Wisconsin (her constituents to whom she is responsible):
Whether through her work as St. Croix County’s medical examiner addressing the addiction epidemic and mental health crisis, supporting local schools on her school board, or helping community non-profits, Patty is always looking for ways to improve people’s lives.
The message is obvious: We must present what we are for. If we want to win we must be more than not them. We must communicate a clear vision of a positive future that we are ready to implement.
So just a quick reminder: there will be a primary election on February 20, a general election on April 3, another primary on August 14, and the general election on November 6. We're counting on you to vote in each and every one of these. But more than that, we need you to do what you can to help inform other voters and to get out the vote.
Come to the Grassroots North Shore annual winter dinner and meeting on Sunday, January 28, from 5-7pm at North Shore Presbyterian Church to meet three very promising candidates for Congress: Randy Bryce (running against Paul Ryan in the 1st congressional district), Tom Palzewicz (running against Jim Sensenbrenner in the 5th congressional district), and Dan Kohl (running against Glenn Grothman in the 6th congressional district). They'll each give a brief speech and will spend some time chatting with attendees. So don't miss this chance to meet these candidates. RSVP on our website or on Facebook.
There's a lot going on now that we have entered the new year. Two really important events I want to highlight:
- Our annual meeting and shared supper will take place on Sunday, January 28 from 5 pm. In addition to a brief business meeting to elect new leaders, we will hear from some notable candidates such as Tom Palzewicz (running for the 5th Congressional District against Jim Sensenbrenner), Dan Kohl (running for the 6th Congressional District against Glenn Grothman), and Randy Bryce (running in the 1st Congressional District against Paul Ryan) plus Robert Kraig from Citizen Action. We have a real shot at unseating some of these incumbents, but of course, it will take lots of people power to make it so. I hope you'll come out to this event to support the candidates and Grassroots North Shore.
- Grassroots North Shore is starting a book club GRNS is starting a book club to better understand the world we live in and to learn what actions we can take to make it better. At our first meeting, on Wednesday, January 24, from 6-8pm (with a second session tentatively planned for Saturday, February 3, from 9:30-11: 30 am), we will hold a two-hour discussion focused on the book, Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice, by Les Leopold.
On the crazy news front, there's already a surfeit of coverage. If you read any national news outlet or watch any prime time news broadcast, you don't need me to bring you up to speed. But there's a not-so-well covered concern about exactly how the news media are handling the bizarro stuff emanating from the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D.C. In particular, how the media and the rest of us are responding to those abominable tweets.
George Lakoff, the renowned linguist and cognitive scientist (author of such seminal books as Metaphors We Live By), has an especially cogent piece on the problem. At the risk of trying your patience, I am including his entire tweet stream here. Feel free to scroll down to the EVENTS list below and skip the lecture!
Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle. It works like a charm. His tweets are tactical rather than substantive. They mostly fall into one of these four categories.Read more
The tweets either get his framing established first, knowing that whoever frames first tends to win. Or when things look bad for him, he diverts attention or attacks the messenger. And when he wants to test public opinion, he puts out an outrageous trial balloon. Each tweet gets his message retweeted so he dominates social media. Reporters, social media influencers, and many others fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Every time. They retweet, share, and repeat his messages ad infinitum. This helps Trump tremendously.
They may think they’re negating or undermining him, but that’s not how human brains work. As a cognitive scientist, I can tell you: repeating his messages only helps him. First, it focuses all attention on Trump’s antics. This makes his nonsense seem like the most important thing in the world. It’s called the “focusing illusion” – and it’s a large part of why he got elected in the first place. It makes him larger than life. Second, constant repetition of his Trump’s messages embeds them deeply in the brains of millions of people. Whether it’s locking up his opponents or threatening nuclear war, he has the power to control tens of millions of brains via tweets. He focuses them on his chosen topics. Third, the constant attacks and outrage increase his credibility with his base. He can portray himself as a victim of the “establishment” – under constant attacks (which he provokes with tweets). He acts, his opponents only react. He is in heroic control.
I understand the desire to portray Trump as childish or deranged. But do you deal with a child or a deranged person by sinking to their level? Do you mock and scorn them, or trumpet their ridiculousness on the front page? No.
Imagine if we took a different approach to Trump’s social media antics. Imagine if we put them in a small, quiet corner of the newspaper. Imagine if they were only a minor throwaway item at the end of the newscast. Imagine greeting them with calm clarity, not instant outrage.
Imagine if we took back OUR power from this disgraceful man. Imagine if WE decided what was important, rather than dancing to Trump’s tune. Imagine if a tweet were just a tweet (or evidence in a criminal case), rather than the dictator of our reality.
We have the power stop him. But we must stop letting him control our media -- and our minds. It’s time to give Trump a Twitter Time Out. Let’s shrink him down to size. Let’s take this weapon out of his hands.
Think of Trump as a puppeteer, his tweets as the strings, and anyone who retweets/shares him as the puppet. Cut the damn strings!
TALK ABOUT THE TRUTH: Fram the real issue (e.g., Russia, foreign policy, business connections).
NOTE ATTEMPT TO DIVERT ATTENTION: Say that he's diverting attention. When claims are false, say why.
GO BACK TO THE REAL ISSUES: Don't spend too much time on diversions. Get right back to the issue at hand.
As you might expect, the number of events in the coming two weeks is smaller than normal. But things begin to heat up again by the second week of January and will continue to grow as we get closer and closer to the elections scheduled in 2018. Just to remind you:
- January 16: special elections in SD 10 and AD 58;
- February 20: primary for non-partisan offices including State Supreme Court Justice;
- April 3: election for non-partisan offices including State Supreme Court Justice
- August 14: primary for all partisan offices including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, assembly representatives, state senators, US congress representatives, and US senate;
- November 6: election for all partisan offices.
Mark your calendars now and plan ahead. If you won't be at home for any of those dates, make sure you vote by absentee ballot. Grassroots North Shore will be compiling information for offices at the county and state levels. Watch for an announcement about our election guide.
Another important date for your calendar is Sunday, January 28. We will be holding our annual meeting and dinner at 5pm at North Shore Presbyterian Church (4048 N. Bartlett Ave, Shorewood). After a short business meeting to elect members of our steering committee, we will hear from Robert Kraig and a number of congressional candidates from our area. Dan Kohl is running against Glenn Grothman in the 6th CD; Tom Palzewicz is running against Jim Sensenbrenner in the 5th CD; Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers are vying to unseat Paul Ryan in the 1st CD. Several of these challengers will be attending. You won't want to miss a chance to meet them. You can RSVP on our website or on our Facebook page.
Because of my travel schedule, next week's newsletter will be later than usual. I'll try to get it out on 1/3 but I can't promise. If you are looking for events in our area, you can find them on the two calendars on our website. One lists the events that are recorded on the Milwaukee County Democratic Party calendar and the other events shared by grassroots groups in the MKE area.
And on a final note for this week's newsletter, and for 2017 as a whole, let me recommend an article in today's Washington Post describing the history of our inability to diffuse cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns from Russia. The well-sourced piece shows just how difficult it is for a society committed to democratic ideals, including the right to privacy and freedom of expression, to counter the moves of an autocratic state actor. The obstacles to a robust defense began decades ago, according to the article. Even though many high level officials in the current administration seem to want to pursue more effective policies, the nature of the bureaucracy and the resistance of our commander in chief hobble our efforts. It's a fairly long piece but worth the time.Read more
When I was a kid in that long ago time, this time of year would find me gathering with my sibs (good Jews though we were) and all the kids in our neighborhood to decorate their Christmas trees and prepare to go carolling. This year, I'm tentatively planning a different kind of gathering. As we head into the dregs of this anno horribilis, my husband and I are gearing up for a massive protest in case IQ45 (aka current White House Occupant aka *resident) manages to fire Mueller. You can do the same by visiting MoveOn.org and signing up to show up for NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW—MUELLER FIRING RAPID RESPONSE. We're spending the holidays with family near DC, so that's where we'll be headed but there is a planned rally at the Federal Building in Milwaukee should it be needed. Here's how this plan is supposed to work:
Rallies will begin hours after news breaks of a Mueller firing:
This is the general plan—please confirm details on your event page, as individual hosts may tailor their events to their local plan.
- If Mueller is fired BEFORE 2 P.M. local time —> events will begin @ 5 P.M. local time
- If Mueller is fired AFTER 2 P.M. local time —> events will begin @ noon local time the following day
The Trump propaganda machine's increasingly hysterical response to the Mueller investigation should be seen a symptom of a much larger, and more disastrous, illness. In a stomach-churning assessment of where we are now, Matthew Yglesias at Vox has posted a must-read article: We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America. And he's not just talking about the travesty of a tax bill the House votes on today. The heart of the matter, Yglesias points out, is what he calls "the new political dishonesty."
Politicians have never been renowned for their honesty and have always liked to spin their policies in the most positive light possible. But not only does Trump lie a lot more than his predecessors — a New York Times analysis found six times as many lies in Trump’s first 10 months in office as across Obama’s eight years — but the Trump-era GOP has grown terrifyingly comfortable with a kind of large-scale misrepresentation of what their legislation says that’s totally unprecedented.
Speaker Paul Ryan’s official list of five policy highlights in the tax bill, for example, includes one point that is merely preserving the status quo on mortgage interest, and totally neglects to mention the corporate tax cut that is its centerpiece.
Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bills ultimately didn’t pass, but they also had this characteristic.
Reasonable people can disagree, for example, on whether it’s a good idea to cut Medicaid spending. But the GOP wrote a series of bills that entailed large cuts in Medicaid spending and then sent the secretary of health and human services out on television to say they weren’t proposing to cut Medicaid spending.
Not every member of the party was as brazen as that. But Trump and Ryan have completely dissolved the norm against dishonesty to the point where there are no longer any whistleblowers in the Republican caucus or the world of conservative media. You just say whatever you want, and dole out favors to your friends — moving at such a rapid pace that the country’s ability to process what’s happening gets overwhelmed.
Republicans, Yglesias argues, are following the "looter-in-chief" as they erode the norms the rule of law actually depends on. Here's his conclusion:
It takes a lot more than Donald Trump to orchestrate the kind of feeding frenzy that’s currently playing out in Washington. Nothing about this would work if not for the fact that hundreds of Republican Party members of Congress wake up each morning and decide anew that they are indifferent to the myriad financial conflicts of interest in which Trump and his family are enmeshed. Moral and political responsibility for the looting ultimately rests on the shoulders of the GOP members of Congress who decided that the appropriate reaction to Trump’s inauguration was to start smashing and grabbing as much as possible for themselves and their donors rather than uphold their constitutional obligations....
It would be trivially easy for congressional Republicans to force Trump to disclose his tax returns, but instead of holding his feet to the fire, they are taking their cues from him — even though many of them spent the 2016 campaign openly recognizing that he was unfit for office.
Trump’s victory, rather than inspiring a bipartisan movement to check the new president’s worst impulses, caused the party to snap, with as many factions as possible reaching to toss a rock and grab what they can as long as the party lasts.
The country is left only to hope that it doesn’t last too long.
We're not entirely powerless in the face of this breakdown, but our power is limited right now. Protesting with our feet and our signs can make a certain amount of sense in the case of dire events, such as a new Saturday Night Massacre. But the more hopeful view down the road is taking shape if you can renew a tiny bit of faith in the political prognosticators.
Fivethirtyeight.com has IQ45's approval rating 19.5 points under water. And in even better news, Dems are winning the race to control Congress by a whopping 11.4%. That aggregate of recent polls shows a yuuuuuge wave building.
I know I don't need to remind you, but I will anyway. That wave doesn't build itself. It takes people power at every level. And that means we are all relying on each other to pitch in and do everything we can to foster the growth of a tidal wave. So here's what I want for Hanukkah/Christmas: your name on our list of people willing to volunteer as the year of elections begins. There's a meaningful job to be done regardless of your skills and abilities. Make volunteering to ensure electoral victories up and down the entire ballot your New Year's resolution. It's easier to keep than dieting, believe me.
And on that note, two special announcements:
- On January 16, there will be a special election for the 58th Assembly District (just to the north and west of the GRNS territory). It's a longshot, of course, but Dennis Degenhardt could use a little of your time. Shirley Horowitz has organized phone banking on January 15 to get out the vote for him. If you're able to help out, contact Shirley. Phoners will meet at 5:00 at Stowells in Shorewood (4485 N. Oakland Avenue) and finish by 7:20; you do not need to bring a phone.
- Grassroots North Shore's annual meeting and dinner is scheduled for Sunday, January 28, at 5pm. Robert Kraig and congressional candidates for the 1st, 2nd and 6th Congressional Districts will be on hand to pump us up and show us how we're going to win the House in November. Mark you calendars. Or better yet, sign up on our website or our Facebook page.
So much news, so little time and attention to give. It's the season for holiday parties and a whole host of holiday greetings (Merry Christmas, among others). So it's painful to feel bombarded daily by unpleasant, distressing, and downright odious news. IQ45 (my new favorite sobriquet for that despicable man occupying the White House) is trying to tell the world that Senator Gillibrand offered sex — or something unsavory — for campaign contributions from him. Roy Moore may well become the next senator from the corrupt state of Alabama (seriously, the scandals pouring out of that state are eclipsing those from Illinois and New Jersey, if you can believe it). And the tax bill creeps forward with so many damaging provisions I've given up trying to name them all. (For an excellent piece on how the tax plan will lower living standards for most Americans, see Eduardo Porter's piece in the NYTimes.)
One urgent matter, though, ought to grab a few moments of your time and attention. Net neutrality is about to be destroyed. So today is the day that YOU need to register your opposition to that rule change. Net neutrality simply means that Comcast or Spectrum or ATT, your internest service provider (ISP), must treat information you seek — whether its a video you want to watch or a blog or news source you want to read or the Facebook page you want to visit — any differently than it treats any other source of data. So, no preferential speeds for some specific content providers and no blocking any legal content provider. An ISP can of course charge customers differential rates for different download speeds, but it must deliver all the information a customer chooses at the whatever speed that customer is paying for.
So what to do: write a comment to the FCC. And do it TODAY! Here's how.
- Write a brief comment in your standard word processor and save it. The comment can be as simple as "we need to preserve a level playing field for the internet. I oppose changing the current net neutrality rules."
- John Oliver has made getting to the right spot on the FCC's site dead simple. Go to GoFCCYourself.com and click on "New Filing." Fill in the form (ignore any fields that aren't relevant to you and use COMMENT for the "Type of Filing") and upload your saved comment.
The FCC will vote on this matter on Thursday, December 14. So there's not a moment to lose.
In some hopeful news, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has accepted a second case on partisan gerrymandering, this one from Maryland. It's hopeful because, as Richard Pildes (noted authority on constitutional law) observes:
Deciding to hear the Maryland case is a significant signal that a majority of the Court is not going to hold partisan gerrymandering claims to be non-justiciable (that is, inappropriate for judicial resolution). If the Court were moving in the Wisconsin case toward holding partisan gerrymandering to be non-justiciable, it would make little sense for the Court to do anything with the Maryland case except hold it, then send it back to the lower courts to dismiss on the grounds that the entire cause of action was non-justiciable. Hearing the Maryland case means the Court is quite unlikely to rule in WI that partisan gerrymandering claims should not be addressed by the courts.
Pildes's piece is written more for scholars of constitutional law than for the average person. For another, easier read on what the SCOTUS decision to hear the Maryland case means, consult Richard Hasan's op-ed in this morning's LATimes.com. One interesting interpretation of the SCOTUS decision has to do with Chief Justice Roberts's concern that the court will be accused of favoring Democrats if it decides for Whitford et al. in the Wisconsin case. The Maryland case, Benisek v Lamone, has been brought by Republicans and claims that the Democrats who control both the governorship and both houses of the state legislature used their power to draw congressional district lines so that Democrats would defeat a Republican in the MD 6th Congressional District. Hasan writes, "I could certainly see Roberts, who cares more than the average justice about the institutional legitimacy of the court, agreeing to vote with the majority [in striking down partisan gerrymandering in Gill v Whitford] only so long as he can also “prefer” Republicans at the same time, in Benisek. Deciding Gill and Benisek together would allow the court, in announcing a new partisan-gerrymandering rule, to say that sometimes the rule favors one party and sometimes it favors the other."
If you're at all interested in the argument over fair election maps, you should read the whole thing. Meanwhile, here is the menu of upcoming events you might want to know about. Oh, and Happy Hanukah!Read more
I've decided to begin this week's newsletter with a brief account of Outrageous Stuff. That segment is followed by a preview of our Grassroots North Shore plans for the coming elections. So you, dear reader, can choose your own topics and methods of resistance. Here goes.
Tax Reform: It isn't completely a done deal yet. Besides screaming expletives at the TV, you can call your representatives in Congress (here's the number for the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121). If you want to know what actions make a difference, try this article in Wired. Make your messages personal. If you want a sneak peek at how your own circumstances might change, try the NYTimes online.
Environment: Trump's move to shrink two National Monuments — Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears — has prompted Native Americans and environmental/conservation groups to begin filing lawsuits. Probably the most effective way to support these efforts will be to send money. I'll bring you information about where you can donate as soon as I can.
Meanwhile in Scottwalkerstan, Republicans have decided that our air is too pure and our water and wetlands too clean. So they are proposing to eliminate state regulations that go further than federal rules. For more information about the attack on wetlands, contact the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin: Rebecca Kraters, 414-468-4243. A bill authored by Rep. Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum and Sen. Duey Stroebel of Saukville would repeal any state air pollution rules that go beyond federal regulations. Naturally, the American Petroleum Institute, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Wisconsin Paper Council are pushing the bill. Opposing groups include Clean Wisconsin, The American Lung Association, the state Sierra Club chapter and the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
Alabama Special Election: Yesterday, IQ45 (aka "our *president") decided to expose himself (sort of) and forthrightly endorse for Senator from Alabama a man who is a known supporter of segregation and an alleged child molester. The Republican National Committee promptly reinstated its fundraising agreement with Moore (though apparently it is providing a mere $50k and no field staff to the campaign). As the Washington Post points out, "the underlying facts have not changed.... What changed is Trump’s mind." You can help by donating a few bucks, of course. Or call people you know in Alabama to get Jones supporters out to vote on Tuesday, Dec. 12. I don't know if there is any way to help by phoning from here, but I will find out and send a special email if it can be done.
- Mueller Investigation: This spreading garbage fire is taking up a lot of media time and attention. The latest turn reveals the Presidential Transition team's knowledge of Flynn's numerous calls to Sergey Kislyak in Dec. 2016. Those calls intended to influence Russia's position on a UN resolution and to urge Putin to refrain from retaliating against new sanctions the Obama administration was imposing. It seems that nearly everyone at the top of the organization was in the loop. See the NYTimes account. Now there's a raging debate about whether the Logan Act, the law prohibiting private citizens from negotiating policies with foreign governments, might be used to indict some of the folks clearly caught in the act. Stay tuned.
Grassroots North Shore's Action Plans for 2018
You're no doubt aware that Wisconsin will be holding FOUR elections in 2018:
- February 20: primary for nonpartisan races (Supreme Court, some Circuit Court positions, some local offices like Village Trustees and the like);
- April 3: nonpartisan general election;
- August 14: partisan primary, including Governor, Senator, US Representatives, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin Assembly, and a host of local offices;
- November 6: partisan general election.
In addition, there is a special election taking place in Assembly District 58 (in Washington County) on January 16. The seat is vacant and a strong progressive Democrat, Dennis Degenhardt, has stepped up to run. I don't need to remind you that elections are where resistance and actions pay off. Elections have consequences. All of them.
Virginia, New Jersey, and Oklahoma have been flipping seats from red to BLUE. Surely we can too! So here's a preview of what Grassroots North Shore will be working on, with your help and participation:
- Phone banking support for Dennis Degenhardt;
- Phone banking, canvassing, house parties and perhaps text messaging focused on three Assembly districts with wonderful Democrats running to defeat incumbent Republicans: Christine Rahlf running against Robert Brooks in the 60th; Emily Siegrist running against Jim Knodl in the 24th; Andy Lamb and perhaps one or more other Dems taking on Jim Ott in the 23rd.
- Working with Supermarket Legends and the League of Women Voters to register voters and help with photo ID issues;
- Organizing drives to put yard signs in strategic places to support the campaigns that will be our focus.
- Supporting all the other races at the national, state and local levels to turn Wisconsin blue again!
You can be sure we will be contacting you, asking for participation in these actions, as the year rolls along. But we'd love you to sign up on our volunteer page now and indicate what activities most appeal to you.
And we're excited to be starting a Book Club to discuss topics that will provide us talking points to move our Community and our Country forward. We need to keep energized for the work ahead! This program is co-sponsored by Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Here is our first topic.
Concerned about skyrocketing inequality in the U.S.? Much of it comes down to the pervasive "neoliberal" economic and political agenda that is currently driving our country far to the right. But what is neoliberalism? Why is it hurting our families and communities? And how can we stop it? Please join us in a two hour book discussion focused on the book Runaway Inequality by Les Leopold and find answers to these questions and more! Sessions will begin in January.Read more
When will we meet and how can you sign up? Sessions will begin in January. We plan to hold multiple sessions to accommodate all who want to attend. After you RSVP we will contact you with a choice of dates and times (daytime, evening or Saturday morning will be available). The group will meet at the Grassroots North Shore Office, 5600 W. Brown Deer Road, Suite 116. Sessions will be small group discussions in a Book Club format and facilitated by a leader to get discussion started. We ask that you read Runaway Inequality in advance. It’s a fast and straightforward read.
Open to all, so invite your friends - members and nonmembers are encouraged to attend! RSVP by January 5 by emailing Norma Gilson. Norma will send you a Doodle poll so you can pick your desired dates.