Some become more conservative as they age. I did not.

I get it. The difference, I get it.  We are all good people who care about others, our families, friends, neighbors, community. It’s just that, as a Progressive, our sense of community goes so much further than that of Conservatives'. For Conservatives that sense of community only extends as far as their own interests. Progressives view our community as global.

Eilene Stevens 3996.20pc

Eilene Stevens

Eilene Stevens's activity stream

  • published It's all about RIGGED MAPS in Newsletter 2023-09-20 12:33:53 -0500

    It's all about RIGGED MAPS

    Today's newsletter is entirely devoted to summarizing the ongoing battle for fair election maps for our state. If you care about this issue — and you should, since every other issue we care about hangs on restoring fairness to our election districts — you need to call, write or email your state senator and your assembly representatives to oppose firing Meagan Wolfe, to oppose impeaching Janet Protasiewicz, and to oppose a sham nonpartisan method for drawing election maps. To find who represents you, how to contact them, and where they currently stand on the threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz, go to Defend Justice.

    The state of Wisconsin is in a fierce battle to retain even a semblance of representative democracy, a governing structure that relies on the ability of voters to choose representatives to its various governing bodies. (See Wikipedia: "Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected people represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy.") At the moment, we have a representative democracy in the executive branch of statewide governance. Four of the five top executive positions, three Democrats and one Republican, won their positions in the 2022 election. (The fifth was appointed after the person who was elected resigned.) At the apex of our judicial system, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is comprised of seven justices, all of whom have been elected to their seats. When Justice Janet Protasiewicz won her election against Dan Kelly by a resounding 11% in April 2023, the court's center of gravity shifted left. But that shift had been underway for the last several supreme court elections: for Justice Dallet in 2018 and for Justice Karofsky in 2020 — the one exception being the election of Justice Hagedorn in 2019. Clearly the resulting make-up of the court reflects the choices Wisconsin voters have made over the last six years.

    The legislative branch of our government, however, is decidedly undemocratic in that the district maps have been drawn — first in 2011 and again in 2021 — to ensure a Republican majority. Recently Craig Gilbert asked Are Wisconsin's election maps 'rigged'? The answer, as he shows in the article, is YES: "the outcome had already been decided before any votes were cast. Forget about who the candidates are, forget about what the issues are, forget about what the polls say. The results in these legislative races were already 'baked in' by how the districts were drawn."

    Our current legislature is again making an open frontal assault on representative democracy. In recent weeks the Senate and Assembly have taken three steps to help ensure that control of the legislature remains firmly in Republican hands and that state elections are overseen by someone the legislature chooses.

    First, the senate, in the grip of a super-majority, voted on September 13 to fire Meagan Wolfe, the administrator of the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) (GOP-led Wisconsin Senate votes to fire nonpartisan official targeted by 2020 election skeptics). Originally, Wolfe was unanimously confirmed by the senate after it rejected her predecessor who had worked for the Government Accountability Board (GAB). To understand the scope of the ongoing power grab, we need a little bit of history. The GAB was originally created as a reform measure in 2007 and "had a nonpartisan structure unique among election boards in the United States, with G.A.B. led by six former judges appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate" (Wikipedia). Republicans subsequently decided that GAB was inadequate because it pursued investigations into former governor Scott Walker's recall campaign. So it abolished that agency and created the WEC in 2016, undoing the nonpartisan approach and substituting a commission comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans all of whom were to be appointed by partisans.

    But that reform also apparently did not seem to do, because it failed to satisfy the election deniers and skeptics repeatedly — and falsely — questioning the results of the 2020 election. So the senate voted to remove Meagan Wolfe from her position. In response to the senate vote to fire her, Attorney General Kaul immediately filed a lawsuit arguing that "Senate Republicans don’t have the authority to oust Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe and accused them of attacking the state’s elections." The AP article informs us that "Senate rejection would normally carry the effect of firing her." Because the WEC had not nominated anyone to serve as the administrator, however, "a recent state Supreme Court ruling appears to allow her to stay in office indefinitely as a holdover." The history of the constantly changing structure of election administration in Wisconsin shows how Republicans keep trying to control our elections, presumably to influence outcomes in their favor.

    Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has been threatening to impeach Justice Protasiewicz if she does not recuse herself when the lawsuits challenging the current electoral maps are adjudicated by the Supreme Court. There are several reasons why this effort undermines the state judiciary. Perhaps most importantly, it amounts to yet another effort to overturn an election. Just watch Rachel Maddow and Ben Wikler explain. The effort has attracted a slew of national media. Here's Reid J. Epstein in the New York Times: Why Republicans Could Impeach a Liberal Judge Before She’s Heard a Case (gifted article). In the Washington Post, Scott Bauer and David A. Lieb publish GOP threat to impeach a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is driven by fear of losing legislative edge (gifted). And Washington Post opinion columnist Jennifer Ruben posts Wisconsin GOP entertains a constitutional crisis. Again. (gifted). See also a New York Magazine article: Will Wisconsin Republicans Pull Off the Ultimate Power Grab?

    And as if that weren't enough indication that the legislature is desperately trying to retain its lopsided power through rigged maps, Speaker Vos surreptitiously concocted a bill he claimed would be a nonpartisan method of drawing new election maps based on the "Iowa model." Vos presented the bill, AB 415, to the Assembly without a committee hearing, Democratic input, or public scrutiny. The bill passed with several amendments, but decidedly DOES NOT present a truly nonpartisan process for revising the rigged maps currently governing our elections. Representative Deb Andraca immediately warned that "the 'Iowa Model' that Robin Vos is proposing is actually a Trojan horse that threatens to undermine democratic fairness. Vos' 'Iowa model' harbors a perilous loophole that hands over unmitigated control of drawing districts to legislators, granting them the leverage to redraw and replace maps entirely on the third round of the drafting process."

    Jessie Opoien and Molly Beck explain Why Wisconsin Republicans suddenly embraced redistricting changes and Democrats want no part of it in a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece. "The move is aimed at bypassing lawsuits before the state Supreme Court that seek to rewrite the current GOP-favorable maps that were adopted in 2021." In fact, the bill that passed does not truly embody the Iowa model. In a bipartisan statement, two Iowa politicos say "the proposal currently in front of the Wisconsin Legislature cannot be accurately called the Iowa model because it lacks the elements that have been the foundation for our system’s success. The clearest and most consequential difference is that Wisconsin’s proposal rejects our system of judicial review. In Iowa, the legislature has limited opportunities to accept or reject the maps drafted by legislative staff. If lawmakers fail to reach consensus, the maps are drawn by the Iowa Supreme Court and enacted" (WisDems: Bipartisan Iowa leaders: 'The proposal currently in front of the Wisconsin Legislature cannot be accurately called the Iowa Model'). But in the bill the Wisconsin Assembly passed on September 14, the Assembly can redraw the third round maps any way they choose, as long as there is at least one Democrat willing to vote for the maps. Andraca calls out this feature: "This loophole acts as a gateway to continued gerrymandering, allowing them to reject nonpartisan maps and instead sanction their own, bias-laden versions. This isn’t simply a flaw in the system; it is a purposeful mechanism that Vos identified to facilitate an undemocratic seizure of control."

    So there we have it: the legislature's three efforts to undermine what should be our representative democracy: 1) fire the state's administrator of elections and put in her place someone more amenable to political pressure from the right wing currently controlling our legislature; 2) remove Justice Protaseiwicz to prevent the Supreme Court of Wisconsin from potentially tossing out the rigged election maps and adopting fair maps in their stead; and 3) pass a Trojan horse bill that purports to institute a nonpartisan process for drawing new maps but which in truth simply allows the legislature to continue to draw unfair election maps after a lengthy, drawn-out process. This third gambit is sure to end up in the courts after all but too late to have new and fair maps in place for the 2024 elections. So as our Grassroots North Shore Co-chair Debbie Patel says, we can turn to the courts now or we can turn to the courts later. The big difference is what maps will be in place for the next elections. Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, has posted a thorough interview with Ben Wikler discussing the many aspects of the GOP strategy. It runs about 14 minutes but I highly recommend watching it.

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  • Can Democrats Win the Messaging War in 2024?

    Grassroots North Shore presents an online discussion of messaging tactics and challenges in the 2024 elections, both national and statewide.

    Featured speakers David Pepper (Saving Democracy), Melissa Agard (WI Senate Majority Leader), and Mandela Barnes (Power to the Polls), offer knowledgeable, insider views of how to win the all-important state and national elections in 2024.

    ASK YOUR QUESTIONS: We are asking GRNS members to send their questions for David Pepper (find out more about him here.) He will pre-record his program segment, but will be able to respond to questions you have sent in.

    You can submit your questions here.

    November 12, 2023 at 7:00pm
    3 rsvps rsvp

  • published Ask David Pepper 2023-09-18 10:45:10 -0500

  • published We have to fight back in Newsletter 2023-09-13 09:16:23 -0500

    We have to fight back

    We're facing a democracy emergency and we need EVERYONE to take action to protect it.

    As you know, the MAGA crowd that dominates our legislature is planning to overturn the April 4 election for Wisconsin Supreme Court that we held just five months ago. Judge Janet Protasiewicz was elected by a landslide. But Speaker Robin Vos threatens to impeach her — before she has heard a single case — if she does not recuse herself from two redistricting cases (Clarke v Wisconsin Election Commission and Wright v Wisconsin Election Commission). Both cases were filed with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) in early August and are now waiting for SCOWIS to decide whether to hear them.

    Here's what the Legislative Council says about the grounds to impeach a civil officer of the state: "The Assembly may impeach an elected official by a majority vote based on specific reasons: corrupt conduct in office or for the commission of a crime or misdemeanor" ( Wisconsin Legislative Council, IM-2014-03). Has Justice Protasiewicz committed a crime or misdemeanor? No. In the five or so weeks that she has been a member of the court, has she engaged in corrupt conduct? No. So what the Assembly threatens to do, frankly, is just a display of raw power, an attempt to lock in their control of the legislature and deny the ability of Wisconsin's voters to choose their leaders.

    Here's what impeachment will mean. If she is impeached — which requires a vote of 50% in the Assembly — she will be suspended from the court until the Wisconsin Senate acquits her. The GOP holds 65% of the assembly seats, way more than necessary to vote for impeachment. In the Senate, at least two-thirds of the senators would need to vote to convict her. But here too the GOP has enough members to meet that threshold. A conviction would remove her from her seat on the court at which point Governor Evers could appoint someone to fill the vacancy. However, if the Senate delays holding the trial, she would remain on the court while suspended from all Supreme Court duties. While she is suspended, the court will be deadlocked with three liberal members and three right-wing ones. As Philip Bump wryly noted in the Washington Post on September 6, Wisconsin’s gerrymandering rides to the rescue of its gerrymandering.

    The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is mounting a vigorous campaign to persuade assembly representatives to announce opposition to the impeachment and state senators to announce their intention to vote to acquit her should the senate hold a timely trial. And that's where you come in.

    This Saturday, September 16, from noon to 3:00pm, canvassing will take place in and around Whitefish Bay (targeting Senator Dan Knodl and Assembly Representative Paul Melotik) and in Wauwatosa (targeting Senator Rob Hutton). Please join one of these canvasses. The goal is to talk directly to voters and to urge them to contact their representative and senator to voice their opposition to impeachment and removal. In addition to canvassing, please call and/or email and/or send mail to both your assembly representative and your state senator. Even if they're Democrats! If you don't know who represents you, you can look up the information and find the contact information for them at The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has set up a system that will simplify calling and will offer some instructions on what to say. The website Defend Justice displays each representative and senator's public position on the issue. The site also includes a section on the news, a utility for finding your representative and senator, a petition you should sign, and of course a link to donate.

    The MAGAites have concocted their insistence that Protasiewicz recuse herself on the already debunked notion that her view of the current election maps shows that she has prejudged the case and that the money the Democratic Party gave her campaign somehow taints her judgment on the law and the facts of the election map cases. The first complaint about comments Protasiewicz made during the campaign have been litigated in the past. Because she did not announce how she would rule, what she said as her opinion on the matter falls under the category of free speech. Here's the crux: in line with Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in a case at the US Supreme Court, "judges are entitled to express views on disputed legal issues, whether on the campaign trail or elsewhere, and that this does not preclude them from impartially deciding cases" (Explainer: Judicial Judicial Recusal in Wisconsin and Beyond, Senior Staff Attorney Derek Clinger and Faculty Co-Director Robert Yablon for the State of Democracy Research Institute).

    The campaign contribution excuse doesn't hold water either. In a table of the Explainer, Clinger and Yablon demonstrate that Justice Rebecca Bradley's campaign in 2016 took $2.6 million from the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform. The contribution amounted to 46.2% of her total campaign funds. The $9.9 million the Democratic Party contributed to the Protasiewicz campaign accounted for only 19.4% of her funds. Clinger and Yablon note that "members of the court — both conservative and liberal — have likewise been backed by large campaign funders and then participated in cases in which those funders have an interest."

    In 2019, the Republican State Leadership Committee spent $1.25 million on behalf of Justice Hagedorn — nearly as much as the approximately $1.7 million spent by his own campaign committee. Prior to joining the court, Justice Hagedorn also served as chief legal counsel to Republican Governor Scott Walker. He was in that role in 2011, when Walker signed into law the legislative maps that the plaintiffs in Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court to carry forward. Justice Hagedorn nevertheless participated in Johnson as well as other politically infused cases.

    The Explainer goes to great depths, as if it were a brief in a case, citing both federal and state rulings and examples of recusal rules. They examine what judges and justices have done in recusal matters in the last decade. The bottom line is that the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to "adopt a rule requiring judges and justices to recuse from matters involving individuals and entities who financially supported their campaigns. Rather than a rule requiring recusal, Justice Rebecca Bradley stated that the optimal remedy when a judge fails to act with impartiality and integrity is for Wisconsinites to vote them out when they stand for election next." So some elections have consequences, just not this one? Ridiculous!

    Watch Rachel Maddow and party chair Ben Wikler discuss the MAGA Republicans' hubris. Wikler announces the campaign to urge voters, who after all elected Protasiewicz by 11 points, to contact the legislature to voice their displeasure. He believes that the effort is already bearing some fruit.

    But girding your loins to fight back against impeachment threats isn't the only thing we foot soldiers need to be addressing. Next up on what to do while we're gathering our strength for the 2024 elections: Volunteer for National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 19. As I mentioned in last week's newsletter, both Supermarket Legends and the League of Women Voters will be holding voter registration events.

    Supermarket Legends is holding an event at four locations at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2022, voter turnout among young citizens in Wisconsin was outstanding: the best of any state in the country! But we really need to do it again. Meeting with students in their dorms, their union, and their library can reach students who may have been too young to vote in 2020 and 2022 but are now 18+. Getting them registered to vote is the first major step to engaging them for next year's elections. The registration drive will take place in two dorms — Sandburg and Cambridge Commons — as well as the student union and the library. Contact Sue Schneidler (Supermarket Legends) or Norma Gilson (Grassroots North Shore). If you have a preference for a morning shift or an afternoon shift, include that information in your email.

    Working with the League of Women Voters on their voter registration activities is another great way to get involved. In conjunction with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission and Vote Riders, the League will have a Mini Carnival and Mock Election. The City of Milwaukee Election Commission will provide voting machines for the mock election. The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County (LWVMC). Milwaukee Public Libraries will have voting trivia questions, swag to give away, and refreshments of attendees. The LWVMC is seeking volunteers for the events at Good Hope Road Library and Mitchell Street Library from 3:30 to 6:30pm. Sign up to volunteer.

    The September 10 rally and march to support common sense gun safety legislation — sponsored by Grassroots North Shore, Moms Demand Action, WAVE, and the Brady Center — was terrific. At least two major television news outlets filmed the speeches and talked to participants. At the march on North Avenue, lots of drivers announced their support by honking. And people at the rally filled out more than 150 postcards to send to their legislators in support of several bills that have been proposed. Activity around this issue will continue over the next weeks. I'll have more information for you in the next newsletter. So watch this space.


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  • published getting with the program in Newsletter 2023-09-06 08:29:05 -0500

    getting with the program

    Today's newsletter is all about action with a little pertinent news thrown in. Labor Day is traditionally the kick-off for November campaigns. In Wisconsin, though, we don't have any elections on tap until February 20! Considering how many we've already had in our corner of Wisconsin this year — three of them, including a special election for AD 24 in July — having a stretch of months without one feels like a relief. BUT we still have work to do and issues we need to follow. So here are some of things in the immediate offing that you should do.

    First, attend the rally and march Grassroots North Shore, Moms Demand Action, WAVE, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are holding on Sunday, September 10. We are gathering at North Point Water Tower Park (2288 N Lake Dr in Milwaukee) at 12:30pm to demand action on gun safety legislation pending in the legislature this fall. Keep Our Kids Safe at Schools includes a "shopping list" of legislative actions we want our representatives to pass. The rally and march call attention to Red Flag laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Universal Background Checks, Safe Gun Storage, and fully funded Office of School Safety. Our only leverage right now is our numbers and our loud voices. So add your voice and swell our numbers!

    The last item on our "shopping list" for the rally and march shows our recognition that serious gun legislation means that we need legislators who support sensible gun safety laws. By now, it's clear that such legislators cannot be elected because of our highly partisan, rigged election maps. Thus, the next action you need to attend is the North Shore Fair Maps meeting on Zoom on Monday, September 11 from 7 - 8:30pm. As you probably know, two lawsuits are awaiting the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision on whether to consider the cases. On August 2, Law Forward, a pro-democracy nonprofit, filed a petition asking SCOWIS to hear Clarke v WEC challenging the gerrymandered state legislative maps on the grounds that the current maps violate the Wisconsin Constitution. Dan Lenz and T. R. Edwards from Law Forward will discuss the status and future of Clarke v WEC. You can read about the suit on the organization's website.

    September 19 is National Voter Registration Day. Activities to register new voters will be occurring all over Wisconsin and the nation. You can pitch in locally in one of two ways.

    (1) Supermarket Legends is hosting a big voter registration effort on the UW Milwaukee campus with tables in the union, Sandburg and Cambridge Commons (two dormitories) and the library. The Legends need 17 - 20 volunteers to staff all the tables in these locations. According to a Brookings analysis of the 2022 midterm votes, "young people (18 to 29 years old), especially young women, drove the Democratic advantage." The importance of registering and motivating younger voters cannot be overstated. As the Washington Post noted, "Youth turnout in some campus wards [for the April 4, 2023, election] was near that of November’s midterms, with voters largely casting their ballots for Protasiewicz." To sign up, simply email Sue Schneidler and indicate whether you prefer morning, afternoon, or either. Supermarket Legends has great printed material to help you register the UWM students. For more information, contact Norma Gilson.

    (2) League of Women Voters: Voter Services is planning a number of voter registration events on National Voter Registration Day. The League needs volunteers for some of these events:

    • a voter registration event at four libraries in Milwaukee County and one library in Waukesha County;
    • a voter registration event at UW Waukesha;
    • voter registration events at five MPS schools;
    • supporting voter registration events at Gateway in Walworth County and Gateway in Racine County.

    If you are interested in training to qualify for the high schools, please contact Leigh Ann Tidey or Judy Winn.

    Canvassing will also be taking place on September 23 in Glendale, with shifts beginning at noon and at 3pm, and in a few other nearby locations (see the events list below). Why, you might wonder? The goal of much canvassing is to motivate voters and to get out the vote. These canvasses are quite different. Their goal is to listen to citizens articulate their chief concerns — kind of a fact-finding mission. The information people provide helps campaigns figure out what issues to emphasize with which potential voters and what kinds of messages to craft around those issues.

    In its article Wisconsin fake Trump electors case to proceed to trial next year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Dane Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington denied a "motion to dismiss claims alleging that the 10 Wisconsin Republicans and two attorneys who advised them broke multiple laws, including impersonating a public official, public nuisance and engaging in conspiracy." Ensuring that so-called "contested states," including Wisconsin, create fraudulent electors is prominently cited in special counsel Jack Smith's indictment against Trump. "Federal prosecutors heavily cite the actions of the slate of 10 Republican electors [in Wisconsin] who gathered at the state Capitol in December 2020 to sign documents declaring Trump the winner on the same day Democratic electors cast the state’s Electoral College votes for Joe Biden." It's important to know that the legal action in Wisconsin is a civil, not a criminal, complaint. In that respect it fundamentally differs from the Michigan Attorney General's indictment of the fake electors in that state. The article states that the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case are seeking substantial monetary damages. The case is scheduled for trial in September 3, 2024.

    The worst of the COVID-19 epidemic is behind us, but a new variant, BA.2.86, has a lot of mutations and could mean that the virus can more easily evade immune responses acquired through vaccinations and/or earlier cases. According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (August 31), A highly mutated COVID-19 strain has infectious disease experts worried. It's not been found in Wisconsin - yet. While it is not clear whether the newest vaccine, which should be available this month, will be as effective against the new variant as previous vaccines have been against older strains, "the CDC believes the new COVID-19 vaccine will be effective at reducing severe disease and hospitalization." Ajay Sethi, professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recommends that everyone undertake a personal risk assessment and be vigilant about the circulation of the disease.

    Summer's over. Time to get to work!

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  • published What we MUST do in Newsletter 2023-08-30 09:48:13 -0500

    What we MUST do

    Another hate crime. Three more Black victims. This time in a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. A 21 year old, White, hate-filled man. A Glock and an AR-15 style rifle purchased legally.

    After each new horrible, previously unthinkable mass shooting, we ask ourselves “But what can we do?” The only thing we can do: HOLD OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE and DEMAND that they pass legislation that will make our schools and communities safe. We've had enough of their “thoughts and prayers.” Instead, we demand laws to protect us from dangerous people and their guns. Join Grassroots North Shore and partner organizations — WAVE, Moms Demand Action, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence — in a rally and march calling for our legislature to pass sensible gun safety legislation now.

    The rally — on Sunday, September 10, at 12:30 at North Point Water Tower Park (on Lake Drive between E North Avenue and Wyoming Place) — features speakers from our partner organizations, from students, and from Senator LaTonya Johnson. And we'll march up E North Avenue to Murray Avenue and back to the park carrying signs to amplify our voices. At the park we'll hand out postcards with our message printed on them to send to legislators. You'll fill out the addresses of your senater and representative; we'll apply stamps and mail them. So take action: raise your voices and come to the Keep Our Kids Safe at School rally and march.

    The day after we gather to advocate for common sense gun safety laws, North Shore Fair Maps will hold an online meeting (on Monday, September 11, from 7pm to 8:30pm) to hear from Law Forward about the redistricting case the organization filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS). There's another case on gerrymandering also. "Madison-based law firm Boardman Clark has teamed with lawyers from Washington, D.C. to sue the Wisconsin Elections Commission over the maps," the Cap Times revealed. This second suit "was filed on behalf of a group of 'mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists who believe in fair districting and believe that their disciplines are helpful in drawing fair maps,'" Sam Hirsch, a lawyer with the D.C. firm, explained. It argues that the SCOWIS ruling adopting the maps passed by the GOP legislature violates the state's Separation of Powers Doctrine "because the court 'effectively put themselves in the role of the Legislature that didn't have enough votes to override the [Governor Evers's] veto and gave them enough votes to do so.'"

    Tied up with the thorny gerrymandering issue, though, is the MAGA GOP threat to impeach Justice Protasiewicz for failing to recuse herself from these cases. At the heart of the matter are statements the justice made during the campaign, statements that allegedly show she's "prejudging" cases, presumably about gerrymandering and abortion rights. Yesterday PBS Wisconsin published What are the prospects of Wisconsin Republicans impeaching Protasiewicz?. The article provides important information about the circumstances under which impeachment is permissible: "public officials can only be impeached for corruption or crime." It also analyzes the political dynamics that might ensue should the Assembly in fact impeach her.

    Our local paper of record, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is like the dog that didn't bark. I say that because I've seen no coverage in it of Benedict Donald's trials and tribulations yesterday. Two hearings, one on Jack Smith's election denial case and the other on the Mark Meadows hearing to remove his case from state to federal court, occurred at the same time yesterday. And they blanketed the national news. Judge Chutkan set a March 4, 2024, trial date in the federal elections case charging Boss Tweet with four felony counts. And in case you missed it, the Washington Post has published an analysis of the Meadows hearing: Mark Meadows struggles to distance himself from Trump’s plot. The hearing included testimony from Meadows, a risky and possibly ill-advised maneuver. He appears to have considerable memory loss but the prosecution came well prepared. The article notes that "one lesson from the proceedings is that Trump’s co-defendants are going to struggle to distance themselves from the alleged conspiracy."

    The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, commemorated over the weekend by a much smaller march, got scant coverage on Sunday, but Jamelle Bouie devoted his op-ed piece today to reminding us that it was really the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, with a far more expansive vision for society than formal equality under the law. The march wasn’t a demand for a more inclusive arrangement under the umbrella of postwar American liberalism, as it might seem today. It was a demand for something more — for a social democracy of equals, grounded in the long Black American struggle to realize the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the potential of Reconstruction." We need to remember that when MLK was assassinated in Memphis, he went to support city sanitation workers in their struggle for equal pay and equal treatment from the city that employed them.

    Going to our rally/march and/or tuning in to the North Shore Fair Maps meeting on the gerrymander lawsuits are not the only ways to stay engaged with the issues that matter most. Vote Forward recently launched their issue focused campaigns. Have a look at their instructions and guidance for participating. "In these campaigns, we are sending 'please vote' letters to young voters with messages focused on specific critical issues: either reproductive rights, climate change, or gun violence prevention. The messages we write in these letters will focus on these issues as a way to motivate young voters in Virginia to turn out in their state legislative elections this year." The election in Virginia will take place in November.

    On the local front, especially for all of you who live in Ozaukee County, don't miss the "There's No Stopping Us Now" event to support the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County. It's on Thursday, September 14, from 5 to 8:30pm at Shully's in Thiensville. There's more information about the price of tickets in the events list. But you can click right here to buy yours. (Also —hint, hint) Oz county is where we can have the greatest impact!)

    Hope you all have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. You'll hear from me next, as they say, on the other side.

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  • First and Fourteenth Amendments in play

    Now with four Dirty Don indictments filed, the action turns to the arraignment of the 19 people charged in the Fulton County case and the crowded trial and primary schedule ahead. While we're waiting for the next bunch of shoes to drop, you really should read the Fulton County indictment. It is fairly long, though, so in case you don't have the time or the patience to get through it all, Josh Kovensky, an investigative reporter for Talking Points Memo, published The 6 Interlocking Schemes Fani Willis Is Trying To Make Stick To Teflon Don to help us make sense of what is otherwise a pretty sprawling story. Here is a list of the six:

    1. Creating fake electors across the country
    2. Asking lawmakers to commit a crime
    3. Asking Georgia election officials to commit a crime
    4. Asking federal officials to commit a crime
    5. Sidney Powell’s voting machine caper
    6. Harassing Georgia election worker Ruby Freeman

    In my view "asking" is simply a weaker version of what was really going on, namely soliciting.

    The Tangerine Palpatine is not necessarily charged with every one of these, but he doesn't have to be. It is sufficient that every scheme advanced the common purpose all the folks indicted shared. Together the 41 charges make up the full conspiracy and support the overarching RICO charge. For Butternut Berlusconi, the total criminal charges from the four criminal indictments add up to 91! So, can he slither out of each and every one? And can he keep himself out of pre-trial detention. We shall see.

    This week has seen a number of interviews and articles examining the question of whether TFG has disqualified himself from holding any state or federal office by engaging in and/or aiding and abetting an insurrection or rebellion. Former judge of the Fourth Circuit Court Appeals Michael Luttig and renowned constitutional scholar and emeritus professor at Harvard Law School Lawrence Tribe teamed up to write The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again for the August 19 edition of The Atlantic. The authors carefully examine the language of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, focusing on whether the language of insurrection or rebellion properly applies to the totality of the efforts to overturn the election. As the title of the piece indicates, they answer the question affirmatively. On Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Asa Hutchinson, current candidate for the Republican nomination for president and former governor of Arkansas, concurred. Talking Points Memo has a good article on this issue too.

    Exactly how section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment can be legally enforced is a matter of some concern. Ned Foley, on Election Law Blog asks Do Voters Have a "Right" that Trump Be on the Ballot? Part of the inquiry about the means to disqualify a specific person or candidate hangs on timing. Thus Foley differentiates between the primary's voters and the general election's voters, writing that "in our electoral system, there is no 'right' belonging to voters to have their preferred candidate be eligible to participate in a political party’s primary." That is, even if Republican primary voters choose Trumpelthinskin, "the political party itself, given its First Amendment rights, can disqualify individuals from being its nominee" at pretty much any point in the calendar. Foley argues that if the the Supreme Court were to make a definitive ruling before the general election begins, the party would simply have to come up with another candidate. Exactly how would be up to the party itself to decide. That assumes, of course, that SCOTUS find TRE45ON in fact disqualified to hold any office by virtue of section 3.

    In Wisconsin, the Attorney General has apparently decided not to investigate or indict the false MAGA electors, but Judge Frank Remington ruled that the 10 real electors for President Biden suing the pretend ones "met their burden to move forward with the civil suit." The plaintiffs are "seeking $2.4 million in damages from a dozen people who participated in an effort to falsely cast Wisconsin’s 2020 electoral votes." See the story at Battleground Wisconsin.

    Lately, First Amendment issues have been surfacing a lot. Cheeto Benito's lawyers are signaling that issues of free speech are likely to form at least a part of his defense both in the D.C. case about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the Fulton County RICO case on the same matter. But it has been showing up in other recent events too. A small town newspaper in Kansas was raided by police (possibly leading to the death of its 98 year old publisher). The police seized computers, records, and cellphones. The raid may well have broken the law, some experts have said.

    The role of local news investigations is especially fraught now. Here's a story from Wisconsin that highlights the way some are seeking to bankrupt media outlets. Report on Anti-Gay Slur Could Put Local News Site Out of Business: "As politicians have grown more comfortable condemning media outlets they view as hostile — banning reporters from covering events, attacking them on social media, accusing them of being an 'enemy of the people' — some public officials have started using the legal system as a way of hitting back. . . .  The Wisconsin case, First Amendment experts warned, shows how a single defamation suit can become a cudgel against the media in a way the law never intended. For small local news organizations, many of which are barely getting by financially, the suits threaten to put them out of business."

    - - - TAKE ACTION - - -

    Here's the place where I call your attention to actions you can take now and in the near future. First up is a rally of progressives and unions to make our voices heard from 3pm to 7pm before the August 23rd Republican Presidential Debate in Milwaukee. The Cowardly Lyin' is giving it his little middle finger of course, but there may well be national press looking for some alternative programming to include in their debate coverage. Join the crowd at NO Studios (1037 W McKinley Ave, Milwaukee) and stand with partners and allies from WI and other states and with Democratic Party leaders to claim our space. Let the organizers know you're coming!

    After the rally, at 7:15 on Thursday, August 23, Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison is hosting a reception (and fundraiser for President Biden). The event will also feature DNC Secretary Jason Rae and DNC Member Alex Lasry. This is a great opportunity to hear about the 2024 campaign from leaders of the Democratic Party and to support President Biden and Vice President Harris for re-election. You can go to the union-organized Tailgate event and then watch the debate with the Democratic Party honchos! Who wants to miss that! Contribute and sign up.

    The Democrats' Fall Regional Trainings: Our organizing team is planning to host in person volunteer trainings across the state this September/October where team leaders and county party leaders can come together to share best practices and learn from each other. We would likely host this training in Milwaukee. We are hoping to gauge interest in whether attendees would be interested in an in person training or a virtual training with teams/counties who have similar features. Please fill out a survey to let the Dems know what you are interested in.

    A number of states are having important off-year elections, mostly for local and some state offices. More or less like Wisconsin's April elections but conducted in the odd-numbered years between congressional or presidential contests. You can help get voters to turn out in these states by signing up with Postcards to Swing States. You can purchase progressive postcards online from ProShop here. Activate America is organizing postcards to several congressional and senate districts to urge voters to get behind candidates who support gun safety legislation. If that strikes your fancy, you can sign up here. To give you some idea of the organization's reach, Activate America participants sent over 610,000 for Janet Protasiewicz's election in April 2023!

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  • published when a big NO means a big YES in Newsletter 2023-08-10 09:53:20 -0500

    when a big NO means a big YES

    The results are in. Protecting direct democracy, and implicitly protecting a woman's right to control her own body and medical decisions, had its day in the court of public opinion. The good people of Ohio soundly defeated — 57% to 43% — a referendum to raise the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment in that state from 50%+1 to 60%. Although the referendum sought to undermine the power of citizens to amend the state constitution, the Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, made explicit the connection to preventing passage of a pro-choice amendment that will appear on Ohioan's ballots in November. Voting NO on the referendum concocted by Ohio's MAGAist legislature really signified an enthusiastic YES for the democratic principle of majority rule. Philip Bump in the Washington Post has a good analysis in 4 takeaways from rejection of Issue 1 in the Ohio special election.

    In Wisconsin, four Supreme Court justices proposed a new set of rules for the court over the strenuous objections of the Chief Justice, Annette Ziegler. The new rules will reduce the role and power of the Chief Justice by establishing a committee to undertake many of the administrative functions the Chief Justice now handles. And the day Justice Protasiewicz was sworn in, the "new four-justice majority last week fired the state court administrator," Randy Koschnick. According to an article discussing the various changes the new majority is proposing, "The firing seemed to honor former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, a beloved mentor to the four justices pushing for change." Urban Milwaukee has the full story.

    Before turning our attention to the legal travails of Mango Mussolini, aka TFG (the former guy but also The F***ing Grifter), here are a few important announcements.

    First, last chance to claim a black sweater found at the Grassroots North Shore event on July 9 in Doctors Park. It's a Chico’s Size 1 Black Rayon/Polyester Sweater. If this belongs to you, please email Ginny Goode or call her at (414) 460-5686.

    Second, the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is still seeking volunteers to staff the booth at the State Fair. Here are the shifts they are seeking to fill:

    • Wednesday, August 9th from 6-9PM
    • Thursday, August 10th from 10AM-2PM and 6-9PM
    • Friday, August 11th from 10AM-2PM
    • Saturday, August 12th from 10AM-2PM and 6-9PM
    • Sunday, August 13th from 10AM-2PM

    Sign up. Contact Mary Jonker, 262-497-4672, for questions.

    Finally, Don't miss this DEBUT NOVEL by a North Shore Politico. You may remember Deborah Hufford, former Whitefish Bay Democratic activist and ward captain, who shook up Northshore politics nearly 20 years ago, when she rallied Whitefish Bay to turn blue after voting Republican since its incorporation in 1892. Whitefish Bay has never turned back! Deborah was instrumental in founding Grassroots Northshore in 2004. Although she continues to be politically active, she has turned her attention to writing historical novels that have a social injustice theme. Her novel — BLOOD TO RUBIES — is a sweeping tale of a young frontier photographer who goes West to escape the Civil War draft and is caught between colliding worlds of love and war during Chief Joseph's Nez Perce War of 1877. You can order the book through Amazon, all bookstores, or her author site. A portion of her book sales will go to the Chief Joseph Foundation that mentors Nez Perce youth, many of whom are direct descendants of Chief Joseph or his band members.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled feature: the legal travails of Tangerine Palpatine, Dolt 45, the Commander in Cheese, Butternut Berlusconi, The Big Lie-bowski (complements of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert); or (from Action Network) Don the Con, Dirty Don, Agent Orange, Benedict Donald; or finally (from 409 Hilarious Nicknames for Donald Trump) Adolf Twitler, Barbecued Brutus, Boss Tweet, Cheeto Benito, Groper-in-Chief, Mr. Wiggy Piggy, Orange Julius, The Cowardly Lyin’, and Trumpelthinskin.

    Whatever you call him, he's in big doo-doo. Special counsel Jack Smith has asked Judge Chutkan to issue a protective order to prohibit Don the Con from making public — by speaking, by social media, or by any other means — any of the evidence he and his lawyers acquire through the discovery process. Naturally, Dolt 45's lawyers objected and wanted a hearing. Judge Chutkan agreed to schedule a hearing but specified that it had to take place this week. Cheeto Benito's lawyers wanted it to take place next week (stall and delay being the order of the day). Judge Chutkan scheduled it for Friday, August 11, at 10am EDT. For the full back-and-forth, see Judge orders hearing after Trump's lawyers say proposed protective order would infringe on Trump's free speech.

    Meanwhile, in Florida, Judge Cannon is lost at sea again. This issue is pretty deeply down in the legal weeds, but is nevertheless important to understand. Here's what she did: "Cannon questioned the 'legal propriety' of using an 'out-of-district grand jury' in Trump’s classified documents case" (DAILY BEAST, August 7, 2023). A group of well-known lawyers and legal pundits were, shall we say, flabbergasted. Vanity Fair offers a collection of these responses. (Warning: some of the links in the paragraph are behind paywalls and others connect to what we used to call "tweets." I've included the links to accurately represent the quotation from Vanity Fair.)

    “Judge Cannon clearly shows her ignorance (bias? both?),” former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann wrote on Twitter. “The obstruction crimes that were investigated are charges that could have been brought in FLA or in DC and thus could be investigated in either district.” Constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe—who in September remarked that the judge was “in the tank for Trump”—echoed that Cannon “continues her dopey and constitutionally dubious usurpation of the executive branch’s investigative and prosecutorial prerogatives.” Former US attorney Joyce White Vance noted that Cannon’s actions “may tee up the issue of her fitness on the case.” Former prosecutor Glenn Kirschner opined, of Monday’s proceedings: “This has the feel of Judge Cannon acting as an advocate for the defense. Guess no one can accuse her of learning her lesson from the appellate court’s prior ruling that she abused her discretion & acted lawlessly to the extreme benefit of Trump.” (Cannon had key aspects of her Trump-related rulings overturned by an appellate court last year in a truly scathing decision.) Writing that Cannon “tried to sabotage this case at the outset,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern said he remains “extremely skeptical that she will permit a fair trial to take place.”

    You can watch Andrew Weissmann's critique of Judge Cannon's questioning of the use of two different grand juries in two different jurisdictions. He explains that she fundamentally misunderstands the issues which are pretty much covered in law school 101.

    As for the Fulton County matter, it is still pending even though there's been more breathless speculation that indictments could be issued any day now. Or next week? There's plenty of evidence that the county is expecting something big and exciting at the courthouse because barriers to the building have recently been erected and streets surrounding the courthouse have been blocked off. See Fox 5 Atlanta for a recent account.


    Wednesday, August 9

    WisDems Training for Volunteer Recruitment: 1-on-1s, High Traffic Canvassing, Phone Calls & Events, 6:00pm

    These trainings are open to any team member, volunteers or county party members so feel free to share the calendar with them. Sign up for this training. See the full calendar of future trainings.

    Thursday, August 10

    BYOP Textbanking - Register Dems in swing states! 1:00 - 2:00pm CDT

    We might have cracked the nut on how to do free texting! Instead of raising money to pay for expensive, easy to use texting software, we're making texting available using slightly awkward, but still pretty easy technology. We're calling it BYOP or Bring Your Own Phone. And it's a GREAT new way to register new Dems in swing states and districts to hold the White House and Senate and flip the House in 2024 as well as win governorships and state legislatures in 2023!

    You will need to set two things up on your computer before attending our BYOP Boot Camp. This document gives links to both items.

    1. You need an ActionID. You may already have one if you phone or text banked with Field Team 6 in the past.
    2. You need texting software that allows you to send text messages directly from your computer, using your cell phone carrier’s plan.

    When you have both items ready, please register for Boot Camp!

    Friday, August 11

    League of Progressive Seniors Planning for 8/23 Action, 11:30am - 12:30pm
    The Knickerbocker on the Lake, 1028 E Juneau Ave, Milwaukee

    The League is planning an event to coincide with the first Republican presidential debate on August 23 in Milwaukee. Bring a sandwich. The League will have beverages and snacks. Help plan the logistics for the event.

    Monday, August 14

    North Shore Fair Maps, 7:00 - 8:30pm

    Former US Senator (WI) Russ Feingold, president of the American Constitution Society on The Constitution in Jeopardy. What is an Article V Convention? Why is it dangerous? And is it true Wisconsin was the 16th state to sign on to the idea? Yup, thanks to our gerrymandered legislature. You should be worried about a new Constitutional Convention. If you're not, you certainly will be after you check out this Facebook page. RSVP HERE.

    Wednesday, August 16

    WisDems Communications & Messaging Training: Tailoring messaging to your local area, 6:00pm

    These trainings are open to any team member, volunteers or county party members so feel free to share the calendar with them. Sign up for this training. See the full calendar of future trainings.

    Ozaukee County Dems Monthly Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00pm
    Ozaukee Democrats Office, 1930 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton

    Join us at our Grafton Office as we gather to hear speakers and catch up on the local and state politics influencing Ozaukee County – while spending time with like-minded people. All interested people are encouraged to attend.

    Saturday, August 19

    WisDems Canvass in Bay View! 9:00am - 12:00pm, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
    Address upon sign-up

    Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. Join the group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. Sign up for a shift with Dale's team in Bay View! Can't make it this time? Join Swing Left Milwaukee's group listserv to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Work with fellow activists across the border in Illinois and around the country to support actions like the ballot initiative in Ohio, which will help determine the future of women’s right to choose In Ohio. For more information contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

    Grassroots North Shore Poster Party, 10:00am - 12:00pm
    Shorewood Public Library, 3920 N Murray Ave, Shorewood

    In preparation for the September 10 rally and march to Keep Our Kids Safe at School, we're holding a Poster Party to make signs people can hold during the event. We'll be at the Shorewood Library. Village Meeting Room (lower level) at 10am. Even if you cannot attend on September 10th - others can carry your message — come create posters. See you at the party!

    Grassroots Glendale Deep Canvassing, 12:00 - 3:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale to knock doors and talk to voters about the issues that matter most to them! Sign up.

    Fox Point/Bayside Dems Friendbank, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
    7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point</span
    Join the Fox Point/Bayside team for a friendbank! We will be getting together and texting our networks to learn about their top issues using the Reach app for relational organizing. Never even heard of Reach? No problem! Our organizer will walk you through everything you need to know before you start texting. It is never too early to engage our circles in progressive politics and ensure that we elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024! Sign up.

    Sunday, August 20

    WisDems Canvass in Bay View! 9:00am - 12:00pm, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
    Address upon sign-up

    Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. Join the group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. Sign up for a shift with Dale's team in Bay View! Can't make it this time? Join Swing Left Milwaukee's group listserv to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Work with fellow activists across the border in Illinois and around the country to support actions like the ballot initiative in Ohio, which will help determine the future of women’s right to choose In Ohio. For more information contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

    Fox Point/Bayside Dems Friendbank, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
    7632 N Beach Dr, Fox Point</span
    Join the Fox Point/Bayside team for a friendbank! We will be getting together and texting our networks to learn about their top issues using the Reach app for relational organizing. Never even heard of Reach? No problem! Our organizer will walk you through everything you need to know before you start texting. It is never too early to engage our circles in progressive politics and ensure that we elect Democrats up and down the ballot in 2024! Sign up.

    Grassroots Glendale Deep Canvassing, 12:00 - 3:00pm, 3:00 - 6:00pm
    6563 N Crestwood Dr, Glendale

    Join Grassroots Glendale to knock doors and talk to voters about the issues that matter most to them! Sign up.

    Monday, August 21

    Milwaukee County Dems Monthly Meeting 6:00pm
    J&B's Blue Ribbon, 5230 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee

    Join us for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting, where we discuss party business and hear from Democratic candidates. RSVP.


    Tuesday, August 29 through Tuesday, September 26

    WISDOM 5 Week Fall Training Series, every Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:00pm

    Please join us for our 5-week Fall Training Series every Tuesday night from August 29-September 26. We are excited to cover a variety of topics about community organizing. Whether you're a new WISDOM member, an old timer or need a refresher - we welcome you to come learn from our leaders within our network! Once you register, you will recieve your Zoom information within a few minutes. It is the same Zoom link for all 5 sessions. You can choose to attend one or all sessions. If you have any questions please contact Amanda Ali, WISDOM's Digital Organizer.

    Wednesday, August 30 - Tuesday, September 5

    The Golden Rule, an historic sailboat, docks in Milwaukee
    The Golden Rule, a storied sailboat that helped bring about an end to atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, will stop in Milwaukee Aug 31 - Sep 5 as part of a 15-month, 11,000-mile voyage to inform and educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons proliferation. A number of public events will be held, and speakers / crew members will be available for presentations at schools, churches or other venues during the four-day visit. Boat tours and visits with the crew will be offered every afternoon. (See a real-time map of the boat's journey.) The Golden Rule is a project of Veterans For Peace.

    Saturday, September 9

    Wisconsin Coalitions Candidate Summit, 9:00am - 4:00pm
    Location TBD, Milwaukee

    The National Democratic Training Committee — in partnership with WisDems and their Coalitions (Bleck, Native American, Pride, Latino), Wisconsin Progress, Emerge Wisconsin, Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee, and Assembly Democrats — is offering an in-person event designed for candidates of color and LGBTQIA+ candidates. This summit will prepare you for your run for office and provide you with the tools you’ll use from now to Election Day! During this full-day training, you’ll:

    • Build the foundational skills needed to run a successful campaign as an LGBTQIA+ candidate or candidate of color
    • Learn from campaign experts and gain key insight to guide your efforts in 2023 Connect with leaders from your community across Wisconsin to network, support, and learn from each other’s work
    • Understand how to access on-going resources to support your goals

    Not a member of one of these communities? Fill out our candidate interest form to stay in the loop about other training and resource opportunities.

    Sunday, September 10

    Keeping Our Kids Safe at School Rally, 12:30pm
    North Point Water Tower Park, 2288 N Lake Dr, Milwaukee

    ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SHOOTING: After each new horrible mass school shooting, we ask ourselves “how can we demand that our elected officials pass common sense gun safety legislation?” If you’re tired of hearing about “thoughts and prayers” as if they were solutions, join Grassroots North Shore together with WAVE, Moms Demand Action, and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, at a rally on Sunday, September 10th, at 12:30, at North Point Water Tower Park. State Senator LaTonya Johnson and speakers from WAVE, Moms Demand Action, students, and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will fill us in on upcoming Lobby Days and recently introduced legislation. We’ll briefly march along North Avenue to Murray Avenue and then loop back to hear our speakers. After that, you can address already printed postcards to your legislators. We will stamp and mail them. RSVP.

    In preparation for the September 10 rally and march to Keep Our Kids Safe at School, we're holding a Poster Party to make signs people can hold during the event. We'll be at the Shorewood Library, Village Meeting Room (lower level) at 10am - 12pm. Even if you cannot attend on September 10th - others can carry your message — come create posters. See you at the party!

    Monday, September 11

    It's the Maps, stupid! 7:00 - 8:30pm

    There has already been movement on maps! Law Forward and several partners have filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Wisconsin "to take jurisdiction of an original action to challenge the gerrymandered state legislative maps." (See the press conference here.) And there may be other pressing legal issues we will want to know about. If so, our friends at Law Forward will explain it all to us. RSVP.

    Thursday, September 14

    No Stopping Us Now (Oz Dems Annual Gala), 5:00 - 8:30pm
    Shully's Cuisine and Events, 146 Green Bay Road, Thiensville

    Join us at our 5th annual FUNdraiser at Shully’s. Your ticket will include hor devours, dinner, dessert, and entertainment. The guest speakers will inspire, the auction will be good fun, and great people – like you – will make it fun. We hope you’ll attend and bring a friend! More details in the near future.

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  • published time for a breather...not! in Newsletter 2023-08-01 08:10:27 -0500

    time for a breather...not!

    The news biz went crazy both with the TFG's announcement of a target letter setting him up for indictments in his multiple efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and with the superseding indictment in the documents case. It seemed like all they could talk about for the last week and more. But we do not have to follow suit. If you want a more fulsome explanation of one of the elements in the target letter — the one that mentions 18 U. S. C. section 241 — you might want to read An Overlooked January 6 Charge: The “Stop the Count” Scheme by Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann on the Just Security site. The piece looks at how the Justice Department has used the charge in the past and how it applies to the current inquiry.

    I would rather look more carefully at the voting patterns from the special election for AD 24. It's a bit of an exercise in reading tea leaves: with the low turnout, it does not necessarily translate into highly likely predictions for the future. But it still shows gains in some of the redder areas of our state. In an email to supporters, Bob Tatterson pointed out that although he lost the overall election (though only by 7%), he did win five of the seven communities in the district. And it's true! He won the Village of Grafton, Mequon, and Menomonee Falls, as well as the Town of Germantown and the one ward of Port Washington in the district. That Port Washington ward is my favorite: there were all of 2 voters and BOTH voted for Bob! I've compiled all the data so you can look at it yourself. Download a pdf of the spreadsheet.

    Democrats have made steady gains in the WOW counties in the last several elections. The results from the special election continue that trend. In last week's newsletter, Ben Wikler linked to what we used to call a tweet by Anthony Chergosky, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Chergosky points out that the "district was Trump +24 in 2016, Trump +17 in 2020, and Melotik (the GOP candidate) +7 today." As I said in the last paragraph, comparisons with past elections as a way to understand the political landscape may be skewed by the lighter-than-average turnout. For a special election in the middle of summer, though, the turnout was more robust than expected: in the mid-to-high 20s in three communities in Waukesha and Washington counties and in the mid-30s in the Ozaukee county communities. (Port Washington's one ward, of course, had a turnout of 100%! I'm not counting that as a realistic view of what the future holds.) That trend is an excellent reason not to take too long a break from working toward future elections. The Democratic party is certainly not resting for long. They've scheduled deep canvassing events for at least one weekend a month through November. You'll find the first of these in the North Shore in the Events list.

    Deep canvassing is a way of holding conversations with voters when there's no election in the offing and the goal is to elicit voters' concerns. The technique was first developed in 2012 and has been studied since then. Professors David Broockman and Josh Kalla have conducted six studies and "have found that deep canvassing does have measurable effects" (See Deep Canvassing in Wikipedia). For a readable, non-academic account, see Andy Kroll's article Can Millions of Deep Conversations With Total Strangers Beat Trump — and Heal America? in Rolling Stone (July 15, 2020). I'm told the group of voters the party wants to contact have been somewhat neglected of late. And this is a good way to expand the pool of likely voters for 2024. So look for the opportunities near you and sign up for a shift.

    Our friends at Swing Left Milwaukee are working closely with WisDems on bridge building canvasses this summer and fall. You can join their group for a weekend of action on August 19-20, where they'll be talking to voters we don't have as much data on yet – which will be crucial to laying the groundwork for 2024. If you can't make it this time but you're interested in working in Bay View or other city areas, join Swing Left Milwaukee's group email list to stay in the loop on future ways to get involved with voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, letter writing, and texting. Please sign up if you'd like to try it in Bay View. For more information, contact Dale Nook, 414-690-0311.

    And in joyous news, Judge Janet Protasiewicz becomes Justice Janet Protasiewicz today. The investiture ceremony is completely booked, unfortunately. So if you have not already RSVP'd, it's too late. But even if you can't watch her "fly up" as it were, you know that her presence on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWI) foretells legal rulings that will impact many lives in our state. A lawsuit challenging our partisan voting maps is likely to be filed within days of the investiture. And because the suit basically appeals an earlier SCOWI ruling, it will go directly to the Supreme Court without the lower courts ruling first. If the court is reasonably expeditious, Wisconsin could have new maps — presumably both congressional and state assembly/senate maps — before candidates for those offices will have to begin circulating nomination papers in spring 2024. Election maps that define more competitive districts will begin to reshape the sour politics we have endured in this state since Scott Walker's first election. And wouldn't that be welcome!

    A fun blog post on Daily Kos Monday, quotes from the judge who dismissed TFG's suit that argued to quash the report of the Georgia Special Grand Jury and "demanded that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis be barred from prosecuting any cases against him, claiming she is biased." Both the demand to burn the report and to remove D.A. Willis from the case were denied. The footnotes to the opinion are priceless. For example, the blogger notes that in footnote five, the judge uses an idiom — "a blot on an escutcheon" — that derives from the heraldic shield, also known as an escutcheon, and means a stain on one's reputation. The full context of the remark is "in this situation, movants overwrought allegations of prosecutorial overreach and judicial error do not suffice to show there is a significant risk of a ‘wrongful’ indictment (or even a blot on an escutcheon)." On pages 7-8, he quotes this passage: "The drumbeat from the District Attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) nor personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants." We don't even need to guess who he means.

    Finally today, I leave you with this bit of wisdom from Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. By Every Imaginable Measure, Trump Crushing GOP Primary Race. Marshall begins, "the Times is out today with a poll that is absolutely devastating for Ron DeSantis. But in truth it is devastating for every Republican candidate not named Donald Trump. It is only devastating for DeSantis inasmuch as he is the only candidate who appears to be in the race at all rather than running what amounts to a novelty or lifestyle campaign." In a head-to-head comparison of TFG and DeSantis, the poll asks whether a specific word better describes *rump or what Marshall dubs "the Jebbite" candidate (a reference to the Jeb Bush campaign in 2016). DeSantis has his best showing with "likable" and "moral." But Marshal focuses on "fun," unpacking what TFG supporters take it to mean:

    This question seems to ask something quite different: who is more fun to watch. It’s a measure of the entertainment factor. That “fun” factor is an anchor of Trump’s support. Another article out this summer captured it in a different way. A central feature of the MAGA movement is how much fun its adherents find in it, this article explained. Indeed, they have a hard time understanding how those outside the movement don’t see it in the same way but rather see it as threatening, dark, ugly. . . .

    It’s no accident Trump’s supporters still call him President and don’t believe he legitimately lost power. In a sense he is running as the incumbent. He’s still the leader of the party on that basis. Everything comes into focus when you see it in those terms.

    I think Marshall is right on the money. No number of indictments, civil suits, or convictions will derail that candidacy. We need to get and stay busy to defeat him here in Wisconsin.

    PS: Someone left a black sweater at the July 9 Grassroots North Shore event at Doctors Park. It's a Chico’s Size 1 Black Rayon/Polyester Sweater. If this belongs to you, please email or call Ginny Goode: [email protected](414) 460-5686. Thank you.


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  • published where we've been and where we're going in Newsletter 2023-07-26 09:00:22 -0500

    where we've been and where we're going

    Here's a piece of Wisconsin news I bet you didn't know. Last Thursday, July 20, the Elias Law Group — "a mission-driven firm committed to helping Democrats win, citizens vote, and progressives make change" — filed a lawsuit to "once again allow voters to return absentee ballots in drop boxes, a practice that was barred by the state Supreme Court last year following criticism by former President Donald Trump." The suit filed against the Wisconsin Elections Commission will begin in Dane County circuit court but is probably destined to end up at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It argues that barring drop boxes "severely burdens the right to vote." It also argues that a requirement that absentee ballots be signed by a witness also constrains voting illegally. The AP has the story.

    Of course the make-up of the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) is about to change in a way that may make a difference to a host of voting rights and laws governing elections. Justice Janet Protaseiwicz will be invested on Tuesday, August 1, at 4:30pm in the State Capitol. She's been a great friend of Grassroots North Shore. She even showed up for our event in Doctors Park on Sunday, July 9. So the least we can do for her is to show up in Madison to cheer her on. You can RSVP for the investiture and the reception that will be held on Monona Terrace. I hope a few of you, at least, will make it.

    As you no doubt know by now, Bob Tatterson was defeated in the special election for Assembly District 24 last week. This election was always going to be a tough one, dependent on our ability to turn out our voters and hoping that the opposition would kind of sleep through this one. But there are some incredibly bright spots in the data. As Ben Wikler wrote in his Weekly News email, there are three great reasons to celebrate Bob's loss. First, Wikler links to a Twitter post by Anthony Chergosky (whom I've never heard of): "The GOP held this Assembly seat in a special election today, but this is another data point showing the shifts in the suburban WOW counties of Wisconsin. The district was Trump +24 in 2016, Trump +17 in 2020, and Melotik (the GOP candidate) +7 today." Wikler's second reason looks to future elections because the extensive canvassing the Democrats accomplished "found people who rarely vote, but when they do, they vote for Democrats" and also "found people who used to vote Republican, but now feel that the GOP has gone off the deep end." The third reason is so far just a hope: that what he terms "cartoonishly rigged district lines may be redrawn before the elections in 2024." If that happens and the result is even a somewhat competitive district, I'm betting Bob will run again. AND WIN!

    Meanwhile, in Michigan legal news, the 16 fraudulent "electors" have been indicted on eight felony counts each last week. The charges include "forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery" among others. One of them, Michele Lundgren, claims she was duped. You can see a WDIV 4 news report on YouTube. Lundgren's version is undermined somewhat by the fact that she and three others "appeared at the state Capitol on December 14, 2020, with then-state Rep. Daire Rendon, who said the 'electors' were there to cast their votes." In the video of the face-off at the state capitol, we can hear several people in the group claiming to be "electors." The indictments in Michigan are the first to accuse any of the fraudulent electors of crimes. Georgia is still investigating but has given eight fake electors immunity deals "in an ongoing criminal investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election there" (CNN politics, May 5,2023). It's not clear why Attorney General Kaul is not pursuing the matter in Wisconsin.

    In another promising development, the Michigan Bureau of Elections — the equivalent of our Wisconsin Elections Commission — has notified the Shelby Township clerk, one Stan Grot, that he is now "prohibited from administering elections" while the felony charges stemming from his participation in the fake electors scheme are still pending. According to the AP, "conducting elections is one of the primary duties of a clerk. Grot is an elected official and will continue in his other roles as township clerk, such as preparing agendas and recording meetings." And Grot is not alone. Tina Peters, a former clerk in Colorado, is accused of trying to "breach voting system technology that is used across the country following the 2020 election." And then there's Couy Griffin, founder of Cowboys for Trump, who was removed from his elected position as a county commissioner for his role in the January 6 insurrection. The case is important because it is so far the only time "an elected official has been removed from office for their participation or support of the US Capitol riot. It also marks the first time a judge has formally ruled that the events of January 6, 2021, were an 'insurrection' (CNN politics, September 6, 2022)."


    We should all be luxuriating in this relatively quiet period in Wisconsin, absent any elections until February 20, 2024. That will be the primary for non-partisan positions, like judges, county boards, school boards, village and town boards and the like. The general spring election AND presidential preference primary will be held on April 2. We'll be trying to keep our fingers on the various pulses out there in the meantime. But issue advocacy never ends. And to that end, it's important that as many people as possible stay engaged. One thing you can do is call or write voters in Ohio to urge the defeat of Issue 1 appearing on their ballots on August 8 (two weeks from today). Make calls with various groups by signing up here. Write letters with Vote Forward by signing up on the Vote Forward site.

    Another thing you can do, right here in Milwaukee, is attend a planning meeting the League of Progressive Seniors is holding on Friday, July 28, to figure out how to be a "presence" at the first GOP debate here in Milwaukee on August 23. The planning meeting is being held at Knickerbocker Condos, 1028 East Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, at 11:30am. Come with your ideas. But let Patty Yunk, 414-218-1299, know you're coming so there will be a lunch for you.


    Turning to the future, we can already see some worrying things and some really bright spots without even considering the excited pronouncements every day about federal and state indictments coming for TRE45ON any day now. Among the clouds on the horizon: the No Labels organization — in some contexts on some days a political party but on other days just a simple organization proposing various "common sense" ideas. It styles itself as "an insurance policy" and says it should be welcomed as an expansion of choices for Americans. But do not be fooled. While I'm not altogether sure what their end goal is, it's pretty clear that if they manage to get on the ballot in November 2024 in the "swing states" and enough other states, they could make a difference in the outcome.

    As many political pundits have warned, though, its Third-Whatever (Party?) is really A Plan that Will Re-elect Trump. Third Way, which is also a centrist group, points out that the No Labels plan is "offering an illusion, not a choice" (March 7, 2023). While No Labels spokespeople and publicity claim that the "moderate independent ticket has a real and viable path to victory," the Third Way folks beg to differ. "Rather than producing a third-party ticket that would defy the overwhelming odds and win, No Labels is on track to field a spoiler who would re-elect Trump or a Trump-like Republican. Problem Solver Democrats, close allies of No Labels, are reported to be 'in open revolt' over their 2024 plans, because it’s so clear they would hurt Democrats and help Trump." The election is still over a year away but it's never too early to recognize danger and to organize to avert it.

    In very bright news, two different publications point out that young voters actually vote, unlike many of the generations that came before them. Celinda Lake and Mac Heller write: "2024 won’t be a Trump-Biden replay. You can thank Gen Z for that." They base their prognostication on the demographic changes that have taken place since 2016. So "between Trump’s election in 2016 and the 2024 election, the number of Gen Z (born in the late 1990s and early 2010s) voters will have advanced by a net 52 million against older people. That’s about 20 percent of the total 2020 eligible electorate of 258 million Americans." They go on to show that Gen Z, unlike previous Gens, vote. The Washington Post op-ed is gifted to you, so go ahead and read it all.

    More recently "‘This Is a Really Big Deal’: How College Towns Are Decimating the GOP" also looks at younger voters, starting with what happened in Dane County in April. The American Communities Project produces typologies of US counties, among which are 171 counties that are considered college towns.

    Of those 171 places, 38 have flipped from red to blue since the 2000 presidential election. Just seven flipped the other way, from blue to red, and typically by smaller margins. Democrats grew their percentage point margins in 117 counties, while 54 counties grew redder. By raw votes, the difference was just as stark: The counties that grew bluer increased their margins by an average of 16,253, while Republicans increased their margins by an average of 4,063.

    Back in 2000, the places identified as college towns by ACP voted 48 percent to 47 percent in favor of Al Gore. In the last presidential election, the 25 million who live in those places voted for Joe Biden, 54 percent to 44 percent.

    It's no wonder that Cleta Mitchell, a *rump lawyer and MAGA political operative, is urging conservatives to "band together to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters" (Washington Post, April 20, 2023).

    Finally, just a heads up about two initiatives on the horizon: this fall the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will begin some weekend canvasses to reach people the party hasn't talked to recently. The goal, of course, is to expand the Democratic electorate. The party will be doing "deep canvassing," an issue-oriented technique designed to elicit voters' concerns so that they can be addressed. You'll hear more about that from me in coming newsletters. Grassroots North Shore is also considering calling people in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties who are being purged from the voter rolls. Our goal is to reach people who want to be registered to vote next year and to help them do what is needed. Keep these two initiatives in mind as you make plans for September, October, and November.

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  • what to do before the next WI elections

    Today is Election Day for the special election in Assembly District 24, a seat formerly held by the odious Dan Knodl. We should know by 9 or 10pm how this race came out. But I'm very hopeful. As I was hosting the North Shore canvass on Saturday, I learned that the Democratic Party had managed to get to the third pass of every turf in the district! That means each walk list went out three times, with the people a canvasser had already reached removed. Clearly coverage was outstanding and the number and commitment of volunteers must have been off the charts!

    Grassroots North Shore's work included sending almost 6000 postcards and making almost that many phone calls — an outstanding effort for our hardy band. So a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who wrote, called and/or canvassed. Win or lose, and we hope it's WIN, we worked our tails off.

    Our Wisconsin election cycles for the year may have drawn to a close, but there's always an election somewhere it seems. And on August 8, a weird election will determine the state of democracy in Ohio. The Republican-controlled legislature has concocted an Ohio constitutional amendment that would raise the percent of yes votes needed to pass a citizen-initiated referendum from 50%+1 to 60%. I wrote about this in last week's newsletter so I won't belabor the topic now. But I did want to reiterate that we should be helping to defeat the referendum called Issue 1. It's a ridiculous notion, of course, that voters would want to exercise less power in the future than they have now! There are two ways to help.

    1. Volunteer to write letters to Ohioans with Vote Forward. The letters target young women. You can visit the Vote Forward guide for this project. And you can create a Vote Forward account to sign up. The organization will provide you with a template for your letter. As of this afternoon, the organization had 36,000 names and addresses that had not yet been assigned to a letter-writer. Letters need to be in the mail by August 1. So get cracking!

    2. The Ohio Democratic Party, Indivisible Chicago, and a group of volunteers in DC are all holding phonebanks over the next two weeks. They're generally 2 hours long and in the early evenings. Training is included for those who've never participated in a phonebank before. Sign up with the group of your choice and make some calls for democracy.

    The Ohio Issue 1 referendum is only one of a legion of voter restrictions passed or proposed all over the country. All of these efforts are concerning, but one state in particular has prompted the Guardian, a British publication, to publish Ten years of a crippled Voting Rights Act: how states make it harder to vote about the "wave of voter suppression across the country" the Roberts Supreme Court unleashed when the court ruled in 2013 that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was unconstitutional. As predicted, "states once covered by section 5 pre-clearance have enacted new laws requiring voters to show ID, cutting early voting, making it harder to vote by mail, aggressively removing voters from the rolls and implementing maps that blunt the electoral power of Black and Hispanic voters."

    However, as Thomas Edsall argues in an op-ed in the New York Times on July 12, "within hours of the Shelby decision [to strike section 5 of the VRA as unconstitutional], Republicans announced plans both to enforce laws that had been blocked by the federal government and to pass laws designed to prevent Democrats from casting ballots." He goes on to ask "How effective has the onslaught of state-level legislation been at raising the odds for Republican candidates?" And his answer is not very. But the jury is still out. The rest of the article asks various election law experts to evaluate two key articles exploring the issue. Read the whole thing to understand the heat suppressive voting laws provoke and the light, if any, studying the outcomes has produced.

    In a win that I hope is a harbinger of a similar outcome in Wisconsin, the New Mexico Supreme Court Rules That State Courts Can Review Partisan Gerrymandering Claims. The plaintiffs in the case contend that the partisan gerrymander violates the New Mexico constitution because the map currently both divides communities and splits counties and cities unnecessarily. It results, they say, in an unconstitutional gerrymander that achieves a partisan end. The court agreed and provided a standard for a lower court to apply to determine whether any given map amounts to a partisan gerrymander.

    While I'm on the subject of voting and voting rights, you should know that National Voter Registration Day this year will be Tuesday, September 19. Grassroots North Shore will undoubtedly be participating in some voter registration activities that day and will want your help. So stay tuned for more information.

    Right now, though, you can and should volunteer with the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County to staff their booth at the Ozaukee Fair, August 2 - 6. You can sign up for shifts here. As of this writing, the party needs help setting up on Tuesday, August 1, a Day Captain for Wednesday, August 2, and three or four shifts covered for each day of the fair.

    In the same vein, volunteers are needed to staff the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County State Fair Booth, from August 3 - 13. It's important that we represent Democratic Party values, find volunteers to win elections, give our friends the information they need, and let the other side know we're not going away. The issues we face in the future are crucial and we will have the opportunity to come in contact with thousands of people during our time at the fair.  Sign up for a shift. There are 3 shifts per day: 10:00am - 2:00pm; 2:00 - 6:00pm; 6:00 - 9:00pm. You will be mailed a free admission ticket for each shift!!! Your contribution and effort to help make our booth a success is appreciated. If you have questions or problems with sign-up, contact Mary Jonker or call 262-497-4672.

    I'm sure you've all seen or heard that TRE45ON received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith on Sunday announcing that he is the target of a DC grand jury investigation of the January 6, 2021, insurrection and the events that led up to it. May actual indictment(s) follow swiftly. And today, Judge Aileen Cannon is holding a hearing to try to sort out issues around the classified documents and the date for a trial in the so-called documents case. According to the Washington Post, Judge Cannon "did not set any new date for the trial, saying she would consider both sides’ arguments and make a decision on the timing 'promptly.'" Plus DA Fani Willis is still on track to issue charging decisions in the Fulton County, Georgia, investigation in the next few weeks. It's probably time to stock up on popcorn, folks.

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  • published don't let democracy down in Newsletter 2023-07-12 08:15:32 -0500

    don't let democracy down

    Now is the summer of our .... writing letters to Ohio? Yep. Wisconsin does not have any more elections (knock wood) until February, 2024. But we cannot afford to estivate (i.e., go to sleep for the next 6 months). There's always an election somewhere, right? And while we cannot chase our tails about each and every one, the referendum taking place in Ohio is so important to our democracy that we should not pass it up.

    Here's what's going on. The Ohio legislature — which like ours is totally gerrymandered and a wholly owned subsidiary of the MAGA mob — wants the voters of Ohio to amend the state's constitution so that it becomes harder for citizen-initiated proposals to pass. In Ohio, amendments to the constitution can either be legislature-referred or be citizen-initiated. Currently both types of proposed amendments require 50%+1 yes votes to be approved. The August 8 referendum — a legislative-referred amendment proposal — would change three rules for passing a citizen-initiated amendment.

    According to Wikipedia, a YES vote would mean:

    • Increasing the number of counties from which signatures are required to get an amendment on the ballot from 44 counties (50%) to all 88 counties (100%).
    • Removing the 10-day cure period to fix any errors in the collected signatures.
    • Increasing the passing percentage from 50%+1 of the vote to 60% on citizen-initiated referendums, but keeping the passing percentage at 50%+1 of the vote for legislature-initiated referendums.

    A NO vote on Issue 1 keeps the Ohio Constitution as is:

    • Keeps the number of counties from which signatures are required to get an amendment on the ballot at 44 counties (50%).
    • Keeps the 10-day cure period to fix any errors in the collected signatures.
    • Maintains the passing percentage of a citizen-initiated referendum at a simple majority (50%+1 vote).
    • Does not create a difference between citizen-initiated referendums and legislature-initiated referendums.

    Although the legislature SAYS this proposal is not aimed at any particular issue, it's clear that it's an attempt to stop Ohio voters from passing an amendment that "would establish a state constitutional right to 'make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,' including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy" (Ballotpedia). The groups working to get an abortion rights amendment on the Ohio constitution "delivered nearly double the number of signatures needed to place an amendment on the fall statewide ballot, aiming to signal sweeping widespread support for an issue that still faces the threat of needing a significantly increased victory margin" (PBS News Hour, July 5, 2023). This sort of protection for women's rights is pretty popular in Ohio, as it has been elsewhere. But maybe not popular enough to pass a 60% threshold.

    Needless to say, the proposed amendment is a direct and potent hit on Ohio citizens' ability to change their constitution. As Common Cause Ohio notes, the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment "is an attempt by powerful legislators to fool voters into giving away their power, so politicians can get what they want, instead of what the people want. Eliminating majority rule would mean that a minority of voters could override the will of the people, and would strengthen the power of the state legislature at the expense of the voters."

    • Increasing the number of votes to pass a citizen-initiated amendment from 50%+1 to 60% simply means that a minority of citizens can block what a majority of citizens want.
    • Requiring petition signatures from all 88 counties, instead of the 44 now needed, means that one county can prevent a petition from appearing on the ballot even if the people in the other 87 counties want it.
    • Passing this constitutional amendment would give the legislature more power and would seriously undermine citizens' rights, taking one more giant step away from our representative democracy.

    Two other states, Arkansas and South Dakota, placed similar measures on the ballot. And both were defeated. 

    The effort in Ohio is just one of many ways to create and bolster minority rule. We've seen efforts to reduce voter turnout among college students (Cleta Mitchell saying the quiet part out loud) and to suppress the votes of minority communities (Robert Spindell, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, crowing about the work Republicans did to suppress the Black and Hispanic vote in Milwaukee).

    At the federal level, the structure of the Senate and the Electoral College both work against majority rule. Wyoming, with its population of fewer than 600,000, has as many senators as California, with a population of nearly 39 million. So their voting power in the US Senate is the same. And because the number of votes in the Electoral College each state receives is a sum of the number of the state's Representatives in the House plus the two to account for the US senators, the representational weight of one vote in a small population state — like Wyoming (3), Delaware (3), West Virgina (4), Rhode Island (4) and many others — is much greater than the representational weight of one vote in a populous state like California (54).

    In his book, Laboratories of Autocracy, David Pepper "explains how gerrymandering in 2010 has fueled a decade of corruption and rigged elections" (The Cascadia Advocate, February 27, 2022). And gerrymandering is a big piece of why the Ohio legislature wants to pass its anti-democratic constitutional change. The result of aggressive partisan gerrymandering is a legislature full of unaccountable legislators, representatives who are virtually unbeatable at the ballot box. Since these people face no credible competition, they are free to pass legislation that the majority of a state's citizens oppose. And when the governor of the state comes from the same political party, the hateful legislation becomes law. In Wisconsin, exactly this process brought us Act 10! In Wisconsin's November 2024 election, Democrats won 53% of the votes overall for the Assembly but Republicans sit in 63 of the 99 seats because our state's election maps skew that heavily toward Republican districts.

    SO TAKE ACTION. This is the final week of the special election in Assembly District 24. Election Day is Tuesday, July 18. Grassroots North Shore sent out almost 6,000 postcards and has made the same number of phone calls to promote Democrat Bob Tatterson to fill the currently open seat. The Events list below is chock full of opportunities to canvass for him in Germantown, Grafton, Menomonee Falls, and Mequon. For those of us in the North Shore, there's a convenient staging location for you to pick up a list and some lit. So don't sit on your hands this weekend or on Monday and Tuesday next week. Click on a link and take a step (really a bunch of them) to make Wisconsin's legislature a bit better!

    OK, so maybe like me you can no longer canvass the way you once did. Here's something else you can do. Help out in Ohio. Vote Forward has mounted a letter-writing campaign to urge citizens in Ohio to vote "no" on Issue 1 in the special election on August 8. The organization provides the names and addresses as well as a template for your letters. Why is this organization engaged in trying to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment? Here's their answer: "Vote Forward is engaging in this special election because this proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution is an attack on democracy, and on the power of every Ohioan's vote. We're making sure voters understand what's at stake in this special election, and encouraging young women voters in particular to turn out and vote to make their voices heard." You can take part in this important effort to strengthen democracy in Ohio. Read the Vote Forward instructions and then sign up! (The sample letter on the page is the one they use for regular elections, not the referendum in Ohio.) Early voting has already started in Ohio. So there's no time to lose!

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  • published SCOTUS ends with some bangs in Newsletter 2023-07-03 14:33:44 -0500

    SCOTUS ends with some bangs

    Last week, I announced I was not going to produce a newsletter this week. But I've changed my mind. Partly that was because I wanted one more chance to encourage you to sign up and attend our Grassroots North Shore party — To US: A Celebration of our nation's 247th birthday. John Nichols will treat us to a no-doubt rousing speech, inspiring us with hope for the 2024 elections. John leads an extraordinary life as the National Editor of The Nation and as Editor of Wisconsin's own progressive publication, Capitol Times. In addition, he's a frequent guest on MSNBC and the author of many political books. In short he has the perfect blend of national and Wisconsin political knowledge. Don't pass up this chance to hear him live.

    The party — complete with cake and beverages — will also feature Bob Tatterson, the Democratic candidate for Assembly District 24. We need to get him over the finish line to prevent our local MAGA types from ramming through their "election integrity" schemes designed to keep them in power forever! (We did dodge a bullet on that one, which I explain in more depth below.) The party will be held on Sunday, July 9, at Doctors Park (1870 E Fox Lane) in Fox Point, from 3:30 - 5:30pm. So sign up, bring your friends and families and some lawn chairs!

    A more pressing reason for wanting to write this newsletter, though, was the avalanche of Supreme Court rulings that were released last week. Many of us were deeply worried about the outcome of Moore v. Harper, a case that asked the Supreme Court to find that state legislatures and only state legislatures could determine the rules for federal elections. The plaintiffs in the case wanted the court to interpret the Elections clause of the Constitution to mean that state courts and governors could have no role in drawing congressional districts, determining who is eligible to vote, how ballots can be distributed and returned, and many more issues. And their plenary (or total) power in this area would hold even if they violate their own state's constitution. As Richard Hasen, a prominent constitutional and election law scholar, put it in an article in Slate (June 27, 2023), the ruling "made clear that legislatures do not have this free-floating power, and that one must understand the legislature’s power within the ordinary system of state government, including judicial review." (That's the bullet we dodged: the court's complete denial of what is known as the Independent State Legislature Theory.)

    Nevertheless, Hasen finds a black cloud in what is otherwise a huge relief. "In the last part of his majority opinion for the court, the chief justice got the liberal justices to sign on to a version of judicial review that is going to give the federal courts, and especially the Supreme Court itself, the last word in election disputes." In essence, Hasen points out that the kind of ruling that the US Supreme Court issued in the Bush v. Gore and that awarded Florida's Electoral College votes to Bush was precedent-setting. "The Supreme Court has now set itself up, with the assent of the liberal justices, to meddle in future elections, perhaps to even decide the outcome of future presidential elections (as it has done in the past)."

    There were a few other rulings the court released last week that were pleasant surprises for progressives:

    1. In Allen v. Milligan, SCOTUS upheld Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, barring "election practices that result in a denial or abridgement of the right to vote based on race." The ruling requires Alabama to redraw its congressional district map to create two congressional districts, not just the one majority minority district in the current map. Both of these districts must have a reasonable chance to elect representatives that voters in minority communities prefer.
    2. In Haaland v. Brackeen, the court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, meaning that it is constitutional to seek to keep Native American children with Native American families rather than separating them from their families and preferring to place Native American children who have to be removed from their families either with extended family or with foster families who are also Native American.
    3. In US v. Texas, the court ruled that Texas and Louisiana lack standing to challenge the Secretary of Homeland Security's guidelines for immigration enforcement.

    There were several other big cases whose reactionary decisions were handed down at the end of June. They included Biden v. Nebraska, a ruling that the Secretary of Education does not have authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act to set up a loan forgiveness system. President Biden is seeking to ground his proposed program on a different law.

    In two cases, Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, the court held that the affirmative action admissions programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, an amendment whose purpose was and is to allow remedies for the harms and disadvantages that flowed from slavery — not to protect those already privileged! In essence, selective schools may no longer use race even as a factor in admission decisions, striking down all affirmative action programs in college admissions. (For an interesting view of how affirmative action has affected college admissions nationwide, see this article in the New York Times today. I've gifted it to you so you won't have to breach the paywall.)

    And of course, the court ruled, designing a wedding website, like baking a wedding cake, is an act of free speech. Therefore the wannabe web designer who has yet to design anyone's wedding site is free to discriminate against hypothetical same sex couples who have yet to request one from her business that also does not yet exist (303 Creative LLC v. Elenis). The implications of this ruling go far beyond websites, wedding cakes, and the LGBTQ+ community. It might be used as the thin edge of a wedge, with potential application to interracial marriage and other civil rights!

    Because there does not seem to be a viable path to reforming the structure of the US Supreme Court — such as expanding the number of justices, imposing term limits, and other proposals to rein in some of the worst outcomes — our only recourse is to win more elections. Seriously. At every level of government and at every opportunity. It will be a long hard slog to wrest control of the court from the radical right, but we have no choice. So, we have a special election in AD24 that needs everyone's help. You'll find the Events listings overflowing with opportunities to canvass for Bob Tatterson. Please help if you can.

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  • published shorter and to the point in Newsletter 2023-06-28 09:03:45 -0500

    shorter and to the point

    Last week the newsletter was late; this week it's early. And that's because I want to make sure you have an opportunity to attend Bob Tatterson's event from 5:30 to 7:00 on Monday, June 26, at SIP MKE (1515 W Mequon Rd, Mequon). You'll find the full description in the first item of the Events list. But you can also RSVP right here.

    Also, if you have not yet signed up for To US: A Celebration of our nation's 247th birthday, you should. The event will be held outdoors in Doctors Park (1870 E Fox Lane, Fox Point) on Sunday, July 9 beginning at 3:30pm, and will feature one of Grassroots North Shore's favorite speakers, John Nichols. John is the National Editor for The Nation, Madison Editor of the Capitol Times, author of Dollarocracy and other books, and the Voice of Wisconsin Progressivism. And he always gives us inspiration to carry on the work of educating and persuading voters who care about the future of Wisconsin and the country.

    Bob Tatterson will also be on hand and will speak at the birthday event. He's a terrific candidate with a real chance to win in this low, low, low turnout election to be held on July 18. So come out to cheer him on. Please RSVP so we'll know you're coming to the party. Bring a lawn chair and your family and friends.

    And speaking of the special election in Assembly District 24, today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publishes a piece about Tatterson's opponent that reveals his reaction to a costume competition in 2001. The winner wore an Aunt Jemima costume complete with blackface makeup! At the time, Paul Melotik "seemed less than outraged about the whole situation when he was interviewed several days later." When asked about it now, he basically shrugged and said he had noting to do with the Water Street Halloween party, even though at the time he was president of the Water Street Tavern and Restaurant Association, which sponsored the event and provided the $1,000 prize for the winner. At the end of the article, Daniel Bice writes: "At the very least would Melotik acknowledge that it's highly inappropriate for someone to don blackface while dressing up as Aunt Jemima? Nearly everyone agrees with that now, right?" Melotik finally coughs up a yes.

    Another event you really shouldn't miss is the North Shore Fair Maps meeting on Monday, July 10, at 7:00pm on Zoom. The featured speaker is David Pepper, former chair of the Ohio Democrats and author of two books on the state of our nation and what we can do about it. The first book, Laboratories of Autocracy explores the ways statehouses have been undermining the democracies they were supposed to nurture. His most recent book, Saving Democracy: A User's Manual for every American, is exactly what the title says. You may have seen him recently on MSNBC discussing his latest. Our wonderful Lieutenant Governor, Sara Rodriguez will also attend the meeting. So sign up.

    On the little matter of the fake electors in Wisconsin: in his weekly newsletter to Wisconsin Democrats, Ben Wikler writes: "From a slew of fake electors to the chief election denier himself, election conspiracy theorists were out in full force at the Wisconsin GOP’s convention last weekend, demonstrating that even years after Trump’s loss, the Republican Party is still dominated by the toxic election denialism that is profoundly alienating to Wisconsin voters."

    Meanwhile, as our home state MAGAs parade around their state convention, it seems that Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating both the Mar-a-lago documents case and the January 6 case, has ramped the latter investigation. He's granted limited immunity to at least two of the fakes, from Nevada, and is compelling others to testify to the grand jury by the end of this month. CNN Politics notes, "That activity could signal that investigators are nearing at least some charging decisions in a part of the 2020 election probe." Also, the Department of Justice (i.e., Smith) has filed a motion in the documents case requesting that the trial date be set for December 11 this year. The postponement, the motion states, will allow enough time for TFG's lawyers to obtain the necessary levels of security clearance (see this piece in Reuters). And apparently the counsel's office expects the trial to be completed before Christmas.

    There's a lot to say about the third party candidates as well as the also-rans in the GOP gearing up their campaigns and I will do a more comprehensive account of them in July. But an important item about Robert Kennedy, Jr., who has already declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, is in the news right now. A few days ago Rolling Stone published "Pro-RFK Jr. Super PAC Has Deep Ties to Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos." The authors note that "There’s nothing abnormal about a candidate getting a Super PAC, even a candidate making a long-shot bid like Kennedy’s. What is abnormal, however, is that Kennedy is running as a Democrat in the Democratic primary, while the creators of the Super PAC have a deeply pro-Donald Trump bent — including ties to arch-MAGA officials such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, George Santos, and Herschel Walker." The article goes on to note: "It’s not just one MAGAfied Super PAC, however, that’s backing Kennedy’s run against President Biden in the Democratic primary. His bid is awash in support from Donald Trump’s allies in MAGA World, conservative media, and some of the Republican-donor elite." The point of this not-so-subtle GOP engagement is to make President Biden look weak by attracting a substantial number of votes during the primaries. Don't fall for it.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Fourth of July Holiday. I will be home by then but plan to take a one-week vacation from the Grassroots North Shore newsletter. So the next time you hear from me — unless there's another coup in Russia or we're in the path of an oncoming asteroid — will be on Tuesday, July 11.

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  • published Safe Kids resources in Get Involved 2023-09-02 14:57:18 -0500

    Safe Kids resources

    Safe Schools Rally Resources

    Moms Demand Action

    Sign up for Advocacy Day, Tuesday, October 17, 2023, in Madison

    Learn more and join Moms Demand Action



    Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort

    Sign up for Lobby Day on Sept 21, 2023, in Madison


    Brady Campaign

    Sign up for Lobby Day on Sept 21, 2023, in Madison



    Messaging Resources:

  • published summer fun with Grassroots North Shore in Newsletter 2023-06-22 12:55:13 -0500

    summer fun with Grassroots North Shore

    I apologize for the late newsletter. I'm currently 'on vacation' and trying to keep up with my 6-year-old grandchild. So I was just too tired yesterday to get to this. But I'm here now!

    The Fourth of July is rushing toward us and that means our next Grassroots North Shore event is also coming up quickly. We're holding a celebration for our nation's 247th birthday. In my family, we celebrate important occasions on the correct date if possible, but any nearby date that's convenient will also do. And that's what we're doing — on July 9, beginning at 3:30 at Doctors Part, 1870 E Fox Lane, Fox Point. We'll have cake, of course, but the big deal is what will no doubt be a rousing speech by John Nichols (National Editor for The Nation, Madison Editor of the Capitol Times, author of Dollarocracy and other books, and the Voice of Wisconsin Progressivism). If you've never heard John speak, you're in for a real treat. And if you have, you won't want to miss it. Sign up here.

    The event — To US — will also feature Bob Tatterson, our candidate for an open seat for Assembly District 24. It's paramount to win this special election on July 18 to flip the district from its red history to a blue new day. And if we succeed, we will strengthen our ability to thwart MAGA Republicans in our legislature from attacking our fundamental freedoms. So enjoy beverages and birthday cake and spend time with others gathered to make a difference in our state and country. Bring a lawn chair and like-minded friends and family. And celebrate our stunning victory in April and the good work we're going to do together in the upcoming year.

    Speaking of Bob Tatterson, he's about to make an order for yard signs and could use some help, both with funding and with distribution of the signs when they arrive. You could also canvass in the district. We'll do our best to pair you with a driver or another canvasser to make the effort faster and more enjoyable. We're only contacting people who are strong Democrats because, in a super low turnout election like this one, the key is turning out Democratic voters. The reports we've heard from the field so far is that few people we contact even know an election is happening! With your help, we can make sure that they know and that they vote.

    The legislature looks poised to undermine Wisconsin's upcoming elections by failing to confirm Megan Wolfe to a second term as our election administrator. The election administrator is nominated by the Wisconsin Election Commission and must then be confirmed by the state Senate. For her first term, now ending, she was confirmed unanimously but now, of course, MAGA "politicians who helped sow the seeds of doubt about Wisconsin election results could reset election dynamics in a state pivotal to the 2024 presidential race" (ProPublica, June 15, 2023). If Wolfe is not retained, we will have a new administrator, one who is not as experienced as Wolfe and who might be, as the ProPublica article points out, "a staunch partisan or an election denier, tilting oversight of the state’s voting operations."

    If we can be hopeful for a moment though, we might squint and see a slight decline in TFG's standing in his party. On June 15, Daily Kos ran Turns out crime doesn't pay: Trump's fundraising slides by Mark Sumner. It seems that not only did the indictments fail to boost his popularity, "the indictments weren’t even good for Trump when it comes to his wallet. Every time Trump gets in trouble, his well-oiled outrage machine reaches out to his massive email list with a cash ask." Yesterday, CNN reported that "his support has declined, as have positive views of him among Republican and Republican-leaning voters" and that "most Americans approve of Trump’s indictment stemming from his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office." The poll shows that among independents, Democrats and others outside the Republican party, "these [federal] charges are broadly viewed as disqualifying."

    And on that uplifting note, I'll finish with this: please participate in at least one of the activities planned in our area over the next two weeks. Saturday, June 24, is especially replete with postive ways you can voice your concerns and support for a worthy cause, including a NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION with Reproductive Justice Action-Milwaukee at Red Arrow Park. Have a serious look at the Events list.


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  • published not just the indictment in Newsletter 2023-06-13 14:11:48 -0500

    not just the indictment

    In last week's newsletter, I speculated that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — the only remaining mechanism in the VRA that could still be used to challenge election maps — would be declared unconstitutional or at least further curtailed. I'm overjoyed to tell you that I was wrong. In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh joined Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson in the majority. Because this momentous decision was released Thursday, June 8, it was overshadowed by the announcement that a grand jury had issued an indictment of the former president. NPR had a great account of the decision and what it means for Alabama and for minority communities in other states.

    The indictment has dominated the news for days. Tuesday afternoon TRE45ON will be arraigned in Miami. No doubt everything will be obsessively filmed for posterity, including the transportation that brings him to and whisks him away from the court house. He's scheduled to rant that evening at 7:15 CDT from his Bedminster abode. I don't know which news outlets, other than Fox, Newsmax, and OAN, will carry it live. Because the indictment's had such thorough coverage, I'm not going to discuss it today. You can read the pdf of the whole 49-page document. It's meticulous and detailed but still an easy (and enjoyable!) read.

    Instead, I want to alert you to an ongoing threat to our next presidential election, a threat almost no one has yet heard of: No Labels, a 501c4 organization aiming to put a third party candidate for president on the ballot in all 50 states and all voting US territories. Reasonable, commonsense, bipartisan governance is the way No Labels presents itself. And that sounds great, doesn't it? But it's a trap that will help elect TFG — a.k.a, the former guy. The organization has produced a map that purports to show how the No Labels nominee will win at least 270 electoral college votes. A memo from another nonprofit group, the Third Way, has written extensively on the effort. See Does No Labels’ Math and Map Get Them to the White House? The answer to the question? In no known universe does this math work. The memo makes a very detailed argument, the gist of which is this:

    Their notion of what it will take to win in an average state is fatally flawed. No Labels recently told supporters on a Zoom they intend to get at least 34% of the vote in every one of their 25 top target states to win. But 34% is a winning margin in a three-way race only if the Democrat and Republican each win precisely 33%. Such a photo finish is theoretically possible in some of the closely divided, modern-era swing states. But there are not nearly enough such battlegrounds to get them even a third of the way to 270 electoral votes.

    Even more worrying — the Third Way analysis used polling from December 2022 to show that the presence of a No Labels candidate would almost surely syphon enough votes from President Biden, or presumably another Democratic candidate, to elect the putative front runner for the Republican nomination, i.e. that abominable orange man. In an update to their original analysis, Third Way argues that even if the No Labels claim that their candidate would earn 70% of the undecided voters were true (which they are at pains to say it isn't),

    their unnamed “moderate independent” still spoils Biden’s re-election, still helps re-elect Trump, and still does not achieve a plurality of the popular vote to win the presidency. This echoes more recent polling from Echelon Insights. They showed that when a named third-party candidate is added (here it’s Sen. Joe Manchin), the vote-share of the third-party candidate only reaches nine percent and leads to a 42%-41% Trump victory over Biden in the three-way race.

    Be On the Lookout (BOLO) for much more of this BS as we get closer to the election. As Third Way's memo notes, "History makes clear that the No Labels candidate is unlikely to win even a single state. The most successful third-party candidate since the dawn of the modern two-party system (Teddy Roosevelt) won only six states. And though the seven closest states in 1992 were all decided by less than 2.5 points, Ross Perot won zero of them."

    —— Take Action ——

    Support Bob Tatterson's run for the open seat in Assembly District 24. Election Day is fast approaching and in a super low turnout election — with nothing else on the ballot and in the middle of high summer fun — he who wins will have turned out more of his voters. So, voter contact is key. Most people in AD 24 are simply unaware that this election is taking place, our phoners and canvassers are reporting. Making strong Democrats aware is leading to more people requesting absentee ballots, or making a plan to vote early in person, or planning to go to the polls on election day. You can pitch in by

    All these methods work. But it takes many hands.

    Even if you don't live in AD 24, consider attending a fundraiser for Bob on Monday, June 26. It will be held at SIP MKE (1515 W Mequon Rd, Mequon) from 5:30 to 7:00pm. RSVP via Act Blue.

    You can strengthen our democracy by volunteering with Supermarket Legends to register voters at one of Milwaukee's 3 DMV's. This is indoors in a safe environment under supervision of DMV management. The Teutonia DMV schedules two-hour shifts weekdays 8:20am - 4:45pm. Mill Road DMV schedules Saturday morning. All training and materials are supplied. The approach is non-partisan. Supermarket Legends provides voter education and encourages voters to use absentee ballots. This is very productive and rewarding work. Contact James Balk.

    Vote Forward is launching a new letter writing campaign to encourage voter turnout in Ohio’s August special election. So many reached out to request an Ohio-specific campaign, and we heard you loud and clear. Letters will be available starting this week!

    Republican lawmakers in Ohio want to increase the voter approval threshold for constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. Ohioans will have the chance to vote "no" on that proposed change in an August 8 special election.

    The impetus for the attempt to make it harder for citizens to amend the constitution by referendum is the MAGA fear that the voters of Ohio will successfully protect access to abortion. If you would like to help defeat the change that would make it harder for voters in Ohio to make a change to the constitution that is responsive to a simple majority, sign up here.

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  • published election problems loom in Newsletter 2023-06-07 09:05:29 -0500

    election problems loom

    While we're all holding our breath or crossing our fingers waiting for Special Counsel Jack Smith to indict TFG (see NBC News coverage), we're also waiting for the US Supreme Court to vitiate the remaining section of the Voting Rights Act that still permits aggrieved voters to turn to the federal courts for relief. That opinion, like the indictment, could drop any day now. (See NPR's coverage from October 2022 and an AP story in Daily Kos that also reviews the history of the Court's weakening of the Voting Rights Act.) In this pregnant pause, other important national news is not getting the coverage it deserves.

    I want to call your attention to four pieces about how elections in this country are changing. First, Open Secrets — a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks money in U.S. politics — recently published The nationalization of political contributions and the rising role of out-of-state donations. The piece demonstrates that "federal candidates are increasingly reliant on out-of-state contributions." But it opens with data from the April 4 election in Wisconsin. "Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal, outraised her conservative opponent Daniel Kelly five to one. More than $2.6 million of Protasiewicz’s $14 million fundraising haul came from out-of-state donors." So the percent of her funds from out-of-state remained modest compared to the money she raised in state, from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin as well as from individuals. The point is, though, that even down-ballot races are attracting funds from people who cannot vote for the candidate in question. And it may mean that big dollar donors, like the Uihleins, will dominate races everywhere.

    Second, Republican-led states like Texas and Florida "have resigned their membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan data clearinghouse that helps states keep their voter rolls accurate and up-to-date" (New York Times, 6/6/2023). Why is this a problem? It turns out that ERIC is the only "comprehensive, secure and useful database of voter information. That information — drawn from voter rolls, D.M.V. records, Social Security death records and change-of-address data — gets analyzed, matched and compiled into reports that are provided to the states to help them clean up their rolls." Without ERIC, states have no way to communicate and coordinate voter information with each other.

    ERIC uses states' information to identify people who have moved, either within a state or to another state, and have not remembered to change their status as a voter in their old location. But recently, MAGA Republicans have begun vilifying ERIC with the usual rhetorical accusations: the program is dominated by the left, funded by George Soros, connected to Democratic Party databases, and so on — none of it true, of course. And the point of the exodus? To allow voting rolls to become bloated and to foster a kind of chaos. That way they can point to poorly maintained voter rolls in their continuing efforts to restrict access to the ballot to shore up "election integrity." And Voila! Bring on more voter suppression.

    Third, YouTube has now reversed its policy of preventing certain false "information" about prior elections from circulating on its platform. "YouTube will leave up content that says fraud, errors or glitches occurred in the 2020 presidential election and other U.S. elections" (Election Law Blog, 6/2/2023). The policy removing such content was established in December 2020, but now the company is concerned about squashing campaign speech without having a discernible effect on the threat of violence. The story first appeared in Axios.

    This fourth piece returns to the pending Supreme Court decision on a case about racial gerrymandering. Richard Hasan, a constitutional law professor and scholar, and Dahlia Lithwick, a Slate reporter covering the courts and the law, find that There’s Unsettling New Evidence About William Rehnquist’s Views on Segregation. The article shows that, in 1952, Rehnquist seemed to support the infamous reasoning in Plessy v. Ferguson, a case that pronounced the 14th Amendment protected racial equality before the law but could not be the foundation for establishing social equality for Black people. Rehnquist still believed Plessy was correctly decided as late as 1993, when as Chief Justice he wrote a memo to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor saying "The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination; it does not require integration, and I think it is a mistake to intimate that it does even as a 'goal.'"

    Hasan and Lithwick then draw the connection between Rehnquist's views and those of the current conservative justices: "Tragically, Rehnquist’s thinking on the 14th Amendment currently infects the conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court and could have devastating consequences for the end of this term." The piece concludes, "In short, Rehnquist consistently contended—and the current Supreme Court majority is likely to contend—that the Reconstruction Amendments were drafted not to protect disadvantaged groups from racially biased treatment at the hands of the government but rather to prohibit the government from using race-conscious measures to ever remediate inequality." If their reasoning is correct, we will see the court undermine the Voting Rights Act in their forthcoming opinion in Allen v. Milligan, a redistricting case "challenging Alabama’s congressional map" that diluted Black votes (Brennan Center for Justice, 9/29/2022).

    On the large and increasing field of Republican candidates vying for the presidential nomination, Josh Marshal has an interesting (and somewhat amusing) take. Schrodinger’s Candidates: They’re Running and Not Running at the Same Time looks at the field and surmises that "aside from Trump, all of the people running for President in the GOP primary, with the semi-exception of Ron DeSantis, aren’t actually running for President. Normally, long shot entrants at least think they have some chance or they have some plan for career advancement by making a solid showing. But in this race, every candidate is in that category." Marshall posits that these people are probably thinking that running now is good preparation for their real campaign in 2028. He notes that "They’re running, sort of. But they’re not saying anything out of line with Trump and they’re definitely not criticizing Trump. Ferreting out the implicit critiques amounts almost to a latter-day variant of Kremlinology."

    Last week, Politico published ‘Numbers Nobody Has Ever Seen’: How the GOP Lost Wisconsin. The piece asks "Did abortion make Wisconsin a blue state again?" It's long, chatty, and leans heavily on talking to and quoting people — some ordinary folks and some dignitaries from both parties. But it has some interesting bits. For example, it reveals that Scott Walker thinks his elections and Ron Johnson's were exceptions. Then Walker said, “Wisconsin has historically, and I think largely continues to be, a blue state.” An even more stunning statement reveals that "If you lopped Dane County off the map and didn’t count any votes there, Protasiewicz still would have won. Same thing if you excluded Democrat-heavy Milwaukee." The clincher for the 2023 election: Ben Wikler (Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair) said, "abortion was so salient not only in Democratic-leaning areas of the state, but in redder, rural areas, too." It behooves us to pay attention to how much this one issue moves the needle. "Abortion, while slightly more resonant an issue for voters in the Democratic-leaning media markets around Madison, Milwaukee and Eau Claire/La Crosse, was the main vote driver for Protasiewicz in every market in the state."

    There's little of note happening just this minute in the Wisconsin's political scene. Hence my focus on big national issues. But I like to bow out with a little bit of spice. So here it is. From Talking Points Memo, "George Santos Falls On Sword For Mystery Donors: Rep. George Santos (R-NY) has told a judge he’d rather be taken into custody pre-trial than reveal the donors who co-signed on his $500,000 bond."


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               The debt ceiling issue has been resolved for now. But before we move on from this episode, let’s reflect on the recent history of the debt-ceiling law and its negative impact on rational economic policy. Perhaps a clearer understanding of the law would help us get rid of it. 

             First,  the debt ceiling law is a cap on the amount the government can borrow even when borrowing would be necessary to meet all the spending commitments Congress has made. The cap would force the government to renege, or "default," on its obligations. The nation came close to default in early June 2023, but this was forestalled by bipartisan agreement to lift the ceiling until 2025.  

             Second, the nation was brought to this crisis by Republicans. That is, the application of the law is asymmetric: Democrats do not impose pre-conditions for raising the ceiling when Republicans occupy the White House, yet  Republicans do impose pre-conditions when Democrats occupy the White House.   This practice is long-standing and has become known as "the political business cycle."

             For example, prior to this latest default threat, the debt ceiling was raised three times during the Trump administration, in 2017, 2018, and 2019, without any default threat at all. The first two of these debt-ceiling increases were approved on a bipartisan basis without any pre-conditions; the 2019 increase was approved on a bipartisan basis, offset by a $77 billion cut in administrative spending.


    The Economics Behind the Strategy

              This asymmetric political business cycle strategy relies on macroeconomics, a branch of economics designed as a tool for good -- achieving full employment with low inflation – – but which, like any tool,  can be abused. 

    A closer look at core economic principles will show why the political business cycle works.  First, national product equals the total value of all the goods and services that people produce and distribute. This total derives from the huge number of daily trades between foreign and domestic individuals, business firms, and government agencies.  

              Second, all spending is someone's income. When a good or service is purchased, money is exchanged to reward the people who made, distributed, and provided for the sale of that good or service.

             Third, all spending is comprised of four categories: consumption, private sector investment, government spending, and net exports. If the total of these spending categories rises, the total demand for goods and services rises, thereby generating more jobs and income for those producing the goods and services.    In this scenario, the improvement in economic conditions improves the political prospects for the party in the White House.

             If, on the other hand, the rate of total spending is decreased, then the opposite is true; demand for goods and services will decline, as will the demand for the people who produce those goods and services.  Here the political prospects worsen for the party in the White House.

             The political business cycle strategy works because government spending -- a key component of total spending – is determined by policy.  Sure enough,   during Republican presidential administrations -- Reagan/Bush '41,  Bush '43, and Trump -- the debt ceiling was raised and spending on defense and non-defense categories rose.  By contrast, during Democratic presidential administrations --Clinton,  Obama and the Biden years thus far -- we have a curtailment in the rate of spending and, in the case of Obama, an out-right decline.     Moreover, those increases in the debt ceiling during Republican administrations --  three times during the Trump administration and several times during the Reagan Bush and GW Bush administrations -- were all with bi-partisan votes.  So, the debt ceiling weapon is available to both parties, but only one uses it.

     Return to "Regular Order"

             Regular order is the systematic assembling of information prior to legislative action. During regular order congressional committees gather supporting documentation and hold hearings compiling expert testimony from specialist members of Congress, experts within the federal agencies, and from think tanks and universities.  During regular order, each bill that is considered has a fiscal note or scorecard provided by the Congressional Budget Office so Congress knows the price of what they are proposing and how it will be financed.

              The ability to impose a debt ceiling enables members of Congress with far less expertise on any given subject to nullify the more rigorous procedures of regular order. The debt-ceiling law enables less qualified members to sabotage the work of those who participate in regular order.   

             To paraphrase Henry the Second, " Will No One Rid Us of this Meddlesome Law?"        

  • published Elections past and future haunt us in Newsletter 2023-05-31 07:47:48 -0500

    Elections past and future haunt us

    The big news of the weekend, of course, is the deal President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy reached to raise the debt ceiling until 2025. Before looking at the details, we should admire and rejoice at Dark Brandon's political jujitsu. The deal means that there will be no opportunity for MAGA Republicans to shut down the government during budget negotiations this fall and no opportunity to use the debt ceiling as a hostige again until after the 2024 elections. Masterful. But that's of course not all.

    Although I am one of those people who thought the President ought not to negotiate at all with people who basically think it might be a good thing to crash the economy, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo makes a really good point. Like me, he was adamantly opposed to Biden engaging in negotiations in the first place. But as he points out, "Something like this set of concessions was more or less baked in the moment Republicans won control of the House. There was always going to be a budget negotiation this fall that shifted fiscal policy to the right. Again, baked in as soon as Republicans won the House." He goes on to say, "That’s why to me this is a very big win both in policy and political terms. In fact, such a big win that I’m still not totally clear how it came about. Once Biden started negotiating and appeared to rule out extraordinary measures, I was sure he was going to get taken to the cleaners. Somehow he didn’t. Score another one for Dark Brandon."

    Here at home, we're finally going to see some public account of how the phony elector scheme started and worked (or didn't, of course). Remember the matter of the bogus "electors" who tried to construct the pretext for overthrowing the 2020 presidential election? Well, the issue has new life. The Fake Electors lawsuit Democrats filed in May, 2022, has been set for trial on September 3, 2024, and is scheduled to last a month (Urban Milwaukee, May 25, 2023). Dane County Judge Frank Remington set the trial schedule last week. Democrats are arguing that "the 10 Republicans and two attorneys who advised them broke a variety of laws, including one that bans people from falsely acting as public officials. Plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages of up to $2.4 million." Jeff Mandell, the lead attorney for the Democrats, "noted that one of the goals for plaintiffs was to prevent Republican plaintiffs from serving as electors in future elections. Mandell said the next slates of electors would be chosen in October 2024."

    In early May, the same judge ordered the Wisconsin Election Commission, which had unanimously rejected a complaint about these pretend electors, first filed in 2021, to revive it. In his ruling, Judge Frank Remington wrote, "To emphasize, Wisconsin voters chose none of these persons to serve as presidential elector — on the contrary, each had been named to serve as the potential electors for a losing candidate." You can read the details in full at the PBS News Hour. His order requires the Commission to give "no deference to or consideration of its previous decision."

    Are you tired of the anti-majoritarian institution, the Electoral College, enabling a candidate to win the presidency while losing the popular vote? The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is for you: See Robert Reich explain it. Minnesota just joined the Compact. The matter is still pending in Michigan. It's of course a long shot in Wisconsin and not just because the state legislature is thoroughly controlled by a political party that stands to lose a lot of presidential elections in the future if the nationwide popular vote determines the winner. Wisconsin would stand to lose its outsized influence in presidential elections. Why? Because there would no longer be "swing states" who get all the candidates' attention (and advertising money!). Nevertheless, it is the only way to rid ourselves of minority rule through the structure of the Electoral College without amending the US Constitution. And boy would it be worth it. With the NPVIC, John Kerry would have won in 2000 and Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016!

    One of our three branches of national government — the judiciary — has fallen into disrepute, it seems. Or perhaps it is just the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that has earned the disapproval of the population. The latest Marquette Law School poll, released on Wednesday, May 23, shows that disapproval in the survey conducted May 8 - May 18 has reached 59% while approval has slumped to 41%. The same poll conducted one year ago showed approval at 44% and disapproval at 55%. This poll only began 2.75 years ago, in mid-September 2020. Since then approval has plummeted from 66% then to a mere 41% now. Disapproval has risen just as dramatically: from 33% in September 2020 to 59% now, an increase of 26%! We can see disapproval of the court rising rapidly in just the last five months. Among Republicans, approval has dropped nine points since mid-January, 2023. The ratio of disapproval to approval among independents has stayed roughly the same during that 5-month period: 2-1 disapproval. For Democrats, approval has dropped from 31% to 24% while disapproval has risen to 76%, a 3 to 1 ratio!

    Make sure you're informed about the Special Election in Assembly District 24. The League of Women Voters Wisconsin plans to post its special election voter guide on If you live and vote in AD 24, make a note of the URL and check it periodically for useful information. (Right now it simply returns no information and states that there are no elections, which is wrong. So give it a week or so and then try.) Like Grassroots North Shore, the LWVWI reminds you that "it’s important to plan ahead to make sure you’re ready to be a voter. If you’re in the district, consider requesting your absentee ballot for the Special Election today! Also, help your friends, family, and neighbors make their voting plan." Election Day is July 18. The district encompasses Grafton (town and village), part of Mequon, Germantown (town and village), and Menomonee Falls. To find out whether you live in the district, visit the home page for the Wisconsin Legislature.

    —— Take Action ——

    You can send Bob Tatterson to the Assembly to protect essential freedoms, like a woman's right to choose, fully funded public schools, fair election maps, and much more. You can help in three ways if you live in Assembly District 24 (find out here by typing in your address):

    1. Volunteer with his campaign.
    2. Donate to his campaign.
    3. Vote for Bob
      • by absentee ballot (request one at;
      • early in person from July 5 through July 14 (in the office of your village/city clerk);
      • or go to the polls on Election Day, July 18.

    If you DON'T live in AD24, concentrate on numbers 1 and 2 above.

    You can strengthen our democracy by volunteering to register voters at one of Milwaukee's 3 DMV's. This is indoors in a safe environment under supervision of DMV management. The Teutonia DMV schedules two-hour shifts weekdays 8:20am - 4:45pm. Mill Road DMV schedules Saturday morning. All training and materials are supplied. The approach is non-partisan. Supermarket Legends provides voter education and encourages voters to use absentee ballots. This is very productive and rewarding work. Contact James Balk.

    Protesting is also taking action. In this case, telling your cable provider that you don't want to pay even more than you're paying already (probably about $2 per subscriber per month) to have Fox News as part of your "Basic Cable" offerings. Media Matters has produced a site that will explain the whole thing and allow you to register your #UNFOXMYCABLEBOX views. It even allows you to calculate how much you've unknowingly paid in fees to Fox News.

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