Emancipation Day at last

Before I sat down to write today's newsletter, I was running a few errands in the course of which I saw a bus displaying, not its destination, but an exhortation. "Juneteenth today: Celebrate Freedom." It's an uplifting message in the city our Trumpelthinskin calls "miserable."

But it's also sobering when we realize that our imperfect but beloved country practices slavery by another name. An essay by Andrew Ross, Tommaso Bardelli and Aiyuba Thomas in today's New York Times — End Legal Slavery in the United States (a gift to you) — explains "that Emancipation did not legally end slavery in the United States. The 13th Amendment — the culmination of centuries of resistance by enslaved people, a lifetime of abolitionist campaigning and a bloody civil war — prohibited involuntary servitude 'except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.'" Thus our prison systems use forced, and largely uncompensated, labor. "Today, a majority of the 1.2 million Americans locked up in state and federal prisons work under duress in jobs that cover the entire spectrum, from cellblock cleaning to skilled manufacturing, for wages as low as a few cents per hour or, in several states, for nothing at all."

Of course we face a multitude of crises both at home and abroad, including the presidential election racing towards us. And we may perforce have to attend to them first. But on this joyous holiday, spare a thought for those who, while incarcerated, are also compelled to involuntary labor. And that's just slavery by another name.

Meanwhile, it's June 19th and the US Supreme Court has still failed to issue a ruling on the ludicrous arguments that Don the Con offered to claim that presidents, after they are no longer in office, are immune from prosecution for any and all acts they committed while in office. Noting the delay this dilatory opinion causes, Laura Litman's opinion piece at the New York Times (a gift to you) titled Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case, begins "For those looking for the hidden hand of politics in what the Supreme Court does, there’s plenty of reason for suspicion on Donald Trump’s as-yet-undecided immunity case given its urgency. There are, of course, explanations that have nothing to do with politics for why a ruling still hasn’t been issued. But the reasons to think something is rotten at the court are impossible to ignore." She notes that "some two dozen [cases] remain undecided that were argued even before the April 25 oral argument over Mr. Trump’s immunity."

Still, she goes on to note that "seemingly mundane, process explanations overlook some of the particulars in the immunity case. Mr. Trump’s lawyers put together a set of arguments that are so outlandish they shouldn’t take much time to dispatch. Among them is the upside-down claim that, because the Constitution specifies that an officer who is convicted in an impeachment proceeding may subsequently face a criminal trial, the Constitution actually requires an impeachment conviction before there is any criminal punishment." Read the piece and see what you make of it.

Also notable in the presidential campaign is President Biden's latest ad: "Character Matters." TPM notes that initially the New York Times story about the ad "takes on the kind of weird distancing that political reporting sometimes offers up as objectivity. The headline — 'Biden Campaign Ad Paints Trump as a Felon' — suggests maybe it’s an open question whether Trump is a felon. Sure, the Biden campaign is painting him that way, but who is to say, really?" The Times story continues in the same vein: "President Biden’s campaign on Monday began its most aggressive effort to brand former President Donald J. Trump a felon." The point, of course, is that Agent Orange IS A FELON, having been convicted on 34 counts.

A few hours after TPM published its critique of the Times story, a new headline appeared: "Biden Campaign Ad Calls Attention to Trump’s Felon Status." The story's text remained unchanged, still asserting that the president's campaign is trying "to brand former President Donald J. Trump a felon." So I repeat: FELON TRUMP is awaiting sentencing in this New York City case and faces another three criminal cases charging him with an additional 54 criminal counts. We need to call Dirty Don what he is: A CRIMINAL who will be sentenced on July 11. And we need to confront the claims of a "rigged" or partisan trial, passionately and without waffling. So here is what North Shore Fair Maps, working off messaging research by the Research Collaborative, recommends.

How to Talk About Trump's Guilty Verdict
— From North Shore Fair Maps —

Below is a four-sentence statement on Trump’s verdict. It’s worth memorizing, and repeating to everyone and anyone you can:

  1. A JURY OF EVERYDAY AMERICANS bravely convicted Donald Trump of deceiving voters and interfering in our elections, despite facing intimidation and threats.

  2. This unanimous decision is a crucial step toward accountability for the American people.

  3. Just as we refused to let MAGA Republicans silence us in 2020, we are holding them accountable in 2024 — first through the courts and soon at the ballot box.

  4. It’s clear: when the MAGA movement denies us the justice we deserve, Americans act to protect OUR FREEDOMS, OUR FAMILIES, AND OUR FUTURES.

Do more, worry less.

Those of you who participate in social media might post the four statements as a retort for those who scoff at TRE45ON's verdict.

We're steaming into summer, literally. It's pretty hot for mid-June by Wisconsin standards. The whole east half of the country is broiling. Because of the abnormal heat in the Atlantic ocean, on May 23, NOAA predicted that the hurricane season, which began June 1 and lasts to November 30, has an 85% chance of becoming an above normal season. "NOAA is forecasting a range of 17 to 25 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 4 to 7 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher)" (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, May 23, 2024).

Hurricane activity is not the only dire threat. Already this year, the world has experienced widespread coral bleaching: "Along coastlines from Australia to Kenya to Mexico, many of the world's colorful coral reefs have turned a ghostly white in what scientists said on Monday amounted to the fourth global bleaching event in the last three decades. At least 54 countries and territories have experienced mass bleaching among their reefs since February 2023 as climate change warms the ocean's surface waters, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch, the world's top coral reef monitoring body" (Reuters, April 16, 2024).

Of course, we're immune to hurricanes here and there are no coral reefs in the Great Lakes. But we have our own serious threats, albeit not related to the outdoor temperatures. We're facing a different kind of heat from our soon-to-be-transformed legislature: the MAGA Republicans are racing to alter the political landscape before their grip on legislative power wanes. They're trying to enact pernicious ballot questions that, if passed by voters on August 13, will amend the Wisconsin constitution to seriously alter the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. In short, these two measures will BURN us. To address this danger, Grassroots North Shore is presenting "Hot Topics!" Sunday, July 14, from 4:00 to 6:00pm.

We're gathering in Doctors Park (1870 E Fox Ln, Fox Point) to unpack the consequences of these two ballot questions. We'll serve light refreshments but we do ask that people bring their own water bottles and lawn chairs. RSVP here. Come meet some of the candidates on the August 13 ballot and learn why everyone needs to vote NO on the ballot questions.

Next week, on Thursday, June 27, President Biden will debate a man with a gag order from a New York City court and who is out on bail in four jurisdictions. The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County is holding a Debate Watch Party. It's going to be at Broken Bat Brewing Co., 135 E Pittsburg Ave in Milwaukee from 7:00 to 10:00pm. If Benedict Donald deigns to engage — after all Sean Hannity is providing a range of rationales for skipping out of the event — I'm sure it will be fun and energizing. I'm just not sure what will happen if the The Cowardly Lyin’ doesn't show.

A final note for residents of Shorewood, Glendale, and everyone who lives in the 10th, 11th or 12th Assembly District. There is a special election taking place right this minute to fill the vacant seat in Senate District 4. To find out more about the candidates, visit our page for the special election. Absentee ballots are already being mailed. In-person early voting began yesterday, June 18, and continues through Friday, June 28. NOTE: In Shorewood, there is no early in-person voting today because of the Juneteenth holiday. See the full in-person early voting schedule for Glendale and Shorewood.

You should be aware that the primary for this seat is tantamount to the election itself. Only Democrats are competing for the seat. Find out more about them before you vote. One of the two women on the July 2 ballot will be the only candidate on the ballot for the general election on July 30. So the July 2 primary will determine who fills the remainder of the Senate District 4 term.

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lotsa votes to cast this summer

We begin with a run-down of critical dates for the special election in state Senate District 4 and the partisan primary this August.

If you live in Glendale, Shorewood, Assembly District 10 in Milwaukee, Assembly District 11, or Assembly District 12, you will have a special election in July. Here are key dates.

If you have already requested absentee ballots for all elections this year, your ballot for the primary should arrive in the next few days and you will also receive a ballot by mail for the July 30 election. If you have not already requested an absentee ballot, you may still do so for the next week at MyVote.WI.gov. After that date plan to vote early in person. Call your municipal clerk's office for specific days and times.
Glendale: 414-228-1718 Shorewood: 414-847-2700
Primary — Early In-Person Voting Tuesday, June 18 - Friday, June 21
Monday, June 24 - Friday, June 29
Primary Election Day Tuesday, July 2
General Election — Early In-Person Voting Tuesday, July 16 - Friday, July 19
Monday, July 22 - Friday, July 26
General Election Day Tuesday, July 30

Two Democratic candidates — LaKeshia Myers and Dora Drake — are running in this Special Election to fill the remainder of the current term in state Senate District 4. Visit our Special Election page for information on the candidates. The winner of the July 2 Primary will appear on the ballot on August 30. Since no other political party is fielding candidates for this position, the Democratic candidate on the July 30 ballot will win the election and will serve as a state senator through December 2024.

The same two candidates will be on the August 13 Primary ballot. The winner of that primary will appear on the November 5 ballot for the four-year term that begins in January 2025.

On August 13, all of us will have a Primary Election. Visit our Election Page for a list of offices and candidates together with links to their social media and web sites. For the contested election between David Cullen and Ted Chisholm for Milwaukee County Treasurer, we will post their responses to our questionnaire when they become available.

The August 13 Primary looks like a snoozy affair, but there are two very pernicious ballot questions in addition to the candidates. Question 1 would assert "sole authority to appropriate funds" to the legislature, an authority it currently shares with the governor. Question 2 would prevent the governor from allocating federal funds he is currently authorized to distribute. Together, these two Ballot Questions (aka amendments to our Constitution) would bring state government to a halt when we most need it to act quickly and judiciously, for example when we have a natural disaster or face an imminent public health emergency. We urge you and everyone you know in Wisconsin to VOTE NO to defeat these initiatives. To be an informed voter on these questions, visit our page about the August 13 Ballot Questions. And spread the word: have converstations, email, or text with your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. And ask them to spread the word also.

Because the Primary Election is so important to the welfare of our state, and because a lot of people have planned various trips during our lovely summers, you probably need to PLAN YOUR VOTE, especially if you know you won't be home on Election Day, Tuesday, August 13. You can request an absentee ballot at MyVote.WI.gov. Absentee ballots are mailed approximately three weeks before an election. So if you know where you will be on the date you could reasonably expect your ballot to arrive, you should request one NOW! If you will be at home at some point during the Early In-Person Voting period — Tuesday, July 30, to Friday, August 2, and Monday, August 5, to Friday, August 9 — make a plan to vote during one of those days.

Let's turn now to some national news. At their Indianapolis Convention, the Southern Baptists voted today "to oppose the use of in vitro fertilization. The vote was an indication that ordinary evangelicals are increasingly open to arguments that equate embryos with human life, and that two years after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, 'fetal personhood' may be the next front for the anti-abortion movement" (New York Times, a gift article, June 12, 2024).

When those of us who fought for the right to bodily autonomy in the 1960s began in the 1990s to warn younger women that the right to choose was under threat both at the US Supreme Court (see Casey v Planned Parenthood) and in the growing number of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, we could not arouse enough concern about the constant effort to chip away at Roe v Wade. "Efforts to use clinic regulation [TRAP laws] to limit access to abortion, rather than to make its provision safer resurfaced in the 1990s and have gained steam since 2010" (Guttmacher, August 31, 2023). So abortion rights had long been under attack when the right to an abortion was overturned, seemingly abruptly, in the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

The story of the right to an abortion and its slow undoing is a cautionary tale. Both infertility treatments and contraception are currently in the crosshairs of the theological fanatics we generally label as the Christian Right, even though there seems to be little about their views that could be called Christian. We still have no ruling from SCOTUS on Mifepristone or on whether states are required to allow emergency abortions when it is necessary to stabilize a patient. In fact, an AP article by Mark Sherman and Lindsay Whitehurst looked at the court's work and finds that "court heard 61 cases this term, and 29 remain unresolved." Theoretically the court has until the end of the month to render decisions on a range of cases that could upend the regulatory framework our nation has depended on for at least 40 years, grant presidential immunity which would place holders of that office above the law, and/or prevent the government from protecting domestic violence victims "by keeping guns away from the people alleged to have abused them," to name only three of the 29.

We definitely have some serious issues on our plates. But there's some good news also. In yesterday's Hopium Chronicles, Simon Rosenberg said, "As I wrote Sunday, it would not be surprising to see the race shift 2-3 points towards Biden after Trump’s dramatic 34 felony convictions. While some of the early post-verdict polling didn’t find the election moving that much, the last 4 national polls released have all found the race moving towards Biden." He cites a New York Times poll, a Yahoo/You Gov poll, one from CBS News/You Gov, and a Morning Consult poll. In three of the polls, Biden's numbers improved by 2 points since the verdict in the Trump election interference trial (I refuse to refer to it as a "hush money case"). In the fourth poll, Biden improved by 3 points. It may look small but this far out from the elections, the movement may well be significant. He goes on to say that "We also got some encouraging new polling of Latino voters from Voto Latino: 'In an allocated head-to-head matchup, Biden is leading Trump among swing state Latino voters by a robust 59% to 39%. This is within striking distance of Biden’s 2020 performance and shows no meaningful rise in Latino support for Trump, which contradicts the widespread narrative.'"

So worry less by doing more!

Unfortunately, I have to end this newsletter with a note of sadness. Jack Prater, who worked with Grassroots North Shore on our Steering Committee beginning in 2014 and later on our Advisory Committee, died on May 26. We leaned on Jack and his long and successful career as CEO for United Ways in Louisville, Milwaukee, and Chicago. And we missed him and his sage advice when he was no longer able to participate with us. A memorial reception will be held on Thursday, June 13 from 4:00- 6:00 pm at Shully’s ATS (143 Green Bay Rd, Thiensville WI 53092) with a brief service at 5:15 pm . All are invited to attend to celebrate his life and legacy. To honor Jack’s life memorial gifts can be sent to: United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Humane Society of Ozaukee County, or Bethany College (Bethany, WV). See the full obit.

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exciting judicial news for a change

Wow. Wow. WOW! Two outstanding pieces of news. First Don the Con has been convicted 34 times! Sentencing has been set for Thursday, July 11 at 10am ET. Of course that's relatively old news since the verdict was rendered on Thursday, May 30. What remains to be seen is what the conviction means to voters come November. Ditto what the sentence for these 34 crimes will be.

But before I get into the instant polling on these questions, I should relate the second spectacular news item: our Wisconsin Attorney General, Josh Kaul, has finally charged three people who were behind the fraudulent electors scheme here. Kaul filed felony forgery charges against Kenneth Chesebro, Jim Troupis, and Mike Roman (a former Benedict Donald aide). Here's the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story.

These criminal charges flow from the lawsuit two Wisconsin Democrats filed in 2022 and settled in December 2023. In Takeaways from the Wisconsin 2020 fake electors lawsuit settlement (AP, March 4, 2024), Corey Williams and Sophia Tareen write "The settlement lays bare the orchestrated plan to keep Trump in office by creating paperwork and pulling together false slates of Republican electors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona and belatedly New Mexico." Neither Chesebro nor Troupis admitted to any wrongdoing or liability, unlike the 10 false electors in Wisconsin. Nevertheless, they turned over "more that 1400 pages of emails, text messages and other documents." The documents reveal that the entire false electors conspiracy had its origins in Wisconsin. And by the way, one of the people who signed the fake ballots, Robert Spindell, sits on the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Back to the Cheeto Benito convictions. Steve Benen, who writes the Maddow Blog, surveys four polls — ABC News/Ipsos, Reuters, Morning Consult, and CBS News/YouGov — taken after the verdict was announced. Three of the four polls reported more than 50% of voters thought the verdict was the right judgment. The CBS News/You Gov was the most favorable to Democrats. Its results showed that 54% agreed that the trial was fair, 57% agreed with the verdict, and 51% consider the convicted felon unfit to be president.

The damage so far: In 2023 two Trump Organization companies were found "guilty on multiple charges of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records connected to a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities" by disguising taxable expenses as deductible business expenses (CNN Politics, December 7, 2023). The man himself has been found to have committed sexual assault (i.e. rape) and of defamation, TWICE. He owes E. Jean Carroll almost $90 million in compensation and punitive damages. The civil case New York v. Trump found The Big Lie-bowski "and his family businesses of overstating his net worth by as much $3.6 billion a year over a decade to fool bankers into giving him better loan terms" (Reuters, February 17, 2024). Plus the four criminal cases, one that has found him guilty of 34 felonies.

Focusing on the election issues here at home, we really need to understand and DEFEAT the two ballot questions on the August 13 ballot. The first step is to understand what they mean.

  • Ballot Question 1 reads: "Delegation of appropriation power. Shall section 35 (1) of article IV of the constitution be created to provide that the legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how moneys shall be appropriated?

  • Ballot Question 2 reads: "Allocation of federal moneys. Shall section 35 (2) of article IV of the constitution be created to prohibit the governor from allocating any federal moneys the governor accepts on behalf of the state without the approval of the legislature by joint resolution or as provided by legislative rule?"

Question 2 is pretty easy to understand. Currently by statute the governor has the authority to allocate federal funds that flow to our state. The proposed constitutional amendment would nullify the statute and place the power in the hands of the legislature. As a result, it strips authority from the official who has been elected by ALL the voters of Wisconsin and gives it to the legislators, each one of whom is elected by district, making the whole Senate and the whole Assembly much harder to hold accountable through elections. In other words, this proposed amendment would enact another way for the legislature to undermine the governor's ability to allocate federal dollars swiftly during an emergency — a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or an urgent public health need, for example. The citizens of Wisconsin should vote NO on both questions. We do not need more red tape and endless gridlock when disasters strike.

Question 1 is more difficult to understand. Its legislative history creates some of the confusion. When the state Senate passed the proposed amendment, it read "Section 35 (1) The legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how federal moneys shall be expended." The Assembly changed the language to read "[Article IV] Section 35 (1) The legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how moneys shall be appropriated." By removing the word "federal," the proposed amendment appears to mean that every penny of the state's funds, both those raised from state taxes and those from federal sources, would be subject to legislative approval. Really? Does it mean that an agency would have to go to the legislature every time it needs to buy paper clips? Under this wording, it could!

The League of Women Voters has published a Toolkit to help voters understand the issues and to advocate voting NO on both questions. It also provides five major reasons to vote NO on both questions in a handout anyone can print and distribute.

So TAKE ACTION:

  1. Download and read the League of Women Voters Toolkit;
  2. Download the handout and print it, double-sided if you can;
  3. Distribute the handout to your family, your friends, your neighbors and have a conversation about what the proposed amendments would do to undermine our government's ability to get things done.
  4. Email 10 people you know, attaching the handout, and ask them to email at least 10 more people to spread the word.

MORE ACTION:

Sign up for a canvass shift on June 8, from the staging location in Glendale: 6563 N Crestwood Dr. Or sign up to canvass or to recruit new volunteers on June 9, from the staging location 3271 N Newhall St.

Support Jodi Habush Sinykin at her fundraiser on June 12 from 5:00 to 7:00pm. Remember Early Money Is Like Yeast: It Makes the Dough Rise!

I'll end with Simon Rosenberg's tag line: "Do More, Worry Less." When translated by Debbie Patel, co-chair of Grassroots North Shore, it becomes this: "You can't roll up your sleeves if you're wringing your hands."

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Trump's trials and ours

Here's the biggest news this week: the jury has begun deliberations in the NY election fraud case against the abominable orange man. You can find coverage of the closing arguments and Justice Merchan's instructions to the jury just about everywhere you would think to look. CNN has a countdown clock to let people know how long the jury has been deliberating! It also provides a short profile of each of the 12 jurors and six alternates. The Washington Post has four front page stories about the trial and jury deliberations: Why a Trump lawyer’s prison reference was so ‘outrageous’ (gifted article), for example.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is an exception. The only headline on its virtual front page is an opinion piece: Every angle of Trump's trial has been analyzed except the law. Blame the media. | Opinion. Because piece was published before Justice Merchan gave the jury instructions on the law, blaming the media for its lack of attention to the laws involved in the case seems like an odd complaint.

And in BREAKING NEWS: Justice Alito tells Congress he will not recuse from Jan. 6-related cases. In the article (also gifted) Alito blames his wife, not only for the inverted flag at their home in Virginia but also for the so-called "Appeal to Heaven" flag flying over their summer home in New Jersey. In his letter to congress, he said he had asked his wife to take down the inverted flag but that she refused for several days. About the flag at their summer home and flags in general, he wrote "My wife is fond of flying flags. I am not." So he's not responsible and, he implies, they have no bearing on his own beliefs. So there.

What's important here in our corner of Wisconsin is the upcoming elections. I have now removed the links to potential candidates' nomination papers, which are due in Madison by 5pm on Monday, June 3. Although prospective candidates will not be officially certified until after June 3, our 2024 Partisan Elections page lists candidates we expect to see on the August 13 ballot together with links to their online information. I will be adding information to the page as it becomes available.

We also have a page devoted to the two ballot questions that will be decided by this low turnout election. You might recall that the April 2nd election also presented two ballot questions. And there's likely to be one more for the November 5 election. Any ballot question that passes immediately amends the state's Constitution. So while it's important to know what's at stake, it's devilishly hard to find out. The language of the questions is almost always vague.

Last week I briefly mentioned that the governor has set the dates for a special election for Senate District 4. The primary for this election will take place on July 2 with Election Day on July 30. Representative LaKeshia Myers and Representative Dora Drake have both indicated that they will run in that special election. Because the district is heavily Democratic (as much as 85% Democratic), it's quite possible that there will be no Republican candidate on the July 30 ballot. That means whoever wins the July 2 Democratic primary will win the seat. But that new incumbent will not sit in that seat for long. A new legislative term is slated to begin on January 6, 2025. The senator who will be sworn in on that date will be the winner of the November 5 election. Both Dora Drake and LaKeshia Myers have circulated nomination papers for the regular election also. So the special election will occur on July 2 and July 30. The election for the next legislature will occur on August 13 (the primary) and November 5. Again, if there is no Republican running in the district, the winner of the August 13 primary will become the next senator representing Senate District 4.

It seems that Wisconsin is the font of much of the sturm und drang bubbling up in our politics. First there's the matter of the fake electors. Four states have indicted these frauds. But not Wisconsin. Still Just Security ("an online forum for the rigorous analysis of security, democracy, foreign policy, and rights") recently published an exposé of the plot. In the settlement of a civil case against the Wisconsin fakes (Penebaker v. Hitt), Just Security "obtained thousands of emails, text messages, and other records from the defendants" that uncover previously unknown features of the scheme. The article focuses on "three major themes exposed by the settlement: (1) the role of James Troupis (a Wisconsin lawyer); (2) the earlier-than-understood origins of the plot, just days after the election itself; and (3) the design of the underlying scheme." The analysis of these documents reveals that the scheme was never designed to be a contingency plan dependent on successful litigation. "On the contrary, this was a premeditated effort to use fraudulent slates of electors to introduce uncertainty and chaos into the Joint Session, no matter what the courts ruled." Read the whole, jaw-dropping account.

Wisconsin also nurtured the strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade. In a New York Times (gifted) article, The Untold Story of the Network That Took Down Roe v. Wade, we learn that days after the 2016 election, at the annual conference of the Federalist Society, "the young solicitor general of Wisconsin, Misha Tseytlin was surprised when he overheard someone say that Roe v. Wade would never be overturned. There was no reason to think overturning Roe was impossible now, Tseytlin believed. Republicans had the White House, an open Supreme Court seat and legislatures passing a flood of laws restricting abortion in states across the country. If there really was no right to abortion in the Constitution, as many at the [conerence] believed, this was the time to prove it. And Tseytlin had an idea of how to do just that."

For the "elite strike force of Christian lawyers, activists and politicians ... the fall of Roe was not an end but a beginning in their effort to make all abortion illegal and, in effect, roll back the sexual revolution." According to the extensive article for which the authors interviewed 350 interviews, Tseytlin developed the strategy that ultimately overturned the 50 year old precedent. The critical elements were having some state adopt a law that would ban abortions many weeks before fetal viability (about 24 weeks) and working to ensure that the US Supreme Court would take the case. Thus the work of undermining Roe began. A mere five years later, the Dobbs decision came down.

Wisconsin seems to be the nursery for extreme, right-wing efforts to entrench power in the hands of the religious right, by providing the architecture for a coup and by removing key elements of our autonomy. Both men and women will feel the bite of abortion bans. Both will experience the life-altering events an unwanted pregnancy will bring. And both will suffer with loved ones whose untreated miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or in utero fetal death caused by severe abnormalities will lead to life threatening conditions.

So, it's our job to push back. It's our job to expose and to defeat those who would fashion an illiberal world without our consent. Our new maps (see the assembly and senate districts) provide us with a powerful tool to redress the imbalance in our legislature. But we have to do the work. In the coming weeks, candidates will be officially launching their campaigns. In our area, we have several races to support. Amy Washburn and John Zarbano are vying to face off against Glenn Grothmann. Jodi Habush Sinykin will face off against Duey Stroebel, one of the most extreme MAGAites in the Wisconsin senate. Dana Glasstein will face incumbent Paul Melotik in the 22nd Assembly District, a fairly tough race for her.

This week's big ask: find a race and a candidate you can get behind and then volunteer to do something, anything, for that candidate. Texting or calling or emailing other people in the candidate's district. Or volunteering to occasionally drive the candidate to events. Hold a house party. Donate a little money (or a lot: visit our campaign contribution page to make sure you don't overdo it!). Canvass if you can. Hook up with the Democratic organizer in your area: Gilad Palley covers most of the Milwaukee County North Shore communities. For those in Ozaukee County, contact Debra Dassow, chair of the Democratic Party of Ozaukee County, to get directions for the organizer in your area.

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it's the legislature, stupid

In case you missed it, last week the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS) held oral arguments in a case seeking to overturn a previous ruling that prohibited the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots. You can watch the oral arguments on May 13. At issue really is the degree to which the Wisconsin Elections Commission or municipal clerks who actually run elections can exercise some discretion over the details of how elections are conducted. In Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission — the 2022 case that prohibited the use of drop boxes — the Court ruled that because state law didn’t explicitly permit drop boxes, they’re not allowed. SCOWIS's ruling implies that every detail of election administration has to be included in the statute, even though drop boxes had been used in Wisconsin elections for decades.

I bring this up because the two Ballot Questions on all Wisconsin ballots in the August 13 partisan primary also hinge on when executive branch agencies and the state's governor can exercise discretion over the allocation of federal funds. The MAGA-infested legislature is bringing these ballot questions to a vote because Governor Evers vetoed the bill that would have taken discretionary authority away from the executive branch and given it to the legislature. Grassroots North Shore, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, and many other organizations strenuously oppose these measures. Here's what will be on your ballot:

Question 1: Delegation of appropriation power. Shall section 35 (1) of article IV of the constitution be created to provide that the legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how moneys shall be appropriated?

Question 2: Allocation of federal moneys. Shall section 35 (2) of article IV of the constitution be created to prohibit the governor from allocating any federal moneys the governor accepts on behalf of the state without the approval of the legislature by joint resolution or as provided by legislative rule?

Lodging such power in a legislature dominated by one political party when the governor belongs to a different political party is simply a recipe for gridlock, especially in times of emergencies or crisis. We can see this sort of intransigence playing out right now with state funds. The current budget — passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Evers — included $125 million dollars to remediate PFAS contamination. "The Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers agreed to provide funding under the current two-year budget to address pollution from the harmful forever chemicals, but they’ve been at odds over how to spend the money. Last week, Evers vetoed a GOP bill that would have used the funds to provide grants to communities, landowners and others to address PFAS," citing limits the bill would have placed on regulators’ authority to address the chemicals (Wisconsin Public Radio, April 16, 2024). In Evers's view, the bill the Republicans passed would let polluters off the hook, giving them too much leeway to continue to pollute.

So why are we facing a record number of ballot questions this year? Simply put, the legislature resorts to these ballot questions to thwart the governor's veto power. Constitutional amendments require that the legislature pass the proposed measures in two successive legislative sessions and then put the measure to the voters. The governor has no role in amending the Constitution. It's possible that the MAGA GOP cannot imagine a day when there's a Republican governor but a legislature dominated by Democrats. So they cannot imagine being hoist on their own petard. But it does not take a lot of high level reasoning to see that what's bad for the goose would also be bad for the gander, to mangle the cliché. It may be very difficult to undo an amendment to the Constitution that strips the power of the executive branch and hands it to the legislature.

In other Wisconsin election news, the residents of Assembly Districts 10, 11, and 12 get to have two additional elections this summer! Whoopee! (If you're not sure whether you're in Senate District 4 which is comprised of those three assembly districts, you can check here: find your district.) Senate District 4 has been a vacant seat since Governor Evers appointed Lena Taylor to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, beginning January 30, 2024. The election to fill the vacant seat will be held on July 30. "State Reps. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, and Dora Drake, D-Milwaukee, have announced plans to run for the Senate seat, which would set up a primary election for July 2" (Wisconsin Public Radio, May 15, 2024). The winner of the July 30 special election would occupy the seat until January 2025, when former senator Taylor's term expires.

A second election for that same senate seat will be held on November 5 with all the other partisan offices up for election. The primary for that election will be held on August 13. The winner of this second election will be the Senator for the 4th Senate District for four years, beginning in January 2025. The same two candidates — Dora Drake and LaKeshia Myers — will likely compete in the August 13 primary. If people in Senate District 4 are feeling a bit frisky, they can vote for one of the pair on July 2 and the other one on August 13. Special indeed.

In this week's ACTION ITEMS there are a number of volunteer opportunities with your local Democratic Party plus some national ones as well.

  • Let's start with the Ozaukee County Dems:
    1. The party seeks people to walk in two upcoming parades, Saturday Fun before the Fourth in Thiensville and Fourth of July in Cedarburg. Sign up to march in one or both parades.
    2. Oz Dems are looking for day captains at the Ozaukee County Fair: 7/31 Wednesday, 8/1 Thursday, 8/2 Friday, 8/3 Saturday and 8/4 Sunday. Please consider being a day captain. We can't do it without you! Sign up to work the fair here.
    3. We are looking for Oz Dem office volunteers leading up to the November 2024 Election. Sign up to volunteer in the office here.
  • Milwaukee County Dems are rapidly ramping up staffing and need to build up a supporter housing network so that they can get new hires on the ground as soon as possible. To volunteer to house a campaign worker, fill out the Supporter Housing Form.
  • If you're interested in helping voters get to the polls during early voting periods and on election days, all you have to do is contact Ride2Vote. The organization is seeking two kinds of volunteers: those who want to be drivers and those who want to be dispatchers. Volunteer with the Drive2Vote Program or to Dispatch drivers or to Provide Voter Outreach.
  • If you would like to join Postcards to Swing States' efforts to reach voters in swing states during the Get Out the Vote period for the November 5 Election Day, sign up now to write postcards to rally Democrats to vote in 11 key states! Writing postcards with us is the most effective action you can take from home to help re-elect President Biden and ensure that Democrats maintain a Senate majority. You can pick the state when you sign up, and we'll mail you free postcards along with voter lists and instructions with proven message options. You'll provide the postcard stamps and mail the postcards in October on the instructed date.
  • If you like to post to social media, you can use the Amplify Toolkit to post ads and videos to help spread messages that have been tested and designed to disrupt despair, inspire defiance and encourage engagement ahead of November. Brought to us by ASO Communications, The Way to Win Action Fund, We Make the Future Action, and Gutsy Media. These organizations do excellent work. So you can rely on their products.

Also in case you missed the Forum on White Christian Nationalism brought to you by Souls to the Polls and League of Progressive Seniors, you can watch the video.

Now about that inverted flag that flew for several days in front of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's house: here's Steve Schmidt in his daily Substack publication The Warning.

Justice Samuel Alito is a liar. His excuse for the inverted flag begins with a concocted story about a neighbor who wrote “F@#% Trump” on a lawn sign near a school bus stop. Mrs. Alito was so alarmed by the degradations and profane, yet protected speech that she went immediately home, and inverted the American flag signaling distress. Here’s the problem: there were no school buses and no school children on them in January 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. Schools in the city were closed for a full year as a result of the pandemic, and didn’t re-open until March 2021.

Needless to say, the upside-down flag has been a much-used symbol for the "Stop the Steal" crowd and was prominently used in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. It's now become a symbol of Alito's partisanship and allies him with those who espouse the Big Lie. I'll have more to say about the US Supreme Court in future newsletters.

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Bucking up and buckling down

I'm going to start the newsletter today with ACTION ITEMS as we gear up for the next set of elections.

  1. Grassroots North Shore is seeking volunteers for the following projects:
    • write postcards during the period June 17-25 (in packs of 30) — email Norma Gilson and let her know how many packs of 30 cards, 30 names and addresses, and 30 stamps you can take;
    • deliver flyers to designated houses in walkable neighborhoods during the period July 8-15 — email Norma Gilson for further instructions;
    • make phone calls to strong Democratic women to remind them to vote beginning July 8 and ending on Election Day, August 13 — email Nancy Kaplan;
    • join the roster of drivers to help make canvassing and delivering flyers a lot more efficient — email Nancy Kaplan;


  2. Sign the petition from the Women's March to let the Supreme Court know that #JUSTICECANTWAIT. I've already signed it. Ordinarily I don't sign online petitions but this one is an exception to my rule. If you use any social media, post a link to the petition page with the #JUSTICECANTWAIT tag!

  3. If you are interested in joining Team VoPro as a poll observer this year, fill out our poll observer interest form as soon as possible! Once you fill out the interest form, our team will reach out to answer any questions you might have and walk you through the next steps. Poll observers are the eyes and ears of our team on Election day and are a great resource for voters who might need help. If poll observing sounds like something you’d enjoy, fill out this form today!

  4. Please join the Milwaukee County Democratic Party as we walk in the 20th Annual Milwaukee Pride Parade on Sunday, June 9th. We are planning on having 1-2 vehicles for those who are unable to walk the length of the parade (approximately one mile). We will have special t-shirts for all those participating with our group. If anyone has a truck that we could use please contact [email protected] as soon as possible. Also, please let us know if you plan to join us so we can have enough shirts for everyone. The parade steps off at 2pm from Scott and 2nd Street (we go north on 2nd)-things get very full and busy so we highly recommend you try to get there at least by 1pm to find us and get organized. We will not find out what number we are in the parade until 4-5 days prior to the parade. As soon as we know we will send an email informing everyone so you will know how to find us. Our registered motor units enter at Lapham and 2nd. Anyone who has participated in the past can tell you what a fun time this is. There are generally about 15,000 spectators along the route cheering us. We will be decorated fully and include some political signage.

For those of us who live in state Senate District 4 — that's everyone in Shorewood and Glendale plus a piece of Milwaukee — there will be a special election for this open seat on July 30. If you're unsure about what Senate District you are in, visit the legislature's home page and use the tool there to find your representatives. Two current Assembly representatives — Dora Drake and LaKeshia Myers — have nomination papers circulating for the November 5 election. But they will presumably have to circulate an additional set of papers for the special election. Stay tuned as we learn more information about this extra election for some of us this year! (Yay!! More elections!!!)

The ballot for the partisan primary election on August 13 will have a number of contested races, depending on where you live. But we will ALL have two more ballot questions which, if passed, will amend the Wisconsin Constitution. The League of Women Voters explains that "these potential changes will impact both the delegation of appropriation power and the process for allocating federal money. These are large sweeping changes that will impact a wide range of issues voters care about, from education to the environment to how quickly the government can respond to emergencies (like a public health crisis or natural disaster)." Grassroots North Shore emphatically urges everyone to vote NO on both questions. Here's what we know so far: currently, by statute, the governor allocates supplemental federal funds so that the monies can be distributed quickly and without disputes between the legislature and the executive branch slowing down or even halting the process. See our webpage about these ballot questions. And then spread the word!

  1. Write, text, or call 10 family and friends wherever they live in Wisconsin.
  2. Explain to them how pernicious these sorts of legislative power-grabs are.
  3. And then ask them to pass the message along to 10 more people.

These ballot questions are statewide, so it is vital that we reach as many Wisconsinites as we can. Vote NO and then tell everyone you know to vote NO.

On the national scene, our best bet is to follow Simon Rosenberg's Hopium Chronicles for his clear-eyed assessment of the current horse race polls. I especially recommend yesterday's post — Alsobrooks Rocks It, Good Inflation Report, 2nd NYT Poll Has Biden Up 3 — and today's post — The 2024 Election is Close and Competitive - Neither Candidate Is Winning, But I Would Much Rather Be Us Than Them. In today's essay, the news about polling is pretty far down in the piece. So I'll give you the "nut graph," as the journalists call the meat of the matter: "12 national polls. Biden leads in 7, 4 are tied, Trump leads in 1. State polls by serious credible pollsters showing Biden in far better shape than the NYT polls" with Siena College. The NYT/Sienna poll spawned a large number of Times articles on Monday devoted to the idea that the Butternut Burlusconi is winning. I'm not including a link to any of them. Needless to say, it has been roundly criticized. The backlash from Joe Scarborough is definitely worth a gander.

Finally, my apologies for being a day late with the newsletter. I was hosting an event last night for two of our outstanding candidates for office: Jodi Habush Sinykin and Deb Andraca. At the moment it looks as if Deb Andraca will be unopposed on the November 5 ballot. Not so Jodi Habush Sinykin. Her opponent will be Duey Stroebel. We'll have a lot more to say about Stroebel in our election coverage. What's important to know, though, is that a win in Senate District 8 (where she is a candidate) is a must if Democrats are to have any hope of winning the majority in the Senate in 2026. Under our new fair maps, it will be possible at long last to be the majority party but because only half the Senate is elected every two years, the contest for SD 8 is a vital stepping stone. If you live in Assembly District 10, where Darrin Madison is the incumbent and will probably also run unopposed, consider volunteering with the Sinykin campaign. It's really important or I wouldn't ask!

 

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Voting matters

The attack on access to voting is not just a national crusade. It has appeared in many guises here too. But with a newly elected justice on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin (SCOWIS), the ruling in a case called Teigen v. Wisconsin Elections Commission has been challenged. In March, SCOWIS agreed to hear the case, filed by the Elias Law Group on behalf of "a liberal voting rights group that would overturn a 2022 decision by the Court to ban the use of absentee ballot drop boxes in the state" (Washington Examiner, March 12, 2024).

Naturally, three of the justices — Annette Ziegler, Rebecca Bradley, and Brian Hagedorn — lodged various objections. Both Ziegler and Bradley claimed that allowing voters to use drop boxes would favor Democrats. When SCOWIS subsequently permitted Governor Tony Evers to participate in the suit, Justice Hagedorn dissented. "Evers’ interest in the policy issues of the case and his commitment to free and fair elections 'do not create the kind of legally protected interest one must have to become a party to litigation'" (Wisconsin State Journal, April 19, 2024). In other words, Hagedorn was challenging Evers's standing to be a party to the lawsuit proper instead of just filing an amicus (friend of the court) brief.

Last January, a PBS Wisconsin story, Ballot drop box disinformation and the fight over voting in Wisconsin, examined the 2022 case and Dolt 45's instant use of it to continue attacking the legitimacy of the 2020 election. A day after the ruling came out, he wrote on Truth Social that "Other States are looking at, and studying, the amazing Wisconsin Supreme Court decision declaring Ballot Boxes ILLEGAL, and that decision includes the 2020 Presidential Election." The article goes on to point out that "absentee ballot drop boxes had been used in Wisconsin for over a decade."

WisPolitics sponsored a discussion of the issues by Denise Jess, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired and leader in the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, and Bryna Godar, staff attorney at the University of Wisconsin Law School’s State Democracy Research Initiative. One irony of the whole issue of election integrity is that voters can use US mail boxes to return their ballots. It's not clear that a blue box used by the postal service — let alone the mailbox at the end of my driveway — is any more secure than the drop boxes! Obviously, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," as Thomas Jefferson may or may not have said.

Needless to say, access to voting, counting the votes, and certifying an election are all foundational to our democratic republic. And all three steps have been openly under attack for many years now. Photo ID laws, for example, tighten the qualifications needed to vote and thus affect access to voting. Wild conspiracy theories about election tabulation machines (Italian satellites aka Italygate, anyone?) are used to cast doubt on the outcome of an election. And of course there's the whole fake electors scheme — now the subject of indictments in four states but not (yet?) in Wisconsin — and January 6, 2021, events that sought to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

But even before any ballot is cast, rigging the election district maps can be used to cement power in one party's hands. Now that we have new and fair election maps in place for this fall's elections, it's important to understand what the new maps mean, for you personally and for the statewide election. Well, Grassroots North Shore has your back. On Sunday, May 19th, at Plymouth Church (2717 E Hampshire St, Milwaukee), we will be discussing "The New Maps: What’s in it for you" starting at 4:30pm. Deb Andraca, Representative for Assembly District 23, and Debbie Patel, co-chair of Grassroots North Shore and of North Shore Fair Maps, will discuss issues. A number of candidates for offices in our area will also mingle with you. Don't miss it! RSVP.

And in other local election news, Mayor Chevy Johnson fired Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall and replaced her with the Deputy Director, Paulina Esperanza Gutierrez. Why the Mayor fired the head of elections six months ahead of what promises to be a high turnout election is not entirely clear from the article in Urban Milwaukee. Lots of news outlets covered the story — the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and WPR, for two — without shedding even a candle's light on the reasons for such a change so close to such a fraught election.

I'll leave the professional pundits and gossips to deal with the Stormy Daniels matter and also the shocking but not surprising announcement that the case Aileen Cannon is "overseeing" has been indefinitely postponed. But I want to end today's missive on a high note. And for that, I turn to Simon Rosenberg's Hopium Chronicles.

Remember here at Hopium we are not waiting for Trump to be convicted to make the case against him. For there are six things voters are going to come to know about Trump (with our help) that they didn’t know about him in 2020, an election he lost, which don’t require any court to do anything:
  • That he raped E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room;
  • That he oversaw one of the largest financial frauds in American history, and owes hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and penalties;
  • That he stole America’s secrets, lied to the FBI about it all and shared those secrets with others. It was without question among the most grave security breaches in our history, and an extraordinary betrayal of the country by a former President;
  • That he tried to overturn an American election, led an armed insurrection against the Congress, fought to end American democracy for all time and has promised to finish the job if he somehow gets into the Oval Office next year;
  • That he and his family have, corruptly, taken more money from foreign governments than any political family in our history;
  • That he was singularly responsible for ending Roe and stripping the rights and freedoms away from the women of America; and last week confirmed, by embracing the states’ rights position, that he supports the most extreme abortion bans in the nation - this making him without question the most dangerous abortion extremist America has ever seen.
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working overtime

We may seem to be in a kind of an electoral lull right at the moment, but it's an illusion: nomination papers for the August 13 primary and the November 5 general election have been circulating for two weeks already! Because we have new legislative district maps, you should check to make sure you know both your Assembly and Senate Districts. A good way to check is through the "Who Are My Legislators?" tool on the legislature's home page.

Once you know your state legislative districts, please visit our Elections 2024 page, download the applicable nomination forms, fill them out (collecting additional signatures if possible), fill out the Certification of Circulator portion of the form (after you have finished collecting nomination signatures!), and arrange to get it back to the hopeful nominees either by sending them by mail or by dropping them off at the candidates' homes. The nomination papers require candidates to include their address. Because nomination papers are due in Madison by 5pm on Monday, June 3, please make sure you get them back to the candidates in plenty of time.

Also as you get ready for the next two elections, you should visit MyVote.WI.gov.

  • Make sure you are registered to vote.
  • Request an absentee ballot. Voting absentee is the best way to guarantee that your vote will be recorded. And having an absentee ballot also means that you will have a bit of time to find out more about the candidates — and especially the two ballot questions you will need to understand (more on them below).
  • Find your polling place.
  • Find information about early in-person voting days and times.
  • See a sample ballot: these are available about 47 days before an election with federal contests.

Hear Deb Andraca and Debbie Patel discuss the new legislative districts and what these fair maps mean for the November election on Sunday, May 19, from 4:30 to 6:00pm at Plymouth Church (2017 E Hampshire St, Milwaukee). Sign up for Grassroots North Shore's first in-person event of the year! After a brief annual business meeting, we will hear from our speakers, enjoy each other's company and some light refreshments, and meet several candidates.

Now about those two new ballot questions to amend the Wisconsin Constitution: they are, if anything, more pernicious than the two that were unfortunately approved in the April election. The April lot dealt with how and by whom elections can be funded and run, which was bad enough because they implicitly sowed doubts about the security and integrity of our elections systems. But the two on the August ballot seem designed to disrupt the smooth functioning of state and local governments. Although we do not yet have the precise language that will appear on your ballot, here is the information available right now.

Question 1: Prohibit Legislature from Delegating Appropriations Power Amendment

Question 2: Require Legislative Approval for State Expenditure of Federal Funds Amendment

The first question seems aimed at exerting more legislative control over executive agencies. Requiring the legislature to appropriate the funds for each agency need or program, if in fact that's what this constitutional amendment would mean, is a recipe for governmental stagnation and unending impasses between the executive and legislative branches of government. The second question takes away a governor's statutory power to allocate federal funds coming to the state. Currently, Chapter 16, Section 54 of the Wisconsin Statutes authorizes the governor to accept and allocate federal funds. If the Constitution is amended the legislature would, in effect, have veto power over the allocation of federal funds proposed by a governor.

As an example of how such wrangling between the governor and the legislature works out, a piece in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published on April 16, chronicled one such impasse. It seems a $125 million PFAS (forever chemicals) "trust fund" was part of the budget passed last year. The legislature then passed a bill "outlining how the Department of Natural Resources could spend" the funds. The bill, which the governor vetoed, would "limit the actions that the DNR could take to address contamination or hold polluters accountable. Environmental groups, the Evers administration and residents in impacted communities argued the bill would harm the Department of Natural Resources's "ability to enforce cleanup of PFAS and that it would have allowed businesses to get away with contamination."

Just imagine the monkey wrench in government operations that will follow from giving the legislature sole power to allocate funding for every agency and program, and from removing the governor's ability to distribute federal funds! Please alert friends and family to this looming threat to our communities and plan to vote NO on these questions on the August 13 ballot.

Nationally, it's suddenly ACCOUNTABILITY TIME. The New York case charging Dozy Don with election interference continues apace with ample national news coverage. And perhaps you have heard about the Arizona case charging the eleven phony electors and seven of the organizers with the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Fun fact: our own cheesehead lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro is an unindicted co-conspirator in that case. For extensive coverage of the indictment, The Guardian has a great article.

Pretty much crowded out by the Don Snoozeleone case, the gob-smacking SCOTUS hearing on Benedict Donald's claim of absolute immunity from prosecution, and the four states now indicting fake electors — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada — the D.C. Bar issued its opinion on Jeffrey Clark's disbarment on April 29, and it's a doozy: "Disbarment is 'the only possible sanction' for former Trump administration official Jeffrey Clark, DC Bar officials said in a filing Monday." Clark, you may recall, was the Department of Justice knucklehead who was scheming with Dolt 45 to become Attorney General so he could issue a letter falsely claiming that the DOJ was investigating the election outcome in Georgia and other swing states.

John Eastman also faces disbarment: "A judge in California is recommending that an attorney who worked for Donald Trump be disbarred for his work trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election" (NPR, March 28, 2024): "Judge Yvette Roland found that Eastman intentionally misled the courts by making voter fraud claims that he basically knew were bogus, she found, and recklessly relying on really flimsy evidence to claim the election was stolen. Judge Roland found that Eastman, 'conspired with Donald Trump to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden's victory' and that the scheme was illegal. She writes, 'Eastman's wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline,' and she's recommending both disbarment and a $10,000 fine."

And you don't want to miss the Time magazine interviews in which Butternut Berlusconi spills his evil plans for destroying America as we know it: "Over the course of the interviews, Trump discussed his agenda for a second term, which includes deporting millions of people, cutting the U.S. civil service, and intervening more directly in Justice Department prosecutions than his predecessors. He also discussed his thinking on other issues, including abortion, crime, trade, Ukraine, Israel, and the prospects for political violence in this election cycle." You can read the lightly edited transcript and also what the article claims is "a full fact check."

The work of defeating the Cowardly Lyin' is not stopping. Nor is the work to elect great Democrats like Deb Andraca and Jodi Habush Sinykin — not to mention Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Gwen Moore. This year, there are TWO Democrats vying to take on Glenn Grothman, one of the worst congressional representative ever! As soon as the ballot for August 13 is set in the first week of June, we'll provide you with links to find out about the candidates and their positions on issues we care about. Meanwhile, just visit the Elections 2024 page, to see who is working to get on the ballot in our communities.

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primaries and judicial plaints

Yesterday was another primary, this one in Pennsylvania. The downballot races were interesting but what caught my eye, really, was the percent of the GOP presidential primary vote that did not vote for TFG. In the five Philadelphia suburbs, that percent ranged from a high of 25% in Montgomery County to a low of 19% in Bucks County. Although the comparisons are not exact, that led me to calculate the percent of the GOP primary vote for Nikki Hayley in the North Shore and the main population centers in Ozaukee County. (A small percentage of anti-Trump votes went for Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy, or Ron DeSantis, but those dissenting votes were not tabulated in this data set.) Here is the percent of votes for Hayley in key cities and villages:

Shorewood 38%
River Hills 33%
Whitefish Bay 32%
Fox Point 32%
Bayside 28%
Glendale 23%
Cedarburg 23%
Mequon 22%
Thiensville 21%
Port Washington 20%
Grafton 19%
Brown Deer 16%

Learn more about Wisconsin voters who have turned away from Adolf Twittler by visiting a page of video testimonials from Wisconsin voters who supported Orange Julius in the past.

The Washington Post has a decent article about the Pennsylvania results, even though it dabbles in "bothsidesism" see: Protest votes in Pennsylvania primary loom over Trump, Biden in November. The piece does note the Wisconsin results as well as those from Pennsylvania. In Wisconsin, Biden's share of the Democratic vote in the North Shore and Ozaukee County was pretty consistently at 90% or above. So the Democratic Party here looks pretty unified. But the Republican party in our neck of the woods does not. After all, Nikki Haley had dropped out of the race on March 6, almost two weeks before early in-person voting in Wisconsin took place. When I look at the numbers, I see fertile ground for persuasion. Even if disaffected Republicans can't see their way to vote for President Biden, we will make progress if we persuade them either to stay home or at least to refrain from voting in the presidential election.

Looking foreward: consider attending Grassroots North Shore's presentations on the new election maps in place for the November 5 election. We're holding the New Maps: What's In Them For You event on Sunday, May 19, at Plymouth Church (2017 E Hampshire St, Milwaukee) from 4:30 - 6:00pm. Come meet the candidates and kick off their campaigns by signing their nomination papers. For the first time in over a decade, we can begin to rebalance the legislature this November. Four seats in particular are within reach: Assembly Districts 22, 23, and 24 plus Senate District 8. You can RSVP now. Even if you can't come, you can sign the nomination papers for candidates in whose districts you reside. Just visit our Elections 2024 page for instructions and links to download the forms.

You have probably heard that the package of aid for Ukraine, Israel, and our allies in Taiwan and other Pacific countries has at last passed both House and Senate. President Biden is scheduled to sign the bill into law today. It has taken six long months of obstruction by MAGA Republicans in the House. All the while President Biden remained patient but engaged. Speaker Mike Johnson indulged his right flank for quite a long time before he decided to build coalitions of more moderate Republicans and virtually every Democrat in the House. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the Senate too, although there were definitely some contrary views too. You can see how every member of the Senate voted on this urgent bill at the Washington Post (link gifted to get you past the paywall). Speaker Johnson finally turned the cranks, but President Biden gets another bipartisan win!

This week is full to overflowing with news from the judicial system. Now you can see the transcripts from the first two days of testimony in the New York State criminal election interference case, though using a page by page, undownloadable system. You can also learn about what the posting contains in New York Court System to Publish Daily Transcripts of Trump’s Trial.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has a particularly potent end-of-term calendar for oral arguments.

  • On April 16, SCOTUS heard arguments in Fischer v. U.S., a case that seeks to prevent the government from bringing charges based on a law that prohibits a person from destroying documents and other forms of evidence or who "otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so." A January 6 felon wants the court to rule that the statute on which his conviction partly rests applies only to destruction or alteration of evidence during an investigation or trial. Not to participating in a violent (but peaceful) attack (or protest) seeking to overturn the government. Audio of the oral argument is here.
  • On April 22, SCOTUS heard arguments that will determine whether cities can, in effect, criminalize homelessness. At issue is whether sleeping outside on public property is illegal, even if the people sleeping outside have nowhere else to go. Audio of the oral argument is here.
  • Today, the case was Moyle v. U.S. The question is whether the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act preempts the state law banning abortions in Idaho. Amy Howe's article on SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court divided over federal-state conflict on emergency abortion ban, analyzes the day's argument. Generally, national laws override state laws, in accord with the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. But with this results-driven court, the showdown between the federal and state governments may not be as clear cut as it should. After all, the court allowed the the Idaho abortion ban to be in effect while SCOTUS considers the matter. Audio of the oral argument is here.
  • And tomorrow, SCOTUS will hear Benedict Donald's plea for "total immunity" from all prosecutions. Technically, the question at hand is "whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office." The crux of the matter may well be who decides what acts are "official." The oral arguments will be streamed live on the court's server or through the New York Times, the Washington Post, or your favorite cable news channel.

Finally, here's a recommended action item for the week: Wisconsin Environmental Justice aims to build a statewide coalition to increase understanding of the connection between fossil fuels and climate change. We are also seeking the state of Wisconsin and cities and counties across the state to begin litigation against the fossil fuel industry for the harm they have caused our planet. We would like you to visit our website, W4EJ.org, to learn more and sign our petition.

I also want to recommend Robert Kagan's clear-eyed and thoughtful look at the ideological traditions into which Trump supporters fit, titled We have a radical democracy. Will Trump voters destroy it? The article is quite long — an excerpt from his forthcoming book Rebellion: How Antiliberalism is Tearing America Apart — Again — but well worth the time you'll need to devote to it. A key assertion sets the tone for the bulk of the piece: "For a significant segment of the Republican electorate, the white-hot core of the Trump movement, [his supporters will vote for him] because they want to see the system overthrown. This should not come as a shock, for it is not a new phenomenon. On the contrary, it is as old as the republic."

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Nom, nom, nom. Yummy.

Monday was a historic day: your federal income taxes were due, Orange Julius's NY election interference trial began, AND candidates for partisan offices in Wisconsin began circulating their nomination papers — in many cases in newly drawn districts! I have collected a number of them so that you can download them to sign as a nominator and to circulate as a circulator. To sign a candidate's nomination papers, you must reside in the candidate's district. Because of the new legislative district maps, you may not be sure which district includes your residence for the Assembly — all Assembly districts are up for election in the fall — or the state Senate — all even-numbered state Senate districts are up for election this year. To find out whether you have been moved to a new district, use the legislature's tool. When you type your address into the search box, the result will show you who represented you under the old (2022) maps and under the new (2024) maps.

Once you have downloaded a form, be sure to follow the instructions on our website or that accompany the nomination form. You can be a nominator on the form and also its circulator. When you have collected all the signatures you can, even if it's only ONE (yours), sign the Certification of Circulator at the bottom of the form. Then mail the nomination papers to the candidate no later than May 13. The physical papers must be delivered to the Wisconsin Elections Committee by 5pm on June 3. So we want to make sure candidates receive signed forms in good time.

Alternatively, you can attend a signature gathering event, like the one for Jodi Habush Sinykin and Tammy Baldwin being held at Three Lions Pub (4515 N Oakland Ave, Shorewood) on Friday, April 19, at 7:00pm. As Andy Berger, the host of the occasion, says, "It’s about more than just putting names on a petition; it’s about coming together as a community to support progress. Special Feature: We're thrilled to announce that Jodi Habush Sinykin herself will be joining us! Don’t miss this chance to meet one of the candidates in person. Kindly let us know if you can make it by clicking on this link."

And while we're on the subject of the new state legislative maps, Grassroots North Shore will feature a discussion of their impact at an event on Sunday, May 19th, at Plymouth Church (2017 E Hampshire St, Milwaukee) from 4:30 - 6:00pm. Featured speakers will be Representative Deb Andraca and our own Debbie Patel, who, in addition to co-chairing Grassroots North Shore, leads the North Shore for Fair Maps organization. It's a month away, but you can RSVP now.

We're still in need of a Treasurer. And frankly we cannot sustain the organization without one. So if you or someone you know enjoys bookkeeping, is comfortable with Excel, and is willing to learn how to navigate various software platforms and ecommerce sites (ActBlue, NationBuilder, PayPal), please contact Cheryl Maranto via email or by calling (414) 429-1583.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is still in need of people to become delegates to the 2024 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Here's the ask: DEADLINE APPROACHING: we need more Wisconsin Democrats to apply for a delegate position at the Democratic National Convention this August. This is your opportunity to join fellow Democrats and make history in the 2024 election! Apply by this Friday at 5 PM to be a delegate for Wisconsin at the Democratic National Convention?" If you live in Milwaukee County, you could probably team up with Linda Frank, a long-time supporter of Grassroots North Shore. She needs us to be present at BOTH caucuses to be elected. I have committed to supporting her and hope to see some of you there too.

To be elected as a delegate, you need to attend two caucuses.The first one is the Milwaukee County Caucus on April 28 at South Division High School, 1515 W Lapham Blvd in Milwaukee. Registration begins at 1:00 and the meeting begins at 2:00. The second one is the 4th Congressional District Caucus on May 19 at McGovern Senior Center, 4500 W Custer Ave, Milwaukee. Registration begins at 1:00 and the caucus begins at 2:00 pm. Your presence, even if you don't apply to be a delegate, and your vote for Linda will be appreciated!

By the way, I was a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It's a wonderful experience. You get to meet with other delegations and hear from outstanding speakers like Senator Cory Booker (one of the most memorable speakers who met with the Wisconsin caucus for breakfast one morning). Senator Tammy Baldwin will be there too. And you'll never be in another arena with so many Democrats. It's a great way to gear up for the November 5 elections. End of my soapbox speech!

Moving on to news in the broader world, one of my favorite New York Times writers, Jamelle Bouie, lays bare the "leave it to the states" scam the Dobbs decision brought us two years ago. The op-ed "The Smothering of Abortion Rights Reveals Something Else About Republicans" comes down to this:

The states’ rights case for determining abortion access — let the people decide — falters on the fact that in many states, the people cannot shape their legislature to their liking. Packed and split into districts designed to preserve Republican control, voters cannot actually dislodge anti-abortion Republican lawmakers. A pro-choice majority may exist, but only as a shadow: present but without substance in government.

When the demands of the living do begin to press against the will of Republican lawmakers or Republican jurists, they can respond, with the dead hand of the past. Not the past broadly constructed — one attentive to the silences of those who were missing, excluded or never recorded in the first place — but a narrow past, the main purpose of which is to extinguish new freedoms and forms of living.

Fortunately, in Wisconsin we have finally succeeded in breaking out of the gerrymandering straightjacket. To keep it that way, though, we're going to have another fraught election year in 2025 now that Justice Ann Walsh Bradley has announced her retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The election next April will determine whether the court remains dominated by center-left jurists or reverts to control by conservatives who would no doubt look favorably on strict abortion bans and even a new attempt at gerrymandering our state maps. According to a piece in Daily Kos from April 12, four or five liberal judges may be vying for a place on the April 1, 2025, ballot. Meanwhile former Attorney General Brad Schimel is already running. He might be joined by one or more conservatives, but right now he has the field to himself. "Both sides, however, will need to be on guard against getting locked out of the general election. That's because Wisconsin will hold an officially nonpartisan primary on Feb. 18, when all candidates will run together on a single ballot. The top two vote-getters will then advance to an April 1 general election, which means it's possible that two liberals or two conservatives could face off in the second round of voting."

Yeah, I know. Not exactly the news we need right now as we head into what has to be the scariest election of our lifetimes. So here's a little Hopium to buoy us up: Simon Rosenberg — whose motto is "Let’s Do More, Worry Less" — writes, "The NYT poll which came out Sunday showed the race changing from Trump +5 to Trump +1 (great news). The Morning Consult/Politico poll released Monday had Biden up 45-43. Biden was down 4 in Morning Consult’s polling a few weeks ago. Yesterday, Echelon, a respected Republican pollster, released a poll showing Biden up 3, 49-46, and the Congressional Generic was also +3 Dem. Trump led in this poll by 4 points in February. This poll is a “big yikes” for Rs, and is going to create a bit of a panic in DC Republican circles" And it's not just national polls. In fundraising, Democrats are out stripping Republicans nationally and in key Senate races. In Tammy Baldwin's case, her first quarter haul was $5.4 million. Her opponent, Eric Hovde, raised only $1.1 million.

I'm not a big fan of kicking anyone when they're down, BUT...   Speaker Mike Johnson started the week with a proposal to try to pass four bills — one to fund aid for Ukraine, one for Israel, one for Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies, plus a fourth bill full of MAGA foreign policy desires. Now apparently he's added a fifth: to address MAGA demands to strengthen the southern border. The whole thing might come a-cropper, though, and apparently cannot work without shifting coalitions of Democrats and Republicans supporting each of the bills. Meanwhile in the mean kids' playpen, a motion to vacate the speaker's chair is dangling over Speaker Mike's head. Right now, there's a two vote margin in the House. After Friday, when our own Mike Gallagher resigns, the margin drops to one. (Apparently, according to the Washington Post, though, Gallagher has agreed to stick around long enough to pass the foreign aid pieces. So Saturday?)

Also I've just learned that the MAGAites in the Arizona legislature have provided excellent supporting evidence for Jamelle Bouie's piece. To wit, "House Republicans in Arizona on Wednesday scuttled another effort to repeal the state’s 1864 law banning abortion, defying pressure from prominent Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump, who had urged them to toss the ban that many voters viewed as extreme and archaic." There will no doubt be more in-depth reporting on the Arizona mess, but for a reasonable explanation of the current state of affairs, you can read this (free) New York Times article.

The "Worry Less" part is up to you, but here's your "Let’s Do More" list for the week.

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