Now that the fate of Wisconsin’s voting maps lies in the hands of a highly partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court, and we continue to watch what feels like a slow-rolling and continuing insurrection against the integrity of our system of government, it is all too tempting to simply withdraw in despair. So I want to begin this newsletter with a quote from Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, social justice activist, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a law professor at NYU Law School.
Hope is Our Superpower
“It’s not a pie in the sky hope, it’s not a preference for optimism over pessimism. It’s just an orientation of the spirit. I think we have to be willing to believe things we haven’t seen. That’s our superpower … I think hopelessness is the enemy of justice. I think injustice prevails where hopelessness persists. And so, hope is our requirement, it’s our superpower.”
Don’t Miss Our Annual Fundraiser
This LIVE virtual event on Sunday, December 5 at 7 pm features Jill Wine-Banks, MSNBC Contributor and Legal Analyst, and former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor. You can RSVP here.
Do you value our weekly newsletter, events and impassioned political work? Are you familiar with our role in the success of the 2020 elections and development of the North Shore Fair Maps Team? Then please consider a contribution of $100, $200, $250 or higher. We need your support to continue our work as we enter the critical 2022 elections to re-elect Governor Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul, State Assembly Rep. Deb Andraca, and more. Grassroots North Shore was instrumental in their elections in 2018 and 2020, and will be again.
Why do we fundraise? Each year we hold one event to invite your support for our year-round work. Our annual budget of $20,000 covers our office rent, utilities, supplies, electronic communications and the many activities we offer to keep our supporters well-informed. Our revenue comes from memberships, general donations and this fundraiser. Your donation enables us to be an impactful progressive voice in our region and the State of Wisconsin.
If you have already RSVPd, you can click here to make your donation.
Or if you prefer, you may send a check to: Grassroots North Shore, 5600 W. Brown Deer Road, #116, Brown Deer, WI 53223.
Grassroots North Shore is the largest progressive, all volunteer grassroots organization in Wisconsin. We are proud to mark over 17 years of activism. Your contribution goes directly toward our operations, events, and issues/election work.
Our thanks to all of you who have already registered and donated. We appreciate your support!
Ginny Goode, on behalf of the Grassroots North Shore leadership and fundraising team
Background on our featured speaker, Jill Wine Banks
Ms. Banks hails from Chicago. She has been a pathbreaker and smasher of glass ceilings throughout her career. She was one of the first women to serve in the organized crime division of the US Dept. of Justice in the early 1970s. During the Watergate scandal she served on the staff of prosecutor Leon Jaworski, and cross-examined Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods about the infamous 18.5 minute gap in Nixon’s tapes. In 1977 she was the first woman appointed to serve as General Counsel of the Army. We will share more about Ms. Wine Bank’s later career and current contributions in other communications. In the meantime, check out her podcast, #SistersInLaw. https://politicon.com/podcast-title/sisters-in-law/
GET YOUR UNDERGROUND BEER HERE!
You may have heard something about Kirk Bangstad – with his billboards against TomTiffany and Ron Johnson, and his lawsuits against school boards without mask mandates. But have you heard about the special beers brewed by his company, Minocqua Brewing Company?
Kirk has had a hard time continuing operations due to a backlash against his politics – especially his special beers: Evers Ale, Made With Science and a Steady Hand; Tammy Shandy, One of Wisconsin's Many Treasures; Bernie Brew, A Lovingly Irascible and Democratic Socialist Lager; 'la, A Vice Presidential Stout.
Now these beers have become even harder to find because most beer distributors in Wisconsin won’t stock them. Where is a good Progressive to go for these special offerings? Kirk is doing his best by delivering directly to stores, but we decided to give him a boost.
Grassroots North Shore has a pre-fundraiser offer: For donations of $200 or more by November 30, donors receive a 4-beer sampler delivered to their homes (while supplies last – at last count, we had enough for the first 15 donations).
We hope you will enjoy this special offer whether it is before, during, or after our Evening with Jill Wine-Banks on Sunday, December 5 at 7 pm. Our thanks go to Nancy Kaplan for donating the beer purchases and to Mark Stevens for finding and securing the beer.
A Brief Peak at the 2022 Electoral Season
The often obscure and sleepy spring primary to nominate nonpartisan candidates will be on Tues., Feb. 15, 2022. These candidates for judicial, educational, and municipal officers, and non-partisan county officers will appear on the ballot of the April 5 election. In case you thought these primaries and elections don’t really matter, the recent Mequon-Thiensville school board recall election serves as a stark reminder of their importance to our communities. The fall primary for partisan statewide offices will be on Tues., Aug. 9, 2022. There is likely to be a heated primary for US Senator (for the Democrats), for Governor (for Republicans), for Attorney General (for Republicans), and for Lieutenant Governor (both parties). The general election will be held on Tues., Nov. 8.
Although Ron Johnson has yet to declare his candidacy, it remains a real possibility. Despite his under-water approval rating, there is no doubt that the Senate race will be exceedingly competitive. The Cook Political Report currently rates the race as a toss-up. And of course the Democrats will confront the well-known headwinds of the party of the President in the midterms. We all know the high stakes of the Governor’s race, as our only protection against the extreme policies of the Republican legislature. Wisconsin is truly a purple state. But our political geography, with Democrats clustered in a relatively small number of urban areas, gives an advantage to the spatially distributed Republican electorate – even if we succeed in defeating the GOP gerrymander which exacerbates that advantage. The stakes will be high, and our grassroots activism will be essential to get out the vote.
It's Election Day, but of course we will not know anything until tonight or even tomorrow. The race for Governor of Virginia is a real nail-biter. All the pundits I've seen think it's too close to predict an outcome. So let's hope they're wrong. If it's a squeaker, you just know that the right is going to holler and there will be loud, ugly calls for audits and the like. Here in Wisconsin, the Mequon-Thiensville School Board recall election is happening today also. So a HUGE THANKS to everyone who wrote postcards and made phone calls to try to help the Support MTSD group. Win or lose, we will have done our very best. Let's hope it's a win for our side.
On Sunday, the Washington Post published an astonishing three-part story of the insurrection: Before, During, After. It's a long read but worth every minute. And not so much because it reveals a lot of new information, but because it fleshes out the history in stark and contextual detail. If you have not yet done so, you should read it.
In breaking news as I write this, the advisers to the CDC are recommending coronavirus vaccine for children 5 - 11 years old. We already know that there will be plenty of vaccine hesitancy among parents, so it's unclear how many children will actually get the shots, but every vaccinated person helps prevent the spread of disease, especially as children are now back in school. I know my grandson — who will turn 5 on November 24 — will be vaccinated as soon as my daughter and son-in-law can manage it. And I'm sure my sister's grandchildren will be too. Us older folks will still need to assess what other mitigating strategies in which circumstances might still be advisable. To help us out, Dr. Ian Gilson gave us a terrific presentation on where we are with COVID-19 last week. It's now up on YouTube. So you can see it yourself if you missed the live version.
And in other Grassroots North Shore news, mark your calendars for Sunday, December 5. For our annual fundraising event — Will Democracy Survive in Wisconsin? — MSNBC legal analyst Jill Wine Banks will be the featured speaker. The former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, she authored the book The Watergate Girl and was the General Counsel for the Army in the Carter Adminstration. Representative Evan Goyke will also moderate a panel with Representatives Deb Andraca and Jonathan Brostoff to discuss our local situation. You can RSVP now and will receive a Zoom link several days before the event.
Finally, I'm reluctantly handing off the newsletter to Eilene Stevens and Cheryl Maranto for a few weeks. I have to have my aortic valve replaced on Thursday and will need some time to recover. But you'll be in good hands while I heal. And as we round the corner to a new year, the Events List is starting to pick up. Find something you can do to make Wisconsin and the country a better place!Read more
It looks like the Build Back Better Bill (i.e., the reconciliation package) is finally nearing the finish line? Maybe? Paul Waldman has an important point for those of us who may be disappointed in the scaled back package: How liberals can turn compromise into victory.
Surprisingly — to me at least, a version of Senator Elizabeth's wealth tax seems to be showing a few signs of life. The Washington Post reports, "Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Monday he will 'in a matter of days' release a tax on billionaires that economists and tax experts project could raise more than half of its revenue from just 10 people, including Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos." But not everyone in the Democratic caucus is convinced. So apparently some "Democrats are considering swapping the billionaire tax for a separate 3 percent 'surtax' on millionaires earning more than $5 million per year...."
And you've probably heard about a Rolling Stone article claiming that members of Congress helped plan one or more of the rallies on January 6, 2021. It's not clear whether the planning included discussion of fomenting insurrection. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo cautions us not to jump to conclusions. Meanwhile, at Daily Kos, one blogger discusses a column in Just Security in which Albert Alschuler, a law professor at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, "argues ... that Trump’s inaction once the thugs acting in his name flooded into the Capitol is itself a crime." Another DKos blogger reports on a Morning Joe interview with Bob Woodward and Bob Costa in which they say that "a Republican former head of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice told them that based on just what we already know, there is a 'lay down case' under 18 U.S.C. § 371. That statute makes it an offense to conspire to defraud the United States." Perhaps the Orange Man will come a cropper one of these ways, or perhaps from the many other lawsuits and criminal investigations he's currently subject to.
We're one week out from some national and local elections of note. In New Jersey and Virginia, the elections will determine the governorship in each state for the next four years. The New Jersey race between the incumbent Phil Murphy and the Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli is tightening, Newsweek reported on October 25. In Virginia, the incumbent is term-limited. Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor, is in a really tight race with MAGA-supporting Glenn Youngkin. You can contribute to the race if you have some spare change. Both these races are considered harbingers of what's to come in the elections in 2022, especially the race in Virginia.
In Wisconsin, the special election in the Mequon-Thiensville School District is our main focus. It would truly lift our spirits if we can help beat back the ideological and partisan group that has organized the recall. Volunteers are phoning people we've already sent postcards to, in an effort to get out the vote to support the incumbents. We still have a few days to get the job done. So if you hurry, you can become one of those volunteers also. Just send me an email — [email protected] — and I will send you a brief set of instructions, a list of names and numbers to call, and a script. We're also leaving messages.
Finally, a heads-up about two important upcoming events.
On Monday, November 8, North Shore Fair Maps is hosting "We Are Part of Something Bigger" on Zoom. This North Shore Fair Maps meeting explores the national fair maps movement and the current efforts to sabotage elections in Wisconsin and other states. From the WI Legislature’s election investigation debacle and their effort to get another decade of rigged maps, to anti-democratic election efforts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Texas, we are part of something going on from sea to shining sea! With Jeff Mandel, founder of Law Forward (additional guest TBA). Register.
- On Tuesday, November 16, Citizen Action of Wisconsin is holding a Senate Candidate Forum online from 6pm - 8pm, perhaps the first of many that will take place ahead of the primary on August 9. (Grassroots North Shore is planning to hold one also, possibly in March 2022). Everyone is welcome to attend. Sign up.
There's a lot going on nationally, but little of it is new. Hence last week's invocation of the doldrums — a nautical term referring to the latitudes near earth's equator where sailing ships often found themselves stuck in virtually windless waters. Right now, we seem to be adrift in windless political waters. The Build Back Better Bill, aka the reconciliation bill, is stuck in endless negotiations that seem to go nowhere. The January 6 Select Committee is asking the House to approve a criminal referral to the Justice Department to try to force Steve Bannon to relinquish documents and to testify about the events leading up to the insurrection. The pace of the request, announced last Thursday, seems glacial. Majority Leader Schumer announced that he will bring bills to address voting rights to the senate this week, but we know they can't pass because of the filibuster and the refusal of at least two Democrats to abolish or amend the filibuster rule. The whole promise of the Biden administration seems at least indefinitely stalled or perhaps even doomed.
Here in Wisconsin, plenty of issues are percolating, the most fraught of which is the attacks on school boards. The vitriol is pretty widespread in the state. For example, here's a recent article from WiscNews: Wisconsin school board association condemns threats made against local members. "Discussion of COVID-19 mitigation protocols, such as mask mandates in the Beaver Dam and Oshkosh school districts, prompted a number of threats against school board members in Wisconsin. Members of the public also threatened the Waukesha School Board after they voted unanimously to opt out of a federal program that offered free meals to all students, in order to reinstate a free and reduced meal plan for economically disadvantaged students."
Ruth Conniff, writing in the Wisconsin Examiner on September 24, summed up the problem: "The anger unleashed in the Drumpf era, fanned by Republicans at both the national and state level in order to motivate the former president’s voters, is now focused on a soft target — local school boards. Across Wisconsin, they have endured mini versions of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In Kenosha, a crowd jammed a meeting and forced a vote to drastically cut school board members’ salaries, while making it mandatory that they attend meetings in person. In Eau Claire, a school board meeting was cancelled after some participants refused to wear masks. Recall efforts targeting school board members for voting to sustain mask requirements and online learning during the pandemic have proliferated across the state. And school board members in different districts across the state quit this fall saying they and their families were threatened by angry members of the public."
In our own bailiwick, there's a special election — an attempt to recall four incumbent members of the Mequon-Thiensville School Board — taking place on November 2, just two weeks from today. The website for the Coalition to Support MTSD argues that school boards are and must remain non-partisan. The group points out that those behind the effort to take over the school board ("Recall / Restore MTSB") "has maintained all along they are non-partisan. However, over the last week, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Ozaukee County, the gubernatorial campaigns of Rebecca Kleefisch and Jonathan Wichmann, and the Patriots of Ozaukee County have all stepped out of the dark to reveal they are backing the 4 Recall / Restore candidates. Their social media posts expose the lie that Recall / Restore MTSD is just a local group of concerned apolitical parents."
The site includes an image of a message from the Republican Party of Ozaukee County that urges people from EVERYWHERE to lend the recall effort aid: "YOU DO NOT NEED TO LIVE IN MEQUON-THIENSVILLE TO HELP IN OUR EFFORT! Everyone is welcome, even if you live in another municipality!!" The Coalition to Support MTSD even shows proof that outside funds are fueling the ideologically driven recall effort. And it urges people who care about the integrity of the current school board to Get Involved, Volunteer, Order a Yard Sign, Express Your Opinion, and Talk to Your Friends and Neighbors. So if you live in the Mequon-Thiensville school district, know people who do, or are just hot under the collar about this attempt at a hostile takeover of a school board, it's time to get busy!Read more
I think we're in the dreaded doldrums! Nothing good seems to be happening: the reconciliation bill — aka the Build Back Better bill — seems perpetually stuck; the non-Fox-like-media seems unable to quit the narrative that Dems are in disarray; and the "fraudit" parade here — with former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gableman pretending to be in charge — is bumbling along, maybe with legitimate subpoenas, or maybe not. See "'Shut this fake investigation down': Attorney general slams GOP election review, calls subpoenas unlawful" in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online for the complete and confusing back-and-forth. And wait for something to happen, I guess.
We do have some tiny green shoots coming up though. This morning, Representative Adam Schiff (a member of both the House Intelligence Committee and the House Jan. 6 Select Committee) signaled that the Select Committee is being quite serious about the subpoenas the committee has already issued to Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Kash Patel, and Dan Scovino. "Those who don't cooperate with our committee are going to be the subject of criminal contempt" (Talking Points Memo, 10/12/2021). And the Washington Post reports that "A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage" (Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2021). The rate at which people are voluntarily quitting jobs is quite high and reflects "the options workers have in the current economic market, with job openings outnumbering unemployed workers and people reevaluating what they want to do," Nick Bunker, economist at Indeed, is quoted as saying.
Here's another, possible, green shoot: according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, as quoted in Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog post, "Will Georgia voting laws reduce turnout? Maybe not, studies show." The AJC article asserts that "a body of research on voting rules such as those in Georgia doesn’t support the narrative that turnout will decline significantly because of the law." It does not, however, link to any of the research it purports to cite, at least not in the part Hasen quotes. So, more than a grain of salt needs to accompany consumption of this article. Plus, the voting changes are simply onerous and should definitely be contested.
In not so chipper news, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in Wisconsin (JSOnline, Oct. 11, 2021), even though the overall US numbers are declining (Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2021). Dr. Ian Gilson will be updating Grassroots North Shore supporters — and anyone else you'd like to invite — to an update on the pandemic, on Monday, October 25, at 7pm on Zoom. The link will be sent to you when you register. Don't wait to sign up!
As there is every week, there's plenty of national, state, and local news to cover. This week, though, I'd like to focus on some of the people who are the heart of Grassroots North Shore. Every year people we cherish — people who have volunteered and worked with Grassroots North Shore for many years — pass away. We wish to honor their passing. By the same token, we are blessed to have activists who achieve recognitions from other organizations. And we wish to honor their good work as well.
My Co-Chair Norma Gilson and I thought this fall would be a pretty quiet affair. Boy were we wrong! Here's what we've been up to since mid-summer: POSTCARDS, LIT DROPS, and PHONE CALLS! Grassroots North Shore volunteers have been furiously writing postcards
- to reach people in WI and PA who voted for the first time in November 2020;
- to promote Fair Maps and a nonpartisan redistricting process;
- to help foil a far right-wing attempt to recall four members of the Mequon-Thiensville School Board;
- to participate in a research project about effective messaging run by the group Activate America.
In addition we've done a lit drop in Glendale and Brown Deer promoting Fair Maps. And we 're participating in a phone bank organized by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin to contact people who have been purged from the Wisconsin voter rolls to help them re-register.
We'd love to have your help with funding these activities. Our chief need is for postage. As you know, the US Postal Service is now charging more and doing less than ever for its customers. To keep pace with the upcoming elections in 2022, we will need thousands of stamps so that we can communicate with supporters, making people aware of election and candidate information for all four elections: February 15, April 5, August 9, and November 8. Please give as generously as you can.
Finally, I'd like to alert you to an upcoming Grassroots North Shore event featuring Dr. Ian Gilson. Last December, Dr. Gilson helped us understand what was known and unknown about the coronavirus pandemic. That was before vaccines were available. Now the question on the minds of many people includes so-called booster shots: what kind, when, and who is eligible, among other questions. We'll be holding this event on Zoom on October 25 at 7pm. You can sign up here.
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If you missed some newsletters and want to catch up, you'll find them archived on our website.
ut the Obamacare bill, a BFD.
It's an even bigger day in the Wisconsin legislature as the GOP passes what's known as a Joint Resolution stating its criteria for the electoral maps it must draw this year in response to the new census data. Among some other items many of which are kind of a smoke screen is a stipulation that would "help secure electoral advantages for [Republicans] over the next decade," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (September 28, 2021). The article — Republicans seek to limit changes to election maps as legal fight over redistricting heats up — goes on to show that Republicans used one set of principles when they last drew the electoral maps in 2011, and have completely reversed themselves for this current round of redistricting:
Why is this maneuver a problem? After all, such resolutions are not binding. But they send clear signals. In this case, "[t]he resolution could be used in court proceedings to try to persuade judges to take a largely hands-off approach when drawing new lines." In particular, the Joint Resolution could be used in the case they have already filed with the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. They have also appealed to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to try to get the Democrats' redistricting lawsuit currently in federal court dismissed on the grounds that redistricting issues should be the province of the state's courts. SCOTUS has not yet decided whether to adjudicate the appeal.
It is also a big day for voter registration. In fact, it is National Voter Registration Day. Common Cause in Wisconsin has a great page about what you can do TODAY to spread the word.
And in good — or at least entertaining — news, Drumpf Loses Case to Enforce Omarosa Manigault Newman’s N.D.A. and there's a new *rump tell-all book from one of his press secretaries — Stephanie Grisham, who famously held no press conferences during her tenure — called I’ll Take Your Questions Now. In it, she apparently accuses the former president of "abusing his staff, placating dictators like Vladimir Putin of Russia, and making sexual comments about a young White House aide." The New York Times article about the forthcoming book provides us with news we will hardly find shocking: "Stephanie Grisham’s Book Details Drumpf’s ‘Terrifying’ Temper."Read more
The event we held on Sunday, September 19, was a great success. Those who missed it can view the recorded webinar on their own time. The subject, what stops Wisconsin from enacting popular laws regulating guns in the state, is vast but there are lots of things people can do to help turn the situation around. You can find a fantastic list of resources and specific guidance about actions to take in our Gun Sense Resources page.
Over the last few days, there have been a number of really interesting and important developments helping to undermine what Hilary Clinton termed "the vast right-wing conspiracy," many of them revealed in in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's book Peril." As the Washington Post explained, last week's hack of Epik reveals identities of those who fund and operate far right websites like 8chan, Gab, and Parler, a network of sites devoted to extremist QAnon conspiracy theories. "The files include years of website purchase records, internal company emails and customer account credentials revealing who administers some of the biggest far-right websites. The data includes client names, home addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and passwords left in plain, readable text. The hack even exposed the personal records from Anonymize, a privacy service Epik offered to customers wanting to conceal their identity." The hack revealed more than 150 gigabytes of data, so much that "those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it."
That was last week. This week the New York Times reveals that the "Drumpf Campaign Knew Lawyers’ Voting Machine Claims Were Baseless, Memo Shows." On November 19, 2020, Sydney Powell and other lawyers held an infamous press conference at which they made outlandish allegations against Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, allegations that if true were designed to overturn the election results. A memo filed in the defamation lawsuit against the campaign and its lawyers, however, reveals not only that the allegations were false, but also that the campaign knew they were false. "The documents also suggest that the campaign sat on its findings about Dominion even as Sidney Powell and other lawyers attacked the company in the conservative media and ultimately filed four federal lawsuits accusing it of a vast conspiracy to rig the election against Mr. Drumpf." Here's what the internal memo found:
- "That Dominion did not use voting technology from the software company, Smartmatic, in the 2020 election.
- "That Dominion had no direct ties to Venezuela or to Mr. Soros.
- "And that there was no evidence that Dominion’s leadership had connections to left-wing 'antifa' activists, as Ms. Powell and others had claimed."
The campaign memo, including emails debunking the lies about Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, were filed in support of a defamation lawsuit in a Colorado court last week and released to the public yesterday.
Meanwhile, as the *rump campaign was covering up its own conclusion that the Powell accusations were lies, the Woodward and Costa book shows that the former president was engaged in a concerted effort to overturn the election results by illegally manipulating the Electoral College votes as they were being counted in a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. John Eastman, one of the many lawyers engaged in the effort, wrote a 6-point memo outlining the steps that then Vice President Pence should take during the congressional process for certifying the election. CNN also obtained the memo and published the whole memo online.
Mark Sumner at Daily Kos sums up the scheme: "Eastman’s plan for Pence was simple: in his role as the president of the Senate, Pence was to call the roll of states normally until he got to Arizona, at which point Pence was to claim 'that he has multiple slates of electors, and so is going to defer decision on that until finishing the other States.' Pence was then to repeat this claim for the seven other states that Drumpf lost but claimed to have won.
"When the count was complete, this would mean that only 454 of the electors had been recognized. Pence was then to say that, of this 454, Drumpf had won 232. So, big smack of the gavel, Drumpf wins."
And we can't forget the ongoing investigation of the Drumpf Organization in New York. Apparently, Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer, is expecting to face additional indictments and needs more time to prepare his defense because his lawyers need to review millions of pages of documents. Of course many of those same documents were in Weisselberg's possession.
Some of the items on this week's events list include work in advance of the 2022 elections. The first of several trainings for prospective poll workers is tonight at 5:30. REGISTER and hop on it! (Another session is being held on Saturday, September 25.) And we have a Weekend of Action coming up on September 25-26. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is holding both canvassing and phone banking shifts to educate voters about the important elections coming up. A different group is calling Wisconsin voters to recruit poll workers. You can SIGN-UP HERE.Read more
Quick reminder: Grassroots North Shore is hosting a program — Let's Talk Gun Safety Solutions — this Sunday afternoon from 3pm-4pm on Zoom. Our co-sponsors include Moms Demand Action, the Brady Group, WAVE, Wisconsin Jewish Democrats, and the League of Progressive Seniors. Our speakers include State Assembly Representative Deb Andraca; State Senator LaTonya Johnson; Anneliese Dickson (The Brady Group); Liz Miller (Moms Demand Action); and Dr. Barbara Moser. These experts and legislators will update us on why Wisconsin has been unable to pass legislation to address gun violence in our communities and what we can do about the impasse. Join us for a lively discussion! Register here.
The 9/11 commemorations were moving on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy. And, in something of a surprise, our 43rd president, George W. Bush, gave what Dana Milbank called a "magnificent speech Saturday contrasting the warm courage of national unity after the 9/11 attacks with the domestic terrorism Donald Drumpf has unleashed." The most quoted passage — and one those of us who generally opposed most of the Bush policies genuinely applauded — was aimed squarely at the former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and his followers: "There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them."
Now we are staring at what may be a reprise of the January 6 insurrection on Saturday, September 18, as a MAGA crowd gathers for a "Justice For J6" rally. Fencing around the Capitol building is returning and the news media are focused like a laser on the events, perhaps surreptitiously hoping for more great b-roll to air on their cable shows.
Maybe we have not yet had our fill of disaster news: the Afghanistan withdrawal and its problems occupied a couple of days (New Yorker, Aug. 19, 2021); a new story about the Kabul drone strike that supposedly killed ISIS terrorists but may actually have been a colossal error has gotten a little play (New York Times, Sep 10, 2021); and the COVID news continues to be awful (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Meanwhile Hurricane Ida devastated Louisiana and caused unexpected deaths in flash flooding in the northeast. Wild fires rage out west and a new hurricane/tropical storm is drowning the Texas gulf coast and heading to Louisiana to add to the misery there. Maybe it's just me, but there are so many of these horrors — not to mention the US Supreme Court's failure to prevent a draconian anti-abortion law and an equally abominable voter suppression law — that they could undermine our nation's capacity to cope.
Not everything is gloomy, though. Here are some brightish spots. The outcome of the California recall election looks promising — we'll know for sure in a day or two or three. And Senate Democrats have introduced a revised voting rights bill. Our local events list is finally starting to show that there are plenty of actions to take in the next two weeks. The only antidote I know for the kind of malaise we're experiencing is to renew our collective resolve to build our "more perfect union."Read more
This week, the newsletter is focusing on protecting women's health and our autonomy. As you undoubtedly know, in its landmark decision Roe v Wade, decided in 1973, the US Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy, based on her right to privacy. In 1992, the court narrowed the right, ruling that after the fetus became viable, at about 24 weeks, women could no longer freely choose to terminate pregnancies. However, in that ruling, the court declared that states could not impose an "undue burden" on the right to an abortion, up to the point of fetal viability. In the intervening years, all sorts of laws to restrict the right to bodily autonomy have passed in various states and have been upheld by the courts.
Now the Supreme Court has allowed a draconian Texas law that bans all abortions after about 6 weeks (dating from the first day of a woman's last menstrual cycle) and that empowers any random citizen to sue ANYONE who helps someone obtain an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The Texas statute introduces the novel provision that only private citizens can enforce the law. That provision became SCOTUS's rationale for declining to enjoin the law and preventing it from taking effect, as it was clearly designed to do.
The result allowed the Texas law to take effect on September 1, 2021. Similar laws are set to be replicated in a number of other states. But even if they do not enact new anti-abortion laws, laws prohibiting abortion are already on the books or even in the state constitutions in almost half the states. These laws will go into effect if Roe is overturned. The Guttmacher Institue has the relevant data:
- 22 states have laws that could be used to restrict the legal status of abortion.
- 8 states retain their unenforced, pre-Roe abortion bans.
- 11 states have post-Roe laws to ban all or nearly all abortions that would be triggered if Roe were overturned.
- 9 states have unconstitutional post-Roe restrictions that are currently blocked by courts but could be brought back into effect with a court order in Roe’s absence.
- 7 states have laws that express the intent to restrict the right to legal abortion to the maximum extent permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the absence of Roe.
- 4 states have passed a constitutional amendment explicitly declaring that their constitution does not secure or protect the right to abortion or allow use of public funds for abortion.
Wisconsin is one of the eight states that have retained an unenforced, pre-Roe abortion ban. Just look at the company we keep: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. The Wisconsin law provides an exception to protect the life of the patient (but not necessarily her health), as do some of the other unenforced laws. In Wisconsin, there would also be no exception for the victims of rape or incest.
In short, Wisconsin will become one of the states where abortion is no longer legal if Roe v Wade is overturned. Moreover, if our GOP-dominated legislature passes a vigilante law like the one SCOTUS just allowed in Texas, the only way such a statue can be prevented from going into effect here is to ensure that a Democratic governor will veto it. So — to protect women's rights, we have to make sure we accomplish two key goals:
Re-elect Tony Evers next year. Grassroots North Shore will be conducting vigorous efforts on Governor Evers behalf (as well as for a number of progressive candidates for state and national offices) during 2022. Make a plan to join us by signing up to be a volunteer now.
- Redouble our efforts to defeat the gerrymandered electoral maps that have governed our state and federal elections for the past decade. With fairer maps in place, we will have a fighting chance to break the stranglehold the Republican Party has on our legislative elections. Join Grassroots North Shore and the Coalition for Fair Maps for a statewide program exploring how to USE OUR PEOPLE-DRIVEN POWER. Register here.
Here are two more key ACTIONS to take this week!
- National Voter Registration Day is September 28. Get some training on assisting eligible citizens of Wisconsin to register or re-register to vote. The Wisconsin Voting Rights Coalition is providing this nonpartisan interactive workshop that will prepare volunteers to help with nonpartisan, voter registration in their community. Experienced organizers will explain best practices and specific Wisconsin voting laws. Sign up for some training here. And then sign up to phone people who have recently been purged from the voter rolls in Wisconsin. Grassroots North Shore will be holding its own orientation sessions to review how to use the Virtual Phone Bank and the script. So sign up on our website and choose an orientation and script overview session on the RSVP page.
- Fight back against government waste and corruption, as "conservatives" were always demanding. Republicans are about to spend $680,000 to "review" the Wisconsin 2020 election. Tell you legislators you do not want your tax-payer dollars spent to re-enforce the fictitious idea that our elections are rife with fraud — that's the goal of such a "review," especially one headed by Michael Gabelman, a staunch, looney *rump supporter. Contact your WI legislators this week.
Finally, a reminder that we are hosting a wonderful, alas virtual, program on preventing gun violence. Speakers include State Assembly Representative Deb Andraca; State Senator LaTonya Johnson; Anneliese Dickson (The Brady Group); Liz Miller (Moms Demand Action); and Dr. Barbara Moser. They will discuss the obstacles to our state enacting sensible gun safety laws and how to push back. Please join us for this online forum. After you register, you will receive email with the Zoom information you will need.Read more