Jeff and I went on The Sara Schulz Show on Friday to discuss the events of the past week and the importance of free speech. We begin our discussion at the 68:30 mark. Listen here.
Here’s the 4-1-1:
Though it’s less than a week since our last meeting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t send you all a message to let you know that I’m very pleased to announce that Lt. Governor candidate Mahlon Mitchell has graciously agreed to join us at our April meeting! Mahlon has been a key part of the fight against the radical right-wing agenda of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and I look forward to hearing him speak.
I hope you’ll join us, because I’m sure we’re going to have a great time!
When: Monday, April 16, 2012 from 7:00 p.m. until we leave
Where: Transfer Pizzeria & Cafe, 101 W. Mitchell Street – Milwaukee, WI 53204
Hope to see you there, because as I wrote in the announcement it should be a good time!
Yeah, this just about sums up the kind of week it’s been around here (shamelessly stolen from Ed H).
“Mass incarceration on a scale almost unexampled in human history is a fundamental fact of our country today,” writes the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Over all, there are now more people under ‘correctional supervision’ in America – more than 6 million – than were in the Gulag Archipelago under Stalin at its height.”
We are a democracy, we are all responsible for our government and how it treats it’s citizens.
We are all Stalin.
The root cause of this totalitarian incarceration rate is largely the due of the so-called “war on drugs.”
Bipartisan forces have created the trend that we see. Conservatives and liberals love to sound tough on crime, and both sides agreed in the 1990s to a wide range of new federal infractions, many of them carrying mandatory sentences for time in state or federal prison. And as always in American politics, there is the money trail. Many state prisons are now run by private companies that have powerful lobbyists in state capitals. These firms can create jobs in places where steady work is rare; in many states, they have also helped create a conveyor belt of cash for prisons from treasuries to outlying counties.
This is truly disgraceful.
The U.S. has 760 prisoners per 100,000 citizens.
How does that compare to other countries?
It’s 7X-10X as high:
- Japan has 63 per 100,000,
- Germany has 90 per 100,000
- France has 96 per 100,000
- South Korea has 97 per 100,000
- Britain has 153 per 100,000
From the folks at Citizen Action Wisconsin:
This weekend the panel discusses the latest recall news and Paul Ryan’s disastrous new budget. We are joined by blogger Cory Leibmann to expose the MacIver Institute’s threats of libel lawsuits toward progressive blogs who posted a column exposing the organization’s strong ties to the GOP. We also welcome State Representative Chris Taylor to talk about two new bills she sponsoring to roll back Gov. Walker’s tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and restore the basic rights and freedoms Walker removed in the last year.
It’s been 18 months worth of record breaking weather events in northwest Wisconsin. From the October 2010 superstorm, to the July 1st, 2011 superstorm, to the August 2011 heat wave, to the less than winter Winter, to the outbreak of Summer in March 2012.
What’s it going to take to wake people up? Softball sized hail?
At a shooting range in Louisiana, a woman has a suggestion to Rick Santorum who is taking target practice.
WEST MONROE, Louisiana – At a campaign stop at a firing range, while Rick Santorum was firing off some rounds, a woman shouted, “pretend it’s Obama.”
Santorum, who was far from the woman, couldn’t hear the comment as he proceeded with his target practice. Neither could his staffers.
To his eternal credit, Santorum, who did not hear the comment at the time, said,
“It’s absurd,” Santorum said of the woman’s outburst when reporters told him about it. “No we’re not pretending it’s anybody but shooting pistols. It’s a very terrible and horrible remark and I’m glad I didn’t hear it.”
But the GOP have planted the corn of eliminationism, they should not be surprised or horrified when it pops up at their campaign events. Hate radio has caused eliminationism to metastasize in the American body politic. The author of the book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right talks about how, to the modern Republican voter
it’s simply become a cornerstone of conservative beliefs that all the world’s ills can be laid at the feet of liberalism. It’s also a built-in feature of right-wing ideology to construct an Enemy. So when the Enemy is something as broad and popularly embraced as liberalism, it’s not too long before your world becomes narrow and enclosed, and everything outside of it is the Enemy.
What that’s produced has been a nonstop harangue from the right demonizing liberals generally, and liberal politicians particularly. Remember that Bill Clinton was evil because he had “bad character.” John Kerry “lied” about his war service. Barack Obama was a scary “Mooslim” brown man. And more generally, antiwar liberals have been dismissed as mere “Bush haters” and “America haters” and, in the early years of the Iraq war particularly, as “traitors.”
This rhetoric is not simply dehumanizing — it also characterizes its subject as fit only for elimination, expurgation, exile or extermination. So we get frequent references to them as diseases and vermin, or carriers of them, as well as scum or filth of various kinds. We get spoken wishes to purge them, drive them out, do away with them — often couched as “jokes” for which it’s only possible to see any humor if you share that wish.
I’m not entirely sure how this helps Democratic State Rep. Kelda Roys, given the belief by many in Milwaukee County that Chris Abele is basically “Scott Walker Lite,” but earlier this week Kelda Roys announced her candidacy to succeed Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the 2nd Congressional district has been endorsed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
Here’s Abele’s statement endorsing Roys:
“Wisconsin has a unique opportunity to send an exceptional leader to Congress, Kelda Helen Roys,” said Abele. “Kelda has been a true advocate for the role of the arts in economic development and education. Kelda has been a leader when it comes to protecting Wisconsin’s environment. And, Kelda has always been a champion for marriage equality and human rights. Kelda isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo – she’ll shake things up in Washington and fight for what matters. That’s why I’m proud to support Kelda for Congress.”
In her accompanying statement, State Rep. Roys cited Abele’s “focus on solutions – based on principle and free of politics” as the style of representation she’d bring to Washington, D.C. as a member of Congress.
There’s no denying Kelda Roys is as progressive as any elected official in Wisconsin, but I can’t help but wonder if she supports the “focus on solutions – based on principle” that has made County Executive Abele such a revered figure among Milwaukee County’s employees.
It is time to confront the whole Trayvon Martin mess. I have taken too long to do so, and can only plead that the issue hits too close to home for me to have written calmly about the issue. You see, I have an African American son. There he is in his cowboy hat from our synagogue Purim festival: my Jack.
Sure, Jack’s just three years old, and I should have no more worries than whether I am using bribery too heavily while trying to get him potty trained before vacation this spring. I should be worrying about potty training, getting him the best schooling, kissing booboos and the like. But for the past few days I’ve been worrying about Jack when he reaches 17, when he is like Trayvon Martin, walking the streets while being black.
Those who read Bloggingblue know that racism is real. We’ve seen racism directed towards President Obama and his wife, and I don’t have time here to list the incidents proving those racist attacks. Racism is real. We also know that “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” legislation is a very real danger to all citizens, and probably more so to African American youth. But this isn’t really about blame. I won’t write about Jeb Bush signing the “Stand Your Ground” legislation in Florida that doomed Trayvon Martin. I won’t point out that Jeb Bush just endorsed Mitt Romney. I won’t discuss Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is continuing to defend his support of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Nor will I note that Jeb Bush is pushing Marco Rubio as a Vice Presidential pick for Mitt Romney. And I won’t point out that Mitt Romney has yet to make his feelings known concerning what is easily one of the most important issues concerning race and crime in our country today. I’ll let others shame these men. I’m more concerned with my son.
I’ll note that there are voices out there discussing, once again, the dangers young black men face routinely, just because they are black. Eugene Robinson, for instance. Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post and MSNBC has been particularly vocal, both on MSNBC and in his column, here and here. I particularly liked his “rules” for survival as a young black man. These are indeed times for mothers and fathers to worry about their African American sons, and they are worrying, picturing their sons lying on the ground with a bag of skittles next to the body, as eloquently delineated here in the Washington Times. As the Miami Herald notes, this is terror to the parents of black children. This whole issue makes me terrified.
But let me be realistic for a change. My African American son does not live in a rough neighborhood. He has two white parents and lives in a very white neighborhood. We’re sending him to private school. Jack will be a privileged boy. But do we still need to teach him, as Jonathan Capehart’s mother taught him, never to run in public, especially while holding anything? Man. What is it like to teach your son never to run free?
There’s why I haven’t brought this topic up on Bloggingblue. This issue is hard to face. Sure, I’ve encountered racism while with Jack. No, not in the city where Jack was born. Philadelphia has its share of racism, but I never encountered racism when I took him for walks when we lived there. But in Wisconsin? There is racism here. I have been stopped on the street and confronted by an African American woman who grilled me about whether my son, sitting in his stroller and calling for Daddy, was my son. I have also been confronted by a security guard in a restroom after Jack followed me there, a situation that wouldn’t have happened if Jack wasn’t so. . . black. Racism is certainly alive here in Wisconsin. There’s no escaping racism anywhere in America.
I don’t know what to do here except to live life and teach Jack . . . what? That he is immediately suspect? That he is in more danger just because of his skin?
My Jack is named after his grandfather, who was a Republican and who never would have harmed a soul. Jack carries the Hebrew name of his other grandfather, who would also not harm a soul, but who bought a gun after Barack Obama was elected President. Yeah, our nation has a long way to go. I want Jack to be proud of both his namesakes, and I want him to grow to be a fine young man, prepared to take his part in society in a productive way. But this is hard work. This is really hard work.
It seems every time republicans get in trouble or run afoul from the law, they have a very good talent of then becoming the victim. The party of “personal responsibility” never is! Witness the latest example: Randy Hopper!
Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill has been blamed for a lot of stuff, but here’s a new one.
In tearful testimony, former state Sen. Randy Hopper explained at his OWI trial on Thursday that he thought county workers were out to get him when he was pulled over and arrested for drunken driving, according to a story and video by the Fond du Lac Reporter.
Hopper, 46, is charged with drunken driving, operating left of the center line and refusing to take a test for intoxication after arrest. He was pulled over on Oct. 16 while he and his girlfriend, Valerie Cass, were driving back from a Green Bay Packers game.
He did nothing wrong, he only had a couple beers but everyone in the state was out to get him.
On the stand, the former Fond du Lac Republican said he believed he passed his field sobriety tests but began questioning the motives of the officer, Deputy Nicholas Venne, after he was arrested, the Fond du Lac Reporter.
“I don’t have a lot of faith and trust in Officer Venne at this point because it seemed to me that he was out to get me,” Hopper testified. “There are a lot of people who work in the county that have never met me personally that have sent me some of the most vile messages you have ever seen, sir.”
The Reporter also said:
He then explained that he did not take a preliminary breath test at the Fond du Lac County Jail because county employees have threatened him repeatedly.
“The day everything broke lose in Madison, I had members of the union in my office who said, ‘If you don’t support us, we are going to destroy your life,’” Hopper said. “We’re going to picket your kids’ schools, we’re going to tear apart your reputation, we’re going to have you recalled.”
The only problem with his testimony? It wasn’t true:
Sheriff Mick Fink said any conspiracy theory that members of his office were out to get Hopper is “bizarre.”
“I don’t know where that (Hopper’s allegation) is coming from,” Fink said.
Fink said his office even supplied protection for Hopper when the former senator was concerned about his safety following the public’s backlash on budget repair bill and collective bargaining issue.
I will admit though many people did say some vile things and make many threats this past year!