Earlier this week I emailed long time Madison radio personality John ” Sly ” Sylvester  and told him that I was, I believe, the only lefty blogger in the state who’s written that the solidarity singers should get a permit. I told him that I’d written a piece for Blogging Blue titled, “ Defending the Dream and Defeating Scott Walker ” and that I’d be happy to come on his show and explain myself and my vision of how we beat Walker in 2014.  Much to my surprise he emailed me right back and booked me. The link to the podcast is below.  Let me say in advance that I didn’t pick the podcast title. Nuff said.


20 Responses to My conversation with Sly

  1. Gregory says:

    I know you conducted yourself very well on the air. My only thought is that you should have aimed for a larger audience and contacted the Joy Cardin Show at Wisconsin Public Radio. You come across more analytical than partisan, and since Sly is seen as what he is there is a limit to his audience. I think a chat with the producer of Cardin’s show, with an emphasis on the view you have that there very well may be a constitional limit to the idea that never is a permit required for the singers might allow you time in the morning on the radio….and to a statewide audience made up of not only the movers and shakers but also lots of thinkers. The best to you, and as Charles Osgood says, hopefully I will “See you on the radio.”

    • nonquixote says:

      I’d be interested in hearing your evaluation of Sly when you are saying, “…he is what he is…”

      What do see him as? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Paddy Moran says:

      A 50,000 watt station is a great start. The podcast only extends that influence. Write an editorial to the MSJ.

  2. Gregory,

    Strong praise, indeed, and I do appreciate it. That said, will you come on Joy’s show with me? 🙂

  3. AJ says:

    Steve, Great job on Sly! I agree with your message that the Democratic Party in a real way needs to send low-income people a message on why they need to vote and what the parties candidates will do if elected to help improve their situation.

  4. Duane12 says:

    Excuse me, Steve, but Zach’s “Blogging Blue” could just as well be titled, “Blogging Heuristic.” Your “…solidarity singers should get a permit…” is a good example.

    The following by John Holbo will explain:


    Suppose you have a two-party system.

    One of these parties enjoys/enforces total party discipline, the other, not…”


    The purity or goodness of an idea cannot rise as an eventual solution or part of a solution if it fails to meet a rigid partisan standard for entrance or consideration or is excluded simply because it is bipartisan.

    A bipartisan effort benefits from allowing consideration of all ideas; Steve offers “get permit” while Duane offers “screw the permit.” It’s heuristic.

    • Duane,

      I’d love to get beyond the ” permit or no permit ” issue altogether. If some of the core singers were to hold a press conference with Lisa Subeck of United Wisconsin and announce that they were suspending the singalong, as per the Dream Defenders in Florida, and launching a massive voter registration drive of disenfranchised low income people across Wisconsin, they might set progressives forces in this state on fire.

      I’d be the first person to stand up and applaud them.

      • Duane12 says:

        Steve, there should be room for all opinions from those who call themselves a Democrat. To use an old analogy, the cream will rise to the top.

        Congratulations on your well expressed exchange with Sly.

  5. Aaron Camp says:

    I would love for Sly to book me for an interview about my vision for defeating Scott Walker, although I’d come across as an “outside agitator” (keep in mind that I live in Illinois), and I don’t drive (meaning that someone else would have to drive me from the east central part of Illinois to the Madison, Wisconsin area).

  6. nonquixote says:

    Enjoyed listening to the interview even though I disagree with needing a permit. I think you chose a good venue to more widely express your POV.

    On Gregory’s suggestion at the top, you went to the first people you would likely want to get your message to in choosing Sly. And while We Please Republicans radio has some excellent short news segments and reporters, Cardin, (a knowledgeable entertainment personality) has lost any of my previous respect on presentations of political issues since she adopted the fair and balanced Faux news approach. Continually giving “R,” paid political hacks air time, thus a certain implied public legitimacy, to simply repeat party mantras is not reporting or even close to evaluation of a topic.

    She’ll slip in a good show when there is a non-political topic, but The Big Question always becomes a big pile of it, but, I suppose one has to cut her some slack on Friday mornings as there are no, “thinking,” Republican guests for, “exploring both sides of the issues,” to be found in the state anymore. The premise that there are only two sides to any issue is flawed to begin with, but that is another topic.

  7. John Casper says:

    Steve, just listened to you and Sly.

    1. You’re incredibly good in a very challenging environment. You’re excellent at conveying your point.

    2. You’re 100% right about how important GOTV is.

    3. Everything you say about the earned-income-tax-credit and Badger Care is accurate. IMHO, the challenge with messaging on those issues is that it reinforces Dems as the party of “pity-charity.” It usually unfairly and inaccurately paints the Dems in the “failure corner.” “We’re who you turn to when you can’t “make it on your own.”

    That has to stop. Dems have to start telling the truth, it’s the GOP who are the enemies of prosperity. The real “job creators,” are consumers with money to spend. Union busting is just as effective as inflation at destroying purchasing power.

    4. 2014 mid terms will feature Wisconsin Manufacturer’s&Commerce, Koch Brothers, Bradley FDN and every other 1% wingnut paying for Congressional ads, direct mail, outdoor, that reinforce their very successful branding of the Dems as the party of high taxes. Those ads will buoy Walker and the GOP brand, because they will lay out that it was Obama and the Democrats in Washington who cut their paychecks by 7.5% when they ended the holiday on the payroll tax (in the “fiscal cliff vote”).

    Yes, I know it’s not a state issue, but it will be a crucial part of the political landscape in November 2014.

    5. The easiest GOTV issue the Dems have is to “end the job-killing-government-regulations” against pot. I would never encourage anyone, who did not have a serious illness, to use it, but the prohibition against alcohol didn’t work either. If the Dems get behind pot, no one has to “get out of their comfort zone,” to go “door-to-door.” Left and right will welcome Dems with open arms, eager to register to vote.

    Yes, I know law enforcement unions will go apoplectic. DPW can tell them it’s pay-back to MPD for always PUBLICLY endorsing GOP candidates.

    6. You argue really effectively for a return to the “progressive movement” of the early 20th century. IMHO it completely contradicts your position on the “Solidarity Singers.” Two groups have really helped the singers. First, Scott Walker and the Capital police when they’ve arrested them, second, the Democratic party by asking them to get a permit. Why the Democratic leadership appears so anxious to fuel a civil war in the party isn’t clear to me.

    The argument that the energy of the Madison “Solidarity Singers,” should be used to for GOTV is weak. AFAIK, Madison leads the nation in voter turnout. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/05/1097610/-Madison-voter-turnout-reaching-crazy-heights#
    Does DPW want these people to drive somewhere outside of Madison on their lunchbreak to register voters?

    How about Mike Tate commits to showing us how GOTV is done. Let Mike commit to a time and place. Then let AFSCME and WEAC pick the neighborhoods and we’ll get video and sound of Mike knocking on doors.

    7. Perhaps the single easiest way for Dems to break the GOP’s branding of them as the party of “pity-charity,” is a FEDERAL job guarantee.

    “…The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements….”


    No more welfare.
    No more unemployment insurance.

    Making the federal government the “employer of last resort,” gives people a chance to show that the GOP is wrong about their work ethic.

    8. I thought Sly’s comments about the perception of Dems as “GOP-light” were right on target. DPW better ask why they are having such a tough time with GOTV. Without strategic moves such as I suggested above, I think it’s likely that a lot of the people it registers to vote will either not vote, or they will write-in a Socialist or Anarchist candidate.

    9. I was pleased to hear that Sly’s pro-Second Amendment. Feingold was and I think it’s where the Dems should be. I strongly support universal background checks.

  8. nonquixote says:

    Thanks for the link John Casper. Democracy and DPW are antithetic at best. Have a few stories to relate but BB is not the best place to discuss.

    I appreciate your analysis of directions and your ability to clearly state what you are thinking.

  9. independent guy says:

    Nice job with the podcast. You generally articulate an accurate view of situations and your approach to problem solving is admirable. Pretty straight forward without extra spice (rhetoric). Hopefully others take heed.

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