Trump Is Biting The Hand That Feeds Him

I don’t remember if it was during the second or third debate that Donald Trump gloated that he was spending a lot less on his campaign than Hillary Clinton. But he was correct…and it’s because he has been able to manipulate the media and keep on the top lead of every media outlet by continuing to upstage himself with the next outlandish statement or stunt.

And the media just keeps eating it up and giving him the ink and airtime. I don’t remember what the last estimate was for the amount of free press he’s gotten but it’s in the billions of dollars.

But of course as the campaign winds down toward November 8th, he needs to rouse his core supporters by renewing the assault on his ‘liberal mainstream media’. So we hear him call the press following his campaign as the ‘worst people’ and continue to deride them in his rallies. And it’s gotten to the point that attendees are ignoring Mr. Trump and are heckling the press corps instead.

So Mr. Trump continues to attack the very constitution he pretends to revere. This doesn’t bode well whether he wins or loses.

Now, About That Gun

On August 13th, after a short foot chase, a young Milwaukee resident turned to face a Milwaukee police officer. The police officer said the suspect was holding a hand gun. The officer shot and killed the suspect. A hand gun was recovered at the scene. This recovered weapon was reportedly stolen from a home in Genesee in Waukesha County.

The Milwaukee Police Department described the weapon as a semi-automatic hand gun and was loaded with 23 rounds.

A semi-automatic hand gun with 23 rounds. I haven’t seen any more recent descriptions of the gun so I don’t know what make or model it is or whether 23 rounds is its maximum or just what it contained when recovered.

But what does a young man in Milwaukee need with a hand gun that holds 23 rounds? What does a home owner in Waukesha County need with a gun that holds 23 rounds. What do you or I need with a gun that holds 23 rounds.

The West was won with six shooters.

Dirty Harry cleaned up San Francisco with six shots…or in all of the confusion was it only five?

Even the United States Army…a place where maximum fire power is imperative…issues Baretta M9 pistols holding 15 rounds.

So why do we allow guns with such large capacities on our streets and in our homes? I would suggest limiting hand guns to 6 or 8 or 10 rounds…limit magazines to those numbers…and just plain get rid of everything else.

Yes, yes, that is an awful idea…I mean there is the 2nd Amendment and all…but I can’t own a rocket propelled grenade, a howitzer, or a nuclear weapon…so there are limits to the 2nd Amendment…I am just suggesting we move the line a bit.

Anyone know why it’s the 2nd Amendment and not the first?? Is freedom of speech and religion more important? And without looking what’s the 3rd? I will admit I had to look it up.

The conservative response to the Paris terror attacks, brought to you by Scott Walker and Donald Trump

In response to the Paris terror attacks, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has said if elected president he’d “strongly consider” shutting down mosques if they were suspected of spreading hatred.

When asked if there was something Trump would do “here in the homeland” to protect against attacks like the one in Paris over the weekend that killed more than 100 people, he responded, “Well, you’re going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques. And from what I heard in the old days, meaning a while ago, we had great surveillance going on in and around mosques in New York City and I understand our mayor totally cut that out. He totally cut it out.”

Host Joe Scarborough asked specifically about reports from France that said the country’s minister of the interior planned to shut down some mosques in the wake of the attacks with known ties to terrorist groups. “Donald Trump, the French are talking about that. Is this something you would consider doing as president?” Scarborough asked.

‘You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques.’
Trump replied, “Well, I would hate it do it but it’s something that you’re going to have to strongly consider because some of the ideas and some the hatred, the absolute hatred, is coming from these areas. You know, New York City as an example. We had a group of people from what I understand that really knew what they were doing, that were really studying the situation and they’re not doing that anymore under the new mayor. And I think that’s a mistake. It’s something that many people — not just me — are considering and many people are going to do.”

I’m not sure how Donald Trump thinks shutting down places of worship would be acceptable under the First Amendment, and speaking of things I’m not sure of, I’m not entirely sure how Gov. Scott Walker thinks he can prevent Syrian refugees from coming into Wisconsin, given that immigration/political asylum are issues that fall under the purview of the federal government.

With this in mind, I am calling upon the President to immediately suspend the program pending a full review of its security and acceptance procedures. The State of Wisconsin will not accept new Syrian refugees.

While Donald Trump and Scott Walker were busy letting their prejudice show, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed his class after a fan at Lambeau Field interrupted a moment of silence before Sunday’s game with a derogatory comment (emphasis added).

“I think it’s important to do things like [the moment of silence]. We’re a connected world, you know — six degrees of separation,” Rodgers said after the game, as The Washington Post’s Des Bieler reported. “I must admit, though, I was very disappointed with whoever the fan was who made a comment that I thought was really inappropriate, during the moment of silence. It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that I think puts us in the position that we’re in today, as a world.”

Sup. Deanna Alexander (who isn’t an attorney or judge) interprets Citizens United decision

This is just embarrassing…

“Most people haven’t read the Supreme Court’s decision and the referendum question is rather biased.  Pro-referendum activists seem to be forgetting that corporations are invested in, and run by people.  Anyone embracing liberty – both classical and modern liberals – should embrace this SCOTUS decision because without the protection of this precedent, citizen-run organizations will be subject to government decree when they try to speak out on political issues.

“How would our political landscape look if organizations that many people support could no longer speak freely?  Planned Parenthood, The Sierra Club, the NAACP, and the ACLU – all corporations – are just a few that would loose their right to free speech.  Let’s not forget that federal law considers unions to be corporations for the purposes of campaign finance laws.  Do we really want to limit employees’ rights to collectively support one political candidate over another?  Overturning ‘Citizens United’ could do just that!

Putting aside the fact that Sup. Alexander apparently couldn’t be bothered to proofread her press release – it’s “lose,” not “loose” – I’m in awe of the fact that Sup. Alexander apparently thinks she’s an expert on constitutional law, despite no actual training or education in that area.

Appeals court rules blogger, press should have same protections

This is good news…

On Friday, Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for the unanimous court that, especially in the age of the Internet, the distinction between traditional journalist and other speakers doesn’t matter in this case (opinion here).

“The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable,” Hurwitz wrote.

When MPS Government Bureaucrats Attack The First Amendment

BACKGROUND

I’m a parent of a Milwaukee Public School child.  This is a choice that I made because I believe in the city of Milwaukee and I believe in public education.  This year, I am also an officer at my school’s PTA.  For those who aren’t familiar with how a PTA works, they are an advocacy group for children.  They’re traditionally established at a school, but they’re an outside organization, just like a scouting troupe or other organization that meets in a school.  They are typically registered as a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity.  They provide programming for children and families, and function under their bylaws, which are recognized by the school.

A public school is a government unit filled with government employees and overseen by a number of standards–but most policy decisions come from the elected School Board.

In the mid 1990s, the School Board passed a policy regarding fundraising of outside parent groups, Administrative Policy 7.22.  The policy is very vague, and there are multiple interpretations of how it should be applied, and different school principals have read it in different ways.  (Also, keep in mind, it wasn’t until this year that some bureaucrat decided this policy needed to be enforced.)  In some schools, the principal is saying it limits parent groups to 2 fundraisers per school year.

ISSUES

This policy raises two important Constitutional issues:  Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.

The PTA is an outside association.  Its own policies frown upon using children as entrepreneurs–which would seem to be the intent of the policy.  But if a parent group sells hotdogs at an open house, and sells t-shirts with school logos on it, even though no child is doing anything–the school will count that as two fundraisers and prohibit any further fundraising.  So, if I wanted to have a restaurant night fundraiser (where typically they donate a percentage of the receipts to the PTA), even if I don’t use any school resources, it would violate the policy.  The new enforcement of this policy by the district could cut some PTA budgets by 75%–severely impacting their ability to get their message out, while at the same time interfering in the legal activities of a private association.

It is very clear that the solution is the the School Board to address this policy and ensure that the policy does not run afoul of the first amendment.  Protecting children from having to do fundraising is a worthwhile goal, but the current enforcement of the policy is harmful to children.  It shows disregard for our laws, and it inhibits the parents from doing their job as part of an advocacy organization.  In a district that already has so many budgetary shortfalls, it is absurd to push a policy that takes away resources from an organization that funds student activities, scholarships, and is the front line in one of the pro-ported goals of the district–getting parents and families involved with education.

 

What’s Worse than Government Censorship?

The novice government becomes the master of censorship.  They refuse to let journalists publish articles on topics that are controversial, stir public unrest, or portray the government in a poor light.  They have no problem imprisoning writers that run afoul of reporting the approved narrative—even going so far as to “disappear” people that are chronic problems .  Like I said…all the stuff of novices.

The expert government knows how to maintain the perception of a free press, while at the same time instilling fear into writers so that they will self-censor.    Consider a recent report from PEN America, a leading group on literacy and human rights, which examines the effects of pervasive surveillance in the United States–the FDR Group surveyed 520 U.S. writers and found:

28% have curtailed or avoided social media activities, and another 12% have seriously considered doing so.

24% have deliberately avoided certain topics in phone or email conversations, and another 9% have seriously considered it.

16% have avoided writing or speaking about a particular topic, and another 11% have seriously considered it.

85% say they are worried about the current levels of government surveillance of  Americans.

76% believe that increased government surveillance is especially harmful to writers because it impinges upon the privacy they need to create freely.

What good is free speech and free press if those who conduct investigative journalism are afraid to do their jobs?  One of the bedrock ethics of journalism is to protect your sources–but how does that journalist do that if their phone calls are being listened to, if their emails are being read, their library records are being monitored, and their online searches are being recorded?

I’m not claiming that the United States is an expert government at forcing journalists to self-censor.  On occasion, they’re willing to internationally pursue whistle blowers and sources to the point that the rest of the world laughs at us.  However, all it takes is a couple of “actual threats,” and some outrageous NSA monitoring to make even mainstream journalists paranoid that the government is watching.  Then again, is it paranoia, if it’s true?

…I probably shouldn’t have said that.

To read the full results of the survey, as well as check out the methodology, go to:  http://www.pen.org/sites/default/files/Chilling%20Effects_PEN%20American.pdf

 

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout: I understand why the folks who come to sing are not seeking a permit

Yesterday I wrote about Democratic State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson’s statement that he believes participants in the Solidarity Sing Along should get a permit to exercise their rights to free assembly and free speech.

After posting about Sen. Larson’s comments, I got to wondering what Sen. Larson’s Democratic colleagues in the State Senate think about the Solidarity Sing Along and whether the participants in the SSA should get a permit. I wasn’t alone in wondering, as Doug from Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican was wondering the very same thing. In order to satiate our shared curiosity, Doug and I decided to email each and every Democratic State Senator to get their thoughts on whether they believe the participants of the Solidarity Sing Along should obtain a permit before exercising their rights.

Doug emailed Sens. Miller, Risser, Lassa, Erpenbach, Jauch, and Lehman to get their thoughts, while I emailed Sens. Carpenter, Harris, Taylor, Wirch, Schilling, Cullen, and Vinehout. Doug and I didn’t email Sens. Larson and Hansen, because Sen. Larson’s on record as thinking the singers should get a permit, while Sen. Hansen is on record as supporting the singers’ right to sing without a permit.

The question we asked the Democratic Senators was simple:

“Do you believe the participants of the Solidarity Sing Along should be required to get a permit to assemble and sing in the Capitol?”

As I write this I have received a response from only one Democratic State Senator – Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. Here’s her response:

Hi Zach,

The majority of people in my district just last month learned about the arrests of people who come to the Solidarity Sing-a-long. When they ask me about this situation, I tell them that I understand why the folks who come to sing are not seeking a permit. They come to exercise the rights granted them in a democracy.

The freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, including spontaneous assemblies, and the freedom to petition our democratically elected representative are all fundamental rights in our democracy. It is important for all of us to exercise those rights or we risk losing them.

Thanks,

Kathleen
State Senator
31st Senate District

When (or if) Doug and I get more responses from our Democratic State Senators, we’ll post their responses.

The Shift In Focus Of The Solidarity Sing Along

This is a sideways continuation of my earlier post: Some Mythology of the Solidarity Sing Along.

Governor Walker insists the Solidarity Sing Along apply for a permit, as does Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, as does the Capitol Police…and they all assure the Solidarity Sing Along that they will be issued the required permit if they would only apply. Now the participants in the Solidarity Sing Along will not apply for a permit on a number of grounds. The primary one being that they don’t need a permit because they are protected by both the US and Wisconsin Constitutions!

Now quite frankly I don’t care if the Solidarity Sing Along participants apply for a permit or not. If they want to ignore the administrative rules that require the permit…and ignore the court ruling that allows the Department of Administration and the Capitol Police to continue to arrest them…well good for them for standing their ground.

But something got lost in translation here…the Singers have allowed themselves to be sidetracked from the very reason they meet in the rotunda at noon every weekday. They are protesting Act 10, the War on Women, Voting Rights, Health Care and the other onerous positions foisted on Wisconsin by the Walker Administration…it didn’t start out being about Constitutional Rights and it isn’t about Constitutional Rights. It’s about what kind of state we all want to live in!

Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive Magazine, arrested by Capitol Police for taking photos

Via Facebook…

Matthew Rothschild arrested

In Rothschild’s account of his arrest he notes that he did nothing more than attempt to take photos, which apparently State Capitol Police believe constitutes Obstructing.

I interviewed Sharon Puttmann, who was holding a sign that said, “United in Purpose, United in Song,” which I took a picture of. I asked her why she was there. “I’m a teacher, and I’m a mom,” she said. “And I’m standing up for my rights.” She’s never been arrested, she told me. But she’s willing to now.

I interviewed Victoria La Chappelle, who was holding a sign saying, “You can tie my hands, but you can never silence my voice.” She’s been arrested twice. “Every time I come, I feel like I need to come back in solidarity,” she said.

I saw that the Raging Grannies were in attendance again, this group of activist elderly women who sing protest songs at various events in the state.

Then I saw some state police officers move in to arrest a couple of the Raging Grannies, including my friend Bonnie Block.

So, as I’ve done every time I’m covering the capitol, I started to take pictures of the officers making the arrest. And then I followed the officers as they took Block, handcuffed and still defiantly singing, toward the elevator.

I was hoping to get a picture of Block as she entered the elevator, the kind of picture that has been taken many times in the last couple of weeks.

But the police officers said to stand back. I said I was a journalist, the editor of The Progressive magazine.

“You can’t be here,” they said.

“I’m with the press,” I said. “I have a right to be here.”

Whereupon, without a warning that I’d be arrested, Officer S. B. Mael grabbed my hands and put them behind my back, cuffed them, and said, “Obstruction.”

I know there’s a healthy contingent of folks who’d rather see the Solidarity Sing Along go away, and while I’ve not shied away from criticizing some protestors for doing more harm than good, I simply cannot see how anyone would argue that the actions of the State Capitol Police are warranted.

The officers of the State Capitol Police have now taken to arresting veterans, grandmothers, 14 year-olds, and elected officials for doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights, and that doesn’t pass the smell test.