The Campaign Tactics Of Alder Maurice Cheeks Are Not Good For Madison

Having written this blog for over 10 years I am mindful of the foundations which root this place on the internet.  Process in government is as important as the outcome, gun control is essential, gay rights are human rights, and the free press is a vital part of democracy.   Also thrown into the mix is a desire to see cleaner political campaigns which are driven by ideas and less money.

It is those last two items–the free press and less money in elections–which has thrown Madison into something of a loud and nasty verbal back-and-forth.

It all started when Isthmus Reporter Dylan Brogan wrote a story about Madison Alderman Maurice Cheeks spending massive amounts of money ($18,000 which was more than 3x that spent by his opponent) on a high-priced campaign.  The story was titled “Hey Big Spender” and can be summed up by showing Cheeks used large amounts of money on professionals for an aldermadic race.   His full-color lit was mailed, with the work being done by a Washington, D.C. business.   To add to the over-the-top style of this campaign Cheeks hired as a consultant the same campaign operative who directed Hillary Clinton’s presidential operation in Wisconsin.   Surely his fellow council members seeking election this spring had to ask what more could Cheeks do to further run up his numbers for Election Night?

He showed them by hiring a full-time campaign manager.  When the ballots were counted Cheeks had won 84% of the vote.

While I am always applauding the ones who get into the arena and seek public office I am ever mindful that the way one runs is as important as if one wins.  Every kid has had this principle firmly planted within them from the first days of group sports.   But of course the importance of the lesson learned plays out on a far more important stage when an adult.  Which is why I am totally perplexed that so many of my fellow residents in the city are not more concerned about what this means to our local political process.

Instead of talking about controlling the ever-larger amounts of money it takes to compete for office many in Madison are challenging Brogan for some racial intent for writing the story.

Eileen Harrington commented on his story that she had to “ask whether this is racially motivated? Or sour grapes? Or what? I’d like to see the author explain why attacking Mo Cheeks for his successful campaign is newsworthy.”

I have no idea who Harrington is but I would bet she would answer, if questioned on the street by a pollster, that campaigns in this nation are too costly, and too few people people dig down for the issues due to slick ads.  She might agree in general that too often style outpaces real content in our electoral process.

But when it came time to apply that reasoning to the Cheeks campaign there seems an easy off-ramp for too many liberals in this city.  All of a sudden striving for more issue-oriented campaigns with less money is no longer the focus.  It would seem since Cheeks is being given a pass based on being black.

I would be interested to know–based on the amount of money spent–if Cheeks’ constituents are now brimming with facts and data and policy ideas that match the level of money that was spent.  After all, I have stated over and over, that one reason for waging a campaign is to start a dialogue on issues that matter.  So even if one loses the race the months of campaigning would be worth the time as something bigger was gained.

So might Alder Cheeks now state what his large campaign treasury imparted to his constituents which now makes them better able to be part of the political process.   Or was the stockpile of money, and the way it was used, just a sign that he really wants to be mayor?  (The answer is yes.)

And to hell with the idea that ever-more expensive campaigns undermines the very local government he seems so desirous of leading.

And so it goes.

Seriously Chilling Words From Morning Joe About President Trump’s Dictatorial Aims

What President Trump has proven in his months in the White House is his disdain for the Constitution, his desire to undermine our political institutions, and his continued assault on the free press.  His contempt for our democratic institutions can not be questioned.

Now with military confrontation against North Korea becoming ever more certain there is a beleif being raised which once was only voiced in homes and small dinner parties but now is being stated openly and plainly by the most important morning news show in the nation.

This morning Joe Scarborough stated it at the end of the first segment.  He was speaking about the war on the Korean peninsula and then continued with this comment.

“…be on guard after that since he is contemptuous of the Constitution that if a war does begin we have to be very careful about what steps he takes at home domestically if he does start that war.”

Mika Brezezinski then stated what millions feel by saying “Well, we agree with that.”

It is a chilling and awful time in this nation with President Trump sitting in the Oval Office and too many of his voters are not capable of understanding why that is so.

Questions Needing Answers on Tax ‘Reform”

So let us cut to the core of what needs to be answered when it comes to the latest boondoggle being floated as policy ideas for tax ‘reform‘ from the Republican Congress.

  • Will the GOP tax plan really RAISE taxes on middle-class and upper-middle-class Americans? Given that the initial plan eliminates personal exemptions (replaced by a larger standard deduction), the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said one-quarter of American taxpayers would pay higher taxes by 2027, including 30 percent with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 and 60 percent of those making between $150,000 and $300,000.
  • How much will the plan add to the deficit? The Treasury Department announced Friday that the federal budget deficit increased to $666 billion in the just-completed fiscal year – up from $585 billion last year. And that’s significant, because the Tax Policy Center says the GOP tax plan would reduce revenues by $2.4 trillion over the first 10 years (or $240 billion per year).
  • How much will the wealthy benefit vs. everyone else? Since the GOP proposal, among other things, eliminates the estate tax and lowers taxes for “pass-through” businesses, the same Tax Policy Center says that more than half of the benefits in the first year go to the Top 1 percent of taxpayers, while 30 percent of the benefits will go to the Top 0.1 percent.
  • Are Republicans really going to tax 401k accounts? That has been one of the trial balloons that Republicans have released. “The proposals under discussion would potentially cap the annual amount workers can set aside to as low as $2,400 for 401(k) accounts, several lobbyists and consultants said on Friday,” the New York Times wrote. “Workers may currently put up to $18,000 a year in 401(k) accounts without paying taxes upfront on that money.” But before 8:00 am ET this morning, Trump popped this trial balloon. “There will be NO change to your 401(k). This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!” he tweeted.
  • Do tax cuts always lead to economic prosperity? The basic rationale for cutting taxes is that more money in people’s pockets leads to economic growth. But do Americans, including the wealthiest, always spend that money? And how do lower tax revenues impact the budget? As NBC’s Benjy Sarlin writes, the lesson of Kansas’ tax cuts have become “Exhibit A” for Democrats “in their prosecution” of Trump’s tax plan. “It’s routinely cited as evidence the new GOP proposal won’t grow the economy or pay for itself, and that proposed business tax reduction similar to [Gov. Sam] Brownback’s will create a new loophole for wealthy individuals to exploit.”