Speaker Robin Vos Should Want To Do As He Stated, “Guarantee Public Faith In Elections”, Could Be a Win-Win

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was most willing to appropriate more than a million dollars to a former Supreme Court justice so to ferret out alleged nefarious and illegal voting behavior following the defeat of Donald Trump in the state’s 2020 presidential election. Rather than admitting the Republican Party had a seriously flawed candidate, Vos stood by as Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of major Wisconsin cities such as Madison, Green Bay, and Racine if they didn’t comply with subpoenas to sit for private interviews as part of the investigation. Following the August endorsement of Vos’s primary opponent by Gableman, the Speaker terminated the contract to further spend taxpayer’s dollars on an investigation that had no serious purpose.

What was widely reported in the state, and in national political columns was that this summer while the investigation was underway Vos stated he had taken a phone call from Donald Trump, who told the Speaker of his desire to see the results of the 2020 balloting overturned.  It comes as no surprise that the January 6th committee follows such developments as that phone conversation, and is attuned to the developments which are aimed at undermining our democratic institutions and eroding the faith of the citizenry in our electoral process.  Therefore, the committee is, of course, mighty interested in Vos’ testimony and information he can add to the larger understanding of a seditious conspiracy plotted by Donald Trump, and aided by a number of close aids and confidants.

After the anticipated legal protection that Vos grabbed for after the panel handed him a subpoena, the panel canceled Monday’s deposition deadline, but noted their desire to have his compliance and know the matter is pending upon the ruling from a judge.  This reluctance from Vos, however, to honestly testifying is troubling for two reasons.

First, the desire of the Committee is straightforward. They simply requested in their subpoena for Vos to give a deposition about his call with Trump and the surrounding circumstances. The fact is our democracy came under violent attack on Jan. 6th. Many attempts at undoing the election outcome, though impossible to achieve, have been made in the months following as Trump furthers an absurd theory in several states.  Wisconsin was one of those playgrounds which have used tax dollars, and as such, there is a need to know what pressures were placed on the Speaker by Trump to thwart the will of the voters.

Secondly, if Vos is true to his words and intentions then he would very much desire a full accounting of what occurred with the Trump phone call.  During the period following the 2020 election, he stated Wisconsin needs to “look forward” to guarantee public faith in elections. He said he believes “half of the state or more,” thinks there were “serious problems with the way the election was conducted”.  I can state that equal numbers of our fellow Wisconsinites are much concerned about the shape of our democracy and worry about the fate of our political and electoral processes.

As such, Vos would well serve our state by being forthcoming to the Jan. 6th Committee about his stated desire of securing the public faith in our elections….while at the same time giving a boost to our overall democracy. It could be a win-win.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos Should Remove Janel Brandtjen As Chair Of Elections Committee

Parents know how often small children will do just about anything to get attention. The whole nation was reminded of those types of antics when the Stuart skit on Saturday Night Live would make us laugh with “look what I can do’. Now that same type of behavior is being exhibited by a member of the Republican Assembly caucus.

Representative Janel Brandtjen, the chair of the Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee, has called for invalidating President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory in the state.

While the display is laughable, it is not charming like the performances of the little rascals at home aiming for the limelight with their parents. In fact, it is just sad, dangerous to the nation, and another reminder of how removed from reason and logic a portion of the unhinged element of the Republican Party strives to remain.

Readers do not require my writing this sentence to know that constitutional scholars from across the state and nation, along with even the conservative Republican legislative leaders in Madison have called such outbursts legally impossible. Most Wisconsinites would label Brandtjen’s desire as patently absurd.

I realize that Brandtjen was very busy ginning up this headline-making idea and so did not have the time to review the facts about a number of recounts, along with a slew of court rulings that upheld the victory Biden scored in the state.  Even a legislative audit from the very statehouse where she works showed there was no widespread fraud in the voting outcome.  On top of that, even the outcome by a very conservative group demonstrated there was no out-of-control fraud taking place in Wisconsin.

While I do not carry a stick so to poke at the bears at the zoo, I have to admit it would be more than amusing to allow Brandtjen sixty seconds of uninterrupted time on a newscast so she could explain why she thought decertification was possible.  Since Wisconsin is known as a state that loves alcohol, perhaps a drinking game could be arranged for every ahhh…and umm…as she seeks a way to round the square. Folks living above Highway 29 might even wish to play the video a second time.

I have faulted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for his desire to play too close to the fire when it comes to the ludicrous base of his party as it relates to the Big Lie.  Prolonging the oxygen in the state for the conspiracy crowd and the danger that this creates for the foundation of our democracy is not something any rational leader should court.

If Vos was seeking what was best for the state and country he would remove, at once, Janel Brandtjen as the chair of the Elections Committee. She has proven to be at odds with facts, and logic, and as such should not remain in such a pivotal place. The seriousness and credibility that comes with being a committee chair are diminished when the actions of Brandtjen are allowed to stand. What she has done casts a shadow on the entire Republican caucus. And the state.

Such a move would show Vos had the leadership skills to speak and act for the higher interest of Wisconsin. Even though it would roil the waters for the conspiracy-prone, the mature members of the state GOP would be assured that a reasoned person was at the helm. Acting impotently, however, will only feed the ongoing narrative that the GOP is an out-of-control clown car.

It is no wonder why many deride the far-right wing of the Republican Party. It is no mystery why conservatives are the butt of jokes for late-night talk show monologues. What the GOP requires are elected officials who will step up and clearly demonstrate a willingness to align with sanity.

Cue Speaker Vos to look into the camera with the red light on and start speaking.

Now that would be a headline in the Milwaukee Journal the state would applaud.

What Might Founding Fathers Say About Trump’s Seditious Conspiracy?

Those who lived in the 1970s surely felt that Watergate was the granddaddy of all political scandals. After all, a vast array of illegal activity that led back to the White House and into the Oval Office resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Many people after following the 2-plus years of news reporting and committee hearings about Watergate understandably felt there was no way a more sinister and underhanded person could be president.

Over the past week, large segments of the nation have been watching the January 6th House Committee hearings. What we are witnessing being fleshed out with testimony and facts is nothing short of stunning. After all that we have endured over the past six years, it might seem impossible to be confronted with anything that sets one further back on their heels. Even though the framework of illegal and unconstitutional actions by Donald Trump and those around him has long been known, having a congressional committee detail the actions was still very hard to stomach.

The nation is learning about the insidious and seemingly ever-sprawling plot to commit a seditious conspiracy against the United States. A duly elected president was to be tossed aside like a burger wrapper and Trump was to be installed as an illegal one. James Patterson could not plot a more devastating drama.

But what struck me to my core was learning Trump was so desperate to retain power and authority that he stated Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be murdered by the bloodthirsty mob at our nation’s Capitol. The reason Trump felt that way, of course, was that Pence refused to go along with sedition.

There is no doubt when it comes to political chicanery and illegal activities Nixon was a mere piker compared to the outlandish and outrageous actions plotted and undertaken by Trump. It seems almost unfair to place Nixon and Trump into the same editorial cartoons, such as those now being published as we near the 50th anniversary of the famed break-in.

From the night of the November 2020 election, Trump knew that his hold on power was ebbing away, and when the final count from several states, including Wisconsin, was reported no question remained he had lost his bid for reelection.

But rather than accept the election returns from the balloting by his fellow citizens he instead chose to become the first president in the history of our country to dishonor the peaceful transfer of power.

I want to stay on that point for a minute. I wonder what the Founding Fathers would say if they could be made aware of these events and able to be interviewed?

What might President George Washington, a former general who relinquished his military command, and stepped away from an office he was twice elected to so a civilian could take the reins of power have to say? What might James Madison, who history calls the Father of the Constitution, have to say about the blatant power grab and attempted usurpation of what we know as Madisonian democracy?

Ben Franklin, a journalist and newspaper owner, would surely have another line of inquiry.

On the day of a Jan. 6th committee hearing, with much of the nation following events, Fox News spent 45 minutes detailing a surgical procedure for Ozzy Osborne. The dismantling of the very fabric of our democracy was being detailed by members of congress and a major news outlet felt there was no need to inform their viewers as to the dangers faced by the nation.

Franklin, doubtless with a pithy tone, would demand to know why a news operation would willingly deflect from a story that cuts to the essence of our democracy?

Much of our nation is discussing the damning headlines about the plots and attacks on the very foundation of our constitutional government. It is easy to get inundated with the latest breaking news about this story. As such, I would hope that at some point we can, as a nation, reflect on the ideals the Founders sought for the nation. It is glaringly clear why our constitutional guardrails can no longer just be taken for granted.

Ron Johnson Pulls A Lyndon Johnson And Tells The Truth, Both Men Recorded

The front page of the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday, September 1st, was not only an account of the latest news to be reported. Above the fold on the front page was also a reminder as to why duplicity is never a good quality to be found in our elected officials.

Reporter Riley Vetterkind wrote that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson recently said: “there’s nothing obviously skewed about the results” of the 2020 presidential election in the Badger State.

The weight of that remark from Johnson made to Lauren Windsor, who posed as a conservative when speaking to the Senator is most important. She recorded the conversation as executive producer of the liberal political web show The Undercurrent, and also runs Project Veritas Exposed, an effort to unveil the work of Project Veritas, a conservative organization that has secretly recorded Democrats and liberals.

Within hours after the close of presidential balloting across our nation in November 2020, a concerted effort started so to create a climate where a final and decisive outcome, within the minds of some voters, was not possible. There has never been such an unseemly display before in our country where the continuous peaceful handing off of presidential power was attempted to be thwarted.

The all-out attempt to delude and utterly confuse a sizable segment of Donald Trump’s conservative base into believing that chicanery and out-right illegal actions had prevented Trump from prevailing remains the darkest hours of his term. Those actions still pose a danger to the country.

To undermine a legally and unambiguous victory to the winner of the 2020 election remains a dangerous dagger to the heart of our democracy. Overtly adding doubt and fomenting chaos when an election is over erodes the faith in elections that must be retained by the citizenry.

Yet that is precisely what Ron Johnson did.

Johnson has elevated theories that have cast doubt on the election’s results.

In December, after Trump’s campaign had lost its Wisconsin election lawsuits in both state and federal courts, Johnson held a hearing where he invited one of the president’s lawyers, Jim Troupis, to testify. Troupis proceeded to assert the same theories that had been rejected in multiple courts.

Troupis testified that “more than 200,000” Wisconsin residents did not vote legally in Wisconsin, a number that included more than 170,000 residents who voted early at their local clerk’s office using a form that had been in place for more than a decade. Troupis himself was among those voters.

The duplicity can be then proved in Johnson’s recorded comments to Windsor.

“There’s nothing obviously skewed about the results,” Johnson told the woman. “There isn’t. Collectively, Republicans got 1.661 million votes, 51,000 votes more than Trump got. Trump lost by 20,000. If Trump got all the Republicans, if all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for the Assembly candidates … he would have won. He didn’t get 51,000 votes that other Republicans got. And that’s why he lost.”

When I read the newspaper article I thought of another Johnson who talked publicly to the nation with one set of words, and then privately, also in a recording, had a much different view on the topic of the day.

President Lyndon Johnson was determined not to lose Vietnam on his watch to the communists. He made it clear to the nation he was going to be committed to victory. But in private Johnson was honest and knew he playing a losing game with the lives of the Marines he was then sending to South East Asia.

On Feb. 26, 1965, when Johnson orders his secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, to launch Operation Rolling Thunder, which will drop more bombs on the North Vietnamese than on all of Europe in World War II, he is melancholy. “Now we’re off to bombing these people,” he says. “We’re over that hurdle. I don’t think anything is going to be as bad as losing, and I don’t see any way of winning.”

A week later, when he decides to send Marine battalions to Vietnam, Johnson gloomily tells Senate Armed Services chairman Richard Russell, “The great trouble I’m under [is that] a man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere. But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam. There’s not a bit.”

I realize we ask a lot of any elected official. We want them to respond with helpful advice concerning constituent problems, support our views on the complex issues of the day, and arrive on time for the summer parades in our communities. We know that these men and women are human, and make mistakes.

But there is no way to rationalize away or pretend otherwise when it comes to the unconscionable way Johnson has played so loose and fast with one of the essential threads of the fabric which binds our democracy together. Being forthright and honest is a virtue that we try to impart to our children. It is certainly one that we must demand when it comes to a United States Senator.

History shows what happens when duplicity replaces honesty and candor.

And so it goes.

Nixon Was A Piker Compared To Trump, Our Grandparents Would Agree

As we head to the August anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon comes a news story this morning showing how much more criminal and outlandish were the actions of Donald Trump following his 2020 election loss. While the 37th president had his own list of unconstitutional behavior, nothing compares to what we read about today about the 45th person to reside in the White House.

Trump pressed top Justice Department officials late last year to declare that the election was corrupt even though they had found no instances of widespread fraud, so that he and his allies in Congress could use the assertion to try to overturn the results, according to new documents provided to lawmakers and obtained by The New York Times.

The exchange unfolded during a phone call on Dec. 27 in which Mr. Trump pressed the acting attorney general at the time, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and his deputy, Richard P. Donoghue, on voter fraud claims that the department had disproved. Mr. Donoghue warned that the department had no power to change the outcome of the election. Mr. Trump replied that he did not expect that, according to notes Mr. Donoghue took memorializing the conversation.

“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.

It goes without saying that that the least we should expect, and demand from any person who is elected president is that the leader has a basic regard for democracy. While there are sure to be policy differences with a wide segment of the nation the citizenry should never need to fear that a would-be dictator has taken over the White House.

I recall when watching the television news at times with my Grandma there would be comments made that Grandpa did not care for Nixon. I think about Herman and wonder, with all that he heard about Watergate, what he would have to say about what Trump has done to our politics. His world of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson would then find a very hard time squaring with the attempt made by Trump to steal a national election.

Why I place this current story into the context of sitting in the living room and watching the news on a larger console set is that my grandparents–and yours too–were not tempered with what I term normalization fatigue. What we have witnessed over the past five years has in some respects deadened our senses and reactions to the complete outrageousness of Trump’s action. In essence, today’s news of an attempted stolen election by the loser of the national balloting is not overly surprising.

The outrage and sincere anger from past generations will be greeted today with ‘that sounds like Trump’ and we move to the next story. The national news tonight will no doubt lead with COVID, wildfires, and Olympic coverage.

What is happening to our democracy, and the willingness to marginalize it among a troubling segment of the nation, are the type of events that our grandparents would have been not only watching, but demanding a resolution so as to never, ever happen again. They may not speak in the way I write, of Trump’s seditious attempts to cancel democracy, but they would know it in their bodies and minds.

Too many today have no regard for the foundations of our democracy, were never adequately taught in school about civics and so today will pick up their handheld device and think the latest news about the Green Bay Packers is what matters.

Grandpa knew better.

Voting Restrictions Are Republican Revenge For Losing White House, Senate Elections

We knew it would come to this. There was no doubt the deep-seated voting conspiracy theories within the Republican Party following the 2020 November election would morph into needless and absurd attempts to curtail the will of the electorate. What the party could not do at the ballot box with their candidates they will try to achieve by manipulating the process of voting going forward.

What needs to be stated at the front end of this post is obvious. Many of the proposed changes by Republicans to how a person can cast a ballot–in those states where far-right elected officials hold sway–are doing so with the full array of data to solidly prove their allegations of fraud are bogus. There is no evidence the GOP can produce to support their partisan and purely deluded allegations. On the flip side, however, there are audits upon more audits to prove fair and process-driven state elections were conducted in the nation.

What galls so many Americans is the refusal of Republicans to agree that in our democracy it means every eligible person has the right to cast a ballot and to do so without being placed in a position where multi-hour lines need to be traversed to do so, or voting in conditions where the health of the citizen is placed in jeopardy. We live in 2021 and with history and common sense as a guide means the GOP should be able to discern the altered needs of voters. This past year many of us actually followed the science and advice from medical professionals and cast ballots from our home. We should not be penalized for being smart and safe.

I am continually amazed at the lengths to which Republicans will go to thwart the political process and game the system so they win elections, not by the strength of their issues, but by the cunning game they play before elections. If not aggressive gerrymandering that has contorted lines for districts that stain credibility they are hatching plans for voting laws that disproportionately affect Black and Latino voters in negative ways.

Oh, Republicans do love their games. After allowing their party to be hijacked and played by Donald Trump they are now so empty of policy ideas with which to broaden their base they instead are going for the dank, dark basement. As such, they are weaponizing Trump’s insane fabrications from last November to justify their actions from coast to coast. Forget about fostering policy ideas akin to how former congressman Jack Kemp once labored! Let’s just make it harder for ‘those people’ to vote.

No one on my side of this issue wants anyone other than eligible citizens to cast a ballot. But that does not mean delivering sealed ballots of people who cannot, or in a pandemic do not want to go to a polling place (that includes my husband and me) changes the validity of my ballot choice. I am truly angered by the notion being promoted by Republicans that a level playing field during elections is a competitive disadvantage for the ones who run weak candidates.

And so it goes.

Magnitude Of Moment Demands We Learn Lessons With Second Trump Impeachment Trial

We are living in a national moment that hundreds of years from now people will study and reflect on regarding how we did our jobs as citizens and caretakers of our democratic republic. We are engaged with only the fourth presidential impeachment trial in history, and the first time a president was impeached twice and sent to trial in the senate. I am not expecting a conviction verdict in the Republican-controlled Senate, but that does not mean the rest of the nation can not learn the lessons that present themselves. On that score, it is vital that our nation pay attention in the days to come and grasp the fragile nature of our democracy when determined ones wish to undermine and destroy it.

I do not subscribe to the view this impeachment trial would impede the work of the nation when it comes to a COVID-relief package or starting the work on immigration policy. Rather, I argue the trial is also the work of our time, and in fact, a priority. When a president seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the election process, the outcome of the counted ballots and urges and foments insurrection there absolutely needs to be a national response.

I realize that for a long time our society views most things in 30-minute segments, akin to a sitcom where all the loose ends are wrapped up by the bottom of the hour. The attention span of people dwindles but the gravity of the issues that present themselves do not. I am aware that most Americans have decided on Trump’s guilt as polling data continues to show a majority saying Trump should be convicted and barred from holding office again. But there is still more of the nation that needs to be brought into the light and educated about the attempted coup on our national capitol, as well as the weeks leading up to that awful day when death and mayhem were unleashed by Trump supporters.

The fact that impeachment is not an ordinary event underscores the gravity of the matter and why we should pay heed. For such an event to occur means a president behaved so recklessly, dangerously, and in Trump’s case, we can also rightly argue outrageously, that the trial now underway not only has merit, but also powerful evidence for a finding of conviction. (Forget for the moment that Trump failed to learn anything from his first impeachment.)

Any reading of our history will demonstrate the high degree of scandal during the presidencies of Ulysses Grant and Warren Harding. But there is nothing in the past that mirrors that total lack of regard for the Constitution or political institutions such as what we witnessed from Donald Trump. Without doubt, the most historically corrupt period in our history.

While many Republican senators and, sadly, a sizable swath of that party’s base ignore the substance of the charge being pressed—a president citing insurrection–the rest of the citizenry must watch, listen, and find a national bond and commitment to work at strengthening the foundation of our democracy.

Trump’s lawyers will treat the nation as if we all are of the mental aptitude of the ones who voted so rashly in 2016. They will try to spin their limp legal theory that every time Trump lied about the election results and recklessly urged his followers to “fight like hell” that was nothing more than a president exercising his free speech rights under the First Amendment. Well, from the desk of this blogger I can assure my readers that inciting lawlessness and violence is not protected speech.

The madness that was unleashed on the 6th must not be viewed as just another episode in our political narrative. It was not! We have seen in the 21st century how a lie repeated again and again had dire consequences. Telling Americans that Iraq had a role in 9/11 was more than a lie, it then turned into an international calamity when we invaded and toppled their government. Similarly, the lies Trump told and pressed over and over resulted in his base going bat-crap crazy.

As too many in our nation watch one sitcom end, and another begin, so too does their ability to look at the bizarre and totally unacceptable capitol riot but shake it off as another headline replaces it. Except that in the real world the grave consequences of not meeting this moment in time with justice and firmness will only allow for a degree of tolerance so to allow it to happen again.

In our national story there has never been a more clear and vivid example as to the utter betrayal by a president to the oath of office. Never before has the very foundation of our nation been so at peril. Republicans may take a knee to their cult god, but the rest of the nation needs to hear every word of the trial and feel every slam that our nation absorbed during the coup attempt, and then vow to meet this moment in time with a deeper resolve to stand up for our national values and common ideals.

And so it goes.

Friday Night Smile: Lou ‘Haircolorist’ Dobbs Jettisoned As Lawsuit Strikes Fox ‘News’

It was the warm ray of sunshine that landed at the end of a terribly cold day.

Fox News Media sent out a notice that Lou Dobbs will no longer be fomenting nonsense on their network. Fret not my readers, as there are still many others on Fox that bury facts and conjure up conspiracy theories, so the easily swayed in the nation still have some programming just for them. But as for Dobbs, who has had more hair coloring over the years than any other guy on national television, he has been benched.

The reason for his release is, of course, though FOX is loathe to openly state it, due to a billion-dollar lawsuit over false claims about the integrity of the 2020 election. And front and center to the conspiracy programing is hair-tinted Dobbs.

That little ole $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit has forced one of the slimiest agitators off the network. Who can forget this piece of human trash promoting the lies that President Obama was not born an American citizen? Or rejected the scientific consensus on climate change. Or found problems with Black men, brown-skinned workers, and Muslims.

Dobbs was not just your ordinary pusher of false information…he was the business network’s highest-rated host. Smartmatic, a voting software company that was the subject of several false claims made on Fox News and Fox Business now has the network by the teeth;, akin to a nature program where a lion has the gazelle by the throat, while shaking and ripping into the tender regions of the network. The lawsuit named Mr. Haircolorist Dobbs as an individual defendant, along with two other Fox anchors, Maria Bartiromo and Jeanine Pirro.

Trust me when saying there will be wine cork popping at our home when Pirro finds the door hitting her on the way out, too. When it comes to dreadful, she is the epitome of the word. But when it comes to Fox there are just so many who fit the definition. Where does one start?

For now, all we can say to Dobbs is what we have wanted to say for many, many years.