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.

Treating Migrants Humanely On National Radar Following Ron DeSantis’ Racist Actions

Racist tactics by conservatives have always been ugly

We know what plays to approval on Fox News in the evening hours when profoundly ridiculous notions and racist attitudes are presented. We also know those same views will meet strong disagreement and rejection from large swaths of the nation that is not wedded to the absurd network. What makes the FOX crowds giddy does not translate well to the nation as a whole. A case in point would be the plain mean-spirited abuse of migrants at the hands of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. 

This was underscored when a new poll from Reuters-Ipsos was published Friday which showed that only a third of Americans think it’s appropriate for Republican governors to fly or bus migrants to other states. Half of the Republicans polled and only 1 in 6 Democrats said it was something in which they could agree. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say they opposed the practice. Forty-five percent–including 63 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans–said state leaders transporting migrants were committing illegal migrant trafficking.

The poll is reflective of the mood in the nation following the awful news of flying migrants thousands of miles across the country to Martha’s Vineyard.  The island off Massachusetts only has 17,000 year-round residents, and as we know from news reports this spring has housing problems for their workers who arrive during the warm months as tourists roam about.  Making a purely partisan point with the lives of migrants was unseeingly, and immoral.

It is truly troubling that some Republican pols are comfortable with the use and manipulation of people–vulnerable migrants—for the single purpose of scoring points with white voters who willingly watch FOX News. That network does not present migrants as human beings fleeing dreadful conditions in their homelands or that they seek to work hard or will find many businesses in every sector in each state wishing to hire them.  (Jobs, it needs noting, those same white FOX News viewers will not fill.)

I noted on my Twitter feed a slice from history that made a strong point about this situation.  The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library posted a tweet comparing the DeSantis racism with the “reverse Freedom Rides” that occurred in the 1960s in our nation. 

“To embarrass Northern liberals and humiliate Black people, southern White Citizens Councils started their so-called ‘Reverse Freedom Rides,’ giving Black people one-way tickets to northern cities with false promises of jobs, housing, and better lives”.

Americans know racism when they see it, and the strong rebuke of DeSantis that was registered across the nation has made one point most clear. Stop using migrants as political pawns.

Why Does GOP Accept Candidates That Tell Bold-Face Lies?

Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia, is at it again with his inability to be forthright.  Let me put that another.  He simply seems unable to be truthful.  Well, let me phrase that even more directly.  He lies. 

The latest collision with the truth by one of the four most absurd and horrible senate candidates the Republican Party has put forth for the 2022 mid-term elections concerns money that was supposedly donated to charities. (The other three states with dreadful GOP senate nominees are in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.)

Walker, a former football star, pledged that 15 percent of profits would go to charities, a promise the company said was part of its corporate charter.” For years, Mr. Walker’s company named four specific charities as beneficiaries of those donations, including the Boy Scouts of America and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.But there is scant evidence that Mr. Walker’s giving matched those promises. When The New York Times contacted those four charities, one declined to comment and the other three said they had no record or recollection of any gifts from the company in the last decade.

While human nature at times allows for fabrications and embellishments, and on a campaign trail when talking is a non-stop task, it is not hard to fathom how stretching of the truth might occur.  ‘I was an early supporter of that legislation or ‘You will always find me riding in a car made in America’.   But when it comes to Walker he seems to fail at telling the truth at every turn about the big events in his life when talking.

Walker, who is facing Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, in his first bid for public office, has been dogged by repeated instances in which he was found to have given misleading or outright false details about his life story. He falsely claimed to have graduated “in the top 1 percent” of his class at the University of Georgia, when in fact he had not graduated at all: He left the university after his junior year to play professional football. He also said he had “worked in law enforcement” when he had not.

His candidacy was never taken seriously by any politico, as there is no intellectual substance to Walker. Zero. Zilch. None.  It was almost as if the GOP needed a court jester and Walker was more than happy to play the role of national dupe.  Trump was won over because Walker said something nice about him and the followers of the cult leader said, ‘Well, sure, let’s make him a nominee for the senate!’  The bar is so very low for much of the modern Republican Party. Walker is proof of that fact.

I strongly suspect most Georgians want a credible and honest senator who has not had their brain punched about on a football field for many a year. I just know voters believe that a candidate should be able to honestly recall if he graduated from college.  Or how many illegitimate children call him ‘the one who sends the checks’.

Let’s Talk About Need For Immigrant Labor

As we observe and celebrate Labor Day I felt a tilt in another direction might be needed as we head into a robust campaign season that leads up to the mid-term elections. We often hear a variety of misplaced complaints and false gripes about immigrants ‘taking jobs’ or somehow living on ‘the taxpayer’s dime’. But the facts and data do not support such rhetoric.

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin was born in Moscow, CEO of Google Sundar Pichai in Tamil Nadu, and Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft, in Hyderabad. The biological father of the late Steve Jobs was a Syrian who moved to America. Half of all the American startups that are worth more than $1 billion were founded by migrants. Many of the engineers at tech firms were born abroad, too. In Cupertino, a posh suburb in Silicon Valley, half the population is foreign-born.

In 2012, I posted a question on this blog that I would have asked at the first presidential debate that year. It dealt with a topic that has frustrated me for a very long time, one of those big-themed issues that our country really needs to deal with. It is one that still resonates, especially considering the Dreamers are still left in limbo today.

“Mr. President, Mr. Romney. Between 1980 and 1998 Chinese and Indian immigrants founded a quarter of all Silicon start-ups. In addition, a quarter of all technology and engineering start-ups between 1995 and 2005 were founded by immigrants. In the 2010 Fortune 500 more than 40% of the companies were started by immigrants. The U.S. is the most popular destination for foreign students, many of whom wish to stay after they graduate, but can not due to not being able to get work visas. At a time when advanced science and technology degrees are in high demand globally what will you do to allow for more skilled workers to stay here, and how would you explain to low-wage and unemployed people in America tonight the importance of allowing more international graduates with advanced skills to call America home?”

The bottom line is the current skepticism that has existed for decades has deadlocked prospects for immigration reform, even though no one is particularly happy with the status quo. Against that trend, we should be looking at immigration as a creative force in our economic favor. Allowing in more immigrants, skilled and unskilled, wouldn’t just create jobs. It could increase tax revenue, help finance Social Security, bring new home buyers, and improve the business environment. Every business sector in every state needs workers!

The data speaks as to why this is true. In fact, the participation rate for men peaked at 87.4% in October 1949 and has been dropping steadily ever since. It now stands at 67.7%. (Sept. 2021 data.) Just as the data shows that a worker shortage has been underway in the United States for a long time, so too does the data show that there have been, at times, united efforts to resolve the immigration issue and assist with worker-related shortages.

For the record, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 passed in the Senate on May 25, 2006, with a 62-36 vote. The bill included provisions to strengthen border security with fencing, vehicle barriers, surveillance technology, and more personnel; a new temporary worker visa category; and a path to legal status for immigrants in the country illegally if they met specific criteria.  President George W. Bush commended the Senate “for passing bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform” and said he looked forward to working with both chambers.

But the bill was never taken up by the Republicans in the House.

Then, in 2013 a bill backed by Democrats and 14 Republicans, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act passed the Senate on a 68-32 vote on June 27, 2013. But it too rotted in the GOP-controlled House. In 2015 even The Wall Street Journal took one of the false arguments against immigration head-on.

A Guatemalan picking strawberries in Washington state doesn’t mean a native-born worker has lost a job. The increasingly integrated North American markets are not zero sum, and the most likely result of the U.S. immigration standstill is moving factories, businesses and farms overseas where labor is cheaper. Or some services will simply vanish in the U.S. as too costly to sustain.

For the Republican Party to remain viable as a national party they need to get their attitudes and policies in alignment with the country when it comes to immigration reform.  As of today many within the GOP still seem unwilling and unable to get to the place where policy changes can occur which will benefit immigrants, the country, and their party. Economics speaks to the necessity of such a move, humanity demands it.

President Biden Addresses “Battle For The Soul Of Nation”

It was a national address from a President of the United States that the citizenry needed not only to hear but to heed.  While the three main networks did not air the speech the gravitas of the message from Philadelphia was one that echoed from the Founding Fathers about political passions that are not tempered with reason and dangerous autocratic behavior not bridled by citizens.

President Biden spoke from Independence Hall Thursday evening to give a stern warning to the nation about our national democratic values being flagrantly assaulted and undermined by forces of extremism who kneel to Donald Trump. Biden did not mix words when he stated the issue that we face.  This is, he told us, a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

The message is one that the majority of this nation has been aware of since the years when Trump sat in the Oval Office and especially since the end of Election Day in November 2020.  We watched with dread and revulsion as the seditious actions played out at our nation’s Capital on January 6th and since then as Trump deliberately and aggressively has poked and stoked his followers who are easily led to the point they will even aid in the undermining of our nation.   Those followers are willing to add their voices as election deniers and some even have lowered themselves to the point they now call for violence to be unleashed in this country.

So it is readily understood with the facts we have seen play out that Biden was correct when stating Thursday that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

The others in the nation who have embraced reading and understanding our national story could connect and agree with the historical truth when Biden talked about the “extraordinary experiment of self-government” represented by the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, saying that “history tells us a blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.” The Federalist Papers which were taught in high school, and more deeply studied in college alerted many Americans to the dangers the Founders urged us to avoid.

I have advocated for years our nation required a president to undertake the role, though some might think it old-fashioned, of a leader who will stand on the stage and preach the values of democracy.  The efforts of reducing and outright removing liberal democracy around the world have been underway for decades. Autocrats prattle about how democracy is not the way for nations to grow and prosper. Actions from Hungary to Brazil have left many worldwide rightly concerned about the condition of democracy. China has challenged democratic tendencies in places like Hong Kong, while we know all too well that Russia will do anything for wistful memories of an empire.  That battle for democracy is also taking place in the United States.  Right in front of eyes.  The seriousness of the matter makes headlines daily as democracy versus dictatorship, freedom versus authoritarianism plays and we must be engaged as citizens to defend the core ideals handed to us by the Founders.

Our Founding Fathers envisioned several examples of possible dangerous behavior to democracy and placed solutions to them within the Constitution. But they simply could not have fathomed the degree of partisanship and even outright sedition and treason currently running through some parts of the Republican Party. Partisanship is so deep and corrosive that it would harm the nation itself.

It is truly concerning for the politics of our time, and for the very nature of democracy itself, that a rather staggering number of Trump’s most vociferous, foul, and unbalanced followers are proving to be violent and hostile. Conservatives have willingly traded away their credibility by allowing the Republican Party to be hijacked by Trump. Today, no actual conservative party policy idea can surface as the saturation of crazy has dominated every aspect of the GOP. There is no oxygen in the room to talk about ideas as there is a past election outcome to excoriate.

So, it was most appropriate, in fact necessary, that Biden called out last evening the vilest of the Trump base who have seized hold of one of America’s two great political parties.  That element celebrates the violent mob that stormed the Capitol in hopes of overturning an election.  That is what the weak-minded in the nation have opted to do with the ideals and hopes of our Founding Fathers.   As I watched the 24-minute speech it dawned on me how remarkable this moment in our history is, as first, a president has never needed to call out the opposing party for their desire to strangle democracy. But secondly, there has never been a time in the 45 years (since age 15) of my reading American history where that was required. Biden stated it precisely as our nation needed to hear it. “You can’t love your country only when you win”.

GOP Mid-Term Hopes: “Tsunami To A Puddle”

Following the 2020 elections, too many Republicans wanted to keep their arms around Donald Trump, further undermine democracy, and thwart the will of women to make their own health care choices. Well, the nation has been watching and is about to send a message this fall. I contend the majority of the nation simply does not want Trump 24/7 in their living rooms or being the non-stop topic of discussion going forward. That will need to be tempered, of course, with the law and order process which must continue as Trump and others are held responsible for their actions. Democracy absolutely demands a response to what he and his followers did in the weeks following the last presidential election.

Rational voters do not want the crazy and utterly absurd candidates Trump is pushing from Arizona to Georgia, those nominees his cult followers voted for in primaries. The steam is building for a strong blowback in state after state concerning the Trump-fueled antics this year, just as the results proved in 2020. Ron Brownstein writes where the nation is heading and what the GOP must reckon with come November.

It was a referendum. Now it’s a choice.

For political professionals in both parties, that’s the capsule explanation for why the Democratic position in the midterm elections appears to have improved so much since summer began.

When the election looked to be primarily a referendum on the performance of the Democrats who control the White House and Congress, Republicans were optimistic that a towering ‘red wave’ would carry them to sweeping gains in November.

But with evidence suggesting more voters are treating the election as a comparative choice between the two parties, operatives on both sides are bracing for a closely contested outcome that could include an unusual divergence in results for the House and those in Senate and governor races.

The political evidence of what faces Republicans can be best viewed in how some are now changing their tune and tone about abortion. But if conservative men who were doing everything in an effort to undermine the ability of women to decide their own health care decisions think they can now whistle a different tune at the mid-term elections—well, voters will have something to say about that waffling.

Republican candidates are shifting their message on abortion after several recent elections have shown the issue energizing Democrats.

Some candidates for House, Senate and governor have either reworked sections on their websites or released ads that have sought to downplay, reverse or clarify some of their anti-abortion stances.

The shift started over the summer following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but the change has become increasingly noticeable as more and more signs have emerged showing abortion can be a galvanizing issue for Democratic voters in key states.

“I think the concept that for decades, you know, a Supreme Court fight energized the conservative base because they wanted to overturn Roe, right?” Republican strategist Barrett Marson, who previously worked on Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters’s campaign, said.

“I think you’re gonna see a flip on that, that the liberal base will get more energized about this issue because they got it taken away from them,” he added.

Voters in the red state of Kansas earlier this month resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have given the legislature more authority to restrict the procedure. And last week, Democrat Pat Ryan won a New York special election seen as a bellwether after focusing his campaign on abortion rights.

In three other special elections since the Supreme Court struck down federal abortion protections, Democrats outpaced expectations even though they ultimately lost. And states such as Pennsylvania, Idaho and Wisconsin are seeing larger gaps open up between new female and male voter registrations since the Supreme Court decision, according to TargetSmart, the Democratic data services firm.

Taken together, the developments have seemingly pushed Republicans to reassess how they approach an issue that has already shown it can help swing elections and for some to step back from support for outright abortion bans.

Between Trump carping and storming about how unfair it is to need to abide by laws and due process in the nation while the harshest elements in the GOP strike out at abortion rights means that politicos can now start to gauge the efficacy of the strategy being employed by the Republican Party in the mid-term elections. With about nine weeks to go the cake is getting baked.

Robin Vos Does Not Get Profile In Courage Award For Firing Michael Gableman

There are those times when what might be considered a strong and resolute position, instead winds up looking rather sluggishly anemic. Such is the result of Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos firing Michael Gableman a mere 72 hours after the Racine County Republican squeaked out a primary election night win after Donald Trump urged voters to elect his opponent.

It was only after the votes were counted that Vos found his voice, even his backbone, along with a microphone into which he could utter his feelings about the former Supreme Court justice. “He’s an embarrassment to the state.” But only last week the former justice was a needed investigator for Republicans! Catching up with the sentiments held by the majority of state residents for the past year does not make Vos a prophet or even slightly principled, but simply underscored why many people think Republican politicians are playing to the most gullible within the GOP.

Vos’ comment, however, is about the length and breadth that leadership and a commitment to facts are allowed to be displayed within the current Republican Party. It is due to elected officials, such as Vos, who have continually played to the right-wing conspiracy theories from the base of the party, and in so doing have allowed for oxygen to be given to the nonsense. That has resulted in much harm being done to the home of such political giants as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Speaker Vos authorized and funded Gableman’s actions which resulted in a wild, unhinged, and legally impossible notion, such as decertifying the 2020 election. There was no evidence of widespread election chicanery to unearth, though that did not stop state tax dollars from being used by Gableman to foment lies for the less educated in the state. Nor did it stop Vos from continuing the spigot of money into Gabelman’s efforts which even included his attending a seminar in South Dakota hosted by luminaries such as Mike Lindell, the MyPillow facts denier.  

The time to cut ties with Gableman would have been after the first sit-down the Speaker had with someone who claimed in 2008 that Justice Ann Walsh Bradley rapped him on the head during a meeting. At the time many in the state snickered at the event, but in hindsight, it might be appropriate to ask exactly how much damage was inflicted!

The Michael Gableman we have watched over the past year is the same person who ran a sleazy and racist campaign in 2008 against the Supreme Court’s only African-American, Louis Butler. A major state newspaper wrote in 2012 that Gableman, as a justice, “opened the door to accusations of unethical behavior”. The years have changed, but the character of Gableman sadly has not. I wrote on Caffeinated Politics in 2011 that Michael Gableman was the least intelligent and probing mind on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  After this past year, that may be the kindest thing one can say about the man.

Why Speaker Vos was not able, or willing, to provide leadership and honesty to the ones within his party spreading the Big Lie remains a troubling question that historians will need to address. After all, firing Gableman was only about 365 days too late.

Threats Of Civil War By Angry White Males Fostered By GOP During Donald Trump Years

It was less than an hour after I posted on my Caffeinated Politics Facebook page about the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Florida home when a white male reader commented that the action meant “civil war” upon the nation. This week Ricky W. Shiffer posted messages on Trump’s social media platform recommending that “patriots” go to Florida and kill federal agents.  After he tried to break into the F.B.I.’s Cincinnati office his fate was sealed when he thought it wise to engage in a gun battle on an interstate with law enforcement.  Shiffer was shot dead.

It is very clear from the national chatter that extremists, low on IQ and book learning, but loaded with crazy thoughts and deadly guns are intent on creating violence in the nation following the law-and-order process the FBI undertook this week in Florida.  When a deranged personality was outside the home of a current member of the Supreme Court this summer, a hue and cry rightfully arose about the safety of the judiciary.  The backlash, however, from conservatives this week about the violence and threats from angry white males in the nation, like Shiffer, were hardly registered.  Transactional politics when it comes to the safety of our police and law enforcement officers is nothing short of repugnant.

If one listens and reads the crazy lingo from those white males who are engaged in right-wing militancy it is soon apparent, that they are again aggrieved—their favorite pastime when not stroking their weapons.  They huffed and puffed and made threats this week of ‘locking and loading’ in their zeal to defend their cult leader, Donald Trump.  Our nation, it needs all to be reminded, did not just arrive at such a moment; rather the GOP helped to create this situation.

The animus the Republican Party has fostered and yes, stoked, within their ranks against law enforcement and the rule of law-and-order is highly troubling and unsightly. We watched the GOP fall for Trump starting in 2015, and then over his term in office followed the disregard he had for the FBI, wanting to use the Attorney General as his own personal lawyer, and striving mightily to undercut the Constitution. The Republican Party stood by and watched and even started to mimic and repeat his false claims and further the erosion of respect for folks who put on a robe or a badge when they head to their job.

The outcome of Trump’s corrosive actions, and the spinless reaction from the GOP, is now playing out with the vile and threatening rhetoric and actions by the basest lowlifes in the conservative tent.  In 2018, I wrote a post about the disregard Trump had for the judiciary.

What troubled me….and cuts to the core as to why Trump is viewed as dangerous to democracy–concerns his disdain for laws and our Constitution.  To have our system work requires we acknowledge the rule of law.  The public needs to respect the judgments of those who sit on the courts.  The public needs to obey the laws and abide by the decisions of judges.  To then have a person in the Oval Office lashing out with personal attacks on judges and the court system–as Trump does continually–sends a most disturbing message to the nation.

There is also the added danger that judges should never have to consider any fear of personal attacks, or venom from the citizenry when rendering a decision. Having an autocratic person in the White House should not in some way taint the decision-making process in a court of law.  It is imperative that Trump show the proper respect for not only the law but those who decide the cases and shape laws.

The federal judge who signed the search warrant after being presented with facts as to what classified documents were strongly believed to be in Trump’s Florida home, and even where the documents that should not be anywhere except in a government building were located, should not be the target of terrorist threats by Trump’s flying monkeys.  Yet the judge has been placed under law enforcement protection based on the threats of violence.

This is the second time in just a matter of weeks that I feel the need to write about the growing trend in the nation that views violence as an acceptable path forward in our nation. A poll finds that Americans say they believe violence against the government can at times be justified, that result being the largest share to feel that way in more than two decades. The percentage of Americans who say violent action against the government is justified at times stands at 34 percent, which is considerably higher than in past polls by major news organizations dating back more than two decades. Again, the view is partisan: The new survey finds 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents, and 23 percent of Democrats saying violence is sometimes justified.

Our nation has been placed in a truly contentious and troubling place due to the Republican Party caving to the very thing the Founding Fathers feared.  It was my clear favorite of those men, Alexander Hamilton, who worried about the populace being swayed by a charlatan or one with low character. He knew of the Donald Trump types, as Hamilton had read books about the nature of mankind. He was also most aware of the threat of unlearned people being easily led, and led woefully astray, as the Trump base within the Republican Party has continually demonstrated.

The angry white males that are now threatening and seeking to intimidate the majority of the nation are precisely what Hamilton was worried about in his days of pondering the larger questions about our then-young nation. We join him in his justified worries.