National Praise For Senator Tammy Baldwin

When a determined effort for a just cause bears fruit there is a need to praise the ones who led the way forward.

US President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act on the South Lawn of the White House, Senator Tammy Baldwin above the president’s head. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

That is the mood from the White House and across the country as Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin received sincere thanks and kind words as President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act.  Also meritorious of thanks were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Maine Senator Susan Collins. The majorities in each legislative chamber who gave their vote for passage were also part of the reason for the national uplift as the president added his name that concluded this law-making process.

It is not every bill signing in D.C. where those assembled get musical performances to highlight the significance of what was achieved by members of Congress.  Tuesday those on the South Lawn were treated to musical performances by Cyndi Lauper and Sam Smith.  For those in the land who yearn for how Washington once worked when crafting legislation came the knowledge that the Marriage Act was passed with bipartisan support.  No matter from what perspective one looked at the ceremony there was something to cheer about with sincerity.

While watching the event, it struck me again how much progress has been made in this nation for gay rights.  While having been a Biden supporter since his short-lived and, yes, embarrassing presidential run in 1987, I readily admit to great displeasure with his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 90s.  That political mistake from Biden made his signature of the Marriage Act even more meaningful, as it demonstrated how our society and the political culture have adapted to the requirement of including gay Americans fully into the laws of the land.

But as we know there are always reasons never to relent in that work of democracy.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated this summer in a concurring opinion in the Dobbs case that the same rationale the Court used to declare there was no right to abortion should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations, and same-sex marriage. Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.

Senator Baldwin has been a continuous advocate and skilled tactician within the senate so to achieve desired results with legislation. That was noted at the White House when Biden praised Baldwin by name, saying the bipartisan vote “simply would not have happened without the leadership and persistence of a real hero.” Wisconsinites could not agree more.

Those who voted against the bill and tried to thwart progress in this nation concerning civil rights will face the judgment of historians.  But first, they will undoubtedly, hear from gay relatives and members of their community.

Baldwin has always earned my admiration.  To be openly authentic in living her life and proving that a gay person can achieve continuous statewide election victories means more to me, perhaps, after having grown up as a gay teenager in a rural part of the state. I know many legal steps have been taken over the years to better secure gay rights.  But I never forget how it felt, when younger, to know there was no protection for two adults of the same sex who loved each other and only desired the same rights as others who were able to wed.  Baldwin never relented from doing her job with empathy along with an understanding of where our nation must head.

There is deep gratitude for Senator Baldwin and the many others in Congress who know the work of democracy continues.

Tammy Baldwin For President?

I did not see this one coming. 

Baldwin is a smart policy type politician.  She has a very good sense of the political plays that make for being a winner in Wisconsin.  But she has too calm a personality which would not allow for the conveyance of her passions on a national stage. It seems very hard to think of Baldwin on a national stage carrying the mood of a very frustrated and concerned electorate forward in a presidential campaign.

Her strength is not in an interview situation. It always appears she is not exactly sure where she is headed when a question is asked.  Her delivery in interviews are ponderous.

Make no mistake about the fact she cares deeply about our republic, but I can not see her lifting her voice and arm in a theatrical way when speaking about the undermining of our Constitution and values due to Donald Trump and feckless Republicans.

What if there were a Democratic politician who had been championing single-payer health care for two decades, and calling for a ban on stock buybacks — and for giving workers representation on corporate boards — before it was cool? What if she also helped lead the congressional opposition to the Iraq War in 2002, while earning a 100 percent pro-worker rating from the the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union — and 100 percent pro-choice rating from NARAL?

Just for the sake of argument, what if this politician were also the first openly gay woman ever elected to Congressthe first LGBT person of any gender elected to the Senate — and had won reelection last year, in the single most important 2020 swing-state, by a double-digit margin, despite facing a barrage of Koch-funded attack ads, and refusing to compromise on her exceptionally left-wing policy commitments? Wouldn’t such a politician be a uniquely compelling 2020 candidate?

Which is to say: Wouldn’t Tammy Baldwin be a uniquely compelling 2020 candidate?

Very Proud Of Democrats Who Fight For Gun Control On House Floor

There is no way to express my sincere pleasure when earlier today I read the breaking news.

Dozens of House Democrats are staging a “sit-in” on the House floor until they are allowed a vote on a so-called “no fly, no buy” gun control bill. It is the most dramatic action by House Democrats on gun control since the Orlando shooting on June 12 that left 49 dead and 53 wounded.

As I write the “sit-in” is now in its 9th hour.

With too many Republicans bought and sold by the National Rifle Association, while the vast majority of Americans are in support of the legislation–including the majority of gun owners–meant that it was time Democrats had to act and show the nation what leadership on this issue looks like.


My congressman, Mark Pocan, along with Senator Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Gwen S. Moore makes this whole state proud for undertaking the moral and sound move of trying to bring sanity to just one small area of our national guns laws.

While the process chosen to make an impact on this matter is not the ordered manner that I prefer to have unfold, it is also true that the carnage left in the gay nightclub in Orlando was just more than then nation should have to endure when answers exist to solve the deadly outcome of guns.  Since the NRA thinks they own the congress it is time the people were heard.

Congressman John Lewis, a legend in the civil-rights movement, led the charge in the House on this matter and spoke perfectly about why this had to happen.

What is the tipping point? Are we blind? Can we see? How many more mothers, how many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something? We have been too quiet for too long. There comes a time when you have to say something, when you have to make a little noise, when you have to move your feet. This is the time. Now is the time to get in the way. The time to act is now. We will be silent no more.


The nation is watching.  The rank-and-file voter knows the cost of unbridled greed from gun manufactures, the callous disregard from the NRA, while the uneducated boobs who mimic the gun industry lines are not even aware they are pawns in the process.

So I am proud of this band of elected officials who have made it known they believe in a better society and plan to make it happen.

Demanding a background system that has time to work prior to a gun purchase, not allowing people on watch lists from obtaining a weapon, and denying those on the no-fly list from purchasing a gun are all the common-sense measures that the populace supports.

The GOP now has the political glare on their faces.  Will they stand with the people or the NRA?

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Presided Over Ted Cruz Filibuster

The filibuster from Senator Ted Cruz has now ended.  Except for making more of a name for himself, and some political donations along the way, the whole exercise was pure futility for those who think the national health care law is going to be defunded, or in any way defeated.

Along the 22 hours of ramblings came a note of trivia that Wisconsin Democrats might enjoy knowing.

During the seemingly endless chatter from Cruz there has been a Democrat in the Senate chamber chair, presiding and ‘listening’ as the conservative Texan continued to speak, or should that be ramble.     During a filibuster it is often the freshman senators who get the chair.  Who else wants it?

From 3-5 A.M. Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin was front and center.

I hope she had a book of her own to read, or perhaps jotted a grocery list.  I can think of nothing more dreadful than looking out at Cruz talking on and on when everyone else is in bed sleeping.  Surely she must have thought at least once during those hours about the price of victory at the polls.

Wisconsin Senator Baldwin Correct: Time To End Ban On Gay Blood Donors


Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is correct.  The ban on gay blood donors should end.

For a very long time I have wondered why such a discriminatory policy was allowed to remain in place.  There is no way to justify it in medical terms, and clearly is an outdated relic of a time when there was great fear when it came to AIDS, and how it was transmitted.  But since those days when President Reagan was in the Oval Office much has changed.  The scientific community’s understanding of the virus has changed dramatically, and as such our society should be able to move beyond the gay blood donor ban.

Those who run blood banks, and know first hand about shortages are in favor of allowing healthy and willing donors to give blood.  In addition vast advances in blood screening technology makes the fears some once had over gay men as donors a relic of the past.

I strongly applaud Baldwin and the other members of congress who are providing leadership on this matter.

Madison Congressman Mark Pocan And Husband Philip Frank With Speaker John Boehner

This image from the day of the swearing-in of new members of the House Of Representative is really quite remarkable.

Consider how things have changed in just the past ten years for civil rights in this nation.  The time for full equality has arrived, and it is my hope, and expectation that the Supreme Court will offer a ruling on gay marriage that meets the reality of the nation in 2013.

Wisconsin Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan and his husband, Philip Frank, are shown in a photo opportunity in Washington for the first day of the new session.  Meanwhile in the Senate chamber the first openly gay woman,  Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, was also being sworn into office.

Just remarkable!


Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin Makes The New York Times

After having been gone for a couple of days I am getting caught up on the newspapers while drinking coffee (chocolate raspberry) and came across this in Saturday’s New York Times.

Madison is elated with Tammy Baldwin’s victory, and I am most confident Wisconsin will come to appreciate her.  I must say, and will stop doing this very soon on my blog, that I had tons of doubt about her electability this cycle.  I always wanted her to win for a whole set of reasons, but just never felt in my gut she could.  So I am really thrilled with her victory.  Baldwin is the face of the city I live in, and the future of Democratic politics in Wisconsin.

Ms. Baldwin’s hard-fought victory, in a bruising, $65 million race against a popular Republican opponent, was a testament to the unorthodox politics of a state whose ideological swings can, to outside observers, evoke whiplash.       

But it was also a striking affirmation of Ms. Baldwin, 50, a soft-spoken but unflinching seven-term congresswoman who won over voters in her native state without moderating the starkly progressive views — including lonely votes against the invasion of Iraq and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a law that curbed commercial banks — that routinely rank her among the most liberal lawmakers in the country.       

She has played down the historic nature of her win, befitting a race where Ms. Baldwin’s sexual orientation played little role. At her victory speech here on Tuesday, Ms. Baldwin did not get around to talking about it until halfway through, saying she was “well aware” that her victory was a milestone for gay rights.       

After the enormous applause — the loudest of the night — died down, she added: “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”       

The flush of victory still seemed fresh for Ms. Baldwin during an interview on Thursday at her Madison office. Walking into a conference room, her eyebrows shot up at the sight of an elaborate spray of flowers, a congratulatory gift from a supporter. “I hadn’t seen that yet,” she said, a bit surprised. Her new title, senator-elect, remains foreign to her. “It still perks my ears up whenever I hear somebody say that,” she said.         

It was this self-effacing demeanor that helped Ms. Baldwin win over voters outside Dane County, the liberal enclave where she grew up and built her political career. Elected to the county Board of Supervisors at 24, she made her way to the State Assembly, and later to Congress, being elected Wisconsin’s first female representative in 1998.       

In Washington, Ms. Baldwin proved iconoclastic, once co-sponsoring a bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, and influential: she championed the provision of President Obama’s health care law that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.       

But she began her Senate bid as the underdog, facing a centrist former governor, Tommy G. Thompson, who was on a first-name basis with many voters. (The race was soon dubbed “Tommy vs. Tammy.”) Ms. Baldwin built support farm by farm, trudging through potato fields, armed with a maternal smile and a touch of down-home lilt.       

It was the type of outreach she has pursued since her days on the student council at Van Hise Middle School in Madison. As an eighth grader, Ms. Baldwin mediated a dispute between a neighbor of the school and students who were trampling her flower bed. The bipartisan solution: a fence.       

“It was the first time I had this spark that one person could make a difference,” Ms. Baldwin recalled on Thursday, as the sun glinted off a blue sliver of Lake Monona in the background.

Liberalism Is Alive, Popular, And Making Inroads Across America

In 2008 I remarked on this blog that the election of President Obama was a transformative election.  I noted that the political dynamics had changed, and that the results of 2008 would have ramifications with the alignment of politics.

With the results of the balloting on Tuesday there is no doubt that is indeed the case.  With women and especially single women, Hispanics, African-Americans, urban voters, the young, and the higher educated there is a strong center for Democratic candidates to secure political victories.

The GOP continues to nominate national candidates that are not modeled for the changing demographics of the country, and conservatives are not addressing the needs of the electorate.  In fact, conservatives seem to go out of their way to irritate and anger voters.

Lets be honest and state the obvious.  The GOP no longer fits the modern electorate, and seems unable or unwilling to make any moves to address their problems.  The again allowed the Tea Party to drag them under the water and drown any chance they had at winning major races.

I have long argued the reasons the Republican Party needs to be more inclusive, and stated the best pick for the VP slot this year was Senator Marco Rubio.  I bet there are many in the GOP wishing they had done that very thing. Had Rubio been on the ticket Florida would have landed in the Romney camp, and 4 or 5 points among Hispanics could have been shaved from the national Democrats, and that could have made a signficant change on Election Night.

President Obama picked up 332 electoral votes in a year that we were all led to believe that the anger at the White House was so intense that any Republican could win.   We were told that the U.S. Senate would be easy picking for the Republicans, as the issues that confront the nation would be better able to be handled by the party of big business.

In the end of course every Democratic incumbent won re-election, and the party gained Republican-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana, and lost one seat in Nebraska.

On Tuesday liberals scored, and did so on a broad playing field.

In Wisconsin, as an example, Tammy Baldwin won election.  I was very surprised to see the result, ( I had predicted she would lose) but heartened beyond words when she won.  The fact she is a real and true liberal, and now will be the first female senator from this state, and the first openly gay member of the senate (though there are two others there) is a tremendous moment for liberals in this nation.

Meanwhile gay rights, a continuing theme on Caffeinated Politics, made great and important strides on Election Day.

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to legally recognize same-sex marriage, and it vitally important as it marks first time gay marriage was legalized by popular vote.   In neighboring Minnesota a ballot measure was defeated that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

It was a great night for civil rights, and equality.  It was more evidence that liberalism is very much alive, and on the march.

There are many who want that transformative election thinking from 2008 to be wrong, but the facts that played out Tuesday show that President Obama and the liberal base of the party is indeed very much not only the present, but based on the trends and demographics, very much the future of this nation.