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“Sanders And The Snapchat Liberals”: Why Progressive America Routinely Punches Below Its Weight On The National Stage

If the polls hold, scoring tickets to “Hamilton” will be as good as it’s going to get for Bernie Sanders in New York. But let us first linger in Wisconsin, where Democrats and independents gave Sanders what looked like a decisive win.

It seems that 15 percent of Sanders’ Wisconsin supporters voted only for Bernie, leaving the rest of the ballot blank. By contrast, only 4 percent of Hillary Clinton voters skipped the down-ballot races.

It happens that one of the down-ballot races was for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. The progressive, JoAnne Kloppenburg, had a good chance of toppling Rebecca Bradley, a right-wing appointee of Gov. Scott Walker’s. But Kloppenburg lost, in part because of the laziness of Snapchat liberals.

Snapchat is a messaging app that makes photos and videos disappear after they are viewed. Its logo is a ghost. Snapshot liberals are similarly ephemeral. They regard their job as exulting in the hero of the moment. Once the job is done, they vanish.

(An interesting wrinkle is that 10 percent of Sanders’ voters checked the box for Bradley. This suggests that a good chunk of his win came not from fans but from conservatives seeking to frustrate the Clinton candidacy.)

Anyhow, three days later, a Wisconsin circuit court judge struck down an anti-union law backed by Walker. The law ended unions’ right to require that private-sector workers benefiting from their negotiations pay dues or an equivalent sum.

The ruling was hailed as a “victory for unions,” but that victory will almost certainly be short-lived because the matter now heads to a divided state Supreme Court. As a Supreme Court justice, Kloppenburg could have helped save it.

Sanders can’t directly take the rap for this. He, in fact, had endorsed Kloppenburg.

But the Sanders campaign rests on contempt for a Democratic establishment that backs people like Kloppenburg. It sees even the normal give-and-take of governing as thinly veiled corruption. Liberals involved in the necessary horse trading are dismissed as sullied beyond repair.

TV comedy news reinforces this cartoonish view of what governing entails. The entertainers deliver earnest but simple-minded sermons on how all but a chosen few folks in Washington are corrupt hypocrites. (I find their bleeped-out F-words so funny. Don’t you?)

Snapchat liberals tend to buy into the “great man” theory of history. So if change comes from electing a white knight on a white horse, why bother with the down-ballot races?

Hence the irritating pro-Sanders poster: “Finally a reason to vote.”

Oh? Weren’t there reasons to vote all these years as tea party activists stocked Congress with crazy people? Wasn’t giving President Obama a Congress he could work with a reason to vote? (The liberal savior in 2008, Obama saw his own Snapchat fan base evaporate come the midterms.)

When asked whether he’d raise money for other Democrats if he were to win the nomination, Sanders replied, “We’ll see.”

Bernie doesn’t do windows and toilets. That’s for establishment Democrats.

The difference between the pitchfork right and the Snapchat left is this: The right marches to the polls to vote the other side out. The left waits for saintly inspiration. If the rallies are euphoric and the Packers aren’t playing the Bears, they will deign to participate. Then they’re gone in a poof of righteous smoke.

It is a crashing irony that many liberals who condemn voter suppression by the right practice voter suppression on themselves. The liberal version doesn’t involve onerous ID requirements at the polls. It comes in the deadening message that few candidates are good enough to merit a vote.

And that’s why progressive America routinely punches below its weight on the national stage.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, April 12, 2016

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Down Ballot Candidates, Hillary Clinton, Progressives | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Democracy On Trial: Wisconsin Supreme Court Recount Begins

The recount in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race begins this Wednesday, April 27. Why was the recount called, how will it be carried out, and how can individuals get involved?

The Why

A recount was expected after the final, unofficial vote count showed Kloppenburg winning by 204 votes. Governor Scott Walker implied as much when he told the Associated Press “[t]he overriding principle has got to be that every vote that was legally cast in Wisconsin needs to be counted.”

The landscape shifted two days after the election when Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, a Republican activist in the state’s most conservative county, announced she inadvertently missed 14,000 votes, giving the conservative Justice Prosser a lead of more than 7,500 votes. This eleventh-hour announcement by someone who once worked for Prosser led many to question the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections, and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

The election was marked by other problems. The director of the state elections board, Kevin Kennedy, significantly miscalculated public interest in the election, predicting a turnout of 20 percent when the actual turnout topped 33 percent statewide and in some areas was as high as 54 percent. Wards around the state ran out of ballots and resorted to using photocopies or requiring all voters to use a single touch-screen machine normally reserved for persons with disabilities. While no voters were turned away, long lines may have deterred some potential voters, and photocopied or otherwise improvised ballots can give rise to challenges.

Even if Prosser’s lead will be difficult to overcome, Kloppenurg said she called for the recount because:

“Wisconsin residents must have full confidence that these election results are legitimate and that this election was fair. A recount will establish where votes were incorrectly tabulated and expose if irregularities compromised the electoral process. A recount may change the outcome of this election or it may confirm it. But when it is done, a recount will have shone necessary and appropriate light on an election which, right now, seems to many people, suspect.”

Additionally, Kloppenburg’s campaign asked the state elections board to appoint an independent investigator to look into potential misconduct surrounding the uncounted Waukesha County votes, citing County Clerk Nickolaus’ partisan affiliations and history of incompetence, and noting that right-wing media outlets reported the changed results before Nickolaus’ April 7 press conference. Kloppenburg may be requesting an independent investigation because Kevin Kennedy rushed to the defense of Nickolaus, issuing a statement expressing “confidence in Wisconsin’s county and municipal clerks,” before he had a chance to investigate the issue and even while admitting that he himself was not informed of the problems with the Waukesha count prior to the press conference held by Nickolaus.

The complaint also alleges that Prosser had a meeting with Governor Walker on April 6, one day after the election (and one day before the Waukesha votes were announced), and that Governor Walker commented on April 6 that there might be “ballots somewhere, somehow found out of the blue that weren’t counted before.” Both Walker and Prosser have denied there was such a meeting.

The How

Because Justice Prosser’s margin of victory was within ½ of one percent after statewide canvassing, Wisconsin law provides for a recount should a candidate request one.  All counties will count simultaneously, with participants likely working through the weekends in order to finish by the May 9 completion date. See the recount manual for more information.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sets the scene:

An indoor sports arena is filled with poll workers from every municipality in Milwaukee County, each in their own area. At each station, poll workers examine and count ballots one by one. And as they count, campaign volunteers, attorneys and journalists watch their every move – with the campaign representatives sometimes challenging the poll workers’ decisions – while sheriff’s deputies stand guard.

The Journal-Sentinel also reports that “Prosser attorney Jim Troupis has already said the incumbent’s campaign would have hundreds of volunteers, including some flying in from around the country, to monitor the recounts.” Prosser had initially hired the DC lawyer who represented George W. Bush during the infamous 2000 Florida recount that made “W” president, but has apparently replaced him with Troupis, the go-to election lawyer for Wisconsin Republicans. In the past year Troupis has represented Americans for Prosperity in a challenge to fair election rules, legislative Republicans in redistricting efforts, and Club for Growth in a case to compel Senate Democrats back into the state. (See OneWisconsinNow’s 2009 Troupis bio here). He also sits on the Board of Directors of the right-wing, Koch-connected thinktank MacIver Institute.

Kloppenburg initially hired attorneys who represented now-Senator Al Franken in his successful Minnesota recount, but has since retained the Madison firm Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach.

Both Candidates Are Looking for Volunteers and Donations

Both campaigns are seeking volunteers to aid with the recount. The “Kloppenburg for Justice” facebook page has information on who lawyers and other potential volunteers can email to get involved, and Justice Prosser’s “Recount for Victory” website has a volunteer signup sheet.

Observers can watch for lapses in procedure and challenge the decisions of the canvassers if the intent of the voter becomes an issue on any specific ballot. Even in the wards where optical scanners will be used, the ballots will be visually inspected before they are fed to the machine, and observers can verify the machine total.

Although the state will pay for most of the costs associated with the recount, it will not pay lawyers’ fees, and public funding for campaigns no longer applies. Both candidates are accepting donations for what may be substantial lawyers’ fees; according to Justice Prosser’s “Victory Recount Fund” site, “donations are unlimited,” but corporate donations will not be accepted, possibly to avoid conflict-of-interest issues if a case involving a donor comes before the Supreme Court.

By: Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy, April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011 Posted by | Democracy, Elections, Politics, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wisconsin Supreme Court Election: Every Vote Must Be Counted

Many voters went to sleep in Wisconsin and thought they woke up in Florida on Friday after a “Republican activist” county clerk announced that she discovered an extra 14,315 votes in a hotly contested Supreme Court race. Not surprisingly, the votes went to the conservative candidate giving incumbent justice David Prosser a 7,500 lead over challenger Joanne Kloppenburg. Oddly, 7500 was the exact number of votes Prosser needed to avoid a statewide recount.

The Supreme Court race has garnered national attention as a proxy vote on Governor Scott Walker’s radical proposal to end collective bargaining in the state and cut a billion dollars from public schools.

Long Time Republican Apparatchik

The county clerk in question is long-time Republican apparatchik Kathy Nickolaus. Nickolaus got her start in GOP politics in 1995 when the Republican Speaker of the Assembly was – that’s right – David Prosser. She worked for Prosser’s Republican Assembly Caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups that were shut down following a criminal investigation for illegal campaign activity on state time.

Nickolaus first came to public attention in 2001 when she was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for testimony against her bosses at the Assembly Caucus. The case resulted in unprecedented convictions of Democratic and Republican legislators on felony counts of misconduct in office and arranging for illegal campaign contributions. Both Democratic and Republican leaders were sentenced to jail time.

In the caucus, Nickolaus was the person who ran the numbers, creating databases for illegal donations, partisan mailings and the like. When she escaped criminal prosecution, she hightailed it to Waukesha where she ran for county clerk in the conservative county in 2002.

She later botched a 2006 vote and stirred controversy by placing the entire voting system on her own personal computer. Prompting the County Corporation Counsel to charge: “If she wants to keep everything secret, she probably can.”

On Thursday of this week, she called a press conference to announce the new vote totals that put Prosser over the top and blamed “human error.” She claimed that the canvass was a “open and transparent” process, yet she found the error at noon on Wednesday and sat on the information for 29 hours, not even telling top election officials at the Government Accountability Board. According to election observers, the issue of 14,315 additional votes from Brookfield was never discussed at the canvass. But, this information somehow made its way to right wing bloggers before her press conference.

Reaction Swift

Wisconsin Citizen Action has demanded that federal prosecutors step in, confiscate her computer and start an investigation. “In the current political climate in Wisconsin, only an investigation by a U.S. Attorney can be seen by all citizens of the state as independent and above politics,” said Robert Kraig.

The Kloppenburg campaign has demanded “a full explanation of how and why these 14,315 votes from an entire city were missed.” As part of the search for that explanation, the campaign plans to file open records requests for relevant documents.

Meanwhile, both Kloppenburg and Prosser have lawyered-up. Kloppenburg is being represented by Marc Elias, the attorney who handled Al Franken’s U.S. Senate recount fight in Minnesota. Prosser is being represented by Ben Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to former President George W. Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and was central to the 2000 Florida recount.

Lessons from Bush v. Gore Florida Recount

The Florida 2000 recount is on the mind of many Wisconsin voters. The big lesson from the nightmarish “hanging-chads” recount “is that you need a total statewide recount. If you only recount select counties the perception is you are only selecting counties that favor you,” says Jay Heck, the head of Wisconsin Common Cause.

Heck issued a statement on Friday:

The incredible and almost unbelievable events of the last two days with regard to the reporting of votes in the City of Brookfield in Waukesha County in Tuesday’s election for the State Supreme Court warrant a full investigation by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the District Attorney of Waukesha County. Furthermore, the Government Accountability should authorize and supervise a statewide recount of all ballots cast in Tuesday’s elections and such a recount should be funded by the State of Wisconsin.

Why so many parties? Because this is the same constellation of offices that investigated the 2002 caucus scandal, giving voters more confidence that the manner was being handled appropriately and in a bipartisan fashion.

If Wisconsin is not to irreparably harm its reputation as a functional and relatively noncorrupt state, many Cheeseheads believe that a statewide recount is a necessity.

By: Mary Bottari, Center for Media and Democracy, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Throws A Spanner In The Works Of Wisconsin Wingnuts

While Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan prepares to shut down the federal government to prove that government is bad, analysts say the radical agenda of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker suffered a major set back today as his good friend incumbent Justice David Prosser was defeated for Wisconsin Supreme Court. The AP unofficial vote count, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, puts challenger Joanne Kloppenburg ahead by slightly more than 200. A recount is doubtless on the way.

In a state that has never unseated a conservative Supreme Court justice, people power fueled a concentrated effort to deny the Imperial Walker one branch of government. Walker’s opponents hope a Kloppenburg victory will swing the Supreme Court in a more independent direction and set the stage for the court to strike down Walker’s controversial collective bargaining law. While the fate of the law is uncertain, Kloppenburg’s three week sprint from dead-in-the-water to victor may give Walker, Ryan and other Wisconsin politicians pause as they rush to radically reshape government to benefit the privatizers and profiteers. 

Sleepy Court Race Electrifies the State

While it may seem odd to many Americans, Wisconsinites like to elect their judges. Although an elected judiciary has its problems (namely, unseemly high-dollar elections), the ballot box sometimes hands citizens a rare opportunity to un-elect judges — and that is what many Wisconsinites decided to do today.  Prosser, a former Republican Assembly Speaker, stumbled when his campaign embraced Walker’s election.

The Kloppenburg victory is stunning. Six weeks ago, sitting Judge David Prosser was a shoo-in and the challenge by Assistant Attorney General Kloppenburg was a snooze fest. But something happened on the way to the high court. A governor, who was elected to create jobs, took office and quickly moved to disenfranchise voters and kneecap unions so they could no longer be a viable force in state elections. The raw power grab sparked a spontaneous uprising, the likes of which this state has never seen, and the Supreme Court race was the next vehicle for people to have their voices heard.

Proxy Fight Over Worker Rights

The whole country took notice when firefighters, teachers and cops stood with working families across Wisconsin to say ‘no’ to Walker’s radical plans to bust unions, cut $1 billion from schools and privatize the university system.

When his “budget repair bill” was passed March 9th, many national observers thought the fight was over.  With large margins in both houses, Walker’s stranglehold on government seemed invincible.

But irate Wisconsinites fought back on multiple fronts, filing lawsuits over the way in which Senate leaders rammed the bill through with less than the requisite notice required under the state open meetings law, blocking the bill’s implementation. They filed recall petitions against eight Wisconsin senators and this week delivered the requisite signatures for two of those recalls well ahead of schedule. They turned their attention to the heretofor unnoticed race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Within days, handmade signs for Joanne Kloppenburg popped up across the state. Many voters understood that to win any of the battles ahead over worker rights, over the recalls, over redistricting and more, a more balanced judiciary was needed.

Kloppenburg went from being a long-shot to victory in a three-week sprint marked by huge independent expenditures on both sides. The anticipated recount will keep the juices flowing and will fuel the remaining recall fights.

Shock Doctrine at Work

While some voters believe the court will act as a check and balance on the madness at the state level, they are concerned that Paul Ryan continues to run amok at the federal level — threatening a complete government shut down. At the same time that Walker was working to obliterate unions and privatize public schools, Ryan, Chair of the House Budget Committee, decided to go after Grandma with the complete privatization of Medicare. His radical budget bill, unveiled this week, slashes trillions of dollars from America’s social safety net and throws the elderly into the private insurance market with a “voucher” in their pocket.

Less interested in balancing the budget than redistributing wealth, his budget plan would funnel billions into the pockets of big insurance firms while also giving a ten percent tax break to corporations and the very richest Americans.

What is really going on here? Naomi Klein warned in her groundbreaking book “Shock Doctrine” that the right-wing excels at creating crises, real and imagined, to viciously advance their pro-corporate anti-government agenda. She credits economist Milton Friedman who observed that “only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real changes. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is out basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.”

UW Professor Joel Rogers wrote recently:  “As explained by Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, this project aims at national repeal of most of democratic achievements of the 20th century, a return to business domination of public life not seen since the Gilded Age and McKinley.”

The Wall Street financial crisis caused by years of deregulation and lack of government oversight cost Americans eight million jobs, tanking federal and state tax receipts and creating budget shortfalls. Ryan and Walker are moving to take advantage this real jobs crisis to cook up a fake deficit crisis to advance a radical agenda that is hostile to the very idea of government – the idea that sometimes services are best provided and things are best accomplished collectively, for the public good, and not for corporate profit.

Today, many voters believe that this agenda was checked in Wisconsin. While another recount battle looms, voters of Wisconsin are pledging that they will not allow this victory to be stolen.

By: Mary Bottari, Center For Media And Democracy, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011 Posted by | Banks, Collective Bargaining, Corporations, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Economy, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government Shut Down, Labor, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, Public Employees, Rep Paul Ryan, Republicans, Right Wing, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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