Ground Game

By Ed Heinzelman – Senior Editor at Blogging Blue

“…our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

An inspiring message from an inspiring American woman, Michelle Obama. And we’ve seen it spread across the country in memes and social media posts and speeches and blogs like this one…quoted by the entire spectrum of politicians and activists from the left…progressives, liberals and Democrats alike. But are we truly living up to the goal that we’ve set?

Over the eight years of President Obama’s administration, the Republicans in the House and Senate honed their image as the Party of No. Immediately after the election of President Trump, the first response from the left was RESIST! By no means am I suggesting that we don’t ‘resist’ the Trump agenda. It is certainly going to harm Americans no matter what the president claims his goal is. But can’t we come up with a positive response? A positive alternative? A positive policy that shows Americans how their health, wellbeing, and safety can be improved instead of individually diminished?

Yes I know the Democrats announced a “Better Deal”. A policy agenda that even the New York Times labelled an ‘anemic restatement of common themes’. It’s apparently withered on the vine since.

The Republicans have tried three times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act since January. Fortunately a few GOP Senators had the common sense to kill the bills. But it wasn’t until the third attempt that Senator Bernie Sanders proposed his Medicare for All bill. Something he should have had in his back pocket during the primaries since it was a focal point of his campaign. I would have hoped it would have appeared first time round in full detail. Yes I understand it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hades of passing, but we aren’t looking like an opposition party with ideas. I don’t want to be the Party of New version 2.0.

Where was our fix the Affordable Care Act Bill?

And the president has left the door open to participate even if the Republicans in the Congress haven’t. So when do we see the Democratic DACA bill (although while I am putting in the final edits the president has reneged on his original agreement)? Tax Reform is hot in play, you know the biggest tax cut in history bill? Where is the Democratic alternative that will actually provide tax relief to the middle class? You know that Speaker Paul Ryan won’t allow any amendments to his bill.

Not a single person in this country will deny that infrastructure shortcomings are a primary concern. The president ran on upgrades to the infrastructure and related jobs. Where is a Democratic infrastructure program? Come up with one that is growth and remind the nation that the president hasn’t followed through.

One of the places that you would expect us to be truly positive in presenting our agenda is when we are talking to the faithful and asking for contributions. Yet the titles of these solicitations and their general content are aimed at scaring me half to death!

Medicare GUTTED! We WILL Fail. Devastating Setback. Disgusted. They stole WI for Trump! CRUSHING news! SERIOUS damage will be done, Ed!

Hey team, I am on your side. I understand the issues at hand. I understand the need for campaign contributions. I will respond but give me some hope. Give me something positive. Give me something to talk about. No more fear mongering…please.

I have talked to a number of campaign managers and they say these negative asks and scary messages are very effective. I find that rather sad. And I don’t understand why we don’t demand better from our electeds, our candidates, and the organizations that support them.

But it should be easy to provide positive substance in the age of President Trump. His agenda is constantly without specifics, without detail…a novel with chapter titles but no characters and no plot line and no story.

So here we are, the minority in Washington and Madison, out of the White House and the Governor’s Mansion. Where do we go next? The 2016 elections proved that there is a new generation of activists out there…with new ideas…with new energy. Being at the bottom of the well it certainly feels like the right time to change directions…a generational shift.

Where do we go next?

End the internecine spats between the Sanders supporters and the Clinton supporters. Find a common ground and present a unified front. That doesn’t mean giving up your ideals…it really doesn’t. There are plenty of goals that we share that make sense to work together on. Bring the others along as the party grows. The lack of GOP policy wins hasn’t been because of effective Democratic leadership. It’s because of the dysfunction in the Republican ranks. Let’s not be that either.

You can’t make change from the outside. Get involved with the local party and your local candidates. It will take a little effort (surprisingly little) to get into local parties and campaigns and have an effect. It does require some patience and hard work. But get on those committees, attend the meetings, attend the conventions, run for officer positions. If you can’t find a candidate you like, run for office. If you don’t know where to start, ask for some help.

Remember all of those people who we are told felt disenfranchised in the 2016 election cycle? We need to listen to them. What are their real concerns? Jobs? Healthcare? Family sustaining jobs? Decent wages? Clean air and clean water? Affordable education? Lower property taxes? Healthy food choices? Make these our agenda, our policy planks, our goals. Don’t let the policy wonks inside the party distract us with minutiae. And don’t assume we know the answers until we’ve actually listened to the people. We all know that grass roots works so why would we do anything else?

And let’s do what we can to get new faces in public office. What we’ve been doing the past 20 years is becoming less and less effective. It’s time to do something new and do it with new elected officials at all levels of government. The entrenched incumbents don’t know how to do things differently. Push the dinosaurs like myself out of the way (LOL)!

Look to 2020 but don’t overlook 2018 and please please don’t overlook the local odd year elections in between. They are fertile ground to develop candidates, grow experience, and build a ground game that can be scaled up.

The New Wisconsin DMV Location is a Voting Rights Issue

While this week the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments about the constitutionality of our electoral maps, we can’t forget that those in power are also guilty of suppressing the right to vote. It’s another way that politicians are choosing their voters, when it ought to be the other way around.

A recently published study done in collaboration between UW Madison and the Dane County Clerk found that 11.2% of those who didn’t vote in the last election did so because of the voter ID requirement. That includes people who couldn’t get an ID in time, or thought their ID wouldn’t be valid. Extrapolating from there, voter ID suppressed over 23,000 votes in Dane and Milwaukee counties alone; the projections statewide are larger but less reliable.

Getting a Voter ID in Madison is About to Get Harder

As of August 10, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that they’ll be moving and consolidating their Madison west side locations from Odana Road and Sheboygan Avenue to 8417 Excelsior Drive. The move is expected to happen around the beginning of December. DOT has yet to provide a public service announcement with the specifics.

Why is this a problem?

While there are other forms of state-issued photo ID that can be used for voting, most Wisconsin voters probably get theirs from the DMV, either a drivers license or other type of ID. This means the DMV now serves an important function in the democratic process.

The current locations on the west side are accessible to drivers and non-drivers alike. At Sheboygan Ave, two dozen buses pass by between 8 and 9 AM alone. Those bus routes reach everywhere from Middleton to the isthmus, the south and west transfer points, and beyond. It’s also a block from the bike trail that parallels University Ave.

The future location at 8417 Excelsior Drive is uniquely inaccessible by public transit, and isn’t located near any major bike thoroughfares either. There are only two routes that travel down that stretch of Excelsior: bus 15 runs every half hour during rush hour, and bus 68 runs once an hour all day. The 68 is the only bus that stops directly in front of 8417 Excelsior.
This means that to get to the new site via public transit in the middle of the day, here’s what you’re expected to do:

  • Get to the West Transfer Point.
  • Take bus 63, which departs once an hour.
  • Ride that bus all the way to the end, at Prairie Town Center, a strip mall out at Junction and Mineral Point.
  • Wait for the 63 bus to turn into the 68 bus, and eventually take you to the DMV.
  • Then when you leave, the 68 bus back to the West Transfer Point only comes once an hour.
  • You could easily lose half a day to (hopefully) get a card that you’ll then be able to use, on average, once or twice a year.

Aren’t we lucky to have a bus system?

We are! It enables people to live and contribute to our city without driving a car, perhaps without owning one. But this is something that has been as convenient as it could be, and now it’s going to become much harder for any non-drivers, regardless of the reason.

There are a variety of reasons someone might not drive. They may have a religious objection; they may not have the money for a car, gas, insurance, etc.; they may have impaired mobility; they may have a lost or suspended license; they may simply have a lifestyle that doesn’t require it. This location will also present difficulties for DOT staff who commute by bus, some of whom are coming from points east of Sheboygan Ave.

How did this happen?

The site selection seems to be official, but the process is completely opaque. Who made the selection? What other buildings were considered? What criteria were considered? Did DOT seek input from any city officials, or from the public? I’ve submitted an Open Records Request, and I hope to get materials that will give some view into how this decision was made.

We can all do something to help deal with the added inconvenience. Register your availability to help others get their IDs, at Call your city council representative and encourage them to direct more bus routes past the future location at 8417 Excelsior. And become informed about what other types of ID can be used, so that you can possibly save someone the trip.

Regulation and Rights

The Las Vegas shooting is at the top of tragic news this week, which effectively distracted us from the D’s continued systemic dismantling of reproductive and other human rights.  This week saw directives and legislation further restricting abortion, birth control and LGBT protections.

Is my uterus really more dangerous than an AK-47? The GOP continues to regulate and control our collective uteri with righteous and religious fervor, while staunchly defending the right for any and all Americans to amass semi-automatic weaponry; weaponry designed for purpose of killing.  What about our right to feel safe while going to a movie, going to a concert or going to school?

Posts on Social Media suggest we should store guns in our vaginas; at which time they would immediately be subject to strict regulation.  (There’s nothing the GOP hates more than an unregulated, rebel pussy.) The GOP seem to believe that while anyone and everyone is responsible enough to own an AK-47; women are not responsible enough to manage our own reproductive organs, or to bare our arms in congress.

Other social media posts suggest that prospective gun-owners should go through the same hoops that a young woman is required to endure when seeking an abortion.  Given the incidence of gun deaths in our country, if someone is truly ‘pro-life’ it seems that they would be a staunch advocate for restrictions on owning a gun.

One doesn’t have to search far to find the hypocrisy of lawmakers that deny reproductive freedoms to others while quietly paying for birth control and/or abortions to cover their own indiscretions.  Just this week, a staunch opponent of choice (I refuse to use the term ‘pro-life’ to describe this perspective), Tim Murphy was found to have encouraged his mistress to get an abortion.

Joan Chittesh, author and Catholic nun summed up the hypocrisy well:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”


This weekend, I saw The Battle of the Sexes movie–a dramatization of the real-life tennis match between self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs and tennis / feminist phenom, Billy Jean King.  The match took place in 1972, and it served as a reminder that not so long ago it was acceptable to publicly describe women as weak and inferior, and to mock female athletes.

We owe a debt to Billie Jean, and others that braved public ridicule and worse to speak up against the the blatant misogyny of the day.  While strides have been made since that time, we are currently experiencing a rolling back of hard-fought progress for women and other oppressed groups.  How will we respond?

I  hope and pray for the day that my own grand-daughters will look back at this time and be shocked by the culture of hate and divisiveness — a culture that (hopefully) contrasts with their future reality.  I hope they will be proud of how we, their parents and grandparents, responded to the current crisis of human rights.  After all, our generation of voters made this mess–we need to do our best to clean it up.

Courtesy of Paula Riesch is a member of Indivisible Madison and a frequent contributor to the IM newsletter and website.

It’s Not About the Money

It’s easy to call the current Foxconn agreement a ‘bad deal’ because, most certainly, it is. The bill that passed the Wisconsin Assembly sets up over $2.85 billion in state tax credits over the next 15 years, exemptions from sales taxes, and environmental waivers.

The deal’s proponents have pointed out that if it were to fall through, it would make whichever state that does manage to make an agreement with Foxconn very happy. This is undeniable but it’s indicative of the real problem. When elected officials treat our state government as just another player in the market rather than the voice of the people, we end up with an economy without safeguards. Such an economy quickly becomes a race to the bottom, with states fighting over how much of their tax revenue and how many of their environmental protections they can give away just for the privilege of housing an employer. The problem with races to the bottom? You might win.

The temptation is to continue calling this a “bad deal,” but I don’t think that tells the whole story. For me, the issue is bigger than the money saved, or not saved, by taxpayers. It’s not about a good or bad deal, but the role of government in general. More than a government that is simply efficient or that saves me money, I want a government that protects the people and environment of Wisconsin. To call it a deal suggests that the Wisconsin state government is just another business out to make a profit or cut costs. But that is not what our government is (or, at least, that’s not what our government should be).

The Wisconsin State Assembly (who passed the agreement) and the office of the governor (who constructed the agreement) were built to enact the will of the people of our state. And, in that regard, it is not they who make deals, but we who make rules – rules to protect the safety and interests of Wisconsin citizens. In terms of a deal between two financial entities, sure, the deal is ‘bad’. But in terms of an agreement designed to protect Wisconsin, this bill is a colossal failure and a complete perversion of the role of government.

Further, to call it a ‘bad deal’ assumes that the agreement’s proponents didn’t get what they wanted. It’s tempting to criticize Governor Walker, and his allies in the Assembly, on their own terms: to say that if they ‘were really a conservative’ they wouldn’t have resorted to ‘corporate welfare’ or ‘tried to pick winners and losers in the market.’ But, again, I’m not so sure that’s the whole story. Maybe the ‘bad deal’ they’ve made serves their ends perfectly well: By waiving environmental regulations and providing Foxconn with a massive tax cut, the agreement increases the burden on the state’s infrastructure while removing the tax revenue necessary to maintain it. This guarantees further budget shortfalls and other financial dysfunction and makes it easier for ideologues to justify a weaker government, one incapable of meeting the needs of its citizens.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve called it a deal in the past and you’ll probably catch me calling it a deal in the future; it’s an intuitive way to understand and talk about what’s happening. But it’s important to remember that, as progressives, we do have a broader vision for our society, one that includes building a robust and responsive government accountable to its constituents, capable of protecting the people and their interests, and that ensures prosperity for all.

History Lives

It’s my last week of work as a Senior Care Resident Coordinator, and with recent national events I’ve found myself doing a lot of reflecting on my 9 year journey in senior living. We need only turn to our seniors to know that history is still alive and to learn the real stories of what the past was like. Working in Chicago and the surrounding area, I’ve had a wide range of people I’ve cared for and bonded with.

I remember the man with the number tattooed on his forearm who, 70 years later, still had night terrors from the Holocaust. One of my favorite residents would tell us about her time in a Japanese internment camp when she was a child. I had another resident who grew up Black in rural Indiana in the 40’s. Her family lived in constant fear of the KKK. She would sometimes hallucinate from her condition that they were still coming for her. The threat was illusory, but her terror was so real. I wonder what they would think to see these groups that terrorized their families on TV, having rallies, spewing their hate. It breaks my heart knowing some of my residents worked their whole lives for a better world.

That is why I feel the urge to pick up where they left off and continue doing what I can. Sometimes that can be as simple as being nice to someone who frustrates me, assuming the best intentions, or having conversations I don’t want to have. That’s why you’ll see pictures of me at rallies, doing voter registration, and just being a general nerdy weirdo (my residents have also taught me to enjoy life and be myself). History isn’t an abstract page in a book; it’s people I’ve cared for with my own two hands. It’s real people’s lives, and it cannot be allowed to repeat. So do something, do anything. Just know that what you do (or don’t do) matters.

Featured image by Ingrid Laas

Are You Outraged Yet?

I just watched portions of today’s press conference with The D. He continues to defend the actions of the white supremacists who brought their vile message of hate to Charlottesville last weekend. It is revolting.

This is not my President.

I will stand with Charlottesville’s counter-protesters that risked their lives. I will stand against hate and intolerance along with my immigrant, LGBTQ, Jewish, Hispanic, Black and Muslim friends, family members and colleagues. I will not turn my head aside and silently accept this kind of world for my beautiful Hispanic grand daughters.

Yet, I (and most of my colleagues and friends) live in a cocoon of white, middle-class privilege. Many of us feel powerless to make a difference. Today, a co-worker asked “What can I do?” After pondering this much of the day, here is my suggested starter kit for white, middle-class, fledgling activists:

Recognize and acknowledge the presence and power of white privilege. Read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh or “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person…” by Gina Crosley-Corcoran if you want to learn more.

Be self-aware.Take a close look at your own implicit biases – we all have them because we are human. Be more aware of the lens you use to view the world and where that lens may be ‘cracked’.

Pay attention to everyday micro and macro aggressions towards yourself and others. It is likely that you have people in your life that exhibit their own implicit (or explicit) biases in unkind, thoughtless or hurtful ways.

Get out of your comfort zone to challenge inappropriate or hurtful comments or other micro-aggressions that you encounter. Call out the sexist or homophobic joke, the racist reference, or the casual nasty remark about a woman’s body.

Find your voice and find your power. Power is the ability to effect change, in yourself and others. You are not powerless.

Get involved. Volunteer in a homeless shelter, tutor someone, attend a march, organize a fundraiser, volunteer for a political candidate, write a blog, donate money, join a group that is focused on resistance. But …DO something.

Be brave. By taking a stand, you will risk ridicule and risk being misunderstood. Yet, your best and most authentic self will stand up for what you know to be right, even when it is not easy. Try being brave in small ways first; you may just surprise yourself!

Finally, be kind. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Courtesy of Paula Riesch is a member of Indivisible Madison and a frequent contributor to the IM newsletter and website.

A Prayer for the Fallen and Injured

The following is the statement Rabbi Jonathan Biatch delivered at Madison’s Candlelight Vigil in Solidarity with Charlottesville on Sunday, August 13, 2017. He was speaking on behalf of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice.

Good evening, my friends,

I am Jonathan Biatch, Rabbi of Temple Beth El here in Madison, and I am deeply pained by the reason we gather here tonight. I represent an organization called Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice. Yet our voices are, at this moment, silenced by the shock and sadness that pervades this nation because of this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Va.

A sacred text of my tradition reminds me that ‘although we are not required to complete the work, we are still compelled to be engaged in it.’ [Pirkei Avot 2:21]. So, here we gather once again, in this case to mourn and to seek catharsis by our presence, but also to rededicate ourselves to the ongoing work of realizing the true American values of equality and justice and peace that give our nation its unique place in the world.

On this occasion, I cannot think about anything other than fire. According to the folklore of my tradition, fire was the first of humanity’s creations. It happened just at the end of that first week in the book of Genesis’ account of God’s creating the world. Yet after creating fire, Adam and Eve discovered that they were afraid of it, and our legends tell us that God demonstrated to them how best to employ those flames which, we know, can be used for good purposes or for ill. We saw this past Friday night, one of the more purposeless and destructive uses of fire. White supremacist marchers used torches to light up the city of Charlottesville in support of their cause.

And I realized that it may have always been thus: For I recalled that these same kinds of torches were employed by Nazi troops and sympathizers during WWII, during their pro-Aryan and anti-Semitic rallies. As I witnessed this terror-filled apparition in Virginia, I realized that we have regressed as a nation and a world, that we have not learned from our past.

Yet we gather here in the same spirit of those concerned citizens, the progressive Americans, and the many religious leaders who gathered in Charlottesville this weekend (and those who are gathering in countless American communities tonight) to confront bigotry and racism.
Our hearts are with the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia who want to redress and resolve the racism in their past. They, there – and we, here – are being challenged by bigots, racists, and anti-Semites who take many of their cues from the so-called leaders in the current presidential administration.

Do we even recognize our nation? Do we see in our fellow citizens our best aspirations, or our worst fears? Is there a way that the president can remove his moral blinders that have, so far, shielded him from the truth of the hatred in our nation? Can we ask him to call out racists, anti-Semites, and xenophobes who are antithetical to the true spirit of America? We all can do this. Why does he refuse?

Let us go forward from this place, tonight, to help our leaders understand the depth of our pain and anguish. Let us go forward from this place, tonight, to ask the president to lead without being forced, cajoled, or compelled, to offer denunciations of white supremacist groups who are anti-American and anti-human, not simply anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, or anti-LGBTQ.
Let us go forward from this place, tonight, propelled by our common humanity and sense of justice, so that when white supremacists dare to appear anywhere in our nation, they will be met with overwhelming numbers of counter-protesters to bring forth true American values, not fake values.

On this night, let us go forward and offer sympathies and condolences to all those whose lives have been hurt by these bigoted and hateful people, in Charlottesville, Virginia, Bloomington, Minnesota, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and others. And let us be certain to support them in whatever ways they require.

On this night, our sympathies are with the families of Heather Heyer, H. Jay Cullen, and Berke M.M. Bates, whose deaths did not have to occur were it not for the unforgivable acts of violence and terror perpetrated by the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville. Our sympathies are also with the wounded in yesterday’s events.

Please permit me to offer this prayer for those who were injured:

May the One who blessed our ancestors bless and heal those who are injured. May the Holy One of Blessing send them compassion, to restore them, to heal them, to strengthen them, to enliven them. May the One who is Blessed send them, speedily, a complete healing: healing of the soul and healing of the body, along with all the ill among all humankind.

And permit me to offer a prayer in memory of those who were killed:

May the One who blessed our ancestors send wholeness to the families of Heather Heyer, H. Jay Cullen, and Berke M.M. Bates, who now suffer at their losses. May God send them loved ones, family and friends, to comfort them and console them, so that they are not alone at this time of grief. And may their memories become blessings in this world.

May all innocent victims from yesterday’s events in Virginia, they and their families, know that good-hearted people from across the world stand with them and with their cause, that of discovering the true spirit of this country and its values of equality, justice, and peace.
I ask us to spend a few moments in silent prayer to remember those who have fallen, and those who will yet rise again in furtherance of these goals.

The struggle continues. May we be successful. Thank you and good night.

We, Too, Have to be Better

By Mike Persley

A few hours before I began to write this piece, President Donald Trump, speaking in a combative exchange with reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan, equated the violent white nationalist groups and neo-Nazis that overtook Charlottesville on Aug. 12 with the protesters who showed up to fight against them.

The struggle led to one counter-protester dying and 19 others being injured, but both sides shared some blame for the violence, Trump told reporters. “I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

Abhorrent statements like this one are nothing new from Mr. Trump.

He’s spent much of his time in or running for public office insulting every group imaginable, and there’s no evidence to suggest that these statements will subside anytime soon. This particular statement, while once again stirring outrage among many, received the praise of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke who quickly took to Twitter, thanking the President “for your honesty and courage.”

Fighting against such outward bigotry is very clearly important and should continue. But I’d like to suggest that it’s just as important that we, la résistance, search within ourselves to find the silent bigotries that we hold and remedy them.

After all, our opponents are watching us very closely, searching for hypocrisies to exploit, pointing them out to their peers and saying, “You see, these fools think they’re so great. But they’re no better than we are.” We give them plenty of evidence for their claims. We cannot do so any longer.

To many outsiders, Madison epitomizes the white privilege many of its residents rail against. It’s largely white and affluent. Its highly developed downtown and posh surrounding neighborhoods are also predominantly white, while the poorer minority neighborhoods are on the outskirts of the city.

Dane County’s 25.2 percent Black unemployment rate in 2011 was significantly (and surprisingly) higher than the national African American jobless rate of 18 percent. The median household income of Dane County’s African American families was $20,664 that year, less than 1/3 the median income enjoyed by White families ($63,673), according to the lauded 2013 Race to Equity report.

There are many other racial inequities throughout Madison and Dane County. These inequalities didn’t develop overnight and won’t be changed overnight, either. But they did happen in a majority White liberal city that is supposedly opposed to such inequities. Somehow Madisonians became comfortable with such disparities.

Last Sunday I attended the vigil at the Capitol building to show solidarity with the anti-racist protesters from Charlottesville. An incredible, large, crowd formed outside of the capitol and, by all appearances, everyone there seemed sincere and outraged at the state of affairs.

As I walked away from the event, however, I was struck by an image. Outside of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, a group of Black homeless people sat lined along the wall of the building with a collection of clothes and other belongings. They’re there almost every day, and people generally ignore them, so much so that a Black friend of mine who recently visited from Chicago saw them and pointed out, “Those are practically the only Black people I’ve seen since I’ve been here, and people just walk by them. It’s a little weird.”

It was my friend’s first time in Madison. While here, we frequented some of the downtown bars and he was struck by the number of restaurants filled with mostly White, seemingly well off families and students who ate and laughed together while a crowd of homeless Black people were footsteps away.

Many of those homeless people stay in a nearby shelter. Fair enough. But giving them shelter is putting a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

All of the low-income housing and community organizations and police initiatives and government programs the city designs to address racial disparities will not change a social structure that’s been built from distorted minds.

Make yourself uncomfortable. Face hard truths and be willing to change. I will. Because the best way to win a battle is to stand tall against your adversaries with no flaws in your armor.

Emails from Another Dimension

While doing some research on an article, one of my searches tapped into some alternate dimension. At first, I was elated to discover such an amazing phenomenon, but the interdimensional wormhole only lasted a few minutes. Before the breach closed, I was able to cut and paste an email exchange that made its way to that universe’s headlines. This alternate version of the universe was much like our own and had elected their own President Trump. As such, the email exchange starts off the same. But as the email chain continues, the differences become clear . . .

On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:

Good morning

Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting. The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.

This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump – helped along by Aras and Emin.

What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?

I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.


Rob Goldstone

On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:53, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:

Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment and can’t speak on the phone, but I don’t think we’ll be able to meet at all. We’re running for federal office here so we have to do things differently. I’m not just acting on behalf of the Trump brand anymore. If it’s what you say I’m pretty sure we have to drop it.



On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:55, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:

Going to touch base with Jared about this and maybe a few of our folks from inside the beltway. Please don’t present this to Sr. (or Rhona) at all until I get back to you.

Thanks for understanding,


From: Rob Goldstone
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 12:40 PM
To: Donald Trump, Jr.
Subject: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

Hi Don,

Let me know when you are free to talk with Emin by phone about this Hillary info – wanted to try to schedule a time and day

Best to you and family Rob Goldstone

From: Donald Trump, Jr.
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 12:42 PM
To: Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort
Subject: Fwd: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

Hey guys, bringing you in the loop here. Please see the exchange below. It’s Goldstone again, this time he’s not just dropping hints. I don’t want to jeopardize any of our relationships, but at this point in the campaign we really can’t ignore something so explicit.  Is he seriously offering us Russian intelligence?

Leaving out the D for now, let’s keep the candidate uncontaminated.

From: Jared Kushner
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 12:51 PM
To: Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Sr.
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

Wow. When Flynn warned us about this kind of thing I didn’t believe him, but there it is.  Not sure what the hell Goldstone was thinking. He knows the door is closed on everything til either the campaign is over with or D’s term ends. He sat there nodding along with everybody else when we met about the divestment plan.

Yeah, give Goldstone a hard NO. It cannot even look like we’re colluding. And we’re gonna have to tell somebody. This would go to DOJ right? I’ll ask Flynn.

As long as we’re transparent we should be fine. cc’ing the D.

– J Man

From: Donald Trump, Sr.
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016 1:22 PM
To: Donald Trump, Jr, Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner
Subject: Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential

HOLY SMOKES! Thought Emin and company could follow the rules. Guess not. Sad.

Not fun, but gotta go to authorities. My campaign = OPEN BOOK. We don’t want foreign powers colluding with anybody’s campaign. Believe me, I know.

No worries. Could be good for us long term. We’re doing the right thing here! Saying NO to the Russians? This will play great in the press. I’ll have Kellyanne whip something up.

GOOD CATCH Don Junior! Really proud of you.


– The D

What’s Wrong With 3.1%?

The Wisconsin unemployment figure is historic, but not the complete economic picture.

In May, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development calculated the unemployment rate to be 3.1%. This is a percentage we haven’t seen since 1999, so naturally people with a stake in it are taking credit.

But what does it really mean for the economic and social success of our state?

Standard Caveats

Regardless of which direction they’re trending, or who’s attributing them to whom, bear in mind that unemployment numbers are calculated by polling. You only count as “unemployed” if you aren’t employed when they call, are available to be employed, and have trying to get employed. It doesn’t count those who work part time, seasonally, or have given up on the job market.

Just Following the Trend

Unemployment has been trending downward since the Great Recession, and Wisconsin has mostly just been paralleling that trend, consistently, about one percent below the national average. You could attribute that one percent however you want. Maybe it’s the role of agriculture in our economy. Regardless, it’s not new, and it’s not Governor Walker’s accomplishment.

Lagging in Population Growth

At an estimated growth rate of 1.61% over the past 6 years, Wisconsin is ranked 38th, and is far below the national average of 4.66%. The state’s birth rate is middling; the real cause here is emigration. Wisconsin was recently ranked the 7th in proportion of outbound moves to inbound.

A lot of the state is actually losing population, with Menominee and Dane counties as clear exceptions. We’re losing talent and tax revenue. When people move away, and we all know people who have, their knowledge and training goes with them.

Open Only For Big Business

Wisconsin has been on a streak of ranking dead last in startup activity according to the Kauffman Index, by a significant margin. This means we’re placing a disproportionate share of our economic eggs in a few baskets, relying on large companies for more of our job growth rather than building the economy from the ground up. We’re entirely too vulnerable to the next  Oscar Meyer pulling up stakes.

This is entirely in line with the Koch’s “jobs” strategy, as carried out in their legislature. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has been giving out large lump-sum grants with little accountability, and Wisconsin’s labor standards have become so lax that China’s disastrous Foxconn is looking at moving here. This dependence on large employers is bolstered by limited non-employer insurance options, right to work, and an active crusade against unions. Madison is the exception in this metric too, and Dane County overall has been leading the state in job growth.

Be Careful What You Wish For

A shortage of one thing can often be a surplus of another. A seller’s housing market and a low rental vacancy rate can be a housing shortage. Low unemployment can be a shortage of workforce, and an excess of unfilled positions, holding back our economic growth.

This isn’t to say that higher unemployment would be better for the state, just that it’s a situation that might not be great for service and retail jobs struggling to cover all their shifts, or for the hiring manager trying to replace someone about to retire.


In 2010, I scoffed at Scott Walker’s claim that you could “create jobs” just by changing the tax rate, or handing out grants to large companies. And I don’t believe it now either. Whether a company comes to our state or leaves it depends on much more than those two items on the balance sheet. It depends on whether there’s a plentiful labor pool to recruit from, what it’s like to live here, and how much it costs to do so.

It’s not all about attracting those “whales” either. The surest way to land the next Land’s End or Harley is to help businesses get started here.


Courtesy of  Nicholas Davies is a local member of, and regular contributor to, Indivisible Madison.