Aug 26, 2015

Book Review—The Prosecutor as Goliath v. American Citizens

Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice
(Northern Illinois University Press, 2015)
by Robert Blagojevich
Five years ago this morning at 11:01 the government dropped all charges against Robert Blagojevich, and he celebrates this as his personal Independence Day every year.

"Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. Whether one seeks promotion to a judgeship, as many prosecutors rightly do, or whether he returns to private practice, he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just."
—Robert Jackson's "The Federal Prosecutor" (1940)

Justice Jackson's words, celebrated though they are by some jurists and academicians, are a sick irony today.

A United States Attorney is a good gig, and will land you a cushy job as a partner in a private firm, or a federal judgeship for life.

Other considerations such as the rule of law, justice, prosecutorial discretion and the Brady Rule are for suckers.

Robert Blagojevich's Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice with a Foreword by Leonard L. Cavise, Emeritus Professor of Law DePaul College of Law (Northern Illinois University Press, 2015) is a compelling tale of a travesty of justice and Standard Operating Procedure in the American criminal justice system that goes unreported and unnoticed, except by the victims and their families.

Any federal indictment should be examined with a high degree of skepticism, but federal indictments (and state indictments or criminal complaints) are taken at face value in American society and one ongoing case epitomizes this tragedy of American criminal law: United States of America v. Rod Blagojevich, Robert Blagojevich, et al.

Unfortunately for the brothers Blagojevich, federal indictments are especially taken as the gospel of holy truth by United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Judge James B. Zagel, the prosecutors' judge, a Henry Hyde-Ronald Reagan disgrace or lousy bastard, pick a description.

Robert Blagojevich was a co-defendant in the federal case involving his brother, Rod, the Illinois governor (2003-09) with the wavy hair hit with a 24-count indictment in April 2009 for alleged public corruption for talking a lot as politicians connected to the windy city tend to do.

Twenty-four counts.

This is called "charge stacking"—the practice of prosecutors loading up so many criminal charges in an indictment that a defendant is forced to gamble the virtual end of his free life at trial, stakes coercing the defendant into a plea deal. Usually, screened juries will give the prosecutor at least one guilty-as-charged verdict. Why else would the defendant face so many charges if he were innocent?

Innocence is irrelevant (especially if the defendant is black or brown) (Lock, Wrongful Convictions) as charge stacking is standard practice in the American criminal justice system—aka the police-prosecutor state and the objective to build statistics of success out of concerns of career and convenience that dominate the federal and state prosecutor of most every political stripe.

The general public is not much of a check on the power of the prosecutor: Didn't that guy with the funny name and weird hair try to sell the seat that was held by President Obama? I saw it on TV. Hey, the Cubs' opening day is in a few days.

The federal superseding indictment in United States of America v. Rod Blagojevich, Robert Blagojevich, et al came down on April 2, 2009, the matter of innocence of the defendants besides the point.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2001-2012) wanted another scalp and nothing was going to stand in his way. Fitzgerald today—after walking though the revolving career door of the prosecutor's office—works as a partner at the monster firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP and Affiliates. Fitzgerald did well for himself.

Robert Blagojevich after refusing to fabricate evidence against his brother saw the prosecution drop all four bullshit public corruption charges against him for raising funds for his brother's campaign after the federal jury deadlocked. Robert won.

His brother, Rod, continues the fight after the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last month threw out five convictions and Rod appeals his case to U.S. Supreme Court. The case is USA v. Rod Blagojevich (No. 11- 3853). It's a long shot.

The Foreword to Robert Blagojevich's Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice by Leonard L. Cavise, Emeritus Professor of Law DePaul College of Law lays out this one example of the rabid, unchecked power of the prosecutor in American society.

Last April marked the 75th anniversary of Justice Jackson's address on prosecutorial discretion and justice to America's U.S. attorneys in 1940.

The hard reality is Jackson's words have as much relevancy to today's conduct of the prosecutor as the innocence of a defendant has to a prosecutor.

Foreword to Fundraiser A: My Fight for Freedom and Justice:

By Leonard L. Cavise:

The trial of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother Robert was national news. In Chicago, it was daily headline news. It was the latest in a series of “trials of the century,” especially for Illinoisans who were about to see the third of their last four governors go to jail for corruption. I watched the trial at relatively close range because, as a law professor, I was using the trial in my classes and, as a frequent media commentator, I had to distill what happened into manageable sound bites or brief commentary. When Robert told me he was writing this book I was thrilled, not only because of the enticing prospect of getting to know what really happened, but also because of the important social interest served by a close-up look at what many saw as a federal abuse of power in the criminal justice system. The government’s prosecution of Robert was in all senses wrongful but, nonetheless, prosecutors tenaciously pursued charges long after it was obvious that Robert was innocent. The arrogance of that use of power is a central theme of this book.

In Fundraiser A, we now get the story in dramatic and sometimes riveting fashion from the defendant himself. As Robert told the media after the verdict, “I have lived through the most surreal experience anyone could live through. This has been, from the beginning, a slow bleed both financially, emotionally, and otherwise.” After reading Robert’s complete story, I found him to be an astute if sometimes flabbergasted observer who still doesn’t quite believe this happened to him and his family. The criminal justice system in this country is flawed, and the power given to prosecutors is excessive. There’s nothing new in those observations, but to really understand why this happened to Robert is simple: it’s the story of over-reaching prosecutorial power and the adversarial system gone bad.

Chicago has certainly seen its share of circus-like trials, but this one promised to be the best, even without any dead bodies. Right from the day the US attorney announced the indictment, he promised a story of corruption that would “make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” We all waited for the smoking guns, the stories of drugs, sex, lies, and greed sure to come.

While the governor was talking on tape (forty-five days’ worth of tape), his main advisors—John Wyma, Chris Kelly, Bob Greenlee, John Harris, and Alonzo Monk—were talking directly to the government because they had legal problems of their own. Chiefs of staff, advisors, and deputy governors—colleagues who had worked closely with Rod for years—were the witnesses the government intended to use to supplement the tapes. Some would be offered legal immunity in exchange for their testimony against Blagojevich, some would start talking right away to save their own skin, and one would be sent back to the Blagojevich campaign headquarters to spy.

Dropped into this maelstrom and soon to become an important part of this story was Robert Blagojevich, the conservative Republican businessman from Tennessee who, to many observers, always seemed to be an innocent in a den of predators. The governor had asked Robert to raise funds for four months before the 2010 off-year elections. Robert had no political experience, didn’t really know anybody in Illinois, didn’t have a very good relationship with his brother, and didn’t like his brother’s “too liberal and fiscally irresponsible” politics, but, nonetheless, said he would do it. Why? This is a question he continues to ask himself. Because Rod needed somebody he could trust? Because he hoped to repair a strained relationship? Because, as a businessman, he knew about money and could keep the accounts? In any event, he left behind his wife, home, and business in Tennessee to come to Chicago to do something he had never done before—fundraise for a politician.

Why Robert agreed to step into a campaign already known to be under investigation is another judgment for the reader to make. Conventional wisdom would mandate treating the governor at a very long arm’s length. But this was his brother. And for the next year Robert was at the heart of the biggest corruption case in many years. Now, with this book, we find out all the behind-the-scenes action. As he notes in his trial journal, “As a citizen, I can’t believe this is still happening to me, and no one in power cares—unchecked unrestricted power.”

Robert Blagojevich was surprisingly naïve about the FBI, the federal prosecutors, and the criminal justice system. He thought he could just sit down with the FBI and clear this whole thing up and be back on his way. Didn’t they know that it was just Rod talking and talking? It never crossed his mind that the feds might attempt to use him, to make him flip and testify against his brother. It never occurred to him that maybe he and the governor would plead guilty to something in a “package” deal. It never occurred to him that nobody in the government really cared that he was innocent. This case was too big for that. Luckily, Robert found the right criminal defense lawyer who told him, in no uncertain terms, that this trial is not about “clearing anything up.” It’s a war, led by “self-righteous, zealot extremists,” and, Robert, you’re in it.

This is what happens to almost everybody who enters the criminal justice system for the first time—guilty or innocent. The government speaks, and everything changes. The government uses its vast power and unlimited resources, and the defendant bleeds. Financial ruin is almost a certainty. Robert Blagojevich spent over three-quarters of a million dollars on his defense. As he said, while describing the loss of his business and his home, “we were essentially in the process of dismantling thirty years of hard work.” He’s lucky he had the money.

Most defendants can’t make bond like Robert did. Most lose their jobs, possessions, and sometimes their families into the black abyss of seeking justice. Many eventually go to prison—African Americans more than others—where they face so much more than tangible loss. The loss of dignity and freedom, the utter humiliation, the loss of self-respect. Robert was spared that disaster, but he tells us how it was constantly on his mind and how his brother never seemed to think about it.

Robert learned more than he ever wanted to know about the criminal justice system. He learned that more than 95 percent (depending on the jurisdiction) of all defendants plead guilty. Only an infinitesimal 4–5 percent choose to fight back. He was shocked to learn that in no way was it to be a fair fight. The government decides whom

He learned that a jury of peers is a group of people with whom you have little in common, who are placed in judgment of you by a judge who asks most of the questions and then tells them about law they probably can’t understand. He learned that, while the Supreme Court was considering whether a “theft of honest services” charge (one of the charges pending in this case) is unconstitutionally vague, the prosecutor can just strike preemptively and file more charges in a superseding indictment so that whatever the Supreme Court ultimately decides, it won’t make any difference.

He learned that when something good for the defense showed up in the tapes, his lawyers couldn’t use it unless the judge said they could, and the judge was prosecution-minded. People don’t realize that the judge who presides over a case—the largest percentage of whom are former prosecutors themselves—effectively decides how the case will progress. Robert tells us of how perturbed he was about many of the judge’s rulings, in addition to the judge’s habit of usually being forty-five minutes late for the start of court, which Robert estimates cost him $15,000 in attorney time.

One of the biggest surprises to Robert was that the criminal trial is a shell game. Neither side knows what the other is going to do. Are they going to call this particular witness, and, if so, when, to say what, and what will the judge allow on cross-examination? To be fair, the defense plays the same game—not telling the government if the defendant will testify or even if there will be a defense. And Robert watched, often comparing the process to his life in business. If he had gone to business meetings with as little definite information about what would be on the agenda, he would have considered himself woefully unprepared.

Robert’s layman’s eye gives us a fresh, honest, and forthright perspective on the inner workings of one of the most complex and high-profile criminal cases in recent memory. That’s what is so refreshing about this book. I have since met Robert on more than one occasion. He has lectured to my classes. He is an utterly believable but now thoroughly angry citizen who wants nothing more now than to tell America how unfairly he was treated by a system that allows such brutal treatment as a matter of course.#

Aug 24, 2015

Scott Walker's False Claims He Has Held "Listening Sessions" Across Wisconsin

Scott Walker appears on ABC News This Week
and offers his third position on amending
the Fourteenth Amendment in seven days.
Updated - "The impression is fast setting in that Scott Walker, former King of Iowa, is a nonsense person and a ridiculous presidential candidate. (Newell, Salon)"
 ---
To understand Scott Walker is to see an undeveloped psyche, a man with no essence who will say anything with facts posing no barrier.

This morning the Wall Street Journal reports Walker saying, "We’re doing the hard work of the town-hall meetings, the small-group sessions. I think that pays off because, while the national media is focused a lot on another candidate, in the end, voters in these early states clearly take this stuff seriously." (O'Conner, Wall Street Journal)

Last week, Walker said his flip-flop on Common Core education standards is the result of holding listening session across Wisconsin: "We'd hold sessions around the state, we'd listen to people, we'd talk to people," said Gov. Walker. (Neumann, WKOW-TV)

Actually, Scott Walker has held zero townhall-style, unscripted listening sessions in Wisconsin.

Walker's recent false claims to the contrary are asserted out of concern that Walker doesn't know much about public policy, displaying not-even a pedestrian grasp of major public policy issues, ala Sarah Palin with whom Walker does not wish to branded this early in the campaign.

This is a guy whose press office demanded that all questions be pre-screened on a press phone call on Walker's healthcare plan 'to phase out ObamaCare on Day One' last week. (Politico)

This is considered open and accessible for Scott Walker who regularly bans reporters in an attempt to keep his lack of policy knowledge a secret.

This is not a well-kept secret, it's just not many in the campaign press write about it. Writes Dylan Byers in the right-leaning Politico:

In March, Walker made public appearances in Texas and South Carolina but closed the events to press and refused to take questions from the media. In April, while visiting Europe, he held no public events and took no questions from reporters. In May, while visiting Israel, he did the same. An aide told the Journal that Walker was going to 'focus on educating himself about Israeli issues and won’t hold public events or take questions from reporters.'

Walker's refusal to hold listening sessions, from the Midwest to the Middle East, should be news, as should his lying about it.

It is understandable from Walker's point of view why Walker avoids unscripted question-and-answer sessions.

Take this the latest headline on CNN: Scott Walker on birthright citizenship: 3 positions, 7 days. Writes CNN's Eric Bradner:

The Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential candidate was asked on ABC's 'This Week' whether he backs Trump's push to end the 14th Amendment's mandate that all children born in the United States are automatically granted citizenship. 

'Well, I said the law is there. And we need to enforce the laws, including those that are in the Constitution,' Walker said
United States Constitution

What "laws" are in the United States Constitution?

For Scott Walker's edification, here is a link to the Leonere Annenberg Institute for Civics explaining the United States Constitution. There are no laws in the Constitution.

Walker would do well to begin with Article 1, Section 1:

Section 1 - The Text
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 1 - The Meaning
The framers of the Constitution separated the powers of government into three branches, granting legislative power (the power to pass laws) to Congress, executive power (the power to administer the laws) to the president, and judicial power (the power to interpret and enforce the laws) to the courts. The unique and limited powers of Congress are contained in Article I.

Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship Clause

With respect to Scott Walker's on-again, off-again commitment to amend the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, Jenna Johnson in today's Washington Post has a timeline of Walker and his campaign's statements over the last week. It's pretty funny and at Walker's expense. Last Monday evening Walker blamed his change-the-Fourteenth Amendment-citizenship-clause position on a confusing "three-hour roving [press] gaggle."

Last Friday, Walker explained he was for changing the Fourteenth Amendment citizenship clause because he was "tired." (Blue Cheddar) (ThinkProgress) (CognitiveDissidence) (Mal Contends)

Johnson's piece ends with a quote from AshLee Strong, Walker's campaign spokeswoman, saying in part: "His position is very firm."

Firm, and strong and bold. Unfortunately for the nation, Walker's idea of a bold unscripted question-and-answer session is to yell at an audience, "Unintimidated! I am not intimidated by you, sir, or by anyone else out there."​

Aug 23, 2015

One in Four Mothers Return to Work Within Two Weeks of Giving Birth

Republican Party-ALEC schemes against paid maternity and sick leave belie GOP's pro-family posturing

Sharon Lerner's investigative piece in In These Times reveals a fact of American society demonstrating how anti-family the Republican Party has become.

Thirty of 34 member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—democracies with market economies—legally require an "average of more than a year of paid maternity leave," notes Lerner.

The United States is not one of those 30 countries, thanks to Republican Party efforts blocking paid maternity and paid sick leave laws.

Three states dominated by the Democratic Party—California (since 2002), New Jersey (since 2008) and Rhode Island (since 2013)—have paid family leave statutes.

In response, "[c]orporate-backed bills have passed at the state level in Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Mississippi that would preempt (or as one GOP operative put it, 'deliver the kill shot' to) local laws requiring paid sick days. ... In May of 2011, Governor Walker pushed Senate Bill 23 to override a Milwaukee ordinance providing for paid sick days. It appeared to be the first paid sick days preemption bill passed in the country. Milwaukee's ordinance specified that paid sick days could be used if a worker is ill or needs to care for a sick child, and passed via referendum with over 70 percent of the popular vote in 2008," notes Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari at PRWatch.

Nationally, the Democratic Party is pushing for paid maternity and sick leave against Republican opposition, (a commitment originating from the corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)).

Writes Lerner:
The Obama administration is attempting to build momentum for paid sick leave, one of the main ways women piece together paid maternity leave. In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to send him a bill guaranteeing U.S. workers seven days of paid sick leave—but in early August, Senate Republicans blocked a Democrat-sponsored bill to do so. In the meantime, Obama has an executive order in the works that will extend a week of paid sick leave to all federal contractors, and his adminstration has issued $1.25 million in grants to study how paid leave programs can be developed in states. Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has been outspoken on the issue, has spearheaded a #leadonleave campaign, in which he and White House aide Valerie Jarrett travel the country to boost local paid leave policies.
Check out Lerner's piece that one hopes will propel the campaigns for the presidency to seek mandates for sane policy on paid maternity and paid sick leave, and simple decency.

Aug 22, 2015

Scott Walker Now Refuses to Take "Position" on 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause

Scott Walker heard Donald Trump's reading of the citizenship-birthright clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and had to get in on this toxic appeal to nativism and bigotry—Walker's political wheelhouse.

"Shortly after Donald Trump released his immigration policy proposal on Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker assured reporters that he agreed with Trump's opposition to 'birthright citizenship,'" reported Phillip Bump in the Washington Post. "Absolutely," we should end "birthright citizenship," Walker said to NBC's Kasie Hunt.

On Friday, Scott Walker changed his mind and told CNBC's John Harwood that "I’m not taking a position on it one way or the other." (CNBC - Scott Walker talks birthright citizenship)

How can a candidate for the presidency not take a position on this pillar of American citizenship enshrined in Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Scott Walker can because Walker does not have the slightest conception of common law, constitutional law and judicial policymaking.

Walker did explain in a Tweet Friday that he earlier agreed with Trump's position on the Fourteenth Amendment because he was "tired." (Blue Cheddar) (ThinkProgress) (CognitiveDissidence)

What?

Don't look for a detailed position paper outlining Walker's Constitutional analysis: 'It's August-hot in Iowa and I'm tired, enough of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment.'

Walker did hint at his Constitutional acumen in 2013. In determining the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression does not apply to speech that is critical of Walker, Walker's administration ordered 100s arrested and fined.

U.S. District Court Judge William M. Conley and state courts disagreed with Walker and ordered restoration of the First Amendment at the Wisconsin Capitol, as well as civil recovery of attorneys' fees and other costs. (Mal Contends)

This is why Scott Walker avoids townhall-style listening sessions and unscripted sit-down interviews. He doesn't know anything, ala Sarah Palin. (Mal Contends)

No one expects a presidential candidate to be a Laurence Tribe or a Richard Posner, but being a student of the United States Constitution is critical to serving as POTUS.

This has been a bad month for the candidate of the Koch brothers, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation and the corporate bill mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

As Walker is forced into discussing public policy, it is becoming readily apparent that Walker is in over his head.

This ignorance is dangerous, as seen when Walker pushed for more secrecy in Walker's aborted scheme to gut Wisconsin's Open Records law.

Walker is a lightweight who takes orders from billionaires and other donors funding his campaign.

Can you imagine Scott Walker as president?

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist, Dan Bice, wrote in April 2013 that Scott Walker is not an "ideas guy," suggesting someone as error-prone as Walker who can't think on his feet "could earn him the distinction of being the Gov. Perry of the 2016 campaign." (Daniel Bice chat transcript on Thursday, April 18, 2013) (Mal Contends)

We're there.

Five weeks-plus into his campaign after his July 13 announcement for the presidency, Scott Walker has earned the distinction of being the candidate who does not, like, know anything, to borrow from Juan Cole.

Aug 21, 2015

Scott Walker Says It's "Ridiculous" to Meet with Black Lives Matter

Fresh off a bizarre performance at the Des Monies Register soapbox in which Scott Walker refused to listen to any questions from black citizens gathered, and bellowed he is not "intimidated," a flustered Scott Walker veered into another bizarre response when asked if he would meet with members of Black Lives Matter.

"Asked at a ‘Politics and Eggs’ breakfast forum in Manchester on Friday if he would take some time to sit down with the African-American activists, Walker called the question 'ridiculous,' mocking the civil rights group," reports Raw Story (Boggioni), citing a dispatch from the Daily Mail (UK). (CNN) (Capital Times)

"I’m here to talk to voters in New Hampshire about things that matter,' Walker told the Daily Mail reporter.

No follow-up yet from the Walker campaign, but observers must be wondering why Walker didn't just say, 'sure, I would be happy to sit down and talk.' Video is below:

Rep. Scott Krug Skips Wood County Groundwater Ordinance Meeting

Facing heavy lobbying from the polluters' lobby, the Dairy Business Association, the Wood County Board of Supervisors narrowly passed a groundwater protection ordinance Tuesday. (Anderson, Gannett Co. News) (Mal Contends)

Wisconsin State Sen. Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) spoke in favor of the groundwater ordinance.

State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa and ALEC) was absent.

Why did State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa and ALEC) blow off this meeting?

Krug is quietly assisting Scott Walker, Walker's DNR and the Dairy Business Association in their project in which one objective and inevitable consequence is to contaminate and literally toxify area lakes and groundwater.

Nice.

This is what a corrupt group of politicians and Big Ag do when they sell out the people of Wisconsin for money.

The owners don't live on the industrialized factory farms, they safely live far away from the millions of tons of liquidized manure they deposit into the environment.

Krug is running a con on the people of 72nd state assembly district in central Wisconsin. Krug pretends to care about the health of water, and even instituted an informal surface-water citizens advisory group in which members say Krug never took minutes, often didn't show up, and then made numerous references to the group during campaign season.

Aug 20, 2015

Scott Walker—Screened Questions from Press, Lies, and Fades in Wisconsin

A desperate Scott Walker tanks in Wisconsin as favorability
rating falls into the 30s (Milewski, Capital Times)
"Was on Gov. Walker health plan press call. First time as a reporter I've ever had my questions pre-screened before I could ask them," said Stephanie Armour, The Wall Street Journal's health care policy reporter. (Byers, Politico) (Caffeinated Politics)

That mean Stephanie Armour was likely going to ask some public policy question of the erstwhile candidate for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Scott Walker's allies in the Wisconsin legislature want to exempt public integrity and public corruption crimes from Wisconsin's John Doe law that has been on the books since the 19th century (Opoien, Capital Times) (Berghahn, Hurley, Burish and Stanton)

Walker's favorability rating has dropped into the 30s in Wisconsin. (Milewski, Capital Times)

And Walker keeps on telling his made-up story on the stump about a teacher who has again requested Walker stop it. (Strauss, Washington Post)

Maybe Walker could ask the teacher to offer a lesson on the Fourteenth Amendment.

See why Walker avoids townhall-style, question-and-answer sessions, holding precisely zero as governor of Wisconsin?

Scott Walker is depicted at below-right:

NYT Still out to Get Hillary

Like 10s of millions of Americans, I would love to see Bernie Sanders as president.

Like 10s of millions of Americans, I am repulsed by the New York Times' treatment of Hillary Clinton and the Times' latest faux scandal.

"Email Controversy Begins to Weigh on Hillary Clinton’s Allies," reads today's Times' First Draft column.

What weighs on most Americans, including Clinton's allies, is not the story pushed by the disingenuous and out-of-touch corporate news media for five months.

"Everything, no matter how ludicrous-sounding, is worthy of a full investigation by federal agencies, Congress ... ," notes Vox (Allen) on the mainstream media's obsession with vacuity when covering Clinton.

Hillary supporters know progressives and activists who love Bernie would vote for Hillary if she becomes the nominee, out of the same sense of outrage that propelled Bill Clinton to a 70 percent approval rating after the Republican impeachment nonsense (abetted by the same corporate media attacking Hillary today), and which launched MoveOn as a force in the American political culture.

As we watch Donald Trump offer more craziness in light of the working hypothesis that Trump might indeed be a Democratic plant in the GOP presidential primary, a contemporary variant of H.L. Mencken's observation of the American public is appropriate: 'No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence and craziness of the Republican Party's base.'

The same could be said of the corporate media's obsession, and one wonders if Hillary's allies fed the 'email scandal' story to the Times (Michael S. Schmidt (March 2, 2105)) in the first place, so Hillary later can put out the winning message: This garbage is what the media and Republicans think you care about; not your family, not jobs, not liberty, not equality, not opportunity, and not the future of this country.

Aug 19, 2015

Wood County Enacts Ordinance Protecting Ground and Surface Water

"I just want safe water," said Julie Kreutzer at the Wood County County Board of Supervisors meeting yesterday in Wisconsin Rapids. (Anderson, Gannett Co. News)

Sounds reasonable enough.

But Kreutzer is a resident of the town of Saratoga in central Wisconsin where a proposed industrialized, Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) or factory farm is sited, and the CAFO owners, the Wysocki corporation through its entities limiting their personal liability, are not keen on what Ms. Kreutzer wants.

The problem for Kreutzer is the CAFO owners, the Wood and Adams county citizens, and CAFO experts—know if the CAFO is to be built, it will pollute on a massive scale, befouling waters, land and the air with nitrates, phosphorous and ammonia from millions of gallons of liquidized manure produced annually.

The groundwater ordinance passed on a close 10-9 vote on Tuesday, after heavy lobbying by Big Ag, the Dairy Business Association (DBA), that works against safe groundwater ordinances all over Wisconsin as the DBA seeks its right to pollute.

The CAFO would be an environmental and economic disaster for a region gaining its footing after the decline of the paper mill industry.

In response, residents are citing the abundant natural resources of the area and promoting the recreation and tourism potential, efforts that would be imperiled by the massively polluting CAFO.

These are costs the CAFO owners are willing to inflict onto Wood and Adams county, negative externalities.

Wysocki already sucks up huge quantities of groundwater through its numerous high capacity water wells that make for an unsustainable future for the region.

These are also costs Wysocki is willing to see inflicted onto the community.

Wood County joins other Wisconsin counties and towns in enacting ordinances protecting groundwater from CAFOs within the past year, including Kewaunee County, Bayfield County, Ashland County and Oneida County.

But for James Wysocki it's mind over matter, Wysocki doesn't mind polluting and using up groundwater because area families don't matter.

Aug 18, 2015

Scott Walker Says Repeal 14th Amendment Birthright Citizenship Clause

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
14th Amendment, Section One

No, say Republicans.

Cray, cray—as in crazy and immoral, will say Hispanics and Latinos, and most other Americans.

Scott Walker, Donald Trump and other Republicans say they want to repeal the birthright citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment as they compete to show racist Republican voters how much they despise immigrants.

"Shortly after Donald Trump released his immigration policy proposal on Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker assured reporters that he agreed with Trump's opposition to 'birthright citizenship.' The Huffington Post did a quick count and figured that at least five other 2016 Republican candidates did, too," reports Phillip Bump in the Washington Post.

Elsewhere in the Post, Paul Waldman suggests Republicans with their nativism and crazy talk in immigration may have just handed the White House to the Democratic Party nominee.

Writes Waldman:

[Y]ou can’t say you’re pro-immigrant and advocate ending birthright citizenship. You just can’t.

I promise you that next fall, there are going to be ads like this running all over the country, and especially on Spanish-language media:

'My name is Lisa Hernandez. I was born in California, grew up there. I was valedictorian of my high school class, graduated from Yale, and now I’m in medical school; I’m going to be a pediatrician. But now Scott Walker and the Republicans say that because my mom is undocumented, that I’m not a real American and I shouldn’t be a citizen. I’m living the American Dream, but they want to take it away from me and people like me. Well I’ve got a message for you, Governor Walker. I’m every bit as American as your children. This country isn’t about who your parents were, it’s about everybody having a chance to work hard, achieve, and contribute to our future. It seems like some people forgot that.'

Amen.