Oct 20, 2017

Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Madison, Wisc Police Chief Hit NFL Players' Human Rights Stand

The face of hate in Madison, Wisconsin wears military blue
and black and has a home in the Madison Police Department.
Above are two killer cops.
Madison, Wisconsin—The lust for reenactment of mythic ritual is strong in the fascist mind.

Stronger still is the rage against open demonstration mocking such insipid ritual. Stronger still is the urge to kill.

Witness the National Football League and the NFL Players Association's support of players who protest police killing people, racism and brutality in the land of the free and home of the brave.

Many NFL players protest by taking a knee during the National Anthem at football games.

No surprise that Donald Trump "has stepped up the pressure on the National Football League over protests by its players during the national anthem by launching a petition and asking his supporters to show their patriotism by backing it," (Reuters).

No surprise that Gov. Scott Walker opines, "It is time for players in the NFL to stop their protests during the anthem ...," (The Capital Times).

Both craven politicians are hostile to military veterans, human rights and civil liberties. Both pols never served in the military, Peace Corp, even as a poll worker, or have volunteered for any civic duty.

In Madison, Wisconsin, it gets worse.

Madison's leading fascist municipal office holder, the Chief of Police Mike Koval, has now joined the cynical chorus of voices condemning protests for human rights at football games, (WISC-TV).

In Koval's mind, protesting cops killing people, racism and brutality is a "self-absorbed ... diatribe."

Koval need not look far for examples of cops killing people, racism and brutality now under NFL players' protest. Killer cops are allowed and defended in the Madison Police Department.

Koval never protests against cops killing people, racism and brutality. In Madison, Koval always, 100 percent of the time, cheers on his killer cops.

Last year faced Koval faced widespread condemnation for verbally assaulting a black grandmother whose young grandson, Tony Robinson, was gunned down in cold blood by Madison Police killer cop, Matt Kenny.

For Koval, killing is a ritualistic act, worthy of defense. Consider:

For victims of killer cops, inflicted trauma never is healed. Not ever.

It may help Koval to understand our community's objection to his killer cops by considering when players take a knee for victims, local victims of Madison Police such as Ashley DiPiazza, Tony Robinson, and Paul Heenan are honored.

Nationally, this year promises to be a good year for killer cops. 2017 is ahead of the 2016 in successful killings by police: As of Oct. 19, 2017, 958 people were killed by cops. On Oct. 19, 2016, that figure was 939 people killed by cops.

This killer-cop phenomenon should be studied, challenged and reversed.

But for craven politicians like Trump, Walker and Koval, failure to partake in ridiculous ritual is a worse offense.

Wisconsin Republicans' Voter Obstruction Looms in 2018 Mid-terms

Republicans talk a good game about the flag,
but when it comes to protecting voting and
the substantive liberties of Americans,
Republicans are a grave threat to democracy.

Urban types have 'too much access to voting,' say Wisconsin Republicans

Madison, Wisconsin—Since 2011 Wisconsin Republicans and only Republicans have transformed election law to benefit Republicans and diminish voters' right to vote.

In U.S. District Court in July 2016, a federal judge, James Peterson, in a sweeping opinion found several Republican-enacted statutory changes to election law pretextual, which is legalese for deceitful and misrepresentative, (One Wisconsin Institute v. Thomsen).

But stopping non-Republican voters from voting is a strategic initiative for Wisconsin Republicans. The urgent and grave threat to democracy is existential. See See Twenty of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared. "If current trends continue for another 20 or 30 years, democracy will be toast."

As the mid-term campaigns for 2018 begin, Republicans know their only chance for victory is to suppress the total vote of non-Republicans, a commitment about which they hold no shame and indeed are proud as it serves to install Republicans against popular opinion.

On The Rachel Maddow Show last night, a segment points to a new analysis on Republicans rigging the Wisconsin 2016 election, a feat to they hope to repeat in 2018, (Berman, Mother Jones).

This is critical reading for citizens concerned about the health of our Republic under attack by the Republican Party.

Notes Berman:

The voter ID law was one of 33 election changes passed in Wisconsin after Walker took office, and it dovetailed with his signature push to dismantle unions, taking away his opponents’ most effective organizing tool. Wisconsin’s Legislature cut early voting from 30 days to 12, reduced early voting hours on nights and weekends, and restricted early voting to one location per county, hampering voters in large urban areas and sprawling rural ones. It also added new residency requirements for voter registration, eliminated staffers who led statewide registration drives, and made it harder to count absentee ballots.

Republicans were explicit about the purposes of these changes as well. On the floor of the state Senate, Grothman said of extended early voting hours in heavily Democratic cities like Madison and Milwaukee, 'I want to nip this in the bud before too many other cities get on board.' (Roughly 514,000 Wisconsinites voted early in 2012; they favored Obama over Mitt Romney by 58 to 41 percent, according to exit polls.) The county clerk of conservative Waukesha County said early voting gave 'too much access' to voters in Milwaukee and Madison. Judge Peterson later ruled the early voting cuts had been passed 'to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African Americans.' 

Republicans will continue their attack against voting in 2018.

A looming target is the city of Madison's effort to offer voting for voters and a continuing effort to educate citizens about their legally strong voting rights, a political and civil crime in Republican-land.

See Madison, Wisconsin Fights Republican Voter Obstruction, and 2017 Spring primary election draws record-breaking early voting in Madison.

From The Rachel Maddow Show:

Oct 19, 2017

Happy Black Monday, 30th Anniversary of 1987 Crash

Greed and fear make the markets, backed by $Trillions in guarantees from U.S. government

On October 19, 1987, "John Phelan, (then-Chair of the New York Stock Exchange), had been up throughout the night in his Manhattan apartment monitoring the bad news that was moving, like a tidal wave, toward the United States that Monday, October 19, 1987. Tokyo exchanges had closed after sustaining a record collapse in prices amid panic selling. The collapse triggered others around the globe. Disaster followed the sun and inexorably exacted its toll from Asia through Europe and then on to New York. Hong Kong was wiped out. In Australia the nation's leading market index lost 20 percent of its total value in the first forty minutes of trading. In Rome, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris, record losses were recorded. Down and down the prices plunged. In London the stock exchange was experiencing the single worst day in its history."

"At one point, as the grim reports kept flooding in, Phelan ... moved to a window overlooking the darkened New York skyline. He wondered if the world as he knew it was coming to an end, ... . (p. 377. Haynes Johnson, Sleepwalking Through History, American in the Reagan Years, 1991, (WW Norton and Company)) See also C-SPAN.

Celebrate Black Monday-1987 today by reading In These Times.

'The crash of ’87 is a reminder that for all its vaunted rationality, capitalism is an economic system driven by greed and fear.' With these words, long-time In These Times contributor David Moberg began the cover story from the Oct. 28–Nov. 3, 1987, issue.

Thirty years ago, 'Black Monday' sent markets into a tailspin across the globe. The ’87 crash was the largest single-day market crash in history, resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars on the stock market and shrunken pension funds.

The crash of 2008, and the resulting Great Recession, offered further evidence that the capitalist system is not just risky, but prone to crises. Today, the shaky foundations of our finance-centered economic system remain largely unchanged.

Today, October 19, 2017 the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at a near-record, 23,107.47, (Bloomberg Markets).

We should rejoice, we are blessed by Donald Trump's stunning genius and astonishing strength.

Just last week Trump said this high value of the securities markets is shrinking the national debt, (CNN).

What can possibly go wrong?

Oct 17, 2017

Supreme Court's Aversion to Social Science Is Perverse

Gill v Whitford Gerrymandering—An Easy Case That Would Destroy Republican Rule

Earlier this month at oral argument of the likely precedent-setting Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Republican justices displayed an obtuse mind-set revealing an incapacity to consider social scientific findings in determining whether a statute is unconstitutional, (Gill v. Whitford, Cornell, - Gill v. Whitford, MortizLaw, - Gill v. Whitford, U.S. Supreme Court).

Writes Oliver Roeder this morning at Five-thirty-eight.com:

The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance — even an allergy — to taking math and statistics seriously.

For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is becoming more computationally driven, and some of those computations will need to be adjudicated before long. Some major artificial intelligence case will likely come across the court’s desk in the next decade, for example. By voicing an unwillingness to engage with data-driven empiricism, justices — and thus the court — are at risk of making decisions without fully grappling with the evidence.

This problem was on full display earlier this month, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case that will determine the future of partisan gerrymandering — and the contours of American democracy along with it. As my colleague Galen Druke has reported, the case hinges on math: Is there a way to measure a map’s partisan bias and to create a standard for when a gerrymandered map infringes on voters’ rights?

It's not that rightwing justices like Thomas, Gorsuch, Roberts and Alito cannot comprehend empirical investigation. It is that they do not care to when they are presented findings that point to a remedy helping disfavored segments of the population against whom these legal politicians have been appointed to work.

Without a United States Supreme Court ruling protecting Americans from the Republican Party's gerrymandering drawn after computer simulation after simulation to effectively take citizens out of the loop in democratic elections, Republican rule over citizens is all-but-guaranteed in the future.

In response to the early October oral argument of Gill v. Whitofrd, Nicholas Stephanopoulos, professor at the University of Chicago Law School specializing in election law, penned a column in Slate Magazine spelling out the criteria identifying an unconstitutional gerrymanders. (See also Stephanopoulos Explains the Research that Convinced SCOTUS to take the Wisconsin Gerrymandering Case.]

Writes Stephanopoulos:

As one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, I was able to attend Tuesday’s oral argument in Gill v. Whitford. At the argument, the justices probed, among other things, how the plaintiffs’ test for partisan gerrymandering would work, how reliable the social science is that underpins this test, and what the test’s implications would be for judicial involvement. Since the plaintiffs’ theory relies in part on my academic work, I’m in a good position to address these issues.

With respect to the test’s operation, Justice Gorsuch warned that a gerrymandering standard should not be like a 'steak rub.' That is, it should not be imprecise and opaque in its makeup: 'I like some turmeric, I like a few other little ingredients, but I’m not going to tell you how much of each.' In reality, the plaintiffs’ proposed test for adjudicating gerrymandering claims is more akin to a detailed recipe than a mystery stew. The test has four elements, and litigants would be required to go through them one by one, proceeding to the next phase only if they satisfied the previous criterion. These four elements are:
  1. Was the district plan enacted with the discriminatory intent of benefiting one party and handicapping another one? Maps drawn by a single party in full control of the state government often (but not always) have this motive.

  2. Has the plan exhibited (or is the plan forecast to exhibit) a historically large partisan asymmetry? A partisan asymmetry means a map does not treat the parties equally in terms of how their votes translate into seats. A map’s asymmetry can easily be calculated and then compared to historical data to determine if it’s unusually big.

  3. Is the plan’s partisan asymmetry durable? To find out, a range of plausible election results should be considered. A map’s asymmetry should be deemed persistent enough only if it would endure across this range of outcomes.

  4. Is the plan’s partisan asymmetry unjustified? At this final step, the gold standard is to use a computer algorithm to simulate many maps that satisfy the state’s legitimate redistricting criteria. The challenged plan’s asymmetry is unjustified only if it exceeds that of most of the simulated maps.
Under this approach, there would be some easy cases, like the Wisconsin State Assembly plan at issue in Whitford. This plan’s authors admitted its pro-Republican intent. Its partisan asymmetry is worse than that of any map nationwide between 1972 and 2010. Its asymmetry would persist even if there was a massive Democratic wave. And its asymmetry is larger than that of any simulated assembly map. Conversely, it’s clear a plan would be upheld if it was designed through a bipartisan or nonpartisan process, if its asymmetry was historically small, if its asymmetry would disappear under slightly different electoral conditions, or if it was no more asymmetric than most simulated maps.
In playing dumb, social dominators like Gorsuch, Alito, Roberts and Thomas continue a sordid tradition in federal litigation of liberty claims the last 65 years. Unequal public schools? Public accommodation of ethnic minorities? Housing discrimination? Equality of law and processes? Voting? What? Do we litigate every public functioning and process if someone makes a liberty claim?

It may not seem like it at the moment, but Republican rule is imperiled as at any point in post-World War II history, and Gill v. Whitford is one of the last chances Republicans have to hang onto to power for 50 years against the will of the population.

One must hate the fact that Anthony Kennedy has become the pivotal vote again in this critical case for Americans when this man is mired in mediocrity.

Oct 16, 2017

Racine Dems Unhappy with Corporatist Neolibs' Direction

Chris Jansing at MSNBC interviewed five Democratic-leaning
voters in Racine, Wisconsin to take the pulse of a key state.
Madison, Wisconsin—After nearly leading the nation in turn-out for years and becoming a reliably blue state in presidential elections, Wisconsin changed in 2016 due to a combination of Republican-inflicted voter suppression and disgust with Hillary Clinton.

The change still has the national media wondering what's up in Wisconsin.

Chris Jansing at MSNBC interviewed five Democratic-leaning voters in Racine, Wisconsin in an effort to determine the pulse of the Democratic-progressive vote that still comprises a majority here.

The findings presented to Jansing in a wide-ranging interview suggest the Democratic Party is in trouble unless it becomes more progressive and begins to tell its donor base to shut it.

Said Terrance Warthen, co-chair of Our Wisconsin Revolution: "I don't know who the Democratic Party is. I just don't know who they are anymore."

Whoever the Democrats are, Warthen said, "You're going to have to give up the money and go back to the grassroots."

Video of Democratic Voters Unhappy Over Party's Direction is below: