Another Data Point


President Walker?

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 11:58 am

In today’s Journal Sentinel, Christian Schneider claimed that “liberals can’t fathom the idea that Walker could be a national candidate.”

I’m afraid Schneider is projecting his shallowness. We may have high principals and ideals but we’re not delusional.

  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who initiated the decline of the American middle class, Ronald Reagan
  • Liberals have seen the election and re-election of a president who made Americans culpable for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and who made us a nation of torturers, George W. Bush.

Other Americans saw this too, but perhaps haven’t yet appreciated  the enormity of those elections. But those of us who have, realize that a Walker presidency would mean further degradation of the principals of justice and fairness that had made the United States a beacon to the world.

So, we liberals don’t find the notion of a President Scott Walker unfathomable.

We find it appalling.


Reaping the whirlwind

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:04 pm

I was saddened by the murders of two New York City police officers last week. While there’s much still to be learned about this event, it appears that the killer, though apparently deranged, was also motivated by a particular anger at police.

With the recent rash of publicized killings of black men by on-duty police, it’s hard not to worry that this terrible act will be repeated. Given the ridiculous availability of assault-style weapons & by which I mean firearms designed to kill humans in multiples & and the multitude of examples of persons and groups using violence as an alternative to (failed) political processes, I worry that there are people planning to conduct similar ambushes.

And the potential for political violence obviously extends beyond our inner cities. We have a class of media hate- and fear-mongers — and I see them particularly on the right & who are vigorously peddling fear and hatred of our own government.

The ordinary citizens who see themselves as represented by the Tea Party & as distinct from the Astro Turf Tea Party & are right to be angry: Their real income has declined, along with the economic prospects of their children.

But, as I’ve been saying for years, they are angry at the wrong people. Their real enemy are the oligarchs who have been amassing political and economic power since the time of Ronald Reagan, and the expense of most Americans.

My fear is that when these folks realize they’ve been played, their anger will increase exponentially & and they have guns, lots of guns.

Between the GOP degrading our electoral processes and the right-wing’s drumbeat of attacks on government, the extreme right wing is playing a dangerous game.


Rights for citizens

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:46 am

I’ve said this before in a different context, but while I’m very happy for the couples who can marry because of the Supreme Court’s refusal to overrule the lower court in the matter of the constitutionality of state same-sex marriage bans, I remain disappointed that the people of Wisconsin haven’t spoken up for themselves in this matter.

I hope someday soon that’s rectified.


The Big Lie(s)

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:11 pm

Uppity Wisconsin said it well yesterday, but they kind of buried it:

Walker, like so many — “conservatives” doesn’t seem to quite cover it — have been amazingly successful at tearing down their opponents with attacks designed to turn the opponents strengths into weaknesses.

The classic case is the “Swift-Boating” of John Kerry by people in service to an administration of draft dodgers.

Now we have Walker attacking Mary Burke by vilifying Trek for not paying income tax and for outsourcing.

While presumably this is something he’d applaud in other businesses, Walker needs to attack Mary Burke’s obvious strengths of competency and business acumen.

It was refreshing to see the normally supine Milwaukee Journal Sentinel give considerable space to a clarification of Burke’s and Trek’s record. Sadly he hasn’t received a “pants-on-fire” rating.

I don’t have an obvious answer to this stratagem, and I suppose if it were obvious, the body politic would have been inoculated against it some time ago.

But we’d all to well to anticipate its use against any progressive candidate we support. The key thing is that it is hard to imagine a bald-faced lie about our candidates’ strengths, but, given the current state of political reportage in this state and country, it’s likely to happen, and the lie told gets more attention an has a bigger impression that the refutation. We need to train ourselves to imagine what we are

Sick of Government? Vote!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 2:11 pm

A lot of people, I fear, are inclined to stay home at election time because they are discontented with the way  government is operating, particularly at the Congressional level.

Not to be harsh, but one reason government is so dysfunctional is that too many people stayed at home at election time in November 2010.

A couple of important consequences of that, in Wisconsin and many other states, are:

  1. our legislature is dominated by ALEC toadies, who
  2. redrew the district voters in such a way that the majority is represented by minority elected officials. That is, while Democrats won the popular vote in Wisconsin, our congressional delegation is 5-3 Republican.

So we have a government that is unresponsive to majority rule, and has less and less incentive to strive for compromise policy. Consequently we frequently have NO policy.

The more people vote, the better government is. Period.


Plan To VOTE!!!


Human Rights and Democracy

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 7:15 am

I was very happy to learn about the court decision on the constitutionality  of Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban, but not completely.

I’d be much happier if the people of Wisconsin removed this stain on our constitution themselves.

It’s my suspicion that we have this in our constitution because its proponents were more passionate in their — what’s he right word, hatred, fear? — of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters than the rest of us had for protecting their rights.

Credit to the homophobes: They were better at getting out their voters than we were.

But shame on the rest of us for waiting to have a court do what we should have done — and still should do: ensure that all people in our state  have the same rights and opportunities as people who happen to represent a certain point of view in a certain election.


A hidden message in Cantor’s defeat

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 12:10 pm

“Eric Cantor represents large corporations who want a never-ending supply of cheap, low-wage foreign labor,” Dave Brat said in his stump speech.

So, we’ve witnessed this political season’s shocker. What can we learn?

For me, Brat’s statement above — and his shocking victory over Eric Cantor — suggests an opportunity, though one that’s admittedly tricky to exploit.

It’s been my belief for some time that the dominant sentiment in the Tea Party is repressed economic anxiety. Of course, there’s economic anxiety all around. But on the right, it often finds expression in ways progressives rightfully find repugnant: anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-women’s rights — or crazy gun rights advocacy. But I contend this is the result of deft misdirection by the GOP, which now has found it’s got a tiger by the tail.

But Brat’s attack on “large corporations” also suggests a hope of finding common cause with many Tea Party adherents — if they can only be made to see that taxes, gays,  women, and black presidents aren’t their problem — their problem is the overwhelming economic and political power of the 0.1%.

We need to bear this in mind when confronted by Tea Party “hate.” It’s not hate, it’s really fear —  fear that we share, frankly. The better we get at turning the conversation in that direction, the more successful we progressives will be.

For more, read Ryan Lizza’s excellent piece on Brat in the New Yorker.


Thanksgiving Dinner

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 2:24 pm

Just in time for those family gatherings, here are a couple of sources of info to have in your quiver should the conversation turn to politics:

Happy Thanksgiving!


Don’t stun me, bro!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:11 am


So, when was the last time you were truly stunned? Did you enjoy it?

For me, stunned is what you are when you’re hit by a professional boxer, or in my case, when as a child you squeeze a roll of caps in a vise and they all explode at once.

I don’t want to be stunned by my computer screen, a new TV, a stereo system or a woman in a bikini. In fact,  several times a week I probably unconsciously but deliberately avoid being stunned  by slamming doors, people riding bicycles on sidewalks,  poor drivers, etc.

I’ve been stunned, and I don’t enjoy it. So if you’re trying to sell me something, don’t promise that it’ll stun me.




Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:15 am

There are two kinds of people who think assault weapons should be in the hands of civilians: Fools and madmen.

The fools think believe any amount of armament available to them are a) sufficient to protect them from an oppressive government and that it’s even a relevant concern in a democratic republic.

The madmen are be definition not to be trusted with instruments whose fundamental purpose is to kill human beings.

(By the way, these categories aren’t exclusive: There can be mad fools and foolish madmen.)

I, for one, think that when I go into a public place, say an airport, I shouldn’t be at risk of being shot to death by a mad fool with an assault rifle.

As this is becoming more common, I am NOT becoming more resigned to an America overwhelmed by gun violence. I am growing more and more furious at those who are promoting the ownership of these weapons, the people who are enriching themselves by the sale of these weapons, and the representatives who are enabling these outrages upon innocents.

We are hostages to a sophomoric interpretation of the second amendment, supported in large part by persons who, unhappy with the results of our political process, apparently feel compelled to arm themselves against some imagined government oppression – despite the fact that we live in a democracy.

A consequence of this view is that our society is being inundated with instruments that are specifically designed to kill human beings. We’ve seen these weapons fall into the hands of deranged persons who threaten peaceable, law-abiding citizens wherever they may be – in movie theaters, our places of worship or, most horribly, in our schools.

Greater issues may confront our nation, but none whose solution is so completely simple and obvious: Make the sale and ownership of such weapons illegal, buy the weapons back from those who are willing to comply with the law, and prosecute those who don’t.

This will only happen if Americans contact their legislators and insist that their freedom from fear trumps the fear of those foolish and/or crazy enough to own weapons whose purpose is to kill humans.

What are you waiting for? Contact your representative and say Enough!


House Un-American Activities

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:43 pm

Why are we going to have a government shutdown, Daddy?

Because people who hate the healthcare reforms  of the Affordable Care Act think they can stop ACA by threatening a government shutdown. If that doesn’t work, they are planning to threaten the entire world economy by defaulting on U.S. government bonds, probably the foundation of the world economy.

But isn’t the ACA a law, enacted by the process defined in the U.S. Constitution?

Yes it is.

So, a majority people want the law? I mean, Congress enacted the ACA, President Obama signed it, and President Obama was re-elected.

Not only was ACA properly enacted as a law, and basically twice accepted by the American people, but it’s widely held that the bill will be good for all Americans, by ultimately reducing the costs of healthcare and creating a healthier citizenry.

So, how can a minority do this?

There are two answers (each with two parts):

    1. In the Senate, the Republicans have used an astonishingly high number of filibusters or filibuster threats to stop the rule of the majority.
    2. In the House of Representatives, a small number of radicals are holding other Republicans hostage by threatening their incumbency.
  1. (1b) is possible because of redistricting, which has
    1. created incumbents who are almost impossible to defeat, except in primaries by  more extreme candidates; and
    2. enabled Republicans to maintain control of legislatures at the state and federal level without a majority of votes.

But isn’t democracy supposed to be rule by the majority?

It’s the rule of the majority, and the rule of law, which at bottom is the U.S. Constitution (the law about making laws).

As it now stands, the Republican Party is thwarting the will of the majority – on a number of issues – and they are subverting the constitution – a characteristic of Republicans since at least Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal.

How can this happen?

Well, the watchdogs of democracy are now lapdogs. How many times did you see  the word filibuster in your newspaper? (Hint: It was a tiny fraction of the times Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wielded that weapon.)

But more importantly, many Americans are disinclined to believe just how bad the Republicans are. Many others take the frankly stupid view that “they all do it.” I won’t pretend that Democratic politicians are angels, but between the filibusters of Senate Republicans and the fiscal subversion of the House Republicans, we have an assault on our way of government that has no precedent in modern memory. Together with the warping effects of Republican gerrymandering, we have  a sick democracy on our hands.

Will everything be all right?

Not for some time, I’m afraid.


Quick thought on the filibuster situation

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 5:14 pm

Like many I was distressed the the effort to reform the filibuster collapsed.

But now, with the Hagel filibuster, I’m beinning to see that this is going to be something that will really, really hurt the GOP in 2014.

So maybe Harry Reid was just giving the GOP enough rope to hang itself with.


David Clark’s conservative utopia

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:49 pm

Is this what we’ve come to?

Since 1980, America’s Gross Domestic Product has risen from roughly $3.5 trillion to roughly $15 trillion.  On the other hand, Americans pay less in taxes than they have since the 1950s.

But according to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clark, we need to arm ourselves, since we can’t afford sufficient law enforcement to respond to 911 calls.

Our national wealth has increased five-fold, but now we can’t afford cops?

Of course we can. One reason we don’t  is as most Americans’ wealth declines, they are reluctant to provide the necessary revenue (i.e., taxes). And those who have taken the lion’s share of  our increased national wealth largely feel they shouldn’t have to  accept a higher tax burden.

So, buy a gun, I guess.



Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 5:13 pm

Abraham Lincoln wisely pointed out that you can’t fool all the people all the time, which explains the impending demise of the conservative revolution.

The conservative program of activating white voters out of fear of non-whites, patriarchists out of fear of abortion, and I-don’t-know-what out of fear of gays is at last  showing signs of terminal disintegration in our national elections.

Having lost its electoral advantages, the GOP is now desperately seeking to maintain its political advantages with measures at the state level that will utterly ruin the party for a generation. Republicans are attempting to distort elections through voter restrictions,  gerrymandering and even  a program to game the electoral vote. As people come to see how fundamentally un-democratic (small D) these measures are, voters will develop an abiding distrust of the party that has promoted them.

Ironically, the Republican attempt to reapportion the electoral vote could lead to greater democracy, by making people aware of both the troublesome nature of the electoral college and an elegant way to render it obsolete.

Anyone who wants to make the electoral vote process more democratic (again, small D) should look no further than the National Popular Vote movement, whose aim is to ensure that presidential elections can only be won by candidates who win the votes of most Americans. (You can get details at

If state Republican legislators are serious about democracy, they will join this movement, which will ensure that Wisconsin’s electoral votes go the person who wins the votes of the majority of all Americans, not to the person who wins in gerrymandered districts.

Conservatives have not been able to convince Americans of their failed ideas. If they attempt to retain political power by rigging elections, they will reap the whirlwind.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from the most famous Republican of them all.


Guns and the Moral American

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 8:59 am

Guns designed to kill humans should not be in the hands of ordinary citizens. I’d rather they weren’t in the hands of police or the military, but that would be a different world altogether.

I’m confident that the intention of the Second Amendment is not  to arm citizens for the purpose of killing fellow citizens, but that is basically the argument we’ve been hearing from “guns everywhere” advocates.

The private ownership of handguns and assault rifles — weapons designed and created almost  exclusively to kill human beings — should be illegal. To remove the tens of millions of such guns already circulating in society, we should establish an aggressive buy-back program. If we have to sweeten the deal, every illegal weapon thus returned would be replaced with a sporting weapon — a rifle or shotgun.

I leave it to others to critique the arguments about training and freedom — my space is limited here. I would only point out that comparing handgun prohibition to the prohibition of prostitution and intoxicants is an attempt to compare an urge that few people act on to urges that virtually everyone acts on.

We can debate, I suppose, whether sex and intoxication are wrong, but I think most of us agree that killing humans is almost always wrong.

So, let’s get the means to do so out of the hands of ordinary citizens.


Fiscal Cliff is the result of a tax holiday for the wealthy

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 1:02 pm

So, you take a pay cut because someone said it’ll make the business better — in fact, business will be so good, you’ll end up making more money. But despite a loss of income, you keep spending money on rent, medical expenses, saving for retirement, and so on, as if nothing has changed. In fact, you even buy a couple of new cars.

But  a funny thing happens: Your debt soars and the business doesn’t do better — it does worse —  so you really need the money you lost in the pay cut.  (And of course, it was foolish to buy those cars.) But you’re told that you don’t deserve a raise!

If you want government to be run like your household, the scenario above pretty well describes the sort of household the Republicans have been running. The Republican-led government created a big tax cut and two unfunded wars  — and now their solution is cutting Social Security and Medicare?

Let’s get one thing straight: The wrangling we’re seeing over the so-called fiscal cliff is really just a skirmish in the larger war against the social safety net, dating back to the creation of  Social Security in the 1930s.

The conservative game plan for decades has been to manufacture crises like the current one by cutting revenues to the federal government. Restore taxes to a sensible level — and  stop fighting foolish wars — and the crisis goes away.

And let’s stop talking about the revenue solution as though we’re raising taxes. Let’s call it the end of a tax holiday for the wealthy.


Four more years!

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 9:51 am

Some of my thoughts on the election

  • Woo hoo!
  • Tammy’s win is really gratifying
  • Though Obama’s electoral win was comprehensive, the popular vote was a lot less convincing.  There are plenty of people who need to be brought back from the dark side.   Some people (and I’m afraid Jack is one of them) may never recover from drinking the kool-aid, but I think we can be more convincing to those who can be turned if we regard them not as enemies but as people who need to overcome the anxieties that monsters like Karl Rove have stimulated and exploited. You don’t have to be a bad person to have voted for Romney-Ryan; misguided will do. (And see National Popular Vote for more on rectifying our weird electoral process.)
  • Our national economic policy remains guided by ideas that were discredited in the 1930s. And the 1% is still very much with us
  • Dems in the Senate need to start using the F-word to call out the absurdity of requiring 60 votes for practically any action to be taken.
  • Citizens United was defeated by united citizens, but $2 billion for an election? We can’t continue to line the pockets of consultants and TV stations for the privilege of having our decision-making process polluted by negatve campaigning. If you want  your mind boggled, see this report on
  • The national victories, and Obama’s and Baldwin’s successes in Wisconsin, are  tempered here by our loss of control of the state senate; Republicans control both houses and we still have Walker as governor.
  • Antonin Scalia still need to throw a clot so Obama can appoint a Supreme Court justice.
  • Karl Rove needs to throw a clot so I can dance on his grave.

I’m convinced Obama wants to do the right things, but that requires that his supporters become effective advocates for his policies, and polices like them at every level of government. The fact that Romney won the money game but lost the election can’t have been lost on elected officials, who will continue to pay attention when they hear from informed, organized citizens. We still count votes, not dollars, on election day.


Ryan lacks clarity on stimulus

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 8:25 am

Paul Ryan: “It’s clear the stimulus didn’t work.”

Um, no.

From the Duh! department

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 7:41 am

News Item: “Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama in person and in TV advertising Tuesday of cutting Medicare “to pay for Obamacare.” (JSonline/AP)

Why would anyone in their right mind believe that Obama is more likely to destroy Medicare than Romney/Ryan?

Of course, re: global warming, why would anyone believe Exxon Mobile rather than disinterested scientists?



Pulling up the ladder

Filed under: General — Greg Walz-Chojnacki @ 3:52 pm

When I was born in 1954, a Republican President was embarking on the most ambitious peacetime infrastructure in American history, the Interstate  Highway System. The top marginal tax rate was 91%.

When I was 12 years old, Voting Rights Act finally ensured that African Americans enjoyed the franchise they’d been denied for hundreds of years. CEOs were paid 24 times what their workers were paid

By the time I graduated from grade school, Medicare guaranteed a minimum level of affordable health care for the elderly. Before my 12th birthday, Americans walked on the Moon.

When I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison my tuition accounted for 20% of the cost of my education. Public funds made up most of the difference.

But then something happened. I tend to think of it as Reaganism, but it has since metastasized into something even more grotesque.

Since the 1980s

  • The top marginal tax rate has declined to 35%
  • Around the country, republican-held legislatures are passing laws restricting voter access, in the name of reducing fraud — which demonstrably doesn’t exist in any important way.
  •  In 2005, CEOs were paid 262 times the average worker’s pay
  • Paul Ryan has proposed changes to Medicare that will mean seniors will pay $1,200 more for health insurance by 2030, and over $5,000 by 2050 — but only seniors younger than me!
  • Public funding of the UW system has dwindled to 20% of the cost of education a student.

Baby-boomers have enjoyed better pay, more equal distribution of wealth, well-funded public education, ever-improving infrastructure, a more progressive tax system, and better health care than the generations before them.

Following generations are losing all these things, in large part because their elders are have been fighting for lower taxes.

Seems to me we’ve climbed a ladder to prosperity and are now pulling it up behind ourselves. Following generations be damned!

It’s shameful, really.

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