Monday, June 15, 2015

It's all about the money, stupid

By Bill Kraus

Former Governor Lee Dreyfus’s golden rule for politics: Those who have the gold make the rules.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign recently published a list of the top “rule makers” in Wisconsin over the last 4 1/2 years. In total this group contributed $116,671,117 during that period to advance their interests by promoting ideas and candidates or by criticizing opposing ideas and candidates.

Many of the groups' interests are obvious. The state’s largest business organization is on the list. It doesn’t represent all the state’s businesses or even all of its own members, but it isn’t required to disclose which businesses contributed to its political communications. The National Rifle Association is, surprisingly, on the list. Who knew they needed to spend money to get their way?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Wisconsin?

By Bill Kraus


Jay Heck’s release opened with the following paragraph:

Democracy is in dire trouble when voters in a state have only one in ten state legislative districts that are even remotely competitive in a general election. Wisconsin was such a state in 2014. CC/WI conducted an analysis of last Fall's general election results, identifying the State Senate and State Assembly districts in which voters had a real choice that wasn't already preordained by the 2011 redistricting process.
A day later Speaker Vos told a Milwaukee talk radio host that a bill won’t be passed because “a lot of folks in vulnerable districts” are worried about a backlash.

At an earlier WisPolitics forum Majority Leader Fitzgerald responded to a question on the same point made by Jay Heck by saying the redistricting system was working fine.

Any hope of getting a hearing on a redistricting reform bill by a legislature controlled by Speaker Vos and Majority Leader is going to get past these two delusions.

There is no public outcry.

The editorials in all 19 of the state’s daily newspapers have fallen on deaf ears.

The governor is in Israel.

The SuperPacs and other sources of large political contributions are investing in things like defunding “government schools” and changing the constitution to unseat a sitting chief justice of the state supreme court.

On Wisconsin?

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Unfinished Business 6: The 4th Estate

By Bill Kraus

A crucial premise underlying what the founding fathers wrought was a well informed electorate. This presumed, without mandating it, a free flow of information from the government to those who elected and were paying them. Accessibility and responsiveness were a part of that presumption. A universal communication system manned by journalists with their more or less rigid adherence to the principles of journalism quickly morphed into what became known as the Fourth Estate.

The Fourth Estate had power because everyone read it, including the members of the other three estates who read it because they knew the people who put them in positions of power were reading it.

For most of our country’s 1st three centuries the print press was the fourth estate. Radio came along and we went there for breaking news. The print press survived radio. Television was radio with pictures and because it’s purpose was to deliver audiences to advertisers not news to viewers it didn't dislodge the print press either. But the internet has. Not because it’s better than radio or television, but because it cut off a crucial print press revenue stream, the want ads.