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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Wisconsin?



By Bill Kraus

REALITIES


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.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Can Congress Change?



By Cal Potter


Immediately after the November 2014 elections, we heard that a new era of a functional Congress was about to begin. Months later, conditions have gone from bad to worse and the hope for future improvement is not bright.

Conservatives abandoned their lawmaking role to focus on contrariness and obstructionism toward the other party, particularly the President. They vilify the President on most matters, and, in the process, are constantly shamefully disrespectful. That contrary role turned extreme in the recent letter to Iran and unilateral speech invitation to the Israeli President, undermining the work of our Department of State and President.

As most school children learn, legislative branches of government are supposed to study our problems, pass corrective laws, and find revenue sources for resultant programs. In contrast, today’s Congress acts as opposition pundits, and avoids, like the plague, major issues such as immigration, infrastructure, education, climate change, energy, war powers, and health care.