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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
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Russ Backers

from my email ...


I know it might be easy to grow cynical of a dysfunctional political system that works great for those at the top, but not very well for the rest of us.

Well, I've been out on the campaign trail over the last few weeks, meeting people and listening to their stories, and the folks I've met are anything but cynical: They're optimistic, excited, and ready for our government to once again work for the people, and not just for the multi-millionaires and billionaires.

I want to go to Washington to help fix this thing. But I can't do it alone (believe me, I know that!). Early support is crucial to building the strong campaign we need to win.

That's why we launched a special program called "RussBackers" to recognize our earliest supporters -- friends like you who are stepping up, early on, to power our campaign right from the beginning.

And I want you to be a part of it.

Contribute $25 or more before the May 31 deadline to become a founding member of the RussBackers, our campaign's strongest and earliest supporters -- and help us finish this first month of our optimistic, people-powered campaign strong!


In recent years, multi-millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations have been tipping the scales of our government in their favor, cramming through policies that help themselves, but hurt Wisconsin's working families.

It shouldn't be that way, and it doesn't have to be that way. Wisconsin deserves a voice in the Senate who will oppose bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, stand up for workers long under attack, and make sure the next generation will realize economic opportunity with affordable education.

That's why I'm running a people-powered campaign, driven by grassroots supporters dedicated to building a better future for our state and our nation.

Become a founding, card-carrying member of the RussBackers: Contribute $25 or more now before the May 31 deadline, and then don't forget to download your membership card!

I've seen, time and time again, what people are capable of when they stand together.

And I want you to be a part of this campaign, right from the beginning.

Thank you for standing with me.


Russ Feingold

“We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences ..."

“We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out’ for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.” ~ Hillary Clinton, August 10, 1994

Source: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/File/three%20strikes%20law_presidential.pdf

QUESTION:. I would like to know would you help us shut down the for-profit prisons, would you you shift money away from detaining people to other more humane methods, immigration judges for examples […] and would you work for comprehensive immigration reform?

SANDERS: The answer is, yes, yes ,yes. Clearly one of the crises we face in our nation is that we have more people behind bars than any other country on earth […] China is a nation that is 3 or 4 times larger than us population wise, it is an authoritarian country Communist country, and we have far more people behind bars than does China. And what we do in our jails is we run a great educational system, we education people how to be even better criminals. So it seems to me that rather than spending huge amounts of money on jails and on private corporations who are incentivized to keep people in jail, it might make a lot more sense to spend money on job training and education so that people do not end up in jail in the first place. And yes I'm certainly in favor of comprehensive education reform.

Compare and contrast.

Source: http://www.alternet.org/bernie-sanders-pledges-end-no-child-left-behind-shut-down-profit-prisons

Taking the pulse of DU.

If the Democratic Presidential Primary was held today, for whom would you vote?

Um, how many Republicans have announced they're running for President?


9 brains found next to train tracks

OUVERNEUR, N.Y. — Nine brains were found along a street in a northern New York village, but authorities say there’s nothing to fear.

The brains are believed to have been part of a collection for educational or research purposes. No criminal activity is suspected. Residents discovered the brains on a street near railroad tracks in Governeur and notified police Wednesday.

More members of the US Senate would benefit from GOP tax plan than WI families


To demonstrate how few people would be affected by repealing what Republicans deem the "death tax," Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin compared the payers of the tax to the most selective group in the nation — the United States Senate. Baldwin tweeted this from her account (@SenatorBaldwin) on May 5, 2015:

"There are more members of the US Senate than the number of WI families who would benefit from GOP estate tax break."


Republicans repealed the estate tax for 2010, but Congress reinstated the estate tax starting in 2011. The new Republican budget would abolish the estate tax entirely.


When we asked Baldwin’s office for backup, staffers directed us to a report by the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. That report made state-by-state estimations for the number of estate tax payers in 2016. Sure enough, the center estimated that in 2016 just 70 families in Wisconsin would face the estate tax, well below the 100 family mark Baldwin established in the tweet.

Wisconsin: Joint Finance budgets additional $5M for 500 more prisoners in next two years

Maybe they're planning on arresting the Solidarity Singers again.

from my email ...

On Tuesday, May 19, with about 30 minutes notice and virtually no discussion, the legislative Joint Finance Committee accepted the Department of Corrections request for an additional $5 million to INCREASE THE PRISON POPULATION by about 500 people in the next 2 years.

There was no discussion about why the Department of Corrections refuses to take common sense steps that will reduce the prison population. There was no discussion of how unsticking the broken old law parole system could safely release hundreds of prisoners, how instituting more alternatives to revocation could stop us from sending thousands of people back to prison who have not committed a new crime.

The Joint Finance Committee and the DOC know very well that it is not necessary to grow the prison population. They know they could reduce it safely, responsibly and immediately. Though legislators appeared to listen at hearings, they apparently heard nothing. And the DOC refuses to even acknowledge our requests to meet.

We need a to respond in ways they cannot continue to ignore! Those who can should plan to meet us at the Capitol at 12 noon next Wednesday, May 27 for a press conference and a still-to-be-determined action. Watch for details.

Whether or not you can join us on Wednesday, we will need everyone to write letters to the editor, to make phone calls, and more. Those $5 million are needed for our schools and universities. They are needed for Treatment Alternatives and Diversions. They are needed for Transitional Jobs.

This is a moment that calls for an urgent response. It is time to say enough is enough, and to call our state officials to act responsibly.

Below is the Legislative Fiscal Bureau paper upon which Joint Finance based their allocation. Please note that it does not question WHY they assume there will be more prisoners. And, it assumes there is no alternative.


If we want to win in 2016, we need Bernie Sanders as our candidate.

I don't agree with the "conventional wisdom" that Hillary gives us our best chance of winning. The right has been taught to hate her for a generation. The left is luke warm about her at best. She's reduced to trying to peel off the mythical moderate Republican voter to even compete. Most importantly, she will attract no one from that half of the potential electorate who historically do not bother to vote, and that's where Bernie will excel.

Not only are fully half the votes out there for the taking, but Bernie doesn't need to get half of those potential voters to the polls. Nor a quarter of them. Nor 10%. In 2008, Barack Obama won with a 7.27% margin. In 2012 his margin was 3.86%. Bush won in 2004 with a 2.46% margin and in 2000 he "won" with a minus 0.51% margin. (Source)

It's in the half of the electorate who typically don't vote that the votes are available. And Bernie's the guy to make them see that the parties are indeed different, that there's a candidate actually representing them, and that they should get off their duffs and vote. And that's the path to victory in 2016.

Why do Republicans really oppose infrastructure spending?


2. Privatizing the nation's infrastructure: This is the big kahuna that the press generally feels uncomfortable reporting. Republicans - at the behest of their mega-bank/private equity patrons - really, deeply want to privatize the nation's infrastructure and turn such public resources into privately owned, profit centers. More than anything else, this privatization fetish explains Republicans' efforts to gut and discredit public infrastructure, and it runs the gamut from disastrous instances of privatizing private parking meters to plans to privatize the federal highway system.


3. Private Activity Bonds: This one is a real unreported doozy, and is directly related to both privatization efforts and the Starve the Beast scheme. Known as "Private Activity Bonds," under current law, state and local governments are allowed, effectively, to delegate the ability to issue tax-free bonds to private corporations and investors. As a result, the private investors have the lower borrowing costs associated with government financing and the interest earned on such bonds is tax-free at both the federal and state level. Do you get that? Local governments are financing the efforts to privatize their own public assets and the private equity investors earn tax free profits on their investment. Privatization is not just a golden opportunity, but a tax-payer subsidized, tax-free opportunity - - with no demonstrated public benefit:


4. Repeal Labor and Environmental Laws: Finally, Republicans refuse to fund infrastructure spending because the larger goal is to repeal or weaken labor and environmental laws associated with such large scale construction projects. For example, while you may be rightly worried that your commuter bridge is structurally unsound, Republicans are much more concerned with first repealing laws like the Davis-Bacon Act, a 1931 New Deal law which requires payment of the local prevailing wages on all public works projects for laborers and mechanics. Repealing this employment protection law is a much larger Republican priority than repairing any specific bridge or tunnel. As Republican Senator Mike Lee explained the priorities of his "infrastructure proposal":


In sum, the question of why we cannot enact needed, common-sense infrastructure spending is truly mystifying . . . so long as we ignore that the Republican party is hyper-partisan, engaged in a destructive Starve the Beast agenda, wants to privatize public infrastructure, promotes an increasing "financialization" of the economy, and is ideologically opposed to labor and environmental laws. Most importantly, all of the above must not be even acknowledged in public reporting on this vital issue. Right?

More at the link.

Scott Walker's Wisconsin is no model to follow


Third, Walker enacted every major piece of legislation he asked for from the Republican legislature. The result? Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in job creation, is divided with partisanship as never before and is dogged by a budget deficit topping $2 billion.


Governor Walker put cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy at the top of his agenda. While it’s done nothing for Wisconsin’s middle class, which is shrinking faster than in any other state in the country, according to respected independent research, it has been a windfall for Gov. Walker’s political fortunes, earning him campaign contributions of $100,000, $250,000 and even $500,000 from millionaires and billionaires inside and outside of Wisconsin.

Here’s an example: A tax cut signed into law by Governor Walker benefiting huge factory farms and other corporations has grown from a $10 million annual giveaway in 2012 to a $275 million corporate boondoggle. To “pay” for his tax breaks, Walker made the biggest cuts to public education in Wisconsin history. The cuts were so dramatic that they resulted in the second largest per pupil cut of any state in the country.


Over four years, Governor Walker has slashed the University of Wisconsin system by more than $650 million, students are paying hundreds of millions of dollars more in tuition and 41,000 eligible university and technical college students were denied financial aid by Governor Walker.

Wisconsin MoveOn Petition: Keep the 48-Hour Waiting Period for Handgun Purchases

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