News

JOHN NICHOLS: Scott Walker's ton of cash can't counter people power

December 21, 2011
John Nichols

If money is speech, as the crooked courtesans of our high court would have it, then Gov. Scott Walker might imagine himself well-positioned for the recall election he is now all but certain to face.

Last Thursday the United Wisconsin movement announced that its thousands of volunteers had in less than a month gathered more than 500,000 signatures on petitions demanding that the agonizingly inept governor of Wisconsin be held to account for an agenda that just cost the state another 14,000 jobs. On the very same day, Walker was touting the news that his campaign had raised more than $5 million.

Surely, in the calculus of the corrupt, 5,000,000 dollars should carry 10 times the political power of 500,000 signatures.

CAP TIMES: ACLU sues over Wisconsin voter ID law

December 13, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Milwaukee alleging that Wisconsin's new voter ID law is unconstitutional and will deprive people of the right to vote.

The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, claims top state officials includng Gov. Scott Walker and Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the non-partisan state elections agency, as well as employees tasked with implementing the law at the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security offices have created a poll tax and other obstacles that present a "severe and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote."

NYT: Excessive over votes recorded by electronic machines in New York results in thousands of lost votes

December 6, 2011
Sam Roberts
news photo

-As many as 60,000 of the votes cast in New York State elections last year were voided because people unintentionally cast their ballots for more than one candidate, according to a study being released this week. The excess-voting was highest in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods, including two Bronx election districts where 40 percent of the votes for governor were disqualified.

-The study, by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, blamed software used with new electronic optical-scan voting machines as well as ambiguous instructions for disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters. The old mechanical lever-operated machines did not allow votes for more than one candidate for the same office.

CAP TIMES: Integrity of Wisconsin's elections further in dobut as GAB comes under partisan control

December 6, 2011
Protect independence of our election watchdog

One of the best ways of ensuring the integrity of our elections is to have an independent, nonpartisan watchdog. Wisconsin already has that, in the form of the Government Accountability Board. The GAB is made up of retired judges and a nonpartisan staff charged with keeping elections clean. But now the independence of the GAB is under threat.

CAP TIMES: Hyper-partisan gerrymandering disenfranchises Portage County voters

December 5, 2011
Bill Berry

Greetings from Portage County, which is sort of like a disenfranchised Balkan state since congressional district maps were redrawn earlier this year.

In effect, we have no representation to speak of at the moment. Technically, Sean Duffy is our congressman after winning the "old" 7th District seat in last November's election. But Duffy has been as rare as a Buffalo nickel around here in the aftermath of the redistricting announced last summer, even though it technically doesn't take effect until the next election. Well, he did hold a town hall meeting in a rural community, which was announced a day before the event.

NAACP: States systematically taking away voting rights for blacks and Latinos

December 5, 2011
Ed Pilkington

The largest civil rights group in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is petitioning the UN over what it sees as a concerted efforted to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of next year's presidential election.

The organisation will this week present evidence to the UN high commissioner on human rights of what it contends is a conscious attempt to "block the vote" on the part of state legislatures across the US. Next March the NAACP will send a delegation of legal experts to Geneva to enlist the support of the UN human rights council.

More Info: 

Download the complete report mentioned in the article below:

JOHN NICHOLS: Wisconsinites of every political stripe overwhelmingly support recall effort

November 20, 2011
John Nichols

In the first 48 hours of the movement to recall Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch, more than 50,000 Wisconsinites signed petitions to force the governor and lieutenant governor to face a new election and the prospect of removal from office.

And that number will multiply. More than 20,000 people have downloaded petitions from United Wisconsin as the group works to gather the required 540,000 signatures, and tens of thousands more signatures have been collected from the more than 30 United Wisconsin offices across the state.

The recall movement is real, and remarkable in its strength and reach.

Walker knows he is in trouble.

NYT: Oregon tests if the iPad could replace voting machines for disabled voters

November 16, 2011
Katherine Seelye
news photo

Could the iPad someday supplant the voting machine?

Oregon last week became the first state in the country to use iPads to allow people with disabilities to vote, and it intends to use them again for another election in January. Several other states are expected to follow suit with iPads or other tablets, possibly as early as for next year’s presidential election.

YES!: New Oregon process empowers citizens during ballot referendums

November 4, 2011
Tyrone Reitman

Daily, it seems, we watch as our democracy slips into an increasingly divisive panic attack. Republicans, we’re told, hate Democrats. Democrats, we’re told, hate Republicans. Accountability in our political system seems as tenuous as the economic recovery: Tea Partier, Wall Street Occupier, or none of the above, we all know something's amiss.

Yet as it is, we have a tradition of successful self-governance more than 230 years in the making. Full of beauty, opportunity, and deep scars, our democracy continues as a grand experiment. Rights have been expanded, greater access to the disenfranchised has been afforded, and our democratic institutions endure.

PRESS TV: US in a Revolutionary Period

October 6, 2011
Interview with Edward Spannaus

 

 

Press TV:  Edward Spannaus, why don't you tell us your impression of these movements? I mean, they are obviously gaining momentum. Tell us why? And of course we see Occupy Wall Street as being one of them that has inspired other movements.

 Spannaus: Well, I would actually go back to the spring when you had the mass protests in Madison, Wisconsin, in Indiana, in Ohio and at that time also you had demonstrations in hundreds of cities in support of the trade unionists and when you had governors of those states trying to break the unions.

MANSKI: The Protest Wave: Why the Political Class Can’t Understand Our Demands

October 3, 2011
Ben Manski

The protests that began in Wisconsin this year, and which now also fill the streets of Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, and this week, Washington D.C., have gotten the attention of the American political class. And how could they not? 2011 is becoming a remake of the 1999 Battle of Seattle, except this time the protests are ongoing, national and global, and the target is not just the World Trade Organization, but the entire edifice of corporate capitalism.

VIDEO & AUDIO: Extensive coverage of Democracy Convention by WisconsinEye

September 16, 2011

WisconsinEye is the C-Span of Wisconsin's civil society. The folks at WisconsinEye video recorded 18 different sessions at the 2011 Democracy Convention. They may be watched or listened to for free on their website, or purchased for download, here:

http://www.wiseye.org/Programming/VideoArchive/SearchResults.aspx?XMLSearchGUID=1824f2ef-5c71-433e-d5fb-a69500dfc4cc

 

VIDEO: The Uptake & WORT provide video from the Democracy Convention

September 16, 2011
Cristalyne Bell, Patrick Waring, Norm Stockwell, Sarah Manski & more

For video coverage of the 2011 Democracy Convention, recorded by volunteers and convention staff, and posted at The Uptake, click here: 

http://www.theuptake.org/2011/08/24/democracy-convention-live-from-madison-wi/

More Info: 

These videos range in quality, but most are easy to follow. Additional videos are posted, and will continue to be added as they become available, at http://democracyconvention.org/press

HONKALA: No American Should Be Poor

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

It's easy to subscribe to the belief that America doesn't have enough resources for everyone to enjoy a high standard of living. But Cheri Honkala, one of the leading figures in the movement against poverty, said at the Liberty Tree Foundation's Democracy Convention in Madison, Wisconsin that this is a false message.

ALPEROVITZ: The Environmental Movement's Civil Disobedience

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

Civil disobedience is a transformation of consciousness, a sudden revelation that something new must be done. It is the knowledge that there are two options: disrupt and change the system or remain silent in the face of injustice. Right now, civil disobedience is emerging from the anti-war and environmental movements in significant ways, most notably around opposition to the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

ALPEROVITZ: America's Massive Wealth Disparity

September 15, 2011
Karen Rybold-Chin

In the United States, the richest 400 people own more collective wealth than the bottom 150 million. As historian and writer Gar Alperovitz puts it, this is quite literally medieval. America's distribution of wealth is controlled by corporations and the extremely wealthy—if there is to be real social change, this gaping inequality needs to be addressed and radically altered. The people need to take the pain of the laborers affected by politicians such as Governor Scott Walker and unite around this as something to replace with progressive reforms. 

PRWATCH: Local Ordinances and Land Grabs: Democracy Convention Panels Discuss Food Sovereignty

September 14, 2011
Rebekah Wilce

Attendees of the Democracy Convention in Madison in late August were treated to panels on a host of different issues, from democratic media to racial inequality. The Center for Media and Democracy was one of the sponsors of the convention, and our own Lisa Graves and Brendan Fischeraddressed democracy activists.

BOYER: Stewart Acuff is fighting for labor and our democracy

September 14, 2011
Joanne Boyer

"The only thing we can do is to choose whether we fight for rights of people, freedom and democracy or whether we sit it out on the sidelines."  ~ Stewart Acuff, Utility Workers Union of America

The discussion of workers' rights, the assault on organized labor, and the conversation of what it all means has never been a hotter topic as we approach Labor Day 2011.  

KC ACTIVE: On hand at the Democracy Convention in Madison

September 9, 2011
Mary Lindsay

For some, there wasn’t a better venue for America’s first Democracy Convention than the in-your-face capitol of local democracy, Madison, Wisconsin — a state with a long history of progressive sensibilities. Earlier this years thousands of protesters converged upon the capitol in response to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislative majority’s decision to end collective bargaining for public employees — a fight that is not over and one leading to a test of Walker’s reelection capability.

Democracy Convention draws 1,000 to Madison, plans next steps

September 1, 2011
Judith Davidoff
Clad in a tiara, long dress and sash reading "Do You Miss Democracy?" Mary Zepernick approached a table at the Memorial Union Terrace Saturday night with a question clearly on her mind. "Do you miss democracy?" she asked the group. "I do."
 
It was a bit of street theater, Zepernick, 71, explained the next day in a phone interview. "It's a way to catch the attention of people, to just shake up their minds a little."

TCT: Cheri Honkala rallies audience at Democracy Convention

August 26, 2011
Pat Schneider

 

Say what you want about Take Back the Land-Madison, whose members have occupied a handful of foreclosed properties to protest public policies that put families out on the street. Their tactics are audacious, if nothing else. It's a brand of activism with the power to rally the allies and antagonize opponents.

WRN AUDIO: Event Focuses on Democracy

August 25, 2011
Brian Moon

AUDIO: Soglin full speech (14:30)

Labor supporters go from the streets and into breakout sessions at the Democracy Convention in Madison. Mayor Paul Soglin kicked off the event reflecting on this year’s massive protests and continued fight against changes by Governor Walker and the Republican majority. He says until then the public was not paying enough attention.

“We cannot rest and assume that others are going to take care of our society,” says Soglin.

WSJ: Madison convention focuses on strengthening democracy

August 24, 2011
Deborah Ziff

There may be no other convention where you can learn about the history of civil disobedience, go to a class called Organizing 101, and discuss how to make a general strike succeed.

The first ever Democracy Convention will be held in Madison Wednesday through Sunday.

"It's the first national gathering in my lifetime that has focused on the underlying question of who rules," said Ben Manski, former co-chair of the Green Party of the U.S. and an event organizer. "[It] is not just interested in criticizing the lack of democracy in the United States but is devoted toward strengthening the movement to achieve the American promise of democracy."

MJS: Democracy Convention under way in Madison

August 24, 2011
Bill Glauber

The first Democracy Convention got under way Wednesday, and the five-day gathering is expected to draw up to 1,000 political and social activists from across the country.

The convention brought together at least two generations of left-wing activists ready to hash out such issues as voting rights, access to education and U.S. constitutional reform.

Tom Hayden, a key figure in anti-war demonstrations during the Vietnam era, was among the scheduled keynote speakers. The convention was organized by Ben Manski, a 37-year-old Madison attorney and former co-chairman of the national Green Party.

ISTHMUS: Democracy Convention kicks off, boosted by Wisconsin Capitol protests

August 23, 2011
Judith Davidoff

The timing could not be better, but organizers say plans for this week's Democracy Convention in Madison were set before Gov. Scott Walker's introduction of his collective bargaining bill and the ensuing protests that led some to compare the uprising in Wisconsin to democratic rebellions in Egypt and Tunisia.

Welcome to the 2011 Democracy Convention

August 23, 2011
Ben Manski

 

NICHOLS: Mitt Romney, Dark Prince of Oligarchy, Battles the Demons of Democracy

August 20, 2011
John Nichols

 

The gaffe-prone candidacies of Michele “Elvis” Bachmann and Rick “C’mon, Men, Let’s String Us Up Some Bernanke” Perry, and the slapstick non-candidacy of Sarah “Two If by Sea” Palin, are merely the cheap theater of an ill-defined Republican presidential race. The real drama of the 2012 race continues to come from the CEO party’s CEO candidate: Willard Mitt Romney.

WDC: Voters act to rein in extremism

August 17, 2011
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Wisconsin voters have shown time and time again that they are not extremists. Voters in largely Republican areas of the state sent a message in recent days that the actions of those in charge of state government have been too extreme by voting for greater moderation.

In unprecedented state senate recall elections, the number of legislators removed from office in this manner over the 163-year history of Wisconsin was doubled in a single summer. A third of Republican senators targeted for recall were ousted, while two others narrowly survived election-day scares. All three of the targeted Democratic senators were returned to office by comfortable margins.

John Nichols discusses the significance of the August 9th recalls

August 15, 2011
John Nichols

Five months to the day after the Republican majority in the Wisconsin state Senate voted to approve Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from public employees, two of the governor’s most prominent allies in the chamber have been removed from office.

Western Wisconsin state Sen. Dan Kapanke and eastern Wisconsin Sen. Randy Hopper were both defeated in recall elections that provided a powerful indication of the state’s anger with Walker’s assault on worker rights.

Thom Hartmann & Ben Manski: Fighting Back Against Citizens United

August 10, 2011

Radio talk show host Thom Hartmann meets Ben Manski, Chair-Democracy Convention / Executive Director of Liberty Tree / Spokesperson for Move to Amend. They show us how to fight back against plutocrats who want to buy elected officials.
 

FOR YOUR EARS ONLY: "Democracy, U.S.A."

August 7, 2011
David Alpern & Kathryn Herzog

Ben Manski discusses the 2011 Democracy Convention with "For Your Ears Only." To download this radio interview, see: http://gatewave.org/sites/gatewave.org/files/fyeo/fyeo_110807_complete.mp3 . . . Or listen online at http://gatewave.org/fyeo/lineup/110807

Segment comes on at 19:30 . . .

IV. DEMOCRACY, U.S.A.

Ben Manski, Executive Director, Liberty Tree Foundation, Democracy Convention chairman

Show Date: 

Cheri Honkala to keynote Democracy Convention

August 1, 2011
Liberty Tree
Cheri Honkala photo

With the Democracy Convention beginning in 23 days, we are please to announce our second keynote speaker: Cheri Honkala. She joins Tom Hayden and Michelle Shocked in headlining five days of celebration, strategy, and community-building. 

RELEASE: As faith in system crumbles, organizers to announce launch of new U.S. Democracy Movement

August 1, 2011
Liberty Tree

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ~ August 1, 2011

As faith in U.S. political system hits historic lows, organizers announce that
LAUNCH OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT WILL BE AUGUST 24-28 IN MADISON, WISCONSIN

(MADISON, WI) ~ The eyes of the nation will return to Madison, Wisconsin, August 24-28, as nearly 1,000 community, labor, and student organizers gather at the first Democracy Convention to launch a movement to bring democracy to the United States.

CAP TIMES: GOP redistricting maps split off, dilute minority communities

July 19, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren

A missed opportunity.

That's how the state's only Latina state lawmaker sums up the new Assembly and Senate district boundary lines draw up and released by Republican lawmakers a little more than a week ago.

With the state's Latino population jumping from roughly 193,000 in 2000 to 323,000 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, says one of the state's 33 Senate seats could have been turned into a predominantly Latino district. The move would have given the state's growing Latino population its first guaranteed voice in the Senate.

MSJ: Nickolaus says she does not plan to show all election-breakdown results

July 18, 2011
Laurel Walker

Waukesha - When Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said in May that she intended to start providing unofficial election night results broken down by municipality - something that might have flagged the kind of snafu that earned her notoriety after the Supreme Court election this spring - she did not mean all municipal results.

Nickolaus told the County Board's Executive Committee on Monday that she'll change her reporting practices based on advice from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

When pressed in committee by Supervisor David Swan as to whether she'd return to past practice of showing results for municipalities, even if the state elections officials don't suggest it, she said, "Not at this point."

JOHN NICHOLS: GOP maps warp state democracy

July 17, 2011
John Nichols

Gov. Scott Walker started his political career as a loser.

A big loser.

In 1990, at the age of 23, Walker waded into state politics as the Republican nominee against first-term state Rep. Gwen Moore in Milwaukee County’s old 7th District.

Walker ran an aggressive campaign that highlighted his strengths and drew support from Republicans who even then saw him as a rising star.

But when the votes were counted on election night — which saw Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson secure a landslide victory — Walker had been pummeled.

Moore (now a progressive Democratic congresswoman) got 69 percent of the vote to Walker’s 31 percent.

Was Walker really that inept? That unappealing?

WSJ: Outside groups flooding recall districts with ads

July 17, 2011
Craig Gilbert

Three things are obvious from the ad wars that are quickly escalating in Wisconsin’s recall elections.

One: They will be very, very expensive.

Spending on broadcast TV for just one race — the northwestern Wisconsin seat now held by Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls — has totaled roughly three-quarters of a million dollars in recent weeks, according to estimates by CMAG, the national firm that tracks campaign spots.

“We are in uncharted territory,” says political scientist and CMAG president Ken Goldstein, referring to the unusual dynamics of these legislative races: mid-summer, stand-alone, quasi-nationalized elections in which nobody is quite sure who will vote and how big the electorate will be.

THE PROGRESSIVE: Sen. Olson hypocritical in his critique of big campaign donations

July 15, 2011
Elizabeth DiNovella

Wisconsin State Senator Luther Olsen is one of the six Republicans facing a recall election this summer. After Tuesday’s Democratic primary, he will now face Representative Fred Clark in the August 9 general election.

Republicans ran “protest” candidates in the primaries in order to drag out the electoral process. All six “fake Democrats” lost.

Delaying the general election allowed the incumbents more time to campaign—and to get more campaign contributions. Millions of dollars are pouring into Wisconsin, some coming from groups outside the state.

JOHN NICHOLS: How ‘fake Democrats’ strategy blew up on GOP

July 14, 2011
John Nichols

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, his conservative legislative allies, the Republican Party of Wisconsin and county Republican parties tried everything in their power to thwart the recall election process, which could check and balance Walker's extreme anti-labor, anti-public schools, anti-social services and anti-local democracy agenda.

Frightened by the prospect of losing three or more Republican-held seats, and with them control of the state Senate, the GOP challenged the petitions that forced the recall elections against six Republican senators who backed the governor's agenda. And they failed.Then Republican lawyers sought injunctions. And they failed.

CAP TIMES: GOP's redistricting plan splits up communities of color

July 14, 2011
Jessica Vanegeren and Shawn Doherty

When Fitchburg Mayor Shawn Pfaff first was elected to office in April, one of his first priorities was to create new voting districts that reflected the city's diversity.

To that end, a committee created one district that circled Fitchburg's farms, another that included its urban area, and two that included more minority voters than whites.

The move to create so-called majority-minority districts made it more likely that the city's 5,000 Hispanics and 2,500 African-Americans would be represented by one of their own. Giving "communities of interest" a distinct voice in the electoral process is a priority of redistricting, according to federal guidelines.