Tag Archives: Trump

PREMIERE: Vincent VanGREAT’s “Radical (Prod. VVG x Q the Sun)” music video

By Joey Grihalva

Well, the day has come. President Trump. Brace yourself. Deep breaths.

They say the pendulum tends to swing in American politics, but I can’t imagine a bigger swing than this. From a charismatic community organizer who appeals to the best of our nature, to an obnoxious businessman who appeals to the worst of our nature.

Milwaukee hip-hop artist Vincent VanGREAT — fresh off a performance at Milwaukee Record’s Local Coverage — felt there was no better time than today to release his new video for “Radical (Prod. VVG x Q the Sun).” The frenetic track is accompanied by clips of police brutality and shots of VanGREAT on snowy Milwaukee streets letting his, um, middle fingers do the talking.

Trump supporters like to allege that police brutality and race relations have gotten worse under Obama’s watch and that he’s somehow responsible. This is nonsense. Police brutality was undoubtedly worse under previous administrations.

What changed during the Obama years is that now almost everyone has a video camera in their pocket, making it easier to document and expose police brutality. An increase in racial tension is simply a response to this increased visibility and awareness of police brutality.

It is important to note that when we say “Fuck the law,” we are not advocating anarchy, but expressing anger towards an unjust system that disproportionately harasses, arrests and imprisons people of color and marginalized communities. We want an end to police brutality, not an end to police. Ultimately, like VanGREAT says in the video’s preamble, we want more “love, peace and light.”

“Radical” is the second visual from VanGREAT’s excellent self-produced 2016 album UnGREATful, which you can buy on iTunes. The video was shot by JSwaqq. 

“This record/visual is not to promote violence nor hate towards law enforcement or government of any kind. It is simply to raise awareness of current situations that are affecting many people around the world. With all the darkness and evil that we are forced to live with these days we must ALL remember to spread love, peace and light no matter what race, age or gender we are. God is love!” – Vincent VanGREAT

(It’s also important to note that when we say “Fuck Trump,” we mean FUCK TRUMP!)

Man says Sheriff David Clarke detained him over a disapproving look

A Milwaukee man says David Clarke, Milwaukee’s tough-talking, cowboy-hat wearing sheriff, detained him after a flight because the man shook his head at the lawman, who’s gained a national prominence for his outspoken support of Donald Trump.

Dan Black said in a complaint submitted through the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office website that his gesture of disapproval was about football, not politics. Black said he was disappointed that Sheriff David Clarke was wearing Dallas Cowboys gear the same day that team was playing the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs.

But Clarke didn’t view the interaction as harmless. He said in a Facebook post Wednesday that he “reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.”

The encounter happened during boarding for a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee hours before kickoff. The Packers went on to beat the Cowboys 34-31.

Black, 24, said in the complaint that Clarke wasn’t wearing his trademark cowboy hat and Black asked him whether he was Milwaukee’s sheriff. When Clarke answered “yes,” Black shook his head and started walking toward his seat, he said, when Clarke asked him if he had a problem. Black shook his head to say “no.”

Black said deputies questioned him for about 15 minutes after the plane landed before letting him go.

The status of Black’s complaint was not immediately known.

Clarke, whose bizarre antics have made him something of a national joke, had his profile elevated even higher recently when he was mentioned as a possible candidate for a job in Trump’s administration. He was one of the few African-Americans to speak at the Republican convention and has called anti-Trump protesters “anarchists” who “must be quelled.”

In his Facebook response to Black’s complaint, Clarke warned: “Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.” He added he “does not have to wait for some goof to assault him.”

Black, who said he was shaken by the experience, called Clarke “unhinged.”

“Who in their right mind responds, ‘I’m going to kick that guy’s ass next time?’” Black said.

In a prepared statement, Black’s attorney William F. Sulton, said that Clarke’s threats  have broad implications. “Citizens should be able to complain about public officials without fear of retaliation,” Sulton said. “Sheriff Clarke’s statements are coldly calculated to intimidate Mr. Black with physical violence for engaging in Constitutionally protected activity. Law enforcement simply do not have license to beat up citizens for whatever perceived slight. Mr. Black will preemptively stop Sheriff Clarke’s attacks with the full force of the legal system. In addition to protecting Mr. Black’s rights, we will work to ensure that Mr. Black is safe from the dangers caused by Sheriff Clarke’s promotion of violence.

[UPDATED to include response from Black’s attorney, William Sutton.]

Scott Walker finally retires campaign debt, but other candidates still owe

Scott Walker has finally paid off the debt he accrued during his short-lived presidential run, putting him in a good position for his third gubernatorial bid.

Walker owed $1.2 million when he dropped out of the race in 2015 after just 71 days. In June 2016, he still owed more than $800,000 for a campaign that spent lavishly — up to $90,000 per day at its peak.

Walker had promised to pay off all the campaign  debt by the end of 2016 and apparently he did. The governor employed some unusual fundraising strategies, including selling pro-Walker T-shirts for $45.

The campaign said it could not guarantee color and size of the T-shirts, but suggested they were suitable for framing or for use as material in crafts work.

In May, Walker offered to rent out his email and donor lists to other political candidates in order to raise money to retire his campaign  debt.

Walker campaign adviser Joe Fadness said in a memo to Walker on Jan. 13 that his campaign debt had been erased thanks to robust fundraising in December. Fadness hinted that the strong fundraising in December shows Walker is in a good position for a third gubernatorial run.

Fadness told Walker he’s showing strength at a crucial time and noted the governor has about 30 fundraising events scheduled for the first half of 2017.

Other candidates’ campaign debt

Meanwhile, other 2016 presidential candidates have left a swath of debt for security services across the nation, including here in Wisconsin.

The Center for Public Integrity reported this week that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events — from Vallejo, California, to the University of Pittsburgh.

Green Bay officials said the three White House aspirants stiffed the city on police protection costs totaling $24,000.

“We appreciate, and we feel honored, when the candidates come to Green Bay,” Celestine Jeffreys, chief of staff to Mayor Jim Schmitt, told the CFPI. “We are also very appreciative when they honor their debts.”

CFPI investigators found that costs associated with Trump’s campaign were the highest, because the president-elect’s rallies were unruly and often violent. Trump sometimes incited brawls, and his campaign staffers were physically involved in some of them.

Trump’s refusal to pay for security contrasts sharply with his campaign rhetoric. One of his central messages was calling for increased respect and resources for law enforcement.

But Trump — despite receiving demand letters and collection notices — doesn’t acknowledge in federal campaign financial disclosures that it owes cities a cent. Ditto the Clinton campaign, which hasn’t paid at least $25,000 in bills.

The Sanders campaign, on the other hand, acknowledges in federal campaign filings that it owes $449,409 to nearly two dozen municipalities and law enforcement agencies.


Texas Republican introduces bathroom bill

A Republican Texas state senator today introduced a bathroom bill that would prohibit transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly marked the proposed bill, named the “Texas Privacy Act,” as a top legislative priority, saying it’s necessary to protect public safety.

The bill is similar to North Carolina’s notorious House Bill 2, which made the state a pariah as well as a political flashpoint for much of last year. The law played a key role in flushing North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory out of office in November, when voters in the state narrowly elected former state Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democratic challenger who had called the law “a national embarrassment.”

The law also cost North Carolina millions in lost business. High-profile entertainers, such as Bruce Springsteen, canceled plans to perform in the state.

At least one business group in Texas warned today that the measure would hurt that state’s economy as well.

The Texas Privacy Act comes four months after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked a federal directive issued by the Obama administration requiring public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. That judgment was issued in a case brought by Texas, Wisconsin and nine other states challenging the directive.

Several days ago, O’Connor blocked another Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights, this time over health rules that social conservatives say could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs.

A coalition of religious medical organizations said the rules could force doctors to help with gender transition contrary to their religious beliefs or medical judgment. O’Connor agreed in his 46-page ruling, saying the rules place “substantial pressure on Plaintiffs to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures.”

Transgender rights advocates called that a far-fetched hypothetical, saying a person would not approach a doctor who lacked suitable experience and expertise.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund criticized the injunction as contrary to existing law and said it expects the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

“Judge O’Connor’s conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant,” said Ezra Young, the organization’s director of impact litigation.

O’Connor’s rulings and the Texas Privacy Act add to the rising fears of transgender people that more GOP-governed states will approve legislation limiting transgender rights and will reject proposals to expand such rights. Wisconsin Republicans are expected to take up a bathroom bill in the current legislative session, after dropping one last year.

Helping to fuel fears among transgenders is the uncertainty over the position that will be taken by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Many transgender people expect him to abandon or weaken the transgender protection efforts pursued by the Obama administration.

Trump sent mixed signals about his approach to transgender rights during his campaign, at one point saying transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever bathroom she preferred in one of his luxury buildings.

At the same time, Trump declined to repudiate North Carolina ‘s House Bill 2. He said such policy decisions should be left up to the states.


Trump silent after co-chair wishes death on Obama, says 1st lady is male

Carl Paladino, who co-chaired president-elect Donald Trump’s New York campaign, confirmed telling an alternative newspaper that he hoped President Barack Obama would die from mad cow disease and that the first lady would “return to being a male.”

A millionaire real estate developer who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 as a Republican, Paladino made the comments in response to a survey by Artvoice, a Buffalo publication that asked local artists, performers and business owners for their New Year’s wish list.

Asked what he would most like to happen in 2017, Paladino responded that he hoped “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations” with a cow, dies and is buried in a cow pasture.

Asked who he would like to see “go away,” he said Michelle Obama.

“I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” he wrote.

Reached at his western New York office by phone, Paladino, a member of the Buffalo school board, confirmed to the AP the answers published in Artvoice were his.

In a subsequent emailed statement, Paladino, 70, claimed his comments had “nothing to do with race” but instead reflected his opinion of the president’s performance in office.

“Merry Christmas and tough luck if you don’t like my answer,” he wrote.

As recently as August, Paladino falsely claimed Obama was not Christian, telling the New York Observer that to average Americans, “there is no doubt he is a Muslim.”

And in 2010, Paladino was criticized after it was revealed he had forwarded to friends racially charged emails that depicted Obama as a pimp.

A spokeswoman for Trump, who earlier this month met with Paladino in Trump Tower, didn’t immediately respond when asked for the president-elect’s reaction to the comments.
But Democrats and civil rights groups were quick to condemn them.

In a statement, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the remarks by his former gubernatorial opponent, “racist, ugly and reprehensible.”

“While most New Yorkers know Mr. Paladino is not to be taken seriously, as his erratic behavior defies any rational analysis and he has no credibility, his words are still jarring,” he said.
Frank Mesiah, the outgoing president of the NAACP’s Buffalo chapter, urged other politicians to publicly denounce Paladino.

“He says this stuff without anybody countering him,” he said. “By their silence, to me, they’re condoning that. They’re accepting him and his behavior.”

The White House had no immediate comment.

Jake Pearson also contributed to this report from New York.

Trump says he didn’t want A-list performers who rejected him anyhow

After multiple A-list performers turned down Donald Trump’s invitations to perform at his inauguration ceremony in January, the president-elect now says that he didn’t want them anyhow.

Trump says he wants “the people” to attend his inauguration, dismissing the “so-called ‘A’ list celebrities” who’ve dismissed his overtures. He claims they are seeking tickets to the Jan. 20 event, even though they want no part of performing in it, according to The Associated Press.
On Twitter late Thursday, Trump slammed the celebrities who supported the campaign of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, saying, “look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING.”

The tweet doesn’t name any specific celebrities.

The website Vulture posted a partial list of the high-profile performers who have said no to Trump. They include Elton John, who was reportedly furious with Trump for using his song “Tiny Dancer” on the campaign trail without his permission. John issued a statement saying, “I’m not a Republican in a million years. Why not ask Ted f**king Nugent?”

Céline Dion is said also to have strongly refused the Trump administration’s invitation.

Trump’s transition team claims that Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli asked to perform at the inauguration but was rejected by Trump. There have been media reports, however, saying that Bocelli was booked but backed out of the event after backlash from his fans.
Kiss, Garth Brooks and David Foster also have refused invitations to perform at the inauguration of one of history’s most polarizing president-elects.

So far, Trump’s transition team has named just two high-profile acts willing to perform. Yesterday, the Radio City Rockettes announced that the troupe would participate. So did the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, although that decision prompted some backlash against the celebrated group.
Jackie Evancho, a contestant on America’s Got Talent has also said yes to Trump.

Trump’s inauguration event is expected to have far fewer well-known entertainers than inaugurations of other recent presidents.

Despite controversy, Wisconsin electors will stick with Trump

Brian Westrate is one of 10 Republican Party insiders selected to serve as electors, the people who will cast ballots across the country Monday for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. Electors have been under pressure from Trump opponents to not cast their ballots for him, even if he won the state.

Westrate laughed when asked if anyone had tried to convince him not to cast his Electoral College vote for president-elect Donald Trump.

“Let me give you the total as of right now,” Westrate said early last week. “48,324 emails about my role as elector, some have been for Mr. Trump and some have been asking me to maintain my role and honor.”
The small-business owner and GOP district chairman in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, said he also got about 100 letters or postcards, from all 50 states, and 30 phone calls.

“I have a Twitter debate with a former porn star from California asking me to change my vote,” said Westrate, a Republican activist from Eau Claire. “It’s been fascinating.”

Westrate said he isn’t budging, and neither are any of the other Republican electors in Wisconsin who spoke to The Associated Press. Six of the 10 electors spoke with AP about their intentions while the other five did not respond to phone or email messages.
But elector Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party, insisted that all of them would be sticking with Trump.

“Wisconsin voters spoke loud and clear and I intend to honor their decision,” Courtney said. “All of us will be doing the same.”

Trump defeated Clinton in the state by less than a percentage point.

Democratic members of the Electoral College trying to stop Trump from becoming president have dubbed themselves “Hamilton Electors” and are trying to convince electors from both parties to unite behind another Republican.
It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House, and Trump won enough states to garner 306 electoral votes.

Three dozen electors would have to fall away for him to lose, and only one Republican elector nationwide told AP he wouldn’t vote for Trump.

Still, a cloud of illegitimacy will hang over Trump’s presidency. He won three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — by razor-thin margins, which led to calls for recounts. Despite Trump’s tiny victories in those states, however, election laws award him all of their electoral votes. Without them, he would have lost.

Clinton won the popular vote, racking up a significant majority of 2.8 million more votes than Trump. The president-elect, however, contends that Clinton’s winning votes were cast fraudulently by illegal immigrants, although he’s offered no evidence.
While Trump and his campaign describe his victory as an “electoral landslide,” his win actually ranks in the lowest one-third of electoral victories since World War II.

Trump’s win is also overshadowed by Russian hacking attacks aimed at helping him and hurting Clinton. There was also a Russian-coordinated campaign of misinformation on social media that vilified Clinton, persuading a majority of Republicans that Clinton operated a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor.

Trump is a self-proclaimed fan of Russia’s virtual dictator Vladimir Putin, who has amassed $85 billion in assets as that nation’s entrenched, military-backed leader. He could only have amassed such a fortune through the graft and corruption that are as rampant in post-Soviet Russia, just as they were under communism. Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has strong financial ties to the Russian state’s oil industry.

All of the many unprecedented circumstances surrounding the 2016 election have led to calls for electoral reform by voters from both parties.

The year our Constitution failed us

The 2016 presidential election yanked back the curtains on a couple of substantial flaws in the U.S. legal code and Constitution.

Prior to the ascension of Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world, who knew that our laws give the president a free pass on conflicts of interest?

We all know now, because Trump’s been upfront about maintaining his involvement in his vast — and largely invisible — array of international enterprises and financial relationships after taking office. Everyone knows that such activities on the part of elected officials are unethical. We also assumed they’re illegal.

But Trump has brought to light the fact that the president and vice president are immune from being charged with conflicts of interest. So the Trump administration will pursue a path that gives the appearance — at the very least — that his ability to make decisions on behalf of the people rather than his financial interests is compromised.

The Republican Party has indicated that it will not investigate any of Trump’s many potential conflicts. As House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, Trump should handle his conflicts “however he wants to.” We wonder whether that attitude also applies to the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 9, which bans the president’s acceptance of money from foreign governments.

Trump International Hotel, D.C., anyone?

The Republican Party has not always been so cavalier about the business dealings of presidents. Jimmy Carter gave up his peanut farm after being elected president, only to be subjected to a six-month investigation by a GOP-appointed special prosecutor.

Americans look down on nations where political leaders exploit their positions to amass fortunes at the expense of their citizens — nations such as Russia, a country idealized by Trump and led by a man who has skimmed billions. We think that the United States is better than that. But now we’re being asked to look up to an American president almost as financially non-transparent as Putin.

Trump made his intentions to flout ethical standards known during his campaign. So how did he win the presidency?

The answer to that question points to another major flaw in the Constitution: the Electoral College.

The Electoral College shreds the principle of one person, one vote in three ways. First, voters in more-populated states have less Electoral College clout than those in sparsely populated states, as measured by a voter per electoral vote ratio. Second, almost all states are winner-take-all, meaning that even a losing candidate’s significant showing in a given state has no Electoral College value. Third, campaigns need only “competitive” states to win in the Electoral College, thus rendering the voters in most states not worth campaigning for or listening to.

As a result this year, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, she was not elected president because of slim losses in several states, including Wisconsin, which gave the Electoral College win to Trump.

Ironically, the Electoral College was established in part to stop shady, unqualified candidates like Trump from winning the White House by fooling the masses with phony populist demagoguery. Of course it was also intended to preserve the “institution” of slavery; southerners feared that northerners who opposed it would prevail in a popular election, due to that north’s larger population.

In the past, two efforts to pass Constitutional amendments eliminating the Electoral College lost by tiny margins in the Senate. Due to vast Republican majorities in the House as well as state legislatures, there’s virtually no chance of enacting such an amendment now.

For the foreseeable future, the presidential vote of a Wyoming citizen will continue to be worth 3.6 times the vote of a Californian. American democracy will remain an illusion.

Mark Pocan: Fighting Trump to save eight years of hard-won progress

The end of Obama’s presidency leaves the LGBTQ community at a crossroads. While it remains to be seen whether the next president will rollback protections and civil rights for our community, the track record of the Republican party and Donald Trump’s recent Cabinet appointments do not give me confidence.

The president-elect, and many of the people he is surrounding himself with, have shown apathy and even contempt for LGBTQ people, women, people of color and immigrants. The radically conservative agenda they are proposing unfairly targets so many communities that have struggled to achieve equality. As an LGBTQ elected official and a proud member of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, I am on the frontline of the battle to save the eight years of hard-won progress that is now in danger – and I will embrace that role.

The LGBTQ community intersects with all other communities, spanning every demographic group. We are all genders, races and members of every religious community. We come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, levels of education and hold different systems of belief.

When our community is under attack, everyone is under attack. This is why it is important we begin to operate in unison with a shared mission and vision to fight anti-equality efforts.

Together, we must fight to make sure employers cannot discriminate against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — in Wisconsin or anywhere in our country. I am incredibly proud that Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to protect people based on sexual orientation, yet 34 years after that landmark bill was signed, we have yet to protect transgender people from being fired from their jobs or denied service at a grocery store, simply because of who they are.

This injustice extends to the majority of states in our nation, and the absence of a federal law makes the LGBTQ community incredibly vulnerable. This is just one of many equality issues we expected to address in Congress next year, but now seems in peril given the election results.

There is still progress that needs to be made, and we cannot allow the momentum we gained over the past eight years to falter.

It is now more apparent than ever that LGBTQ representation in elected positions at every level of government matters. With this election, we now have 500 out and proud elected officials in the country. The support of allies is invaluable, but it cannot replace the understanding of a lived experience — knowing what it’s like to be denied relationship recognition or being targeted for violence because you are holding your partner’s hand. LGBTQ elected officials understand the gravity of these issues, so in this post-election uncertainty, we are coming together to use our collective power to effectively oppose efforts to target the rights of the LGBTQ community or any other community.

The fight won’t be easy — but know that as your Congress member, I will be an outspoken and relentless voice for equality regardless of who is in the White House, and I will do everything I can to protect our progress in the coming months and years.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan represents Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District

 Chicago removes Donald Trump honorary street signs

City workers have removed two Donald Trump honorary street signs near his downtown Chicago hotel and condominium tower, The Associated Press reports.

Mike Claffey of the city’s Department of Transportation said the signs were removed from their posts near the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Sunday. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that he doesn’t know what became of them.

The latest removal of Trump honorary street signs comes about two months after a third Trump honorary street sign in the area was stolen.

Last month, the Chicago City Council voted to strip the honorary designation from the President-elect because of his characterization of Chicago as a war zone” during his campaign.

The massive Trump sign on the hotel, which has been an ongoing source of contention between the president-elect and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, remains hard to miss. The letters in Trump’s name are 20-feet tall, perhaps rivaling the size of his ego.

Blair Kamin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic for the Chicago Tribune has validated the mayor’s criticism.

“If this sign was in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, nobody would care — but it is in Chicago, and in a part of Chicago full of great buildings from the 1920s to the 1960s and onward,” Kamin said in June 2014. “None of the other towers have signs on them.”

Trump responded as usual, blasting Kamin as “a third-rate architectural critic.”

Although the tacky sign remains, a local architect is pushing for the installation of four giant pig balloons to block it from public view.

That should spawn some tweets.