Iron County Progressive

 Trump is Guilty of Treason

Sheila Markin - The Markin Report - June 11, 2022

“Treason is the crime of betraying one’s country 

by attempting to overthrow the government.”

The January 6th Committee is presenting the criminal case of Trump’s treason to 

the American people in a series of public hearings that began on June 9th. The 

focus is on Trump but the committee is also exposing the criminal responsibility of 

allies close to Trump who helped him try to overthrow our government through the 

testimony of Trump’s inner circle. The committee is also warning us that the threat 

from Trump is ongoing and continuing. Trump really could return to power because 

he and his allies are changing the laws in Republican led state houses across the 

country to provide him with a Trump loyal slate of electors that could be appointed 

by state legislatures, overturning the will of the voters. Trump and the Republicans 

are ready to cheat to win and they won’t need a violent mob next time.

What the Committee Revealed

What we saw in the first two hour prime time hearing was a strong opening 

statement and a preview of the coming evidence told to us by Bennie Thompson and 

Liz Cheney. There was supportive video and live testimony from two witnesses who 

were at the scene of the insurrection on January 6th who described what they saw 

and experienced first hand that day. Video clips of statements made by former AG 

Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, General Mike Milley and numerous others 

from Trump’s administration were masterfully woven into the story narrated by 

Cheney and Thompson.

This first hearing set up the overview of the case that Trump was determined to 

stay in power as president by hook or by crook and foreshadowed what he did to 

mastermind and pursue seven schemes to overturn our country’s free and fair 

election with the help of allies, right wing extremists and Fox “news.” One scheme 

after the other was tried, ran into roadblocks and failed. The planned attack on 

Congress on January 6th became Trump’s last stand to stay on as president in 

2020, but the danger to our democracy from Trump still exists.

The Big Lie as Motivator

Trump purposefully and intentionally used the Big Lie about nonexistent election 

fraud to get his supporters to show up en masse at the Ellipse that day with the 

goal of getting a mob to stop the electoral count that would force Trump to leave 

office. Fox was his close ally deliberately disinforming Trump supporters about 

the truth about the election which was hyped as rigged and unfair. Far right 

extremists understood they were being enlisted by Trump’s tweets to show up on 

January 6 it “will be wild.” These extremists had a plan. They led the crowd right 

on cue and on time to disrupt the work of Congress. They came prepared with a 

broadcast system to inform the crowd about what Trump was tweeting out, 

inflaming the crowd and directing them to go after Mike Pence. There were chants 

to hang Mike Pence. A noose was erected. They wore body armor. They brought 

weapons with them.

We heard about how the mob engaged in hand to hand wartime combat from 

Caroline Edwards, one of the injured police officers, an articulate young woman 

who was no match for the thugs who shoved her down and assaulted her and the 

other officers trying to protect congressional legislators from being viciously 

attacked by this mob. Edwards recounted how she saw her fellow officers 

bleeding, vomiting, turning white after being sprayed and how she was slipping in 

their blood on the ground. These thugs were Trump’s goon squad, carrying out his 

bidding to stop the Electoral Count. And Trump was delighted they were fighting 

for him. He eventually told them to go home after many hours and after being told 

over and over to make them stop, but he also told them they were “special” and “we 

love you.” One of the best moments of the hearing was the juxtaposition of 

Trump’s gaslighting tweet after the attack in which he falsely portrayed the mob 

as a bunch of nice guys, saying there was a lot of “love” that day.

What was established in the first public hearing:

1) Trump was informed by his team in no uncertain 

terms that he had lost the election. His staff told him. The 

data guy told him. So Trump KNEW he had lost the election. He refused to 

accept that truth and do what presidents do in a democracy, namely, concede. 

Instead, he engaged in a massive con job. He used the Big Lie as part of his 

scheme to stay in power.

2) Trump was informed in no uncertain terms that the 

election was NOT stolen. His team told him that numerous times. 

Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen was central to his scheme to stay 

in power. He lied to his supporters to get them to come to Washington en 

masse to bulk up and engage in the insurrection that would be spearheaded by 

far right extremist groups that included the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.

3) The insurrection at the Capitol was not 

happenstance or a spontaneous act by Trump 

supporters. It was preplanned and it was part of Trump’s last stand to stay 

president. Trump’s misled supporters really believed the election was stolen 

because Trump told them that. They came to DC to protest what they thought was 

a stolen election. They were duped by Trump, Fox and conservative media into 

being part of an invasive brute force to help the extremists enter the Capitol and 

disrupt the proceedings. Once at the Capitol, Trump’s base supporters were riled 

up by the extremist leaders to attack and enter the buildings, breaking doors, 

fighting in hand to hand combat with Capitol police with the goal of disrupting 

Congress and also capturing congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence 

and others. This was Trump’s goal. He almost achieved it. And it was carried out 

with the help of others we will certainly learn more about in future hearings.

Nick Quested was a videographer embedded with the Proud Boys who established 

that the Proud Boys were not even interested in hearing Trump’s speech at the 

Ellipse. To his surprise, these people were engaged in casing the joint (Congress), 

looking for the less protected areas where they could penetrate the Capitol more 

easily. They went to eat tacos before the attack began. When you are about to 

engage in hand to hand combat for hours you need nourishment.

4) The Oath Keepers and Proud Boys plotted together 

the day before the attack on Congress in a garage. They came prepared on January 

6th wearing flak jackets and protective gear, 

carrying bear spray, pepper spray and other weapons. They also brought guns 

and ammunition which they stashed in their hotel rooms. The plan was to use 

these weapons if Trump declared a state of emergency and used his 

presidential power to order the military to take over of Washington, DC. Trump 

was not able to do in part because of the actions of Mike Pence.

5) Pence realized before January 6th that Trump had 

turned on him because he refused to go along with 

Trump’s plan. Mike Pence refused to do Trump’s bidding. He had been 

totally loyal to Trump throughout the presidency, but like Bill Barr, Trump’s 

plot to stay in power after losing a fair election went beyond Pence’s willingness 

to be a toady anymore. He not only refused to pretend that slates of fairly 

elected state electors should be challenged, he refused to leave the Capitol 

with FBI agents he rightly feared might have been sent by Trump to whisk him 

away so that chaos would ensue at the Capitol allowing Trump to use his 

presidential power to call for martial law. At the White House while the attack 

was ongoing, Trump told allies in his inner circle that maybe the mob had it 

right about wanting to hang Mike Pence, saying he “deserved” that.

6) Trump did nothing to stop the violence despite calls 

to do so from every quarter including his closest 

allies. General Milley recounted hearing only from Mike Pence who asked him 

in no uncertain terms to get help to stop the mob attack. Trump did not try to 

stop his supporters. This is evidence of Trump’s state of mind. He wanted his 

supporters to stop the electoral count. They were doing exactly what Trump 

wanted them to do. He was not at all interested in stopping them.

More Evidence is Coming

There was no evidence so far of direct communication between the Trump team 

and violent extremists led by the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the first 

presentation. But Bennie Thompson is suggesting in interviews with journalists that 

they will be presenting evidence of these extremists communicating directly with 

people in Trump’s orbit. The Justice Department has more tools including subpoena 

power that they could use to find out more than the House committee could about 

this connection between Trump’s inner circle and the violent extremists. I think 

the House is indirectly asking the Justice Department to take it from here and 

work the case.

We Are the Grand Jury. DOJ Could Indict

Whether or not Trump is indicted and tried for the crime of seditious conspiracy, 

the January 6th Committee is presenting the evidence to our country as if we are a 

grand jury. The Committee is not done with its investigation. But it does not have 

the power to indict Trump. The Justice Department does. Based on what we 

learned yesterday, Merrick Garland may well eventually face the difficult decision 

about whether to indict Donald Trump and what that might do to our already 

divisive country if he does.

Not all of the connections have been made just yet that would mark Trump as an 

indictable co-conspirator for sedition. Trump could still wiggle out. The Proud Boys 

and Oath Keepers who are said to be cooperating with the DOJ will be key in this 

regard. DOJ could find out how far up the chain of command the criminal 

conspiracy went. We know from journalists that the Proud Boys had a close 

relationship with Trump ally Roger Stone and these same plotters met with Stone 

in the days before the insurrection.

For the Ages

What we saw yesterday is the beginning of the presentation to all Americans who 

are watching these hearings. And 20 million Americans did watch last night! Far 

more than the numbers who watch Fox “news” hosts like Tucker Carlson. These Fox 

hosts have an audience size of 3.6 million.

Liz Cheney and Bennie Thompson, the face of the Committee, said some things that 

will be remembered for the ages. But I thought nothing was more telling than this 

quote from Liz Cheney:

“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who 

are defending the indefensible: There will come a day 

when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will 


Whether or not Liz Cheney survives her re-election bid to be a Senator from 

Wyoming (she is currently down 26 points), her legacy as a defender of our country 

and our democracy will forever be part of our American history.

What we are witnessing is remarkable. This is a huge moment in our history. Trump 

tried to overthrow our democracy and stay in power against the will of the 

voters. Ultimately and it will be up to us to show up to vote in 2022 and 2024 

to save our country from Trump


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair



If you haven’t yet watched the opening presentation of the January 6 Committee hearings, click this link or screenshot and watch right now:



To watch this hearing is to see, before your eyes, a horror that should be unthinkable: a United States President inciting a mob to prevent, by force, the peaceful transfer of power, and using his authority as commander in chief to prevent any action to disrupt it.


This was President Trump’s initiative, aided and abetted by co-conspirators in the White House. As Rep. Liz Cheney explained, 


As you will see in the hearings to come, President Trump believed his supporters at the Capitol, and I quote, “were doing what they should be doing.” … You will hear that President Trump was yelling, and “really angry at advisors who told him he needed to be doing something more.” And, aware of the rioters’ chants to “hang Mike Pence,” the President responded with this sentiment: “maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Mike Pence “deserves” it.


This is just the beginning of what we are going to learn. It is coming clearly into view that this was a national initiative with many participants—including those in Wisconsin, and other states, who sought to cast fraudulent electoral college votes that would have replaced the will of the voters with the will of someone who sought topple our country’s core idea: that government should be by, of, and for the people.


In Wisconsin, perhaps more than anywhere else, we are reminded on a daily basis that these are the stakes this fall, just as they were in 2020 and will be in 2024. Those who wish to desecrate our democracy, our Constitution, and our flag by subverting the power of voters are working around the clock in our state to find new paths to permanent power. 


To defeat the forces of authoritarianism, we must meet voters where they are—and demonstrate that we will not only keep fighting for their rights and freedoms as voters, but also that we will never cease in fighting, through democratic means, to deliver on their everyday concerns: to bring costs down and wages up, to ensure great jobs and great schools in our state, to ensure we have paved roads, breathable air, drinkable water, and equal justice for all. To build a Wisconsin that lifts up everyone, no matter where they live or what they look like. 


We can’t expect the January 6 Committee hearings to change the minds of the likes of Tim Ramthun, Tim Michels, or Rebecca Kleefisch. But we can watch these hearings, learn from them, and then channel the outrage and heartbreak that they provoke into the energy we need to win this November. 


After all, Wisconsin, every bit as much—or more—than Washington, DC, will determine whether this moment of crisis for our democracy is merely a prologue to worse—or becomes a turning point towards something better. 


In solidarity, 






Tim Michels Flip-Flops On Fundraising, Starts Asking for Cash


Tim Michels is learning the hard way how challenging it is to run a campaign for governor. While he has said that he won’t ask people for money and that he would not “owe anyone anything,” he quickly changed course according to the Journal Sentinel.


Not only did Michels ask for money just three days after he announced his candidacy for governor over email, he has made plenty of asks on conservative radio as well.  If Michels is already breaking his own promises on campaign fundraising, how can Wisconsinites trust him to lead the state?


Tim Michels is learning the hard way how challenging it is to run a campaign for governor. While he has said that he won’t ask people for money and that he would not “owe anyone anything,” he quickly changed course according to the Journal Sentinel.


Not only did Michels ask for money just three days after he announced his candidacy for governor over email, he has made plenty of asks on conservative radio as well.  If Michels is already breaking his own promises on campaign fundraising, how can Wisconsinites trust him to lead the state?








Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair 

 We’ve fought for fair maps. We will never stop fighting for fair maps. But last Friday night, the Wisconsin state Supreme Court chose to inflict a set of GOP-drawn legislative maps on our state that are anything but fair

 Our job is to channel our outrage at this travesty into fuel to renew our fight for democracy. 

 Normally, when courts choose maps, they go with a middle path—neither gerrymandered to favor Republicans nor Democrats. Not here, and not this time. As democracy scholar Rob Yablon wrote, “ the new legislative maps from the WI Supreme Court look to be far and away the most politically skewed court-imposed maps anywhere in the country for at least 20+ years.” 

 Yablon went on to write that, when federal courts last redistricted Wisconsin, “they stressed that judges ‘should not select a plan that seeks partisan advantage,’ and they cast aside maps with evident ‘partisan origins.’”

 Not here. And not this time. After the US Supreme Court’s deeply controversial shadow-docket ruling that, in a severe blow to the Voting Rights Act, struck down the previous set of maps adopted by our state legislature (read an excellent analysis of that ruling here), the GOP-backed 4-3 majority on our state Supreme Court chose a set of maps created by Republican politicians with the sole goal of protecting their political power against accountability to voters.

 This makes our battle that much harder. And it makes it that much more important. 

 If you were thinking about running for state legislature but wanted to wait until you saw the maps—run. We need candidates everywhere. To fight and win districts. To demonstrate, through the vote totals, how skewed these maps are. And to turn out voters who can help us reelect Governor Evers and AG Kaul, beat Ron Johnson, and win statewide victories that will be critical to democracy. Democratic state legislative candidates in 2020, win or lose, helped us beat Donald Trump. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. To save democracy in our state, we need your help now. 

 What’s more—I was grateful for the feedback after 2020 that candidates in every district needed support. So this cycle, I’m proud to share that—on top of the in-kind organizing and other support that the party provided to every Democratic candidate last year—this year, the party will also be investing directly in the candidacy of every non-incumbent Democratic nominee. 

 If you know someone who is thinking about running—urge them to get off the fence, and promise to them that you’ll help however you can. Check in with the Assembly or Senate Democratic Caucus about their work to ensure there is a candidate in your district. If you’re in a place with an incumbent Democrat, check in with friends in other areas to see if you can help them. It’s go time. 

 The extraordinary movement that has been fighting for fair maps for the last decade has made enormous progress in redefining this issue and raising it to public awareness. I tweeted about this movement’s critical work here, and I will keep lifting it up. The state Supreme Court’s outrageous decision must not only energize our work this fall, but also next spring—when it’s critical that we win a majority on that crucial body. 

 It’s beyond clear that the foes of democracy will not give an inch. They will go to extreme lengths to lock in their own power and avoid any iota of public accountability. But they underestimate our resolve. They underestimate the fury of voters. They underestimate the strength inherent in the ideals of democratic self-government. They may not realize it—but we will win. Our belief in the power of the people cannot be deterred—and you, and I, and all of us in this movement will never stop marching forward. 

In solidarity, 



Ron Johnson’s Disastrous Tax Day 

This Tax Day, while Ron Johnson was doubling down on defending a special tax break that he now admits benefited himself and his biggest donors, Rep. Gordon Hintz, Chair Wikler and Wisconsin voters braved the weather to rally outside Johnson’s Oshkosh office. The Tax Day rally protested Johnson’s support of the GOP’s 2022 agenda, which would raise taxes on 32% of Wisconsinites and sunset Medicare and Social Security. 

 While Democrats in Congress have worked to pass critical legislation supporting local businesses, cutting taxes for working families and capping insulin costs, Ron Johnson and his fellow Republican politicians have worked to rig the tax code in a way to benefit himself and his biggest donors.

 News also broke this week that two of Johnson’s biggest donors, Liz and Dick Uihlein – the same donors who claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks thanks to Johnson’s efforts – donated another $280,000 to Johnson’s re-election efforts. Hard working Wisconsinites are sick of Johnson’s self-serving agenda and voters in his hometown made sure to convey the message to him through their Tax Day rally.  

State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh): “Time after time, Ron Johnson has treated people under two systems: one that doesn't have to pay taxes – one that gets out of it – and the rest of us. The fact that we are seeing – just when you thought it couldn't get any worse – Ron Johnson endorsing a GOP plan proposed to go after the middle-class and working-class and raise taxes on 32% of all Wisconsinites…”

WisDems Chair Ben Wikler: “On this Tax Day, we can all agree that working Wisconsinites shouldn't be paying for billionaires' tax bills…We can all agree that politicians like Ron Johnson, who give themselves giant tax cuts and give giant tax cuts to billionaires, should be out of a job come this November.”

 Rebecca Kleefisch’s History of Failing Wisconsin Students and Workforce

Thanks to Governor Tony Evers’ leadership and investment in our workforce, Wisconsin’s unemployment rates are at a record low, sitting at 2.8% after March. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 to Wisconsin’s economy, thanks to Gov. Evers’ leadership, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is below the national average. 

 This is in strong contrast to Rebecca Kleefisch’s record of failure on workforce issues. Though Kleefisch lists building a worker pipeline as part of her campaign platform, as lieutenant governor,, Kleefisch supported a $7.1 million cut to Wisconsin’s technical college system’s funding — a cut that’s 30% of their funding. This was on top of her support for a $250 million cut from the UW system.

 Kleefisch was also happy to support tax breaks for wealthy donors and large corporations. She even told them, behind closed doors, “we want to know how we can love you more.” It’s clear where Kleefisch’s priorities are and they’re certainly not supporting the next generation entering the workforce. 

 Gov. Evers’ understands that Wisconsin colleges are at the forefront of filling jobs across the state and recovering from the pandemic. His latest budget proposed an increase of $36 million in technical colleges over the next two years and secured an increase for technical schools, universities and and K-12 education. 

Despite what Rebecca Kleefisch might claim, it’s clear from her record of failure on workforce issues where she really stands. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Visits Coloma, Wisconsin

This week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Wisconsin, highlighting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s once-in-a-generation investment to our state’s infrastructure. Over the next five years, the state is expected to receive over $5 billion from the Biden-Harris administration which will rebuild roads and bridges, ensure clean drinking water to every home across the state and deliver high-speed internet to rural communities. 

 Secretary Buttigieg met with Governor Evers, union leaders and high school students in Coloma, discussing how the infrastructure law will build upon the work Gov. Evers’ has done in Wisconsin to improve infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin. The combined effort of the Biden-Harris administration and Gov. Evers is setting the Badger State to be more competitive in the 21st century. 


A Message from State Senator

Chris Larson

t’s a rare event that only comes around once in a hundred years. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has identified a new species: The Wausau Squatter. No, it’s not some new type of waterfowl, it’s a new breed of Wisconsin Republican politician exemplified by DNR Board member Fred Prehn, a Wausau dentist who moonlights as an antique arms dealer among other things.

On Sunday, it will be exactly 1 year since Prehn’s term on the Natural Resources Board expired, yet the Wausau Squatter not only remains on the body, he has cast the deciding vote to block any groundwater standards for PFAs in Wisconsin, and to set the public drinking water standard at over 3 times the level recommended by scientists (70 ppt instead of 20 ppt).

But wait, you might say - didn’t Governor Evers appoint a replacement? Why yes, yes he did. Sandra Naas, an eminently qualified candidate, was appointed over a year ago but the obstructionist GOP State Senate has refused to give her a public hearing, much less an up-or-down vote. So here we sit (pun intended), one year later, with the Wausau Squatter undermining the safety of our water thanks to a Republican legislature that loves nothing more than to undermine Governor Evers at the expense of the people of Wisconsin.

One organism by itself does not a species make. There’s always the potential that the Wausau Squatter is some sort of genetic mutation, unable to be replicated in the wild. Sadly, that’s not the case. Dozens of Evers appointees remain in limbo for no apparent reason other than politics. Think of it as the Mitch McConnell strain of cynical politics: hold as many seats open until your side is in the Executive office, functioning democracy be damned. Luckily, we don’t have to let them get away with it.
Some, like DHS Secretary Designee Karen Timberlake, are able to go about their business pretty much as they normally would, save for the title of “designee,” and the worry that at any moment Republicans could call a vote to remove her.

Others, like appointments to the UW Board of Regents and Wausau Squatter replacement Sandra Naas are forced to sit on the sidelines while obstructionists with expired terms are allowed to squat indefinitely as Republicans attempt to run out the clock on the Evers governorship.

We can’t let them get away with it! Legal proceedings are already underway, but the most surefire way to hold Republicans accountable for the Wausau Squatter and other forms of obstruction is to ensure that Governor Evers is re-elected, and for Wisconsin Democrats to outrun the rigged maps to save the veto by preventing a two-thirds Republican majority in both houses.

I’m up for re-election this fall, and we know that every seat matters to protect our institutions and prevent people like the Wausau Squatter from having their way.




Dems eye ousting Johnson in Wis.

Question remains how best to beat two-time senator

 By Scott Bauer Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Wis. — Among the red barns, bins and tractors of a southern Wisconsin dairy farm, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes sat at a white picnic table painted with black spots to resemble a dairy cow.

It was the latest stop on his “Barnes for Barns” tour through rural Wisconsin aimed at appealing to the voters who more typically fuel Republican victories in this closely divided state.

The discussion at Hinchley’s Dairy Farm with an invited group of farmers covered the expected topics — climate change, affordable health care, the alarming rise in farmer suicides and a decline in the small dairy farms that Wisconsin is known for.

But it kept circling back to one key question:

How do you beat Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent?

“We show up,” said Barnes, the state’s lieutenant governor. “We talk to people directly about the challenges they face and that Ron Johnson has consistently ignored. I think one of the biggest problems is a lot of places outside of Milwaukee and Madison just haven’t seen enough Democrats.”

Beating Johnson has vexed Democrats ever since the former plastics manufacturer blew onto the scene as a tea party outsider in 2010 and beat Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, and did it again in 2016. On the way, Johnson has become one of Donald Trump’s most vocal — and to his opponents, most loathsome — supporters.

Johnson was first elected as a fiscal conservative, known for attacking spending and a desire to lower the national debt. His campaign ads featured plenty of bar graphs and charts. In recent years, as the coronavirus rose and Trump fell, he has become a lightning rod as he staked out anti-science positions and embraced conspiracy theories on the 2020 election.

Johnson elevated unproven COVID-19 treatments such as mouthwash and questioned the need for COVID-19 vaccines. He dismissed climate change. He joined the many Republicans who have played down the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saying he wasn’t scared by the insurrectionists but would have been concerned if they had been Black Lives Matter protesters.

More broadly, Johnson voted for a massive tax cut that he recently admitted benefited his business and wealthy campaign donors; blocked proposals to distribute $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans; and argued against landing a federal contract that would have brought hundreds of jobs to Wisconsin.

Now, with control of the Senate at stake and Wisconsin among a handful of states with toss-up races, Johnson goes before voters with an energized conservative base and with bad poll numbers for a Democratic president whose party historically loses in midterm elections.

Yet, there is optimism among Democrats that Johnson — whose favorable rating stood at 33% in February in the Marquette University Law School poll — is more vulnerable than ever.

Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki said Johnson “benefited from two very good Republican years in ’10 and ’16. He may benefit from one again. The challenge is how do you buck that trend.” He added: “I think we can do it. He’s given us enough grist for the mill.”

Democrats intend to paint Johnson as a different man from the one voters elected in 2010, someone who morphed from an outsider concerned about the national debt to, as Zepecki calls him, “a conspiracy theory-fueled crank.”

They are hoping Johnson’s most incendiary comments will turn off just enough of the moderate Republicans who deserted Trump in the Milwaukee suburbs and just enough of the roughly 7% of independent voters to tilt things their way.

The desire to beat Johnson has, for now, largely united the top Democrats in the Senate race before the Aug. 9 primary.

Alex Lasry, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks — his father, Marc, is part owner — has spent millions on television ads as he courts organized labor and attacks Johnson as anti-worker.

Sarah Godlewski, the state treasurer, portrays Johnson as an out-of-touch extremist in her ads. She has been endorsed by Emily’s List.

Tom Nelson, the Outagamie County executive, trails in money but leads in cleverness, cutting creative online videos that include a garage sale fundraiser — his children’s dinosaur toys for $10.

Barnes, who is Black, leads the Democratic field in money, endorsements and early polls. Rural voters aside, his strategy almost surely depends on energizing minority voters in his hometown of Milwaukee — a huge cache of liberal votes that is key to any Democrat running statewide.

Republicans dismiss Barnes’ swing through rural Wisconsin, pointing to comments he made in the 2018 governor’s race in which he said he wasn’t interested in winning over Trump voters.

Barnes later said he wanted to appeal to all “forgotten” voters. They also dismiss the broader Democratic strategy of attacking Johnson as extreme, saying that similar attacks failed in his past two races.




I often say this, that hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” --Bryan Stephenson, Professor NYU School of Law.
And conversely, without justice, it’s hard to keep hope alive, and Wisconsinites were just punched below the belt once again.
Of course I’m referring to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision last Friday to adopt state legislative maps drawn by Republicans, reversing a prior decision to adopt the Governor’s maps, following an utterly meritless intervention by the ultra-conservative U.S. Supreme Court.  Governor Evers said it best…This was “an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade.”
This is just the latest decision that, in my mind, adds to a very bleak picture of politics in Wisconsin and America.
To me, Wisconsinites can no longer depend on our judicial nor legislative branches of government to protect our democracy, and arguably the same thing can be said about those two branches at the federal level.
At the state level, it’s been one disappointment after the next, resulting from what seems like an ugly partnership between our Republican-dominated state legislature and our conservative-majority state Supreme Court.  Wisconsinites have lived through it, but it’s worth retelling…

  • April 2020, weeks after being told to shelter at home, Governor Evers smartly tried to suspend in-person voting, but that ruling was immediately challenged by the Republican legislature and overturned by our state’s Supreme Court.
  • May 2020, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court again sided with Republicans in overturning Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, which turned our state into a Covid Wild West.
  • March 2021, Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned Evers’ Mask Mandate, against overwhelming evidence that indoor masking reduced the spread of Covid.
  • November 2021,  although this doesn’t involve the state Supreme Court, we’re gonna throw in the decision by a Wisconsin judge to acquit Kyle Rittenhouse, a figure who represents everything wrong about vigilante justice, racism, and our out-of-control gun culture, as another example of our broken judicial system.

Yeah but that’s only the story of the highly dysfunctional state of Wisconsin since the pandemic.  AT LEAST we can depend on the U.S. Supreme Court for justice and our U.S. Congress, which in theory is controlled by Democrats, right?  Nope.

And on, and on, and on, and on.
It appears that we can no longer depend on the judicial and legislative branches of government in Wisconsin and America to protect justice and democracy, and that’s almost enough to make a person start losing hope.

Yes, Wisconsin’s Governor Evers has vetoed the most egregious bills coming from our right-wing legislature, and President Biden has presided over a historically impressive post-covid economy, but that somehow doesn’t dispel my sense of dread. There just seems to be, even within the Democratic Party, this unwritten and feckless Neville Chamberlain-esque policy of appeasement towards ever-growing Republican fascism. 
It feels like we’re losing even though we have a Congressional Democratic majority and a Democratic president.  I think this is in part because we’ve never shed the Stockholm syndrome we contracted during the Trump years, but also because we have an entire media empire that profits off of Republican bullying, misinformation, and fear. It may be a false perception, but it seems to me like our national Democratic or Democratically-appointed leaders—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Manchin/Sinema, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and even President Biden, to a certain degree, have become afflicted with this syndrome and too often respond to Republican criminal bullying, projection, and disinformation with the policy of  “appeasement,” hoping that as long as we don’t make the these bullies any angrier, they will stop hurting us. 
And “appeasement” does not inspire hope because most adults know that if you don’t stand up to bullies, they’re gonna keep beating you up.
So where do we find hope?
That’s a hard one for me, because I’ve been trying to keep my own hope alive by finding creative ways to bring common sense and justice back to Wisconsin.  In the last year, we spent tons of money reminding voters, through phone campaigns and television ads, that Republican gerrymandering was cheating. We sued school boards who rejected CDC masking guidelines, making schools vectors for Covid in communities.  And of course, we most recently sued to remove Ron Johnson, Tom Tiffany, and Scott Fitzgerald from office for aiding and abetting the insurrection on January 6th.
But the money we spent against gerrymandering didn’t give us Fair Maps, the lawsuit against school boards moved too slowly to protect communities, and I fear that even if we win our current federal lawsuit against these traitors, the suit will ultimately be sent to the 6-3 majority right-wing Trump-appointed U.S. Supreme Court, where justice will be subverted yet again.
It’s enough to sap one’s hope.  It really is.



But you know what?  Today is Easter, and if the story of Easter doesn’t give one hope in seemingly hopeless times, I don’t know what will.
Jesus Christ! (said in acclimation not in prayer) if a dude can rise from the dead (either literally or proverbially) and give hope to future generations of mankind that their sins will be forgiven, then Jesus Christ!, we might as well keep fighting the good fight, because we HAVE to have FAITH that somehow, justice will prevail.
And you know what?  I truly believe that if normal people keep fighting, for no other reason than having FAITH in a divinity that requires them to fight for a return to justice, kindness, and decency, that this FAITH alone, regardless of the outcome, will provide the hope that the rest of society needs to reject the creeping cynicism that our United States may have fallen irreparably into disrepair.

So I'm going to keep on fighting, specifically NOT because I'm a political leader, but because I'm a concerned citizen, just like the rest of you. I don't know how we're gonna win, but we're certainly not going to win if we lose hope.
So folks, if there was ever a day to have FAITH and keep HOPE alive, it is today, Easter, April 17th, 2022.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sticking with us.
Together, we can make Wisconsin Great Again, one beer and Easter ham at a time.
Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC.