Monday, November 23, 2015

GOP Turkeys hate Obama Pardons on Thanksgiving.

I'll let Public Policy Polling stuff these Republican turkeys with own bitter tasting Obama-derangement syndrome: 
The examples of the GOP's reflexive opposition to President Obama's agenda are many
but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President's executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. 

Only 11% of Republicans support the President's executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that's a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama's name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what. Overall there's 35/22 support for the pardon of Macaroni and Cheese thanks to 59/11 support from Democrats and 28/21 from independents.

Carson's take on Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers has roots in Comedic History....

I suppose there is a chance in some dystopic future Bill O'Reily's books on history will be the only source we have left to cling to, and be taken as fact.

But seriously, it's Ben Carson's historically inaccurate comments that I found funny, and reminiscent of a Bob & Ray bit from the mid-60's.

In an interview with C-SPAN, Carson was asked about his book, "A More Perfect Union." Here's our sleepy eyed, near comatose candidate Carson:

Carson Inaccurately Credits Thomas Jefferson with Writing Constitution: But in reality, the founding father was the lead author of the Declaration of Independence. Carson erroneously said the founding fathers had "no elected office experience."
"I’m impressed by a lot of them, but particularly impressed with Thomas Jefferson, who seemed to have very deep insight into the way that people would react. And he tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people’s natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”
Carson's response reminded me of this great bit from Bob & Ray, about another historical author:

Republicans exploit Syrian Refugees to win Presidential Election!

Disappointingly, Democrats were willing accomplices to GOP efforts to spread stupidity and fear about Syrian refugees. Our own Rep. Ron Kind jumped on board the “stupid” bandwagon. See the list of gutless Democrats here.

It’s hard to imagine anyone getting behind the following compilation of reckless uninformed fear laced rants, but they did, marking another very dark moment in U.S. history. I put together all the clips I could find in just a couple of hours, so there's still a whole lot more I missed. Will we look back on all this with utter disgust? This is what the Republican Party is using to divide the public in order to win a presidential election. It's eleven minutes of mostly hate and a few moments of honesty:

The claims that the screening process isn't rigorous enough is total BS, as you can see that by the screen capture here:

Consider this journey into the manufactured fear of Syrian refugee terrorists getting something for nothing:
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) suggested that Syrian refugees are just trying to come to the United States for a "paid vacation" ... "We’re paying them about $15,000 a year in free health care, free food, free shelter, free clothing, free transportation," according to audio posted by ThinkProgress. "That answers very quickly why so many of them want to come to the United States of America. Were paying them to come here. It's a paid vacation!"
Speaker Paul Ryan constructed this Orwellian take on the refugees, after constructing what would be an indefinite road block to Syrian immigration: "Certified safe by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence." Of course it's never going to happen, and yet...
 "We are a compassionate nation. We always have been, and we always will be."
You would think Ryan had access to the chart below, or have some working knowledge of it after cooking up his impossible test for Syrian refugees trying to come to the U.S.:

The only person that could cut through the GOP rhetoric? Comedian John Oliver picked up where our news media dropped off the face of the earth:

“Every generation has had its own ugly reaction to refugees, whether they are the Irish, the Vietnamese, the Cubans, or the Haitians, and those fears have ben broadly unfounded. In fact, there was only one time in American history when the fear of refugees wiping everyone out did actually come true, and we’ll all be sitting around a table celebrating it on Thursday.”
And religious freedom? It apparently has more to do with contraception and gay marriage than it does letting Muslims freely exercise their religion beliefs:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Republicans to allow babies and kids of any age to carry a gun hunting with their "responsible" mentors.

Parents were always quick to remind their kids, "just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Those days are gone with our defiant juvenile playground bullies in charge of state. That advice was apparently a parental wrong they're now determined to make right. They're in charge, and no ones around now to take away their toys...guns.

Okay, I'm gonna say it again just for grins...this time I think, even conservative voters will have had enough? I can dream:
Mentored huntingSenate Bill 301 would eliminate the minimum age for hunters in the state's mentored hunting program. It would also allow multiple weapons to be used during a mentored hunt, effectively allowing the mentor to hunt alongside the novice.

Current law requires mentored hunters to be at least 10 years old and allows only one weapon be used.
Yes, the adults in the state are of course stunned by this unexpected irrationality: 
The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation issued the first official reaction to the bill. It is strongly in opposition, said Ralph Fritsch, a WWF member from Townsend.  "The program was designed well and has been very safe with the 10 age limit and only one weapon," Fritsch said. "There is no need to change it, and possibly a big risk if you do. We feel it is irresponsible." The WWF board of directors voted unanimously. 

Republican take aim at tradition, and Deer Hunting Customers at Taverns & Gas Stations, telling them to register deer online.

The memories of hanging out at the tavern with my dad, who made the rounds swapping stories about the ones that got away, are fading away now. And unfortunately, the next generation won't even know what they're missing as they register their deer kill online.  

I suppose technology marches on, but our job creating Republicans didn't hesitate to plow ahead anyway and do away with the already small amount of business taverns and gas stations have in the winter months during the hunting season. Real job creators...
Hunters can register deer by phone, but not everyone pleased: For the first time, Wisconsin’s 600,000 deer hunters can register their deer by phone and Internet. The new system has some tavern and gas station owners concerned about lost business.

The new registration system has been in place for archery and bear season this fall. Cook, the owner of Uncle Mike's, noticed the change right away."Business is way down. You just don't have the influx of hunters," said Cook.

Al Bock, owner of the Cabin Bar & Grill in Coloma, said his tavern was always busy during the gun-deer season, but when it became a registration station five years ago, business doubled.
He can kiss that business goodbye. And like everything else Republican legislators and Walker appointees don't give a rats ass about, they've got their know-it-all response:
The DNR sees it differently. 
Now shut up, they won.

Yes, Republicans want to sell arms Terrorists in US!!!

When you summarize a failure like banning the sale of guns to terrorists, you can see just how radical Republicans have become, and mindlessly beholden to the wacky NRA. 
Democrats are renewing calls for Congress to pass legislation aimed at preventing terrorists from buying guns. Similar bills — including a post-9/11 measure backed by the Justice Department under Republican President George W. Bush — have been stymied for years, thanks in large part to opposition from gun-rights groups and congressional Republicans.
Yes, our frightened party of armed panicky paranoids have been arming terrorists for years and no one knew, especially those brainy tea party dunces.
According to a March analysis by the Government Accountability Office, people on the FBI's consolidated Terrorist Watchlist successfully passed the background check required to purchase firearms more than 90 percent of the time, with more than 2,043 approvals between 2004 and 2014. The office is an investigative branch of Congress.
I guess it fits into the current narrative, that any gun law is worthless, since terrorists and criminals will find a way to get fire arms anyway. So what's the use?

Seriously, this new bill fine tunes the ban on gun sales to terrorists, and it's still expected to fail to get the votes in the Republican Senate and House:
The new Democratic push would let the attorney general compile a list of known and suspected terrorists. Federally licensed gun dealers would be barred from selling firearms to them if government officials believed they might use the weapon for terrorism.
Again, inept Republicans want to reassess and discuss it, you know, talk about it for awhile, until we forget about it completely. Now that's governing with courage and leadership:
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did not respond directly when asked Thursday if he favored barring people on the watch list from buying guns, saying, "We are just beginning this process of reassessing all of our security stances."
The fact that the new Democratic proposal is a fined tune list of suspected terrorist, and not just those many people on the "watch list," the NRA wants to misdirect and anger members by accusing the Dems of exploiting the Paris attacks:
The National Rifle Association signaled this week it will oppose Feinstein's bill, as it did those before it … "It is appalling that anti-gun politicians are exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push their gun-control agenda and distract from President Obama's failed foreign policy." 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Quick to Kill the GAB, Republicans wait till next June to roll out new elections agency.

After Republicans hastily completed their extraordinary session with rapid fire destruction of election oversight and campaign finance laws, they've oddly decided to roll out the new elections agency at the latest possible date; June 2016, 5 months before the election.

The board of former judges losing their jobs at the GAB asked Scott Walker to fire them early, so the new setup had some time to get the process right:
Tasking a new agency with elections oversight months before the 2016 election could lead to headaches for voters, according to the director of the state's elections and ethics agency -- on track to be dismantled by a bill lawmakers passed this week. 

In a newly released memo to Walker, the GAB’s Kevin Kennedy urged Walker to veto the measure. One of the reasons Kennedy gives is that, under the bill, the new elections commission would take effect June 30. The upcoming general election is Nov. 8. It is a presidential election year -- those elections typically attract the most turnout -- and likely to be the first in which the state's voter ID requirement is enforced on a mass scale.

Kennedy writes that the timing "will create significant administrative problems for the conduct of elections in the upcoming presidential election year. The effective date of this bill – roughly five months prior to a major federal/state election – is irresponsible, if not reckless, and could have major impacts on voters across the State of Wisconsin," Kennedy tells Walker in the memo.
Reminds me of the Democratic warnings about WEDC, and we know what happened there. Oh, I forgot, they were just being partisan. 

And since “irresponsible” is their middle name, and Republicans have set the bar so low, their voters won’t find the following comment remotely shocking:

"I think it's a good time to do it," the bill's Assembly sponsor, Rep. Dean Knudson, said last month. 
Of course he does.

Kentuckians against gay marriage & abortion now realize...they voted against their own health insurance?

The liberal rational side of the issues have always had a hard time understanding Republicans who vote against their own best interest. We now have a glimpse into why. It all starts with “taking their country back” from the “Democrat” terrorists, who must be purged from the political process. Feeling cornered, conservative have no other choice than to vote Republican:  
The 66 percent of Owsley County that gets health coverage through Medicaid now must reconcile itself with the 70 percent that voted for Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin, who pledged to cut the state's Medicaid program and close the state-run Kynect health insurance exchange.
Crazy yes, but there's a reason behind the apparent madness:

Read more here:
Kentucky voters create ‘a big problem’ for themselves: We talked last week about a middle-aged Kentucky man who relies heavily on Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, but nevertheless voted for Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R), who ran on a platform of destroying Medicaid expansion. “[I]t doesn’t look to me as if [Bevin] understands,” the man said, struggling with the consequences of his own vote. It’s a problem that apparently didn’t occur to him until after he backed the far-right candidate.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported today on Owsley County, Kentucky, where most local residents receive health coverage through Medicaid, but where most local residents also voted for the anti-Medicaid candidate.

Lisa Botner, 36, belongs to both camps. Botner, a community college student, said “Just with the blood tests, you’re talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance.” So why in the world would she support Bevin and vote to undermine her own interests? “I’m just a die-hard Republican,” the woman said.

The Herald-Leader article quoted a political scientist who crunched the numbers and found that the Kentucky counties most reliant on Medicaid expansion were also the most likely to vote for the candidate who vowed to tear down Medicaid expansion.
The following nails it:
Owsley County Judge-Executive Cale Turner responded, “To be honest with you, a lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I’m afraid they voted away their health insurance.”
Conservative media had a big hand in it as well:
The community's largest-circulation newspaper, the Three Forks Tradition in Beattyville, did not say much about Kynect ahead of the election. Instead, its editorials roasted Obama and Hillary Clinton, gay marriage, Islam, "liberal race peddlers," "liberal media," black criminals and "the radical Black Lives Matter movement." "The people I talk to, health care wasn't even mentioned," said Gary Cornett, chairman of the Owsley County Republican Party.
When we saw the signs, "Keep government out of Medicaid," Republicans saw an exploitable hole you could drive a Mack truck through:
Transylvania University, political scientist Andrea Malji said she heard people back home denounce "Obamacare" while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect. They didn't seem to realize that Kynect is the same thing as Obamacare.".
Medicaid and the survival of Rural Hospitals: This is a national problem:
In Alabama, where about a month ago, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) acknowledged something unexpected: he’s starting to see the benefits of Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. The Republican governor conceded that Alabama has been “realistic” and consider the future of rural hospitals. Georgia, which has struggled with rural hospitals closing because state Republicans refuse to consider Medicaid expansion, saw another facility announce last week it will permanently close in December – the “fifth rural Georgia hospital to shut its doors since 2013.” 

Walker's WEDC Disaster Continues.....

WEDC Probably Breaking Law: Here's a quick note on their latest possible illegal activity:
Since 2009, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Commerce Department have awarded $101.7 million in jobs tax credits, but only had the statutory authority to award $80.4 million over that period, according to a memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
It appears WEDC is spending money in advance, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, funds that would normally have been allocated to future legislatures and governors.
Department of Administration disagrees, saying the allocations were allowed because they were awarded in WEDC contracts and will be claimed in future years. Under that interpretation, WEDC could sign new tax credit contracts totaling $220 million in 2017 stretched out over 10 years, effectively binding future Legislatures and governors to honor those contracts, according to Bob Lang, director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau ... his analysis was based on consultation with several legislative lawyers. “They believe that it is unlikely that DOA’s interpretation would be upheld,” Lang wrote.
Wouldn't you know, the governors panting lapdog AG Brad Schimel will be right there defending Walker's latest con:
The Department of Justice plans to issue an informal legal opinion supporting the DOA analysis. A spokesman for Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, who is also on the WEDC board, said he’s not certain there is a problem that needs to be resolved given the DOA and DOJ interpretation.
Everything is going as planned. 

Walker's losses mounting up, Tyson Foods in Jefferson is leaving too, shedding 400 workers.

Wisconsin's new business climate, graded tops by corporate CEO's everywhere, is killing the state. 
The Tyson Foods plant in Jefferson will be shutting down next year. roughly 400 workers all expected to be laid off by October 2016 ... the plant in Jefferson has been in operation for roughly 100 years
Here's WKOW's coverage:

Adding insult to injury, congress just made cuts to the National guard, impacting a few local communities:
The Wisconsin National Guard will be shutting down units in Chippewa Falls and Hayward by 2017 as part of a national reduction … calls for eliminating 36 full-time positions and 274 traditional Guard positions in the state by 2017, trimming the state’s Guard by about 3.6 percent.
Add to that Scott Walker's magical jobs and business creation machine, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, where it continues to do everything wrong:
AP: Johnson Controls Inc. plans to cut 277 jobs when it consolidates an office in Glendale ... 114 workers will lose their jobs in late January. Another 163 will lose their jobs between February and the end of June ... The center is one of four the company operates around the world. The others will remain in operation and are located in China, Mexico and Slovakia.

While all this was happening, Scott Walker got a brand new job,  a reward for what he's done in Wisconsin:
Gov. Scott Walker is the new Vice Chair of the Republican Governors Association (RGA). “The record Governor Scott Walker has established in Wisconsin is enormously impressive," outgoing RGA Chairman Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement. 
Impressive only if failure was the best thing you were good at. What in gods name is going on?
The Oscar Mayer plant closure in Madison and the loss of over 1000 good jobs. 

Nearly 500 Enbridge Energy workers in Canada and the United States were laid off, including employees in the Superior area. MetalTek International, in Waukesha cut 13% of its workforce last week ... 60 employees.

In October, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson announced it would cut 250 salaried positions. In September, General Electric sliced 350 jobs in Waukesha. HyPro of Whitewater is laying off 62. In Janesville, Data Dimensions cut 120 workers and Grainger laid off 20.
According to Citizen Action:
Wisconsin will have lost more than 10,000 jobs in mass layoffs by the end of the year. There are no easy solutions to fix Wisconsin's economic woes. However, it is clear what we are doing is not working and we must change paths.

WEDC, Governor Walker’s discredited jobs agency, mistakenly assumes that giving aid to well-connected corporations will trickle down to workers. Wisconsin’s declining economic vitality is rooted in the failure of our political and business leaders to develop a serious strategy for expanding economic opportunity.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

ObamaCare threatened by Wall Street and low Insurer Profits!!!

This story is not what the media would have you believe.

Say it with me: "Insurance isn't health care!"

My conservative friend in Milwaukee called me and said, "See, ObamaCare is failing." 

It's a common mistake. He's conflating UnitedHealth - an insurance company, on Wall Street, answering to investors - with the real providers of health care; doctors or hospitals.  

UnitedHealth only covers about 500,000 people in the Health Care Exchanges, so they're not a big player, but the spin on this deceptive and ghoulish. 

UnitedHealth may leave the exchanges because they can't make the kind of profit their investors want. That's what Wall Street is all about:
If an insurer sets premiums that are too low or attracts customers that are too sick, it can suffer losses. That can be a particular risk in new markets ... If one of the largest and presumably, by reputation and experience, the most sophisticated of the health plans out there can’t make money on the exchanges, then one has to question whether the exchange as an institution is a viable enterprise,” Skolnick said.
Jaw dropping? We're not talking about health care, we're talking about insurance companies being profitable on the stock exchange. Like many of the bigger more well known insurers, they probably overpriced their policies, and didn't get the kind of business they were counting on.
While UnitedHealth has been slower than some of its rivals to sell Obamacare policies, the announcement may indicate that other insurers are struggling, said Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst at Mizuho Securities.
The point is, health care might collapse due to lower than expected profits for shareholders on Wall Street, not because people needed a doctor or hospital. Profits!!! Insurance is a care isn't:
“The company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment..."
While UnitedHealth gets its doom and gloom day in the headlines, other big insurers are saying just the opposite, seeing money in their future:
“It’s way too early to call it quits on the ACA and on the exchanges,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said on an Oct. 29 conference call. “We view it still as a big opportunity for the company.”
Just watch the clip from Bloomberg News, and you'll see how profits take president over keeping people healthy. You'll be especially disappointed to know you won't see the promotional material, and damn it, none of those wonderfully high commissions for the sales people:
Bloomberg guest: "They have stopped putting promotional material behind their plans they're selling this year. They're not going to be paying high commissions to the people they have selling these plans on the markets..."

This isn't health care, it's insurance!!! The following is even better, suggesting an eventual single payer system, and the absurdity of "choosing" the amount of coverage to save money:

My conservative friend tipped me off to the above clips. Despite having watched them, he never notice the profit motive.

Ben Carson will change the way we see the country...literally.

I don't know what conservative voters are thinking, if they're thinking, when they blather on about Ben Carson. 

Case in point, this amazing campaign moment (yes, another one): 
Happy Geography Awareness Week! Ben Carson's presidential campaign inadvertently underscored this point Tuesday night, when it took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. 

As you can see, in Carson's map the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine are moved northeast by about 150 miles or so. Vermont and New York now have hundreds of miles of new beachfront property. Massachusetts shares a border with Canada. Maine straddles what is now the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Also, if you look closely at the mid-Atlantic area, you'll see that Virginia's portion of the Delmarva Peninsula is colored red to match Maryland, rather than gray with the rest of Virginia.

Walker's PSC hiking Energy Bills again, while he sues EPA for possible hikes in energy bills?

UPDATE- Saturday: The rate increase was reduced, and that's a good thing. 
Rates for customers of a Green Bay electric utility are on track to drop in 2016, but the customer fixed charge will rise by $2 a month ... Customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. will pay a fixed charge of $21 a month next year, after the state Public Service Commission trimmed the utility's request to raise the fixed charge to $25. The utility had raised the fixed charge by more than 80% in January, to $19 a month from $10.40 a month.
That's still an increase. But something else was encouraging, probably due to the fact Wisconsin is getting national attention as an outlier in discouraging green energy:
While approving the smaller increase, commissioners also authorized a study looking at the impact of fixed charge increases on customers. On the fixed charge issue, commissioners Phil Montgomery and Michael Huebsch initially sought to keep it unchanged, with commission Chair Ellen Nowak advocating a $21 charge. Montgomery said it was time for the PSC to review the impact of the fixed charges. He and Huebsch agreed to the increase in the charge to $21 as long as the commission agreed to a review.
But rates were lowered because the utility, unfortunately, saved money cutting 182 jobs in the Green Bay area:
Savings were found primarily thanks to the low price of natural gas burned in utility power plants, The commission trimmed $11.3 million in expenses in light of recent job cuts in Green Bay announced by the utility's parent company. WEC Energy said this month that it eliminated 2% of its workforce, with cuts taking place at its operating headquarters in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago. 
Below is the original story: -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The scary thing about conservative voters is that they never seem to get confused over confusing GOP policies. Maybe that's the disconnect between our two ideologies. Yet some of this stuff is ridiculously obvious.

An Energy Rate Hike vs An Energy Rate Hike...huh? Scott Walker and his AG lapdog Brad Schimel (oh boy did we see that coming), said they're suing the Obama administration over the new carbon emission rules because consumers would be hit hard by rate increases. jsonline:

The states say the rules will heap higher costs on consumers and business … require new plants to use expensive and unproven technology, said Schimel, a Republican.
Walker: "The Obama administration ignored the concerns submitted by Wisconsin ... instead pursuing a political agenda that will increase costs and prevent the construction of future power plants producing reliable, affordable electricity for our state."

No Really, Walker doesn't care about Increased Energy Costs: It's hard to watch Walker's manic support for one dying industry (coal), and support for reviving a depleted, stagnant automated industry (manufacturing). But wasting taxpayer money suing the government in the name of keeping consumer energy price down isn't just foolish, it's also a Walker lie.

Walker, not Obama, is about to increase energy costs again on Wisconsinites when his own GOP dominated PSC, approves a rate hike just last year. What, no complaining or lawsuits?
A year after receiving an 83% increase in the fixed customer charge on monthly electric bills, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. is seeking another increase in that fee — this time by an additional 32%. 

Wisconsin has become an outlier on fixed charges based on what utility regulators have approved around the country. A review of decisions in other states by Renew Wisconsin found that 35 utilities proposed to increase their fixed charges ... Of those, 14 utilities were required to keep the charges unchanged, while 18 were allowed increases between 1 cent and $4.30 a month. The biggest increases were the three in Wisconsin, ranging from $6.83 to $8.71. "Only in Wisconsin have large increases been granted," said Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin, a renewable energy advocacy group.
So cry me a river Scott Walker and Brad Schimel, about rate hikes under the new EPA standards.  

Walker stacked the Public Service Commission deck so they could stuff the fossil fuel energy industry pockets with money:
The current chair is Ellen Nowak ... was the chief of staff to Waukesha County Executive … the legal counsel to the Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly … deputy director of School Choice Wisconsin … practiced business litigation at Mallery & Zimmerman, SC in Milwaukee.

Nowak serves alongside Michael Huebsch (R)(16 years in the state legislature, four years as Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary) and Phil Montgomery  (previously served six terms as a Republican member of the Wisconsin State Assembly). 
Keeping Seniors in their Homes? More BS: Walker's plundering Republican pirates say they're helping seniors stay in their homes by saving them a laughable $1 on their property taxes. But those same Republicans are forcing seniors to spend that dollar and $7 more on their energy bills. Oh wait, even that wasn't enough?
If approved, the fixed charge paid by WPS customers will have more than doubled since last year, from $10.40 to $25 a month, Patricia Finder-Stone of AARP said during a public hearing on the Green Bay utility's proposal.

"It makes consumers pay more before they even turn on their lights," she said. "This increase has a disproportionate effect on seniors and others that are living on limited or fixed incomes."
Thanks to Obama-derangement syndrome: "Stand with Walker" voters can not only delight in getting bigger energy bills now, but they can also sleep comfortably knowing their sue happy state government will be locked in the coal fired past for some time. I also found the graph below that I just had to post here. The wonders of coal:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Walker takes on State Constitution with Activist Supreme Court justices, hoping to reverse past rulings, take control of public education.

Now that the Wisconsin Supreme Court is stacked with activist conservative justices who have unapologetically legislated from the bench, Republican Governor Scott Walker can now centralize power by legally wiping out past decisions to fit in with his new authoritarian state.

How and what our kids are taught in school is the next important step in holding power, and the movement to control curriculum is gathering steam. Walker wants the constitutional office of the state superintendent to march to his edicts, tossing small government out the window, and replacing a qualified educator with partisan legislative freeloaders who failed in the private sector.

Most importantly, this is a redo, and a real test for the activist court; will it unashamedly rule in the governors favor, throwing out a fairly recent court decision. The only things that's change in Wisconsin is the radicalized party in charge.
(A) 1996 Supreme Court ruling stopped then-Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) from placing the education department under his control.
Walker's style, to win and then destroy his opponents, rolls on this time targeting the state's Constitution:
AP: The Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn a nearly 20-year-old ruling that protected powers of the state superintendent of schools from being taken away by the Legislature or governor.

The court heard arguments Tuesday in a case challenging a 2011 law that gives the governor the power to approve and block administrative rules being enacted by the state superintendent. Lower courts have struck down the law as it applied to state Superintendent Tony Evers and the department he oversees.


Feingold pushes Republicans to get off their ass and fund Foreign Intelligence & Information Commission to monitor the globe for terrorism.

Journal Sentinel blogger Christian Schneider apparently doesn’t read his own newspaper. He missed a recent article about Russ Feingold's call to increase security. And that just made his attack piece ridiculous and irrelevant.   

Schneider’s article, “Feingold's bad bet on intelligence” is all wrong, and based on right wing rhetoric already circling around the talk radio drain:
Now a candidate to regain the Senate seat he lost in 2010, Feingold was back this week calling for better funding and more focus on intelligence gathering in the wake of last Friday's terrorist attack on Paris. It makes sense that Feingold would want to remake his image by pretending now that he's been for strengthening U.S. intelligence all along. It wouldn't be the first time he's tried to rewrite the past…”
Maybe Schneider skipped this part of Feingold's story:
In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold is calling for better funding and … the revival of a dormant oversight commission. The Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission Act was put forward by Feingold, a Democrat, and passed into law in 2010 but has not been funded, nor has the commission been put in place. The commission was meant to ensure that the nation is looking across the globe for terrorist havens and threats and doing so by every means, whether covert spies or foreign diplomats.
Hell, Feingold even worked with Republican Rep. Chuck Hagel:
Feingold worked on the commission proposal with then Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who later served as secretary of defense under Obama. In 2008, Hagel said of an earlier version of the proposal that it would ensure that the U.S. isn't solely focused on the "threat of the day."
Schneider is another conservative who's willing to leave out huge parts of stories and facts to make what he's saying seem logical, in a down-the-rabbit-hole kinda way. 

Oh, and here's another little nugget of truth:
Feingold blamed the rise of the Islamic State group on the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which he opposed then as a U.S. senator. Whatever actions the U.S. takes next, the nation needs better intelligence, he said.

Separately Monday, Feingold's 2016 opponent, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), called for invading territory held by the terrorist group the Islamic State.
Dumb Ron Johnson must have an extra $2 trillion sitting around for a new war in the Middle East.

Xenophobic GOP Presidential hopefuls want to screen out and welcome Syrian Christians only.

I haven't seen the Republican fear level this high since 9/11. Our run for cover, freedom and liberty loving gun toting conservative "leaders" can't retreat fast enough from the looming ISIS terror.
Sen. Ted Cruz: "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation."
Even though it received almost no coverage yesterday, Jeb Bush's comment about identifying Christian refugees stands out as one of the most scary and embarrassing positions yet. Remember, this is an "adult" running for president:

Reporter: "So what does the focus on Christian families actually look like?"

Bush: "What, you're a Christian, you can prove you're a Christian, it's..."

Reporter: "How?"

Bush: "I think you can prove it, if you can't prove it than you err on the side of caution."
And of course there's always xenophobic Donald Trump with his more tempered approach:
Trump: "I'm gonna bomb the shit out of them. It's true...I don't care...I don't care, they've got to be stopped."
And this Instagram comment:
Trump: "Refugees are pouring into our great country from Syria, and we don't even know who they are. They could be ISIS, they could be anybody. What's our president doing, is he insane? 
As for both Cruz and Bush's comment "there are no Christian terrorists in the Middle East..." they're strongly suggesting Christian terrorism doesn't happen, even in the U.S.. Homegrown Christian terrorists exist, whether they're using religion as a justification or just your typical conservative anti-government extremist. Here are just a few examples:
Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre  ...  The murder of Dr. George Tiller  ...  Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting  ...  The murder of Dr. John Britton  ...  The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, The murder of Barnett Slepian by James Charles Kopp  ...  Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts 1994  ...  Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010  …  The murder of Alan Berg, June 18, 1984  …  Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995  ...  The Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting Everything  ...  The Ku Klux Klan Has Ever Done  ...  The Massacre At Zion Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C..
Radical Islam vs Radical Christian: "Radical Islam," a favorite xenophobic term used by Republicans everywhere, is meant to challenge political correctness.

But when I used the term "radical Christian" on my conservative friend in Milwaukee, he blew up, justifying past Christian killings.

Try using the term "radical Christian" sometime. I guarantee a heated irrational reaction.

Presidential candidate Marco Rubio made this bizarre and clueless leap; comparing the Islamic religion with Nazism, a political ideology. Surprise, Rubio's comment went unchallenged by George Stephanopoulos:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Walker agenda exploits Fear and Xenephobia with ban on Syrian Refugees. What next protesters?

Scott Walker has turned Wisconsin into something so conservatively radical that that he truly believes the states remaining liberal Democrats are not much different than ISIS terrorists. Hey, Walker said so...
Audience member question: "Should you become commander and chief, how would you deal with threats like ISIS?"

Walker: "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe,"
Walker is unintentionally doubling down on that idea, despite his denials, with his recent ban on Syrian refugees. WSJ:
Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday wrote U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to say that state officials would not aid any federal attempt to resettle Syrian refugees in Wisconsin. "Our state will not facilitate the coordination or provision of benefits or services for individuals whose presence could pose a potential risk to our people."
If Walker's statement wasn't enough, get a load of Paul Ryan's contradictory comment pushing the right wings xenophobic panic attack, while bragging about being a welcoming country to immigrants...just not this time. WKOW's Greg Neumann:
Paul Ryan: "Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment when it's better to be safe than to be sorry. So we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause, in this particular aspect of this refugee program, in order to verify terrorists aren't trying to infiltrate the refugee population." 

Dumb Ron Johnson has the typical do-nothing GOP response down cold...we "have a lot of questions." Next issue please....
Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said "Americans have a lot of questions" about the issue and "our first task is to keep Americans safe."
Add Walker to the other 31 frightened governors giving ISIS just what they want. Scared to death of challenging terrorist tactics, Walker could just be helping ISIS stop the flow of refugees with planted "evidence:"
WaPo: Security concerns have increasingly been cited as a justification for keeping borders closed and refusing to resettle migrants ... after a Syrian passport with the name Ahmad al-Mohammad, a 25-year-old born in Idlib province, was found near the body of a suicide bomber. French authorities say fingerprints from the suicide bomber match those of someone who passed through Greece in early October.

Refugees and migrants reaching Europe do represent some kind of security threat However, it is not only deeply unfair to paint all of those arriving with the same brush — it is also self-defeating. If Muslim refugees come to Europe and are welcomed, it deeply undercuts the Islamic State's legitimacy. 

Some have suggested that the Islamic State deliberately sent someone along this route to help sow discord. Given the availability of fake Syrian passports in Turkey and other places ... the passport found near the body of one of the Paris bombers was planted there to further inflame a tense Europe — an idea strengthened by reports that a different man was found traveling with the same passport in Serbia.
The anti-immigration right wingers like Scott Walker are only strengthening ISIS:
What seems almost certain is that the Islamic State wants you to equate refugees with terrorists. In turn, it wants refugees to equate the West with prejudice against Muslims and foreigners.The screening process can take years, leaving legitimate refugees in limbo. It's worth remembering that making that welcome worse may be exactly what the Islamic State wants.
No broken hearts from our armed conservative authority, who oddly, still don't feel safe.
ACLU of Wisconsin was among the groups to criticize Walker's remarks Tuesday. The group said in a statementthat "the U.S. already has an extremely rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. Attempting to shut out refugee resettlement in Wisconsin blames refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and erodes our own civil liberties," the group said.
Here's what Sen. Elizabeth Warren had to say about a fear mongering GOP leaders:
“These events test us. It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted when threats feel far away -- but when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are."

"We face a choice. A choice either to lead the world by example or to turn our backs to the threats and the suffering around us.”
Voxdotcom put out this nice piece on the conflict in Syria and the rise of ISIS. It offers Republicans food for thought...I'm kidding of course, that's not possible. The reality; we don't control what other countries do or end up creating due to their own policies, not including our own constant meddling: 

There's still more, Media Matters:
La OpiniĆ³n -- one of the leading Latino daily newspapers in the U.S. -- also noted that "[t]his type of reaction does nothing but feed internal fears, granting a victory to terrorists, whose goal is precisely to shake the feeling of safety in free societies":
"The Paris attacks carried out by ISIS are being used to sustain the Republican Party's nativist, anti-immigrant discourse. It is sad to see that the reaction to terrorism is to build border walls and ignore a humanitarian crisis out of fear. Terrorism triumphs when it succeeds in intimidating governments and civilians. Leadership is shown by rising to challenges posed by the situation, not by taking advantage of them to feed existing fear and resentment against immigrants and foreigners among the electorate."

High Deductibles not ObamaCare's fault - blame Greedy for Profit Insurance Industry.

If you have problems with the Affordable Care Act, then you have problems with the private U.S. health care insurance system. The ACA is just waking people up to the costly flaws.

And to prove how dumb the media has been about how it covers health insurance, not actual health care, the following "no sh**" headline appeared in the Financial Times:
Obamacare Enrollees Are Reeling from High Deductibles
It's dumb because that's what the individual market had been selling for nearly two decades, well before "ObamaCare," Pushed mainly by Republicans as the answer to lowering monthly premiums in a "free market" system, high deductible plans forced people to self ration, discouraging sick people from "over-consuming" on their treatments. You know, like when we spend too much on treating life threatening cancer or heart disease.
Living longer & healthier? Pay more!

You may have heard of Health Savings Accounts (HSA)? They've been around for years. That's a tax deductible account consumers use to pay down part of their catastrophic high deductible plans. It pays only part of the deductible because nearly 15 years ago, when I had an HSA, my deductible reached $10,500. Crazy huh? And get this, you could only deduct around $5,000 or so on your taxes, nothing over, prompting a wave of medical bankruptcies.

And that's all before your insurers pays one cent.

But the media wants to blame the Affordable Care Act, instead of giving the ACA credit for finally exposing the horrors of the U.S. health care system to the public. Yea, it's bad,  real bad.

Ironically, Republican outrage over these high deductibles plans better check their own replacement proposals for ObamaCare. Every one of them relies on high deductibles too.

So the following analysis isn't anything new:
The median rate increase for the lowest priced, highly popular “Silver” plan will rise by 11% – compared to just a 7% increase in 2015 … increases that in many cases will neutralize the benefits of their health care plans or discourage some from purchasing coverage. “That these deductibles are so high is clearly one of the reasons people aren’t buying a plan—they simply don’t see themselves getting anything for the money,” - Health Policy & Strategy Associates. Health care policy experts say insurers designed their plans with substantial rising deductibles and other cost-sharing measures as a way to encourage low and moderate income Americans who qualify for federal subsidies to try to hold down their medical costs. 
Nothing new. That's why so many people don't have health insurance, they're not "getting anything for their money." And besides the individual market, those who don't get employer provided insurance, employers are shifting more of the costs to workers:
The average annual out-of-pocket costs per worker increased nearly 230 percent between 2006 and 2015 - Kaiser Family Foundation. An eye-opening report by The New York Times found that many of the newly insured are “feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage.”
The ACA is an online marketplace of private insurers, that's all. Blaming government instead of insurance company greed is still something I can't wrap my head around.

Get it through your head: High deductibles have nothing to do with health care, they have everything to do with insurance company profits. 
A survey by the Commonwealth Fund published last November found that three in five low-income adults and about 50 percent of adults with moderate incomes believe that deductibles are “difficult or impossible to afford.”
And that's the way insurance companies want it; easy money from people that can afford it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Wisconsin anti-science DNR and Republicans let Chronic Wasting Disease Spread through Midwest.

Deer hunters left the sport in droves after chronic wasting disease spread through Wisconsin like a California wild fire. Wisconsin State Journal:
Fear of eating CWD-tainted venison initially scared many hunters and made owners of hunting land in southern Wisconsin concerned that their property would lose value if the hunt died off, said Jeff Schinkten, national president of Whitetails Unlimited.
But instead of fighting the disease like neighboring states, Scott Walker hired a Deer Czar who couldn’t wait to play down the threat with massive defunding and anti-science opinions.

Hoping people would forget about CWD and deer hunt again, Walker hopes hunting enthusiasts will soon be placing diseased meat on the tables of unsuspecting Wisconsinites. And it could be working. Republicans are now doing “at least some testing,” you know, going through the motions. And without in-person registration and testing, they’re thinking the problem will just go away:
Wisconsin is taking steps this year to continue at least some testing to keep tabs on a deadly disease that is spreading through the state’s deer herd, even though hunters no longer need to bring carcasses in for registration. But the number of tests is dwindling while prevalence of chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin grows and neighboring states fight to control it, the DNR has half the CWD testing budget it had last year and enough resources to analyze tissue from 4,000 carcasses, down from 7,500 last year, said Tami Ryan, the agency’s wildlife health section chief.
Scott Walker's anti-science movement within the DNR resulted from feedback by "unhappy" hunters who never got deer. Of course the disease might have killed a few of them...
The state is following wishes expressed by the public in dozens of forums since the disease was discovered near Mount Horeb in 2002 ... "then monitoring and now not monitoring but doing surveillance to give the information to hunters who want it,” Ryan said.
 And like everything else reeling out of control in Republican states, the best solution is no solution:

The warning signs are there... 
Last year the DNR stopped using the term “CWD management zone” for the southern Wisconsin region encompassing the worst infestations. “In the absence of having any management strategies or tools to deal with it, it is basically an endemic area,” Ryan said. “We know it’s there and it’s not likely to go away. That’s what endemic means: It’s here to stay.”
How does that sound hunters? Real hands on American know how at work. 
“It is going to spread further and further out and eventually have an impact on the number of deer in the state,” said George Meyer, a former DNR secretary “What is really troubling to me is that the biologists in the department know this is the case but they are not allowed to talk about it and not allowed to bring forth proactive measures to deal with it.”
Read the following and weep sports men and women, this is how Republicans manage a state's tourism and sporting economy:
Czar James Kroll
CWD prevalence in the Wisconsin has doubled since the state became less aggressive in 2007, while in Illinois, where officials continued to reduce the herd in diseased areas, there has been no increase.

The agency will solicit samples at only two locations in southern Wisconsin ... down from between 15 and 20 locations in recent years ... Plans also call for staff members to collect samples from about 10 venison processors ... Current budgeting is in line with the simpler and more passive stance recommended by James Kroll, a Texas wildlife biologist chosen by Gov. Scott Walker in 2011 to find ways the state could mollify hunters who blamed the DNR when they didn’t bag a deer. 

The number of samples testing positive for CWD ballooned from 219 in 2010 to 331 last year even though fewer samples are being analyzed. Near the boundary between Dane and Iowa counties the prevalence of CWD in male deer has increased to over 25 percent from about 9 percent in 2002, the DNR estimates.

Vos' Revenge on Democrat's recusal on Campaign Finance vote?

Revenge and raw bully power now the overriding rule in Walker's Wisconsin. An empty threat maybe?

Democrats make their move...?