Monday, May 9, 2011

Wisconsin, Walker and the legislature lost 20 weeks of federal unemployment benefits by not trying.

The details on this are few, but here's what I have discovered so far:

Slate: Why are governments across the country starting to kick the support out from under the chairs of the jobless? For all the other states cutting back, the issue is inaction, rather than fiscal pressure. Some states needed to make a certain simple legislative fix to ensure that the federal government kept on kicking in its share of weeks of benefits—weeks of benefits already budgeted and paid for in Washington. A number of states failed to do so. So, on April 16, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin all lost 20 weeks of federal benefits, effective immediately. Missouri did on April 2 as well.
Not only did the state lose the extended unemployment benefits, but they may also be on their way to raiding those lost benefits to pay for other things. You won’t believe this:
This week, House Republicans introduced a bill that effectively encourages states to whittle back their unemployment insurance systems. The legislation—written by Rep. Dave Camp (Mich.), gives states the option of using federal unemployment-benefit dollars for other job creation programs. 
This jaw dropping robbery of jobless families is not getting the coverage it should. Just to have someone come up with an scheme like this is unthinkable. This last line is not to be forgotten.
If some states, perhaps following Michigan's example, cut benefits and use federal dollars to repay loans rather than provide weeks of aid, it could take billions from jobless Americans' pockets.
I’ve seen and covered a lot, but this is unspeakably cruel. 

David Koch Fouling up the Air Now!

We know a lot about the fake David Koch, now a grotesque glimpse at the real one.

Minnesota State Rep. Steve Simon on Marriage Amendment to their constitution.

This really is one of the best articulations yet by a Democrat defending gay marriage, that should embarrass most homophobic Republicans attempting to mark their territory all over their state constitution:

NRA was right about slippery slope governing guns, only in favor of fewer regulations.

Even my conservative friend in Milwaukee is appalled by the idea now pushed by “constitutional carry” gun nuts, that any law requiring a license, background check or training discourages someone from exercising their constitutional rights. To him, people need to learn which gun to buy, for what purpose, safety options etc.
jsonline: A newly floated bill that would allow Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons without getting permits, background checks or training would essentially let the state catch up with the latest thinking in gun law, according to backers who call the approach "constitutional carry." 
Others, however, seem stunned at the idea that anyone who could lawfully own a gun could carry it just about anywhere, under a coat or in a purse, without any government oversight. 
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association was neutral on past concealed-carry proposals, said Executive Director Jim Palmer, because of different views among rural and urban officers. "Our group is likely to revisit our stance," he said. Since the no-permit proposal made the news, "We've been overwhelmed with members opposing that. It just seems absurd." 
Constitutional-carry supporters say the cost and bureaucracy of a permit process become a barrier for people who want to carry a gun for protection. They think the training requirement is just symbolism. 

Where in the constitution did it say we couldn't require background checks, a license and training?

Walker’s Campaign Gamble to Give up Rail Money will Now Cost the state $150 million to Upgrade Hiawatha line to Chicago.

Short sighted, along with a big told-you-so, Gov. Walker’s lack of vision and common sense just cost taxpayers $150 million, if the needed upgrades are made between Milwaukee and Chicago.
Walker’s campaign fired up the base and won him the governorship in major part due to the anger created around high speed rail. The deal not only promised faster trains, but included upgraded tracks and other costly add-ons negotiated by former Gov. Doyle.  
jsonline: Wisconsin was shut out Monday in its bid for $150 million in federal money to upgrade the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 22 projects in 15 states would share $2 billion in federal high-speed rail money … Wisconsin was seeking some of that money for train sets, locomotives and a maintenance base for the Hiawatha line. 
Officials at the state and federal transportation departments confirmed that no money would be awarded to Wisconsin.  
In a telephone news conference, LaHood repeatedly used the word "reliable" in characterizing the leadership of the states that were selected for the latest round of grants. "The announcements we're making today are with the strongest partners in America," LaHood told reporters. "These are reliable people. These are people (who) have as one of their highest priorities the development of high-speed rail." 
Walker is a Republican. LaHood is a former GOP congressman.
Here's Chris Matthews with Ray LaHood, who recognized the REAL players:


Right-wings MacIver Institute's petty focus on medical excuse notes for teachers begs the question; Is this all you've got?

After all the gut wrenching videos viewed by Wisconsinites during the past three month's of Capitol protesting, from the child protest sign arrest to the lock-out that saw a lawmaker tackled, conservatives found something even more important; those outrageous medical excuse notes to teachers.

In an example of amazingly pettiness, who could have imagined the video of doctors passing out medical excuses to the few teachers and random pedestrians, as an award winner?

It's true. What a stunning issue of international relevance!!
Wisconsin’s MacIver Institutebeat out international competition to win the Grand Prize in the  ‘Lights Camera, Liberty’  contest, which was presented at The Atlas Experience conference in Dallas, Texas last week. On Saturday, February 19, a group of men and women in lab coats purporting to be doctors were handing out medical excuse notes, without examining the ‘patients.’ Osmulski captured the event on camera and produced his award winning video that day.
For a story that had all the relevance of pure conservative eye candy, MacIver pretty much avoided the reason for the protests. Their sideshow video is seen by conservatives as proof that their paranoid misgivings aboutt doctors, teachers and public employees is a justifiable call to vilify anyone who breaks ranks with their ideology.
With that (video), MacIver broke a national news story and it continues to follow the disciplinary procedures against the doctors, teachers and other public employees involved in the scam.
It looks like the authoritarian “father figure’s” pursuit of discipline is first and foremost to the conservative orthodoxy, where punishment sends a stronger message than actionable solutions to our nations problems. 

If you're curious about Atlas, here's  their positioning statement;
For three decades, Atlas has connected Freedom Champions from all over the world. These individuals often face challenges in their home countries and travel to Atlas events to meet with other remarkable free-market advocates facing similar trials in their respective parts of the world.
What the doctors notes to teachers did to threaten freedom is anyones guess, but it does make Atlas and MacIver's vision of free-markets look perverse and cruel. What an ugly message.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Ryan Philosophy...

Great piece on Paul Ryan, at Jonathan Turley's blog, here's the opening paragraph to a much longer, philosophical look at this courageous Republican ghoul:
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin claims he has a “knack for numbers.” Not long ago, he unveiled his GOP budget proposal titled “Path to Prosperity.” Rachel Maddow criticized members of the media for their fawning coverage of Ryan and his financial “magnum opus.” Said Maddow:“If the Beltway media could stop making out with Paul Ryan for long enough to look at what’s actually in his budget proposal, they might notice that some of the important numbers in it appear to be made up.” She added: “I doubt that actual numerically based fact based information will penetrate the smoochy smoochy love bubble surrounding Paul Ryan right now…there’s this cult of him being brave and bold and doing this difficult workout every morning. What he’s just introduced is not a feature on grit versus glamour in today’s GOP. It is not a pinup. It is not the brave story of a strong boy in a tough environment. It’s the official Republican Party budget for 2012, and the numbers in it are so wrong they are occasionally funny.”

Protesting boaters "up north" greeted Gov. Walker's relaxing day out fishing...taking their orders from American Angler magazine Bosses?

This could only happen in Wisconsin. Chippewa Falls citizens, in their boats, protested a relaxed Gov. Scott Walker fishing on lake Wissota. 

In what could be considered a first by this blogger, this surreal meeting of the governor and angry Wisconsinites is a site to behold. We really are a very politically active state.  

WEAU: A day out on the lake gets political, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker comes to the Chippewa Valley for the 46th Annual Governor’s Fishing Opener. At Saturday’s opener in Chippewa Falls on Lake Wissota, the governor reeled in nearly a dozen protesters in three boats, all with protest signs pointed at him. The protesters paraded around the lake in several boats, speaking out against Walker with dozens of signs. 

Gas Pump Prices due to Supply and Demand? Suckers...

You read it over and over: Oil prices are based on supply and demand, while commodity trading has little effect!!!

That’s what we’ve been reading in the major media as a way of presenting a balanced debate. After all, Republicans say we don’t have enough oil, and Democrats blame out of control commodities trading, the kind they tried to regulate in the Frank-Dodd act.

Who was right? Gee, guess.
FT: A record plunge in oil prices led the sharpest sell-off in commodities in two years as investors fled the market amid mounting concern over the strength of the global recovery. “This is one for the books,” said Edward Meir, commodities analyst at broker MF Global in New York. “Across the board you’re seeing a general unwinding of the commodity trade.” 
Steep slides in everything from cocoa and copper to silver and gold could mark an end to a bull run that has taken the prices of many materials to record highs. 
US crude prices sank below $100 for the first time since March. “You want to be the first one out the door because the trip down can be even faster than the trip up,” said Douglas Hepworth, director of research at commodities manager Gresham Investment Management.
But the commodities market didn’t have anything to do with the outrageous gas prices at the pump, did it? 

Counter intuitive Florida Republicans REDUCE employment insurance when jobless rate is 10.5 percent or higher. Penalty for losing jobs?

If you lose your job you’re a drag on society. Lazy and shiftless. Just ask any conservative and they can point to at least one unemployed “friend” who boldly admits they don’t want to work, and love watching their plasma TV all day.

It appears Florida lawmakers have some unique friends, wouldn't you say? And I have wondered why so many Republicans politicians and voters, know so many lazy stereotypes to begin with, but I guess that’s another story for another day.
From their distorted, down the rabbit hole twist on solving the jobless problem, Florida lawmakers must think the following change will surely make employers hire more jobless workers, right:
The legislation would cut maximum state benefits to 23 weeks from 26 when the jobless rate is 10.5 percent or higher. If lower, the maximum would decline on a sliding scale until bottoming at 12 weeks if the jobless rate was 5 percent or less.
Even though there’s no real excuse for tampering with something that wasn’t broken before the Great Recession, as disaster capitalism goes, the time is ripe for business to exact its pound of flesh from the labor force.

Florida did it for business:
The benefit reduction is expected to cut unemployment taxes paid by employers … Republican Rep. Doug Holder argued that it was needed to help businesses and to aid job creation … the Florida Chamber of Commerce, made passing the House version of the bill a priority, contending that businesses would benefit greatly from relief from the escalating tax to pay for jobless compensation.
Cutting the unemployment tax paid by business will create jobs!!!? We are to assume the extra money they save not paying into the insurance fund, won’t go into their pockets, but will be spent hiring more workers?

How much you wanna make a bet that it’s not just a money grubbing lie, but it won’t change the jobs market one iota? Oh dear, if only the unemployed didn’t drag everybody else down like this:
Florida has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, 11.5 percent, and already had some of the lowest unemployment benefits.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Leaving the Oil and Gas Industry's alone, Republicans can't wait to blame Obama for what inevitably will happen.

The Republicans have been doing everything they can to return to the same careless economic house of cards they had before, under Bush, the same one that collapsed and wiped out 8 million jobs.  

I came across this great piece at Lost Continents: 
The Oil and Gas Journal reports that the government agency responsible for keeping track of oil and gas reserves among other things is having its activities curtailed due to budget cutbacks. The reductions are part of Congress’s latest continuing resolution that was signed into law by US President Barack Obama on Apr. 15
"In addition to not preparing the annual oil and gas reserves data survey, the agency said it will be necessary to curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading; suspend analysis and reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages; suspend collection and dissemination of monthly state-level data on wholesale petroleum product prices including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, residual fuel oil, and kerosine; and halt preparation and publication of the annual petroleum marketing data report and the fuel oil and kerosene sales report. "
This is breathtaking in the depths of its shortsightedness and stupidity. 
So what else is new for conservative economics?

Like Rep. Steve Nass’ defense of Racist Mascots, Conservatives Unapologetic now for “We jewed ‘em down some” comment by Sauk Cty. Sup. Hartje.

Republicans have learned that apologizing is a sign of weakness, and that nothing serious happens as a consequence. Democrats on the other hand think it’s a sign of strength, even penalizing themselves.

But what happened in Sauk County takes race and ethnic negative stereotypes one step further by providing their own common sense ethnically based reasons why they’re not racially insensitive.
WSJ: Sauk County Supervisor Virgil Hartje of La Valle could have avoided controversy if he would have apologized for his remark … During a late night county board meeting in March, Hartje was asked to describe the county's dealings with a contractor to fellow supervisors. 
"We jewed 'em down some," Hartje said.
Incredibly, he offered these just as offensive reasons:
Some have asked him to apologize. But Hartje has refused, saying the word "jewed" is in the dictionary. He said the word is different from other racial slurs because it is a "business word."
“Jewed ‘em down” is a business term alright, use by many fellow antisemitic Sauk County Supervisors.
Supervisor Andrea Lombard of Baraboo has defended Hartje, saying he did not intend to offend anyone and the term "jewed" is common language for some. 
Some supervisors have said Hartje is not the only one to use offensive language at meetings, and therefore should not be reprimanded or asked to apologize.
Well with everyone using ethnic slurs, what’s the problem?

The “Old” Miles Driven Travel Tax a Shocking New Story for the Uninformed!! Clueless Conservative outrage!

Have you noticed Republicans are could to whine and blame Democrats first, and then never offer their own solution. No, letting the private sector do it is not a great, "pass the buck" detailed well thought out solution. Here's what their narrow ideology couldn't comprehend:

(UPI) — The Obama administration is considering a plan that would require the study and execution of a plan to tax U.S. drivers based on the amount of miles they drive.
This really is an old story. Many western states were talking about this issue years ago, when hybrid and electric vehicles were just starting to catch the imagination of lawmakers and consumers alike. If a green vehicle uses less fuel, but still used our highways, owners would not be paying their fair share of road maintenance. What to do? Mileage tracking.

But it's more than that. How do we eventually change the way the tax in collected? Do we whine, complain and blame Obama like conservative talk radio did on Friday?  Some chose not too. Instead, this Seattlepi piece lays out a few thoughtful ways it can be done. First, here’s more of what outraged the right wingnuts:
The plan is included in the administration’s Transportation Opportunities Act and follows a Congressional Budget Office report backing the idea of taxing drivers based on miles driven, The Hill reported Thursday. In its report, the CBO said a vehicle miles-traveled tax could be tracked by installing electronic equipment on vehicles to determine how many miles were driven and payments could be made electronically at gas stations.
Now the Seattlepi’s suggested solutions:
A tracking device to measure vehicle miles traveled is a non-starter, but reporting total miles annually when renewing the car license wouldn’t be too intrusive. If you cheated, it would just come due when the car was sold or totaled.  We essentially pay a mileage tax now, only it’s measured indirectly by how many gallons of gas we use instead of by how many miles we drive. A mileage tax would put hybrids, solar charged, electric, and gas vehicles all on equal footing when it comes to road use. 
As long as the gas tax went away, it is possible a plain and transparent mileage tax could work out as a better deal for us rural folks. If we paid mileage tax instead of gas tax, we’d get a break on that second utilitarian vehicle that uses more gas per mile but doesn’t travel as much. 
The first unintended consequence – people would know how much tax they are paying for transportation if they wrote a mileage tax check once a year (or twelve easy installment payments). That transparency might make it easier to hold the government accountable for spending it wisely. A lot more folks would sure sit up and notice than do now when the gas-based mileage tax is nudged upwards. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Upon Further review, Ryan’s Medicare Voucher plan means if you’re under 55, you need $182,000 extra.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research went under the hood on Paul Ryan’s "voucher and die" plan.
A 54-year-old today will have to save an additional $182,000 in their IRA or 401(k) before he or she retires just to pay for the House Republican plan to eliminate Medicare, an analysis released today by U.S. D-CA) found. 
Rep. George Miller said, “Under the Republican plan, seniors will go into debt. They will be forced to sell their homes that they spent a lifetime paying off. And they will have to rely on their children just to pay for basic medical care. This is not what anyone would envision as a dignified retirement.”
It’s also the reason why the government had to step in and create the backstop senior health insurance plan, because the private sector wouldn’t.
Last month, House Republicans voted to end the Medicare program. Since the voucher’s value relative to health care costs would decrease over time and private insurance costs are higher than traditional Medicare, seniors retiring in 2022 under the Republican plan would be forced to pay much higher costs than under current law.  
As a result, CEPR found that the average senior beginning in 2022 would have to save $182,000 to cover these additional costs, assuming a return of 3 percent in real interest during their retirement years.  
“Congress needs to make sure Medicare is sustainable for seniors in the future and sustainable for taxpayers. We took a substantial step towards this goal through the Affordable Care Act,” said Miller. 
Approximately half of all workers do not have any retirement savings at all. The Employee Benefits Research Institute estimates that the average retirement savings shortfall was more than $47,000 per individual in 2010.   
Add to that the trend toward lower wages, no benefits, and higher living costs.
That’s the dystopian world vision of the Republican Party. 

Sen. Ron Paul: Unions are government mandated, and unconstitutional!!

During the first surreal Republican presidential debate on Fox News, Ron Paul was asked by Juan Williams about how he felt about Republicans alienating union members.
Sen. Ron Paul: "Where are the jobs coming from, union states, because the wages are higher..."
And that's a bad thing now-a-days?
Sen. Ron Paul: "the union wage is an artificial wage, mandated by the government, under the National Labor Relations Board, the whole thing is unconstitutional."
Still like Ron Paul?

Tell conservative radio ranter Charlie Sykes, "Voter Fraud is NOT Election Fraud. They're not the same."

Voter Id will disenfranchise voters, tens of thousands of Americans.

So what happens when election officials mishandle bags of ballots, have access to computer hard drives, surprise officials with a whole communities misplaced votes, and discover opened bags that should have been sealed properly?  It's another way of disenfranchising voters, isn't it, by carelessly handling our ballots.

Conservative talk host Charlie Sykes, the author of "Dumbing Down our Kids" and who is currently working successfully at "Dumbing Down his Listeners,"  goes over the top with a dumbfounding discussion of "voter fraud." What he really means is "election fraud," but Sykes knows that, and pushes credulity to its limits by conflating the two completely different issues.

At one point he mentions how liberals discount voter fraud, whining that there is no need for photo ID, yet hypocritically claim now that there is fraud everywhere. Sykes knows better, or he should, since the recount deals with election fraud, and not Voter ID, which is a mythical conservative scare tactic designed to make people think someone is stealing their vote.

I'm featuring his latest diatribe here as an example of how blatant the conservative media is about flat out lying. With 92 percent of conservative talk radio dominating the political discussion, constantly mudding the waters on everything from voter ID to election fraud, is it any wonder their listeners have become so paranoid they think they need to carry loaded guns into ice cream shops?

Walker's State Employee Recognition Program NOT winning over insulted Public Workers

The State Employee Recognition Program Gov. Walker awkwardly put out there, and is essentially broadcasting just how tone deaf he really is, ain't going over so well.
jsonline: Gov. Scott Walker … wants to formally recognize their many fine achievements, and they're telling him to stick it. So the timing for this pat on the head seems surprising, though not to him. 
"He's pretty consistent throughout everything that's happened. He's been totally consistent in praising the good work that the professional public employees do across the state," said Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie. 
If you want to know what some workers think about the idea, visit the comment section on YouTube under Walker's video. 
"I think I just sprained my eye-rolling muscles," was one of the many responses. As of Thursday, 15 people clicked that they liked what he had to say, and 681 disliked it.
"This is the moral equivalent of beating up your wife and then taking her out to dinner to make up for it," another wrote.
"If this is supposed to be a peace pipe type situation, I wonder what he is smoking," someone opined. 
…you get the sense these are folks who would rather be handed a scorpion than a plaque from the governor.
Of course the Walker administration goes back to their favorite bogy man, “outside groups,” and blames them for everything.
Werwie said the online commenters are but a small fraction of 80,000 state workers. And he said liberal national blogs have linked to the video, eliciting feedback from farther way.
Denial won't help them at election time, though, and their scheme to honor public employees after ripping them a new one, isn't winning over anyone.
University employees learned of Walker's program from an email sent by Kevin Reilly, UW System president, at Walker's request. That was met by an open letter from the UWM University Committee telling Reilly, "we deeply regret the humiliating position in which you were placed by Gov. Scott Walker," and calling the program "disingenuous, insulting and condescending" to faculty and staff. 
Wow, this could be one awkward awards ceremony.

Wasting Taxpayer Money on Unaccountable School Voucher "Innovators." Do we look like suckers?

Sweden is often mentioned as the model for a country wide voucher education system. What is never mentioned, not even in the “informed” article below, is the requirement that all schools follow a national curriculum and national standardized test. That puts all schools on a level playing field, and allows each school to compete and innovate to achieve their educational goals.

With that fact in mind, check out how removed from reality the following commentary is, and how taxpayer money is really the prize without all that accountability stuff to worry about. Bottom line: Anyone want their hard earned money going into the “innovative” for profit pockets of privateers, under the guise of “academic freedom?” Does your kid have a few extra years to be their guinea pig? Voucher advocates think so.
EdWeek: Adam Schaeffer, an analyst at the Cato Institute who has questioned the financial implications of Indiana's landmark new voucher law, has … a second essay that argues that the measure could undermine private schools' academic and institutional freedom. In a piece published by the Huffington Post, Schaeffer says the plan will detract from private schools' curricular diversity and effectively "homogenize" them by requiring that they follow many of the testing, reporting, and academic requirements of public schools.
Sweden has basically “homogenized” their education system enough to be one of the best in the world, and again, is the voucher advocates poster child example in the U.S.. 

Schaeffer bashes the Swedish model by insinuating the poor owners of private schools would have a set of actual standards that would have to be met, or be "accountable" if they want to get their grubby paws on taxpayer money. Boohoo!!!  
He notes that participating private schools would be required to take part in state tests and the state's A-F school grading system, and follow some basic state academic standards for what can and cannot be taught—some of it related to the study of government and the U.S. Constitution.
The final commentary here is from Edweek, who should know better if they’re familiar with the Swedish model, and not land somewhere in the middle giving credibility to a vacuous argument against accountability. The answer is obvious, and we shouldn't pretend otherwise. 
In his essay, Schaeffer says the Indiana voucher law amounts to "a tactical victory for highly constrained choice won at the price of a broad strategic defeat for educational freedom." Will Indiana's measure result in private schools being compelled to follow more of a public school-oriented academic model, as Schaeffer suggests? Or are the state's requirements a fair price to ask of those schools, in exchange for access to public funding?

Rep. Steve Nass a racist? He blames “the indians” for killing bill repealing ban on racially offensive Mascots.

Nass also thinks racist mascots are fine, as long as it’s not a form of discrimination. Nass is a big thinker, and obviously not a future candidate as someones racist loving school mascot.  
WalworthToday: Rep. Steve Nass told WTMJ (that he) blames committee chairman State Rep. Karl Van Roy (R - Green Bay).
"The indians have apparently put enough pressure on Van Roy to kill the bill," Nass told the Milwaukee radio station. "He does not have an interest in holding a hearing."
The Republican Party's defender of Mascot Racism

Why is Nass saying these nass-ty things? He’s an activist racist, pushing a bill that not only reinstates the ability of schools to keep and create racist mascots, but it also voids all mascot changes since the law was enacted. Nothing like opening old wounds in a bizarre fight that defies explanation.
Since the law was enacted, the department received three complaints involving Osseo-Fairchild, Kewaunee and Mukwonago school districts, a spokesman from the state department said. Osseo-Fairchild and Mukwonago, both the Chieftains, were ordered to change the name, and the Kewaunee Indians dropped the nickname voluntarily, he said.
Nass' bill could overturn those decisions. A provision in the proposal voids all orders handed down by the state superintendent.
Talk about picking the wrong fight, and aggressively making a public ass himself in the process. Voters must be proud of Rep. Steve Nass. 

Republican Election Fraud!!! Funny isn't it, the ones who scream the loudest about stealing votes, are the ones stealing votes.

The railroad owner in the story below should at least get credit for turning himself in before anyone knew there was a problem, but that doesn't negate the fact that Republican voters will try to think of any way to game the system, all the while screaming about liberal voter fraud. WKOW 27:

Here's a sample of the problem that's turning up in other states, again, all Republicans. From Bradblog:
Indiana's Republican Governor Mitch Daniels will not be able to appoint a replacement for the recently elected Secretary of State Charlie White, who is currently under indictment for seven felony counts, three of them --- ironically enough for the state's chief election official --- for voter fraud. White used his ex-wife's residence for his voter registration and then knowingly voted at the wrong precinct (including for himself in last November's election), all while illegally serving on the Fishers Town Council despite not living in the town of Fishers. 
The ever-growing list of top Republicans --- which now includes both GOP superstar Ann Coulter and Utah's former governor and possible 2012 GOP Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman among others --- who are alleged to have committed felony voter fraud and voter registration fraud. 
The charges against White play out against the irony of the GOP's oft-echoed but ever-unsubstantiated charges of a "Democratic voter fraud" epidemic, claimed as a propaganda tool to support new voter suppression laws at the polling place. 
On Tuesday, a New York Times editorial slammed what they called the latest "Republican Threat to Voting," as laws likely to disenfranchise millions of legal, Democratic-leaning voters are once again being pushed by GOP legislators in state after state. 
The effort is described as "the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century," as Republicans in "more than 30...states...[are joining] the bandwagon of disenfranchisement, as Republicans outdo each other to propose bills with new voting barriers."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Republicans Doggedly Pursue ending Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare during a Recession.

What would be a fundamental question we should be asking Republicans about our safety nets? Here’s a suggestion;
Why the focus on entitlement programs, especially during a time of an economic recession, when people are more dependent of these safety nets? 
Remember that all the Obama “spending” had to do with digging the country out of a possible depression, a fact the media glosses over. Spending; not by choice, but out of necessity.

That’s why stories like this drive me crazy:
WashPo: We want to take action now,” Cantor said. “The immediate action should involve cuts to mandatory programs, which make up the largest portion of the budget and are not funded through annual appropriations. For such programs, the government is obliged to provide benefits to all who qualify regardless of the cost.” The biggest mandatory programs — often called “entitlements” — are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. 
Instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the wealthy, a no brainer, Republicans have successfully shifted the debate to balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. That’s an amazing accomplishment when you think about it.

Asked about removing the tax break for Big Oil, Cantor believe wrongly that such a move would be a “tax increase.” That’s off the table.  It’s those damn entitlements.
Cantor dismissed tax hikes as a “non-starter,” saying raising taxes without changes to the big entitlement programs would simply delay the day of reckoning. 
“We want to be there with a safety net for people who need it. But what we’ve seen over the years is a country that has turned much more into an entitlement country for people who don’t need it,” Cantor said. “That is the fundamental question at stake here.”
People don’t need entitlements! I know a few, don’t you, like our parents who don’t need Medicare and Social Security, or the unemployed who lost their health care and are now on Medicaid. We've turned into an entitlement country because conservative policies have pushed them there.

Breaking: Sen. Mark Miller announces massive election fraud in recall attempt of 3 Democratic Senators.

TMJ 4 in Milwaukee took this live news announcement, 14 minutes worth, by Sen. Mark Miller detailing possible election fraud attempted by Kennedy Enterprises involving the recall of three of his Democratic colleagues. Kennedy Enterprises is a "shady" professional outside group hired by the Republicans Party of Wisconsin to do their typical dirty work in digging up enough names to challenge targeted Democrats.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin counsel Jeremy Levinson adds a few more details and answers more reporter questions.

Incredible stuff, when you consider a sitting state senator came out with the serious allegation.

TMJ 4The state Democratic party announced it was challenging recall petitions against Democratic Senators, saying signatures were gathered under false pretenses.

From Bradblog a few examples of fraud:

1. Senate District 12: Of the 534 people contacted who had signed the petition, 9.2% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
2. Senate District 22: Of the 225 people contacted who had signed the petition, 6.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
3. Senate District 30: Of the 372 people contacted who had signed the petition, 8.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.
4. Affidavit of a World War II veteran from Green Bay who was misled into signing a recall petition. Upon learning he had been duped, veteran called the sheriff to get his name removed. When confronted, the circulator claims he will remove the name, but a later review of the petitions reveals the veteran’s name was never crossed off.
5. Many affidavits attesting that Circulator Sherri Ferrell – who gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in two districts — gathered signatures on Indian reservations claiming petitions were to support “schools,” “Democrats,” and “tribal rights.”
6. Affidavit of voter in Senate District 22 attesting that circulator John Prijic claimed the petitions were for work to be done on a local park.
7. Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Annette Lord claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Senator Cowles.
8. Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Richard Madrill claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Remember when Republicans told their voters to mess up the Republican recall signatures with phony names? We can only assume the Republicans will now accuse Democrats of playing their game to make them look bad. Actually, I looking forward to the creative spin they'll come up with next.

Update: Hey, that didn't take long. WKOW 27 News included the Republican Party of Wisconsin response, or lack of one, while they come up with something.


The Partisan Spirit of the Conservative Mind; Mike Huebsch missed the message when he said "never seen the kind of protests that occurred..."

What are Republicans thinking? What’s the disconnect that baffles left leaning Americans, and governs their conservative ideology? Well, take a look at the thought process behind Republican Adm. Sec. Mike Huebsch's recent deposition taken April 25 filed in Dane County Circuit Court, about the protests and Capitol closing:
jsonline: Huebsch, a former state legislator, said he had never seen the kind of protests that occurred in February when Walker released the details of his budget-repair bill …
Wow, who would have guessed? A little background reminder:
At the height of mass protests, the WSEU filed suit in Dane County alleging that Huebsch, whose agency is responsible for overseeing the capitol and other state facilities, had unlawfully restricted access to the Capitol. On March 1, Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert issued a temporary order (and) told the state to provide access “as such access existed on Jan. 28, well before the protests erupted." 
This week, union lawyers filed an amended complaint asking the court to find Huebsch in contempt of court for disobeying the court order.
Back into the mixed up conservative mind of Huebsch:
Huebsch said he and his agency never wanted to “go against what a judge is ordering. That was not in any way the intent of anything we’ve done.”
Huebsch is basically in contempt of court for disobeying the court order, and in his defense, he never wanted to do it, to go against the judge’s order. He couldn’t help himself?
Reflecting on the protests, Huebsch acknowledged that a crowd of protesters “can develop within hours, if not minutes, at any given point.”“The fact is that we still remain in an atmosphere that is highly charged and at times very volatile, including emails that are – how do you say it? – very confrontational, somewhat threatening.”
Hey, maybe it has something to do with imposing laws directly against the will of the people, ya’ think?
Union lawyers have argued that state officials gave differing weights to the rights of access of various citizens: “Tour groups were distinguished from protesters; those attending hearings were distinguished from those who just wished to walk through the building on a casual stroll," union lawyers wrote in a court filing. 
Huebsch: “I don’t know of any means by which they provided access to the Capitol for these individuals.”
Amazing bit of cognitive dissonance.

Walker Throws Consumers to the AT&T Wolves, in Adopting Stunning Industry Wish List.

We’ve heard it all before:
Postcrescent: A bill that would deregulate Wisconsin's telecommunications industry would lead to better Internet access or sky-high phone bills.
Take special notice of the term “competitive balance” in the following:
Providers (said) the bill would lead to competitive balance in the industry, wider broadband access and create tens of thousands of jobs. Opponents fired back that those claims are wildly exaggerated and that the measure would actually leave customers vulnerable to exorbitant rate increases and possibly with no phone service at all.
Again, who is Walker serving, the constituents, or big business to the detriment of his constituents? The following section pretty much shows Walker backing higher consumer rates, removing provider oversight, ignoring consumer complaints and giving up rural area internet access. Oh, and it’s backed by the industry…take a deep breath before reading: 
Written at the request of Gov. Scott Walker and backed by industry powers such as AT&T Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, the measure is packed with technical jargon. Essentially, the Public Service Commission could no longer set telecommunication rates, perform audits of providers or investigate consumer complaints … be prohibited from regulating data services such as high-speed Internet service. Providers would no longer be required to supply the commission with their prices and terms of service. They also would not have to provide service throughout a territory after 2013.
Could you have imagined anything more blatantly crass than this corporate wish list? The real world implications are jaw dropping for consumers, and a monetary giveaway and shift of the public’s wealth to the telecoms. Who's to blame?
The bill's main Senate sponsor, Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee, promised the bill would lead to a more competitive marketplace.
In a repeat of the jobs promises made in 2007 (full story and links here), when the cable industry was deregulated at the request of AT&T, they assume Wisconsin didn’t learn its lesson the last time:
AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden estimated the bill could lead to 50,000 jobs kept or created across a wide swath of sectors in the state. "The bill is practical. It includes a lot of common sense," VanderSanden said. 
Communications Workers of America's Rob Boelk (said) big providers have no local loyalty, and if the bill passes no one would be able to stop them from raising rates by dozens of dollars a year just to price themselves out of the archaic landline business. He scoffed at VanderSanden's 50,000-job figure. He said the bill could cost jobs. 
Kira Loehr, an attorney with the Citizens Utility Board, said no state oversight could lead to exorbitant rates, especially for rural and elderly customers who might be forced to give up their trusted landlines for more expensive Internet-cable-phone bundle packages. "Not everyone wants to bundle," she said. "The cost could go through the roof." 
She also questioned how state lawmakers would know if broadband access was improving because providers would no longer have to give information to the state.
How about that? You would hope at least one Republican lawmaker might consider that.

Walker Serves Big Business Again, Signs Away Sick Leave Mandate for Milwaukee Workers. Employee Entitlements Tantamount to Welfare?

Just who is the governor representing, and how many more times do we have to ask this before it sinks in?
WR: Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 23 which relates to the preemption of local
ordinances requiring leave for family, medical or health issues.
“This law removes another barrier in the road to creating 250,000 private sector jobs by 2015,” Governor Walker said. 
“Patchwork government mandates stifle job creation and economic opportunity.
Walker's preoccupation and maddening dislike for "mandates" should be troubling for voters. It puts ideology in charge of what's best for the people and state. Watch why he said he did away with recycling, an issue he had to backtrack on recently, and his closing line, "For us it was really just about the mandate, and not the issue itself." Amazing stuff from Upfront with Mike Gousha!


Sykes, Prosser Campaign whine about vote count discrepancies and recount, to restore system integrity, all the while supporting phony voter fraud Voter ID bill. Doh?

Talk about having it both ways. All this whining by conservative talk media and Republican operatives about the statewide recount in the Supreme Court Justice race is just so much hot air. It’s legal, it’s happening now, and it’s a quality control check on the electoral statewide process regardless of the final results.

Yet these are the same paranoids who have been screaming about voter fraud conspiracies that undermine the public’s confidence in the electoral system.

The hair on fire, almost breathless ranting about the recount is mystifyingly out of place for a party demanding clean elections. Here's WTMJ's Charlie Sykes:

Here's a perfect example of their hypocritical approach to enforcing clean elections. You'll notice the Journal Sentinel spin endorsing a looser voter process by writing, "...has come to this."
The recount for the state Supreme Court race has come to this: Votes from nuns have been thrown out."Eighteen applications did not have a witness signature," said Alene Bolin, assistant corporation counsel for Sauk County. Because canvassers were unable to match the actual ballots to the voter … Prosser had 14 while Kloppenburg had four … The Prosser campaign made two appeals to have the ballots counted, but they were turned down by the board of canvassers.
Not by the Kloppenburg campaign. If the rules are in place, but ignored like the Justice Prosser campaign had requested, what can you say about the integrity of the system? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We are talking about guns that kill people, right?

Guns kill. Cars take me from one place to the next. There is a difference, but then you'd never know that from the dummies that continue to make that comparison because... aw hell, you don't need a good reason.

Showing just how responsible adults write laws, Republicans are “rushing” a gun bill through before the recall elections in July that may not require any training at all, unlike mandatory hunter safety courses. After all, we’re really just talking about humans here.

Guns are so safe they’re banned in the Capitol, that oddly enough, is in lock down because Gov. Walker doesn’t feel safe there. Yet I'm being told I would be perfectly safe in a restaurant, family in tow, wondering just how paranoid the guy at the counter is with his loaded gun. My constitutional right to feel secure is shredded so some hobbyist psychotic can play Dirty Harry in public.

Did I say irresponsible?
jsonline: Republican ... bills to allow people to carry concealed weapons without any training and potentially without having to obtain state permits. Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) said she did not believe any training was needed for people to carry concealed guns. "People who carry concealed as private citizens are responsible people," she said. 
Galloway's contention that no training would be needed for concealed carry contrasts with regulations in place for hunters … born after Jan. 1, 1973, must complete a hunter safety course. 
George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, would not comment on the bill but said hunter safety courses - 10 hours of training, including accident prevention, combined with the requirement to wear blaze orange in the woods - had "substantially reduced hunting accidents."
At least the animals are safer than the potentially untrained Dodo gun nut.
"It's ironic that legislators would exclude guns from their workplace, the state Capitol, but not think about the safety risks inherent at locations where some of the our most vulnerable community members seek safety and help," said a statement from Patti Seger, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Get active, protest these dummy bills: Two hearings are planned on the bills on May 12 - one in Wausau and one in Madison.

The major difference between the bills is in permitting … 
One bill would allow people to carry weapons without getting a permit or other approval from the state. The other bill would require people to get permits but grant them to almost anyone. 
Under both bills, guns and other weapons would be banned from police stations and other law enforcement offices; jails and prisons; courthouses; school grounds; airports beyond security checkpoints; and any government building that has electronic weapons screening and a place for people to store their weapons. 
The bill on permits would allow businesses to prohibit people from carrying guns in their facilities. Local governments also could bar guns in their buildings. 
The bill that does not require permits also would lift a current requirement that guns in vehicles must be encased and unloaded.

Indoctrinating College Students. Is that possible? Conservative student who recorded Professor wasn't brainwashed for some reason.

After listening to the recording of UWO criminal justice professor Stephen Richards, I’m taken by the lack of interest and questions by his students, and the middle ground Richards took in explaining the effects of Walker’s plan on the UWO. I want to know why changes to the University shouldn’t be of interest to the students? But instead, recall target and philanderer Sen. Randy Hopper wants an investigation and firing?  

Northwestern: Sen. Randy Hopper on Tuesday called for an investigation into the in-class political activity of college professors along with the resignation of a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh faculty member who encouraged his students during class to sign a petition to recall the RepublicanDescription: lawmaker. "Quite frankly, nothing short of this professor resigning will be adequate for the students and the parents of UW-Oshkosh," Hopper said. "People send their kids to school to be educated not indoctrinated, and this professor took state-funded time to make a political stand," he said.
You know how easily it is to indoctrinate college students, especially conservative moles willing to secretly record their professor. These are not children anymore. Indoctrination really? Ever try to tell your college age kid something? I thought brainwashing as a plot point ran its course in the 60’s?
But the party of straw men won’t forget. So things are back to normal…
…corrective action was taken by the end of March. Students have since reported classroom conditions improved, according to the statement.
Oh, and the phony “student doesn’t live on campus” argument rears its ugly head.
Senate President Mike Ellis said he was not satisfied with that response."When a constituent of mine is mislead by a professor…" The constituent Ellis referred to is a female student whom Richards encouraged to sign the petition even though she lives in Ellis' senate district. 
"If you sign this, you should sign it with your campus address. You know, if, like, instead of your parents address you use your address here on campus," he said. "This is a guy who teaches a criminal justice class and then encourages a student to violate the (election) code? That is mind boggling," Ellis said.
NO, that’s not what he did. If the student had a campus address, then she would be in that district, only if she is registered there. And that’s something even a college professor wouldn’t know. 

Circuit Judge Moeser's Letter to the Editor Standing Up for Judge Maryann Sumi against Lawless Republicans.

I'm a little lazy today, so instead of transcribing the following letter to the editor by Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moeser about the criticism of Judge Sumi by our lawless Republican legislators, here's a picture that's worth even more than the words on the page.

When you think about, what kind of message are Republican sending to the next generation when they disrespect the judicial branch of our government, and unintentionally admit to politicizing the law by vilifying judges who are not conservative?

Scott Walker's State Employee Recognition Day Proclamation. Print one up, send it off to a state employee!

Osama in Pictures...

Loved this recent Tweet: "Bush torture lawyer John Yoo taking credit for bin Laden is like shit taking credit for the toilet working"

The Daily Show graphics department had a field day with these celebratory suggestions:

Will Walker take credit again, for efforts to Lure Spanish Company to Milwaukee’s north side?

Let’s get one thing clear; I’m not hoping Gov. Scott Walker fails to create jobs. What I don’t want to do is simply allow Scott Walker to lay claim to the previous Democratic administrations efforts to bring jobs to Wisconsin, or in this case M-7, the seven county regional organization recruiting businesses. Walker has been unashamed to take credit already, on numerous occasions. The following jobs announcement took M-7 two years to eventually nail down.
jsonline-Tom Daykin: A Spanish manufacturer, Sic Lazaro, is opening a U.S. factory on Milwaukee's north side. 
The company, which makes counterweights for cranes, elevators and other industrial uses, plans to begin production this summer at 7040 N. Teutonia Ave., said Jim Paetsch, of the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development group. The group recruited Sic Lozaro to Milwaukee after a two-year effort, he said. 
The company expects to have around 30 employees during its first year, and could have 60 or more employees within three years, depending on its sales, Paetsch said Wednesday.
Another M-7 victory turned a bit sour with the Walker anti-green energy agenda curtailing wind power:
 One of the most recent and most celebrated instances of M-7 industrial attraction involves Ingeteam SA, a Spanish industrial group that decided this year to spend $15 million on a new factory in Milwaukee. In the next five years, Ingeteam will hire 275 workers to produce wind and solar power generators.

Democrats may be able to Stop Assembly Republican Train from Rolling over Them.

I didn’t see or hear this mentioned in the media, anywhere, until Uppity Wisconsin brought up the possibility (and I couldn’t be happier);
Last night, in a special election to fill the vacancy of Republican Mike Huebsch, Steve Doyle defeated John Lautz 54-46% ... It also gives Dems the votes necessary to prevent a quorum on fiscal matters, which was a HUGE unstated fear by Republicans.  As Rep. Litjens said recently, it was "imperative" that Republicans not lose the Huebsch seat:
"One is imperative that we win...  If we lose that seat, we might not be able to vote on the budget... so its imperative that win that."
This adds another dimension of difficulty for Republicans, who are threatening to insert the collective bargaining death sentence in the budget bill. 
WSAU video:

Charter Cable Charges $150 Early Disconnection Fee, Selling 2 Year Package’s like Mobile Phone Companies.

UPDATE: May 9: I guess it all depend on who you talk too. Charter social network representative Josh, who found this post, contacted me and offered to go over the problem  I explained below, saying that the experience I had didn't represent the available options offered to Charter customers. After further review, he was right. The person I talked to apparently didn't have a full grasp of packages to offer panicky customers like me, freaking out over their new higher bill, because their package was expiring. All is well, and like all previous negotiations with customer service, Josh made re-upping easy and painless.

For your reference, there are 6 and 12 month plans, and a two year option, like I mentioned below. I went with the lower 1 year offer that essentially left the price a few bucks higher. Great.

Just an observation that applies to all support help: Anytime a service rep asks you to hold while they get the information, hang up and call back. You'll save yourself a lot of frustrating moments, and the time it'll take to write a blog about it.

Imagine my surprise when I tried to renegotiate my Charter Cable package, and found out negotiation is no longer an option, and I would be penalized up to $150 for changing any part of the plan or canceling it out completely!  (note: every month on the 2 year plan, knocks off $10) 

On top of that, I wasn’t offered one plan that didn’t include their expensive phone plan. No movie packages plans, nothing. That’s too bad for them, since that just pushed me into spending more money on Netflix, bypassing their premium channel services.

Thanks again Republican toadies, for the sales pitch written by the cable industry about lower premiums and consumer choices. I now have the “freedom” to pay more if I choose, and be penalized over a two year period for choosing a Charter competitor. Love the deregulated free market. You don’t think cable companies haven’t figured out ways to game the system and pad their bottom line, at our expense?

We were warned, but here’s how the debate was framed back in 2007-2009, and the unabated price increases since:
Waxing America-UW Professor of Telecommunications Barry Orton- Dec. 2009:
The 2007 "Cable Competition Act," cable rates kept going up. Surprise! Lower cable rates were explicitly and implicitly promised by the law's legislative and corporate sponsors, not to mention its astroturf advertising campaign. Basic cable rates in Wisconsin increased an average of 21 percent over the past two years, despite a new law designed to increase competition and lower costs, an audit released Tuesday said.
WSJ: When interests such as AT&T pushed for a bill in 2007 … promised consumers would "see cost savings almost immediately." 
Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, is seeking to roll back some parts of the 2007 law he says limit protections for consumers and end funding for local public access channels. 
"It's so mindboggling to me that just when we're starting to see some of the fruit blossom on this tree, there are some people who want to chop the thing down," said Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, a co-author of the 2007 law. 
Tim Vowell, a spokesman for Charter Communications, said the bill has increased competition in the state and helped hold down prices for bundled packages.
Now I'm locked into a 2 year plan, with no premium channels, at a higher price. That's holding down prices on Charter bundles?