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Saturday, April 5, 2014

ALEC by any other name is still ALEC

Cap Times’ Steven Elbow gave us all an interesting heads up over ALEC’s “new image” and new name. Finally?

Remember when they assumed that anything they stamp “confident”...and sent to a state senator...was not subject to an open records requests? They now think if they call themselves ‘the Exchange Council’ or ‘the Council,’ no one will still use the acronym ALEC. Same name, same acronym, crazy?  

They’re so misunderstood:
“You may have noticed we are limiting the use of the acronym, ‘ALEC,’" reads the March 21, 2013, American Legislative Exchange Council newsletter. “Over the last year, the word ‘ALEC’ has been used to conjure up images of a distant, mysterious, Washington alphabet organization of unknown intentions. This misrepresentation could not be further from the truth, but that ship has sailed.”

“Please join us in referring to ‘the Exchange Council’ or ‘the Council’ and leave ‘ALEC’ to groups with nothing better to do than write press releases about our website.”
Ouch. Is ALEC trying to guilt trip us to change? Really? Odd too…

One of those groups, the Center for Media and Democracy, obtained the newsletter – titled, in giant letters, “ALEC” – among other documents as part of an open records lawsuit against state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwautosa.

Ryan's 25% top tax bracket impossible, proves he doesn't really know what he's doing.

Political Capital's Al Hunt knows his stuff, and easily exposed the real Paul Ryan plan. Although Hunt does let Ryan off the hook eventually, it's clear there's a lot Ryan doesn't want to tell us.

Hunt reminded Ryan that Republican Rep. Dave Camp's detailed austere budget plan could only safely bring the top tax rate down to 35%, or it wouldn't work. RYAN WAS STUMPED, so he said the House Ways and Means Committee can itemize their plans, but the budget committee "won't say, here's exactly how to do tax reform. But here's the goal of tax reform...!" What does that mean?

But if Ryan's goal in unrealistic, as exemplified by Camp's budget plan, then why did Ryan proposal the impossible? Because the truth is, Ryan really does have a Dickensian vision for America? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Ryan in one fell swoop lost all of his credibility, again. He crumbled under the questioning of someone smarter. Thank you Al Hunt:

Wisconsin Congressmen try to put Voodoo Economic Spell on CBO!

Supply-side Economics: 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot was right to call it voodoo economics. Supply-siders are still convinced cutting taxes (government revenues), increase...government revenues. It’s magic.

We’re seeing this play out in Wisconsin, where “job creating” businesses has gotten everything they wanted from Scott Walker, from major tax cuts to tort reform, all without holding up their side of the bargain…jobs, jobs, jobs. And the GOP has yet to ask them to put up or shut up.

After the Reagan and George W. deficits, with a lot of help from the free market experiment that brought us the Great Recession, the only way to get people to accept supply-side was to make it into an actual law and force the CBO to use it.
‘DYNAMIC SCORING’ BUDGET DOCTRINE: Voting 224 for and 182 against, the House on Friday passed a GOP bill (HR 1874) requiring the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to add “dynamic scoring” to its tools for forecasting the impact of proposed legislation on U.S. economic growth. A tenet of supply-side economics, dynamic scoring holds that tax and spending cuts always pay for themselves by stimulating economic activity. But the CBO, reflecting the views of mainstream economists, does not recognize dynamic scoring as empirically valid, and instead uses what is known as “static scoring” to forecast economic impacts. 
Voting yes to make their fantasy economic dream come true were Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, and Ribble. Polls show Americans might like to try this magical potion. 

In researching this failed economic BS, I came across another term; the horse and sparrow theory:
The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name "horse and sparrow theory." He wrote, "Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: 'If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.'"
Or this...
A 2012 study by the Tax Justice Network indicates that wealth of the super-rich does not trickle down to improve the economy, but tends to be amassed and sheltered in tax havens with a negative effect on the tax bases of the home economy.
And finally:
In 1896, Democratic Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan made reference to trickle-down theory in his famous "Cross of Gold" speech:
"There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it."

Wisconsin House Republicans vote to Raise Deficits, Drop 1 Million from ObamaCare a year, return denials for pre-existing conditions and charge more for women.

Republicans like Paul Ryan continue to show the nation just what they would do if they took control of the country. For example, ObamaCare.

Every Which Way but Insured: Wisconsin's House Republicans decided to make it easier for employers to drop health insurance entirely, or at least make every full-time worker part-time (39 hours or less), exempting employers from the ACA penalty entirely. Winners: Big Business. Losers: Workers and their families. From Roll Call:
GOP CHANGES TO HEALTH LAW: The House passed a Republican bill (HR 2575) to raise from 30 to 40 the number of hours worked each week, on average, to meet the Affordable Care Act’s definition of “full-time employee.” By redefining “full-time” to exclude individuals working 30-to-39 hours per week, the bill reduces the number of employees entitled to company-provided coverage. And this, in turn, would reduce the sum total of financial penalties paid by companies for violating the ACA’s employer mandate.
Increases Budget Deficit, Drops 1 million from Health Care Coverage every year:
Supporters said the bill would protect paychecks by removing an incentive for employers to reduce hours in order to avoid ACA penalties. But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would cause about one million people to lose employer-provided health coverage each year while increasing budget deficits by $73.7 billion over 10 years as a result, in part, of employers paying fewer penalties for violating the employer mandate.
How can this be a good fiscal policy? It isn't, but it does adhere to their strict small government ideology. Voting to increase the deficit and drop 10 million from health care: Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri, Sean Duffy, and Reid Ribble.

IMPORTANT-Democrats make their point: The Democrats put the GOP on record supporting gender discrimination and the return of denied coverage for pre-existing conditions:
GENDER BIAS, PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: The House defeated a Democratic bid to bar HR 2575 (above) from taking effect if it would repeal popular Affordable Care Act features such as the law’s bans on gender discrimination and coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions.
Voting to bring back higher prices and death sentence denials for pre-existing conditions: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, and Ribble.

The Tea Party Republicans power of Suggestion on ObamaCare...

It's seem any good news benefiting Obama or the Democrats is preceded by the most ridiculous hyperbolic fictional bad news. It's almost laughable, if it weren't so effective in convincing low information voters nothing is as it seems. From the conservative trash talk at "Townhall.com:"
Really? 7.1 million Obamacare enrollees? Michael Cannon from Cato says that the number borders on preposterous. But even if it is true, it’s still not enough to save the boondoggle that Obamacare has become…

Sleeping Democrats letting nation slide into actual Republican Idiocracy.

On what is becoming a well-documented polling trend, Americans seem to prefer the Republican vision of “freedom;”
Corporate personhood and business supremacy, constitutional carry and stand your ground laws, low wages, slave labor due to repealed food stamp and unemployment benefits, vouchered Medicare, Social Security reductions, unaffordable/no health care, 7 day work weeks, drilling and mining on federal land, weaker environmental regulations, no federal disaster relief, the federal and state takeover of local control, wars of strength…you get the picture.
Here’s the latest Idiocracy Alert, via the Associated Press-GfK poll of registered voters:
-Strongly interested in politics favored Republican (control) by 14 percentage points, 51 percent to 37 percent. 

-Republicans have the edge on protecting the country, 34 percent to 16 percent.

-Potential GOP contenders … 2012 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan faring best — 27 percent viewed him favorably, 29 percent unfavorably

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sen. Glenn Grothman gets the Big Ed treatment, with a big assist from Ruth Conniff.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman (growth-men) is a throwback to a time best forgotten, and an absolute media whore. He's decided to challenge long time Rep. Tom Petri, who isn't conservatively bizarre enough. The idea that Petri is a more moderate Republican is ridiculous except for the fact we are comparing him to Grothman. Just type "Petri" in the search bar on the top left, and you'll see why. I've been featuring all the bigger House votes by our state congressmen (yes, all men) for some time, and it's really really ugly.

Just recently in a Post Crescent article titled, "Petri at odds with constituents...," Petri was asked about public opinion polls that directly contradicted his voting record in Congress, and here's his response:
The survey results haven’t changed his mind. Petri said in an interview that he listens to constituents’ opinions and takes them into account, but he also factors his own knowledge into the equation Petri said if voters are unhappy with that or want him to disregard long-held beliefs …well, “then they’ll have to hire someone else.
Again, it doesn't matter what the public thinks, Republicans always know what's best for us.

But back to Grothman. Here’s Big Ed with the Progressive's Ruth Conniff, who relished the chance to introduce Grothman to the rest of country. It was fun watching Conniff relentlessly rip into Grothman for just being…himself:


jsonline: "I don't think Congressman Petri in particular or the Republicans in general have been aggressive enough at all in (addressing) the increasing culture of dependency in this country and that culture has led to the breakdown of the family and this huge deficit." Grothman conceded he did not live in the district. Grothman said he plans to move to Campbellsport in Fond du Lac County. He keeps his state office open on the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., saying in 2011 that giving state employees the day off insulted private-sector workers who had to remain on the job. In 2012, Grothman issued a statement claiming Kwanzaa was celebrated mostly by white liberals "in an effort to divide Americans."

Grothman said he would campaign against the Affordable Care Act, arguing Petri "implied he didn't mind a bigger government role in health care." Petri voted against the legislation now known as Obamacare.

Ryan plan drops people with pre-existing conditions, dump kids under 26 off their family plans.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says in a new interview that it would be too costly for Republicans to reinstate some of the more popular provisions of Obamacare if and when the law is repealed, but that Republicans should look for alternatives.

The former GOP vice presidential nominee was asked on Bloomberg's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" about whether Republicans would keep provisions like requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, keeping kids on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old and barring insurance companies from having different rates for those whose jobs include physical labor.

The first two provisions are among the most popular parts of Obamacare, which as a whole is not popular. But Ryan says such provisions would also drive up the cost of insurance too much.
"If you look at these kinds of reforms, where they've been tried before — say the state of Kentucky, for example — you basically make it impossible to underwrite insurance. You dramatically crank up the cost. And you make it hard for people to get affordable health care."
Below, Ryan questions the premise that ObamaCare signed up 7.1 million people. Even at 24 million people covered by 2017, Ryan isn't happy with "the approach." It's the process, big government. He will repeal it, which is what I've been saying all along. Republicans don't care how many people lose their health care, despite their current whining about it. Here's Bloomberg's Al Hunt and Political Capital:


Ryan's idea of "affordable" health care? It should be cheap and not cover much. See what our wonkish numbers guy came up with before. Remember this bad idea?
In 2009, Ryan offered a joint alternative with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), which would have taxed the full value of employer health benefits and provided refundable tax credits to help families and individuals purchase employer or nongroup coverage. Economists had predicted that equalizing the tax treatment of health care benefits could discourage businesses from offering insurance and lead at least 20 million Americans to lose their employer coverage . 

Forget Public Opinion, Republican legislators controlled by ALEC business Lobbyists.

"ALEC is a national organization that brings together state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists to craft legislation supporting free markets, limited government and federalism. Republican State Sen. Leah Vukmir is second-vice chairwoman of the group."-WSJ
Vukmir is not exactly serving her Wisconsin constituents is she? Crazy right, but its standard operating procedure for Republicans, because they are admittedly, the party of big business.

When asked about the influence ALEC had on state legislation, Vukmir said her emails to and from ALEC were confidential. Heck, ALEC even stamped the confidential. After a challenge, a court said that wasn't true, and ordered her to turn over ALEC communications.
Center for Media and Democracy, which filed the lawsuit, said the more than 100 pages of documents provide the first evidence that an effort by the American Legislative Exchange Council to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is “just a sham.” Brendan Fischer, a lawyer for the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, (said) “This demonstrates that ALEC is really a lobbyist-driven organization. The lobbyists are the ones calling the shots. The legislators are just following along.”
A couple of examples:
1. Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, voted on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills. At the same meeting, she sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group.

2. In one email, Christie Herrera, vice president of policy for the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank with a registered lobbyist, wrote to Vukmir and three other legislators from other states thanking them for sponsoring a resolution opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act and coaching them on what to say. “Each of you will need to introduce the bill,” Herrera wrote. “As such I have written opening remarks that are also attached to this e-mail.

And that’s what they call “leadership?” It’s nice to see these staunch supporters of freedom and liberty so fiercely defend their rugged independence. 

The Joe Fadness Follies....continue.

Is WISGOP executive director Joe Fadness having a mental breakdown? I used to give him credit for being just a little bit slower than RNC chief Reince Priebus. I gave him way too much credit.

Fadness seems to think the Mary Burke statements below are actual flip-flops. I've read them over and over again...can you see the difference?
From MSNBC, 04/03/14:Burke is an unequivocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act and wants to expand Medicaid in the state, which Walker has refused to do.[1]

Burke in Interview with Green Bay Press-Gazette Editorial Board, 04/03/14:Certainly, Obamacare has its problems. That was a really rough rollout…We have to make sure it is a system that’s working, and it needs to be changed if it’s not working.[2]

Fadness hates Burke
Obviously, I don't want to spend a lot of time on this, but really...is Fadness crazy? I can only assume the Republican Party of Wisconsin's admission they're already out of campaign ammunition is not sitting well with Walker.

I've said it before; this Joe Fadness guy is truly Onionesque. His knack for unintentional humor is enough to brighten any liberal blogger day. Enjoy the following for its raw mindlessness:
Fadness: “Only a liberal Madison millionaire would try to hoodwink voters by changing positions on a key issue twice in one day. It’s no wonder the Democratic base hasn't accepted her ... Wisconsin should be alarmed by the disturbing trend of Burke’s lies and contradictions.
 “Which is it Mary Burke: Do you unequivocally support Obamacare and the havoc it is causing across the country, or do you agree with Governor Walker that the Obamacare boondoggle is flawed and must be repealed? Voters deserve a Governor who can hold a position for longer than 8 hours.”
Don't miss this Joe Fadness moment either.

WISGOP's Joe Fadness stands by outright lies about Mary Burke.

The bumbling thugs at WISGOP have become more of a laughing stock than an actual party campaigning for Scott Walker. In true party form, RPW will not correct their mistakes and campaign errors to make the race for governor and honest one:
WISGOP bungler, Joe Fadness
WSJ: The Republican Party of Wisconsin isn't backing away from a statement about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke's plans to self-finance her campaign, even though it was based on an erroneous report … "It was widely reported that Burke planned to spend $8-10 million in the race, yet she is now hedging her bets amidst a struggling campaign and her inability to create traction with voters."
Here’s the funny part; as proof, party leaders pointed to another fringe right wing source appropriately named, “Right Wisconsin.” Even worse, Right Wisconsin is part of the Journal Sentinel, hosted by conservative radio wacko Charlie Sykes. Gee, I wonder what could go wrong?
The State Journal asked for the party's source of the "widely reported" figure. State GOP spokesman Jesse Dougherty cited a Jan. 15 report by conservative web site Right Wisconsin … (the) article stated: "Does Democratic candidate for Governor Mary Burke really intend to spend $8 million of her own money this year? According to a public policy report from Foley and Lardner, the answer is yes."

A spokesman for the law firm said the report was retracted.
End of story? Not quite. The WISGOP goons, under the guidance of executive director Joe Fadness, had this Onionesque answer:
After being informed about the retraction, Fadness issued a modified statement to the State Journal saying "self-financing numbers as high as $10 million have circulated for months." He did not disclose a source for the $10 million figure and the March 27 press release on the party's website remains the same.
Hey, if a few people are still mislead...and it’s true, that $10 million number has been circulating, thanks to WISGOP’s daffy Joe Fadness. Holy cow.

Wisconsin embarrassed again by new voter intimidation, "election observer" law signed by Scott Walker.

Should we really let Republican legislators think we’re that dumb?

Has anyone else noticed that every restriction and attempt to suppress voting is meant to “safeguard fairness and the integrity of the vote?” When does this start to sound suspicious to those defending our right to vote. Yes, it should straddles party lines.

What used to be called a “poll watcher,” is now a much softer sounding “election observer.” You have to be comatose to ignore the possible and inevitable voter intimidation tactics that will result soon and years out.

Rachel Maddow noticed, and featured Wisconsin’s new Scott Walker voter intimidation tactic. Pretty soon, voting will become more and more inconvenient and almost inconsequential.

jsonline: Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would allow observers to stand 3 to 8 feet from the table where voters announce their names and addresses and are issued voter numbers, or from the table where people register to vote … changes current law, which lets the chief inspector or municipal clerk designate areas for election observers to stand … the law will safeguard the fairness of elections by ensuring observers can see how they are being conducted.

In recent debate in the Senate, Democrats argued the bill could lead to longer lines at polling places and voter harassment.

Cut Scene from "Gravity" changes whole movie...

The wonders of computer technology:
Hard to believe, but Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron ("Children of Men") originally shot an opening scene for Gravity that would have radically changed the film. Too bad the brass at Warner Bros. rejected this version.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Racially incentive Walker confidant Jim Villa lands job at diverse University of Wisconsin System as lobbyist.

My conservative friend in Milwaukee called to tell me he was not happy with Scott Walker hiring Jim Villa, a long time friend for a wholly new position at the UW for university relations. He mentioned cronyism, and said something didn't smell right, especially at a yearly cost of $178,000. That was a lot from a diehard Walker supporter.

This is a perfect example of government intimidation. Check out this pathetic statement from the university, now on the down slide:
UW System President Ray Cross downplayed the governor's involvement in the process while emphasizing that Villa was the unanimous choice of the search-and-screen committee. Cross said the system had concerns about this issue. But he said officials did a great deal of due diligence, even digging into the massive amount of emails. "To the best of our ability, we did not find anything," Cross said.
Didn't find anything, right? Uppity Wisconsin found something easily, and it's not insignificant. The diverse multinational student body needs a guy like this?
Shortly after Coca-Cola debuted its Superbowl commercial featuring people of different ethnicities singing America the Beautiful in different languages, Villa posted to his Facebook page, "Another reason why I hate Coca Cola..."
Villa's comment isn't anything new from the most racist, bigoted staff of numskulls exposed by the massive email dump from the first Scott Walker John Doe investig

Democratic campaign against Koch Brothers Flushes out Charles to write pity party editorial.

Poor Charles Koch, can't take a little criticism? He can dish it out though. That's what you get from an inheritance brat who thinks he's entitled to the kind of country HE wants.

Let's take a look at parts of his Wall Street Journal editorial. You first have to accept a long list of false premises. Line by line I've responded to Charles Koch's false premises:

(A) "A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value." (Respect?-see picture)

(B) "In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so." (So bad businesses will fail, like the Wall Street Banks did?)

(C) "The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens." (If our government disrespects its citizens, we have elections right?)

(D) "The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you." (This has always been the dumbest argument, ever!!! Stop it please. )
This respectful flyer compliments of Americans for Prosperity

(E) "This is the essence of big government and collectivism." ("Collectivism" is bad for government, but really good for corporate monopolies or big box stores buying in bulk)

(F) "The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle." (ObamaCare is succeeding, where the old system wasn't. It killed people.)

(G) "Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means." (When did government promise us heaven?)

(H) "Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists strive to discredit and intimidate opponents. They engage in character assassination. (I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.)" (See Americans for Prosperity poster again)

(I) "Such tactics are the antithesis of what is required for a free society—and a telltale sign that the collectivists do not have good answers. (He said it, not me-again-see pic again!)

(J) "Instead of fostering a system that enables people to help themselves, America is now saddled with a system that destroys value, raises costs, hinders innovation and relegates millions of citizens to a life of poverty, dependency and hopelessness." (The assumption that people will stop innovating is ridiculous. I grew up hearing there was always someone behind me ready to take my place. That was true, despite regulation and safety net programs)

(K) "This is what happens when elected officials believe that people's lives are better run by politicians and regulators than by the people themselves." (...wow, can you say Republican social engineers?)

(L) "If more businesses (and elected officials) were to embrace a vision of creating real value for people in a principled way, our nation would be far better off—not just today, but for generations to come. I'm dedicated to fighting for that vision." (Nice goal, but impossible. Not all businesses will act in a principled way, that's life. Alan Greenspan admitted his surprise at the unprincipled way Wall St. banks screwed over their customers. He said free market principles failed.)

Scott Walker's Trickle Down Failure on Jobs.

Check out the Political Heat's analysis and comparison of Scott Walker's jobs record with former Governor Jim Doyle's. Here's the graphic:


Palin loves the mighty Badger's, can't say the same for Paul Ryan.

Like the giant Kool Aid Pitcher or Joe Camel, Sarah Palin now just makes me laugh. I also have a tendency to want to hide my face like I did when I was 4, but a 12 step program helped me beat back that desire. 

I present to you Sarah Palin's take on the UW Badgers and Paul Ryan. She writes like she talks? Amazing:
Holy Moly! Are you kidding? You’d think one who is representing the mighty Badgers, who made it to the Final Four based on sacrificial work ethic and discipline that obviously pays off in the end, he who represents the great state of Wisconsin that hosts this underdog celebrated college basketball team, would understand that future success depends on hard work and sacrifices. 

The latest Ryan (R, Wisconsin) Budget is not an April Fool’s joke. But it really IS a joke because it is STILL not seeing the problem; it STILL is not proposing reining in wasteful government overspending TODAY, instead of speculating years out that some future Congress and White House may possibly, hopefully, eh-who-knows, take responsibility for today’s budgetary selfishness and shortsightedness to do so. THIS is the definition of insanity. Do we still not understand how dangerous it is to allow government to grow unchecked as we shackle ourselves with massive debt – a good portion of which is held by foreign nations who don’t necessarily like us? If we can’t balance the budget today, what on earth makes us think it will happen at some future date? 

The solution is staring us in the face. We need to rein in spending today, and don’t tell me there is nothing to cut when we know every omnibus bill is loaded with pork and kickbacks.

Reading the article linked (that) gave me the same reaction that my daughter just caused when she punked me with a very unfunny April Fool’s Day announcement. As my Dad would say after these April Fool’s announcements, “This would kill a lesser man.” This out-of-control debt is killing our economic future.- Sarah Palin

It's nice to have Americans for Prosperity involved in our local races, isn't it? But is it still local, or national?

After the conservative activist Supreme Court opened the billionaire money spigot, essentially tearing down our democratic republic, Racine's Journal Times had the bad timing to editorialize how wonderful it was to have the out-of-state billionaire Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity involved in out local elections:
In December every year, residents open their mail and shake their heads when they look at their tax bill. Yet for some reason, when local municipal and school board elections come around in the spring, people seem to forget … to vote, meaning they don’t care enough to even bother.
Here’s the fun part. The editorial complained about how low the turnout was this time around, which went against the point they’re making about how great it was for Americans for Prosperity to help turn out voters:
For instance, in Racine County in Tuesday’s election, only 13,193 people cast ballots out of 111,593 registered voters … That is just under 12 percent and pretty pathetic.

Because of that selective memory we all have, it’s not a bad thing when you hear about groups like Americans for Prosperity coming into the area and reminding people to vote in local elections, specifically the school board election in Kenosha.
"12 percent and pretty pathetic." Still, you gotta love out-of-state groups telling people how to vote:
If groups like Americans for Prosperity can help create more awareness for the issues and turn out more voters, then more power to them or any other group trying, as long as they are willing to disclose who they are.
Within the body of the editorial, they also compared the Koch’s involvement in Kenosha to how the unions came into Wisconsin after Act 10 was passed. Hmm, but that wasn't an election was it. And if they want to point to the union involvement in the recall election, that was just to keep up with outside money pouring into Walker’s campaign coffers prior to even selecting Tom Barrett.

"Democrats are hoping for, and fighting for, the lowest possible premiums for customers. Republicans are hoping for, and campaigning for, the highest premiums and greatest pain for customers."-The Hill

GOP message to Democrats: “Shut up:” Sure Wisconsinites aren't happy about Scott Walker’s broken 250,000 jobs promise, but Republicans don’t want the Democrats to remind people of Walker’s failure.

So to counter that, the ridiculous Republican spin goes something like this; Democrats are really cheering on job losses and hoping for failure.

But the Democrats don’t have the power to do anything in the legislature, much less “kill jobs.” They can only report the actual numbers and national ranking. That’s not hoping for failure, unless you believe the GOP spin. 

On the other hand, Republicans can and have affected the outcome of ObamaCare, and have actually hoped it would fail. They even shut down the government at a cost of $24 billion, refused to created their own exchanges or expand Medicaid. They tried like hell to kill it. 

Which brings me to the nice piece below that digs even deeper into their hope for failure:
The Hill’s BRENT BUDOWSKY: it is a major political blunder for Republican leaders to insult these Americans by claiming they are too stupid to understand the financial interests of their families and threatening to use the jackhammer of Republican big government to take away insurance they bought after making informed choices in a free market.

J’accuse: The closest thing to socialism in America in 2014 is a GOP that proposes to use the dominating power of the Republican vision of the federal government to take away the private property of private insurance bought from private companies by individual citizens, after considering competing products in a capitalist system.

The GOP politics of ideology, fanaticism, negativity, overconfidence and overreaching did grave damage to Republicans in 2006, 2008 and 2012, which continues today in their obsession to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The party is trying to force voters to follow dictates from Republicans in Congress who have unfavorable ratings of 80 percent.

Democrats should frame the issue this way: Democrats are hoping for, and fighting for, the lowest possible premiums for customers. Republicans are hoping for, and campaigning for, the highest premiums and greatest pain for customers.

The mother of all ObamaCare blunders for Republicans is that they really do hunger for Americans to be slammed by higher premiums, for partisan political reasons, and they cannot control their instincts to show it.

ObamaCare still not that Affordable. The Pooled buying power of every American would lower costs, make every hospital and doctor a part of your plan.

The Affordable Care Act will lose a whole lot of people in the next year. Is that bad news and proof the Republicans were right to say the sky is falling? No.

A recent study below lays out what normally happens in what is called the “individual market.” I've been in it myself for the last 20 years, so none of the supposed surprises that made headlines and caused GOP heads to explode was really news to me.

What the nation finally learned from the details revealed in the roll out of ObamaCare was how screwed up the system really was, from premiums, to co-pays, to deductibles. Many had no clue since they had employer provided care, Medicaid or no coverage at all.

The ACA did move mountains though, forcing insurers and providers to change their business model. I supported the change.

But I’m not happy with the ACA because as it turns out, I’m realizing I might not be able to keep up the monthly payments. The problem is, we’re not using our clout to buy health insurance in bulk.

Americans are still doing this individually, instead of as a nation, which would have wisely spread the costs out to a tolerable level for everyone. It’s called “SINGLE PAYER.” 
  
New research reveals another aspect of the individual market; churn:
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center estimate that about 20 percent of Covered California enrollees are expected to leave the program because they found a job that offers health insurance. Another 20 percent will see their incomes fall and become eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's insurance program for people who have low incomes.

In addition to the 40 percent of enrollees who move to Medi-Cal or job-based insurance, between 2 and 8 percent of those who sign up for Covered California are expected to become uninsured.

This turnover — or "churn" to those who study health insurance — is well-known in the Medi-Cal and individual insurance market. Between 53 and 58 percent of Covered California enrollees are expected to stay in a Covered California plan for 12 months, the report says.

Ken Jacobs, chair of the Labor Center and an author of the new study, said an estimated 10 percent of enrollees could be expected to leave Covered California, although some may leave the exchange "because the cost was too high."

Ryan and the Koch's Ayn Randian Vision turns Fiction into Dystopian Reality.

Paul Ryan and the Koch’s are making it very clear what book they’re reading from, and it ain’t the Bible, or so says the Pope, Bishops and Nuns who have denounced their draconian Oligarchic policies.

What the media is missing when it comes to Ryan and the Koch brothers vision for America, is how closely it resembles the fictional world spewed out in the pages of Ayn Rand novels. Charles Koch's use of the word "collectivists" is one dead giveaway.

WaPo’s Greg Sargent wrote:
CHARLES KOCH FIGHTS BACK: He takes to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to fight back against his critics, insisting he is fighting a freedom war against “collectivists” who would reduce millions “to a life of poverty, dependency, and hopelessness.” He complains critics haven’t tried to ”understand my vision for a free society.” * AND KOCH’S VISION OF A “FREE AND OPEN SOCIETY”: Responding to Charles Koch’s op ed, in which he laments the collectivists’ opposition to “free and open debate,” Jonathan Chait gets to the heart of it:
In the kind of “free and open” debate he imagines, Koch would continue to use his fortune to wield massive political influence, and nobody would ever say anything about him that makes him unhappy. Luckily, Koch restrains himself from overtly comparing the Obama administration to Hitler and Stalin, instead likening it to unnamed 20th century “despots.” No character assassination here!
I liked this comment following the story:
radiobill1125:  If Koch has a "vision" for America why doesn't HE run for office. I have a "vision" too. The difference is I can't afford to sway millions toward my vision.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Koch's Americans for Prosperity had some pro-mining success in Iron County Board Elections.

Perhaps the Koch brothers influence didn't have the kind of success they had hoped, but they still got a piece of the action. Two actual opponents won:
jsonline: Three of seven candidates for the Iron County Board who were labeled as "anti-mining radicals" by a national political group with ties to industrialists David and Charles Koch were elected in Tuesday's election.

Those identified as mine opponents by Americans for Prosperity who won include: Victor Ouimette, a retired insurance broker and president of the Mercer Chamber of Commerce, who defeated incumbent James Lambert; Brad Matson, who beat incumbent Gerald Luke; and Karl Krall, who defeated incumbent Tom Innes (Krall actually supported the mine, but the Koch's had no clue).

"I have a hard time understanding why the Koch brothers think I am such a threat to their well-being — that they single me out in poor little Iron County?" Ouimette said recently.
Here's a nice summary from just before the election from Big Ed and Ruth Conniff:


Kenosha School Board Flips to Conservative, thanks to "Americans for Prosperity" and "American Majority" candidate training.

Thanks to Americans for Prosperity, the Kenosha school board elections got a lot of media coverage. But the day after...nothing? I thought there would be more interest.

I found out there was another group involved, and taking credit for wins in Kenosha and Menominee Falls; American Majority? Yea, another "American" like group, how patriotic. They're a “nonpartisan” conservative right wing group, from out-of-state, now controlling the direction of Wisconsin politics:
American Majority describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan political training institute that believes in limited government and free markets.
Yes, that statement about “free markets” kind of gives them away, but if you go to their website…well, they’re more direct and not so nonpartisan:
We have recently opened a permanent state office in Wisconsin. Our American Majority training team will conduct our premier trainings designed to help the citizens of Wisconsin translate their passion for liberty into real-world results in their communities. 
Any similar groups on the left…anyone? Conservatives are “training” citizens  for public office? 
WUWM: A conservative group training candidates in Wisconsin is celebrating victories  in Tuesday's elections. According to a release from the American Majority, it helped flip both the Kenosha Unified School Board and the Menomonee Falls Village Board from having liberal majorities to conservative control. Dan Wade garnered the most votes. He  and Gary Kunich, described as a fellow conservative, ousted incumbent Jo Ann Taube, who had the backing of union supporters. Its Wisconsin office claims a victory rate in Tuesday's spring elections of 64%.
 Knowing now that money and trained candidates for office, with their rehearsed memorized sound bite propaganda, are you getting the feeling it's not really you they're interested in? I'll be honest, I'm still trying to absorb this political distortion. 

Bursting Sykes' Bubble! Outside the "Right Wing Authoritarian" Echo Chamber.

I once thought Charlie Sykes had at least some credibility. But the truth is, conservatives really don’t see their flaws, their mistakes and their continued economic failures. Their shit don't stink.

I suppose to some, corporate tax cuts and tort reform isn't considered a handout...corporate welfare. But to me, it tops the list of entitlements big business freeloaders get at the expense of ever day taxpayers.

Simpleton Sykes speaks out: In what Sykes describes as a few “quick thoughts” on a belatedly
released jobs plan by candidate Mary Burke (didn't she know there was a GOP time limit?), it turns out to be nothing more than more conservative projection. My answer follows Sykes, reminding him of a few laws passed and proposed:
Sykes: “Same old pap. Recycling isn't just for plastic bottles anymore; it apparently also works for worn out, tired ideas.” Funny, we could say the same thing about trickle down economics filled with the same old ineffective tax cuts that never actually create jobs. Burke’s minimum wage hike would at least encourage spending, create demand and then produce jobs.

Sykes: “Most of Burke's ideas start from the philosophy that government can direct the economy instead of the philosophy that government should get out of the way of the free market.” Right, directing tax cuts toward manufacturing and agriculture, deregulating and streamlining permits, and exempting corporations from liability is, according to Sykes, getting government out of the way.

Sykes: “Despite a long history of failures, folks like Burke are still relying on central planners instead of the free market.” What failure? Unemployment was down during Burke’s tenure, and Doyle was tenth in job creation before Walker tanked the number. And what would be more “central planned” than the one size fits all state wide laws banning paid sick leave, minimum wage hikes and local sand mine regulation? Or how about usurping local control over cell tower locations, roundabouts, early voting. And don’t forget the tax cuts, tort reform and help from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Odd, Walker hasn’t asked big business to show the beef…you know, the jobs. We've been waiting 3 and half years. I know, they're now uncertain about Walker's future as governor. Those pesky elections. Can we change that next time around?

Supreme Court pours more Campaign Cash into elections, contradict yesterdays voters who declared "Money is not free speech."

Americans seem bewildered by the conservative activist Supreme Court’s decision on Citizen’s United. Few people believe the founding fathers tried to give corporations the same rights as people. 

Just as outrageous is the idea that corporations would then have free speech rights in the form of money.

Wisconsinites overwhelmingly approved county wide referendums supporting an amendment to the constitution... 
“declaring that only human beings, not corporations, unions, nonprofits or similar associations are endowed with constitutional rights.”
And that…
“Money is not free speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.”
Edgerton, Waunakee, DeForest, Belleville and Windsor all supported the above constitutional amendment.

                                                                                                                                                                                            

But if today is any indication, the Robert’s court and the conservative majority have a different view of the founding fathers intentions, and the dystopian future they’re helping to create. The latest case focused on contributions, rather than spending.
Voting 5-4 along ideological lines, the Supreme Court struck down decades-old limits on the total money donors can give to federal candidates and parties, issuing its biggest campaign-finance ruling since the 2010 Citizens United decision … the caps violated the speech rights of Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican official seeking to give candidates, parties and political committees more than the $123,200 maximum.

The court stopped short of undercutting a 1976 ruling that allows caps on contributions to individual candidates.  Justice Thomas (said) in a separate opinion that he would have gone further and overturned the 1976 ruling.

 The overall limits “intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s lead opinion … it will give more freedom to wealthy donors looking to use their money to make a political impact. Taken together with Citizens United, the decision “eviscerates our nation’s campaign-finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in dissent. 

Sand Mining and Foundry industries okay with Carcinogenic Silica Lung Disease, oppose more government interference.

Frack sand mining in Wisconsin is kicking up a lot of crystalline silica dust for workers and surrounding local communities. And it has the potential to kill people. But…
jsonline: There is little conclusive information on possible negative health effects of a pollutant linked to Wisconsin's burgeoning sand mining industry, the Department of Natural Resources said in a new report Tuesday. The DNR made no formal recommendations.
How is that even possible? Well, it is if your in Scott Walker's Wisconsin:
Crispin Pierce, an associate professor of environmental public health at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, (described) the report as "conservative in a way that is in opposition to good public health policies. "We know that this material, in higher concentrations in the workplace, causes silicosis (which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal)," he said. "So to say there is little known if we are exposed in a different context like a sand mine is naive in my estimation," Pierce said.
It’s not na├»ve, but intentional. Big business isn't interested in the human toll, as demonstrated below:
Industry groups rejected calls for further regulation in comments included in the report. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said the DNR lacks authority to regulate crystalline silica as a hazardous air pollutant. The American Chemistry Council said there is no evidence for determining whether crystalline silica in the air causes silicosis or other silica-related diseases.

jsonline: Foundry industry executives say they could be forced out of business if the federal government adopts tougher regulations aimed at reducing worker exposure to crystalline silica dust.
There is evidence actually. The choice being offered is a frightening one; we know it will kill people, but hey, they’ve got a business to run and bigger profits to make.  
James Schultz, a workplace safety consultant from Milwaukee and former foundry worker said "Honestly, a lot of times in the workplace you are told to man up and don't worry about it. A lot of workers may suspect something is wrong, because they're having a hard time breathing, and they don't realize it's the beginning stages of a terminal lung disease."
But it’s the bottom line, and a cut in profits:
The proposed OSHA requirements would result in annual costs equivalent to about 10% of the foundry industry's revenue, the trade association says.
It’s not about how much pain, suffering and death is tolerable:
The seriousness of the health hazards associated with silica exposure is demonstrated by the fatalities and disabling illnesses … Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal.

The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis. Since silicosis affects lung function, it makes one more susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis.  

Doctors off the hook for Medical Errors in Wisconsin? Will Scott Walker let it happen?

Why is it so many Republican politicians were once the most ruthlessly stupid doctors once? 

Joining the moronic ranks of doctor politicians everywhere is state Assembly by Rep. Erik Severson, R-Star Prairie. He and lead sponsor of the legislation Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir, a nurse practitioner and national ALEC treasurer, managed to send to Gov. Walker a billthat:
“…bars statements expressing apology or condolence made by doctors or other health care providers from being admissible in lawsuits.”
Oh if it were only that simple. Instead, if you just pick out the relevant language and intent of this law in bold type here:
The bill reads: “a statement or conduct of a health care provider that expresses apology, benevolence, compassion, condolence, fault, liability, remorseresponsibility, or sympathy to a patient or patient’s relative or representative” would not be “admissible into evidence or subject to discovery in any civil action or administrative hearing regarding the health care provider as evidence of liability or as an admission.
The bill just took medical mistakes, errors and negligence off the table for the victims of malpractice. Incredible but true.
“Anybody in the medical field would be out from under an admission of guilt,” Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said. “It would make the vulnerable more vulnerable.”

Democrats as well as Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, that the legislation went too far and could shield negligent health care providers.
Taking this down-the-rabbit-hole thinking to the next lowest level, Vukmir added this nonsensical thought to mix:
Vukmir said limiting the legislation to mirror “sympathy-only bills” in other states could force providers to censor themselves when speaking with grieving families.
And the problem with that is…?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Overwhelming Approval of Obamacare at Ted Cruz Facebook page.

If you can visit the Cruz Facebook page featuring this question:

Comment after comment not only support the law, but tells a story. Just amazing. Here's a sample:


Republicans are trying to Kill Us with small government, and succeeding.

Uppity Wisconsin found the great chart below that oddly shows how Republican policies are actually killing us, literally. 

The chart compares preventable deaths due to the lack of health care, and preventable gun deaths. Both issues have gotten the GOP deregulation treatment. If we let government just get out of the way, well, a lot of people will die. Now Republican governors are attacking the poor and middle class by not expanding Medicaid. What does that mean to Wisconsinites?

According to Uppity Wisconsin:
WISCONSIN GUN DEATHS PER YEAR: 151

WIS DEATHS DUE TO WALKER REFUSAL TO TURN AWAY MEDICAID EXPANSION FUNDS SIMPLY TO SABOTAGE "OBAMACARE": 671
Again, the chart shows what a little deregulation can do. I give you liberty and freedom...from breathing:

Koch influence in Kenosha School Board Race, Sly Protest of Americans for Prosperity and more Vicki McKenna BS.

Our outside electioneers, the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity group, are now controlling campaigns all over the state. Think what they'll do for Scott Walker. UPDATED HERE.

Is it just a coincidence that just after voter suppression rules were put in place, out-of-state campaign cash is suddenly flooding in, controlling our issues and candidates for public office?

Conservatives love this stuff, because winning is the bottom line. Like Padme said Star Wars 3, "So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause," or a Walker win.

Kock's in Kenosha School Board Race? It's hard to believe, but true:
Kenosha News: About 60 demonstrators voiced their opinion in front of the Kenosha Unified School District Educational Support Center ... The picketers carried signs critical of the Americans for Prosperity group … Guest speaker John “Sly” Sylvester of Madison talk radio WEKZ-FM 93.7 spoke to the marchers on a megaphone in an effort to “fire up the troops.”


I talked to Sly about the latest rantings from WISN's Vicki McKenna's. McKenna and Kristi Lacroix of AAE Wisconsin tore into Sly for "the bullying tactics used by the Kenosha teachers union at their recent rally." McKenna and Lacroix whined about Madison based Sly injecting himself into Kenosha's election, and yelling at Lacroix's 13 year old daughter. Not only did Sly deny that, he mentioned how Madison based McKenna was there the previous week. Oops.

How dare Sly protest the Koch brothers influence. Remember, citizen participation via unions, via radio hosts, via independent citizen voices is frowned upon by Republicans. Below, McKenna repeated the fabricated story about Sly "screaming" at Lacroix's daughter, which wasn't true. Does she ever confirm anything?



Dark Money and the Koch Brother Invasion: The Kenosha News wrote the following:
Americans for Prosperity … funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch … is getting involved with the Kenosha Unified School Board race.

David Fladeboe, state director of AFP, said the organization has a field team working on the race, doing phone banks and canvassing in the district … the group decided to become involved in the race due to the board’s approval of new union contracts … the group is interested in remaining active in Kenosha County beyond School Board politics, saying “We’ll be active in that corner of the state all year.”

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause, a Wisconsin campaign spending watchdog group, said Americans for Prosperity (are involved) in northern Wisconsin where the group has gone after opponents of a proposed iron ore mine … he had not heard of the group being involved in school board races in the state. He called the development “very, very alarming.”

“Obviously the teachers unions have always weighed in, but for the Americans for Prosperity to do it, boy, I have not heard of that in school board races,” Heck said. “It’s a new trend. It’s now in virtually every competitive congressional and legislative race, but now it’s county supervisors and city council members. And now school board members down in Kenosha,” Heck said. “It’s the nationalization of state and local politics in Wisconsin.”
Isn't that the tea party complaint about Common Core, which isn't true by the way. And while McKenna screams about liberal “dark money,” she never mentioned the Koch brothers on her program.
Groups like Americans for Prosperity spend on issue ads … they do not have to report who donates money to their organization. 
Jeff Simpson posted this Robert Greenwald video showing what did happen under Koch brothers rule on the Raleigh, N. Carolina school board. I never heard about this outrageous horrific story, which is truly jaw dropping. This is what's really behind school privatization:

  

Embarrassed State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf Stumped trying to explain how Shorter Uniform Early Voting Hours will work in Big Cities.

Uh-oh, it looks like our Republican politicians were blowing smoke up our butts touting the benefits of the new uniform early voting hours. Outgoing Sen. Dale Schultz was right not to try and defend the unexplainable and what is obviously a policy of voter suppression.

This morning on WPR's Joy Cardin Show, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf couldn't explain how shorter uniform hours would work in big cities with more people. The fact that it doesn't was a point surprisingly ignored by news outlets.

Here's Harsdorf stumbling all over herself trying to make sense of the senseless supression, and finally resorting to the standard "maintaining the integrity of elections" bullshit. Funny thing, a few other red states did, and said, the same thing. Coincidence...didn't think so:




Correcting Lyin' Paul Ryan...again.

The only good that came out of Paul Ryan's run for vice president is that we now know he's a lying phony. Is that just liberal name calling? Not if it's the truth.

Ryan's opponent Democratic candidate Rob Zerban would wise to incorporate a few of the important reality base points below about Ryan's mischaracterization of poverty and Medicaid. From Bill Moyers:
Ryan: “It’s time for an adult conversation,” he told The Washington Post: The problem is that a prerequisite for any adult conversation is telling the truth and it is there the congressman falls monumentally short.

In addition to Rep. Ryan’s recent, racially-coded comments about “our inner cities” where “generations of men [are] not even thinking about working,” his rhetoric around policy should raise red flags for anyone — including the media — assessing his credibility.
Here are the facts that simply scream common sense:
report from Emily Oshima Lee, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, examines the hatchet job Rep. Ryan did on Medicaid ... The Washington Post generously described as a “critique.” Indeed, Ryan’s report ... misrepresenting and cherry-picking data — is a dangerous disservice ... assessing antipoverty programs.

Lee notes that Ryan misuses research to imply that Medicaid coverage leads to poorer health. “The privately insured comparison is patently unfair because these people tend to be higher income and that comes with a whole host of health privileges.” She notes that Medicaid enrollees tend to struggle a lot more with chronic conditions and illnesses than other populations writes Lee, in my opinion admirably resisting the temptation to add, “duh.”

Ryan also argues that Medicaid coverage has little positive effect on enrollees’ health. But as Lee points out, Ryan conveniently overlooks studies showing lower mortality rates; reduced low-weight births and infant and child mortality; and lower mortality for HIV-positive patients. “…such as increased use of preventive care and greater financial security.”

Despite Ryan’s shabby work when it comes to antipoverty policy, the media repeatedly seems willing to overlook it. That’s another strike against the prospects of a truly adult conversation about poverty — in addition to honesty, it requires accountability.

Rep. Ryan also plays on fears of low-income people abusing the welfare system when he asserts that Medicaid coverage improperly increases enrollees’ use of health care services, including preventive care and emergency department services ... by comparing Medicaid enrollees to uninsured people ... “Presenting data that Medicaid enrollees use more health services than the uninsured affirms that insurance coverage allows people who need care to seek it out,” writes Lee, “and that being uninsured is a major barrier to receiving important medical care.”

Further, one of the two studies Ryan references explicitly states that “neither theory nor existing evidence provides a definitive answer to… whether we should expect increases or decreases in emergency-department use when Medicaid expands.”