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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Opposition to Common Core isn't about education, it’s pure politics.

It will be interesting to see how far the U.S. descends into the abyss before the public notices their government has completely collapsed. I also worry that Americans might get used to dysfunction, accepting their place in society as something they blame themselves for, and not their political party. 

Common Core is showing us all why we can no longer government ourselves like a real country, which makes me nervous as hell.

ObamaCore? Forget it. Leave it up to the states to prepare their kids for the global market, with 50 experiments going on at the same time, and no real way to know it’s working.

Because Common Core is a set of standards, and not a curriculum, it would seem hard to argue against it since each state can come up with their own localized plan. Common Core is dependent on each state taking the same agreed to tests, since that’s only way to measure the success rate of each state’s quality of education. Makes sense, right? Nope, not to some.

And opponents of CC know just how to kill what they consider a government takeover and a liberal propagandist curriculum; create their own test, lower standards and have higher scores. At least it will look good.

Teachers hate it too? But the media is also making things worse with headlines like this:
Chicago Union Passes Resolution Opposing Common Core
But that’s not true either…
…they support the standards themselves but think implementation has been lousy, with states and districts failing to provide enough teacher support or high-quality curricula. 
There’s nothing nefarious about Common Core, but you can't tell that to our paranoid right wing. Extremely conservative forces say no to reform, because it's a secret European plan to dumb down America. But we don’t need Common Core to do that, since we’re about as dumbed down as we can get. Proof? Check out this interview from WKOW's Capitol City Sunday, with losing DPI Superintendent candidate and Republican Rep. Don Pridemore, who thank god isn't running again. This is what we're up against:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan votes to Expand Charter Schools Nationwide.

I'm not really sure what to think of the following vote by Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, who jumped on the Republican privatization wagon to privatize public schools.

Here's how Roll Call described the bill to spend more on charter schools.
CHARTER SCHOOLS FUNDING: The House on Friday passed a bill (HR 10) to authorize $300 million annually through fiscal 2020 for charter schools in U.S. communities. The bill would provide grants to states for developing and expanding charter schools and for leveraging private loans for capital improvements. The nation’s 5,000-plus charter schools, which educate about 5 percent of the nation’s K-12 students, receive public funding but are freed of many of the rules that bind traditional public schools. In return, they are expected to produce superior academic results and show traditional schools a model for improvement. A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Believe it or not, voting yes with the Republicans: Mark Pocan, Ryan, Kind, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Ribble. Someone needs to explain themselves. 

Big Ed talked with The Progressive Magazine's Ruth Conniff, who highlight what Scott Walker was up to and just how big a failure charters and voucher schools are:

Wyoming sets Higher Public Education standards by Rejecting Science!!? Can't wait to see what Walker comes up with.

Remember when Scott Walker said this about Common Core;
"There's got to be a way for us to put our fingerprints on it. The standards we have in the state should be driven by people in Wisconsin."
I’m just starting to understand what “fingerprints,” “driven by the people of Wisconsin” and “Wisconsin values” really means. It’s GOP code for…

Politically influence curriculum: That’s what Republicans are talking about. The best example I can give you is the jettisoned new science curriculum by Republican politicians in Wyoming. Can you say indoctrination?
ABC News: Wyoming, the nation's top coal-producing state, is the first to reject new K-12 science standards proposed by national education groups mainly because of global warming components
.The Wyoming Board of Education decided recently that the Next Generation Science Standards need more review after questions were raised about the treatment of man-made global warming. Board President Ron Micheli said the review will look into whether "we can't get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of."

Gov. Matt Mead has called federal efforts to curtail greenhouse emissions a "war on coal." Opponents argue the standards incorrectly assert that man-made emissions are the main cause of global warming and shouldn't be taught in a state that derives much of its school funding from the energy industry.
Not even big oil agrees with the crazy talk from these extreme ideologues:
Chad Colby, spokesman for Achieve, one of the organizations that helped write the standards. John Friedrich, a member of the national organization Climate Parents, noted that oil and gas industry giants Exxon Mobile and Chevron support the standards. 

Republicans Destroy Public Confidence of our Judicial Branch of government.

Republicans talk big about protecting the integrity of everything from voting to judges. As always, it's opposite day everyday in Republican world.
While the nation collapses under the partisan decisions by the decidedly conservative activist Supreme Court, the public has noticed. I'm relieved I wasn't the only one.
BuzzfeedOnly about a third of Americans believe the Supreme Court decides cases based on the law alone ... Americans believe the Supreme Court justices are political, letting their personal views sway their decisions … more than three-quarters of Americans oppose the Citizens United ruling … Americans say they would also like to see more ... access to courtroom proceedings to financial disclosures and ethics rules — as well as an end to lifetime terms.
The Numbers:
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Democracy Corps: Majorities of Republican, Democratic, and Independent respondents all told the pollsters that “the current U.S. Supreme Court justices often let their own personal or political views influence their decisions” — 54% of Democrats, 62% of Republicans, and 63% of Independents, for a total result of 60% of respondents agreeing with the statement. Only 36% of respondents agree that “the current U.S. Supreme Court justices usually decide their cases based on legal analysis without regard to their own personal or political views.” Specifically regarding the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision from 2010, 80% of Americans opposed the decision and 18% supported it. Although Republicans (72%) were less opposed to the decision than Democrats (82%), it was Independents (84%) most opposed to the decision. 

"Wealth Redistribution" at the heart of Republican Health Care Plan.

Democrats are missing a golden opportunity to "Hulk smash" the only argument the right wing has left about ObamaCare.

Conservatives are angry that their hard earned money is getting "redistributed" to the sick and low income in the ObamaCare marketplaces.

They hate "wealth redistribution."

Showing their stupidity: Sorry to be blunt, but the right wing continues to prove they don't know how insurance works, and why health care in the U.S. is so bad.

Redistribution is how insurance works. Our "hard earned" monthly premium dollars get redistributed to the sick and the insurer. If conservative whiners stay healthy and never collect, where do they think their money is going, into a rainy day pot for them?

Shocking I know, but GOP Pushing for Wealth Redistribution: The Republican plan to bring costs down relies on corporate insurance welfare. States will take the sick and put them in high risk pools, known as Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plans (HIRSP), allowing insurers to profit off the healthy.

If Republican voters knew that about 40% of their monthly premiums were redistributed to a government run risk pool so insurers could make a hefty profit, they would squeal like pigs. Not only that, but the GOP flip flops on the evils of government paying doctors less. From Uppity Wisconsin:
The Health Insurance RiskSharing Plan (HIRSP). The state-managed HIRSP system was adopted in the early 1990s and was funded through a combination of patient premiums and a surcharge on "regular" health insurance plans in the state. HIRSP also mandated that health care providers treat HIRSP patients at discounted rates.

Generally speaking, HIRSP members loved the plan, because they were getting subsidized rates that were cheaper than what was available on the private market. This was because state statutes required that 40% of the HIRSP members’ premiums be paid by surcharges on the insurance programs of “regular” health plans, and by reduced charges from doctors. In other words, we were all paying 40% of ... premiums.

Health insurance companies and health providers didn't like the plan because they were paying for it through taxes/surcharges and mandated discounts.
Again, Republicans are touting a plan that would pick the pocket of those who buy insurance, and redistributed 40% of those premiums to the sick; use government power to lower doctor fees; so insurers can make higher profits. 

You gotta love how the free market works. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

CEO's Rank Scott Walker's Wisconsin High on Business Again, just in time for Special Interest Ad Campaigns.

I love it when CEO’s praise Wisconsin under Scott Walker…gee, what a great place to do business. And why wouldn't these “jobs welchers” like it here.

With all the attention and tax cuts, they want that gravy train to continue…so they've again ranked Wisconsin high on their list. It couldn't hurt. Hey, it’s sounds good in a campaign ad too. From WISGOP:
Today, CEO Magazine released their rankings for “Best and Worst States for Business,” and Wisconsin – under Governor Walker’s leadership – jumped again and remains one of the best states to do business...
...without jobs...
...The state is now ranked 14th in the nation for best states to do business, which is a stark contrast to Wisconsin’s poor and declining rankings during Mary Burke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary.
Remember, this is an empty and ridiculous ranking based on slightly loopy cocktail sipping CEO's opinions, without all those profit draining jobs.
“Through Governor Walker’s leadership, our economic rankings have improved each year, which is a stark contrast to Mary Burke’s policies.
It’s astonishing how the state is kicking everybody’s ass:
2010, before Walker took office, Wisconsin was ranked 41st in the business rankings. Since that time, his pro-growth policies have resulted in the state moving up an astounding 27 spots. Under Burke, the state continuously declined in the rankings, sliding down 8 spots from 25th to 33rd.
Gee, I wonder what the job numbers were for comparisons sake of course, knowing Wisconsin had 72,000 more jobs than now under Walker.

Incidental Governor Walker not interested, hasn't noticed John Doe 2 Fiasco.

Scott Walker pretended to look surprised at all the attention around his "lucky" turn in the John Doe 2 investigation. It didn't hurt his campaign lawyer's wife is an assistant to Judge Randa, who took the extraordinary step of ordering the immediate destruction of evidence accumulated in John Doe 2.

Sure that looked suspicious to everyone, but what the heck. Walker's just too busy creating one job in November to notice...
Walker: "For me, I don't get distracted by that, um whether it's good, whether it's bad, whether it's somewhere in between...."
See, nothing to worry about. After all, in the end it all seemed to go as planned. WISC Channel3000:



Democratic challenger Mary Burke came out swinging:
"I just think the people of Wisconsin are concerned about all this special interest money that floods into politics, we don't know where it's coming from, ah we don't know whose behind it, and that's it's having too much of an influence on our elections. So I think that it's important that these issues are looked into,and that our laws are being upheld." 

Believe it or not, Wife of Scott Walker's campaign lawyer is an assistant to Judge who threw out John Doe investigation!!!

This is jaw dropping news and an amazing conflict of interest, looks bad, appears corrupt and should be investigated:
WSJ-Matthew DeFour: An assistant to the judge who called for a halt to the John Doe investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and conservative groups is married to a lawyer for Walker's campaign.

Steven Biskupic, a former U.S. attorney who is representing a party in the secretive John Doe probe, indicated Thursday in an email to the State Journal that there was no conflict of interest for Judge Rudolph Randa, whose judicial assistant is Cary Biskupic, Steven Biskupic's wife.

Asked whether Randa considered Cary Biskupic's position in his office a potential conflict of interest or whether any steps were taken to shield her involvement in the case, Randa's office said: "Judge Randa cannot comment on matters concerning ongoing cases."
You might remember how Biskupic dragged out an investigation of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle for political reasons.
jsonline-Dan Bice: (Biskupic pursued) an influence-peddling case against a Doyle administration official, Georgia Thompson … Thompson was a state purchasing official who was convicted (amazingly decided by Randa) of steering a contract to a firm whose executives had given $20,000 to Doyle's re-election campaign. An appeals court, though, tossed the conviction, saying the evidence against Thompson was "beyond thin." 
Incredibly, soon after the prosecution of Thompson, Biskupic’s name was removed from a George W. Bush firing list after he began towing a partisan agenda designed by Karl Rove:
Karl Rove was equally unsure why Biskupic's name was later dropped from that hit list. "Do you have any information as to whether Mr. Biskupic's aggressive prosecution of a corruption case involving the administration of Democratic Governor Jim Doyle could have been a factor in the decision to take his name off a potential removal list?" asked Elliot Mincberg, chief counsel for the Democrats on the judiciary panel
."No," Rove replied.

"You can't rule it out one way or the other, I take it?" Mincberg countered.

"Can't rule it in; can't rule it out," Rove answered.

Bush administration official, Harriet Miers, was asked if Biskupic was allowed to keep his job because of his voter fraud work or his prosecution of Thompson. "I have no knowledge of that," Miers told the investigators.

So we're expected to believe there was no collusion between  Judge Randa and Scott Walker. Give us all a break.

The Case for Single Payer...

Thanks to Vox.com, we're finally able to summarize what single payer can do to save us all money, and really isn't that what it's all about?

While Republicans argue paying nearly twice as much is worth the price freedom and smaller government, I would save that money so I can buy a set of theater chairs for my living room.

My conservative friend would find it repugnant to have the largess of government bargain down the price of care. But since it's such a big part of GDP, it's time to take control and set the prices we're willing to pay:
Single-payer systems tend to have lower administrative costs than those with many private insurance companies, where doctors and hospitals devote lots of time to figuring out who is supposed to pay them what amount. One 2011 study in the journal Health Affairs estimated that American doctors spend four times as much money interacting with healthcare payers than their Canadian counterparts.

Single-payer systems also have an advantage when it comes to bargaining down prices. Because doctors and pharmaceutical companies basically have no choice but to accept the terms laid out by the government, single-payer systems often feature much, much lower prices than systems. The United States, for instance, pays much more for most health-care services than single-payer systems do. It’s worth noting that many multi-payer systems, like Germany, achieve similar savings to single-payer systems by having the government set health care prices.

Republicans still lying about ObamaCare savings, success and expanded coverage.

It doesn't matter what the facts tells us, my conservative friend in Milwaukee is sticking to his belief that small government means getting rid of ObamaCare, and its only making things worse. The charts below tell us a whole different story. But Republicans shouldn't be able to lie so easily about the facts, and conservative voters should be angry about being mislead. Why aren't they? 
AP: President Barack Obama's nominee for health secretary faced pointed questioning Thursday from Republican senators over the president's health law ... Sylvia Mathews Burwell, told senators that the law has improved the economy, held down the growth of health costs, reduced premiums and expanded coverage. The law "is making a positive difference," Burwell said.

Republican senators disagreed. The top committee Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, warned her that Republicans hope to retake the Senate in November and scale back the law in numerous ways. "Republicans want to repair the damage Obamacare has done," Alexander said.
Alexander gets a big F on that one. 


Readmission Rates Down: The new figures, published Wednesday by Health and Human Services, show that Medicare readmission rates — which held steady at 19 percent from 2007 to 2011 — fell to 18.5 percent in 2012 and 17.5 percent in 2013. The drop in readmissions has coincided with the start of a new Obamacare program that penalizes hospitals that have the highest readmission rates. Hospitals can now lose as much as 2.5 percent of their Medicare revenue if they have lots of patients turning up in the hospital again. One analysis showed that hospitals have lost $227 million in fines because of this program.

ObamaCare Saves More Money: The federal government thinks it will spend $900 billion less on health care programs over the next decade than it projected just three years ago, according to a new analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Fiscal Budget. The CFRB analysis of Congressional Budget Office data suggests that about 80 percent in the expected reduction in health spending is due to the fact that health care costs grew really slowly for the past four years. But by and large, most of the spending reduction comes from the fact that health care costs have grown slower than expected — a huge boon for a country that also happens to be a massive health insurer.

Federal Judge Randa, Conservative Activist Judge/Legislator, Terminates John Doe 2, Walker Cleared!!!

Kind of expected this, didn't you?
It was all so fast....
The investigation into Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 recall campaign and conservative groups that supported him has been halted for the second time in as many days by a federal judge. A federal appeals court on Wednesday had said Randa's original order Tuesday stopping the investigation was in error because he had yet to rule on whether a separate appeal by prosecutors was frivolous.

Randa said Thursday that the appeal, which was to his ruling that prosecutors are not immune from being sued by Wisconsin Club for Growth, was indeed frivolous. That reinstates his preliminary injunction halting the probe.

Gun Owners of America lied about Smart Gun/wrist band technology.

Chris Hayes had a feeling Gun Owners of America's Larry Pratt was handing him a line of bullshit. It's funny members of this group don't feel like they too might also be dupes of this con artist:
We fact-checked Larry Pratt, head of the Gun Owners of America, making his favorite claim about the supposed “failure rate” of the smart gun technology we reported on.

Citizen Action Demolishes PolitiFact over Walker Claim of increasing Health Care Coverage.

This was hard to edit, since every fact presented by Citizen Action, who has been a strong advocate for expanding health care coverage, was misquoted and seriously edited to the benefit of Scott Walker. Funny how that happens all the time. Like the poll that shows Walker and Mary Burke tied at 47%. To this day, no one mentions it. 

This is the kind of stuff we've seen over and over again with Republican politicians. Why they're given the benefit of the doubt or given a pass over the most damaging things is unexplainable and surreal. Like a report on the near bankruptcy of Milwaukee County under Scott Walker. It was kept from the press because the authors didn't want it to become campaign fodder. I still can't get over that one. Here's Citizen Action's response to PolitiFact:
On a May 7th article by PolitiFact, Scott Walker was challenged on a recent campaign ad he ran declaring that…"more are going to sleep knowing they have access to health care."

Knowing our work advocating for health reform, Citizen Action of Wisconsin was asked to weigh in. We pointed out that the Governor was trying to take credit for the coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act, which he worked so long to block. That the only numbers the state had any right to talk about were the BadgerCare enrollment figures. Here's where Politifact didn't do their job: Politifact quoted us as saying..."estimated 83,000 more people became eligible for Medicaid, while 77,000 were removed from Medicaid -- a net gain, of sorts, of 6,000 people, according to the liberal Citizen Action of Wisconsin"

But here's the thing, we didn't say there was a net gain under Walker's tenure. In email correspondence with reporters at Politifact, we pointed out that Walker had worked long and hard to reduce, not add, people to BadgerCare. Cutting people off of BadgerCare, changing eligibility rules and more. The Walker Administration was even sued for not adding people that were legally eligible for BadgerCare.

Here's what we told Politifact: "The State [BadgerCare] enrollment as of March 2014 was 738,758, the state BC+ enrollment in Jan 2011 was 775,586. Even accounting for the 6,000 more eligible it means that between now and when Walker first became governor,there are 30,828 fewer people in BadgerCare". (Email, May 1st)

When it comes to relying our position, Politifact quoted Citizen Action as saying there was a net gain of 6,000 to BadgerCare; when actually we said that there are over 30,000 fewer people in BadgerCare during Walker's tenure, and tens of thousands more could have been covered had Wisconsin accepted the federal funds for BadgerCare.

Republicans Opposition to Health Care continues to Kill People every day. Is that acceptable?

All In with Chris Hayes clearly details how Republican efforts to obstruct ObamaCare, and refuse to expand Medicaid, is actually making people die. We knew that was happening in the old system of health care too, but over time, we got used to that grotesque fact. Let's not let that happen again.

Oklahoma Public School District adopts Hobby Lobby Bible Class

An unbiased public school course on the Bible? Students aren't coerced into taking the class because it's voluntary, and the curriculum has been designed to pass constitutional challenges. 

So what would make me suspicious of something so meticulously designed to indoctrinate school kids into the Christian faith? 
ChristianPost: Dan Barker, The Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison co-president and a former pastor, stated in the press release that he was troubled about the possible content of the elective course.

Mustang Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel (said), “When our pre-enrollment packets were returned by students earlier this semester, more than 170 students indicated the course would be their first choice for an elective class."
Barker detailed what an FFRF attorney found in the course, and how crosses the line in so many ways. Remember, this is just the toe in the door. It truly is amazing. Radio Audio:

Hobby Lobby's Common Core alternative? 
Dallas News: The president of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores is working to add the Bible to the curriculum of public high schools nationwide. His purpose, stated more clearly at some times than at others, is for students to learn its text and put America on a righteous course.

“This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught,” Hobby Lobby's Steve Green said last year to the National Bible Association, announcing his plan for the high school course. “There are lessons from the past that we can learn from, the dangers of ignorance of this book. We need to know it, and if we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary.”

The public Mustang School District in suburban Oklahoma City will begin teaching a class about the Bible as an elective beginning this fall. The goal is to place the Bible course in thousands of schools by 2017. The Green Scholars Initiative wasn't intended to proselytize or “go down denominational, religious-type roads,” and persuaded the board that the plan would pass any constitutional challenges.
A constitutional challenge would conceivably cost the district more money. Perhaps Steve Green will foot that bill? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When it comes to Scott Walker and Chris Christie, it takes one to know one.

Look who's praising Scott Walker and his record:











Look who's record is similar, and failing too:












This is what Republicans consider presidential material.

Walker to confuse Jobs Numbers with Federal Reserve's Futuristic Predictions.

Huh? The title says it all. Scott Walker knows his strong partisan base of low information voters would never really defect, but just to make sure, he's going to scramble the jobs numbers with Nostradamus like predictions doled out by the Philly Fed.

Even WPR News and Marquette University's Charles Franklin got a hint something was wrong: 
After over a year of stressing the importance of “actual” job counts versus estimates, Gov. Scott Walker is now highlighting a new set of job numbers.
.About a month before his recall election, monthly estimates showed Walker had lost jobs his first year in office. To counter that, Walker sped the release of actual job counts showing job gains.

Now, with Walker's next election a little more than a year away, and the latest census job numbers due out later this week, Walker is highlighting a different metric. “Rankings that come out are typically based on quarterly numbers that come out from [the Bureau of Labor Statistics], which are a six-month lag,” he says. “What we're trying to look at is not six months ago … but where are we going to be in the next six months.” Walker is talking about the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's Leading Index, a complex prediction of where state economies are headed.
What's his game?
Marquette University's Charles Franklin says it's telling that Walker is moving away from a hard job count that's easy to understand to a much more complicated estimate that's hard to explain. “What politicians care about is the perception of how the economy is doing rather than the best or most reliable measure.”

Thursday will be the first chance people get to see how Wisconsin's employer census numbers – the hard job count – compare to other states through the end of March. The numbers Wisconsin sent to the federal government were the state's worst for that period in the past three years.
 Maybe the Philly Fed will also predict a different governor in the next six months?

Walker 2015-17 Budget in $717 million Hole. Hopes for Projected Surplus Continue...

Fiscal conservative is an oxymoron. A myth successfully pawned off on the public. Even Mary Burke used the term to describe herself the other day. Good grief Mary, really? Considering how conservatives have messed up the economy and ushered in the job killing Great Recession, perhaps you'd like to rethink that line of bullshit.

Here's the latest look behind the GOP curtain of magical math. Northwestern:
Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau Director Bob Lang calculates the state will need to find $717 million in new revenue or spending cuts to balance the 2015-17 state budget if nothing changes. The estimates do not include revenue growth projections or increased program expenditures. He said the state’s current budget expenditures will consume most of the $759.2 million general fund balance the state had on July 1, 2013. 

By July 1, 2015, he estimated the general fund would have a net balance of $100 million.

“The budget is being balanced not because revenues and expenditures are equal, but because we carried over a balance (from the last budget),” Lang said. “Much of the $759 million has been used–about $594 million–to balance the budget.” 

Walker Pleased with the poisoned Political Climate 2

In relation to my last post, I thought this Cap Times article by Paul Fanlund keeps that theme alive:
When asked if property taxes could be cut by increasing income taxes on those making $250,000 or more, nearly two thirds – 64.3 percent – were on board in the Marquette University Law School pollDo you think Gov. Scott Walker would ever stand for even modest increases on the highest compensated among us? 

Walker is, quite simply, a self-absorbed pawn of the wealthy. More precisely, he is a small, divisive, narrow-minded career politician who always has and always will put his political self-interest first, a man who has been running for something even before he dropped out of college and regards a second term as governor as merely a catapult into the 2016 presidential competition
.He always acts on behalf of the privileged while telling the middle class that government is their real enemy.

Walker’s legacy will not be what he accomplished, which is negligible, but how badly he has divided us. Walker can claim that as his most enduring handiwork. He brags, after all, about being “unintimidated” by alternative points of view, so much so that he used that word to title his ghost-written autobiography.

The election appears to me to be a referendum on the divisive Walker “style.”

When all of the millions have been spent … the election for governor should pivot on one word – character. Do you stand with the character of Scott Walker?

Walker Pleased with the Poisoned Political Climate in Wisconsin; "There's like two people in the state that don't have a strong opinion of me."

“DIVIDING LINES | SPECIAL REPORT” by Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert highlights the festering sore consuming Wisconsin; the politics of hate.

And the Burke campaign won't make this a campaign issue?

The glee Scott Walker gets seeing the state retch from the growing political tension is unnerving:
"I don't think having a division amongst the electorate is a bad thing,"
Gilbert’s report offers a few insights:
"Elections are ultimately about reminding people why they like their side and why they hate the other side." says Ken Goldstein, political scientist with the University of San Francisco. Goldstein says Wisconsin features a "perfect brew" for the polarized and party-line voting patterns … it has been subject to the kind of sustained, saturation-level advertising and organizing found only in perennial battleground states.

"People are stable in their (support) of their own party, but increasingly dislike the other party. That's the divide," says Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz.  

"A very large percentage of people in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties have roots in Milwaukee County and particularly in the city," says John Gurda, who writes about the history of Milwaukee. "What fascinates me is that a lot of them come from blue-collar households that voted Democratic."
Burke acknowledged the problem, but that's it; "I would not have gotten into it if I didn't think people want to see a candidate who wasn't so divisive:"
As the lightning-rod governor of a divided state, Walker personifies the costs and benefits of competing for office in polarized times.

The negatives for the governor? His … more polarizing approach to governing has made him a hero to conservatives, given him a national fundraising network and made him a credible 2016 presidential candidate. The governor makes no apologies for the fact that "there's like two people in this state that don't have a strong opinion of me."
This sick twisted bastard likes it:
"I don't think having a division amongst the electorate is a bad thing," Walker says. "I think having a healthy debate about which ideas work is good."
This is what Walker thinks is healthy for the state?  

Conservative Activist Court victories accelerate Walker and Big Business Takeover. "So This Is How Liberty Dies..."

UPDATE 6 pm:
Less than 24 hours after a federal judge halted a probe into conservative groups and the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker, an appeals court blocked that ruling — allowing prosecutors to keep material they have gathered in the case.

The three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago provided a means for U.S. District Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee to reissue his preliminary injunction stopping the investigation, but it said he cannot order prosecutors to destroy evidence they have collected so far … saying he did not have the authority to do that because prosecutors had already appealed an earlier decision in the case. Randa could issue his injunction only if he certified the appeal as frivolous, and he never ruled on that point — though he had recently written he was inclined to believe it is frivolous.
Trash the judges you don't like: And while Republicans complained about a supposed liberal activist judge ruling the voter ID law was unconstitutional, an activist conservative judge was right to decide to shut down the John Doe investigation: 
"The Randa ruling is a vindication of what we have been saying all along that the investigation has been much more about a political (motive) than about fact-finding," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
__________________________________________________________________________________
So what happens when a conservative circuit court judge makes a wildly bizarre decision that defies state law and logic? Celebration! John Doe 2 is history, for the moment, thanks to the contorted logic of conservative activist U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa.

The bottom line: Here's what this could mean:
"If sustained, this ruling is the death of campaign finance law as we know it in the state of Wisconsin and across the nation," said Samuel Leib, the lawyer representing the prosecutors in the lawsuit. "It will now be possible for a political candidate to personally conduct a campaign — soup to nuts — without disclosing a single campaign contribution."
Business Lobby tramples Legal System:
WSJ: The John Doe prosecutors had filed an emergency request late Monday with the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking it to block Randa from ruling on Club for Growth’s request for a preliminary injunction. “(Eric O’Keefe and Club for Growth) have asked the district court to preempt lawful state ‘John Doe’ proceedings and exonerate them from any obligation to comply with Wisconsin’s campaign finance rules” … to halt the investigation “would be to destroy evidence of crimes and effectively restrain the state of Wisconsin from enforcement of its laws” … prosecutors considered Club for Growth the “hub” through which Walker’s campaign advisers, R.J. Johnson would coordinate fundraising and issue ads by groups including Citizens for a Strong America, Wisconsin Right to Life and United Sportsmen of Wisconsin.
Systematic dismantling of Law:
Milwaukee attorney Michael Maistelman said Randa’s ruling could have “long-term repercussions” for the independence of state prosecutors. “For the federal judicial branch to halt an investigation conducted by a constitutionally elected executive (district attorney) is huge,” Maistelman said.
Judge Randa's Breathtaking Decision:
Randa’s order confirmed that one of Walker’s campaign advisers, R.J. Johnson, has been under investigation for allegedly controlling a “hub” of issue-ad groups in 2011 and 2012 in coordination with Friends of Scott Walker. “Even if they were,” Randa wrote, “that does not transform the activity into so-called express advocacy, which is regulated.  O’Keefe and the Club obviously agree with Governor Walker’s policies, but coordinated ads in favor of those policies carry no risk of corruption because the Club’s interests are already aligned with Walker and other conservative politicians,” Randa wrote. “Such (issue) ads are meant to educate the electorate, not curry favor with corruptible candidates.”
The Supreme Court's McCutcheon Decision Fallout: Because the court essentially shot down the idea that money corrupts, we no longer have the ability to justify the John Doe investigation. Randa's comments were mind bending:
jsonline: In his 26-page decision, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa in Milwaukee told prosecutors: "The (Wisconsin Club for Growth and its treasurer) have found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and that circumvention should not and cannot be condemned or restricted

"The plaintiffs have been shut out of the political process merely by association with conservative politicians," wrote Randa, who was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.  
 Judge Randa is worried about the Club for Growth's loss of fundraising time: 
He ordered an immediate halt to the investigation, the return of all property seized during it, and the destruction of any information and materials gained in the investigation. He told the Wisconsin Club for Growth it did not need to cooperate with prosecutors in any way. Randa wrote of the urgency of the case. O'Keefe estimates the Wisconsin Club for Growth has lost $2 million in fundraising that would have been committed to issue advocacy, Randa wrote.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Few GOP Convention Side Issues Walker wants us to Ignore....

Real issues like jobs and health care take a back seat to these important votes at last weekends GOP convention in Milwaukee. jsonline:
Without debate, the convention passed a resolution opposing the Common Core.

Any alternative plans? Nope.

Oh, and here are a few "side issues" Scott Walker said should get all caught up in:
The convention approved resolutions that included backing "right-to-work" legislation, election reform, gun rights and an expansion of charter school and voucher programs across the state "without limits or strings attached."
Just to recap:
Delegates rejected a measure that demanded Wisconsin pass a bill to declare the Affordable Care Act null and void in the state and forbid state and federal agents from enforcing the act. One delegate said on the floor, "If we pass this, we'll be the laughingstock of America."

Walker said that when Democrats were in charge in Madison, the state's unemployment rate was 9.2%. It's now 5.9%, he said. In December 2010, Doyle's last month in office, the unemployment rate stood at 7.8%, as the state and country were recovering from the Great Recession.
The Journal Sentinel is one of the few papers to note how the Great Recession affected jobs under Gov. Doyle. 

Walker Jobs Failure Extends 30 Years into the Future.

It won't be hard to make the case Scott Walker's purely ideological economic agenda for the state comes at a very inopportune time. The reset after the Great Recession was another Republican missed opportunity to actually move the state forward, as opposed to just saying it.

Progress...or the Walker promise of unnoticeable tax cuts, more borrowing, cuts to education and the presence of a no tax pledge that makes it impossible to adjustment taxes up or down depending on new targeted spending? I know, revenues are up in the general fund, but that's because Walker made huge and unwise similar spending cuts. Without that, no surplus. And as we're finding out, those cuts are killing rural schools and decimating our transportation infrastructure.

The timing is bad because our "fiscally conservative," accountant heavy know-it-all state legislators believe austerity is the only way to balance the books.

Bad Timing: But the Taxpayer Alliance's new research is telling us our aging population and slow job growth is a big future threat to revenues. Ratcheting down revenues now, before the natural aging of Wisconsin's work force will do pretty much the same thing, is a formula for disaster.

According to Todd Berry of the Wisconsin Taxpayer Alliance:
WSJ: “Wisconsin is undergoing a major demographic shift that will adversely impact employers, taxpayers, government revenues and the state economy’s capacity to grow.” The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance report (is) ominously titled “The Impending Storm.” So what can we do? For starters, Wisconsin needs to graduate more of its students from high school and send more to college and successful careers.
Here's what Berry said on WPT's Here and Now:



The not so great news in the report:
Individual income and sales taxes provide more than 80% of state general fund revenues. Slow income growth will restrict growth in income tax collections over the next 30 years. Additionally, a growing share of all income will come from Social Security, which Wisconsin no longer taxes. That will further adversely impact income tax collections since seniors purchase food, drugs, more services (generally not taxable) and fewer goods (taxable), a boom in seniors will slow sales tax collection growth.
Red line population growth/Blue line job growth
Increasing Demand for Public Services. To the extent that seniors use government services more than others, the rise in retirees will put further pressure on state and local government spending at the same time that revenues increase little.

A slowdown in tax collections and more demand for public services are a difficult combination that will force state and local governments to choose between cutting programs and increasing taxes.Wisconsin’s population shift has already affected public school finances. Little or no growth in school enrollments for the past 15 years depressed school revenues. Because state mandated revenue limits are directly tied to student counts, little or no increase in enrollments makes it more difficult for schools to increase revenues, unless they regularly ask for voter approval via referendum.

Passing referenda will likely become more difficult in the next 30 years. (Seniors) living on fixed incomes … might be less likely to support higher property taxes that come with successful referenda. Since retirees vote at significantly higher rates than younger residents, rapid growth in the senior population will create more obstacles to passing school referenda.
Also check out Jakes Economic TA Funhouse for another detailed breakdown.

WISGOP's Brian Schimming stumped and stumbles over Voucher School Failure explanation...ah, now it's about student safety.

The studies have been very clear about the voucher and charter school failure in Milwaukee. Over 22 years and counting, it's not working. If you include the rest of the state, the story's the same; private voucher and charter schools don't measure up. It's that simple:

It's one thing to be a professional conservative spin meisters like Brian Schimming, vice chair of the Wisconsin Republican Party and WIBA fill-in talk host, but it's something completely different to even suggest the WKCE statewide test scores aren't a legitimate way to measure progress.
"Well first of all, I take...ha-ha...issue with some of those...some of those tests, and some of those studies. But even without that, the Milwaukee school district is so troubled..." 
22 plus years Brian, still nothing, right? Schimming's folksy chuckling is not just grating but a familiar tactic used to stall and make bullshit sound like off-the-cuff common sense.

Republicans like Schimming don't care about the numbers and the voucher failure, it's now all about school safety. Nice way to duck the research. Here's audio from WPR:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dumb Guns are for Dumber Gun Owners...

Gun nuts are hypocrites. They don't want people to have a gun, a specific kind of gun that is. Oh, but tell them an assault weapon or large magazine should be banned...you're against freedom.

My conservative friend in Milwaukee called when All In with Chris Hayes feature the following story about "smart guns." Normally sane about gun regs and education, he hates the idea. Funny, I'd own a gun if it were smart and only worked for the assigned user.

You guessed it, conservative paranoia overrides intelligence and reason again. It looks like smart guns might just be smarter than dumb gun owners.

No smart responsible gun owner would oppose owning any kind of gun, right? It might even get people like me to break down an buy one. It's my constitutional right to own even a smart gun.

Here's Chris Hayes:


But the gun seller above received death threats for even thinking about selling smart guns:



Want to know more about smart gun technologies? Click here and here for a complete report.

GOP candidate Joe Leibham hopes to turn America "Red" with Moral Legislation and empowering People over...themselves?

At Democurmudgeon, I've been attempting to highlight how frightening the rightwing authoritarian movement is, as it accelerates under the extremist tea party agenda. Republicans are no longer encumbered by outdated social norms that suggest the appearance of moderation. Not anymore.
It's happening again but for real this time...

Here comes Rep. Joe Leibham, candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by Tom Petri.

In the highly edited interview below from Upfront with Mike Gousha, I've selected the now common language used by Republicans everywhere, that is neither subtle or ambiguous.

Leibham cluelessly repeats over and over how he wants to empower people over government, treating government like a separate dark looming entity. Which ironically, is just how Republicans would like it to be. Quite simply, it can happen here:


Media Plays Down Yes Vote to Nullify ObamaCare by nearly Half of the Voting Delegates!!!

Were GOP leaders at the Secessionist convention really that embarrassed by their party agenda that included nullification of ObamaCare, an unquestionably unconstitutional act?

When 145 vote yes to nullify, and just 303 vote no, I'd say the party wheels are falling off. Nearly half voted to arrest and prosecute federal officials carrying out the law. From WPR:

Walker tells voters to ignore "all these side issues," like lousy job growth, cuts to voting times, relaxed mining regulations, loss of local control, cuts to education because we're better off now?

The Scott Walker social engineers in the state legislature continue to chip away at all of our individual freedoms under the banner, of all things, freedom and liberty. These top down big government Republicans have passed, or proposed passing so many "side issues" like:
...repeal of local control over cell phone towers in our communities;  abolishing local laws controlling mining activity, required vaginal ultrasounds;  dictated the spread of voucher schools;  banned sick leave and tried to ban local minimum wage laws;  ushered in a one-size-fits-all takeover and reduction in voting hours;  returned our racist mascots;  reduced the Earned Income Tax Credit...you know, "all these side issues. Wisconsin is better off today than it was four years ago" says Walker...
...following the Great Recession. Oh yea, that!

Plus, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner told the crowd there should be a special cell in D.C. for the IRS official allegedly targeting tea party groups, and convention "party leaders blamed Obama for everything from alleged foreign policy mistakes to the slow starting but energy saving lights in the convention hall."



And now, after the shocking Journal Sentinel research by Craig Gilbert revealed just how extreme the partisan divide is in the state, and growing, the fact that it hasn't even occurred to Walker to try and bring civility back, well, that's all you need to know about this sociopath.

86 year old Ruthelle Frank won't be forced to buy Birth Certificate to Vote. Would that be a mandate?

It would be safe to say Indiana's voter ID law would never have passed had the courts listened to someone like Ruthelle Frank. Great story. She never had a birth certificate and doesn't want to be force to buy one either. From WPR News, this audio:

WPR: Tuesday's decision by a federal judge to strike down Wisconsin's voter ID law was a victory for plaintiff Ruthelle Frank, an elderly woman from Brokaw who was propelled into the national limelight after refusing to get a birth certificate.

Frank, who is 86 years old, is being hailed by some as a civil rights hero, although she’s a reluctant celebrity. Frank has never had a driver’s license because she's handicapped. She never got a birth certificate, and was told that without one, she could no longer vote, even though she was an elected official in Brokaw. “I wouldn't pay up to $200 to get a birth certificate,” said Frank. Frank says she's happy with the judge's decision, and if the state of Wisconsin appeals, she will continue fighting.

“We're glad, and I hope we can march on further, as long as I can speak,” said Frank. Frank says she has voted in every election since 1948.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Remember, Walker turned down Recovery Act Dollars for High Speed Internet to Rural Commnities

Wisconsin ranks between 22 and 26 percent for high speed internet, and a big reason why: Republicans are leaving it up to the free market to provide both speed and access to rural communities. But right now, it's not profitable. Yes, you can blame Scott Walker too.
Better broadband coverage can create economic ‘highways’ in rural Wisconsin Wisconsin ranks below average among the 50 states when it comes to high-speed Internet access, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. A major reason for the state’s mediocre ranking is access in rural Wisconsin.
WSJ reporter Tom Still also suggested the very party responsible for killing broadband's roll out is now ready to help:

It’s also a priority in the Legislature, where the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities, chaired by state Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, has taken an interest in rural broadband needs.
Taken an interest, how nice. Maybe Tom Still forget why we’re in the middle of the pack? Here’s a reminder from Journal Sentinel reporter Rick Barrett (hint, Scott Walker and his band of Republican pirates). Federal money would have extended service to schools, libraries and rural areas throughout the less profitable parts of the state:
April 2013 Numbers
Some businesses in southwest Wisconsin have complained that even though they are located only blocks from a high-speed Internet connection, they can't get the service extended to them.

But state officials turned down a $23 million federal grant aimed at delivering broadband to more schools and libraries. Among other things, federal officials wanted a commitment that the infrastructure the grant would fund would be used 20 years or more. Otherwise, Wisconsin would have to repay the money. "The details associated with that grant, and the strings attached to it, made it unworkable. It was the right decision to send the money back," said Bill Esbeck, executive director of the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association, which represents broadband providers in rural areas. He disagrees with the assessment that large parts of rural Wisconsin lack broadband.
Look at the numbers and the rejected $23 million from the fed. It's all part of the supposed "failed" stimulus:
USDA’s Rural Utilities Service is currently on target to complete over $3 billion in Recovery Act investments ensuring that rural communities and anchor institutions are connected to high-speed broadband networks.

Voter ID: Judge Adelman vs the U.S. Supreme Court

Conservatives are already shoving the U.S. Supreme Court’s Indiana Voter ID decision in our face just to discredit Judge Lynn Adelman, who struck down the Wisconsin law.

But opponents of the Indiana law oddly didn't present what should have been a mountain of evidence to prove the harm/burden to voters. So in the absence of that kind of evidence the justices wrote this…
The Court should only consider the “reasonably foreseeable effect on voters generally.”  Since the requirements of the Indiana law are reasonable and the burden is minimal, it does not violate the constitution. Justice Stevens noted: the record did not establish the number of Indiana voters without photo ID, there was no concrete evidence as to the burden that would be imposed on voters without photo ID, and none of the plaintiffs’ witnesses expressed an inability to vote under the statute. The lead opinion noted that combating voter fraud was a legitimate state interest even though there was “no evidence of such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history” … even those Justices who would not have held the law constitutional are not willing to hold it unconstitutional in the absence of specific evidence of an actual, not merely hypothetical, burden on the right to vote. 
John Nichols wrote in The Nation back in October 2013:
In his new book, Reflections on Judging, Judge Posner, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, writes “I plead guilty to having written the majority opinion (affirmed by the Supreme Court) upholding Indiana’s requirement that prospective voters prove their identity with a photo ID, a law now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than fraud prevention.”
Specific evidence is just what Judge Adelman was finally able to provide. And that’s why this is such a big deal. From WPT's Here and Now, the ACLU's Karyn Rotker details her evidence:


But J.B. Van Hollen said, believe it or not, that Adelman's decision wasn't really his to make, that the legislature can do anything it wants. I still love the "voter fraud is impossible to prove" argument that ultimately proves...it exists. It's crazy, right. And when asked if Adelman was right when he said voter fraud laws themselves undermines pubic confidence, Van Hollen first denies it and then admits it's true. Conservatives really think this way:



Van Hollen even admits he doesn't know the extent of that burden, or could care less because the Supreme Court (as written above) ruled it didn't matter:



Interesting note from Upfront with Mike Goucha about how Republican tricks put Judge Adelman in his lifelong position:



Gousha also talked with crazy Republican State Sen. Mary Lazich, who actually said:
"After an election, the...people evaporate."  
See, voter fraud:


Here's a breakdown of Adelman's decision:
Jamelle Bouie is a Slate staff writer: Citing research on the incidence of in-person voter fraud in American elections, Adelman notes that, in eight years of Wisconsin elections — 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012 — researchers could identify only "one case of voter-impersonation fraud." And in that case, it was a man who "applied for and cast his recently deceased wife's absentee ballot." Likewise, after "comparing a database of deceased registered voters to a database of persons who had cast ballots in a recent election" in Georgia, another researcher found "no evidence of ballots being illegally cast in the name of deceased voters."

"To commit voter-impersonation fraud," he says, "a person would need to know the name of another person who is registered at a particular polling place, know the address of that person, know that the person has not yet voted, and also know that no one at the polls will realize that the impersonator is not the individual being impersonated."

A substantial number of registered Wisconsin voters — 300,000, or 9 percent of the total — lack a qualifying ID … voter ID proponents scoff at the idea that someone would lack these documents. But according to a 2006 survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, as many as 13 million Americans lack ready access to citizenship documents, which overlaps with the 21 million who lack photo identification … millions have inconsistent documents, a passport that doesn't reflect their current name (a problem for many married women) or a photo ID that doesn't have their current address. Under the Wisconsin law, both groups would be barred from casting a normal ballot.

It's part of a larger trend of courts striking down voter ID laws. In the last year, four other states — Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas — have had their requirements reversed by federal courts.