Saturday, November 15, 2014

Online WSJ Poll bad news for President Scott Walker...

Here's how things are shaping up for Scott Walker's run for president:

Wisconsin House Republicans didn't just pass the Keystone XL Pipeline, they exempted Big Oil from paying for the Cost of Cleanup!!!

With the Republicans taking complete control of the legislative branch in 2015, all they need is a president to rubber stamp the following irresponsible act of belligerence. 

If passing the Keystone XL Pipeline in the House and “bypassing ... the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act wasn't bad enough, get a load of what OUR Republican Wisconsin Congressmen voted against; a Democratic motion to protect the taxpayers from paying for costly oil spills. From Roll Call:
LIABILITY FOR OIL SPILLS: The House on Friday refused to require the Keystone XL Pipeline to pay into the Treasury Department’s Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Sponsored by Democrats, this motion to HR 5682 (above) sought to blunt an Internal Revenue Service ruling under which crude extracted from tar sands is exempted from mandatory support of the oil-spill fund. The ruling spares TransCanada Corp., the Keystone owner, from having to pay 8 cents per barrel into the fund to help cover the cost of cleaning up any spills. Congress established the fund in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez grounding, which spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. A yes vote was to require the Keystone XL Pipeline to contribute to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
Guess who voted yes? Rep. Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, and Gwen Moore.

In a breathtakingly irresponsible vote to exempt big oil from paying for spilled tar sand oil? The same guys taking charge in 2015; Rep. Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, outgoing Tom Petri, Sean Duffy, and Reid Ribble.

Why not right? The press is not covering this. Our Republican representatives have been voting like this for years. Search my blog for "roll call" or "ribble" and you'll see what I mean. 

Republicans Slow Mail Delivery Down in attempt to Anger Public, turn them against Postal Service.

This is a huge story that will someday be used by Republicans to make their final argue; our postal service has got to go private. Their scheme to slow service down, just to anger the public, is obvious. It would also be an important tipping point in their quest to cut government.

If the media doesn't question their motives for slowing delivery down now, than the GOP's intentional poison pill reduction in service will go unnoticed in later debates.

All of this started by making the post office prepay the employee retirement fund 75 years in advance, a $5.5 billion cost per year. Without this outrageous 2006 GOP requirement, the postal service would be making a $1 billion profit this year. So you can see why this is so transparent.

Our tea party pocket constitutionalist apparently don't mind trashing this section written by our "big government" founding fathers of all people. What were they thinking?:
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 empowers Congress "To establish Post Offices and post Roads".
Anyone see a tea party bus of seniors stopping to protest the nationwide closing of process centers? Didn't think so.

Here's WKOW's coverage a few days back, just before the protests Friday:

WKOW: Thousands of postal workers across the country spent Friday protesting a possible end to overnight mail. The postal workers rallied outside the main post office on Milwaukee Street. USPS is set to close 82 mail processing centers, including one in Madison.

"Our postal service is under attack. Our postal workers are under attack for this community and we don't need to have a distribution center closed down," said SCFL President Kevin Gundlach. "Instead we need to strengthen our postal service. We need to strengthen our public infrastructure." If the consolidation plan goes into effect that would mean all outgoing mail from Madison would be sent to Milwaukee.
Here's Ed Schultz with Mark Dimonstein of the American Postal Workers Union. Union rep or not, the facts are the facts:

Independent Business Association mixes and obscured Net Neutrality argument with Cable Industry attack to restrict access.

The right-wing lobbyists at the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin are all for keeping the internet the way it is today...except for a few changes; blocking sites, tiered access and speed lanes. No big deal. What could go wrong?

Telecommunications Service?: The current classification says that the internet is an information service. The information is there if you want it. But that's not the internet I know. Net neutrality would turn this GOP pushed classification into what the internet is today, a telecommunication service.

Pundits often forget their biggest point: phone service. Cable providers often bundle the internet, TV and phone together, which ironically makes it what it is today, a telecommunication service. These big monopolies have themselves to blame for wanting it all. 

Anyone think business is looking out for us? The Independent Business Association of Wisconsin deceptively began by praising the current internet, but then turned around and bashed it as an outdated, business killing model that needs "innovation;" like money making schemes that shuts down or slows access for some, while raking in cash for those needing speed. A note on speed: The U.S. is still offering megabits at premium prices, while the rest of the world speeds by us in gigabits for less.  

Here's IBAW's tricky little rant:
The Internet is one of greatest technological achievements in recent memory … tremendous power to inform us, fuel economic growth and propel us into the 21st Century where information is easily accessed … strong a protector of our First Amendment rights … enables aspiring entrepreneurs to access infinite resources and new markets … The Internet is constantly evolving …
And while we accomplished all these wonderful things under a completely open internet, business interests say the old rules weren't working? And keeping it the same would stifle such "innovations” as tiers for service, slowing some users access, charging more for start-up businesses that need speed…etc.? That’s their argument:
Regulating the Internet with an outdated 20th Century law does the opposite and moves us backward. Title II can only stifle innovation, growth and it will harm users, not help them. As with many government regulations, this would be just the tip of the iceberg of unintended consequences affecting users, providers, mobile apps and services.
Obama’s attempt to keep the internet the same is what net neutrality is all about. It’s not the “innovation” of tiers and fast lanes. The IBAW's final comment is a total deception, and they know it:
Today’s Internet is open, robust, and vibrant, and I urge our leaders in Washington to do everything they can to keep it that way.
Yes, by classifying it as a telecommunication service. From Thom Hartmann, this in-depth look:

Walker Administrations Pay-to-Play Cronyism hits stride after Election...nothing to stop them now.

In what is turning out to be an endless stream of stories tying campaign contributions to government contracts, pay-to-play, we've got another one that stinks to high heaven. What has to happen to get the attention of "stand with Walker" supporters?

Scott Walker's business friendly elimination of competitive bidding for taxpayer funded projects is bearing fruit for some well connected individuals, and is plainly set up for backroom pay-to-play backroom deals. Let's get serious here and admit the obvious?

Keep in mind, the story from WKOW's Greg Neumann starts by saying the DOA is forking over the names of all the parties, but that obscures the fact that despite a long list, it wouldn't matter. The administration had already picked a winner based on a suspiciously timely campaign contribution:
The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) has agreed to release the names of all developers who have submitted proposals to purchase the state's Hill Farms property, just one day after 27 News reported the agency had turned down records requests for similar information.  The names will be released either late Monday or early Tuesday of next week.
Here's the video story:

The interest from the media is due, in part, to a $10,000 donation Madison developer Terrance Wall made to Gov. Scott Walker's (R-Wisconsin) campaign less than two weeks after DOA opened its Request for Proposals (RFP) on the property in October. In June 2013, The state legislature passed a measure eliminating competitive bids On October 13th, 2014.  27 News wanted to know who was on the tour, because nine days after the registration deadline for it, Terrance Wall made a donation of $9,975 to Gov. Walker's campaign.
In an amazing understatement, at least one Democrats had the time to comment:
"I think we're starting to see a very direct line of cronyism," said Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison).
Ya think? Where are the other Democrats we thought learned their lesson from the midterm drubbing? No major offensive? Nothing has changed. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Republican Rep. Robin Vos' slip exposes pay to play game of political extortion at the Capitol.

There's no mistaking the jaw dropping admission the other day by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Upfront with Mike Gousha. Don't contribute to Democrats if you want to do business in the state. Illegal? Yes. But will Vos and his party escape justice if everyone in state is too intimidated to investigate? So far it looks like it. Here's Vos' threat:

WKOW's Greg Neumann picked on the story after that. Watch Vos' accomplice Rep. Jim Steineke confirm the alleged scheme by saying if you're pushing a business issue in this state, it must be as politically "non-controversial as it possibly can."

A controversy is blowing up over comments Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) made about the prospects of state funding for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. Vos indicated the political leanings of the Bucks new owners may cost them in their quest to get state funding. "Having one of the Bucks new owners go and greet Barack Obama on the tarmac during the middle of the Mary Burke campaign probably wasn't the wisest decision," Vos told Gousha. "Having us give hundreds of millions of dollars to big time donors who give to Democrats, but also who have billions of dollars of their own, that's a hard sell.

Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now said, "I thought it was just a really blatant and unmistakable message that Speaker Vos was sending to people in Wisconsin and that's, 'you play by my rules or you don't get to play.' The statutes are very clear and they say that no public official can promise either action or inaction specifically based on a person's campaign donations," said Ross, who has asked both the Milwaukee County and Racine County District Attorneys to investigate the matter. The Milwaukee County DA has already declined.
What if the Racine County DA declines? With the Republicans extraordinary control over the state, not to mention the new rubber stamp AG Brad Schimel, is everyone too intimidated to enforce the law?

Even more insulting, Vos blamed liberals for just asking questions, and thinks political favoritism and extortion is just part of the process now. That didn't take long:
Speaker Vos issued a statement on Friday saying liberals are attempting to smear the process. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Walker now Tweeting meaningless claims.

Has anyone else noticed how dramatically the Republican Party has parted ways with the reality based world, for absolute nonsense fabricated to simply rile the base? From immigration, the green energy agreement with China, the phony outrage over Jonathan Gruber's comments, and their overreach legislation to limit the powers of the executive branch. Who are these people?

Walker's tweet below has no attribution, and is pure hearsay from perhaps some disgruntled supporter effected by health care cost saving measures? Saving money is now a bad thing if it targets GOP special interests? Of course.

Conservative Talker Dana Loesch appears amused by her own hopelessly ridiculous arguments.

Big Ed Schultz corrected a whole bunch of lies from what appears to be the Senates biggest liar, Sen. Mitch McConnell. This guy is looking more and more surreal. The frightening realization that Republicans no longer have to pretend they're dealing with things the real world, is very unsettling.

Besides McConnell, Schultz interviewed another one of those conservative radio dummies, Dana Loesch, who like every Republicans, can't answer even one simple yes or no question. By the way, being a talk show host doesn't automatically make inhumans like Loesch a health care authority, especially if their pushing their ridiculous free market Dickensian solution.

Loesch suggested getting rid of employer provided health insurance plans. MSNBC host Krystal Ball asked Loesch if that would result in millions of people losing their current doctor. Loesch said no, of course not. Really? I would be curious to see how she would prevent that from happening.  

Loesch played the victim (don't they always, yawn) with rapid fire word salads, talking over everyone on the show, obscuring the factual subject matter from viewers. Mission accomplished, so what's new. Loesch's embarrassing appearance proves there's no real way to break through to these numskulls:

The Truth about the China/U.S. Climate Agreement!

Forget what you may have heard from Sen. Mitch McConnell, who couldn't wait to tell his first big lie about the green energy agreement between the U.S. and China.

Chris Hayes dug deeper and interviewed John Holdren, the presidents top science adviser, who knew all the details, contradicting everything spilling out of the Republican oil dependent spin machine.

The idea that China would wait 16 years to go green and meet the 20% goal is absurd, as McConnell claimed.

Rep. Robin Vos uses extortion to shakedown Democratic Business Owners.

Wisconsin is "open for business," as long as it's REPUBLICAN business.

Republican Assembly leader Rep. Robin Vos may have let something very illegal slip from his lips on last Sunday' on Upfront with Mike Gousha. It was an online segment of the show that didn't make the broadcast.

In a breathtaking moment of honesty and arrogance, Vos used the threat of political extortion for any business not on the same page as Republicans. Of course Vos was also referring to pay-to-play campaign donations as a way to smooth things out. I'm still literally speechless. Gousha looked stunned but at the same time amused, and kept the conversation going:

Vos: "As I said this week, having one of the Bucks new owners go and greet Barack Obama on the tarmac in the middle of the Mary Burke campaign probably wasn’t the wisest decision.

Gousha: “Why should that bother you? You know he’s been a long time Democratic donor, why does that bother you?

Vos: “It sure does bother me because as you’re coming to us saying you want to be an active participant in the community, picking a team is something like me not picking the right team. Um, I don’t care what his political benefits are, but coming to us saying they want to have hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, and not taking the wherewithal to say, I’m not gonna get involved to part in the political discussion in Wisconsin when I don’t have too, sure would have been a better decision from my perspective.”

Gousha: “It bothers you?”

Vos: “It does, I think it makes it harder for me to sell to our caucus. Don’t forget, for people who live in most of the rest of Wisconsin, they look at Milwaukee as a place that already gets too much of our money. And now what you’re doing is making an even more difficult decision happen for a lot of folks around the state. So they’ve got to be a lot smarter with their technique. I mean, I want to bring those jobs and keep them in Wisconsin, but having us give hundreds of millions of dollars to big-time donors who give to Democrats, but also have billions of dollars of their own? That’s a hard sell. So I don’t think they need to do anything that makes my job more difficult."
This appears to be a violation of state law, no matter how "honest" Vos claims he's trying to be:
(13) No state public official or candidate for state public office may, directly or by means of an agent, give, or offer or promise to give, or withhold, or offer or promise to withhold, his or her vote or influence, or promise to take or refrain from taking official action with respect to any proposed or pending matter in consideration of, or upon condition that, any other person make or refrain from making a political contribution, or provide or refrain from providing any service or other thing of value, to or for the benefit of a candidate, a political party, any person who is subject to a registration requirement under s. 11.05, or any person making a communication that contains a reference to a clearly identified state public official holding an elective office or to a candidate for state public office.

Despite the Affordable Care Act, Health Insurers again destroying American lives.

Our supposed "insurance" system is fatally flawed, and may get worse if "free market" Republicans have their way with health care. Instead of having health care coverage everywhere - seeing any doctor or going to any hospital - we're chained to a network located in our area. 

The Problem: Insurers have their own health care networks, using specific hospitals and doctors. That often ends up bankrupting people who have insurance, like the woman below, who was taken to an out of network hospital.  

I had my own experience where I meticulously made sure all my medical costs were accounted for with my insurer. What I didn't know was the eye surgeons clinic was not in my network, and neither was the very expensive anesthesiologist. A big mistake, but an easy costly one to make. 

But my mistake is nothing compared to Megan Rothbauer's problem. It should be clear by now health care is not a consumer product left up to the free market and insurance companies:

DailyKos: Megan Rothbauer suffered a heart attack at the young age of 29-years-old and had to be put in a medically-induced coma for 10 days. After she recovered, she found her nightmare was just beginning:
WISC: A project manager for a manufacturing company, she is one year removed from a cardiac arrest and the subsequent physical recovery is being dwarfed by a near-impossible fiscal recovery. She was sent last Sept. 9 to the emergency room at St. Mary's Hospital, which was out of her insurance network, instead of to Meriter Hospital, three blocks away, which was covered by her insurance. It's the difference between a $1,500 maximum out-of-pocket expense and the now-$50,000-plus she's facing in bills.

"I was unconscious when I was taken to the hospital," she said. "Unfortunately, I was taken to the wrong hospital for my insurance.
Meg Gaines, from the Center for Patient Partnerships, said this is type of situation is far too common:
"It's devastating for people who plan, who get insurance, get coverage, do everything they can and then, at 29, have a heart attack and get taken to the wrong hospital, and can't get married, can't do anything because they have to declare bankruptcy because they can't afford to have gone to the hospital," she said. "I mean, it's not enough to worry about having a heart attack at 29, you end up with a secondary one or a stroke because of your medical bills. I mean, it's just ridiculous. The level of frustration is astronomical."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Governors Perry and Jindal warn Americans: "If you just give us one more opportunity...we won't fritter it away."

A very nice reminder...a little late though:
Politico: Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the message Republicans should take away from the election was: “Lord, if you’ll just give us one more opportunity to govern, we won’t fritter it away this time.” 

And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warned the day after the election: “The American people have given us an opportunity. We have squandered the opportunity before when we’ve been in power.”

Stoughton's Scanner problem failed to count all but 16 votes for Citizens United Referendum Question.

Not only does Thom Hartmann and Brad Freidman talk about the wrong count for the Citizens United referendum question in Stoughton, but in video footage running in the background later on, Hartmann featured my very own polling place in Middleton. Odd but cool.

They also looked at the large discrepancy between the polling results and the final vote totals for Republicans. Voter suppression? Machine malfunctions? No one knows yet:

In Absurd Bizarro World praise of Scott Walker.

My friend saved this full page ad for me that appeared Thursday in the USA Today:

I always get a kick out of the GOP's sales pitch about "strengthening individual employee rights. Seriously, as an solitary employee, how much power do you think you have over your employer when it comes to your rights? Good luck with that. That's just dumb.

I think this praise from the right wing just about sums it up:
In the Federalist, managing editor Joy Pullmann and senior contributor Richard Cromwell hash out the pros and cons of a Walker run, with Cromwell taking the position that Walker may be just what the GOP needs, and Pullmann giving him the thumbs down.

"Does Walker sizzle? Not exactly. Is he a particularly charismatic speaker? No, he isn't," writes Cromwell. "But does he sit upon a throne made of the skulls of his enemies? Yes, yes he does. The November 4 election proved that in a definitive fashion."

Walker's DNR turns Deer Hunting into regulatory nightmare of borders and tags.

Sorry to say, but my bleeding heart liberalism no longer extends to areas negatively affecting conservative strongholds and issues. It will be hard to sit on the sidelines watching rural schools die and hunters participate in destroying their own recreational sport, but it’s what conservative voters wanted and I we have to respect that.

And for a party that convulses at the thought of over-regulation, from assistance to recreational hunting, they’ve got no problem with the Rube Goldberg mishmash of hoops and rules to do the simplest things. 
Case in point, the following editorial by State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout about the DNR’s new hunting guidelines:
Sen. K. Vinehout-Uppity Wisconsin: Deer hunters taking to the woods in Wisconsin are facing a slew of new hunting rules. Hunters will experience the long-talked-about rules of the Texan ‘Deer Czar’ James Kroll. In the DNR’s words, the new rules change the “season framework, management units and antlerless deer hunting permits.”

Gone are “management zones” setting deer overwinter population goals. Gone are free tags & $2 tags in highly populated or CWD areas; gone are landowner deer tags. Soon-to-be gone is registering your deer at the local bar or convenience store. Next year all registration will be on-line. Tags are more expensive (6 times more expensive), limited, and depend on whether you hunt a private or public area.

Many times Secretary Cathy Stepp repeated, “The rules have changed, but the tradition remains.”

Hunters whom I've spoken with wonder if all we’ll have years from now is the fond memory of what used to be Wisconsin’s very equal deer hunting tradition. Store owners are worried folks won’t stop for coffee and a doughnut if they register deer on-line.

Hunters tell me: change the rules, make it hard to get public tags, expensive to hunt in private land and leave folks on their own to register a deer? Isn’t this asking for trouble? 
Here are a few responses to the guy who commented with the picture below, who by the way, said he wasn't a hunter. Brilliant:
Anon: Mark Bye nailed it. All those rural white male voters that voted for Walker are getting what they voted for. They just never cared to understand what they were voting for. Time to let the chickens come home to roost.

Mark Bye: Hell, I don't hunt and even *I* get it.

Steve Hanson: I'm not a hunter, but I own property on which others hunt. I have to admit to being TOTALLY bamboozled by how complex the new rules are. And the folks hunting here are just as bewildered. 
The most revealing was this comment showing the DNR's real influence:
lufthase: I just happened to catch the DNR's "Deer Hunt 2014" program because it came on right after the Milwaukee Bucks game (ironic programming choice), and I noticed that the host and a number of presenters chose to wear Safari Club International hats. This seemed a bit odd for a DNR-produced program. Safari Club International is a lobbying organization, and a pretty radical one at that-- they promote trophy hunting, canned hunts, hounding bears/wolves, and oppose endangered species protections. Stranger still, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp appeared on the program wearing a vest that prominently featured the logo of Wern Valley game farm - offering canned hunts for which no hunting license is required (but a $1,195 annual membership is), according to their website.
Here's an edited clip of the show promoting the Safari Club International and the Wern Valley game farm (their ad too). Special thanks to lufthase for the help:

The DNR "doesn't expect you to remember all these changes," you know, making the hunting experience supposedly so much easier. But bigger problems should be addressed, as lufthase suggests in the comments:
Now, the question is will Sec. Stepp be held accountable? She was performing an official function as a state employee and promoting an interest group and a private corporation. And there's also the question of whether Stepp paid for the vest herself or received it as a gift, which would be a(nother) no-no.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

High Flying Scott Walker's Million Dollar Trip on Taxpayers!!!

Republicans were caught again trying to have it both ways, and the RNC's dimensional elf, Reince Priebus, apparently wasn't paying attention either.

I've edited up this short 1 minute segment from Rev. Al about the GOP's new attack on Hillary Clinton, where they're calling her "high flying Hillary:"

Well, our "just elected governor so he could run for president" Scott Walker has a very similar problem. I screen grabbed this from Rep. Mark Pocan's site, where he did a little digging into Walker's own high flying adventures:

Scott Walker's no Leader, and he's not saying what you think he is...

I was fascinated by Scott Walker's arrogant authoritarian advice to the Republican congress. Here's my interpretation. jsonline:
"It's put up or shut up time. Your election is a message from the American people that they want change. So go big and bold."
The Republicans benefit from gerrymandered districts and low midterm turnout. And the change the American people want are all things in the Democratic column, like minimum wage, immigration, gay marriage...heck look at the chart to the right. Guess what, this is the change Americans want.  
"The message Wisconsin holds for national Republicans is clear: Don’t be afraid to lead … (don’t) nibble around the edges. Push common-sense, conservative ideas.  Lead."
Walker has always looked at "leading" as an excuse to ignore voters. And they fell for it.
"Send funds for Medicaid and similar programs back to the states in the form of block grands to encourage innovation. Reform welfare programs to restore the dignity that comes from work."
"Restore the dignity that comes from work" is a cute way to say, "I can't create jobs, but I can boot you off assistance." How about restoring dignity with a decent wage? 

And Walker's way of "encouraging innovation" with block grants...I once describe it this way: No federal strings attached to the block granted money ... means the GOP can require any test they’d like to penalize and choke off benefits. Federal strings have prevented that.

Walker has ruled with a super Republican majority, how hard is that:
"And they will keep leaders who do what they say they will do. If the president does not lead as he was elected to do, this is an opportunity for Republicans in Congress to show the American people what they would do with a president who will lead."
Another Walker reference to one party rule, something he's now drooling over. I hope the Republicans do offer up a tangible plan. Paul Ryan is supposedly doing that right now on health care. I can't wait to see how the CBO grades it.

Scott Walker pushes Unconstitutional Drug Testing for Food Stamps. Other Big Government tests not far behind?

Funny thing on the way to a Republican one party police state, those standing up for their constitutional rights were denied food stamps. Think how far Republicans can push drug testing for whatever they eventually feel needs a little tough love.

Even worse, Americans don’t understand what Republicans mean when they insist on changing federal programs to state controlled block grants; no federal strings attached to the block granted money, which means the GOP can require any test they’d like to penalize and choke off benefits. Cruel? They’d tell you to get a job, the kind they know will never be created through tax cuts.

Let’s take a look at what’s already happened with drug testing that ended up costing taxpayers in Missouri $25,000 for each of the 20 positive tests…don’t complain, it’s the principle that matters WSJ:
In Missouri, over an eight-month period, 636 drug tests were administered, yielding 20 positive tests at a cost of $500,000, the Kansas City Star reported in December. Two hundred people refused to take the tests and were denied benefits, the Star reported.
200 people might have refused the drug test as a way to protect their constitutional rights. Ask any tea party member of a 501(c)(4) if they would take a drug test to exempt themselves from paying federal taxes?
812 people applied for assistance, according to figures from the Tennessee Department of Human Services cited by The Tennessean. Four who refused to participate in the process were denied benefits. Six who answered “yes” were tested, and one failed. In all, five were denied benefits.

Scott Walker iisn'tlooking out for the taxpayers, he’s using that empty excuse to push is ideological doctrine that sometimes saves money, but most of the time wastes it (like the Medicaid money).

And look at the chart showing the rise, fall, and rise again of food stamp assistance. Come on, this is an easy one. 

The rise and fall coincides with the economic job swings seen in the Bill Clinton years through Bush and the Great Recession. Businesses large and small were wiped out and those that did survive changed their business model to a bare bones full time staff with part timers brought in only when seasonally necessary. The chart has nothing to do with freeloaders or drug addicts. 

The Holiday Health Care Exchange Rush is Upon Us, and so are the Premium Increases.

Sign-up for the Affordable Care Act's exchanges starts this Saturday, for an unbelievably short period of month. It's like none of us have anything to do during this double holiday season; planning trips to see relatives on Thanksgiving and Christmas, gifts, paying our property taxes, and now forking over your first health care premium for January 1st. For myself, I have home and car insurance later that month too, not to mention a much higher heating bill to cry over. Nice.

It should be no secret to anyone by now that the Walker administration has done nothing to rein in insurer premiums on the Wisconsin exchange like most other states. The commissioner of insurance has not challenged one rate increase in excess of 10% yet, a duty they have under the ACA. Other states have done just that, and are offering much lower premiums as a result. And that's the rub.

WKOW's Greg Neumann reports that premiums have pretty much stayed the same in Wisconsin, which would be really good news, if that were true. It's not true for me.

My monthly premium went from $268.52 to $370.81. Ouch, a 39% increase from last year. According to the ACA, state's are supposed to question and/or turn down any requested increases that exceed 10%.

Of course, Republicans are hoping that millions of people covered by the Affordable Care Act are dropped, when and if the Supreme Court decides that a short line in the law only gives tax credits to state exchanges, not the federal stand-ins. Why they would think that is anybodies guess, but partisan legislating from the bench is part of the new wave of conservative justice.

If that happens, then success stories like the one below will become a thing of the past again, and once again the U.S. will have the best health care in the world...that no one can afford.
58 year-old Sue Savoy is self-employed and, according her daughter Lisa Haselow, never thought much about the private health insurance plans she purchased each year. 

"And never really used it, she didn't really go to the doctor," said Haselow.  "And she ended up being hospitalized just last month and realized how woefully under-insured she really was."

Haselow says a back injury left her mom wishing she had paid more attention to exactly what her plan covered.  "She walked in there with an insurance card, not realizing that she would get stung with what would probably end up being in the $40,000 to $50,000 range after insurance," said Haselow.

Police Seizing Citizen Property - Cars and Homes - to pad Department and City Coffers.

What the heck, the police can take away your property even if you’re not accused of any crime? Yes. And while some politicians are outraged, police departments and cities are expanding civil seizures to stuff their pockets at the public's expense.

It’s funny how the party of property rights, freedom and liberty (Republicans), have not done anything about the following problem in their decidedly red states. Don't even get me started on the wimpy Democrats.  NPR:
You don't have to be convicted of a crime, or even accused of one, for police to seize your car or other property. It's legal. Several videos online are shedding some light on the controversial practice. The practice is called civil asset forfeiture, and every year it brings cities millions of dollars in revenue, which often goes directly to the police budget. Police confiscate cars, jewelry, cash and homes they think are connected to crime. But the people they belong to may have done nothing wrong.

In one video posted by The New York Times, Harry S. Connelly, the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., gleefully describes how the city collects these "little goodies," calling it a "gold mine." He describes to a roomful of local officials from across the state how Las Cruces police officers waited outside a bar for a man they hoped would walk out drunk because they "could hardly wait" to get their hands on his 2008 Mercedes, which they then hoped to put up for auction.
"We could be czars," he tells the room. "We could own the city. We could be in the real estate business."
I put together two short jaw dropping videos that demonstrate how abusive asset seizures have become, victimizing the same everyday Americans the police are supposed to protect:  

NY Times: …under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces … have raised serious questions about the fairness of the practice, which critics say runs roughshod over due process rights.

In one oft-cited case, a Philadelphia couple’s home was seized after their son made $40 worth of drug sales on the porch. Despite that opposition, many cities and states are moving to expand civil seizures of cars and other assets. Prosecutors estimated that between 50 to 80 percent of the cars seized were driven by someone other than the owner, which sometimes means a parent or grandparent loses their car. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Real Story Behind the Facebook Common Core Math Problem...surprise ending!!!

The viral Facebook Common Core math problem posted by an angry father is no more. The background story is much deeper, and that dad? He now supports Common Core.

How could anything turn around like this? I've fine-tuned the story to the essentials. So much for the phony outrage. Edweek.

How it all started:
After a long and frustrating homework session with his 2nd grade son one day last school year, Jeff Severt dashed off a letter to the teacher. "I have a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. ... Even I cannot explain the common-core mathematics approach, nor get the answer correct."

word problem about a fictional student named Jack had put Mr. Severt, of Cary, N.C., over the edge. Mr. Severt's wife snapped a picture of the "common core" math problem and the note to the teacher, and put them on Facebook. The post went viral.
Here’s interesting point #1:
The response from the lead writers of the common standards for math was perhaps the most interesting: The problem wasn't part of the common core, said mathematicians William G. McCallum and Jason Zimba. It was simply the product of a badly written curriculum.  The common standards for math differ from most previous state standards in significant ways. They are fewer in number, connect more broadly across grade levels, and emphasize conceptual understanding along with the procedural skills that schools have traditionally taught.
  ...what some see as critical misunderstandings about the common core—perhaps the most fundamental and widespread of which is that the standards are a "curriculum." The standards are intended to be benchmarks for what students should know and be able to do. Curriculum, on the other hand, "is the 'stuff' of learning, the content of what is taught in school—especially as embodied in the materials used in instruction."
Here’s the most interesting point #2 about the whole controversy:
Mr. Severt, of Facebook renown, eventually replied to the barrage of comments on his son's math problem. He explained that his son, who has autism spectrum disorder, "knew the math answer immediately in his head. But this problem required a narrative answer utilizing a number line. While he knew the math, he balked at the answer being a writing assignment—his greatest anxiety." Mr. Severt decried the focus on "next-level critical thinking" over basic operations with such young students. At the same time, he defended the assignment to a point, calling it "creatively valid." 

Candidate for President Scott Walker Meets the Press and Nation with Big Fat Lies!!!!

Stop it...stop it now. Scott Walker is running for president for gods sake. Will the media stop pretending this is a story?

Meet the Press' Chuck Todd asked Scott Walker a number of great questions, but unfortunately, didn't ask the much needed followup. So all we got were big fat lies.

Walker National Lie # 1: Walker repeated 2 lies about the state budget to a national audience that's already been disproved by Wisconsin's PolitiFact:

Walker National Lie # 2: Walker repeated and stuck to the idiotic notion the government would renege on its Medicaid payments. In reality, those payments fluctuate based on a formula that adjusts to the economic health of the targeted state. He must know that, making this one big fat lie:

Walker's insulting "plan" to serve four years: Seriously, "plan" kind of gives that BS away, ya think?

I'm waiting to see just how Walker brings up former Governor Jim Doyle's Great Recession.
Michael Czin, the DNC's press secretary, said in a statement that targeted Walker's record on jobs, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on credit downgrades and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on his state's poverty rate. "The fact is that the gubernatorial wing of the GOP is every bit as broken and dysfunctional as the congressional wing of the party," Czin said.

Now in charge of Wisconsin, these "Stand with Walker" voters are speaking out....

We know Wisconsin Public Radio isn't exactly the most popular radio station on dial for Republican voters, so anytime a few of the more moderate ones decide to call in and drool on and on about their dictatorial leader Scott Walker, it's an eye opener.

Take for instance reelected Secretary of State Doug La Follette, who talked about how Walker divided Wisconsinites; from booing opponent Mary Burke's Vince Lombardi quote, to the perception that Walker is succeeding where Obama is failing.

That prompted a few typical "stand with Walker" voters to call-in. Take note, these are the people who are now deciding who will be running our state government. I never thought the so-so dystopian film "Ideocracy" would turn out to be a brilliant foretelling of our current political environment:

The callers didn't mention La Follette's Republican challenger, Julian Bradley, for some odd reason. He wanted to restore the powers his own party took away from that "do nothing" office.

Democrats need to change the way they frame their successes. For instance, why do they always throw out "qualifiers" when they bring up their accomplishments. Like "things could be better," "we're not there yet," "there's still a lot of work to be done." That kind of goes without saying, you know? While on the Republican side, utter economic failure is touted as "the Wisconsin Comeback" and "moving forward," which is nothing even close to reality.

More on Republican/Ideocracy: In a misguided critique of the movie "Ideocracy," the reviewer still made some nice observations that apply today. Check out the comments section too. Here's the link.
"Idiocracy is now our point of reference for the dumbing down of society. Whereas previous generations had movies like Network (1976) that challenged our understanding of possible media-driven futures, millennials have Idiocracy. And while the film expresses an arguably legitimate frustration with our current cultural landscape, it also leads us down a strange and illogical path for creating a better future."