Friday, January 16, 2015

Walker's odd vision of being " possible," whatever that means.

Something Scott Walker said in the state-of-the-state speech oddly stood out for me, and I haven't been able to shake it off, so here it is; Walker proudly quoted the first line of the state constitution:
"All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain and inherent rights...."
Walker went on to personalize it for the nation and the rest of the anxious world, by suggesting:
"Unlike other places around the world, this document says that in Wisconsin, it doesn't matter what class you were born into, or what your parents did for living, here, opportunity should be as equal as possible. As equal as possible!"
Yes, Walker even repeated his odd twist on the meaning of our constitution. Perhaps the state's founders should have hedged their bets a little on how much freedom is allowed, by writing...:
"All people are as equally free as possible..."
Check it out, with Walker's interpretation at about :55 seconds:

Cheese ban aimed at Packers fans not going over so well....

Great story...

CNN: One Seattle suburb have taken pre-game rivalry to the next level by banning "possession of and/or consumption of cheese or cheese flavored products."

For those not making the connection between cheese and this NFL matchup, Douglas Schulze, the city manager of Bainbridge Island, Washington, spells it out in his executive order.

"On Sunday, January 18, 2015, the Seattle Seahawks opponent in the NFC Championship game will be the Green Bay Packers, aka Cheeseheads," the order states. "Fans of the Green Bay Packers are frequently seen wearing obnoxious wedge-shaped foam hats painted yellow." It is "due to this relationship" between Packers fans and cheese that the ban was enacted.

The ban only applies to employees at city hall and only on Friday, but Schulze has a plan for anyone who defies the ban and comes, pun intended, packing.

It's official, Anti-Government Gov. Scott Walker running for president on Anti-Washington Message.

It must be horrible to hate your job so much as governor that you would be desperate enough to apply for a job that's even worse. Courage, or the worst job candidate ever?

Republican School Accountability Disaster Political Meddling from not-so-smart Freeloading Legislators.

WISC's Jessica Arp, covering the ever changing school accountability legislation, showed us all just how out of whack the Republican are in dealing with the realities of making schools even better than they already are.

In two important stories, local districts don't like what they're seeing, especially when it comes to the simple minded grading system. Instead of rating the strengths and weaknesses of each school, the GOP authority is pushing A through F grades. Really?

Overall scores will bring down a schools total average unfairly, so they appear to be failing, forcing a quicker switch over to private schools. There's a more responsible way to do this. Like your own child's report card, it's much better to see where they have strengths, so you can direct more time working on their weaknesses. This works for schools and businesses alike.

Edgwood College Dean of Education Tim Slekar trashed the idea, calling the penalties "Hunger Games for kids." Accountability has for decades helped schools adapt and improve over time. The myth created around the drive to go private, that public schools are failing, will become a reality if Republicans get their way. From a past WKOW Capitol City Sunday, Slekar doesn't hold back:

One radio caller was right in suggesting a similar grading system for each lawmaker and for the assembly and senate. They collect big paychecks, so how come they don't get a written evaluation?

Senate Republican Keystone XL Pipeline bill will kill Wisconsin Great Lakes Shipping Jobs!! Yeah free trade...

A new wrinkle has emerged as the Republicans try to ram through passage of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Thanks to a Senate amendment written by Sen. John McCain, about 1,200 jobs will be lost in our norther section of the state. WPR audio: 

Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain has filed an amendment to repeal the Jones Act, which allows only U.S.-built ships to carry cargo between U.S. ports. McCain said in a release that the law hinders free trade and raises prices for consumers due to shipping costs.

Members of a Great Lakes labor and management coalition say the move would hurt the U.S. shipping industry. Tom Curelli is with the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force and is operations director for Superior’s Fraser Shipyards said a repeal may mean more Canadian competition and fewer U.S. jobs. “For every trip they take, that’s one less trip for our vessels to operate on. When you remove enough trips and enough tonnage, you tie up the U.S. flag vessels and you don’t put them to work,” said Curelli.

Curelli said around 1,500 jobs may be affected in the Twin Ports and roughly 60,000 across the Great Lakes.

GOP flip flops on net neutrality...tell low information conservative voters, "never mind."

I am reminded of the Borg-like Republican collective’s penchant for repeating incoherent policies that end up changing like the weather when it's convenient:

But what happens when Republicans change their minds, you know, flip flop? Like the brilliant Twitter author above, they look like the dumbest fools. 

The thinking behind the latest flip flop below is this; Republicans now see the writing on the wall with net neutrality, and hope to keep it from being considered a utility, a categorization that’s hard to take back. It is a utility of course, like telephone, because providers all offer cable, the internet and…telephone, together in their bundle packages, making them a utility

Republicans simply want  to write a few laws so they can repeal them later, and not have their hands tied trying to convince people the internet isn't one of life’s big necessities, even though many people get their phone service via the internet. I know I do, and have for years with Vonage.  
“Times have changed,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the chairman of the House telecom subcommittee, said when asked about the evolving GOP position on net neutrality. “The administration has latched onto this [utility-style regulation], and the FCC’s independence is nominal at best.” According to Walden, the Republican bill — which “is ready” and will be released in the coming days — “gives the protections that the president and FCC say they want, and does it in a legally sustainable way.”
Remember when Sen. Ted Cruz "called net neutrality 'Obamacare for the Internet.'” The change actually keeps things the same, a difficult concept for right wing conservative minds:
“Millions of people and businesses have stood up and once again made clear that they want to keep the same rights they’ve always had,” said Matt Wood, policy director of Free Press. “Self-identified conservatives, just like everyone else, overwhelmingly support keeping the rules that have kept the Internet open.”

Really? Wisconsin Career Politician Scott Walker paints Hillary Clinton as creature of "D.C.?"

Let me see if I've got this right about bad government; We saw a Republican president get us into two unpaid for wars that are now on the books; raised our deficit by trillions of dollars with trickle down economic tax cuts; saw congressional Republicans block legislation with poison pill amendments and filibusters that eventually shut down the government to the tune of $24 billion, and now America hates D.C. lawmakers and politics in general. Got it. So....

...using their own dysfunctional government creation, Scott Walker is now saying that Hillary Clinton is a creature of D.C.! Politico:
“She lives in Washington. She works in Washington. She came to Washington through this president and his administration. She was in Washington when she was a United States senator. She was in Washington when her husband was president of the United States. You look at everything that people dislike about Washington, and she embodies it.”
An amazing thing to say from a career politician in a party whose main purpose is to dismantle government and make it look as bad as possible. Missing from Walker's dig at Clinton; the high employment during Bill's tenure and surpluses as far as the eye could see (that could have paid for major reforms-from tax policy to a national health care system).

Walker, like Gov. Chris Christie, has failed on the jobs front, saw increased poverty, supports wage stagnation with his opposition to a minimum wage hike, ignored infrastructure improvements and is faced with a huge budget deficit. But that's okay...
“Washington isn't the place with the answers that we’re looking for. I think the states are where we get things done. I think we can carry that message in 2016 as well,” he said.
This is presidential material nowadays for Republican voters? What a choice.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The free ride is over folks, MG&E decides to bill for electricity, gas, record keeping, meters, poles and the electrical grid.

Gee, nice to know my monthly bill from MG&E is now getting me these "extra" services and benefits, like billing, record-keeping, poles, meters and the electrical grid. It sure is worth the extra cost as itemized here. Question; what was I paying for before?

Walker plagiarizes Romper Room with state-of-the-state Magic Mirror....

I'm so tired of Scott Walker's condescending treatment of Wisconsinites. But you can't fool an old Romper Room viewer:

Democrats correctly frame GOP Supreme Court attack on Abrahamson: Vendetta!

I'm encouraged. The name sprung from a question by Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl:
The most trenchant critique came from Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie): “This is not a vendetta against the Current Chief, is that true?” After (former justice) Wilcox assured the committee that it was not...
...from PR Watch:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Republican hate entitled Homeless People so much....

Great commentary about the homeless...

Wind and Solar averse Walker blames Obama for Wisconsin's soon to be costly reliance on Coal.

Scott Walker loves coal. It's an old reliable fuel, cheap, pollutes like nobodies business, and prematurely kills thousands of people a year. Walker's reliance on coal and other fossil fuels has left the state in a costly pickle. While other states are moving forward with wind and solar, seeing smog, lead and arsenic contamination as undesirable, Walker is sticking with costly coal.

And now Walker is blaming Obama and the EPA for sticking rate payers with higher energy costs. Yes, Walker's bad decision is Obama's fault.

In his state-of-the-state address, Walker breathed new life into old cliches that blamed "top down mandates," unlike his own top down voucher mandates, mining mandates, cell tower mandates, billboard siting mandates, sick leave mandates, tort mandates, women's health mandates, voter ID and hours mandates etc.
Walker: "Top down regulations and mandates from the federal government can get in the way of innovation and growth in Wisconsin, and states like ours." 
So wind and solar aren't considered "innovative" enough, but coal is? Anyone see growth, or even a future in the coal industry? The now lawsuit happy Republicans are more than okay with legislating through the courts:
Walker: "Therefore I'm working with our new attorney general to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations." 
Walker's backward and costly policy of staying with coal, and the prediction of lost manufacturing jobs, is now all Obama's fault:
Walker: "These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin, because we're so heavily dependent on manufacturing. According to recent reports, we could lose tens of thousands of jobs in our region, and the rate payers could see an increase of up to 29%. We will fight to protect Wisconsin's hard working families..."
...from Walker's own energy policy disaster, the one he created by himself when he opposed wind and solar expansion. Standing ovation please! And then the misdirection plea; asking the fed to work with the states for "reasonable" coal? Very BOLD:
Walker: "Instead of fighting with states like Wisconsin, the federal government should work with us to find reasonable alternatives. We can be both environmentally and economically sustainable."
Our poor irresponsible incidental Governor Walker will cost the state jobs and rate payers money on energy and the AG's legal bills. Now that's fiscal conservatism.

Anti-Government conservatives love Government Jobs.

I can hear them already saying, "Yea, let's make government smaller by downsizing it and shedding jobs. Oh, and by the way, elect me as your next 'on the public dole' Republican lawmaker."

Gerrymandering helped big time, along with an unrelenting campaign of fear, hate and government gridlock. But their warmed over pursuit of failed policies and shocking lack of a detailed agenda caught the imagination of conservative "magical thinkers" everywhere. Isn't it strange how conservatives are obsessed with pursuing government jobs time and time again. Losing any number of times (Mitt?) doesn't even stop them.

Yet they still hate the size of government, all the while filling statehouses everywhere:
The GOP now controls 68 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers. On top of that, Republicans have 31 seated governors.-21st Century Democrats
As long as there's a Democrat alive and well, elected to an office anywhere in this country, Republicans will always have someone to blame for their failures.

With Republican Congress and Supreme Court, Rand Paul says Activist Judges not so bad after all.

It’s strange how power can change your entire “supposed” principled ideological philosophy. For an authoritarian based Republican Party, reversing itself for strictly strategic reasons is political opportunism at its finest.

"Activist Judges" are GOOD!!! That’s right, after decades of bashing supposed liberal activist judges for legislating from the bench, our Republican majority is rethinking that position. Rand Paul is already testing this “sales pitch;” take “activist” liberal wins like Roe v Wade and Brown v Board and show how Republicans can repeal the Affordable Care Act and fight presidential overreach with their own activism. That would appeal to the deep conservative fear that liberals are getting something they’re not from the courts.  
National Journal: Speaking at the Heritage Action Conservative Policy Summit, Paul … took pains to explain his own legal philosophy, and to push back against what he referred to as the "tyranny of state government." He argued that it was judicial activism that struck down "separate but equal" schooling in Brown v. Board of Education. He defined Roe v. Wade—which has its 41st anniversary next week—as a competition between the rights of a mother and her child. And, naturally, he said it would take judicial activism to strike down the Affordable Care Act at the state level.

Judicial restraint—the idea that courts should only uphold or strike down laws on the strict basis of their constitutionality—is one of the cornerstones of modern conservative thought. Justice Antonin Scalia has ... has in turn been called a judicial activist for helping to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for seemingly political reasons.
Again, here’s the rationalization...the spin we might be getting in the years to come, if they maintain their majority:
As Paul's argument goes, judicial activism can be necessary, as a check against other branches of government overstepping their constitutional authority—a break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation. So, why try to make such a tough sell—to redefine an entire concept that has been considered unpalatable to conservatives for years … Brian Darling, a spokesman for Paul, told National Journal. "I think that he's trying to educate the crowd that there's a conservative case to be made for activism, if it's tied to spreading liberty."

Judicial activism as Paul defines it is an idea he thinks conservatives can get on board with…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

State Senate GOP take Superintendent powers away from taxpayer supported Voucher and Charter Schools, say they're not like Public Schools at all.

(Updated and revised Wed) On the way to usurping the constitutional office of the superintendent of education, again, Republicans are now claiming private charters and voucher schools are so different from public schools, that they each need a big government board overseeing them. That's my read on this. Yes, two bureaucratic boards, one placating vouchers, and the other overseeing charter and public schools. All from the party of small government too.

Public schools will still be under the watchful eye of a professional, Superintendent Tony Evers, thank god.

With two different standards, you can forget about accountability. Seriously, what's to compare?
Sen. Paul Farrow: "As much as everyone wants to say it's a apple to apples holding things equally accountable, it can't be done. There are three separate pieces, and so we're looking at a way we can hold each of the sectors accountable the way they should be."
Complete fiction and a giveaway to voucher interests and big money, who really don't want real accountability.

This also establishes 2 parallel school systems. Two. If the senate agrees to go along with the assembly's "optional test" for voucher schools, then comparisons are out the window. And with rising voucher outlays every year (voucher advocates are working on getting full student tuition), with no way to tell whether the two privates system are failing, public education will die a slow funding death.

Note: Walker will allow Common Core as a way to continue to lift scores, making himself look good, while privatization sinks scores on the other end. This is shameless government at its GOP worst. WKOW:

Walker predictions wrong, get him reelected, but never materialize thanks to Supply Side Economics.

Remember this golden oldies from the last state of the state?
The governor touted a memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a few days before last year's speech that said the state would have $911 million more than expected as an ending balance by June 2015, creating a total surplus of just more than $1 billion.
That didn't happen. Thanks to WISC's Jessica Arp, we have this Fact Check update:
Because of the tax cuts and many other factors, by the time the Legislature adjourned in March, the surplus was down to just $165 million. Then, in November, a memo issued by the administration said it is now $132 million in the red. 
Here's Arp's report:

And without the governors leadership and focus, educational maneuvers are not working out like we were told. In fact, we're spending money without getting a return on the investment:
News 3 found $28 million awarded to all 16 tech colleges in July to open nearly 5,000 new spots. So far, 1,526 students are enrolled statewide in those spots, and 252 of them have completed training.
Don't hold your breath waiting for adjustments. But the governors favorite forward thinking occupation, welding (?), is taking off:
Madison College officials said so far, they've added spots for 425 students and have eliminated one waiting list in welding.
Walker is barely paying attention to anything now, letting things slide...:
On the high school training programs, News 3 found a grant application wasn't posted until last month, so that $3 million has not been spent.

Kind of like putting Government hating Republicans in charge of Government....

Republicans provide corruption an extra layer of "Constitutional" Protection.

Pocket constitutionalists love to imagine rights violations everywhere. From nonsensical free speech rights to proposals for constitutional tests for everything, the new incoming tea party pocket constitutional House Republicans have come up with another wacky interpretation that can protect them from the actual law itself. The Hill:
The House of Representatives this week quietly approved changes to ethics rules that government watchdogs fear could help lawmakers obstruct investigations. The provisions from Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) takes aim at the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), specifying that neither body can “take any action that would deny any person any right or protection provided under the Constitution of the United States” … any person under investigation “shall be informed of the right to be represented by counsel and invoking that right should not be held negatively against them.”

The OCE was created by Democrats in 2008 after they promised to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington.

Like Wisconsin Republicans stacking the courts with conservative activists, politicizing election oversight, pushing the constitutional boundaries whenever possible, and vowing to dismantle John Doe investigations, Congress is following suit. The line below, "on constitutional grounds as determined by members themselves," pretty much says it all. Nowadays, anyone can be a constitutional scholar:
Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said the new language … is troubling because it turns the informal review of a complaint into a more formal legal proceeding … can be delayed and even derailed altogether,” Holman wrote. "The intent of this clause is to provide members with an additional authority to complicate ethics investigations. Even though all constitutional rights already apply to the ethics proceedings as determined by the courts, this clause ... enables challenges to ethics proceedings on constitutional grounds as determined by members themselves," he added.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Walker on board: Republicans take the easy way to Health Care Reform, by destroying it!!!

Scott Walker said he won't do anything state wise to create our own health care exchange, where people can shop and compare prices. Forget comparing prices, the free market system that offers no group discounts and pits an individual against big insurance companies can only result in...lower prices?

Conservative tightwads, just think for a moment beyond the nonsensical "small government" talking point. Walker's typical non-answer, where he brags about how many people in Wisconsin had insurance once (under a Democratic governor who fought for it), completely ignores the fact that that was the result of our dramatically expanded Medicaid program (up to 400% of poverty). Using "big government" Medicaid coverage from the past, as a way to get rid of supposed "big government" health care now, is a con and down-the-rabbit-hole insulting:

Supreme Court May Kill the Affordable Care Act: This analysis by Motley Fool is right on the money, saying that even after American got their insurance on the exchanges with the included tax credits, coverage was still too expensive, forcing them to drop out. Can you imagine going back to the same old system? By the way, Republicans are trying to spin away from "going back to the same old system" by confusing the terminology with "patient centered" mumbo jumbo.
In order for the health reform law to be successful, it'll need people that enroll to actually continue paying their premium. This is the only way that medical care costs get spread out over a greater swath of the public, which is needed to control medical care cost inflation. However, between April and mid-October, for instance, around 1 million people stopped paying for their health insurance. The program will need to minimize this attrition in 2015 and beyond in order to be successful. 

Obamacare enrollments from week six (Dec. 20 to Dec. 26) continue to point toward the law bringing in more than the 9.1 million people (as) predicted. Based on data for just the 37 states operating under the federally run, nearly 6.5 million people have selected plans.
More Americans tighten belts, incomes decline, need ACA Tax Credits: Motley Fool also points out those getting tax credits to help pay for premiums has increased. While they say that's a problem, I say that tells us American incomes are not keeping up. In fact the government numbers say incomes have decreased again. And if the activist conservative Supreme Court strikes down the ACA and the tax credits...? 
Nearly 317,000 people window-shopped healthcare plans on and close to 1.4 million users were active on the site. The implication is that interest in obtaining health insurance is still high for many uninsured Americans ... a whopping 87% of people enrolled through (5.6 million people) between Nov. 15, 2014, and Dec. 15, 2014, were getting financial assistance, also known as a subsidy. This is up from the 80% of enrollees ... this seven percentage point rise could be a potential death knell for Obamacare based on a Supreme Court case expected to be ruled on sometime in June. Plaintiffs in the case argue that the language of the ACA is structured in such a way that only states running their own exchanges can divvy out subsidies to eligible individuals. Thus, if the Supreme Court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, it would mean that the 5.6 million people currently receiving subsidies via, the federally run exchange, would no longer receive those payments.

Still don't believe George Zimmerman got away with murder?

The true character of George Zimmerman, who was given the benefit of the doubt for killing 17 year old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager...