Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jeb Bush and more ObamaCare talking point lunacy!

Reporters have had 4 years to brush up on the ins and outs of the individual health care marketplace, which makes up only 9% of all people with insurance. The Affordable Care Act is an attempt to control those runaway costs, offering lower group rates for individuals. Reporters are still clueless, so the public is led to believe Republican talking points that are never challenged, and don’t make any sense.

Here’s my look, point by point, at Jeb Bush's recent plan for reform:
"The greatest job suppressor in the so-called recovery that we've gone through is Obamacare," Bush said in a Q&A at the 2015 Iowa Ag Summit.
Does this sound like “suppression;” impressive job creation month after month (nearly 295,000 in February), and declining unemployment numbers (5.5% in Feb.). The only downside to the Obama recovery? Republican governors are using it to make themselves look good, when in fact they've done nothing, and in some cases, made things worse:
"And I think replacing Obamacare with a market oriented approach that is — where local and state input starts to drive the policies away from this top down system."
The deceptive “market oriented” mumbo jumbo assumes health care is a consumer product. IT’S NOT!!! State input means Republicans can force citizens to jump through hoops, some unconstitutional, and leave them at the mercy of profit drunk insurers; age limits, ridiculous income limits, time limits, stripped down catastrophic junk policies etc.
From there the potential Republican candidate offered … government-subsidized catastrophic coverage. "…relief (for) families in this country that if you have a hardship that goes way beyond your means of paying for it, that you have a — the government is there or an entity is there to help you deal with that."
A new and not so horrible idea? Except it makes people go broke first, never lowers the cost of care, never deals with why people are forced into bankruptcy in the first place, and leaves the plan open for future reductions by a more austere administration. 

Think about it, junk policies ("insurance you can afford") will push more people into this government paid for catastrophic safety net, straining the federal budget dramatically.

I hope reporters consider the above major issues when confronting big talking Republican snake oil salesmen about their private free market plan for health care. There’s a reason why every other industrialized country in the world never picked a for-profit privatized system. It has nothing to do with socialism. It has everything to do with the repugnant and morally vacuous idea that someone would even think of profiting from the sick and suffering.  Not in America.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

GOP regulates Private Business with RTW: Right-Wing falls for meaningless references to "Freedom," "Liberty," and "Choice."

Democrats lost the right-to-work argument early in this Extraordinary Session, when they forgot to use the Republicans own rhetoric to kill the idea. 

Every ridiculous use of  the words "freedom," "liberty" and "choice," words liberals have used in meaningful ways for years fighting for women's health rights, unionization, net neutrality, and protesting were twisted into a pretzel by Republicans. Workers already have the right to work in a union shop or not. Here's an example of a jam packed line of bullshit from one of the best spin meisters:
"We're fighting for every worker in the state to have their own personal liberty," Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said. "Worker freedom. Individual choice. Getting to make your own way in life."
It was an upside down and highly successful way to inject big Republican one-size-fits-all government into the private sectors supposed free market business model. That's changing too.

Democrats missed the following opportunities to drive their point home:

1. There is no “right to work” in the constitution, the one place rights are protected and in some cases enumerated. Democrats could have taken this constitutional approach away from these “constitutional conservative” phonies. 

2. Government control over Private Businesses:  Forget the free market and a private business owner’s freedom to work with unions in their workplace.

3. People have the “Freedom” to look for work elsewhere: No one is forcing job seekers to work at a business with union contracts. They don't even have to join unions. They have the freedom and liberty to move on to those supposed higher wage non-union workplaces.

4. The “Freedom” and “Liberty” answer to everything they can’t defend: Seriously, this whole freedom and liberty thing is so over the top, that's it's intellectually insulting.
Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, argued the bill was about freedom. "We stand today for a simple and yet very powerful concept, the concept of worker freedom," Knudson said. 
Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, joked if anyone following the debate at home played a game requiring them to drink every time someone said the word "freedom," the would have "cashed out yesterday afternoon. I want to say this has nothing to do with freedom, it has nothing to do with choice. It had everything to do with divide and conquer," Jorgensen said, referencing comments Gov. Scott Walker made in 2010. 
5. Right-to-Work is Wrong for Wisconsin: I can't tell you how much I hate this mindless slogan. We could have used the Republicans own talking points against them. The base normally hates government meddling, exactly what the Republicans are doing right now. There was a slim chance of reaching a few conservatives voters struck by the hypocrisy. 

6. Impressed by our Fighting Democrats: After watching Wisconsin Eye and a few camera phone videos of the right-to-work debate, I felt the Democrats did a great job disproving every empty Republicans reason for the law. Sadly, not only did almost none of this got local news coverage, but Democrats failed to brag about their debate victories.     

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Walker is criticizing Hillary for private email account??? Really?

Does Scott Walker lack this much self-awareness? The media had already talked about the similarity between Hillary Clinton’s private email account and Scott Walker’s. So, what did the Walker campaign do? Stepped into the line of fire, that’s what. This is really beyond words:
WSJ: Gov. Scott Walker's political non-profit slammed Hillary Clinton on Thursday for using a private email system during her time as Secretary of State, according to the Daily Caller. "Hillary Clinton’s potential evasion of laws is something she should answer questions about,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the political action committee Our American Revival, the Daily Caller reported. "Wisconsin has a strong open records law with a broad presumption of access to records and the governor has very specific policies in place in his office to assure that the laws are complied with fully."
Breathtaking. It didn't take long for Democrats to react…
Minutes after the conservative web site's story posted, the Democratic National Committee sent out an email criticizing Walker for using a private email system when he was county executive. The email also referenced reports that Walker aides set up a secret wireless router they used to conduct campaign business while on county time. "If Walker wants to talk about emails, let's look at his history first," the DNC said. The secret system was uncovered by an investigation into illegal campaign activities by Walker's staff that led to six convictions.
 Democrats were ready to jump on Walker anyway, after the Daily Beast ran this:
It’s Not Just Hillary: Scott Walker’s Email Controversy: The Wisconsin Governor kept a secret email system too, and some of his aides were found guilty of other crimes too. And it’s not over yet.
For anyone who might have forgotten, like my conservative friend who still doesn't think it was a big deal:
Gov. Scott Walker' John Doe transcript: Scott Walker must have known of private email, laptop system: At a secret hearing the day before the 2010 fall election, an investigator for the Milwaukee County district attorney testified that he had uncovered email evidence that Scott Walker, then-county executive, was likely aware of campaigning by his staff on county time using personal laptops and a secret wireless Internet router.
Here's the Fox News coverage and grilling from Chris Wallace:

Cowardly Senators Fitzgerald and Wanggaard fear Dissent.

Republican are big cowards, ready to run for cover at the first hint of conflict. The fact that they're frightened by dissent makes them victims all over again, in a society they never felt comfortable in anyway.

Remember when Sen. Scott Fitzgerald ended the right-to-work hearings early because the unions were planning some kind of disruptive protest? Sure, it was complete bullshit, but their low information base loves that stuff because they're scared too.

Here's former police office and now cowering Sen. Van Wanggaard explaining the "threat" posed by Wisconsin citizens protesting their government. How dare they look so scary:
Wanggaard: "It was a different crowd of people that were coming into the Capitol..."
What, did they have horns and cloven hooves?

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald rushed the RTW bill because he thought attack ads might swaying senators to vote against it. The horror. Keep in mind, Republicans say money is free speech, and buys ads to sway voters and politician alike. It's clear Fitzgerald is trying to usurp those rights with quick passage. A real patriot:

Ted Cruz offers us "Health Care Choices Act," returning us to the good old days.

Cruz Care: It's called the most “complete” GOP health care plan yet, compliments of crazy right winger Sen. Ted Cruz. It doesn't just bring back the failed system we had, but makes it worse with every "free market" trick that promises profit over care. 

What you won't get: There are no free health checkups, no guarantees of coverage for preexisting conditions, no ability to keep kids on the family plan till age 26, and no acknowledgement that the health care industry changed its business model for payment based on outcomes, not tests. The ACA helped stablize costs with these changes. It’s like the last 4 years never happened. 

Even worse, people can now buy what they "need," stripping down coverage that will leave them bankrupt if they get the wrong illness or are in the wrong kind of accident. They’re junk policies you can buy across state lines, an amazingly ridiculous GOP idea for the last 30 years. It's a race to have no coverage at all.

In Cruz's plan below, you’ll notice  how it focuses on insurers in "host" and "secondary states." It has little to do with you and me. Cruz's bill is called the Health Care Choices Act. The basic plan does the following:

It would repeal Title I of ObamaCare, which would undo much of the law, including the mandate to buy insurance, the insurance marketplaces and subsidies to help people afford coverage. 
It then firms up the insurance side:
The act also amends the Public Health Service Act to provide that insurance policies approved and sold in one state (designated the "primary state") may be allowed to be sold in any other state (i.e. "secondary state") but only if the health plan and insurer comply with certain basic requirements of the secondary state. Consumer protections such as complying with the secondary state's fraud and abuse and delinquency requirements.
What is Reasonable...Cruz tries to minimize our care. In the courts, the word "reasonable" has almost no limit to what it could mean. That's why Cruz gave insurers every opportunity to make money, delay action and take reasonable steps to screw us. It's a loophole you could drive a truck through:
‘‘(B) Failing to acknowledge with reasonable promptness pertinent communications with respect to claims arising under policies.”

‘‘(C) Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation and settlement of claims arising under policies.”

“(E) Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.”

‘‘(F) Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable period of time.

‘‘(H) A pattern or practice of attempting to settle or settling claims for less than the amount that a reasonable person would believe the insured individual or his or her beneficiary was entitled”

‘‘(J) Failing to provide forms necessary to present claims within 15 calendar days of a requests with reasonable explanations regarding their use.”
 What does Paul Ryan have to offer? Not much...check it out here.

Van Wanggaard's Gun obsession continues; from removing 48 cooling off period to Guns in Schools!!!

Concealed carry has started Wisconsin down the slipper slope of having no gun rules at all. The unintended consequences of that law? A societal change where guns are now considered just another part of the solution. The facts bear that out, from Political Heat:
From 2009 to 2013, (when their cooling off 48 hour wait was removed) the rate of violent crime in South Dakota went up by more than 70 percent.

(Since Wisconsin passed concealed carry:) From 2011 to 2013, the violent crime rate in Wisconsin went up by more than 17 percent. The rate of murders committed by guns in our state went up by more than 28 percent. 
Irresponsible recklessness isn't that same as "freedom," no matter how Republicans package it.

And wouldn't you know it, the guy pushing more gun lunacy is former police officer, recall election loser, and now public dole recipient State Sen. Van Wanggaard. He's already trying to do away with the 48 hour cooling off period, so starting the "guns in schools" drum beat is the next logical step, right?

In the WKOW video, check out the disheveled trash sitting next to him; Rep. Joel Kleefisch, the guy who brought us hunting near schools and in local parks.

What is Wanggaard's big government Republican plan; take away a local districts control over gun carry decisions at their schools. That's right, the party that hates top down, "one-size-fits-all" regulation has found another exception to the rule:

Here's Wanggaard and Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler on WPR, battling it out. Guess who's the adult in the room, and not the frightened little baby who's in the pocket of the NRA?

Opposition to Right-to-Work Ignored by Desperate Republicans fighting "Sluggish" Wisconsin economy.

I've got a few selected video cuts that I feel should go on the record before right-to-work gets rammed down our throats by these know-it-all Walker Republicans.

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald openly and repeatedly admits Wisconsin is suffering a sluggish economy. That's a dramatically different message than the one our world touring governor Scott Walker is saying.

It also shows you how desperate Fitzgerald and the Republicans are right now, where they even have to throw right-to-work up against the wall. Video taken by the Devil's Advocates:

The next clip features audio from WPR and video from WPT's Here and Now. Shawn Johnson reports that Sen. Scott Fitzgerald said the cozy relationship between road contractors and union workers is driving up costs, which really means RTW will drive down costs. Here and Now's guest, former Republican representative John Gard (a guy I never agreed with), defended that good relationship between employer and employee, saying:
" that like a bad thing? It doesn't make sense as far as I'm concerned, from the standpoint employers and employee should not be in a constant state of combat. That is not productive...our per mile construction costs in Wisconsin is in the lowest 10 cost in the nation." 
Gard must have forgotten Walker's promise to "divide and conquer" the unions. He would like nothing more than to have that constant employer and employee battle:

From  Upfront with Mike Gousha, Democratic Rep. Peter Barca makes a great argument against right-to-work, while Rep. Robin Vos makes one dumb statement after the next, like:
"So one of the things I like to look at as we are going through this process; is right to work a good thing for Wisconsin? I believe it is."
Well, that's good enough for me. Or this gem:
"I would love to be Indiana..."
And we would love that you move there soon Robin:

Rep. Dan Knodl says Republican bills are "good to go on day one," who needs a debate?

On WPR's newscast, Shawn Johnson played this mind blowing comment by Republican Rep. Dan Knodl, who seems to think his party's noble conservative calling doesn't require endless debates on bills that are already deemed "good. It's nice to know he thinks so anyway. Democrats, save this for next time you're in the majority. Here's the audio:
Knodl: "A good bill leads to good law which means it's good to go on day one."

Canada wants stop to #spockingfives

Good stuff:

ABC: Canadian “Star Trek” fans have been paying tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy through "Spocking," or drawing in the character’s sharp eyebrows, bowl-shaped hair and pointy ears on look-a-like former Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, who’s featured on the $5 bill.

There's now good news and bad news for these "Spockers."

The good news? "Spocking" isn't illegal, the Bank of Canada confirmed in a statement emailed to ABC News today.

The bad news? Your "Spocked" bills won't live long and prosper. Those drawn-in Spock features could prevent your money from being accepted in a transaction, interfere with security features and reduce a bill's lifespan, the Bank of Canada said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Psycho activist Supreme Court Justices have no problem ending health care for millions, reflecting their extremist Party Agenda.

There's something sick about conservative judicial activism. They are the ultimate bully, free from criticism. The Supreme Court's activist conservatives Justices don't seem to buy the Affordable Care Act's interpretation that despite providing tax credits to both the state and federal exchanges equally, congress never intended to roll it out that way. Really, that defies logic.

So what's Antonin Scalia thinking?
U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli told the court the Obama administration’s reading of the law was the only one that made sense. Allowing subsidies nationwide is compelled by the structure and design of the health law, he said, adding that Mr. Carvin’s interpretation couldn’t be what Congress intended.

Justice Antonin Scalia jumped in and said, “Of course it could be.” What mattered, Justice Scalia said, is how Congress actually wrote the law.
The court is supposed to look at the intent, and the way it was implemented. But that would be too easy.

The irony of the court challenge to me is this; the plaintiff is arguing against having any insurance at all. Because he doesn't want it, millions who want coverage will lose theirs. That's the kind of society we have today, and it's only going to get much worse.

Frustrating too is watching the valiant effort by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout to bring back the nearly completed work of the Doyle administrations state exchange.
WSJ: A bill released by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, and Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, would set up the Badger Health Benefit Authority to run an exchange with insurance options for individuals and employers with up to 100 workers.

The bill draws on work by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to set up a state exchange, Vinehout said. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, opted instead for the federal exchange.

“Let’s make sure the people of our state are not devastated by partisan politics,” Sargent said.

GOP hatred for “Left” only reason for opposition to Renewable Energy!

The title is my takeaway from the comments below by a staunch Republican who’s mystified by his party’s opposition to green energy.

It all seems to boil down to the irrational hatred of “liberalism,” climate change and anything perceived as “left.” I don’t know about you, but opposing an idea that creates jobs and a new burgeoning energy market due to liberal, progressive and Democratic support it is nothing short of self-destructive. MidwestEnergyNews:
Larry Ward, executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, says he’s always been fascinated by the idea that “somehow Republicans can’t be in line” with renewable energy. As a consultant and former political director for the state’s Republican party, says, energy policy affects everyone who pays an electric bill. “I’m just always mystified that we as a political party have let it get that bad,” he said.
Believe it or not, Larry Ward had to create a conservative renewable energy support group. Don’t laugh, if it helps I’m all for it. I especially like how he’s thought about “framing” the issues to make renewable energy exciting, an concept that alludes Democrats:
In late 2013, Ward launched the MCEF as a way to give Republicans a voice on clean-energy issues — an opportunity for those in the party to speak up on the merits of the issue without being lumped in with (and cast away as) liberals, he said. Ward is careful to frame the issue with three pillars: jobs and the economy; energy independence; and leaving a positive legacy for future generations. The group is careful to avoid potentially divisive debates about climate change. (If) a Republican would step out and try something on energy — especially from a renewable or clean side — they felt like they were kind of catering to the left. 
Larry Ward is especially confused over solar bashing, where supposed small government Republicans set in place onerous rules and regulations to prevent its spread. It’s when government bureaucracy ain't so bad:
There are a bunch of rules and laws in place that prohibit just the normal expansion of a product like solar. Wind is great for large-scale energy production, but solar has capability, too. If we just get some of the rules and restrictions out of the way, that market would take off on its own. You’re starting to see that across states, if you look at net-metering laws.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sen. Nass disagrees with UW economist on RTW report: "Partisan garbage research is what we have come to expect."

Nothing projects ignorance and unfettered authoritarian control like yesterday’s attack on a UW professor over his report disputing the benefits of right-to-work.

Seriously, dissent will not be tolerated. This is just the latest frightening Republican reaction that should send up a few red flags for conservative voters.

It’s beyond words really. WPR Shawn Johnson:

A Republican state lawmaker and outspoken critic of the University of Wisconsin took aim at a UW economist on Monday for producing research that disputes the benefits of right-to-work laws.

State Sen. Steve Nass sent an email to reporters, legislators, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross calling a report by UW-Madison and UW-Extension economist Steven Deller "yet another example of wasted resources" at the university.
Want to know what Republicans really think of a college education? 
Nass added that "hiding behind academic freedom to issue partisan, garbage research is what we have come to expect" at the UW.

Deller's two-page report found that wages -- and manufacturing wages in particular -- are lower in states with right-to-work laws, saying they're more symbolic than an actual economic growth policy.
Deller called Nass' remarks another "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts" reaction.
This is a manufactured dust up to justify Walker's proposed stiff cuts to the UW...again.

Here's a story that outraged Nass:
A UW-Extension paper estimates that workers in the manufacturing sector earn an average of $8,100 less in states that have right-to-work laws, and that right-to-work states have more poverty and fewer college graduates.

"Bottom line, right-to-work states tend to have lower manufacturing wages and overall income levels, higher poverty rartes and lower education levels," reads the UW-Extension right-to-work fact sheet (the PDF is attached) by Steven Deller, a professor of agricultural and applied economics.
  "In the end, right-to-work politics are more symbolic than an actual growth and development policy," reads the short report. "In and of itself, right-to-work laws really do very little. It's really more of a signal about how people think about business climate."

In right-to-work states, Deller says, economic policies are geared toward lowering the cost of doing business — cutting taxes, driving down the cost of labor and limiting regulation. But such policies also are at odds with promoting high-growth and high-wage industries.

The study compared the 22 right-to-work states that existed prior to 2012 — when both Michigan and Indiana adopted right-to-work laws — with states that didn't have right-to-work laws.

The comparison found that in right-to-work states, manufacturing jobs paid an average of $52,900, while in non-right-to-work states, manufacturing workers earned $61,000. Per capita income in right-to-work states was $3,875 less in right-to-work states, $33,101 versus $36,976.

The individual poverty rate in right-to-work states was nearly 2 percent higher: 13.9 percent versus 12 percent. And the percentage of people with a college degree was nearly 4 percent lower in right-to-work states: 24.4 percent versus 28.2 percent.

Confidence Buster: Republicans don't know details, reasons behind budget plans.

It's becoming pretty obvious Scott Walker is running our state government by the seat of his pants. Walker has stayed above the fray by keeping every controversial budget proposal a secret until the very last moment, all of them:
jsonline: "...unexpected legislation known as Act 10 … Walker said he wouldn't let legislation affecting private-sector workers reach his desk. Now he says he'll sign it. Walker didn't campaign on some of the most sweeping changes in his current budget proposal: freezing a stewardship program for state lands; borrowing $1.3 billion for transportation; and cutting state universities by $300 million in exchange for unhooking them from many state laws." 
That doesn't even count corporate naming rights to state parks, a 20 week abortion ban, huge cuts to the DNR, eliminating the 48 hour waiting period for gun purchases, etc. It's like we're erasing 100 years of progress.

So I thought the two stories shown here, as they appeared on WPR's website, explained a lot about the GOP's lack of forethought and understanding behind their big bold changes:

Conservative Judicial Activist Daley takes amateurish potshots at Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.

Judge James Daley is right out of central right wing casting. He's a candidate for the state supreme court and a constitutional originalist, which makes him a conservative judicial activist. 

But as we all know, there's only one kind of activism that won't be tolerated; the liberal kind. Daley can't stop talking about the horrors of "liberal activism," while sternly declaring "the laws the law." Like all conservative activists, "the legislative branch should be free to do what it wants"...except when it comes to ObamaCare, Voting rights, EPA regulations, gay know what I mean. It's their law or no law. We've seen that with the right wing attempts at nullification.

Judge Daley's conservative activism is so blatantly obvious in his very first campaign radio ad for Supreme Court Justice, that you're jaw will drop and laugh like I did. How dare someone oppose Scott Walker:

Check out Daley's appeared on WPT's Here and Now with Frederica Freyberg. His nonsensical attacks on Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, yup, she's a liberal judicial activist, are based on her dissenting decisions on voter ID and Act 10. Bradley had the gall to oppose Walker, and we also know the constitution is conservative, right?

Here's how the press release flipped the "personal political agenda" around, making it seem like Daley has no agenda at all. It's surreal beyond words:
The Daley for Wisconsin State Supreme Court campaign ... radio ad titled, “Undermining Reforms” which exposes the personal political agenda incumbent Ann Walsh Bradley has long-inserted into court actions.

“The case against Justice Ann Walsh Bradley is clear; whether it be trying to derail Act 10, obstruct Voter ID or other common-sense reforms, Bradley seemingly never passes on an opportunity to insert her personal political agenda into court decisions that impact Wisconsin,” said challenger Judge James Daley. “Wisconsin deserves a Supreme Court Justice who sets politics aside, and makes upholding the rule of law their priority.”

Minnesota Republicans use Walker’s clichéd by-the-book conservatism, and RTW, against him! Luring businesses away…

This is never a good headline if you’re a Wisconsin Republican:
"With right-to-work poised to pass, Minnesota Republicans target Wisconsin businesses."
Watching our GOP majority follow Scott Walker over the cliff on right-to-work, and lying through their teeth about rising wages and union membership, was apparently too much of a good thing for Minnesota Republicans to pass up. Cap Times-Jessie Opoien:
He's a Republican alright...
Minnesota Rep. Pat Garofalo, the Republican chairman of the Minnesota House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee, sent letters this week to two Wisconsin businesses, Hoffman Construction and Rock Road Companies, Inc., offering assistance in relocating their headquarters to Minnesota. The letters went to both union contractors who privately contract with the International Union of Operating Engineers.
How do Republicans really feel about right-to-work?
"Wisconsin's right-to-work legislation would negatively impact the private contracts between these companies and the unions they have voluntarily decided to partner with," Garofalo said in a statement. "It's heavy-handed and the wrong for Wisconsin to inject government into these private contractual relationships that has worked well for private companies for decades."

In the letter to Rock Road President Bill Kennedy, Garofalo wrote that many Republicans in Minnesota believe such a law interferes with a business's right to set terms and conditions of employment in the workplace. "That Republicans in Wisconsin would inject the heavy hand of government into this relationship is regrettable and quite inconsistent with the principles of free enterprise and limited government."

Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, in a statement said, "That top Minnesota elected Republicans are actively trying to steal our businesses shows the disaster caused in Wisconsin by Scott Walker's failed policies and AWOL leadership.

Walker drops another bomb; corporate donor "naming rights" for State Parks.

It won’t be long before major Republican donors will have their names prominently displayed at the entry gates of our pristine state parks. What better way to look like you care. WE Energy Park? MG&E State Trail? WRA State Park? Walmart Peninsula Park, AFP Park?

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp made the strangest case for what appears to be inevitable:
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources might sell naming rights to state parks to help them operate without tax support as proposed under Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp told lawmakers during a two-hour hearing Tuesday.

"So we could see ... state park brought to you by ATC?" Sen Jon Erpenbach asked Stepp. 

Stepp said. "We're not looking at that right now but we'll we talking about that." 
But it’s definitely coming.

Stepp repeated the standard Republican line...excuse; "we've got a budgeting problem here." If Republicans knew how to budget, and stopped handing out tax cuts that deplete state revenues, we wouldn't have a problem. Stepp believes corporate sponsorship won't change the the unique state park experience. How can anyone be this clueless or a sellout? And when the sponsorship changes, what happens, we change all the state maps? WKOW and WISC:

The DNR is also paying extra close attention to frustrated developers and devil-may-care hunters who haven’t seen a park or backyard they don’t want to exploit or kill something in. And the $2 to $4 proposed price increase? That's BS too:
Stepp also said DNR is looking at the idea of implementing market-based rates for state campgrounds, which would mean more popular spots would cost more.
Stepp would appear to have a free hand in rule making, despite never having been elected. I mentioned that because normally Republicans are always whining about that, and because Sen. Luther Olsen noticed the hypocrisy:
WSJ: The DNR creates rules that interpret state laws on pollution controls, wildlife management and other matters. Stepp said turning the Natural Resources Board into an advisory council would cut down the time it takes for the agency to establish new rules.

Stepp said home builders, realtors and some sportsmen groups have expressed frustration with board decisions that couldn't be appealed as they could be if elected officials had final say.

Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, questioned how investing the board's powers in the department secretary would improve the situation, since the Legislature would still need to pass a law to change an agency rule it didn't like and Stepp is appointed by the governor.

"When is your election?" Olsen asked.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Media catching on to Incidental Governor Walker.

Jason Stein and Patrick Marley stumbled on the obvious: Scott Walker likes to drop the bomb! 
jsonline: When White House hopeful Scott Walker talks to potential voters, he hawks himself as a leader who tells people what he will do and then does it. Walker never told voters beforehand about what would become his signature accomplishment — repealing most collective bargaining for most public workers. During the uproar over that unexpected legislation known as Act 10 and the recall and re-election campaigns that followed, Walker said he wouldn't let legislation affecting private-sector workers reach his desk. Now he says he'll sign it. 
There is no doubt this is an intentionally deceptive style that avoids days, weeks, even months of confrontation that might sour even the most devoted supporter. "We built that" has suddenly become "let's sell that:" 
During his 2014 race to secure a second term, Walker didn't campaign on some of the most sweeping changes in his current budget proposal: freezing a stewardship program for state lands; borrowing $1.3 billion for transportation; and cutting state universities by $300 million in exchange for unhooking them from many state laws.
Even a right wing hero from the past seems to have had enough: 
"What does a campaign mean when almost none of the major policy departures contained in the budget were proposed or debated during the yearlong exchange of policy ideas by Democrat Mary Burke and Republican Scott Walker?" business executive and former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor John Torinus of West Bend wrote on his blog last week.

"This is government by surprise ... Governor Walker's style of governance — throwing out broad-brush policy shifts without a lot of input beforehand — is especially relevant as he runs for president of the United States," said Torinus.
And Rep. Peter Barca stepped out of the Democratic shadows:
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) contended, "There's no question this is emblematic of his" approach. It's the exact opposite of what he's claiming.

Why is Scott Walker doing this to Wisconsin?

Scott Walker is stripping away from government, everything the state has built over a century or more. He isn't even asking us. Walker is fulfilling his twisted ideological dream of small government, all at the public's expense. Yes, it will cost us dearly. 

Cutting off the state's biggest money makers, the UW and state parks, seemed crazy and surreal. It just keeps getting worse. Now with the Legislative Audit Bureau’s breakdown of Walker’s proposed plans for Wisconsin, we're getting the sinking feeling there won't be anything left once he leaves office. But the price of everything will skyrocket. Walker apparently owed the private insurance industry a big favor:
WSJ: School districts and local governments would need to turn to private insurers or start their own fund if the Legislature adopts a provision in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget that does away with a state-managed property insurance program.

The fund covers everything from street sweepers, schools, salt sheds, dogs and horses for more than 970 municipalities and school districts across the state. Shutting it down would send many units of government to the private insurance market and almost certainly lead to higher costs, said city of Madison risk manager Eric Veum.

The proposal orders a halt to the Local Government Property Insurance Fund … The program is managed by the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance.
Walker's "small government" = Bigger Bills for taxpayers: The same way big business saves money with its own health insurance plans, the government created its own affordable property insurance system:
The original state property insurance fund began when “coverage was made available to counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, and library boards in 1911 and 1913, when it was difficult for these units of government to obtain reasonably priced coverage in the private sector.” A report by the Legislative Audit Bureau (found) the fund’s premiums for many years were at a level “with which the private market could not compete, resulting in the vast majority of local units of government participating in the fund.

Curt Witynski, the league assistant director, said the proposal to eliminate the fund may have come from two fields: “I am totally guessing here … there was a request from private insurance providers who thought it was unfair competition to sell property insurance.”

Tribute to Nimoy's Spock....

Liked this story a lot:
On Saturday, American astronaut Terry Virts tweeted this photo while aboard the International Space Station: The simple Vulcan salute, flashed back at earth from so many miles away, speaks to the impact that Nimoy and “Star Trek” had on American space exploration.

“Leonard Nimoy was an inspiration to multiple generations of engineers, scientists, astronauts, and other space explorers,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement. “As Mr. Spock, he made science and technology important to the story, while never failing to show, by example, that it is the people around us who matter most. NASA was fortunate to have him as a friend and a colleague.”

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Even the Club for Growth was frustrated by Walker word salad non-answers!!!

If you thought Scott Walker’s word salad non-answers were strictly geared to the mainstream media, you’d be wrong.

A Politico and CrooksandLiars piece recently documented how Walker’s carefully memorized non-answers didn't go over well with the Club for Growth, a major dark money contributor to Republican campaigns. After all, what’s to hide?
Frayda Levin, a member of the Club for Growth’s board of directors who was moderating a question-and-answer session, told Walker that he left donors unimpressed at a meeting in New York earlier this month. That private session came one day after another controversial Walker event where Rudy Giuliani declared that President Barack Obama does not love America.

“To be honest, the feedback was you were not prepared to speak about foreign policy. So can you tell us what you’re doing to prepare for foreign policy should you run for president?”

Walker seemed a little caught off guard.
He mentioned having breakfast with Henry Kissinger…was that enough to qualify? Walker was serious. Walker's bubble world handlers have filtered his view of himself: 
“That’s interesting because, actually, a number of columns were written that said just the opposite,” he said. “They said they were surprised by how well prepared we were to talk about foreign policy. So I don’t know who. Maybe it’s somebody different, but I read two or three different columns from New York publications that said just the opposite. They said they were surprised for a governor.”
It’s almost funny how the national media picked up on this Walker strategy when our own statewide media never mentioned it once. Liberal bloggers did, but as the media would say, we’re the dicredited “left.”

The Club for Growth deserves every frustrating moment after frustrating moment trying to nail Walker down on anything. If they haven’t noticed by now, Walker is a bomb dropper. A guy too afraid to debate his ultra-right wing philosophies in public, were voters might just begin to understand the consequences.

A few more funny word salad non-answer moments:
On domestic policy, Walker gave vague answers about whether the Dodd-Frank financial reform law should be amended or repealed, along with what changes he’d make to the tax code. The non-answer bothered the moderator, so she gave him another chance.  Are you just not that aware of what’s happening with Dodd-Frank?”

“Oh, no,” Walker said. “I understand the concern. My point is I’m going to lay out a whole plan not just on this but a whole series of things should I choose to be a candidate for president.”

Asked about what changes he’d make to the tax code, Walker promised “exceptionally detailed plans” down the road.