Friday, April 24, 2015

Wisconsin Idea still stumps Republicans hell bent on killing UW.

This morning former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager laid out the difference between universities and tech schools. For instance, tech school train you for one job. But as we've seen over the years, occupations come and go, whether through technology or trade policies that offshore jobs. Scott Walker and his plundering Republican pirates in the legislature either don't care or don't know about the long range problem some Americans will face when their profession disappears.

In March the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report that took a look at how many jobs younger baby boomers held between ages 18 to 48. They averaged 11.7 jobs. Although the term "jobs" doesn't necessarily mean a career change, common sense and life experience shows that that's a likely possibility.

Former republican Representative Michelle Litjens' disdain for what she perceives as "liberal indoctrination" is typical of conservatives who really don't get the Wisconsin Idea at all. Thus Walker's cavalier attempt to change it:
Litjens: "The UW Oshkosh for instance, as a freshmen, you take 4 different classes on recycling, and um sensitivity and religion and women's studies. And you know, as a parent who is going to be contributing towards education, are these classes that we want to either borrow money or pay for that are going help my child get a job in the future? There are stories like that uh that you hear as parents or you know of because your children are in the system, and you wonder if you're getting the best bang for your buck as a parent."
Here's Peg's great response on WPR's Joy Cardin Show (audio):

Republican Justice: Investigate, intimidate and silence Judges looking into right wing wrongdoing.

Nothing says scary authoritarian justice than the following investigation instigated by racial-profiler Arizona Sheriff JoeArpaio. Arpaio went after the judge overseeing a lawsuit against him. Just amazing:
Sheriff Joe Arpaio acknowledged Thursday that his office was behind a secret
investigation into the wife of the judge presiding over a racial-profiling lawsuit against the brash Arizona lawman known for his anti-immigration patrols. Judge Murray Snow began asking him questions, including whether Arpaio was investigating him and his family. "Are you aware that I've been investigated by anyone?" the judge asked.

Arpaio said he believed his former lawyer, Tim Casey, had hired a private investigator to investigate Snow's wife after she purportedly made a comment about the judge not wanting the sheriff to get re-elected in 2012. "We weren't investigating you," Arpaio told the judge. "We were investigating some comments that came to our attention.”
Whew, that’s better? The horror of someones wife talking about her husbands private political point of view. Remember, Republicans think they’re exempt from all the laws they don’t agree with:
The judge determined in 2013 that Arpaio's office systematically racially profiled Latinos during traffic stops and … (defied) orders to stop carrying out immigration patrols.

It was not immediately clear what consequences Arpaio could face over the private investigator. Federal law prohibits anyone from trying to attempt to intimidate or inappropriately influence a federal judge.
Just as shocking, this wasn't the first case of political intimidation:
Arpaio's office has a long history of investigating his opponents. Two elected county supervisors and a judge were among those investigated and charged with crimes in the past decade after feuding with the sheriff's office. The targets of the investigations said the allegations against them were trumped up. The failed investigations led to seven-figure settlements paid by the county to some targets of the investigations.

A county official have said sheriff's investigators went to the homes of 70 county and court staffers on nights and weekends in 2009 in an attempt to intimidate them.
And that’s the legal system we’re very likely to see in a Republican one party government. Who can forget Bush’s successful campaign to politicize federal prosecutors so they could drum up actions against suspected Democratic “voter fraud” cases nationwide. They also fired prosecutors for investigating fellow Republicans. This is a well known pattern many conservative voters don't seem to object to.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

GOP Spin: Walker's $1 sweaters vs Clinton's charity donations and speaking fees!

I'm fascinated by the intense right wing criticism over Hillary and Bill Clinton's lucrative speaking fees (free market?).

It's not like republicans didn't just try to elect a one percenter as president.

The Week's Paul Waldman picked up on this absurdity, examining Scott Walker's incessant rambling about cheap clothes at Kohl's, writing:
Scott Walker loves Kohl's. I mean loves Kohl's. Can't stop talking about the deals he gets there. He bragged so much about the time he used coupons and discounts to get a sweater at Kohl's for $1, Politifact did an analysis of the claim (verdict: "True").

Scott Walker isn't some high-falutin' elitist in fancy clothes — he's just like you, a regular fella who gets you and what you go through.
So forget about Walker's corporate handouts and overreaching tax cuts devastating the state's general revenues. Draconian spending cuts, overwhelmingly opposed by Wisconsinites, will always make supply side look like its working. Walker's just like any one of us who's future is guaranteed, as either president or a million dollar Koch Industry lobbyist. Not bad for a career politician with no technical training whatsoever. 

It's Hillary's "spread the wealth," help the poor, get the money out of politics message that makes her a nasty 1 percent elitist: 
Republicans are planning to paint Hillary Clinton as a representative of the 1 percent, with her high-flying lifestyle and lucrative speaking gigs estranging her from ordinary folks. If you put the argument explicitly — "It would be bad to have a president who has too much money" — it sounds ridiculous, particularly coming from Republicans who simultaneously argue that the pursuit of profit is almost a divine calling and wealth a sign of virtue.
This is not a Hillary endorsement, even though I'm encouraged by her move to the "left." I also think her charity is an easy area to create controversy. Despite the full and transparent disclosure of the charities donors, this same openness has helped foster the current controversy (which is why dark money is always preferred-it won't be used against you). In a nutshell:
Although the foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity and not required to reveal its donors, the Clinton Foundation has done so, revealing information about the size of their donations in ranges on its website, including these foreign governments: Money, even in philanthropy, is not a purely philanthropic endeavor. It buys access, which goes both ways. 

Truth be told, the messy charity involvements of John McCain, Rick Santorum, and even Newt Gingrich never figured into their presidential campaigns ... Unlike the small but compromised fundraising of these other politicians’ charities, the Clinton Foundation is big, with a quarter-billion in assets, a track record of having raised $2 billion, and influence with power brokers around the world. It is where difference of size really is difference of kind when it comes to the potential significance of the Clinton Foundation questions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In your face: Walker strikes a defiant tone on Earth Day with DNR Scientist, Education and Communication Staff Layoff Notices.

If you had any doubts about Scott Walker's disdain has for the citizens and traditions of this state, this should end that:
Raw Story: Thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) budget cuts, at least 57 employees in Wisconsin’s environmental agency were notified just in time for Wednesday’s Earth Day that they would probably be out of a job.

Journal Sentinel: The DNR's scientific staff conducts research on matters ranging from estimating the size of the state's deer herd to to studying the effects of aquatic invasive species. Work is paid for with state and federal funds.
But we know Walker wants to politicize the DNR for big money like the Koch's:
In an email, a DNR employee circulated her concerns to others in an email asking to "do what I dare not" and contact members of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, which took up other DNR funding on Wednesday. "Never mind that I, like most others targeted, are federally funded or funded from (a segregated account) and not general purpose revenue," the employee said. "Thus, this measure will have no effect on the state budget."

Amber Meyer Smith, director of programs and government relations for Clean Wisconsin, told the Journal Sentinel that the cuts were a “terrible idea.” “Any real natural resources protection is based on sound science. The more science you remove from the process, the more politics you add,” she explained.
And isn't that what big government republicans are all about?

Flip Flop: Republicans were for Hillary Clinton, before they were against her!!!

Republicans should be having a harder time trashing Hillary Clinton if the press did their job reminding them of all times they praised her as Secretary of State. I’m shocked no one’s brought this up yet. So let's take a look at before Hillary become Secretary of State:
CNN: Republicans praised the prospect of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday: Former Nixon and Ford Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Clinton would be an “outstanding” selection - “She is a lady of great intelligence, demonstrated enormous determination and would be an outstanding appointment."  Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn said “I think that she is well qualified. She does have a certain standing in the world that is required in order to be able to demand the respect from other countries to deal with issues that are going to be affecting not only us but other of our allies, our trading partners. And I think that she would be a well placed in that position.” Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona said “It seems to me she's got the experience, she's got the temperament for it," he said on Fox News Sunday. “She would be well-received around the world."
The praise she was given when she left the post, with a few other comments before and after:
Bipartisan praise for Hillary Clinton as she moves on: Kind words are coming from everyone - including Republicans. Rep. Paul Ryan lauded both Hillary and Bill Clinton on NBC's Meet the Press, arguing, "Look, if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles as Chief of Staff of the White House or president of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to "Fox News Sunday" to run interference on Hillary Clinton's behalf (about Benghazi) noting, "The deception around the Benghazi issue did not come from the State Department and on others...It was more of a White House political operative deception … not from the State Department."

Condoleezza Rice: “Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said Clinton has done a ‘fine’ job. The problem isn’t Hilary Clinton, who’s great.” The Hill: Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said he always had “productive’” meetings with Sec. Clinton when he was in the Cabinet. Jeb Bush: ‘These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.’” Gov. Mitch Daniels: “She is comprehensively experienced and has advantages that some of the other contenders would have to scramble to match in terms of her exposure to the world and… foreign policy.” Gov. Mike Huckabee described Sec. Clinton as “smart” and “tough.” ‘She’s a policy genius,’ he said. Jon Huntsman: I’ve worked around Hillary Clinton while serving as ambassador to China, and all I can tell you as a Republican is she’s pretty good. She’s smart. She’s hardworking. She – she relates to all kinds of people, and I was very, very impressed working with her as a Republican. Gov. Perry, on Sec. Clinton’s stance on Syria: “I think on that issue she was closer to being right than she has been on some other ones.” Gen. Petraeus, on Sec. Clinton: “She’d make a tremendous President.” Clinton was ‘extraordinarily resolute, determined and controlled’ in the wake of the attack. Sam Brownback: “Thank you, Madam Secretary. I appreciate the way you represent us around the world and your high energy levels.” Jim DeMint: “You've, I think, taken an international leadership role in, I think, raising the pressure levels in Iran.” Lindsey Graham: “I think she’s represented our nation well. She is extremely well respected throughout the world, handles herself in a very classy way and has a work ethic second to none.’” McCain: “She is a great representative of America, kind of a rock star status, visited more countries than any other secretary of state.” 

Wisconsin Poll warning to Walker and Republican plunderers; this is not what the public wanted!!!

The latest Wisconsin Survey, conducted by Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television and the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert College, again confirms how unhappy voters are with Scott Walker's bizarre scorched earth budget proposal. Despite not having anywhere to turn to make for the budget shortfalls, republican legislators are taking the heat and taking back many of the cuts. It will be interesting to see what magic they come up with to save their jobs.

Before you get to depressed at the tighter race shown in this poll, 44% for Hillary Clinton and 42% for Walker, take a look at the political makeup of the poll respondents:
The huge conservative response may be the reason why the Marquette Poll and PPP more accurately gauged public sentiment.

Here are the poll results I thought most interesting:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Just call him Roadkill Walker!!!

Imagine driving down the highway anywhere in Wisconsin and seeing rotting deer carcasses bloating in the searing summer heat. Bones bleached by the sun on the side of the road. 

This is not a dystopian scene snatched out of a novel, it’s Scott Walker’s latest budgetary horror inflicted on our state. 

Think those guys from “Airplane” can make a tourism ad around Walker's nauseating vision? Who knows, maybe a 21st century version of the Black Death can start right here in the Badger state.

WKOW broke this story, and they were promoting it all night before the 10 o'clock report:

Wow, spending cuts are one thing, but abandoning the care and upkeep of our state is a whole different I think you'll find twisted like a pretzel or flattened like a pancake in the middle of the road.

Really, Walker thought this was a good idea, one he could ride right into the White House:
The Official State Smell?
Governor Scott Walker doesn't want the state to pay to remove deer carcasses along state highways, which means counties could have to foot the bill. Last year the DNR removed nearly 24,000 deer carcasses from state highways across Wisconsin.

The Governor's proposed budget eliminates$700,000 a year for the DNR to remove the carcasses statewide. Under the proposal, responsibility for clearing the deer would fall to whatever government agency is in charge of the roadway. Or they may be left uncollected. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau cautions, "dead and decaying deer on the roadside are unsightly ad can dampen Wisconsin's reputation as a tourist destination."

Salon's Joan Walsh breaks down Scott Walker's "everyman" hoax.

I couldn't resist recapping a few honest comments from Salon’s Joan Walsh:

This weekend we learned that Scott Walker hopes his “Everyman” shtick will obscure the fact that, in the words of Esquire’s Charlie Pierce, he was “hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin.” Also this weekend came the news that Walker’s administration admitted it had overbilled two Wisconsin family planning clinics by 93 percent – or at least $3.2 million. The move was so blatantly ideological that the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the change “raised more questions than it answered.” Longtime Wisconsin progressive activist and blogger James Rowen compares Walker’s purported billing “mistake” to an episode earlier this year, in which he falsely blamed ugly changes to the state’s higher education mandate on a “drafting error” – when they were clearly ordered by his underlings.

This weekend also brought the news that the budget cuts to the University of Wisconsin system that were approved (after the language changes were reversed) will cost UW-Madison 400 jobs. That translates to 320 fewer courses offered in 2016-2017, and 9,000 students missing classes, likely resulting in students taking more time to get their degrees. 

One Republican success story: We all need guns now to protect ourselves from a violent armed society, part 1.

When republicans didn't like how businesses were harmed by city voters that passed paid sick leave laws, they jumped into action and banned local regulations statewide. Problem solved.

When republicans saw a shocking rise in Milwaukee residents getting murdered on the streets they…said it was Milwaukee’s problem. Priorities. 

And that’s one of the more deadly ways republicans run state government.

After 3 years of declining homicide rates, the avalanche of lax gun laws and the shifting social attitudes about our new gun culture are now eating away at our social fabric. The effects of change are slow but predictable.

Watch in amazement as Rep Jim Steineke feigned surprise by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s accusation that recently passed gun laws are taking their toll. He asked, what laws? Really, Rep. Steineke, you can’t point to one law passed in the last 4 years that may have caused this surge in gun violence?

Here's a little help for Steineke, who didn't do himself any favors by asking "What particular law did we pass that led to this increase in gun violence? I can't think of one possible bill that we passed over the last four years that has anything to do with the increase in violence." Of course republicans are asking for irrefutable proof there's a connection, like supply side economics creating high wage jobs...okay, maybe that's not a good example.
1. How about our more lenient Deadly Force/Castle/Stand Your Ground Law, where we can now settle arguments more permanently.

2. Maybe Rep. Steineke doesn’t remember when our gun loving Republican bullies in the legislature rammed open carry down our throats. Hey, who would have thought road rage would be made so much easier by allowing guns to be openly carried in our vehicles? Silly us.

3. Oh, and now republicans are choosing to get rid of a common sense 48 hour cooling off period so crimes of passion and social disagreements are guaranteed to increase and end badly.

4. And it's what republicans didn't do, like closing the gun show and personal gun sales loophole.
Maybe someday we'll have real discussion over the societal change brought about by arming everyday citizens. It's amazing we let a small portion of our society, spurred on by an activist conservative Supreme Courts misreading of the 2nd Amendment, make guns just another hand held devise, not unlike a smart phone, that we'll simply start using without even thinking.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hey nation, Walker's increasing poverty in Wisconsin.

My head still hurts when I think of Scott Walker's excuse for not raising the minimum wage, and I'm paraphrasing, "We don't need to raise the minimum wage, we need to help people get better paying jobs."

Magical thinking is never helpful, and pretending there aren't any minimum wage jobs that need pay hike is irresponsible.

But destroying union wages and benefits, passing right-to-work, pushing the end of prevailing wages and a jobs plan that attacks any business not in the good graces of the republican party, isn't exactly putting food on the table, fattening our wallets or making families feel more secure.

Walker's policies are just now taking their toll:
jsonline: Despite modest improvement in employment, poverty rose slightly in Wisconsin between 2012 and 2013, according to a study released Tuesday by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The Wisconsin Poverty Measure rose from 10.2% in 2012 to 10.9% in 2013, around 2.5 percentage points below the official poverty rate.

"We thought the economy was getting better because we saw more jobs and we were surprised when we saw poverty go up," said Julia Isaacs, a report author and senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute. The Wisconsin Poverty Measure accounts for family income and such benefits as food assistance and refundable tax credits.
And guess who ran on the deception things were getting better? The same guy I quoted above, Scott Walker:
As jobs were added in 2012, the poverty rate declined she said. In 2013, there were still more jobs added but poverty increased. "Looking more closely, while jobs are going up in Wisconsin, a lot of the growth is in jobs in low-wage occupations," she said.

Under the Wisconsin Poverty Measure, the child poverty rate increased slightly from 11% in 2012 to 11.8% in 2013, while the elderly poverty rate rose from 6.2% in 2012 to 9% in 2013.

Scott Walker, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker, Koch Brothers, Scott Walker...

...Koch brothers, Scott Walker, Koch brothers, Scott Walker!!!

This used to be a sarcastic joke directed at liberals. "Stand with Walker" drones were always chiding them for never failing to bring up, and blame, the Koch's for everything. Well guess what, the jokes on them now.
Charles G. and David H. Koch, the influential and big-spending conservative donors, appear to have a favorite in the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
Scott Walker, Koch brothers, Scott Walker, Koch brothers, is getting a lot of media attention, including this from All in with Chris Hayes. Sam Seder found it funny how Republican candidates are openly pairing up with millionaires/billionaires in their quest for the White House.

Scott Walker, Koch brothers, Scott Walker, Koch brothers wanted to clarify something once this news hit the fan:
David Koch afterward reached out to the Observer to clarify that he had not yet selected which candidate he and his brother would back.

“While I think Governor Walker is terrific, let me be clear, I am not endorsing or supporting any candidate for president at this point in time,” Mr. Koch told the Observer.
UPDATE: Contradicting the above comment by David Koch and reports that they're steering clear of spending any money on the GOP primary:
Politico: Charles and David Koch are considering throwing their massive wealth into the Republican presidential primary for the first time … In another surprise, a top Koch aide revealed to POLITICO that Jeb Bush will be given a chance to audition for the brothers’ support, despite initial skepticism about him at the top of the Kochs’ growing political behemoth.

Walker, Wisconsin's Absentee Landlord?

Digging deep to sound as petty as Scott Walker and his legislative plundering pirates, I thought this fit the bill. Rain hit the entire state (we might need more, but what the heck):

So is Walker still paying attention to Wisconsin, or just calling it in? You be the judge from this little tidbit:
According to the DNR's website Monday fire danger was considered low in every Wisconsin county.

Walker's office said in a news release announcing the declaration, however, that much of the state has experienced abnormally dry weather that's expected to continue through May.
It also appears Walker spent very little time thinking about his cobbled together mistake filled budget. He can't even get that right, as State Sen. Jon Erpenbach explained below on Capitol City Sunday. Struggling to save Walker's credibility, get a load of Dale Kooyenga's embarrassing comment about cranberries and motorcycles:

Walker's Free Sweaters, Shirts and Shorts from Kohl's bought with Taxpayer Handouts to Company.

Leave it to Bloomberg Business to take a more critical look at Scott Walker's claims of frugality and almost laughable lie, “I believe people create jobs, not the government.” The way he's doled out corporate welfare checks from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, without having them pee in cup, is an open admission he's just bullshitting us.

Like the title above states, Walker's closet full of free sweaters are compliments of another handout using taxpayer money:
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker can’t stop talking about Kohl’s as he crisscrosses the U.S. before a likely presidential run. “The next thing you know, they’re paying me to buy that shirt,” Walker told an audience Saturday evening in New Hampshire.

What Walker doesn't mention is his biggest interaction with the third-largest U.S. department store chain: a state incentive package worth as much as $62.5 million. The credits, offered in 2012 when there was a chance the company would relocate to another state, arrived despite Walker’s limited-government philosophy. “I believe people create jobs, not the government,” Walker said in that same New Hampshire speech.

As of February 2014, Kohl’s had … received about $8.8 million in credits. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Media okay with Republican schemes to play off middle-class fears and insecurity, yet blame Democrats for not being real.

The media continues to hold each party to completely different standards, giving the edge and advantage to Republicans who can just make things up on the fly. 

While Democrats are expected to explain their positions and be like normal Americans everywhere, republicans are allowed to be schemers, hoping to play off the inner fears of the public.

These two headlines and picture tell the story, and prove I'm not making it up. I see this all the time:

It’s fascinating to watch republicans use their economic failings as weapons against Democrats by shifting the blame. For instance their own deregulation nightmare…the Great Recession:
Republican presidential candidates are trying tap into a lingering sense of insecurity among Americans seven years after the global financial crisis.
Their refusal to raise the minimum wage, even suggesting we get rid of it altogether:
And some are striking a sympathetic tone with lower-income workers…
Praise from GOP marketing word smith and spin-meister Frank Luntz for playing up the negative effects of the GOP’s free market failure - the Great Recession:
Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Bush and other contenders are taking the right tack. “We do not have the full-time jobs we once had. We do not have the upwardly mobile economy that we once had. The public is still afraid that we are one bump in the road away from a serious recession.”
Stupidly pointing out the drop in new business formation that started, and I’m not kidding, during the Reagan years. They do know we can hear them say these things?
Bush would like to see the economy hum at closer to 4 percent and frequently points out that the rate of new business formation has dropped steadily since the 1980s and that business deaths now eclipse starts.
Cry alligator tears over all the massive corporate tax cuts they passed out and continue to this day:
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry contended that it was unfair that “large corporations don’t pay taxes but single moms working two jobs do.”
Many in the comments section were also in complete disbelief:
“More of those I've heard want to eliminate or not raise the minimum wage, privatize (read, "make inoperative") Social Security, get us into more expensive (in both money and the lives of our young soldiers) wars, raise the age for retirement, and cut funding for public schools than want to do ANYTHING for anyone outside the 1%.”

“Once in office we are their target for scorn, ridicule and as a source of money that they can take from us to give to the military/industrial complex and their plutocrat friends.”

“Republican "trickle on" theory didn't work, giving big business massive tax breaks didn't work, cutting working American's benefits and retirements didn't work nor did removing regulations that resulted in the meltdown in real estate and loansharking. However, a small percentage of the population has made enormous gains due to their policies.”

Huckabee rips Ryan and other Republicans for trying to break the trust between government and the people, defends Social Security and Medicare

Mike Huckabee has certainly changed his tune since August of 2012. 

But I don't care what got him to change his opinion about Medicare and Social Security, as long as his message gets out to other republican voters who normally march in lockstep to the party edicts. 

And Democrats, take a hint at how Huckabee frames his defense of our social safety nets, because it kicks ass. Take it, quote him and get the message out. The Weekly Standard:
All it took was a kiss...?
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is making a big break with the Republican party on the issue of entitlement reform. "I don't know why Republicans want to insult Americans by pretending they don't understand what their Social Security program and Medicare program is," Huckabee said in response to a question about Christie's proposal to gradually raise the retirement age and implement a means test. 

Huckabee said: "Not just no, it's you-know-what no ... what we are really embracing at that point is we are embracing a government that lied to its people--that took money from its people under one pretense and then took it away at the time when they started wanting to actually get what they have paid for all these years."

Huckabee also said he wouldn't sign congressman Paul Ryan's plan to reform Medicare for Americans who are 55 years old and younger ... "that I'd be paying in and suddenly you're telling me they're going to be changing the rules for you here."

Paul Ryan and other advocates of Medicare reform have argued government will ratchet up medical rationing of care for Medicare recipients, but Huckabee dismissed such concerns, saying that "all medical care is rationed."

Huckabee said Republican proposals to reform entitlements are "disastrous, not only politically but I think they be disastrous in terms of further breaking the trust between the government and its people."

Huckabee said this morning that the only entitlement reforms he would support would be giving retirees the option to take a lump-sum cash payment upon retirement and changing the existing programs for people who are just now entering the workforce. 

Walker's "Open for Business" should be changed to "Under New Ownership!!!"

So where in the world did big business get the idea they can do almost anything they want in Wisconsin? You don't think it came from the not so subtle messages ballyhoo'd by Scott Walker and his band of plundering pirates in the legislature?

We're beyond warning signs at this point. The following jaw dropping ad demonstrates the actual corrupting influence of money; a former state commerce secretary, now a consultant, is selling his companies lobbying expertise to businesses trying to influence legislation. And if that doesn't work, at least take their case to the state supreme court:

At least Capitol Consultants is upfront about their intentions. 

A business group in Milwaukee, trying to get off the hook for converting a coal plant to natural gas (trying to get regular consumers to pay instead), is getting just what they want. And conservative "stand with Walker" voters and ratepayers will fork over more of their hard earned cash to big energy. jsonline:
Milwaukee's primary business booster group is pushing state lawmakers to cut funding for the Citizens Utility Board, a move that would cripple the group that represents consumers when utilities like We Energies seek state approval for rate increases.

Spearheaded by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce … If approved by the Legislature, it would eliminate a grant that provides $300,000 a year in utility ratepayer dollars to CUB, which was created by state law more than 35 years ago.

Last year alone, CUB — which has a total budget of $771,580 — helped persuade the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to reduce utilities' initial rate proposals enough to save customers a total of $161 millionSo this cut would represent savings of less than a penny for every $100 that electric customers pay. "We are truly a bargain," said Kira Loehr, CUB's executive director and general counsel. "There is no other state agency or group in the country that does what we do on the budget we have."
Just so you weren't confused over the intentions of the MMAC big business partners:
The change would also limit funding for CUB and other groups to hire expert witnesses in utility casesThe Republican-dominated finance committee adopted on a 12-4 party-line vote … (saying) they can't see why ratepayers should fund advocacy groups...
...ah, because they saved ratepayers $161 million? What am I missing in this debate? And we as ratepayers have been taking it in shorts for years in Wisconsin, even with the help of CUB:
The move to cut funding for CUB and other groups that advocate at the PSC comes at a time when the state's utility rates have risen faster than the rate of inflation and rank second-highest in the Midwest. 

Is Walker "arguably" the best Republican candidate?

I love it how petty political partisan republicans convulse over the little stuff and phony outrage.

The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes got the ball rolling with his tweet below, spurring on a funny response I just had to pass along to you here. Our word salad non-answer specialist Scott Walker gets justifiably picked apart:

After Wisconsin, Walker looking to Divide U.S. and World with "Unitary Executive" Powers.

History is filled with stories of great leaders who came at just the right time to wreak havoc and destruction for their countries and the world. Are we in such a time?

Wisconsin went from blue, to purple, to deep throbbing red in a very short time under Scott Walker. Throw in a abiding rubber stamp from an overwhelmingly republican legislature, and you've got the makings of "bold" leader who can, not surprisingly, get things done. For republicans, the failure of individual policies isn't as important as having their great party leader in power.

What I'm saying is this; Walker's style of politics is coming at the right time for him and our ideologically divided nation. The mood of partisan politics is everywhere, especially in D.C.. So it's not odd to think this authoritarian and dictatorial little coward may just have a chance at becoming president after all.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank offered up the research that explains what is happening:
The ultimate Unitary Executive!!?
It has long been agreed that race is the deepest divide in American society. But that is no longer true, say Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, the academics who led the study. Using a variety of social science methods (for example, having study participants review résumés of people that make both their race and party affiliation clear), they document that “the level of partisan animus in the American public exceeds racial hostility.”

Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other divides we typically think of — and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political behaviors. Americans increasingly live in neighborhoods with like-minded partisans, marry fellow partisans and disapprove of their children marrying mates from the other party, and they are more likely to choose partners based on partisanship than physical or personality attributes.

“Unlike race,  there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents,” they conclude. “If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.” The vast majority of self-described independents actually lean toward one party or the other, and they are often even more partisan in their views than those who identify themselves with a party.

Also of note is that the partisan polarization occurs even though Americans aren't all that split on policies or ideology. Their partisanship is more tribal than anything — the result of an ill-informed electorate. Westwood said, “However, most people understand their side is good and the opposing side is bad, so it’s much easier for them to form these emotional opinions of political parties.”

This leads to a grim conclusion: The problem with politics isn't Washington but the electorate. 

Republicans wrong on Term Limits and Balanced Budget Amendment.

If you ask conservatives who regularly read this site and other more liberal bloggers, you'd think we were partisan or something. But really, this and other sites continue to suggest solutions, instead of just whining about the problem.

Two guys who have been right on so many levels, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, took a look at a few "solutions" from the right will only make things worse. There take on "term limits" is the one that stands out. Dumb Ron Johnson recently said in an interview that Mitt Romney told him how he would only be president one term, get what he wanted done, and move on. That didn't sit well with me, and Mann and Ornstein's trashing of term limits explains why:
We’ve all heard the laments — we’ve made some of them ourselves — that Washington is broken. Here are (some) much-praised solutions we should avoid:
Term limits will save us: Term limits, we’re told, would replace them with citizen-lawmakers who cared less about reelection and more about acting on behalf of their fellow citizens — thus restoring Congress to its intended role as the citadel of deliberative democracy.

Does it work? Instead of channeling ambition in the right, public-interest direction, term limits have the opposite effect: New lawmakers immediately begin planning for ways to reach the next level, or to find lucrative lobbying jobs when they are term-limited out. They have no incentive to do things for the long-term and no regard for maintaining their own institutions. With the loss of expertise among senior lawmakers, power devolves to permanent staff members and to lobbyists.
The magic of a Balanced Budget Amendment:
Another hardy perennial … After all, 49 states have such an amendment in their constitutions, so why not Washington?
In fact, the states’ balanced budgets are the best reason to avoid one at the federal level. When a downturn occurs, basic economic theory tells us that we need “counter-cyclical” policies to inject adrenaline into a fatigued economy — meaning more government spending and/or lower taxes. States do the opposite: A downturn means less revenue and more demands from unemployed residents … The fiscal drag from states in the recent Great Recession amounted to $800 billion, which the Obama administration’s stimulus plan barely offset. A federal balanced-budget amendment would only have aggravated the downturn — the economic equivalent of bleeding an anemic patient.

Maintaining fiscal flexibility is critical in the American political system, particularly in a globalized economy where less and less of our destiny is under our control. And the experience of the 1990s demonstrates that the White House and Congress together can take the steps needed to balance the budget under existing rules.