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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Republican Nuke Plan gives them 20 year break from doing anything at all.

Big energies corporate lobbyists have Republicans coming and going. 

Republicans now love clean energy...but only if it's nuclear and set some 20 years in the future.  

Sadly conservatives voters don't seem to be paying attention, or they would see how they're being manipulated into coughing up more money to fill big energies pockets. 

Republicans are clambering for clean energy, namely, nuclear power. Never mind that the Kewaunee plant recently closed because it wasn't profitable enough for potential buyers. Republicans want to start building nuke plants again, despite the reality.   

Nationally they're trying to repeal the subsidies to solar and wind, while leaving big oils handouts in place. Spinning yet?

Wisconsin Republicans have vilified wind and solar energy by first tying it to the "pseudoscientific threat" of climate change, a tea party hot button. Add to that all the attempts to over regulate and discourage alternative sources of energy in the state. The Republican stacked PSC is also increasing customer base rates to make consumer upgrades to solar and wind cost prohibitive.

But they love clean nuclear power, dontcha know. Forget about the 15 to 20 year startup time, costly initial building costs and storage of radioactive waste material. Oh and then there's the publically financed catastrophic insurance. 

In a head spinning move, clean nuke power supporter Scott Walker even joined 23 others states in a federal lawsuit against the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Scott Walker said the Clean Power Plan would “increase costs and prevent the construction of future power plants producing reliable, affordable electricity for our state." Huh? 

Stepping briefly out of his job as attorney general, Brad Schimel justified the lawsuit with his best scientific opinion: "(It would) require new plants to use expensive and unproven technology."  

On a federal level, "Republicans in Congress moved to block (Obama's) plan to force steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.

Two things are clear; Republicans don't like energy solutions touched by Democratic hands, and costly big government Republican favorites from the past that have no chance of happening are designed to leave our current GOP free to do nothing.  

Walker's ally in Crime, the Rogue Conservative Activist Supreme Court, now freely legislating from the bench!!!

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is officially just another political arm of the most powerful crooked governor the state has ever seen, Scott Walker. His protection racketeers, ass kisser AG Brad Schimel and the shameless majority of conservative activists on the Supreme Court, are doing everything they can to shield Walker from prosecution.

As I was reading this, I couldn't help but think of this recent quote, "The ... government has grown arrogant, condescending and outright paternalistic." Oddly, that was Paul Ryan describing Democrats, in a moments of breathtaking projection.

Be amazed. From PRWatch:

Republicans replaced Abrahamson as chief justice with Roggensack.
In "Extraordinary" Move, WI Supreme Court Fires Scott Walker Prosecutor to Stave-Off SCOTUS Review.

"What a mess this court has wrought!" Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson declared in the latest chapter in the state's John Doe legal saga.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court's majority contorted itself to find a new way to protect both Scott Walker and the Court's biggest supporters--not to mention itself--following its decision in July rewriting the state's limits on money in politics and ending the "John Doe" investigation into Walker's campaign coordinating with dark money groups.

Wednesday's ruling was supposed to be a straightforward decision on a motion to reconsider, in light of additional evidence, that Walker and his allies had violated the campaign finance laws that the Court upheld in July. The Court denied that motion, but then (in a lengthy unsigned opinion) went further, rewriting its July decision to fire the Republican Special Prosecutor who had led the investigation, Francis Schmitz, making it harder for him to challenge the justices' conflicts-of-interest by appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those conflicts arise from the fact that the same groups that coordinated with Walker's campaign were among the majority's biggest financial supporters, raising concerns under U.S. Supreme Court precedent about whether the justices should have heard the case at all.

"The miscalculation I made in this investigation was underestimating the power and influence special interest groups have in Wisconsin politics," said Schmitz, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former counter-terrorism prosecutor. "My career in the military and as a federal prosecutor fighting violent criminals and terrorists did not fully prepare me for the tactics employed by these special interest groups." 

Wednesday's decision was "extraordinary," said Janine Geske, respected former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who now teaches at Marquette Law School. "To somehow remove the lawyer representing one of the parties after the opinion [has been issued] is extraordinary," she told the Center for Media and Democracy.

"It puts the case in a very odd situation, removing counsel so he cannot file an appeal," Geske said, with no clarity for how other prosecutors might be able to intervene.

"This extraordinary action is, as far as I can determine, unprecedented and could have the effect of insulating the Court's decision from further review," said Susan Crawford, an attorney at Cullen Weston Pines & Bach. "The Court, in terminating the special prosecutor's appointment immediately, knew that its decision would compromise the ability of the special prosecutor--the sole party representing the prosecution—to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court." 
It also looks like money...big surprise, buys just enough votes to turn an election in the states highest court:
The Court rewriting its decision and firing Schmitz might be viewed not only as the majority protecting their biggest financial supporters and Scott Walker, but also as an effort to protect themselves. That's because the Court's four-justice majority was elected to the bench with at least $10 million in spending from precisely the same groups accused of coordinating with Walker, and precisely the same groups that were under investigation in the John Doe. 

Those groups, Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, have been the dominant spenders on Wisconsin Supreme Court races in recent years, in most cases outspending the justices themselves. In 2011, the groups and their offshoots together spent $3.7 million supporting Justice David Prosser, five times as much as Prosser's own campaign, in an election decided by a mere 7,000 votes. Three years before, WMC's spending in support of Justice Michael Gableman had come in at five-and-a-half times what Gableman's own campaign spent, and WiCFG also surpassed the Gableman campaign's spending, in a race he won by 20,000 votes.

In other words, if it weren't for the millions spent by WiCFG and WMC, Justices Gableman and Prosser might not be on the bench at all. Schmitz specifically asked the two to step aside in light of this apparent conflict-of-interest but declined.

By rescinding Schmitz' appointment as Special Prosecutor, it makes it much harder for him to challenge the justices' conflicts-of-interest before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oh, then there's using hearsay and anecdotal right wing bullshit in the high courts decision:
The majority's "rationale simply seems invented to justify the pre-ordained desired result," Justice Abrahamson wrote in dissent. Abrahamson's dissent noted that, in July, "The majority opinion and Justice Ziegler's concurrence to the majority opinion relied on facts that were not in the record, citing blogs and media reports as authoritative sources on how the search warrants were executed." The justices' unquestioning endorsement of right-wing bloggers' unsubstantiated claims about unconstitutional "pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids" were repeated in lawsuits by groups tied to the investigation--and subsequently undermined by actual evidence.

Those allegations fell apart after prosecutors released a recording of the 2011 search, which showed a cordial and professional investigation. This matters, Abrahamson noted, because prosecutors are still being sued by the groups and individuals under investigation. The factual record in the John Doe case is necessary so prosecutors can mount a defense based on facts rather than the heated rhetoric advanced by the blogs and media outlets tied to the groups under investigation. But the prosecutors have been barred from intervening in the case--but the Court has gone out of its way to keep most filings secret. Abrahamson wrote, "Placing filings under seal is the exception to the rule. In the face of virtually total secrecy of filings since July 16, 2015, the public cannot understand the basis for the four justices' decisions," noting that the sealings "raises significant First Amendment, state constitutional, statutory, and common law issues, and may be challenged as erroneous." "Why the secrecy?," she aske

Friday, December 4, 2015

Republicans can't be allowed to ignore gun chaos!!!

The terrorist attack in California was all the Republicans needed to run off the cliff, and flip into panicky chaos. I put together the following recent comments that are without a doubt lunatics rantings.



Still not over the top enough for you? Try this Cruz ad:



Democrats and the news media continue to play along right wing crazy talk declaring that nothing can be done, killers will be killers, people will still get guns, and background checks aren't 100% perfect. That's leadership? What it tells me is that these freeloading Republicans are using the term "small government" as a convenient excuse to do nothing.

Don't be surprised when they use the same line to deal with everything from environmental protection to health care, feeding the idea that regulation is a waste of time.

But the talk of having an armed citizens police force is also based on a flawed premise. I remember the panicky call from my conservative friend in Milwaukee after he saw the lunkheads in his concealed carry class.

The following video report exposes how bad gun owners will be with their weapons, even after police training. And without the retraining that builds "muscle memory" (that overtakes and controls the shaking and adrenaline rush), gun owners revert back to their untrained state. From 2010:
The controlled study documented in these videos show that concealed carry permit holders are fooling themselves if they think they will be able to react effectively to armed aggressors. Most CCW holders won't even be able to un-holster their gun. They will more likely be killed themselves or kill innocent bystanders than stop the aggressor. For more details, see "Unintended Consequences: Pro-Handgun Experts Prove That Handguns Are a Dangerous Choice for Self-Defense." CCW permit holders don't protect innocent people. They kill them. http://www.vpc.org/studies/unincont.htm.`

Under Walker, fixed rate energy increases skyrocketing burning cheap coal. So why is he suing the EPA?

Electric rates are going up again, even as the state continues to use "cheap" fossil fuels. You won't hear Scott Walker complain about the price hike or the strain that this will have on fixed income seniors or customers thinking about installing solar panels. 

Your best friend Coal.
All of this flies in the face of the Republican governors lawsuit against the EPA; the governors claim electric bills will actually be going up if we move away from cheap coal. Really?

Then why did this just happen:
Major Rate Increase For Xcel Energy Customers Gets State Approval: Fixed Rates Will Go Up 75 Percent On Electric Bills In Western Wisconsin ... the utility's customers in western Wisconsin will begin paying $14 per month in fixed charges, instead of the $8 per month ...  
But this is a good rate increase because we're burning coal yet. 

And get ready to hear this ridiculous reason for the rate increases using cheap coal, over and over. Just wondering, why hasn’t this been an issue before? Just saying...
Don Reck, regional vice president of rates and regulatory affairs for Xcel, said the increased fixed charge will better reflect the actual costs to provide energy, such as materials and maintenance. "The cost of poles and wires and meters to provide electric service don't vary based on the amount of usage that a customer has," Reck said.
How much more would Obama's new EPA standards raise rates: I recently wrote this: "In fact, Walker whined that electric bills could jump as much as 29% if the EPA rules go into affect. Yet the PSC raised the fixed rate charge for electricity by more the 80% using good old dirty coal.

What just happened in Western Wisconsin is on top of this rate increase a few weeks ago:
UPDATE- Saturday: The rate increase was reduced, and that's a good thing.
Rates for customers of a Green Bay electric utility are on track to drop in 2016, but the customer fixed charge will rise by $2 a month ... Customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. will pay a fixed charge of $21 a month next year, after the state Public Service Commission trimmed the utility's request to raise the fixed charge to $25. The utility had raised the fixed charge by more than 80% in January, to $19 a month from $10.40 a month.

Walker can't govern without fabrications and lies.

Is there anyway to understand the incredible tolerance level of "Stand with Walker" supporters. Even after finding out time and time again he has either lied or grossly exaggerated "problems" to justify policy changes, they still take him seriously. Let's call it blind allegiance.

Let’s start with the latest discovery. JS-Marley and Stein:
Speaking to GOP lawmakers in September, Walker said that state rules needed to be changed to make clear that employees … could be fired for having sex on state property. He told them about the case and encouraged Republicans to "tell stories like this" to show the public changes were needed … for overhauling Wisconsin's long-standing civil service system.

There was "an instance where two state employees — it's starting to sound like a soap opera here — where two state employees literally were having sex in a number of state facilities, including a conference room, and they couldn't terminate them," Walker said on Sept. 24.

In fact, no one tried to terminate the employees, suspend them, or do anything beyond giving them letters of reprimand, Railroad Commissioner Jeff Plale said Thursday ... a report found no proof that the couple violated the workplace sexual harassment policy with respect to other employees.
What a whopper.

Here are a couple of examples that never quite justify a complete overhaul of the civil service system, starting with a fairness issue:
Supporters chow down on Walker red meat
Walker cited other cases that day to justify overhauling Wisconsin's more than century-old civil service system, including one involving a Shawano probation and parole officer who was fired in 2004 for viewing pornography on his work computer for more than five hours a day for months. An arbitrator reinstated the man to his job in 2005 after finding that the Department of Corrections had given others light punishments for misusing state computers.

Another example used by Walker included a short-order cook who scored so well on a civil service exam for a financial examiner job at the Department of Financial Institutions that he had to be given an interview, even though those in charge of the hiring judged him as clearly unqualified … Cullen Werwie, the administration spokesman, said that there are no records of the hiring and that state officials relied on their memories when describing it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rodgers' Hail Mary...

Here's an Instagram look at Aaron Rodgers breathtaking throw:
If you thought you fully appreciated just how crazy Aaron Rodgers' hail-mary throw was at the end of the Green Bay Packers' win over the Detroit Lions, we bet you'll gain an even greater appreciation for it after seeing this video, taken from the stands along the sideline. This is probably the best video we've found that shows the true height of Aaron Rodgers' bomb to the end zone. As you can see, the ball nearly hits one of the beams that support the Ford Field roof.


Check out the height and distance as illustrated by the post game show announcers with the yellow line....you'll be redirected to Youtube to see the coverage.



Here's a screen capture of the football's arc....



Walker Economy Flops, Wisconsin in Decline: wages down, higher paying jobs disappear!!!

After 5 years, Scott Walker's big talk about bringing in higher paying jobs instead of committing to a minimum wage hike was a miserable failure.

But then so was his similar plan as a presidential candidate:
Roll back living wage, minimum wage, prevailing wage, equal pay: Walker campaigned against raising the minimum wage. “It is a job-killing agenda,” he said. “It’s done for political expediency. It’s a cheap headline.”
Wrong, and wrong again:
Walker: "The left claims that they're for American workers and they've just got really lame ideas — things like the minimum wage. Instead of focusing on that, we need to talk about how we get people ... the careers that pay far more than the minimum wage."


Who's now got the track record proving how lame his own ideas were? This is all on Scott Walker, and no one else. JS:
Median household income fell by a significant margin in two-thirds of Wisconsin counties from 2009 to 2014, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The trend mirrors the nation, which saw median income decline by 7.5% to $53,482, after adjusting for inflation.

"We've taken a definite step downward," said Tim Smeeding, professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Things don't look good."
Where are the jobs paying two or three times the minimum wage?

Jobs in which a person without a college education could earn a middle-class wage disappeared only to be replaced by mostly low-wage positions. The sagging incomes show a middle class that is struggling.
Rural conservative true believers got a Scott Walker shocker:
The rural areas of the state saw some of the steepest declines in income, according to comparisons of the 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 American Community Survey figures.
Now that we've made getting food stamps harder and health care out of reach: 
Falling incomes translate into increased poverty down the line. In Milwaukee County, the percentage of people living in poverty increased by 3.9 points to 21.9%. More than half of the counties in the state saw increases in the portions of people living in poverty.
 For a detailed look at all this, check out Jake's Economic TA Funhouse! 

The Right to Bear Arms gets the GOP's Abortion Rights treatment.

The Constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion.

Another "right" legislated by conservative activist Justices gave everybody the right to bear arms.

Both rights are not treated the same by Republicans. And so we got this...


To get a gun, prospective purchasers will experience a slight inconvenience to exercise that right: 
Democratic Representative Stacey Newman has had enough of this nonsense, and has filed a bill, H.B. 1397, that would make it as difficult to get a gun as it is to have an abortion in the Show Me State:
A licensed firearm dealer shall orally inform the purchaser of a firearm the following, and reduce it to writing:

The name and license number of the licensed firearm dealer;

The immediate and long-term medical risks associated with firearms, along with medical descriptions and photographs of fatal firearm injuries, as collected by emergency pediatric medical professionals, law enforcement, and prosecutors’ offices;

Alternatives to purchasing a firearm, which shall include materials about peaceful and nonviolent conflict resolution.

Prior to any firearm purchase in this state, a prospective firearm purchaser shall, at least seventy-two hours prior to the initial request to purchase a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer located at least one hundred twenty miles from such purchaser’s legal residence, confer and discuss with a licensed physician the indicators and contraindicators and risk factors, including any physical, psychological, or situational factors, that may arise with the proposed firearm purchase.

Such physician shall then evaluate the prospective firearm purchaser for such indicators and contraindicators and risk factors and determine if such firearm purchase would increase such purchaser’s risk of experiencing an adverse physical, emotional, or other health reaction.

Gun buyers would also have to watch a 30-minute video “on fatal firearm injuries” and verify in writing that he or she viewed the entire video “in the presence of a licensed firearm dealer.”

Verify in writing by a licensed physician that the purchaser has toured an emergency trauma center in the nearest qualified urban hospital on a weekend between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when gun violence victims are present.

Within seventy-two hours of a firearm purchase, the prospective firearm purchaser shall meet with at least two families who have been victims of violence involving a firearm and two local faith leaders who have officiated, within the past year, a funeral of a victim of violence involving a firearm who was under the age of eighteen.

UnitedHealth CEO Hemsley likes insuring healthy people, that's why he doesn't like the ACA Exchanges.

UnitedHealth Group got a lot of attention when they said they might be dropping out of the ObamaCare exchanges. It looks like they want more attention.

You have to ask why anybody cares about United Health, since they only have a 5.5% involvement in the exchanges, and didn't participate much in the individual market prior to the ACA, which is what ObamaCare replaced.

Also, let's get something straight first; Democrats are missing the chance of a lifetime. They should be using the GOP criticism of the ACA exchanges - the co-pays and high deductibles, insurers dropping out or going broke - as ammunition to argue against our broken for profit insurance based health care system.

Enrolling healthy people beats paying for Sick People: You've got to check out the following outrageous comment from UnitedHealth Groups CEO Stephen Hemsley, who was paid $66 million in 2014, money he got from jacked up premiums and rejected sick people. Again, $66 million in one year, $45 million in stock options...and people can't afford monthly premiums. And conservatives whine that a hike in the minimum wage will increase the price of a burger? Where do they think Hemsley gets his money? Finance Yahoo:
UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said that his company had kept costs down by selling plans with small doctor networks and pricing the plans competitively. UnitedHealth generally enrolled consumers with better health than the overall exchange population but it still lost money, he said.
The point is, insurers have nothing to do with providing health care, they just take your money. And Hemsley is really not happy with people actually using the policies they can barely pay for:
Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone, including those with pre-existing health care problems. Hemsley said that many insurers have complained that some customers are making frequent use of their policies, which had contributed to losses.

UnitedHealth holds a relatively small part of the overall Obamacare market … sold health insurance plans to just 5.5 percent of the approximately 10 million Americans who use Obamacare … “It’s still important to remember that while United is a very big insurer, they have never been a major player in the individual insurance market,” Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President Larry Levitt said. “The individual market has always been dominated by Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.”

Rep. Kremer's Divide and Conquer strategy: Rural vs Urban Wisconsin Taxpayers.

It's almost laughable to hear Republicans deny they have it out for Milwaukee while constantly doing everything they can to take it down. Just off the top of my head...
They killed economic growth via high speed rail that would have provided to a regional business hub that included Chicago, killed high speed train manufacturing in the city, a residency requirement, sick leave, the Bucks new arena...there's more but you get the point. 
Times have changed: Republicans are now deceptively making it look like they are boldly "sabotaging" development in Milwaukee to please voters at home, despite the fact that the planned streetcars they want to deny funding, weren't in line to get it in the first place. This is all a dog and pony show for duped constituents who instinctively hate Milwaukee:
Kremer wants you to hate city folk.
JS: GOP lawmakers circulate bill to block state money for Milwaukee streetcar: Republican state lawmakers are circulating a bill that would block state transportation money from being used to operate a Milwaukee streetcar. Reps. Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) said, "I am proud to support economic development and growth in the City of Milwaukee, and many of us did just that through our challenging Bucks arena vote earlier this year. The state transportation fund and rural, mass-transit issues are major concerns for my constituents.

"As such, I do not feel that taxpayers outside of the City of Milwaukee should be responsible for any future operational costs that may arise."

Kremer wants to send the message that state taxpayers are on their own. As you might remember, Scott Walker branded the "I'm not paying for that" attitude when he defunded our state parks and instead said only users should pay for their upkeep. Kremer now wants to pit rural interests against urban interests, a real job creator:
A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said, "Speaker Vos supports the bill as it protects state taxpayers from runaway costs associated with the Milwaukee streetcar project."

Republicans run from leadership, responsibility! "Just another day in the US" for a mass shooting!!!

Even when "mental illness" wasn't a factor in a mass shooting, Republicans like Paul Ryan can't get off the now popular talking point and stall tactic. That should tell us all we need to know about the GOP's sad eyed insincerity:


But the world isn't fooled by the mass shooting insanity reeling out of control in the U.S.. As Vox explained it...:
BBC World News is clearly fed up with gun violence in America. Here's how it started a report on the shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed upward of 14 people on Wednesday:


Leave it to the Onion to expose the horrible truth with humor:
At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”
 Media Matters caught this Fox News moment from Shepard Smith admitting that this just doesn't happen in other countries:



Here are a few other bizarre related story links from Media Matters:
A Fox analyst asks if this mass shooting is "a literal war on Christmas": http://mm4a.org/1IFXeUN Fox is already linking the shooting to more boots on the ground in Syria: http://mm4a.org/1jzftob An NRA figure is already lashing out at Democratic presidential candidates for calling for action on gun violence: http://mm4a.org/1jzhCAn Joe Scarborough called on his fellow Republicans to take action: http://mm4a.org/1QhrwTX

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Republicans Blame gunless "Soft Targets" in those Gun Free Zones.

The title pretty much sums up what my conservative friend in Milwaukee said when he called me to say, I told you so about gun free zones. Yes, every unarmed citizen in the country is called a soft targets, and those in gun free zones are only asking for trouble. Ever get the idea that the NRA's ultimate objective is to coerce everyone into carrying a gun?

Two thirds of Americans are "soft targets," you know, walking gun free zones. They're too afraid to defend themselves like brave good freedom loving American would do.

Oh, and the terrorist attackers in San Bernardino were responsible legal gun owners...until they weren't. They're arguing now that the extensive background checks in California didn't stop anybody, so why have backgrounds checks at all.

Here's the scary reality gun crazy psychopathic conservative gun fondlers are finding difficult to accept; Americans are wising up and getting rid of guns. What else could explain a bill right here in our state to remove the age limit to carry a gun hunting?
Household gun ownership in America is on a steady, long-term decline. The NORC data shows that American household gun ownership hit its peak in 1977, when more than half of American households (53.7 percent) reported having any guns. By 2014, only 32.4 percent of American households had a gun in the home -- less than a third.
  The percentage of Americans who reported personally owning a gun dropped more than 26 percent from 1985 to 2014.

In 1985, 30.5 percent most gun owners tend to be white men who live outside cities. Drawing from data from 2010 to 2014, NORC found that 39 percent of white respondents said they lived in a household with a gun. During the same period, 18.1 percent of black respondents and 15.2 percent of Hispanic respondents said there was a gun in their household. 
Check out The Nations recent article about the conservative activist Supreme Court decision that brought down the nation:

Paul Ryan had an unusual reaction that had nothing to do with the San Bernardino mass shooting, to somehow finally deal with mental illness? What in gods name is he talking about? 


After turning down a whopping $23 million for Rural Broadband expansion, Walker is now spending state taxpayer money instead.

The war on rural high speed broadband has been raging for some time in Wisconsin.

But thanks to Scott Walker's generosity it looks like even urban taxpaying Wisconsinites will be footing the bill for telecommunication providers to build out into rural parts of the state. 
Without government assistance, broadband providers say, they couldn't afford to extend the service to sparsely populated areas because there aren't enough customers to justify the cost.
Think of all the development that could have taken place if rural entrepreneurs were given a chance to compete online. Small towns might be flourishing right now, but we’ll never know.

The short history of obstruction is jaw-dropping, but thanks to Scott Walker, it looks like broadband providers won't just be making money on new rural customers, but they'll using state taxpayer money instead of their own, to extend services those areas.

It all started when Walker turned down $23 million in stimulus money to expand broadband everywhere in the state. Like the Journal Sentinel wrote in this Feb. 18, 2011 editorial:
The state is turning down $23 million because state taxpayers would have been on the hook for the entire amount if the state could not meet the grant's precise requirements, Mike Huebsch, secretary of the state Department of Administration, said in a memo to school and library associations. "This is simply not an acceptable risk," Huebsch wrote.

Actually, it is. High-speed Internet is part of the necessary infrastructure that is vital to communities that want to grow. The state will get there anyway, but this money could have speeded up the journey.
What federal funding did exist the broadband industry tried like hell to kill with legislation. 
June 9, 2011: The UW would have to return nearly $40 million in federal funds if a state budget provision aimed at protecting rural telecommunications providers becomes law. UW officials say the “consequences would be catastrophic” ... But the trade group Access Wisconsin says the proposal is meant only to protect them from having to compete against a government-subsidized broadband network…

Desperate? Sure, but telecom providers lost this one in the courts:
Nov. 14, 2011: A Dane County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a project (Buildiing Community Capacity through Broadband),that would expand high speed internet access through underserved areas of Wisconsin … AccessWisconsin had sued over the summer.
Fast forward to now and to a taxpayer corporate giveaway amounting to $1.5 million, a drop in the bucket compared with the stimulus give back. Heck, Walker gave away $500,000 in 2014 and $450,000 in 2015...oh, didn't you know?
State officials have authorized $1.5 million in broadband expansion grants for rural Wisconsin in fiscal-year 2016. Eleven grants were approved by the Public Service Commission, ranging in size from $41,914 to more than $286,000. The largest grant, $286,165, went to Wisconsin Independent Network, LLC, in Chippewa County, followed by $249,093 to ChoiceTel, a telecom in the Town of Land O' Lakes.

This is the third year the PSC has awarded broadband grants. In 2014, it approved $500,000 in grants to seven applicants, and in 2015 it awarded $452,579 to seven applicants.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Watch out!!! Republicans to "strike balance between Property Rights and Protecting the Environment."

You know you’re in for trouble when Republicans "struggle" to “strike a balance” between business and the environment. Sure, let's balance health with business profits. What is “balanced” pollution - dirty water - air?
JS: "In general the speaker is supportive of efforts to strike a balance between private property rights and protecting the environment,” Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer said.
Our one-size-fits-all big government Republicans are about to add reams of new regulation to out already bloated Walker government. But the new laws protect business special interests...from the public. Out with the old and in with the more conservative replacement maze of anti-government bureaucracy. 

Here's what Republican lobbyists want to do next:
The rights of property owners would expand and state and local governments would lose some powers to regulate lands to protect other interests such as clean water … the changes would affect lake beds, wetlands, piers, boathouses and beaches — an often stormy nexus between water and private property.
It’s about time we allow property owners the freedom to dirty up other people’s water. Anti-clean energy Sen. Frank Lasee, who also wants to stop public schools from going green, is leading the charge for his corporate special interest lobbyist:
The Sen. Frank Lasee (R-DePere) and Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) bills have the support of influential groups, such as the business lobbies for Realtors and builders in the state.
Republicans want this so bad that they’re going back to the long forgotten “job creators” well again:
"In Wisconsin, we have seen an increasing number of homeowners and job creators mired in court battles over permit and regulatory disputes because Wisconsin statutes are unclear and our regulatory environment remains uncertain," the legislators said in a memo to fellow lawmakers. "Wisconsin can and should do better."

Helen Sarakinos, policy and advocacy director for the River Alliance of Wisconsin, described the changes and those before it as "death by thousands of paper cuts in clean water protection."

Monday, November 30, 2015

Walker's corporate foot soldier AG Schimel abandons law for Capitalism

In one of the most partisan and embarrassing opinion pieces, Attorney General Brad Schimel admits in a Journal Sentinel editorial “Why Wisconsin is suing the EPA,” that he’s there to protect business special interests. And he's got a long list of non-legal reasons why he's supporting Scott Walker's lawsuit.

The following list of purely political justification by Schimel to waste taxpayer money on a lawsuit against the EPA is really jaw dropping. Let's start with his killer opening paragraph:
A lump of Coal this Christmas?
JS: As a strong supporter of capitalism and the free market, certainly I don't begrudge former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg his billions of dollars. I do find it ironic, though, that a man who fuels a private jet and heats his penthouse advocates for federal regulation that will significantly raise electricity rates and kill jobs in Wisconsin.
What in gods name does Bloomberg's private jets have to do with coal pollution? Also keep in mind, the PSC has now dramatically raised rates twice, in the last two years, with no Walker administration objections. In fact, Walker whined that electric bills could jump as much as 29% if the EPA rules go into affect. Yet the PSC raised the fixed rate charge for electricity by more the 80% using good old dirty coal.

Schimel's got every GOP talking point down to the letter. Perhaps he thinks if he says it, that must make it legal:
As one of the top manufacturing states in the country, Wisconsin has much to lose if the Obama administration succeeds in its plan to destroy the viability of clean-coal electric generation.

We in Wisconsin have been and continue to be responsible environmental stewards while also protecting jobs. 

Not only will the EPA rule cause the U.S. to lose jobs to countries such as China and India, but the repercussions of the EPA rule actually may result in increased global carbon dioxide emissions. If American manufacturing jobs move to China and India, both of which rely heavily on uncontrolled coal-fired plants, there is a real potential that carbon dioxide emissions, along with emissions that actually do qualify as "pollution" under the Clean Air Act, will increase globally.
One more thing, Democratic AG's suing are doing so by order of their Republican governors, so it isn't really "bipartisan:"
 ...if the coalition of Republican and Democrat state attorneys general do not succeed in their challenge to the EPA's edict. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Republican wants government to take away your Property.

Conservatives are supposed to be big on property rights. Just another myth. 

While law enforcement agencies are taking away peoples property at an alarming rate, whether guilty or innocent, there's a backlash brewing, but not in Wisconsin:
Townhall: Asset forfeiture revenues to law enforcement agencies have skyrocketed since the "tough on crime" 1980s-90's. It's not hard to understand why: legal reforms put in place both at the federal and state level in those years allowed law enforcement agencies themselves to keep the funds from civil asset forfeiture proceeds. This is the process of civil asset forfeiture ... the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks director Jason Pye say that the tide has turned.
"It's a civil liberties issue, it's a due process issue, but first and foremost, it's a property rights issue. This is legal plunder. What they're doing is wrong, and we need to fix this... I've been surprised at how activists have embraced this issue."
The opposite is happening in Wisconsin, thanks to Republican Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, who wants to take your car away over a simple violation. Hmm, try that with guns....
WSJ: Driving without a valid license could result in a vehicle being impounded under a Republican proposal aimed at reducing drunken driving ... Rep. Joe Sanfelippo circulated a bill ... a court could extend the length of time a vehicle is impounded after which the driver would have to pay any fines and impoundment fees. If the vehicle isn’t claimed within 30 days of the release date, it could be disposed of or sold.  

“This bill would help keep dangerous and irresponsible motorists off the road ... There have been numerous occasions where residents have had their licenses either suspended or revoked but continued to drive illegally." 

Molly Gena, a lawyer with Legal Action of Wisconsin, which represents low-income clients, said the majority of Wisconsin’s driver’s license suspensions and revocations result from the inability to pay fines, rather than bad driving. As a result, the bill will “punish poor people and prevent them from getting to work or finding employment. Impounding their vehicles will make it even harder for them to get out of poverty. It will perpetuate the cycle of poverty and unfairly punish people solely for being poor.”
And what about families with just one car and multiple drivers? They can't have a car either? Big government police state Republicans. This reminds me of the time Scott Walker added peoples homes to the Medicaid debt collection list, where any dollar amount you can't pay puts your house on the market. There going after the poor and declining middle class.

Threatened by Lawsuit, Florida Christian group takes control of Mt. Horeb school.

You’ve heard it before; Republican Governors say they want to replace Common Core with a unique statewide educational policy. Local, local, local!!!

Except when they don’t. Are ready for another right wing lie?

What does a supposed Wisconsin "centered" curriculum really looks like under conservative authority rule:
WSJ: A 6-year-old student went to school at Mount Horeb Primary Center with a new public identity. It was her first day introducing herself to classmates as the girl her mother says “she really is.” In an effort to support the student’s transition from male to female, and to help her young classmates understand, the school had planned to read and discuss the book “I Am Jazz,” the true story of Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in a TLC reality show named after the book.

But the reading didn’t happen after the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based religious conservative organization, threatened to sue the school district for teaching the book and overstepping parental rights.
Florida!!!? This is an early warning shot that can't be ignored. The threat of a simple lawsuit is powerful, and could bankrupt or severely limit local school districts. Think about it, outside groups from anywhere in the country can call the shots. And they can do this over any issue they don't support.

Same goes for Local Transgender Restroom policies: While districts were developing their own plans, with local input, the national right wing opposition to transgender restrooms prompted state Republicans to create a “separate but equal” policy, bestowing second class status to kids seeking support. Do we really want another battle against the supposed "gay agenda?"   

That’s why this is so dangerous. It nurtures fear and distrust in future adults, a core right wing value:
Parent Amy Lyle said that the Primary Center’s initial decision to read the book excited her and her husband because it showed that the schools were looking to shed some light on a subject that is becoming more open in our society. 
“We firmly believe that education and information creates informed and compassionate children who turn into compassionate and respectful adults. It’s our obligation to provide the information. Families can have their own discussions outside the school, but the information should be provided. I don’t know if there is a more important lesson to be taught in our schools (than inclusion).”