Monday, February 8, 2016

Unable to Raise Taxes, GOP to Shift Road Repair to Local Taxpayers. I thought they didn't like Referendums?

It's been fun watching Republicans fumble helplessly with their "no tax pledge," which forever prevents them from adding money to the transportation fund.

So Republicans have decided to foist their responsibilities off onto local communities, by making them raise taxes through a referendum.

Keep in mind, these are the same Republican legislators who want to restrict school referendums because it negates their efforts to cut property taxes. Never fear, they've got another flip flopping, mind-blowing reason waiting in the wings.

GOP backer and lobbyist Patrick Goss, executive director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, is stepping forward with the most surreal way of looking at tax increases...:
Goss: "How do you say you're voting for a tax increase, when what you're really doing is you're enabling your constituents, your citizens, to make that decision." 
Huh? Any Republican interpreters out there that can help me with this one? Can the party really have it both ways and not get a little blowback from their base? And don't referendums cost money, time and effort? If anything should be handled by the state, it should be roads.

Hat tip to WPR's Laura White for featuring this gem.

Walker's Wisconsin new nationwide benchmark for Corrupt and Politicized State Supreme Court!!!

In a short span of time, Wisconsin has become the go-to example as the state with the most partisan and corrupt Supreme Court in the country. And that's saying something.

Kansas is about to go "Wisconsin," by drafting a bill to hold partisan elections for the court. Even worse, they're requiring the governor to choose the candidates, which then have to be approved by the state senate for confirmation. Not bad when you have a one party Republican lock on state government. It's all part of the governors attack on the court, as he pressures them during the appeals process.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's retaliatory attack came after the supreme court decided the dramatic cuts to school funding and the distribution of that money were unfair and unconstitutional. What happened next was mind-boggling:
The legislature and the governor’s response was to pass and sign a law that first stripped the State Supreme Court of administrative power over lower state courts. And then to pass and sign another law that stripped the state’s entire court system of funding if any court struck down any part of the previous law.
I'm posting this because of the embarrassing reference to Wisconsin as the poster child for judicial corruption, which apparently is the new GOP template for turning our courts into political arms of the party. Way to go. The New Yorker:
Kansas’s governor, Sam Brownback, had pointedly pressured Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and his colleagues on the state’s highest court. A trial court had found, “beyond any question,” that the state system of financing public schools was unconstitutional … and recently heard oral argument in an appeal of the ruling. Brownback claimed, “This is the people’s business, done by the people’s house.”
 This past December, the State Supreme Court ruled that the first of the retaliatory laws is unconstitutional … the ruling put in jeopardy all of the judiciary’s funding.

Last week, the legislature blinked, passing a bill that would reverse the defunding law. The bill is being hailed as a victory … but a short-lived one. Republicans have drafted bills calling for a system in which the governor would nominate and the State Senate would confirm justices.
Republicans have also drafted bills calling for partisan election of justices. 

That has proved to be a travesty in many states, but particularly in Wisconsin, as I have reported. Since 2000, when spending in judicial elections jumped significantly, they have become a case study in the worst aspects of money in politics. Spending by special interests, which are clearly concerned about the decisions that judges reach rather than their capability and impartiality in reaching them, has grown dramatically as a share of total spending. An increasing portion of that spending has come from national organizations or their local affiliates, which are, again, clearly concerned about results, with most of the money coming from the political right.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Walker's arrogant "I don't Care" Department of Corrections now in shambles after Act 10.

In 2012, Scott Walker appointed Dept. of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall, who's one major responsibility was public safety. We're now finding out that he's been an incredible failure.

But we also need to hold Walker responsible. I know Republicans don't like it, but the same "buck stops here" rule applies to Scott Walker. Where has Walker been during the breakdown of corrections staffing and documented abuse? Oh that's right, Act 10 solved all our problems, not made them worse.

Walker's “Working for Wisconsin” tour dubbed the “2020 Vision Project,” where he is supposedly seeking local advice, is a sham. According to one attendee:
The format didn’t allow for more dialogue about problems facing the state. “The governor didn’t address what was being shared. He recorded it. He listened. But I can’t say he gave us a response to any of the issues that were raised.”
Walker never mentioned the Failure of Act 10 - The Problems at the Columbia Correctional Institution: Public safety fell apart after Act 10, since corrections staff no longer had input, and many up and quit. Despite losing 541 employees, Walker's DOC Sec. Ed Wall didn't think it was important to increase oversight?
Following the passage of Act 10, 541 employees retired from the DOC. In 2012 resignations went up 40 percent. At CCI, staff report seeing more people leaving, some recent recruits deciding not to stay along with the exit of veteran employees.
CCI staff have often said that when concerns about safety and security are brought up to management, the response from Warden Mike Dittman and DOC Secretary Edward Wall is “there are 1,000 people in line to take your job.” In one meeting with legislators in October, Wall reportedly responded to a comment that more staff would be leaving in the next year by saying, “I don’t care. Let them go.”
Buck stops where? Walker sees the dangerous conditions at CCI and the dramatic staff reductions as another problem to run from. Contract it out. Walker isn't kidding either when he blamed previous administrations. He really thinks that gets him off the hook:
When asked after his speech about the state of the Department of Corrections and Columbia Correctional Institution in particular, which runs (by some estimates) a 20 percent staff deficit, Walker said that it was to be expected.
“This is an issue that predates me and predates Act 10. Back when I was in the Legislature, in the early 1990s, Tommy Thompson had a similar problem. It’s part of the reason why for a while he looked at out-of-state contracts for holding inmates.”
Anecdotal Walker flip flops on Anecdotes: After countless Walker policy changing anecdotes were found to be unprovable or flat out fabrications, Walker won't allow other peoples anecdotes about Warden Dittman and Wall's comments make him look like a complete incompetent, even when they're true:
“I would love to see the documentation. I’ve never heard him say that. I would be interested in hearing where that is documented, rather than rumors from staff out there. I’ve yet to hear that. If that’s something you can document for us or show, that would be concerning to us, but I’ve never heard that from the Secretary or anyone else in the administration.”
Democratic offers to help partisan attempts to Embarrass Walker? Instead of being suspicious of the Democrats, he should have listened:
In September, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, sent a letter to the co-chairs of the State Legislature’s Joint-Audit Committee, requesting a vote on an audit of the DOC. In January, Erpenbach, with a group of representatives including Rep. Dave Considine and Sen. Jennifer Shilling offered a nine-part proposal for addressing the problems in the DOC, separately proposed for a more convenient a la carte consideration.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Justice Candidate Joe Donald uses Bradley's embarrassing public domain B-Roll Video against her!

Take a look at the creative ad put together by Supreme Court candidate Judge Joe Donald's campaign. If he can afford to run this on TV, he should.

Rebecca Bradley's scheme was simple enough; she would release "public domain" footage of herself so special interest groups could stumble upon it, be inspired and use the video in an "issue" ad. 

The thing is, Judge Joe Donald's campaign also "accidentally" came across it and was similarly inspired:

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald's campaign is doubling down on its claim that state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley's campaign is coordinating with outside groups — by trolling Bradley with her own footage.

It all started late last month when Bradley uploaded three minutes and 34 seconds of b-roll footage documenting "A Day in the Life" of the newly-appointed justice. On Tuesday, a few of those scenes reappeared in an ad set to air on TV statewide in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 16 primary election. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform said the group's ad didn't demonstrate coordination. "The footage featured in our ad is publicly available and enabled us..."
Here's my side by side comparison: the ad is on the left, Bradley's meaningless and oddly surreal video on the right:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Walker's Justice Bradley hopes to win election in the most Positive Dirty Way.

I had to say something about this amazing Supreme Court dark money drenched race controlled by Walker supporters who back his pick, Justice Rebecca Bradley … "The Wisconsin Alliance for Reform (is) spending about $400,000 to help recently appointed Justice Rebecca Bradley."

Besides secretly coordinating Bradley's campaign with the dark money at the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, here’s what made me spit out my coffee…
JS: Bradley hopes the ads in the race will be positive, said her campaign manager, Madison Wiberg. "As Justice Rebecca Bradley has said since the launch of her campaign, she respects the rights of interested voters to exercise their First Amendment rights in this race."  
Bradley "hopes the ads"... "will be positive?" Really? Just for grins, let's take a look at a more recent Wisconsin Alliance for Reform ad, with their positive First Amendment filled message of laughable lies describing Russ Feingold: 

I'm sure Bradley will be one of the first to immediately correct any errors from the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform TV ads that will saturate the media airwaves this coming Tuesday. 

GOP Budgets - "just as rough as the last time" - the result of badly written budgets, not spending.

Republicans have always had a foolproof budgeting plan that can't fail in the eyes of their low information voters: Got a budget shortfall again? It's not bad budgeting, they just have to cut spending again.

It's never due to bad decisions and supply side nonsense. Sen. Alberta Darling said exactly that when a reporter asked her what happens if revenues don't increase due to tax and spending cuts:
Darling: " have to further reduce the size and scope of government..."

They actually believe it's never their fault. After another bad budget with the usual predicted revenue shortfalls, clueless Republicans face another "rough" spot of their own making:
(Republican Sen. Scott) Fitzgerald told county officials he expects the next budget will be "just as rough as this past one."
Fitzgerald of course blamed the state's shortfall on a lagging national economy...Obama basically. Oddly, Minnesota has a $2 billion surplus, and no shortfall. We could blame Obama for that, right?

Also, if this were a real problem, then why aren't Republicans writing responsible budgets that account for that "lag" (because they can't budget). WPR audio:

While blaming Obama, Walker showed off his bad judgement by foolishly holding onto our fading manufacturing base. Two decades later, he's apparently still not heard that sucking sound...:
Wisconsin's large manufacturing sector is heavily influenced by national and global factors, Walker said. "But we’re still going to persevere..."
In response, as covered by Jakes TA Economic Funhouse, one of my favorite fighting Democratic legislators Gordon Hintze put out the following to the point press release. I hope we see more of this:

One final SUPPLY SIDE note: Below, I've collected a few other Republican supply side budgetary problems ignored by the press who are preoccupied with the GOP primary circus. Long story short, Republicans can't run a functioning government. It's a supply side death spiral nationwide, starting with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback:
AP: Kansas collected $7 million less in taxes than expected in January, and a top aide to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said that ongoing problems in key parts of the state's economy are to blame. Kansas tax collections have fallen short of expectations in 6 of the 7 months of this fiscal year … disappointing corporate income tax collections and lower-than-anticipated sales tax collections. Since the current fiscal year began in July, the state has collected$26 million less than anticipated, a shortfall of 0.8 percent … Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since the Republican-dominated Legislature slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback's urging in an effort to stimulate the economy. GOP legislators last year increased sales and cigarette taxes to head off a deficit in the current budget. 
You've just gotta love this down-the-rabbit-hole response:
Brownback has argued that the income tax cuts have stimulated the economy to prevent larger shortfalls in tax collections
And in Oklahoma, where they sadly reelected another bad Republican supply side governor....
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin addressed the people of in her annual State of the State address saying her first priority is the state's estimated $1 billion budget shortfall … Governor Mary Fallin and Republican legislative leaders have said they intend to target "off-the-top" funding streams earmarked for things like transportation and public schools as part of an attempt to fill the roughly $1 billion budget hole. 

From the lips of Jesus....

What a great idea from Kimmel...

What the heck, here's Al Franken's Supply Side Jesus....

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Rebecca Bradley is lying about Campaign Coordination with right wing Dark Money group Wisconsin Alliance for Reform...reform is good right?

Remember these words by Supreme Court Justice candidate Rebecca Bradley:
"That's not solicited help. I am happy to accept help and support from anyone.
Campaign coordination was illegal once, until the State Supreme Court legislated from the bench and rewrote that law. Now, independent dark money groups can work with candidates, allowing unlimited amounts of anonymous money to do the candidates talking. Of course, Bradley can disagree with the groups message, while still getting mileage from it, and denying cooridination. WPR:
A conservative political action group, Wisconsin Alliance for Reform, is running an online issue ad in support of Justice Rebecca Bradley's Wisconsin Supreme Court bid using film footage shot by the Bradley campaign. It uses footage the Bradley campaign uploaded more than a week ago of the justice talking with police officers and other judges.

The identical footage suggests Bradley's campaign is coordinating with the Alliance.

However, both the campaign and the Alliance deny they're working together.
So I edited the Bradley campaigns stock "candid" footage of her acting judicial, to prove there is coordination. And that if she's willing to lie about this...seriously folks.

Notice the music beds are identical, with the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform ad featuring full orchestration, and the campaign footage featuring just a piano (you can hear faintly in the background):

I love the line: "Tell Rebecca Bradley you believe in a fair and independent judiciary." That's not "expressly advocating" a vote for Bradley, just good advice Bradley would be happy to hear over and over. We're not dumb, but they assume we are.

And the money behind the coordination is big. Before you know it, Bradley will be a household name:
The Alliance for Reform has pledged to spend more than $400,000 in the Supreme Court race. On its website, the alliance calls itself a "coalition of concerned citizens and community leaders committed to creating greater economic opportunities for Wisconsin families."

So far, no outside groups on the liberal side of the Supreme Court race have weighed in. The Greater Wisconsin Political Fund is a liberal issue ad group that spent heavily in support of Joanne Kloppenburg in her failed 2011 effort to win a seat on the high court. The group has not run any ads for or against her in this current race.

With Mark Harris Bill, Republicans won't let Democrat run for State Senate.

Yes, Republicans are now using their political power to block a Democrat from running for office.

They aren't hiding it anymore. Why bother building up fantasy world scenarios to stoke fear and envy in the base. Pretty much unlike the the ideas put forth by the founding fathers in our Constitution, Republicans see a more authoritarian one party state.

The  Democratic Party of Wisconsin summed it up this way: 
Yesterday, Senator Scott Fitzgerald introduced a bill to specifically bar county executives from serving simultaneously in the Legislature. The bill comes as Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, is running for Republican Sen. Mark Gudex's open Senate seat in the 18th Senate District.
(1) Fitzgerald stayed silent when fellow Republican Paul Farrow held his Senate seat and ran Waukesha County executive. (2) Furthermore, former Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer served in both the legislature and as the Manitowoc County executive for nearly six years, between 2006 and 2012.

When asked about the proposal in an interview, Sen. Fitzgerald admitted that the“Harris’ candidacy was the impetus for the bill.” 
Will the media dog Fitzgerald on this issue, or will they drop the ball on this one too?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Gov. Christie puts N.J. Drinking Water up for Profit, ignoring public opposition...Wisconsin Next?

Here it comes, more Republican bill writing plagiarism targeting our precious drinking water! Yes, unoriginal ALEC-like corporate bills plundering our supply of life sustaining water, are now rippling across nation. Seriously, there's money to be made.  

Republican Rep. Tyler August and Aqua America Inc. are spearheading the fast track takeover bill of our drinking water in Wisconsin. But in New Jersey, Gov. Christie just sign similar legislation,  giving us a preview of how this is going to go down. NJ:
Gov. Chris Christie would allow for fast-tracking the privatization of many public water systems in New Jersey.
When a bill has a goofy name like the "Water Infrastructure Protection Act," you know it's deceptively trying to cover up what it really does.

Big Government Republicans Kill Off Local Control Again: The most outrageous part of the Wisconsin bill eliminates the requirement for local referendums, giving the public a say. Christie liked that idea: 
(It) removes the public vote requirement to sell water systems throughout the state under emergency conditions that many systems currently meet.
After making government dysfunctional with mismanagement and spending cuts,  Republicans now want to sell it off:  
The sponsors of the bill tout it as a way to get desperately-needed investment into water systems that have been neglected to the breaking point by government owners. 
Highest Bidder gets our Drinking Water, but that means we have to pay higher rates! 
Opponents warn that it is an attempt to turn private profits off public infrastructure at the expense of taxpayers.The state's Division of Rate Counsel blasted the bill publicly, saying ratepayers would end up paying for the sale of their own water systems, with the way infrastructure sales are legally regulated.

"This bill ... has the potential to allow investor-owned utilities to run wild with bid prices in an effort to submit the highest bid," said Stefanie Brand, director of the Division. "Meanwhile, ratepayers will be required to pay for the full purchase price in rate, and will pay for these higher bids.
"Telling us What to Think...the GOP Mind Trick Revisited: Oh sure, everybody knows private companies can do things better, right? It's just common knowledge...goes without saying:
"We recognize that there are times when private entities might be most capable..." said state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). 
Who Are Republicans Listening too? Lobbyist, not the public: 
Originally introduced in September, the bill drew opposition from a wide variety of industry and environmental groups, including the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch, and the Communications Workers of America union. "This is such a bad deal for the citizens of New Jersey," said state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex). "This is crazy. ... Just giving away our water supply."
That old "opponents are just spouting political rhetoric" excuse so they won't have to listen:
"Put the rhetoric to one side," Kyrillos said. "This does not force anyone to sell water utilities.
No, but it lets it happen.

A notable political contribution was made in between the vote's passage and Christie's signing of the measure. American Water of Voorhees, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and sewer company, contributed $50,000 to the Republican Governors Association in the final days of the New Jersey governor's chairmanship of the organization.
This is just a preview of what will go down here in Wisconsin, it's irreversible, no matter what party is in charge.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liberal Union Loving Anti-Business Madison and Dane County comes in with the lowest Unemployment rate in State.

Those poor Walker trolls and their insulting factless name calling, they just can't get a break when it comes to the brutal truth:
AP: New data show Madison and Dane County still have the lowest unemployment rates among cities and counties in Wisconsin.
Walker WOW county conservative voters, any thoughts?

Free Speech Dollars buy corrupting political influence and special favors, just like we thought.

Stand with Walker supporters will have no problem with Scott Walker's plan to let their wealthy conservative elite take over our government, as long as they're rewarded with a whopping $1 in property tax savings. Not a good deal trolls.

The following thinking kinda proves how our conservative activist U.S. Supreme Court has been able to twist logic into a nonsensical looking pretzel:
Justice Kennedy stated that restrictions on corporate campaign expenditures "have a chilling effect extending well beyond the government's interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption." Kennedy concluded, "The anticorruption interest is not sufficient to displace the speech here in question" ... our nation's ability to protect itself from the corruption of our government is overridden by the "right" of a corporation to make expenditures in elections.
With logic like that...

So proof is in the pudding: Guess what, the governor who's going around the state holding supposed "listening sessions," appears to be listening to big money donors a whole lot more. JS:
Click to enlarge
What does a million-dollar political donor get for his or her money these days? The answer is spelled out in great detail in a handout from the super PAC supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's potential presidential bid.

Among the perks: Twice-a-year retreats, members-only briefings, weekly email updates, members-only conference calls, a dedicated staff contact, two private dinners with "VIP Special Guest(s)," inclusion in "all public/regional fundraising events," and a special "Executive Board Member" pin.

Those benefits are itemized in a handout from Unintimidated PAC, the committee launched by longtime Walker advisers.
Need another example? I've got one...remember this gem from last week when the Republicans revealed their plan to eventually privatize Wisconsin's drinking water? Who were they listening too...?
Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) said he introduced the bill after meeting with representatives of Aqua America and its lobbyist, Steve Foti, a former GOP legislator...
No one else was asking to make it easier for private companies to take control of our drinking water, just lobbyists. Scary as hell isn't it. I mean really, this is how quickly the state is now taking their orders from private interests. Their now on automatic pilot.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Republican Rep. August admits helping Aqua America lobbyists Privatize our drinking water.

Some things seem pretty obvious, like this headline in the Journal Sentinel...

Concerns raised about bill allowing purchase of municipal water systems

Republicans brag business can do things more efficiently, but that's only because it fattens their corporate bottom line, it's not to save customers money. It also brings the corporate campaign contributions too.

I don't know about you, but privatizing our water supply sounds like an evil plot from an old James Bond movie. The question I have is where were the Democrats when this came down? JS:
A bill quickly moving through the Legislature that would ease restrictions on the private purchase of municipal water systems is being pushed by a Pennsylvania company whose aggressive growth strategy has resulted in nearly 200 acquisitions in the last decade. Aqua America Inc. operates water systems in eight states, including Illinois. The company is now eyeing Wisconsin — a potential market where virtually all water and sewer systems are owned and operated by municipalities.
Small government has always been an excuse to sell it off. Water is just another high demand commodity private industry can't wait to get their hands on. Their lobbyist have totally edged out the interests of you and me, the freeloading public who have gotten used to drinking it without much thought. Rep. Tyler August even admitted he was kowtowing to the interest of lobbyists...would I kid you?
Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) said he introduced the bill after meeting with representatives of Aqua America and its lobbyist, Steve Foti, a former GOP legislator ... emphasized the decision remains in the hands of local elected officials on whether to keep or sell water operations. "It was a way to give communities an option, if they think someone else could do a better job," August said. "I really thought it was a simple change."
Heck, Aqua America has such a great record too....
The company has encountered consumer backlash in some of its markets over service, water quality and other issues. In December 2014, Fort Wayne, Ind., bought back its water system from Aqua America and paid a total of $67 million after residents complained about low water pressure and hard water that damaged appliances. Kimberly Joyce of Aqua America (said), “Just because we are an investor-owned company doesn't mean we are only focused on profits."
That quote is so insulting...and yet the bad news doesn't end there.

Big Government, One-Size-Fits-All Republicans out to Kill Off Local Control!!! That's not hyperbole. Meddling locals will be written out of having a final say, leaving the decision up to our "leaders." Sure we can vote them out, but only after the fact:
In addition to removing barriers to out-of-the-state ownership, the Wisconsin legislation would change the law on the use of referendums to approve or reject a deal. Critics say the changes will diminish the public's voice; supporters say it puts decision-making in the hands of local elected officials. The bill would make referendums optional. Citizens would have 60 days to get the signatures of 10% of the voters in the municipality to force a referendum. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities supports the bill because the organization prefers decision-making by elected officials — not by referendums.
This is sailing through the legislature folks, and there's not a thing anybody can do about it. There's more at Wisconsin Gazette and the Huffington Post

Friday, January 29, 2016

So if Guns make us Safer....?

This says more about the divisive and dangerous lie Republicans are exploiting just so they could get elected into a government they hate...

Carson mocked the concept of gun-free zones in his rally Tuesday night in Georgia, before a crowd of about 2,000. "You have people who want to kill you and you're going to say, 'Uh, why don't you come over here, none of us have guns,'" he said to laughter and applause. "I mean that is just so asinine it's unbelievable." He spoke at center stage with armed Secret Service agents standing to his left and his right.

Defunding Planned Parenthood on a lie, and the unintended consequences of doubling down.

Based on the now discredited videos vilifying Planned Parenthood, Republicans are still trying to cut their funding in the Badger state:
The Senate took up the bills reducing government payments to Planned Parenthood as a separate measure backed by abortion opponents...

Yes, Republicans are still going to do it, even after:
a grand jury indicted two anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress.
Oddly, reality is making an even better case against Wisconsin's bad legislation.

Look at the Texas disaster, where identical legislation had passed and failed:
For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood.
Republicans here say other health providers will be able to step in, but that flies in the face of the facts. In another attack on rural conservative voters... NPR:
So in 2013, the Legislature essentially restored the money. But finding new providers, especially in the countryside, has been slow and difficult.

The Legislature's target was abortion, but the unintended consequence was that family planning clinics that had nothing to do with abortion, especially rural clinics, ran out of money. By 2014, 82 family planning clinics across the state had closed. The consequence was calamitous. In Midland, for example, when the Planned Parenthood clinic closed, there were two aftereffects: 8,000 well-women appointments a year vanished.
Despite these indisputable facts, Republicans aren't budging from their story:
JS: Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) saidwomen can get their birth control from other providers … "Since when is birth control a rare commodity? I think it's pretty easy to find.”

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach disputed that, saying women in northern Wisconsin and other rural areas have difficulty in accessing birth control.

The federal governments Title X money will now go to other providers in Wisconsin, but Texas tried the same thing and failed...
"A lot of the funding that has been allocated has gone to organizations that do not necessarily have the expertise or the necessary training to provide the types of family planning, contraceptive, preventive reproductive health care that the Planned Parenthood clinics provided," Kari White, one of the lead researchers said.
Republicans here say there won’t be a drop in getting the same care they got at PP:
Midland Community Healthcare Services Clinic in West Texas is open, and every day it's three lines deep as women file in for treatment. The numbers are harsh. In Texas, just 22 percent of childbearing-age women who qualify for subsidized preventive health care treatment actually get it.
And as usual, Republican aren’t the slight bit concerned about losing lots of money, it’s about a belief system:
The Legislature's own researchers predicted that more than 20,000 resulting unplanned births would cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars in federal and state Medicaid support. 

Republicans don't just hate America, they even hate their own Presidential Candidates!

The following compilation of right wing pundits and candidates proves what I've been saying all along; Republicans have hit the Bizzaro World phase of their transformation. And by the way, they want to run a country:

Act 10's anti-freedom and liberty choice to be in unions cuts Membership in half.

Republican logic follows that unions can still provide services they’re not allowed to perform, without membership dues, to non-members who are along for a free ride. Any decline will prove unions were always bad.  So...
(Before Act 10) Wisconsin union members made up 14 percent of the total workforce. Last year, that number shrank to just over 8 percent.
Big surprise? Even when private sector union businesses objected to government interference, Republicans ignored their free market choice. So much for freedom and liberty, as mentioned by one right wing trolls comment below:
Clearly the people of Wisconsin have spoken with their feet exactly how useful unions are to them. Long live the liberty and freedom of the people of Wisconsin to make their own choices. Never again let us be forced to join organizations we do not support.
Last I looked no one has ever been forced to join a union, since no one is forced to work at a union company. Job seekers still have the freedom and liberty to walk away from a unionized business.

This was a big government choice to destroy a business Republicans did not agree with. And a business that challenged their campaign contributors. Kind of gets back down to money...I mean free speech. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald admitted as much in the Fox News clip below, saying without union cash, Republicans win:

Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations with Clark University, said Act 10 and a right-to-work law crippled organized labor. "Essentially it was an anti-union climate in Wisconsin that resulted in severe loss of membership," he said. Chaison said the decline is a major historical shift for a state that at one time was a leader of the national labor movement.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Republicans Backtrack on Cuts to Veterans Services in Wisconsin...ya think?

While Trump is oddly bragging about raising money for veterans through a phony right wing group with the ridiculous name, "Veterans for a Strong America," the Republican Party he represents is doing everything they can to punish, economically squeeze and ignore the quality of veteran services.

George W. Bush asked the veterans administration to not tell vets about their promised benefits so the nation could save money. True. Veterans in Republican states were also forgotten until something horrible happened, even after whistle-blowers were trying to get their attention.

So I wasn't surprised when Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard put out a bill to save money on the backs of veterans. Blow back was immediate. WISC:

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said a portion of a bill circulated for co-sponsorship last week related to county veterans service officers will be re-drafted.

Currently, every county in the state is required to employ a county veterans service officer. The bill changed language in state statutes saying counties "shall" have a CVSO to that they "may" have one. It also repealed language requiring counties to provide space for the veteran's office. 
Wanggaard isn't done with veterans, and he isn't done trying to attack their services, because he's proposing another one of those phony task forces that won't really listen to anyone. It just delays the inevitable. 
Wanggaard said after concerns from veteran's advocates, he said they're going back to the drawing board and create a task force to study it further with all the participants," Wanggaard said. The initial goal of the bill, Wanggaard said was to allow consolidation among counties with smaller veteran populations in order to save money and distribute resources more efficiently.
But Wanggaard left out one important fact; consolidation failed:

Bill Rosenau, CVSO for Waushara County and president of the County Veterans Service Officers Association, said only two counties have explored consolidation. Buffalo and Pepin counties had been combining services for the last year, until last week when it was decided the workload was too great to continue.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gerrymandering Myth that "Both Sides Do It" Busted in Wisconsin.

GOP myth busting continues. It nice to see the lie about Democratic gerrymandering in Wisconsin finally come to an end.

Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy brought all the pieces together. Remember one detail not mentioned; when Republicans gerrymandered in 2012, they had to take an oath of secrecy to keep their scheme from getting out into the public. Who does that? In summary...
MURPHY’S LAW: The Myth of Democratic Gerrymandering: When the Republicans need someone to spin the electorate, there is never anyone better for the job than Christian Schneider ... an August 2013 column peddling the theory that this was no different or more partisan than past efforts when Democrats held power. To buttress his claim, he pointed to the an action taken by Democratic Gov. Tony Earl, elected in 1982 ... “As was the case just last year, one party got to set legislative boundaries to their political advantage, to ensure partisan majorities,” Schnieder wrote.

This defense — the Nixonian “they all do it” — has now become Republican dogma … The Public Policy Institute of Chicago devised an “efficiency gap,” which measures the ratio of each party’s wasted votes to all votes cast. Prof. Simon Jackman of Stanford University then did a historic analysis which measured the efficiency gap for each party in 786 state legislative elections in 41 states from 1972-2014.
Here's the amazing truth:
And looking at Wisconsin’s Republican efficiency gap advantage of 13 percent in 2012 and 10 percent in 2014, he concluded that in “the entire set of 786 state legislative elections” no other two-election sequence after redistricting achieved this big an advantage for either party. The gerrymandering in Wisconsin is “virtually without historical precedent,” he concluded.

As for the idea that Wisconsin’s Republicans are only doing what Democrats before them did, that couldn’t be more untrue. The state’s highest Democratic efficiency gap since 1972 was just 2 percent in 1994, Jackman found. The current Republican advantage is at least five times larger. 

But what about that egregious redistricting by Gov. Earl? Stephanopolous reviewed the data for me and found that ... after the relatively minor changes made by Earl and the Democrats, that changed to a 2.4 percent GOP advantage in 1984. Throughout the 1980s, the Democrats never had an efficiency gap advantage.

But Schneider’s claim becomes all the more hollow when you consider a initial ruling by a three-judge federal court, of which two judges were appointed by Republican presidents, in response to a suit against the Republicans’ redistricting in Wisconsin. The ruling noted that historical data suggests “there is close to a zero percent chance that the current (Wisconsin) plan’s efficiency gap will ever favor the Democrats during the remainder of the decade.” That stands in start contrast to advantages realized in the past
Expert Partisan Republican Help:
The ruling noted that Republicans hired Ronald Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, to help with the redistricting: “Gaddie’s model forecast that the Assembly plan would have a pro-Republican ‘efficiency gap’ of 12 percent.” Gaddie, it appears, used the efficiency gap analysis ... to instead assure a massive partisan advantage. All of which may be taken into account in the federal court’s ultimate ruling ... Republican insiders had to know about Gaddie’s role; he has done work for the conservative American Enterprise Institute and his involvement here was reported by

Republicans lied about refinancing options for Students loans, ignore UW for Dual Credit Program.

Getting college education shouldn't be this hard.

Like everything else, the Republicans Rube Goldberg political agenda just keeps making things harder to get, with hoops and big government regulations that are meant to discourage people from pursuing their life goals. Like going to college.

Check out a clip from Michael Moore's latest documentary, "Where to Invade Next," that shows us all how easy going to college can be:

Scott Walker, like all Republicans, aren't fans of letting regular Americans get a college education. That's only a good idea when it comes to the elite, our leaders, like Walker's own two college educated sons. Walker's massive cuts to the UW system and accusations of liberal indoctrination have worked wonders with their conspiratorial voters.

And while Minnesota's "Self-Refi" state program gets underway, Walker has no intention of cutting into the banking industries college loan interest bonanza. Should Wisconsin start it's own program? Are you kidding. The "accountant caucus's" know-it-all answer man Rep. Dale Kooyenga even lied about why it was a bad idea:
As for Kooyenga, he told us his "I was speaking to the fact that beginning in 2008 the federal government began purchasing the loans made by private lenders" … (but) the context of the discussion was about students refinancing their loans through the government.

Indeed, that’s why Democrats have been pushing legislation to allow federal refinancing. Backers include Baldwin and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold. Democrats have pushed legislation to allow the federal government to offer refinancing, so that student borrowers can get lower interest rates. But that legislation has not been adopted, and the federal government does not do refinancing.

Which means Kooyenga’s claim is False.

Scott Walker’s Dual Credit Program excludes UW. Walker’s college assistance plan only applies to tech schools. Dual credit simply means you can get high school and college credits at the same time.

While Walker references research that says dual credit programs save money and make it more likely students will complete college, it only applies to technical colleges. Don't we want UW students to get their money's worth and finish too?

My gut tells me Walker’s is only interested in bumping up his job creation numbers, so technical training is the fastest way to do that. Chippewa Herald: 
Research has shown students who are exposed to college-level experiences while still in high school are more likely to complete college, according to CVTC officials. Walker has proposed an additional $3 million statewide to support dual credit programs, in addition to the $35.4 million of funding for the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, which includes dual credit initiatives. “We’d like to put even more resources into the next state budget so all 434 Wisconsin school districts can start dual credit programs,” Walker said.

Walker also proposed increasing financial aid grants for technical college students.