Saturday, March 29, 2008
Despite the fact that everyone else in the state of Wisconsin has seen their own bills go up dramatically, Walker and fellow conservatives are under the impression that government is different and unaffected. Costs can only go down, despite the fact that energy and health insurance cost have gone sky high.
So it’s refreshing when others, like McNally, make insightful observations into this “through the looking glass" world.
Both genius and dumb, Walker can claim he has never put forth a tax increase. But McNally exposes Walkers con man shell game in a way we can all understand. In McNally’s March 29, 2008 article, he comically lays it all out.
When “Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker refuses to submit a budget with a tax increase to pay what it costs to run the county, he has essentially made his role as county executive irrelevant. The County Board passes its own budget every year to run the county. Walker criticizes the board for raising taxes. Then, the next year, Walker adopts the county board's budget from the previous year as his baseline and says he won't raise taxes beyond that."
"The meaningless political tactic is popular with anti-tax voters, but it guarantees that Walker is always a year behind what county government is really doing.”
Despite the obvious nature of this political scam artist, Walker is seeking re-election hoping no one ever notices or reads McNallys published debunking. Let’s hope he’s wrong.
In the meantime, I’m open for other reveals from those who will forever watch these rascals with a critical eye.
Friday, March 28, 2008
The economy isn’t looking too good right now. We’re in what appears to be another recession. De-regulation devastated the stock market here and around the world, middle class income is down $1000 over the last 4 years, national savings plunged, the country racked up a large trade deficit, the nation's cumulative debt has nearly doubled since Bush took office exceeding $9 trillion, the housing market bubble burst, the number of homeless families is increasing, baby boomers are retiring and straining Medicare’s solvency, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are paid for with borrowed money totally nearly three trillion dollars and more people can’t afford health care coverage.
How about a tax cut?
If your cool-aid drinking Republican, what other choice is there? After all, as a fiscal conservative, you automatically know how to manage money through blind ideology.
In a March 28, 2008 Washington Post article titled, “As Candidates Warm to Bush Tax Cuts, Economists Warn of Long-Term Effect,” the harsh reality of politics sneers in the face of real solutions.
- “Bush and other politicians are telling voters alarmed by a sagging economy that keeping the cuts past their 2010 expiration date can help revive the nation's fortunes, a claim many economists say is nonsense. Far from acting as an economic tonic, the tax cuts "are neither sustainable nor beneficial" without massive cuts in government spending far beyond what Bush or any candidate to succeed him has proposed,’ said Alan Viard, a former economist in the Bush White House who is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.”
- “Out of curiosity, Viard asked a research assistant to put together a list of spending cuts and revenue hikes to cover the cost of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Her findings? For starters, the government would have to slash benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Any such package is political death,’ Viard said.”
- “Conceived during Bush's 2000 presidential campaign as a means to return what were then huge government surpluses to taxpayers, the cuts were approved by Congress in the midst of a recession, which worsened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”
It was a lesson in money management. Tax surplus’s should be saved or invested in projects that create jobs and improve the state’s quality of life. Plus, no tax increases.
Here’s where the facts get tricky. The numbers in the following two points are dramatically different, yet described as the same. Another dangerous sign that everything is equal, relative to the argument.
- “Bush and other Republicans, including McCain, want to make them permanent. That move would deprive the treasury of $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
- The middle-class tax cuts also reduce revenue -- by about $800 billion over the next decade, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.”
- "They (Democratic presidential candidates) said President Bush was fiscally irresponsible for enacting the tax cuts, but on balance, they would increase the deficit by just as much."
Freedoms just another word for trying something new.
Appalled, “the Council of Canadians, a social advocacy group said that the position was designed to protect the right to sell water under NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement…about every eight seconds, a child somewhere in the world is dying from dirty water, and it's just shocking that our government has taken this position."
It shouldn't surprise you that Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is a conservative. True to the ideology, he advocates protections for industries such as those that might want to sell the luxury commodity, water.
Again, the UN has rejected the idea that water be recognized as a basic human right, thanks to those profit minded conservative governments concerned with leaving open any future cash generating industries.
I was right to question the logic of buying bottled water. As it turns out, we were just being conditioned to except water as a product that needed marketing and a suggested retail price, not something that was a basic human right.
The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were written and approved by Republicans and Democrats to expire in 2010. Once the cuts stimulated the economy, they would expire and return to the original rates.
Many of us knew the cuts would have little or no impact on lower and middle class wage earners. And they didn’t. We also knew that the Republicans promised to try and make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
So why at this point are the Democratic candidates for President being accused of wanting to raise taxes? Why are they allowing the Republicans to get away with this fanciful portrayal.
Listen up Democrats, frame the issue like this: The Republicans wrote the law that let the tax cuts expire in 2010. That’s it. They have themselves to blame. How can they logically accuse the Democrats of raising taxes when the law already in place repeals the tax cuts?
We should stop dancing around the elephant in the room, so to speak. Goodbye to one of the biggest Republican myths; they’re not fiscally conservative. It’s a political party of pure ideology.
How could anyone propose more federal tax cuts after the government recently reported that Medicare and Social Security will be experiencing monetary shortfalls that could dramatically harm citizens whose lives depend on these safety nets? Oh, I forgot, we over promised the benefits packages to those American citizens who need our help most.
Only conservative freeloaders would toy with the idea of not paying their bills so the government would be forced to cut social services they themselves would need someday. But hey, that’s sometime way off into the future. They want their "just due" now.
Who else would allow the world’s economic powerhouse to sputter along until another rebate is considered to prop up this failed system and ideology? Yup, Republican freeloaders.
So if the first two tax cuts were so well conceived, let's ask them why we're getting another stimulus bailout?
I hope you don’t mind if I borrow a line from Nova M radio’s Mike Malloy, “God, I hate these people.”
Monday, March 24, 2008
I guess it had to happen. The voucher reality just hit the financial wall with an honest assessment of a business model primed for failure. In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online article, “Church offers free tuition to all: Falls' Zion Lutheran hopes change raises enrollment”
The private school sector inadvertently made the case against the pro-voucher contingent. It shines a light on the way families in the future will have to deal with rising tuition's and economic belt tightening.
“In an effort to stem a steady decline in enrollment and to fulfill what they see as a primary mission of their church, church members overwhelmingly voted this month to let families send their children to Zion Lutheran School for free whether they are members of the church or not. The K4-through-eighth-grade school has 47 students, down from about 130 in the early 1990s."
Here we have a private school, exposed to consumer choice, trying to survive the free market model that will decide who stays in business or is forced to drop out. A school who’s enrollment of 130 dropped by 83 students; a 63 percent decline.
Zion Pastor Lamkin then makes an observation that should send shutters through the anti-public school community.
Pastor Lamkin said “cost is a primary factor for people not attending private school. With economic times the way they are, tuition can be one of the things people look at first' to cut costs.”
In a world of private schools and the inevitable free market consolidations, “tuition can be one of the things people look at first to cut costs” doesn't sound like the answer to a well educated public. Perhaps these hard hit families will have the option of going to a cheaper, less desirable school for their children to muddle through. Who knows, by then, laws might be passed to allow children to skip a few years while their parents save up for tuition.
Incredibly, in exchange for enrollment, parents would be on the hook for “worshipping at Zion or another church, helping out at sporting events and other extracurricular activities, being involved with the parent-teacher organization and helping out with other fund-raisers.”
Parents should be involved with their children's education, but this solution comes at the expense of family time together. The sad fact is, volunteering still won’t pay the brick and mortar costs of maintaining the school.
“The additional financial commitment from the church next year, then, is likely to be about $100,000, (Lamkin) said. ‘So we're encouraging our members toward sacrificial giving and holding some extra fund-raisers."
Your child's education will be dependent on someones “sacrificial giving” and “fund-raisers.”
Get out the tin cup, folks.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Who could have imagined the devastating impact of illegal aliens defrauding Medicaid out of millions of taxpayer dollars? That’s right, if you guessed the Republicans imagined it, then your starting to catch on. Like all the other manufactured threats to our democracy, like voter fraud, the death tax and the need for tort reform, illegal immigrants were getting free health care at the public’s expense.
In a March ’08 AARP Bulletin article written by Barbara Basler entitled, “Are You American? Prove It,” she details the story of Bernice Todd, a Native American and cancer victim, who lost here Medicaid coverage because of a new federal law that required paper work she didn’t have so she could prove she was a U.S. citizen.”
It’s a rule aimed at keeping illegal immigrants off the Medicaid rolls, plain and simple.
“A July 2006 rule was adopted by the Republican-dominated Congress in 2005 despite the fact that there was no evidence that undocumented immigrants were falsely claiming U.S. citizenship to get Medicaid.”
"This rule was the answer to a problem that really doesn’t exist," says Donna Cohen Ross, an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, a nonpartisan research organization.
“A report by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) inspector general did 'not find particular problems regarding false allegations of citizenship, nor are we aware of any.’ Most states agreed with that assessment.”
This new federal rule also blows another Republican myth: that their fiscally conservative. To stem the tide of illegal immigrants stealing our health care, Kansas added $1 million to their budget just to handle the cost of the new rule, even though they had no problem with illegal immigrants getting Medicaid.
“But many states report that the rule is backfiring, forcing U.S. citizens, most of them children and the working poor, to lose their Medicaid health coverage. In Oklahoma, for example, more than 20,000 of its 700,000 Medicaid recipients—almost 13 percent are American Indians—have been dropped from the program, "not because they aren't citizens, but because they're having a tough time coming up with the right pieces of paper at the right time,’ says Mike Fogarty, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the agency overseeing Medicaid.”
“A U.S. Government Accountability Office survey of the states last year found that that the requirement caused eligible U.S. citizens to lose Medicaid coverage while increasing administrative costs. A close analysis of six states, the report says, showed that for every $100 spent to implement the rule, only 14 cents was saved.”
“Oklahoma has uncovered no illegal immigrants on its rolls. And Arizona, where immigration is a huge issue, has filed two reports since the rule went into effect, each saying the state uncovered ‘zero’ illegal immigrants among its 1 million Medicaid recipients.”
Another non-problem solved. It does make me wonder though, just how do these conservative monsters sleep at night?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It’s two of many questions never asked in Wisconsin’s legislature by either party. As a result, we’ve entered a new age of anarchy.
This is a conservative’s wet dream, an electorate so frightened by their neighbors that they are left to defend them from the evil that surrounds them everywhere. A frightened unsure public will then look to an authority figure to re-assure them that their gun rights will be protect and keep them from harm. This political ideologue will then say the police can’t be there for everyone and will be very slow to respond. The second amendment will protect them. The system of law enforcement , public safety and your day in court are all but wiped out.
Racine’s March 8, 2008 Journal Times feature the article, “Bill would prevent restrictions on gun ownership during emergencies,” which brought up a number of public safety issues that should have prompted a real debate statewide, but instead disappeared of NRA second amendment talking points.
Under Assembly Bill 58, which also passed the Senate, in an emergency like Hurricane Katrina or a possible riot somewhere in Wisconsin, officials would not be able to restrict people from legally buying or using firearms. The words to key in on here are “buying or using firearms.”
It’s a bill that Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen feels flies in the face of public safety. “I think Wisconsin laws work fine. I think we need to leave the whole thing alone.” Wahlen is concerned about a martial law situation. “We will need to eliminate the sale of ammunition and weapons and those types of things. I would expect our leaders in our community to shut those stores down. In those types of situations, all (this bill) means is that we are going to have more bloodshed.”
What used to be a conservative wedge issue that defies common sense and safety is now acceptable public policy. How else can you explain the bill passing the Assembly by an incredible 84-13 or the 26-5 vote in the Senate? Think about it. During a public emergency, anyone can go out and buy firearms and ammunition.
According to the article, “Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine said the government should not be taking guns away from residents who are not breaking the law, even during a state of emergency. ‘That is stopping people from buying a legal weapon. Someone does not buy a car with the intent to drink and drive. It is the action that creates the crime, not what they choose to use.”
That’s right, Rep. Vos would have you believe that even during a state of emergency, nothing really has changed enough to allow regulation to get in the way.
Liberals and Democrats have waited to long to publicly point out the twisted ideological insanity of their message. Because the public continues to treat their comments as if they based on an actual arguable point, they only add credibility where there is none. The point is, shouldn’t we all be tired of the car /gun analogies? Again, it’s good to review the intended function of each product for the confused masses. Guns were designed to kill. Cars were designed for travel. I’ll assume that most people will not be prompted to buy a car immediately after martial laws is declared.
“Jeri Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, said the bill is 'unnecessarily broad.' The bill should address solely the issue of officials confiscating guns rather than addressing a whole list of issues such as selling and using firearms, Bonavia said. She said the bill also should be reworded to give law enforcement officials the ability to take action if they believe that they or others are in imminent danger.”
In a reader comment, Pete Karas wrote: “the Legislature should have limited it to confiscation and seizure and left all of the other senseless restrictions out like they have done in Louisiana and 20 or so other States.”
For example: The Louisiana bill 738. Emergency powers do not extend to confiscation or seizure of lawfully possessed or used firearms, weapons, or ammunition; exceptions
B. A peace officer who is acting in the lawful discharge of the officer's official duties may disarm an individual if the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary for the protection of the officer or another individual. The peace officer shall return the firearm to the individual before discharging that individual unless the officer arrests that individual for engaging in criminal activity, or seizes the firearm as evidence pursuant to an investigation for the commission of a crime.
According to Karas, Exception B is not included in the Wisconsin bill. There were amendments offered to make this bill at least reasonable, but they failed. So, the Chief is correct on this one.”
What could have been a reasonable knee-jerk law drawn up by gun advocates, is now vigilantism, law and order left up to the individual.
It really doesn’t have to be like this. “A Well Regulated Militia” is often ignored when arguing for gun laws or restrictions. Gun possession is fast becoming a liability free right.
In a September 4th, 2006 BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW Professor Saul Cornell, author of “A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America,” makes some interesting observations about our Second Amendment rights.
“The Founding Fathers were not opposed to the idea of regulation. In fact, their view of liberty was something that they would have described as “well-regulated liberty.” The idea of regulation, the idea of reasonable government regulation, was absolutely essential to the way they understood liberty.
Once technology changes, and the market revolution engulfs America, then cheap handguns become readily available. Handguns were not a big problem in the founding era. They were relatively expensive and not very reliable.
Once you get this new change with handguns, and once you get this problem of interpersonal violence, then the question becomes: Can we get rid of this problem? Can you regulate, and quite strenuously regulate, handguns? Can you even ban handguns? And of course, the conclusion I found, generally speaking, is yes. The state can do whatever it thinks appropriate with regard to handguns. The one thing they can’t do is pass laws which would, in effect, make it impossible for the militia to be armed.”
This bigoted fear laden commentary is nothing new from the conservative frame that portrays a terrifying world around us in a surreal simplistic way, but it does exemplify a critical disconnect from reality. This disconnect shapes their ideology, party wide, and is the reason why there is little outrage from the right.
Rep. King was reacting to a statement he made a few days before where he said, “al-Qaida would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror. His middle name does matter, it matters because they read a meaning into that."
King cited Obama's pledge to pull U.S. troops from Iraq, his father's Muslim roots in Kenya and his middle name, Hussein, which King said has a meaning to terrorists.”
Point one: For King, it appears unthinkable to have a plan of departure from an occupation driving so much of the anti-American sentiment. Withdrawal should have been apart of the plan in the first place. But because Bin Laden would love it we left Iraq, we are more determined than ever to defy his wishes. It’s the simple game of chicken, where only a few people on the playground don’t get how stupid it would be to participate.
Point two: It's breath taking just how bigoted it is to suggest someone can’t be trusted because they have Muslim roots. The problem Democrats have is that they don’t frame these comments in a way that clearly identifies them as insane. The AP story quoted Barack Obama reaction this way, "But I have to say that Mr. King and individuals like him thrive on offensive or controversial statements as a way to get in the papers, so I don't take it too seriously.”
Barack Obama missed the chance to strongly denounce the comments as racist. It actually legitimizes King’s statement among like minded conservatives when Obama said he didn’t take the offensive or controversial statements seriously. It is one of the most frightening characteristics of the conservative mindset, and we had better take them seriously.
An Action Alert from the progressive organization American Family Voices wrote this more appropriate statement.
“Congressman Steve King (R-IA) is known for his outrageous and disgusting comments. In the past he's been quoted as comparing immigrants to livestock, calling undocumented workers a "slow-moving terrorist attack", claiming that immigrants have murdered more Americans than the combined death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, comparing the abuses at Abu Ghraib to mere "hazing" and waging a war against "secularists" who want to "eradicate Christ from Christmas." Suffice it to say, this man is off his rocker. "
"This kind of hatred and racism should not be tolerated in our political process. Progressive activists should be standing up to Steve King now, so that this kind of bigotry won't take hold and pollute the campaign going forward.”
American Family Voices came very close to framing Rep. King’s comments dangerous to our democratic republic, but limited their focus to the 2008 presidential campaign, and not the conservative viewpoint in general.
The conservative movement is a failed ideology filled with racism, platform contradictions and a well crafted mythology. It’s time to pull away the curtain and articulate the obvious.
Monday, March 3, 2008
The one thing conservatives have mastered since George Bush took office, a time frame I like to use often, is the ability to lie with strong conviction. Despite their inability to tell the truth, they sound almost believable explaining what they really meant. As a parent, I hear the same list of weak excuses all the time from my kids and have never let them get away with it. Why then do we let these political ideologs get a pass? It's time they didn't.
In the cold north of Canada, conservatives mirror the Americans when it comes to winning at all costs. The Canadian Broadcast Centre reported this glowing story of corruption March 3, 2008, and I've edited to bring you the finer points.
- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper filed a notice of libel against Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and the Liberal Party of Canada over statements on the party's website regarding the Chuck Cadman affair.
- Lawyers for Harper describe two articles on the Liberal website as "devastatingly defamatory." The letter demands the articles be removed from the website and that Dion read a prepared apology in English and French.
- The articles relate to allegations that Conservative operatives offered Cadman, an Independent MP, a bribe of a million-dollar life insurance policy to vote against the Liberals in May 2005 and bring the government down. Cadman was battling cancer at the time, and died in July 2005. Cadman sided with the Liberals, ensuring Canadians would not have to head to the polls for a summer election. The Liberals have asked for a criminal investigation into the allegations contained in the book.
- The allegations of a bribe, made by Cadman's widow Dona, are contained in a yet-to-be released book, Like A Rock: The Chuck Cadman Story. Last week, Cadman's daughter Jodi backed up her mother's story, saying her father discussed the alleged offer with her.
- In the book,… Chuck Cadman was visited by two Conservative party representatives in his office two days before the crucial vote and presented with a list of enticements to side with their party, including an offer of a million-dollar life insurance policy.
- But Harper is quoted in the book saying that the offer to Cadman was "only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election." He adds “they wanted to do it, but I told them they were wasting their time.” Harper‘s comments were recorded on tape.
- There are no plans to take legal action against the publisher of the book or Dona Cadman.
Strange isn't it that Chuck Cadman's widow Dona, who is making the allegation, is free to defame Prime Minister Harper and make money doing it. Or would it look bad suing the bereaved family to make a political point?
From all indications, PM Harper and his collegues appear to have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar of chocolate chips lies. This is one of those parent moments I mentioned earlier. Where something allegedly happened, yet intuition screams guilty as hell in your ear.
The next time your defending yourself from the charge of bribery, try not using the term "finacial consideration" as an inducement.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Externality: a secondary or unintended consequence: like health care, pollution and other externalities of the corporate business model of washing its hands of a problem they create. This brutal concept is the underlying concept of the health care industry. You'll clearly see why after I have laid out a list of facts and inconsistencies in this blog.
My first brush with politics came in the late fifties when I would wake up to the alarm clock radio and listen to the morning news cast. I remember hearing the newsman describe a new bill being discussed in the state legislature and thinking how incredible the ideal sounded. A few days later I would find out the bill had been voted down. Being a little naive, I couldn’t understand why such a good idea would not get overwhelming support. It would be decades before I would start paying attention enough to learn about the two prevailing ideological parties and the nonsensical logic used to win their battles.
The prevailing thought was that we were all in this together. The ultimate check and balance system. I really thought at one time that no one would ever pass a law that would adversely affect themselves or their families, now or in the future. In my view, this concept would be one of the top three laws of nature. The sadder truth is, one: some don’t want to be lumped in together with anyone, and two: I’m liberal.
One of the more bizarre conservative concepts is the need for a debate, for debates sake. Or, when a debate really isn’t a debate, but still is anyway. When Republicans are confronted on an issue, they immediately complain the opposition commentary is an attempt to silence them. Health care provides a perfect example.
The Health care debate is a fallacy driven by special interests and ideologically motivated politicians. If just the facts, stories and histories of other industrialized countries were reviewed and totaled, the end result would be conclusive: A single payer health care system works.
But, in an age where everything is now relative, the ideological opinions of the conservative agenda and corporate self interests motivated by profits have obscured what would have been a simple solution. This ploy of complicating the discussion has worked amazingly well in manipulating public opinion. Throw in a few idea’s that supposedly empower the individual, and one can see how threatening it would be if a persons personal choices were taken away and handed over to a governmental collection of citizens.
Author and political radio host Thom Hartmann summed it up best when he clearly defined conservative and liberal. “Conservatives believe that people are essentially evil at their core. If you were to survey the vast majority of people you’ll find that more than half of them were evil. And liberals believe that the majority of people are good. And everything flows out of that.”
Health care is a private sector industry. Even though businesses big and small get to shop for the best insurance plan, many are finding it difficult to find coverage they can afford. Free market advocates continue to claim competition will hold prices down. But if that were true, we wouldn’t be looking at 8 to 15 percent increases in premiums every year. So if one were to honest about the rising price of health care coverage, competition isn't working.
Despite evidence to the contrary, in state houses across the country, Republican legislators are saying they can solve the health care crisis by making it even more private than it already is. Impossible but true.
What they really mean by “more” private, is the removal of pesky government mandates, that require minimum standards of coverage. That translates to a lot fewer covered treatments and medicines. You can save big time though.
Incredibly, conservatives believe you can pick your disease and favored drugs to purchase, and lower your premiums considerably by not being forced to pay for those rarely acquired diseases like cancer or diabetes.
This discussion takes everyone's eyes of the real problem. According to a government report published in the February 26 2008 online edition of Health Affairs, spending on health care in the United States could double by 2017, amount to over $4 trillion and account for nearly twenty percent of the nation's gross domestic product, nearly one-fifth of the economy.
And there will be a major shift in health care spending from the private to the public sector.
The report speculates that disposable income will decrease during this ten year period, playing a part in the slowdown in private health spending.
Amazingly, the obvious is merely an opinion by liberals to give us socialized medicine. All this while legislators and congress people enjoy taxpayer paid health care.