Thursday, April 30, 2009

The GOP's Inability to Plan for the Future: Katrina, Volcano Monitoring and Pandemics

The flaw in the Republican Party's argument about government, is that it hates it too much to make it work. It's that simple.

The basic foundation of our country is the government. Made up of three branches, the government should provide to its citizens whatever they feel it should provide. It's that simple.

There are those who say it should be small, but the truth is, it is what ever the people decide it should be. For many, those who are buying into the idea government is bad, are actually blaming themselves. They have been sidetracked into forgetting the government is us.

Which brings me to the following clip on the swine flu pandemic. It took Democratic Rep. David Obey, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committe, to envision a need to include funding for a possible pandemic during the economic recovery to insure such an event would not make things worse. But the Republican platform has never had a desire to plan ahead or invest in the future, so they managed to remove funding for such an outbreak, branding it "pork." Some spineless Democrats bought into this hot button rhetoric and end up looking foolish for doing so (Sen. Chuck Shumer). From Gov. Jindal's misstatement about volcano monitering to Sen. Olympia Snow's insistence to remove pandemic funding, the snake bit GOP just can't get anything right. Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman and Chris Hayes have a few things to add.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fiction and nonfiction books about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues Banned in West Bend Wisconsin Library

This is one of the most disturbing stories of the year. Government censorship without question. I'm hoping something or someone takes notice and takes the appropriate action. Here's the whole story:

Free Speech Groups Criticize Dismissal of Wisconsin Library Board Members
By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/29/2009

Four members of a library board in West Bend, Wis., were dismissed last week for refusing to remove controversial books from the library’s young adult section—and yesterday, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of American Publishers and PEN American Center criticized the firings.

The groups sent a letter to the West Bend Common Council stating that the dismissals threatened free speech in two ways: punishing the board members for attempting to apply objective criteria in the selection of books, and pressuring the library to remove the controversial books. The letter said, “The role of a public library and its board members is to serve the entire community and to evaluate books and other library materials on the basis of objective criteria. By removing half the members of the library board, the Common Council is imposing its opinions on the rest of the community.”

The controversy began in February when two patrons complained that the library’s YA section included fiction and nonfiction books about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. The patrons accused the library of promoting “the overt indoctrination of the gay agenda in our community” and demanded that the library add books “affirming traditional heterosexual perspectives.” They also insisted that the library remove books from the YA section including Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club (HarperCollins), Stephan Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Esther Drill’s Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a gURL (both Simon & Schuster).

Last week, West Bend Mayor Kristin Deiss submitted the names of four members of the library board for a new three-year term, and the council voted 5-3 to dismiss the board members.
The letter to the Common Council is available online here.

Fox News' Fair and Balanced Look at Obama's First 100 Days

Thanks to Media Matters for this compilation of clips featuring the crazy coverage of Obama at Fox News.

Fox News has reason to rejoice as President Obama marks the media-manufactured milestone of his first 100 days in office. The conservative cable network's ratings are sky high under the new Democratic president. Yes, it looks like it couldn't be happier serving as "the voice of [Obama's] opposition," to paraphrase Fox News senior vice president Bill Shine.

Madison’s Liberal Capital Times Turns Conservative After Online Move

What a difference a year makes. If you ever wanted to know just how destructive it is having only one local newspaper company, the Capital Times should be a warning, and a shot over the bough in a winner take all conservative assault on the news. Lurking in the shadows, behind the papers long historical reputation as advocate and voice of the Democratic Party, are conservative manipulators gently softening the editorial content. It’s sad to see the few remaining writers, like John Nichols and Dave Zweifel, used as pawns while the online paper reshapes its now fading liberal image.

Am I imagining the conservative swing to the right? Hardly. No liberal in their right mind would write the following editorial about a zealot partisan ideologue, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who wanted to turn down his counties stimulus money, privatize valuable publicly owned property and advocate a sales tax holiday at a time when people are afraid to spend money. The following thought process is simply insane:
Walker's run should focus on his strengthsMilwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is expected to announce his candidacy Tuesday for the Republican nomination for governor. We're glad Walker is running. In fact, we wish he had run in 2006.In 2005, we were impressed with his reform-oriented take on state government. While we may have had ideological differences with him on a number of social and economic issues, the former state legislator struck us as having thought harder and better about how to improve state government than other potential contenders.

With glowing admiration, the writer was “impressed with his reform-oriented take” and “struck us as having thought harder and better” than what, an ideology that devastated the global economy.

The Tangled Mind and Twisted Logic of the Incompetent Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker

This guy could be our next governor! Look out Wisconsin.

Scott Walker’s recent appearance on Madison's WTDY 1670, with morning show host Sly, turned up some interesting contradictions.

Walker: “I held the line 7 straight budgets, I’m not raising taxes.”
FACT: True, he let the county board override his veto to pay the county bills.
Walker: “I finished off the year with a surplus.”
FACT: “Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker on Monday called for cutting
spending in every county department by 3% this year to offset a projected $14
million year-end budget shortfall.”-Jsonline. Surpluses Scott…?
Walker: “in an interview said layoffs and furloughs of workers should be considered. Nearly half the county budget goes toward salaries and benefits, and finding the necessary saving will be difficult if those are untouched.”-Jsonline. “Walker hasn't released a counterproposal. But he said government should be cut more, including freezing or lowering state employees' salaries and looking at increasing workers' health and retirement costs.”-Forbes.
FACT: Walker would slash jobs, cut pay and make employees pay more out of their
checks for healthcare and retirement, in a time of record unemployment and tight
family budgets, making the economy even worse.
Walker: Sly asked Walker about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s winning offer to pay to move a Wisconsin company to Louisianna and build their new facility for them. Whether that was contrary to Walker’s free market rhetoric. “If we had a natural disaster in any given community … yea you should come in and try and help get a community back on it’s feet again and get it working again. And I think in a time like now, with the economy such as it is, it’s almost like a natural disaster. Government odes need to step in and help, certainly step up, actually get on the phone, get face to face, talk to these officials and fin away to keep ‘em here.”
FACT: Walker just said it’s okay to spend taxpayer dollars to move a private company and build their facility for them if that’s what it takes to compete with other states, a dramatically hypocritical position to take for a free market Republican and an idea that might just meet some public outrage.
Walker: “…belt-tightening is needed because of the recession. Cutting 3%, or $3.6 million, from Sheriff David Clarke Jr.'s budget would be "quite a challenge, said Inspector Kevin Carr. "Every year, we have been asked to submit a leaner budget, and at some point, there's nothing left" to cut. –Jsonline.
FACT: Cutting law enforcement budgets doesn’t necessarily make the public safer,
does it. It will slow response times and add to the NRA’s demands for a concealed carry law to make up for the shortfall.
Walker: On tying his wagon to Sen. Russ Feingold, Democrat: “We’ve showed how we’ve connected.”

Walker: On concealed carry: “The last people I want carrying, are people who are carrying today are criminals … the people that are carrying right now don’t care about the law.”
FACT: Ironic actually, the people carrying right now illegally are concealed carry and open carry supporters. Every advocate I’ve ever met is packing heat, breaking the law, a law they don’t agree with. Are they the criminals Walker is talking about?

The Man Who Would Be Governor, Scott Walker: “You’ve got to earn your right to govern. I’ve earned it.”

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is a huckster.

His record is documented on this blog (search: Scott walker), as an irresponsible fraud and rigid ideologue. He’s a lazy privateer, who’ll let the private sector raise the price of service to his constituents, leaving his own record deceptively clean. He’s vetoed county budgets, just so he could get the county board to override his veto, freeing him from taking responsibility for any tax increases.

He’s run social service programs into the ground, declining food aid, child care and medical assistance programs, forcing the state to step in and take control of the programs. He’s proposed a gimmicky sales tax holiday, tone deaf to the economic fear people have during this depression, to get consumers to spend money they’re not inclined to spend.

And like most Republicans in this state, he's ready to tell the rest of the country just how bad it is here. With a slogan like, "Believe in Wisconsin Again," how could you not give people and businesses a bad impression. God I hate snake oil salesmen.

Republican Scott Walker promised to take the state in a new direction of "limited government, economic growth and personal freedom" during one of five stops he made today to officially announce his gubernatorial campaign with a sign reading "Believe in Wisconsin Again." "After six years in office Gov. Jim Doyle says he's not responsible for our current problems. I disagree," Walker said.

Walker also blames Gov. Doyle for not predicting the future, despite the fact that no one else saw the economic crash coming…

“Walker said Doyle ignored the "looming crisis" and continued to spend too much. Walker said he is supportive of parental involvement in education and having quality, affordable health care through “market based solutions.”

Code for: Private school vouchers and the expansion of the private sector health insurance debacle we have in place now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Paul Ryan’s Slick “Average Guy” Act Falls Away with Refusal to Tax Incomes over $10 Million. Standing up for Little Guy?

Thanks to Media Matters, which featured Rep. Paul Ryan's open admission he wants to protect the wealthy, we can fully explain the truth behind Ryan's lies and double speak. If this slip doesn't sink this snake, nothing will.
House Democrats aren't interested in hearing Republican input on health care reform or the budget, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." Ryan said he would not consider raising taxes for those who make $10 million or more per year.

Carlos Watson: "We saw in Britain recently, they dealt with their deficit. They raised rates on their upper echelon. Would you consider raising rates even for a short period of time on those super rich, if you will - not even the top two percent, but above that - those making north of $10 million dollars in income."

Rep. Ryan: "The answer is no. You gotta remember - more than half of the folks filing at these tax rates are small businesses." [MSNBC, 4/28/09; emphasis added]

Again, a small business owners take home pay would be $10 million bucks, not counting the total business income. That's a "small" business?

Only 1.9 Percent Of Small Businesses Fall Into Top Two Tax Brackets, Much Less Earn $10 Million Per Year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Only 1.9 percent of taxpayers with small business income face either of the top two income tax rates. Ryan’s plan again ignores the hard middle class worker and small business owner while benefiting the non-working wealthy investor.

Many "Small Business Owners" With Income Over $1 Million Are Actually Passive Investors, Not Employers. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "...many of the roughly 650,000 filers with small-business income who face one of the top two tax rates are merely passive investors who have nothing to do with running the business. This is because of the Treasury Department's relatively broad definition of 'small business. For example, the $84 of income President Bush received in 2001 from a passive investment in an oil and gas company made him a 'small-business owner.' About 35 percent of 'small-business owners' with incomes above $200,000, and about 58 percent of 'small-business owners' with incomes over $1 million, received some or all of their business income in the form of passive investments. The Treasury definition also counts as 'small-business income' the fees that CEOs are paid for sitting on corporate boards." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/2/09]

You Got a Problem With Me Openly Carrying My Gun? Make My Day, Punk.

Wanna fight back against the open carry gun nuts in Wisconsin? "Scream real loud."-Pee Wee Herman

So who are these squealing Second Amendment supporters?

Are they a frustrated group of ex-body builders who found that toned abs or massive chests still didn’t impressed the public enough to garner the respect they deserved?

Are they an impotent crowd of social rejects hoping no one will notice their inadequacies by clinging to their guns like junkies hoping someone will see how cool they were with their holstered jewelry.

Or are they a small faction of insecure paranoid zealots hopelessly looking for a little unearned respect by total strangers using fear and intimidation by wearing a gun in public. After all, who’s going to question or confront someone who appears unafraid to use a loaded gun?

It could be any of the above mentioned reasons and more. These are posers and gun addicts disguised as defenders of the Second Amendment, who conveniently ignore the included word “regulated” as if it were an ink blot spilled by a careless Thomas Jefferson.

Since only a few over compensating losers will want to wear their gun collections in public, the majority of people in the state and country will obviously be afraid to confront these nut jobs and ask them to take their insecurities someplace else.

I used to call the Republicans the party of chaos. I might go back to that after watching AG J.B. Van Hollen’s irresponsible act of issuing a memo that could only stir the pot of crazies into action. I guess he just didn’t think it would be a big deal. What an innocent and naive act from a full grown adult and top cop in the state. “Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said his memo was simply intended to "clarify" the law, and he does not believe more people will start openly carrying guns because of it.”-WISN.Com

Fox11 has the report:

WTMJ-TV covered this story: Nik Clark is a member of the National Rifle Association and He owns eight guns, and took one of them to a New Berlin grocery store and gas station, as a way to put open carry to the test.

How did WTMJ know Nik was about to test his constitutional right to open carry? He called the media outlets for a sensationalized scoop about his daring social experiment. Sadly, the media giant in Milwaukee gave Nik Clark all the attention this publicity slut was looking for. Watch this massive muscle bound knuckleheaded act surprised that no one seemed to care whether he was packin’ heat or not. Would you have said something?

On the sane side of the open carry argument, had this:

State Rep. Leon Young, a former Milwaukee police officer who represents part of Milwaukee's north side, said he's working on fast track legislation to clear up confusion with Wisconsin's gun law. "If you're walking down the street with a gun in your hand and people can see it or you've got one in your holster here and people can see it, it's going to create a disturbance," Young said.

Milwaukee's police chief said he'll go on telling his officers to take down anyone with a firearm despite Van Hollen's finding that people can carry guns openly if they do it peacefully. Chief Ed Flynn said officers can't assume people are carrying guns legally in a city that has seen nearly 200 homicides in the past two years. Flynn said it's irresponsible to send a message that if someone carries a weapon openly, no one can bother them.

Shorewood Police Chief David Banaszynski, the leader of the state chief's association, said "Now, with open carry, which is legal, there may be no training. I could hand you my handgun, you could walk down the street carrying it with no training whatsoever. To me, there is a lot more danger now with people thinking, 'I have the right to carry it so I'm going to carry it, and not have the training."

Guns are still prohibited in schools and any private property owner, including businesses, can ban firearms.

God these people won't be happy until were all afraid to go out of our homes. But we can fight back. Anytime you see anyone carrying a gun in public and causing a public disturbance...Scream real loud!

Jonathan Alter: Cheney's Plan-Tell Obama "I told you So" If Attacked Again.

Big Ed Shultz may be getting all the right wing press after accusing Dick Cheney of wanting America to be attacked again, but it was Jonathan Alter who's been talking about the same Cheney plan to set up Obama for a big "I told you so" for the last month.

On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Alter doesn't hold back...

Monday, April 27, 2009

If You Hate Obama's Cap and Trade Proposal, Then You Must Have Really Hated Cheney's Energy Plan

Bracken Hendricks from the Center for American Progress brought up an interesting factoid about the highly touted Bush/Cheney energy policy. It makes any price increase due to cap and trade legislation look tame. Democrats would be wise to use these numbers to shut Republicans up, fast.

David Gregory: The Right Wing Question Machine

Meet the Press is a hollow shell of itself, now that David Gregory has completely destroyed any edge or credibility it might have had. Instead of digging deep into the more serious issues of the Obama administrations policies, Gregory is happy to ask the "what if people hate Obama and think he's bad for the country" questions that only zealot right wing fringers might be shouting in a drunken rage.

I might include a list of his dumb ass questions later, but in the mean time, if you have a moment watch this highly edited clip. It's an embarrassing moment in Meet the Press history.

And now the NON-NEWS from the Business & Media Institute

I heard radio host Thom Hartmann interview an individual from that peaked my interest, enough to check out why he thinks liberal writing in newspapers is the reason why many papers are going out of business. Insane, you bet.What I found were alarming stories about…nothing. Big sensational headlines describing stories that were anything but shocking. Their phony outrage is a breath taking look at a desperate conservative movement looking for any reason to complain. For example:
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift Blames Capitalism for Woes Facing Obama: Columnist … attacks GOP for blaming the failure of government.
Wow. What a stunning revelation. Wouldn't you know it, a Republican pundit was surprised.
Monica Crowley, who is conservative talk show host, scoffed at Clift’s suggestion that Obama is trying to save capitalism … Crowley said. “He’s trying to nationalize health care, nationalize the energy sector, he’s done a ham-handed effort to nationalize the financial sector, federalizing education – there’s no saving capitalism going on.”
Wrong. Crowley must be unaware of how FDR saved capitalism by regulating it. Oops. Yawn. And this was my favorite incredible “outrage.”
Inhofe Warns TARP Recipients Giving to ACORN, Other Left-Wing Causes-The same left-wing groups (like ACORN) who complained that bailout companies shouldn’t be awarding bonuses to their executives, might be getting their hands on some of the bailout money according to one senator (Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.).
The operative phrase here is “might be getting their hands on some of the bail out money.” MIGHT. It gets even funnier, in a bizarre sort of way:
The senator had sent out a press release the same day which said ACORN, Friends of the Earth, Planned Parenthood, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Conservation International Foundation, could be receiving TARP funds, at least indirectly.
“…could be receiving TARP funds, at least indirectly?” And tomorrow the world might end. You will love the reason for this fictionalized accusation:
Inhofe explained it was a media strategy necessary to mention those groups specifically to get the public’s attention and promote his amendment. “Well, the reason that we used those organizations in our press release was number one, to promote our amendment, and number two to show that, even though I can’t say it’s happening today, I suspect it is…”
Oh god please, my head is hurting. Luckily, the Business & Media Institute is on the case, making sure the most unsurprising news stories are given an edge and the kind of coverage they think they deserve.

Failed Ayn Rand Theory Pushed By Blindly Ideological Congressman Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan isn’t shy about his ideological leanings and most admired economic gurus. Ayn Rand is one of his great influences. If you wanted to gain a little insight into the current economic depression and Ryan’s contribution to it, the following Rand quote should help:
Government "help" to business is just as disastrous as government persecution... the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.
The governments hands were kept off, and look what happened. This shortened 60 minutes piece on hard working Americans 401k losses was the result of Ayn Rand’s “government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off” approach.

This fluff piece in the Milwaukee Jounrnal Senitinal highlighted Ryan’s support of the Wall Street bailout but never mentioned how he thumbed his nose at the auto workers in his own district who are now unemployed. A blue collar bailout? Are you kidding. Not in the world of Ayn Randers.

He also brings a deep philosophical attachment to market capitalism and "supply-side" economics - a world view shaped by such icons of individualism and free enterprise as Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."

At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand's writings when he told his audience that, "Almost every fight we are is a fight that usually comes down to . . . involved in here on Capitol Hill one conflict - individualism versus collectivism." In that struggle, Ryan argued that shifting Social Security (which he called a "collectivist system") toward personal investment accounts was not only good policy, but would change the political landscape, according to a recording of the event made by its host, The Atlas Society.

"If we actually accomplish this goal of personalizing Social Security, think of what we will accomplish. Every worker, every laborer in America will not only be a laborer but a capitalist. They will be an owner of society. that many more people in America who are not going to listen to the likes of Dick Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, the collectivist, class-warfare-breathing demagogues," said Ryan.

What happened to the peoples 401k’s in the 60 Minutes video clip would have happened to their privatized Social Security accounts. Ryan has no problem watching people own their own monetary losses. But then, no one ever said they were guaranteed a return on their investment.

Finally, Obama Pushes Back on Republican No Votes

Wait a minute, there appears to be signs of life in the White House. Despite the fact that Barack Obama ran as a Democrat, his centrist right leanings were starting to scare almost all of his biggest supporters. You know, the ones hoping for "change they could believe in." It looks like Obama is about to take the gloves off. The Huffington Post writes:

In a meeting with House Republicans at the White House, President Obama reminded the minority that the last time he reached out to them, they reacted with zero votes -- twice -- for his stimulus package. And then he reminded them again. And again. And again.

A GOP source … said that the president was extremely sensitive -- even "thin-skinned" -- to the fact that the stimulus bill received no GOP votes in the House. He continually brought it up throughout the meeting. Obama also offered payback for that goose egg. A major overhaul of the health care system, he told the Republican leadership, would be done using a legislative process known as reconciliation, meaning that the GOP won't be able to filibuster it. Congress has until October 15 to pass health care or student lending reform under the normal process. If it doesn't, reconciliation can be used to eliminate the 60-vote requirement. GOP
aides, however, said that Obama was pretty clear that reconciliation would be used.
"From what was told me, it sounded more like he would almost definitely use reconciliation for health care. I don't think he hedged much," said one.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed back against the decision to use reconciliation. "Senator McConnell and his colleagues want to be part of the solution to reforming our country's health care system … Fast-tracking a major legislative overhaul such as health care reform or a new national energy tax without the benefit of a full and transparent debate does a disservice to the American people.”

McConnell assumes the public is unaware of the last 30 years of debate on both of these important issues. Let's face it, debate is another word for "stall." Kick the can down the road so to speak. Delay and obstruct. Muddy the waters. Stuff their coffers with lobbyist campaign contributions and payoffs to vote against change.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

401k Losses Do Away with Retiremnets

So the Milton Friedman crowd saved a few bucks on the way to losing millions. Big surprise. Yet despite all the warnings scoffed at by the right, the losers here are the American people, including many of those numb skull Republicans.

Baby Boom retirees are not only about to drain Medicare, but just saw half their retirement savings vanish, thanks to the Republican vision of a "self adjusting market." 60 Minutes offers a glimpse into the 401k casino

La Crosse’s Mayoral Version of “24”

While the rest of the country pins their hopes on a new, more Democratic leaning direction, La Crosse Wisconsin is moving “right” in the hopes of seeing a property tax freeze. That would be a fine trick in the current economic depression that has left nearly all real estate markets with an oversupply of devalued homes. Oh, and a little lying never hurt on the conservative campaign trail.

Did I mention how much fun it will be to watch a 24 year old, newly elected conservative mayor, run city hall? Will he be like one of those rare moderate Republicans, who are nearing extinction, or will he fall in line with the new “extremist” party of disgruntled right winger secessionists?

The La Crosse Tribune:
Matt Harter rode promises of property tax reductions and open-door government to a decisive victory Tuesday over Dorothy Lenard. Turnout pitted the young conservative against a progressive baby boomer. Harter rose in popularity by committing himself to reducing the city’s notorious property taxes and reforming the culture at City Hall.

His Democratic opponent Dorothy Lenard pondered the end result on what she called a campaign of lies.

(She) worried Tuesday that the people who influenced Harter’s “negative” campaign message would play an equally strong role in his administration. “If you run a campaign and you try to win it by misinformation and false accusations, I don’t know how you can enjoy the win. If you’re going to go to doors and tell lies, you’re going to win the election.”

While I don’t know how true Lenard’s accusations are, the pattern of campaign lying by Republicans is nothing new. I’ve mentioned it many times here how hard it is to believe that any party would resort to complete fabrication and lying as a way of to deceive the public into voting for them. The old days of merely misleading voters on a few issues is long gone. Which is why this mayoral term will be so much more interesting to watch. According to the outgoing Mayor Mark Johnsrud, “I think it’s going to be the hardest budget year because of the overall economy and the effects ... (that) has had on the value of property. I would say that it’s going to be very difficult to meet next year’s budget without cutting positions.”

And when those cuts are made and services removed, as mandated by Harter’s election, the Republican party of victimization will whine about that too.

And what about the city of Manitowoc?

Justin Nickels was sworn in as the 27th mayor of Manitowoc. At 22, Nickels is the youngest elected mayor in the city's history. What I found really interesting is that after looking at least 15 stories on his mayoral run and win, not one mentioned his political leanings. Dare I say it in public...a Democrat. While Mayor Harter is proudly declared the Republican winner in La Crosse, the slightly younger winner in Manitowoc is never acknowledged as a liberal, something I'm sure he would be ashamed of admitting.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: "V.P. Cheney is a man who frightens easily."

Former Chief of Staff to Sec. of State Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, didn't have a lot of nice things to say Dick Cheney recently when he appeared with Rachel Maddow. In fact, he based his assessment on the fact that Cheney is afraid of his own shadow, a frightened cowering coward. I haven't seen anything like this take down in quite awhile.

Wilkerson: "Vice President Cheney is a man who frightens easily. All you have to do is go back to his 5 deferments to the Vietnam conflict, his behavior post 9/11, undisclosed locations and so forth, and the immanent and the politics of fear that pervaded the first Bush administration.

Republican AG Van Hollen Campaign of “Keeping us Safe” and Fear Mongering Wastes Taxpayer Money. Tea Baggers Unite?

I’ve been amazed at the lack of Democratic responses to the obvious fear tactics of the Republican Party. The GOP has successfully portrayed themselves as tough on crime, while cutting beat cops and whining about the inevitable slow responses by police to 911 calls. Oddly, and according to plan, the cop shortfall allows them to push concealed carry laws to compensate for the cuts in law enforcement.

Wisconsin’s Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s tough on crime position is a thinly veiled taxpayer supported campaign ad. An expensive one to boot and one conservatives are more than willing to pay billions to support. Van Hollen’s memo to police departments that publicly encourages every gun nut to openly carry a weapon has angered law enforcement and could possibly create chaos. WPT's Here and Now with Frederica Freyberg had a field day:

The West Allis gun advocate Brad Krause made this pleasant easygoing observation that carrying a gun creates a "...wise and consistent state of peace."

According to former Milwaukee cop and now Democratic State Rep. Leon Young, on Van Hollen's open carry advocacy, "He's the top guy...he has a possibility of creating chaos, and as an elected official we should try to create peace and hope...!"

Jim Fendry, of the Wisconsin Pro Gun Movement, backs Van Hollen's inflammatory position that carrying a gun by itself is not a crime, but then goes on in frightening detail about coming across a person with a gun and the possible public safety danger they might pose. It's a mind blowing contrast of ideas Fendry didn't bother to notice.

Mandatory Sentencings/taxpayer dollar black hole-Wisconsin State Journal:

Calling himself the voice of public safety for Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said that Gov. Jim Doyle's proposal to release an estimated 3,000 offenders to help balance the state budget shows the Democratic governor's skewed priorities. "Public safety should be the first call on our government coffers … but if we don't spend enough money on public safety, nothing else really matters." But Van Hollen's remarks ran counter to most of the speakers in a two-day seminar in Madison on Wisconsin's corrections system, which has grown fivefold in the past 30 years.

What Van Hollen’s doesn’t mention is the overwhelming evidence against his outdated, emotionally charged call to “hang tough,” and the escalating unnecessary cost to taxpayers.

Marshall Clement, director of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which recently completed a study of Wisconsin's corrections system, said the $29,000 a year the state spends on inmates has failed to reduce crime or the percentage of people who re-offend — roughly 38 percent within three years. "For what you're spending on prisons, $1.2 billion a year, you're not getting a very good return on investment," Clement said. The study recommends boosting community supervision and shortening sentences for good behavior, among other strategies.

Todd Cleary, a professor at John Jay College in New York, one of the sponsors of the seminar, said high incarceration rates cut crime — for a while. But crime goes back up, he said, because of the damage that imprisonment does to families and communities. "The first effect is things get better," Cleary said. "But the long-term effect is that things get worse."

(Former Republican sheriff and district attorney in Dane County) Corrections secretary Rick Raemisch said that Wisconsin's prison system is "broken" and includes mentally ill, drug- and alcohol-addicted and elderly inmates — some of whom, he said, shouldn't be there … Many other inmates are nonviolent offenders who could be released early on supervision. "I'm hard-core law and order," he said. "I walk through these prisons. I see all these young men and I say, 'What are we doing?'

Several speakers said a barrier to reforming the state's corrections policies is that such reform has become highly politicized in recent years. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said (when she) ran unsuccessfully for attorney general against Van Hollen in 2006 … Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spent millions of dollars to convince voters that she was "soft on crime." "Fears and phobias drive policies instead of facts," Falk said.

Said State Public Defender Nicholas Chiarkis: "Tough on criminals sometimes is stupid on crime."

But before we get too caught up in all latest research and facts that refute the more guttural reaction:

But State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, said, "Democrats are trying to see what they can do to help criminals instead of seeing what we can do to help victims."

That assumes Democrats don’t care about crime victims and their own families safety. Which we all know is true, right Republicans? Hey, didn't you guys oppose the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS grant program, that put 50,000 officers on the streets? (Bush) argued that it was not cost-effective. Prisons are?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Not a Phony Bone in Sheppard Smith

Fox News' Sheppard Smith is known for his honest, fair and balanced approach to the facts, and may be the only show host with a cross-over audience. I record it daily for "stuff." His recent outburst on torture, and his use of the f-word, has not only garnered media attention but supporters. The fact is, whether he is conservative or liberal, Smith has personality and a sharp wit. The following clip is his conversation with war monger Cliff May and reporter in exile Judith Miller. It closes with another clip of Sheppard's little outburst of frustration. This isn't your typical flag waving tripe.

Employee Free Choice ad vs Lawsuit Abuse ad. Either way, Corporate America Looks Bad

Corporate America is seeing its power wane. Even if it's stranglehold is lifted ever so slightly, like an animal backed into a corner, it's only option is to attack. In the first ad for the Employee Free Choice Act, the ugly side of capitalism is clearly portrayed, making a strong case for employee rights.

But in the second ad, big business tries to inflate the "lawsuit abuse" myth balloon for another tour around the country. The one thing business doesn't want more of is any amount of liability to its costumers or communities. Without the worry of being held accountable, corporations are free to "test market" any product they can get away with making, with little or no concern about personal injury lawsuits. The ad points to a few cases where the system might have fallen down, but then, that would be enough of a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

The Next BIG Idea from Republicans: The “Democrat Socialist Party.” All Our Problems Solved!

Are the Republicans making this too easy?

Despite the feeling you were reading a piece from the Onion, this is how Politico told the story of the Republi-crazies.

A conservative faction of the Republican National Committee is urging the GOP to take a harder line against both Democrats and wayward Republicans, drafting a resolution to rename the opposition the “Democrat Socialist Party” and moving to rebuke the three Republican senators who supported the stimulus package.

RNC member James Bopp, Jr. accused President Obama of wanting “to restructure American society along socialist ideals.” “The proposed resolution acknowledges that and calls upon the Democrats to be truthful and honest with the American people by renaming themselves the Democrat Socialist Party. Just as President Reagan’s identification of the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire’ galvanized opposition to communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to socialism.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele responded, “The Democrats are indeed marching America toward European-style socialism, and I will continue to criticize their dangerous policies in that regard. But I believe these proposed resolutions will accomplish little than to give the media and our opponents the opportunity to mischaracterize Republicans.”

Jeff Kent, the Washington state committeeman who proposed the resolution said, "There is nothing more important for our party than bringing the truth to bear on the Democrats' march to socialism. Just like Ronald Reagan identifying the U.S.S.R. as the evil empire was the beginning of the end to Soviet domination, we believe the American people will reject socialism when they hear the truth about how the Democrats are bankrupting our country and destroying our freedom and liberties."

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) even said recently that there were 17 socialists in Congress.
A well-connected Republican sympathetic to Steele complained: “This was engineered by a bunch of people who ought to be involved in College Republicans, not the RNC. It’s not that they’re not well-intentioned, but it’s just juvenile.”

Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said, "I'm going to pass on marketing advice from folks who hadn't fully thought out the implications of using tea bags as a brand. But what's clear is that when you're devoid of leadership, devoid of ideas and your only answer is to say 'no' to change, it's not surprising that angry, fringe elements take center stage at the Republican Party."

Republicans Have Put their Trust in Private Businesses. Would You?

A big thanks to for this story,Corporate America’s Counter-Stimulus Strategy. Firms decide to shut profitable plants while spurning buyers- By Roger Bybee.”

I’ve included this short excerpt as a way of directing everyone to the entire story. In my naive world of rainbows, infomercial miracles and tweets, I guess I should have guessed the alternative world of business had been planning their own way of gaming the pathway to recovery.

“Is it too late? I hope not,” said an exasperated Anthony Fortunato, president of the 260-worker United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2604 at an ArcelorMittal steel mill in Lackawanna, New York, as he and his members watched the mill being systematically taken apart.

An eager buyer has been pressing the company for at least two months to sell the mill and thus keep the profitable operation open and the jobs alive. Fortunato is hoping the buyer will remain interested despite ArcelorMittal’s aggressive drive to gut the mill. ArcelorMittal is rushing to dismantle complex, custom-built ovens and other equipment that will take months to replace. Not only are they accelerating
the pace of outsourcing to low-wage nations like China, but there have been several recent instances of corporations closing profitable plants in the United
States and then refusing to sell them to other companies interested in keeping the plants open and retaining the current workforce. The plant has been consistently profitable, earning $48.4 million even in a recessionary year like 2008.

Yet ArcelorMittal is intent on shipping one product line to low-wage Brazil and another to France. Moreover, ArcelorMittal has rebuffed a proposal by another major steel company to buy the Hennepin mill and keep it running.

Republicans Reinstate Litmus Tests, Adopt the same Prerequisite Democrats were Criticized for Using.

Without even a hint of ironic reflection, Republicans and anti-abortion groups now fully support a litmus test for government positions. What wasn’t fair one minute is now completely okay with the flip-flop right wing crowd of hypocrites. According to the Capital Times:

The state Senate confirmed three of Gov. Jim Doyle's appointees to state boards despite opposition from anti-abortion advocates and Republicans ... Opponents argued they should not be allowed to serve because all three support abortion rights.

But then we have the usual Democrat who shoots himself in the foot by making the zealot right appear to have a shred of credibility.

…retired businessman Roger Axtell of Janesville voted with nine other members in February to approve a plan to perform late-term abortions at a Madison clinic ... Axtell said (Republican) state Sen. Glenn Grothman’s opposition was expected. "I can't blame them for taking a strong stand. They have very strong moral and ethical beliefs."

Odd Mr. Axtell, I would have thought that “choice” offered the stronger moral and ethical argument.

During these Hard Economic Times, Gold Chocolate Coins make Comeback

I thought this financial news tidbit offered some relief from the avalanche of bad economic reports we’re so used to reading. The Financial Times title drew me in:
Chocolate coins are now deemed safer than gilts

As Alistair Darling (the British Treasurer) produced his Budget goodies on Wednesday, he would have done well to peek at something which might be dubbed the “chocolate” metric. In recent months the cost of insuring against a default on UK gilts (a bond issued by the UK government) has surged as investors have fretted about the ever-spiralling levels of British debt.

But if that is embarrassing enough, the cost of insuring the chocolate giant Cadbury was on Wednesday far lower. A company that peddles chocolate coins, in other words, is currently deemed a better credit bet than the British Treasury itself.

Maybe my kids were right to hold on to their gold chocolate coins after all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Col. Steven Kleinman on the real reason for Torture

Isn't it odd that after talking about the Bush administrations alleged torture for the last two years, we are suddenly inundated with interrogation officials claiming the tactic doesn't work. On top of that, the torture was conducted to force detainees to admit to an al Qaeda/Saddam link, not to help save American lives.

Of all those interviewed, I found Col. Steven Kleinman, a former military interrogator, the easiest to understand. Rachel Maddow makes it all look so easy. takes on

We all know by now that isn't really free, just a pay service willing to entice you with a freebie to start. That isn't sitting well with the Federal Trade Commission. They've put together their own "garage band," and their own website, warning anyone who listens credit reports are free. Free as the wind. As far as I know, it ran at least once, so here it is (on the right). We report, you decide.

GOP's "Entitlements" Mantra: "Defits Don't Matter" & "This is our Due."

1. Now that the Democrats are in power, deficits DO matter.

2. "This is our due" treats power like it were an "entitlement" to be used by Republicans to control of our country for their own purposes and benefits.

Sen. Ensign: "Extreme Care was taken..." during Torture. Another Compassionate Conservative?

Just how low will the Republican Party go? They are now defending torture. I wish I were kidding. Watch Sen. John Ensign successfully avoid the word "torture," state unequivocally that any "Democrat" study can't be believed like the more reliable nonpartisan Republican studies and ignore the elaborate research data all in the name of protecting the American public. As one member of the "American public," I find it insulting to have to listen to this condescending Neanderthal.

One thing to think about: If "enhanced interrogation techniques" are not considered torture, what would stop some future Republican administration from "not torturing" Americans in our own country while investigating robberies, public protests and corruption?

Maybe this will be the issue their rabid base can finally get behind to recruit more disenfranchised Americans who are forming, as we speak, new kinds of anti-American/Democratic militia groups to take back their country. This is the same base of flag wavers who believe the democratic voting process unfairly took control of government away them, just as everything started to collapse around their failed ideologically driven system. A system they say they can now fix with the exact same tax cuts and deregulation. They truly are in a Bizarro World.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hey Democrats, “the right of every American to choose their own doctor” Doesn’t Exist Now. GOP Argument Idiotic and Out of Touch

If you’re like me, and you’ve been shopping for health care in the private sector, you already know that insurance companies have been picking your doctors and hospitals for you for years. If you don’t like their choices, you can pay more out of pocket to see someone else or change insurers, limiting your ability to get the best price.

Since we have a political aristocracy in this country, our public “servants” are insulated from the private sector, and receive benefits their bosses (we the people) don’t have. The Republican arguments show how truly disconnected they are from the real world limitations of our current health care insurance system. The fact that Democrats haven’t refuted the GOP lies about “choosing their own doctor” tells me they don’t get it either. The benefits they receive are the very benefits Republicans rail against as “socialized medicine.” Which brings me to the approval of our next health secretary.
(AP) - Kathleen Sebelius won Senate committee approval as health secretary over Republican opposition … Just two of 10 committee Republicans joined majority Democrats in voting "yes," signaling GOP concerns over Sebelius' ties to a Kansas abortion doctor, as well as some broader skepticism about Obama's health care plans.
For a party who once denounced anyone holding up Republican presidents choices for government posts, party opposition over health care reform was the game changer this time. Just another excuse to change the rules when it’s convenient.
Republican Sen. Jon Kyl questioned Sebelius' commitment to ensuring that the government doesn't try to interfere in Americans' health care choices. "I believe in the right of every American to choose the doctor, the hospital, the health plan of his or her choice," Kyl said. He contended that Sebelius had displayed "insufficient commitment to these principles." … Republicans fear a shift toward government-run health care.
You mean the kind of insurance our public servants have? The same kind of insurance every industrialized country has, except us. A public plan that could steal away citizens from the dysfunctional private for profit insurance we have now? How unfair.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Clear Channel Radio Host in Two Markets Promoting Tea Party Claims "Grass Roots" Protest?

My former WIBA radio partner Vicki McKenna, now a midday host in Milwaukee and afternoon drive host in Madison, admits she was in the middle of the "grass roots" tea party effort. By grass roots, I mean a daily effort by her and her employer Clear Channel, to organize and promote in the two major media markets in Wisconsin a manufactured outrage that could have been easily organized before Bush's second presidential term (oddly it wasn't). That doesn't even include the other syndicated conservative talk hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Rielly pumped into each and every local radio stick in the state and country. Now that's grass roots. Personally and professionally, it's difficult to see anyone so consistently wrong rewarded so lavishly. How wrong? Like this blathering inconsistency:

McKenna: The people that were there were Democrats and Independents...

When just a few moments later:

McKenna: Republicans tend to be more amenable to messages of fiscal responsibility and accountability. So naturally you're going to see some of those people there...we would have loved to have some Democrats there who are interested in fiscal responsibility and government accountability.

Make up your mind, were Democrats there or not? And oh by the way, the conservative myth of fiscal responsibility and accountability experienced a reality check when McKenna's dear Republican Party left office leaving a $1.4 trillion dollars deficit and an economic depression . Naturally you're going to see Republicans drawn to this steaming pile of tea party rhetoric.

George Will Believes that Very Intelligent People are Above the Law Concerning Torture Memos

Conservative ideology has long held that only a few people have the ability and intelligence to handle the complexities of the country and world. That common citizens needs to look to a leader. That's one of the reasons they are constantly talking about finding someone to "lead" the party and give it a direction and purpose. This Week's George Will couldn't have demonstrated this philosophy in a more cartoonish way:

Will: The lawyering that produced the memos flowed from the theory subscribed to by very "intelligent people" called the unitary theory of the president. These are presidentialists...

Donaldson: Where in the Constitution do you find that...?

Will: These are intelligent ...these are intelligent men and women of goodwill...

Donaldson: If the president does it, it's legal.

Will: I'm just telling you there are intelligent people out there that believe it or not, disagree with you.

Peggy Noonan: "Sometimes I Think...Just Keep Walkin'" When it comes to the Torture Memos

In one of the most stunning conversations about the condition of the media elite in years, a group of well know grown-ups sat around a table and put on one of the most childish displays of lawlessness and Constitutional ignorance that I've ever seen. From George Will blaming the NY Times for inciting the Congress to investigate the torture memo's, Cokie Roberts expressing relief the torture tapes were destroyed to Peggy Noonan whining helplessly that we should forget the whole mess and "sometimes I think just keep walkin.'' Sam Donaldson seemed almost stunned watching his collegues in the media advocate dropping the whole issue.

I'm with Sam.

The Huffington Post:
Senator Russ Feingold, one of the harshest critics of the Bush administration's nation security policies, says he can not bring himself to support President Obama's apparent decision not to investigate or prosecute illegalities from those years.

Later, the Senator took a swipe at some of the rationalizations for avoiding prosecution that have been voiced by Washington lawmakers and pundits. "If you want to see just how outrageous this is, I refer you to the remarks made by Peggy Noonan this Sunday," he said, referring to the longtime conservative columnist's appearance on ABC's This Week. "I frankly have never heard anything quite as disturbing as her remark that was something to the affect of: 'well sometimes you just have to move on.'"

"Some things in life need to be mysterious," Noonan said on Sunday about the release of the torture memos. "Sometimes you need to just keep walking. ... It's hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that."

The Madness of the Democratic Party's Centrism

I thought it was interesting the administration was backing away from the disaster we all know as NAFTA. Here’s the recent uttering of neo-liberal centrism, as reported by Reuters:
It is not necessary to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to honor President Barack Obama's campaign promise to add stronger labor and environmental provisions, said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk … Obama said the United States should use the "hammer" of threatening to withdraw from NAFTA if Canada and Mexico did not agree to change the pact. Although most mainstream U.S. business and farm groups credit NAFTA with boosting U.S. exports and increasing economic efficiency in North America, union groups in many manufacturing states blame the pact for heavy job losses.
Of course the loss of manufacturing jobs is of little concern to free market Republicans who offer the displaced underfunded job retraining programs as the solution to losing ones lively hood. Enter the Democrats. Obama’s threat of withdrawal helped him win an election from a public already afraid of losing their jobs and homes due to the failed U.S. economic direction Bush and the Republicans were taking us. But corporatism has been firmly implanted in the minds of a formerly demoralized Democratic Party, thinking maybe the Republicans had made their case for unfettered globalization in the arena of public opinion, acquiescing to the now failed policy. Ignoring the statistical data below, the conviction less Democrats are now about to throw middle America under the bus according to the Financial Times:

The US recession has opened up the biggest gap between male and female unemployment rates since records began in 1948, as men bear the brunt of the economy’s contraction. Men have lost almost 80 per cent of the 5.1m jobs that have gone in the US since the recession started, pushing the male unemployment rate to 8.8 per cent. The female jobless rate has hit 7 per cent.

It also means that women could soon overtake men as the majority of the US labour force. Men have been disproportionately hurt because they dominate those industries that have been crushed: nine in every 10 construction workers are male, as are seven in every 10 manufacturing workers. These two sectors alone have lost almost 2.5m jobs. Women, in contrast, tend to hold more cyclically stable jobs and make up 75 per cent of the most insulated sectors of all: education and health care.

The widening gap between male and female joblessness means many US families are solely reliant on the income the woman brings in. Since women earn on average 20 per cent less than men, that is putting extra strain on many households.
Just what does it take to get somebodies attention these days?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

GOP Lies to Their Base About Cap and Trade. Is that anyway to Keep them Interested?

It was stunning to read the McClatchy News’ “More fuzzy math? How GOP estimates carbon tax impact,” which revealed just how crazy wrong the Republicans are when it comes to reliably informing their own constituents. They’re not just Bullsh**ng the Democrats and centrists, but their own base. Here it is in black & white:
Republicans' main attack is a claim that climate legislation will cost U.S. households $3,100 a year. They got the number by doing some additional math based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, and they're sticking with it, even though John Reilly, an MIT economist and the author of the study, told them that they misinterpreted his work and that their number is wrong.
You would have thought that would have been it, the story ends there, right? That would be true if the Republican Party wasn’t already blatantly and unabashedly lying about everything already. Partisan? Not when you consider the facts, including:
Those who back emissions controls say the cost of doing nothing will be higher … In Congress, some Democrats and at least one Republican senator support a plan that would return all the money the government collects in the program to all Americans to compensate for the higher energy costs. Republicans, however, say that there's no agreement yet on how to control costs, so they didn't factor that in.
If they didn’t factor that in then the story they’re telling is already a lie. But it gets worse.
Reilly, of MIT and author of the study, wrote a letter to Republicans saying that their figure didn't accurately account for the cost of the permits and that the total cost of those pollution permits would have little bearing on the actual cost to the average person.Republicans dismissed his letter.
They dismissed it. There it is in PRINT for everyone to read. They dismissed the hard cold facts the guy who wrote the study warned. Yet the press will still treat their “debate” as if it had substance and credibility? Sure.

Nonetheless, there's some evidence that their political offensive is working. Just before the House approved the budget on a largely party-line vote, Boehner said that the energy plan would "cost the average family $3,100 a year. As we flip on a light ... in Ohio, our electricity rates go up at least 50 percent the day this bill passes - 50 percent. And they could go as high as 100 percent."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that because rates could go up, "you must have a credit immediately, dividends, right on that same bill. ... We can't go forward unless we make the ratepayer whole."

Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen and Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker and others, are pushing a form of "cap and dividend" plans. Van Hollen, who's Pelosi's assistant for policy issues, would sell all the allowances at an auction and return a monthly "consumer dividend" to mitigate higher energy prices.

It sounds to me like the panicky right wing politicians want to stir up the base while ignoring the eventual rebates to the consumer for now, get some mileage out of the B.S., and vote against it anyway.

Incredibly, after about three months of the Obama administration, the teabagger base of the same Republican Party that economically destroyed this country, are driven to “take their country back.” For a repeat performance?

That’s the problem.

WMC: Promote Corporate Royalty, Citizen Subservience and a Buyer Beware Market

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, a business lobbying group, took a little time out of their busy schedule and offered to help the governor and legislature make the state more attractive to the few remaining corporations able to survive the current economic depression. Having succeeded in shipping manufacturing jobs overseas for cheap slave labor, which in turn destroyed Wisconsin's manufacturing base, their next step involves whining about the loss of jobs and advocating a similar employee climate like India and China to attract big business.

So what would the business lobby in Wisconsin want changed, with my response first in parenthesis:

Harmonize Regulation (Get rid of tighter state regulations for a one-size-fits all Federal standards. This flies in the face of the conservative’s hard rhetoric involving “states rights"): We should attempt to harmonize regulatory statutes and administrative rules with those imposed under federal law.

Promoting Quality Health Care (Not affordable universal coverage like competing global nations, but expanding the failed dysfunctional private for profit care. More corporate rationing): We should focus our efforts on improving the current private sector health care delivery system ... improving quality and reducing unnecessary or inappropriate treatment.

Enhance Fairness in our Legal System (Perpetuate the myth of outlandish and unfair jury awards/allow companies to make unsafe products with no penalties): We should adopt comprehensive product liability reforms.

Ensure Uniform Employment Regulations (Prevent the labor movement from advancing fairness incrementally in the workplace by again, putting in place a one-size-fits-all set of rules/employee fairness “confusing”): State law should preclude the adoption of a patchwork of confusing and conflicting employment regulations by local units of government.

Keep Wisconsin Competitive (Do away with business taxes altogether/race to the bottom/detach corporate responsibility from local communities): We should strive to maintain the progress made in reducing Wisconsin’s overall state and local tax burden to keep us competitive among the 50 states in terms of taxation.

Encourage Balanced Budgeting (State budgeting that reduces funding flexibility of essential programs with generally accepted accounting approved by Republicans): Encourage balanced budgeting through adherence to generally accepted accounting principles.

Control Property Taxes (Again, a one-size-fits-all artificial cap on taxes unrelated to the economy, market and community need): Control property taxes imposed by municipalities, counties, technical college districts and other special districts, allowing for reasonable growth while keeping Wisconsin competitive with other states.

Understand and Manage Benefit Costs (Privatize government and do away with health benefits and retirement programs/be like the private sector and dump people off into under funded government programs/then cut funding for programs): Provide school districts and local governments with maximum flexibility in managing costs associated with health care and retirement plans, and encourage them to be competitive with the best plans available in the private sector.

Reduce Cost Shifting (Raise the cost of Medicaid by increasing payments to private insurers, making it insolvent): Support sufficient reimbursement for hospitals and clinics under the existing Medicaid program, and the leveraging of the state's fair share of federal matching funds in order to reduce the cost shift that currently occurs to patients and private insurers because of underpayment in that program.
Hey, wait a minute. Isn't this is the same plan that got us into this economic mess in the first place?

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Texas Cut-and-Runners. Cry Baby Republicans Stamp Feet, Threaten to Run Away From U.S.!

What is it about Republican hypocrisy? They shout slogans like “country first” and “U.S.A, love it or leave it,” while vilifying the Democrats as whiny unhappy complainers who hate their country. Oddly, Republicans have been the only ones who have ever brought up the idea of seceding. Despite the media avoidance of the issue, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd was a registered AIP member from 1995 to 2002, and the AIP leadership certainly considers Sarah one of their own. The Alaska Independence Party promotes Alaska seceding as one of the United States and becoming it's own country! Palin sent a video message to the AIP for its annual convention, in 2006 and 2008.

Then of course we had Governor of Texas Rick Perry suggesting the possibility of his state seceding over the simple fact that the Democrats are in charge and the government is now being asked to pay up the bills it has rung up for the last eight years. Bottom line: Republicans want to “skip the bill.”

Sen. John McCain supporter Chuck Norris now has his own plans, echoed by many during the tea bag protest, of walking away from your obligations.

Martial-arts master Chuck Norris has his sights set on becoming more than a Texas Ranger - he has volunteered to run as the state's first president. Norris, who is a staunch Republican, insists Texans want an independent state after being let down by the American government - and thinks he'd be the ideal candidate to lead the Lone Star state's revolution.

He says, "I may run for president of Texas. That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.

You know what that means…"Anyone who has been around Texas for any length of time knows exactly what we'd do if the going got rough in America."-WIBA-AM

Norris just called the U.S. the enemy of the state. Norris, like many Republicans, wants to cut and run. Secede like a true patriot?

Uh-oh, the right wing is now a target, and they don’t like it. Dept. of Homeland Security Victimizing Republicans.

Do you remember this comment from the Republicans when Democrats complained their activist groups were being infiltrated by the government and were being illegally wiretapped: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Back at you GOP:

Right-wing extremists in the United States are gaining new recruits by exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black U.S. president, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report to law enforcement officials.

The April 7 report said such fears were driving a resurgence in "recruitment and radicalization activity" by white supremacist groups, anti-government extremists and militia movements … it warned that home foreclosures, unemployment and other consequences of the economic recession "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists. To the extent that these factors persist, right-wing extremism is likely to grow in strength," DHS said.

The report warned that military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society. Extremist groups are preying on fears that President Barack Obama, the first African American U.S. president, would restrict gun ownership, boost immigration and expand social programs for minorities, the report said.

Government scrutiny disrupted violent plots following the April 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City by Army veteran Timothy McVeigh which killed 168 people.
A similar assessment of left-wing radicals completed in January was distributed to federal, state and local police agencies at that time. -Reuters

Democratic Head of HSS Napolitano Crumbles Under Phony “Extremist Veteran” Reference, Giving Credibility to Lunatic Right.

As the Republican Party continues to strain the boundaries of credibility in their search for an issue, the majority party continues to act like they have marginal acceptance and controversial policies they’re ready to run from. Take this pathetic acquiescence to a trumped up accusation by the party of patriotic secessionists:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized today to U.S. military veterans who took offense at being mentioned in a domestic intelligence report that concluded that a declining economy and the nation's political climate could fuel a resurgence of right-wing extremism, saying any slight was unintended.-Washington Post
It was an unintended "slight" because the patriotic right wing flag wavers created a phony issue. Simply put, it's a projection of their own lack of veteran support (downgrading veteran PTSD, under funding vet health care and in Wisconsin- a free college education with no state funding to back it up).

What Napolitano doesn’t understand is that the intelligence report was just that, a field report, not a warmed over political press release. For Republicans, the idea that returning military veterans might have a few psychological problems after their tour of duty, is not only ridiculous but an insult to their service. Like the report says:
The Department of Homeland Security's intelligence section stated, "The return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."
Once the Democratic Napolitano gave in, the flood gates of phony legitimacy were opened for this priceless over-the-top right wing reaction:
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, asked the director of national intelligence's ombudsman to investigate the report for "evidence of unsubstantiated conclusions and political bias."
I hope Hoekstra shows the same outrage over the “left wing” reports wording and vilification of war protestors and liberal activist groups that pose no danger to the public. Don’t hold your breath. It wasn't so long ago such an investigation was portrayed by the Republicans as a "witch hunt."

But the bigger problem is Napolitano’s penchant to fold under the pressure of political criticism. If anything, this might be lay bare how easily she can be manipulated to produce certain outcomes that could actually weaken the security interests of this country.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Teabaggers Abandon "Deficits are Okay" for "Everybody out for themselves" and "Secede"

The Teabag Revolt: Could they be just a group of hard core "right wing" Republicans/Libertarians with more concern for their individual needs than the well being and economic stability of their nation?

Will this "America first" crowd be so angry that they would dump their slogan God and country and threaten to secede from the union like the Governor of Texas suggested? Two perspectives are presented here: The news coverage of the "event," and Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert's take (on the right).

Foxnews/AP: Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax "tea party" with his stance against the federal government and for states' rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, "Secede!"

Later, answering news reporters' questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

The protests, organized throughout the country by conservative groups and talk show hosts, were held on the federal income tax deadline day to imitate the original
Boston Tea Party of American revolutionary times.

Wisconsin State Journal: A man who identified himself as the owner of a ceramic tile business (in Madison)but who declined to give his name held a large red and white sign that said "Obama is the Anti-Christ." Several people stopped to take their picture with him.

"He needs to go," the man said of the president. "This is the first and last warning he’ll get."

Mike Smart, a 51-year-old oil field worker from West Texas, held up a white handwritten sign that said, "I'll keep my freedom, my $ and my guns. You keep the change." Another protester, 38-year-old Melva Fried, said the forced ouster of General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner was the last straw for her -- a symbol the federal government was moving toward socialism. "When a president can fire the head of a company, that's too much," she said, holding a sign that read "Stop Rewarding Failure."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Are Insane Teabaggers Just Trying to Make Us Crazy? Dan Gross Wants to Know.

Like many in America, some of us are still trying to understand this whole "teabagging" protest. Besides their fear of "socialism," I'm stumped, and so is MSNBC pundit and author of "Dumb Money" Dan Gross and host David Shuster.

Teabaggers Complain of College Brainwashing and want to Burn Books.

I held onto this clip thinking I probably wouldn't use it, but it kept replaying itself in my head and driving me crazy so here it is, from the Ed Show on MSNBC.

Teabaggers are not only complaining about the rich paying higher taxes, ignoring their own tax cuts, but they want to kick kids out of college so they won't get a liberal brainwashing. One woman throws in "burn the books" as another helpful suggestion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

State Sen. Glenn Grothman on Smoking Ban: "This isn't much of a Public Health Problem."

2009 is looking to be a really bad year for Republicans. They continue to reveal to the public their "down the rabbit hole" ideas, scaring almost everyone they reach out too.

Even though the state of Virginia, the home state of Marlboro and the world’s largest cigarette factory has banned most smoking in restaurants and bars, Republican Party members in Wisconsin apparently haven't been paying attention to the last 50 years of medical warnings about the dangers and costs of smoking. Take Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman's comments recently on Upfront with Mike Gousha (goo-Shay).

Democratic Rep. Jon Richards sanely brought up a few scientific facts and researched social costs relating to the harmful effects of smoking. Of course, Sen. Glenn Grothman would have none of it. Here are some Glenn gems:
"This isn't much of a public health problem, this is just a convenience problem...A lot of people out there don't smoke and they say "if I don't smoke, I don't want the guy next to me to smoke either."
Right, that's what people are thinking. Oh, but it gets worse. We'll lose our "freedom"... to add to the rising cost of health care.
"Again it comes down to a matter of freedom. As people smoke less, the people that don't smoke seem to get madder and madder. Government continues to expand and it will expand to take one more freedom from us this year in the legislature."

Keep in mind, Republicans think health care costs can be brought down if people would just live healthier lifestyles. That wouldn't include inhaling less smoke would it?

No Affordable Rooms to Rent for the Disabled

The economy hasn't just wiped out millions of average American homeowners, but it has also made it almost impossible for the disabled to pay their rent. Wisconsin State Journal:

Madison's disabled community can pretty much forget about renting an apartment without a subsidy of some kind. A new report, "Priced Out in 2008," found that it takes about 80 percent of the monthly SSI payment of $720.78 to rent a market studio apartment in the Madison area and an unbelievable 99.3 percent of monthly SSI income to rent a one-bedroom apartment. (SSI, Supplemental Security Income, is a federal program that is the sole source of income for many of the four million seriously and permanently disabled people who receive it.)

Things are even worse in some places. Nationally it takes an average 112 percent of SSI income to rent a one-bedroom apartment. And in three cities, in Hawaii, Maryland and Massachusetts, SSI recipients would need to spend two times their monthly income to rent a one-bedroom apartment. Not only impossible, but absurd, as the report comments.

The two national advocacy groups for the disabled who conducted the housing study report that the situation worsened under the Bush administration.

Justice Thomas is Starting to Scare Me Now

Not enough has been made of Clarence Thomas’s autobiographical glimpse into the angry bitter mind of our most unqualified U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The more we find out, the more I can’t help but feel he’s undermining the courts credibility. Sure Justice Scalia is an outspoken conservative activist, but Thomas’s inner demons seem more extreme and mean spirited.

In Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' autobiography, My Grandfather's Son, he describes the events surrounding his nomination as if he were a victim of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment claim against him. He betrays his hatred for liberal Democratic citizens when he rants about fearing the Ku Klux Klan’s lynch mobs but “my worst fears had come to pass not in Georgia, but in Washington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony.”

But Thomas’ emotional well being should be a question. In a recent NY Times article, “He talked about his burdens and his dark moods and about seeking inspiration in speeches and movies. “I tend to be morose sometimes,” the justice said. But he said he had found solace in his den. “Sometimes, when I get a little down,” Justice Thomas said wearily…! Oh boy!

Justice Thomas doesn’t see a problem reminiscing fondly about a time when he could see “a flag and a crucifix in each classroom.” And even though it might be a fond memory, Thomas never seemed to become more enlightened when he reveals, “… how can you not reminisce about a childhood where you began each day with the Pledge of Allegiance as little kids lined up in the schoolyard and then marched in two by two with a flag and a crucifix in each classroom?”

If you had any question about Justice Thomas’ ability to apply a simple objective constitutional judgment in cases before the Supreme Court, this should provide the answer:
And though the dinner was sponsored by the Bill of Rights Institute, he admitted to an uneasy relationship with the whole idea of rights. The event … was devoted to the Bill of Rights, but Justice Thomas did not embrace the document, and he proposed a couple of alternatives. “Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights. I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances. Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?” He gave examples: “It seems that many have come to think that each of us is owed prosperity and a certain standard of living. They’re owed air conditioning, cars, telephones, televisions.” Those are luxuries, Justice Thomas said.“ I have to admit,” he said, “that I’m one of those people that still thinks the dishwasher is a miracle. What a device.”
And like any authoritarian, he finds it insulting to have his opinions questioned.

Justice Thomas seemed a little sensitive to the sort of second-guessing that comes with the territory for those who sit on the Supreme Court. “This job is easy for people who’ve never done it,” he said later. “What I have found in this job is they know more about it than I do, especially if they have the title ‘law professor.’ ”
If only we could just do away with these know-it-all educators.