Friday, July 31, 2009

Doyle Recall Effort Suspended. Group Now wants to have a Recall election around the 2010 election. WHAT?

It’s not that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle did anything wrong to be recalled, it’s just that Republican opponents don’t want to be held to any “election” time table. You can understand, right? From the category “You can’t make this stuff up:”

Based on advice from CRG Network, Wisconsin affiliate Wisconsinites Interests Now (WIN)has suspended its Doyle Recall Exploratory operations in preparation for a new strategy focusedon removing Jim Doyle from office at the next general election in November, 2010.

You read that right. Their excuses for not succeeding in recalling the governor are many, but the funniest is the most outrageous: With only one liberal radio station in the state, and a saturation of local and syndicated conservative talk hosts, they have the nerve to blame the media for censoring them. It never occurred to them that maybe even conservatives thought these guys were crazy?
The recall exploratory effort has met with media censorship and, in several instances, a media “brown-out” that has impeded dissemination of information to interested parties throughout the state.
The recall was largely predicated on the analysis and opinion that Doyle’s ratings would bottom out in the next six months and likely rebound by November of 2010. The latest analysis suggests that Doyle’s rating will continue to fall making the November 2010 general election a superior time frame to poll the electorate.
Finally, WIN tries to spin the fact that they couldn’t find enough whiners to help with their crazy recall plans.
WIN publicized a self-imposed goal of recruiting 10,000 volunteer circulators by September 1, 2009 .... This recruiting goal would have doubtlessly been achieved but not within a time frame that would remove Doyle within the one year goal … WIN feels compelled to hold to the same standard it sets for politicians – do not lie to your constituents about your plans!

Oh so noble. And full of it too.

Republicans are now Whining About Shortage of Stimulus Spending on Bridges

Having just traveled across the country, I would say the stimulus money is being well spent on almost all of our nations highways. Road construction is everywhere. But because states are taking advantage of replacing and upgrading their roads with the help of federal dollars instead of state taxpayer money, Republicans are now looking for ways to take a different angle. Their plan: attack the successes of the stimulus by complaining bridges aren’t getting fixed.
AP - A top Republican congressman says the government needs a "kick in the pants" to get federal stimulus money focused on repairing dilapidated bridges.
Rep. John Mica, the senior Republican on the transportation committee, said he's frustrated that states are spending so much on routine paving and not focusing on shoring up tens of thousands of bad bridges. He said there's too much red tape involved in bridge projects.
But according to AP’s fact checking, Mica’s call for doing away with red tape may not be the best public policy:

Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said "doing away with all the environmental restrictions" would speed up stimulus spending. That mischaracterizes both the stimulus and the environmental review process.

Since 1970, federally funded projects have required reviews to ensure they don't harm the environment, public health or safety. Environmental Restrictions prohibit developers from building highways in areas that would pollute drinking water or send water flooding into nearby basements. Eliminating those restrictions would eliminate the public right to review and object to projects before they're built.

It appears Rep. Duncan isn’t to keen on a public’s right to review or ensure that bridge and road construction eventually not harm the environment and adversely affect public health and safety? It’s just a lot of red tape.

Remember when Republicans opposed stimulus money for temporary infrastructure jobs, paring it back to around $46 billion out of the total $850 billion package in favor of tax cuts? I do too.

Republicans Problem: Understanding Irony.

"Irony is wasted on the stupid."

Sure I've offererd up my own analysis of the "rabbit hole" qualities found in the Republican Party, but I thought this perspective offered up by a listener of Air America expands on the more surreal characteristics. I'm not a big fan of comparing the Republcian Party to another countries repressive government, like Iran, but for some reason this hit the right note with me. The irony; the right wingers are calling on the Iranian people to take down their theocratic goverment, a similar kind of government God fearing American's would like to put in place.

The comment below is in response to the story about conservative blogger John LeBoutillier admission to Air America’s Lionel that the GOP is no longer a national party.

Oh, the GOP exists all right. It's in Iran.

Uh, let's see:

1. They insist this is a Christian Nation (except in Iran, it's "Islamic Nation"), but still, "religious nation".(the conservatives or Iran or both?)

2. They hate the gays and feminists (the conservatives or Iran or both?)

3. They want teaching evolution to stop and teach mysticism in it's place (the conservatives or Iran or both?)

4. They want to pledge to "God" in public schools (the conservatives or Iran or both?)

5. They want the clergy to pick political candidates (remember when the church refused Kerry it's magic wafer because they didn't like his political views?)(the conservatives or Iran or both?)

6. They like war and torture (the conservatives or Iran or both?)

You see, every question is answered with "both". How is the government of Iran different than the Republican platform? (theme from Jeopardy here)Answer: Iran does what the GOP wants to do.

Madison's Art Paul Schlosser Gets a Few Seconds of the Colbert Bump

Good friend and Madison street performer Art Paul Schlosser may be getting the Colbert bump after Comedy Centrals Colbert Report featured, for a few seconds, Art Paul's "Best of" cd on Thursday nights show. What are the odds?

I tried to give Art Paul "My own kind of bump" when I did an entire hour of his music, live, on my old Triple M morning show. While Art was there in the studio singing his songs, management blew a gasket, deciding I had gone off the deep end. My morning show got the Triple M bump a few months later.

Now Art is getting his due.

Update: Thanks for the tip on Art Paul's new Stephen Colbert Song. Here it is.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Energy Monopoly WPL Whines About Lower Profits in a Recession. They have the Nerve to Ask for Rate Increase from Customers.

Are private energy corporations really a part of our free market system? Give me a break.

How many industries can you name where a company that loses business decides to INCREASE their prices to their remaining customers? If you named our energy providers, you would be right.

Wisconsin State Journal: As more factories in southern Wisconsin announce plans to cut production or close, Wisconsin Power & Light is warning state regulators that its revenues next year will fall shorter than anticipated.
WPL now says higher costs and lower revenues could justify asking for an additional $18 million from electricity and natural gas customers.

WPL said it now expects revenue from electric and natural gas customers to fall $11.9 million short of previous estimates.

Martin Seitz, manager of financial planning and analysis for parent company Alliant Energy said in the testimony that WPL "recognizes the difficult economic conditions its customers face" and the company is committed to finding ways to "minimize the impact."

Remember, these aren’t company deficits. WPL is crying about not making as much as they thought they would. In a recession, is it a good time to raise energy rates. I wonder what a Republican would say about the price increases.

I have an idea for WPL: Operate within your budget and suffer like the rest of us by not making as much money during a recession. Am I crazy, hallucinating or really hearing these profit whores whining?

I’d threaten to buy my energy from someone else, but you know the answer to that, don’t you.

Car Chase: 7 Year Old Driver Total Surprise.

This video clip came up after another clip ended on CNN's web site. I didn't know the situation, it just looked like another car chase, and I watched it. Man was I surprised at end. SPOILER ALERT: Don't read the rest and enjoy the twist at the end.

The driver was a 7 year old kid, who ran out of the car and into his house. Crazy stuff.

Update: I've include the NBC morning show interview of the family and 7 year old, Preston.

Racism Ended with Obama Presidency? Officer's comment about Gates Proves Otherwise.

This is one of the most amazing denials of racism I'v seen in years. Officer Justine Barrett emailed the most incredible message. CNN:

"A Boston police officer who sent a mass e-mail referring to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. as a "banana-eating jungle monkey" has apologized, saying he's not a racist. Officer Justin Barrett told a Boston television station on Wednesday night that he was sorry for the e-mail.

"I regret that I used such words," Barrett told CNN affiliate WCVB-TV. "I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist." Barrett was placed on administrative leave

Barrett's lawyer Peter Marano didn't win over to many sympathizers when he tried to defend the comment: "He didn't call him a "jungle monkey" to malign him racially..."

Oh boy..

I don't believe Officer Barrett should lose his job, but get the neccessary help in sensitivity training. Sometimes I think blow-ups like this are major learning moments for individuals like this officer. I hope I don't have to change my mind once he appears on Larry King tonight.

Update August 6th: I take it back, he should be fired.

“Non-Partisan” Right Wing Okay with Lead Poisoned Child, Judicial Activism, Judicial Corruption and Corporate Influence of Campaigns

Under the three categories of “Rising,” “Mixed” and “Falling,” has a strange value system and priority list. I’ll make this short and to the point. Their moral and ethical bankruptcy is clear in what they consider ‘Rising.” What they consider positive developments in the state is jaw dropping;

Rising: Scott Walker

Failed Milwaukee County Executive and gubinitorial candidate Scott Walker, who recently proposed dismantling county government after destroying it, is under the impression that his Republican campaign should be taken seriously because he raised $1.1 million in six months. Wow, voters should be happy corporate interests and the business lobby are supporting their candidate.

Oddly, WisPolitics did not mention who contributed the $1.1 million.

Rising: Lead Paint Manufacturers and an “activist conservative” Supreme Court

WisPolitics said it best: “Business groups were outraged four years ago when the Wisconsin Supreme Court cleared the way for a Milwaukee boy to sue lead paint manufacturers … Fast forward to a court that now has a conservative majority … the justices unanimously rejected (the) lawsuit that sought to argue lead paint was a defective product.”

Besides not hiding the fact they believe it's okay for conservative activist justices to side with big business, and defend paint companies that knowingly delayed removing lead after most industrialized countries banned it, giving short shrift to the child at the center of the lawsuit is inhumane and so Ayn Rand.

Mixed: The Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman who illegally campaigned by calling from his office to the offices of Gov. Scott McCallum’s campaign headquarters and other supporters.

WisPolitics is fine, or “Mixed,” about the slap on the hand by the Office of Lawyer Regulation’s dismissal. “The OLR ruled Gableman may have exercised poor judgment but there was no evidence the calls amounted to political work using state resources. Conservatives say the complaint was frivolous. Right, the obvious appearance of campaigning by making calls to conservative campaign supporters wasn’t proof enough. As I recall (from a previous blog post)…

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “when Gableman was Ashland County district attorney, he made a series of phone calls from his OFFICE to Gov. McCallum’s campaign officials, McCallum’s fundraisers, a Republican attorney general candidate and the state Republican Party BEFORE a FUNDRAISER Gableman HOSTED.

Our current AG Van Hollen says "the case is too old to prosecute, the Burnett County DA merely declined to investigate. Gableman says he is innocent of any wrong doing, and never once talked about anything related to the election in 2002."

Only “Mixed” on this one WisPolitics? So much for being a neutral clearing house for political news and press releases.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Republicans attack: Black/Latina's are Racist, not Whites!

Here's a compilation put together by Media Matters, along with a few additional clips I found along the way, to demonstrate another example of Republican racism. This is also projection, in that their own prejudices are assumed to be the same in other people, like Barack Obama, Prof. Gates and Sonja Sotomayor.

Here's another wrinkle on the racism card attempted by Republicans to fire up the new southern strategy, from

"On Fox Nation, in an astounding stretch of imagination paranoia, they've gone one step further and merged both anti-Obama talking points.
Details from Newshounds:

At their "fair and balanced" website purportedly devoted to "tolerance," and "civil discourse," Fox Nation is suggesting that Obama's health care bill is a back door bill for slavery reparations. And yep, they suggest that white people will die as a result. The short Fox Nation post states: "Still believe in post-racial politics? Read the health care bill. It's affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color. President Obama is on the record as being officially opposed to reparations for slavery. But as with other issues, you have to sift through his eloquent rhetoric and go beyond the teleprompter to get at what he really means."

What am I left to think after this bizarre conspiracy theory: Blind racism.

And Now a Word from Sweden...

From “The Local, Swedens News in English:”

Robot attacked Swedish factory worker: A Swedish company has been fined $3,000 after a malfunctioning robot attacked and almost killed one of its workers at a factory north of Stockholm. The incident took place in June 2007 at a factory in Bålsta, when the industrial worker was trying to carry out maintenance on a defective machine generally used to lift heavy rocks. Thinking he had cut off the power supply, the man approached the robot with no sense of trepidation. But the robot suddenly came to life and grabbed a tight hold of the victim's head. The man succeeded in defending himself but not before suffering serious injuries.

In other Swedish news:

Lesbian couples cause run on Swedish sperm banks:
A shortage of healthy sperm and a spike in demand from lesbian couples has caused a backlog of artificial insemination applications at Swedish fertility clinics. While legislation granting lesbian couples the right to the treatment has increased the demand, Sweden's requirement for non-anonymous has reduced the supply of donor sperm.

As of July 1st, 2005, female same-sex couples in Sweden were granted the right to fertility treatment. “We had estimated an increase of around 25 couples per year after the law change. Now there are 90 couples in line,” Inger Bryman, head of gynecology and reproductive medicine at Sahlgrenska,” told GP.

Lesbians More likely to Marry: More female than male same-sex couples have chosen to marry since Swedish homosexuals were granted the legal right to marry on May 1st, 2009. Thirty-seven female couples have tied the knot since May, compared to 11 male couples, according to figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB).

Girls who Like Girls: More teenage girls than boys have had sex with someone of the same gender, according to a new dissertation from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg.
Altogether 440 girls and boys aged 17 were questioned for the study. It was 6.1 percent of the girls who answered that they had had sex with someone of the same gender, while 1.7 percent of boys said the same thing.

Republicans Raise Voter Fraud Myth Again in Wisconsin

A few stories back, voter fraud reared its mythical head again:

“AP-A five-year strategic plan for running elections in Wisconsin doesn't do enough to combat voter fraud, concerned members of the public on Tuesday told a group of experts drafting the proposal.

Ardis Cerny of Pewaukee, who described herself as a concerned citizen, said she was shocked that the words "voter fraud" didn't appear in the 74-page plan. Cerny said the plan focuses too much on making voting a convenience rather than ensuring it is free from fraud. "The people of Wisconsin have lost confidence in our voting system," she said.

I wrote: "Ardis Cerny is just one of thousands of Republicans convinced by their fear mongering leaders that someone is always out to get them, even in the voting booth.”

At the time, I couldn’t come up with any examples of voter fraud, except to say it usually involves former felons. The point is, Republicans are quick to disenfranchise voters for the sake a few minor cases and mistakes. Well, here are 3 recently revealed examples: Three cases of suspected voter fraud will be referred to the Brown County District Attorney's office this week for possible charges. Green Bay City Clerk Chad Weininger said his office staff uncovered the three … One case involves a convicted felon voting by absentee ballot. The man is a patient at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute and on probation, which prohibits him from legally voting.

Another case involves a man who used a local business as his home address when registering to vote. Weininger said the man could have been registering under an assumed name. (we don’t know if he voted, or for whom)

A third case involves a man who listed a post office box as his residential address, which isn't legal on voter registration.

Pretty dangerous and subversive stuff huh? Well it is to a Republican DA in Green Bay:
The state needs to start allowing poll workers to require driver's licenses or state identification cards, Weininger said. "We need to protect the voting process," he said.
But according to
Green Bay’s Republican City Clerk is using what should be a non-partisan office to push his right-wing political agenda to restrict voting rights.

Chad Weininger, the former deputy chief of staff for ex-Rep. Mark Green (R) who was a staunch advocate for restrictive voter ID laws in Congress and throughout his unsuccessful campaign for governor, is pushing weak evidence of “voter fraud” in order to claim the state needs to restrict voting by requiring ID at the polls: This is not voter fraud – this is voter registration error. These people were not casting multiple ballots or engaging in wide-scale fraud. They were just seeking to cast a single ballot for themselves. And isn’t that merely what we’re granted under the constitution? One man, one vote?
I couldn’t have put it better.

Health Care Bits and Pieces

The Government Wants to Kill Senior Citizens

President Obama tried Tuesday to sell his health care plan to older Americans, as members of Congress said they were deluged with calls from constituents worried that their Medicare benefits might be cut to help finance coverage for the uninsured. “Nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits,” Mr. Obama said.
A provision of the House bill would provide Medicare coverage for the work of doctors who advise patients on life-sustaining treatment and “end-of-life services,” including hospice care. Conservative groups have seized on this provision … The Family Research Council, for example, said the bill would “limit end-of-life care.”
Rep. John Boehner said, “This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia.”
In the department of “We’re finally getting the publics message:”

Some liberal Democrats, like Senator John Rockefeller IV and Debbie Stabenow, expressed reservations about concessions being made by Democrats to keep a few Republicans on board. Rockefeller said he was unhappy that the legislation would end the Children’s Health Insurance Program and could reduce the scope of benefits for 11 million children in the program.
That’s right, Republicans would be happier with a bill that does away with children’s health. And they’re completely comfortable with the way that looks. No constituent push back or outrage. Those are the kind of people we’re dealing with.

Reining in Hand Outs to Insurance companies for Taking Medicare Patients and Wiping out the Donut Whole
In the House, the fiscally conservative Democrats — members of the Blue Dog Coalition — said they were not satisfied with the offers made Monday by the chairman Henry A. Waxman. They drafted a counteroffer. House Democrats said their bill included provisions that would help older Americans. The bill would gradually close a gap in Medicare coverage of prescription drugs known as a doughnut hole. It would eliminate co-payments and deductibles for most preventive services in Medicare and make it easier for low-income people to get help with the cost of their Medicare premiums. The bill would cut more than $160 billion over 10 years from the projected growth of Medicare payments to insurance companies that manage. “We’ll eliminate billions in unwarranted subsidies to insurance— giveaways that boost insurance company profits but don’t make you any healthier,” Mr. Obama told AARP members.
There is the usual threat by the insurance industry, at a time they have some political support. Bad move.
… a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group, said that if Congress made those cuts, “beneficiaries would face higher premiums and reductions in benefits, and in some parts of the country, they might lose access to their Medicare Advantage plans.” When Congress cut Medicare payments in the past, he said, insurers withdrew from some counties.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Republicans Want you to Lose Faith in the Voting System. Trust No One.

In Wisconsin, the Republican Party has done everything they can to make it appear like our state elections are replete with voter fraud. And since our elections are supposedly corrupted by people trying to vote twice, many of the rank and file conservative voters no longer believe our electoral process works. They don’t trust it.

Mission accomplished.

AP-A five-year strategic plan for running elections in Wisconsin doesn't do enough to combat voter fraud, concerned members of the public on Tuesday told a group of experts drafting the proposal. Ardis Cerny of Pewaukee, who described herself as a concerned citizen, said she was shocked that the words "voter fraud" didn't appear in the 74-page plan. Cerny said the plan focuses too much on making voting a convenience rather than ensuring it is free from fraud. "The people of Wisconsin have lost confidence in our voting system," she said.
Cerny is just one of thousands of Republicans convinced by their fear mongering leaders that someone is always out to get them, even in the voting booth.

No place is safe, unless you’re armed.

This is the scary life of a conservative. But I digress.

The real issue is election fraud, not voter fraud. It’s those who manipulate the system from the inside. In Wisconsin, even though you would never know it, the system is pretty secure:

Many concerns were raised prior to last year's presidential election about the threat of voter fraud, but few problems were reported. Only six people have been charged with election-related crimes in Milwaukee County stemming from the election and a Government Accountability Board survey of district attorneys released in April showed that only two other election cases were known to be filed statewide.

The details of these few cases were not revealed in a quick media search unfortunately. I wonder how many of the election related crimes were committed by Republicans. In many cases, felons account for most of the infractions due to confusion about their voting rights, and most cases are dismissed or reduce.

Health Care Reforms, Out of Pocket Details, Show Dramatic Change From Status Quo

The following observation is not a criticism of the person included in this story, that person is actually trying to save families even more money, but it does demonstrate that we might be closer a lot closer to affordable health care than we might imagine. Oh god I hope. (see how desperate I am)

I might be missing something here, but I would jump at the “nightmare” scenario presented here in this Times article:

(As) lawmakers struggle to achieve the goal of universal coverage, a critical question is whether the plans will be affordable to those who are currently uninsured. After analyzing the leading House and Senate bills, Stephen E. Finan, a health economist at the cancer society, said, “Subsidies do not appear to be adequate even for coverage in the lowest-cost plans.”

“Under the bill approved by the Senate health committee,” Mr. Finan said, “a family with annual income of $40,000 could obtain subsidies, but would still have to pay premiums of $1,760 a year and might have to pay as much as $2,320 in co-payments and deductibles, for a total of $4,080, or 10 percent of family income. And they might have to pay more if they use specialists outside the network of doctors in their health plan.”

I’ll take it. Sounds a whole lot better than the $6,000 to $15,000 price tag now applied to all income ranges. Under the Senate bill, if you made $88,200 for a family of four you would be required to pay as much as 12.5 percent of its income in premiums, or $11,025. Under the House bill, 11 percent, or $9,702.

A family of four with income of $34,000 might pay 1 percent to 3 percent of its income in premiums. That comes out to either $340 or $1,020. Now that’s more like it. But…
But lawmakers said that federal aid for low-income families could be pared back as Congress struggles to hold down the overall cost of the legislation.
Holding down the overall cost really means shifting the burden on all American’s to the individual.

The House Blue Dog Coalition wants to limit who gets help to people with incomes over 300 percent of the poverty level, or $66,150 per family. The Senate health committee bill says “coverage is defined to be unaffordable if the premium paid by an individual is greater than 12.5 percent” of the person’s adjusted gross income.

The major bills moving through Congress would set annual limits on out-of-pocket spending for co-payments, deductibles and similar charges. The limits would be $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family under the House bill, and $5,800 and $11,600 under the Senate health committee bill. Premiums are not counted against the limits.

Still, Ronald F. Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal-leaning consumer group, said the proposed subsidies would “make health insurance significantly more affordable than it is today.”

Amen to that.

Blue Dogs Squander Obama’s Political Capital and the Voters Demands of a Democratic Congress.

When I read this AP story line, I really got pissed:
AP- A bipartisan group of senators is closing in on a health care compromise that omits key Democratic priorities..."

What the hell! It’s nice to get rid of “KEY DEMOCRATIC PRIORITIES,” isn’t it? I didn’t know we lost the 2008 elections to a bunch of Democratic Republicans-Blue Dogs.

The blue dogs Democrats are disenfranchising independent voters and the base, leaving only one voter choice in the mid-terms; staying home and a boycott of campaign contributions. At least that’s my plan right now.

If things truly have to get worse, and that’s hard to imagine, then so be it. Apparently voters haven’t had enough of job losses, job insecurity, lost buying power, losing health insurance, paying higher premiums, dependence on oil and handing public services over to for profits private interests at taxpayer expense.

These “blue dogs” are instead in a permanent state of election, like the Republican Party, where keeping their jobs is more important than the overwhelming party platform to provide affordable health care, jobs, energy independence and a new economic engine. Here’s another lines I couldn’t believe:
… The House bill models the payments based on Medicare, but the so-called Blue Dogs want a negotiated rate similar to private insurance.

If the rates are similar to private insurance, than WHAT’S THE POINT? What’s that…oh…insurance profits. Hell, what was I thinking.

What the Blue Dogs will accomplish is a reform package that will hand the Republicans a justifiable reason to say reform didn’t work. It plays into their hands. Big surprise.

I have to take a break here. I’m completely losing it now…

Political Blogs Declared to be “Pirates.” Arrrh, mates! Removal of News Quotes and Attribution Would Turn Blogosphere into Hearsay.

The push to turn the emerging alternative political media into “pirates” is on. Take a look at this recent NY Times article:

Online piracy isn’t just a problem for music companies; it hurts newspapers and magazines as well. News organizations are now trying to do something about the many Web sites that simply copy articles and paste them into their own pages. A start-up called Attributor … has developed an automated way for newspapers to share in the advertising revenue from even the tiniest sites that copy their articles.

Looking at traffic data, Attributor calculated that five times as many people read each article on pirate sites as on the site of the publisher. Attributor’s plan rests on the idea that most of these pirate sites depend on networks like Google’s AdSense to place ads on their pages and send them a share of the revenue.

It’s always a good idea to believe the research coming out of a company that would benefit from an exaggeration and skewed approach to the perceived “pirate” problem.

Blog “pirates” have the reputation of being news aggregators. This collection of specific reporting is a blog “pirates” advantage over the sites that originate the stories, and a benefit to those same sites that receive the linked attribution. For instance, I often go back to blog “pirates” that aggregate the most stories I’m interested in. Searching out these same topics would be prohibitively time consuming. In fact, I would most likely miss the story completely.

That is not to say I don’t understand the problem media outlets have with the "pirated" use of their business property and the threat to inhibit their ability to make an income. A progressive tiered payment plan might be a workable solution. Smaller unprofitable blog “pirates” like Democurmudgeon would be given a pass until it starts bringing in ad revenue, at which time it would share a piece of the profits.

Attributor might have the right idea. But it’s too early to tell whether their intentions are sincere, based on an attempt to bring blog “pirates” and major media together, or to destroy the blogosphere’s threat to the established media giants.

A Song for Twitter Addicts put together a nice West Side Story take-off titled, "Web Site Story."

Here's the Twitter segment aimed at a certain person I know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 4 of Minimum Wage Increase Debacle! Where's the Carnage?

Remember this; the wage went up at the worst possible time, during a recession.

Republicans Warned us! Please help me find the minimum wage worker reductions and the business closures. Oddly, my local newspaper and internets didn't turn anything up yet.

Healthy San Francisco Works, World Didn't End.

How hard is it to change health care? Is it as difficult as Republicans say it is? San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom didn't seem to have much of a problem. Here's the CNN story.

Obama's Push for Charter Schools SIdetracks Real Reform of Public Schools

Schools are schools, public and private. They all have teachers and classes. And it appears charter and voucher schools, as they expand in number, are adopting many of the same elements as their public school rivals. A school by any other name, charter or voucher, is still… a school.

And as they increase in number, charter and private voucher schools appear to require more funding, just like the public schools. Some predict that K-12 education accounts are just around the corner to help parents pay for future private tuition costs. How nice.

Bottom line; we're creating charter and voucher parallel systems that contain pretty much the same problems as the public school systems, tripling the amount of government oversight required. Wasn't it hard enough watching over the public school systems?
The following story from a recent NY Times article about charter unionization, illustrates the positive and negative similarities between the “different” systems of education. In the end, the only difference will be one system will try and turn a profit, the other will not. Guess which one will require more taxpayer support.

As Charter Schools Unionize, Many Debate Effect

Dissatisfied with long hours, churning turnover and, in some cases, lower pay than instructors at other public schools, an increasing number of teachers at charter schools are unionizing … the nation’s 4,600 charter schools operate without unions, they have been freer to innovate, their advocates say. “Charter schools have been too successful for the unions to ignore,” said Elizabeth Purvis, executive director of the Chicago International Charter School, where teachers voted last month to unionize 3 of its 12 campuses.

Actually they haven’t been successful overall. Nice try Ms. Purvis. But I digress…

But the unionization effort raises questions about whether unions will strengthen the charter movement or weaken it. Paul Hill, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the
University of Washington said, “Labor unrest in a charter school can wipe it out fast. It won’t go well for unions if the schools they organize decline in quality or go bust.”

Moves toward unionizing have revealed greater teacher unrest than was previously known. “I was frustrated with all the turnover among staff, with the lack of teacher input, with working longer and harder than teachers at other schools and earning less,” said Jennifer Gilley, a social studies teacher at the Ralph Ellison Campus of the Chicago International Charter School, who said she made $38,000 as a base salary as a starting teacher, compared with about $43,500 paid by the Chicago Public Schools.

Unions are not entirely new to charter schools. Teachers at hundreds of charter schools in Wisconsin, California and elsewhere have long been union members, not because they signed up, but because of local laws, like those that extend union status to all schools in a state or district.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the gains of the past year “a precursor.” She quoted Albert Shanker, her union’s founder, as saying charter schools should be “incubators of good instructional practice.” “I’m adding to the argument,” Ms. Weingarten said. “Let them be incubators of good labor practice.”

…in Chicago, where students at several Chicago International campuses have scores among the city’s highest for nonselective schools, teachers began organizing last fall after an administrator increased workloads to six classes a day from five.

For Joyce Pae, an English teacher at Ralph Ellison, the decision was agonizing. Her concerns over what she saw as chaotic turnover and inconsistency in allocating merit pay led her to join the drive. But after school leaders began paying more attention to teachers’ views, she said, she voted against unionization in June. Union teachers won the vote, 73-49.

Here’s another "Race to the Bottom" story that deals with links student testing to teacher pay. Arnie Duncan’s charter money would be denied to states that have banned such a test, like Wisconsin, Nevada and California. More revealing, Republicans who have shunned stimulus money and more government spending, are proposing a law to do away with the ban. These conservative hypocrites are falling all over themselves to get federal money (a handout) so they can promote their pet "charter privatization of schools." Notice how quickly they acted. Have they no shame!

President Barack Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Friday unveiled their proposed “Race to the Top” funding.” By Friday afternoon, state Republican Sen. Randy Hopper and Rep. Brett Davis had announced plans to introduce legislation that would change Chapter 118.30(2)(c) to eliminate the prohibition on using state testing in teacher evaluations.

The legislators said they hoped the change could make Wisconsin eligible for up to $612 million in Race to the Top funds. "Wisconsin's statutory barriers between student achievement data and teachers performance is now being ridiculed across the country," Hopper said in a news release.

Ridiculed nationally? Really, I must have missed that story.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Disorderly Conduct: Disfuses a Fight, or UnConstitutional?

Chicago Tribune writer David Savage should be credited for actually broaching a fascinating topic. That doesn’t happen often in major media. What constitutes disorderly conduct? Should some changes be made to allow some steam to be released without ending in an arrest?

For some defense lawyers, the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was less about racial profiling than about how persons can be arrested simply for speaking angry words to a police officer. The laws against "disorderly conduct" give police wide power to arrest people who are said to be disturbing the peace or disrupting the neighborhood … courts have said the "disorderly acts or language" must take place in public where others can be disturbed.It is probably not a crime of disorderly conduct for a homeowner, standing in his own kitchen, to speak abusively to a police officer.

According to his police report, Sgt. James Crowley said the professor was "yelling very loud" and "accusing me of being a racist." Complaining that the "acoustics of the kitchen" made it difficult to communicate, the officer said he "told Gates that I would speak with him outside." Once on the front porch, the officer arrested Gates for being loud and abusive in the presence of several neighbors who had gathered on the sidewalk.

"You might think that in the United States, you have a right to state an opinion, even an offensive opinion. But prosecutors like to say you don't have a right to mouth off to the police," said Boston defense lawyer Samuel Goldberg. "Gates was saying, 'You are hassling me because I'm black.' I understand how that's offensive to a police officer. "It's astounding to me to call it criminal."

"I would say it is not constitutional to arrest someone in his home just for being loud and abusive to a police officer," said Boston University law professor Tracey Maclin. "That's why the cop asked him to come outside, where he could be arrested for being disorderly in public."

It seems we need to change the way we look at disorderly conduct.

Yeah! Sen. Russ Feingold Votes to Spread Gun Carnage Across State Lines Usurping State Laws.

A little noticed vote by liberal favorite and Constitutional advocate Sen. Russ Feingold, on setting federal rules mandating states honor even the “lowest common denominator” concealed handgun permits, should give many pause.
What the hell was he thinking. Right now states can pick an choose which state permits they would allow, a kind of checks and balances system that may prevent some states from repealing or loosening already lax concealed carry permitting.

The Republican amendment to force states to accept any and all concealed gun permits, which Feingold voted to allow, would in time eventually do away with most permitting standards all together. Some states have already done away with retesting after the permit time is up and lowered licencing fees. Gun crazy legend John Lott and author of More Guns, Less Crime wrote this for Fox News (who else would give this wacko a platform):

The legislation before the senate doesn't really break new ground. Most states already recognize permits from other states: 34 states recognize Missouri's permits, 33 for Utah, 32 for Florida, 31 Texas, 26 Ohio, and 24 Pennsylvania. And there is no evidence that these reciprocity agreements have caused any problems.

As you might have noticed, a few states have turned down state concealed carry permits they have found objectionable. Sen. John Thune’s amendment, the one Sen. Feingold voted for, would create a one size fits all rule doing away with a states ability to determine their own public safety laws dealing with concealed weapons.

Feingold also voted not to renew the assault weapons ban. Instead of tightening the weaknesses in the assault weapons ban, and giving it real teeth, he voted to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Lott by the way also made this amazing leap regarding the “positive” impact of concealed carry laws, by suggesting the NRA’s ability to push politicians around has nothing to do with the fact states have not sought to repeal carry laws:
Even though the adoption of right-to-carry laws was highly controversial in some states, the laws were so successful that no state has ever rescinded one. Indeed, no state has even held a legislative hearing to consider rescinding concealed-carry.
That must be why we're all safer now, right? As long as we allow the private funding of political campaigns, and the corrupting influence of big money, we won’t see gun laws repealed and gun related deaths reduced.

A big “win, win” for the NRA. posted both sides of the debate at their site. They dug deep to present video clips featuring both sides of the issue. I like this sites attempts to leave the viewer with a chance to decide for themselves. No preaching, like that crazy liberal Democurmudgeon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Sky will Start Falling Today, Minimum Wage Goes Up

Let’s see what happens when the minimum wage goes up after all the breathless warnings that jobs will be lost and the current depression will be worse.

$7.25! It’s all over. Just like a public option in reforming health care will destroy America.

Don't take your eye off this topic.

WBBM 780 Chicago Rebroadcasts Republican Weekly Address, Doesn't for Presidential Address.

Just happen to trip across this amazingly biased, major media mouth piece in the Chicago and greater Midwest area. As I re-tuned my under the counter AM/FM radio in Madison, Wisconsin, WBBM 780 came in loud and clear with a most partisan news item. According to the newscast announcement, the Republican weekly address would be rebroadcast, while Obama's presidential weekly address would be available online.

Well, that's fair. If you have a chance, let them know how "right wing" their public policy tends to be. Tweet them!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Republican Rep. Virginia Fox: “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare.” God help us.

I found this incredible example of conservative logic, or should I say stupidity, at Think Progress. I'm reprinting it here for my own reference, but feel free to visit their website anyway.

If you ever wanted a perfect example of the Republican idea of just “getting by,” this is classic. Instead of solving problems, they mentally minimize them, so they think they are not that important. This is the reason the economy tanked, recovery is almost impossible because free marketers allowed jobs to move over seas, and planning ahead means winning their next election.

You will love this. It kind of reminds me of the time Bush claimed we all have health care, and I’m paraphrasing, because we can just “go to the emergency room.”

Earlier today, several female Republican House members held a press conference today to attack President Obama’s push for health insurance reform. “The Democrat way is not reforming healthcare, it’s destroying it,” announced Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
Perhaps the most attention-grabbing moment occurred when Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that “
there are no Americans who don’t have healthcare“:

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) disputes President Obama’s claim that 47 million Americans lack healthcare. “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare,” she says.

I did manage to get the video documentation of this lunacy.

See, no problem.

Elizabeth Cheney Likes Dick

Gubernatorial Candidate and Failed County Executive Scott Walker Wants to Dismantle Government Pt 2

In one of the most insane governmental developments I've seen in awhile, from a guy who wants to be governor but failed miserably at his job as county executive, Scott Walker now realizes that he might look better by blaming the process and throwing the whole county under the bus. Here's Milwaukee Fox affiliate WITI's report:

I'll keep you updated. Scott Walker is a train wreck I can't take my eyes off of right now.

So How do Canadians Like their System of Health Care. They Like it A Lot.

Here are two polls that should give Americans a window on how others view our health care system and how Canadians view their own. The NY Times:

Canadians both love, and love to complain, about their health care system. The Harris/Decima survey found that 70 percent of the 1,000 Canadians that it interviewed thought their health care system was working well and that 82 percent believed it was superior to the system used in the United States.

Michael Rachlis, an advocate of public health care who is a physician and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, said that the public’s enthusiasm for the system was, in itself, a problem. “Because medicare has been so popular, it’s been difficult to change it, even for the better.” Dr. Rachlis sits on one end of the health care debate in Canada: the side that contends that the system’s problems do not stem from public insurance but are related to its structure.

In another poll, via The Miami Harold:

New Ipsos/McClatchy online polls find that patients in Canada are indeed much more frustrated by waiting times to see medical specialists than patients in the United States are, however, they're much more likely to say that they have access to all the health care services they need at costs they can afford.

Looked at another way, 65 percent of Canadians said they had access to all the health care services they needed at costs they could afford; 49 percent of Americans felt the same way. Just 37 percent of Americans who make less than $50,000 a year say they have access to and can afford all the health care services they need, while 60 percent of those who make more say they can get all they need at costs they can afford.

In Canada, 61 percent of those who earn less than $55,000 said they had access to all the care they needed at costs they could afford.

Liberal Midwest Oasis, Madison-Wisconsin, Embodies the Entrepreneurial Spirit says Entrepreneur Magazine. Stumped GOP Planning to Attack Messenger.

To hear Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce, Republican politicians and conservative radio talk show hosts talk about Madison, you’d think the nationally known liberal city is the enemy of business. Ah, but that’s exactly what they would like you to think. Like everything else they tell us, it's really just the opposite.

Madison has been named by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the ten most friendly cities for start-ups in the country. Madison gets kudos for adding biotech, gaming, medicine and software to its traditional areas of agriculture, education and state government.

Cities on the list were chosen for having the openness, energy and can-do attitude that embody the entrepreneurial spirit, the magazine article said.

The question to ask our corporate friendly Republican politicians is; What was that about liberal Madison’s anti-business reputation?
Oops. It looks like we caught them in another lie.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wisconsin Family Action: Gay Marriage Opponents and Bigots, are Going After Domestic Partner Benefits

I hope that I don’t sound mean spirited when I refer to the president of Wisconsin Family Action as a wack job, a loon, sick and a fringe element of society.

I have had the chance to interview Julaine Appling on WIBA-AM during my one year “Crossfire” stint with Upclose host Vicki McKenna. She sounded "off balance" and scary, and I told her so. Anyone this driven to "save marriage,” knowing that 50% of married couples get a divorce despite the existence of gay individuals, is nuts. They have little concern for heterosexual marriage, or changing laws making it more difficult or impossible to divorce, which is more in line with WFA extremist views. That’s my reason for suspecting, actually knowing for sure, that they have a more homophobic bigoted agenda.

During the debate and final implementation of the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, Appling assured voters that their only intention was to protect marriage, and not affect partnership policy benefit programs. That was a lie, and the proof reared its ugly head today:

"Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), through their attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, filed a petition for original action with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking the Court to declare the domestic partner registry Gov. Jim Doyle authored in the 2010-11 state budget unconstitutional and to issue a permanent injunction against it. The petitioners and their attorneys believe the domestic partner registry violates the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment … Appling said, “This new domestic partnership scheme is a sneaky assault on marriage from those who are determined to redefine marriage in Wisconsin.”

Remember, Appling assured voters that she was only concerned with marriage at the time. Sneaky is a word Appling freely applies to her morally bankrupt and unethical vision of society. Who else would see demons in our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors?

“This registry is an assault on the people, the state constitution, the democratic process, and the institution of marriage, which the people voted so recently and so overwhelmingly to protect,” said Appling. “Gov. Doyle and the legislators who approved the registry in the budget are obviously more concerned with advancing the agenda of a fringe activist group than representing the people who elected them.”

Ah, the old ploy of projection. Appling oddly accuses non-bigots and Constitutional protectors of the equal protection claus as “fringe.”

Appling said, “A reasonable person observing this registry would easily conclude that it mimics marriage and is a test of the marriage amendment and the express will of the people."

Only a reasonable person would see this as a sick, angry bigoted affront to the freedoms instituted in our Constitution. That’s why AMENDMENTS to the state constitutions are necessary to remove rights.

So is Appling a bigot? Here's what she said about gay people: "I think we’ve been extremely tolerant in allowing them to live wherever they choose" — Julaine Appling.

Governor Candidate Walker Wants to Dismantle Milwaukee County After Blowing it Up as its Executive.

Scott Walker wants to be governor of Wisconsin. One problem; He’s mismanaged Milwaukee County. He’s run it into the ground. His only option now is to dismantle the government body he destroyed. I’m not kidding. I don’t know if anyone else in the country has proposed a similar solution to a problem the County Executive created for himself. Walker’s ideology prevented him from representing the people of the county and from making tough political decisions that might run up against his own firm beliefs.

So now, Walker wants to dismantle Milwaukee County government. WOW

Journal Sentinel- … Scott Walker's proposal to dismantle Milwaukee County government.Walker, the county executive who is running for governor, renewed his call to parcel out county functions to the state, municipalities and to governmental districts yet to be created.
According to formula, Walker’s incompetence and mismanagement of the county has Mayors salivating to do the job Walker ignored.
Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke said that if cities receive the funding now given to the county, they could do a better job at tasks such as maintaining county roads. He noted that 19 cents of every $1 in property taxes paid by Greenfield residents goes to the county.Neitzke said, "It's apparent that something needs to be done that's dramatic, and the old business-as-usual model, it seems pretty clear it isn't going to work."
Success! Government is so bad, local officials are desperate enough to dissolve the county government.

Walker has proposed having the state take over administration of public assistance programs, social services for seniors and people with disabilities, and the courts. Cities and villages could take over maintenance of county roads. He also advocated for new, specialized districts to run transit, the parks, and the zoo and local cultural institutions.

The ideas drew criticism from Cudahy Mayor Ryan McCue, a former Milwaukee County supervisor. "If elected governor, would (Walker) support adding thousands of jobs to the state's payroll, because that is what would have to be done under his proposal ... Why blow up one form of government only to turn around and create another one, i.e. parks and transit? I do not support unelected boards like MATC and MMSD having the authority to levy taxes, and I fear that is what could happen under his proposal."

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor said changes must be made. "... we're going to have to do something to save the county parks and the county trunk roads; they're in dismal condition."

Where did Walker get the bailout plan for his own incompetence? From business interests of course.
Walker's outline closely matched reforms floated by a panel formed by the Milwaukee business community. He said his reforms would be fleshed out by a report from the Public Policy Forum due by the end of the
Walker was such a failure, the County Board had an even better idea.

Last week, County Board Chairman Lee Holloway proposed eliminating the county executive's job, which is elected, in favor of an administrator hired by the board.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker succeeded where all other conservative politicians have failed. He has destroyed a citizens faith in their own elected representatives to the point where dismantling government sounds like a good idea. Responsible management is either not an option, or not worth the risk.

Walker is the ultimate Republican. Too sum it up, from the jsonline:
Supervisor John Weishan Jr., said ... the problem with government isn't the county executive office, it's Walker, said Weishan.

Robert Reich Exposes Health Care Reform Bombs

Remember when credit card reform included an amendment to carry firearms into federal parks? Obama signed it into law. He didn’t threaten to veto the bill so Congress would be forced to have it removed.

I believe the same situation will occur in the final bill for health care reform. Yes, I do think there will be a gun amendment slipped in at the last minute, but that’s not my point. Republican poison pills will doom any successful effort to rein in costs and make reform a reality. Robert Reich points out a few glaring problems that will make this effort moot. The first three examples are the most devastating and most uncharacteristic of the Democratic Party.
1. Big Pharma, for example, is in line to get just what it wants. The Senate health panel’s bill protects biotech companies from generic competition for 12 years after their drugs go to market, which is guaranteed to keep prices sky high.

2. Meanwhile, legislation expected from the Senate Finance committee won't allow cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada and won't give the federal government the right to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

3. Last month Big Pharma agreed to what the White House touted as $80 billion in givebacks to help pay for expanded health insurance, but so far there's been no mechanism to force the industry to keep its promise

4. Private insurers, for their part, have become convinced they'll make more money with a universal mandate accompanied by generous subsidies for families with earnings up to 400 percent of poverty (in excess of $80,000 of income) than they might stand to lose.

5. The biggest surprise is the AMA, which has also now come out in favor -- but only after being assurred that Medicare reimbursements won't be cut nearly as much as doctors first feared.

But all these industry giveaways are obviously causing the healthcare tab to grow.

To control long-term costs, he'll also have to take away some of the goodies that have been promised to the health-industrial complex, and maybe even cross Big Labor.

Rush Plays the Victim Card Again: Obama made me do it!

I've been holding onto this clip of Rush Limbaugh, blaming Obama for Mark Sanford's extra-marital affair, for the purpose of demonstrating how truly vacuous the reference "Party of responsibility" is when describing Republicans. Nothing is ever their fault. But in the following example, Rush steps way over the line, leaving no doubt that victimization is the only card left to play for Republicans.

John Yoo Confronted

Isn't it about time someone took on the genius of "enhanced interrogation" creator Prof. John Yoo?

Obama: What if we offered a health care plan that doubled in cost?

It was frustrating to watch the pundits pan President Obama's health care press conference yesterday as tired and nothing new. They don't understand the basic premise of their own media; repeat and repeat often. The GOP would be nothing if they didn't continue to repeat their own created myths ad nauseam.

The most important bullet point made by Obama is featured here. It's ready made for repeated use by fellow Democrats, if they want to take on the barrage of negative misinformation churned out by the GOP spin machine and Frank Luntz.

Rushing to Reform Health Care? Republicans Ignore History. Maddow Explains.

You can count on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow to break down the Republicans rhetoric on the "rush" to push health care reform down our throats. 60 years appears to be too fast for these very slow ideologues. Of course they hope their campaign of lies about health care will be repeated enough to be assumed the truth. Just like their phony campaign declaring they were "fiscal conservatives." Just like the illusion Republicans are the defenders of U.S. security after allowing September 11th on their watch. Rachel shows us all that universal health care is not a new idea.

Republicans Exploit Recession, Blame Democrats and Compare Them to Bernie Madoff

Let me get this right: Companies are shedding employees by reducing wages and benefits to survive and Republicans demanded employees at GM and Chrysler reduce their wages and benefits, yet now a few elected right wingers in Dane County, Wisconsin are refusing to take a 5% pay cut because it’s unfair to “employees.” From the department of "Republicans having it both ways when it's politically convenient," the Wisconsin State Journal:

All but two Dane County Board supervisors have agreed to take a 5 percent pay cut for the rest of this year, in solidarity with county employees … Sups. David Wiganowsky, of Sun Prairie, and Kurt Schlicht, of Cross Plains.

Wiganowsky said he declined to take the pay cut — $205 out of each supervisor’s $8,200 annual salary — blaming the county’s difficult financial situation on Falk’s fiscal policies … "I don’t think we should be balancing the budget on the back of the employees or anybody else," Wiganowsky said.

Schlicht said he didn’t want to give the county "additional money to be mismanaged." "I would much rather give my money to Bernie Madoff than Kathleen Falk," Schlicht said.

It's funny how the county employees were smart enough to recognized the NATIONWIDE recession as the underlying cause of the operational deficits.
The county’s employee unions agreed to a 5 percent pay cut for the rest of the year in exchange for six days off through the end of 2011.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Republicans Have it Both Ways: Unrelated Gun Amendment Spree Continues. What Happened to Full Debate?

Hey Republicans, what happened to the argument that only related amendments be added to legislation? Shouldn’t unrelated amendments be debated in full public view?

Not when it comes to guns.

NYT: The Senate on Wednesday turned aside the latest attempt by gun advocates to expand the rights of gun owners, narrowly voting down a provision that would have allowed gun owners with valid permits from one state to carry concealed weapons in other states.

A group comprising mostly Republicans … had tried to attach the gun amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, a must-pass piece of legislation. This was the latest attempt by gun advocates to push new firearms rights through Congress, where they hold increasing sway.

Remember when the credit card reform bill? How could you not see a reason to include a gun amendment?
In May, Congress approved a measure that allowed gun owners with proper permits to carry their loaded and concealed weapons in national parks. They promised at the time to continue to include unpassable gun legislation into must pass bills.
What happened to a full Congressional floor debate?
And Mr. Thune, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, and other pro-gun lawmakers had said they intended to bring many provisions seeking to expand gun rights to the Senate floor this year.
What this bill does is expand the least restrictive concealed carry laws from Troglodyte states to the rest of the country. And I thought Republicans we’re for states rights, letting them to decide for themselves what laws they choose to enact.

Smaller Government Means Taxpayer Handouts to Private Corporations

Did you ever wonder what “small government” meant to a Republicans? Surprisingly, it doesn’t really mean saving taxpayer money, but instead, it means giving that same taxpayer money to private corporations. Tricky isn’t it? How else can you explain the following from

A major overhaul of the federal student-loan program would be used to help finance a significant boost to early-childhood-education programs and school facilities, under a bill approved yesterday on a partisan vote by the House Education and Labor Committee.

The legislation would scrap the Federal Family Education Loan Program, under which the government subsidizes private lenders to make federal loans. (“President’s Education Aims Aired,” Feb. 28, 2008.) Instead, starting in July of nextyear, all loans would originate with the direct-lending program, in which students borrow right from the U.S. Treasury.

The change would save about $87 billion over 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. A portion of that savings, $10 billion over 10 years, would be used to create a competitive-grant program to help states boost the quality of their early-childhood programs, serving children from birth through age 5, the bill says. The bill also includes more than $4 billion to help school districts revamp school facilities, including making them more environmentally efficient.

It sounds fiscally smart. It saves taxpayer dollars. So what’s to dislike about saving $10 billion bucks over 10 years? If you said private business couldn’t get their hands on the money, you must be a Republican.
But Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, the top Republican on the panel, called the student loan changes a “government expansion initiative that crowds out the private sector in the name of a bigger, more intrusive federal government.” And he said the new initiatives created under the bill, including the early-childhood program, would mean “perpetual new entitlement spending.”
So are you better off saving taxpayer dollars by not paying banks to give student loans out, or is it unfair for the government to save the cash and do it itself?

Only your ideology can answer that.

Blatant Conservative Activist Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices Ignore Legal Tests to Justify Discrimination.

Over the past 3 years, the business lobby in Wisconsin bought and paid for the successful elections of two activist conservative Supreme Court Justices. What was supposed to tilt the scales of justice to a more corporate friendly court has also heralded in a conservative religious legal vision of a Christian America. Let’s call it what it is; Legislating from the bench. In a jaw dropping ruling, these two questions have finally been answered:

Does “age” have anything to do with religion? According to the zealot “activist” conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court, it does.

Does legal precedent and establish “primary duties” tests mean anything to activist State Supreme Court Justices? No. If anything, these activist Justices aren’t shy about instituting brand new standards that appear to legislate from the bench, with no legal justification.

From WXOW:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court Tuesday came down on the side of religious freedom ... The court ruled that teachers in religious schools who lose their jobs cannot sue for age, (gender and racial discrimination,) -as they could if they worked for a public school system. The court basically ruled that a judge cannot impose hiring or firing standards because it would interfere with religious freedom. This ruling ignored:

… rulings in lower courts over the years, the verdict comes as a disappointment to Wendy Ostlund. Just a few facts: Coulee Catholic Schools argued that Ostlund’s teaching position was “ministerial.” (An) administrative law judge concluded under the “primary duties” test that Ostlund’s job was not “ministerial” because the majority of her day involved teaching secular disciplines. The Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) affirmed this ruling as did the circuit court and the court of appeals. In a dissenting opinion....Justice Patrick Crooks says the decision in effect gives religious schools the right to discriminate against their employees. The vote in the court was 4-3 decision … in favor of the Diocese.

According to the State Bar of Wisconsin web site:
Dissenting justices argued that the court’s policy preferences, not any legal principle, justified abandoning the old test used in Wisconsin for many years.

So the conservative Justices created a new test, legislation from the bench.

The majority opinion criticized the “primary duties” test used by the agency and lower courts for its “qualitative approach,” which merely adds up the time spent on religious activities. “What the quantitative approach means as a practical matter is that the state can interfere with the hiring and firing of the leaders of religious organizations and houses of worship,” the court said … (The Justices settled on) a “functional” approach that focuses on the overall function of the employee, not only the enumerated tasks themselves. The court majority explicitly stated its decision stands on independent state grounds, precluding review by the U.S. Supreme Court.


In dissent, “[T]he majority and I appear to agree that a fair application of the primary duties test, as our courts and a majority of others have applied it, yields only one sensible result: that Ostlund’s position is not ‘ecclesiastical,’” Justice Crooks wrote. “Yet, rather than accept that result, the majority opts to gild the primary duties test with a functional analysis that produces a significantly broader approach and to apply the facts selectively to that approach.”

Crooks charged that the majority had failed to identify a principle in Wisconsin law that justified reworking the “primary duties” test. The new test, he said, has little or no support from other jurisdictions and “appears to be merely a matter of preference for the majority.
Crooks said that the court’s rationale risked undermining the constitutionality of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) established in
Jackson v. Benson, 218 Wis. 2d 835 (1998). That program enabling poor children to attend sectarian private schools through a public voucher system passed constitutional muster because it included an “opt-out” provision, he said.

An “opt-out” lets parents or guardians excuse their children from religious activities. This was an important factor under the test for state endorsement of religion set out in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971). Under that test, Crooks explained, a school voucher program does not violate the Establishment Clause if it has a secular legislative purpose, its principal or primary effect neither advances nor inhibits religion, and it does not create excessive entanglement between government and religion.

But if, as the majority asserts, the teaching of secular subjects at CCS is infused with religion, the opt-out provision is ineffective. “If the majority is correct in its conclusions, I fail to see how it can continue to be maintained that benefits flowing from the Milwaukee school choice program do not have the primary effect of advancing religion,” Crooks wrote.

Crooks remarked that this also puts the MPCP program in doubt under the state constitution’s “compelled support clause” in Article I, Section 18 barring a sectarian private school from requiring students to participate in religious activities. Likewise, the “benefits clause” of Article I, Section 18 forbids the expenditure of public money for the benefit of religious societies or theological seminaries.

I can’t wait for the voucher challenge to commence.

The Health Care Reform Naysayers Offer “Dumb” Reasons to be Afraid

Here’s one of the dumber conclusions pushed by opponents of health care reform: AP-“Congressional leaders say the bills would cut costs. But experts are dubious. Instead, they point out that covering the uninsured would cost billions.”

Brilliant. Covering people without insurance, those not able to pay, will cost more. Duh! The point is, of course, is to give them health insurance coverage now. The savings to the system would come after treating preventable illnesses early, so we don’t end up spending more money later, or losing the patient entirely. Allowing insurance premiums to triple in cost over normal income growth is not only ridiculous, but unsustainable.

“Our health care system is engineered, deliberately or not, to resist change. The people who pay for it — you and I — often don’t realize that they’re paying for it. Divvy that up, and health care will cost the typical household roughly $15,000 this year, including the often-invisible contributions by employers. That is almost twice as much as two decades ago (adjusting for inflation). It’s about $6,500 more than in other rich countries, on average.”

Let’s face it, when the public finally has affordable health care, the Republicans will look really bad for trying to block it. “Republicans have actually come out against doing research into which procedures improve health.”

“In some categories, like emergency room care, this country seems to do better. In others, like chronic-disease care, it seems to do worse. So far, no one has grabbed the mantle as the defender of the typical household — the opponent of spending that creates profits for drug companies and hospitals at no benefit to people’s health and at significant cost to their finances.
Lobbyists have managed to convince congress to write poison pills into the proposed heath care reform bills.

“One proposal would pay doctors based on the quality of care, rather than quantity, but it’s a pilot project. Doctors who already provide good care may well opt in; doctors providing wasteful but lucrative care surely will not. The bills would also finance research on which treatments are effective. But Medicare officials would not be prevented from continuing to spend taxpayer money on ineffective
With these reform “safety valves,” true reform will fail, giving Republicans the chance to say I told you so.