Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tight Wad Republican AG Van Hollen Wants More Money for His Department or He'll "protect the public less."
If you can't walk the walk…
All of a sudden Wisconsin Republicans have come to the realization that their "tough on crime, one-upmanship policies, are draining state taxpayer money away from everything else, adding to the deficit.
Missing the irony of his own tough on crime campaign rhetoric, Wisconsin's top law enforcement Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told Wispolitics.com:
“If we undertook the requirements of that bill (OWI and DNA changes) without resources to back it up, it could paralyze the Department of Justice, and it could create backlogs that are insurmountable.”No kidding, J.B.? Republican lawmakers were screaming bloody murder when the governor and Democratic legislature decided to ease up on truth and sentencing for rehabilitation and early releases for non-violent offenders due to the huge budget deficit.
It'll be interesting to see if the state GOP, the Grand Opportunist Party, will try to have it both ways in the 2010 midterms in the hope no one notices.
In fact, check out the following statement and tell me if any Democrat could get away with saying what Van Hollen does here:
"We can protect the public hopefully more because of this OWI legislation, but in some other category, unfortunately, we'll have to perhaps protect the public less.""Unfortunately, we'll have to protect the public less!"...Can you imagine what the conservative radio talk hosts would do with that statement?
As MSNBC's David Shuster's graphic said quite effectively, the GOP stands for the "Grand Opportunist Party."
Receiving criticism for vacationing in Hawaii when the failed underwear bomber attack occurred, Former Romney spokesman Kevin Madden came out with this gem aimed at Obama: "Hawaii, to many Americans, seems like a foreign place."
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, not realizing his criticism could just as easily been applied to the Bush/Cheney administration, said "Again, these are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan!..." He then asked for a monetary donation.
According to the Washington Post:
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said: "This episode highlights that on this issue Republicans are simply hypocrites, and it proves what we have said for a long time - there is nothing - no bounds whatsoever - to what they will politicize for their own political gain. What's more telling is that they have no shame in doing it - inconsistency, political opportunism and hypocrisy seem to define the Republican Party and their approach to politics and policy."
The political pushback comes in reaction to a concerted GOP effort to reclaim the national security issue from a young president they see as vulnerable.
Leading that charge once again is former vice president Dick Cheney, who said in a statement to Politico that Obama is making the country less safe by "pretending" that the U.S. is not at war with terrorists.
In the statement, Cheney leveled a broadly worded charge against Obama: "Why doesn't he want to admit we're at war? It doesn't fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn't fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency - social transformation -- the restructuring of American society. President Obama's first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."
In the clip below, even the very pleasant and agreeable columnist Eugene Robinson appears to have had enough after Dick Cheney's demeaning comments about Obama. Robinson's point is similar to the one I've been making all along; The Republican Party has gone loony right-wing because no one has really reigned them in, challenged them and forced them to back up their comments in the reality based world, when they've said and done so many crazy things.
This is a topic who's time has come.
Pretty soon the information highway will have tolls at every turn, keeping news at arms length if you don't have the means to pay for it. Conservative greed meister Rupert Murdoch's empire is big enough now to demand outrageous prices for his TV programming.
Some think it's a liberal conspiracy to take Fox News off their cable systems, oblivious to the fact that they're going to be seeing big price increases in their cable bills soon. Worse still, those who don't watch Faux News will be paying Murdoch too, so he can churn out more of his media slime. The Capital Times:
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp wants cable companies to pay … (and) is threatening to remove its Fox stations from Time Warner Cable systems at the end of this week if the cable company does not agree to pay sizable subscriber fees of about $1 a month for each subscriber, potentially setting a precedent for broadcasters that are seeking a new revenue stream to offset advertising declines.It pains me to think my money will help Murdoch's propaganda channel vilify me and half the nations citizens left of center, all the while opening the door for every other network to jack their subscriber fees through the roof.
Time Warner, in turn, is playing hardball, running an advertising campaign to prepare viewers for the prospect of a January without college bowl games or "American Idol."
After hearing the news that AT&T is hiking their monthly rates for TV, phone and Internet, why aren't the tea partiers screaming their heads off over the eventual loss of their freedom to be informed and keep more of their money?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Jobs a Big Problem: How did we get here?
On Jan. 29, the House passed a $819 stimulus plan without a single Republican vote … after a group of senators brokered a compromise (that) slashed important provisions from the House version -- including the elimination of $16 billion in funds for new school construction -- while adding tax credits that skewed toward the wealthy.
Isn't it time we vilify the term fiscal conservative, defining it as something that means economically clueless?
Republican State Sen. Grothman on Combating 15" of Snow: "Madison officials are endangering citizens access to their state government."
It looks like Mr. "small government" Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman has had enough, when it comes to the inconvenience of mom nature dumping 15" of snow on our city streets, complicating his path to the capital building. The Wisconsin State Journal:
Glenn Grothman … (said) Madison officials are endangering citizens' access to their state government and university … he's drafting a bill that would strip the city's ability to set policies for salting and plowing its main roads and give that authority to the state Department of Transportation. Only Madison, which Grothman claims is worse at clearing streets than other state cities, would be affected by the proposal.Glenn's just kidding, a little bit, when he uses a time worn cliché to portray a perennially top ten best city in America as a place so poorly run it needs his help. What was unfortunate was the typically serious liberal response that legitimized such a ridiculous proposal:
"This is what happens when you have a city with politicians whose base is people who walk to their job at the co-op. They become incapable of handling their responsibilities to the state as a whole," Grothman said. "I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you know what I mean."
Mario Mendoza, aide to Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said "It's an issue that the city is already working on and there is no need for the measure called for by Senator Grothman,"Blah, blah, blah...Would it surprise anyone that the issue involves the environment? Evil overlord Mother Nature, and her band of "enemy combatant" liberals, are fighting the Republicans over global warming.
City officials have said the policy is aimed at balancing keeping roads safe and holding down salt levels in area lakes and drinking water. But Grothman, a conservative who often favors local control, said that approach was so irresponsible the city should be stripped of its authority.Saving the lakes and preserving our ability to drink water is irresponsible? West Bend voters must be proud of their knuckle dragging senator.
The video below exposes the very private student loan provider, SallieMae, as the end product of the best government money can buy. You'll notice how SallieMae magically never loses a penny due to the generosity of the American taxpayer. But wait, I said private didn't I.
It's sad the tea party movement is based on low information voters, mindlessly protesting mythical problems and socialism, instead of trying to wrestle government out of the tight fists of corporate power. The video is a shining example of how diseased our democracy is right now.
From Now on PBS:
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
WBBM/CBS - U.S Senate candidate Andy Martin is airing a new political advertisement that is making accusations about the sexual orientation of Congressman Mark Kirk.
From Jonathan Turley blog:
Martin has achieved a degree of infamy for anti-Semitic remarks and his fostering of the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
In 1996, Martin (a former journalist) ran for a Florida State Senate seat with a campaign committee named “The Anthony R. Martin-Trigona Congressional Campaign to Exterminate Jew Power in America.” In a 1983 bankruptcy case, Martin reportedly called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”
On WPT's Here and Now, state Democratic Representative Mark Pocan explains the difficulty in paying for stricter OWI laws that will somehow stay revenue neutral. But when Republican Rep. Robin Vos praises the tougher rules, he trips himself up by complaining the laws should have been even tougher, and thus costlier, yet impossibly cheaper. No wonder Republicans ran the country into the ground. My head is hurting.
When asked where he would find other ways to pay for the tougher OWI law, Vos actually complained about a minor jump in fines for those caught driving drunk because many don't pay or can't afford it. So after saying he would have made the penalties tougher, he had no alternative way to pay for it. And that's having it both ways, if he can get away with it.
But since that didn't happen, the now former president wants everyone to see the George W. Bush think tank public TV show starting in February "Ideas in Action," a sneaky little way to revise history and gain Reagan like supporters. I'm sure the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert will be tuning in.
Sen. Russ Feingold's Republican challenger, real estate developer Terrence Wall, would like to channel the Reagan years again because it treated government as the enemy. Wall is another guy who believes in the Reagan myth, and not the deficit producing, tax increasing Ronnie few people have heard about. Wall worries on Upfront with Mike Gousha, "Economic liberties are being taken away from us."
You know, the economic liberties we've come to know and love when we buy high priced health insurance policies that increase 10 to 35 percent each year, taking money out of our pocket and the economy. Apply those same "liberties" to cap and trade, even though suppliers raised rates anyway due to customers going green and the loss of manufacturing due to outsourcing. Wall even ignores the results of the Contract with America and the "deficits are okay" Republican congress that never attempted to tackle one social problem, except for saving Terri Shiavo.
Looks like we need to return to the last eight years of "economic liberties."
Wall: "Unemployment is higher, I'd like to ask, are you better off today than 18 years ago...we have very serious problems...we need to solve. I don't see that happening."
Terrence Wall's vision of a business friendly state includes finding ways for corporations to drive their trucks through every possible loophole. That means Wisconsin taxpayers will make-up for the lost state revenues. The Capital Times:"A 2-acre piece of commercial real estate along bustling Greenway Boulevard owned by Terrence Wall Properties (had) been rented to a farmer, who this year planted a crop of pumpkins that were later sold to raise money for a Middleton youth group," essentially reclassifying the property "this year as agriculture property, saving the company about $34,000 in local taxes." Leaving no loophole unexploited, Wall took the side of the picked on victim saying, "That's the law; we're following it. But I guess in this town, no good deed goes unpunished."
Despite futile calls from Sen. Al Franken for Thune to admit he was lying, Republicans know they will never be held accountable for fabricating their own facts with their constituents. Willful ignorance by conservatives about debt and spending during the Republican congress got us to this point, why would it be any different when it comes to knowing the actual details of health care reform.
In the clip, Shuster and Chris Kofinis try to get a straight answer from Republican Alex Johnson about the supposed delay in health care benefits.
Monday, December 28, 2009
First off, this is not an ad for Vonage, but could be. For years I've had the $25 package offered up by Vonage, and couldn't be happier. Vonage is a phone service for home users utilizing the internet. Despite a slight drawback on emergency 911 calls, there is a work-around for that, here's what $25 buys you; "U.S and Puerto Rico calls, along with free unlimited international calling to over 60 countries including India, Mexico and Canada." Now that's tough competition. No call limits, no long distance charges. AT&T hasn't noticed. From The Capital Times:
AT&T will increase rates for many U-verse video, data and voice packages … the U-verse Voice Unlimited plan will increase 16.7 percent, to $35 per month from $30 … The U-verse Voice 250 plan, which includes 250 minutes of calling time anywhere in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, is remaining at $25 per month.Gee, a whole 250 minutes free. Don't do us any favors AT&T. The intentional melding of high rate plans for cell phones with home phone rate plans is AT&T's attempt to gouge customers. Home phone rates have been comfortably low for some time due to VOIP (voice over the internet protocall) phone services, biting into AT&T and other land line companies that were slow to change.
As a former Ma Bell customer, I personally can't imagine any phone service worth more than $30 a month, period. My mind freezes on the thought of a $50 to $60 a month bill just to talk on the phone.
AT&T's price increases just hardens my resolve. Go VOIP (internet phone services).
Sunday, December 27, 2009
In an editorial comment the Sunday after Christmas, with its huge after holiday sales supplements, Nichols spazzes out about how unfair it is for congress to make laws, health care reform in this case, around the holidays. Huh? He can't be serious. He is in a piece titled "Holiday Health Debate Failed Democratic Test."
The Senate vote on health care reform may well have been as “historic” as everyone on Capitol Hill claimed. But few in America noticed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid … guaranteed the process would play while most Americans were taking care of kids out of school for the holiday break, rushing to complete their Christmas shopping, or trying to make it through the snow to the homes of relatives.Intellectual stuff, isn't it? We can't shop while congress reforms health care? Nichols surreal trip down the rabbit hole continues.
It is difficult to imagine a more anti-democratic schedule.
…when the consideration of sweeping, complicated and historic legislation is rushed to completion while most voters cannot pay even a normal level of attention to the process, the resulting legislation will inevitably be more representative of Washington-insider deal-making than the aspirations of the great mass of Americans.Nichols repeats the Republican misdirection play that we're "rushing" to reform health care. Rushing? If 100 years is rushing, then Nichols has a point, but to repeat something so wrong by the party of NO is to give their argument credibility. Please don't try to help the Democrats John.
It is not healthy for a democracy to be making major decisions when the vast majority of citizens are distracted by a season that encourages them to focus on family and friends rather than the affairs of state.No John, you're ridiculous.
A schedule that has the Senate wrangling about exceptionally complicated reforms with vast social and economic import even as Santa’s elves are loading the sleigh and children are nestling with visions of sugarplums in their heads is, frankly, ridiculous.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
WPT's Here and Now and Upfront with Mike Gousha (goo-shay) don't toss softball questions at Barrett, who unlike the evasive Walker, provides clear answers.
U.S. workers are overpaid, relative to equally productive foreigners doing the same work. If the global economy is ever to get back into balance, that gap needs to be closed.
Of course, U.S. workers should earn more than their peers in China, Moldova, or Vietnam. But how much higher should U.S. wages be? The answer depends in large part on two measures: the difference in productivity in making goods that can be traded across borders, and the quantity of such tradable goods. Both measures point to a narrowing wage gap.
The global wage gap has been narrowing, but recent U.S. labor market statistics suggest the adjustment has not gone far enough.
One indicator is unemployment … The 7.3 million jobs lost are more than treble the 2 million of the next worst post-war recession, in 1980-82 … but there could be another factor: the recession has revealed many workers are paid more than they are worth.
The huge surge in reported productivity … that suggests that some production is being outsourced altogether, often to lower-paid foreign workers. The big U.S. trade deficit -- cut in half but still at alarmingly high levels -- is another sign of excessive pay for Americans. One explanation for the attractive prices of imported goods is that U.S. workers are paid too much, relative to their foreign peers.
Global wage convergence is great for the poor but tough on the overpaid rich. It's possible to run the numbers to show that U.S. manufacturing workers should take average real wage cuts of as much as 20% to get into global balance.
A combination of moderate inflation to reduce real wages and a further drop in the dollar's real trade-weighted value might be an acceptable combination.
Welcome to the return of 19th century England.
The following is so "not funny" it's funny.
Suddenly, Republicans are now super duper sensitive about how their elected politician votes on specific legislation. Never before have I seen such concern over reform and bill writing. In fact one guy is demanding CRAZY NEW RULES, like in this letter to the editor, from a minority party loser. Again, isn't it odd this voter was so silent while Republicans were spending like drunken sailors on unfunded tax cuts, bills passed in the middle of the night and Medicare Part D:
I do not believe that Sen. Russ Feingold and Sen. Herb Kohl have the support of their constituency for current health care legislation. They should provide the following:All this from a Republican voter that wants to strip accountability from private businesses with tort reform, who wants strip the majority elected president and the party in power to legislate without an impossible 75% SUPER MAJORITY and dosen't like making tough decisions.
A clear concise outline of the legislation in its entirety with all major points clearly defined and how it will affect their state. Clear reasons why they would support the legislation and the specific reasons why they feel their constituents support their decision.
Hard data which reflect state opinion on the matter and at least 75 percent general support of their vote. State residents expect accountability and the senators should not vote on this legislation without our approval. They vote on behalf of us, not for us. They should provide a statement that says they have listened to us and voted how we have decided. If they cannot do this, they have no business voting on this legislation.
They are whiny cry babies on steroids.
Friday, December 25, 2009
If they gave you bad food, or food that you couldn’t or shouldn’t eat … you would send it back. Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case at Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division. In the 2009 budget, Scott Walker initiated a proposal to privatize the food service at BHD (which the County Board ended up endorsing), even though the privatized food service at HOC and the County Justice Facility (county jail) was being less than successful, being ever more costly and having near riots due to the poor quality and quantity of the food … privatization was less expensive and more accountable than if the public sector provided the work.But as it would happen, private for profit companies cut corners and save money for themselves by dramatically cutting back portion size eliciting complaints that patients weren't getting enough food…
Another big problem was that the food service agency was not following the specialized diet that many of the patients required. People without teeth were given foods that could end up being a choking hazard. Diabetic patients were not being given diabetic meals. Special orders by the doctors were being ignored … the already understaffed nurses … had to take extra time to not only make sure the trays were correct, but then … get the agency to send up the proper food. In other words, the private agency gets to collect all the money, but faces no accountability for when they screw up.Scott "muddled" Walker can now blame the food service without taking a hit on his oversight responsibilities as county executive. For Republicans, it's all about blaming someone else. You know the drill; it's those communists, socialists, Democrats, too many regulations and taxes.
I was able to verify today that there was an incident a couple of weeks ago, when one of the trays brought to a patient was infested with bugs, reportedly maggots.
Over at bloggingblue, this Walker disaster:
Walker used his veto pen to shape the county’s budget as he saw fit, and in doing so, Walker imposed eight unpaid furlough days on sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers. When asked about the furloughs for deputies and corrections officers, Walker said he didn’t mean to subject sheriff’s deputies and jailers to eight unpaid furlough days next year…
Yet, when his gubernatorial foe Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett furlough Milwaukee police officers Walkers campaign complained
the eight budgets that Scott Walker presented have … reduced debt through creative solutions without cutting essential services, like firefighters and police officers.Two huge points: In a shocking twist of logic, Walker is saying that Barrett intentionally furloughed firefighters and police officers, while he accidentally did.
Point two: Notice that Walker "PRESENTED" budgets, budgets that ended up being quite different written by the county board, that paid the bills in the real world. Walker's plans were dependent privatization, like selling off local parks, services and Mitchell airport.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
And some thought the Republicans couldn't go any lower. We are dangerously underestimating them.
MSNBC analyst Richard Wolffe makes the case a good one.
MSNBC.com: Democratic Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama, who hails from a heavily conservative congressional district, announced Tuesday that he will join the GOP.
"I have become increasingly concerned that the bills and policies pushed by the current Democratic leadership are not good for north Alabama or our nation," he said during a press conference to announce the switch. "More importantly, they do not represent my values and convictions."
First, Griffith has it backwards, "more importantly" should be applied to policy, laws that effect the nation, not his own personal values and convictions. Maybe he thought he was running for the state legislature?
If Griffith had a problem, a concerned about making tough decisions that could go either way, than migrating to the Party of Irresponsibility is a natural move. The party of "no" and disaster capitalism will welcome him with open arms.
If he doesn't get the simplicity of common sense economics, identifying more with the now discredited "fiscal conservative" cliché, then good riddance.
Bottom line: Only a Republican would think it would be acceptable for a business that has nothing to do with medical care to profit from the pain and sicknesses of others. Ghouls.
James Hansen, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, insists tariff profits can simply be redistributed to Americans so they can upgrade to energy saving technology.
Rachel Maddow gets pretty much the same story from columnist and author Thomas Friedman, who explains how Denmark did it.
Monday, December 21, 2009
This is important information, so I hope you have the time to watch the video clip. Sen. Debbie Stabenow gives us a little history on other liberal bills that were just as underwhelming as the Senate's version of health care reform, and a few really important details sceptics should consider before they throw the whole party under the bus.
Salon.com's Joan Walsh makes a great point about the mandate to buy insurance, even if it's from the scoundrels who have been ripping us off for so long.
Dan Calabrese writes:
Of course, Americans haven't pointed out the horrific anecdotes of the for profit free market private system we have now, right? People selling their homes, getting dropped for the sake of profits at the scariest time in their life and dying. So if the free market, private sector middle man has performed so inhumanely, why are Republicans so eager to expand this dysfunctional system? The obvious reason: the problem isn't the unnecessary industry of insurance, it's that people rely on them to much.
It will still hamstring the insurance industry with unsustainable restrictions on who must be covered, and for how much, and under what conditions. Oh, and by the way, for those who still want to pretend there are no death panels, check into the Comparative Effectiveness Research Panel. No death panels, my ass. The only thing left to do is to start working on getting it repealed. Here’s how to do that:
1. …finally get federal spending under control, which won’t be an easy promise to sell because they didn’t do anything of the sort the last time they were in control. The second is to repeal ObamaCare.
2. Spend the campaign season pointing out everything that’s wrong with ObamaCare in its early implementations. The taxes. The fees. The contortions of the insurance market. The loss of individual discretion, which will start immediately and can be demonstrated in all kinds of personal anecdotes.
Republicans need to … construct a campaign based on real market-based reforms. There have been problems with it for years, but they mostly stem from the fact that people are too reliant on insurance companies for their basic, day-to-day health care. Republicans need to propose a system in which people will be reliant on themselves to the greatest extent possible.That's the part I mentioned earlier, where people lose everything if they get sick. Sure they can rely on themselves, but based on studies, we already know that doesn't work. I think Charles Dickens wrote about this in the 19th century. It's now a conservative dream for America.
And if Obama decides to tempt fate and veto the reforms, then Republicans can completely toss out ObamaCare in 2013, with a real, free-market-based, consumer-empowering alternative ready for the signature of a smiling Sarah Palin.I did not make up that last paragraph. It's for real, and that’s why we have a depression right now. Crazy thinking like that is the fastest way to open the doors for new union work houses and prisons. And if "Many can't go there; and many would rather die'' than "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Nebraska Governor Spits in Nebraskans and Sen. Ben Nelson's Face says Medicaid Deal Bad for America!
(AP) - It was the concern of Nebraska's Republican governor over expanded Medicaid costs in the proposed Senate health care overhaul bill that led to a compromise to cover his state's estimated $45 million share over a decade, U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson said Sunday.
Gov. Dave Heineman "contacted me and he said this is another unfunded federal mandate and it's going to stress the state budget, and I agreed with him," said Sen. Ben Nelson, But even if you try to do everything you can to help, Republicans will spit in your face: But Heineman expressed anything but gratitude, saying he had nothing to do with the compromise and calling the overhaul bill "bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America." "Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal," Heineman said in a statement Sunday.
In response, Nelson fired off a letter Sunday to Heineman saying he's prepared to ask that the provision covering Nebraska's Medicaid share "be removed from the amendment in conference, if it is your desire."
In an Omaha rally Sunday hastily thrown together by a group called Americans for Prosperity of Nebraska … Rallygoers often shouted "Recall!" and "Liar!" at the mention of Nelson's name, and Huckabee himself seemed to compare Nelson to Judas in the biblical story of Jesus' betrayal.And so it goes with health care for all, "bad news for America," and a disconnected inhumane party of gravediggers waiting for the sick and the weak to die. When it comes to preventing human suffering, it's no "deal."
Saturday, December 19, 2009
He's goin' huntin' for a dangerous liberal senate varmint, I reckon.
But besides the catchy gimmick, how does he really feel about the health care crisis:
“We already have 100% universal coverage to health care… emergency rooms... now, it may sound callous to say well, if you need health care and you don’t have health insurance, you know, find an emergency room, but it’s also the way the system has been designed, and it works.”Is it any wonder why Republicans never brought up health care reform until now, and only after being forced to by the Democrats.
No problem, move along, nothing to see here....
will A Raw Story analysis, based on a recent Harvard Medical School study, estimates that 135,000 American citizens and over 6,600 US veterans will die due to a lack of health insurance before current proposed health care reform measures would take effect.
One hundred and thirty-five thousand US lives far exceeds the total number of Americans who died in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the attacks of 9/11 combined. The lives of over 6,600 US veterans is more -- by over 1,300 -- than the total number of US soldiers who have thus far died in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor of medicine at Harvard University and co-author of the Harvard Medical School study, called Raw Story’s estimates “quite reasonable.”
Republicans Put the Judicial Branch of Government Up For Sale: It's Not about the Right to Spend, But How Much More You Can Spend.
A new lawsuit in campaign funding for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates is taking advantage of the conservative activist leanings of the current sitting justices on the state and federal benches. How else can you explain their blatantly obvious admission-
"The state's payment of matching funds ... neutralizes the independent expender's voice when it makes an independent expenditure," according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Madison. The lawsuit alleges that the rescue fund "creates a chilling effect of Wisconsin Right To Life's free exercise of protected speech and imposes a climate of self-censorship."-Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin Right to Life attorney Jim Bopp says under the law, the speech of third parties is chilled because spending money on a candidate will trigger public money for their opponent.It takes balls to make such a claim, when the decision to spend money is up to the third party, un-chilled and unencumbered. What is clear are the intentions of such a lawsuit.
"This isn't about the First Amendment. This (lawsuit) is about trying to drown out the voices of candidates and citizens," said Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, which has pushed for the law for a decade. Opponents of the Impartial Justice Act "hat a level playing field."WRTL is desperately trying to make sure that playing field tilts their way because the first race the law will affect is in April 2011, when Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is up for re-election. He's a former partisan Republican legislator and lawbreaker who has admitted using his staff illegally for campaign work. He claims everybody else was doing it.
Justice Prosser defended unlimited amounts of money for electing justices saying it would protect justices from attacks by those who unfairly suggest campaign money influences decisions.Yup, it's unfair to suggest campaign money may have influence a judges decision.
Justice Prosser blamed "outsiders," like the public, for thinking there might be an appearance of bias: Prosser said. "I'm sorry, I've had it. It is time to address a true crisis that has been created, not by people on the court but people outside the court."Republicans first took away our political system by selling it to the highest "free market" bidder, now they want to do the same to our judicial branch of government. In the meantime, their reinterpretation of the constitution won't make our founding documents worth the paper its printed on either.
Friday, December 18, 2009
To Republicans, business taxes are killing jobs and businesses. But you won't hear them talk about reigning in banking credit card fees which are forcing higher consumer prices and discouraging job creation. It's caveman politics, where "government bad" and "private bank profits good." Capital Times:
Each time a consumer uses a credit card, 2 to 3 percent goes directly to the credit card company, which squeezes the margins on retailers and raises the price on consumers.Hey, those are the same reasons Republicans give for doing away with the business tax. If it's that big a deal to spur on job growth, why not get tough on banks? A job killer is a job killer, right?
Since 2001, interchange fee costs have risen by over 300 percent, according to Bob Johnson, president of Consumers for Competitive Choice, far outpacing increases in health care or energy costs. He said the credit card companies and their issuing banks collected $48 billion in those fees last year.
"Every dollar spent on interchange fees is a dollar not spent hiring workers or providing savings to customers," Johnson says.
Interchange, or swipe, fees impact ... businesses. Johnson said his organization wants Congress to include credit card fees as part of financial regulatory reform.Could it have something to do with ideology?
The problem, merchants and Johnson say, is not that the fees exist. It’s that they have gone up, that they vary depending on what card is used and that the fees are unregulated.
“It works as a hidden tax on consumers and businesses,” Johnson said.
Wisconsin Conservative Activist Justice Roggensack Says Recusal is Nothing More than Political Correctness. It's Time for a Re-Call Election.
Some articles in the media have implied that past campaign contributions or independent advertisements caused the justices to vote in favor of that rule.It's down the rabbit hole, folks. Roggensack can't be this naïve, ignoring historical judicial corruption:
If a candidate for judicial office were to accept a campaign contribution in exchange for the promise to vote one way or another in a case, that is not a lawful contribution.That's right, Roggensack claims any judicial candidate that openly admits to being bought off should be arrested. What a revelation.
Second … protecting the First Amendment rights of all voters to cast votes that could not later be cancelled by the acts of others was a primary concern.Of course, we're not talking about casting votes, we're talking about spending lots of money to influence an elections results. Dumb, or just deceptive? Dumb, and you'll see why in her next point that actually argues against her arguments.
Third, the vast majority of voters make no campaign contributions. They exercise their First Amendment right to vote in complete confidence that their votes will mean as much as voters who do make a campaign contribution.And we've seen how equal that makes our politicians and disbarred judges. Justice Roggensack then artfully defends her vote to except as much help through big monied interests by somehow defending the guy who spends nothing. Roggensack turns logic upside down.
I voted for the rule because of my concern that the citizens who elected justices were in danger of having their votes … cancelled, solely due to another person's lawful contribution. Let me explain - if a person made a lawful campaign contribution and that caused the justice to be disqualified from deciding legal issues presented to the court, all of the other voters who chose that justice because they believed he or she was fair, independent and knowledgeable about the law would have their votes cancelled because of the justice's disqualification.WRONG! That's called recusal. Of course voters would feel JUST THE OPPOSITE of Roggensack's claim, knowing that the APPEARANCE of impropriety and influence would require a recusal and be the professional thing to do.
Furthermore, a campaign contribution could easily be used as a sword by someone who wanted to disqualify a justice.That doesn't happen now? Welcome to our world, the one in which voters watch on the sidelines as politicians and justices take the side of big business, special interests and their lobbies.
The rule that the court adopted addressed the concern … Making the politically-correct decision in tough cases would be the easier choice....Roggensack looks at recusal due to the appearance of influence as political correctness.
Obviously, Roggensack can't be trusted to make another legal opinion. It's time for her removal.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Of the billions that taxpayers spent to help students attend for-profit colleges and universities in 2007, half will never be repaid, according to Department of Education projections  (PDF) released Tuesday.Ignored by the Republicans Party's push to destroy public education is the illegal gaming of the system that rips off taxpayer money.
By comparison, the department projects that the students who took out loans toattend nonprofit four-year colleges in 2007 will default at significantly lower rates — 22 percent for freshmen and sophomores, and 12 percent for juniors and seniors.
A recent investigation by the Government Accountability Office found instances of for-profit schools’ engaging in outright fraud to sign up unqualified students  (PDF) and warned that "the government cannot be assured that its student aid funds are only provided to students who have an ability to benefit from higher education.’’There are victims in this for profit failure, as usual:
The GAO found … schools, which typically do not have
entrance exams, accept students from lower socio-economic groups who would be
unlikely to gain entry into more traditional institutions. They also accept more
women and minority students, as a percentage, than nonprofit schools. These
groups, the GAO said, are more likely to default on loans.
The GAO found, "Students who default are also at risk of facing a number of personal and financial burdens," the report said. These risks include ruined credit ratings that would make it more difficult or impossible to obtain other loans, to find a job or rent an apartment, or to continue their schooling elsewhere.
The Worst Possible Candidate for a Government Position like Governor, Scott Walker, Continues to Amaze with Almost No Media Accountability.
I loved this commentary from Cory Liebmann at Eye on Wisconsin:
Today the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorialized that the full Milwaukee County Board should override a Scott Walker veto today. The veto was meant to stop a study that would look at the actual costs of treating all Milwaukee County employees equally … the study that Walker doesn’t want is about how much extending those benefits will/or won’t cost.I'm just wondering how many other Walker stories are out there that will never again see the light of day, now as he runs for governor, when it really counts.
The good part about the editorial is that the MJS says that the Walker veto should be overridden. The part that makes me crazy is how they have to qualify any and every criticisim of Walker with “he has a point” kind of language. NO! HE DOESN’T HAVE A POINT! HE IS WRONG! Why can’t the MJS just say so? Scott Walker could propose using the Park East land to build a massive puppy mill and the MJS would somehow manage to find a “good point” in it.
The last time that I can remember the MJS Editorial Board saying that Walker was flat out wrong about something was when his administration closed the pools early in the middle of a heat wave and then scapegoated his managers when he saw the public outrage.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The Republican State of Confusion: Protect our Standard of Living from Global Warming Hoax or Advocate Lower Wages? Both?
And now it's up to Fox News to make sure the message of lower American wages sinks in. The Ed Show:
Yet, in contradiction to that message, Republican commentators are quick to protect our standard of living and high wages when it comes to pushing their conspiracy theories about the global warming "hoax." A hoax designed to make us into an impoverished our nation. No wonder their viewers seem to be in a constant state of confusion. Low wages or maintain our standard of living?
Dean: "You're forcing us into insurance companies, you took away our choice."
Landrieu: "You never had that choice to begin with..."
Wow, we didn't? That's news to us. Are we the only ones who heard Obama bring up the public choice too many times to count? Of course Landrieu was under the impression that the "dumb" voting public thought the public option meant "free" health care for all!
These "Blue Dog" Democrats are only increasing the cost of health care, not supposedly saving consumers money. But we'll just have to wait for the GAO report, won't we.
The President this morning admitted on national television that he lost control of the message with health care. It’s time to reboot – and use a very, very, very simple message so all Americans can understand it.
Let’s use Medicare, which nearly every American understands. Just create “Medicare Part E” where the “E” represents “everybody.” Just let any citizen in the US buy into Medicare.
It would be so easy. No need to reinvent the wheel with this so-called “public option” that’s a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works. Some people will like it, others won’t – just like the Post Office versus FedEx analogy the President is so comfortable with.
Just pass a simple bill – it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people – that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.
Thus, Medicare Part E would be revenue neutral!
To make it available to people of low income, Congress could raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me – under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.
This blows up all the rumors about death panels and grandma and everything else: everybody knows what Medicare is. Those who scorn it can go with United Healthcare and it’s $100 million/year CEO. Those who like Medicare can buy into Part E. Simplicity itself.
Of course, we’d like a few fixes, like letting negotiate drug prices, and fill some of the other holes Republicans and AARP and the big insurance lobbyists have drilled into Medicare so people have to buy “supplemental” insurance, but that can wait for the second round. Let’s get this done first.
Simple stuff. Medicare for anybody who wants it. Private health insurance for those who don’t. Easy message. Even Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley can understand it. Sarah Palin can buy into it, or ignore it. No death panels, no granny plugs, nothing.
Just a few sentences.
Replace the “you must be disabled or 65” with “here’s what it’ll cost if you want to buy in, and here’s the sliding scale of subsidies we’ll give you if you’re poor, paid for by everybody else who’s buying in.” This creates Part E.
And if this fails – if the Congress can’t get out from under their corporate overlords – at the very least pass the Kucinich amendment that will allow individual states to create their own single-payer systems, as was done in Canada a generation ago.
Failed County Executive and gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker is pretty upfront about who would have influence over government policy under his administration. Big business and big energy. His recent editorial comment at Madison.com couldn't be clearer:
Wisconsin has lost 140,000 jobs and one-eighth of our manufacturing work force… if he (Gov. Jim Doyle) simply wanted to slow the exodus of good-paying jobs from Wisconsin, he would sit down with the 23 organizations representing Wisconsin manufacturers, paper companies, builders, food processors and small business pleading with him not to use his global warming task force to kill more Wisconsin jobs.Did I miss the part where the people also had an invitation? Walker, like every other Republican corporate shill, uses the old "job killer" cliché' we've come to know and hate. You'll never hear them talk about the cost of health care for businesses being a "job killer" in the global market place, will you?
Walker inadvertently weakens his own argument with this simple statement of truth:
"Despite well-founded concerns that rising energy costs and environmental regulations have contributed to the greatest loss of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin history…"Forgetting about our one-sided free trade policies, Walker complains about "rising energy costs" brought about by big oil and energy, even before the creation of green energy mandates. Even worse, Walker blames our current environmental regulations on lost manufacturing jobs. Just what standards should be in place to make sure our water is not contaminated or smog alerts reduced, Scott?
Oh, I forgot, Walker will allow companies to do anything they want as long as they use the "job killer" sledge hammer strategy that has worked so well in the past. Think of all the money energy companies would save if they didn't have to run negative ads about "job killers" and "saving the environment" for future generations, and had the governor working for them instead.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
AP-Republicans were quick to criticize the administration's plan.Surprised? Of course our current system of law enforcement is completely inadequate to house these dangerous "terrorists" on U.S. soil.
Or, Republicans are scared to death of terrorists, and Al Qaeda has won the war on America's psyche. But authoritarian...
...Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the American people "already have rejected bringing terrorists to U.S. soil,"Of course, he knows what the American people want according to polls, even though polls have shown the American people wanted a public option in health care. But that was different I guess...
Either McConnell still doesn't get how Gitmo is being used as an Al Qaeda recruiting tool, or he is refusing consider that an all important bit of intelligence. That's why he said this...
He accused the administration of failing to explain how transferring the detainees would keep the public safer than keeping them offshore in Cuba.
Duh! Message to McConnell...booo.
Here's a FRIGHTENED Rep. Aaron Schock shaking in his shoes at the thought of "terrorists" in his lovely flat landian state, south of the cheddar curtain.
Dylan Ratigan, the guy who coined "Corporate Communism," Exposes Democratic Financial Reform as Empty.
Below, Ratigan risks scaring guests away by not tolerating misleading spin, and clearly stating the facts. Like David Shuster and Lawrence O'Donnell, Ratigan believes in "the follow-up question," a cable news industry rarity. Believe me, not only is the video clip informative, but it is really fun to watch.
What is the only way Lieberman can escapes the brand as the most hated man in America? That would depend on a whole bunch of people never hearing how he alone destroyed what could have been affordable and effective health care that reform. Americans would have seen more money in their pockets, preventive care, life saving treatments and do away with the possibility of losing everything do to a serious illness.
Yes, health care reform will take a huge step forward, but premiums will be unaffected and increases will continue. As premiums sky rocket, Republicans will declare victory calling reform a failure. They will be right. For cost conscience conservatives and Blue Dog Democrats, they will have accomplished just the opposite of saving people money. That would mean the irrational theory of free market capitalism lives on to destroy American families another day.
Bottom line: What else can you say about a requirement to have health insurance, all the while not being able to afford it?
Bowing to Lieberman: As Joe Lieberman has now proved in this health-care debate, any U.S. senator can be a king. The question is whether that power is used in good faith to make the legislation better, or whether it’s used for another reason. Bottom line: It appears Lieberman is acting a bit out of character on this issue, given his history of being a rank-and-file Democrat (leaning liberal/progressive) on domestic issues. This is why the charge of playing politics with the left is looking so believable to some.But reform is still necessary, leaving cost containment for some future congress.
Daily Kos's Markos Moulitsas, Tweeted: "Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate." What's left besides the mandate, he and others argue, if public option and a Medicare buy-in are both gone. Of course, the White House and others would argue that expanded health-care coverage for millions of Americans, as well as new restrictions on health insurers, is significant reform.
Olbermann's list of right wing media personalities, heard on almost every station in the country and in every newspaper, shows just how "conservatives don't have a voice in the media."
Monday, December 14, 2009
Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:
Could any legislation that significantly overhauls the health care system win broad support? "Probably not - almost certainly not," said Charles Franklin, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Here are a few examples: People by sizable margins think the health care system needs to be • overhauled. At the same time, most people are happy with their own health insurance.
People think costs are too high, but by costs, they largely mean insurance • premiums, not the underlying cost of health care.
People want to control health care costs, but they don't want any changes • in their own health insurance or health care.
People are concerned about the federal budget deficit, but, at the same • time, a large majority think the government spends too little on health care.
People want to cover the uninsured, but they also are reluctant to pay • higher taxes to do it.
The recent UW Badger Poll found that 72% of the public considers the health care system to be in a state of crisis or having major problems. Yet 51% of the people surveyed were extremely or very satisfied with their health plans.
One Kaiser poll found that 67% of the public believes that Americans don't get the tests and treatments they need - and 55% thought an insurance company should pay for a test or procedure recommended by a doctor even if a less costly but equally effective treatment was available.
"There is no free lunch, and so how do you find a way to craft this plan that seems to cost citizens nothing in premiums or taxes and gives them benefits," Franklin said, "and still have some kind of effect on the cost of health care to individuals and the government?