Thursday, March 31, 2011

Republican Party of Dane County Laughing Stock and Comedy Material.

Here's Colbert's take on Wisconsin's legal "crisis."

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The Prosser Accident we're craning our necks to see.

Here are a few scary moments from Justice David Prosser's appearance on Upfront with Mike Gousha (goo-shay). Prosser ironically starts out by accusing voters of trying to influence upcoming case decisions, by electing a liberal activist justice, insane as that might sound from a former Republican assembly leader. He knows about JoAnne Kloppenburg because he's seen the people that support her on Facebook and in the crowds "marching" around the Capitol. Gulp!

Prosser apologizes for calling the Chief Justice a "total bitch," but like before, then blames the "continuing tensions on the court" for his bad behavior, which is "not his fault." Like that's supposed to convince voters Prosser would be a great guy to keep around...just to make things worse?

Amazing stuff.

But don't take my liberal word for it, read what his now former honorary co-chair thinks. They're now jumping ship...:

jsonline: Former Democratic Gov. Patrick J. Lucey resigned Thursday as honorary co-chair of State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser's re-election campaign and threw his support behind Prosser's opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general. 
Prosser has lost the "even-handed impartiality" that is an essential asset for any judge, Lucey said in a statement issued Thursday evening. 
Prosser also has displayed "a disturbing distemper and lack of civility that does not bode well for the high court in the face of demands that are sure to be placed on it in these times of great political and legal volatility." 
Kloppenburg, on the other hand, has adhered throughout her campaign to both even-handedness and non-partisanship, Lucey said.

Tea Party Nation's Judson Phillips Would Shut Down Government, No Compromise.

MSNBC's Cenk Uygur asks Judson Phillips why he shouldn't compromise with Democratic senate and President. He also asked Phillips why he didn't go along with the Democrats and their agenda when they had huge majorities, one party rule, in 2006 and 2008. Interesting answer and comeback from Cenk.

Blame is Easy for Government Shut Down: Tea Party Republicans!

You want proof?

Despite the tea party's constant reminders that there will be no compromise, and they will shut the government down if they don't get their way, the media continues to suggest the Democrats might be blamed as well.

But the tea party continues to make their government shutdown threats and presence known in D.C., where the media just loves their kamikazi style of government. Will they notice who's really to blame?
TheWeek: To avoid a politically devastating government shutdown, (John Boehner) has to reach a budget deal with Senate Democrats, the White House, and even some House Democrats. But doing so would mean alienating some conservatives in his caucus, causing a fissure in the GOP leadership, and possibly jeopardizing his speakership.
 That means a shutdown. Or this;
MSNBC: The Tea Partiers who helped drive GOP gains in the last election are rallying in the city they love to hate Thursday, urging Republican House leaders — Speaker John Boehner above all — to resist the drive toward compromise ... Even, they say, if that means Congress fails to do its most important job — paying for the government. And if Boehner opts instead to agree to a deal with President Barack Obama? "You're going to see massive amounts of (GOP) primaries" said Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots.
That means a shutdown. Or this;
USA Today: "I support Rand Paul's $500 billion," said Hoffman, referring to a proposal by the Kentucky GOP senator to cut a half trillion from the budget in one year. "I don't think compromise is something the American people can afford." 
Rep. Mike Pence told the crowd his colleagues should be using the threat of a government shutdown to their advantage.

Hey Republicans, Don’t you just hate those outside groups getting involved in state politics...not if they sound local…?

How insulting is the following:
The recall campaign targeting Democratic Sen. Jim Holperin of Conover … is headed by Kim Simac, who is the founder of North Woods Patriots, a tea party group. The report by the Government Ability Board lists the Madison Majority Project PAC of Washington, D.C. as the biggest donor.-jsonline
I love "local" Washington, D.C. donor PAC's with a Madison name, it's so reflective of the majority here.

ALERT! Van Hollen’s DOJ on threatening email read aloud by frightened Republican in February, “did not present an imminent threat.” Now they tell us.

UPDATE: 3-31:

In typical fashion, our conservative AG, J.B. Van Hollen, deflected blame for delaying the release of details relating to a death threats sent to a few frightened Republicans. Having dropped that ball, they have decided to cast blame on Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne, while finally providing the long delayed details. Republican lawmakers got the political mileage they needed out of the threats. 
Cap Times: The Department of Justice is accusing District Attorney Ismael Ozanne of taking too long to bring charges against a suspect that admitted to state investigators nearly three weeks ago to having sent two of the emails containing death threats to Republican lawmakers. One of the emails reads, in part: "Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks, I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and your Republican dictators have to die." 
Bill Cosh, a DOJ spokesman, said investigators determined the suspect, who lives in Dane County, was not an "imminent threat," but presented sufficient probable cause that criminal behavior had occurred. Nearly two weeks ago, on Friday, March 18, the DOJ referred the case to Ozanne.
From earlier reports, DOJ made some clerical errors that are currently holding up the process. More to come…. 


We’ve been wondering why AG J.B. Van Hollen took so long to tell us, the citizen rabble, about the threatening email sent out by a woman they caught almost immediately. 

Republican lawmakers have since used the threat to bash the million plus protesters at the Capitol as thugs, and raise campaign money off their victimhood. The long delay over something that wasn’t “an imminent threat” is a desperate, transparently partisan move by Van Hollen.
jsonline: DOJ spokesman Bill Cosh said in a statement that the department's Division of Criminal Investigation handled investigations of multple threats that members of the Wisconsin Legislature received beginning Feb. 21 … over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill.
DCI investigated one threat received March 9 and "concluded it did not present an imminent threat but presented sufficient probable cause that criminal behavior had occurred," Cosh said.
That's it? Who was the woman? Why did she send it? What more do we need to know about her? Nothing?

But the “Republican Victims for a Better Tomorrow” fund raising drive hasn’t come to an end just yet…
On Thursday, dozens of legislators received identical letters that made threats. Capitol Police were collecting the letters.
Here we go again…

Judge Sumi declares Act 10 NOT in effect, Rep. Vos Believes it is now, in Lawless Wisconsin.

UPDATE: 1:08 jsonline:  Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Mike Tate offered a backhanded compliment to Gov. Scott Walker's administration after Thursday's announcement that it will comply with Dane County Judge Mary Ann Surmi's order blocking implementation of the collective bargaining bill.
"Perhaps Judge Sumi's third court order was the charm for Scott Walker," Tate said in a statement. "We are pleased that Scott Walker has finally recognized that he is not above the law."
12:14 pm
It should have been the end to the controversy, or at least the next legal step in the collective bargaining saga. Instead, Republicans have taken the unbelievable position that because they don’t believe in the judgment, they don’t have to follow the law.
This moment is not to be forgotten. Ever.
jsonline: A state law to sharply curb union bargaining by public employees is not in effect, a Dane County judge ruled Thursday … "Based on the briefs of counsel, the uncontroverted testimony, and the evidence received at the March 29, 2011 evidentiary hearing, it is hereby DECLARED that 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 has not been published within the meaning of (state statutes), and is therefore not in effect," Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled in a two-paragraph order.
The response:
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, said he disagreed with the judge's ruling. "I don't think a judge in one county should be able to hold up the whole Legislature," he said. "I certainly believe everything we've done . . . has been according to the law."
If that’s all it takes to disobey the law, than we have entered a more dangerous time than we ever could have imagined. 

As for Rep. Vos; I BELIEVE he should be in prison. Should he be rounded up and thrown in a cell someplace? I can only hope.

Now it was a joke? Dane County Republicans Look dumber, and more paranoid, now than before!!

Republican arrogance has never been more in your face than it is now under the Walker administration, and sometimes, that over confidence can look kind of silly...stupid...dumbass...pathetic. You get the idea.

The recent Judge Sumi ‘takedown” by the county GOP is now being described as a joke, the same kind of character assassination Limbaugh and Beck commit in the name of “entertainment/humor.” It's never been funny either. Here's a great article by Shawn Doherty from the Cap Times, that reveals more Republican thought process that went into the infamous Sumi press release:
press release from the Dane County Republican party ridiculing Judge Maryann Sumi caught my eye this morning because of how, well...I'm searching for the right adjective here...snotty? clever? whiny? edgy? sarcastic? childish? it was. 
Written as a tongue-in-cheek apology to Judge Sumi … "Judge Sumi is a leftist living in Dane County," the press release says. "Her friends are leftists living in Dane County … If she were to enforce the law of Wisconsin and to do what was in the best interest of the people of the state of Wisconsin, she'd be exiled from her lifestyle. She'd lose her friends!"
I called Jeff Waksman, the guy who wrote this press release and a party spokesman, to see what he was up to … he wanted this one to stand out … "It's on the Rachel Maddow website right now," he says, proudly.
So is his press release a cyncial effort to exploit resentment of liberal Madison and sow division, or a temper-tantrum-by-press-release, or does he really believe Sumi's judicial judgement is tainted by life on the isthmus? 
Waksman gets more intense. "The press release is supposed to be humorous and it’s written in a way to draw people's attention to it, but the underpinning point is very real," he says. "Madison is a very intimidating and stifling intellectual environment."
Oh god, here we go again, with the old “I’m a conservative in hiding, afraid to say anything in public” crap-o-la.
He explains that as a libertarian he is sick and tired of people in town making him feel "uncomfortable." Madison is not tolerant of other perspectives, he says. For example, the chair of the county GOP had his car scratched and the mirror knocked off, he says, and now he and other Republicans worry the same thing could happen to them … "You walk down State Street, and every store has a sign that if you support the bill you hate teachers or children," he says. "So people can't even walk into the stores without being afraid and wondering, is this person going to even give me good service?" 
He works for the UW … and he has learned not to talk politics there, either. "If I express a view, I'm called a homophobe or racist or told that I hate the poor," he says … Around 40 percent of people in Dane County voted for Walker, he says, but you wouldn't know it, because they are afraid to speak up. (Actually, 31 percent) They are even afraid to put signs in their yards, he says, because they keep getting knocked down.
Those poor, poor Republicans, who appear to be in complete control of the state government, when will people stop picking on them.

It’s the “De-Professionalization of Teaching in America; Obama Against his Own School Testing Policy?

Two important notes on education in America: At a time when Republicans, tea party groups and conservatives insist businesses need high pay and benefits to attract the best and brightest, they are also arguing for lower pay and benefits to public employees and teachers, an amazing philosophical contradiction to say the least. Does that mean we don't want to attract the best and brightest teachers?

That said, the first story deals with the lack of teacher vilification in every country kicking our educational ass. The second story reveals Barack Obama’s put down of too much testing in our schools, a direct contradiction of his educational policy:
Edweek: Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, who also attended the International Summit on Teaching in New York last week, has posted a blog post highlighting positive rhetoric used by the foreign guests in reference to teachers. 
In a statement rarely heard these days in the United States, the Finnish Minister of Education launched the first session of last week's with the words: "We are very proud of our teachers." And at the roundtable discussions, she writes, there was "no teacher-bashing, no discussion of removing collective bargaining rights, no proposals for reducing preparation for teaching, no discussion of closing schools or firing bad teachers, and no proposals for ranking teachers based on their students' test scores." Instead, nations shared experiences on what works, such as high-quality preparation programs, federally funded training, and unions and governments working together. 
She contrasts this with "the growing de-professionalization of teaching in America."
Obama against too many tests in our public schools:
In a town hall meeting hosted by Univision, President Obama was asked by a student if there could be a way to reduce the number of tests that students must take. He replied:
"... we have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids. Too often what we've been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. And so … let's figure out whether we have to do it every year or whether we can do it maybe every several years … one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you're not learning about the world; you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math. All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test."

Republicans Delay Laws that would increase Business Profits? Our Debit Card Purchases Stuffing the Pockets of Big Banks Due to Fees.

For the last 3 or 4 years I've used nothing a debit card to pay for everything.

The banks have played us for the fool. We've been helping Wall Street's "Big Brother" banks, the same ones that tanked the economy, shakedown local businesses by taking a part of their profits via outrageous debit transaction fees. The Democrats passed laws that brought those fees down, but now the GOP is trying to delay implementation of those laws.

It's best explained in the following American Family Voices video, that shows how shamelessly sold out the Republican Party is to Wall Street Banks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Midwest Wind Energy Suspends Two Wind Projects in Wisconsin.

Green energy "uncertainty" in Wisconsin continues the "We're bad for business" Republican slogan from a year ago. 
jsonline: Midwest Wind Energy is suspending development of two wind farms in Wisconsin, the Illinois company said Wednesday. 
The company developed the Butler Ridge wind farm in Dodge County and the Cedar Ridge project in Fond du Lac County, projects now owned and operated by other companies. 
Midwest Wind said it was actively working on a 98-megawatt wind farm in Calumet County and another project for which a location had not yet been announced. Midwest Wind cited development opportunities in other states at a time when Wisconsin policymakers are moving to restrict wind farm development. 
"Most states are clearly open for renewable energy development and the economic development dollars and jobs that come with it,” said Stefan Noe, company president. “So long as there are states rolling out the welcome mat it doesn't make sense to devote significant dollars to a state that is creating unreasonable roadblocks for wind development." 

How dumb do voucher supporters think we are?

I had to scratch my head when I read this AP story on the bad voucher test scores in the 21 year old Milwaukee choice program.
AP:  Supporters of a Milwaukee school-voucher program say they’re not deterred by test results showing that kids in those programs perform worse than students in public schools do. 
They’re not deterred? Really? They’re okay with low student scores after 21 years of pouring taxpayer money into it.
The test results … by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction … show that voucher students are nowhere near their public school counterparts. 
How will the governor ever find a way to put a positive spin on the devastating test results?
Gov. Scott Walker says the overall voucher program is “exceptional.”
What??? Walker didn’t even try to come up with something that made any sense. And of course, the slightly higher graduation rate is the only straw Republicans can grab onto. How can low scoring student’s have a better graduation rate? Hell, I don’t know. But as a parent, I wouldn’t bet on my kid graduating with low scores on reading and math. Of course, after demanding teachers be accountable and paid depending partly on their test scores, it would follow that Rep. Robin Vos would be concerned about student test scores, right?  
State Rep. Robin Vos says the test scores don’t tell the whole story.
Spoke too soon.

Rep. Sean Duffy Struggling on a measly $174,000. GOP sensing trouble, pull video...below.

Whine, whine, whine!! You've heard it before from those free market conservatives.
1. If you're struggling and can't make it on what you're paid, find another job.
2. You say you're struggling on a meager $174,000, when others have lost their jobs and make a third that amount now in some low wage job? You elitist ass.
3. You're a newly elected Republican Congressman in massive debt, seeking a sympathetic ear from another rabid conservative? Good luck.
That's the problem Rep. Sean Duffy had recently. The clip below shows Duffy whining about how $174,000 is making life tough on the young politician. Big deal? It must be, if the Republican Party of Polk County is demanding the video be pulled. Ooops. Too late:

First the Republican Party in Polk County, Wisconsin, pulled the tape of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) fretting about making ends meet on his $174,000 a year salary from its own website. Now they want it gone from the whole Internet. 
For a couple hours, the local county GOP was successful. But we've put an excerpt of the video back up. 
"I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I'm living high on the hog, I've got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I'm not living high on the hog." 
Note: Even MSNBC's Hardball had the video and played it.

Capitol Police Chief Tubbs "Zero Arrests" Policy not Enforcing "Good Behavior" on Protesters say Conservatives.

Why should we tolerate even one union controlled thug? Did you see the mobs protesting day after day, week after week? Parents and teachers ordered their children to betray their Republican government leaders. 
WSJ: Towering over the crowd at 6 feet 5 inches, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs made his way through the packed rotunda, stopping constantly to negotiate.
Negotiate? Outrageous when you consider voters in November voted to make Republicans our one party rulers forever.
Critics said Tubbs should have acted more forcefully and ordered officers to throw protesters out of the building, perhaps even brought out the riot gear.
But liberal Madison had another way of dealing with a citizen’s constitutional right to protest.
Tubbs urged “voluntary compliance” from protesters and warned of the negative consequences of being arrested — noting particularly the effect that having a criminal record can have on getting an education or finding a job. Then Tubbs met with protesters and other law enforcement leaders, including Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, and UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Riseling, the emphasis was on making sure demonstrations stayed peaceful and dialogue between police and demonstrators stayed open. Throughout the protests, Tubbs said he focused on a goal of “zero arrests.” He even discouraged protesters from playing or singing music that could cause a “negative environment.” 
No arrests. No vandalism. No riots. No pushing and shoving. No weapons draped over protesters shoulders. No misspelled signs in the Capitol. No kids being publically brainwashed by teachers or day care providers. Even Captain America ended up...just walking around. I saw him.

Still, there is no excuse for a few hundred thousand misguided Wisconsinites to question authority like that, behavior that won’t be tolerated:
Some accused Tubbs of being too accommodating and letting protesters get too comfortable at the Capitol. 
“The police who are responsible for enforcing good behavior in the Capitol have not been doing their jobs,” conservative Waukesha-based blogger James Wigderson wrote during the height of the protests and occupation. “The Capitol is not ‘Animal House.’ It is not a flop house. If Police Chief Charles Tubbs is incapable of understanding his responsibilities, then he should be fired.
Authoritarian much?

Alan Greenspan Back: Warns against Frank-Dodd reform, Longs for Good Old Deregulated Days.

We thought Alan Greenspan had learned his lesson when he engineered the total collapse to the global economy. He even said his free markets theory was flawed, to his shock and horror:

Did Greenspan forget his own words? Whatever it is, isn't it time we stop humoring him? From the Financial Times:
Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, has attacked the Dodd-Frank financial reforms warning they could create the “largest regulatory-induced market distortion” in the US since the imposition of wage and price controls in 1971. 
The Dodd-Frank legislation was … a “re-regulation” of financial markets after the deregulation championed by Mr. Greenspan in the 1990s. 
According to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report:
“More than 30 years of deregulation and reliance on self-regulation by financial institutions, championed by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, supported by successive administrations and Congresses, and actively pushed by the powerful financial industry at every turn, had stripped away key safeguards, which could have helped avoid catastrophe.”
But Greenspan is unrepentant and Republicans in Congress are becoming bolder in readopting the same anti-regulation stance.

Best Headline this Week....


Leftists friends, activists, cocktail parties, organic food shops and life style in Dane County, a threat to Wisconsin Constitutional law-says county GOP

If only we could install forever the self-proclaimed constitutional ruling party of conservative authoritarians. Sigh! It would be an ideal world, with no resistance, and no elitist social middle class to look down on Republicans.
But according to the Republican Party of Dane County, there’s still a chance we can save Wisconsin, by simply relying on the “logic and principles” listed below in their press release.
The Republican Party of Dane County sent out a press release on March 29th criticizing Judge Maryann Sumi for holding up the publication of Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reform bill. Upon further reflection we’d like to apologize for not understanding her point of view.
 Sure, Governor Walker’s bill is unquestionably constitutional … But this isn’t about the law, is it?
Let the silly cartoonish, character assassination, name calling begin…
The Republican Party of Dane County recognizes that Judge Sumi is a leftist living in Dane County. Her friends are leftists living in Dane County. Her son is a left wing activist in Dane County. She goes to cocktail parties held by leftists in Dane County. She shops at organic gourmet food shops run by leftists living in Dane County. If she were to enforce the law of Wisconsin and do what was in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin, she’d be exiled from her lifestyle. She’d lose her friends! 
The leadership of the Republican Party of Dane County have all made the choice to stand against the Dane County elite. We accept that Left feels righteous vandalizing our homes and keying our cars. It's only fair. 
 We disagree based upon logic and principle.
I couldn't agree more. There’s really nothing more logical…to a conservative.

If you watch anything today, check out this Rachel Maddow analysis on authoritarian conservatives. She nails it:

Conservative author John Dean wrote this warning back in 2006:

Authoritarianism's impact on contemporary conservatism is beyond question. Because this impact is still growing and has troubling (if not actually evil) implications, I hope that social scientists will begin to write about this issue for general readers. It is long past time to bring the telling results of their empirical work into the public square and to the attention of American voters. No less than the health of our democracy may depend on this being done. We need to stop thinking we are dealing with traditional conservatives on the modern stage, and instead recognize that they've often been supplanted by authoritarians.

Janesville Turns out to protest Gov. Walker event with no opposition.

From Rock Netroots, out of Janesville, comes this great coverage showing middle class workers protesting Scott Walker's Holiday Inn Dinner Party and Union Roast.

John Nichols from The Nation/CapTimes and John "Sly" Sylvester in attendance.
I was somewhat surprised to see so many of Forward Janesville dinner guests pointing antagonistically towards protesters and laughing from inside their cars as they drove through the gauntlet. A few turned around as they approached the Inn entrance doors and flipped the bird our way in a final salute before entering. Not many noticed it as most of the attention was kept focused on the protesters in the street. 

Check out the rest of the story and slide show here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Judge Sumi warns Administration they Risk Sanctions, Jeopardize Finacial Stability of State.

Despite the desperate measures undertaken by the Walker administration and angry Jeff Fitzgerald to  rollback collective bargaining, a conservative judge is having to resort to legal threats of sanctions for their bad behavior. 
WSJ: If it wasn't clear last time, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi made it clear on Tuesday: Any further implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's law limiting public employee unions is barred, and anyone who violates her order risks sanctions. 
"Now that I've made my earlier order as clear as it possibly can be, I must state that those who act in open and willful defiance of the court order place not only themselves at peril of sanctions, they also jeopardize the financial and the governmental stability of the state of Wisconsin," Sumi said. 
"Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was, ‘the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is enjoined,' " Sumi said. 
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald was disappointed by the ruling. 
"It's disappointing that a Dane County judge wants to keep interjecting herself into the legislative process with no regard to the state constitution," He said.
Law sucks doesn't it Jeff?
Sumi again said that the Legislature could end the legal wrangling "I am dismayed at this point that given the relatively easy fix for this that thousands and thousands of dollars are being spent, all being footed by the taxpayers of this state, to pursue this litigation," Sumi said. 
Here's the whole story from Rachel Maddow's interview with Sec. of State Doug La Follette (la FA'-let):

The Conservative Chaos Party? It's only been a few much worse can it get?

This is what Big Government Republican Rule looks like…god help us all.

Just how chaotic is our state in right now? And how big a mess have the Republican legislature and governor made of everything attacking middle class working stiffs? You won’t believe it:
jsonline: A state appeals court refused to allow Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to withdraw an appeal over Walker's bill. Van Hollen … appealed a decision by a Dane County judge blocking Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law … the appeals panel declined to do that, saying it didn't have the authority to allow Van Hollen to withdraw it because it had certified the case to the Supreme Court.
So Van Hollen made his bed and will have to sleep in it. But Van Hollen wasn’t done. He actually tried:
…to halt a hearing in a Dane County courtroom, saying the law is now in effect and legislators are immune from civil proceedings. But Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said the case must continue for now.
Van Hollen then went even further by intentionally representing both sides of the argument, which allowed him to sabotage the opposition:
The judge ordered the state to provide La Follette with independent attorneys because he disagrees with the Department of Justice on key issues. 
"There is so great a divergence now between the position that the attorney general is taking in this court and the Court of Appeals and now the Supreme Court and the interests of the secretary of state and the office of the secretary of state that I believe Mr. La Follette is entitled to independent counsel at the expense of the state," Sumi said. "My attorney won't ask a question on my behalf," La Follette told the court … the Department of Justice attorneys disagree over the power of the secretary of state. 
After all these years, thank god someone like Van Hollen is questioning the power of the secretary of state. But the one issue is still out there:
Ultimately, the court is to rule on whether the Legislature properly approved the bill … violated the state open meetings law because it didn't give enough public notice and because access to the Capitol was limited. Republicans say they did not violate the law.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, is asking Sumi to declare that the reference bureau's actions did not constitute publication of the law under the state constitution and that the bureau is subject to and had violated the restraining order. He further asked the judge to order the reference bureau to remove the act from the Legislature's website.
Adding to this massive chaos:
Some local governments are not implementing the new law for their employees. Officials with the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County (and Madison) said they are waiting for answers from courts before making any changes on benefits and union dues.

OMG, He’s soooo incompetent! He now wants High Speed Rail Money for Wisconsin. Walker Seeks money he turned down…my head is hurting.

In an amazingly ironic turn of events, played down completely by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gov. Walker has decided federal money looks kind of good right now. And hell, he made rail opponents happy when he opposed the project before, so now, who’s going to notice? Oh, and will residents have to pick up the maintenance bills for the Milwaukee to Chicago corridor?  
jsonline: Less than four months after losing (REJECTING-my emphasis) nearly all of an $810 million grant, Wisconsin is again seeking federal high-speed rail money - this time to upgrade the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line. Gov. Scott Walker … will seek at least $150 million to add equipment and facilities for Amtrak's Hiawatha line. 
In a bizarre twist, some of the money that Walker is now seeking originally was allocated for the Milwaukee-to-Madison route he previously turned down. That money is available because a fellow Republican governor rejected it, as well. 
Similarly, the locomotives, train sets and maintenance base also would have been covered by the earlier grant.
Where are the train opponents now? Or was it all about the petty anger over liberal Madison benefiting from the original plan? 

AG Van Hollen told by Judge he can't represent Both Sides of the Collective Bargain Dispute.

Attorney General JB Van Hollen has not only proven he's acting as a partisan advocate of Gov. Scott Walker, but he's also showing his lack of respect for law or his ignorance of it.

In the case of the collective bargaining bill not yet published in the paper of record, amazingly, Van Hollen allowed himself to be in the position of representing both sides of the bills court challenge. 

You can't make this stuff up.
jsonline: A Dane County judge said Tuesday she is concerned the Department of Justice has a conflict in representing Secretary of State Doug La Follette and must provide him with independent counsel. Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi. 
The issue arose after La Follette grew frustrated that his attorneys were not asking questions of a witness. 
“My attorney won’t ask a question on my behalf,” La Follette told the court.
 Remember, Van Hollen decided to represent La Follette in the dispute without ever conferring with him.

Scott Fitzgerald’s rabid plea for campaign money to fight… “raging mobs of union protesters…worked into a frenzy!!!”

Anyone who’s been to the month long protests, or attended a rally anywhere in the state, knows how bizarre the right wingnut claims of thuggery and vandalism are about the citizens movement to protect jobs and worker rights. What was acceptable once, when tea party protesters shouted down and disrupted town hall meetings throughout the country, is now unacceptable when average middle class workers rise up in massive numbers peacefully to exercise their Constitutional rights to defend themselves in the workplace.

The whole idea that “union leaders worked into a frenzy" any protester, liberal, Democrat, independent and disenchanted Republican is pure projection and absurd.

I hope the following fiction opens the eyes of those who may have at one time believed what is written in the following fundraising letter from State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.
jsonline: In a fundraising letter, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) writes that government employee unions have "ruined California and Illinois, but they're not going to ruin Wisconsin. 
"That is because Republicans faced down Big Labor's bully tactics and a Democratic walk-out in the state Senate to break the power of unions like WEAC and AFSCME once and for all," Fitzgerald said in his letter. 
Fitzgerald says in his letter that union supporters picketed his home "to intimidate and scare my family. They packed the State Capitol with raging mobs of union protesters - many from other states - who had been worked into a frenzy by union leaders. They even made death threats against those of us who stood up to their political clout."

Eye on Wisconsin posted this recall video...

Republicans take Union Busting National...

Rachel Maddow on union busting for air and rail workers on a federal level. Of course Gov. Scott Walker in the instigator.

After 21 years Vouchers Do Worse, or in a few cases, the same as Public Schools. Hey, Let's give out more vouchers...

Here's part of the story just posted at jsonline. It's bad news for vouchers, but that won't change the Walker administrations mind to expand the program with no taxpayer accountability or testing: 
Students in Milwaukee's school choice program performed worse than or about the same as students in Milwaukee Public Schools in math and reading on the latest statewide test, according to results released Tuesday that provided the first apples-to-apples achievement comparison between public and individual voucher schools. 
The scores released by the state Department of Public Instruction cast a shadow on the overall quality of the 21-year-old Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which was intended to improve results for poor city children in failing public schools by allowing them to attend higher-performing private schools with publicly funded vouchers. The scores also raise concerns about Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to roll back the mandate that voucher schools participate in the current state test.
That wouldn't make much sense, but then, everything Walker does is purely ideological. Get this: 
"These results reinforce the need to continue using the same test for all students," state Superintendent Tony Evers said in a news release. 
Howard Fuller, former MPS superintendent and a voucher-school supporter, echoed the need to keep using the state exam.

Voucher supporters started to whine instantly with the most pathetic excuse yet:
They also say that the latest test scores are an incomplete measure of voucher-school performance because they don't show the progress those schools are making with a difficult population of students over time.
Milwaukee has given the voucher program 21 years to show some progress. 21 YEARS. Check out how far behind voucher schools are in math:
The big news for those plugged into the education world, however, was the choice vs. public school results in Milwaukee. MPS results overall showed 59% of students scoring proficient or better in reading, while 47.8% of students scored proficient or better in math. In the voucher program, 55.2% of students scored proficient or better in reading while 34.4% of students scored proficient or better in math. 
The percentage of low-income students in MPS proficient or better in reading - 55.3% - was about the same as the voucher program, which currently serves only low-income students.
Voucher supporter Howard Fuller made it perfectly clear, again, the truth about Walker's ridiculous plan to spend taxpayer money on vouchers without accountability and testing, and the fact that free market private schools haven't panned out like many originally thought.
"I think it's unfortunate that the governor's budget (proposes going) back to the old system, because I was hoping that this year would be a baseline," Fuller said.  
Fuller also said that the free-market ideas upon which the voucher program was founded - that academically superior schools will thrive because parents will choose them over lousy schools - has not been borne out over the past two decades, and is not evident in the results of the state test.
These tests were urgently needed to inform parents convinced that vouchers would be the great answer to their child education, to think again, and question why Republican support a program with such a low success rate. 
The results show some private schools with less than 20% of their voucher students scoring proficient or better in math or reading. Some of them are institutions that probably would not exist if not for the support of public tax dollars. 
Of course this administration isn't interested in sound state management. Walker is rolling out the grand conservative wish list of failed policies Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman pushed. 
From Madison, a spokesman for Walker said it was not likely the governor would reconsider his push to expand the choice program based on the results of the state test scores. "Empowering parents by providing them with additional options will ultimately improve education for all children by encouraging competition," spokesman Cullen Werwie said in an e-mail. 
Empowering parents to choose a school for their child based on promotional flyers claiming whatever the private schools can make up? Buyer beware? That's empowerment?

Republicans Implement New Union Rules before Law takes Effect to Break Up Unions Now

Why are the Republicans moving ahead with their plans even though the law is not official yet? Because they know the unions don’t have the time to hold the vote to continue representation. Not only that, employee paychecks will start contributing more to their benefits package, again, before the bill is law.

What an amazing miscalculation by a what can only be describes as a rogue party, since I’m assuming all of this will have to be undone sometime later. It’s surreal watching these irresponsible ideologues mishandling our state government. To start:
Gov. Scott Walker's administration is no longer collecting dues on behalf of state unions and as of Sunday began charging employees more for health care and their pensions, even though nonpartisan legislative attorneys say the changes are not yet law. State workers will receive paychecks April 21 that reflect the changes, he said in a conference call with reporters.
The impossible requirement to get union approval again, this year and every year, is unrealistically high…on purpose:
Union bargaining changes will require some 30,000 state workers to hold a do-or-die vote on their unions' futures by the end of April … To stay alive, the unions will have to meet a much higher standard in their vote than Walker and other state elected officials had to meet to win their offices - getting 51% of the vote of all their union members, not just the ones who actually cast ballots.  
Bob McLinn, president of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, (said) Walker" wouldn't be governor under the rule that he established."
Two points here; was it really a voter mandate to give Republican lawmakers a virtual “wrecking ball” to take apart our state government, and two, why must unions be held to a higher electoral standard than our government representatives? For example:
jsonline: The state Government Accountability Board says there were 3.49 million voters registered to vote in that election. Of that number, Walker received only 32.3%.  
Walker received 1.13 million votes, or 52.3% of the total number of 2.16 million ballots cast in the governor's race, according to t. But many more state residents didn't vote at all.
Walker's mandate came from one third of the state, while two thirds of the state may have a different idea the next time around...or preferably before.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Poll; Walker approval at 43.71 percent, disapproval 54.87 percent.

I thought it was strange, after all the national media coverage regarding Scott Walker’s attack on middle class workers, that there were so few polls done here. Since March 4th.

The wait is over:
Dane101: A new poll out today shows a widening margin in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's approval rating. The poll, conducted on March 27 by We Ask America, finds that 54.87 percent of Wisconsinites disapprove of the job Walker is doing while 43.71 percent approve. 
The pollster notes an even more striking number in the results, only 1.42 percent of those polled had "no opinion." 
The most recent poll before this one (that I can find, so please correct me if I missed one) was released on March 4 by Conservative polling outfit Rasmussen. That poll found 43 percent approved or strongly approved and 57 percent disapproved or strongly disapproved. 
The substantial change seen in the recent polls comes when undecideds are factored in. The first known poll was released on February 22 by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. In that poll they found 43 percent approved with Walker and 51 percent disapproved.

Corporations Are Unpatriotic Money Whores in bed with Republican Johns-60 Minutes.

60 Minutes took a look at tax havens for our corporate friends. One question never asked during the program; shouldn't money making corporation pay something back to the country that gave them the opportunity to succeed, and show some social concern? Sure they can take the money and run off to another country, but does that make it the right thing to do? If you answered yes, you're no better than the piece of paper a corporation is created from.

Walker Budget Keeps on Spending more Taxpayer Money. $609 million more.

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget cuts are draconian, more drastic than what a few Republican legislators are comfortable with, which means that some spending will not be removed.

Knowing that, a new analysis proves austerity may be an easy solution for lazy conservative bureaucrats, but still doesn't balance the books.

jsonline: If new quasi-public agencies are included, Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget would increase overall spending by 1% over two years rather than reduce it as the administration had said earlier this month. 
A report released Monday by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed the state would spend a proposed $64.1 billion in state and federal dollars over two years after including amounts that are being transferred to quasi-public authorities like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That would amount to $609.5 million more over the 2011-'13 budget. 
Spending in just the state's main account would go up by $488.4 million, or 1.7%.
The governor's budget proposal also eliminates a provision in state law that requires state agencies to study the costs of outsourcing work worth more than $25,000 against the cost of having state workers handle it. 

The New Scroogenian movement! Republican Budget Targets Proof of Moral Bankruptcy, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere.

Let’s begin to call it what it is, "Scroogenian." I made that up, but it's true. We can also call them Scroogists. The popular Dickens character Ebenezer Scrooge, described as “a cold-hearted, tight-fisted and greedy man, who despises all things which give people happiness,” is now the standard bearer of tough, effective, conservative economic policy.

Republicans think if the books are balanced, the human toll is of little concern. The ruthlessness of Scroogenian policy promoted by the Walker administration couldn’t be clearer.
WSJ: Gov. Scott Walker introduced his first budget — a spending plan that seems to uniformly favor Republican pets such as school vouchers, transportation and tax cuts while targeting nearly every Democratic sacred cow. 
Walker’s proposal, aimed at eliminating the state’s $3.6 billion shortfall, would cut more than $1 billion from education, knock more than 50,000 people off BadgerCare, roll back recycling and water purity requirements, and cut aid to the poor. 
Walker wants to cut legal services for the homeless, repeal environmental mandates, eliminate child care for state workers, reduce tax cuts for poor families, eliminate food stamps for migrant workers and end requirements that insurance provide coverage for contraceptives. 
It would expand the state’s school voucher program to students in higher income levels but restrict eligibility in state-subsidized health care plans to the poorest of the poor. It would scale back some mandates on local government but impose one of the toughest mandates possible — limiting the ability of cities and counties to raise taxes to make up for cuts in state aid.
The state constitution forbids the legislature from imposing such limits, which would interfere with the autonomous nature of city and county governments, but big deal. This is an economic crisis, ripe for a Scroogenian solution. 

Put another way:
“It is literally every single bad conservative idea of the last 20 years housed in a single budget document,” said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now.

Authoritarian One Party Rule? So? says DOA Sec. Mike Huebsch.

While doing a little research, I found this Isthmus article dealing with the administrations attempts to close the Capitol to the public. The testimony from former Republican politician and now DOA Sec. Mike Huebsch cannot be taken any other way than to say to the public, “go away, you’re bothering us.” 

Arrogantly assuming the massive crowds of protesters didn't have any “business” with their legislators protesting their attack on labor is nothing short of amazing. I guess you need to pencil in a time, huh?:
DOA Secretary Michael Huebsch maintained they were within constitutional limits because the Capitol was not closed to those who “had business” with legislators … Witnesses detailed the difficulties of accessing the Capitol, even if they had a meeting scheduled with representatives. 
Huebsch cited further concerns ranging from building capacity and fire safety to hygiene and the presence of unlicensed childcare services within the building.
Did Huebsch really say “unlicensed childcare services?” Nice pot shot. Huebsch is really questioning why we would ever expose our kids to their constitutional rights at such a young age? And on the fire safety issue:
Madison Fire Department Lieutenant Joe Conway Jr. said he thought exits seemed clear and the environment was safe even when the building was full of protesters.  Additionally, the judge noted, “There is no evidence so far of damage to state property.” 
Huebsch replied: “You don’t buy car insurance after you’ve had an accident, you buy it before. And there are certain procedures that are taken to prevent problems.”
"Problems" like free speech and protesting your government? Hell, if you can just stop all that complaining, no problems right? But I think former AG Peg Lautenschlager summed it up with this comment;
“There were no problems in the Capitol other than it was filled with people every day.”

CIA behind Facebook? Oh sure, laugh...

With the news that former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs may become a spokesperson for Facebook, I thought this IFC Onion News parody may have unintentionally exposed other ties to big brother government.  

Children Fined for Protest Sign at Capitol. What a way to win over public opinion.

One of the more important videos yet. It puts the Walker administrations unconstitutional policies on full display. The comments that followed the video on YouTube were uplifting. Hey Republicans, is this really another example of protest thuggery?:

1. I feel really bad for all of them. That cop really did not want to have to give them a citation. Good for those kids for standing up for their rights though, and excellent for their parents for standing behind them on it.  
2. Walker's attack on constitutional right to freedom of speech via his administrative code is not law, but, "An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 
3. Their willingness to accept citation in support their children over injustice says it all. Solidarity! 
4. Exploit your children. way to go!

5. This is a great lesson in constitutionality for children (and adults) everywhere. The officer is clearly happy to be part of the big picture here, and to be filmed showing what actual civil discourse is with these children and their parents. Too bad they will eventually see how uncivil some officers of the law can be if they keep standing up for their rights as they get older. All a part of the resistance and being a true patriot.
6. I don't know whether to "like" for them standing up for their rights or "dislike" for this violation of freedom of speech. (I'm sorry the officers are put in this position as it is obvious they are not excited about trampling on the rights defined in our constitution) The officer was very respectful and polite. Perfect example of doing his job and not being a dick about it. 
7. It also says no easel on a sign by the door...but look at that...the signs on an easel. Irony? 
8. Civil disobedience is about exposing corruption in the legal system and not complying with some unethical demand, We are not sheep. We are humans. Also, kudos to the officer's involved for treating everyone with respect and staying professional. This is how society is supposed to work - while we may disagree with one another (or disagree with the law), we can still be civil with one another. 
9. Way to go boys!!!!! You're parents are awesome! 
10. "Can't you read the sign? It says no signs!" 
11. This is not the cop's fault. He is following orders from Walker's administration. Thank you for being respectful of the family. BUT good for the family for standing up for their beliefs and for free speech!! They are not taping the sign on the wall, which is the intent of the rule. They are not causing any damage to our house. This whole thing is getting ridiculous!

Nintendo 3DS Promo Video Charts Direction of Hand Held Games. Android Phones Next?

I had to post this sales pitch so I could show my 8 and 12 year olds what they might like about the 3DS. Currently, Toys-R-Us is offering up to $75 for trading in an older model, which would bring the 3DS down to the price of current DS's. I know, the offer might be in the form of coupons or some other compensation that can't be applied to the 3DS, but this isn't a major investigative report so I don't care.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Post Crescent Endorses Kloppenburg in Editorial, but Forgets to Mention Prosser was a Republican. Oops.

Something I didn’t notice but my significant other did was the omission of the word “Republican” in key sections of the Post Crescent’s electoral rejection of Justice Prosser, his hometown newspaper.
Editorial: Supreme Court: One issue doesn't add up… 
Prosser, an Appleton native, was appointed to the court by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1998, and ran unopposed in 2001. He served in the state Assembly from 1979 to 1996; from 1989-94, he was the Assembly minority leader. In 1995 and 1996, he was the Assembly speaker. 
He is supported by groups perceived to be conservative, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which aired a TV ad backing him.
Perceived to be conservative…the Wisconsin Club for Growth? You’ve got to be kidding?
But was he a Republican? YES. Besides that oversight,  their criticism hit a home run:
In a brief filed by the attorney of former state Rep. Scott Jensen, a Prosser protege who was charged with three felony counts of misconduct in office (in a December 2010 plea deal, Jensen pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor charge), Prosser said he basically did the same thing that caused Jensen to be charged. 
In the brief, after outlining how his leadership role involved getting more Republicans elected to the Assembly, Prosser said: "It was a different era and public expectations were quite different." Prosser said that the law "had never been interpreted that way."
So, what do we do? Let bygones be bygones? 
We can't. The Post-Crescent endorses JoAnne Kloppenburg.

So Who Wants to Send their Kids to Voucher Schools? Rep. Robin Vos thinks you do.

Another test, another mixed report coming?:
WSJ: And state test scores to be released Tuesday, which for the first time include 10,600 Milwaukee voucher students, could suggest they are testing no better than poor students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
This might be the last voucher test recorded, if Scott Walker gets his way.
The state required voucher students to take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination for the first time last fall. Walker’s proposal would repeal that requirement.
So with taxpayer money on the line, and no accountability to the taxpayer in the name of “freedom,” we will never really know how voucher kids are doing. Years later, it’ll be way too late for a generation or more of kids. As for the economy; what can you do with an untrained and uneducated work force in the 21st Century? Robin Vos doesn’t care:
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester said he wants to expand vouchers to cities such as Racine, Green Bay and Madison because “too many kids are being left behind and are literally being cast off the island.” It remains to be seen which communities would welcome vouchers. 
Hell, if conservative Utah can pass a referendum overturning a Republican passed state voucher plan (they also said the people were clamoring for it), we can in Wisconsin.

But the school problems stem from poverty, and the Republicans wrongheaded solution misses the point:
The Madison School District’s low-income population has grown considerably in the last decade, surpassing 50 percent for the first time this year.  
But unlike Milwaukee, political support for vouchers is nonexistent here. Even Michael Lancaster, superintendent of the Madison Catholic Diocese Schools, said the voucher issue “Madison doesn’t have the same issues as Milwaukee.”
Tackling poverty first would make more sense. Even choice advocates know more than Vos:
Marisa Cannata, associate director of the National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University (says) Charter schools tend to have more flexibility to employ alternative methods than traditional public schools but with more accountability than private schools.
Mary Bell, president of the WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union, says it’s crazy  “to privatize what has been a very successful and very stable public education system in Wisconsin.”
"Very stable" is the key takeaway here. And if vouchers werem't doing so well, that means people weren’t buying into it:
Since 2000, private school enrollment in Wisconsin has declined 16 percent, while public charter school enrollment has multiplied six fold. 
“There is good reason to think that those are connected,” said Patrick Wolf, a researcher at the University of Arkansas, which the state commissioned to conduct a five-year study on the results of the Milwaukee voucher program. The state’s Legislative Audit Bureau has questioned the study because 60 percent of voucher students returned to public schools, private schools administered different tests than public schools and individual school data was unavailable.
That's right, there's a reason 60 percent of voucher students went back to public schools, but Vos knows better. It’s no accident accountability doesn’t exist; Republicans have never watched over all the taxpayer money being thrown into the private sector. It’s even worse for parents of students who sold a bill of goods.