Sunday, June 30, 2013

Great Despotic Leaders Use Kids as Props!!!

I remember when teabilly Republicans around the country compared President Obama and Michelle to Hitler, Stalin and Mao for having children around them to sign bills, or push healthy school lunches. The kids were there because they were a part of the action, and not just props.

So I noticed awhile back that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justine Roggensack used children as props in her reelection campaign, which had nothing to do with kids. Along with Scott Walker sitting with boys and girls signing the concealed gun legislation at an indoor family water park. If you were to use the same standards as conservative losers, these people must have a lot in common with Hitler, Stalin and Mao I guess. I took Obama out of their little collage of pictures and...

So imagine my surprise when out state despot signed into law the cruel, punishing and austere budget effecting thousands of kids, surrounded by laughing children. Let's just say they all belong together:  

Walker Veto's Money for Tear-down of Foreclosed Homes, as Governors Vengeance against Milwaukee continues.

Nothing says petty, small and vengeful than a former Milwaukee County Executive lashing out at his former Democratic city critics.
jsonline: Walker also vetoed a budget provision that would have provided $3.5 million over the next two years to communities statewide for demolishing foreclosed homes. Milwaukee would have gotten most of that money because it has the largest inventory of homes that need to be razed immediately. A city database indicates there are more than 800 bank-foreclosed homes in Milwaukee and an estimated 950 city-owned, tax-foreclosed properties. By the end of the year, officials estimate the city may have to take on hundreds more tax-foreclosed homes.

Not all of those homes will have to be demolished. But Milwaukee officials keep a "must-raze" list of 500 homes. On average it costs $15,000 to tear down a home.
All that on top of the following, which I didn't see on the list of veto's, but will affect taxpayers one way or another:
jsonline: The budget bill changes the way billboards are classified for tax purposes. Milwaukee currently assesses billboards as real property parcels and includes the value of the permit, which allows billboard companies to operate them legally.

The net effect of the change in the budget bill is that billboards would be classified as personal property. That means, according to Barrett, that assessments of billboards in Milwaukee alone will drop from $76 million to $6.6 million.

"We share your goal to lower the tax burden throughout the state, but this provision will only reduce the tax burden for companies that are primarily based out-of-state while raising property taxes for Milwaukee-based businesses and homeowners," Barrett said.

Scott Walker's Rammed Down our Throats Illegitimate Budget!

Remember when Obamacare didn't get Republican votes and that’s what made the “sweeping” legislation that controlled so much of our economy illegitimate?

So what does this make Scott Walker’s budget for Wisconsinites?
All Democrats in the Legislature voted against the budget...

When you hear Republicans say they're "Protecting Taxpayers," hide your wallet and run. Has Rep. John Nygren got a deal for Bill Board companies.

Finally, a fair and uniform law protecting billboard companies at taxpayer expense. Thank you Rep. John Nygren.

This amazing twist of logic, not to mention common sense and budgeting, is another example of Republican mismanagement. “Treating everyone fair” is an overused and mindless reason to pass regulation that’ll only cost taxpayers more in the long run.
Green Bay Gazette: Several area communities think the state is trying to steal their
The Three Stooges....?
authority over billboard placement.

A provision in the state budget that would change state law concerning billboards affected by state highway projects. The new law would allow sign companies losing signs to highway expansion to put up replacement billboards anywhere within a community, regardless of local ordinances, or otherwise require the community to compensate the sign company for its loss.
You read that right, community taxpayers will now have to shell out cash so a billboard company doesn't plop a sign any damn place in town it wants. It’s an “or else” deal for taxpayers.

Who would come up with something this ridiculous? Rep. John Nygren:
Under current law, if a nonconforming sign needs to come down because of highway expansion, its replacement, as new construction, would lose its exemption to local ordinance unless it went up on the same property as the billboard it is replacing. The new law would protect the exemption regardless of the location within the same community. The new billboard also would be exempt from size and height limitations imposed by ordinance and in fact must be the same size and same height or higher than the one it replaces, under the proposed law change.

“They can pull a sign off 29 because of a DOT project and stick it on 41 … or they could stick one on Cardinal and Dousman, unless we pull out our checkbook and pay,” said Paul Evert, administrator for the village of Howard, which has not permitted new billboards since 1989. “If we want to have a say, you’re telling us we have to pay.” Evert said that, a few years ago, the state once paid a sign company $70,000 for the loss of a billboard. “Even requiring the location to at least be on the same highway would have been helpful,” Evert said. “It can go anywhere.”
Taxpaying voters need to read the following and decide, is this the kind of thinking they want from their state legislator? And isn't it funny how when Republicans “clarify” something, taxpayers are on the short end of the deal, and on the hook?
Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, defended the proposed change. It was “intended to clarify that the DOT should choose the most cost-effective alternative between relocating or removing a sign,” Nygren said in a written statement. “My underlying goal is to protect the taxpayers and to ensure the DOT is following the law by treating employers, in this case a billboard company, in a fair and uniform manner.”
Protecting taxpayers by making them pay up or else is a good thing? “Protecting taxpayers” is the latest meaningless talking point con only a sucker would believe.

But that wasn't the only handout to bill board companies that taxpayers are going to feel:
jsonline: The budget bill changes the way billboards are classified for tax purposes. Milwaukee currently assesses billboards as real property parcels and includes the value of the permit, which allows billboard companies to operate them legally.

The net effect of the change in the budget bill is that billboards would be classified as personal property. That means, according to Barrett, that assessments of billboards in Milwaukee alone will drop from $76 million to $6.6 million.

"We share your goal to lower the tax burden throughout the state, but this provision will only reduce the tax burden for companies that are primarily based out-of-state while raising property taxes for Milwaukee-based businesses and homeowners," Barrett said.

Walker Veto's few, and gives notice to the UW that he's not on board with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Mr. Moderate? Don’t think so. Scott Walker’s unimpressive campaign to look evenhanded has failed badly.

Vetoing bounty hunters was a no-brainer, big deal. 

But Walker's veto of legislation that would have booted the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, is all smoke and mirrors. What Walker did instead, was subtly threaten the UW by asking them to reconsider their entire policy allowing such organizations to collaborate on campus. Another words, maybe you should dump them all…or else.

Here's what Walker said:
WSJ: “It’s appropriate for (the Regents) to look at it. But it should be done in the context of a larger policy, not just specific to one organization.”
Why should they? After years of threatening the UW for its contract with nonprofit WiscNet, the inexpensive internet access service, the GOP finally just wrote a law banning any future deals. They handed AT&T and other privateers a big victory and a chance to dig deep into the taxpayers pockets. And isn't that what "small government" is all about? 

The threat now for the UW is its inclusion of the WCIJ.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Ribble vote for Big Oil Secrets, Continued Irresponsible Drilling Practices, and Great Lakes Oil and Gas Drilling.

Why would small government Republicans want to keep what oil companies pay us in royalties a secret? Apparently, taxpayers don't need to know these things, say Wisconsin Republicans. Who do we think we are anyway? Wisconsin State Journal:
OIL DRILLING, FINANCIAL RULES: Voting 256 for and 171 against, the House on June 27 passed a Republican bill (HR 1613) to implement a Gulf of Mexico deepwater-drilling treaty in a way that would exempt U.S. oil companies from transparency rules in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law. Those rules require companies to publicly disclose how much they pay the U.S. or foreign governments for rights to extract oil, gas and minerals. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Paul Ryan, R-1, James Sensenbrenner, R-5, Tom Petri, R-6, Sean Duffy, R-7, Reid Ribble, R-8

Voting no: Mark Pocan, D-2, Ron Kind, D-3, Gwen Moore, D-4
Maybe somebody should ask "why the secrecy? 

Like the their continued support of the Bush tax cuts and Wall Street deregulation, our House Republicans refuse to learn any lessons from the BP Oil spill:
BP OIL SPILL LESSONS: Voting 194 for and 232 against, the House on June 27 defeated a bid to ensure that safety lessons from the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 are applied to deepwater drilling in the western gulf that occurs under HR 1613 (above). This motion by Democrats also sought to require companies responsible for spills to pay all cleanup costs. A yes vote backed the motion.
Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore

Voting no: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble
But the following vote reveals how our own House Republicans are planning to drill for oil and gas in the Great Lakes. And like our valuable fresh water shores, California’s pristine waters off Santa Barbara are ripe for drilling too:
GREAT LAKES DRILLING BAN: Voting 195 for and 225 against, the House on June 28 defeated a Democratic attempt to bar HR 2231 (expanded offshore drilling) from authorizing oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. Though the bill contains no mention of the Great Lakes, backers of this motion said it contains language sufficiently broad to lead to possible drilling in these inland waters. A yes vote was to bar drilling in the Great Lakes. SANTA BARBARA MORATORIUM: Voting 176 for and 241 against, the House defeated a bid to strip HR 2231 of its language to lift a moratorium on oil and gas drilling offshore from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in southern California. The ban was imposed after a major oil spill in that area in 1969. A yes vote was to retain the drilling moratorium.
Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore

Voting no: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble

Walker to sign Republican Budget, setting Wisconsin up for Failure. Here's what will Happen....

I missed this important Cap Times/Mike Ivey article back on May 30, that explains in detail why a $650 million budgeted tax cut is the height of irresponsible legislation, propose ironically by a former accountant.

The 2013-2014 budget is game of Jenga, on steroids, using taxpayer money. State Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield grand scheme will only make taxpayers more frustrated and angry, but maybe that’s the point. That allows Republicans to make more cuts later on in support of their failed system. Point 5 in the article explains:
5. Slashing income taxes on the wealthy sets up the state for future revenue shortfalls, which could provide the justification for future cuts in spending on things like education or public employee salaries and benefits.
See…all by design. You might remember when Sen. Albert Darling was asked by a reporter what would happen if the Republican budget failed? She said that they would just have to make more cuts. 

Democrats would be wise to expand beyond the poor job numbers and focus on all the items listed below. We were warned.
1. It is using a one-time surplus based on future projections for a permanent income tax rate reduction: But as the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliances notes, a lot of that new-found money is primarily due to taxes on non-wage business and investment earnings, in part from a recovering stock market. In fact, income tax withholding from wages paid to workers has been relatively weak, the LFB reports.

2. It changes what had been a fairly progressive state income tax system and makes it much more regressive: The GOP plan takes what had been five income tax brackets in Wisconsin and reduces that to three, creating a very broad middle bracket that lumps together low-wage earners and CEOs … someone working for $8 an hour at a fast-food restaurant would pay the same effective income rate as a corporate executive making $250,000 — even before the deductions kick in that help the wealthy.
Robert Kraig of Wisconsin Citizen Action notes “This is a stunningly unfair proposal,” he says. “It makes a tax system that is already rigged against the middle class and working Wisconsinites even worse.”
3. The credits being eliminated don’t come anywhere close to making up the projected $787 million in reduced tax collections over the two-year budget: Kooyenga eliminates more than a dozen narrowly-designed tax credits worth about $5 million … Republicans have been cutting things aimed at helping lower-income taxpayers such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Homestead Tax Credit. In fact, the last budget cut $56.2 million from EITC, which Ronald Reagan once called “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

4. Factory and farm owners in Wisconsin are already virtually exempt from state income taxes: An item tucked into Walker’s first budget already provides a tax credit for manufacturing and agriculture business owners in the state, which when fully implemented by 2017 will effectively eliminate income taxes for those specific groups. The “domestic production tax credit” will deliver an estimated $360 million in tax savings to manufacturers over the next four years and some $130 million each year thereafter. Still, critics have called it one of the largest income tax windfalls in state history — and one that few people know much about.

Republicans leave town letting Student Loan Rates to Double. Democratic Rep. Ron Kind and Sen. Elizabeth Warren try to prevent GOP plan to profit of Students.

They're gone. The 4h of July holiday started a week in advance for our freeloading do nothing Republican politicians. 

They're scaring families across America with their free market stunt to rake in interest profits for banks by tying the percentage to the market. Hey, somebody should make something off our future business owners and employees.

I should also note that our own state Republicans froze tuition in the state due to recent UW surpluses in an attempt to portraying themselves as the great protectors of family budgets, when if fact it was just another way to cut funding to the UW. If they're honestly concerned, why allow the doubling of interest rates? This really is all just a troubling game to them.

Rep. Ron Kind has been on this for some time, releasing this call to action today:
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) called on House majority leaders to cancel the upcoming holiday recess and take action to prevent the doubling of student loan interest rates. If Congress does not act this week, interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans will jump from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1st.

“It’s no wonder that Americans across the country have such a low opinion of Congress, if some members can’t even agree that affordable education is good for the economy and good for the future prosperity of our country. Congress should not leave town for recess and allow more students to fall into a financial bind,” continued Kind. 

“Even worse, the Republican plan to address this issue would have made our students pay even higher interest rates, putting them deeper in debt. I voted against that plan because it’s just not fair to use our students’ money to pay down our national debt.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Kind signed a discharge petition—a procedural motion that frees up a bill that has been blocked in a Congressional committee—to force an up or down vote on the Student Loan Relief Act, a bill that would extend the 3.4% interest rate on Stafford loans until July 1, 2015.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren had the best idea, that never got any traction:

Huffington Post: Legislation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to reform the federal college loan program has garnered more support than any other proposal, with six more college presidents now endorsing her plan to dramatically lower interest rates for students.

Warren's bill, the first she's authored as a senator, would tie the interest rate on federal Stafford loans to the rate banks receive from the Federal Reserve, lowering student loan rates from as high as 6.8 percent to 0.75 percent, and saving students thousands of dollars. A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Poling showed widespread support for lowering federal student loan rates, with 60 percent of respondents saying they back Warren's idea, including 56 percent of Republicans. Despite this popularity, Warren's bill has not come up for a vote in Congress.

Wisconsin 20th in Manufacturing job creation.

Manufacturing isn't likely to make a total comeback in Wisconsin, but it's still holding, and could have been better had Scott Walker embraced alternative energy and high speed train production.

From CNBC:

Walker, 40th out of 45 Governors to create private sector jobs, thinks he can do it. Just 191,300 more jobs in 18 months.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin came  across these interesting statistics about our dictatorial governor from the Business Journal, a not to shabby source of information from the corporate side:
Scott Walker ranks 40th among 45 governors when it comes to private-sector job growth, according to a new On Numbers analysis by The Business Journal.

The On Numbers analysis ranked 45 current governors, excluding five who only took office this year, “based on a comparison of the annual growth rate for his or her state and the corresponding figure for the other 49 states.” 

Among the findings, Wisconsin’s rate of job growth since Walker took office is 1.07%, compared to 2.00% nationally. Had Wisconsin increased private-sector employment at the same rate as the national average, Wisconsin would have added an additional 51,200 jobs since January 2011.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bowing to Republican Attacks, UW Drops WiscNet, “Potentially leaving 70% of school districts or libraries without an internet provider.”-Sup. Tony Evers. Privatization-Higher Prices here we come…

This bomb just dropped; The UW Regents, without talking to the State Superintendent, dropped internet service for the UW which may effect a majority of school districts and libraries. They now have to contract with the private sector who once didn't give a damn about providing affordable service. And my guess is, they still won’t. School districts can’t afford this one, all thanks to Republicans who won’t be happy until they can privatize the entire UW system and get it off the books.
WSJ (no link yet): Republicans included a provision in the 2011-12 budget that requires the UW to disengage with WiscNet by July 1, 2013...Walker plans to sign (a new provision) Sunday (in the 2013-2014 budget that) would give the System another six months.
As you can see, if government can do something cheaper, to save taxpayers money, Republicans are against it. Big business needs government handouts in the form of Republican laws that cost taxpayers more to pad their donors bottom lines. Here’s Tony Evers reaction:
State Superintendent and University of Wisconsin System Regent Tony Evers issued the
following statement regarding a last minute decision by the University of Wisconsin Madison to break up a long-standing partnership for network services. “I am astounded and disappointed that without any consultation with representatives of public schools or libraries, including me – a Regent, the University of Wisconsin has potentially left 70% of school districts and 95% of public libraries in Wisconsin without an internet access provider. Now, hundreds of school districts and public libraries are facing the loss of internet access, and, in an era of reduced budgets, an unknown added cost that could run into the millions. To make matters worse, they are left trying to get all this sorted out before the start of school. Is this some new version of the Wisconsin Idea?”
The UW had their weak kneed reasons:
At the direction of the Chancellor….the following is the University’s response to AT&T’s letter of June 6, 2013, protesting the University’s award of a contract for Network Services to WiscNet.

WiscNet’s intitial equipment cost was 85% less than AT&T; AT&T was significantly higher that both WiscNet and CenturyLink for its (system). WiscNet provided far more detail in its response than AT&T.
The UW had no reason to withdraw their contract with WiscNet, but did for these reasons:
Business and political considerations, including the potential for ongoing appeals, litigation and legislative changes, have created uncertainty to our campus operations…such uncertainty is not compatible … begin transitioning to the operation of our network.
WiscNet had this response:
In our last update ... yesterday we learned the University of Wisconsin System Administration and Board of Regents have asked UW-Madison to withdraw this award to WiscNet, citing “business and political considerations” and their need to “absolutely ensure that (the UW) can accomplish (their) educational and research missions without interruption”. Isn’t it a sad day when political pressures from telephone company lobbyists keep us from working together?  It’s frustrating, yet fascinating.  Seriously.
A costly to taxpayer decision is just another victory for Republicans, who aren't shy about the privatization win:
Speaker Vos Statement on UW Severing Ties with WiscNet: “The UW System is making the right decision regarding its relationship with WiscNet. A free market based system will be a win for students, taxpayers and private enterprise in Wisconsin. The legislature will work with the university to facilitate their transition.”

REP. KNUDSON APPLAUDS UW-MADISON DECISION “I am hopeful that this signals a new, more open and transparent approach to the issue by the UW System and the Board of Regents. We look forward to constructing a system that meets the needs of our neighborhood schools and libraries.”
 Because the current less expensive system was so bad?

One Party Rule not the same for both Parties.

It's those damn Democrats again, making  society safer with popular common sense gun regulations and safety nets for the displace worker.

The Washington Times article starts with the false premise that both parties are the same:
The Colorado and North Carolina state legislatures were unusually productive in 2013 … Polar opposites ideologically, Colorado Democrats wielded the same unchecked control this year over state government in Denver as North Carolina Republicans did in Raleigh, with predictable results.
Then they trotted out the false equivalencies. In reality, the Democrats are pushing a populist agenda based on issues receiving high polling numbers, and Republicans are passing laws that appeal only to their base in safe gerrymandered districts. They don't trust us, so instead, they would rather attack voters, labor, local control and push gun crazy vigilantism.
In Colorado, the upshot was a legislative session marked by sweeping new laws on gun control, election reform and benefits for illegal immigrants.

In Raleigh, the legislature proposed a record 18 amendments to the North Carolina Constitution, including measures aimed at curbing the government’s power of eminent domain, an anti-union right-to-work provision and an expansion of concealed-carry gun laws.
As the conservative Washington Times puts it;
The concentrated power has sparked backlashes in Colorado and Minnesota on the left and Wisconsin and Michigan on the right.
Poll numbers support tax increases on the wealthy and the elimination of corporate welfare:
In Minnesota, Democrats passed a $2.1 billion tax increase at the behest of Gov. Mark Dayton targeting high-income earners, smokers and businesses.
Yet that compares somehow to the Republican wrecking ball to every Democratic law that came before:
“Republican-led Indiana sliced income taxes and Alaska slashed oil taxes,” said a June 10 report in, which tracks trends at the state level. “Kansas is paying for an income tax cut by hiking sales taxes (the rate will still decline next year).

Midwestern Republican governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio have had their agendas challenged as they moved to cut the power of public-sector unions.

The first Republican-dominated state government in more than a century in North Carolina is now the target of so-called Moral Monday weekly protests in Raleigh, led by liberal clergy members, teachers unions and environmentalists. 
The difference: Republicans ante up lots of money through special interest groups during elections. Democrats hit the pavement and protest. Still hurting from the anti-war protests of the 60’s, Republicans resent descent, and are happy to push an authoritarian one party government, vilifying the Democrats as outcasts:
State Sen. Thom Goolsby, New Hanover County Republican, dismissed the protests as “Moron Monday” in a biting op-ed this month. “The circus came to the State Capitol this week, complete with clowns, a carnival barker and a sideshow,” he wrote in the Chatham Journal.
The same has been said about the protesters in Madison, as if the First Amendment doesn't apply to Democrats. And you know, maybe under their authority, it won't apply.

Republicans destroy local control, create massive partisan regulatory bureaucracy.

“One size fits all” and “local control” were once two phrases Republicans used frequently, to disparage Democrats in “Madison” passing one size fits all laws that took away local control.  They still vilify “Madison” as the power hungry seat of government telling everybody else how to live. These guys must try awful hard not looking into mirrors.

One Size Fits All, or put another way, One Statewide Standard: Walker and the Republican Authority now believe strongly in “one statewide standard” so citizens aren't confused if they relocate. That is so condescending. Anyone remember being confused? 

Walker’s legislative pirates want to run roughshod over every locally elected official across the state. I kid you not, this is what they call “small government:”  
Beloit Daily News: Signed by 30 Wisconsin mayors, the Wisconsin League of
I told you so....
Municipalities across Wisconsin … are asking Gov. Scott Walker to veto portions of the budget … The first involves extending levy limits to certain fees. In the budget it lists five areas that municipalities could charge a user fee … (but) must lower the property tax levy by the amount it expects to make on the user fees. Curt Witynski, assistant director for the league, said the amendment … “It gets at the heart and soul of local control and the principle of local control, which is local elected officials making the decisions on what is best for their community.”
Bureaucratic Regulations and Red Tape: Want to gum up the system and force your locally elected leaders into a corner? Forget waiting till the next election, challenge them at the Tax Appeals Commission first:
The second concern includes allowing residents to challenge the cost of a certain fee to the state’s Tax Appeals Commission. It also requires the municipality to prove why the fee is reasonable.

“This is probably the single most dangerous and disruptive item to come out of the budget cycle this year,” Arft said, adding the city would have to hire an outside firm to do rate studies and pay for staff hours to handle the complaints. “That process could get very expensive” … Curt Witynski, assistant director for the league (said) “the process is backwards … when the burden of proof is with the party that brought the complaint. It’s a reversal of hundreds of years of law in this state that when a government body makes a decision then that is presumed to be a reasonable decision. If someone wants to challenge that in court then they have to show the court that the fee is unreasonable.”
Still think Republicans are all for small government? I don’t think so. Heavy handed control coming out of one city, Madison? Absolutely.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wisconsin now 33 in Private Sector Job Growth, thanks to normal economic expansion.

See, just give it a little time…2 or three years. Scott Walker is essentially feeding off the Obama administration’s attempt to spur economic growth, with absolutely no help from the “jobs, jobs, jobs” Republican social engineers, who haven’t said “job creators” in a year or so.

I imagine we'll be asked to continue to wait 2 or 3 more years, surprisingly, in a state that has basically "given the store away" to business. We should be thriving if you believe satisfied CEO's. 

Since there are no impediments for business in Wisconsin anymore, we're the Midwest's trailer park for freeloading business squatters. 

Walker is benefiting from normal growth. Thanks to his job killing attack on wages and benefits, he's only stunted consumer spending in the state. And with Walker's horrible treatment of ideologically blackballed industries, the nations businesses considering their other choices now. 

According to Rep. Peter Barca, who combined the two years average...
New federal figures released today show Wisconsin is 38th in the nation in overall job creation since Gov. Walker took office, including dead last in the Midwest. These figures cover the two-year period from December 2010 to December 2012 and come from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).
So here are the numbers. Comparisons to our neighboring states will come:
jsonline: Wisconsin grew private-sector jobs at a rate of 1.4% in 2012 … still lags the
See State Unemployment map here for details
equivalent national rate of 2.3%
does not represent a major change in its rate of private-sector job creation, which was 1.5% in 2010 and 1.3% in 2011.

(The) ranking it 33rd of the 50 states in private-sector job growth for the year … That's an improvement on the state's ranking of 44th

Thursday's data indicated that Wisconsin gained 62,082 private-sector jobs during those two years — 29,800 in 2011 and 32,282 in 2012. Overall, including government as well as private-sector jobs, Wisconsin added 31,902 new non-farm jobs last year. That ranked the state 31st out of 50 for combined public- and private-sector job growth in 2012. 

Conservative Judicial Activism Justified to increase Power? Apparently.

While same sex marriage is getting the well-deserved attention it should, we can't lose sight of the Supreme Courts repeal of the Voting Rights Act, which will have a profound effect on who controls every aspect of our lives through government power.

Isn't it obvious already, in states where Republicans have complete control, that the size and scope of government is expanding, all the while reducing citizen rights and freedoms for the corporate class. We are here to serve the interests of business, who seem to "promise"  economic health and freedom for everyone, but never deliver.

Republicans are cafeteria constitutionalists. Their "constitutional" argument is a sad irreversible part of their scheme to con the public and redefine our founding document to mean what they say it means, at any given time.

I've selected a few great lines from an E.J. Dionne story today that I thought focused on the Republican Party's quest for ultimate power with the help of judicial activism.
Recall that when conservatives did not have a clear court majority, they railed against “judicial activism.” Now that they have the capacity to impose their will, many of the same conservatives defend extreme acts of judicial activism by claiming they involve legitimate interpretations of the true meaning of the Constitution.

It is an inconsistency that tells us all we need to know. This is not an argument about what the Constitution says. It is a battle for power. And, despite scattered liberal triumphs, it is a battle that conservatives are winning.

U.S. slowly catching up to other civilized nations on same sex marriage.

Here's part of the story and recent chart from Nate Silver at the New York Times:
The availability of same-sex marriage is increasing almost as rapidly on a global scale. It was legalized in Brazil and France earlier this year and will become legal in Uruguay and New Zealand by August.

A decision last month by a Brazilian judicial panel that is generally seen as legalizing same-sex marriage, but could be subject to appeal, is especially important to this math. Brazil has a population of about 194 million — more than the combined 169 million in the nine countries in Europe where same-sex marriage is now legal. The most recent decision followed court rulings that had authorized same-sex marriage in more than a dozen Brazilian states.

Earlier this year, France, with a population of about 64 million, became the largest European country to legalize same-sex marriage, and the largest in the world to do so by legislative action.

By August, there will be about 585 million people living in countries or jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Poverty Wages the new norm?

New research just release by COWS, the UW's Center on Wisconsin Strategy, shows you where we're headed as a country. After the Great Recession, big business made major adjustments to their employment and benefits plans, saving themselves lots of money but also lowering wages and cutting jobs. Blue collar unskilled jobs disappeared.

Here's a screen capture of just a part of their summary:

Walker showers Public Employees with 1% Raise to vote for Him...I mean because they deserve it.

In the first print of the “State workers may get Raise” cover story in the Wisconsin State Journal this morning, they reported the following comment by Scott Walker...before it was removed. I believe the conservative paper plucked his comment for a reason, if you catch my drift, considering Walker’s successful plan to divide and conquer the states public employees. That led to turning Wisconsin into the most divided state in the country, pitting neighbor against neighbor:
“Because we made tough, but prudent, decisions over the last two years, we are now able to invest in our priorities. This includes an investment in Wisconsin’s state employees.”

My god the balls. 

Another Republican troubled by a Conflict of Interest? Not anymore. Rep. Stroebel tells a whopper...

Well, we have the most amazing excuse that finally obliterates “conflict of interest” issues. It’s absolute genius, and that’s saying a lot when you consider its coming from a Republican. It’s true these guys are the biggest victims on earth, and always find a way to blame someone else, but still this one comment destroys any appearance of conflict of interest with ease:
jsonline: “There is no conflict of interest in a legislator participating in and guiding legislation that may affect his or her private sector business … It is a good thing to have citizen legislators who have real world knowledge and experience on the issues … making policy decisions."
See?  Stroebel makes the case it's a good thing a politician is personally affected by their own favorable legislation. 
Lord Voldemort with a nose?
The lead sponsor of a sweeping landlord-tenant bill in the Legislature would himself benefit from a provision that would eliminate Milwaukee's landlord registration program. The legislator is Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) … one provision would have an impact on a building he owns on Milwaukee's east side … effectively eliminate the landlord registration program, which requires all commercial property owners to record ownership information with the city … having that information allows police and firefighters, as well as Department of Neighborhood Services officials, a way to reach landlords faster.
And that would be bad? There’s more:
Stroebel's building is located just outside the boundaries of another program operated by the city. That pilot program is called the Residential Rental Inspection program and, under Stroebel's bill, also stands to be eliminated. In that program, rental property owners register their property with the city and submit to an initial inspection. Owners are then issued four-year certificates or one-year certificates noting the properties are in compliance with city codes and regulations.
Here it comes…conflict of interest is good:
Stroebel issued a statement saying his sponsorship of the bill did not amount to a conflict of interest.
"There is no conflict of interest in a legislator participating in and guiding legislation that may affect his or her private sector business when the policy is a statewide policy that affects everyone in the field equally. It is a good thing to have citizen legislators who have real world knowledge and experience on the issues, rather than career politicians relying on lobbyists for information, making policy decisions."

Fighting to keep Children on Badgercare? Rep. Robin Vos says efforts create chaos and ruckus.

It's okay for Scott Walker to openly declare his intention to divide and conquer Wisconsinites, but fight for children's access to Badgercare...well check out what wise ass Rep. Robin Vos said about the Wisconsin Council on Families efforts for children's health care. Maybe people aren't getting it yet, but we're in a "red" state that won't tolerate dissent, or even an opposition party. From Here and Now:

In reality Vos' whimsical musings will have a devastating impact
Budget items covered in the summary include these:
1. The budget siphons off funding intended for low-income families by
transferring nearly $19 million per year more from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the Department of Revenue.

2. It reduces funding for the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidies by $35 million.

3. It reduces funding for W-2 by $13.4 million during the biennium in spite of a caseload that has been growing, contrary to projections.

4. The bill makes about 80,000 childless adults below the federal poverty level (FPL) eligible for BadgerCare, but does so by ending coverage for nearly 90,000 parents, even though it would cost state taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars less over the next seven years to cover all adults up to 133% FPL by using federal health care reform dollars.

5. The budget expands the school voucher program statewide, which is likely to divert desperately needed funds from public schools. It also creates a $30 million per year tax break for families sending children to private schools, available even to wealthy families who are already sending their kids to private schools.

Peace Through Pork another great idea from our gun toting teabilly losers.

Think gun nuts are crazy loco like me? Well, the following story from Jonathan Turley's blog today affirms out deepest fear; we're giving guns to these people?
In Idaho, South Fork Industries appears to have found a way to turn Islamophobia into a windfall. The ammunition manufacturer is selling a new line of pork-laced bullets that they say will keep Muslim terrorists from entering heaven. However, the theory that these “Jihawg Ammo” bullets are “haram” and thus a barrier to heaven is contested by actual Islamic scholars.

If true, could the company be sued for false advertising or does such a claim require proof of a divinely excluded terrorist who was shot by an unclean bullet? The website calls it “Peace Through Pork.”

Shannon Dunn, assistant professor of religious studies at Gonzaga University, says that “There is no penalty for coming into contact with pork given by the Quran.” Thus, Professor Dunn insists that “Muslims, especially unknowingly, would not be banned from heaven for eating or getting hit by pork.” 

The Fox News Alternative Universe has moved Beyond DOMA, Gay Marriage and the Voting Rights Act.

I was amused by the headlines in my home page widget for Fox News. I even refreshed the page to see if what I saw was current. It was. This is how they keep their viewers and readers educated? No word on DOMA, gay marriage being reinstated in California or overturning the Voting Rights Act:

Scalia Unhinged: Activist Supreme Court says; Hey, we’re taking away your vote…but look, we’re defending gay marriage.

Big Picture: Funny how the bad news, voter suppression is constitutional, is about to be buried under the praise and adulation in the media over the passage of gay marriage.

The media might also like to focus on the partisan judicial activism on full display by the unwavering conservative Justices legislating from the bench. These guys know they are now the de facto governing body, usurping the legislative branch. It’s time to question the credibility of Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas.

All the coverage so far has been devoid of legal opinions from the likes of Jonathan Turley, Jeffrey Toobin and others. So many legal, factual questions need to be cleared up. Anyway, here’s what happened:
Sections from Kennedy Decision
jsonline: The Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act "… Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways," Justice Kennedy said.
How anyone could not see the problem with DOMA is beyond me, but…
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Scalia read his dissent aloud. Scalia said the court should not have decided the case. But, given that it did, he said, "we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation."
Get that? Scalia first says he has the power to overturn the Voting Rights Act adopted by legislation, but then loses that power when it comes to overturning DOMA? I’m not making sense of this, and another reason why I want a lawyer.

UPDATE: I just found this quote from Scalia's dissent over DOMA, which is just amazing when you consider how he ordered congress to rewrite the Voting Rights Act:
"That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive. It envisions a Supreme Court standing (or rather enthroned) at the apex of government, empowered to decide all constitutional questions, always and every- where “primary” in its role."
State Bans on Gay Marriage Unaffected: You would think the ruling on DOMA, similar to state bans, would overturn those laws too, but it doesn't.
The court also voted 5-4 in its decision to leave in place the initial California trial court declaration that the state's ban is unconstitutional. The high court itself said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states, including Wisconsin.
Surprising too were the flip flopping conservative Justices who upheld the gay marriage ban in California as unconstitutional, but saw no problem with the federal law. My head is spinning:
The outcome was not along ideological lines. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.

Republicans get go ahead by Activist Supreme Court. Unlimited Money in Elections, Guns Everywhere and Voter Suppression. What a record.

Something to remember when everything goes down:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.): "In fairness, I doubt that will ever happen." 

"I'm just not aware of any discrimination of that kind," said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) …. you don't need a Voting Rights Act if there's not systemic violations. I don't think [pre-clearance by the Justice Department] should exist in Shelby County. Shelby County has never had a history of denying votes to my knowledge, and certainly not now."  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said "The Supreme Court decision now puts South Carolina on equal footing with every other state in the nation. As a South Carolinian, I’m glad we will no longer be singled out and treated differently than our sister states.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the court "rightly decided that the statutory standards used decades ago to subject democratically elected state legislatures to second-guessing by unelected federal bureaucrats no longer survives constitutional scrutiny."

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), said he had no idea what the Supreme Court ruled on. "What did they do?" Cochran asked.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the judiciary panel, said he’s doubtful a legislative response is needed. He said the court’s ruling reflects that the nation has changed. “It proves that after 45 years that the Voting Rights Act is working,” Grassley said of the court’s ruling. “The situation in those states that were covered by the act, they don’t have discriminatory voting anymore, so the act is not necessary.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Activist Conservative Supreme Court Takes Wrecking Ball to Voting Rights Act. Big Surprise.

Come on, let’s admit it; there’s a reason all of these conservative wedge issues are making it to the Supreme Court, it’s packed with activist conservative justices. The media refuses to bring this topic up, even while this activist rogue court keeps racking up the victories. It’s so weird to hear those embarrassing brain dead Republican politicians and low information voters say, “I told you so.”
Huffington Post
And these conservative activist Justices struck again, just like they did in Citizens United and the Heller Second Amendment gun rights case, by overruling Congresses decision to guarantee the right to vote and uphold the Fifteenth Amendment. Of course limiting who votes is an odd defense of our “republic,” where we are dependent on that vote to pick our “representatives.” How often do Republicans remind us we are not a democracy?

Here's Eric Holders comment today, offering why this decision is jaw dropping:

The ruling is your typical “state’s rights” decision, saying pre-approval of election changes in area’s known for past discrimination, is congressional overreach, and needs to be updated to reflect current conditions. It sounds like the judicial branch of government is telling the legislative branch what to do.

Either the Justices are completely ignorant of the current political climate, or they’re keenly aware of it and intend to game the system, knowing congress has been taken over by rabid tea partyers who hate government and will agree to nothing. Either way, voter protections are gone.

What the United States Supreme Court has done, with its decision to strike down essential elements of the Voting Rights Act, is wrong … the court's conservative majority has taken advantage of a gap in the Constitution that must be addressed.
Nichols is talking about the fact that the constitution does not guarantee our right to vote:
The court's 5-4 ruling lifted the requirement that changes to voting laws, procedures and polling place locations in all or part of 15 targeted states be approved in advance by the Justice Department or a panel of federal judges. The ruling says that Congress went too far in seeking to prevent racial discrimination in voting, when it reauthorized of the historic act in 2006, with votes of 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House.
Check out Ginsburg’s opinion:
Business Week: It fell to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a scathing dissent, to note that: “After exhaustive evidence-gathering and deliberative process, Congress reauthorized the VRA, including the coverage provision, with overwhelming bipartisan support. In my judgment, the court errs egregiously by overriding Congress’s decision.”

Congress can and should come back at the issue. But that won't be easy … the Voting Rights Act earned the scorn of Republicans who object to its use in legal efforts to strike down restrictive "Voter ID" laws.
Can the act be updated, like the court advises? Are you kidding:
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the judiciary panel, said in an interview that he’s doubtful a legislative response is needed. He said the court’s ruling reflects that the nation has changed. “It proves that after 45 years that the Voting Rights Act is working,” Grassley said of the court’s ruling. “The situation in those states that were covered by the act, they don’t have discriminatory voting anymore, so the act is not necessary."
Nichols like so many liberals thinks we can change things for the better. Get rid of the rose colored glasses guys, we're getting killed out here:
Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison want to do something about that … unveiled a proposal to explicitly guarantee the right to vote in the Constitution. If approved by the Congress and then ratified by three-fourths of the states, it would add to the founding document this declaration:
SECTION 1: Every citizen of the United States, who is of legal voting age, shall have the fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the jurisdiction in which the citizen resides.

SECTION 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation.
Uh, guys, I didn't see the phrase “shall not be infringed” tacked onto section 1. Let’s see if Republicans like the unlimited right to vote as much as the unlimited right to bear arms.

Republicans Waste $40 Billion more on Border Security, Fence, Agents...and votes from Frightened Tea Party Racists.

An amazing thing is taking place right before our eyes, again; Republicans are spending money like drunken paranoid sailors, protecting us from a massive influx of immigration over our southern border.

NY Times: The Senate endorsed a proposal to substantially bolster security along the nation’s southern borders as part of a measure that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. The 67-to-27 vote prevented any filibuster of the plan to devote roughly $40 billion over the next decade to border enforcement measures, including nearly doubling the number of border agents to 40,000 and completing 700 miles of fencing
But wait, we don’t have a massive influx of immigrants anymore, especially since the Great Recession. As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Ezra Klein explained last week in detail:

Monday, June 24, 2013

“If it’s not broken, why are we passing legislation to fix it?” says Republican AG Van Hollen. That’s what voters were asking.

Why does it always take a Republicans acknowledgement to make what Democrats have been saying for the last couple of years believable? Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen just exposed how our GOP state legislature continues to spin it’s wheel writing rules and big government regulations that don’t solve real problems.
jsonline: Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (is) calling on Gov. Scott Walker to veto a budget provision that would allow those accused of crimes to post bail through commercial bondsmen and let bounty hunters track down those who don't show up for court.

"I'm opposed to it, always have been … If it's not broken, why are we passing legislation to fix it?"

Van Hollen said he also opposes changes GOP lawmakers made to a plan to take DNA from those accused of felonies when they are arrested, rather than when they are convicted. That would create difficulties for law enforcement officials as they try to determine when samples can be analyzed, Van Hollen said.
Republican Rep. Robin Vos smarted off this way:
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he had not heard from Van Hollen about his concerns during the budget process. "Considering the fact that it's a Monday, it sounds like he's attempting to play Monday morning quarterback."
Another money loser passed by Republicans for purely ideological reasons, again: 
Van Hollen said the current system works well and he is concerned about letting offenders get out of jail more easily by having them post one-tenth as much bail as they do now. What's more, the courts and victims could lose out on millions of dollars a year, he said. That totaled $9.5 million in 2012, according to court records. "It's money in the hand that doesn't have to be collected," Van Hollen said.

Under a commercial bail bond system, counties would have to seek money …  time consuming and yield unsatisfactory results, according to opponents of commercial bail bond. 

Sensenbrenner is Lying says National Review about Spying on Americans and Writing Patriot Act.

Once Wisconsin politicians step into the spotlight, their phony carefully constructed voter image melts away. Take Rep. James Sensenbrenner. 

According to an article in the conservative National Review, Sensenbrenner lied boldly over and over.

Like Lying Paul Ryan, badger state lawmakers have a big problem with bullshitting:
Andrew McCarthy: Sensenbrenner’s authorship claim, implausible enough under the circumstances of the PATRIOT Act’s drafting, is even harder to fathom once his description of the business-records provision is compared with the law Congress actually passed.

“And in order to get the act passed, it was limited. It was limited only to getting the business records of a foreigner, not an American, who was the target of an authorized terrorism investigation.”
This is false, through and through. Section 215 expressly permits the government to obtain the business records of American citizens … (and) it does not require that either foreigners or Americans be “targets” or suspects in a terrorism investigation before their business records may be obtained.
The provision reads the way it does — as anyone who actually wrote it would know — because partisans of the traditional constitutional supremacy of the executive branch in national-defense matters prevailed over progressives and libertarians who wanted to put the judges in charge of intelligence gathering. Subsection (a)(1): 
the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee . . . may make an application for an order … for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution. [Emphasis added.]
Sensenbrenner had his day in the media, but only after deciding to lie, lie, lie.

Wisconsin’s getting some kind of reputation. Wait till the national media discovers Scott Walker isn't the job creating dynamo he says he is. 

How Wisconsin compares to Craft Brewing!!

I couldn't resist passing this map of craft brewers around the country and their tremendous growth.

This screen capture is nothing compared to what you'll see through the link here. Well  worth the endless hours of comparison:

MacIver Institute's lesson to our kids; lie, cheat, use religion and freeload to turn our state Red.

Okay, I get how Republicans are trying to defund the Democratic Party by defunding unions. Tipping the “money is free speech” scales in favor of the GOP is one thing, but teaching Americans how to cheat and freeload off of others is hardly something to celebrate. But they're doing just that with National Employee Freedom Week, a condescending assumption teachers are as stupid as Republican voters.

The spinmeisters and right wing con men from the MacIverInstitute don’t see anything morally or ethically challenging to their new scheme; convincing teachers they can get all the union benefits without paying for it, if they just lie.

These are the guys conservatives want on their side? That says an awful lot, doesn't it?
The MacIver Institute joined 59 other organizations to recognize National Employee Freedom Week (NEFW), "a national effort to inform union employees about the freedoms they have to opt out of union membership and let them make the decision that's best for them” … teachers and other union members have the ability to become an agency fee payer or opt-out as a religious or conscientious objector.
Here’s how MacIver describes their “ends justify the means” approach to gaining a monetary electoral advantage through lying and freeloading. Heck they clearly say defunding is their goal in rule #1:
#1. An agency fee payer is still a member of the union, but is only required to pay dues that are legally required for the costs of collective bargaining … No union dues would go toward the union's political activities.
Rule #2…lie:
#2. A religious or conscientious objector still is required to have union dues deducted. However, the member can decide to send the dues to a charitable organization of their choosing and is no longer a member of the union.
Here’s the freeloader kicker for both of the above:
In both cases, the worker is entitled to every benefit under the labor contract with the employer.

And here I thought union benefits and contracts were unfair to employers. MacIver in this case is all about the benefits, temporarily of course.