Monday, December 30, 2013

Coming soon: A Rise in the Minimum Wage!

Not in Wisconsin, but elsewhere. Another major missed opportunity for increasing consumer demand by infusing the lower and middle class with discretionary cash to spend. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is looking at a modest 35 cents an hour increase, to $7.60. Yahoo:
Here are the states increasing their minimum wages on Jan. 1: 

Arizona- from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour
California- from $8.00 to $9 an hour
Colorado- from $7.78 to $8 an hour
Connecticut- from $8.25 to $8.70 an hour
Florida- from $7.79 to $7.93 an hour
Missouri- from $7.35 to $7.50 an hour
Montana- from $7.80 to $7.90 an hour
New Jersey- from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour
New York- from $7.25 to $8 an hour
Ohio- from $7.85 to $7.95 an hour
Oregon- from $8.95 to $9.10 an hour
Rhode Island- from $7.75 to $8 an hour
Vermont- from $8.60 to $8.73 an hour
Washington- from $9.19 to $9.32 an hour

Pope too radical for tea party? Yep.

Pope Francis is getting a  conservative thrashing by the golden idols of the right wing. How they're getting away with it, along with cutting food stamps and unemployment insurance benefits, is beyond me. Heck, one polls says Americans want Republicans in charge of the Senate now. 

Check out the bizarre headline pictured below. It's not conservative American politics that's radical, it the Pope. For a religion based on an infallible leader, it's amazing to see the rank and file suddenly claiming to know more than the Pope. From the Mt. Pleasant Patch:
His focus on the poor and criticism of liberal capitalism. In November, Francis denounced “the idolatry of money.” …he described trickle-down economics as “a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh described Francis’ writings as “just pure Marxism.”

Take(en) together — an aversion to culture war fights, adoration by the mainstream media, and skepticism of concentrated wealth — and you have a recipe for increasing friction between Francis and parts of the American conservative movement.

As for the rest of us? I grew up in a devout Catholic household where statements made by any reigning pope were regarded as coming straight from God. So I understand why many American Catholics, especially conservative ones, feel the shift in Francis’ focus like a shock to the system. Bridget Kurt, an ardent Catholic in Georgia, feels like Francis is letting here down. “Even when it was discouraging working in pro-life, you always felt like Mother Teresa was on your side and the popes were encouraging you," Kurt told The New York Times. "Now I feel kind of thrown under the bus.”
The right wing is just insane. Here's more proof that if Jesus did come back, Republicans would hate him:
After being elected pope in March of this year, he has shaken up the now-ascendant "Catholic = Conservative" mindset in American politics by doing three things:

De-emphasizing traditional culture war touchstones. In a September interview in the Catholic magazine America, Francis said, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”

That’s a stark contrast to the guidance from conservative Catholic leaders like Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who in 2004 said that voting for John Kerry would be a sin requiring confession.

His flair for symbolism: Shortly after his election, Francis made headlines when he washed the feet of a dozen inmates — including the feet of Muslim and women prisoners. As then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he reportedly washed and kissed the feet of AIDS patients and drug addicts.

In December, The Huffington Post cited “a knowledgeable source” confirming rumors that Francis heads out at night beyond Vatican walls to give alms to the poor. These acts have stayed on cable news headlines for days.

Walker's push to revive Manufacturing in Wisconsin hurts Jobs effort now and in the Future.

Don't get me wrong, manufacturing is still an important element to our nations economy, but it isn't the powerhouse it once was or will every be again. The emerging new economies for energy creation can help fuel a rise in manufacturing again, but lets face it, the return of high wage unskilled labor is not about to make a comeback.

Proving my point is the chart below. Scott Walker is focused on Wisconsin's manufacturing resurgence. But if the trend continues, as demonstrated  below, we're in real trouble ten to twenty years from now. Elections do have consequences, and Walker's unfortunate time at the helm may be felt many years from now. The Great Recession changed the way the U.S. did business, and yet Republican policy makers are fighting against that shift.

Reality Defying Republicanism would devastate U.S., increase poverty!

When the more sensationalized news cycle slows, the more interesting details rise to the surface that not only highlight our problems, but showcase our successes and solutions.

But these solutions, opposed by Republicans for ideological reasons, are given short shrift by the media.  Media assumes conservative suggestions to turn the economy around are just as relevant as the real solutions, which by historical standards have already proven themselves out.

Charts Galore: I found these amazing graphs that trashes all the Republicans "solutions" to our economic woes. Even common sense Americans oppose the GOP agenda, all the while supporting and voting these goofballs into office.

"Entitlement" Programs Very Successful vs GOP Lies:
As for public's view of "entitlements," big surprise, they believe in them. Yet Republican still win elections: 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Any Honest Republican Legislators in Florida?

This odd little story may tell us a whole lot about how honest Republicans want to be about choosing their voters and gerrymandering their districts in court. Of course they're protecting their seats, but the excuses for doing so under the guise of "shifting population growth" should be a real side show in court:
9:56 AM PT: FL Redistricting: In a major procedural victory for opponents of Florida's new congressional map, the state Supreme Court ruled that legislators and their staffers can be required to testify about whether they drew the new lines with improper partisan intent. Amendments to the state constitution passed in 2010 now forbid the legislature from creating maps "with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent," but plaintiffs charge that lawmakers did exactly that.
Chilling effect...on What? Isn't it funny how open government always seems to have a chilling effect on speech? It's always been an absurd notion:
In response, elected officials invoked the notion of "legislative privilege," saying that they could not be forced to give testimony about their activities as legislators because it would have a "chilling effect" on how they carry out their jobs. 
The state Supreme Court just laughed:
Ordinarily that argument might work, but the court said that this "chilling effect" with regard to redistricting was, in fact, "the precise purpose" of the new amendments. (You can read the full opinion here.) So barring a settlement of some kind, it seems likely that Republican legislators will soon have to give depositions about how this particular piece of cartographic sausage was made.
You gotta love it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lazy Politicians need a pay cut for working fewer hours, or getting nothing done.

Feeding into my own meme that the real government freeloaders are conservative politicians, this tweet....

Walker's Poor Jobs Record needs Constant Media Push by Democrats.

There's nothing real earth shaking in the following observations, some old some new, but message is loud and clear; there's something is terribly wrong in Wisconsin under Scott Walker. Let's start with this from PR Watch/May 2013, and PolicyMic:
Former Gov. Doyle started recovery, Walker tanked it.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got a boost from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in its annual Rich States, Poor States report. Despite Bureau of Labor Statistics data putting Wisconsin in 44th place for private-sector job creation, ALEC placed the state as 15th in the country in its ranking of economic outlook, giving Walker -- a former ALEC member -- a boost as he lays the groundwork for a re-election campaign and a possible Presidential bid. The report effectively grades states in line with the very policy positions that ALEC promotes through its "model" legislation. Since Walker took office in 2010, job growth in Wisconsin has taken a nosedive. Walker's steep and controversial budget cuts abruptly moved Wisconsin from positive territory into negative territory as the graph illustrates.
We hope the media will wake up to the major influence think tanks and lobbyist have on the Republican Party, and bring them up often. That goes for the greatly under-reported ALEC propaganda machine, which is spinning press release after release to specifically help campaigns like Walker's:
The purpose of these rankings is to push the ugly legislative agenda of ALEC, which gives a state like Wisconsin, which has grown terribly but whose governor has shown a penchant for union-busting, a gold star while other union-friendly states get hit with low marks. The Laffer-ALEC index assumes that taxes drive wealthy people out of state, decreasing tax revenues. That’s false. The Laffer-ALEC index assumes that lower taxes will bring in more revenues (an idea for which Laffer is famous, a central tenet of supply-side economics). That’s false. The Laffer-ALEC index assumes that the estate tax reduces growth.That’s false. Unsurprisingly, with these variables, only states with a Republican governor are in the top 10 of the analysis.
Want a reality check? Today's to the point comment appeared in the Journal Sentinel, written by One Wisconsin Now's Scot Ross:
Gov. Scott Walker recently opined in The Washington Post that he believes shutdown-mired Washington, D.C., could learn something from his example in the Badger State. But upon taking the oath of office as governor, Walker, the right-wing Bradley Foundation's golden boy, provoked unprecedented chaos that reverberates today in Wisconsin's severely divided politics. Any pollster who has worked in Wisconsin since 2011 will tell you there is now not a more politically polarized state in the nation. As governor, Walker has cut 92,000 working Wisconsinites off their health care, slashed funding for public education at all levels by record amounts, while larding the wealthy and special interests with massive tax breaks and signed into law programs to reward politically connected but unqualified cronies with state tax dollars.

The result has been that Wisconsin has significantly lagged the national and regional pace of job creation and economic recovery.

Ironically — besides the Greek debt crisis, the Affordable Care Act and the weather — Walker has blamed his abysmal economic track record on the political chaos his own approach to governing triggered.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Walker short on Jobs...oh, let's talk about cutting taxes.

Hey,  it's the holidays, and another wave of family coming for Saturday. So the stories are just dribbling out on my end. But...

I did see this at PolitiFact, and thought it was easy enough for even teabillies to understand. This is the news Scott Walker is distracting us from with talk of getting rid of the state income tax. Yea, right.

The latest monthly report, and revisions to previous reports, boost Walker's tally by 10,890 jobs. That brings the total number of jobs added since he took office to an estimated 104,372, or about 42 percent of the total the governor promised.

Put another way, he's got 145,628 jobs to add with 13 months to go.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ALEC, THE opponent of Common Core, still not mentioned by reporters.

The starkest example of just how irresponsible the media is now (for not pointing to the real groups responsible for shaping public opinion against anything, especially Common Core), was on full display in the pictured AP article below, from the Wisconsin State Journal. There's no excuse for not mentioning that State Sen. Leah Vukmir's opposition to Common Core and attempts to repeal it may have something to do with the fact that she's the national treasurer for ALEC, Common Cores biggest enemy.

Think it's important? Gee, I wonder. Let's be honest, any article addressing the Republican efforts to repeal Common Core everywhere must include their membership in ALEC. Without that, the public will continue to think their politicians are working for them, and not pushing corporate America's wishes. And the phony "public hearings" held around Common Core will include so many special interests that education doesn't stand a chance of not being politicized.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Hate the Post Office? Private Sector's Perfect Package Delivery Failure Angers many this Christmas....

Just to document for our Republican pushers of free market perfection this big failure. Channel3000:
(UPS’s) backlog left some Americans with gifts missing from under the Christmas tree Wednesday morning. "We're terribly sorry," spokeswoman Natalie Black told CNN.

UPS stuck to its plan to make no deliveries on Christmas, angering some customers.

"Thanks for totally screwing us AND lying about it all day," Mo Husseini posted on Twitter. He was responding to a UPS tweet in which the company vowed "every effort to get packages to their destination." 
Let the private sector do it better than the Post Office? The Myth busting reality...

33 Years and Counting: Republicans extend their Boycott of "A Christmas Carol" for it's obvious liberal bias!!!"

Charles Dickens, who started the war on Christmas with "A Christmas Carol," is still considered the one of the original enemies of capitalism in the U.S.. While conservative groups denounced ringleader Jacob Marley and all three ghosts, they directed their scorn at Tiny Tim, who they say should have died and decreased the surplus population.

Ebenezer Scrooge pictured here before he went bankrupt.
A while back I wrote this about the slowly building "Scroogenian" movement:
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.
Ending unemployment insurance, cutting food stamps, vilifying the poor and middle class as takers, heck, Scroogists everywhere can't help but celebrate today.

Asked about the ponderous chain they're forging in life, many did not know what that meant, but blamed Obama for it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Affordable Care Act won't insure my kids, and Wisconsin's Badgercare due to income limits won't take them either.

This is the problem I've run into, which in reality is keeping us from applying, since any future additions (the kids) might not be eligible till the next signup cycle. But who knows. Oh, and I can't log  in yet either, something about being locked out.

Still working on it.....

Republicans take the "certainty" out of going to school the full year with the introduction of Vouchers.

How would you like to be a parent whose child's school closed down at the beginning of the holiday break? They didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to their fellow classmates.

Or how about all those parents relying on that school being there all school year, finding out the schools owner had decided to shut it down for health problems?

Private schools receiving taxpayer vouchers can do anything they want, like close at any time. And parents are stuck holding the bag, scrambling to find another school that has room?

That's the kind of “uncertainty” Republicans have brought to families all over Wisconsin with their ideologically driven efforts to privatize schools for profit. Your kid is a commodity now, in a move that makes them a little less human:
jsonline: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has moved to boot another private school from receiving taxpayer money through the Milwaukee voucher program … Washington DuBois Christian Leadership Academy, a K-6 voucher school at 5226 W. Hampton Ave. … failed to meet financial and administrative reporting requirements, according to the DPI.
If that wasn't reason enough to piss parents off, try this on for size:
The school's administrator, Michael Hutchinson, closed the school last week. But he said Monday he shut down the program because of his failing health from Parkinson's disease, not because of the DPI decision.
So the simple “certainty” of having your kid in school all year long is now just another fading relic of the past.
The 110 students who were enrolled will have to attend new schools after the holiday break.
Schools no longer an Investment: And the cost to taxpayers supporting poorly run schools over a number of years?
The school has received millions of dollars in voucher payments over the years, through a program that currently pays $6,442 annually per qualifying pupil. The school's accreditation was also called into question. A school with a similar accreditation issue — Dr. Brenda Noach Choice School — was barred by the DPI from participating in the voucher program this school year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our "Unintimidated" Governor, frightened by Protesters, Fabricates attack to reinforce his failed Authority.

Republicans, the only legitimate party, have created a barrier against criticism; they are the authentic exceptional Americans. It's almost unthinkable to question their authority, or the righteousness of their intentions.

So it's should come as no surprise that when Scott Walker sees angry protesters everywhere, he doesn't question his own policies, he instead vilifies and fears those he sees as opponents of freedom and of just punishments.

PolitiFact took a look at another fantasy Walker wrote about in his book, of an actual event many people remember differently today, including reporters and law enforcement officials.

Walker's son gravitates to freeloading Republican political jobs program.

As it turns out, Scott Walker’s son Matt is no innocent “child,” unfairly picked on by protesters. He’s a GOP activist attending Marquette University.

Democrats were vilified for including Walker’s kids in their protests, when they demonstrated in front of their Wauwatosa home. Protesters were trashed for leaving comments at Matt's Facebook page. That same Facebook page is now being used for the political purpose of advancing a career in freeloading. 

Like father like son: Apparently Matt Walker marveled at how even the most unskilled person can become a mover and shaker in conservative politics, without working too hard. It's what I call the "unskilled jobs program for conservatives." They never have enough think tanks, lobbyists or blathering talk show hosts.

Here’s what this "innocent child" of the governor has been doing lately:
jsonline: The elder son of Gov. Scott Walker announced this week that he is running for state chairman of the Wisconsin Federation of College Republicans.
Already a regional vice president for the College Republicans in southeastern Wisconsin.

In 2011, he was elected governor of Badger Boys State, a leadership program that his father once attended. 

In May, he became co-chairman of his campus chapter of the College Republicans, a group his father led more than 20 years ago.
The Republican political jobs machine continues to employ every conservative activist in their bubble wrapped world of fantasy.

Mr. "Unintimidated" Scott Walker running from Casino decision till After Election?

Looks like the casino decision is more toxic than signing away women's health issues. Or maybe this had something to do with delaying it...this headline from the jsonline:

Potawatomi tribe pours $35,000 into GOP coffers

Remember when the big talking governor gave a hard deadline of 60 days:
Walker said he … believed fast action was important after a debate … "If it's going to happen, it should happen," Walker said. "If it's not, we should move on."
Well, nothing is more intimidating than losing tens of thousands of dollars around election time:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Republicans let Babies Die in Wisconsin!!!

And they care so much about fertilized eggs? My how the value of life changes after birth.

Oh, and wouldn't you know it, Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin, Choose Life America haven't said a thing ever. No fight to choose life, save babies.  
jsonline: Two Republican committee chairs are blocking bipartisan legislation that would require all newborn babies in the state to be tested for critical congenital heart disease, the number one killer of infants with birth defects, despite a federal recommendation by medical experts two years ago. The quick, non invasive test costs $4 per baby. Across the nation, at least 32 states have followed the federal recommendation and passed laws mandating testing.
Yet these phony protectors of fertilized eggs, our self-righteous “pro-life” politicians, think it’s silly and are showing their true colors just by their lack of concern and footdragging:
State Rep. Erik Severson (R-Star Prairie), an emergency room doctor who chairs the Assembly's committee on health, says he considers the heart disease bill unnecessary and "kind of silly" as many hospitals are screening babies voluntarily.
National Treasurer of ALEC, Sen. Leah Vukmir, is even more outrageously confused over what you would assume is an easy one. Hell, it's just a life saving $4 test...for babies for gods sake:
Contradiction #1: She believes decisions about newborn screening should be made by an existing committee of medical professionals, not state lawmakers. But the expert committee ... "strongly" recommended screening all infants in Wisconsin for critical congenital heart disease, two years ago.

Contradiction #2: According to Vukmir, Wisconsin law does not allow this committee to recommend tests completed at the hospital.

Contradiction #3: Now, the senator says she is preparing a new measure to ensure that the heart disease test is decided in the same manner as other newborn screening tests. But that process still leaves final approval to the group Vukmir believes ill-equipped to decide such questions: the state Legislature.
A bit confused?

Big Money Hospitals put Profits over Babies: Yes, the Wisconsin Hospital Association is against it. Something about the horror of mandates.
"We are disappointed that a bill that would create a well-intentioned but unnecessary mandate on hospitals, physicians, nurses and their patients..."
A mandate on "patients," like they would object to spending $4 to save their baby?

Yet politicians did mandate a forced and unnecessary medical procedure like an ultrasound, but this mandate gets debated?

Here's what's at stake:
The heart association says about 544 of the 68,000 babies born in Wisconsin in 2010 had a congenital heart defect. In 136 of the babies, the defect was critical and required early detection and intervention.

"With up to 30 percent of (critical congenital heart disease) cases going undetected in the delivery center, that means nearly 40 newborns in Wisconsin may have been discharged in 2010 with an undiagnosed critical congenital heart defect," the heart association said in a statement.

…undiagnosed critical congenital heart disease face consequences ranging from death to brain damage and a lifetime of disabilities, said Berger, the pediatric cardiologist … "It's all preventable."
Vukmir and Severson ideologically detest mandates, even this one, and that's all that matters now in our red state. Mandate supporters just aren't making any sense:
state Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), the bill's lead sponsor in the Senate. "I am disappointed it is not a reality already. Doing this testing will save lives."

"We're not the Third World," said state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), a co-sponsor and member of Vukmir's committee. "This is just something that's such a no-brainer. It costs so little....And it's a huge cost-preventor."
I think this mother said it best for all of us:
Buena-Franco, the Oak Creek mother whose son was saved by the test, said she can understand how a false positive might upset a parent.

But "as a parent," she said, "you'd be more (upset) going into your child's bedroom and finding out that they've passed in their sleep."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Republicans Biggest Constitutional Dummies!!! Unknowingly Bash Free Market too!!!

Two examples of conservative stupidity in one week!!! What a Christmas gift.

Both Scott Walker and Sarah Palin blew all their credibility (let's pretend they had some) as "constitutional conservatives" over the most pointless issues.

Scott Walker mistakenly believes having racist public school mascots is a free speech issue because..."there's a variety of different opinions out there." You just never know, it could be constitutional.
Walker: "I'm not a lawyer...I don't think you need a lawyer to say that free speech invokes a variety of things..."
So it's okay to deny the truth. This same theme is used to make the comments by the suspended Duck Dynasty star a constitutional violation too. First, here's Walker's embarrassing nod to the tea party, from WISC:

Ed Schultz exposed the right wing stupidity and confusion as well, as they conflated the free market with constitutional rights. Add Bobby Jindal to list of constitutionally clueless governors. Ironically, conservatives are actually railing against their beloved free market:

Howard Kurtz point blank said it wasn't a constitutional issue, but free market decision too. And yet, the Fox News host believed that if enough people are offended, it does become a free speech issue. Breathtaking:

Constitutional conservatives? Again, just the opposite. John Nichols wrote a nice piece on this in the nation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Walker refuses Vets Pardon, Dashing Career as Police Officer over past Felony.

Want to see just how sociopathic Scott Walker really is? Walker is calm. His unshakable demeanor and droopy eye'd stare has always been a dead giveaway, but his refusal to even consider just one pardon while governor is brutal and revealing. WKOW's Tony Galli captured the moment:
Walker: "If you pick one there's thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don't know about." 
A former felon over a substantial battery conviction, and combat vet with a degree in criminal justice wants to get into law enforcement but needs a pardon to be able to have a gun. Walker has decided to deny him the ability to carry.
Walker: "I think there's a number of other areas that (have) tremendous needs in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.

The Party of Punishment
See the nice analysis at MAL Contends.

Walker starts a trend: As more and more people fall through the cracks, and as safety nets are shredded, Walker will try to marginalized the media reports of these victims. Walker and other Republicans know victims stories will turn the public against them. Walker is leading that movement. 

Walker calmly signs Racist Mascots bill, Divides State Again, still Claims Government Entities have Free Speech Rights.

Scott Walker apparently doesn’t read, or he would already know how stupid he sounds uttering absolute nonsense about free speech. WISC

Here’s more readable material if our wondering governor can sit still long enough to educate himself.
WSJ: The bill cuts against the grain of a decades-long movement away from American Indian mascots.

Barbara Munson, an Oneida Indian who chairs the Wisconsin Indian Education Association's mascots and logos task force, said Walker's free speech arguments make no sense. Government entities such as schools don't have free speech rights, she said. "(The bill) is an example of institutionalized racism in content and process," Munson said. "It's a poke in the eye with a sharp stick to all Wisconsin tribes, and it is an act of discrimination leveled directly at our children."
Walker is all about divide and conquer.
We already know about Rep. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, who represents a portion of Mukwonago, this guy is about as racist as they get. He’s relieved he’s getting cover from the governor who "is providing moral direction to all sides" that will lead to more dialogue and a less confrontational tone.
The roving bands of Mukwonago racists are safe to taunt and demean outsiders again. What a town, what a place to avoid.

Blatant racism returns....
Berlin schools to revisit nickname issue

Ouch, Tax Cuts for the Rich behind Walker’s repeal of state income tax.

It’s highly unlikely the sales tax would ever be 13.5%, but that's what it would take to make up for the elimination of the income tax.

To show you how just about any increase in the sales tax would negatively affect low and middle income families, here’s a chart from the Wisconsin Budget Project. Nothing subtle about Walker's support for the upper 10%,  his true constituents:
The following table shows the average tax change by income group if the individual and corporate income taxes were repealed, and the sales tax rate raised to 13.5% to make up for the revenue loss. The analysis assumes that refundable tax credits aimed at helping low-income individuals would not be eliminated; if those credits were eliminated, then the tax increases for those with lower incomes would be even larger than shown in the table below. The analysis was conducted by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.

Jon Peacock, director of the Wisconsin Budget Project (said), “We won’t create prosperity and jobs for Wisconsin by raising taxes on most families just to pay for tax cuts for the rich.”
Uppity Wisconsin estimated the loss of about 10,000 jobs along our states borders due to a sales tax hike.

Keep this in mind:
Like most states with no income tax, Tennessee does have a relatively high sales tax rate of 7% on general merchandise and 5.5% on food. In addition, individual counties levy their own sales tax above and beyond the state sales tax. In Shelby County, sales tax is 9.25% on general merchandise and 7.75% on food.

The Affordable Care Act update....

Despite being one of the few who had their application approved, I couldn't advance beyond that stage. Thinking the new updates to the website kept me from going further, I deleted my approved application and started over.

It was then, just at the end of November, that I could no longer log into the site. Since then I've used their toll free number. I'm now on application #4.

Note: What I've noticed this so far: The monthly premiums are coming in at about half the price as the old individual market. I might be eligible for more discounts, but won't know until I'm apply for a plan. Everything else is the same. So for those who are complaining...what are you talking about? Co-pays, deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket costs are the same now as they were. All deductibles were going through the roof well before the Affordable Care Act.

Big Problem: Having no insurance for my family, we tried to make the Dec. 23rd deadline. It was not to be. An odd thing happened. My two children, 11 and 14, were split off from us, their parents. I kept reapplying and kept getting the same result. My kids had to have their own insurance plan, which would entail another policy, deductible, co-pay and maximums. Not affordable for us and ridiculous. Minors cannot contractually have their own plan. This was supposed to be a simple family plan. I've had to appeal the findings, which will take an additional 90 days, which is near the second cut-off point.

Going without insurance in a nerve racking experience, and we could lose everything after a simple minor accident.

We're also trying something else, and I'll have more on that later. But for now, no coverage, the site still doesn't work, and time is running out.

I blame Governor Walker for not creating our own state website, and doing as little as possible to help Wisconsinites get health care coverage. This is a form of health care terrorism directed at the least among us.

More on Walker's Job Losses Record moving Wisconsin Forward.

WPR reported this about job growth, and provided a nice looking graph:
Louis Johnston is an Associate Professor of Economics at the College of St. Benedict
and St. John's University in Minnesota. He says these numbers represent a long-term trend for Wisconsin.

“And the impression I get is that in 2010, the idea was that policy changes that Governor Walker proposed would change that trend,” says Johnston. “And from what I can see it hasn't had any effect at all. Wisconsin continues to lag the nation in terms of both job growth and income growth. And if anything, things have perhaps gotten a little worse.”

Overall, Wisconsin added a total of 23,963 private sector jobs, which was the state's worst showing in three years. By comparison, Wisconsin added 37,959 private-sector jobs during the same period the year before and 39,909 the year before that.

Walker attacks Lower and Middle Class with repeal of state income tax, a bad idea in 9 other States.

Remember the Republican plan to save the economy under Governor Doyle was the “sales tax holiday?”

Ideas like that don’t work under Republican administrations though, because now, in a complete flip flop:
Gov. Scott Walker has embarked on a major review of the state’s tax code, including the possibility of eliminating income taxes and raising the sales tax … cutting taxes could be a strong foundation from which to run for president, and Walker reportedly has his eye on a 2016 bid. 
Another “bold” and courageous “promise(?)” made by Scott Walker, as he moves as far away from “the old way of doing things” under the Democrats, to a more irresponsible gimmicky tea party way to look presidential.

Let’s see how realistic this new diversion  tactic is:
Wisconsin relied on personal income taxes for almost 42 percent of its total tax revenue in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, or almost $6.8 billion of the nearly $16 billion it collected.

The state took in an additional $4.3 billion in general sales taxes, the only other revenue stream that produced anywhere near what the income tax does.
This shifts how the state will eventually get your taxes anyway. Items that didn't include a sales tax will soak in the same amount of cash from lower and middle income families as before, on all their income, while the wealthy will see more of their money go tax free for saving and investing. 

I thought this comment said it best when it unwittingly made the point that if you spend less, you pay's that good for the economy?
"Sales tax seems the most equitable to me....those who buy more pay more. Buy less, pay less."
Incredibly clueless. As far as Walker's own comments, he chose to start with a lie:
“There are many states that do very well, better than most states in the country, that have no income taxes,” Walker said, according to WisPolitics.
Not true at all, but he did make it sound wonderful. Here’s a graph from one of the more recent studies I’m sure will be ignored like everything else not written by ALEC or other billionaire think tanks. Voters in Wisconsin will only have themselves to blame for buying into this new batch of voodoo economics:

Republican Principles make Managing Wisconsin, and the country, Impossible.

Scott Walker and the legislature have a big problem; they can’t raise taxes.

Even though Wisconsin’s infrastructure is deteriorating, which is having a negative impact on business, conservatives believe they can’t raise or reformulate taxes in way that doesn't break their no tax pledge to an out-of-state lobbying group.

But there’s no alternative. So the Walker administration is unable to manage the state. 

It's not unusual to read stories about Republican states that are welcoming a return to gravel roads.   

Even the conservative editorial board at the Journal Sentinel can’t help but point out this glaring problem:
Walker has solutions staring him in the face, but they involve the dreaded "T" word: taxes. For a governor with his eyes on potential Republican primaries in two years, we get it; that's poison.

But in January, the Transportation Finance and Policy Commission, which was chaired by Gottlieb, recommended raising the gas tax by a nickel a gallon and creating a mileage-based fee. The report also found that even if the state allows roads to deteriorate further, it still would face a $2 billion deficit over the next 10 years. The state needs to fill that hole and come up with another $4.8 billion over the next decade, the commission found.

Republicans were dismissive of the ideas in the report.

We're all for creativity, but it's hard to see where the money comes from.
So let's talk about getting rid of our income tax. That was easy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Walker again blames former governor and Mary Burke for Great Recession. Will someone stop him, please?

The fact that the media has let Scott Walker slide on saying the job losses during the Great Recession were caused by our former governor and Mary Burke, has made this lunacy legitimate. WSJ:
Walker said ...“And then as secretary of Commerce under Jim Doyle … those policies when she was part of the administration saw the state losing 133,000 jobs.”
Please make it end…please...

One Party/Big Talk: It's easy to talk big about promises when you're leading a pack of one party jackals at the Capitol. Walker knows that, so he's using that to tease our Democratic candidate. It's just another cheap shot in his campaign quiver. Add that to his dislike of "divided government," and it's goodbye a system of checks and balances.

Irony: The GOP is the party of broken promises. Aren't Republicans the ones who want to break these promises: SS benefits and Medicare. Their reason is just as insulting; "we over promised."  

Walker's promises have taken Wisconsin in the wrong direction and in some cases were outright lies: 
On Tuesday, Walker also knocked Burke’s statement that she wouldn't make any promises in the campaign. “We’re going to make big, bold promises about the future and the reason that people can take those to the bank is we made big, bold promises in the past and time and time again we've either completely fulfilled them or we've shown we've done everything in our power to fulfill them,”
So Walker is campaigning on "we can make promises, you can't?" Amazing.

Act 10 Killing Rural Schools, Losing Teachers.

It was just a matter of time, and thankfully, just before Scott Walker attempts to get reelected based on the damage he’s caused education due to Act 10.

He recently talked about how after the passage of Act 10 and cuts to education, parents looked at their schools and didn’t notice any difference. Some even saw improvements.

Not so fast. From WPR: 

Education advocates told state legislators today that the law known as Act 10 is accelerating the movement of teachers out of rural schools into larger districts where they can get paid more. Jerry Fiene of the Rural Schools Alliance said that disparity was happening right now.

“Since Act 10, the disparities in compensation between rural and non-rural districts are increasing as signing bonuses are being offered to candidates in certification areas that are in high demand by larger districts with more resources,” said Fiene.

Republican Rep. Knudson wants to "ensure teachers have a voice?" Sure you do...

Hey folks our “small government” Republicans are drawing new, more expansive and complicated regulations to muddle up our lives.

Hey, let’s create a special education maze, filled with dead ends that eventually lead directly to their already determined ideologically driven end? The target? Common Core:
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) today introduced legislation that would create a new process for the adoption and revision of statewide model academic standards.
Knudson even has the balls to suggest we now listen to…teachers? But that’s what Act 10 did away with?
“When we talk about our kids and what we expect them to learn, we need to ensure that parents and teachers have a voice,” said Rep. Knudson.
I know, I almost choked on that one. Knudson should pay closer attention to emerging trends, maybe even do his job, and stop blaming everyone else for missing the roll out of Common Core.

This just reinforces what we already knew about tea party Republicans; and that is their normal agenda of political distractions is working all too well, on themselves and their party members. What's that? A call from who...ALEC? Gotta go.

Despite Walker's Jobs Numbers Tanking, Unemployment Numbers Up, he's pretty upbeat about his progress.

Scott Walker's "What, me worry" attitude has disarmed the media enough to distract from his outright failure as governor. If he's not concerned, why should they be concerned...and it's working.

...and Walker believed them.
Earlier this week we discovered the weakness in Scott Walker’s much touted nationwide reputation for turning things around in Wisconsin; it’s complete BS.
Cap Times: How’s this for a 2016 presidential campaign theme? “Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin led the nation in first-time unemployment claims.” 4,420 Wisconsinites filed initial unemployment claims in the final week of November. The next two highest states combined — Ohio with 2,597 and Kentucky with 1,538.
Tanking Jobs: Now, the very jobs stats he once bragged so much about have crashed and burned for him:
jsonline: Wisconsin gained 23,963 private-sector jobs in the 12 months from June 2012 to June 2013, a 1.0% increase that ranks the state 37th among the 50 states in the pace of job creation over that time frame.

The state's ranking slid from a revised rank of 32nd three months earlier … Wisconsin continued to trail … as it has for over two years … Economists consider Wednesday's job creation figures, known as the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, to be the most credible and comprehensive available.
And yet the press continues to pretend the facts are somehow debatable, that it's a "clash" of perceptions:
Gov. Scott Walker's administration and its critics have clashed repeatedly over how well the state's economy is performing.
From the upcoming Capitol City Sunday interview with Walker, he's now bragging about the once "unreliable" BLS numbers. Even worse and more revealing, he tossed out an embarrassing word salad that went nowhere as he intended:

Walker Rejects New Industries: Walker and the Republican majority continue to bash emerging new economies, turning instead to the old ones we've either seen off shore. Yet in the statement below, “non-partisan observers” (whoever they are) dangerously let Walker off the hook. Even Walker’s WEDC isn't blamed:
Non-political observers of the Wisconsin economy point out … that the state is saddled with some aging manufacturing industries that often date back more than a century; neither entrepreneurship nor venture capital funding is as abundant in Wisconsin as in many other states.

Thank You Scott Walker, my Taxes Went Up...a Lot!

To hear Scott Walker describe it, property tax payers across the state are seeing their bills go down, thanks to his fiscally conservative right wing policies. With Walker shrinking services and reducing our "dependence on government," I'm supposed to "feel like" taxes are going down.

But wait, my property taxes went up, from $4880 to $5128. Perhaps Walker thinks that additional $248 is actually a reduction from what it could have been under a Democratic governor.

Walker is telling us we're paying less now in taxes, so it must be true, even though I've never seen by property taxes increase this much in years. Another bad attempt at a Jedi mind trick?

Here's the WISGOP ad that makes one huge lie in the first 8 seconds:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kathy Nicholaus another Republican looking to freeload off the government ....

The Republicans Party is filled with "on the public dole" freeloaders. We might have another one.

The face of the taxpayer freeloader!!
Why do these enemies of government keep coming back to populate government?

Because they love being the biggest "unskilled" do nothing freeloaders sucking in taxpayer paychecks.

Kathy's history is a checkered, here.

Scott Walker says Government has no place meddling in racism, which to him is a free speech issue. Racist Mascots...Punt!!!

Mr. Unintimidated has decided to “punt” when it comes to doing away with racist mascots.

That takes real courage.

If it were up to Walker, local governments in the 60’s would have had to deal with racist policies, because racism is all about free speech. Who’s to say “where do you draw the line” when it comes to racism.

Walker’s real colors are showing, whether he appreciates the spot the legislature just put him in or not. We're finally seeing the weak career politician we knew was lurking underneath that empty unemotional gaze:
jsonline: Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday that school districts should drop Indian team names and mascots on their own and questioned whether the state should force them to do so, signaling that he will sign a bill this week making it harder for state officials to end the practice.
Walker is full of advice and supposed good intentions, but it’s a smoke screen for a much more radically mean spirited tea party agenda, and it stinks with racism.
…he said he would prefer to see schools do that voluntarily. He said he empathized with those who are offended by Indian team names, but cast the ability of schools to choose their team names as a First Amendment right.

"I get the concern" of opponents, Walker said. " But the counterbalance to that that I'm looking at is, by the same token, from a free speech standpoint...where do you draw the line on free speech? While I may not like or necessarily approve of others' speech, where do you draw the line to say, 'It's OK to do things that you like but not that you don't?' " he said.
Mascots objects and logos. But an even better, more legal point of view was offered up at Uppity Wisconsin:
Wisconsin public schools aren't businesses-- at least not yet. Public schools don't have any First Amendment rights-- they're part of a larger statewide school system and can be regulated the same way the state can dictate statewide standards such as the number of hours per week of physical education. As Milwaukee attorney Brian Pierson correctly points out, "A school district doesn't have a First Amendment right to adopt an Indian mascot any more than it has a First Amendment right to adopt the swastika as school symbol or 'white supremacy' as school slogan."
This opinion was forwarded by the ACLU today:
Today, ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ahmuty issued this statement:
“This is a bogus appropriation of the First Amendment. The governor apparently does not understand that the First Amendment protects citizens from government censorship. Government programs are not allowed to offend, harm or otherwise discriminate against citizens on the basis of the First Amendment. The First Amendment simply doesn't apply when it’s the government taking action.

School team names, mascots, logos and all that go along with them are the responsibility of the public school district. It’s highly likely they are discriminatory. If the public school district doesn't change them, it is necessary for the Department of Public Instruction to do so.

Why would a public school district want to harm some of its students? Free speech is no justification.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

Republican Sheriffs set bad example, break laws they don't like, weakening nation built on Law.

So much for law and order. You have to ask, what system of government can survive when it's own elected sheriff's decide to ignore laws they don't like? Even after another school shooting:

The Mind Numbing Irrelevancy of the MacIver Institute's shot at ObamaCare.

I didn't know so many people loved their lousy unaffordable insurance policies, and their yearly 6 to 30 percent premium increases. These ornery rugged individuals don't need to comparison shop for insurance. That's for sissies.

The MacIver Institute tantrum continues with this pointless comparison:

Like the NationalJournal wrote:
"The healthy are subsidizing the sick. Insurance companies are tightening access to doctors. Plans with low premiums have high deductibles. Sometimes it rains, Nickelback is still a band, and people continue to die literally every day. But just because something is happening and Obamacare exists doesn't mean it's happening because Obamacare exists--even in health care. Don't tell that to the law's critics: The Affordable Care Act has become the go-to scapegoat for just about everything people don't like about health care, if not in the economy overall. The law is being blamed for trends, economic incentives, and basic realities that it did not create and that were part of the health care system long before President Obama was even elected. There's not a big difference between "how Obamacare works" and "how health insurance works"--and that, health experts said, is what makes the law such a convenient target."-Sam Baker.

Poor Scott Walker, no one listened to him during the protests, and other complete fabrications.

It was the following Scott Walker comment that attracted me to the included video interview below. There's so much to literally hate here that it's hard to know where to start. But it does show how upside down everything is in Republican world. Truly stunning. Fiscal Times:
Walker: "One problem is that we conservatives think and talk with our heads – the left thinks and talks with their hearts. We need to think more with our heads and talk more with our hearts.”
In other words, Republicans need to talk like the "left." George W. never stopped talking about his gut decisions. Heck, Stephen Colbert used that as a running gag for years...still does. And yet to Walker, Republicans are too "intellectual?"

Walker isn't done. He doesn't understand why anyone would dare criticize him, or force him take so much outside campaign money from billionaires. And what about citizen protesters unhappy with his one party freight train barreling down the tracks? :
Walker: "(The unions took) “millions of dollars in ads against me, an amount you’d expect only in a [national] campaign. There were 100,000 protestors in the capital. The media would only listen to their side – it’s interesting to cover protests, not so interesting to cover details."
Yea, it was just 100,000 protesters. Too bad the newspapers couldn't find our media shy governor.

Despite the impossibility of a market driven health care system, Walker's plan (like Paul Ryan's) creates a false premise to sell his idea while pretending none of the problems people are seeing now and listed below (rising costs, dropped plans, finding new doctors) existed before ObamaCare. Since Walker is a career politicians, he probably clueless about private health care or the individual market. I've been in it for over 20 years so:
Walker: (Obamacare is “horrible” because it’s not market driven) “The president promised people they could keep their doctors and their plans. That’s not happening. People are also feeling sticker shock now. It is anything but affordable. Republicans need to offer a viable alternative. We owe it to Americans to put them back in charge of their own health care decisions. The current system isn’t effective. It’s not market driven or patient centered. It’s bureaucracy driven.”
Hold on!!! Walker trashed the idea of  "patient centered" care when he changed state law from a "reasonable patient standard" to a "reasonable physician standard," where the doctor doesn't have to tell a patient everything they need to know. Explain that one Governor. And before that, Walker signed a law removing the requirement that the small print in insurance contracts be understandable to an 8th grader. Now you need lawyer. How is that "patient centered?

Walker is being given so much credit for presiding over a one party system of government. Hate to see the guy break a sweat listening to the Democratic opposition. Let's face it, who needs their vote anyway? I predict Walker will only run for president if he can lead a one party government, he even said so:
Walker: “Nationally, it’s not enough for Republicans to hold the House. We have a big opportunity to regain the U.S. Senate. Then two years later, it makes for a compelling case that we can complete the reforms by putting a new chief executive in the White House.”
Is anybody getting this...? Here's the included video where Walker credits smart Democrats for voting for him in the recall election. He even says he added money to education, even though he cut nearly a billion dollars and gave most of that additional cash to vouchers.

Where's the Democratic Agenda?

I started this blog hoping to shed light on possible ways the Democratic Party could "frame" their most important issues. Market them basically. That hasn't happened, with or without my help. But you also can't frame...nothing. Where's the platform? Here are a few ideas I've been kicking around:

1. Long Term Plans: Lacking a strong definable vision has forced Democrats waffle, compromise and just give up on highly popular polling issues. It's true that voters are drawn to vocal advocates who are unafraid to fight for their cause. Right now I can't think of one.

2. Before Tax Reform, GOP needs to Pay off their Credit Card: This is a painful truth; Republicans must bear the consequences and raise taxes to pay off their massive unfunded spending during the Bush years. When Bush came in, the debt was just under $6 trillion. Our projected surpluses at the time were earmarked to pay that down. But the insane GOP policy of returning surpluses to taxpayers eliminated that. Raising taxes for 5 to 10 years might not be popular, but blame the party that got us here. We're talking debt reduction, and not debt elimination.

3. Admit it, we're a Service Economy Now: The debate over the minimum wage is ridiculous now that we're a global economy. It's time Democrats restructure working wages to reflect the new economy. Much of our manufacturing has shifted overseas, and turned us into a "service economy." But wages in the service industry were always too low. That now has to painfully change, along with the way we think about entry level jobs. The whole idea stumps Republicans.

4. The Focus on Free Markets ignores the Labor Markets: Like any marketplace, trends and demand changes over time, and that includes the price of labor. With all the strikes and debate about the minimum wage, the "labor market" is telling us change is needed. Even China is increasing wages and benefits under the pressure of the "labor market."

5. A Generational Shift away from the Military Industrial Complex: Military spending is outrageously wasteful. If people only knew. Lean and mean should the goal. Tech changes so fast multi-year contracts are outdated in just a few years. So cities and communities around the U.S. built around military manufacturing should be phased out over 20 or 30 years, basically a generation, to soften the blow and allow newer industries to move in. It's a goal to shoot for.

6. Low cost Single Payer Health Care: Let's save money and save lives with an idea that's so good, every other industrialized country is doing it. The argument "government is too big" or "government has no business getting between a patient and their doctor" has always been a purely ideological one, that is utterly untrue and irrelevant. Shopping for actual treatment is impossible because there are so many different kinds of doctors and treatments. Who shops for an anesthesiologist, and are they in your plan? Is the clinic covered? A few problems I paid dearly for myself.

7. Subsidize emerging Green Energies: If big oil got subsidies, and still does, then solar and wind deserve that same opportunity to grow, with a review process every 5 year or so. Is there anyone who truly doesn't see this shift coming?

8. Create Regional Business Hubs around the Country: High speed rail was just one element of tying Chicago to Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee. My brother and his older son both commute from Illinois to Kenosha everyday. What a huge missed opportunity to create a regional Industrial Goliath.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tea Party Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt fears Common Core, his own government, and Indoctrination!!! Pushes Politicized Big Government Education Oversight.

Local control? Our state Republican majority finds that to be an antiquated idea. Maybe they mean local control to carry out state mandated big government Republican theory.

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt is the states tea party enemy of Common Core. He gets his idea's and "dark" orders from ALEC (see the pictures). Common Core is a threat to privatizing schools, since any show of improvement could leave failing vouchers schools in the dust (if we buy into the idea that U.S. schools are failing, which I believe is another GOP exaggeration).

For ALEC and other voucher supporters, a chaotic mishmash of curriculum, systems and styles of education will in some way result in smarter kids, defying all logic.

Here and Now asked Thiesfeldt about comments he made in an editorial that "innocently" went something like this:
"National standards create a unified launching pad which makes it easier to indoctrinate students in the beliefs of the educational industrial complex."
Thiesfeldt's ridiculous explanation: " could be a positive or a negative....We've been seeing what I believe is an increase in stories of 'objectionable lessons.'" That kind of rules out the "positive" kind of indoctrination:

Thiesfeldt isn't the only one doing the bidding of ALEC. On the Senate side ALEC is well represented:
jsonline: A state Senate committee is also reviewing the Common Core. National treasurer for the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), a member of that committee, called for repealing the Common Core and establishing legislative oversight of academic standards.
And the kind of "local control" Republicans legislators are talking about? Don't look to the districts:
Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Village of Pewaukee), who chairs the Senate committee, issued a report Wednesday that said the committee would consider whether the state should establish a board to review English, math, social studies and science standards every six years.
You'd think the State Superintendent of Public Instruction would have those duties...he does?