Friday, February 28, 2014

Has Scott Walker always had a Secret Personal Email System since first becoming county executive?

Was Scott Walker's secret email system actually an updated speedier version than the one deputy chief of staff Tim Russell had installed back in 2002? Did Walker fine tune and get used to a separate confidential email system bypassing public accountability? 

Gov. Scott Walker's Milwaukee County executive office was using a secret Internet system as early as 2002, according to a former county administrator who said he helped set up the network.

That's several years earlier than prosecutors disclosed ... Milwaukee County human resources assistant director Bob Kiefert said he was called into Walker's office in 2002 by then-deputy chief of staff Tim Russell. Kiefert showed Russell how to set up a hard-wired Internet connection using a DSL modem and a telephone line. The network allowed county executive staff to send and receive emails and surf the Web outside the public system set up by the county's Information Management Services Division in 1998.

"They didn't trust the IMSD county system to be the pathway or the gateway through which their emails went," Kiefert said in an interview. "They wouldn't have control of those emails." Kiefert, now retired and a Democratic Party activist in Green Bay who runs a website called Green Bay Progressive, first disclosed that he helped set up the system in a blog entry last week
Here's where Scott Walker gets involved...kinda:
Kiefert said he never spoke with Walker directly about the system but said Russell brought him to Walker's office to be thanked personally for his help. Walker, who was on the phone, looked up, smiled and waved, he said. "There was no talk of how they were going to use it for campaigning or anything like that," Kiefert said. "Russell made it clear I was doing a favor for Scott Walker."
 It's unclear what became of the system Kiefert said he set up for Walker in 2002 or whether it was abandoned or became part of the later system discovered by prosecutors two years ago. Investigators found evidence in one of the county executive's offices that the system involved a 3G broadband Internet connection and wireless router, and an AT&T broadband account paid for by Russell with a service start date of Oct. 16, 2009. Kiefert said the 3G broadband network described in the complaint is a faster, more modern version of the equipment he helped install in 2002.

Kiefert said investigators never contacted him about what he knew about the earlier version of the system.

Walker will give us a Dollar for Four More Years! Promises No Growth Tax Cuts.

Apparently Scott Walker no longer thinks his campaign is benefiting from his recently passed tax cut bribe, so he's come up with another gimmick.

For our vote, he'll give us all just one dollar more to stuff in our pockets by 2018. Don't laugh, it's all part of sending a message that Wisconsin is headed in the right direction blah, blah, blah....

But what about local communities, how will they be able to handle the straight jacket caps handed down by Madison's know-it-all Republicans? Can cities and towns continue to make deeper cuts? Since those union busting Walker "tools" were just a one time thing, now what?

This isn't a growth policy, it's a tax cutting policy and path to the bottom of the barrel.
Wisconsin Taxpayers' Alliance President Todd Berry said, "The longer you have tight limits on local governments and school districts, the more likely they have done the easy or affordable, cheap things to hold the budget down. The longer it goes on the more the decisions become more difficult. If you keep those limits down, that's going to control the growth. The other thing they can do is increase state spending by increasing aids to schools or tech colleges, and they effectively buy down the property tax."
Magical Budgeting: So in reality, Walker will either buy down the property tax cut with more spending, or limit the growth of communities statewide. Neither sounds very responsible or desirable. WISC Channel3000-Jessica Arp:

Walker's Reason to Reject Medicaid Expansion...GONE! The Truth is...he Lied.

Is it even possible that after all this time, one of Scott Walker's biggest decisions was just part of a massive public con job? Guess so.

It's amazing how Walker's cleverly concealed misdirection play that denied Medicaids expansion took this long to be exposed as false. PolitiFact
Did "federal reneging" on Medicaid payments to Wisconsin...?

...there’s a major problem in Walker’s contention. The federal share -- known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, fluctuates annually and varies from state to state based on a formula dating to Medicaid’s inception in 1965 … "designed so that the federal government pays a larger portion of Medicaid costs in states with lower per-capita incomes relative to the national average.”

In other words, the standard federal share of Medicaid costs is not promised or guaranteed to hold steady; it must only stay between the statutory minimum of 50 percent and maximum of 83 percent.
Walker is also using the Medicaid funding losses from the now expired stimulus program to prove his claim:   
In fact, Wisconsin saw its federal rate rise from 2009 to 2010, and also got a big additional bump to more than 70 percent for almost three years under the federal stimulus law and a subsequent legislative action, both of which applied nationally. Finally, Walker cites new costs states will have to pick up under Obamacare … but two experts told us they do not represent a broken commitment.

John Peacock, research director at the left-leaning Wisconsin Council on Children & Families, agreed. "If we took advantage of the Medicaid expansion funds, we would get a much higher matching rate that is locked in (under the law.)"
But typical cost-sharing fluctuations, based mainly on a longstanding formula, explain the extra state burden -- not any reversal of course or pulling back on a commitment by Washington. We rate Walker’s claim False.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What, who would ever politicize Public Education and Common Core, asks Tea Party Rep. Jeremy Theisfeldt.

What is it about Republican lawmakers writing sloppy laws? Aren't we all tired of hearing them say after the fact how shocked they were that people would use the laws in ways they didn't “intend?”

Well, here we go again. Tea Party Republican Rep. Jeremy Theisfeldt is ticked off the superintendent of public instruction would take the lead on education. Fancy that.
WSJ: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers unilaterally adopted Common Core. Legislation is now pending.
Theisfeldt wrongly believes Evers is actually more worried about losing power than improving education in Wisconsin. Everything revolves around “power”…if your Republican, not public service.
DPI is fighting a turf war to avoid its power being curtailed by SB 619.
And how about Evers worry that legislators will politicize education? Impossible?
DPI has particularly targeted the end of the proposed revision process in which legislators could potentially debate and amend standards. While conceivable, this would be unlikely. I don’t know a legislator who aspires to reach that point.
That’s right, the law would allow the complete politicization of education…but no one would ever do that, right? Forget about writing the law to prevent that. Who would do that?

Arizona still on the Edge of Lunacy, Prompting Business and Individual Uncertainty.

While the media pretends this ones over, can any business really be confident enough that something like this won't happen again in Arizona, or anyplace for that matter? Not a chance.

The Root River Siren beat me to the punch on Wisconsin's own "religious freedom" proposal that the GOP wants to etch into our state constitution, I do want to emphasize that before Arizona's fiasco, we called these draconian attempts "conscience clauses."

I've blogged about this stuff before, and warned that this is one of the most chaotic and divisive idea yet devised by the conservative cancer eating away at our country.

The conscience clause would allow the total breakdown of our system of laws, not to mention our individual freedoms. You wanna see "uncertainty?" Pass these "conscience" based laws.

Walker’s Lower Property Tax Promise just more deferred maintenance and Republican freeloading.

Want to leave our children with higher taxes? Make them pay for replacing our aging and crumbling infrastructure.

To understand Scott Walker and his ideologically driven policies, replace “freedom” with “freeloader.” And that strikes at the heart of GOP economics.

Walker promise; lower property taxes. It’s another way Republicans say, “We’re entitled to the fruits and labor of past generations, without maintaining or replacing it.” They are freeloaders.

With Walker’s big government cap on local taxes, he can tinker and lower taxes insignificantly for purely political reasons, like this...
A chart released by Walker on Wednesday when he made his latest announcement showed that taxes on a median-valued home would be $1 less in 2018 than on bills mailed in December.
Gee, thanks. At Cognitive Dissidence, one reader made this point:
Widgeon: Walker has done two things to affect property taxes and local government. 1.) He has cut aids to local government and school aids. 2.) He has placed limits on how much the local units can raise and for what purpose. So this makes the locals look like the bad guys when taxes go up, either due to county, municipal or school levies. And it leaves walker with the ability to say he didn't raise taxes. Voters need to pay attention to this switcheroo.
Walker did the same thing in Milwaukee as county executive, where he let the county board raise taxes all the while maintaining ideological purity.

And with further GOP cuts coming down the line, the state will be in even bigger trouble when Republicans require a super majority vote to raise taxes in the future. California saw huge deficits because of such a law, which has since been repealed. California is now enjoying a huge budget surplus as a result.

Democratic candidate Mary Burke’s campaign responded, “Mary Burke is committed to holding the line on property taxes.” Burke should have also promised to give local governments control again (no cap), and spell out the same kind of arguments presented in Widgeon’s comment. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Uh oh, Walker dodges question about staff using private emails!!!

I edited together the following outtake reel from WKOW’s website today, and found the opening question and Scott Walker answer very interesting, because it goes beyond even what the Journal Sentinel wrote about today.

While reporter Jason Stein talked to a few aides, the video shows Walker dodging the same question; does his current staff use personal emails for any reason during work hours.
Reporter: "Have you given any instructions to your current office...those who work in your office right now about whether or not they can use personal email to do any business, whether it be campaign or state business." 

Walker: "We haven't done that recently, we've had a policy in place since I became governor...we have a very elaborate ethics and code of conduct policy, I know my staff the last few days talked about."
See that and more of his odd reactions: 

Here's what Jason Stein uncovered:
Aide won't say if Walker staff uses private email for state business … Gov. Scott Walker's office never had its own hidden Internet system as his office in Milwaukee County did, aides said.

But spokesman Tom Evenson didn't directly answer whether aides in the governor's office frequently used private email accounts to communicate on sensitive political topics outside of the state official system. "From day one, establishing and maintaining ethical standards has been a priority for Gov. Walker and his administration.

The emails have shown a widespread use of private email accounts in the Milwaukee County office

The Journal Sentinel has requested copies of the signed ethics policies.

What Winning Really Means to Scott Walker....

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around this one.

Confirmed finally: Republican run governments don't work, their ideology is all that matters to them, and they must win no matter what the cost.
Sociopathic Eyes

Walker's brutally insensitive desire to take the governors office is spelled out right here:
Instructions from Scott Walker's campaign manager were explicit: Delay settlement of a long-standing legal case over the starvation-related death of 26-year-old Cindy Anczak at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. "Could care less what it is on," Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes wrote in an Oct. 22, 2010, email exchange with a Walker aide at the county, referring to the claim's legal basis.

"Keep it buried until Nov. 2nd and then hopefully they'll settle," Gilkes wrote. Walker went on to win his term as governor that same day.

Anczak's parents, Jean and Myron Anczak of Greendale, would wait another full year before the county approved a $125,000 settlement. Jean Anczak said the email comments about her daughter's case were insensitive and a sad reminder. Rock Pledl, the Anczaks' lawyer, said Gilkes' comment was "the most calloused thing I've ever heard.
But Walker won, and isn't that what it's all about?

Thanks Governor Walker, Statewide Budget Cuts forcing communities to hire Private Police Officers.

Perhaps someday we'll have to pay directly for police services to our homes and neighborhoods, and only if we can afford it. If we can't...well, some fire departments are already insisting on payments upfront to save your house from burning to the ground. Now that's what I call freedom and liberty. No reason to be nervous?
WPR: La Crosse is developing a new community policing program, with one of its officers paid for privately – a funding model that's new to Wisconsin … two new community police officers have an office in a former residential home in central La Crosse. From there, they’ll patrol their beat by foot and bike. The city's tight budget has prevented the switch, until now. 

According to the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the number of police officers in the state has dropped over the last five years because of funding issues. Executive Director Jim Palmer said privately funding public safety could become a trend. 

Deer Populations Down, Chronic Wasting Disease Up! Walker and his "Deer Trustee" Mismanage and Hurt Hunting in Wisconsin.

Assuming a majority of hunters lean conservative, why are they letting the Walker Authority mismanage the deer herds in Wisconsin with no apparent blowback?

Our "unintimidated" great white hunter said this when he ran for governor:
Walker says Gov. Jim Doyle and the state Department of Natural Resources have engaged in "political games" and "put bureaucrats in Madison ahead of hunters of the state." Walker claimed that the "deer population has dwindled" as a result of "mismanagement" by Doyle and the DNR.
And once Walker took over, he used every excuse Doyle wasn't allowed to make for low deer numbers:
Last year's significant snow and cold that persisted into May resulted in lower deer numbers going into the 2013 fall seasons … antlerless permit numbers at their lowest levels since the 1990s.
Now chronic wasting disease is spreading due to Walker cutbacks in population control and discontinuing the use of sharpshooters in certain areas of the state:
jsonline: Chronic wasting disease continues to spread in western Dane and Iowa counties, where about 1 in 4 male adult deer is believed to have the fatal deer malady. That's more than double the figure of 2002, when 8% to 10% of adult males had the disease, according to the agency.

By contrast, the prevalence of the disease is much lower in northern Illinois, where targeted sharpshooting has been used by Illinois wildlife officials since 2002. The prevalence rate is under 1% in Illinois' 12-county CWD area. In 2007, the DNR defended the use of sharpshooters as an "efficient and effective tool in reducing deer numbers and removing diseased deer," because the shooters were killing more antlerless deer than hunters were.
So Walker's policies reflect public opinion, and Illinois' policy used wildlife officials research:
Strong public objections (in 2011) prompted the DNR and the Legislature to curtail some control tactics. Sharpshooting was eliminated. So was an early season on antlerless deer. The Legislature eliminated a program known as "Earn a Buck," which required hunters to kill an antlerless deer before earning the right to shoot a buck.
Another example of administrative mismanagement, and more excuses:
The agency cautioned against making year-to-year comparisons because sampling isn't uniform between years. But the long-term trend is clear: The rate of infection is rising ... David Clausen of Amery, a veterinarian who served on the Natural Resources Board until last year, is a proponent of the DNR taking a more aggressive role in trying to control CWD. Clausen expects the prevalence of the disease to increase and spread if "people choose to ignore reality," he said, and continues to balk at measures to reduce deer numbers to help control the disease.
And now this coming from Wisconsin Public Radio news:
DNR Is Unlikely To Act As Deer Herd Faces Possible Starvation: Minnesota Starts Emergency Deer Feeding Fund, But Wisconsin's DNR Can't Follow Suit Without Legislative Approval.

Scott Walker's well rehearsed monotone answers irking press.

I've got to hand it to WISC reporter Jessica Arp for asking a question that seemed to take Scott Walker by surprise.
"You understand why people would want to know as a manager whether or not you were aware of the emails and the wireless email system that was happening in your office?"  
Isn't anyone else a little outraged by Walker's sudden admiration of those vilified Democratic investigators conducting their "witch hunt?" That's not what we heard during and after the first John Doe probe.

WKOW's Greg Neumann nailed Walker for staying on "script," and wondered if former campaign manager and editorial "ghost writer" Keith Gilkes still had any influence with his staff:

GOP Bigots, Blasted by Big Business for Arizona "License to Discriminate" Bill, now Changed their Minds.

It wasn't that the "discriminated against gays" bill looked bad and bigoted, no, that wouldn't have been enough to force the manic GOP backtracking. What turned things around for the GOP was the unintended consequence of pissing off their big business base of supporters. The NFL, Apple, Marriott, Delta Airlines, Intel....not happy!

As the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson put it:

"As patriotism can be the last refuge of scoundrels, so religion can be the last refuge of bigots."
The very idea of giving business owners a chance to discriminate based on their religious beliefs is mind boggling.
My question now to my homophobic Republican friends trying to backtrack; what about your principles? Here's a compilation of clips showing Americans the control business has on Republicans, and how this ridiculously hateful bill has actually spread nationwide.

HRC: With the passage of SB 1062, the “License to Discriminate” bill in Arizona, opposition to the bill has been growing. Many businesses and organizations in Arizona understand that this bill does more that it says it would. It would allow any individual, corporation, institution, or business organization may be permitted to refuse services to LGBT people on the basis of religious freedom.

Businesses across Arizona are contacting Governor Brewer and letting Arizonans know that they are “Open for Business to Everyone!”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

After all the Oil and Chemical Spills, Wisconsin Congressmen Vote to Make things Worse Environmentally.

You've seen or heard about these more recent environment horror stories:
A train carrying Bak-ken crude collided with a grain train that had derailed outside Casselton … a pipe ruptured at an oil refinery in Richmond, Calif., releasing a vapor cloud that sent 15,000 people from the surrounding area to seek medical treatment … Duke Energy the nation’s largest electricity provider said up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water have escaped since a drainage pipe running under a 27-acre waste pond collapsed Feb. 2, turning the river gray for miles. It ranks as the third largest such coal ash spill in the nation’s history … Three oil spills into the Delaware River in the past two weeks in our region sent more than 1,100 gallons of the substance into the waterway. 
That's just scratching the surface. I mentioned this because our congressional representatives don't want to stop these devastating accidents. You know, small government, freedom and liberty.

Their votes have betrayed the people of our vacation wonderland, where we fish our lakes and streams, hunt in our forests, value our wetlands and hike our moraine trails.

If you like clean drinking water, get a load of their amazing vote after all the chemical and oil spills around the nation listed and not listed above. These are dangerous votes:
CONTAMINATED DRINKING WATERThe House on Wednesday refused to add regulations to HR 3590 (listed below) to address environmental disasters such as the chemical spill last month in Charleston, W.Va., in which thousands of gallons of toxic substances leaked from a private storage tank into a river that supplies drinking water to the city and surrounding areas. The motion sought to require companies nationwide to provide federal regulators with data on chemicals and mixtures they manufacture or handle that could end up in public water systems. A yes vote backed the regulatory measure.

Voting no: Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, Duffy, Ribble
Still want to vote these guys back in? There's more according to Roll Call:
HUNTING, FISHING ON FEDERAL LANDThe House passed HR 3590 to open all National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land to public recreation, including hunting and fishing, unless officials block access to certain areas. This “open until closed” policy would apply to the one quarter of federal property where broad public access is now denied. The bill also would allow firearms to be carried on Army Corps of Engineers water projects, and bar any future Environmental Protection Agency regulation of ammunition and fishing lures as toxic substances.
The “Let’s trash the parks” bill got a big yes vote from Paul Ryan Ron Kind, James Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri, Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble.

Yea, that's Democrat Ron Kind voting with the GOP environmental rapists. What else can you say? 

Breaking Up the Higher Education Cartel? Another Tea Party Republican Idea you won't believe.

Can you imagine someone saying to you that they graduated from the MacIver Institute? As ridiculous as that may sound, Utah Sen. Mike Lee thinks he's onto something. How about a degree from the Heritage Foundation? Club for Growth? Wisconsin Right to Life? Dow Chemical and Boeing accredited courses? 

I came across Mike Lee's plan to break up the "higher education cartel" watching the following outrageous proposal from another crazy but calm Fox News pundit. A formula for absolute chaos:

Here's Lee's proposal to so overuse the act of accreditation that it will make the act meaningless. In his own words:
The Federalist: Under the federal Higher Education Act, students are eligible for Title IV student loans and grants only if they attend formally accredited institutions. That makes some sense, for purposes of quality control. Except that under the law, only degree-issuing academic institutions are allowed to be accredited. And only the U.S. Department of Education gets to say who can be an accreditor.

That is, the federal government today operates a kind of higher-education cartel, with federally approved accreditors using their gatekeeper power to keep out unwanted competition.

Yes, that's considered bad. Get ready for the ride of your life:
It seems to me the answer isn't more funding or lower rates for existing Title IV programs. The answer is to make more kinds of students and more kinds of education eligible for them. State-based accreditation would augment, not replace, the current regime. (College presidents can rest assured that if they like their regional accreditor, they can keep it.)

But the state-based alternatives would not be limited to accrediting formal, degree-issuing “colleges.” They could additionally accredit specialized programs, apprenticeships, professional certification classes, competency tests, and even individual courses.

Businesses, labor unions, trade associations, non-profit groups, and any other applicant that met the state’s requirements could be empowered to accredit. Apple or Google could accredit computer courses. Dow could accredit a chemistry program, and Boeing could craft its own aerospace engineering “major.” 

Meanwhile, talented teachers could side-step time-consuming and esoteric “publish or perish” research, and spend their careers in the classroom instead. Groups of professors could form new business models, like medical practices, and offer high-quality higher education for a fraction of the cost of four years at a traditional university. 

Faith communities and civic organizations could begin to offer accredited courses, for next to nothing, as part of their missions. 

My bill begins that process ... alternative providers would have to price-compete with their traditional and alternative competitors. disciplined pricing would mean students might need loans of hundreds of dollars, instead of tens of thousands. As the alternative market establishes student/customer-friendly standards for pricing, quality, and transparency, traditional colleges will face tough questions about rigor, transfer credits, and student success. 
Hundreds of dollars for our current college educators? Sen. Mike Lee is batshit crazy.

Missouri's Repealed Gun Law sparks Surge in Gun Violence!!! No, really?

How about that:
The author of a new study says that after the repeal of a 2007 gun control law in Missouri, gun violence surged...and the data makes the case for gun control.
Here's an audio clip of the studies author from this WPR interview:

Walker and Ryan don't have time for all the "smaller freedoms" Americans are losing.

A recent Tweet got my curiosity up enough to write the following post on the governing style of a true Rightwing Authoritarian sociopath like Scott Walker. This isn't a case of name calling, but instead a loud warning to voters who might want Walker to address their concerns someday. Popular support of certain issues, whether through polling or public protests, are of little concern to "Walker the leader."

Check out this International Business Times article from April 2012 about our supposed brave and "Unintimidated" governor:

Walker's lack of concern is shockingly revealed in this WKOW Greg Neumann interview around Christmas. Walker doesn't sweat the little things, like women's health, because freedom stripping laws are simply media created controversies. Again, our incidental governor is not to blame:

Over and over again Republicans are very clear about their desire for absolute control, like this jaw dropping statement from Paul Ryan. Honestly, I can't get this one out of my head:

WSJ's Chris Rickert: "Walker's brand of workaday corruption...(is) 'exactly what's wrong with the political process.'"

Wisconsin State Journal columnist Chris Rickert finally got one right.

In fact, I’m sorry that the Democratic Party didn't come out with the following statement first. Every word should be repeated over and over throughout the entire campaign season.
“…Walker’s brand of workaday corruption seems to attract dull-witted politicos and thinly veiled racism, classism and other -isms that pander to our worst natures and discourage the renewal of an American democracy beset by low voter turnout and negative campaigning.

Hearing Walker criticize the reaction to the emails as “exactly what’s wrong with the political process” is funny because his 2010 campaign appears to be a textbook case of exactly what’s wrong with the political process.”

Rickert wasn't done:
Here’s Rindfleisch and a paralegal with a Republican law firm chuckling over minority recipients of public assistance, and another Walker aide on how awful it would be to be black, disabled, gay and — horrors! — a Democrat.

Not sufficiently sexy or succinct for a 30-second attack ad seems to be the verdict of the national punditry. State politics-watchers don’t think there’s enough there to change the kinds of love-him-or-hate-him responses Walker tends to inspire.

Maybe so. And yet in the long run, Walker’s brand of politics is more corrosive to representative democracy than a whole closet full of blue dresses.

A GOP Purified America!!! Arizona's "Religious Freedom" Bill Backers Borderline Frightening.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner was surprised to see how others took NSA spying well beyond what he thought the law allowed. Well, that’s the real problem isn’t it?

Republicans don’t seem to think that the “letter of the law” is an issue. In their minds, they know what they originally intended, and no one would ever think to use the letter of the law in their sloppily written legislation to force right wing purity onto other Americans…ever.

In the clip below, CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" takes on Arizona State Sen. Al Melvin (R) who only sees SB 1062 legislation as a preemptive strike supporting religious freedom, while allowing discrimination against LGBT individuals. He continually claims he would never discriminate, and knows no one who would, despite the fact the law would legally allow it. Cooper is amazed by Melvin's answers. 

But first, Lawrence O'Donnell's the introduction with multiple clips showing us where Gov. Jan Brewer and other low information Arizona politicians want to take this nation:

So Cooper asked Melvin if he could cite a case where religious freedom was "under attack" in Arizona. Melvin bizarrely responded "not now, no, but how about tomorrow?"

Cooper then tested Melvin with a hypothetical: what if he were a loan officer, and thought it was against his religious beliefs to do business with an unwed mother or a divorced woman?

That's when Melvin's argument imploded. "I think you're being farfetched," the lawmaker told Cooper. "I don't know of anybody in Arizona that would discriminate against a fellow human being."

"Really? Discrimination doesn't exist in Arizona?" Cooper asked.

"Well, maybe you ought to move to Arizona," the lawmaker responded. "We're more people-friendly here, apparently."
Because no one would ever follow the letter of this new law allowing discrimination based on exercising one’s religious freedom.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Even the Conservative Activist Supreme Court couldn't take NRA's Latest Challenge Seriously.

What, we can't walk around like militia soldiers around kids and in other public places? What do they think this is, a civilized country?

Gun nuts never cared much for common sense regulations, a point even Justice Scalia said was fair.
The United States Supreme Court has decided not to hear challenges to recent rulings that upheld firearms restrictions, dealing a blow to gun rights advocates hoping the justices would declare them unconstitutional.

Monday’s decision swept aside two challenges backed by the National Rifle Association, one of which argued against limiting gun sales to those under 21 years of age, while another attempted to secure the right to carry firearms in public.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Constitution guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms, gun rights advocates have challenged laws that limit that ability in public. The Supreme Court clarified that its original ruling applied to all states in 2010, but since then it has refused to wade into the battle regarding public spaces.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers...Deer in the GOP Headlights, while GOP Sen. Luther Olsen warns of jobs and Business losses.

On WPT's Here and Now, Superintendent Tony Evers appeared stunned by the vindictive attack on education, and the irrational hatred directed at Common Core.

With no real solutions offered by the radical elements of the Republican state legislature, Evers has no idea what is coming next. After 3 years of preparation, along with college entrance exams geared to Common Core, abandoning the system now would just destabilize public education. Which might just be the point.

If you think Evers is just making things up, try to answer the same questions he's struggling with right now. Will the Tea Party Republicans get their way and turn our kids into low information voters?

Still not convinced, well check out Republican Sen. Luther Olsen's dire warning about the consequences of killing Common Core, and we're talking about jobs business in this state. Warning, if you have kids, this will depress you even more. From WKOW's Capitol City Sunday -Greg Neumann:

Wisconsin Soapbox tracked down the actual language of the proposed GOP reform law:
Remember when the Senator's went ape over how Sup. Evers said that the legislature would have the ability to rewrite standards? Sup. Evers today went to DPI's lawyers asking that they take a look into the matter. They did, and their letter was posted online today HERE. 

If the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (“JCRAR”) rejects the state superintendent’s model academic standards, the JCRAR is required to “prepare a bill that incorporates by reference” the standards prepared by the Model Academic Standards Board. Id. The bill is then introduced “in each house of the legislature as provided under [Wis. Stat. §§] 227.19(5)(e) to (g) and (6)(b)…” Id.   

While SB 619 provides that the bill must incorporate the Model Academic Standards Board’s standards by reference, nothing in SB 619 or Wis. Stat. §§ 227.19(5)(e) to (g) and (6)(b) prohibits the legislature from modifying the bill once it has been introduced. In other words, once JCRAR introduces the bill into the Senate and the Assembly, the Senate or Assembly could pass any amendment to modify the model academic standards contained in the bill. 

Former DA's rip critics of John Doe Investigations.

This is a must see regarding the Scott Walker John Doe investigation.

On Upfront with Mike Gousha, former (Republican) Waukesha Co. DA Paul Bucher, and former (Democratic) Kenosha Co. DA Bob Jambois put to rest the idea that these John Doe probes were simply witch hunts. From Bucher's (who represented clients in the first John Doe) and Jambois' perspective, these are serious investigations that should not be reformed like some Republican lawmakers are proposing.

Big Mistake; Walker stumbles, avoids answering questions about what he knew!!!

It's becoming even more obvious to me that Scott Walker is showing signs of...bold face lying. Sadly, loyal aides won't snitch on each other because of the Republican Party's craven desire for power. Who knows when any one of these aides will show up pushing school choice, like every other former felon and Assembly Majority Leader.

Walker didn't even get a break from the Journal Sentinel, who piled on after the disappointing "none answer" on Fox News Sunday:
Host Chris Wallace pressed Walker on whether he knew there was a private email account.

Walker responded, "Again, it's one of those where I point out the district attorney looked into every single one of those issues."

Wallace interjected: "But sir, you're not answering my question."

Walker said, "No, because I'm not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information. The bottom line is a Democrat who led the district attorneys office, looked at all this, decided not to charge anything other than the individuals you mentioned, who were people who had worked for the county in the past but don't work for me today. 
It's funny how Walker now suddenly loves liberal investigators and their legal judgments. So let's set the record straight, from The Progressive's Ruth Conniff:
Editor Ruth Conniff reminded the liberal network’s (MSNBC) viewers … “The judge in Milwaukee, in the first John Doe, is a Republican. So, that just doesn’t hold water. The second John Doe investigation, which is still underway as you mentioned, is led by a rock-ribbed Republican who sought to be a Bush appointee,” Conniff added.
Here's what Walker said under intense questioning from Chris Wallace:

Walker won't deny it. But it doesn't matter says Walker, because voters are still concerned about jobs after three and a half years under his jobs plan? Hmm, that kind of says a lot about Walker's failing record, doesn't it? 

Walker's Messed Up Reason for Denying Medicaid Expansion in Wisconsin!

Scott Walker is either dumb or playing dumb about Medicaid in Wisconsin.

When Walker brings up again and again the recent cuts to Medicaid, he's really talking about the GOP backed sequester cuts. Walker is successfully using his party's own costly public mistakes to tar and feather the Democratic Party.

The state is paying 40 percent of Medicaid right now. Under the Affordable Care Act, it would be reduced to just 10 percent. Even if the "government reneged" on its payments in the future, which isn't likely under a Democratic congress or president, would it see a cut of 40 percent? Get real.

Walker also complained the state had to pay more for Medicaid. Well yes, considering the slow jobs recovery from the Great Recession, which was also caused by Republican deregulation. Maybe if we stopped letting Republicans screw things up...

Vermont Governor Peters Shumlin takes Walker to the wood shed for turning down his own federal tax dollars. No matter how you look at it, Walker put Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook to pay more of their own money on health care for premiums and to cover hospital costs for the uninsured. Fox News:

Right Wing Denial over Walker Email Disaster Laughable.

The cliched partisans whining of conservative public radio pundit Steve Prestegard knows no bounds.

As a former radio guy myself, I never could understand how Prestegard became the go to guy for analysis. While getting factual details wrong, Prestegard takes the easy way out by bashing liberal caricatures doing fictional things that conveniently help make his case.

He even blames Hillary Clinton for their interest in the emails and...Walker's misdeeds and 6 arrests?

Oh yea, it's also unfair for "the court of public opinion" to know just who their governor really is. And never-mind about the probable behind the scenes conversations, office talk, backroom discussions exemplified in those racist trash talking emails. It just doesn't happen?

Rationalization: In full panic mode, Prestegard spins, dodges and rambles on about how Scott Walker never broke the law, leaving out the general disdain Walker's office had for everyone else.

Short and sweet, this edited audio from WPR's Joy Cardin Show, is embarrassing stuff, but also a funny example of "bubble talk:"

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Walker chose Homophobic and Racist Staff then and Now!!!

MSNBC's Chris Hayes hit on the real revelation of the newly released stack of emails. Hayes points out "the shear jaw dropping offensiveness" of a few of those emails.
Hayes: "What kind of work environment exactly would it be all okay to get this in your inbox and then forward it to an unspecified amount of coworkers and subordinates...but think about the kind of work environment in which a chief of staff sends this kind of email to his subordinates. An email that is explicitly homophobic, racist, antisemitic and offensive in every way possible? ... These are the thoughts people who are in charge of things like, oh I don't know, running the states welfare system." 
He nailed it. But the press here is about to move on because, as they claim, the state is already firmly divided, so no one wins, no one loses. Really? Or are they just a little too lazy to ask Walker why he likes these people?

Cap Times reporter Jack Craver said this about his current staff on WKOW's Capitol City Sunday (9 am):

Obama's Stimulus a Big Success, but not in Fox News World.

The Fox News host asked viewers if they thought the Obama stimulus was a success or not, suggesting it wasn't, similar to the claims they've been made over and over for years.

Completely muddying up the facts and actual report, Ed Henry couldn't have been more convoluted, deferring instead to Wall Street Journal hack Stephen Moore's ridiculous comment:
Moore: "It was maybe the most expensive policy mistake ever made in Washington."

So Gretchen Carlson said this:
"So what is the White House's case then for the stimulus, how are they saying that it worked so well?"
Gotcha? You almost have to laugh. But here's the incredibly good news Carlson and Henry failed dot mention:
New estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) find that the President’s Jobs Legislation Had a Substantial and Sustained Impact on the Economy. This translates to an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years through the end of 2012 … elevate the productivity and output of the American economy long after the Act has fully phased out.
o Initiated more than 15,000 transportation projects, which will improve nearly 42,000 miles of road, mend or replace over 2,700 bridges, and provide funds for over 12,220 transit vehicles.

o Made the largest-ever investments in American high-speed rail, constructing or improving approximately 6,000 miles of high-performance passenger rail corridors and procurement of 120 next-generation rail cars or locomotives.

o Cleaned up 1,566 acres of properties that are now ready for reuse, far exceeding the original target of 500 acres, and led to 30,900 old diesel engines being retrofitted, replaced, or retired, which has reduced lifetime emissions of carbon dioxide by 840,300 tons and particulate matter by 3,900 tons.

o Improved more than 3,000 water quality infrastructure projects and Clean Water projects, serving more than 78 million people nationwide, as well as bringing 693 drinking water systems (serving over 48 million Americans) into compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

o Launched the innovative Race to the Top Program. Encouraged by the incentives in Race to the Top, 34 states modified state education laws and policies in ways known to help close the achievement gap and improve student outcomes.

o Provided the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to begin researching transformative energy technologies such as second-generation biofuels, more efficient batteries, superconducting wires, and vehicles powered by natural gas.

o Boosted federal funding to renewable wind, solar, and geothermal energy as well as leveraging private dollars to help increase wind electricity net generation nationwide by 145 percent, and solar thermal and photovoltaic electricity net generation by more than fourfold from 2008 to 2012.

GOP attacks Obama's Imperial Presidency for his Executive Orders....they'll love a Scott Walker Presidency.

Wow, the treasure trove of stories gone by! I surprised myself recently when I looked up "executive orders" and "executive power" on my own blog, and came up with a long list of stories that apply more now than even back then.

It started with this Fox News headline:
Flash back to May 13, 2011, where our possible 2016 Republican candidate for president, Scott Walker, started performing similar outrageous acts of executive power that I'm sure won't receive the same scrutiny. I made a screen capture of my story:
Imagine Walker adapting to his imperial presidency, if you dare. Oh, and just for fun, check out Walker's executive order to not create any health care exchanges:

Iced Over Great Lakes and the Polar Vortex!!!

A way to remember this winter:
The Polar Vortex

Iced Over Great Lakes

Friday, February 21, 2014

Walker's staff, similar to the people you've read about in the John Doe emails, devised a way to Kill Common Core.

Our "divide and conquer" leader Scott Walker is going for the low information tea party voter now nationally, at the expense of Wisconsinites. Do we really have that many tricorn teabillies here in the dairy state?  

Behind the scenes, Walker decided to trash Common Core, the major investment school boards across the state made for their constituents, so a more politically advantageous approach could destabilizes public education and win votes.

In the following TMJ4 coverage, watch Madison area organizer Jeffrey Horn of "Stop Common Core in Wisconsin" basically rule out any possible standard:
Horn: "They're going to put a lot of effort into just teaching to the test, making sure kids do well on a test, regardless of what they actually learned." 
Huh? So after years of fighting conservatives over too much testing, they've turned the tables on us, and are now against testing. Of course that begs the question, how do we actually know what they've learned? Even worse, achievement tests and college exams are now geared to Common Core.

Think about it; Horn did what Rep. Don Pridemore could have done had he become State Superintendent. (Note: testing was a way to fail schools under NCLB, make them private, and to trash teachers.)

We've turned education over to Jeffrey Horn. No matter how teachers and districts superintendents begged to keep moving forward with Common Core statewide, it didn't matter, Republican knew better all along. All instigated by career politician and college dropout Scott Walker.

Weirder still, the Walker plan dumps local control too, a fact Horn seems to have missed:
Horn: "These standards are kind of the last nail in the coffin of putting local control to bed in Wisconsin." 
Here's a look at Walker's state academic standards proposal:
jsonline: A bill that could halt the implementation of more rigorous and nationally aligned reading and math academic standards in Wisconsin's public schools was written for state lawmakers by Gov. Scott Walker's staff, new documents show. If passed, the legislation would be one of the most aggressive measures taken nationally to slow or stop the Common Core State Standards.

The bill calls for the creation of a state academic standards board … The state board would be mostly made up of political appointees, and lawmakers could adopt standards the board recommended, even if the state superintendent disagreed.

Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement that the standards bill amounted to a "partisan takeover of the bedrock of schooling: the standards that describe what our kids should know and be able to do in each academic subject area." "Are we ready for our legislators to debate and legislate academic standards related to evolution, creationism and climate change when they take up sciencestandards?" Evers wrote.

Virtually none of the Wisconsin critics of Common Core now raised objections when the standards were posted online for comment and adopted in 2010.
I know I followed the roll out, pros and con, since I had two kids in elementary school at the time.  

Republicans Cut Wages!

If Scott Walker signs this wage cut for Dane County and Milwaukee, it's his baby-he owns it. I can see the ads now from the Mary Burke campaign. 

This is a WAGE CUT, plain and simple. What you would call an austere policy move. At a time when the state GOP can't stop bragging about putting money in the pockets of taxpayers, they're cutting wages? 

Can they really get away with this? It looks like it, if I know how the Democratic Party will respond. 

Democrats have not framed this repeal of a higher minimum wage well. Hint guys: IT'S A WAGE CUT!!! 
The measure would allow such local minimum wage ordinances to be in place only if no money from the state was used to pay the workers.
Republicans are trying to save the rest of the state money. They say it's unfair Madison improves the quality of life with higher wages, while other areas don't benefit. But they do benefit, from tourism, senior care, personal care givers and consumer spending in and around the state. Dane County and Milwaukee both benefit the state, although I'm sure conservatives would think otherwise. 

Conflict of Interest? And more surprising is the fact that Rep. Chris Kapenga, the business CEO of Integrated Time Systems, wrote the law to protect his own company in Brookfield. He was never questioned about his self serving bill. Simply put, this statewide law reducing wages, is in response company. 

Here's Kapenga on Capitol City Sunday, before the GOP removed federal tax dollars. Never once did host Greg Neumann ask about the conflict of interest. Is there any real comparison between Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Kapenga?

The big takeaway? According to Kapenga, minimums artificially inflate wages, when $1 or $2 wages could employ just as many people. And backing away from the Republican opposition to a one-size-fits-all approach, Kapenga is now all for it. Democrat Rep. Andy Jorgensen had this idea:
The Republican agenda Thursday included a bill that stands to cut wages for thousands of municipal workers across the State of Wisconsin ... As a counter, Rep. Jorgensen offered an amendment to require businesses which contract with the state to cap their executive salaries to no more than a million dollars a year.

“If we ‘can’t’ afford to provide a family-supporting wage to our custodians or construction workers, we certainly can’t afford to help CEOs buy a bigger mansion or a fancy sports car,” said Jorgensen. “Let’s be fair.” The Jorgensen amendment failed along party lines, as did AR 26.
Smart ass Rep. Robin Vos again doesn't think Milwaukee or Dane County are serious parts of the state, despite contributing more economically and thus contributing more to their own living wage laws:
Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) argued the bill isn't about local control, but rather about the ability of local officials to pass increased labor costs onto the state. "They can't automatically inflate the state of Wisconsin's costs, because that's what's happening all across the state of Wisconsin today," said Vos.

Tired of hitting deer? Frustrated by constantly swerving out of the path of an oncoming deer? Reflective Paint!

White knuckle driving through wooded Wisconsin country sides at night may be a thing of the past if we pick up on this great idea coming out of Finland:
Smithsonian: The Finnish Reindeer Herders Association is testing out a new way to make the large mammals more visible to drivers: reflective paint.

The idea is to spray the antlers of reindeer with reflective paint that reflects motorists’ headlights. "The aim is to prevent traffic accidents. The spray is being tested on fur at the moment, but it may be even more effective on the antlers, because they are seen from every side," Anne Ollila, chairwoman of the Reindeer Herders Association, told the Finnish news source YLE.

According to the Finnish paper Helsinging Sanomat, most collisions occur in November and December when the roads are icy and it gets dark earlier. July and August are also bad months, as the mosquitos “keep the deer on the move.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Walker's National Image Changed Overnight, thanks to Actual Critical Coverage.

Well, it looks like Scott Walker's claims ignorance isn't even convincing enough now for one of his big supporters:
CapTimes- Steven Elbow: Two former prosecutors, one a Republican and one a Democrat, agree on one thing: there wasn't enough evidence to charge the governor with a crime. Paul Bucher, a Republican who served nearly two decades as Waukesha County district attorney, agreed. "I don’t think there was sufficient evidence to show the governor was involved in that," he said. Bucher may not be the most objective observer. His clientele includes defendants in the John Doe investigation that led to Wednesday's release of more than 28,000 pages of emails 

Bucher said the email shows that Walker knew about the secret email system, put in place by employees to skirt public records laws. But it doesn't prove that he knew about the system all along. "I think he knew something because of the articles," Bucher said. 

National Coverage Continues: Ed Schultz talked with The Progressive's Ruth Conniff, who had a treasure trove of information for viewers across the country:

I thought I'd highlight Schultz' interview with State Sen. Jon Erpenbach. Not only did Erpenbach frame the situation in Wisconsin nicely, but Ed went into one of his great and very passionate rants.

For great email dump coverage, check out The Progressive.

Wisconsin Lost Thousands of Farms and acres: "...USDA classifies both losses as among the most significant in the nation."

Wisconsin's year by year numbers on farm losses isn't available yet (check link in story), but it's easy to see we're one of the worst in the country. Scott Walker and the Republicans are treating their family farm voting base like shit. Check out this, this, thisthis, this, this and this

 First, the report:
AP: A new federal report shows Wisconsin has lost thousands of farms and, perhaps more disturbingly, thousands of acres that were once farmed are no longer. The census shows Wisconsin lost 8,700 farms from 2007 to 2012. It also lost more than 620,000 acres of farmland during that time. The USDA classifies both losses as among the most significant in the nation.
In fact, Scott Walker made it worse, when Republicans passed a law that, believe it or not, keeps family farms from being passed on to their kids. There's a chance we're going to shed farms more quickly now:
Lawmakers Call for Repeal of New Wisconsin Death Tax: New law threatens financial security of family farmers … The state budget signed a month ago included laws giving the state power to collect money and property from families whose loved ones received Medicaid services when they were alive, including the power to file foreclosures on properties. The law changes received no public hearings. The changes may also prevent farming families from passing their farm onto the next generation should the parents need long-term care in the future.

Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) said, “If this is not rolled back, it may become impossible to pass the family farm or small business on to the new generation.”
Now Walker wants to lift the restriction limiting foreign investors and corporations from purchasing more than 640 acres of land in the state.

Leadership, Paul Ryan and Vicki McKenna style.....

Republicans are big on having "leaders," despite pushing "individualism, freedom and liberty," a direct contradiction to their one party style of authoritarian rule .

I heard radio's snake oil pitch person Vicki McKenna come up with a dramatic example of projection today. Basically, it goes something like this; pushy know-it-all progressive leadership is bad, conservative authoritarian father-knows-what's-best leadership is good.

Progressive Leadership: In the first clip, McKenna poses this false premise to make her case for what really sounds like her own parties goal:
"...believe what they say. Don't present them with the facts. Don't confront them with the failures. The failures will be redefined as successes. The facts will be ignored. Your concerns are irrelevant, trust us, we know what's best. That's the way progressives think."

Good conservative leadership: But McKenna sounds like she's describing Paul Ryan, who says he morally knows what's best for us, despite overwhelming public support for something else:
"It sounds simple...but if I believe this is counter productive for the very people we're trying to help...and will hurt them by doing this, but it's politically popular, what does that say about you as a moral person...leaders have to take positions that may not be popular sometimes if they think they're doing the right thing."

Republicans continue to tell all of us what we're not ready for, because they say they know, from legalizing marijuana to a female president:
Darn, that rules out Hillary.
With not even a mention of allowing medical marijuana, Scott Walker has decided for us that we're just not ready yet. jsonline:
"I've never experienced this, but I can't imagine people socially smoking the way people have a beer or two at a wedding reception. There's a huge difference out there. So in the end, I understand why people make that argument (for legalization), but in our state, I don't think we're ready for that."

Walker saw himself in his hand picked staff, Part 2: Backstabbing!

Who knows how many more emails will finally paint this Dorian Gray like portrait of Scott Walker. 

From the Wisconsin State Journal:
Kelly Rindfleisch
1. An email from Kelly Teelin, a paralegal at GOP go-to law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, forwarded a joke email picturing four dogs the writer said were set to receive public assistance because they “are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddys are.” “That is hilarious. And so true!” Rindfleisch replied.

2. A supporter of lieutenant governor candidate Brett Davis scorned fellow Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, also vying for the job, after attempting to sneak a look at one of her fundraisers. “Rebecca was at the door inside greeting,” wrote Kathleen Kiernan … “She (Kleefisch) said, well maybe I can win you over. (YUK!...don’t hold your breath)… I cannot see how anyone can take this woman seriously.”

3. Rindfleisch wrote an email to Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes calling Kleefisch “the bane of your existance,” adding, “I’m REALLY beginning to dislike her.”

4. Walker suggested that the county fire a doctor who was hired at the county mental health center without officials knowing she was a former thong model. “Apparently she’s competent, but even the Medical Director is dismayed that she has a varied life,” Nardelli said, who worried the “suggestive” photos meant the doctor had “a checkered past.” Walker replied, “Get rid of the MD asap.”

5. Walker’s staffers had harsh words for Mark Neumann, his rival in the GOP
gubernatorial primary.
“This is so ridiculous that the only person talking about it is mark neumann,” McLaughlin wrote of one proposal. “There should be mandatory drug testing for people who want to run for governor and you can quote me on that.”

6. In another email, top adviser Jim Villa responded to an email about Neumann delivering signatures against the health care bill, “Is someone going to explain to knucklehead that governor is a state position?”

7. Rindfleisch emailed Gilkes about jokingly wanting to take out Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “How do you not blow a nut with all the lies that the democrats put out,” Rindfleisch wrote. “It makes me wanna get Villa’s uncle mike to make mike tate disappear.”