Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Junk Food for Kids Lunches, but not for Low-Income Food Stamp Recipients.

Many Republican dominated states have taken aim at what can only be called big government control over what people on food stamps can buy. They say it's something about not wasting taxpayer money on the purchase of junk food.

But wait a minute. Aren't Republicans trying to reinstate serving junk food in school cafeterias, food that's also paid for by taxpayers? Not only that, they say districts can't afford the more expensive healthier food. Oh really, and the poor can with their limited amount of food stamps?

Again, Republican ideology is trying to have it both ways, with the help of the news media that hasn't said a peep about this amazing contradiction. Here's what our new big government Republicans are saying about school lunches:
As the opening bell sounds for the 114th Congress, don’t be surprised to see GOP lawmakers take on school nutrition … included provisions to allow states more flexibility to exempt schools from the Department of Agriculture’s whole-grain standards if they can show hardship and to halt future sodium restrictions 
But those same high salt foods are the target of our hypocritical GOP food stamp Nazi's. One Borg-like follower, tax attorney Jay Miller, summed it up nicely this way:
(Some) argue that having the government regulate food-buying decisions is condescending or paternalistic. They are using food stamps, i.e., government funds, which cost taxpayers over $60 billion per year. Given this investment, the government has an obligation to ensure that the program - which is designed to improve, not harm, the health of low-income people - fulfills its purpose.
But school lunches are exempt? Beautiful. Miller assumes low-income people can afford healthy foods, but congressional Republicans whine taxpayers can't afford those same foods for school lunches? 
...sparking complaints among schools and Republicans who argue the rules are too prescriptive and costly.
Here's Millers diatribe that mirrors every other Republican lawmaker trying to have it both ways:
Whether it is cirrhosis of the liver, lung cancer or diabetes, the government should not be an enabler (Except when it comes to school kids?) 

When it comes to food stamps, however, the government seems to be saying that candy or chips are of equal nutritional value to grapefruit or fresh spinach. 
And to make things worse, food stamp recipients will have to wait for local convenience stores to start stocking the expensive health foods because demand will eventually force them to carry it: 
We know that purveyors of fried chicken, pizza and burgers line the commercial streets of the inner city, whereas merchants offering healthier products rarely can be found. But if government were to mandate that food stamps could be exchanged only for such products, the marketplace would respond by making them more available there.
Our meddling big government food watchdogs want to save us from ourselves, except in schools, where taxpayer money usurps the health of our children:
Although government can't stop people from engaging in self-destructive behavior, it shouldn't abet that behavior, either. Where, as with food stamps, government's goal is to combat hunger, it ought to avoid policies that substitute one health problem for another.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

GOP quietly conditions right wingers to kill Liberals?

This isn't a new revelation by any stretch. The whole concealed carry movement wasn't just based on an imagined right guaranteed in the constitution, it was also push back against those repressive big government socialist passing gun control laws. The most blatant was the tea party candidate threatening "2nd Amendment remedies" if lefties didn't give up their agenda.

Close to Home Liberal Vilification: Governor Scott Walker is openly using the his recall petitions to black list anyone who tried to remove him from power. Liberals are the enemy. Add to that those unqualified "liberal activist" judges (they actually say they want conservative judges) and socialist propagandist teachers in our public schools. Vilification is now standard issue group think for Republicans. And that means anything can happen, like this from Raw Story:

Just another isolated incident? Not a chance, and the numbers are no doubt growing.
Police in Clarkstown, New York have confiscated a cache of high-powered weapons and body armor from a man who was arrested for posting death threats against against many Democratic politicians and every liberal supporter of President Barack Obama.

According to WCBS, 49-year-old Larry Mulqueen was arraigned on Thursday. Mulqueen’s landlady had tipped off police after she found a “hit list” posted on Facebook that threatened Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Facebook posting said that all of the president’s follower were “traitor scum” and promised “death to them all.” 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ah, Dynamic Scoring and the Magic of Trickle Down Economics about to transform the Country....

From Common Dreams, I thought this description of trickle down economics by Robert Reich said it all. I've also included the video admission by Alan Greenspan that deregulation and trickle down was a failure, for those still not convinced. Tax cuts and deregulation are conservative concepts that go hand-in-hand. Our incoming Republican majority will be doubling down on their past failures. They're going to make this work if it kills us:  

Reich: According to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won’t use “dynamic scoring” for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side “trickle-down” economics.

It’s based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what’s lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts. Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn’t look as if they increased the budget deficit.

Incoming House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls it “reality-based scoring,” but it’s actually magical scoring – which is why Elmendorf, as well as all previous CBO directors have rejected it.

Few economic theories have been as thoroughly tested in the real world as supply-side economics, and so notoriously failed: Ronald Reagan cut the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent and ended up nearly doubling the national debt. His first budget director, David Stockman, later confessed he dealt with embarrassing questions about future deficits with “magic asterisks” in the budgets submitted to Congress. The Congressional Budget Office didn’t buy them. George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton but then slashed taxes, mostly on the rich. The CBO found that the Bush tax cuts reduced revenues by $3 trillion.

Yet Republicans don’t want to admit supply-side economics is hokum. The CBO has continued to be a truth-telling thorn in the Republican’s side.

The budget plan Paul Ryan came up with in 2012 slashed Medicaid, cut taxes on the rich and on corporations, and replaced Medicare with a less well-funded voucher plan. Ryan claimed these measures would reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office disagreed. His 2013 and 2014 budget proposals were similarly filled with magic asterisks. The CBO still wasn’t impressed. Now that Elmendorf is on the way out, presumably to be replaced by someone willing to tell Ryan and other Republicans what they’d like to hear, the way has been cleared for all the magic they can muster. Or have your benefactors finance “think tanks” filled with hired guns who will tell the public what you and your patrons want them to say. 

Republicans Slow Mail Delivery Down, Creating another problem solved by Privatization.

What, the mail is late again? Don’t you just hate the post office, another big government failure?

So far nothing has changed the Republican plan to dismantle the U.S. Postal Service. Forcing the post office to fund employee health and pension plans for 75 years in just 10 short years is bankrupting the service. It’s pretty safe to say most Americans don’t know what’s happening, and are unaware of the upcoming service center shutdowns. When they did know (below), they complained.

That’s bad news, because once service delays starts pissing people off, the public will unjustly blame the post office instead of the GOP’s back breaking requirement.
No matter what Sen. Tammy Baldwin does to try and right this wrong, Republicans will be proven right; government is bad at delivering mail. Despite the intent of the founding fathers, who included the post office in the constitution, Republicans are okay with getting rid of this guarantee.
After continuing to lose billions of dollars in fiscal 2013, the U.S. Postal Service will move forward with plans to close four processing centers in Wisconsin in 2015. The centers to be shuttered are in Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire and the Wausau area.  
Funny, I remember back in 2009 when Republican Representatives James Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan bravely came to the rescue of rural communities and farmers, after they bitterly complained about distribution center closings and the resulting delays of their business mail; products, payments and shipping.  
Milwaukee Journal: As the U.S. Postal Service searches for $2 billion in spending cuts, residents in several Wisconsin communities are objecting to changes at their post offices. Consolidation of mail carriers in Oconomowoc, West Bend, Oak Creek and elsewhere has stirred complaints that mail is being delivered late and that residents feel neglected. In Waukesha, business owners fear that cutbacks in mail collection hours will undermine their ability to conduct business.

Some have found a sympathetic ear in an influential place: their (Republican) congressman. U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan both have intervened successfully on behalf of constituents who were unhappy with planned belt-tightening measures at their post office. In both cases, the Postal Service shelved its plans and re-examined its cost-cutting strategies.

Sensenbrenner ... found the cuts being imposed in southeastern Wisconsin to be too disruptive to customers. "You've got to remind the Postal Service repeatedly that their last name is service," he said.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

One nation under

Wonk Blog's Emily Badger is the third person to catch on to the real problem we're facing in our new gun loving America (I was the first, and Voxdotcom the second). And you can thank our conservative activist supreme court for dramatically misreading the 2nd Amendment.

I'm encouraged by this article and what I hope becomes a serious debate. If nothing happens, we're all in big trouble.

Like many others, I have often pointed to the preamble to the constitution as a way to solve some of these judicial mistakes:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
But...At the Cornell University Law School website, they wrote this about the preamble that surprised me:
"Courts will not interpret the Preamble to confer any rights or powers not granted specifically in the Constitution."
I'm hoping that's just an opinion. Here's what our conservative justices foisted off on us, without a serious thought of the consequences:
Guns change the equation in so many ways. They make it harder for police to retreat, and more likely that a stand-off that might have been resolved peacefully will escalate. They make it harder for police to give suspects the benefit of the doubt, and more likely that a suspected criminal may not deserve it.

They make it easier for a mentally ill man to forever alter two families' lives in the name of "revenge."

After the killing of New York police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos over the weekend, it feels perhaps more satisfying to place blame elsewhere: on protesterswho've cried for better policing, on public officials who acknowledge that the protesters' grievances are valid. But both claims deflect attention toward a vague culprit — "anti-police rhetoric" — and away from a more concrete and systemic one: the ever-presence and easy availability of guns. In this country, by contrast, the ubiquity of firearms — the possibility of a gun, legal or illegal, in any coat pocket or waist band — injects a level of tension into police encounters that may be hard to entirely disarm even with the most thoughtful community policing reforms.

In the United States, the ever-presence of guns makes it seem plausible that a 12-year-old boy handling a toy might actually possess one. And it makes it more likely that an officer responding to him would pull his own trigger. The ever-presence of guns also makes it plausible that an officer interacting with a teenager might fear for his life — and act in that fear. And it makes it plausible — even responsible — that communities who often encounter law enforcement feel they must teach their sons how to respond to policemen capable of killing them.

"There’s not a big gun culture in Australia," Geoffrey Alpert, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied police use of force there, recently told me. "So the cops don’t have to worry the way our cops do. There’s not always a gun in every encounter. They don’t have to think about that." They're freer to retreat, to reassess, to leave their own weapons holstered.

Our reluctant "incidental governor," Scott Walker; getting to be kind of a joke.

I've been having fun pointing out how Scott Walker is never quite dedicated to any particular policy, but is always a reluctant supporter and signer of right wing partisan legislation. I can almost hear him saying, "Okay, I'll sign it just to get it out of the way."

Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy thankfully put together a list of nuisance bills signed into reported by Cap Times' Steve Elbow:
Scott Walker says Republican right-to-work legislation isn't a priority in his tax-cutting, job-creating agenda. Rather, it's a distraction.

But he also said that about a bill eliminating early voting on weekends, making it harder to sue over Indian mascot names, requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion and prohibiting doctors without admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions, all of which he signed into law.

Columnist Bruce Murphy's column Tuesday documents these and other measures Walker has deemed distractions from his jobs agenda, only to give them his full support by signing them into law ... signing a right-to-work bill might be just the ticket to burnish his conservative credentials.

"In reality, Walker has supported such a measure for two decades," Murphy writes. "A right-to-work bill is one more of those pesky, distracting, non-priorities that Scott Walker, with his entire heart and soul, would love to help become law."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Democrats like Scrooge? A Twisted GOP Christmas Carolization!

What are Republicans thinking when they watch Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Thanks to Sen. Frank Lasee's holiday email, we now kind of know, although technically none of it makes any sense.

Never one to let a gift like this go unnoticed during the holidays, let’s unwrap this down-the-rabbit-hole present shall we.

Government is like greedy old Ebenezer Scrooge? Yes, according to Lasee (or whoever he plagiarized in his email update), government could learn a few lessons, just like Scrooge? It's a fascinating insight if anything, and head scratcher: 

The Great (Jim Doyle) Recession, was caused by tax increases and burdensome regulations? Please, my head is hurting. Forget those irresponsible Wall Street banks, Republican free market deregulation, and the resulting global economic collapse, it was all because of tightwad Scrooge Doyle's tax and spend policies, you know, like Fezziwig at Christmas (I just love the last highlighted line for being totally incoherent):
Wisconsin was in bad shape in 2009. With rising unemployment and a staggering decline in state revenues, experts advised us to brace for the worst. Wisconsin lost nearly 120,000 jobs that year and the state unemployment rate hit a 27-year high of 9.4%. Business morale was down and families were feeling the pinch. Democratic out of control spending by the Democrats and dubious budget accounting practices by the Doyle administration left Wisconsin with a $3.6 billion shortfall heading into 2011-2013 biennium, after a 5 billion dollar tax increase. These crippling tax increases and burdensome regulations hindered new investments and like Ebenezer Scrooge’s office, left Wisconsinites in the cold.
Huh...? Frank Lasee, not surprisingly, didn't bother to include Jacob Marley's foreshadowing message to Scrooge. Here's a reminder...:
(Marley) “My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house -- mark me! -- in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole.

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.  "Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.  It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did.  Scrooge followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity.  He looked out.

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and

moaning as they went.  Every one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.  Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives.  He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step.  The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

Big Oil not so powerful as gas prices fall, Consumers finally get a break.

I haven't seen the kind of analysis I thought I'd see regarding plummeting gas prices at the pump. I like it a lot, and consumers now have a little extra money to spend elsewhere. But we should also be doing whatever we can to decrease our use of oil once and for all.

The many questions, and the uneasy feeling that Big Oil has been playing us for complete idiots. Perhaps they didn't think the Middle East would try a stunt like this.
Vladimir Putin faces a catastrophic shortfall of at least $80bn (£51bn) in oil export revenue over the next year, after Opec kingpin Saudi Arabia signalled there will be no easing in the price war it has launched to recapture market share. Russia’s finance minister warned before Opec gathered on November 27 that the country faced an economic crisis from the loss of revenue incurred from falling oil prices.
But oil revenues are a big part of our economy now, and will become even bigger if we make it easier to export oil via the Gulf Coast, the whole reason behind building the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is an oil boom, not a switch over to green energy unfortunately. Not only will big oil lose money due to plummeting prices, but thousands of jobs will disappear as well, punching a hole in local state economies.

We're now getting used to plentiful gas supplies and low prices, what we call energy independence. Sounds a like Russia's problem, a place we don't want to be. The energy shakedown is happening right now. For instance:
British Petroleum announced Wednesday it will cut thousands of jobs worldwide, in addition to a previously announced $2 billion cut in its operating budget and a fire sale of $43 billion worth of assets (most of them in the US fracking patch). BP disclosed that over the next 18 months it will spend a billion dollars on “restructuring.”   

Goodrich Petroleum announced Wednesday it is exploring the sale of “some or all” of its shale-oil assets in the Eagle Ford play in Texas, the second-largest contributor to the country’s shale oil “boom.” Goodrich also said it will make a drastic cut in 2015 capital expenditures.
 According to Bloomberg News, the industry now expects 400 of the 1848 US onshore oil rigs now operating to be idled by next year. Another 200 new rigs, under construction for delivery next year, are now expected to have nothing to do. North Dakota state officials said Friday that oil production in October declined by about 4,000 barrels per day. Oasis Petroleum, one of the large operators in North Dakota, announced Wednesday that it would drop from 16 drilling rigs to six rigs. On Friday, stock prices for the 10 largest publicly traded oil companies with North Dakota operations were down by an average of 51 percent over three months.

Rigs targeting oil in the U.S. will drop below 1,100 for the first time in three years as drillers pull out of fields made unprofitable by a 43 percent plunge in crude prices. According to the energy data and analytics company Genscape, the oil count is set to drop by almost 600 rigs over the next eight months, bottoming out at 1,073 in August.
And what of Wall Street? Possible problems are rising up:
Also vulnerable are highly leveraged North American oil and gas producers. Energy companies issued junk debt with abandon in recent years. Strained financial conditions may force weak energy producers and service companies to divest properties or sell themselves, yet buyers are likely to be scarce until energy prices stabilize. Since June, they have pulled $22 billion from junk-bond funds as they begin to realize they were further out on the risk curve than they wanted. 

If a full-blown global financial crisis unfolds, along with an accompanying worldwide recession, investment strategy will no doubt shift from the current “risk on” stance to “risk off.” In that scenario, you would expect to see a rush into the safety of Treasury bonds and the U.S. dollar and a stampede out of commodities and stocks globally.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Walker projected deficits getting more national criticism than from his base of supposed "fiscal conservatives" in Wisconsin.

Because the holidays have been a bit on the frantic side, I will news dump this Bloomberg story about Scott Walker's inability to manage state revenues. The criticism is self contained, so add this to the list of negative national coverage Walker has managed to accumulate over the past few months. The only ones not yet taking notice...Republican constituents, who are giving new meaning to the term "low information voter:"
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has his eye on the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, and as he tries to boost his national poll numbers, there are numbers at home that also bear watching -- his state’s finances.

Tax cuts and Medicaid spending are contributing to a projected budget deficit that may reach $2.2 billion in the two-year period starting in July 2015, according to his administration’s analysts …  Walker aides call the projections premature … Last week, he called for more property-tax cuts.

Tax collections for this fiscal year through November were 2.1 percent below the same period last year, according to state figures. The Department of Administration had forecast that collections for the year through June 2015 would be up 5 percent. Investors in the $3.6 trillion municipal-bond market have yet to penalize the state.

One of Walker’s primary campaign themes, that he eliminated a $3.6 billion deficit inherited in 2011 from his predecessor, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, now has the potential to work against him. Estimates of the next budget shortfall range from about $800 million from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, to the $2.2 billion forecast from Walker’s own analysts.

“We’re in a big pickle right now,” said Democratic state Representative Peter Barca … “at a time of relative prosperity.”

The fiscal volatility is familiar to Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, “Wisconsin is politically incapable, with a fulltime, professional and highly partisan legislature, to do anything that looks at finances over the long-term,” Berry said. Medicaid spending is adding to budget pressures. The health-care program for the poor, covering about one in five Wisconsin residents, represents about $760 million in proposed new spending in the 2016-2017 spending plan, Berry said.

Total expenditures this fiscal year are expected to exceed revenue by about $650 million, according to Walker’s budget analysts. “The problem is they’ve cut revenue permanently, with tax cuts, but not cut spending permanently,” Berry said. 

State to be renamed Wisgop!

Look, I've never claimed to know everything about politics, but I feel like I should have known this; inauguration donations are no longer going to charities like they did under the Democrats, they're going instead to prop up our one political authority, Republicans, whether you like it or not.

And Republican voters will think nothing of it:
WaPo-Wonkette: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got re-elected somehow — mandate of heaven, we guess — and he’s putting together plans for a big inaugural hootenanny. Now, in years past, inaugural events in Wisconsin used to also double as fundraisers for charities, like Boys and Girls Clubs or other worthy causes. But that was merely a tradition, and an apparently outmoded one, so with his 2011 inauguration, Walker turned the admission fees for inaugural events into a Scott Walker/Republican Party of Wisconsin fundraiser, which raised quite a bit of campaign cash and not a few eyebrows. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that for 2015, he’s doing the same thing, raising money for a great Wisconsin charity: Scott Walker. Tell us more, Saul Newton of One Wisconsin Now:
For $20, the public can go ice-skating with the Scott Walker. [sic] For $50, the public is allowed to listen to music with Scott Walker. For anyone who wants to pray with Scott Walker, the cost is $25. The money raised from these events goes to Walker’s campaign and the Republican Party of Wisconsin. The Boys and Girls Club recently received their consolation prize: a photo opportunity with the Governor himself.
Again, I didn't know this, but it fits into the rightwing authoritarian movement. Everything is centralized and funneled into maintaining the GOP's grip on power.
One Wisconsin Now's Scott Ross: "The Republican Party of Wisconsin isn't being inaugurated and the idea Wisconsinites have to donate to a political party to participate in activities like this is another disgraceful example of a governor whose only concern is partisan political politics." Ross said it was "reprehensible" that Walker recently had a "photo op" with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County when the group won't receive any inaugural celebration proceeds.
Walker's decision exposes our "pay-to-play" corporate Wisconsin marketplace, not that it seems to matter anymore to conservative voters. This is the natural way of things:
Walker's decision to give funds to the state GOP comes after a court ruling in September that lifted limits on contributions from political action committees and blocked the portion of the law that puts limits on the amount a candidate can receive from political parties and legislative campaign committees.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Educated Workforce? Forget it, GOP austerity forces UW Superior to sheds programs and four positions.

I’d like to make a prediction; Republicans will make another cut to the UW system over some drummed up “problem,” just like they've done in every other budget.

And this will only make things worse. With the continuation of the tuition freeze, without any promise of additional state aid and possible cuts, the UW-Superior is the first domino positioned to fall.
UW-Superior it’s suspending five academic programs: Educational Specialist Degree; Applied Discrete Mathematics concentration; French minor; French education minor; German education minor … will save the university $260,000 by eliminating four positions.

The university is receiving roughly $2 million from UW System to offset cuts in state funding, tuition freezes and low enrollment. Williams said the university needs to save $2 million by June 2016. 26 out of their 94 undergraduate major and minor programs will remain under review, including programs for music, theatre and computer science … they don’t know what further cuts may be made, or when that might happen.
Former Sen. Dale Schultz described what was really going on this way on WPR's morning show:

Santa came early this year....

Let's hope we can have an even happier New Year...

Fox News viewers being duped, as the network seeks to raise customer Dish prices: It appears Fox News is increasing fees so much so, that Dish will have to charge more for their service. Viewers lose.
"It's like we're about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well," Warren Schlichting, Dish's senior vice president of programming, said in a statement. "Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract." Dish said it offered a short-term contract extension to keep the channels in its lineup, but Fox countered that Dish disconnected the channels "in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations."
Suckers…Fox News has a much different take, one I'm sure their viewers will believe instantly-hook, line, and sinker:
"It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider," Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, said in a statement. "Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately."
Who knows how to spin a yarn better than those at the upside down propaganda network, Fox News. Of course they would love to send you to the cable networks, who are paying the triple rates.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's the Taliban, now we're outraged.

Really, in country where our own citizens target children in schools, we’re outraged now, demanding action?

Even worse, we did nothing about it, and pretended it had something to do with the 2nd Amendment.

Our gun toting mob of tea party, concealed carry, “Second Amendment remedies” backers may not like the comparison, but there is one to be made. Along those lines, here's a more recent example of their conscience free passion.

Take a look at the reaction to a new law requiring background checks, passed by a majority of voters in Washington state:
A "I will not comply" rally in Olympia, Washington, (protested) Initiative 594, which expands background checks on the sales of guns between private owners. This riled up the state's gun-rights-supersede-everything-else crowd, and approximately 1,000 people showed up, mostly men, mostly white, and all of them toting weapons.

The worst thing was … when Gabby Giffords was mentioned by a speech maker, she was booed. Gabby Giffords name was booed. A woman who was shot in the head and almost killed by a gun nut, she was booed on the very anniversary of the massacre of little kids at Newtown, Connecticut. These people have no shame, no compassion…
Yes, 2nd Amendment backers booed Giffords. We’re so far gone on guns that even this happened in the election to replace Giffords:
On December 17, pro-Second Amendment candidate Martha McSally (R) was officially declared the winner in the race (167 votes) for Arizona’s second congressional district over pro-gun control Representative Ron Barber (D)

The Misunderstood Drone.

I've been sitting on the video clip about drones for a while now (below), but I’m glad I held onto it. Public Televisions Market to Market explained in detail the incredible, industry changing influence drones could have on a number of different businesses, including farming, the entertainment industry and real estate.

But negative press over the use of drones to kill terrorists and anyone else near them appears to be hindering public acceptance for their use for good:
Americans broadly back tight regulations on commercial drone operators, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, as concerns about privacy and safety override the potential benefits of the heralded drone revolution. By a 2-to-1 margin those who had an opinion opposed using drones for commercial purposes. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose restricting drones weighing less than 55 pounds to flights under 400 feet high, forbid nighttime flights, and require drones be kept within sight of their operators … It may require drone operators to get pilot's licenses … But 64 percent support requiring the pilot's licenses.

Eddy Dufault, 58, a machinist and part-time wildlife photographer said he … opposes licensing. It can cost would-be pilots $15,000 for the necessary flight training and practice flights adding it would be more appropriate to require operators to attend a few classes and pass a drone flight test.
Even harder to understand? Republican opposition. The supposed party of jobs, jobs, jobs, might want to consider the number of jobs created by the drone manufacturing industry. Have they forgotten their base of rural farm voters, whose drone use could save, even make agriculture take off economically:
Congress may step in next year to try to nudge the FAA to move faster. Drones are forecast to account for 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first 10 years they're allowed.
Here's an incredibly informative look at the game-changing use of drones:

Only 21 percent favored commercial use of drones, compared with 43 percent opposed. About 35 percent were in the middle. Support for using commercial drones was the weakest among women and seniors, while college graduates and wealthier people were more apt to favor it.

Flag Waving Republicans refuse to protect U.S. Mascot, the American Eagle!!! Exempt Lead Bullets from EPA Regs.

American lead!!!

House Republicans have been getting away with murder. Americans would be stunned if they knew what was in most of their passed legislation. Unfortunately, the media spends all its time showcasing the political blowhards taking shots at Obama instead. 

A little noticed part of the recently passed budget giveaway to Republicans included this bizarre must have:
Prohibits the EPA from regulating lead in ammunition or fishing tackle. Lead in fishing sinkers and bullet fragments are being blamed for poisoning birds, such as loons and the endangered California condor. Republicans said EPA regulation would be overreach and just the threat of it was making it hard to find bullets in stores. 
We'd hate to see the marketplace lose money or change for the better. 

In an article that doesn't even mention the recently passed EPA exemption for lead bullets, we're now finding out lead poisoning is a real problem. We're killing our national mascot, the Bald Eagle. You'll notice we've got a voluntary system of empty recommendations rugged gun toting hunters would likely ignore. It's more touchy-feely big government meddling from liberal alarmists I suppose:
Wildlife advocates are recommending hunters use nontoxic bullets after two bald eagles were brought to the Dane County Humane Society recently with lead poisoning. One of the eagles, a 5-year-old male, died. The other, a 21-year-old female, is in serious condition. The lead most likely was ingested by the eagles when they fed on the carcasses of deer, pheasants or other wildlife that had been shot, or from live waterfowl that had ingested lead and then were eaten by the eagles.
The GOP hatred for environmental protection has now succeeded in taking the country back to 1989:
The agency gets $8.1 billion, down $60 million from the last fiscal year. The agency's budget has been slashed by $2.2 billion, or 21 percent, since fiscal 2010, according to GOP aides. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Two Conservative states sue, try to stop Colorado's pot law, saying they can't protect their borders from pot importation.

Let the state’s do their own thing say Republicans. Get the federal government out of our way...

...not this time though. Conservative governors and AG's are now trying to interfere with another states right to have legalized pot. Hypocritical? Big surprise.

Even more outrageous, they apparently don’t want to or can’t “defend their own borders” like good Republicans are supposed to do. This is another example of how flip floppy hypocritical Republicans are about their unwavering principles.
AP: Colorado's top law enforcement official promises to vigorously defend the state's historic law legalizing marijuana after Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional, saying the drug is freely flowing into neighboring states.

The two states filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to prevent Colorado from enforcing (a law allowing) recreational marijuana for adults over 21. The complaint says the measure runs afoul of federal law and therefore violates the Constitution's supremacy clause, which says federal laws trump state laws.
Yes, while state after state pass some kind of marijuana legalization law, the few Republican states that are bucking the trend now want to use the big federal government to reverse that inevitable social transition.
Make up your mind, do you like big government or don’t you?  

And they can't control their borders? It’s always someone else’s fault isn't it? Funny, Republicans weren't like this when lax gun law states were pouring firearms into more regulated liberal states. Gee, what changed?
"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said at a news conference in Lincoln. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost." Bruning, a Republican, blamed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to enforce the federal law's ban on drugs in Colorado.
But the federal government dealt with this already, and besides, where’s the proof:
In a policy statement last year, the U.S. Justice Department laid out eight federal law enforcement priorities that states need to protect if they want to authorize "marijuana-related conduct." They include keeping marijuana in-state. The suit doesn't contain statistics to support the claim.

Confirmed after bogus denials: WEDC handed out tax credits to outsourcing Plexus Corporation.

Thanks to WKOW's Greg Neumann, for staying on top of his own story about one lying Wisconsin company, and the administration that got away with bullshitting the public for awhile.

And congratulations to Governor Walker, for diffusing and obscuring another massive WEDC failure till after the election. This is what real good career politicians do:
The six-month saga over the question of whether or not Plexus Corporation of Neenah outsourced Wisconsin jobs after receiving millions of dollars in state tax incentives from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is now complete and the conclusion reached by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is a resounding YES.

After reviewing the original award of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits to former Plexus employees, DOL officials have concluded once again that the company did shift production of printed circuit boards overseas in May of 2012.

DOL’s review of its original ruling came after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel emailed the agency about Plexus’ claims that it had never outsourced any jobs. outsourced Wisconsin jobs overseas after receiving close to $5 million in WEDC tax credits. In other words, yes, Plexus still outsourced Wisconsin jobs after receiving WEDC tax credits. TAA ruling here.

Enbridge Oil Spill on same Pipeline through Wisconsin!!!

The Enbridge Pipeline will be cranking more tar sand crude through Wisconsin than even the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, which has been held up for environmental reasons.

Well guess what Wisconsin. Now comes word of a massive spill in Canada from that same pipeline:
Canadian energy delivery company Enbridge Inc. has temporarily shut down and isolated one of its crude oil pipelines that connects to the United States after a 1,350-barrel, or 56,700-gallon oil spill, the company reported Wednesday evening ... the 796,000 barrel-a-day Line 4 pipeline, which connects to a terminal in Wisconsin, carries heavy, medium, and light sour crude ... the spill happened because of a problem with a valve within the terminal, and not because of a problem with the actual pipeline. 

It has made headlines here due to its role in the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in U.S. history, an event which saw more than 800,000-gallons of thick Canadian tar sands crude oil flow out of a ruptured Enbridge pipeline and into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. That spill was also the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history, with Enbridge estimating cleanup costs alone to be about $1.2 billion. 
A problem valve? As you can see by the map, Wisconsin will soon see a whole bunch of new pump stations, with similar valves? The story is unclear about that. But still, will our DNR look into this?
Enbridge won't have the same kind of regulatory scrutiny, because Scott Walker has already approved the massive build up of the pipeline:
The state Department of Natural Resources on Thursday approved an air permit that gives an oil pipeline company the go-ahead to triple capacity between Superior and the Illinois state line. DNR officials also said state law doesn't allow officials to use a company's past operating record when reviewing environmental permits.
Enbridge has had problems with spills before in Wisconsin:
In January 2007, an Enbridge pipeline ruptured, pouring more than 29,000 gallons of crude oil onto a farm field in the town of Curtis in Clark County. A month later, another Enbridge pipeline rupture dumped 176,000 gallons of heavy crude oil in a Rusk County farm field. In January 2009, Enbridge Energy Partners paid the State of Wisconsin $1.1 million to settle claims under Wisconsin’s waterway and wetland protection and storm water control laws. In July 2012 a farm field in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin was covered by at least 1,200 barrels of oil after an Enbridge pipeline ruptured there. Enbridge had to purchase a nearby home that a local resident described as being “covered in oil.”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Walker's opposition to new EPA smog standards will lead to more children with Autism.

Not only do Republicans want to roll back the new EPA standards that would reduce the particulate pollution contained in localized smog, but they want to get rid of the agency altogether. Yet they might want to rethink that position, since this same pollution is now tied to autism. Yea, right.

Until then, they intend to slow walk changes until they take control, when all of this will just magically goes away. Even if it means peoples lives will be at risk, including developing 3rd trimester fetuses.

Here's what we know about Wisconsin foot dragging:
Nearly five years after the federal government set new standards designed to protect public health from short, sharp spikes in air pollution levels, Wisconsin hasn't made the rules mandatory for all polluters. “The Department (DNR) has not met its statutory obligation to promulgate standards ... consistent with the federal standard,” the Midwest Environmental Defense Center and Clean Wisconsin said in their suit.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “finding of failure” issued to the DNR in August for missing a 2012 deadline for new state rules on “incremental” increases in particles from smokestacks. Rewriting state rules ... should not have been complicated because it would require inserting new numbers into existing rules.
Now, new research has more than substantiated what was already assumed about particulate pollution and autism:
Pregnant women may nearly double their risk of giving birth to a child with autism by inhaling smog spewed by vehicles or smoke stacks, according to a new Harvard study that could help unlock the deepest autism mysteries … fortifies previous scientific findings that linked air pollution to autism. And it offers fresh insights by showing women in their third trimesters seem most vulnerable if they breathe in elevated levels of tiny airborne particles emitted by power plants, fires and automobiles said Marc Weisskopf, the report's senior author and associate professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. The higher the exposure rate, the greater the risk, he found.

Will someone ask Scott Walker to give "a reason" and justify why we continued the Cold War policy toward Cuba. Anyone?

The completely meaningless talking point about Cuba, spouted by far right politicians including Scott Walker, is getting a lot of press without any blowback.

Gee, the way Republicans are acting now, discussions with Red China would have been impossible. The same goes for Vietnam. Anyone? How about Marco Rubio:
“This notion that somehow being able to travel more to Cuba, to sell more consumer products, the idea that’s going to lead to some democratic opening is absurd,” Rubio said.
Crazy notion, isn't it? Sadly we're still waiting for some "democratic opening" to appear in China as well...guess we better give up on that one too? Do these people think all?

Republican continue to be in "all or nothing" mode (thanks to the antics of the cowering Democratic Party), demanding Cuba flip the switch and instantly become a democratic republic with voting rights, political party's, etc.

Repeating this all-or-nothing word salad? Scott Walker:
Gov. Scott Walker says that he thinks normalizing relations with Cuba is a "bad idea." Walker said he thinks "there's a reason" the restrictions were put in place and doesn't think there have been enough changes in Cuba that show it's committed to becoming a more free and prosperous country.

Walker ... said he thinks the move opens the door to problems. "I don't think there's been any noticeable change towards making that a more free and prosperous country ... There's a reason we had the policy in the first place."
And that reason is...? Well lets see, slavery was there in the constitution for a reason, right? There's a reason women couldn't vote too? You'd have to look as far back as the late 50's and early 60's, for the reason we had our Cuban policy; the Cold War. From that sprouted a few extra reasons, listed at Voxdotcom.

I guess making small and incremental steps with Cuba isn't worth ending a half century of failed Cold War policy. Nuke missiles anyone?

Rubio wasn't done either, when he suddenly started taking verbal pot shots at the Pope:
U.S. officials said Pope Francis was personally engaged in the process as well and sent separate letters to Obama and Castro this summer urging them to restart relations.

"My understanding is that the influence that His Holiness had was on the release of Mr. [Alan] Gross, which I've not criticized. As I said, I'm happy that he's with the Cuban people [sic]. I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people — for a people to truly be free. I think the people of Cuba deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from."

Stop placating the Angry, Incoherent Far Right!!!

It’s time we stop acting like a bunch of complete dupes. Are we really so dumb that we think Republicans won’t pass right-to-work, disband the GAB, expand vouchers, give Wisconsin up to mining, regulate and complicate voting, pretend Walker isn't running for president, won't dump women’s health care, reject the casino, and bounce the Supreme Court’s chief justice out the door? Seriously?

“Boots and Sabers” blogger Owen Robinson is another conservative space cadet the media swoons over, like the mind numbing recycled nonsense from Christian Schneider. Robinson put it all out there yesterday, proving to everyone these people are bat crazy and should not be sitting across the table from educated professionals.

Name calling? Well, have you seen Robinson’s list of “solutions?”

Any intelligent adult who knows anything about life, and governments roll managing the state, taxes and services, will be appalled at the following deconstruction of our state. It appears freeloading and handing the bill to our kids is the party platform now.

Lifted from a 70's bumper sticker reading “We live in a state that taxes, regulates and spends too much,” Robinson goes for the throat of everything that’s left to slash, leaving behind a wasteland of dangerous products and services in communities that don’t have safe drinking water, paved roads to drive on, fewer schools to teach, and more ozone to breath. Oh, and lets defund the UW:
But if the Republicans really want to move the needle … they need to advance some fundamental and seismic reforms. The state should:
 freeze property taxes and take a chainsaw to the regulatory structure that shackles Wisconsinites; match massive tax cuts with massive spending cuts; abolish shared revenue as Gov. Scott McCallum wisely advocated years ago; cut funding for transportation; reform the criminal code and cut prison funding; cut the lavish funding for the University of Wisconsin; and continue to reform and cut spending on K-12 education.
"Lavish funding," for the UW? If you say so Owen...
According to the Postsecondary Education Opportunity report, Wisconsin’s investment efforts since 1980 have fallen by 54.3 percent, putting it in the top 10 worst in the country. Significant hikes in tuition have been a natural response at schools around the country.
 Sorry, now I'm debating this mindless time wasting lunacy.

Far Right GOP believers ready to toss health care overboard. Voters in Arkansas now worried.

As the wealth gap continues to expand, so will the “health gap,” where the unworthy are being told to find somebody else’s pocket to pick if they want to stay alive. The recent wave of Republican wins nationwide is proof the American public has move on, and wants to focus their attention on the least problematic elements of society; the rich, and what we do for them. This poor and middle class thing is getting tiresome, and people need to get over it. 

We all remember Diane Hendricks? Her actual Wikipedia page describes her this way:
Diane Hendricks owns the Hendricks Holding Company and she serves as chairperson of ABC Supply Co., Inc. She is worth $4.8 billion, making her the richest woman in Wisconsin. 
Watch the plea for more power from the most identifiable face of greed, Diane Hendricks:  

Think about it; why would a unhappy billionaire, who's done extremely well within our current supposedly over-regulated job killing system, complain that we're not "red" enough as a state? What more could she want? Total domination of our political system? A state where people may vote, but business interests end up wining elections. 
The Most Surreal Target of all: Health Care: How is it possible a political party can get away with trying to take health care away from Americans? They're doing it, and Republicans are now so extreme, that even conservative solutions aren't cutting it anymore:
Arkansas could be on the brink of another distinction: becoming the first to abandon its Medicaid expansion after giving coverage to thousands of people. A wave of newly elected Republican lawmakers who ran on vows to fight so-called "Obamacare" — including the state's "private option" Medicaid expansion — has raised doubts about the future of a leading model for conservative states.

Senate President Jonathan Dismang, one of several Republicans who helped craft the program and is pushing for its continuation said, "I think there's one thing that's clear and that's the private option is not going to exist in its current form."
The human toll, in this case 213,000 people, isn't even a blip on the GOP’s radar, as they threaten the financial security of every individual and family dependent on their health care coverage:
The prospect of losing their new insurance is already causing anxiety among some of the 213,000 people in Arkansas who got coverage. The program uses money that would otherwise go to expanding Medicaid to purchase the private insurance for the newly eligible. Arkansas, which has a high poverty rate, experienced the largest drop in uninsured in the country — from 22.5 percent in 2013, to 12.4 percent, according to a Gallup survey released in August.
It’s a cruel and unusual torture foisted off onto the American public. Yet they will continues to vote against their own health interests.  

The Truth, and nothing but the Truth, from Dale Schultz.

Why does it always take a Republican to come right out with the brutal truth? Ever notice how Democrats are always softening the message and try to mediate the political disagreements they know they're not going to win?

From the Devil's Advocates show, soon to be former Republican State Sen. Dale Schultz absolutely trashed Rep. Robin Vos, the defunding of the UW, letting our roads go to hell, cut taxes while public education withers away in rural areas...everything is here. It's a myth busting 9 minutes of reality...from a Republican:

The Cap Times' Steve Elbow has transcribed a number of Schultz's comments.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bears fan sings the Christmas-like Chicago Blues...

Despite taking numerous shots at Illinois and Chicago in my previous life as a radio DJ, I now love the windy city and the people there. I can also identify with frustrated Bears fans, remembering the decades long struggle by our own Green Bay Packers. The Bears were a formidable opponent.

From their seasonal frustration sprung this creative and fun venting by one badly dressed fan:

I found this Christmas take on the Browns...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Republicans "resent" city folk, liberals and public jobs, but love handouts to "hard working" rural conservative voters.

The incredibly spot on look at politics now needs no further comment. From the Cap Times:
Paul Fanlund: No end in sight to Wisconsin’s politics of resentment: Kathy Cramer, a youthful and charismatic political scientist from the University of Wisconsin, struck up conversations that uncovered a pattern of simmering resentment toward those of us in Madison and Milwaukee. What she heard then and we see clearly now is that across Wisconsin, they really, really don’t like many of us very much, and appear unlikely to like us more any time soon.

My conclusion is that Walker’s three victories were in part about him and his personal brand, but the much bigger factor was the anti-government tide that has swept the country, Wisconsin included.

First, that people have been inundated by anti-government messages for decades, especially since the Reagan presidency. Those resentments calcified during the great recession and in the years since, even as wealthy people grew much wealthier and the middle class lost ground.

Second, because those with the most education are doing better (and Madison is jammed with academic elites) we are seen as not suffering as much, and that is noticed and resented.

Third, many outside Madison and Milwaukee see public employees with a level of retirement and health insurance benefits they no longer enjoy or never did.

Fourth, there is a ubiquitous message that government programs are skewed to help those who do not help themselves … the racial subtext is always there. Many in outlying Wisconsin see themselves as hard-working and self-reliant and getting no government help. They do not perceive their own public schools, Medicare, Social Security, highway infrastructure and so forth as the “handouts” they think flow to others.

How, some may ask, do (Walker) and fellow Republicans win even though they oppose such proposals as an increase in the minimum wage, widely supported in exit polls? … the minimum wage does not directly affect most voters, just as the GOP’s opposition to reproductive rights and same-sex marriage does not. Only the economy matters, and while Walker’s record is mediocre at best, he’s fully aligned against the perceived “takers:” the poor and the whiny public employees with their garish protests in Madison.

63 percent in that national poll said the economic system favors the wealthy. In a similar vein, a recent New York Times op-ed was headlined: “Inequality, Unbelievably, Gets Worse.” The analysis said that our taxes, while progressive, are low by international standards and that our social welfare programs are consequently less generous.

Yet any significant populist movement against wealth inequality seems hampered because — in the minds of many — that’s how capitalism is supposed to work. It is tolerable that a CEO makes 100 times what his workers make and pays taxes at lower rates.

Attitudes seemed to grow more visceral during the financial meltdown, which, ironically, occurred under the presidential leadership of a Republican, George W. Bush.

“Resentment” is the perfect one-word brand for the current political culture. In fact, Cramer, the traveling professor, is writing a book whose working title is: “Understanding the Politics of Resentment.”

She adds: “My sense is that his success in the suburbs is a little different than it is in the rural areas. In both cases, you could say there’s individualism going on, where much of what I heard was about hard work and who’s deserving. And their notion of the people who are deserving are those who work really hard ‘like I do’ and ‘pull themselves up by the bootstraps’ and that whole thing. You hear that kind of tone in suburbs as well as in the rural areas.

“But in the rural areas, the support I found was people not necessarily identifying with a Republican platform, but instead saying, ‘We’re going to support somebody who’s coming along and saying I’m going to decrease your taxes and I’m going to cut back government.’ ”

Barry Burden, a UW-Madison political scientist and expert on U.S. politics, agrees with Cramer on the topic of rural individualism. “People often feel like they’re hanging out by themselves,” he says. “You don’t feel like you’re getting much from the taxes you do pay. So you would jump at the chance at a tax cut.”

Cramer mentions race. “When you respect people, it’s very difficult to see racism in what they’re saying or doing. Race has often been used to argue against redistribution and wealth equality in American history. I think in the way that our country has argued about redistribution, it’s always been at some level about race.

Such lashing out at privilege does not extend to business elites, she says. “Why do you think the big battle is between public workers and private workers, for example, rather than CEOs and their workers or the rich and the relatively low-income?’ — the answer I almost always got was they’re supposed to make money. They’re in business. That’s what they are supposed to do. There’s just this huge separation between the … political world and the economic world. People’s sense of what’s just, that ‘massive inequality in the private sector is OK because that’s how it’s designed.’

Burden says he believes many residents have a misunderstanding about government spending. Small-town and rural residents “seem to perceive people living in Madison in particular, but also Milwaukee, as having these government jobs with excessively generous benefits and salary, whereas they were working hard and didn’t have access to those kinds of goodies. So, when a Republican goes into a smaller community and says — ‘I want to give back some of your money to you, put it in your pocket and let you make decisions about how to spend it. You’re better at doing that than some legislator in Madison or Washington’ — that’s a really appealing, intuitive logic.”

Burden adds that many seem to believe that most state money goes to the big cities. “But the truth is that on a per-capita basis the cities actually get less than smaller communities. That’s actually true nationwide. The rural red states get more than their share of tax money back from the federal government, whereas the more industrial blue states, like New York and Massachusetts, don’t get back as much as they pay in.”

Perhaps no truly path-altering solutions exist, and that is saddest of all. So the resentment simmers, and, here in Wisconsin, only conservatives have figured out how to fully exploit it.