Saturday, January 31, 2015

Democratic Minnesota in much better place than Walker's Wisconsin.

From a Cap Times editorial, Minnesota's $1 billion surplus, and Wisconsin's growing deficit:

TV forecaster has fun with Malfunctioning Weather Map

Just loved this guys endless riff on temps:

Walker's presidential strategy portrays Minimum Wage Work Force as Unreliable Employees taking Drugs.

The latest Republican attack on the lower and middle class is the ugliest and most degrading one yet, hoping to justify low wages for everybody not lovably wealthy.

First, you have to believe the poor and middle class aren't interested in showing up for work every day. And they wonder why they’re getting minimum wages.
Second, you have to believe their drug habit is keeping them from getting a higher wage job.

Enter Scott Walker, who’s running for president on these two important divide and conquer points, highlighted below:
Governor Scott Walker: “As I traveled my state, I hear employers, small business owners say, overwhelming: ‘We have jobs. We just need workers. And we need two things: people who know how to show up every day for work, five days a week, and gimme someone who can pass a drug test.'”
But I challenge anyone who believes this, to rationalize away the the example below, which is a typical situation for most low income workers:
For Wisconsin workers who currently depend on public assistance, like 21-year-old Milwaukee waitress Peyton Smith, the burden of the law would be much more personal.

“For [Governor Walker] to put another barrier in front of us is like saying we’re guilty, but we’re not guilty,” Smith told ThinkProgress. “It’s already hard to go down there and file for government assistance. We have to report in every day, fill out papers. Now I have to take the time out of my busy schedule to take a drug test? Come on!”

Smith, who has a three-year-old daughter and another baby due soon, works about 20 hours a week at Denny’s — though she has repeatedly requested full-time employment. Because it’s a tipped job, she makes just $2.33 an hour, and currently relies on food stamps to feed her family.

“I’m willing to work. I’m not lazy at all,” she said. “But the jobs we can get are horrible, low pay, and we can’t get the hours we need. As a parent, it just sucks. I want things that are healthy for her, but the fruits and vegetables she needs to grow as young child are expensive.”
And yet, Smith will get Walker's drug test, because it's all part of the plan to define her as an unreliable employee and lazy drug addict who deserves to be on a minimum wage. A hike in the wage will only encourage her. She's where she belongs:
Jennifer Epps-Addison with Wisconsin Jobs Now ... accused the Governor of “stigmatizing the hardest working people in our economy. "There were times even I couldn’t navigate the process, as a law student with a college degree. The system is set up to disempower people and make them frustrated enough to give up before receiving the help they need.”
And of course, our pocket conservative constitutionalists are not deterred by...the constitution:
Courts have ruled that similar mandatory drug testing programs imposed by other states and the federal government were unconstitutional.

What, Walker wrong? $535 million surplus really $283 million deficit? Who knew?

I guess it's not surprising Scott Walker won his reelection, after all, it was another one of those notorious midterm elections where Republicans turn out like flies on shit.

Even Walker's confidently stated lies can't break the trust they put in their "leader."

But to portray the struggling state of our economy, hit hard by the failure of his supply side austerity agenda, as somehow moving Wisconsin forward...would that be the last straw ... Walker's last big whopper and insult to our intelligence? Nope!

It now looks like the liberal blogosphere's warnings were amazingly accurate, again:

After telling his panting followers the above complete fabrication, he gave his now classic Walker "yes" nod. He does that a lot, to "catapult the propaganda," as George W. Bush say. The truth is, he's officially $283 million short this year, and faces this projection...
jsonline: Gov. Scott Walker begins his second term … plug a $2.2 billion state budget gap.
Of course that doesn't include the $750 million transportation budget gap, which Walker now brags he's going to borrow. And don't forget he's taking out a $220 million state loan to help build the Buck's arena. He's looking out for the taxpayers?

He asked for an estimate of the budget challenge assuming that lawmakers would hold most spending at 2014-’15 levels for the two following years, and tax revenue would rise at the five-year average of 2.9 percent. That yielded an estimate of a $535 million surplus.

That rosy number flies in the face of the official estimate that uses a long-established method used by members of both parties, and the governor’s budget office.

We rate the claim False.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Walker's new "Our American Revival" ad short on Wisconsinites, big on foreign talent.

Not only did Scott Walker just plagiarize a former governors clever way of describing Madison, never giving attribution, his first big campaign ad doesn't even use Wisconsinites.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker political action committee, “Our American Revival,” slickly created a not so American image for himself, with stock photos from around the globe. I guess he didn't think to put a few people to work in Wisconsin, or at least send them a royalty check for their photo?
Buzzfeed: The ad features various scenes of what one would assume is the United States. Several of the videos, however, come from foreign-based photographers and appear to have been purchased through stock image sites. 

The image of the elderly man staring off into the distance comes from Dualstock, an Italian company.

Seventeen seconds into the video is the image of a woman paying her bills that comes from Polish-based photographer Sylwia Bogdanska.
Check it out:

Walker's a Genius: waste taxpayer money paying hospitals for their uncompensated care, instead of expanding Medicaid.

Scott Walker doesn't care how much it costs, and neither do his loyal followers, since Republicans aren't complaining about the massive payout to private hospitals losing money to the uninsured sick. And the irony is Walker is counting on the federal government to pay part of those losses.

Back in June of 2013, he passed this one out:
Scott Walker agreed to pay hospitals up to $73.5 million over the next two years in anticipation they could see an increase in uninsured patients visiting emergency rooms. State taxpayers would fund $30 million of that, with the rest coming from the federal government.
From WKOW:

We don't know what the new amount is, but you can bet Obama hating Walker supporters are willing to wasted every penny to make their dumb ass point.

UW Whitewater Faculty looking to bail, as fallout continues.

UW Whitewater is already seeing requests for letters of recommendations for 4 faculty members. Meanwhile, UW opponent State Senator Steve Nass, who believe it or not represents the area, is not coming to the rescue. WISC:

Walker Plagiarizes old Madison Joke to nation!!!

Our presidential wannabee Scott Walker just ripped off, plagiarized,  the old Gov. Lee Dreyfus dig at Madison, "77 square miles surrounded by reality."
Likely presidential contender Scott Walker came to Washington on Friday, then proceeded to dismiss the nation’s capital as “68 square miles surrounded by reality.”
Will this make "stand with Walker" voters get out the old Mary Burke "plagiarized" signs again?

Conservative UW Prof. Sharpless asks Scott Walker to refund his pay on the days he's out of the state running for president.

Short and sweet, from WPR:
Sharpless: "Shouldn't he give back to the state, the money he earns on the days he's out of the state running for president?"

Conservative UW Professor on Walker's Plan: "It's not a Republican Tradition in this state to destroy infrastructure."

If you want to know what Scott Walker is about to do to the University of Wisconsin system, this is something you have to hear.

UW History professor and conservative John Sharpless came out fiercely against Scott Walker's plans for the UW. Sharpless knows the UW and offers an unfiltered perspective from the inside. He and former legislator and Democratic Party Chair Joe Wineke rightfully leveled off on Walker, and made their case against the UW cuts and the plan to give it autonomy.

In the first audio clip from WPR's Joy Cardin Show, John Sharpless explained the value of the university and what the faculty really does. Oh, and he takes a nice shot a Walker.

Giving the UW autonomy means:
Sharpless: "the university will be driven by this famous marketplace, so federal power combined with corporate power will determine the university agenda."

The caller in the next clip triggered an incredible rant from Sharpless about what people really want from Wisconsin.
Sharpless: "It's not a Republican tradition in this state, to destroy infrastructure, I don't know what that's all about. This recent rhetoric shocks me."

UW faculty aren't the fat cats you hear conservative legislators and radio hosts blather on and on about.

Sham corporate "holiday," National School Choice Week, just a clever ad campaign that plays off parental fears.

I hate to say it about so many sincere and desperate parents, but it looks like a whole bunch of them were suckered in to celebrate National School Choice Week. Who the hell made this a national week anyway? 

Wasn't it ironic to see school choice advocates celebrating their week at the state Capitol, asking Republicans to spend more on vouchers, at the same time the UW took a $300 million hit. They thought nothing of it:

As I've mentioned many times, school choice plays off the fears and insecurities every parent has about their kids; that they may not doing enough. Simple isn't it? So when parents hear the sell job, they leap at the chance. It also appeals to those who believe religion should be taught in schools. All the wrong reasons. The con is this; they'll tout the growing numbers of kids taking vouchers, but not their grades. Sure the numbers will increase with a good advertising campaign, based on a parents fears, but is it working?

Destroying the myth of choice schools: From Raw Story...the truth:
Wow! Check out the fancy website for National School Choice Week. It’s polished, it’s colorful; it features kids of all races with bright smiling faces. They even have their own dance! The videos are tearjerkers.

1. There are no data that support the idea that charter schools are superior to public schools. According to Data First, an initiative of the Center for Public Education, on math assessments 17% of kids in charter schools perform significantly better than their peers in public schools. But 37% perform significantly worse. For the rest (46%), scores were comparable. 

2. Unlike public schools, charters can pick and choose their students. Children with special needs are not chosen. According to Diane Ravitch in her book, The Myth of the Charter School, some charter schools “counsel out” or expel students just before state testing day. Lower-performing students tend to mysteriously drop out. Throws that “better performing” 17% into serious question, doesn’t it?

3. Children who are better resourced with more family support are the winners in the school choice game. Children from disorganized families don’t even enter the lottery. 

4. It’s family income, stupid. 

5. Public schools are doing just fine. The idea that our schools are falling behind and our students will not be able to compete globally is, according to a number of education experts, off base. Diane Ravitch, among others, has written that the notion that American students’ scores on international tests have declined is a mythA recent article by Ken Bernstein highlights the point that poverty is the real issue, noting that, “US schools with less than 25% of their children in poverty perform as well as any nation [on international comparisons], and those with 10% or less of their children in poverty outperform Finland.” School Choice Week is basically a giant commercial, paid for by a huge list of corporate sponsors. It’s pushing a product. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

UW Funding slashed, from 48% to a breathtaking 15% in just Ten Years.

The media should really take the time to look at how quickly Scott Walker and the Republican legislature have defunded the UW. Since Walker became governor, funding dropped below 40%. Coincidence? Hardly. Shockingly, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, state tax funding is now down to just 19%. I believe Walker wants to block grant the lump sum of $100 million to the UW from here on out. Keep in mind, there are a lot of numbers being tossed around right now, so it's hard to nail down just what percentage is left after the possible $300 million cut.

A friend passed along this note and chart, expressing the utter frustration she's felt watching her university attacked and possibly dismantled. It's hard to believe how much the state once paid in:
If you personally, like me, received a degree from any of the University of Wisconsin's beautiful, affordable campuses during the era when state tax support covered 50% or more of the cost of an undergraduate degree (see lower chart), and you now support Governor Walker's proposal to cut that same support to a level below 15%, you are either very confused or a selfish hypocrite.

Walker continues to deflect attention away from his dramatic cuts by comparing it to former Governor Jim Doyle's heart breaking decisions during the Great Recession. For Democrats, it was a temporary sacrifice they hoped to restore at their first opportunity. But then the 2010 election happened, and Walker's been riding on the coat tails of the Obama economic recovery ever since. And even then he's still failed to bring business or jobs to the state. 

Republican State Senator demands new Cheaper optional Test for Schools.

I think it important to get one thing straight about school testing:
Annual testing is a requirement of the current federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind.
Got that? We're still feeling the effects of big government Republican overreach by the Bush administration that created this situation. And yet that was okay.

So how do Republicans oppose Common Core testing. Leave it to State Sen. Paul Farrow, who found a way to actually whine about the cost. What, an additional $2 million (another report quotes Farrow saying $7 million)? Outrageous. It's not that it's just a little more, but it forces Farrow to vote for Common Core, something HE doesn't like. Funny thing, Farrow doesn't care in the least about throwing away the millions districts have already spent setting up Common Core.

He even made it seem like Evers was on board with using the test to punish schools. WSJ:
State Sen. Paul Farrow has asked state schools Superintendent Tony Evers not to use student test scores from the Smarter Balanced exams for school ratings, sanctions or teacher evaluations … saying the Smarter Balanced tests may not be used after this spring … because of “unforeseen cost increases.”

Evers does not support the request, but added “we’ve never supported high-stakes decisions being made based on the results of standardized tests alone.”
Farrow's phony outrage and panicky response wasn't believable:
The Department of Education would need to approve such a request, but noted that the Smarter Balanced test is specified in Wisconsin law. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last year gave state education chiefs the power to delay using teacher evaluations based on test scores for personnel decisions until the 2016-17 school year.
Getting back to basic common (core) sense; it's impossible to compared schools using different tests. Am I the only one that gets this simple concept.
Conservative lawmakers have proposed giving schools’ another test option, most recently because of higher-than-anticipated costs.
Republican Farrow is hyperventilating over $2.1 million more for testing...phony outrage? Sen. Farrow even went as far as constructing a conspiracy of spin coming out of DPI:
Jeff Pertl, a DPI policy adviser, said the agency is exploring using tests other than Smarter Balanced exams because of the possibility that the Legislature will not fund its budget request to fully pay for the tests, about $2.1 million more over the next two years than the $9.4 million originally expected.

Farrow blasted DPI … “My guess is they’ve known about this for more than a month — I think more than six months. If they had alluded we were going to have a cost issue ... Farrow’s letter also asked Evers to come up with a plan for finding a new assessment for the 2015-16 school year that is cost-effective.
Because $2 million is just too much.

UW...gone!!! Walker trashes faculty for not teaching more, "doing more work." Oh, and it clears way for more tax cuts.

Scott Walker is so desperate to make his budget busting tax cuts disappear in time for his presidential run, that he's basically getting rid of the University of Wisconsin's funding cutting it loose. It's also another way to clear the way for those promised future tax cuts. 

Instead of the entire state sharing in the cost of educating our kids, spurring on future economic growth for generations to come, Walker is pushing the entire burden off onto the students and parents. College tuition's will skyrocket like they did in Texas and eliminate middle class access completely, leaving the remaining students with exorbitant student loans to pay off...if ever. 

Lazy Liberal UW Faculty Staffers need to Work Harder: There's a reason for all this. Within the more anecdotal based/anti-science/anti-education bubble Walker inhabits exists the notion faculty elitists loaf all day. What did Governor Dropout say on Charlie Sykes show? jsonline:

"In the future, by not having the limitation of things like shared governance, they might be able to make savings just by asking faculty and staff to consider teaching one more class a semester," Walker told reporters at the Madison hotel … he had told WTMJ-AM host Charlie Sykes, "maybe it's time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work."
That didn't go over to well at the UW:
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross bristled on a Thursday morning radio talk show at Gov. Scott Walker's remarks the day before that faculty and staff could teach more classes and work harder. Asked during "The Joy Cardin Show" on Wisconsin Public Radio about his reaction to the governor taking a shot at faculty and staff workloads, UW President Ray Cross took a long pause to gather his thoughts and then said:

"I'm very frustrated over that. ... I think it's a shame that people don't understand what faculty really do" … Cross said faculty work 50 to 60 hours a week. "Blame administrators. Don't deride faculty. I'm getting tired of this... I'm tired of faculty being blamed for these problems."
And then Cross pointed out how it looks when our freeloading Republicans are not "working" at the Capitol:  
Cross said Thursday it would be the same thing as criticizing how hard legislators work, "if all we think they do is what we see them do when both chambers are in session."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

American Fascists hold congress and the courts.

For the last few days, radio host Thom Hartmann has been saying that basically, U.S. fascism is upon us. He's passed along a number of amazing quotes from Vice President Henry Wallace and Pres. Roosevelt. Wallace was asked by the NY Times to a explain fascism, how many fascist are there, and how dangerous are they.

It's very clear the Republican Party and the Roberts court have embraced creeping fascism:
Fascism Coming to a Court Near You: Corporate Personhood and the Roberts' Court By Thom Hartmann

Vice President Wallace's answers to those questions were published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those... With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

"American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information..."

Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggested that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection."

"The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. ... Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels."

As Wallace's President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia: "...Out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties.... It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction.... And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man...."

Speaking indirectly of the fascists that Wallace would directly name almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core: "These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power."

But, he thundered in that speech: "Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!"

In just a few months, we may again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II. Fascism is rising in America, this time calling itself "compassionate conservatism," and "the free market" in a "flat" world.  The point of its spear is "corporate personhood" and "corporate free speech rights."

The Roberts' Court's behavior - if this prediction of their goal for this fall is accurate (and it's hard to draw any other conclusion) - now eerily parallels the day in 1936 when Roosevelt said: "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

Walker's cuts to UW will lead to Texas Tuition Disaster.

Scott Walker found a way to fund the new multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee as a way to invest in the region and encourage economic development.

Yet Walker doesn't think that same investment in our state colleges would have a similar result, everywhere, not just in Milwaukee. 

The last few years Republicans have been arguing against that idea that young adults needed a college education, were talked into it, and made a costly mistake. Walker is part of that crowd, talking endlessly about the insatiable need for welders. 

Walker, Texas Replayer: Walker must have caught wind of a similar Texas plan, that unbeknownst to Walker, is failing. Let's face it, he's not a deep thinker and he always runs from problem solving. Texas legislators are now trying to fix sky rocketing tuition's. See if any of this sounds familiar:
Some Texas lawmakers want to reclaim the right to set college tuition rates. The legislature had given that authority to the schools in 2003. But now, higher tuition costs are making college unaffordable for a section of Texas students and that is one of the reasons some lawmakers are rethinking that decision. Twelve years ago, state lawmakers began allowing public universities to set their own tuition rates so they could cover a funding gap caused by the legislature’s cuts to the higher education budget in 2003 and the years that followed.
Much like Walker's $300 million cut? So here's what happened...
Since then, tuition rates in Texas have skyrocketed by an average 107 percent, and that jump has prompted a bipartisan effort in the Senate to let the legislature once again control tuition.
What is obvious to everyone but Walker is that tuition is going to climb fast. In fact, it'll be my sons first year at the UW...bad timing folks.

If anything, Democrats had better start promising to reverse the damage Walker and his Republican pirates are doing. And where is the outrage from parents across the state. What in gods name has to happen before we realize we're losing everything for some idiotic policy wrapped in the words liberty and freedom.

Here's the WISC look at Walker's destructive proposal, which by the way, corporate UW higher ups kinda like:

NOTE: This downward slide into idiocracy and the GOP attack on education is across the board. Our own Paul Ryan has the following plan, on top of Walker's possible tuition increases:
For Pell Grants the Paul Ryan budget would cut $200 billion from this program. This would affect middle and lower class citizens is a huge way. The Pell Grant is the only way some poor families could pay for college. With cuts to the Pell Grant, many lower class people who would like to get to college couldn't afford the tuition. Following last year’s budget standoffs, next year’s maximum Pell grant of $5,645 will cover just one-third of the average cost of college — the smallest share ever.

Walker throws $220 Million at Buck's, cuts UW Funding by $330 million. What an investment.

Just amazing. As pointed out by Jake's Economic TA Fun House in the picture below, nothing said "Republican" and Scott Walker more than the proposal to give the Bucks a $220 million loan, while cutting the UW's funding by $330 million, all in the same budget. 

The Buck's repayment plan is pure supply side economics; give the rich money, and over time, on the hook taxpayers will get it all back and then some. Never mind the fact that the general public will pay for all of this through much higher cable bills, thank you very much:   
The linchpin to Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to invest $220 million in state bonds to help build a new, multipurpose arena in downtown Milwaukee is last year's agreement between the National Basketball Association and Turner Broadcasting and the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC and ESPN. The prospect of increased revenue gave Walker assurances that capturing the new income-tax growth from visiting NBA players, members of the Milwaukee Bucks and even the team's employees would be enough to pay the debt service on state-backed bonds ... lead to Wisconsin collecting more withholding tax if the Bucks stay and play in Milwaukee." Once the bonds are repaid, the tax growth would return to the state, Walker said.
Yes it's just more of that magical trickle down thinking. I wouldn't be so down on this had it not been for Walker's hit on UW. But even worse, the taxpayer loan of $220 million is described by Walker as, and I'm not making this up, "a free market approach."
"It's a free market approach," Walker told members of the MMAC's board of directors on Tuesday. "It's only the growth that pays for this in the future."
The eventual total cost will be between $300 - $400 million over so many years. Not a big concern for our free market loving governor and billionaire team owners on public assistance. But not everyone is happy on the right. To sum it up:
Americans for Prosperity for Wisconsin expressed disappointment: “While it appears that some protections are being put into place, the governor’s plan would put the state and taxpayers on the hook for future obligations," the group said in a statement. "Funding for sports arenas should not be the responsibility of the state and the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin."
According to the WKOW report below, our proud scheming governor is shown explaining how genius his plan is. It also puts us on the hook until 2046, maybe in my lifetime.

Walker is aware the Nation can hear him lie, right?

Snuggle up on the sofa with steaming cup of hot cocoa, and bask in the warm glow of the (Pants on) fire. Tis the season for bigger, national sized lies from our sociopathic governor.

While Walker and his band of legislative Republican pirates insist a constitutional change allowing the State Supreme Court justices to vote every two years for a new chief justice brings true democracy to their workplace, that same kind of "democracy" doesn't apply to workers voting to unionize their workplace. Whatever "principled" rationalization is convenient at the time I suppose.

Unions are still the super villain holding down corporate dominance. They're so bad that Walker has the balls to compare unions to the Red Threat. But as pictured here, even the unions back then were squarely in the sights of the Soviet Union.

But as PolitiFact pointed out, Walker's play to the base is simply outrageous:
Five experts told us they had never heard of such documents. Several were incredulous at the notion. McCartin, a Georgetown University labor history expert who wrote the book about the strike that Walker cited, said: "I am not aware of any such documents.  If they did exist, I would love to see them."

Svetlana Savranskaya, director of Russia programs at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, told us she "had to listen to the Walker interview twice, so ridiculous is the statement about the air traffic controllers. There is absolutely no evidence of this." James Graham Wilson, a historian at the U.S. State Department, also told us he was not aware of any Soviet documents.
 Reagan's own ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock, told us: "It's utter nonsense. There is no evidence of that whatever." Matlock questioned whether Soviet leaders even paid much attention to the firings, saying: "At that point, their big question was whether (Reagan) was going to attack them."

Walker cited no Soviet documents showing that the firings made the Soviets treat Reagan more seriously. And experts, several of whom felt Walker’s claim is outrageous, told us they are not aware that any such documents exist.

For a statement that is false and ridiculous, our rating is Pants on Fire.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Walker's Gogebic Taconite mining jobs effort a no-go!

With iron ore demand at an all time low, Scott Walker's visionary mining jobs plan has failed miserably. Oh sure, blame the EPA, which was always a major road block for G-Tac anyway. The rammed through law was a fiasco from the start, but it did show how little regard Republicans had for the environment. I won't say it was a lesson learned for the GOP, but it was for voters.

Check out a released statement from a sentenced protester here at MAL Contends.

MacIver Institute makes Dire 15 year energy prediction if we're crazy enough to go with Solar and Wind Power.

The fellows at the rightwing tabloid and think tank, MacIver Institute, have another phony drummed up "report."

The Nostradamus wing of the institute wants us to think they can look 15 years into the future and predict job losses totaling nearly 21,000, with electricity prices rising 19%. Of course that assumes solar and wind energy prices never come down, the cost of equipment never gets lower, or that new manufacturing plants filled with workers are never built to create the turbines and fuel cells. So...:

This isn't the first time MacIver Institute stuck their neck out with wild predictions. Who can forget their headline from the turn of the 20th century:

Walker fast tracks unaffordable UW colleges, blocking upward mobility of middle class in state.

Again, missing in action, the immediate Democratic response to another outrageous cut to the UW, this time to the tune of $300 million. Pathetic.

The reason we fund public education is to spread the cost to each and every citizen, so families with children don’t end up paying the full amount themselves, and everyone in society benefits. Well, not anymore. And at a time when college is a basic necessity, pricing the lower and middle class out of education is mind boggling. This idea only sets up another huge problem for future generations to deal with. 

Scott Walker is looking to “renege” on public funding so he can pass a few more of those "on his way to the White House" tax cuts. Remember the word “renege?” The only reason Walker wrongly accused the federal government of reneging on Medicaid payments is because he actually planned to do that himself, for real. It’s called projection. 

And Walker's purely political election year tuition tax freezes?  That savings will disappear fast. It'll be a nice way for families to spend their GOP tax cuts. 

And with Republicans in charge of congress, the interest on student loans will go through the roof too, a “free market” giveaway to the banks. It's a perfect storm. This isn't the first time Walker tried to trash education, along with the constitution:   
jsonline-Jason Stein: A portion of a law giving Gov. Scott Walker veto powers over rules written by the state schools superintendent was struck down ... Circuit Judge Amy Smith ruled that the law violated the state constitution by giving Walker that power over the state Department of Public Instruction. 
It's no surprise that the loss of the UW's large cash reserves, the focus the legislatures phony outrage during the last budget, is now coming back to haunt us, big time. jsonline:
UWM Chancellor Mark Mone on Friday told faculty of the College of Letters & Science that the … large cuts … would be more painful than previous trims because "we don't have the (cash) reserves we had then, and we don't have the flexibility because of tuition freezes going forward at least two years."
It now appears the enemy of public education, Sen. Steve Nass, is sounding sane in this stunning press release:
Even Rep. Robin Vos seemed a little surprised:
“As a former regent, I have concerns about a cut of this magnitude without granting flexibilities to the UW System. It appears that a significant amount of flexibility would be necessary in order to manage such a large decrease off the base budget. This is a decision that’s not to be taken lightly.”
Here's what our state constitution lays out for public colleges:
State university; support. SECTION 6. Provision shall be made by law for the establishment of a state university at or near the seat of state government, and for connecting with the same, from time to time, such colleges in different parts of the state as the interests of education may require. The proceeds of all lands that have been or may hereafter be granted by the United States to the state for the support of a university shall be and remain a perpetual fund to be called “the university fund,” the interest of which shall be appropriated to the support of the state university, and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed in such university.

Monday, January 26, 2015

3 GOP contenders stop by Koch's Retreat, happen to be in the Neighborhood, say it's not about the money but "the struggle for freedom!"

Since money is now speech, and Citizens United made this simple outrageous headline a total yawner, Republicans have embraced their own political job creators:

Three potential Republican presidential candidates appeared before a gathering of wealthy donors organized by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers in California on Sunday night. Charles Koch said "the struggle for freedom never ends."
That got me thinking; since it wasn't the Koch brothers money that got the 3 GOP presidential contenders to stop by for a visit, maybe they wouldn't mind stopping by the Democurmudgeon's own living room retreat for a little middle class conversation. I know I have better beer. Don't be surprised if next weeks Newsweek headline offered this glimmer of hope:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Walker takes credit for 2nd place Graduation Rates in our "failed" Public Schools, so why all the Voucher Talk?

A little known secret made the news the other day that dispels every Scott Walker and Republican lie about our supposed failing public schools.
Wisconsin’s high school graduation rate was 88.0% for the 2012-13 school year, just behind Iowa at 90 percent and tied for second. 
That's way over the national average of just 81%. So what's all this talk about our failing public unionized schools? It was all a carefully constructed right wing privatization campaign myth.

It seems despite Republican efforts to voucherize education and bleed public schools dry, the switch over to Common Core standards in 2010 and the incredible dedication teachers had for their students was enough to keep the state's ranking at the top.

Thanks to Scott Walker? Who wants to take credit for something he nearly single handedly destroyed with Act 10? Scott Walker of course, and he lied again making it seem like the ranking included all four years of his administration, when in fact it wasn't. We're talking about the 2012-13 school year. And the fact that the actual that graduating class started 4 years earlier and Wisconsin's graduation rates haven't really changed much for the last 3 years...well, has this guy ever accomplished anything policy wise?

2011: 87.0%
2012: 87.5%
2013: 88.0%

NOTE: Wisconsin's top graduation rate blows up Walker's excuse that the Act 10 protests negatively effected business and job creation. If anything, Act 10 should have negatively effect teaching and public education in general, since that's what the protests and recalls were all about...and it didn't. WKOW:

Walker phasing out Welfare, FoodShare, Medicaid and Unemployment with bogus screening Questionnaire.

Republicans have found a way to make us lose every one of our safety nets. And what will happen to the people and families who need public assistance. It's anybody’s guess. 

Scott Walker is now requiring a drug test for all public assistance programs, against federal law, and offered this Orwellian explanation:
Walker: "We're not making it harder to get government assistance, we making it easier to get a job."
Two completely different goals. Walker inadvertently acknowledges that it will make getting government assistance harder by arguing that it doesn't. From WKOW's Greg Neumann:

The Wretched Democratic Response? You'll want to put your fist through the monitor with their comeback:
Rep. Peter Barca: "We look forward to the debate, I trust the process will be fair (giggle). I'm not so sure we'll agree to the outcome." 
It turns my stomach.

A similar Montana bill making the rounds nationally and now in Wisconsin, looks like this:
The bill would require anyone who applies for government assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to go through a drug screening. TANF provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children. The program offers financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.
Yes, even pregnant women will be tested. I doubt you can get any lower than this.

Surprise, according to your Questionnaire, there's a "Reasonable Likelihood" you're Taking Drugs: In the GOP's Montana bill, applicants must willingly give up personal information to the government or risk “raising suspicions” about possible drug use. Sound coercive and an easy way to suspect anyone? Not to the rightwing authoritarian Republican Reich:
Applicants must answer a questionnaire called the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) to determine the "likelihood of having a substance abuse disorder." If results indicate a "reasonable likelihood" of drug abuse, the applicant would be required to undergo a lab test with the state.
And what if you fight back against having your privacy invaded by big government…
Failure to complete the questionnaire and/or drug test would result in the applicant being denied benefits.
Which is the intended result, and a pretty tricky way to defeat opponents. Big government Republicans will also dump taxpayer money into a new privatized bureaucratic hoop:
In cases where a person is deemed ineligible for assistance, a third party would be authorized to accept payments for children whose parents are ineligible for benefits.
The right wings avowed enemy, the ACLU, made this persuasive argument:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana argued that because the people who receive government assistance are by definition low-income earners, this bill treats them like criminals before they even apply for financial assistance. In December 2014, the 11th Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled that Florida's enacted version of this bill was unconstitutional and "suspicionless drug tests violates the Constitution's protection against unreasonable government searches."
Isn't it about time freedom loving Republicans challenge another constitutional protection? And because many readers don't get to see the comment section, here's one I thought was to important to not include:
lufthase: The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory mentioned above is a specific proprietary screening tool created and owned by the SASSI Institute. Because they're actual health practitioners and not RW ideologues, they have this to say about using their screening test like this:
"To use the SASSI to discriminate against individuals, such as disqualifying job applicants or to deny public assistance, violates the purpose of the SASSI and is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

"…when public assistance is made contingent on participation in the assessment and treatment process, it increases the risk for violations of ethical principles and applicants’ rights."
The folks who wrote the damn screening test (and stand to profit from its use) say this is not a legitimate use of their test. Shout it from the mountaintops!

Republicans give-up on property rights and U.S. sovereignty for Keystone XL Pipeline!!!

Brad Blog was right to point out the absolute destructive lunacy of our rightwing authoritarian overlords when it comes to gaming the system against the American public.

Two incredible examples spilled out of the Keystone XL pipeline debate:
1. “The pipeline's owner, TransCanada Corp., has now filed an eminent domain action in a Nebraska state court seeking to force private landowners to grant an easement that would permit the Canadian-owned company to erect sections of the highly controversial Keystone XL on privately owned land.”

2. The new filing comes on the heels of a controversial decision earlier this month in which a 3-judge minority of the 7-judge Nebraska Supreme Court were permitted to overturn a lower court ruling that the process by which the state's Republican Governor Dave Heineman permitted TransCanada to revise the pipeline's route was unconstitutional … a Cornhusker state requirement that state constitutionality be determined by a super-majority of high court's justices. 
The supposed party of property rights and U.S. sovereignty just got exposed as absolute bullshitters.

This reminds of the GOP's 4th Amendment work-around where they can glean suspicion of drug use from a "questionnaire" for food stamps. I'm sure there are an infinite number of ways for constitutional conservatives to bypass our founding document, and they won't hesitate to use them.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Walker Plunges state into Deeper Hole, supporters love it, want Walker to run for president? Strange but true.

The real numbers are in, and our whiny Republican majority can't blame former Gov. Jim Doyle for the massive budget shortfalls they now have sitting in their laps. In fact, their own mishandling of the budget has created an almost similar deficit number. "Stand with Walker" Borgites won't notice or care, after all, they're in power now, so what. But some Republicans have already told us deficits are good...when it happens under their watch of course. jsonline-Jason Stein: 
"Come on down..." says Walker.
To keep the state doing what it does now through mid-2017, Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers have to come up with $928 million in spending cuts or tax increases, according to estimates released Friday by the Legislature's budget office. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau found that to continue current operations ... state officials have to find $283 million this year plus another $648 million over the following two-year budget beginning July 1. The shortfall in the state's main account becomes even larger — more than $2 billion — in the unlikely event elected officials seek to provide all of the added spending requested by agencies through June 2017 and the additional tax cuts promised by Walker in his successful re-election campaign last year.
Rewarded for withholding their payment to the state, the Potawatomi tribe’s threat helped force Scott Walker to deny the Kenosha casino, killing thousands of jobs and potential state revenues. Hey, that’s just business folks, like high speed rail and solar power. But mining ore that's no longer in demand...?
The fiscal bureau's numbers don't include a roughly $25 million gambling payment that the Potawatomi tribe owes the state from last year and committed to paying Friday, or an additional $25 million that can now be expected from the tribe this summer.
Keep in mind, the transportation fund used lots of general revenue dollars last time. With the shortfall…well, this will be fun to watch:
The estimated shortfalls don't reflect the added financial pressures in the state's separate transportation account nor does the report include any tax cuts that Walker may include in the 2015-'17 budget bill that he'll deliver on Feb. 3. 
And yet, former secretary of state candidate and Republican Party operative Julian Bradley thinks Walker's record is enough to catapult Walker into the White House. Try not to laugh:
Bradley: "The reason people are talking about Gov. Walker for president is because how well he's governed our state. That's can't be denied. You just can't manufacture a candidate with broad national appeal. The governor has earned the right to be in this conversation...he survived a recall...the caller was asking about Act 10, and how nobody liked it and this was all part of plan to try and run for president but really it was part of a plan to bring our state political, or rather financial system back in order." 
Yea, this is what our "system back in order" looks like. What is about GOP candidates running on really bad jobs and economic records? This is almost surreal. Audio from WPR:

Daily Beast claims Walker "just pulled off Supreme Court Coup," resulting in an end to pesky John Doe's.

Short and sweet; getting and keeping power is all that’s left of the Republican Party’s platform. Tax cuts and deregulation are just means to an end.

Protecting illegal political activity with the help of our state's highest court is the cherry on top. The long time target of the Republicans Party, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, is about to go away. Radical conservatism is now going to get the top courts rubber stamp, suddenly making shear right wing authoritarian lunacy appear "constitutional." Right, if they say so: 
Daily Beast: The Wisconsin state Senate (and now Assembly) has just paved the way for the state Supreme Court to elect its own chief justice—and the conservatives’ pick might shake up the governor’s own case. A state constitutional amendment ... will allow the court’s seven justices to vote on a chief justice ... If the bill wins voter approval April 7, the next chief justice, selected by the court’s conservative majority, will almost certainly be Justice Pat Roggensack. 
Why the rush? Gee, I wonder if Walker's presidential run has anything to do with it?
The court agreed last year to hear a case resulting from the much-publicized “John Doe” investigation into possible violations of campaign finance law by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign during the recall elections of 2011 and 2012. Spring elections are notorious for their low turnout—19 percent voted in April 2013—and the measure is expected to succeed. The court will likely have a new chief justice just in time for its ruling on the John Doe case, expected to be issued this summer.

Iowa GOP Threat, and Walker presidential ambitions, make Kenosha Casino Denial a No-Brainer. Good-bye jobs, hello White House?

Scott Walker surprised no one today. jsonline:
Gov. Scott Walker killed the Menominee's tribe effort to open an off-reservation casino in Kenosha.
There he goes again. Isn't it obvious now Gov. Scott Walker is no leader and a failed job creator? But does he really want to be our next president? Of course. Let's be honest for a change.

First Walker delayed the Kenosha casino decision to shore up as many area votes as possible. That much was pretty transparent. He played off the hopes of area residents that his supposed focus on jobs would end well for them. It didn't.

But Scott Walker's one ambition, to become president with one party rule, trumped everything. It's the latest Republican meme that slipped unintentionally from the lips of George W. Bush:
“If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier... as long as I'm the dictator. Hehehe.”
No joke, he meant it. It's been the topic of the party behind closed doors for at least a decade. Even Walker said his decision to run would be based on the senate flipping to the GOP. And it did.

Remember earlier this week when Iowa party leaders threatened Walker if he went ahead and approved the casino:
jsonline: Influential social conservatives in Iowa are warning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that approving a proposed Kenosha casino next month could hurt his presidential bid … Tom Coates, executive director of Consumer Credit of Des Moines, wrote Walker after his November re-election and sent him a petition against gambling expansion he said had been signed by 600 Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and both Republican National Committee members from Iowa, Steve Scheffler and Tamara Scott. "As you are contemplating a presidential bid, I sincerely hope you will consider a 'No Expanding Gaming' policy," Coates wrote.
It's time to make the Potawatomi tribe hurt statewide with a boycott. If they can't take the competition, then their anti-business, anti-job practices should be punished.

They have one casino is in Forest County, the other in downtown Milwaukee. Funny thing, their casino in northern Wisconsin competes with 9 other casinos. In Milwaukee...0!!! Thank you free market Scott Walker.

Why the press allows Walker and the Republican Party play these games, especially when it's ridiculously obvious, is a mystery to me. Who didn't see this coming, really?

Now, let's continue to wonder if Walker is going to run for president, okay?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Superintendent of Private Instruction Scott Walker seeking "Real Life Experience" Teacher wannabes.

College dropout Scott Walker's knows education. That's why he has created an entirely different parallel private system of schooling that mostly under performs its public counterpart, teaches mostly religion and turns our kids into what profiteers call a "commodity."
Commodity: "A raw material or product that is bought and sold commercially in large quantities." How nice.
That's not all; Walker also wants schools to be accountable, so he's letting the private ones take their own preferred tests, whatever that means. So we really can't compare schools at all, but I'll bet you the private schools improve quickly.

Now Superintendent Walker wants those battered by life's bitter experiences to take that right into the classroom. WISC:  
Walker on Thursday announced that he is proposing that people with work experience be allowed to take a competency test to gain a teacher license. Walker's spokeswoman says the Department of Public Instruction will be charged with creating a competency exam that will allow someone with "real life experience" to gain a teacher license.
For comparisons sake, consider our legislative block of "real life experience" accountants, true believers in supply side, voodoo economics. Can you say Great Recession? Who knows, maybe when they leave office they go into teaching.

Walker Drug Testing takes food from needy, creates more government bureaucracy, shreds Constitution, thinks he should be president?

Remember Scott Walker’s recent slip admitting we’re not all “born equally free and independent?” Taking the state constitutional wording…
"All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain and inherent rights...."
Walker tweaks just how equal with…
"…it doesn't matter what class you were born into … here, opportunity should be as equal as possible. As equal as possible!"
He said it like it was right there in constitution, repeating it, with emphasis.

Now we’re finding out that a person’s “freedom” can be tweaked too. Unemployed? You just lost your constitutional protection against an unreasonable government search. Like Walker said.
"With this budget, we are addressing some of the barriers keeping people from achieving true freedom and prosperity and the independence that comes with having a good job and doing it well."
And Walker will make sure those barriers are in place and enforced. Walker stuck in a lot of qualifiers too. Let's unpack that; drugs are a barrier to freedom, and until you are drug free, have a “good” job and you’re doing it well, you aren't technically "as" free. Am I playing word games and reaching a bit?

Like the ACLU wrote in the Florida case: 
“…offensive assumption that public benefits recipients use drugs at higher rates than the general public, and imply that the privacy rights of poor people and communities are worth less than those of the gainfully employed…”
Any conservative pocket constitutionalist, who still has a version that includes the 4th Amendment, might want to read it again. Simply put it protects against unreasonable government searches.

Windows 10 will be free, Holographic Glasses incredible.

I watched the recent Windows 10 conference and demonstration...and it kicked Apple's ass. What is it about Apple that makes everyone think they're the technology innovators? They're all about "design," but that's it.

The Windows 10 upgrade is free for the first year. Free...even for Windows 7 diehards (although not for 7.5 phones, like mine). It's also one full system that connects all your devices with the same features. It also look's like Windows OneDrive is something I'm going to have to start using as well.

But the following HoloLens headgear demonstration was just too good to pass up. Edited for length, check out the future of wearable 3D computers:

PCGamer: Microsoft’s HoloLens doesn’t really fit any of those molds. What Microsoft calls holograms, most of us have been calling augmented reality for years—overlaying digital images over our view of the real world. After trying on Microsoft’s headset, I came away impressed with the technology—especially if their final hardware is actually able to integrate all of the HoloLens’ necessary battery and processing power into a wire-free device.

Where Google Glass gives you a small heads-up display, HoloLens is a much more powerful integrated system, capable of running real applications beyond a heads-up display of the weather or your calendar. I talked to a Microsoft engineer on Skype, who showed up in my augmented reality FOV as a floating video feed. I could pin that window anywhere in space and look back at it to see her talk. Meanwhile, she could see everything I was looking at, and talked me through the process of installing a light switch. She could also draw things on her Surface tablet screen and have them appear in front of my eyes, which she did multiple times to point to a certain tool or a wire I needed to connect. It’s by far the best AR headset I’ve ever seen, but the view is disappointingly limited.

Wired: Another scenario lands me on a virtual Mars-scape. With a quick upward gesture, I toggle from computer screens that monitor the Curiosity rover’s progress across the planet’s surface to the virtual experience of being on the planet. The ground is a parched, dusty sandstone, and so realistic that as I take a step, my legs begin to quiver. They don’t trust what my eyes are showing them. Behind me, the rover towers seven feet tall, its metal arm reaching out from its body like a tentacle. The sun shines brightly over the rover, creating short black shadows on the ground beneath its legs.

Walker hates Common Core...again. Sells incomparable test standards to low information voters.

While Scott Walker is still thinking about running for president, he's blocked off a little time in Iowa for some reason. He'll speak at the oddly named Freedom Summit (sponsored by who else Citizens United), because we've lost so much of it lately. Walker is now emphasizing his disdain for Common Core, after appearing squishy on it in his state-of-the-state speech.

Green Bay's Fox 11 reported that Walker wants different standards, incomparable ones, giving schools a choice over what test to use. Like No Child Left Behind, district's will simply lowered their test standards to get higher scores. It's accountability in name only, but isn't everything Republicans do just for show anyway? It's working, and getting them elected:

Walker: “I’m all for high standards. Wisconsin has some of the highest standards on its own. I just believe the standards should be set by people within the state and not outside the state. They should ultimately be set at the local level ... I also want them to make it perfectly clear in the statutes that school districts do not have to use common core, and that we take it a step further and we work with the legislature to make sure there aren't things like the Smarter Balanced test going forward that require the schools to use the Common Core.”
According to Fox 11, at least one parent is seeing the same results I'm seeing with my two boys:
Lori Cathey, the Green Bay Education Association President says while the way common core has been implemented isn't perfect, she’s seen positive results. “My son is seven. He’s in the second grade. He’s had common core math since he was in kindergarten and the stuff he is able to truly understand about math and the concepts and about why things happen. It’s just amazing,” said Cathey.