Thursday, July 30, 2015

Walker caught lying about his involvement in trashing Open Records Law. Video, Watch him Lie!

Scott Walker denied he had anything to do with trying to do away with the open records law. jsonline:
Walker has acknowledged his office had a role in developing the plan, but he also has tried to distance himself from it, saying this month the overall proposal "didn't come from us."
But that's not true:
Gov. Scott Walker's office pushed to add language into the attempted overhaul of Wisconsin's open records law that would have shielded briefings, discussions about policy drafts and other "deliberative" documents, newly released documents show. The records, described as "deliberative process materials," would have also made unavailable to the public opinions, analyses, recommendations, suggestions and notes that preceded a final decision. Early versions of the sweeping open records limits did not include language preventing the release of deliberative materials. But limits to "deliberative process materials" were in place by June 15, a review of newly available records shows.
Now that we know the truth, it's worth a look at how Walker never answering straight forward questions like below. If our kids did that we'd know they were lying, if an adult sized adolescent bully did it, were supposed to give him the benefit of the doubt? Don't think so. Still, this is how Walker answers most of his questions, which begs the question, why is he always lying?

Walker and his administration are being sued by the Progressive magazine and the liberal Center for Media and Democracy over the issue in Dane County Circuit Court.

Walker's lie about out-of-state protesters finally put to rest. "False."

Scott Walker continues to say point blank that out of state union thugs came to Wisconsin to intimidate and agitate the locals to protest. But he's "Pants on Fire" lying really:

PolitiFact had this to say back in 2011 and now:
In late February 2011, during the heat of the daily protests inside and around the Capitol, Walker said "almost all" of the protesters were from outside of Wisconsin. He made the statement in a phone conversation with a Buffalo, N.Y., blogger who was posing as industrialist and conservative political donor David Koch.

We rated Walker’s statement False.

Fast forward to today: We asked Walker’s campaign for evidence that 100,000 protesters were brought into Wisconsin. The campaign cited isolated reports of demonstrators being bused in from Illinois and New York, but nothing more comprehensive.

For the record, it’s clear tens of thousands of protesters participated in some of the daily demonstrations, but less clear whether the crowds ever reached 100,000. But there is no evidence to indicate that all or nearly all were from outside of Wisconsin.

We rate Walker’s statement False.

AG Schimel confused, thinks Emails, Skype and Texting to modern for open records.

Well, isn't this a surprise twist in reality: Republicans have decided to use the advances of information technology, to hold back...information?

Yes, it's opposite day everyday in Republican world. In an age where paper and pencils have been replaced with electronic zeros and ones, information is now too confusing to the average legislator. Is it still information if it's in this odd and almost magical digital voodoo. WPR:
Attorney General Brad Schimel said Wisconsin's outdated open records laws were last revised in 1981, before the Internet, email, text messaging and other modern forms of communication were used within government’s halls. Because of that, said Schimel, there are a lot of unresolved questions about what forms of communication are subject to the laws.
"We don't know whether a town board member can appear in a meeting via Skype or not. We don’t know the extent to which emails and text messages are all public records or not. There are real issues to debate about to what extent those are, or should be, public records."
There's a debate? Well if we fabricate a debate I guess there would be one. Wouldn't you know it Schimel, the guy who came out so strongly against Scott Walker's sneaky plan to change our open records laws...
"Transparency is the cornerstone of democracy and the provisions in the Budget Bill limiting access to public records move Wisconsin in the wrong direction," now rationalizing away any opposition he had.
Schimel Says He Understands Why Some Lawmakers Proposed Open Records Changes - Attorney General Will Host Summit Wednesday On What Records Should Be Accessible To Public: Schimel was among the officials who voiced opposition to the changes, saying that they moved the state "in the wrong direction.

However, he emphasized Tuesday that he sympathizes with officials, "I think there’s a legitimate argument to be made that, say, the governor and his chief legal counsel are going back and forth with each other over what the final document should look like. I think you could make a legitimate argument that that’s a draft," said Schimel ... So why not consider the possibility that we just want to honestly let people within a particular government office share drafts back and forth until you produce what you're prepared to call a record for the public?" 
So Wisconsinites should wait until an legislator is "prepared to call a record...for the public," whenever that might be. Schimel really thinks we'll buy that?

You might remember back on June 1st, Schimel stood on his carnival barker podium and declared:
AG is creating an Office of Open Government to help the public obtain government records more quickly and consistently ... Also ... provide consistent and prompt advice ... noting the presumption of openness in Wisconsin law. "We shouldn't be looking for things we can deny" to the public, Schimel said. "We should be looking for what we must deny."
But the neo-fascist "Stand with Walker" Borg-like followers don't mind being taken care of by dictatorial leaders who do the thinking for them. Check out this back-and-forth in the comments:
1848: Just keep it on the yellow pads and verbal. Problem solved. It's not worth listening to the liberals whine about this.

Joe_Thomas_WI to 1848: Loss of transparency isn't a liberal issue. The idea of hiding information from the people who own it is egregious at best. If they can't take the criticism that comes with transparency they should't be in elected office.

Derik  Joe_Thomas_WI: As a public employee I could construe Joe Thomas' comments to imply that insofar as my work is partly an extension of myself, 'the public' owns me … the way these law are generally enforced shows that this is just a gotcha political tool… 

Dan Wilson: "We don't know whether a town board member can appear via skype or not." Uh, yeah we do and secondly that is not an open records issue unless we are thinking of tampering with the open meetings law as well. This wasn't an issue when democrats were in charge.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Scott Walker: "Bucks before Books."

I got this email attachment from my conservative friend in Milwaukee. I'm not sure what paper this is from, but if I can get a better image, it would be appreciated. Well worth posting here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mequon Republicans whine about "free market, small government, deregulation" of cell tower in their neighborhood. Poor babies.

Heavily Republican strongholds like Mequon and Waukesha are now feeling the pain of their own party’s gifts to big business, and it’s coming at their own expense. Maybe they just weren’t paying attention when they gleefully voted against those damn Democrats?

Scott Walker signed into law a Republican bill that let wireless providers do whatever they wanted with their cell towers, in the name of free markets, streamlining regulations and smaller government. Suckers...:
The new regulations require municipalities to rule on a wireless tower permit application within 90 days or the application will be considered approved … local governments may not enact ordinances prohibiting the placement of wireless towers in particular locations, and they may not impose environmental testing and monitoring requirements for radio frequency emissions. Local governments can no longer deny wireless tower permits solely for aesthetic reasons, limit the height of towers to under 200 feet, or require that antennas and structures such as water towers be placed on public property. 
Mequon conservatives are  now experiencing for themselves how small government works, and it's not working out like they thought. jsonline:  
Cellphone tower plan stirs concern among Mequon property residents: Plans for a 120-foot cellphone tower in Mequon are being opposed by some residents who say it would lower their property values and could be dangerous, even if it boosts wireless coverage in the area ... under state and federal laws they couldn't prevent SBA from signing a deal with a private landowner.

"There's really no stopping it," said Ald. John Leszczynski. "They're going to put up a tower where it needs to go up. That's the bottom line." 
Waukesha...pretty much the same thing...
Patch: A proposed cell phone tower that could bring between $30,000 and $70,000 annual revenues to the School District of Waukesha has angered area residents because it would be built near the playground at Bethesda Elementary School, WISN 12 News is reporting. Residents at a meeting spoke out against the 100-foot-tall AT&T cell tower because of health concerns, according to WISN 12 News.
Or this story reported back in October of 2013:
WISC: A lawsuit filed by 21 property owners likely won’t delay the construction of a cell tower at the Sauk Prairie High School athletic field … an attorney for Verizon has notified (the citizens) the company intends to move forward with the tower’s construction despite the lawsuit. “We have no further information at this time,” Verizon spokeswoman Andrea Meyer said when asked about the company’s plans.
Can you imagine your government saying "we have no further information," take a hike? What changed recently without any fanfare at all (except here at Democurmudgeon)?
The village of Prairie du Sac Plan Commission’s said their hands were tied by a new law signed by Gov. Scott Walker this summer that limits municipalities’ authority over the placement of cell phone towers. 

Walker's record makes him the "False to Mostly False" presidential candidate.

One of the biggest remaining Scott Walker campaign talking points (his now climbing unemployment numbers may become a real problem), has been the rising income levels in Wisconsin. That's a lie based on more deception, which we're finding out now is a useful tool used to buildup the GOP voter roles.

PolitiFact reveals what the news media failed to research themselves:
Census Bureau officials say that while the Current Population Survey is fine for the national picture, a separate survey with a larger sample size -- the American Community Survey -- provides the best picture of what is happening at the state level. Walker and the New York Post article are both citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, He pointed to data from the Current Population Survey. But the data considered more accurate -- from the American Community Survey -- showed the opposite

We rate statements that contain some element of truth but ignore critical facts that would give a different impression as Mostly False.
It's another tool for our "some element of truth" presidential wannabe Scott Walker. See Walker's current "False" and "Mostly False" ratings pictured here.

Speaking of tools, former news talking head Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is also getting into the act, trying to muddy up Walker's disastrous jobs numbers. :
Kleefisch said she takes issue with that reporting (on jobs) … (which) focused on Wisconsin ranking 35th nationally and 10th of 10 Midwestern states in private-sector job growth rate in ... Walker's first four-year term.
"It's based on the speed with which jobs are created in comparison to neighbors as opposed to the actual number of jobs created," she said. "So I think you're going to see the governor trying to explain that … in order for people to understand that a ranking and a rate are two separate things and help people to get why Wisconsin has fully recovered from the recession. 
I wonder how that convoluted and intentional muddying of the facts works for states like Minnesota or Illinois? There's a reason why Walker is focusing in on Michigan. PolitiFact might want to check before they get too much mileage out of it.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Who but a Republican would think like this....

...and not be thought of as crazy?

And yet, just a few short years ago...

Does it need to go this far?

Inside Walker's Divide and Conquer the World Foreign Policy

Scott Walker has been tagged “authoritarian,” “dictatorial,” and “dangerous” by reporters who’ve done their research on Wisconsin’s governor. And for good reason. Walker’s vision seems to include U.S. dominance over every nation in the world. Remember when he matter-of-factly said he would “put steel in the face of our enemies.” Like his supposed "enemies" in Wisconsin, that's a list that gets longer everyday. 

The idea that we’re seeing the rise of a very frightening candidate for president continues, with a piece by the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice.
Walker introduced Kevin Hermening — a former Iranian hostage — by name, offering the former U.S. Marine a nod and a salute. (Walker) cited Hermening when opposing the nuclear deal with Iran. Walker said Hermening had taught him that Iran "is not a place we should be doing business with."
Walker’s irrational opposition to any deal with Iran, which would only accelerate their development of nukes and result in war, was shaped by Kevin Hermening’s still extreme views, which are present in every Walker foreign policy statement:
In an inflammatory opinion piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in September 2001, just weeks after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon … Hermening outlined a four-point plan that he described as "the only acceptable and appropriate responses" to the attacks.:
1. Hermening called for the "immediate and unequivocal deportation of every illegal alien and immigrant" … especially those with a Middle Eastern background and anyone who reacted "with glee" to the coordinated attacks by 19 al-Qaida terrorists.

2. A "prompt and massive military response that includes the destruction of the capitals of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen." The only way out would be if these countries "agree unequivocally to support our efforts to kill Osama bin Laden. After the annihilation of each country's capitals, we can make them the same kind of financial offer we made to the leaders of Japan and Germany after World War II. Cooperate with us in the establishment of democratic governments, and we will assist you in every possible way. Don't cooperate, and your people will perpetually suffer — that ought to be our unspoken message. Every military response must be considered, including the use of nuclear warheads."

3. “The erection of security fences along the entire perimeter of the United States, with electronic and human monitoring to prevent tampering and illegal entry.”

4. “Step-up security efforts in our air transportation system…”
Hermening emphasized that the op-ed piece was written during an extremely emotional period in America. But he then went on to defend most of the column … But does Hermening still think destroying these seven capitals would have been an appropriate response to Sept. 11? Yes, he does.
Walker of course has now denied Hermening had anything to do with his own policy (he speaks for himself), despite being taught by Hermening that Iran is not a place to be doing business and the glaring similarities of his attitude toward Iran:
"I'll speak for myself," Walker told the Journal Sentinel on Monday. "The reference I made to Kevin Hermening was as one of the hostages, the youngest at the time, and pointed out the things that hadn't changed. My policy is very clear and it's not aligned with what he said in that particular column." He said he does not consider Hermening an adviser to his campaign.
Many forgot the reason why Iranian students took hostages: Blowback for U.S. meddling (medical attention for the Shah) and ouster of their countries leadership.
The immediate cause of this action was President Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow Iran’s deposed Shah, a pro-Western autocrat who had been expelled from his country some months before, to come to the United States for cancer treatment. However, the hostage-taking was about more than the Shah’s medical care: it was a dramatic way for the student revolutionaries to declare a break with Iran’s past and an end to American interference in its affairs.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Walker only candidate described as "Dictator," "Authoritarian," and "Dangerous." Tells you something...

While every Republican running for president leans toward authoritarianism, Scott Walker is hands down the most obvious sociopathic danger, and the media is noticing. Under his gentle, lazy-eyed demeanor, is a man that doesn't just defeat his political enemies, he eliminates them.  Reporters are on this story. Alternet:

Whether waging war on his political enemies at home or fantasizing about attacking enemies abroad, Walker arguably is the most toxic authoritarian candidate in the Republican field. It’s insufficient to merely say that Walker likes to punish his enemies, or that he relishes sneak attacks, or that his career has been marked by the politics of fear, blame and divisiveness, and an inability to show restraint. All of these are true.

“I find [him] more Nixonian than even Richard Nixon himself (the authoritarian leader with whom I was, and am, so very familiar,” wrote ex-Nixon White House Counsel John Dean in April 2012 ... Today, three years later, Walker is parading around the campaign trail like an American dictator in waiting. He has a lengthy record on so many issues that reveal the same pattern: pick fights, launch sneak attacks, smear and scapegoat opponents, and then punish the defeated, according to Wisconsin media analysts. But he also has the personality of an aspiring American tyrant, as Dean noted.

He’d kill President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran … Walker said he had no compunction about killing Iranians, saying he was ready to go to war with Iran on “day one” of his presidency … his latest political assassination target is the blandly named Government Accountability Board, a bipartisan panel of judges whose mission is keeping state elections fair and corruption-free … (regarding) the state’s Supreme Court, Walker’s benefactors had bankrolled successful high-court campaigns and had a sitting majority … days before Walker officially announced the Court not only ruled 4-2 that the corruption probe was out-of-bounds, it also rewrote the state’s campaign finance laws to allow the very collusion that was seen as illegal under the prior law.
He called for GAB’s head … to disband what is arguably the nation’s most reputable state election oversight board, and replace it with panel of political allies, mirroring his Supreme Court majority.
Dana Milbank offered us this warning:

ALEC, which inspired many of Walker’s anti-labor efforts in Wisconsin, drew several hundred union protesters as legislators arrived for its conference. “I understand you had a few protesters yesterday,” Walke (said) “For us, that’s just getting warmed up. That’s nothing. We got 100,000 protesters.” Portraying the pro-union forces as violent thugs … “Those big government interests — they believe they can win by intimidating elected officials. There were amazing things they did to try to intimidate us. The good news is we didn’t back down.”

This is the essence of Walker’s appeal, and why he is so dangerous … his technique of scapegoating unions for the nation’s ills is no less demagogic … even though unions represent just 11 percent of the U.S. workforce and have been at a low ebb. This year, Walker likened the union protesters to the murderous Islamic State: “If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.” Before that, he described public-sector union members as the “haves” taking advantage of the “have-nots” — the taxpayers.

He denounced the protests against his efforts to undo the unions as “thuggery.” He described collective bargaining as a “corrupt system” and diagnosed union leaders as having a “sense of entitlement.” Walker this year signed anti-union right-to-work legislation. He has said he doesn’t think the minimum wage serves a purpose, and he has opposed prevailing-wage and living-wage requirements. ALEC official Leah Vukmir (R), a Wisconsin state senator, introduced him by talking about the “unhinged wrath of the forces” who opposed him and their “unprecedented vile behavior.” 

Walker, describing the bargain shopping he does at Kohl’s department store, said he would do the same with taxes. It was a zany analogy. Kohl’s offers discounted merchandise for middle- and low-income consumers. The Laffer curve, the basis for supply-side economics, meant huge tax breaks for the rich that never trickled down.

But deception is the demagogue’s tool. Walker spoke Thursday about “the death threats not just against me and my family but against our lawmakers” … And some of Walker’s claims — including the alleged threat to “gut” his wife “like a deer” and of protesters “beating” and “rocking” a car he was in — could not be substantiated by independent authorities.

Such deception, however, is in the service only of the larger deceit at the core of his candidacy: By scapegoating toothless trade unions as powerful and malign interests, he enlists working people in his cause of aiding the rich and the strong.

With Open Records, Walker hopes to confuse Wisconsinites.

Credit the Journal Sentinel for showing us how truly hypocritical Scott Walker is on the issue of open records, the underpinnings of a free and open government, answerable to the people. This opneing paragraph sums it up. jsonline:
State documents show Gov. Scott Walker's administration contends it doesn't have to release some internal discussions on four key issues even though the White House hopeful has said trying to rewrite the open records law to allow holding back documents in such cases was a "huge mistake."
Walker can have it both ways, because he knows people will only remember what they like about him.

Who else would even begin to buy into the Walker's way of thinking?
"Making these internal discussions just as open to disclosure as the final version of the budget would inhibit the free exchange of ideas, opinions, proposals and recommendations among those involved in deciding what to include in the final legislation."
It's anybodies guess how far we’ve burrowed into a comfortable Republican neo-fascist hole.
No other state provides such an expansive legal privilege for lawmakers, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.
It is encouraging to see some voter blowback by stunned conservatives who happen to be paying attention:
"I am not a liberal by any stretch of the imagination," Jim Stroschein of Mineral Point wrote to Fitzgerald in an email sent on July 4. "I voted for Ronald Reagan twice and Tommy Thompson four times. Your attempts to limit access to public records are deeply disappointing and the Joint Finance Committee's vote ... qualifies as the most disturbing action I have ever seen in Wisconsin politics."

Tom Varney wrote Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) on July 4 to express his frustration that she had voted for the measure in committee in the middle of the night just before the holiday. "You don't deserve to celebrate our freedom when you're working hard to take it away," he wrote. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Walker Revealed as Fraud by angry Donald "DumbDumb" Trump!

Finally, someone is attacking Scott Walker for the disastrous economic mess he's created here in Wisconsin. Take it away Donald Trump, GOP front runner:
A Scott Walker presidential campaign fundraiser, Gregory Slayton, and a New Hampshire venture capitalist, called Donald Trump “DumbDumb” in a fundraising invitation and said (Trump) would be “a total and complete disaster for the country. As you’ve seen Gov Walker is now well ahead of everyone not named DumbDumb (aka Trump) in the national polls. He’s also a plain spoken member of the 99% (as opposed to someone pretending to be so)…and that will be a KSF in 2016.”
Here's a cobble together but nearly complete video of Trump's response to Scott Walker. Oddly, many stations that featured this story cut off Trump's speech right at the point he was going to list Walker's problems. Odd, ya think?

Trump on Saturday (took a shot at) Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whom he accused of mismanaging his state’s budget and creating a disaster for its roads, schools and hospitals …"Today I read this horrible statement from a fundraiser about Trump, and I said, ‘Oh finally, I can attack, finally,” Mr. Trump said to laughter.

He went down a list of criticisms that seemed the result of an overnight opposition-research effort. “Wisconsin is doing terribly,’’ he said. “First of all, it’s in turmoil, the roads are a disaster because they don’t have any money to rebuild them, and they’re borrowing money like crazy.’’

He cited figures for the state’s budget deficit. “They projected a $1bn surplus, and it turns out to be a deficit of $2.2bn, and money all over the place, the schools are a disaster, and they’re fighting like crazy because there’s no money for the schools, the hospitals and education is a disaster, and he was totally in support of [controversial education policy] Common Core.”

He also accused Mr. Walker of flip-flopping on the Common Core education standards, having once supported them. “Scott Walker changed when he saw he was getting creamed, so now he’s not in favor.’’

Mr. Trump gave $10,000 to Mr. Walker’s re-election campaign last year, something he alluded to; “He’s a nice guy. He came up to my office three or four months ago and presented me with a plaque because I helped him with his election. I liked that he was fighting." The $2.2bn deficit cited by Trump actually refers to a “pre-budget estimate” of tax revenue compared with budget requests from Wisconsin state agencies, PolitiFact Wisconsin reported

Figures; Dumb Ron Johnson's Super PAC fear mongers, Photoshops Obama standing next to president of Iran.

All in with Chris Hayes feature this amazing gaffe, not to mention lie, from what appears to be a desperate Dumb Ron Johnson fund raiser at his super PAC. The Progressive's Ruth Conniff gives the nation a wonderfully detailed, almost comical description of our national embarrassment:
A Super PAC supporting Sen. Ron Johnson, R - Wi., aired an ad featuring a photoshopped image of President Obama shaking hands with the Iranian president, which has never happened.

Check out the before and after photos wonderfully displayed by Buzzfeed. Obama looks strangely similar in the two different photos, right. But Johnson's PAC, believe it or not, continued to claim the picture was real, despite changing it! You can't make this stuff up. According to PolitiFact:
Editor's note: After this item was posted, Restoration PAC spokesman Dan Curry called PolitiFact Wisconsin to say the group had decided the day before -- after the Buzzfeed article -- to replace the image with side-by-side photos of the two men. He said the new ad began running the morning of July 24, 2015. (However, the old version continued to appear on YouTube and as a link from the group's website that afternoon). 
And it's down the rabbit hole....
In a statement, Curry criticized BuzzFeed as "not able to provide any proof that the photo was fake" and noted the photo "is in circulation widely on the internet, posted on dozens of websites. There also are no articles directly claiming the image is fake. However, out of an abundance of caution, we are replacing the image with side-by-side Obama and Rouhani photos that makes exactly the same point."

Local News Exposes ALEC's secret Corporate control over GOP, while conservative voters yawn in the face of creeping fascism.

The lack of critical thinking on the right is giving ALEC an open invitation to reinterpret everything from the Constitution, to capitalism, and to good old American values. They poke fun at liberal references to ALEC, and snicker at warnings about the hydra-like Koch brothers organizations influence.

Behind the scenes, my own conservative trolls offer up an insightful look at how easily compliant they are to party edicts. It's a world of "I know you are but what am I's," false analogies, name calling and a frightening lack of self awareness.

I've found that facts, research and easily clickable story links don't matter to them, because any weakness or falsehood is very personal.

Anything that raises questions about the prevailing "truth" pushed by their party, or the failures of their chosen leaders, frightens and insults their politically invested self image. What they call individualism and freedom is really a right wing socialist agenda demanding big government control over religion, morality, adherence to restrictive age old traditions and a monthly offering of scapegoats for party failures.

Sorry for the rant. My point is, local television stations have done their own investigations into the controlling force behind elected Republican lawmakers, ALEC, and as shocking as the coverage is Republican voters don't seem to care. Media Matters:

There are consequences for not stopping this dark influential group. Coming to a local city county government near you...:
Now the council is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level. It has already quietly set up, and is making plans for the public launch of, an offshoot called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from "villages, towns, cities and counties".

The new organization will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals. [The Guardian,3/6/14]

Ouch! Minnesota is America's Top State for Business, the opposite of Walker's Wisconsin.

Yea, another embarrassing, and for Scott Walker, a badly time repudiation of his austere cuts and borrow policies from just a month ago:
CNBC: Minnesota is 2015's Top State for Business: Leave it to the North Star State to chart a new course to competitiveness. Minnesota is America's Top State for Business in 2015, reaching the pinnacle of success by way of a much different route than our eight previous winners.

Minnesota's ranking in the top half for all but two of our 10 categories of competitiveness. Indeed, the birthplace of SpamScotch Tape and the supercomputer marks a new first this year. Never since we began rating the states in 2007 has a high-tax, high-wage, union-friendly state made it to the top of our rankings. But Minnesota does so well in so many other areas—like education and quality of life—that its cost disadvantages fade away.

Rather than just seeking the lowest taxes or the highest incentives, companies are increasingly chasing the largest supply of skilled, qualified workers. So states are touting their workforces like never before, giving the Workforce category—where Minnesota finishes a respectable 13th—greater weight in our study.

I know Republicans will read this and weep, not believing their own eyes, desperately holding onto their stolen half burned recall Walker petitions:
The state's path to the top is marked by a carefully crafted and still controversial strategy by Gov. Mark Dayton, the first Democrat to hold the office in two decades. The hallmark of his plan: a big tax increase. Dayton began calling for higher taxes ... with the state facing a $6.2 billion budget gap. By 2013 he managed to push through a whopping $2.1 billion tax increase, primarily targeting smokers and wealthy people (one of whom is Dayton himself, an heir to the Target retail fortune). Last year Dayton did approve a $508 million middle-class tax cut. But the rate for top earners remains among the highest in the nation, at 9.85 percent.

This year, with a state budget surplus of nearly $2 billion, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and apparently no exodus of millionaires, Dayton has been taking a victory lap of sorts. "More Minnesota businesses are expanding, so more Minnesotans are working. They are earning more money, which means they are paying more taxes," Dayton said. "It is Minnesota's economic successes, not tax increases, that have produced our present budget surplus," he said.

Dayton has championed tax breaks and subsidies for businesses ... Even so, Dayton has won few friends in the business community ... Republicans and business leaders warned the strategy would ultimately backfire.
Get ready for it; when state revenues blossom, pay off debt, and increase the public's investment in infrastructure and education, Republicans don't see that the reward for good economic policy, they see that as over taxation. That's what the Bush tax cuts squandered; "surpluses as far as the eye can see" and paying of the national debt; we had to give back those excessive tax dollars. Oh, and government gets bigger.
"Back-to-back billion-dollar surpluses show that the level of taxes on individuals and business owners is too high," the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said at the start of this year's legislative session. "The best way to grow and expand the state's economy is to reduce uncompetitive business taxes." Republicans sought to undo the tax increases this year, while Dayton proposed increasing the gasoline tax.

In our study, Minnesota finishes in second place for Education, thanks in large part to some of the best-performing K–12 students in the nation. 

In Quality of Life, Minnesota finishes third. Crime is low. The air is clean, and in the home of the Mayo Clinic, people are healthy ... fifth place in Economy, sixth place in Technology & Innovation and ninth place for Infrastructure. Those strengths are enough to outweigh Minnesota's 35th-place finish for Cost of Doing Business and 32nd for Cost of Living.
Here's another story getting some attention. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Blame Republicans for Tuition Increases and Family Crushing Student Loan Debt. It's that simple.

Bottom line: Republicans hate education and don’t like funding it. The cuts they’ve made to the UW and K-12 were the biggest in the nation, along with their attacks on student lending. 

Just remember, Republicans are the guys that gave us crushing student debt, because they reduced public funding of our state colleges, and that directly increased tuition. More on that and a GAO study is below.

The fact is, Dumb Ron Johnson doesn’t get that. Instead, he’s cherry picked a “study” from the NY Fed, that fits his narrative; government sponsored student loan programs have jacked up tuition. Because tuition increases coincided with the GOP's attack on colleges, many tend to believe the Republican lie. Here’s the study and false premise Johnson offers as proof. WPR:
(Ron Johnson) cited a study released this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that said that for every new dollar received in Direct Subsidized Loans, tuition goes up by 65 cents.

"As well-intentioned as these programs are, by enticing our children to incur, I think collectively $1.2, $1.3 trillion of student loan debt, we have actually made college less accessible, because we’ve made it less affordable," Johnson said. Johnson said the solution is to give students and their parents information on "all the options" after high school … "We need to kind of break out of, you know, this paradigm where we’re saying everybody has to get a four-year degree.”
Oddly, the “study” Johnson points to never compared GOP defunding to the rise in tuition's. It should have, because even in their own analysis of  2 year community colleges, they inadvertently mentioned it. Check it  out:
Four-year institutions charge higher tuition, on average, resulting in higher dependence on external funding. The two-year sector is almost entirely dominated by public two-year colleges, also known as community colleges … tuition is low, averaging just $2,600 in 2012, largely due to the large share of revenue that is funded through government sources (70%).
Oops. Imagine that, public funding reduces tuition. I wonder if that could work at a 4 year college?

Oh, if you thought manufacturing in the U.S. was on the decline, than you’re not thinking like Scott Walker and Ron Johnson. They’re trying their damndest to return manufacturing to the glory days.
Johnson said there are "tens of thousands" of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin that are not being filled, so high school graduates can opt for one of them.
As I mentioned, the Government Accountability Office took a look at this around January of this year, and surprise, their analysis is just the opposite of Dumb Ron Johnson's. Wrong again, big time:
These days students pay more of the cost of attending public universities than state governments, a shift that is making college less affordable, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

1. Researchers found that the money public colleges collect in tuition surpassed the money they receive from state funding in 2012. Tuition accounted for 25 percent of school revenue, up from 17 percent in 2003. State funding, meanwhile, plummeted from 32 percent to 23 percent during the same period.

2.  That’s a far cry from the 1970s, when state governments supplied public colleges with nearly 75 percent of their funding, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

3. The number of students enrolled in public colleges rose by 20 percent from the 2002-2003 school year to 2011-2012. Meanwhile, median state funding per student fell 24 percent, from $6,211 in fiscal year 2003 to $4,695 in fiscal year 2012.
It turns out the Republican backed "free market" deregulation and voluntary regulation of Wall Street resulted in increased defunding of education and hikes in tuition. Don't let them say otherwise:  
The GAO said the collapse of the financial markets in 2008 caused … State budgets (to) responded by slashing higher education funding by 23 percent per student. Consider the federal Pell Grant program, which awards money that does not have to be repaid to students whose household incomes are typically $30,000 or less. The maximum Pell award covered 77 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public university in 1980, but that fell to 36 percent by 2011, according to the Education Trust. 
So what is Ron Johnson talking about? I don't think even he knows. But it sure sounds good for all those low information voters.

Of course Scott Walker's attempt to cut UW funding exposed that scheme to conservative alums, who might be to happy now. 

Walker takes away religious freedom for others with wacky sounding "1st Amendment Defense Act!"

Scott Walker is now pushing a bill on the national stage, that even red states Arizona and Indiana rejected after strong public opposition. Cap Times:
Scott Walker supports the First Amendment Defense Act — but what does it do?: "Absolutely. I mean, to me, protecting our constitutional rights shouldn’t just take a piece of legislation," Walker said when asked by the Christian Broadcasting Network in Iowa last week if he supports the bill.
The bill supposedly protects churches from doing something they’re not required to do; perform same sex marriages! So this is just more trash talk on taxpayer time just to energize the radical right wing low information voters:
In a press release announcing the bill, co-sponsor Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, noted specifically that the bill would prevent the Internal Revenue Service from stripping a church of its tax-exempt status. 
 Because the First Amendment Defense Act goes even further than protecting churches:
The bill protects anyone who "acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

Lee, asked by NPR about a hypothetical scenario in which a university fires an unmarried woman for having sex with a man, offered this: "There are colleges and universities that have a religious belief that sexual relations are to be reserved for marriage … Those colleges and universities have the right to make that decision on their own … It is, again, a slim minority of those that do. But those that do have this ought to be protected in their religious freedom." He offered similar arguments involving a university denying employment to a person married to someone of the same sex.
Quicker than you can say “social engineering, big government Republicans are putting themselves in our bedrooms. And I’m not just talking about their membership in Adult Friend Finder or AshleyMadison either.
Kaylie Hanson, director of women's media for the Democratic National Committee: "First, we learn that Jeb Bush’s policy agenda called for publicly shaming single mothers for having children out of wedlock. Then we learned that Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Scott Walker all support legislation that would allow a woman to be fired for having premarital sex. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

MacIver Institute's loony bin history lesson twists free speech into pretzel.

The right wing propaganda think tank MacIver Institute is at it again, pushing preposterous and tired ideas that have long been laughed out-of-the-room. Let’s explore quickly their nutty conclusions:  
“It is a long-established practice of so-called Progressives to confront speech they do not like by trying to silence the offending voices. Campus speech codes circumscribe debate while angry leftist mobs shout down public speakers. They organize boycotts and public ostracizing for anyone daring to not conform to left wing orthodoxy, no matter how recently it changed.”
Really? The facts offer up a different reality, like when GOP legislators demanded police “crack a few heads” to send a strong message to peaceful Capitol protesters. Sadly for Republicans that didn’t happen. One of the loudest voices, then Rep. Steve Nass, lead the assault:
Nass #1: In a news release Rep. Steve Nass stated protesters feel "entitled" to take action without serious consequences in the capital city. "The risk of a major incident continues to grow since protesters now feel immune to any real consequences." The JFC voted Wednesday to withhold roughly $750,000 from the Madison Police Department, (because they) believe there were "legitimate concerns about actions of individual officers." Nass said, "If they were arrested vigorously, I believe that would slow them [protesters]." Madison Police Chief Noble Wray (said) questions about his department's conduct during the protests constitute "almost a slap in the face."

Nass #2: Rep. Steve Nass sent Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen a letter asking for an investigation into Assistant Attorney General Thomas Bellavia for emailing the Democrats on Feb. 27 and telling them he supported their efforts … concerns that Bellavia could attempt to sabotage the defense of the Wisconsin Legislature.

Nass #3: …he expressed cutting funding of a UW-Madison center because its studies were "too far to the left."  

Nass #4: State Sen. Steve Nass blasted a UW-Madison economics professor ... calling the academic's report on right-to-work legislation "partisan, garbage research." "Attached is yet another example of wasted resources at the UW-Madison/UW Extension … Hiding behind academic freedom to issue partisan … I will certainly forward this email on to UW System President Ray Cross … as just one suggestion of a faculty member with time to teach more courses. Or maybe not!"

Nass #5: WRN: Republican Rep. Steve Nass has gotten the UW’s School for Workers to cancel an “Art in Protest” exhibit that had been scheduled for next month. “The problem with it is that it would be funded with taxpayer dollars and that’s through the Extension.”  Nass charges the exhibit would have provided a one-sided view of last year’s protests at the Capitol, with UW Extension taking the side of protesters. “I did indicate to Extension that … any problems that arise from that, or any misbehavior by the protesters – which I certainly would expect, it would probably be very despicable … and I will be watching.”

Permit to Protest? How about Walker’s attempt to silence free speech by charging a fee and permit to protest at the Capitol? Republicans desperately rationalized away free speech to get back at protesters:

McKenna of WIBA participated in the Liberty Singers event, and tells 27 News, "We just want folks to understand, the permit is easy to get, it's a way to protect all of us and our ability to come here to our beautiful capitol and express ourselves." 
Sound anything like the state Constitution's Article I, Section 4: “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government or any department thereof shall never be abridged.” Didn't think so.

Here's another MacIver nugget: 
“Here in Wisconsin the assault on free speech took a more ominous turn when a rogue partisan prosecutor in Milwaukee, District Attorney John Chisholm, unleashed the power of the state upon the Progressives' political enemies.”
They must have missed this historical inconvenient truth; the endless investigation of Gov. Doyle, and Walker’s demand to “purge” his liberal administrative staff:
Back in 2006 when Georgia Thompson was charged by then-U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic - who now represents Walker's campaign - Walker went on the attack against Doyle, even though Thompson was a civil service employee who was hired in 2001 under Gov. Scott McCallum, a Republican.

"Today's indictment provides further confirmation that the Doyle administration is damaged and must be removed from the Capitol," said Walker of his Democratic predecessor. "Governor Doyle needs to purge his administration of individuals who place politics and special interests ahead of the people of Wisconsin."
And as we all know, no one in Walker’s administration is political, or beholden to special interests. But let's cut to the chase. The Wisconsin State Journal reported:
“The controversial case … was used by Wisconsin Republicans to paint Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration as corrupt during his 2006 re-election campaign … An appeals court, though, tossed the conviction, saying the evidence against Thompson was "beyond thin." State investigators kept open the alleged corruption case for six months last year after a federal appeals court struck down the only prosecution in the high-profile case.
SIDE NOTE: I thought the rest of Walker's press release was just as interesting. Double standard maybe?
"I am also calling on the Governor to adopt the reforms I proposed earlier this month that would prohibit anyone bidding on a state contract from contributing to his campaign for Governor. 

I am calling on Governor Doyle’s campaign to return any contributions from individuals made while bidding on a state contract.

Additionally, I am calling on the Governor to prohibit his appointees from both giving to his campaign and/or hosting fundraisers on his behalf. Also, he should return any and all contributions from administration officials immediately.”
Love to see PolitiFact get a hold of this one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walker to do for country what he's done for Wisconsin... unemployment. The only thing Scott Walker has been hanging his hat on, minus the non-participation rate, is the low unemployment number. Well, that might be changing, and not in a good way:
Unemployment rates increased in most Wisconsin cities and counties in June. Unemployment rates increased in 27 out of 32 of the state's largest cities. Racine had the highest unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent in May. Milwaukee was the second highest at 7.4 percent, up from 6.9 percent the month before. Unemployment rates went up in 51 of 72 counties.
In the anti-business liberal hell hole of the state, Madison and Dane County, just what you'd expect: 
Madison and Dane County had the lowest unemployment rates for both a city and county at 3.5 percent.

Walker ready to "boldly" politicize elections. Like gerrymandering wasn't enough already?

In my post yesterday, "Scott Walker wants something better than a board of impartial judges overseeing elections," the Cap Times wrote about the latest attempt by Scott Walker and the Republican authority to remake the GAB into something more accountable to them, partisan politicians:

Gov. Scott Walker said on Monday he wants the board dismantled and replaced with something new … "something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin," the Associated Press reported.

Jay Heck, director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said "Walker's call for the elimination of the GAB is simply revenge and retribution for the GAB approving of an investigation of what was clearly a violation of Wisconsin campaign finance law in 2011-12. The elimination or evisceration of the GAB will only raise further questions about whether or not Walker and his campaign were involved in illegal activity. And it will be viewed by citizens as an attempt to simply eliminate any entity that puts adherence to the law above partisan fealty."
But this all started back in December of 2011, nearly one year into Walker term. Republicans were already planning the GAB's demise:
jsonline-Jason Stein: State Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald … said the state might need to replace its elections and ethics agency, saying it has strayed from its nonpartisan mission. Fitzgerald said he saw advantages to going back to the old elections and ethics board … A spokesman for the accountability board said the agency was simply applying the law during controversial political times.
Exactly one year later, in 2012, Republicans were still fine tuning the message:
jsonline-Patrick Marley: The state Senate's incoming leader said Monday he would like to take retired judges off the state's nonpartisan elections and ethics board and replace them with political appointees.Sen. Scott Fitzgerald said he believed the state Government Accountability Board has made decisions favoring Democrats and that putting political appointees on the board would "strike more of a balance." "GAB, it's not working the way it's supposed to," Fitzgerald said. 
Another year later, replacing the GAB came up again, but this time on video, compliments of the propaganda think tank MacIver Institute. Thankfully, when Republicans give interviews to like-minded media lackeys, the filter comes off and they spill their guts. They do know everybody else can see and hear this stuff, right?

This is what I wrote back in January 2, 2013:
Thanks to the farcical, and radically conservative "think tank" MacIver Institute, we have this look inside the thinking behind our winner take all party of failed ideas, from Sen. Scott Fitzgerald. I've added corrections in the video when needed:

In  2012, Rachel Maddow put together this nicely researched look back at how the GAB began in Wisconsin, and the Republicans attempts to take it all back:

Check out this fine article in the New Yorker.

Trump's Lead no Joke: Stumped Media missed Radical Right Wing Rise!

Media Matters' Eric Boehlert completely nails it about Trump's rise in popularity, pointing out how the clueless media, for years, chose to ignore the radicalization of the right. And Trump's siren-like song is hitting every one of their low information notes. Here's his absolutely spot on case:
But is Trump's run really that surprising? It shouldn't be if you've been paying attention to the radical, obstructionist turn both Republican politics and the right-wing media have taken over the last six-plus years. Yet during most of that span, the D.C. media stoically pretended the GOP hadn't taken an ugly, radical turn. And that's why so many seem baffled by Trump's rise.

Increasingly, Trump represents Fox News' Republican Party. He's holding up a mirror. But many journalists seem slow, or unwilling, to acknowledge that.

Some Beltway analysts blame the press for Trump's rise, insisting it's only because he's generating so much media attention that Republican voters are selecting him as their top choice. But that premise only works if you assume Trump doesn't connect with a certain group of voters. The fact is, most of Trump's coverage over the last month has been highly unflattering, as journalists and pundits detail his seemingly endless string of outrageous statements. (Minus Fox News, of course, where several hosts continue to fawn over him.) Yet Trump's favorable rating among Republican voters has been on the rise, suggesting that he is, in fact, connecting with the GOP base.

The idea that Trump's appeal isn't genuine or that the press has lured Republicans into supporting him is likely more comforting than acknowledging the truth: Trump, an ignorant, nativist birther, is appealing to an often-ugly streak within the conservative movement. He's winning over the illogical, demagoguery wing of the Republican Party that's been feasting off far-right media hate rhetoric for years.

It's the coalition that cheered when Glenn Beck called the president of the United States a "racist," and agrees with right-wing commentators that Obama is a tyrant who needs to be impeached.

This was the "grassroots" political movement that was so freaked out by Obama's ascension to power that it reached for the Nazi analogies just months into the president's first term, before he'd barely even finished filling out his cabinet positions. This is a wing of the party that views Obama as a monster of historic proportions who's committed to stripping citizens of their liberties and getting them addicted to government dependencies, like a drug dealer.