Saturday, October 31, 2015

Republican move to punish and censor the opposition is catching on!

The no compromise juvenile bullying by the Tea Party Republicans is oddly gaining acceptance. That can't be good. 

These dominant authoritarians are now targeting for removal once and for all, the press, the constitutionally protected Fourth Estate. Cafeteria constitutionalist like only parts of the First Amendment. 

RNC Blackmail gets NBC Approval: NBC responded to RNC chair Reince Priebus’ suspension of network debates with this acquiescence. Instead of being insulted and telling him to take his threats elsewhere...:
NBC News called the RNC's decision "disappointing. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party."
Going after Reporters: Republicans aren’t stopping there either, taking note of this emerging story of phony outrage:
In the wake of the debate debacle that’s delivered a gut punch to CNBC, many staffers at the business network are divided over whether “extremely biased” and “far left” correspondent and moderator John Harwood should have been allowed on stage. Harwood is “not just extremely biased and partisan, but he’s the worst kind who isn’t self-aware that he is,” the insider continued. “Blindness to that is what allowed him on the debate stage.”
What we found out was Fox News asked similar, more insulting questions but got no blowback. Here's just one example. Washington Post:
And there’s no better example of the moderators looking to pit one Republican against another Republican than this one: “Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border. Gov. Bush has called those remarks, quote, ‘extraordinarily ugly,’ I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that…Why not use this…debate to share your proof with the American people?”

That example of malicious, divisive debate moderation comes from the Aug. 6 clash at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, which was hosted by Fox News and was greeted as a universal success. It’s not from last night’s Republican debate in Boulder, Colo., which was hosted by CNBC to nearly unanimous negative reviews.
For now, CNBC is publically defending Harwood against these attacks:
CNBC defended Harwood to TheWrap, saying he should be “applauded.” “Journalists who ask Presidential candidates substantive, challenging questions on interest rates, social security, the debt limit, student loans and taxes to name a few, should be applauded.”

Remember when Republicans wanted former CNN reporter and host Candy Crowley fired for correcting Mitt Rommey, when he said Obama didn't say the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism for two weeks, when he actually did the first day? 

Or how about the media black out by tea party candidates who tried to hide their lack of ideas and lunatic agenda by vilifying the media, and then going out instead to overtly friendly conservative talk radio and television outlets?

Private Insurers pad profits, start gaming Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. GOP blames Obama, not blood thirsty Insurance companies.

The Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces are just that, marketplaces set within the for profit private sector.

Republicans may criticize those marketplaces, but their own plans dump everybody into that same free marketplace, with fewer regulations.

It’s an important similarity that makes the GOP’s supposed “patient centered” ideas much worse, affecting every American with no required coverage, policy cancelations for preexisting conditions and small print exclusions that would exonerate insurers from ever paying out a dime. That doesn’t even include the Republican plan to reduce the business deduction for employer insurance coverage, which would result in fewer businesses offering benefits.

And don’t forget, Republicans forced weak kneed Democrats to remove most of the cost controls, including the public option. The public option would have been especially embarrassing for the GOP, who feared it’s overwhelming popularity would have proven them wrong about the public’s supposed distrust in government.

It’s with these caveats that make the following increase in marketplace costs not so surprising. Politico:
Premiums for some of the most popular insurance plans in the Obamacare exchanges will have double-digit rate hikes in 2016 … Analyzed by consulting firm Avalere Health, (they) found that the lowest cost “silver” plan – the most popular option in the law's insurance marketplaces – will rise 13 percent, about four times the increase for plans this past year. The steep increases are certain to rekindle criticism from Republicans that the Obamacare marketplaces aren’t working as promised. 
These weren’t “promises,” but expectations, and the rap when the ACA passed was that it didn’t reign in health care costs enough. Our fears have been realized. Here are Wisconsin's numbers:

It was also just a matter of time our free market insurers and health care providers would find a way to game the ACA system. Imagine the GOP’s deregulated plan in the free market:  
Joe Antos, a health care finance expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, argues that the double-digit increases show that insurers set rates too low during the first two years of open enrollment. “What’s basically happening is the insurance companies finally have gotten a little bit of cost experience,” Antos said. “This is getting closer to a realistic set of premiums."
A “realistic set of premiums” isn’t a factor in a single payer system, just the for profit driven model that plays fast and loose with life and death decisions.
Plans will see varying cost swings across the country -- the cheapest silver plan in Oklahoma will spike by 44 percent next year, while exchange shoppers in Indiana will an average decrease of 14 percent.

The administration announced earlier this week that premiums will rise more slowly for a key benchmark plan, which helps determine size of federal subsidies. The benchmark plan, which is the second-cheapest silver plan offered on the exchange, will increase by 7.5 percent on average in 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

RNC's Reince Priebus Tantrum, Suspends 1st Amendment's Free Speech & Free Press at Future Debates.

The GOP's mind-numbing tantrum over the CNBC debate that dissented into onstage bickering and wise-asses pot shots has gone nuclear.

Like everything else the Republicans touch and destroy, it's always somebody else's fault. They're already blaming their onstage cat fight criticisms of each other on the moderators, so why not everything else?

Threaten the media's economic interest: Our great defenders of "free speech" and the 1st Amendment are firing a shot over the bow at CNBC,  threatening the networks bottom line if they don't fall in line, back off away from controversy, ask easy questions and don't challenge the candidates. After all, who gave the Fourth Estate the idea the Bill of Rights applied to them...oh, wait it does: "prohibit... infringing on the freedom of the press." Who cares...

...we already know our authoritarian dictatorial party owns that document too:

Change the rules if they make you look bad: How long before Americans have had enough of this almost despotic party behavior? I mean it is pretty obvious.

We just saw this in Wisconsin. As I recently blogged:
All of Scott Walker's legal problems wiped away!!! Coincidence? Think about it for a second:

1. Are we really supposed to believe that Scott Walker wasn't behind the elimination of the John Doe investigations after they nearly jailed him? Coincidence?

2. Are we really supposed to believe that Scott Walker wasn't behind the legalization of campaign coordination with issue advocacy groups after he was caught doing just that, illegally? Coincidence?

3. Did he fail only for the moment to do away with out open records laws for the same reasons he's given for withholding open records requests? Coincidence?
The Democratic candidates didn't seem to have the same problem, but then, they were supposedly lobbed softballs all night by the fawning media. Another often repeated myth. Like I said, why not have opposition debate moderators firing off questions to the candidates that are tough and test their ability to think on their feet?

Change in the Rules Bizarre: Just before the RNC's Reince Priebus made the announcement, the candidates decided to get together. The scariest candidate, Ben Carson, described their ridiculous plan. MSNBC:

Another "Anecdotal" Fairy Tale results in Major changes to Civil Service Job hiring opening door to Cronyism.

The blatant move toward complete political cronyism under Scott Walker, without one critical peep from conservative voters statewide, is downright frightening. It appears the authoritarian underpinnings in the Republican Party elite are taking hold in the minds of everyday conservative voters who are happy to do whatever it takes to stay in power. Even fool themselves.

It's now shockingly common place to come up with the craziest anecdotal stories heard wherever to justify public policy, while fact based evidence and historical examples are rejected as partisan. The consequences are breathtaking and real.

The Civil Service Reform Con: In a brief almost unnoticed story by the Journal Sentinel's Jason Stein, the last straw came from this revelation:
One of the examples used by Gov. Scott Walker to argue for overhauling the state's merit hiring system is proving difficult to document on paper. A spokesman for the Walker administration said that state officials relied on their memories when describing a 2013 case used by Walker and GOP lawmakers in recent weeks in arguing for the civil service bill … The case involved an unnamed short-order cook who scored so well on a civil service exam for a financial examiner job at the Department of Financial Institutions that he had to be given an interview, even though those in charge of the hiring judged him as clearly unqualified.
Never mind that Scott Walker also had fast food service work on his resume; or that it in some way suggests the short-order cook isn't allowed to move up the jobs ladder; or that perhaps they might have been between jobs at the time.

Republicans are never short of excuses with their arrogant "can't touch us" attitude, as seen below. We're supposed to mindlessly believe whatever anecdotal story they think will help move their agenda forward. Sadly, it's been doing gangbusters so far, so let the fairy tales continue:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel requested the personnel file for that financial examiner hire to better understand what happened in that case. 
Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie: “We have no records to release in response to the specific question about a resume for a short-order cook.  It is worth noting that disclosure of prior job type could have been made in a number of different ways...”
The Journal Sentinel made its open records request after the Department of Financial Institutions declined to name those involved in the case.
"We respectfully decline to provide the name of the successful applicant, because it is not relevant," Financial Institutions spokesman George Althoff said in emails last month. "...The relevant point is that a candidate who lacked the necessary skill set made it through a flawed and antiquated hiring process.”
Can Goldilocks breaking into the house of three unarmed bears be next?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Debates hosted by party Opponents is bad because....?

The complaints below are premised on the idea that the CNBC GOP debate moderators came across like their partisan liberal opponents, and that it was so unfair whine, whine, whine....

I say, what's wrong with that? I would have no problem with moderators acting like either liberals or conservatives, asking tough gotcha questions. It's a debate for gods sake.

And that's what makes the following admissions by Cruz, Giuliani and Gutfeld so bizarre, they don't want to be challenged, they just want safe party line questions.

Geez, can't take the heat's an even better way of saying it:

Virtual "online" Schooling a Disaster!!!

Virtual "online" schooling may be big on the Republican privatization front, but like the hyped up advertising of private and charter school backers, it's all smoke and mirrors, betting on the insecurities of parents to rake in the profits. Some school districts don't even want local virtual schools included in their average student scores.
Wisconsin Virtual Academy's (WIVA) state test scores vary between grades but are generally lower than McFarland's, which is why the district separates them out when reporting its scores in the spring.
But the GOP privateers won't mention this or the following studies every parent thinking about "online" schooling should see. It's a wonder we're even trying this:
Online Charter Schools Have An “Overwhelming Negative Impact,” Study FindsMore than 200,000 students are enrolled in the online schools, but evidence suggests they are getting a very bad education in return.

Online charter schools, which enroll 200,000 students nationwide, have an “overwhelming negative impact” on the academic outcomes of students by almost every measure, according to a series of sweeping national reports released today by three different policy and research centers.

Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO, found that students at online charter schools saw dramatically worse outcomes than their counterparts at traditional, brick-and-mortar schools. 

Over the course of a year, cyber school students lost out on the equivalent of 180 days of learning in math and 72 days reading.

CREDO found that more than two-thirds of online charter schools had academic growth that was worse than traditional schools.
Watch out for these two:

The CREDO study found no particular correlation between how schools were managed and the outcomes of online charter students. The online charter sector is dominated two for-profit companies; K12 Inc., a publicly traded education company, and Connections Academy, which is owned by Pearson, the world’s largest education company. 
This should scare the daylights out of parents who already have kids online:
In its own report, Mathematica Policy Research found that online charters had dramatically higher student-to-teacher ratios than at brick and mortar schools; more than a third of the schools had more than 50 students to a class. Students at online charter schools received less live contact with teachers in a week than those at traditional schools did in a single school day. The schools lacked support staff like guidance counselors and tutors.

And a third report, by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, found serious gaps in oversight and funding of online charters by states. The study was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, which has traditionally been highly supportive of charter school growth nationwide.

Small government Ryan forced to take another government job that "he did not seek."

With Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Craig Gilbert talking up Paul Ryan's House speaker position as "betting on his ability to "master" a uniquely challenging job...," like he mastered trickle down supply side economics I guess, we must once again rely on outside sources for an honest critique of our "wonkish" genius.

Remember his bullshit laced VP speech that pretty much exposed this half baked huckster?
NY Daily News: Yes, Paul Ryan lied, and yes, it matters! His acceptance speech on Wednesday night was one of the most dishonest political speeches in recent U.S. political history. While some like Ben Smith at BuzzFeed call Ryan’s flights of factual fancy "policy differences" with President Obama, this misunderstands what actually is a policy difference and what is a lie – and why Ryan’s incessant lying ... is actually pretty important.
Now as House speaker, we're all supposed to feel good about Paul Ryan, all is forgiven?

Adding to Ryan's legend, and in keeping with the GOP's obsession of seeking government jobs they hate with a passion...
"He did not seek this office. The office sought him," said Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House GOP conference, in nominating Ryan.
Ryan's a hero, forced to take a job he didn't want. That should instill confidence? 

But seriously, according to Dean Baker, Co-director, CEPR and author of 'The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive', Ryan's budget "wonkism" is nothing but a media creation:
Unless reporters give Ryan a pop quiz, they really don't know what he knows about the budget, but they do know what he says. In addition to wanting to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, Ryan has indicated that he essentially wants to shut down the federal government in the sense of taking away all of the money for the non-military portion of the budget.

This is a fact that is easy to find for any reporter who could take a few minutes away from telling us what a great budget wonk the next speaker is. In 2011, when he chaired the House Budget Committee, Ryan directed the Congressional Budget Office to score his budget plans. The score of his plan showed the non-Social Security, non-Medicare portion of the federal budget shrinking to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2050 (page 16).
That's bad news for all Americans:
This number is roughly equal to current spending on the military ... he does not want to see the military budget cut ... That leaves no money for the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, The Justice Department, infrastructure spending or anything else. Following Ryan's plan, in 35 years we would have nothing left over after paying for the military.

Just to be clear, this was not some offhanded gaffe where Ryan might have misspoke. He supervised the CBO analysis. As the document makes clear, they consulted with Ryan in writing the analysis to make sure that they were accurately capturing his program.

So what percent of people in this country know that the next Speaker of the House would like to permanently shut down most of the government? My guess is almost no one; we just know he is a policy wonk. The budget wonkism of Chairman Ryan is a beautiful example of the failure of the national media to take their job seriously. Telling us he is a wonk, without telling us the content of his wonkism, is a bad joke which should get people very angry at the folks who pretend to give us the news.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All of Scott Walker's legal problems wiped away!!! Coincidence?

Republican voters are so tired of being victimization by their liberal enemies in in the badger state, that they will do anything now to exact revenge, even make excuses for Scott Walker's mean spirited an intentional corruption of state government.

Coincidence? Think about it for a second:

1. Are we really supposed to believe that Scott Walker wasn't behind the elimination of the John Doe investigations after they nearly jailed him? Coincidence?

2. Are we really supposed to believe that Scott Walker wasn't behind the legalization of campaign coordination with issue advocacy groups after he was caught doing just that, illegally? Coincidence?

3. Did he fail only for the moment to do away with out open records laws for the same reasons he's given for withholding open records requests? Coincidence?

Wisconsin newspapers still won't hold Walker's feet to the fire and badger the hell out of this carnival barker until he breaks or gives up.

Funny thing though, the national media has no problem recognizing corruption when they see it, and they see it, big time. Starting with Esquire's Charlie Pierce:
Essentially, he has initiated a legislative agenda aimed at legalizing the kind of political corruption with which he is more than a little familiar.

Most recently, Walker signed a law that essentially eliminates the kind of investigations for which his career has proven to be such a target-rich environment.

Walker's primary mission in office has been to convert the state into a lab rat for plutocratic experimentation and exploitation. If they could make a banana republic out of Wisconsin, they figured, they can pull it off anywhere. And with Walker, whose penchant for soulless penny-ante grifting is the only distinguishing characteristic of his entire political career, they found the perfect tool, in every sense of the word. (The gutting of the campaign finance statutes is being pushed almost wholly by Wisconsin Right To Life, which is headed by a former official of the state's chapter of Americans For Prosperity.) People opposed to the griftification of Wisconsin have as their only real hope that the vandals will go too far, revolting an electorate that voted for Walker three times in two years. Good luck with that.
Or this from the New York Times
Last Friday, Mr. Walker signed a bill to protect public officials like himself from an effective and well-established tool (John Doe investigations) for rooting out political corruption. Bribery, official misconduct, campaign-finance violations and many other election law offenses — all are now exempt from a law that has served Wisconsin well, and without controversy, since the mid-19th century.
Don’t be fooled. Grand juries conduct investigations like this every day, at much greater expense and inefficiency, and rarely to any protest. (There is a reasonable case against the gag orders, but lawmakers could easily have fixed that part of the law by itself.) The real difference here is that the John Doe law was being used against powerful politicians and individuals.
It is a relief that Mr. Walker won’t be able to impose his warped ideas about democratic accountability on the rest of the country. But for the Wisconsinites who are stuck with him until 2018, America’s gain is their loss.

Monday, October 26, 2015

After Nazi comment, GOP Rep. Joe Sanfelippo was asked: "Did you just call my Dane County Deputies Nazis?" Yes.

Republicans are so over us, any accountability and the laws that govern everybody else. Republican Rep. Joe Sanfelippo said that those laws, similar to the ones used by the Nazis, still apply to regular citizens, but not politicians.

Why some law enforcement groups still choose to back Republicans is a mystery to me, especially after Sanfelippo's Nazi comparison. Where do guys like this come from...not Wisconsin?

Here's the exchange featuring Sanfelippo, Dianne Hesselbein, and Chris Danou. A clarifying moment:

Our College Bound kids have one less student loan to choose from, thanks to Dumb Ron Johnson; the Perkins Loan Program.

College students and their parents have just lost a huge student loan option, thanks to Republican senators who don’t like how complicated the whole process is. So too bad about the Perkins loan program.

But that’s been their plan all along; offer nothing to replace what they don't like.

We've seen this with the Affordable Care Act. Republican would kill it in an instant without a replacement or transitional plan. The same is true for student loans. They want to streamline the student loan programs, but they don’t have a way to do that. WPR:
This week the U.S. Senate rejected an effort to extend an expired student loan program which helped nearly 16,000 University of Wisconsin students in the last school year. The Federal Perkins Loan Program — designed to make universities to have more "skin in the game" by matching a portion of student loans — expired at the end of September. Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin tried unsuccessfully to get colleagues to extend it for a year. She said that the program, administered by the schools, has been self-sustaining since 2004. "They're revolving funds which means as a student pays back his or her Perkins loans, they're loaned out to other students," Baldwin said. "So it's a great program."
That’s right, the loan program was self-sustaining, adding nothing to the countries debt. But Dumb Ron Johnson didn’t like having the government guarantee the $1 trillion program anyway. Done:
Republicans want to streamline the government's various loan programs … the Federal Perkins Loan Program serves nearly 1 in 11 students in the UW System … they administered nearly $29 million to roughly 16,000 students in 2013-14.
Well, not anymore.

But how do conservatives reconcile making it harder to get student loans? This comment followed the story:
Rather than empowering college students to be more and more in debt when they graduate we need to bring the costs of a college education down. We need to get away from the mentality that every student needs a college education. 
No one said "every student," did they? But what about the students who actually need a college education who are left out now due the loss of the Perkins loan program? Another person answered with this:
You are correct, people without degrees are cheaper for employers. Maybe we should eliminate colleges all together.
 Words like "steam-line," and "simplifying" is code for eliminate, not replace. Pretty simple. 

Clueless Gov. Walker's failed campaign policies spread like Cancer in Wisconsin.

I once heard someone say about Scott Walker, "In one ear out his asshole." I'm beginning to understand why that makes sense now.

High Speed Rail/Rail/Regional Hub: When Walker killed high speed rail connecting Madison, Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Racine to Chicago, he also killed the idea of a regional Midwestern business hub that would have spurred on economic development and job creation for decades to come. Now all we can do is talk about it. BizTimes:
Racine Mayor John Dickert, challenged his colleagues to stop nitpicking at budgets and build a future for the next generation that will allow them to compete globally. “We have an opportunity to build a plan that crosses three states to create the most efficient, effective, transportation mechanism in the world and compete globally,” Dickert said.

Dickert spoke during a session on the “Future of North America’s largest transportation hub” at the third annual Summit on Regional Competitiveness Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. It has to do with connecting 21 counties in southeastern Wisconsin, Chicago and Indiana by road, rail, air, port and commuter rail. Right now, it’s just a concept, that the mayors of the communities are on board with but that gets stuck when it moves through the ranks of the state’s governors, state legislators and federal bureaucrats, Dickert said.
Walker traded all that to save less than a million dollars a year on train/track maintenance. Instead, he ended up spending $50 million to settle a lawsuit with Talgo for trains it built for the state. What, no conservative voter outrage over wasted taxpayer money?

And yet, Walker talked up rail as if his rail fiasco never happened:
Walker noted there are at least 160 cities in China that have more than 1 million people, so compared to the world, major Midwestern cities including Chicago, Milwaukee and Gary, Ind., are small and need to bind together to make a global impact.
Fresh Water and the Great Lakes: With major cuts to the DNR that just approved the near doubling of an already large dairy farm in Kewaunee County where well water is already tainted by manure; and runoff into Green Bay that has created a huge dead zone algae blume, Scott Walker cluelessly talked up our lead in clean fresh water research:
(Walker) said one of the great assets the region has is Lake Michigan and the tri-state area should continue to leverage the clean water natural resource that binds the region. “The water council has now elevated itself beyond Wisconsin,” Walker said. “Just in our state alone we have more than 300 companies related to water. China and India don’t have clean water. We have an abundance of it and we have experts in that intellectual property.”
So Walker isn't  worried, despite the facts:
Figures show farms produce 46% of phosphorus that flows into the lower Fox and Green Bay, followed by industry, 21%; municipal treatment plants, 16%; and urban storm water, 12%, according to estimates by NEW Water.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 largely exempts "nonpoint" sources such as the manure and fertilizer spread on fields and washed into streams.

So in Green Bay, officials are in the early stages of planning that would give financial incentives to farmers to use management practices, such as using more vegetation to cover fields to limit the runoff of manure and fertilizer.
Education, Skills Gap, and Jobs : After cutting nearly $500 million from the UW system since he became governor, and smoked other states in cuts to public education, Walker lamented the shortage of educated skilled people ready to fill the jobs employers say they need:
“It’s not just manufacturing, it’s IT, finance, accounting, health care, construction and transportation,” Walker said. “What I hear is it’s not just about workforce development, it’s economic development.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Trump, Carson do away with Medicare!!! Opt for High Deductible Health Savings Accounts.

Republicans don't know anything about health care, and that ignorance is going to kill a lot of people.

The cavalier attitude we're seeing from Republicans who have off handedly said they'll get rid of Medicare is shocking stuff.

Imagine seniors trying to navigate the private health care system, getting surprise medical bills in the mail, or are expected to read the small print of exclusions. I'm wondering if Republican politicians have ever seen or talked to seniors in independent or assisted living facilities. Many don't quite have the mental agility they once had.

My own mother, 95 and a former real estate company owner, is no longer able to understand or take the time to go through the maze of choices. She wasn't even able to do it 10 years ago, and made some uncharacteristically bad choices, but I never knew. This is the world Republicans want seniors to wonder in helplessly.

And so it is with Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Neither of them understand deductibles or health savings accounts. Basically, here's the scoop:
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were created in 2003 so that individuals covered by high-deductible health plans could receive tax-preferred treatment of money saved for medical expenses.
The only real benefit is that the accounts money is tax deductible, but it will never cover the full cost of high deductibles insurance policies. Even worse, it was made to work in concert with HIGH DEDUCTIBLE plans, the very problem Republicans say they hate. So high deductible policies aren't going away.

Which means, they're not just talking out of their ass, they're going to pass something that will cost you a whole lot of money.

It's astonishing that Carson, a doctor, doesn't know this.

Here's Donald Trumps clueless answer on ABC's This Sunday:

Halloween Pumpkin carving...with a gun!!!

Oh and don't miss the completely safe and responsible gun owner way to carve a pumpkin...with a gun:
Professional sharpshooter Kirsten Joy Weiss just posted a clip on her YouTube channel showing what she called, “The Precision Pumpkin Carving Shooting Game.” (If you’re tempted to try this, make sure you go to an actual shooting range.) "This game can be played with family and friends, even on your own..."
Kirsten makes guns fun:

New Year's Eve Champagne bottle opening problems? Guys, you'll especially like the way she shakes the bottle.
Kirsten Joy Weiss: "I've never actually opened a champagne bottle, so maybe I shouldn't have tried my first time with a gun."

Conservatives forced to pay more at Chipotle! Minimum wage increase, or higher profit margins? Go somewhere else maybe?

Boohoo, cry me a river Chipotle!!!
There are consequences to this whole minimum wage hike thing? Say it isn’t so!
The conservative site for hyperbolic news, The Blaze, and an anonymous reporter at Chicks on the Right "Red Blaze," have an amazing ability to read "between the lines."

Let's take a look at what is being described as an outrageous Chipotle food price hike possibly due to the new $12.25 an hour minimum wage in San Francisco. (Full disclosure, I always thought Chipotle prices were way too high to begin with):
Not too long ago, 77 percent of San Franciscans voted to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of four years. Now, Hillary’s favorite burrito joint is adjusting things to survive. Investors Business Daily reports that Chipotle raised prices in San Francisco “as much as 14.4%, after the city raised its minimum wage by 14%, according to an analyst. William Blair's Sharon Zackfia said in a client note "We believe the outsized San Francisco price hike was likely because of increased minimum wages (which rose from $10.74 per hour to $12.25 on May 1) as well as scheduled minimum wage increases in future years," Zackfia said in the report.
Analyst Zackfia "believed" it "was likely" the reason behind the price hikes. Or perhaps there's another "part" to consider?
Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said that the company raised the prices “in part to offset higher labor costs.” Pricing at Chipotles nationwide vary due to the cost of doing business, he said.
And the other part...profit maybe?

Like I said, I stopped going to Chipotle because I thought the prices were too high. That was my choice. But apparently, Chicks on the Right writer Red Blaze doesn't have a choice, and is being forced to eat there...getting screwed too:
Not at $20...
That's what happens when you force companies to #RaiseTheWage. They pass the burden off to consumers. We're the ones getting screwed.
Gee, please stop forcing (too afraid to use their real name) Red Blaze to eat at Chipotle, before she goes broke, and the minimum wage goes up to $13 an hour next year...
Can you say $20 burrito?

Freeloading GOP to Wisconsinites: F**k Schools, F**k Local funding Control through Referendums.

Who knew freeloading asshole Republican homeowners in districts that approved school funding referendums we're pissed off that they would have to pay for other peoples kids getting an education? They got theirs, a public education on other peoples dime, so screw everybody else.

I'm writing this in a fit of almost uncontrolled anger, so bear with me. This freeloading GOP attitude, that they can live free and clear off previous generations investments in public services, should outrage conservative and liberal taxpayers alike. We can't fix our roads, we can't fix our parks, we can't pay for education, and now we can't let local school districts pay for keeping their school competitive or open. Apparently all you need in Wisconsin is a house on a cheap piece of land. If you want more, move.

Republicans who once said state school funding cuts could be made up via local referendums approved by taxpayers are now backtracking...WSJ:
Tweedledum & Tweedledee; Stroebel
and Rep. Michael Schraa
Republican state lawmakers are seeking to restrict when and how local school districts can raise money from their local taxpayers at a time when the state is offering few new dollars for public schools … the moves are designed to lower property taxes, keep voters from being worn down by multiple referendum campaigns and prevent special elections when turnout is low.
The ends; lower property taxes,  justify the means; stop paying for schools.

Our Republican tax cut saviors claimed taxpayers have had enough of living in a high tax state. What they didn't see coming? Referendum after referendum being passed by local taxpayers who were willing to pay for good schools and their kids education. Yes, by raising their property taxes.
Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said, "There is one instance above all when locals will vote to tax themselves: a fear that they might lose their community’s or neighborhood’s school." With 76 percent of the referendums to exceed revenue limits passing (in 2014), never before have more Wisconsin voters welcomed property tax increases to pay to run their community schools.
An ideological no-no they're now going to fix with even more Big Government Republican regulations:
Require a period of two years before school boards can go back to voters after a failed referendum question ... the bill seeks to eliminate situations where voters are worn down. If voters reject a referendum question, for two years a school district would be prohibited from issuing bonds, taking out a loan or temporarily borrowing money in June, July and August to pay for immediate expenses associated with operating and maintaining schools from July 1 to the last working day of October, when state payments are sent to school districts.
Not seeing his own "negative ramifications" of putting ridiculous limitations on what the public decides it really wants...
“We continue to be a high-tax state in Wisconsin and that has negative ramifications,” said Sen. Duey Stroebel.
 So much for local government:
Wisconsin Associations of School Boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller said, “So I guess what these legislators want is for school districts to just cut and cut regardless what that does to educational opportunities and programs.” ... DPI spokesman John Johnson said the agency is against both of the bills because they both are “eroding local control.”
Another proposal is just as destructive, proposed by Sen. Frank Lasee, an enemy of all clean efficient energy:
Another bill bans school boards from exceeding their state-imposed revenue limits in order to pay for energy-efficiency projects. Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, co-authored the bill said, “lawmakers cannot seriously reduce property taxes when school boards routinely exceed their revenue limits.”
These freeloader control freaks are just getting started...

Rep. Chris Danou to Republicans: "I understand your side of the aisle benefits from cynicism toward this body and the good work of government. You benefit when they think we're all a bunch of crooks."

Did you ever wonder how Republicans not only gained power, but remain competitive with the Democratic Party, despite a long list of failed economic policies? Heck, you can't get any worse than the Great Recession or proposals to do away with Medicare and Social Security.

But it also goes beyond the conservative public's unwavering commitment and personally invested belief that their party is there to save the country, from whatever imagined evil they assign to the Democratic agenda.

Vilification of liberal progressive Democrats is a tool, a firewall Republicans depend on to insulate themselves from the many times they've been wrong about policy but have no way to explain it. Republicans are fighting evil, so when they openly attempt to game the system to their advantage, it's because they had no other choice. They have to save the country.

One Democrat bottom lined it during the campaign finance "debate." Rep. Chris Danou put to words what many of us have been thinking for years. He revealed the Republicans "secret;" how getting rid of John Doe investigations, allowing unlimited amounts of corrupting money, and eventually doing away with open records laws will only make the public distrust politicians even more:

These anti-government Republicans, ironically, are now the ones in control of government. So will they start telling us why government is now something good?

Walker Trolls wrong about Tolls...

I don't know where these people get their information, but its been consistently wrong for ages. Chalk up another one, this time about adding toll roads in Wisconsin, an idea I've been pushing for years.

For many of us, we've been waiting patiently for years to see congress make toll roads happen. Now that just might happen. I think they should greet motorists at the state border, coming and going.

There is one regret; tolls could let Republicans off the hook when it comes to raising taxes to replenish the transportation fund, allowing them to keep their "no tax" pledge to a right wing lobbyist. Still, there's a good chance tolls won't cover all the costs, so who knows:

Congress may clear the way for states like Wisconsin to look at adding toll roads. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-8th Congressional District, told News 3 on "For the Record" that the federal highway bill moving through the House of Representatives may allow new states to toll.

"I think ultimately states will have the authority to toll on their own roads," Ribble said. "The federal government is not going to have the ability to mandate tolls, but they'll likely be given the authority to toll the interstate system if they choose." The bill would allow states that want to toll to apply to the federal government to do so a year from now.

A Marquette Law School Poll found in May 2014 that 55 percent of Wisconsinites polled were willing to use tolls to pay for highway projects,

The 2015-17 state budget requires that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation study the issue and find out how much money could be raised and where the toll roads would go. Lawmakers say an obvious choice would be to add tolls to I39/90 between the state line and Madison. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was considering the bill Thursday and the full House is expected to approve the bill by next week. The current transportation measure will run out on Oct. 29. 

Democrats took a stand, and Television news coverage took a pass.

Why didn't WISC and WKOW cover the Democratic recusal and protest over the Republicans outrageous "reform" bill changing the states campaign finance laws? It was important for the public know for future reference what party was responsible for this open door to corruption, and what party fought it to the bitter end.

WPT's Here and Now thankfully stepped up with this short but respectful look at the Democratic recusal:

Rep. Peter Barca: "We'll be the only state in the nation ... we'll be the only one that will allow zero disclosure and NO DISCLAIMER."

Rep. Latonya Johnson: "The real reason that I'm recusing myself from voting for this bill Mr. Speaker, is because it SUCKS. THIS BILL SUCKS.
Here and Now also put together a video feature covering the WPR and WPT Wisconsin Survey by St. Norberts College. It appears the public's not too happy with the direction Walker and the Republicans are taking Wisconsin. Better late than never? I wish that were so:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Walker has done nothing to improve Minority Graduation Rates.

To put it in a way Republicans and their voters can understand; Scott Walker's Act 10 and voucher expansion isn't improving minority graduation rates. jsonline:

Even after 25 years of vouchers in Milwaukee and the expansion statewide, Walker is failing to close the graduation gap under Act 10 and vouchers. Especially for those Republicans who are pretending to care most about black student achievement.
The graduation rate for white students rose to 92.9% ranking third nationally, widening the gap between black and white students to 26.8 percentage points.
What a success? And while it takes from 8 to 12 years or so for current policy to show up as an improvement or failure in our national scores, Walker is taking credit for all the progress mad by preceding administrations, all the while tearing it apart:  
Wisconsin's gap in graduation rates between black and white students widened slightly in the 2013-'14 school year to become the largest in the country, at a time when many states are narrowing that gap, according to preliminary data released this week by the U.S. Department of Education.

Wisconsin's overall graduation rate rose by more than half a percentage point to 88.6% in 2013-'14, the most recent year available ... But the rate for African-American students held steady at 66.1%, failing to keep pace with gains seen by their Wisconsin counterparts and those in almost every other racial, ethnic and special-needs category.
The reason? Republicans have been focusing in on spreading private voucher money to higher income families with students already in private schools for mostly religious reasons, and not our economically challenged inner cities for improving public education.  
An estimated 26,900 students who live in the city of Milwaukee are using vouchers to attend 117 private schools, the vast majority of them religious. Public spending for the current school year will exceed $190 million. Once a school is running, is the fact that parents are choosing it enough to justify continued public funding? That's pretty much the case now.
Walker's Act 10 "tools" to fix education over his last 5 years have done nothing for elementary minority students reading and math scores. Instead of attacking Common Core and Tony Evers, and praising white student scores, legislators should have been working with the State Superintendent to improve minority graduation rates and basic reading:  
Fourth-grade reading scores for black students were the second worst. And black students in only three states had lower average math scores than Wisconsin's black fourth-graders and eighth-graders.
So will Walker be blamed 8 years from now when minority graduation rates still stink or possibly decline? I can hear the accusations of "Walker derangement syndrome" now.

Speaking of the State Superintendent Tony Evers, Republican efforts to oust Evers and change the state constitution isn't even close to what the public wants.
When asked if the head of the state Department of Public Instruction should be elected or appointed, a resounding 84 percent of Wisconsin Surveyrespondents favored keeping it as an elected position. The survey shows almost all Democrats -- 92 percent -- feel the superintendent should remain an elected position while 73 percent of Republicans agreed. 

Businesses Shifting worker injury costs from Worker's Compensation to Social Security and Medicaid, at taxpayer expense.

When a communications tower painter fell to his death, his family was given a death benefit lump sum of $250,000. This was from an alternative to worker's compensation, because in some states, the company can opted out to save money. Had it been worker's compensation program, the family would have gotten as much as $1 million dollars. That family is now struggling on food stamps and whatever they could get from Social Security.

And that's the rub. Our social safety nets are being used by employers as a dumping ground for employees who have been killed or injured from work place injuries. They can save money, while taxpayers pick up cost.

Wisconsin is now going to cut workers comp even more than its already has, which means Republicans are not done attacking labor. The Progressive:
Wisconsin has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Worker's Compensation system: The benefit for the worker is that they don't have to go to court if they are injured. Next week, Wisconsin Republicans plan to throw all that out the window.

Rep. John Spiros in the Wisconsin Assembly and Sen. Duey Stroebel in the Senate (plan): Under the new system, worker's still will not be allowed to sue their employers for workplace injuries, but will be required to prove that the workplace injury wasn't their fault to receive their full compensation-- which is still codified at the meager rate. 

Wisconsin Republicans have actually figured out a way to make things worse for workers than before Worker's Compensation came along-- because at least in the bad old days of the Gilded Age, a worker might get justice in court. 

Allow the employer to choose the treating doctor for workers who don’t have group-health insurance coverage. This means they can send you to an unskilled “company doctor” for low quality treatment and a certain denial of your claim.

Allow the employer to avoid paying lost wages for a legitimate, conceded, claim by firing the employee while they are recovering. Require an employee to tell an employer, when they are hired, about any medical conditions they may have, or risk being denied benefits later on for any work injuries. 
Democratic politicians in D.C. want to put a stop to the cost shift, and save Social Security and Medicaid money the worker's compensation system should be paying out:

Ten ranking Democrats on key Senate and House committees are urging the Labor Department to respond to a "pattern of detrimental changes in state workers' compensation laws" that have reduced protections and benefits for injured workers over the past decade. The lawmakers cited an investigation by NPR and ProPublica, which found that 33 states have cut workers' comp benefits, made it more difficult to qualify for benefits or given employers more control over medical care decisions.  Democrats says the benefits cutbacks make federal action necessary, even though workers' comp is legislated and managed by states.

The lawmakers wrote. "The race to the bottom now appears to be nearly bottomless. ..."

"These workers … end up getting benefits under Social Security Disability or Medicaid [and] food stamps because they're not working," said Rep. Bobby Scott. "And so there is a strong federal interest in making sure that the workers' comp programs pay appropriate benefits."
Employers are draining Social Security: 
The federal trust fund that pays for Social Security disability benefits is expected to end up short of funds next year, and cost-shifting from workers' comp is partially blamed.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is releasing a study Wednesday that estimates that more than 20 percent of the increase in federal disability cases is due to cuts in workers' comp programs.

Federal intervention may also come as the result of the "opt out" movement in Texas and Oklahoma ... South Carolina and Tennessee are considering opt-out laws now. 

Rep John Kline (R-MN), said, "shouldn't be designed to deny workers basic protections or shift costs to taxpayers." But Kline also defended "reform" ... The opt-out system saves employers 40 to 90 percent in claims costs. The opt-out alternative to workers' comp "harkens so unabashedly back to before the Industrial Revolution in terms of attitudes of employers."
Some businesses are banking on it, like Ashley Furniture's CEO:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, announced a new set of fines for Ashley Furniture for unsafe working conditions. The Wisconsin-based company has already received almost $2 million in penalties this year and OSHA has now issued $431,000 in new penalties. In a press release, Ashley Furniture officials said they "strongly disagrees with and will vigorously challenge the proposed citations." 

Ashley CEO Ron Wanek grabbed a flyer decrying federal regulations, including environmental, workplace and health care rules, saying, “This is what’s going to kill industry in the United States.”

Friday, October 23, 2015

Big Government Republicans piling up new rules and regulations, this time criminalizing photographs and videos of Hunters!!

There's nothing small about Big Government Republicans. Take for example this new possible regulation:
Could carrying a camera in a state park cost you thousands of dollars in fines and nine months in jail? Yes, if Wisconsin’s new “Right to Hunt” bill, which was introduced last week by Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow, becomes law.
Goodbye freedom and Liberty: If you thought expanding gun play in college classes was a sop to the NRA and knuckle dragging gun addicts, wait till you see this nutting ass kissing bill for hunters:
A group called Wolf Patrol, which in recent months has attempted to document and monitor the trapping and hunting of wolves, bears, and other wildlife in Wisconsin … is nonconfrontational.

The proposed bill, however, would criminalize photographing or videotaping hunters, as well as what it calls “impeding a person who is engaged in an activity associated with lawful hunting.” It would also cover any “acts that are preparatory to lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping.” 
Wow, and this isn't even an Onion article. And what might come as a shock to pocket constitutional conservatives, this might have trouble Constitutionally, since pictures and video has nothing to do with hunting:
Justin Marceau, the Animal Legal Defense Fund professor of law at the University of Denver: “The idea you’re going to regulate who can take photos on public land is pretty shocking. You don’t see laws like that anywhere in the free world.” Marceau said components of the bill covering areas “preparatory” to hunting were also unusually broad.
We've also added the right to hunt into our Constitution, but sadly, they left off the right not to be photographed or recorded. What were they thinking?
Right to fish, hunt, trap, and take game. Section 26. [As created April 2003] The people have the right to fish, hunt, trap, and take game subject only to reasonable restrictions as prescribed by law.

Walker administration private emails, some undisclosed, okay with true believers...

All because Scott Walker had to open his trap, criticizing Hillary Clinton over her private emails.

No big deal, Scott Walk and his staff didn't violate any state laws when they used private email accounts to conduct government business discovered in a John Doe investigation. According to Walker and his band of legislative pirates, the partisan John Doe probe was a long drawn out hit piece to defeat Walker in his reelection bid. Never mind that it ended up uncovering a secret email account use to conduct campaign time on the taxpayer dime, along with private email communications between Walker and his staff:

WKOW: Governor Scott Walker says he simply didn't remember his staff used personal email to communicate about state business throughout 2011. It is not illegal for state officials to use personal email for official business. 
He didn't remember? You gotta wonder who then redacted his email address and their contents before turning them over in an open records request:
Urban Milwaukee: Madison TV station WKOW asked Walker last May 28 whether some of his staff used personal email for business. “I don’t know,” said the governor. “I mean, not that I’m aware of.” 

WKOW reported in its bombshell story ... “In the first year of the Walker administration, state business was conducted through more than 300 personal emails. Some of the emails were sent to or from Governor Walker’s own personal address,” the station noted, “but we aren’t sure how many due to the fact that both his personal and official email addresses are redacted in the records.”
It was a big deal though when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a legally allowable private email account to conduct government business.  And dragging out an investigation over Clinton's use of private emails during her run for president is supposedly not an attempt to destroy her chances of winning either, even though Rep. Kevin McCarthy admitted as much:
U.S. Justice Department lawyers told a federal court that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account was not against the law, nor was it illegal for her to unilaterally determine which messages were considered work-related and necessary to return to the State Department for record keeping.
Republicans are working under a different set of standards, based on principled conservative values that are constantly changing.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ryan wants time with family, a privilege he's denied Working Americans!

Some people deserve privileges and some should work harder to earn them. That's Paul Ryan's message to Americans who want more family time, but still don't deserve it. Our ivory tower elitist career politician is now being called out as a hypocrite, since he's voted against a family leave act.

It's fun to watch the overtly authoritarian Republican Party try to deal with their own overtly authoritarian lawmakers make overtly ridiculous demands that as policy, they normally oppose.

The initial reaction to Ryan's demand, that the House speaker be given more family time, was met with praise. And that's unfortunate, because that was exactly what Ryan wanted:

It wasn't long before his record on family leave for the American public leaked out. Ryan hypocritically doesn't believe Americans deserve what he deserves, time with their family, plain and simple:
Paul Ryan's request for family leave has critics crying hypocrite: Paul Ryan's request for family time as a condition for his campaign for House Speaker has drawn criticism from those who see the Wisconsin congressman's demands as hypocritical.  critics, including fellow politicians, have been quick to point out that it conflicts with his established opposition of paid family leave measures.

In 2009, Ryan voted against the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act … Ryan has also delayed action on the proposed Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. Ryan's congressional office was not among those listed in a January Huffington Post article as offering paid maternity or paternity leave for staffers.
 Ryan may get what he wants...:
The House Freedom Caucus (HFC) stopped short of formally endorsing Rep. Paul Ryan for Speaker on Wednesday but said a “super-majority” of the group backs him, handing the Wisconsin Republican enough votes to win the top leadership post.
...but still not take the job, with this one "truly" major caveat:
Ryan told reporters, “If I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve.”
The kicker to all this came in the form of a Tweet about advice from our hypocritical governor Scott Walker:


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Democrats Recused themselves from GOP campaign corruption bill.

Republicans in congress said it was unfair Democrats rammed ObamaCare down everyone’s throats without a single Republican vote. Poor babies.

And yet, Republicans ramming Act 10 and now campaign finance down the throats of legislators voters who want to take money out of elections is okay? Who listens to the public anyway, when we have “leaders” who know what’s best, and "hold listening sessions so it gives the appearance the administration is reaching out." - Lobbyist Bill McCoshen. 
Cap Times: Democrats in the Wisconsin Assembly (stood up and) recused themselves en masse from a Wednesday evening vote on a contentious GOP proposal to reshape the state's campaign finance laws. The bill passed shortly before 8 p.m. with the unanimous support of the chamber's Republican members, with no Democrats casting votes. Democrats cited state statute 19.46, which prevents public officials from "taking any official action substantially affecting a matter in which the official ... has a substantial financial interest."

"Because the bill has a direct financial interest for myself ... I feel it is necessary to recuse myself given the direct self-interest that this bill provides for members of this body," said Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, leading the arguments.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach put it this way:
“If we do something wrong, we should be investigated,” added Sen. John Erpenbach (D-Middleton), his voice rising with emotion. “I don’t want any part of this bill. People are cynical enough already. Let’s not give them another reason to hate politicians.” 
This outraged Rep. Robin Vos, the biggest whiny asshole ramming crony government down our throats. Silly Democrats should take Vos' juvenile overly broad advice:
Vos accused Democrats of setting a "seriously dangerous precedent" by recusing themselves, noting legislators could make the same argument for voting on the state budget or issues that affect their hometown.

"I have never been so disappointed in the members of the minority." Vos said Democrats took their leadership's cue to "walk off a cliff" and called their actions "silly in the extreme."
Yes, it's  those power hungry Democrats who are being extreme in all this.

And Rep. Joel Kleefisch, a man who resently transformed from legislator to neanderthal, observed:
He was saddened to see Democrats engage in a "stunt."
Going back to the future on campaign finance is also the Republicans idea of being more "progressive" than Democrats. Ouch:
Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee: "...stop the theatrics ... we will operate under the current existing state law throughout history forever. Is that what you want? Because that doesn't sound very progressive to me."