Monday, February 29, 2016

"Drumpf, Donald Drumpf!

John Oliver has struck gold with Donald Trump's ancestral last name, Drumpf:

Oliver is even offering up a Chrome app that always changes "Trump" to "Drumpf." That's why you'll see the change right here at Democurmudgeon.  

Oh, and on the policy side of the debate...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Walker Justice candidate Bradley features fake "hunter" picture for single issue gun vote.

Scott Walker's shopping mall for hunters who don't have a lot of time, game farms, is another administration effort to privatize a very popular public sport.

To the left is DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp in a Wern Valley game farm vest prominently featured in the state's "Deer Hunt 2014" video. That's not all, the shows host...

...and a number of presenters chose to wear Safari Club International hats. This seemed a bit odd for a DNR-produced program. Safari Club International is a lobbying organization, and a pretty radical one at that-- they promote trophy hunting, canned hunts, hounding bears/wolves, and oppose endangered species protections.
But there's not just money to be made by the game farm industry, its also a great place for would-be politicians and Supreme Court Justices who don't have a hunting license to get a gun toting campaign picture, like the photo here of Justice candidate Rebecca Bradley. JS-Marley:
The photo was taken in November at a Waukesha game farm, where hunting licenses aren't required. Rebecca Bradley made an implicit appeal to hunters … baseball cap emblazoned with the initials of the National Rifle Association. State Department of Natural Resources spokesman George Althoff said there is no record of Bradley having a hunting, fishing or boating license in the past five years. 
Bradley for some reason wouldn't say where she stands on the now decided 2nd Amendment decision by Justice Scalia, which in Republican world means she's all for it, but Justice candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg offered a more insightful detailed view:
"What I can say is that Heller does demonstrate that a judicial philosophy that claims to hew to the original intents of the men who wrote the constitution 250 years ago does not by itself resolve complex legal questions. Both Justice Scalia in his majority opinion and Justice (John Paul) Stevens in his dissent reviewed the text and history of the disputed Second Amendment language. Justice Scalia chose to place less weight on some of the words in the Second Amendment as compared to others and so reached a decision that some legal scholars contend was consistent with Scalia's own ideology rather than with an originalist reading of the constitution."

Big Government Republicans in Alabama ban Minimum Wage Hike, Vacation time, and Work Schedules Statewide.

The right wing authoritarian streak we're seeing in the Republican Party right now isn't just bad news for our representative democracy, but it also prevents the growth of all grassroots movements, like paid sick leave, region specific zoning ordinances, mass transit innovations, and my focus here - the minimum wage.

Stopping the spread of popular social movements puts an end to progress. Yea, I know, sounds unbelievable doesn't it.

Like the one size fits all Republican power grab in Wisconsin, Alabama conservatives are also "simplifying" and "streamlining" a "patchwork of confusing" local regulations that "cost jobs." Gee, thanks...:
Alabama's "socialist" Republicans, the party that for years pushed local control as a way of portraying Democrats as the party of big government, didn't just stop at the minimum wage either:
The city council of Birmingham, Ala., voted 7 to 0 (with one abstention) to become the first city in the deep South to enact a minimum wage above the current federal level of $7.25. 

But the Alabama legislature this past week fired back, passing a bill that prevents cities and counties from mandating their own benefits, including minimum wage, vacation time, or set work schedules. The bill passed easily in both houses and Gov. Robert Bentley signed it into law on Thursday. 

Supporters argued that a "patchwork" of varying wages would devastate businesses, cost jobs, and send the regional economy into a slump.
Wow, I wonder what made them stop there? Guess we'll just have to wait for their next legislative session to make up for lost time.

Stopping social change at the grassroots level is a breathtaking scheme, to say the least, and it's happening everywhere:
In September, the Missouri senate voted 23 to 9 to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would forbid Kansas City, St. Louis, and other Missouri cities from increasing their minimum wage above $7.65, the current statewide rate. 

Alabama is one of only five states without a statewide minimum wage law. The others are Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Trump & Christie to voters: ...remember all that bad stuff we said about each other, never mind!!!

Right wing voters love Trump because he's been brutally honest about the bullshit Republicans have been peddling for years, calling them out on it, with voters nodding in agreement. He called out Walker's lousy economic and jobs record; Christie on Bridgegate and the 9 state credit downgrades; Rubio's mindless repeated pitch; Cruz' campaign of lies.  Every Republican campaign dirty trick is currently being used against their own candidates, and I'm loving it.

But you have to laugh at Chris Christie's endorsement of Trump, after everything these two said about each other...truly horrible things that obliterated the others character, things they can never take back. Will Republican voters play along with this charade?

I started the clip below with Christie's contradictory comments, along with Rubio and Trumps juvenile playground shouting match and criticisms. This is what passes for "adults" in Republican world?

WRONG TEMPERAMENT: "Donald's a great guy and a good person, but I just don't think he's suited to be president of the United States. I don't think his temperament is suited for that and I don't think his experience is. He's got great experiences in doing things in business, but ... if he doesn't get what he wants from (then-House Speaker) John Boehner, he can't fire him. " — On Fox News in August.
PAJAMA MAN: "He sits in his jammies in Trump Tower and phones in. You guys don't let any of the rest of us do that." — To Sean Hannity, after Trump announced he would skip a January Fox News debate. Christie also drew a pointed contrast to Trump in saying he didn't "whine and moan and complain and walk away" after he was relegated to an earlier undercard debate.
MUSLIM BAN: SAY WHAT?: "This is the kind of thing that people say when they have no experience and don't know what they're talking about. We do not need to endorse that type of activity, nor should we." On Michael Medved's radio show in December, after Trump called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
A REAL CHARACTER: "Showtime is over. It's time to pick a president. We're not picking a legislator-in-chief. We're not picking an entertainer-in-chief. We're not casting a TV show. This is real." —During a December visit to New Hampshire, during which he also labeled Trump "a real character."
A BRIDGE TOO FAR: "Here is the story: The George Washington Bridge, he knew about it." — Addressing Christie's role in the bridge scandal, speaking in New Hampshire in December. Two of Christie's former aides have been charged with closing two lanes of the bridge to tie up traffic as political payback. Christie has denied any knowledge, and a state-financed investigation cleared him. Trump added that Christie "can't win because of his past."
A CHILD: "It was unbelievable. He was like a little boy: 'Oh, I'm with the president.'" Mocking Christie's enthusiastic welcome of President Barack Obama to New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy. Trump, speaking in New Hampshire in December, said Christie acted like a "little child."
NO HELP: Christie's appearance with Obama cost 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney "a lot of votes." — Trump in New Hampshire in December.
CREDIT CRUNCH: Trump has also swiped at Christie for New Jersey's nine credit downgrades on the governor's watch.

Does a Republican S**t in the Woods...and so much more Part 2!!! The DNR Blacklist!

DNR Collapsing under Walker Deregulation, Anti-Science Politics, and Stepp Appointment as Secretary: After dramatic cuts to the DNR's science staff and employees, along with “a major reorganization that could send duties to other agencies and streamline regulatory work including an experimental plan to allow some businesses to draft their own environmental permits,” we’re now finding out the DNR started a blacklist against those effected by DNR environmental incompetence and non-responses. JS-Stein/Marley:
The state Department of Natural Resources blacklisted a group of 16 citizens and activists with complaints about how the agency managed wildlife and administered clean water and other rules. Being put on the "do not respond" list was supposed to mean that going forward agency staff would not respond to the complainants except for those responses required by the state's open records law.
While Scott Walker talks about saving Wisconsin taxpayers money, he really isn't, since the cost is shifting to individual taxpayers who don't get any media coverage at all...until now:
One of the people on that list was Owen Buske, a 78-year-old Franklin man who said that he had ended up paying more than $16,000 to install a new well on his property after problems with contamination of another well that he shared with two other parties.

Buske said he called about 20 different DNR employees for a total of 40 times in an unsuccessful attempt to improve the well and his drinking water.
The presence of a DNR enemies blacklist (that will only grow over time) is just part of Republican efforts to privatize or exploit state and national park land, exemplified by the militant takeover of federal property in rural Oregon. Remember, they wanted the government to give back "their" land. Of course the DNR blacklist didn't come from any of the administrators, just some "unnamed" rogue assistant...oh, that's not true either:  
The do-not-respond list, which is marked "confidential" at the top of it, was released to the newspaper under the open records law. DNR spokesman George Althoff said in an email that the list was created in around 2013 by an unnamed administrative assistant to help track contacts from people who were deemed either very repetitive or abusive. 
Names were referred to the list by a variety of DNR officials, including Mike Bruhn, then the No. 3 official at the agency, and by the office of Secretary Cathy Stepp. The last name was added to the list in early 2015, Althoff said. Stepp was appointed by Walker and she in turn appointed Bruhn.

The DNR has found itself under criticism … Environmentalists have sued the DNR twice since December over the length of time they must wait for records they have requested. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Feb. 5 that the DNR screens and shepherds records requests deemed politically sensitive by running them past political appointees before the records were released.
In the comments section, resident right wing scattershot media pundit David Blaska (MrBluster) gave us an insightful glimpse into party thinking; citizen dissatisfaction is a nuisance and should be ignored if it doesn't advance the party goal. We saw that when hundreds of thousands protested Act 10, resulting in no give-and-take, no compromises. Pedro the Good's response nails it:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Does a Republican S**t in the Woods...and so much more!!!

Nothing irks Republicans more than to see state and national parks just sitting there, off limits to anyone who wants to take the oil, minerals and timber God gave us.

Now in control, there's nothing stopping Republicans. After reading the story below, I was beginning to think this was it for Wisconsin. I still feel sick. JS:
The state Department of Natural Resources is closing in on a major reorganization that could send duties to other agencies and streamline regulatory work, including an experimental plan to allow some businesses to draft their own environmental permits.
Oh it gets worse...they're like the bully at the beach kicking down everybody's sandcastles:
Officials said the goal is to increase efficiency ... "We can't nibble around the edges," Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede told employees last week. "...we are going to focus and be brave enough to say we are going to give certain things up."

...a GOP-led Legislature has been critical of an agency that it thinks has tilted too far toward protection ... Lawmakers have cut the agency's funding and ... limit DNR powers in recent years ... The parks system is expected to undergo significant changes, in part, because the Legislature cut funding last year that will require it to rely on user fees for support.
You won't even believe the following statement by DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp:
Stepp, who was appointed secretary in 2011 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, spoke at a forum in Florida in January 2015 and expressed frustration in trying to spark a cultural shift with employees who hold strong environmental convictions ... Stepp, a former home builder, recalled at one agency listening session how an employee told her that the "deer and the butterflies and clean air and clean water, that those were our customers. And I said, 'Well, the last time I checked, they don't pay taxes and they don't sign our paychecks.'"
If you haven't gotten that empty, sinking feeling in your gut yet..oh, Wisconsin  Manufacturing and Commerce likes the plan:
"DNR should be commended for their efforts to ... allow them to continue to align DNR's resources to our state's needs," Lucas Vebber, director of environmental and energy policy for WMC.
Or the needs of the special interest donors:
In some cases, the DNR is contemplating turning over the brunt of permit writing to businesses. Most notable: Highly technical air pollution permits that regulate emissions at utilities, paper mills and chemical plants. Officials say the true expertise resides with the engineers and technical staff of the companies. 
On a federal level it's been just a brutal, lead by our own political pirates, including Paul Ryan (search "Roll Call" on this blog for a complete list). Republicans now want taxpayers to pay for shooting ranges on state and federal land:

HUNTING, FISHING ON FEDERAL LAND: The House passed (HR 2406) that would authorize federally funded shooting ranges on state and federal lands, limit Environmental Protection Agency regulation of ammunition and fishing lures as toxic substances and open all National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land to hunting, fishing and other public recreation.

Voting yes: Democrat Ron Kind, Republicans James Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Shawn Duffy, Reid Ribble. Voting no: Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore.
Democrats tried to save us all from lead pollution but…
LEAD CONTAMINATION FROM FISHING TACKLE: The House defeated a Democratic bid to require research into the extent to which lead from fishing tackle is contaminating ponds and streams used for recreation … manufacturers would conduct research into their products and make their findings available for public review. A yes vote was to require industry research into lead contamination from fishing tackle.

Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore. Voting no: Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Ribble
Minnesota is pushing this: 
Found in most fishing jigs and sinkers, this metal is poisoning wildlife such as loons and eagles.

There are alternatives to traditional lead tackle. Anglers can now use sinkers and jigs made from non-poisonous materials such as tin, bismuth, steel, and tungsten-nickel alloy — and they can find them at established sporting goods retailers and on the Internet.

Denied his vote, senior Iwo Jima Veteran should have done his research first, says GOP mouthpiece Media Trackers.

Media Tracker’s Brian Sikma is a real piece of work. Many years ago I had a friend who used his fake cluelessness as an excuse to get away with saying the dumbest things. Sikma reminds me of him.

Sikma couldn’t resist taking a shot a veteran turned away when he tried to vote.

Liberal Justice’s should Shut Up: Because Justice Ann Walsh Bradley came out against the voter ID law, she’s using her position to attack poor Scott Walker. JS:  
A veteran who fought at Iwo Jima in 1945 and who, for the first time, was denied his right to vote thanks to the state’s voter ID law being in effect … was brought to light because his niece, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the state Supreme Court, wrote a letter to Gov. Scott Walker outlining her displeasure over the situation and her opposition to the law. Bradley was among the minority of justices who dissented from the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law. Leo Olson of Reedsburg, tried to use his veterans ID card ... but that form of identification can’t be used under the state’s voter ID law.
Who would have though a veterans ID card wouldn't be enough: Sikma is quick to blame a veteran for not getting another ID:
Oddly, (JS's) Patrick Marley never ... (got an) explanation about why the veteran never obtained a free state ID card which meets current voter ID requirements.
Of course Sikma skipped blaming Republicans for purposely excluding the veterans ID card in the first place, while acknowledging the legislatures sudden plan to reinstate it, now that the shit hit the fan:
Marley did point out that state law could be changing soon to allow veteran ID cards to suffice for voter ID purposes. 
Oh, and don't fund the elections board to pay for an ad campaign to explain the new law. Anyone see billboards, newspaper ads and television PSA's detailing the process? Nope, so Sikma decided to lie:
While the story of a veteran not being able to vote tugs at heart strings, it is hardly the fault of the law. The Government Accountability Board has spent a significant amount of time and money on a public awareness campaign emphasizing a valid ID.
Biting the (Vets) Hand that feeds them (votes): What the heck is wrong with veterans in their 80's, not doing their research, scouring every page of information, and jumping through a few "minor" hoops so they can vote? Why didn't Leo Olson think to check out...
...the GAB’s website “” 

Marley noted that the veteran’s wife was upset because her husband’s Veterans Administration card didn’t work for voter ID purposes ... the VA itself emphasizes on its website that VA cards function as enrollment and identification cards for VA services and may sometimes be used as ID cards for travel. However, the VA carefully notes the card is not a substitute for other forms of identification.

And why couldn't Olson just go through the process all over again to get an ID requiring the same documentation he used the first time applied for his veterans ID? Common sense-like...
Fascinatingly, the VA requires veterans to undergo a rigid process to prove their identity before getting a VA card. In fact, if you can get a VA identification card you have what it takes to get a free Wisconsin voter ID card. The required documents to obtain a VA card are listed here, the required documents to get a Wisconsin voter ID card are here. The lists closely parallel one another.
Sikma is one sick dude. This reminds me of the Republican Medicare plan to force seniors into shopping every year for the best deal on health insurance, as if the problems with mobility and declining mental alertness simply don't exist for the aged.

Like I've said before, someone should require a recordable ID process and signature for all gun purchases. Let's see how long that small inconvenience would last. 

Republican Presidential Candidates Promise to cut Taxes between $7 trillion to $10 trillion, while also Balancing the Budget by Paying Off Debt...with what?

In anticipation of the Republican attack on Bernie Sanders supposed budget busting plan to offer free health care and college education, let’s take a look at what they’re offering. Voxdotcom's headline nails it:
"We've lost sight of how wildly irresponsible the Republican tax plans are"
Here's a brief look:
Marco Rubio has promised tax cuts amounting to $6.8 trillion, Cruz $8.6 trillion, and Trump a whopping $9.5 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center (and that's not including interest on the debt they would rack up!).
By comparison, the budget disaster we saw coming a mile away with the Bush tax cuts...
The tax cuts George W. Bush proposed during the 2000 campaign were $1.32 trillion — which would be $1.82 trillion in today's dollars. And taxes were higher in 2000 than they are today, and the country was running surpluses rather than deficits.
The misleading dopiness of a Balanced Budget Amendment: What should be a no brainer for even the most conservative tightwad, is anything but, because it sounds good:
It gets worse. Rubio and Cruz both support a Balanced Budget Amendment, so they can't just add their tax cuts to the national debt. They also support spending more on the military — up to $1 trillion for Rubio, about $2.4 trillion for Cruz. 
For example; even though Rubio's chances are slim, he's still in the race and has the backing of Scott Walker. Here's his exciting simple plan:
Marco Rubio announced that he'll pay for his tax cuts by doing something truly big: ending funding for Medicaid and for the Children’s Health Insurance Program — which 71 million Americans, or 22 percent of the country, rely on for health care. Impressive, right? The problem is that only gets Rubio about $4.7 trillion.

Rubio could find another trillion dollars by eliminating all education spending — Pell grants, the Department of Education, K-12 funds, school nutrition programs, Head Start, all of it. That gets him to roughly $5.7 trillion. Knocking out all justice spending could net another $561 billion. But there might be some political resistance to wiping out the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, much of the Department of Justice, all United States attorneys, the entire federal judiciary, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

 And then to fulfill his balanced budget promise, he's got to get rid of the deficits that already exist and are projected to grow in the coming years.
Impossible? Yea. Cruz's out does Rubio's:
Cruz is proposing a full $8.6 trillion in tax cuts. To get there, he could start with everything on Rubio's list and then end all federal transportation funding. Goodbye, Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, and Federal Highway Administration! And sorry, all you states relying on federal funds to build or rebuild your highways and ports! The problem is all that money only amounts to $935 billion. That gets Cruz to a cool $7.8 trillion, but his job isn't done yet.

The good news is that the $715 billion he could get from eliminating spending on veterans would pretty much close the gap. And who'll miss the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veteran Benefits Administration, the Veterans Health Administration, or the National Cemetery Administration? Of course, there is one small problem Cruz has also promised to increase military spending by $2.4 trillion. And he's also got Rubio's balanced-budget problem.
Remember, they're doing this so Republicans won't have to raise taxes on the wealthy. And Trump's sketchy idea?
The projected US deficit for the next 10 years is $9.4 trillion. Passing Donald Trump’s $9.5 trillion tax cuts would more than double that total.

The federal government is expected to bring in about $21 trillion in individual income taxes over the next 10 years. Trump’s cuts amount to a 45 percent reduction from that projection … he's also promised to maintain funding for entitlements while increasing spending on the military. There's just no way to reconcile all that. Taken together, even the most sympathetic reading of Trump's plan dissolves into incoherence.
None of this even take into consideration spending on natural disasters that Republicans insist must be made up with cuts elsewhere.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Repeal the 17th Amendment, centralize Power in Red States, keep "the Harry Reid's of the world" out.

So what do Republicans do when big special interest money (thanks to their own beloved Citizens United decision), now controls all GOP politicians in congress? Do you try to get rid of the corrupting influence of money? Do you hold your elected officials feet to the fire? Do you try to reform the Republican Party and take it away from the radicalized right wing base?

Nope! Our Republican constitutional conservatives have decided to run from the problem, and go after their beloved Constitution, by getting rid of the 17th Amendment. What is it about their authoritarian urge to centralize power? Salt Lake Tribune:
The Utah Senate voted 20-6 to pass SJR2 ... It calls for Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to allow people to directly elect U.S. senators.

Its sponsor, Sen. Al Jackson, R-Highland, says electing senators by the state Senate is needed because no branch of the federal government now represents the needs of state governments. A change would force senators to do that.

Jackson: "We repeal the 17th Amendment, we don't get Harry Reid anymore. We don't get the Harry Reid's of the world because guess what, most of the country is red! And I hate to make this a partisan issue because it's really not..."
My head is spinning.....

Apparently State Sen. Al Jackson isn't aware of the House of Representatives? And yet, Republicans love the influence of money so much, that it doesn't even occur to them to just get rid of it:
"Today, senators are more beholden to special interest groups than to their states" because those interests give them money for reelection, Jackson said. "It's time for our senators to come home every weekend and take direction from this body and from the House and the governor on how they should vote in the upcoming week."
Of course it took a Democrat to point out the one major flaw in their thinking:  
Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, disputed the plan's logic. U.S. senators are now the only lawmakers elected by all voters in the state, she said, and therefore are not affected by redistricting that she says may have favored Republicans in Utah. She said repealing the amendment would also take away power from voters.

Dumb Ron Johnson Says Fire him if you don't like him Blocking Justice Nomination.

Republicans are pushing a strict ideological agenda, which has nothing to do with you and me, the hapless voter. For instance:

Paul Ryan once said he'd be okay losing an election if he could pass something he knew was best for America, even if no one liked it.  Or the recent opens records request that found Republicans ignored overwhelming negative constituent feedback on very divisive bills, and passed them anyway.

And so it is with Dumb Ron Johnson, who'll block any supreme court justice nominee even if it cost him the race for his senate seat in November. So it doesn't matter if 62 percent of Wisconsin voters want the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat filled this year? Who are these guys serving? WKOW:

Admitting to everyone again, Republicans want to fill the courts with conservative activist justices who legislate from the bench, a point the media doesn't want to focus on:
Johnson: "He’s got a track record. We know the type of justice he would appoint. We wouldn’t confirm that individual,” Johnson said. “Not acting is also withholding our consent, and that’s within our right.”

“America needs Supreme Court justices who share Justice Scalia’s commitment to applying the Constitution as written and to the freedom it secures.”
Oh, and I just ran across Sen. Mitch McConnell ripping into their now treasured Thurmond Rule, that states,  "judicial nominees should not be confirmed in the months leading up to presidential election." They do know this stuff is being recorded, right? 

(Hat tip to Mal Contends): The Republican eye roll response to the simple mention of the Koch brothers name doesn’t change reality and their roll in all of this. That slick insulting ad is part of the Koch's special interest campaign. Politicus USA:
A Koch-founded organization, the Wellspring Committee funds another Koch 501(c)4social welfare organization, the “Judicial Crisis Network.” The Judicial Crisis Network invested seven-figures for an ad buy that features a 30-second television spot entitled “Let the People Decide.” The television ad informs voters that:

“your voice in November is the only voice to express an opinion on the vacancy on the court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. And Senator Kelly Ayotte agrees; the American people should decide. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats it’s about your voice. You choose the next president. Call Senator Kelly Ayotte. Thank her for letting the people decide.”
Similar ads were tailored for other Republican senators and their respective states such as Charles Grassley in Iowa, Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, John McCain in Arizona, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.
To answer the question why Republicans would ignore polls supporting Obama’s nomination to the court:
The Judicial Crisis Network was joined by another Koch-affiliated conservative group, FreedomWorks, that issued warnings to Republican senators to block any hearing on an Obama Supreme Court nominee or face the significant wrath of the Koch brothers for disobedience.

As many pundits and politicians have noted already, the people voiced their opinion three years ago on who gets to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice and they elected Barack Obama whom they knew would be President until January 20, 2017.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dumb Ron Johnson says the American People should pick the next Supreme Court Justice? Can't find that in the Constitution....

Dumb Ron Johnson and his authoritarian power mad pals in the Senate hope to shut down once and for all any discussion about Obama's nomination for the next supreme court justice. It's done. It's finished. Get over it. Let's move on!

Republicans know they're this close to one party rule in this country, and keeping the conservative activist court intact is a major priority.

So here comes Dumb Ron Johnson, in another breathless panic over the possibility of discussing a change in the courts political leanings. Remember when Scott Walker ordered then Gov. Jim Doyle not to negotiate a contract with the public unions before he left office? Here we go again:
Asked whether pausing the Supreme Court nomination process could delay business in the Senate, Johnson said he hopes it won't.
"I think that's one of the reasons Leader (Mitch) McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Sen. Grassley came out and said, 'This is what we're going to do, now get over it.' Let’s move on. The Senate has spoken, a coequal branch of government. We’re not going to consider the nomination. We’re asking the American people to decide that and the next president. So now let’s start moving on with the other important things we must do for the American people."
"Let’s start moving on with the other important things," because having the proper balance on the nations court isn't a priority? Of course nothing else seems to be important enough in the Senate either.

"We're asking the American people to decide that..." wrong, since that misleading line is nowhere in the Constitution. And like everybody's been saying, the American people already decided when they elected Obama...twice. Here's the mind numbing nationalistic ad Johnson is running. Nothing shows contempt for his voters more than something like this:
According to a poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling, 62 percent of Wisconsin voters want to see the seat filled this year.

ObamaCare Exchanges give Providers Higher profits.

Update: The media played up UnitedHealth Groups publicity seeking threat to leave the ObamaCare Exchanges because they couldn't make as much money as they thought, boohoo, but as you can see here, they've been whining for some time.
Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group seemingly took another step closer to bailing out of Obamacare in 2017 ... UnitedHealth Group is the master of health care for profit. In 2004, United’s CEO William McGuire (an MD, woefully enough), received compensation of $125 million, obtained, you may be sure, by tens of thousands of denials .... UnitedHealth and CIGNA, funneled $86.2 million into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 to pay for the Chamber’s multifaceted campaign to kill President Obama’s health reform legislation.
UnitedHealth Group was never a big player in the exchanges. Those that are do well. Insurers are making more in Wisconsin because the Walker administration isn't trying to control premium increases like other states...Minnesota is one. 

ObamaCare Marketplace Health Care Providers Profits Up: Providers are doing well, patients are doing well, so there's a lot to celebrate in southeastern Wisconsin. Remember, these are providers not insurers. JS Guy Boulton:
Health systems in the Milwaukee area have seen a sharp increase in profits since the expansion of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. So far, the law has helped the bottom lines of health systems in the Milwaukee area. The same trend overall can be seen throughout the country. A key reason: Health systems are providing less charity care and incurring fewer bad debts. A slew of other factors — including health systems' work to control costs and become more efficient — contributed to the increase in profits in the Milwaukee area. Still, the numbers are telling:
■ Aurora Health Care's operating income was up 221% in 2014, increasing to $503 million from $156.8 million in 2013. For the first nine months of 2015, operating income fell slightly to $337.5 million when compared with the same period in 2014. But that was more than triple the operating income of $92.4 million reported for the first nine months of 2013.■ Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare's operating income was up 158%, increasing to $69.2 million compared with $26.8 million in its 2014 fiscal year.■ ProHealth Care's operating income was up 125%, increasing to $37.8 million compared with $16.8 million for its 2014 fiscal year.■ Froedtert Health's operating income was up 79%, increasing to $149 million compared with $83.4 million in its 2014 fiscal year.■ Columbia St. Mary's operating income was up 26%, increasing to $26.1 million compared with $20.7 million in its 2013 fiscal year.
At least some of those gains have come from the increase in people with health insurance, either through the subsidized health plans sold on the federal marketplaces or the state's partial expansion of its Medicaid program. For example:
■ Froedtert Health's bad debt expense fell by $40.2 million, to $33.2 million, while the cost of providing charity care fell by $14.2 million, to $7.6 million.■ Wheaton Franciscan's bad debt expense fell by $29.6 million, to $44.9 million, while the cost of providing charity care fell by $15 million, to $34.5 million.
At the same time, the health systems are seeing more patients, in part because people previously uninsured are likely to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Many people who have gained coverage have commercial insurance, which pays higher rates.
While Republican health care plans focus on supposed free market principles that maintain the expensive and abuse prone fee-for service model, real reform in logically moving away from that:
Health systems also are preparing for the expected move away from so-called fee-for-service — in which they are paid based on the services they provide — to new payment models that could put more focus on costs and quality.

McConnell exposes GOP push for Judicial Activism!

Sen. Mitch McConnell's bold move to admit Republicans have been lying all along about their opposition to judicial activism is stunning but refreshingly honest. We're now finding out that the nonpartisan "originalist" reading of the just the opposite.   

McConnell declared there will be no hearings on President Obama’s yet-to-be-announced nominee. Pretty similar to the decision to oppose any and all of Obama's agenda when he was first sworn in. But this move peals back the lie about hating activist judges legislating from the bench.   

CAP Action put together a long list of McConnell contradiction. Here are just a few:  
In his 31 years as a senator, Mitch McConnell has argued that the Senate must fulfill its Constitutional duty and vote on a president’s judicial nominee at least 24 times. All of these claims are in direct contrast to McConnell’s refusal to hold hearings for to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

“My Republican colleagues and I honored Senate tradition. We followed the constitutional directive set forth in Article II, Section 2, that the Senate as an institution as reflected by the will of the majority of its Members, render its advice and consent on the President’s nominees. We put propriety over partisanship.” [3/9/2005]

“For the first time in history, a minority of Senators, on a repeated, partisan, and systematic basis, has prevented the Senate as a whole from discharging its constitutional obligation to provide advice and
consent on judicial nominations.” [3/9/2005]

“We need to recommit ourselves to the 200 year principle that in a democracy an up-or-down vote should be given to a President’s judicial nominees. It is simple. It is fair. It has been that way for over 2 centuries. And it’s served us well.” [4/14/2005]

“The stakes are high. The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article 2, section 2 clearly provides the President and the President alone nominates judges. The Senate is merely empowered to give advice and consent, but our Democratic colleagues want to change the rules…. there would be the distinct possibility and in fact great likelihood, if this continues, that 41 Members of the Senate will dictate to the President of the United States who may be a member of the Supreme Court and other courts. We have made every effort to reach out and compromise, but our colleagues at least so far have refused. The only choice that remains is to hold a vote to reaffirm the traditions and precedents that have served this body so well for the last 214 years. Let us vote.” [5/19/2005]

For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate’s “advise and consent’’ responsibilities to “advise and obstruct.” [5/19/2005]

By tradition, the President may consult with Senators. But the tradition of “consultation’’ does not transform individual Senators into co-presidents. We have elections for that, and President Bush has won the last two.” [6/9/2005]

“So even, you know, as you have a lame­-duck president, there is a historical standard for fairness when it comes to confirming judicial nominees.” [7/14/2008]

No. 1, we should treat Judge Roberts with dignity and with respect. No. 2, we should have a fair process. And No. 3, we should complete that process with either an up-or-down vote in time for the Court to be at full strength for its new term beginning October 3 of this year.” [7/20/2005]

State Rep. Bernier to Constituents worried about Schools: "We want more money, we want more money and we don't like this or that."

Our Republican one party authority apparently will no longer tolerate dissent.

Check out this rude and irresponsible response by Rep. Kathy Bernier. Time for someone to grow up and find work elsewhere, maybe with a little help from the electorate:
State Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) walked out of a Monday meeting with representatives of three local school districts, upset when an Eau Claire School Board member stated that Wisconsin’s economy compared unfavorably with Minnesota’s.

“Fundamentally, Minnesota is beating us,” said Wendy Sue Johnson, citing a Jan. 20 article written by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), who also attended the meeting. “Our (school) funding formula is broken,” Johnson added.
It looks like Minnesota is a bigger sore spot than Scott Walker is letting on. I'm pretty sure Bernier is also very frustrated defending the indefensible failure of supply side lunacy. 

Weirder still, Bernier has received similar complaints everywhere else, but instead of getting the message, she just got mad:
Bernier then got up to leave the “Breakfast with Our Legislators” session. “It is not helpful to compare Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Bernier said, remarking that this is what she experiences with Altoona, Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls each time she attends the districts’ breakfast.

Bernier later said she hears the same theme when she meets with representatives of the three districts: “We want more money, we want more money and we don’t like this or that.”

“This vile political speech is not helpful,” Bernier said before leaving. “Sweeping partisan statements coming out of a non-partisan member just ticked me off.”

Johnson said, “It’s clearly disappointing when our representatives are not willing to engage in conversations about the issues.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Republicans return public confidence, integrity and cronyism back into our elections.

Just amazing. This by the way, this will only force Democrats to play their game of corruption. Nice:
The first announced appointee to the new state ethics commission is the secretary of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, state officials said Tuesday.

Critics said the appointment of Katie McCallum confirms their fear that the commission and its new counterpart, which will oversee elections, will be beholden to legislative leaders and partisan interests.

She was an aide to state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, and was a staffer for two former GOP candidates, Kurt Schlicht and Terrence Wall, and worked for the U.S. Department of Education and the Republican National Committee. She also is the daughter-in-law of former Republican Gov. Scott McCallum, according to a 2011 Capital Times report.

Jay Heck, director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, described McCallum’s appointment as “exactly what we feared.” 
We found out yesterday Scott Walker is stacking the UW Board of Regents with donors:
Scott Walker names campaign donor to UW Board of Regents ... a frequent contributor to his campaign fund, donating $9,639.68 since 2010.

Wisconsin Assembly rams Scalia Resolution down throats of objecting Democrats.

The way I see it, is Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority decisions are now costing people their lives (guns), and costing the nation its representative democracy (Citizens United). And I'm just scratching the surface. Scalia’s now legendary minority opinions proved he was an activist and partisan Justice, picking and choosing when to use his "originalist" partisan bias. Anyone who’s caused so much harm to so many people is not worthy of my admiration, that's for sure.

And yet, not surprising, Walker’s Republican legislature decided Scalia deserved “a resolution honoring the life and service of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scali.” Republican Rep. Jim Steineke even tried to put his Democratic colleagues names on the resolution, which didn’t sit well with Rep. Cory Mason:

But some Democrats weren’t happy about the gesture. “I would be remise if I did not also acknowledge the harm that his words have caused to many of the people I represent,” complained state Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) who went on to cite a laundry list of Scalia’s opinions that he disagreed with. “Certainly his words and messaging around marriage equality are deeply disturbing.”

In the subsequent voice vote that followed, Democrats could be heard shouting “nay” to the passage of the resolution. The measure now heads to the Senate where it is likely to pass.
Impartial Judiciary? Are you Kidding? Republicans have been upfront about appointing conservative judges and justices. They're acting as if their activist "originalist" philosophy isn't already politically charged? Yet they'll tear down the idea of living Constitution that assumes the founding fathers didn't think of themselves as all knowing gods who could see into the future. I wonder if they knew of their infallibility? 
Democratic skepticism of the resolution centered around its closing clauses and the judicial philosophy of the jurist:
“Whereas, Justice Scalia forever impacted the law of the United States of America by eloquently explaining his philosophy in countless judicial opinions, including his majority opinions in D.C. v. Heller and Printz v. United States as well as his dissenting opinions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Atkins v. Virginia, Obergefell v. Hodges, and King v. Burwell; now, therefore, be it “Resolved by the assembly, the senate concurring, That the members of the Wisconsin legislature commend the ardent and remarkable service Justice Antonin Scalia gave to our country through his fundamental belief in the rule of law and for preserving the lasting consistency of our Constitution.

Citizen Action's "Radio Active" Milwaukee Campaign shakes up Walker wingnut media Lapdog Media Trackers.

Citizen Action has taken on the Herculean task of trying to get liberal talk radio into the Milwaukee market. JS:
...try to find the money to buy their own radio station and create a progressive format to give more voices a say. The effort is led by the grass-roots organization Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
Media Tracker's Brian Sikma's piece, "Citizen Action Declares War on Conservative Talk Radio," suggests any criticism or challenge to conservative radios monopoly in Milwaukee is a declaration of war. So much for Citizen Action's 1st Amendment right to speak out and call into question their market dominance.

You have to wonder why Sikma is so defensive. You'd think he had something to hide. Does he have a problem with competition, the supposed backbone of free market conservatism? The conservative media elite's radio monopoly in Milwaukee, and their liberal radio blackout, does need some explanation. But Sikma took a pass.

Sikma appearance on WPR's Joy Cardin Show should have been focused on the title of his article, "Citizen Action Declares War on Conservative Talk Radio." For 20 minutes, Sikma talked up diversity and a liberal presence, even though he called it a "war on conservative talk radio" in his article.

Oh, and did you know, Milwaukee's "diverse opinions" are only on the right:
"There is a diversity of viewpoints on a variety of issues. They might not be touting what might be considered progressive or liberal ideas, but when it comes to prescriptions for what conservatives in state government should do when it comes to looking at candidates for public office, there is certainly a diversity of viewpoints."

Right Wing Authoritarian Pretzel Logic: Sikma inadvertently admitted that the conservative leaning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is actually liberal because it has at times been skeptical of Scott Walker's policies. So if the media isn't completely on board with Scott Walker's agenda, any analysis of the facts running counter to Walker must be politically charged liberalism? Here's Sikma reinforcing that idea:

Here's Robert Kraig's take on the situation in Milwaukee, and his response to ridiculous two right wing callers:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Another Law Abiding Gun Owner...until he wasn't....

Like the title says, gun owners are all law abiding citizens until they decide they're not. Tearing away all the regulatory safeguards that might have prevented carnage like this has been a right wing passion. Even if this mass shooting wasn't preventable, the growing U.S. gun culture and mind set is changing the way the public uses guns:   
Gun owner!
45-year-old Jason Brian Dalton has no record of criminal history, nor anything in his background "that would lead us to believe he was capable of this type of behavior," Kalamazoo Police Chief Jeff Hadley said.
6 people lost their constitutional rights all at once, and we can thank a pro-life constitutional conservative movement pushing deadly guns, the death penalty and unaffordable for profit health care.   
Picking targets seemingly at random, a gunman went on a hours-long rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Saturday night, driving around the city and opening fire on unsuspecting victims at an apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Six people died, and another two were seriously injured — including a 14-year-old girl who had been pronounced brain dead but squeezed her mother's hand as doctors were preparing to harvest her organs, police said. She was then able to respond to questions by squeezing her mom's hand several more times, and was rushed into surgery.
 The injured will never really recover, physically or mentally.

This is part of the GOP's attempt to destabilize any expectation of public safety, keeping all Americans on edge and unsure. And despite that obvious message, gun advocates just keep feeding into that growing fear:
"He was a law-abiding citizen up until he pulled the trigger on the first victim," said Jonathan Southwick, owner of a gun store in Plainwell, 20 miles north of Kalamazoo. "There are no laws you could put into place to stop what had happened."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mississippi Republicans say Voucher Accountability lies with Parents!!!

(Warning-strong language follows because this is getting ridiculous)

Republicans have been so successful dumbing down their base, that bullshit has the ring of absolute truthiness.

Thanks to Republicans in Mississippi, we now know how bad things are going to get with school vouchers.  I mean come on, are we really going to fall for the voucher con when it sounds as fucked up as the bill below?
When asked what the accountability measures were in the bill to ensure students were progressing educationally, Rep. Joel Bomgar, R-Madison, said the accountability was the parents.

“There is accountability in the bill, but the accountability that matters is the parents.”
I’m not making this up. Wait till you see what they said about testing…
The bill does not require students who receive the vouchers to take the achievement tests that are required of students in the public schools. Bomgar said student testing has not been effective in improving public education.
Take a deep breath, there’s more. The reporter tried to get another legislator to say something, anything, about accountability:
House Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, the primary author of the legislation, said the proposal does not include accountability measures now, they will be added later in the legislative process. “You can bet there will be some accountability in it.”  
Yup, later, can't think of anything right now. And with no testing or measure for success…what could go wrong with tutoring:
Vouchers also could be used for other purposes like hiring a tutor for homeschooling.
I’ve saved the best piece of bullshit for last; the original scheme that actually works around the intent of their state Constitution by making families the middle man, so they can spend the money on public education instead of the state:
Section 208 of the state Constitution reads no funds shall “be appropriated toward the support of any sectarian school, or to any school that at the time of receiving such appropriation is not conducted as a free school.” 

But Bomgar said the funds would be given to the parents and not the schools.
As dumb as that sounds, the courts went along with it.

Believing in the Voter Fraud Fairy.

When my conservative friend in Milwaukee called and asked me how I liked voter ID in the primary, he was smugly reminding me of how smoothly the GOP’s voter suppression scheme went. It was sad.

I asked him if he actually believed this whole voter fraud, voter ID scam, and he said he did. He seemed excited about creating the most convoluted restrictive system ever. It’s similar to seeing someone marvel at the latest Rube Goldberg contraption to fry eggs. 

Why make this constitutional right delegated to the states harder? I asked him if he’d be okay with a picture ID and defined hours to buy a gun? After all, the Constitution doesn’t say anything about retail sales.

But to Republicans, the inconvenience is the price of freedom (except when it comes to guns. Heck, we just got rid of the 48 hour cooling off period to buy a gun because it was inconvenient. Not surprisingly, a young woman was murdered by an angry guy who bought his gun within that 48 hour cooling off period).

I asked my conservative friend if he noticed any ads or billboards explaining the new voter ID requirements? He didn’t. That’s not suspicious? The fact that Republicans didn't give the Government Accountability Board any money to promote and explain the voter ID law to Wisconsinites should point to motive. Nope.

Here are a few other examples. The Daily Beast:
1. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled legislature and Republican governor eliminated early voting days. In 2012, 900,000 voters cast their ballots during the early voting window. In 2016, that number will be zero.

2. Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project said, “We’ve litigated over Voter ID laws in a number of states—Indiana, Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina. In none of those states were government officials able to point to a single instance of in-person voter impersonation happening. But in every case we’ve had we’ve identified tens of thousands of people who don’t have photo IDs. There’s no evidence of voter fraud and plenty of evidence of disenfranchisement.

3. Ten years ago there were zero states with a strict voter ID law, and no states cutting back on early voting. All these laws started after the 2008 election, which saw record numbers of young voters and record participation by people of color” voting Democratic. 

4. Dale Ho explained: “And then, as if by coincidence, we have all these laws passed—25 in 2011-12 alone—that disproportionately impact young people, people of color, and poor people. That is, to put it mildly, suspicious. We do catch other kinds of fraud … an organization paid people based on the number of registrations they got, and people filled out Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse and so on. The point is, we catch them.”
But will that one fraudulent voter swing an election? It might be difficult:
Between 2000 and 2014, there were 31 reported instances of voter impersonation out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. But that means the odds of voter fraud are 1 in 32 million. By way of comparison, your odds of actually becoming president are 1 in 10 million.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach … prosecuted … all of three cases, none of which involved voter impersonation. In fact, all three appeared to be mistakes, in which senior citizens voted in two states by accident.

Not a single instance of voter impersonation. Bans on early voting wouldn’t even prevent these kinds of fraud; it’s not clear what they’re supposed to do, other than make it harder for working people to vote, and harder for get-out-the-vote operations to help people do so. In short, none of these laws prevent voter fraud. They prevent voting, mostly for Democrats. And thanks to new laws in four swing states, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio, they might just prevent a Democrat from getting into the White House.