Republicans are the first to brag about their states low unemployment numbers only, but first to trash similar Democratic numbers by bringing up their sometimes lower worker participation rates. We're talking about people who are out of work and not looking for a job. Republicans like to suggest they're lazy and too dependent on overly generous safety nets.
The Great Recession changed a lot of things in corporate America. The biggest adjustment came when business decided to cut the number of full time workers so they could rely on cheaper parttime seasonal labor when demand increased. But that's just one factor.
Pay attention Republicans, because recent analysis explains why labor participation rates are lower, and have been trending that way for some time. Brookings Institute:
The disappointing trend in participation is almost certainly linked to longer term trends in society and the economy that have pushed down participation rates among prime-age men and, more recently, prime-age women. The President’s Council of Economic Advisors recently analyzed the long-term trends (here and here). It notes that most of the participation decline since 2007 has been concentrated among men. This is not surprising, since the prime-age male participation rate has been trending downward since the mid-1950s. Some of the long-term decline in this country is traceable to declining employer demand for relatively unskilled workers engaged in physically demanding jobs. Part of it, too, is the result of shifts in family living arrangements and in women’s role in the labor market, both of which have reduced the central role of prime-age men as the principal breadwinner of a family. (Also) many Americans entering employment every month were jobless and did not report looking for work in the previous month.
Beside societal changes, certain occupations will also increase or decrease participation rate numbers as well. Which means it's hardly the bragging point some want you to believe it is, right Scott Walker? The chart proves you can't "blame Obama," since the declining rate has been going on for the last 56 years.
The new transportation department report looking at the feasibility of adding tolls in Wisconsin, had the following factoid I couldn't get out of head yesterday. Let's be honest, Scott Walker is shifting the cost of highway infrastructure onto our kids and grand-kids. There's no other way to describe it:
I know, it's breathtaking, and yet Walker and his drone like followers are unfazed.
I actually feel sorry for outgoing Republican DOT Sec. Mark Gottlieb, who sincerely made efforts to solve our transportation problems. Not even he could have predicted Walker's hard line...
WKOW: The study finds Gov. Scott Walker’s road-funding plan for the next two years, which holds the line on taxes and fees, puts Wisconsin roads on course to worsen “severely” over the next decade.
That explanation never did sound right me. But you could tell Gottlieb didn't want to fight Walker anymore. Listen to his most recent comment below. From WISC:
Gottlieb: "The department put this budget submittal based on a set of priorities the governor laid out. In order to do all those things that were in the report, there would have to be additional revenues, but that was not the scenario under which the department was operating."
In other words, don't blame me:
Walker's transportation straight jacket would create incredible shortfalls if needed road repairs/updates increase even just a little:
The report clearly lays out a path for tolls, which is something I've backed for years. Out of state traffic should add to our revenues. I though this was a little surprising, 940,000 Wisconsinites, including myself, bought an iPass (good anywhere in the country):
Of course paying tolls adds to the cost of travel, as you can see above. If you about double those amounts, you'd have high speed rail prices...not so horrible now is it?
It never ceases to amaze me how so many of the Walker administrations failures are silently tolerated by his normally very vocal anti-government supporters. It's like, we won, quite your bellyaching, nothing to see here." So is government good, even when it's bad, under Scott Walker? That would be yes.
Just What is Walker's Job? Walker has completely failed to manage and improve the states biggest responsibilities; transportation, prisons, environment and veterans care.
Maybe I should use the Republican phony outrage ploy; "What is Scott Walker thinking, going to Packer games when the VA and juvenile prison system continues to abuse and destroy lives...
The Photo Op Governor: I've called Walker the "incidental governor" for a reason; he keeps his distance from having any actual responsibility. He's always putting other people in the line of fire, and when disaster does strike carrying out his failed agenda, Walker is surprised too, pretending to not have an opinion one way or another.
So it is with the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison debacle. Walker hasn't even been curious enough to personally visit the facility. And now that former state senator Tim Cullen, a potential candidate for governor, has joined the chorus criticizing Walker for his absence, Walker trashed him in the interview below with Capitol City Sunday's Greg Neumann. Remember; Walker, a Republican, is supposedly better than his Democratic predecessor Jim Doyle, who he still blames for the Great Recession:
Neumann: "Should you visit Lincoln Hills...(Tim Cullen) he's criticized you about that, why haven't you been there?" Walker: "That's a ridiculous argument. I mean, did anybody ask Jim Doyle...I mean, problems like this occurred when Tommy Thompson...was governor...I think that's just a political cheap shot. Uh, because governors don't go to prisons. That's just not what they should typically do. I haven't gone to any prisons..." Neumann: "This isn't just 'any prison' right...you're not just going to a prison to visit a prison if you would go there...whether or not you'd want to or not..." Walker: "The only reason we're talking about it is because somebody who may want to run for office is saying that maybe in his day and age, going up for a photo opportunity is the way to deal with the problem. I think the way to deal with the problem is to put a quality person in charge who corrects those problems going forward. That's the difference between leadership and standing for pictures."
Greg Neumann: "How do you respond to that?" Tim Cullen: "I think that said more about him than me. Maybe that's why he goes places, for photo ops..the prisons are a property of Wisconsin, the responsibility of the governor. Governor Thompson went there all the time, and I went there with him...governors don't get to go where it's just fun to go, governors have to go where there are problems in the state."
Ironically, not a week later, Scott Walker spent taxpayer money on a fun photo op to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to say thank you to the troops. You can't make this stuff up:
Cullen's most important point about what Walker is missing included this:
"You learn by talking to the warden, you learn by talking to the guards, and in fact, Tommy loved this, you learn by talking to the prisoners. And what you learn is, first of all, what they tell you, and then sometimes, you listen for silence, what did you expect them to talk but don't say a word about it, what you heard might be a problem. You just come out of there smarter and more knowledgeable about that institution..."
I think we could multiply the following story a thousand
times over. Modern HealthCare:
Joshua Lapp left a full-time job with health benefits in
2014 to launch an urban planning firm with two partners. Columbus, Ohio-based
Designing Locally has grown rapidly, with projects all over the county. There's
no way Lapp, 27, would have considered starting his own business before the
Affordable Care Act took effect because he has a congenital heart condition. He
was able to buy a health plan through the federal exchange, which costs him
$300 a month. He hasn't had to worry about insurers denying him coverage -- as
they could before the law.
“Being able to buy my own affordable plan on the
exchange allowed me to step out on my own. It's a big enabler for
all of us.”
But now that Republicans are planning on full repeal and delay, altering the business and job creating dynamic:
He and other young entrepreneurs don't like that the GOP repeal-and-delay strategy will leave them hanging in insurance limbo for several years. “If it's repealed, I might have to go back to working for a bigger employer,” he said. “The prospect of losing my business because I'm losing my insurance is sort of ridiculous to me.”
Do we have to go through something like this, and the business losses, just to prove Republicans are wrong about health care?
Promises, Promises: It's kinda hard to figure out; Republicans claim ObamaCare provides too much coverage, yet they've promised to create plans that will be even "better." Nonsensical, yes.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office said, the GOP has “committed to keeping the premium subsidies and they've pledged to stabilize the individual insurance market.” The health plans available under the replacement system “will be even better.”
The premium subsidies will be smaller, it'll be a write off at tax time and not immediate like it is now on the exchange, and how will it be even better? My biggest pet peeve is the promise to do away with maternity coverage for men, as if men don't have anything to do with pregnancy?
“Both logic and evidence show that the ability to buy health insurance at reasonable prices, even if you don't work for a big firm, allows people to take chances in their work that benefits the economy and society in the long run,” said economist Douglas Elmendorf, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and former head of the Congressional Budget Office.
Of course all of these debates avoid the elephant in the room; single payer. That would wipe out all the hoops and regulations, putting patients truly in charge:
There's research evidence that publicly provided health
insurance prompts more people to start businesses. A 2015 Harvard Business
School study found
that after the Children's Health Insurance Program was started in 1997, the
self-employment rate for parents of CHIP beneficiaries jumped 23%, and the
their rate of ownership of incorporated businesses increased 31%. A 2013 study found
that after the ACA provision took effect allowing young people ages 19-25 to
stay on their parents' health plans, they were more than twice as likely to
start their own businesses. That's what Chicago public relations consultant
Alyssa Conrardy did. At age 24, she co-founded Prosper Strategies, staying on
her parents' plan for two years while she got the company off the ground. It now
employs eight people and provides them with group health insurance.
“I don't think we could have gotten here without the security the ACA
provided,” she said. “If the ACA is repealed, there are so many young people
for whom entrepreneurship will no longer be a feasible financial option.”
Here are a few more entrepreneurs interviewed for this story, which means the impact nationwide would be devastating:
How the GOP's alternative model addresses annual and
lifetime benefit limits and maximum out-of-pocket costs is a huge concern for
Namir Yedid, 35, of San Diego. He left a job with health insurance in 2014 to
develop several technology products. Soon after buying a plan on the California
exchange, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Yedid's cancer is now in
remission, and he's preparing to bring his first product to market. He
currently employs five people. “There are plenty of talented people in the tech
scene who couldn't take the risks I did and go out on their own without the ACA,”
Ryan and HHS Secretary-nominee Dr. Tom Price have proposed putting people like
Yedid into high-risk pools. Yedid notes that these state pools generally did
not work well in pre-ACA days in providing affordable coverage for those with
He's angry, worried that ACA repeal without an adequate replacement could force
him to give up his business and find a job with health coverage.
Lisa Martin, 35, of Cambridge, Mass., expresses similar frustration. She left a
job with health insurance in 2014 to start her own website consulting business,
made possible by the availability of ACA coverage. Soon after leaving her job,
she suffered a minor stroke. Even though she recently switched to her partner's
employer-based health plan, she hates the uncertainty. “What am I supposed to
do in the next two to four years?” she lamented. “Why create anxiety and
replace something that's meeting people's needs?”
So what should budding business creators do?
Asked what he would advise people considering
self-employment during the long interim period following repeal of the ACA,
Holtz-Eakin said, “I'd make the leap. But Elmendorf disagrees, arguing the
Republicans have not put out nearly enough details for the CBO to determine how
good and affordable the replacement package will be and how it will affect the
nation's uninsured rate. There's also no evidence, he added, that Republicans
are willing to spend the large amount of federal money or impose the rules it
will take to provide good replacement coverage.
“These self-employed folks should be quite concerned,” he said. “I don't know
how they should proceed.”
As we've discussed before, Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it eliminates its funding source; a tax on the wealthy. Bingo! In other words, another tax cut for the rich.
You're about to discover another trick for redistributing wealth upward. I know, who can keep up with all of them.
Now it may sound cruel, but that's what it is; Republicans now have their eye on wiping out every Americans retirement nest egg. Trump's pick to oversee HHS and Medicare is Rep. Tom Price, who wants to bring "balance billing" to Medicare reform. Right now it's forbidden, and for good reason:
The most monstrous thing about the American medical system is predatory billing. A great
many medical providers adjust their prices based on how defenseless the patient
is, and bleed the weakest ones for every last red cent…this practice is
something called "balance billing." It's the practice of billing the patient for the difference
between the sticker price and what insurance will pay. So if a hospital visit
costs $1,000, but your insurance will only cover $300, some providers will
"balance bill" you for $700. For unscrupulous providers (they’ll)
take a rough estimate of the absolute maximum the patient can pay, and jack up
the price so the "balance" hits it. Price wants to allow it — thus allowing doctors and hospitals to
devour the nest eggs of thousands of American seniors.
Balance billing will be waiting to snatch away your lifetime savings:
Out-of-network care — increasingly common as insurance networks get narrower and narrower — can still be balance billed even if it is for an emergency. People being blindsided by immense out-of-network bills — going to an in-network hospital that employs an out-of-network surgeon they conveniently failed to tell you about, for example — is an increasingly common experience. Permanently obliterating the financial security of helpless families with no or bad insurance as a loved one dies slowly and painfully of a chronic illness is a nice little profit center for providers. But it pales in comparison to the gravy train they might get if they can bring balance billing to Medicare. Physicians would still have to set up contracts beforehand setting an agreed price...(but) vastly higher than what Medicare pays now. It will be akin to seeing an out-of-network provider on private insurance now, something that causes thousands of bankruptcies today. But allowing balance billing in Medicare is a straight-up evil policy. Republicans will attempt to camouflage it as allowing "free contracts" between patients and doctors or similar nonsense. Don't believe a word of it, seniors. They want your retirement money.
How many times can Republicans keep going to private insurers for help before they realize it's never going to work? Unfortunately, under Trump and the Republicans, we're on the verge of turning our entire health care system back over to private insurers, including...Medicare.
Iowa's latest problem is another huge warning there's big trouble ahead:
Iowa's controversial privatized Medicaid program is facing
intense scrutiny and financial concerns from the health insurers, Anthem's
Amerigroup, AmeriHealth Caritas and UnitedHealthcare that run it, the
Des Moines Register has reported. Iowa's Medicaid managed-care program is “drastically underfunded”
and likened it to a “catastrophic experience.”
Hey, an insurer has to make a profit. At the same time insurers are freaking out about the states dramatic lack of funding, Iowa politicians are bragging about..."saving" money? Funny how that works out like that:
The program went into effect this year and it is expected to
save the state $110 million in taxpayer dollars at the end of fiscal 2016 in
Of course they're not savings at all, just spending less on Medicaid. That would make this a big lie. As adults, do we have time for these ridiculous games that screw with peoples lives?
Even worse, Republicans are guilty of doing what ObamaCare did, and that is provide health care at low unsustainable rates. Profit hungry insurers are now singing the same old song.
In recent memos and emails, the insurers express to state officials that the
program isn't financially sustainable and the reimbursement rates that have
been set are deeply flawed. The insurers have also reported millions of dollars in losses since the program went into effect.
I Can't Hear You...: Despite the obvious problems listed above, the Republican secret to success nationwide is that they dig in, ignore the problem, and stay on bragging point. They even added to it by claiming more services and healthier outcomes...why not:
Both Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, and Amy McCoy at the Iowa Department of Human Services, have maintained the program is still expected to save the state millions. “Bottom line, the Medicaid program is still on pace to save Iowa taxpayers $110 million while providing more services and healthier outcomes,” McCoy said.
The merry “fellows” at the MacIver Institute need a little self-awareness
training, or should at the least pick up a newspaper from time to time.
Making their list of “under-reported stories” for 2016, was
this amazingly ironic rant about the supposed free speech rights of climate change
deniers. Aw, poor babies, can’t take a little criticism or responsibility?
The Left's War on Free Speech: ...Democratic attorneys general banded together to intimidate climate change skeptics, including attempting to illegally seize private documents from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Then in July, 19 Senate Democrats took to the floor of the U.S. Senate in a fascist attempt to publicly intimidate and silence groups opposed to their policy positions. In response, the MacIver Institute joined ALEC ... in co-signing a letter fiercely defending the fundamental right to free speech ... Joe McCarthy would've been proud of Senate Democrats for their Putin-like tactics.
The ironic use of Trump’s puppet master, Putin, in making their case is amusing enough, but MacIver can’t hide what they’re really doing; protecting the reliable fossil fuel funding of right wing groups. Note: As usual, MacIver supplies no links in their post to explain or make their case.
The 19 Senate Democrats simply called out by name the big oil players and “urged...”
...fossil fuel companies and allied organizations to cooperate with active or future investigations into—(A) their climate-change related activities; (B) what they knew about climate change and when they knew that information; (C) what they knew about the harmful effects of fossil fuels on the climate; and (D) any activities to mislead the public about climate change.
Never mind that…
…Exxon seeks to separate itself from past public relations campaigns and statements questioning climate change research. Lately, the company has offered support for a carbon tax to account for the environmental cost of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Wanna talk about "free
speech?" The MacIver Institute must have missed or decided to ignore the Republican government censorship
of climate change science in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin...
1. President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has asked the Department of Energy to compile a list of all the employees and contractors who worked on a number of different initiatives related to climate change, sparking fears of witch hunts and drawing parallels to McCarthyism. (Trump backtracked, but you get the idea.) 2. Scott Walker dismantled Wisconsin’s environmental legacy … Since taking office in 2011 Walker has moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policy making and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees. 3. Discussing climatechange is out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin. So is any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic … Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands enacted the staff ban on climate change. State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who ran on the pledge to eliminate his position and sits on the board said … “I would prefer that we didn’t have to prohibit stuff (NY Times) like this. We live in Wisconsin and we don't need a subscription to this publication. It just seems silly that we would have to. But I’m not the one that’s been engaging on this topic (climate change) for years.”
4. In 2008 before he was governor, Walker, Sen. Ron Johnson, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble, state Sens. Leah Vukmir, Alberta Darling, Rep. Glenn Grothman and Mary Lazich, and state Reps. Dale Kooyenga, Don Pridemore, Jim Ott and Bill Kramer and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch signed the Koch-backed “No Climate Tax Pledge,” vowing to oppose any climate legislation. 5. NY Times: For Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, there is language promising that no trade deals can compel the United States to address climate change.
Political Environment writer James Rowen reported on Monday that the Walker administration had advanced their war on science by scrubbing information about climate change from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website that was dedicated to explaining how the agency would deal with a warming planet.
Many don't believe Republicans will be able to repeal ObamaCare right away because millions of people will lose their insurance. Don't you believe it, they're going to do it:
When the 115th Congress convenes in early January, they'll
waste no time before launching a vehicle to dismantle the Affordable
Care Act ... through an expedited budget reconciliation process that
requires a simple majority vote in the Senate. Republicans (plan) to strip funding for major parts of the
healthcare law: 1. The cost-sharing subsidies. 2. Medicaid expansion. 3. They will ax the mandate
requiring people to enroll in health coverage as soon as possible.
The cost-sharing subsidies help lower income people on the exchanges. Not only do individuals and families get a tax credit, which is also on the chopping block, but they also get help paying for co-pays and deductibles - that's the cost sharing part. Many ended up paying nothing.
Getting rid of cost sharing would be brutal:
lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans has warned against repealing
the cost-sharing subsidies. It is unclear whether the GOP leaders plan to
retain any key ACA provisions.
A "repeal and delay" strategy that could leave up to 400,000 Wisconsinites without health insurance coverage. One federal health official from Wisconsin believes that even Trump voters will balk at going back to pre-ACA rules. As an interactive New York Times piece demonstrates, various ACA provisions play into each other in a way that makes it hard to eliminate some and keep others.
One of the biggest stories this year, the deletion of climate change at the DNR, will never get the attention it should from Wisconsin voters because of the holidays.
Scott Walker's attack on the environment was strategic, and is no different from any other Republicans; land and water is there to exploit and profit business; damage won't be seen for years, as planned, when it's too late. The changes shown below are breathtaking and inexcusable, no matter what side of the aisle, but blowback is unheard against Walker. Note: Trump has already tried to get the names of anyone working on climate change in the Obama administration so they could be weeded out:
Political Environment writer James Rowen reported on Monday that the Walker administration had advanced their war on science by scrubbing information about climate change from a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website that was dedicated to explaining how the agency would deal with a warming planet. Deletions are shown with a black line through them, words which were untouched remain in normal print, and the highlighted wording becomes part of the new text sandwiched together into what appears on what is a heavily-censored page, but without any way for the reader to spot the edits and altered meaning. This is Orwellian and propagandistic:
Scott Walker's bumbling AG lapdog Brad Schimel is marvel to watch. At the time, I thought he looked like Homer Simpson, but I had no idea he'd think like him too.
They think alike...
In deciding to investigate the leaked John Doe documents to the Guardian newspaper, and not doing the same for the leaked documents to the Wall Street Journal, Schimel made it quite clear…the law
is what this self-important little mind thinks it is.
Like Schimel's defense of the “private citizen” who defied a gag order so he could leak information to the Wall Street Journal. One private citizen deserves a gag order, the other does not:
Schimel: "I’ve got to tell you, I’m really puzzled by the
criticism that I wouldn’t go after the leak to the Wall Street Journal. There’s
a very significant difference between the people we’re looking at (in the Guardian
U.S. leak) and the individual who leaked to the Wall Street Journal, because
that’s a private citizen. The courts have no authority to order a private
citizen to have a gag order on them."
Funny thing, that “private
citizens” admitted he purposely violated a legal gag order. Why, because "he believed it to be unconstitutional." Schimel “believes” that too, without ever having to prove it in court:
Eric O'Keefe, the director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth told
conservative radio host Vicki McKenna in a 2014 interview that that subpoena he
was issued in 2012 included a gag order, and has said frequently because he believed it to be
Schimel’s comment “That’s incredible to me” is not a professional legal
Schimel: "How can you possibly tell a private citizen
who feels they’ve been wronged by government, that has invaded their home,
taken their property and more concerning, taken property that contains their
thoughts and ideas, and they can’t cry out and say, 'I was wronged'? That’s
incredible to me, that anyone who has respect for our constitutional republic
and the First Amendment in particular wouldn’t get. That’s as bad as telling a
reporter that you can’t report on something. You can’t do that."
Schimel backs that up with his own imagined legal outcome,
without ever really testing his theory in a court of law:
It would be "unethical" for Schimel to investigate
O'Keefe for sharing information, and the case would be thrown out "in a
heartbeat," Schimel said.
Schimel’s partisan hackery would be laughable if he wasn’t
so serious. The following makes Schimel’s
message very clear about what side he's on, and what he wants to accomplish; manipulate the legal outcome with tampered and untrue testimony
exposed to the court and public, which is just how it played out:
The policy underlying secrecy is directed to promoting the
effectiveness of the investigation. Courts consider the need to keep
information about the investigation from the target in order to:
• prevent flight from prosecution; • prevent the target of the investigation from collecting
perjured testimony for the trial; • prevent those interested in thwarting the inquiry from
tampering with testimony or secreting evidence; • render witnesses more free in their disclosures; and • prevent testimony that may be mistaken or untrue or
irrelevant from becoming public.6
The precise scope of a permissible secrecy order varies from
proceeding to proceeding. Typically, a secrecy order covers questions asked,
answers given, transcripts of the proceedings, exhibits produced during the
proceedings, or other matters observed or heard in the secret session at a John
State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison: "Is AG Schimel the Attorney General for the entire State of Wisconsin, or just for extreme right-wing activists? Once again, he has made clear he is only interested in investigating The Guardian leak..."
WKOW reporter Greg Neumann had the courage to at least the question as well...
Trump supporting media trolls immediately stepped up to help their new king out:
Red State: “If the liberals currently losing their
collective minds over this are correct, then shame on Priebus and Day. An
equally likely scenario is that this was a hastily crafted message, and very
little thought was put into the wording.”
First, it's crazy to think thoughtful and measured Trumpian supporters would ever lose their collective minds, right? Second, the party of God and Jesus simply made a hastily written error, that's all...(except to those who truly want to believe Trump will save them).
Third, we know all liberals hate religion, or most of them, or even some of them, unlike ALL conservatives who believe in and pray to Jesus everyday.
"And if liberals don’t care about insulting Christians or acknowledging Jesus the other 364 days of the year, it really is rather disingenuous for them to be up in arms about it, now."
The spirit of giving takes aim at everyone:
And despite low natural gas prices destroying the coal industry, new King Trump promises to bring it back...
Trump hit just the right number of "very's" in his Happy New Year's wish for all the sore winners:
It already feels a little surreal watching Trump's ineptitude on the world stage. To delusional Trumpian voters, he's a sly fox playing some kind of long game. Really, he has an attention span of an ant.
Yet his recent Tweet, still poking fun at Hillary Clinton's loss, included a calculated dig by none other than President Putin himself:
Our Lord Trump certainly loves to drink in praise, doesn't he?
Trump trolls are so in the tank for their numbskull narcissist hero that even "I make Unions Cry" changed their Twitter handle to "Not a Russian Agent," because as we all know, it's silly to be suspicious of Russian hacking and interference with our presidential election. "Integrity" is not a word that comes to my mind anymore.
Speaking of Russians, they're getting a good laugh out of this:
Raw Story: Discussing a recent flattering letter sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump, an entire MSNBC panel agreed that the Russians are laughing at the U.S. because they can see Putin treating the president-elect like “a fool.” Asked by host Sheinelle Jones about Putin’s letter where Trump described Putin’s thoughts as “so correct,” Russia expert Nina Khrushcheva said Trump is playing “right into Putin’s hands.”
“I was just in Moscow and the Russians are saying ‘Look at those fools, look at their their democracy.’ Absolutely. ‘How could America lecture us on any development, institutions, human rights, democracy, rhetoric when they just elected Donald Trump. He’s such a fool. He’s such a bully. That’s what America deserves and we’re going to take advantage of it.’ And that’s how Russians feel about it, and now it’s taking shape with letters from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump with their exchange on potential nuclear armament and whatnot. So I think this is going to be a very interesting world to unfold in the next four years.”
The politics of resentment, of green eyed envy, has been at the top of the Republican list of talking points for decades.
And yet Democratic strategists -if there are any - haven't done squat to fight back.
Insane Problem: Americans resent lazy undeserving people getting what they get, without working for it. So instead of raising the minimum wage, providing health care, and a "free" college education that would raise "lazy" people up out of poverty, they bring everybody down, including themselves.
Democrats pushed for expansion of health-insurance subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans; investments in education and retraining; middle-class tax cuts; and a higher minimum wage. These are core, standard-of-living improving policies. They would do far more to help the economically precarious — including and especially white working-class voters — than Donald Trump’s top-heavy tax cuts and trade wars ever could.
Resentment is at the heart of union bashing; workers in the private sector don't get the same pay and benefits as union workers, so thanks to envy, instead of bringing the private sector up, we've decided to bring everybody down. It's counter intuitive but oddly effective for Republicans.
The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell brought a whole bunch of articles together to prove how powerful envy and resentment is. It's elected Trump, and is about to hold all of us back again:
Why the white working class votes against itself: Why did all those Economically Anxious™ Trump voters reject policies that would have helped relieve their economic anxiety? Maybe they believed any Big Government expansions would disproportionately go to the “wrong” kinds of people — that is, people unlike themselves. Across rural America, the Rust Belt, Coal Country and other hotbeds of Trumpism, voters have repeatedly expressed frustration that the lazy and less deserving are getting a bigger chunk of government cheese. 1. In Kentucky, consumers receiving federal subsidies through the Obamacare exchanges complain that neighbors who are less responsible are receiving nearly free insurance through Medicaid. “They can go to the emergency room for a headache,” one woman told Vox’s Sarah Kliff. 2. In Ohio, white working-class focus group participants decried that women who “pop out babies like Pez dispensers with different baby daddies” get “welfare every month” and “their housing paid for, their food.” These women seem to live large, one participant said, while people like herself are “struggling to put food on the table.” 3. The Institute for Family Studies Focus Group, were also skeptical of efforts to raise the minimum wage. Opponents argued either that higher pay wasn’t justified for lower-skilled, less intense work or that raising the minimum wage would unfairly narrow the pay gap between diligent folks such as themselves and people who’d made worse life choices. “That son of a b---- is making $10 an hour! I’m making $13.13. I feel like s--- because he’s making almost as much as I am, and I have never been in trouble with the law and I have a clean record, I can pass a drug test,” said one participant. 4. In Wisconsin, rural whites are similarly eager to “stop the flow of resources to people who are undeserving,” says Katherine J. Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and author of “The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.” The people Cramer interviewed for her book often named a (white) welfare-receiving neighbor or relative as someone who belonged in that basket of undeservings — but also immigrants, minorities and inner-city elites who were allegedly siphoning off more government funds than they contributed. 5. We’ve known for a long time, through the work of Martin Gilens, Suzanne Mettler and other social scientists, that Americans (A) generally associate government spending with undeserving, nonworking, nonwhite people; and (B) are really bad at recognizing when they personally benefit from government programs. Hence those oblivious demands to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” and the tea partyers who get farm subsidies. 6.Rhetoric this election cycle caricaturing our government as “rigged,” and anyone who pays into it as a chump, has only reinforced these misperceptions about who benefits from government programs and how much. It’s no wonder that Trump’s promises — to re-create millions of (technologically displaced) jobs and to punish all those non-self-sufficient moochers — seem much more enticing. No American likes the idea of getting a “handout” — especially if they believe that handout is secretly being rerouted to their layabout neighbor anyway.
The right wing authoritarian movement is now in full bloom with the election of Trump. And what better way to prove that then with this eye opening look at North Carolina's grossly manipulated elections.
Republicans own this. This is their vision of fair elections. But does it really give voters confidence in their elections? This is going on across the country, and it's getting worse every year:
Andrew Reynolds and Danish colleague Jorgen Elklit, designed the first comprehensive method for evaluating the quality of elections
around the world. Our system measured 50 moving parts of an election process
and covered everything from the legal framework to the polling day and counting
of ballots. Pippa Norris of Harvard University, who used the system as the cornerstone of the Electoral Integrity Project. Since then the EIP has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place ... I could never imagine that as we enter 2017, my state, North Carolina, would perform so badly on this, and other, measures that we are no longer considered to be a fully functioning democracy.
Point by point...
1. In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places us alongside authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. 2. If it were a nation state, North Carolina would rank ... only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world. 3. Indeed, North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration, that on those indicators we rank alongside Iran and Venezuela. 4. When it comes to the integrity of the voting district boundaries no country has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. North Carolina is not only the worst state in the USA for unfair districting but the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project. That North Carolina can no longer call its elections democratic is shocking enough, but our democratic decline goes beyond what happens at election time. The most respected measures of democracy — Freedom House, POLITY and the Varieties of Democracy project — all assess the degree to which the exercise of power depends on the will of the people: That is, governance is not arbitrary, it follows established rules and is based on popular legitimacy. The extent to which North Carolina now breaches these principles means our state government can no longer be classified as a full democracy.
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article122593759.html#storylink=cpy
Trump and the Republicans have actively bashed "political correctness" as something liberal, while ironically adopting their own more radicalized conservative version to replace it.
Many emboldened Republicans are now flaunting their more politically correct "tell it like it is" hate based racism, claiming the "r" word lost its meaning years ago after Democrats over used it.
So I guess Republicans everywhere can be proud of the following completely sincere observation of our first black presidents eight years in office:
businessman and (Republican) political activist Carl Paladino had some shocking words for
newspaper reporters about the presidential family when asked what he’d like to
see happen in 2017.
“Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having
relations with a Hereford. He dies before his trial
and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret who died weeks prior,
after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook
her for being a nice person and decapitated her.”
When asked who he would “most like to see go in 2017”
“Michelle Obama. I’d like to see her return to being a male
and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave
with Maxie, the gorilla.”
Paladino, 70, confirmed he made the
comments before saying to news editors, “Tell them all to go f--- themselves. Yeah, I’m not politically correct. They
asked what I want and I told them.”
You're just not seeing this kind of stuff on the left....
I guess we missed this part of Trump's campaign "platform?"
It's not just a insane idea, but Trump sprung this on the world in a...Tweet:
CNN: Hours earlier in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a defense speech in Moscow that Russia needs to "enhance the combat capability of strategic nuclear forces, primarily by strengthening missile complexes that will be guaranteed to penetrate existing and future missile defense systems." WHAT FOLLOWED: The exchange appeared to raise the prospect of a new arms race between the US and Russia, which between them boast more than 14,000 nuclear warheads, the still deadly legacy of their four-decades long Cold War standoff.
Below is a compilation of clips that will make your head spin. Remember, Trump isn't president yet, and hasn't ordered his conspiracy theory entrenched military dogs to attack yet. Taxpayer money well spent? Rachel Maddow's interview with Kellyanne Conway is unsettling, since her denial about an arms race was contradicted by Trump today:
“Let it be an arms race, because we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all,” Trump - “Morning Joe.”
Trump isn't just the most dishonest presidential candidate ever...
...he's also the laziest guy to move into the White House. He apparently has no curiosity about why "tradition" requires presidents to follow a certain grown-up rules that may not be written into law yet, but should be soon. Under the guise of shaking things up, Trump is getting away with setting up an entirely different kind of presidency because he doesn't want to learn the rules. Politico:
President-elect Donald Trump has said…
1. He might do away with regular press briefings 2. The daily intelligence reports. 3. He wants to retain private security while receiving secret service
protection. 4. He is encouraging members of his family to take on formal
roles in his administration, testing the limits of anti-nepotism statutes. 5. He is pushing the limits of ethics laws in trying to keep a stake in his business. 6. Trump will take the oath of office having never released
his tax returns. 7. He has not given a press conference since he was elected. 8. It remains to be seen whether he will file a personal
financial disclosure during his first year in office. Presidents are not
legally required to do so, but all have since 1978.
“If it’s not written
down, you can get away with it. That’s the new premise. And that’s pretty
staggering,” said Trump biographer Gwenda Blair, author of “The Trumps: Three
Generations that Built an Empire.” In the process of writing his own rules, he
is shining a light on how much of the American political system is encoded in
custom, and how little is based in the law. Supporters, however, see blowing up tradition as Trump’s
greatest strength. “Trump does not reflect anything you’ve ever learned about
traditional governmental leadership,” Gingrich said in an interview. “He’s an
American pragmatist. I think on balance, we need a breath of fresh air, even if
it involves some risk.”
Remember my look at Scott Walker's miserable record on veterans in a Dec. 1st blog post:
The military voted 2 to 1 for Trump. Odder still is the support Trump and Republicans get from veterans ... And don't forget Scott Walker’s deplorable history of screwing veterans. It’s mind boggling.
The list of horror stories is a long one, as you can see here.
As I was clearing out a whole bunch of unedited video clips, I ran across this story from WKOW, November 29 on the veterans home in King, Wisconsin:
Now, apparently again, King received another downgrade. But don't worry, this is all just a political hit job, according to the once fired Veterans Secretary John Scocos:
WSJ:Federal quality ratings of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at
King and the Veterans Home at Union Grove have dropped again, prompting one
Republican state lawmaker to call for the veterans agency to “totally clean
house.” The ratings changes come after annual inspections and
complaint investigations were conducted there in September. The agency uses a five-star ratings system to score nursing homes and rank
health care, staffing and quality of life for its residents. Olson Hall, one of
four nursing home halls on King's campus, is now rated two stars out of five overall … MacArthur Hall,
also on King's campus, was previously given five stars both overall and
for its health care ratings, dropped to four stars in both categories; residents
being given the wrong medication, incorrect dosages or never receiving needed
medicine … Boland Hall, the residence hall at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at
Union Grove, dropped from four stars to three stars in its overall rating, and from
three stars to two stars for a "below average" rating for health
As I mentioned, Sec. Scocose denies everything, as is typical in our now "post-fact" world. First a little Scocos history:
Nearly two years after John Scocos, a Republican and U.S. Army Reserve colonel was
fired as state veterans secretary, Gov. Scott Walker has reappointed him to his old job. He demonstrated no ability to administer, manage or lead. DAV received reports that he did not coordinate the activities of his department managers in a positive manner, but instead his poor management style pitted them against one another. Scocos wasted valuable time attacking perceived enemies. Some DAV officials, when making suggestions to better the lives of veterans, felt his wrath instead of his gratitude.
Nothing to see here, in our Post-Fact World: Today's news isn't good. But who are you going to believe....
WDVA Sec. John Scocos, who announced his resignation last month, has dismissed concerns about the home's quality and staffing levels. He has said that news reports about issues there are politically motivated and inaccurate. Scocos has maintained that the home offers the highest quality of care available for the state's aging and sick veterans.
"We are still the very best in the country ... we are pretty solid on what we believe is the care for our veterans.”
Nothing to see here, in our Post-Fact World Part 2: Walker's failure...isn't a failure at all:
Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans
Affairs, which operates the nursing homes, have consistently touted the King
home's CMS ratings, which have historically been above average. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in an email.
Walker's top concern is the care of our veterans. The governor has made
significant investments to help the department improve staffing and operations
of the homes,"
In the survey below, Trump voters don't come across as crazy as they appear at his rallies. It was also interesting to watch the All in with Chris Hayes' townhall in Kenosha, where Trump's "know-it-all" supporters never really had a grasp of what was going on. What they described was the cartoon version pitched by Trump over and over. Salon:
When Republicans advocate for “academic freedom,” and then
get just that, they get angry
it’s not exactly what they were thinking. I'm talking about a UW course titled “The Problem of Whiteness.”
Add to that the threats of government censorship, and you’ve
got a Republican Party out of control. JS:
Two leading state Republican lawmakers are threatening
the University of Wisconsin System that if it doesn't
remove a course called "The Problem of Whiteness" from
UW-Madison's spring semester offerings, the UW's requests for more
state funding and a bump in tuition may be denied during budget
deliberations next year.
Republicans total lack of self awareness, especially after voting overwhelmingly for the divisive, racist, and bigoted Donald
Trump, has never been more obvious. They actually think the UW course teaches young people to
distrust each other. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up…
Rep. Dave Murphy of Greenville, said he and his
staff looked at "The Problem of Whiteness" course description
and the background of the professor who plans to teach it, and
concluded: "We are teaching our young people to distrust each other,
and that's sad," Murphy said. "We are adding to the polarization
of the races in our state. This does not bring people together. This divides
And after decades of criticizing the UW for political
correctness, they’re now freaking out over the lack of political correctness…having it both ways? This from the Trump party of alt-right white
Murphy said he didn't understand "how a University that
preaches political correctness can stand by a professor who openly condones
violence against law enforcement and compares white voters to the KKK. If
UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the University can
expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison.”
The threat of government censorship...
This is the second time in less than six months that a legislator has threatened UW System funding over course offerings at the state's flagship university.
Here's what that completely voluntary class teaches students, so offending our politically correct Republicans:
The university said the course title "refers to the challenge of understanding white identity and non-white identity across the globe" and that the course, "which is one of thousands offered at our university, will benefit students who are interested in developing a deeper understanding of race issues. The course is a challenge and response to racism of all kinds."
The odd game of one party's egomaniacal majority redefining, even changing, the Constitution to fit their ideological agenda runs counter to their claims of being "strict constitutionalists." Thus, 32 Republican states have passed, and are still pushing for a "constitutional convention." They just need two more:
As laid out in Article V of the Constitution, two-thirds of the country's state legislatures can call for a convention to amend the Constitution. Any amendments passed in such a convention would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states to take effect. it could be used to pass a balanced-budget amendment and to impose term limits on members of Congress and the judiciary.
Republicans now hope to take advantage of the myth they've created around themselves of being fiscally responsible, by inserting the downright stupid "balanced budget" amendment into our Constitution. More on why this is so dumb is below.
Blissfully getting behind the numbskull ideas of a constitutional convention and balanced budget amendment? Who else, Scott Walker. It's not like he's has had deep thoughts on these subjects; these are right out of ALEC, so pushing it requires a minimal amount understanding by Walker:
Walker: "The reason I support that is I believe, like our state and other states, that we should have a requirement to balance the budget that you can’t get around."
Yup, a simple solution for a massively complex set of problems, with no escape hatches to "get around" it (more on that highlighted below). The devastating consequences don't bother Walker in the least, because let's face it, he's shown sociopathic tendencies before.
So what could happen? Glad you asked. :
EPI: A balanced budget amendment would mandate perverse actions in the face of recessions. In economic downturns, tax revenues fall and some outlays, such as unemployment benefits, rise. These so-called built-in stabilizers increase the deficit but limit declines of after-tax income and purchasing power. To keep the budget balanced every year would aggravate recessions. Unlike many state constitutions, which permit borrowing to finance capital expenditures, the federal budget makes no distinction between capital investments and current outlays. Private businesses and households borrow all the time to finance capital spending.
A balanced budget amendment would prevent federal borrowing to finance expenditures for infrastructure, education, research and development, environmental protection, and other investment vital to the nation's future well being.
A balanced budget amendment would invite Congress to enact unfunded mandates, requiring states, localities, and private businesses to do what it cannot finance itself. It also invites dubious accounting maneuvers (such as selling more public lands and other assets and counting the proceeds as deficit-reducing revenues), and other budgetary gimmicks.
Disputes on the meaning of budget balance would likely end up in the courts, resulting in judge-made economic policy. So would disputes about how to balance an unbalanced budget when Congress lacks the votes to inflict painful cuts.
Balanced budget amendment proposals typically contain escape hatches, but in peacetime they require super-majorities of each House to adopt an unbalanced budget or to raise the debt limit. These provisions are recipes for gridlock. An overall spending cap, which is part of some proposed amendments, would further limit Congress’s ability to fight recessions through either the built-in automatic stabilizers or deliberate changes in fiscal policy. Even during expansions, a binding spending cap could harm economic growth because increases in high-return investments — even those fully paid for with additional revenue — would be deemed unconstitutional if not offset by other spending reductions. A binding spending cap also would mean that emergency spending (for example on natural disasters) would necessitate reductions elsewhere, leading to increased volatility in the funding for non-emergency programs. A Constitutional amendment is not needed to balance the budget. The budget not only attained balance, but actually recorded surpluses and reduced debt, for four consecutive years after Congress enacted budget plans in the 1990s that reduced spending growth and raised revenues. This was done under the existing Constitution, and it can be done again. No other major nation hobbles its economy with a balanced-budget mandate. There is no need to put the nation in an economic straitjacket. Let the President and Congress make fiscal policies in response to national needs and priorities as the authors of our Constitution wisely provided.
Mix in a Growing National Debt: With Trump's proposed tax cuts, not much different than Paul Ryan's, economists have projected a deficit increase of $5 trillion. That would result in a Republican move to dramatically cut all spending. And that would lead the US to what Naomi Klein called the "Shock Doctrine."
That practitioners of the shock doctrine tend to seek a blank slate on which to create their ideal free market economies, which inevitably requires a usually violent destruction of the existing economic order.
As for the question of a constitutional conventions rewriting the Constitution, Walker has another simple but definitive response:
"Some have said, 'Well if you do that, doesn’t it open the floodgates to all sorts of wild ideas?' And the answer to that is no,"
Constitutional scholar and wreaker of havoc Gov. Scott Walker is wrong about that too, but why complicate things:
“Once you open up the Constitution to change at a
convention, then you can change anything in the Constitution,” said Michael Leachman at
the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank that has
written about the dangers of a balanced budget amendment. “It’s theoretically
Possible? Just to be clear:
Jenni Dye, research director for the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said Walker and state Republicans "cannot be trusted with our Constitution."
"We have already watched as this gang decimated voting rights using state law, just imagine the damage they could do if they start rewriting our Constitution. They will put party before patriotism, and they do not care what they break on their quest to permanently consolidate power. If they are allowed to break the Constitution itself, we won't be able to put democracy back together."