Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Walker wants to Rule the State...

Trump is turning the US into a dictatorship. I can safely say that now after watching the first chaotic week. It's been frustrating listening to punditry avoid the very thing that explains Trump's actions; he's suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. And we're all now suffering from his narcissism.

Wisconsinites have seen all of this before from a guy named Scott Walker. He's more sociopathic than narcissist, but I'm splitting hairs.

Now Scott Walker is back with his plan to spin off the states, so he and other Republicans governors can feel like dictatorial leaders of their fiefdoms. 

Walker's authoritarian leanings spilled out when he revealed his plans for world domination running for president, you know, by first "wreaking havoc" in Washington. 

Reuters-Scott Walker on Iran: "The United States needs a foreign policy that puts steel in the face of our enemies. We don’t need more information, we don’t need to wait to confirm the next Secretary of State, we need decisive leadership and we need it now ... when America leads, and has a strong president with clear priorities who believes in American strength, the rest of the world will follow."
It was the following statement that exposed Walker's plan to the country, an early hint at what he just started pushing again Monday. Walker decided to scrubbed "United...:"
“For me, what I learned from what we did four years ago in Wisconsin, is you got to strike early” ... I’d like to take huge chunks of the federal government and send it back to the states. But I’d take major social service programs, I’d take transportation and infrastructure, workforce and development, environmental protection, and heck I’d take education and instead of spending each of those down from Washington where the federal government skims off huge chunks of money and sends pennies on the dollar back to the state governments..."
Koch Brothers Gathering...and Walker's there: Yup, Walker was with the Koch's again." In what would have been a jaw dropping statement way back when real patriotic Americans believed in the "United" States, Walker declared the states independent:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday warned that Republicans could suffer political consequences in the 2018 elections if they squander their new political dominance, calling on the Trump administration to dramatically reorient power back to the states.

“If they do the things they talk about, we see major tax reform and regulatory reform and pushing more power and responsibility not just to the states but the people, I think the midterms are going to fare pretty well. If they don’t, we’re in trouble. It’s put up or shut up time. And now’s the time for us to have to deliver ... He urged the federal government to divert funds that go to fund education, transportation, environmental and energy policy out of Washington.

“We are much, much more accountable at the state and local level than anybody in Washington, regardless of party, and one of the best things we can do is take advantage of the circumstances we’re in and not just look for a little bit of help, but look for transformational change."

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump's Muslim Immigration Ban stayed by Federal Court, brings out protesters nationwide.

Boy, can't even spend a quiet Saturday evening relaxing without Trump blowing up the world again.

The Breitbart bubble world of paranoid conspiracy theories got a boost tonight when Trump named the alt-right sites leader as...oh hell, here's the tweets:

Holy crap. How long does Trump have yet as president? Didn't Steve Bannon just call the press the opposition party and to shut up...

Trump's unconstitutional Muslim immigration ban brought out the protesters and ACLU lawyers...

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Saturday evening that a federal court in New York had issued an emergency stay on President Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The court’s decision, which will affect people who have been detained in airports, came after the ACLU and other activist groups filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqis who were held at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as a result of the order.
“I hope Trump enjoys losing. He’s going to lose so much we’re going to get sick and tired of his losing,” ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir told Yahoo News shortly after the decision was announced.
WKOW's Greg Neumann's odd Saturday night fill-in manning the news desk turned into gold with the unfolding immigration protests and court actions. Neumann ran with it...

My conservative friend in Milwaukee messaged me "a couple of people are inconvenienced today, so what...protecting this country is an ugly business sometimes."

Here's an immigration attorney's observations tonight about that ugly inconvenience. It's heartbreaking:

I thought this was a great history of Trump's Muslim immigration ban...plus Trump's statement about the chaos:
Trump: "We're totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over, it's working out very nicely."

Greg Neumann also featured a great story by reporter David Johnson about a local UW doctor who is personally affected by all of this, delaying his plans to visit his family in Syria:
Dr. Abdul Halabi: "The way I see the latest events, in the last six months, we are not too far away from witnessing the birth of dictatorship." 

And from Twitter:

AMuslim centre in Victoria, Texas has been gutted by fire within hours of Donald Trump announcing a ban on citizens from seven Islamic countries entering the United States.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Remember when sending kids to private schools meant helping the poor escape failing public education?

Manufacturing and big Ag aren't paying state taxes anymore. Now we're finding out the wealthy aren't paying much for their kids to go to private schools.

Anyone see a pattern? You better soon...

Tax filers making more than $100,000 a year are claiming two-thirds of a private school tuition tax cut enacted four years ago, according to data from the Department of Revenue.
The tax cut is costing the state about $12 million a year ... Families sending students to private school can reduce their adjusted gross income by up to $10,000 for high school tuition and up to $4,000 for elementary school tuition. The private school tuition exclusion, similar to an exclusion for a retirement account contribution, reduces a tax filer’s income before deductions and credits are applied, so the actual amount in tax savings is a few hundred dollars per tax filer. Unlike a tax deduction, filers don’t have to itemize to benefit from it.

Almost $8 million of the total $12 million cut went to families in the top 13 percent of income earners in the state in 2015. A total of 20,560 tax filers making more than $100,000 claimed the exclusion, receiving a tax cut of about $388 per filer, according to DOR. Another 16,750 filers earning less than $100,000 claimed the exclusion. Their average tax savings was $235.

That wealthier tax filers receive a greater benefit is not surprising because they are more likely to send their children to private school, said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Pattern of tax cuts: Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D), said the private school tuition tax break is part of a pattern for Republicans of supporting tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. Democrats have also criticized the Manufacturing & Agriculture tax credit for wiping out tax liability for wealthy individuals and corporations without any requirement they create jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in 2013 the tax cut would boost private school enrollment, reducing the “huge tax burden” of educating students in public schools. 
 Educating our kids in public schools is a burden? Good to know:
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said his biggest concern with the tax credit was that it was passed without a public hearing. He also noted the number of referendums ... “If indeed a whole bunch of people in Wisconsin think they need to go to referendum in order to offer the education kids need, that tells me the state isn’t meeting its obligation. If the state is not meeting its obligation to schools, then how can we afford to subsidize private education for above-average income people?”

Rick Melcher, another candidate for state superintendent, called the tuition tax cut a “benefit package for wealthy individuals who would send their children to private school anyway.” He recommended capping eligibility for the tax cut at those making less than $100,000.

Republicans admit, they're afraid of owning disastrous TrumpCare!!!

What I've been saying the last three years about the Republicans failed plans for replacing ObamaCare have been summed up in one day by the Republicans themselves
The Post’s Mike DeBonis has obtained leaked audio of Republicans at a closed-door session airing serious anxieties about the GOP’s strategy to repeal and replace Obamacare. What’s remarkable is how decisively their specific comments in private undercut the party’s public, carefully-crafted talking points about the battle to come ... they basically admit in various ways that Republicans will be responsible for the mess that repealing the law — which would probably be done on a delay while Republicans come up with a replacement — is expected to make ... 

For instance:
Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood ... 

“We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

The notion that Republicans will have “created” the state of the market that results after repeal, and that they will “own” that outcome, is refreshing ... Republicans have employed a series of overwrought formulations to suggest that, because Obamacare is already allegedly collapsing, Republicans are merely stepping in with a “rescue mission.”

The Republican rhetoric about its supposed collapse and implosion is just nonsense ... see this piece by Jonathan Cohn ... the ACA marketplaces are generally stable ... or absurd (the notion of a death spiral is belied by robust enrollment) ... the most immediate threat to the law is Republican efforts to gum up the works ... that leads insurers to exit the marketplaces because of uncertainty that any GOP replacement will ever materialize.

Also note this from the leaked audio: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) warned his colleagues that the estimated budget savings from passing the Obamacare repeal bill — which could approach a half-trillion dollars — are needed to fund the costs of setting up a replacement. “This is going to be what we’ll need to be able to move to that transition,” he said.

And this: Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) also worried that the plans under GOP consideration could eviscerate coverage for the roughly 20 million Americans now covered through state and federal marketplaces, as well as those covered under Medicaid expansion: “We’re telling those people that we’re not going to pull the rug out from under them, and if we do this too fast, we are in fact going to pull the rug out from under them.”

To reiterate, it is useful to see Republicans wrestling with the fact that repeal (and replace) will bring major challenges and could produce a terrible outcome in humanitarian terms. But we have to ask: Given that Republicans have supposedly been preparing for the chance to repeal (and replace) the ACA for years, why do they seem so surprised by this?

Right Wing World's Conspiracy Bubble Swallows up U.S.!!!

There's little I can add to the following German reporters perspective of our current Presidential Trump Madness. There's a reference to our crumbling roads too...hint-hint Governor Walker:
Megalomania & Small-Mindedness: How America Lost Its Identity: Reporter Holger Stark spent the past four years as DER SPIEGEL's Washington correspondent ... What led this once mighty nation into decline?

On a frigid January evening one year ago, I was standing in a line of around 1,000 people in Burlington, Vermont, to see Donald Trump. At the entrance, security personnel patted us down and asked if we were planning on voting for Trump. Only those who said yes were allowed to proceed. 

In the fatherland of capitalism, anger with the elite is so vast that even leftists would rather vote for a narcissist billionaire than a veteran of the political establishment. In a country that values freedom of opinion higher than almost any other country in the world, there were now attitude tests prior to admission to political rallies. And many Americans, who are otherwise so polite, lose all restraint when confronted by those who think differently.

Everything that I associated with America seemed no longer to apply on that evening in Burlington. What had happened to this once-proud country? This self-confident country that has spent decades exporting its values with imperialist hubris has lost its identity. Democratic capitalism no longer works well enough to keep together a country of 325 million people and to guarantee domestic peace.

The secret to the country's success was not just that societal cohesion was anchored by one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, but also by the promise of advancement inherent in the American Dream. The result was an extremely powerful country that seemed unlimited in its possibilities. It wasn't always attractive, and sometimes it was downright ugly, but the U.S. was always the country that the rest of the world looked to. America proudly led the way.

The America of today has lost faith in its own superiority. It has become a regressive country that is turning its back on the world.
Former NSA head Michael Hayden explained to me why I was unable to get an appointment at the White House. Many American journalists can be influenced by applying pressure, he said, but it's more difficult to do so with foreign journalists.

Among Trump's most popular tirades is the one about how American airports are "like from a Third World country." And he's right. American streets are full of holes, its airports exude 1970s charm and every couple of weeks, a tree falls onto the overhead power lines resulting in hourslong outages.

People expect a minimum of functionality from a modern state. But over the last 30 years, the conservatives and neoliberals have worked tirelessly to destroy the state, which they see as a form of imposed socialist administration. They have made America weak.

Are you Kidding? Transportation Department Funding Disaster...requires more study?

The shocking transportation budget problems haven't moved Scott Walker off his no tax pledge to Grover Norquist, even if it cripples Wisconsin. Norquist came up with his hair-brained no tax pledge when he was 12 year old for gods sake.

The roads statewide have gotten so bad that the costs to taxpayers will not only skyrocket on existing and future projects, but increase the interest on the debt dramatically.

Walker's reaction pictured here means his conversion is almost complete. 
The cost of major road projects in Wisconsin doubled between the time they were planned and built, a sweeping audit of the state Department of Transportation revealed Thursday.

It cost $1.5 billion to build 19 major projects between 2006 and 2015 — $772.5 million more than originally estimated, the Legislative Audit Bureau found ... the DOT didn't take into account the considerable effects that inflation and changes to project design would have on those costs over time.

Another 16 projects that were ongoing ... originally expected to cost $2.7 billion, are now slated to come in at $5.8 billion. 
Comical Republican reactions followed the jaw dropping audit numbers that everyone else could see coming:
Those reluctant to raise taxes for highways, including Gov. Scott Walker, will argue the DOT is not giving lawmakers honest estimates or managing its budget effectively.
Ah, the HONEST ESTIMATES were higher...making delays even more inevitable. Which makes the following comment just plain nuts...
State Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) said, "The Legislature is more likely, along with the governor, to approve (a project) if they are told it's going to cost much less than it actually does."
Ya think? I just don't have the time to try and unpack that one.

It's sad that Wisconsin voters increased the number of these idiots in our legislature because they simply have an (R) next to their names. As their party screws things up even more, it'll just prove to them that government can't do anything right, forcing them to elect even more Republicans.

After rejecting the latest Transportation Department report and Legislative Audit Bureau figures, we need another report? Tell me this isn't some kind of "Groundhog Day" nightmare: 
Assembly Republican leaders want to know the real price tag for future Wisconsin highway construction. The top GOP Assembly leaders sent a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Dave Ross requesting a full review of cost estimates for all ongoing projects planned or budgeted for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, updated figures for projects yet to be enumerated and a comprehensive report on all projects since 2010 documenting the estimated costs and the total actual costs.

The leaders want accurate figures before lawmakers begin work on the budget.“ Taxpayers deserve to know how much a road is going to cost before it’s built,” said Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). “Unfortunately, these miscalculations will probably confirm what  many of us fear; our transportation fund is deeper in the red than we thought.”
Ya think? I'm outa here.

Waking from my Computer Nightmare...I hope.

You may have noticed a lack of stories, especially local, being cranked out of Democurmudgeon lately. I'm between computers right now, using my laptop to post what I can.

I somehow broke my old dependable computer when I simply replaced the old graphics card with a newer more powerful one my gaming kids don't want to use anymore.

All my capture and editing software is on my newly constructed computer's older hard drives. I have a new motherboard, CPU and RAM. But I hit a road block when I took my sons advice and didn't get a tower case with a DVD rom drive, using instead an external portable one. Well, that new purchase, and LG drive, broke after two days, so I wasn't about to buy another one.

No internet!!! The new motherboard didn't come with installed Ethernet drivers either, which connect directly into my WiFi router. So I have no DVD Rom to install the drivers from the provide disc, and no online ability to retrieve the drivers through a Windows search.

I knew not getting a DVD Rom was a bad idea, but....so now I'm waiting for a WiFi/Bluetooth card, while waiting for a case that will house my old dependable DVD/Blu-ray optical drive (simply by plugging in a USB cable and power cord).

Amazon Next Time: So I ordered the WiFi/Bluetooth card and the DVD optical drive case from two different suppliers. Why? I wish I knew. Since I'm an Amazon Prime member I get free 2 day shipping. Long story short, I would have had my computer working a week ago.

Today I hope to have at least one of the two items installed and up and running.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump seeking phony VoteStand proof 3 to 5 million votes were illegal.

I'm beginning to realize that there isn't enough time in the day to cover a days worth of Trump's growing disaster. The following story speaks for itself, and should scare even Trumpian losers...oh wait, I should be nice to them so I can convince them their voting whim to dismantle the country is an understandable error in judgement:

Trump Embraces Conspiracy Theorist to Promote Illegal Vote Claim: Trump latches on to ‘VoteStand,’ which may not exist.
Mr. Trump is just not going to give up his claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton, and he’s grasping for evidence.Continue reading the main story

On Friday morning, he looked to VoteStand, which calls itself “America’s first online fraud reporting app” for the smartphone but does not appear to actually exist beyond the Twitter account of its founder, Gregg Phillips.

Mr. Phillips at once said 3 million illegal immigrants voted and said he is still working to prove that.

As the debunking site Snopes.com wrote: “We scoured at least a dozen such articles for evidence to support the claim, but found none. All of them pointed back to the same source: a pair of tweets by someone named Gregg Phillips,

Fighting for the Freedom and Liberty to buy things?

Yikes, the only real "freedom and liberty" conservatives seem to be fighting for are...shopping choices.

The freedom to BUY a gun, the freedom to BUY or not BUY health insurance, the freedom to BUY a big gulp soda, the freedom to BUY an incandescent light bulb, and now...the freedom to BUY from a list of school options.

The freedom to shop is ludicrous. One question; what do people know about medical care and educational opportunities? Nothing of course, yet we're supposed to shop for highly professional services most people don't know anything about:
Betsy DeVos, Trump's nominee for education secretary, would fight for parents' educational options.
It's like parents don't have enough to do in their jobs, buying a home and car, home and auto insurance, shop for food and clothes, parenting children that might be quirky genius', always in trouble, or emotionally challenged, save and choose a college, deal with family health issues, aging parents, keep up-to-date and hold our politicians feet to the fire...well, you get the idea.

Now we're all supposed to shop and buy health insurance every year till we die, and manage a K-12 educational savings account so we can screen dozens of private educational choices filling our mailboxes with fancy promotional pamphlets claiming they're the best. 

Maybe it's a way to wear us down mentally. 

Trump makes sure ObamaCare will Collapse by pulling signup ads.

I was kind of mystified to see all the ACA "ObamaCare" signup ads on TV, at the same time the Trump administration started to repeal it. But there was a reason for their media blitz; younger people typically sign up the last few weeks. Without them, the marketplace collapses...oh, I get it now:
The Trump administration has put a halt on the Obamacare outreach ads, Politico reported Thursday night, five days before the law’s open enrollment period ends. 
These five days are a really bad time to have no outreach for the health law — and there’s a simple graph that helps explain why. For Obamacare to work, it needs a lot of young people to sign up. Young adults typically have lower health care costs, so they can help balance out the hefty medical bills of older enrollees.

There have been many Republican claims that Obamacare is “collapsing” lately — despite forecasts from independent agencies like the Congressional Budget Office that estimate the law’s marketplaces are small but stable. A move like this, however, could cause disruption by making it harder for the health care law to reach the exact people the marketplaces need the most.
Which will make the marketplace collapse, just like Republicans are predicting. Coincidence?

I thought this doctor reaction was a bit surprising, but also encouraging:

Here's a break down of what Primary Care Physicians (PCP) think:

What party is your doctor supporting, Republican or Democrat? Here's a poll....

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Two more Republican ObamaCare replacement Plans!

Those who say Republicans don't have a health care plan, well, they're only half right. There have been a lot of different plans...more like guidelines, if you know what I mean.

Here are two more I just ran across today. One surprised me, and may be the best one yet, but could be unsustainable if some features aren't adopted. But it's close....
Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins introduced the first Affordable Care Act replacement bill from the GOP on Monday, called the Patient Freedom Act. Based on the fact sheet for the bill:
1. "Reimplementation of the ACA." This option would allow states to put most of the provisions of the ACA, which is also known as Obamacare, back into place, including the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion. Funding from the federal government would remain the same for Medicaid expansion, cost-sharing subsidies, and premium subsidies up to 95% of current outlays.

2 "Choose a new state alternative." This would allow states to create a "new market-based system" with federal funding "equal to 95% of federal premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies" and having "per beneficiary grants or advanceable, refundable tax credits" deposited directly in health savings accounts.

3. "Design an alternative solution without federal assistance." This would allow states to create their own individual market solution with no funding from the federal government.

4. Keep in place a number of provisions of the ACA, including not allowing insurers to deny coverage because of a preexisting condition, allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, and prohibiting lifetime limits.

5. It does, however, repeal mandates on certain baselines for coverage (the fact sheet did not specify what types of coverage), the provision that premiums for elderly people can be only three times that of young people, and other clauses.
Not bad right? 
Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan healthcare think tank, said the bill appears to keep a majority of the ACA intact — to the point that it's almost indistinguishable from the original law.
Rand Paul had his own plan, which is a bit stripped down and plainly unaffordable for most people:
Sen. Rand Paul introduced the Obamacare Replacement Act on Wednesday.
1. The bill would remove parts of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate and minimum standards for care. It would also provide a two-year window for people with preexisting conditions to sign up for care.

2. It also includes new provisions such as an expanded ability for insurers to sell plans in multiple states and a $5,000 tax credit that people can put toward a health savings account.
1. Eliminate several provisions of the ACA, including the individual mandate and minimums on coverage standards. The bill's fact sheet doesn't mention any provision to allow parents to keep a child on their insurance until they turn 26.

2. It's unclear what would happen to people with preexisting conditions in the individual market after the two-year open-enrollment period.

3. Additionally, the bill would provide every American a tax credit worth up to $5,000 for contributions to a health savings account to put toward health insurance and other healthcare costs.

4. Allow insurance companies to sell plans "across state lines." Health policy analysts have said there is little evidence that insurers would take advantage of this provision or that it would drive down costs.

5. Allow HSAs to be used without a high-deductible plan. Currently, HSAs are used only in conjunction with high-deductible plans. Paul's bill would eliminate the link. Additionally, it would allow HSA money to be spent on insurance premiums and prescription drugs.

6. Allow individuals and small businesses to pool together to get insurance.While the ACA allows small businesses to pool together to get more favorable care, this has not been used much. In addition, Paul's plan would allow individuals to pool together to access care — another longtime Republican idea —but his plan would allow this "through their membership in a trade or professional association."

Trump Republicans toss responsibility in favor of bribery, polluted streams, wage inequality and guns for the Mentally incapable."

If you've been following the slew of House bills passed in the last few years, you would know Republicans don't give a damn about health care, the environment and public services.

Now that they're in charge, the real animal in the GOP has been let loose, ready to devour every last advancement in the last 100 years. Behold corruption, plundering our natural resources at the expense of clean energy, and giving "mentally incapable" seniors guns:
Reuters: Congressional Republicans are set to overturn a controversial anti-bribery rule aimed at U.S. resource companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp ... disclose payments to foreign governments. 

The House would try to kill regulations protecting streams and forests from coal mining's impacts, curbing methane leaks on public lands, and requiring employers to report workers' information as part of an attempt to end pay discrimination.
Remember when Republicans refused to accept reasonable gun regulations, and instead promised to keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Well, they didn't mean that either. If someone has lost it to the point of where someone else has to handle their financial affairs, a gun is the last thing they should have:
Repeal a rule expanding background checks on gun purchases for disabled Social Security recipients to the hit list ... prevent the government from declaring some Social Security recipients unfit to own guns after they’ve been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs. The NRA lobbied for its reversal, arguing it would keep those in distress from seeking mental health assistance for fear of losing their rights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March mansplained again...David Brooks: "This movement focuses on the wrong issues..."

Right now there's an awful lot of right-wing puffery going on. It's an embarrassing amount of chest pounding righteousness.

And Republicans will get a tremendous amount of mileage out of it, which is their political point.

Identity Politics? Nothing defines identity politics like the loud and entitled voices from "real American" white rural voters. Big city multi-ethnic liberal Americans, concerned about big city problems that effect big city populations, are now being told "identity politics" is a losing strategy that pushed them into the minority?

Which brings me to conservative columnist and now "mansplainer" David Brooks, and his vilification of identity politics that ironically is at the heart of Republican populism; now being narrowly defined as the rights of white rural "tell-it-like-it-is" men and their supportive "men-will-be-men" women.

Bet you didn't know...:
1. "This movement focuses on the wrong issues ... reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change. All the big things that were once taken for granted are now under assault: globalization, capitalism, adherence to the Constitution, the American-led global order. If you’re not engaging these issues first, you’re not going to be in the main arena of national life."
All issues Republicans have defined as being under attack, real or mostly imagined. There's more:
2. There was too big a gap between Saturday’s marches and the Democratic and Republican Parties. Sometimes social change happens through grass-roots movements — the civil rights movement. But most of the time change happens through political parties: The New Deal, the Great Society, the Reagan Revolution. Change happens when people run for office, amass coalitions of interest groups, engage in the messy practice of politics. Without the discipline of party politics, social movements devolve into mere feeling ... Marching is a seductive substitute for action in an antipolitical era, and leaves the field open for a rogue like Trump.
Yes, like the discipline we saw in the Republican Party? Brooks just described an authoritarian top down politically controlled society.

We saw this "messy practice of politics" when Scott Walker and John Kasich banned statewide "grass-roots movements" like minimum wages, environmental protections and public safety concerns that bubble up at the local level.

Uh, Wait? So after all this, Brooks circled back, contradicting himself. Remember when he wrote "This movement focuses on the wrong issues ... reproductive rights, equal pay, affordable health care, action on climate change?" Well, that's what it was about all along, just reworded in a conservative way:
The anti-Trump forces could have offered a red, white and blue alternative patriotism, a modern, forward-looking patriotism based on pluralism, dynamism, growth, racial and gender equality and global engagement.
Other priceless and jaw dropping clueless observations...taking Trump's narcissistic personality disorder and projecting it onto liberals. Equality for ALL isn't exactly a "self-defined group:"
Prof. Mark Lilla of Columbia wrote a piece on how identity politics was dooming progressive chances.“The fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.”
But Brooks' sad summation makes my point; if many Americans elected Trump for the reasons Brooks listed below, than it's pretty clear liberal Democrats aren't the ones with a problem. But thanks for the advice:
I loathed Trump’s inaugural: It offered a zero-sum, ethnically pure, backward-looking brutalistic nationalism. But it was a coherent vision, and he is rallying a true and fervent love of our home.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trump's Narcissistic Personality Disorder put Americans in Danger, compromising their safety!!!

I thought it was outrageous enough Trump would banned the National Parks Service from Twitter over something as ridiculous and his pathetic inaugural crowd size, but that ban effected the entire countries Twitter warning service to parks users:
CNN: After the National Park Service retweeted a few messages that negatively compared the crowd sizes at Obama's 2009 inauguration to Donald Trump's inauguration, representatives from the new administration asked the Interior Department's digital team to temporarily stop using Twitter, according to a message obtained by CNN. After the retweet began to get attention, a career staffer at the Interior Department instructed employees that the "new administration has said that the department and all bureau are not supposed to tweet this weekend and wait for guidance until Monday."

On Saturday, the National Park Service called Friday's retweets "mistaken."
Here are the jaw dropping consequences many news outlets didn't seem to care about (this CNN story was the only one I found):

The order to stop tweeting impacted all accounts under the Interior Department's purview, including individual National Park accounts that are, at times, used to communicate emergency messages to visitors.

"Until further notice, all park road condition updates will provided on the Mount Rainier Facebook page," Mount Rainier National Park tweeted on Friday.
A few final words on crowd size:

The National Mall doesn't offer estimates of any sort.

But the side-by-side images of Friday's ceremony alongside the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama show a significantly smaller crowd on the National Mall for Trump than for Obama. There is empty ground exposed in the Trump photos. The same spots were almost entirely covered eight years ago, when estimates at the time suggested 1.8 million people attended the inauguration.

The photo of Trump's inauguration was taken from television during his speech — peak time for the crowd.

When President Obama took the oath of office in 2009, conditions were clear with temperatures were in the 20s. Eight years later, temperatures hovered in the high 40s with intermittent rain.

Another sign attendance for Trump's inauguration could be lower: Metro ridership. Per WMATA, the Washington area transit authority, as of 11 am, 193,000 trips had been taken on the city's subway system. At the same hour in 2009, that number was 513,000, according to WMATA. The same time for the second Obama inauguration saw 317,000 riders, and President George W. Bush's second inauguration saw 197,000 riders by 11 am.

Russia "California Secessionist Dreaming!"

Look, I know this is crazy, but....I've had this odd feeling for awhile now that Republicans were either knowingly or unintentionally moving toward a complete breakup of the United States. Weird conspiratorial stuff.

But when Gov. Scott Walker ran for president, his big idea was to do away with many of our federal agencies and shift them to the states. That would create a nation of little republics, similar to the Soviet Union. Of course, they eventually broke up into individual countries...so could that happen here? If you're a Republican, sure, who cares, and anyway this is something very very long term...and crazy.

But still, we've already seen many GOP state's tinker with the idea of seceding. What I didn't see coming was this Politico story tweet by GOP pollster and propagandist Frank Luntz :

More outrageous still? This is all coming out of Trump's favorite best friend, Russia:
The Dialogue of Nations Conference, which attracted separatist-minded contingents from Ireland, Spain and Italy, was hosted by a man named Alexander Ionov, whose group had used money from the Kremlin to pay the travel expenses of Russian Louis Marinelli’s pals from Red Square: Nate Smith. Smith is one of the leaders of Texas Nationalist Movement that’s pushing to—you guessed it—break away from the United States.

Jed Wheeler, the general secretary of the California National Party. “YesCalifornia is a movement whose optics are all designed for a Russian audience to reinforce [Vladimir] Putin, by talking about…how terrible America is, and reinforcing [the idea that] Putin is this great guy who is admired all over the world.” 

It would be easy to dismiss all this as nonsense driven by publicity-hungry amateurs, but people who know the Russian political playbook say winking at these fringe movements—and even giving them a boost—is a part of a very real strategy. Not only is this a way of puffing Russia’s domestic claims at turmoil in the U.S., but it fits firmly within the Kremlin’s modus operandi of cultivating fringe groups in the West—including, most especially, those who would fracture the United States in a reprise of the Soviet Union’s demise, over a quarter-century later.
That's not all:
Trump booster and Silicon Valley mogul Peter Thiel told the New York Times last week he is a proponent of secession. (“I think it would be good for California, good for the rest of the country,” Thiel said. “It would help Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.”) And thanks to the efforts of both Marinelli and Ionov, California now has its first, if unofficial, “embassy” abroad—located in, of all places, Moscow.

Backed by photos of Putin, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Muammar Qadhafi, Marinelli and Ionov officially unveiled the “embassy” in mid-December, pitching it as “bridge between California and Russia” and a way to “gain Russian support for California independence.”
Thanks to Trump, Russia's Putin is riding high. WaPo:
Putin heads into 2017 on a strong note, having brokered a cease-fire in Syria that sidelined the United States and having won the praise of President-elect ­Donald Trump by declining to retaliate in response to the Obama administration’s decision to punish Moscow over its alleged interference in the U.S. election.

“We are working, and working successfully, and we are achieving much,” Putin said in the nationally broadcast address. “I would like to thank you for the victories and achievements, for your understanding and trust, and for your true, sincere care for Russia.”

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happening fast...welcome to a lethal police state in Indiana!!!.

Republicans have always hated protesting. What, can't people just go out and find a billionaire to pay politicians and influence public opinion with lots of money instead?
Indiana bill would allow police to shut down protests 'by any means necessary' ... Republican senator Jim Tomes proposed law, simply labelled Senate Bill 285, or SB 285, and designed to deal with “traffic obstruction by protestors” would go into effect in July if passed. It calls for officials, such as a city mayor or county sheriff, to be required to quickly clear any mass traffic obstruction – defined as 10 or more protesters – blocking roads ... the bill states.
“A responsible public official shall, not later than 15 minutes after learning of a mass traffic obstruction in the official’s jurisdiction, dispatch all available law enforcement officers … with directions to use any means necessary to clear the roads of the persons unlawfully obstructing vehicular traffic.” 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Now Republicans don't care about Presidential Executive Orders? Heads are spinning.....

Spicer: Trump still deciding on his executive orders.

Sheriff Clarke continues to harass guy he met on airplane, willing to commit Assault in show of "Toxic Masculinity!"

Sheriff David Clarke is at it again, but to completely understand his recent fit of "toxic masculinity," we have to go back to another story.

You might remember this recent bout of Republican outrage directed at the UW over liberalism, just in time to cut more of their funding. I've highlighted in red the important point about Sheriff Clarke that explains the story below.
The Men’s Project, a six-week voluntary discussion program that “aims to explore masculinity and the problems accompanied by simplified definitions of it.” 
The enemy of education State Sen. Steve Nass (R) had a "toxic masculinity" fit:
Nass: "UW-Madison has become part of a national liberal effort to rid male students of their 'toxic masculinity … believe that Wisconsin mothers and fathers have done a poor job of raising their boys by trying to instill in them the values and characteristics necessary in becoming a Man.”
Funny thing, Republicans (and fake Democrats like Clarke) need this course more than any student. Check out Sheriff Clarke's weak kneed recent confrontation with a citizen:

Yup, Clarke needed six cops to protect himself over what would normally be considered an exchange of words, hardly even that really.

Dan Black registered a complaint with the county. Uh oh, you know what that means!

Once in the safe confines of his office, this cowardly "toxic masculine" cowboy...
...had a message to anyone who wants to hassle him while he's jetting about the country: "Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out. The sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault."
Unless I've missed my guess, that would be considered an assault, right?

See what I mean by this simplified problem of toxic masculinity?
The Men’s Project, a six-week voluntary discussion program that “aims to explore masculinity and the problems accompanied by simplified definitions of it.” 
When Sheriff Clarke is finally voted out of office after admitting and cheering on the Cowboys, hoping to knock the Packers out of the playoffs, he can teach this suggested course by former State Rep. Michelle Litjens (R):
Litjens: "I think our students need to be offered both sides...they're offering a class about how not to be strong men anymore...but they also should be offering a class on, "If You Want to be a Strong Man, Here's How to Do It." You know we need to be offering both sides to our students..."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CBO warns: 18 Million will Lose Insurance, Premiums Skyrocket...for Medicare too.

It's incredibly frustrating watching Rep. Tom Price not "answer" questions at his Senate hearings for his possible position as head of HHS. From adding $10 trillion to the US debt, to gambling with the health of the every American, he's a pure ideologue that will "take a look at" some of the massive problems:
Price said, “I think, as policymakers, it is incumbent upon us to say, ‘What can we do to increase that coverage?’ The goal is to make sure that every single American has that access to coverage that they want for themselves and for their families.” 

Murphy had to point out that Price was conflating two distinct policy outcomes: “I’ll just note that those are two different things, having coverage and having access to coverage, and I think we’ve gone around on that a number of times.”
But just in time, a new CBO report came out that looked specifically at Paul Ryan/Tom Price's repeal/reform health care plan. It's devastating:

1. Republican legislation that guts the Affordable Care Act would cause 18 million people to lose their insurance and would increase premiums of individual plans by about 20 to 25 percent, all within a year of being enacted, a report released today by the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

2. The legislation would destabilize the individual health insurance market, the report cautions, so the effects will “worsen over time.” After roughly two years, the number of uninsured would jump by 27 million and premiums would increase by about 50 percent. If nothing else changes, in ten years, the uninsured would increase by 32 million and premiums would be about double.

3. The CBO estimates that in the first full insurance plan year after (repeal), 10 million people will lose the insurance they got in the individual market, 5 million fewer people will be covered by Medicaid, and 3 million will lose employer-based coverage.

4. Insurance companies would leave the individual insurance market and about 10 percent of Americans will have no options for individual insurance plans.

5. In the second phase, roughly two years after enactment, the plan will eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and subsidies. This will increase the number of uninsured by 27 million and premiums would be around 50 percent higher. About half of the country will not have access to an individual insurance plan.

6. If no replacement plans are enacted, things will continue to erode by 2026, and about half of the country’s population wouldn’t have access to an individual plan.
You'll hear Republicans say the CBO didn't consider the after effects of reform...but they did.

Another interesting warning is also included in the CBO report: 
CBO Says GOP Medicare Plan Would Double The Cost Of Health Care For Seniors. But because commercial insurers cost more to run than government plans, to privatize Medicare starting in 2022 would actually spark a dramatic increase in how much the nation spends on healthcare for the elderly.

Mostly healthy and young people will exit the insurance pool at this point, leaving a higher proportion of the less healthy and older, who tend to use healthcare more and are thus more expensive to insure. Thus, premiums will increase by about 20 to 25 percent.
Here's an example:
The GOP proposal, which would begin in 2022, involves providing a ‘voucher’ – or as Ryan likes to call it, ‘premium support’ – to seniors to help pay for their health insurance. The average American would receive a check for $8,000, representing roughly what the CBO estimates Medicare would have to fork out for the average beneficiary in 2022. In addition to the government’s costs, the CBO estimates that seniors, in 2022, would lay out about $6,150.00 in out-of-pocket costs in the Medicare system. That totals an average cost of health care for participating seniors, in 2022, to be $14,770.

Under the GOP privatization plan, the cost to purchase the health insurance policy would cost about $20,520 per year – leaving the seniors out of pocket in the amount of $12,510 or more than twice what they would pay in 2022 should the Medicare system we currently have continue.
HEALTH CARE IS NOT A "FREE MARKET" CONSUMER PRODUCT YOU BUY!!!! Insurance is. Here's a really nice way to describe it:
Their traditional response is that by allowing the free-market to work in medicine, everything will take care of itself.

As discussed on this page many times – and by most leading health care economists in the country- the free market does not work in health care because health care is not your typical commodity.

When a patient needs heart surgery, he or she is not going shopping for a bargain price as they might do when purchasing a television set. That patient doesn’t have the luxury of putting off the purchase until later in the year when the prices come down and getting a deal pales in comparison to getting the best surgeon you can find to turn off your heart while it is being fixed.

As anyone who has ever been in this position knows all too well, you don’t pick the surgeon you are entrusting to save your life based on price – you pick that person based on quality and history of success.

Fiona Apple's Trump chant "Tiny hands!"

Another musical salute to Trump's inauguration:
Fiona Apple unveiled a pointed and infectious anti-Trump chant, "Tiny Hands," for the upcoming Women's March on Washington. While the recording does feature some musical accompaniment – a piano loop, marching drums and a sample of Trump bragging about groping women without their permission from the infamous Access Hollywood tape – it's primarily a vessel for Apple's rallying cry, which is readymade for the post-inauguration protest: "We don't want your tiny hands, anywhere near our underpants."

And who could forget Apple's Christmas classic..

Scott Walker imagines Tuition Cuts!

We're smarter than this, right Democrats?

Ask yourself why is Scott Walker doing a 180 on UW funding, knowing there's no way to pay for it?  "'Cut — that's right, cut' tuition." I can see the campaign ad material now, "See, I love the UW." Which sets up: Scott Walker good cop, legislature bad cop. Cap Times:
Speaker Robin Vos said he is "open-minded" to the idea, but he is not yet convinced a tuition cut will be a priority for lawmakers as they consider the 2017-19 budget.
 Along with...
Rep. John Nygren said Republicans are ... reluctant to signal support for Walker's proposed cut. "It’s not that I’m against it, it’s just that as a budget chair I need to look at the budget in totality against other priorities such as K-12 funding, Medicaid, other big ticket items."
But if Walker cared so much, he would have let Wisconsin refinance student loans with a state refinancing authority, but...:
Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, argued Walker's answer to student loan debt amounted to telling borrowers to "call a bank."
Scott Walker, big talk, campaign material talking points. Hey, he tried and loves the UW.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trump to expand and open Press Room up to Fake News Outlets!!!

Wasting no time in "shaking things up," Trump wants to throw everyone off balance, especially the press. The Guardian:
coming soon....
Talk radio hosts and bloggers could be given greater access to official White House press briefings once the Trump administration takes office, under a highly irregular proposal being floated that may also remove briefings from the West Wing.

White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the proposal would mean “you can involve more people, be more transparent, have more accessibility. There’s a lot of talk radio and bloggers and people that can’t fit in right now and maybe don’t have a permanency because they’re not part of the Washington elite media, but to allow them an opportunity to ask the press secretary or the president a question is a positive thing. It’s more democratic.”
But how many liberal bloggers and radio hosts will be there? But oh wait...
"They are the opposition party. I want 'em out of the building, we're taking back the press room." 
Here's the story. Check out the Colbert clip that looks at the how a Trump press briefing might look pretty damn soon:

Monday, January 16, 2017

Where were these headlines Before the Election???

So this is what it takes to wake people up to the health care crisis, a sole creation of the politically motivated Republican Party's 8 year push to hate all things Obama. 

The headlines below seemed to have struck a nerve: