Sunday, July 30, 2017

Walker's Reputation for Destroying Middle Class rolls on....

Scott Walker needs Foxconn badly. But it won't change how much he's destroyed the middle class.
Pew Charitable Trusts, through its Stateline blog, has found that the middle class has shrunk in every single state between the years of 2000 and 2013 ... there was truly nowhere to hide from the economic downturn that began in late 2008. The fall in middle class ranks was also accompanied by drops in median income in most states as well.

The clear winner (or loser) in the race to the bottom has been Wisconsin, losing 5.7% of its middle class households since 2000. Average median income has dropped by roughly $9,000 annually, and costs of living have gone up as well. There have also been many political battles that have not worked in the middle class’s favor. Governor Scott Walker gutted many of the state’s unions — which has a big effect on the middle class — and all signs seem to indicate that he will aim to implement similar policies. Like Ohio, Wisconsin’s makeup was particularly vulnerable to a recession, and the proof is in the numbers.

When Premium Prices Sore on ACA Marketplace, you can thank Trump....

Insurance companies quaked with uncertainty and will probably raise premiums to cover their butts after this irresponsible Trump tweet:

Which prompted this reaction from Bernie Sanders, which by the way, should be everyone's reaction:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accused President Trump of wanting to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act. 
“You know, I really think it’s incomprehensible that we have a president of the United States who wants to sabotage health care in America, make life more difficult for millions of people who are struggling now to get the health insurance they need and to pay for that health insurance.”
Not to mention increasing costs substantially for Americans on the exchange and in the individual market.

Sadly, Sanders still hasn't fine tuned the message around single payer; it's virtually impossible to create little independent single payer islands in the U.S.. He should have known better. It has to be all or nothing, maybe a system that utilizes insurance companies to administer the system like Medicare and Medicare Advantage. 

Attempts have failed in the past because the costs are too high when a state is working alone, and prices for care can't be standardized lower using the power of the entire U.S. population. And that's the big difference, which is why Jake Tapper didn't get it either and asked the following question:
Sanders said he planned to introduce single-payer health care legislation now that Republicans efforts at health care reform failed. However when pressed by “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper on how single-payer could be passed nationally after failed attempts in California and his home state of Vermont, Sanders admitted, “Politically, this is difficult.”
“Look, taking on the insurance companies and the drug companies, taking on Wall Street, taking on a lot of very powerful forces that make billions of dollars a year from the current health care system is not going to be easy. And it’s not going to take place until millions of people get involved in this struggle and appreciate the fact that whether you’re rich or whether you are poor, health care is a right.”

Conservative Hypocrite Tomi Lahren joins long list of clueless Repeal ObamaCare beneficiaries.

Conservatives have a bizarre unexplainable disconnect from reality, that I believe acts as a defense mechanism against what I call "inadvertent hypocrisy." 

Take the Republican attempt at health care reform, otherwise known as tax cuts for the wealthy. It's the ultimate in a massive big government bureaucracy with burdensome regulatory hoops to jump through for every possible health care need, like Medicaid eligibility and high risk pools. "Inadvertent hypocrisy." 

Or how about staying on your parents health care plan until you're 26, while still complaining about the horrors of "ObamaCare." "Inadvertent hypocrisy."

The cell phone clip below is from a conservative audience member. I'm mentioning that because the guy who recorded this, loudly proclaimed his allegiance to Trump throughout the video, except during the Tomi Lahren/Chelsea Handler exchange featured here. Coincidence? Just wanted you to keep that in mind: 

Crooks and Liars: Tomi Lahren, conservative mouthpiece who was fired from The Blaze after her pro-choice comments, was invited to chat with Chelsea Handler ... she also dropped this poorly timed sentence:
Chelsea Handler: "So do you have a health care plan?"

Tomi Lahren: “Luckily, I am 24, so I am still on my parents’ plan.”
That line drew loud boos from the crowd at her insane hypocrisy. Duh. Does she even think before she speaks? She is sitting there bashing the *very* program that allows her to actually retain insurance after she was fired just a few months ago ... Tomi, you should be thanking Obama.
A few quick comebacks that Democrats should hammer home, for people like Tomi Lahren:
1. Comparing universal health care to VA health plan: Sorry, but try comparing our private system to every other country in the world with a national health care plan, skip trashing the VA.

2. There are waiting lines in Canada and other Countries: There are waiting lines in the U.S., we're not different. Anyone try seeing a dermatologist lately for that cancerous looking sore on your arm?

3. Every State is So Different: No, the people in those states aren't any different than humans in every other state. Same biology, same health care needs, same diseases. They aren't different in each state.

4. The American People voted, they Don't Want ObamaCare, elections have Consequences: Ah, Americans didn't know what Republicans were going to offer as a replacement, and they didn't vote for any one of the quickly cooked up "plans" over lunch on napkins, or in a back room with no public input. That's a huge difference.
It's Always Someone Else's Fault: Remember how Republicans said Bush policies failed because he wasn't conservative enough? Well, the same will be said about Trump and...Scaramucci, because they both weren't just conservative enough, they were once "liberals." Once liberals is the key, meaning they are now Republicans. Period.

I don't have the video, but here's the transcript from Variety:
The pair did seem to come to an agreement on one thing — Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s incoming communications director. When Lahren defended Trump’s staff selections and those he surrounds himself with, one person in the audience shouted, “Scaramucci.”
Lahren: “He’s a former liberal, so he is one of yours.”

Handler: “Well, you can have him."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Foxconn Con? The Wonders of the Free Market!

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the Foxconn jobs deal work, it's just that there are so many questions, and so much of our tax dollars tied into the deal. One thing for sure, it was all about narcissist Trump: 

Think about it. Bloomberg Businessweek:
Wisconsin is about to shell out as much as $3 billion for the privilege of luring Foxconn Technology Group. At $519 per citizen, it would have been cheaper to buy an iPhone for every man, woman and child in the midwestern state.

There's a hard reality about corporate welfare; Republicans love to pick winners and losers, taxpayer money for business is a heck of a lot better than helping Americans when they need it, and there is no such thing as a "free market." Pretty simple to figure out, thanks to Foxconn:
Let's take a look at those figures: Wisconsin is paying as much as $1 million per job, which will carry an average salary of $54,000. The state's economic development corporation is selling the project to taxpayers with a claim that it will create 10,000 construction jobs for building the facility and another 6,000 indirect positions. It's expecting $3.3 million of investment per employee from the Taiwanese company.

Politicians, lobbyists and Foxconn can make the figures work by being generous with the facts. For example, if every one of those jobs came to fruition, they can claim 29,000 positions for $3 billion, or $103,000 per job. But that's not going to happen.

Foxconn has factories in China and another dozen countries globally, yet that stated $10 billion investment is more than the group's publicly traded flagship -- Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. -- has devoted to capital expenditure over the past five years combined.

If billionaire chairman Terry Gou really does dish out $10 billion on this facility, the only way to make it viable is by keeping staffing low ... This LCD factory will be either labor intensive or highly automated. It can't be both.  
Empty Promises? We were warned...
Gou signed a deal with the government of Jakarta, Indonesia's capital and its biggest city, to invest $1 billion and employ local workers to make electronics. That never happened. Neither did a $30 million high-tech factory in Pennyslvania that was announced a year earlier. Just this past year, Foxconn is reported to have pledged investments of $5 billion in India; $3.65 billion in Kunshan, China; and $8.8 billion in Guangzhou. It's too early to know if those sums will ever be spent, but including Wisconsin, the tally now stands at $27.5 billion of commitments. That's more than Hon Hai has spent in the last 23 years.

Terry Gou didn't get where he is today by blithely spending money on huge factories. Instead, he's learned to entice leaders into thinking big, and then letting them pay. Wisconsin shows that Foxconn isn't building the American Dream -- America is building the Foxconn machine.

And not surprisingly, Walker takes his shot again at destroying the Wisconsin environment:
1. Exempt the project from an environmental impact statement. The state Department of Natural Resources conducts impact statements for large projects, with recent examples including the proposed golf course by the Kohler Co.

2. Allow the company or its contractors to discharge dredged material and fill into wetlands without state permits, though federal permits could still be required. The legislation would also exempt Foxconn from a requirement that companies try to avoid filling wetlands when possible, though the firm would have to restore wetlands elsewhere if it did.

3. Let the company build on a riverbed or lakebed, connect artificial bodies of water with natural waterways and change the course of streams without getting state permits. The Foxconn plant is expected to need large amounts of water from Lake Michigan.

4. Exempt the project from having to get certain approvals from the Public Service Commission, authorize lower utility rates for Foxconn for at least 10 years and allow transmission lines to be relocated without state approval.

The Truth about Health Care GOP BS!!!

The simple truth about ObamaCare is this; it's a conservative, Heritage Foundation health care plan that includes over 100 Republican amendments. You can't get any more Republican than that! 

And yet the GOP has successfully sold the public on the idea that this is a liberal big government solution to a non-existent problem, forced on us by President Obama. The truth is, the CBO projections on both the House and Senate plans does two things; it tells us how bad their reform plans are, and most importantly, shines a light on how bad the free market version of health care will be, again.

Taxpayers on the Hook with High Risk Pools: Seriously, one of the biggest complaints by conservative voters is the idea their health care dollars would be used to pay for someone else's treatment. It drives me crazy. They must think their premium payments are being put aside for just them. So who pays for the insurance company employees and their wealthy CEO's?

Getting Rid of Health Insurance Completely: Why pay for insurance at all!!! Just automatically enroll sick people into the high risk pools, paid for by general tax revenue, and do away with the crazy idea of insurance for the healthy. Dumb Ron Johnson below is basically making that argument, but doesn't know it.  

Government Health Care Doesn't Work? Just the opposite, since every other industrialized country in the world has proved over and over that it does work. By the way, there isn't one example of a successful free market health care system anywhere. None.

Paul Ryan admits, Universal Health Care - Medicare for All Better Deal: He did, in a 2009 comment on ObamaCare, saying private insurers couldn't compete with the better government deal.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ryan hides Health Care Cuts in Budget, Voucherizes Medicare.

Paul Ryan has a sneaky plan to privatize health care and Medicare in his House budget plan, independent of their cruel AHCA bill, and no one is taking notice, except for Modern Health
The House Budget Committee on Wednesday agreed to bake in hundreds of billions in Medicaid cuts from its ACA repeal bill to the budget resolution, plus an additional $114 billion in cuts over 10 years. The budget resolution, which is the foundation for passing tax reform in the Senate without Democratic votes, also assumes Medicare will reduce spending by $487 million from 2018 to 2027.
Again, House Republicans are also inserting their AHCA health care repeal cuts, into the BUDGET! Ryan is taking no chances when it comes to taking down our health care safety nets. These supposed “budget” items could strip seniors of their lifelong savings and fatten insurance company profits:
1. Imposing a work requirement on Medicaid adult beneficiaries who are younger than 65 and are not on Social Security disability as a condition of eligibility.

2. The Medicare savings … using vouchers to buy insurance … Democrats during Wednesday's hearing complained that traditional Medicare would cost 25% more than it does now if vouchers come into play.

3. Savings that would stem from raising the Medicare eligibility age for future beneficiaries who are 51 or younger to 67 … (including) full Social Security benefits.

4. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that would reduce Medicare spending by 2% once everyone in the program is covered by the later eligibility age.

5. The proposal includes a requirement that affluent seniors pay higher premiums.

6. People with incomes of $1 million or more pay the full cost of Medicare premiums without any federal subsidy.
I'm not sure how much good it'll do, but doing nothing isn't an option:
Wednesday 7/26, at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT for a Twitterstorm to fight the draconian GOP Budget. Please share this by Retweeting the pinned tweet on @UniteBlue and via DM.

Monday, July 24, 2017

FCC says Internet NOT a Utility now...yet Wisconsin GOP starting to think it is?

This isn't just about the inability of the Republican Party to run our government responsibly, it's also about a lack of awareness and the eventual realization that the "lefties" were right all along.

Well guess what? A few contradictory things just happened: The Republican dominated FCC is now saying the internet is NOT a public utility, essentially repealing net neutrality, while Republican legislators in Wisconsin are now realizing it just might be a public utility. Huh? God these people are slow. 

1. Walker Stopped Rural Job Creation and the Internet: Take one of Scott Walker's biggest initial mistakes; turning down federal rural broadband funding. Like the Journal Sentinel wrote in this Feb. 18, 2011 editorial:
The state is turning down $23 million because state taxpayers would have been on the hook for the entire amount if the state could not meet the grant's precise requirements, Mike Huebsch, secretary of the state Department of Administration said. Actually, high-speed Internet is part of the necessary infrastructure that is vital to communities that want to grow. The state will get there anyway, but this money could have speeded up the journey.
That's an understatement. 

Fast forward to December 2015, and to a state taxpayer corporate giveaway amounting to $1.5 million, a drop in the bucket to Obama's federal stimulus offer. Heck, Walker doled out $500,000 in 2014 and $450,000 in 2015, instead of  spending it on schools or transportation.

Fast forward to today with the news Microsoft picked our state to pilot a rural broadband experiment. It appears WPR is under the impression Republicans have been leading the rural broadband charge all along, not the Democrats:
For state lawmakers, bringing high-speed internet to rural Wisconsin has been a top priority. In May, the state Assembly passed a bill that would allocate $35 million to expand broadband in rural areas (state revenue folks).
Peanuts. 6 and half years ago we could have been well on our way, creating rural businesses and jobs with that $23 million federal offer.
2. Suddenly, Republicans think High Speed Internet is a Utility and Job Creator? It's not just hypocrisy, it a contradiction to their party position and federal policy. First, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, seeing a conspiracy theory behind net neutrality:
Pai said he would reclassify the internet through Title I of the Communications Act, rather than Title II. Without further explanation, Pai also claimed that the earlier net neutrality rules were actually a deliberate distraction created by the Obama White House: “In order to energize a dispirited base, the White House released an extraordinary YouTube video instructing the FCC to implement Title II regulations,” Pai said.
Here's what a few suddenly "enlightened" state Republican legislators are now saying, 6 years after the fact. See if you can see the contradiction:
State Assembly Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, said her constituents are worried about being able to complete daily tasks without reliable internet access.
"One of the biggest things that I hear repeatedly is that people would like to work from their home or help their children with school projects. A lot of other things are necessitated by having a good internet connection, and that is something that is very sketchy in up in our area as of now."
For state Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, the lack of decent internet in all parts of Wisconsin could slow the state's growth.
"It's a health care issue. It's an economic driver issue. And it's an educational piece too. Everything that we do in life now kind of revolves around having internet access, whether we want to use it or not. It affects everyone. Especially business parks. If you don't have a business park that is wired to high-speed internet with a large bandwidth and capacity for users, you're not going to have businesses move there. Plain and simple."
Here's the outrageous kicker, and what made me write this blog post:
Felzkowski said  ... she'd like to see the internet be treated as something akin to a utility in the future.
Huh, that's what it is now!!!! But not for long: 
"Back in the 50s, when the government said that everybody was entitled to electricity — that it's an economic driver, it's a quality of life issue — we made sure that everybody had electricity and everybody had access to a telephone. This is the same concept that we're working under with broadband. So, the investment will be there to get broadband to the residents of the state of Wisconsin."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ryan Plunders Air and Environment endangering Children, Pregnant Women, Seniors, Minority and Low Income Communities for Big Energy!!!

The Paul Ryan congress is now rerunning a whole bunch of outrageous previously passed anti-American, anti-job creation, anti-environmental bills that turns "good old American values" inside out for big energy. Roll Call:
DELAY OF AIR-QUALITY STANDARDS: The House passed a GOP-sponsored bill (HR 806) that would extend from 2017 to 2025 stricter standards under the Clean Air Act for reducing ground-level concentrations of ozone, or smog. The bill also changes from five years to 10 years the frequency of EPA reviews to ensure that National Ambient Air Quality Standards reflect the latest scientific and medical information.
Voting yes on this danger to public health?  James Sensenbrenner, R-5, Glenn Grothman, R-6, Sean Duffy, R-7, and that independent rebel newcomer Mike Gallagher, R-8.

Democrats Counter: Well, you won’t hear the Dems talking about it much, and the press won't make any value judgments, but an important Democratic motion exposed how irresponsible and reckless the Republicans are right now. You'd think human life could stand in the way of big energy?
The Republican House defeated a bid by Democrats to prevent HR 806 (above) from fully taking effect if an EPA scientific advisory committee concludes it would raise health risks to vulnerable populations such as outdoor workers, children, seniors, pregnant women and minority and low-income communities. 
Democrats voting yes to protect children and pregnant women? Mark Pocan, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore.

More Recycled Republican Recklessness: Thanks to Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, big oil just got a pass to take public and private land. There is no going back on this stuff either:
NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PERMITS: The House passed a GOP-sponsored bill (HR 2910) that would set tight deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other federal and state agencies  …  the bill would streamline an overly bureaucratic process. Critics said it would trample on private and tribal property rights and undercut environmental laws. In part, the bill would allow conditional permits to be granted on the basis of aerial data collected by drones that critics said would fail to detect historical sites, endangered species and wetlands.
Republicans voting guessed it: Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, and that real independent newcomer Mike Gallagher.

Democrats tried an American Made Steel motion, but Failed: Pointing out the error of their ways, in the most stark terms possible:
AMERICAN-MADE IRON AND STEEL: Voting 193 for and 232 against, the House defeated a Democratic motion requiring all iron and steel components of cross-border pipelines approved under HR 2883 (above) to be made in the United States.
Voting yes to adopt a made-in-America requirement: Pocan, Kind, Moore

Voting no for American Job Creation in the Steel Industry: Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Despite Human Toll, Trump would "Let ObamaCare" Fail."

If you saw something that effected hundreds of millions of people falling apart, becoming a danger to everyone, who would let that happen - without fixing it - even if you were politically opposed to it?

Our sociopathic, malignant narcissist illegitimate president Comrade Trump would let it happen. A breathtaking comment not to be forgotten:

Trump’s Obamacare repeal position changes in a day: On Tuesday, President Trump said, “We’ll let Obamacare fail.” On Wednesday, he appeared to change his tune, saying, “We have to repeal and replace Obamacare. The best is repeal and replace.” He also suggested senators should remain in Washington, D.C., until they get that done.
When 32 Million Americans Losing Insurance Doesn't Matter: The one question no one has asked yet; despite promising to repeal ObamaCare, when Republicans found out how many Americans would lose insurance, wouldn't you think they'd back away from the idea and change course? Thoughtful smart people would say yes, but not the ideologically driven politicians that have never had to deal with buying insurance and get it free from taxpayers:
Conservatives are furious – furious – that Senate Republicans got close to repealing big parts of Obamacare and are now on the verge of walking away from the effort altogether, possibly leaving President Obama’s health-care law on the books for the foreseeable future. No issue motivated conservative activists more over the past seven year ... Their path seemed clear ... Just about every Republican who won a national election since the ACA was passed had promised to repeal it as part of their platform.

FreedomWorks is prepping a “Freedom Traitor Award” along with a bust of Benedict Arnold to deliver to the offices of any Republicans who help block the repeal effort next week ... the group is “aggressively targeting” Portman and Capito’s offices.

Tea Party Patriots and Club for Growth launched a website called "Obamacare Repeal Traitors" featuring photos of Murkowski, Capito and Portman.

And good luck with targeting these GOP "traitors," since many of them aren't up for reelection till at least 2020 or 2022.

CBO Report Out: The Cruz amendment would have little effect, according to the CBO. That seems odd to me, knowing how the individual market would collapse and premiums skyrocket...
22 Million More Uninsured Under Senate Obamacare 'Replacement,' CBO Says: By 2026, 50 million Americans would lack health coverage, compared with 28 million if the Affordable Care Act were left in place, the Congressional Budget Office projects in its new report.

In exchange for these coverage losses and the Senate bill’s weakening of consumer protections for health insurance policyholders, health care corporations would enjoy hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.
Again, just how can Republicans tweak this, and then try to sell it? I would love to them try:
The Congressional Budget Office concluded in a report published Wednesday:
1. The result of these changes would be chaos in the insurance market, in addition to millions losing their Medicaid coverage.

2. Thirty-two million more people would be uninsured after 10 years, including 17 million next year alone. 

3. Health insurance premiums would double over the coming decade. 

4. And insurance carriers would flee a market destabilized by the continued guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions but without a mandate for healthy people to enroll or financial assistance for low- and middle-income people to get insurance, eventually leading to three-quarters of the country living in a geographic area without health insurance providers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Senate GOP "Search and Destroy" Repeal Bill Dead. Why does "Trimming health care spending" make sense to Republicans?

Medicaid, Medicare and veteran health care covers 36 percent of the U.S. population. 32 percent in Wisconsin. That's a huge percentage of government health care. Why not go all the way with a national health care plan? And yet, Republicans continue to attack any government involvement. 

But there's a reason these major safety net programs were created; the marketplace did not provide or did not adequately cover any of these health care services. 

In order to destroy these public services, Republicans continue to push the fantasy that Democrats came up these safety net programs because they love big government, that "government is the answer to everything," and because Democrats love to spend, spend spend. 

Monumental Distraction: Consider the real reason, as explained by James Madison in the book "The Debate on the Constitution" ... "forgetting that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no other form of government whatever, has any other value, than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object."

Senate "Search and Destroy" Health Care Bill Dead: Only a few Republicans realized how bad their own legislation was, and backed away. But it never should have gotten that far.

The report from NPR below highlights the doctors side of the debate, just one of many professions never consulted by our all-knowing anti-government/but big government Republicans. Is "it's time to trim health care spending" a sane argument to begin with? Here's the audio:

"Where in this bill is the protection for children," asks Dr. Jonathan Davis, the chief of newborn medicine at Tufts Medical Center, as he stands in the hospital's NICU among babies who weigh as little as 1 pound. Roughly 60 percent of babies in the Tufts NICU are covered by Medicaid. it's unclear whether Tufts could provide this care for free if the baby or her mom didn't qualify for Medicaid. Davis says they also need good insurance after they leave the hospital.
"Because if those children don't go home to get great primary care, follow-up, early intervention and support, all those gains that could potentially have been made are going to be lost."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trump cuts Homeless Vets Funding!!! Where are the "real" Americans?

Well, this is a not-so-new wrinkle for Republicans; the abandonment of veteran support for the sacrifice they made to their country, in particular, vet homelessness. 

The car magnet myth pushed by Republicans for military families votes has now been exposed as a complete and cruel lie...but will they notice? Probably not:

WISN: A letter from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs released Friday announced that federal funding for Cottage 16, which houses 28 homeless veterans in Union Grove, has been eliminated and that it will close in 2018.

"As part of an ongoing evolution of federal housing programs, federal funding has been eliminated for our Veteran Housing and Recovery Programs (VHRPs) at King and Union Grove," the letter reads. "

Veteran Kelly Manderfield completed three tours Iraq with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. He's coping with post-traumatic stress disorder and has been living at Cottage 16 for the past three months. He said he's working to get back on his feet and Cottage 16 is helping him do just that. 
"It’s kind of devastating because there is talk about ending homelessness for vets and now they are closing down these programs. I don't know beyond Wisconsin how far the cuts are going but it's not good."
President Obama desperately tried to support new housing and health alternatives for homeless veterans, but now it looks like Trump cut that too:
Prevent and End Chronic Homelessness in 2017: President Obama’s 2016 Budget demonstrates his deep commitment to ending homelessness. The Budget makes investments needed to end chronic homelessness in 2017, make significant progress toward ending homelessness among families, children and youth in 2020,
The Budget calls for the investments needed to end chronic homelessness in 2017. As part of an overall investment of $2.5 billion in HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Programs, the Budget calls for the resources to create 25,500 new units of permanent supportive housing—the proven, cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness. Shortfalls in the most recent budget passed by Congress have forced us to move the national goal to end chronic homelessness from 2015 to 2017.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Conservative Activist State Supreme Court Justices Cut Taxes for Wealth Property Owners, calling Assessor Inspections an "unreasonable search and seizure."

These two odd stories came together for me today, and amazingly, could have huge implications.

For some reason, the activist conservative majority on our State Supreme Court now considers the ability of local governments to assess property taxes an...invasion of privacy? Believe it or not, their decision on Friday not only cheats communities owed taxes, but certainly could be applied in other possible state inspections...maybe?
A Wisconsin law that requires homeowners to let assessors inside as a condition for challenging their property taxes is unconstitutional as applied to a pair of Racine County property owners, the state Supreme Court ruled last week ... in a 5-2 decision, visits amount to unreasonable searches and that assessors need to get warrants if they can’t obtain the homeowners’ consent.
What's not a crime scene right, so what does paying your taxes on the value of a property you own have to do with getting a court ordered search warrant now? And how could it be an "unreasonable search?"
The ruling involves Vincent Milewski and Morganne MacDonald, who own a home in the town of Dover in Racine County ... they tried to challenge their 2013 property tax assessment in front of a town review board. The board refused to hear the challenge because Milewski and MacDonald wouldn’t let an assessor inside their home. Under state law, people who refuse an assessor’s request to view their property can’t contest the assessment to local review boards.
That's the common sense part of this. And two courts agreed...but not our activist conservative court Justices. Try and wrap your head around this lunacy, and the courts bizarre reach to protect willful deception:
The state Supreme Court reversed that ruling. Writing for the majority, Justice Dan Kelly said Milewski and MacDonald were faced with a difficult decision: relinquish their constitutional right to be free of unreasonable searches so they could challenge the assessment or exercise their rights and forfeit their ability to contest the assessment. Kelly said an assessors’ visit without consent is a search as defined in the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures ... it can’t be read to require a viewing that violates the Fourth Amendment.
The town failed to show how assessing taxes is such a special need that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply, which means assessors must obtain search warrants to enter without consent, he wrote. Assessors can use other means to gather information about the property, he said. 
This is insane...and why can't this be applied to other local inspections, building codes or whatever the hell else?  
It didn't help that AP reporter Todd Richmond chimed in with his own personal jab. Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley, the only two liberal-leaning justices, dissented. Abrahamson wrote in a joint dissent with Bradley that such choices are common in the law and are seen as constitutionally valid. She also complained the majority opinion is overly complex and intricate — even though her dissent goes on for 47 pages compared with Kelly’s 53 pages — and doesn’t say what should happen next.
Billionaires New Weapon to Avoid Taxation. Witness the First Judicial Tax Cut: At the same time, I just discovered a June 1 story in Urban Milwaukee by Bruce Murphy about billionaire Diane "turn the state red" Hendricks, who was once filmed meeting with Scott Walker and getting him to admit his plan was to divide and conquer labor in the state. Too bad she didn't wait a little longer: 
Small 1600 Sq Ft home? 
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a “Watchdog” report today jumping on Urban Milwaukee’s stories showing the huge home of billionaire Diane Hendricks was under-assessed and a follow-up story we did with the Town of Rock lawyers admitting mistakes were made, that Hendricks had refused entry to an assessor and the assessment would now be revisited. Considering that Hendricks is the second-richest self-made woman in America, and that “she’s been paying a fraction of the property taxes that would typically be associated with a sprawling mansion such as hers,” as the JS story notes.

The story leads off like a think piece posing the question of how an assessment should be handled when a taxpayer doesn’t allow an assessor to view the home, with some reporting on two residents of the Town of Dover, Vince Milewski and his wife, Morganne MacDonald, who live 60 miles away from Hendricks and saw their assessment increase after they barred the assessor ... Hendricks’ huge mansion was under-assessed as a 1,663-square-foot home and the assessor hadn’t been allowed to visit the property. But the Journal Sentinel was able to get Accurate Appraisal ... to reveal they weren’t aware that Hendricks had built a newer, 8,500-square-foot home and had never seen the building permits taken out when the home was built.
Now you can see why the State Supreme Courts decision was so profoundly big. It could be considered a major "judicial branch tax cut for the wealthy." That's called legislating from the bench.
The JS makes clear that the reconsideration of the assessment that Town of Rock lawyers promised Urban Milwaukee has now taken place. Addie Ebert, Accurate Appraisal’s assessor for the town, told the newspaper that Hendricks "gave them a limited tour of the compound. They rode around the property in a utility vehicle, but at no time were they brought to the mansion. “However, she said, they could see the house was not the two-bedroom ranch Accurate had recorded in its files.”

“Some time after the tour, Ebert said she contacted Hendricks’ representative again and asked for access to the mansion. She was told it wouldn’t happen for security reasons. “They did eventually supply us with the data (on the home)’ Ebert said.” As a result the home’s assessment nearly tripled, going from $445,700 last year to $1,205,500 this year, the paper reported. Hendricks annual property tax bill (went up) by $12,204. Depending on when the new home was finished — in 2011 or 2012 — she may have underpaid by as much as $55,000 or more.

The Unscripted Trump "pressing fast forward on the Decline of the United States!!!"

ABC’s political editor, Chris Uhlmann, gave the most honest critique of Trump ever:

The U.S. is giving up its leadership role in the world. Brilliant:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Republicans Embrace Russia's Vladimir Putin and Trump's Erratic Extremism.

Just this morning, I was thinking about how divided the country is right right now, and what it would possibly take to bring things back to a "normal" partisan level again. Personally, I think "normal" is long gone, especially after seeing all the texts and emails my conservative friend in Milwaukee is sending me. Is there anything right wingers haven't turned into a stupid looking graphic message in every email?

So it was just a coincidence that two video clips presented themselves to me that made my case.

First, MSNBC's Richard Engel featured a crazy report how Republicans love Vladimir Putin. The reporter does a amazing job of keeping a straight face:

The extremist Republican divide was partly explained below, on Real Time with Bill Maher:

But Engel presented another side completely ignored by the American right wing here, involving graft and corruption..

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Dysfunctional Health Care System part 2: Single Payer & the Ted Cruz Con.

To start, here's what I've been saying for some time:
All payer, single payer, Medicare for all, universal health care is simple: All doctors are your doctors, all hospitals are your hospitals. No bills, co-pays or deductibles. We could cut costs by a third to half of of what we're paying now. We won't. Are we insane?
And yet, as this reaction to a recent story about Medicare Advantage demonstrates, many people don't seem to understand our health care all:

MSNBC's Ali Velshi gave us the best presentation yet showing us how backward and downright bizarre the Republicans free market idea of health care is; we're the only country doing it. He followed that up with the effect cut backs on Medicaid would have on dementia and Alzheimer's seniors on Medicare:

My favorite candidate running against Paul Ryan recently tweeted this simple truth:

Another great look at the myth of health care greatness before the ACA was discussed belwo on WPR's On Point. I edited the discussion to hit on the main points, especially the "free market" control wielded by insurance companies, which is anything but:

The Ted Cruz ACA "Poison Pill" Con: The Senate's BCRA is going to get passed, even if 22 million people will lose their health care insurance.

The Ted Cruz plan will please his GOP base; by purposely making ObamaCare's plans collapse. When they do, Cruz can say, "I told you so:"
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) conditioned his support (of the BCRA) on an amendment proposed by his colleague Cruz. The gist is this: Health insurers could sell non-Obamacare plans as long as they also sold Obamacare-compliant insurance. The proposal does (eventually) erode Obamacare's protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, because it would likely segment the insurance market into healthy and sick pools. Healthy people would buy non-Obamacare plans, while sick people would buy the more robust Obamacare coverage. That would drive up premiums for the ACA marketplace.
Clever. It would also make people appreciate their stripped down high deductible junk insurance policies.

Not Letting the Free Marketplace Work: For a party touting the wonders of the free marketplace, they sure know how to mess with it. While complaining about some insurers leaving the ObamaCare marketplaces, they never waited around to see other insurers take their place. That's what markets do:
Centene fills Missouri's empty counties. You might have missed it in the rancor over the health care debate in Washington, but health plans have been stepping in to fill Obamacare's bare-shelf markets. Missouri is now the latest state to benefit, after Centene announced it would sell plans there next year.
 That's right, the latest state.

Republican "Health Care" Tax Cut Plan and Stock Market Payoff: If you're going to make insurers lots of money, buy their stock:

Health industry stocks, including insurance giants like UnitedHealth, have surged as Republicans have moved forward with their repeal effort, which rolls back broad taxes on healthcare firms while loosening consumer regulations.

Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma purchased between $50,000 to $100,000 in UnitedHealth stock ... Rep. Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican and member of Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team, added a health insurance company to his portfolio ... An account owned by Conaway’s wife made two purchases of UnitedHealth stock, worth as much as $30,000, on March 24th, the day the legislation advanced in the House. 

As we’ve reported, the House of Representatives has actively fought efforts to enforce the law after the Securities and Exchange Commission attempted to investigate one congressional staffer accused of passing healthcare information to a set of hedge funds.
Here's one former Republican making an amazing admission:

Our Dysfunctional Health Care System part 1 Medicare Advantage!

Most of the world's industrialized nations have already done their research, and found: private health care isn't safe, cost effective, or moral. Yet the Republican Party keeps pushing their deadly free market plan.

All payer, single payer, Medicare for all, universal health care is simple: All doctors are your doctors, all hospitals are your hospitals. No bills, co-pays or deductibles. We could cut costs by a third to half of of what we're paying now. We won't. Are we insane?

More horror stories about health insurers. It's stuff like this that distracts us from having the real debate, one that the Democrats are once again missing; All payer or free market, that's the choice, not tweaks or nibbling around the edges. 
Medicare Advantage: A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, adds new weight to criticisms that some health plans may leave sicker patients worse off … reviewed 126 Medicare Advantage plans and found that 35 of them had disproportionately high numbers of sicker people dropping out. Patients cited difficulty with access to "preferred doctors and hospitals" or other medical care, as the leading reasons for leaving. "People who are sicker are much more likely to leave (Medicare Advantage plans) than people who are healthier," James Cosgrove, director of the GAO’s health care analysis, said in explaining the research.

David Lipschutz, an attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, says the GAO findings were alarming and should prompt tighter government oversight.
Private Insurers, Profit Driven Health Care: So let’s talk about the Republicans free market health care dream. Here’s what you get, whether on a small or large scale…doesn’t matter:
In the first two months of this year the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) fined 10 Medicare Advantage health plans a total of more than $4.1 million for alleged misconduct that “delayed or denied access” to covered benefits, mostly prescription drugs … health plans charged patients too much for drugs or failed to advise them of their right to appeal denials of medical services.

Last month, CMS officials ended a 16-month ban on enrollment in Cigna Corp.’s Medicare Advantage plans … Cigna (had) “widespread and systematic failures” … a “serious threat to enrollee health and safety.”

A flurry of whistleblower lawsuits … Freedom Health, a Florida Medicare Advantage insurer, agreed to pay nearly $32 million to settle allegations that it exaggerated how sick some patients were to boost profits, while getting rid of others who cost a lot to treat. Freedom Health allegedly kept a list of some “unprofitable” patients that it discouraged from staying in the health plan, while encouraging healthier, “more profitable” members to remain, according to the whistleblower suit. Federal regulations prohibit health plans from discriminating based on a person’s health.

Republicans educational agenda: "Firearm Safety" classes? Gun Indoctrination and Marketing in our Schools.

Gun safety training in high school, but no driver ed training?
Teenagers could learn in school how to safely handle firearms under a bill introduced last week by Republican lawmakers ... as an elective.
Why? Gun indoctrination and gun industry profits...:
The bill was created with help from trap club coaches and officials overseeing state clay target programs and gun club owners.
This is a Marketing Plan Targeting Kids: Maybe I'm just hanging with the wrong crowd, the not-so-elite who don't trap shoot, but really...this is trap shooting gun club marketing to kids.

...All the while Pushing Right to Carry with NO GUN TRAINING? You can't make this stuff up
People in Wisconsin would be able to carry concealed firearms without getting training or state permits, under a proposal debated by lawmakers Wednesday.
Republicans say that since 2011, there have been few problems and some successes from the more than 500,000 concealed carry permits issued. (NOTE:) Documenting that statistically is challenging because, unlike hunting licenses, the concealed carry law specifically exempts most state records involving concealed carry permits from the state's open records law.
Guns for Our Kids vs Driver Ed: What, no such offer for drivers ed classes with the help of the used car dealers lobby? As a parent of two high school sons, it's frustrating not to have driver training classes in school. It was part of my high school years, because, well, everybody needed to drive. 

But then penny pinching politicians started cutting away at education, and targeted driver ed:
In the 1970s, 95 percent of eligible students received driver education coursework in all States and the District of Columbia ... funds available ... Currently, there are minimal or no funds available for effective program management in States and jurisdictions.
Republican Indoctrination - Guns not Dangerous Cars 1: I don't think you can get any more obvious than this recipe for indoctrination:
The elective course would teach students about the different types of firearms and how they work, how to safely carry and transport firearms and how to engage a safety lock on firearms, among other skills.
Republican Indoctrination - Guns not Dangerous Cars 2: The guy who pushed hunting in parks and near schools, Rep. Joel Kleefisch said...
“The use of a firearm comes with a massive responsibility. In a state where firearms are part of our heritage, entertainment, sustenance...The bottom line is guns are an integral part of Wisconsin society "
Democratic Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains said the obvious, including more courses dealing with "education," remember that?
“I think it’s appalling that credit would be given to these classes. There is a hunting culture that exists and that’s perfectly fine if people want their children to grow up being hunters ... but that should remain outside of the school. When you get to a large city like Milwaukee, Racine or Kenosha — weapons take on a different meaning to me.” 

She is uncomfortable with the idea that students would be introduced to handguns. Pope said she wants DPI’s time to be spent on improving curriculum for other subjects like reading, writing or environmental studies, and is concerned about introducing children to firearms.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Trump's Brutalized CNN reporter steps forward...

The story no one is talking about? Trump's frequent use of material from white supremacists. The CNN wrestling video has it's roots there...and that's outrageous and inexcusable all by itself. But that's not the discussion we're having is it? And it should be.

Not so Funny Right Wing Humor: At least the guy responsible for much of the video, and his past racist bigoted posts, has seen the light apparently, with his thoughtful message captured below:

'I am in no way this kind of person': Reddit user, HanAssholeSolo, who created Trump's CNN body-slam meme apologizes for his racist and anti-Semitic posts ... The post, in which the user also urged other trolls to consider the impact of their actions and promised to quit posting from his account, has since been deleted from the site. "HanA--holeSolo" took credit for creating the meme on Sunday.

"I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my s---post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!" the user wrote. "HanA--holeSolo's" post shined a spotlight into an often dark corner of Reddit, where racist, anti-Semitic, and xenophobic posts are common. The user's own history is rife with examples.
Here's his apology: Click to enlarge:

Here's the "enhanced" video tweeted by Trump:

And here's the exclusive interview with CNN reporter, CNN:

Walker takes Credit for Madison Mayor Paul Soglin's and Milwaukee's Tom Barrett's Unemployment Numbers.

Shout it from the hill top...

...since Scott Walker and possible gubernatorial challenger Mayor Paul Soglin took office within 3 months of each other in 2011, Walker added 60,000 jobs in Wisconsin.

But wait, 40,000 of those jobs were created in Madison, and the Madison area (Dane County), according to Soglin.

Someone is riding the coattails of progressive liberal Madison and Dane County (Milwaukee too, see below). Opportunistic Scott Walker. His reaction to Soglin's plain talk thoughts about running?
"It would make for a lively race. He’s an unabashed throwback to the 1960s radical liberal. I’d love to have that battle.”
Here's Upfront's Mike Gousha interviewing Paul Soglin, who you'll notice doesn't use one political cliche or talking point about party or policy.

Soglin: "The governor goes around saying 'well we're in the top ten, in terms of high school graduation rates.' The governors right. But he's doesn't finish the sentence. When he came into office we were 2nd in the we're 8th.
Thanks to Soglin, Madison's 2.2% unemployment rate is driving down"Walker's" statewide average too. And yet we should thank coattail Scott? 

Walker's former gubernatorial opponent and all around bad liberal Mayor Tom "streetcar" Barrett did almost the impossible, yet Walker is trying to take credit for that too in a few of his official tweets:
At 4 percent, the city of Milwaukee’s unemployment rate is tied for the lowest on record.

Remember, Scott Walker nearly bankrupt Milwaukee County when he was county executive. We're on that same glide path as a state. 

Fourth of July takes an Ugly Trump turn....

Trump still doesn't get it, and nothing ruins the Fourth of July like Trump's song, "Make America Great Again."

From the start, the Trump slogan assumes American wasn't great, an incredible insult and definite no-no for rabid right wingers tired of hearing liberals whine and complain about their great country. Yet they went full throttle on Trump's lost faith and pride in America slogan.

Phony Outrage targeting Michelle Obama: Remember when Republicans lashed out at our uppity black first lady's lack of pride in our country...and Cindy McCain's comeback:
Before the Wisconsin primary in mid-February, Michelle Obama made a remark that Republicans will use to hammer her husband should he win the Democratic nomination. "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback," she said. Almost immediately, Cindy McCain told reporters, "I have and always will be proud of my country."
Cindy McCain lied, and proved it by jumping on the "Make America Great Again" Trump train.

Fourth of July Nationalist Fervor: I only just heard the song below after Trump tweeted it. Again, conservative voters everywhere apparently didn't think their country was so great, especially when that not so white family inhabited the White House. Check out the all white choir belting out their nationalistic pride:
A Southern Baptist church choir sang a “Make America Great Again” ode at a rally President Trump. This isn’t the first time the phrase has been turned into a song. Russian punk band Pussy Riot released an anti-Trump protest song with the same title last year.
The musical work Trump tweeted out Tuesday has already faced criticism, the Christian Post noted, for its blending of devotion to God and country. Jonathan Aigner wrote of the piece in Patheos, as quoted by the Christian Post:

“The problem is that it has been adopted by a significant portion of the evangelical church. It’s their mantra, their creed, and their prayer, and they shout it out with nationalistic fervor. Pledging allegiance to God and to America in the same breath, melding together the kingdom of God and self, they pray a blasphemous prayer to a red, white, and blue Jesus.”

Make America Great AgainMake America Great Again

Lift the torch of freedom all across the landStep into the future, joining hand in hand

Make America Great AgainYes, Make America Great AgainMake America Great AgainMake America Great Again

Lift the torch of freedom all across the landStep into the future, joining hand in hand
Pussy Riot got it Right: Funny how a song with the same title could be so different, but way more accurate. Having written a few songs myself, I can't help pointing out the perfectly worded line, "Do you know that a wall has two sides? And nobody is Free?" It's not like liberal Americans will be fleeing the U.S. for Mexico, but it's still a good point. Since the lyrics might be a little difficult to understand, I posted them below:

What do you want your world to look like?
What do you want it to be?
Do you know that a wall has two sides? And nobody is free?
Did your mama come from Mexico
Papa come from Palestine
Sneaking all through Syria Crossing all the border lines

Let other people in
Listen to your women
Stop killing black children
Make America Great Again

Could you imagine a politician calling a woman a dog?
Do you wanna stay in the kitchen?
Is that where you belong?
How do you picture the perfect leader
Who do you want him to be
Has he promoted the use of torture and killing families

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dumb Ron Johnson turns what's "Moral and Compassionate" upside down.

I've been saying all along that the GOP's tax and spending cuts are just pushing off into the future dramatic tax and spending increases for our kids, because someone is going to have to rebuild everything. That will give Republicans another 30 years to whine about Democratic tax and spend policies, by design. 

Trump and Paul Ryan will be taking a meat ax to the tax brackets, giving the rich a windfall at a time our economy is saying no...oh wait, Republicans are in's the conservative Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Budget Deficit Widens: Government spending outpaced revenues by $433 billion from October through May.
But "spending" is simply a commonly accepted meaningless talking point Republicans toss around when they get in trouble cutting too many taxes believing life is only going to get cheaper:
Government spending outpaced revenues by $433 billion from October through May, up from $405 billion during the same period a year earlier. Receipts are up 1%, and outlays have climbed 2%.
Even Reagan planned for retiring baby boomers when he established $2.6 trillion trust fund. But tax cutting Republicans who keep cutting revenues must have forgotten that:
Spending on Social Security, Medicaid and interest owed on the national debt are all up through the first eight months of the year. Declining government revenues and long-term costs associated with an aging population are expected to continue pushing up the deficit.
Below Dumb Ron Johnson turns moral and compassionate behavior on its head justifying beneficial cuts for himself, knowing full well the next generation will be swimming in debt, with little or no revenues, trying to deal with a crumbling neglected nation. Actually, shoring up SS and Medicare with funding, instead of a tax cuts, prevents future generations from being impoverished. Johnson got it wrong again:

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Walker Embarrassed Wisconsin with mixed up Ridiculous Claim about 28 Million American losing health Care under ACA.

The arrogance of power continues to provide us with more and more foot-in-mouth falsehoods pouring out of GOP mouths. It's as if they think they know how to govern now that they've locked in gerrymandered districts and keep getting voted in on ideas.

Scott Walker should not be making simple mistakes like the one below, and still be in charge of running an entire state government. Media Matters summed it up well:
Fox host lets Gov. Scott Walker falsely state that “28 million Americans will lose” health insurance if Obamacare stays ... 28 million is the current number of uninsured people, and the CBO projects it would remain stable. Under GOP Senate plan, (a total of) 49 million would be uninsured.
That's 28 currently uninsured + 21 GOP Senate bill uninsured = 49 Million Americans Uninsured!!!

Walker: "One of the things I wish they'd talk more about is the fact that their own agency, the Congressional Budget Office says that 28 million Americans will lose their health care coverage if nothing happens, if Obamacare continues out there. We don't hear that typically from any of the other media sources out there.
Because it's not true and other experts, politicians and pundits know that.

Not getting that single point, after the last 3 or 4 years of debate, would lead Walker (and probably fellow misinformed GOP friends) to make one of the biggest mistakes the nation would ever see on policy.

A nice (too nice) summary of Walker's screw up can be seen here. Walker is lucky enough to have the help of the GOP legislature to distract and cover-up his average and soon to be disastrous record. It's a freeloader policy that builds over time, unfortunately, leaving the next Democratic Governor and legislature to put in place the necessary increases in taxes to solve the problems Walker wants to leave to our kids.