Saturday, April 28, 2018

Health Care News Update: GOP targets Opioid solution - Medicaid. Boomer Pot Heads! Big Pharm Profiting off Poor!!!

Note: Since I get health care email updates, I'm not able to provide some of the connecting links to the following stories.

GOP hates Medicaid, can't Solve Opioid Epidemic: The overriding problem with their purely ideologically driven one-size-fits-all policies is that they end up getting in the way of solving other problems. The opioid epidemic consuming rural Republican districts hit an unexpected wall; Medicaid. Destroying it will only put more people on Medicaid, and they won't let that happen.

This tweet highlighting AG Brad Schimel utter partisan misuse of his office proves how empty the GOP's war on opioid addiction is. In fact, I think the GOP war on opioids is a misdirection play, a way to ignore real health care reform:

Since Republicans are hell-bent on destroying Medicaid, they own this problem:
As The Health 202 wrote in March, the most efficient way to tackle opioid abuse is probably through the Medicaid program, since it covers four in 10 non-elderly adults with opioid addiction.
It's another GOP created problem that will consume time, energy, and lots of money because the obvious solution has been targeted for destruction. And their slow acceptance of marijuana will put off lower opioid use seen in states that have legalized pot. 


60's Freaks are the Marijuana Baby Boom Users: Interesting but obvious conclusion:
New research shows the surge in marijuana use is driven not by young people but by the gray-haired and balding set, The Post's Keith Humphreys reports. Only two age groups showed a significant rise in use ... Compared with older Americans 30 years ago, Americans age 50 to 59 and 60 and older today are a remarkable 20 times more likely to use marijuana.

A ghoulish Profit-from-the-Poor Driven Drug Industry: The crucial thing to keep in mind below is how Medicaid discounts on drug prices could push health care prices down for patients with rare life-threatening diseases: 
"...reimbursements to drug firms are typically less generous than with private insurance because Medi-Cal is entitled by law to deep discounts."
Big Pharma knows how to game the system, keeping drug prices high at the expense of the public:
Olive-McCoy, 44, has hereditary angioedema (HAE), a life-threatening disease so rare that many doctors have only read about it. Fortunately, there are cutting-edge drugs to keep the swelling at bay and treat the attacks that breakthrough. Olive-McCoy couldn’t afford or qualify for health insurance. But once she was put on a newly approved rare-disease drug, she entered a pocket of the health-care system that drug companies use to ensure that rare-disease patients can afford their expensive medicine.

Pharmaceutical companies donate to independent charities that cover drug co-pays and, in some cases, health insurance premiums. Olive-McCoy could turn to Medi-Cal, her state’s health plan for the poor. But health experts said that Medi-Cal would not automatically cover her specialists and that, crucially, reimbursements to drug firms are typically less generous than with private insurance because Medi-Cal is entitled by law to deep discounts...shield drug companies from the pressure to lower their prices.

Funding charities that ensure patients get their drugs can quickly pay off. A Citi Research report found that a pharmaceutical company’s $1 million donation to a charity for patients with rare diseases can generate up to a $21 million return in drug reimbursements.

“People who are eligible for public programs (eg. Medicare and Medicaid), which may offer additional benefits and services, should not be inappropriately steered into the commercial insurance market to generate greater reimbursement,” Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote in an email. The system of third-party payments, she added, “skews the risk pool and imposes higher costs for all consumers.”

Friday, April 27, 2018

Ryan censored and fired the House Chaplain for his Prayer asking for "benefits balanced and shared by all Americans" in the Tax Cut bill.

Paul Ryan doesn't just attack poor people, he's taken his Roman Catholic "teachings" and oddly weaponized them against religion itself, including a Jesuit Chaplain in the House:
House Speaker Paul Ryan fired the House chaplain two weeks ago ... Rev. Patrick Conroy, a Jesuit priest has served as House chaplain since 2011.

The Chaplain's horrific crime that deserved censorship and termination (I thought Republicans hated censorship)?
Ryan's office first announced Conroy would "step down" in an April 16 statement ... In his resignation letter, Conroy noted that he was stepping down "as you have requested." Conroy told the NY Times that Ryan said to him, "Padre, you just got to stay out of politics."
What was that outrageously political message Ryan will no longer tolerate in the majority Republican government?
A November prayer ... which Conroy appeared to criticize the GOP's tax cut legislation and included the line: "May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans."
The coverage from NPR is scathing. Ryan had nothing to back up the firing:
Republican Walker Jones (NC): "No preacher or priest should feel that someone at the highest level, meaning the speaker of the House, is going to determine whether that prayer was right or wrong because this was given as he felt God put in his heart." 

The Word of God-like Policiticans: Paul Ryan has been using his bizarre interpretation of religion to hammer the poor in bill after bill, and theologians have had it. From 2012, Ryan had another run-in with a group of Jesuits. Check out Chris Matthews on point dissection and other examples listed below:

Paul Ryan visited Georgetown University, the flagship Jesuit school and decidedly hostile terrain for Ryan's strain of economic libertarianism, where he argued for his budget's priorities despite vocal and visible protests by faculty and students … sought to justify his budget priorities in terms of the Catholic principle known as "subsidiarity." "Subsidiarity" has been central to how the church envisions a just and equitable society functioning in a world dominated by big business and big government, both of which can dehumanize individuals and undermine the common good. "The principle of subsidiarity protects people from abuses by higher-level social authority and calls on these same authorities to help individuals," says the Vatican's Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

University of Dayton theologian Vincent Miller called (Ryan's) interpretation the "careful lobotomization of subsidiarity." In his 1961 encyclical, Pope John XXIII articulated another element of subsidiarity, writing that, "In a system of taxation based on justice and equity, it is fundamental that the burdens be proportioned to the capacity of the people contributing."

When the bishop chairing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' said the GOP budget Ryan spearheaded failed to meet a basic moral test -- and described cuts to programs that fell heavily on children and other vulnerable populations as "unjust and wrong" -- Ryan curtly dismissed those concerns as not reflective of all church leaders.

Pope Francis argued in May, imploring followers instead to focus on combating trickle-down economics and the world of inequality it produces. 
Ryan has a more condescending response to a pope who blasts "trickle-down" theories as "naïve" and denounces "an economy of exclusion and inequality." "The guy is from Argentina," he scoffs. "They haven't had real capitalism in Argentina. They have crony capitalism in Argentina. They don't have a true free enterprise system."

Hello conservative voters, GOP now in control and you feel like you're Losing? Maybe your anger has nothing to do with Democrats.

It all came together for me when I came across this story about the whiny "right:"

Will there ever be a despotic low moment in U.S. history when "the right" will be happy?

And can "the right" find happiness with even just a few Americans taking government housing assistance or getting Medicaid help? Apparently not.

Try and wrap your head around the whiny down-the-rabbit-hole "logic" that is supposed to make liberals think real hard about mistreating conservatives. You know, those same "hate" filled liberal "traitors" still angry they lost the election and who are still trying to silence every whiny mistreated right-wing bully. Will they ever stop disrespecting the Republican "authority?" 
Republicans held more power than they have had in nearly a century. Conservatives had control the House of Representatives, the Senate, the White House, and held a majority of the country's governors mansions. Conservatives have a majority on the Supreme Court.

John Hawkins, the founder of Right Wing News, said that the average American conservative feels bombarded daily with disrespect. "He turns on a TV show where he's insulted, and then he's like, well, maybe I'll just unwind and watch an awards show — the Oscars or something — where he gets trashed all day long," Hawkins said. "He goes to Twitter and he's got some you know guy calling him in a-hole... this is sort of like a pervasive all out attack if you're a conservative. And it's all the time sort of thing."

Kurt Schlicter, a columnist for the conservative, recently wrote a column speculating about whether there could be another civil war — he said there could be one and predicted how the left would lose a violent conflict if it came to it. "We want to be treated with respect and we will not tolerate anything less which is just unacceptable for this to continue. I'm tired of Hollywood spitting on us. I am tired of academia spitting on us. I'm tired of the news media spitting on us," he said.
The irony, of course, is that the biggest conservative heroes all hail from Hollywood and celebrity TV shows. Still, you gotta wonder what it is that makes big energy executives, billionaires, and Wall Street moguls the real American self-righteous spokespeople of our time? 

Years of Fear Mongering Works: Seriously, fear mongering is real and a constant theme on the right:
Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist for The Daily Beast said, "There is a sense on the right that is apocalyptic and fearful."

Jesse Kelly, a writer for the mainstream conservative website The Federalist, wrote that the best alternative course would be to just split the country up.

This feeling of losing the American culture war reflects polling of white, working-class Americans. A poll taken last year by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic showed 48 percent of them believe that "things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country."
The funniest line from this article came at the end, where politicians would be smart to tap this doom and gloom feeling from the base, to get out the vote. Um, didn't they already do that for the last three elections? Feels like some kind of really weird Twilight Zone episode. 
Republicans may find that tapping into these feelings about losing power in society is the best way to motivate their base.
It's a GOP version of Ground Hog Day. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Freedom Caucus' Mick Mulvaney should be in Prison, right?

I remember when the activist conservative Justices reasoned money did not corrupt, so they could pass Citizens United...

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Vukmir loves Trump's Merit Based Immigration plan, after her own family benefited from chain-migration.

Sen. Tammy gotta laugh at this one.

Wisconsin's ALEC State Sen. Leah Vukmir, Republican, is supposedly challenging Baldwin with the following mind-bending example of cognitive dissonance. The Star Times:
State Senator Leah Vukmir made stops in Mauston and Reedsburg to make her case ... Vukmir says she is strongly supportive of President Trump and his agenda.
Oh, like on immigration, as detailed by this Trump policy tweet?

Did jaws drop in Mauston and Reedsburg when Vukmir gave the following heartwarming story about...and I'm not kidding, her own chain immigration family members becoming U.S. citizens?  Yup, Vukmir strongly supports the wall and merit-based immigration...just not for real Americans like Vukmir's family;
“My childhood memories are watching my aunts and uncles come to this country, my father came from Greece, my mom was from here but her parents were from Greece,” Vukmir said. “I watched them go through a legal process of becoming citizens. I helped them around the kitchen table study for their naturalization and citizenship tests.”

She feels that experience has shaped her conservative views on immigration today.

“The wall has to be first and foremost,” Vukmir said.
She is obviously not connecting the two ideas. That's the kind of thinking we need in Washington?

Wisconsin State Fair Park conditions Declining! So what is Scott Walker doing as governor?

Having been Milwaukee County Executive, you'd think Scott Walker would have been on top of the State Fair Park's importance to the local economy...but you'd be wrong again. Maybe he just hates Milwaukee? Yes.

First, let's keep this very important failed Republican idea in mind:
The Legislative Audit Bureau has been the source of some bad news lately for Republicans and the the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation they created in 2011. Now, two GOP lawmakers, State Reps. David Craig, R-Big Bend, and Adam Jarchow, have a solution: eliminate the bureau. 
Fast forward to today and this scathing Legislative Audit Bureau's State Fair Park report. Wow. If only we didn't know about this. Oh well. Just what is Scott Walker doing?:

Dear Senator Cowles and Representative Kerkman: We have completed our evaluation of State Fair Park, as requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. State Fair Park, the State’s 190-acre fairgrounds located in the cities of West Allis and Milwaukee.

1. We found that State Fair Park does not have a comprehensive, long-term plan for assessing the condition of its primary grounds and facilities or a formal plan for the future use of the Milwaukee Mile racetrack, which has generated substantially less revenue in recent years because it has not hosted a major racing event since July 2015. 

2. State Fair Park indicated that it has independently managed midway operations since 2012 ... However, we found that State Fair Park has not maintained adequate information needed to assess the financial effects of continuing to independently manage its midway ... we found that it was not officially delegated this authority by the Department of Administration. 

3. In addition, we found that State Fair Park lacks complete and accurate management information needed to effectively oversee its contracting processes, and it has not consistently followed proper procurement procedures. 
Again, Republicans didn't want to know and didn't want you to know about any of these problems. And they certainly didn't want to have to answer to the State Legislative Audit Bureau. Now you can see why;
4.We make several recommendations, including that State Fair Park improve the amount and type of management information it maintains, improve its procurement practices, undertake a comprehensive review of its primary grounds and facilities, improve contract oversight and cash management practices, and enter into a statutorily required memorandum of understanding with the Department of Tourism to which it is attached for administrative purposes. A response from State Fair Park’s chief executive officer follows the appendices.

Wisconsinites witness collapse of Public Education as Walker flails in reelection bid.

The chant said it perfectly, “Stop the cuts, and fund the freeze.”

Walker's Tuition Freeze Failure: It's still one of Scott Walker's biggest bragging points; the simple-minded "tuition freeze." Sure, as a parent with a kid in college, what's not to like? But Walker didn't counter that freeze with state funding. That freeze is now starving one of the states biggest sources of revenue. As the UW Stevens Point paper The Pointer...pointed out:
This threat has been announced openly. In 2015, Governor Scott Walker tried to change the universities’ historic mission by eliminating its commitment to the search for truth and improving the human condition, substituting instead the far narrower goal of meeting the state workforce needs.”
Out on the front lines defending higher education was gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik, a Democratic businessman who's out there framing the issue for every candidate running for office:
 “UW-Stevens Point is at ground zero. What we’re seeing with eliminating 13 majors is really the effect of Scott Walker, due to a $250 million cut and freezing tuition. When you take out the revenue side of the equation and the only thing that you’re focused on is cutting costs, this is the tragedy that happens.”

Gronik, speaking on his experience hiring employees with backgrounds in the humanities for his business. “As a guy who built a business I can tell you that when I interviewed on campuses, which I did all the time" ... students with majors in English, foreign languages and philosophy were valuable as communicators and critical thinkers in his company and helped him to establish an international business. “It’s short-sighted to imagine that a university system should be without those kinds of majors and it’s not the Wisconsin I envision for the future.”
"Rural School Leaders: Schools in Wisconsin are Unequal": That's the title of gubernatorial candidate Sen. Kathleen Vinehout's latest press release, focusing this time on K-12 education under Walker. The Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding got this kind of feedback recently from 20 rural districts when they visited Southwestern Wisconsin.

Walker quietly let referendums increase taxes while he could around the state bragging that he personally never raised taxes. So I thought this comment struck at the heart of the rural school problem:
Superintendent Doug Olsen of Kickapoo Area School District pointed out that rural Wisconsin has many farmers who are struggling financially. “As you have heard, Western Wisconsin leads the nation in lost farms due to bankruptcy and farmer suicide. In which community does a referendum to override the revenue limit have a better chance of passing?”
Brutal "Funding" Reality Ignored? But that's just one problem snowballing out of control under Walker. Behind Walker's "more money than ever before" facade (that purposely ignores the inflation rate), are a number of other education dominoes ready to fall:

Superintendent Nancy Hendrickson of Highland School District explained "With school aid tied to the number of students and, with a declining rural population, aid is dropping faster than the cost to educate children.
Administrator Jill Underly of Pecatonica School District affirmed that school segregation still exists. “It may not be based on race necessarily, but it is still to an extent based on income inequality… Public schools, a cornerstone of our democracy, were supposed to equalize opportunity. It shouldn’t matter where you go to school, but in Wisconsin, let’s be honest, it DOES matter.”

Superintendent Doug Olsen of Kickapoo Area School District: "Our district consistently serves an economically disadvantaged population that comprises over half of the student body … only 48% of poor students are ready for school at age 5, compared to 75% of students from moderate to high income families. From vocabulary and pre-literacy skills, to numeracy, emotional regulation, and trauma, kids in poverty are more at risk to come to school less prepared.”

Rural schools did not recover from deep cuts made in Governor Walker’s first budgets. Across the state, school funding, in real dollars, for this school year is less than a decade ago. Without resources, buildings and systems maintenance is deferred. School districts see fewer applicants for vacant teaching jobs, a shortage of substitute teachers and problems with a flattening pay scale for teachers making it hard to keep veteran teachers.
Referendums, Local Tax Increases symptoms of Growing Problem: In Walker's Wisconsin, red flags like these have to be ignored so the ideological goals can be met:
Cost for basic services, i.e. transportation, utilities, electricity are increasing. New costs are added including technology, school safety, testing. Legislative leaders decided if schools need more funding, voters should decide through referendum. 

Superintendent Doug Olsen of Kickapoo Area School District pointed out that rural Wisconsin has many farmers who are struggling financially. “As you have heard, Western Wisconsin leads the nation in lost farms due to bankruptcy and farmer suicide. In which community does a referendum to override the revenue limit have a better chance of passing?” 

The situation is made worse when GOP leaders bypassed the funding formula and gave wealthy suburban districts the same money as cash-strapped rural and urban districts. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Walker/GOP hate slogan, saying goodbye to "Wisconsin's Dairyland!!!"

Anytime Scott Walker makes an unusual effort to mention the "blue wave" every time he opens his trap, you know he's up to something. And then it occurred to me - see the tweet:

Walker is just too busy pushing his dystopian Republican vision based on creaky old talking points that don't seem to have any connection to real-Wisconsin problems. Worse still, he hasn't done anything to protect...America's Dairyland???

Fighting for the Dairy State...Not Walker: Even if the problem of plummeting milk prices edges beyond the states cheddar curtain, he could take a leadership role trying to solve the problem.   

His rural supporters better wise up fast, because the clock is ticking, and the stories about "dairy" disasters are now piling up. WKOW:

WKOW: It was always Kyle Kurt's dream to run his own a dairy farm. The owner of Kurt Dairy has been in the farming business since he was a teen. “I started working for the previous owner when I was about 13 years old. And I’ve worked for him up until I brought it,” he said. Milk prices have taken a dramatic turn downward over the past four years. After more than 15 years of running "Kurt Dairy" in Dane County, owner Kyle Kurt was forced to put it up for auction due to the prolonged low milk prices.

His farm has been struggling for the past two years. Kurt thinks there is too much milk in the market, which has contributed to the lower prices. “In 2014, for a couple months, we got around $24, $25 a hundred,” he said. But he said they need at least $18 just to break even. Kurt feels if prices don't take a dramatic turn upwards, there won't be many small family farms left. “Especially for a young person to start farming is virtually impossible. You're going to have to have a lot of backing from generations before you to get into dairy farming.”

Kurt isn't the only farmer in the area who is struggling. A neighboring farmer says low milk prices have forced him to put his cows up for sale.” Just a mile away, James Mulcahy's dairy farm is up for sale because of low milk prices. “It's very tough. It's very disheartening because we've stuck a lot of soul into that place. We're 3rd generation. It's not easy,” he said.

Walker Budget Cuts Eliminate Ag Agents - came at Wrong Time, Left No Money: When Walker cut the UW Extension budget, well...
Scott Walker's $3.6 million budget cut to the UW Extension should get rural Republican voters riled up. It continues the Republican assault on their own rural constituents that keeps them frustrated and angry at their own government. The UW Extension "provides farmers with technical assistance, nutrient management and more," but those days are slipping away, thanks to cuts signed by Walker.
Now we're seeing the devasting consequences of not taking care of the Dairy State:

The venerable county agriculture agent has been the best friend of Wisconsin farmers for more than 100 years, but steep budget cuts have reduced their numbers in a key ag-rich part of the state at a time when their knowledge and unbiased advice are in high demand. Grant, Green and Lafayette counties — three of the state’s top corn- and soybean-producing counties — have started the year without full-time ag agents even though the counties have paid the fees required for them by the UW-Extension, according to Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville ... operating with 15 fewer ag agents than in 2017 ... Green and Lafayette counties have been told there is no money to hire more agents for their offices this year, Novak said.

Karl Martin, the dean and director of the Extension’s cooperative division, said the reduction in ag agents is a function of working within a budget that was cut by $3.6 million two years ago as part of the 2015-17 UW System budget, which was reduced $250 million. 

But Novak called the decision to bypass Green and Lafayette for full-time agents “absurd. They are two of the most ag-dependent counties in the state. They should be a priority.”

Added Lafayette County Board chairman Jack Sauer: “This is about as bad as I’ve seen it for farmers. These are times when a farmer really needs an ag agent.”

Farmers and farm advocates say the cuts couldn’t come at a worse time. Many farmers are already stressed by continued low grain and dairy prices and a cold, snowy spring that is threatening to delay the planting season. “I think we’re starting to see some of the long-term effects of those budget cuts,” said Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville. “So it’s all kind of coming together in a worst-case scenario right now.”
Even PBS's Market to Market went to our dairy farmers to get their input, unlike Scott Walker who's too busy crying about a "blue wave" all the while plundering the environment by welcoming in sand and mineral mine companies, filling wetlands for developers, and permitting more high capacity wells that drain drinking water and lakes:
Tony Pecha, Dairy Farmer: “Basically when we went from a milk price in the low twenties to a milk price in the high or even middle teens, we basically just ate into our equity. We burnt up a lot of equity the last few years, and farmers our age, in their middle 50’s, you know we don’t have time to recoup that equity.”

But growth in specialty cheese demand isn’t enough to raise milk prices nationally, or globally.
Tony Pecha, Dairy farmer: “There’s no easy solution in it- right now the only way things get better for us is on the backs of another farmer. When there’s a drought or disaster or something in another part of the country or another part of the world, that will affect everything and we will do better. But on a world economy, its going to be very difficult to try and develop something that will work for all of us, yet still compete worldwide.”

Long term, the dairy business has a challenging outlook. Consolidation has reduced the number of dairies in the United States by nearly half since 2000 - while the dairy herd has expanded by 2.5 percent to 9.4 million head. Milk production per cow increased 20 percent over the same period.Those still milking agree, prices will need to rise to a profitable level or more operations will be forced out business, accelerating consolidation of the industry - a condition some find hard to swallow. Tony Pecha, Dairy farmer: “A decent cost of living and a little profit is all most of us are asking for.”

Rural Farmers take heat for Reckless Trump Tariff Threats!

It's funny how rural Republican voters are okay with letting their politicians screw 'em over, because...their legislator isn't a Democrat?
Beijing imposed a temporary 179% tariff on American sorghum, a grain used by China to feed livestock and make baijiu, a popular liquor. So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on solar panels and washing machines in January, and aluminum and steel in March, all of which affect China. However, it wasn’t until President Trump began targeting Beijing specifically, with a threat on March 22 to impose sanctions on $50 billion of Chinese imports, that rhetoric quickly escalated into back-and-forth threats of tariffs in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Trump tariffs are one good example. These off-the-cuff typically mindless moves by Trump are nothing like the pasts more strategic tariffs. Trump's scattershot threats have swept in huge swaths of conservative voters, namely the farm community. The collateral damage, speculative or real, is taking its toll. Here are a few stories of Trump's victims:

Two important Wisconsin products won't benefit from a possible trade war. It will likely hurt them. The motives are political. But the effects trickle down to hurt local economies.

When it comes to growing ginseng, nobody does it quite like Marathon County. "Wisconsin ginseng is sort of the cream of the crop when it comes to American ginseng," said Hsu's Ginseng Enterprises Director of Operations Mike Klemp-North. 90 percent of the U.S.'s ginseng crop is grown in Wisconsin. Ninety-five percent of that crop is grown in Marathon County. "We're already selling the Cadillac version of American ginseng, and to add 15 percent is going to increase the price even more," said Klemp-North. China placed tariffs on many products, from scrap metal to pork.

Cranberries also got hit with the tariffs. Tom Lochner, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association, said the state grows half of the world's cranberries. The market just began expanding to China, but high tariffs could stop that growth. "Opening up markets to cranberries is important to us, it's important to our growers and it helps improve returns as we increase demands for the product," said Lochner. But they ultimately have no say. Wisconsinites are caught in the middle of a political fight that doesn't show signs of ending soon. China placed these tariffs as retaliation to President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. 
From PBS's Market to Market, agriculture and the effects of a 25% tariff on farm products, like beef, pork, corn, soybeans. This just a few of more than 100 ag targets by China. But hey, steel manufacturers got the tariff they've always wanted, what a win:

Samantha Bee: "Paul Ryan is a Bad Person!"

No, you weren't being partisan calling Paul Ryan a bad person...even worse. Go to 1:34 into the clip for Ryan's takedown:


The Tax Day Shuffle....

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Scott Walker not really into Wisconsin!

If you are one of those anti-government types, then what Scott Walker is doing makes perfect sense to you; its just politics, where the ends justify the means, people get hurt but that's life.  

But when policy ignores growing state problems, we've got a problem. Here's a quick rundown of ignored problems any responsible governor would be on the front lines facing, and proactively solving...except Walker. Could he even acknowledgment or show just a little concern?

We're the dairy state for god's sake:

JS: Dairy farming has been Kyle Kurt's livelihood, and his passion, since he graduated from Lodi High School 18 years ago. But come Monday, he's having an auction to sell his cows, his milking equipment, his tractors and other farm machinery that he's spent years acquiring. “It’s probably the toughest decision I have ever had to make,” Kurt said. "Something's got to change or the small farms are going to be gone."

Scores of Wisconsin farmers are in a similar predicament. And with them, a way of life that has defined much of the state for more than a century and a half is disintegrating. 

Entire communities are falling apart as small farms go under, said John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a Madison based advocacy group. Grain mills, car dealerships and hardware stores suffer. The local tax base erodes. Churches and schools struggle or close. “The multiplier effect on the rural economy is huge. It’s why you are seeing all these boarded-up small towns,” Peck said.

Wisconsin lost 500 dairy farms in 2017, and about 150 have quit milking cows so far this year, putting the total number of milk-cow herds at around 7,600 — down 20% from five years ago. Federal court data shows the Western District of Wisconsin had the highest number of Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies in the nation in 2017. Some farmers cover up taking their own life by making it look like a farm accident, said Joel Greeno, president of Family Farm Defenders and a farmer near Kendall in southwest Wisconsin.
Rural Broadband? Walker in No Rush: Remember this...
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.
Blind to Business Opportunities, Walker spends dwindling state taxpayer money: There's no rush, nothing wrong with almost being last in the nation:
Wisconsin ranks 49th among states and the District of Columbia in the average download internet speed for a wired connection, according to the report from Speedtest, a Seattle technology firm.
WHA: Ask Dan Corbin how badly northern Wisconsin needs broadband internet, and he’ll tell you some residents in his town are still using dial-up. The chairman for the Town of Summit said residents have yet to see the expansion of broadband service to rural areas of Douglas County and the City of Superior ... Superior residents are paying the same monthly rate as residents of La Crosse for slower internet service. Northern Wisconsin officials also expressed concern over discrepancies between the speeds that providers advertise are available and what service is reflected on the FCC’s broadband map.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is committed to improving access, Dickison said. He held listening sessions

In rural areas, it’s about $8,000 per subscriber, said Jeff Lee, operations director at Norvado in Cable, Wis., which has been working with fiber optic cable installations since 1983 ... With fiber optic cable and copper hardline so expensive to install across long distances, wireless options are being considered … fixed wireless also rely on sending data over short distances, and can't handle "high data" activities, like video streaming, very well.

The Wall Street Journal reports, approximately 39 percent of the rural population in the country, about 23 million people, don't have "fast" internet, which is defined as having the speed to support "email, web surfing, video streaming, and graphics for more than one device at once," the Journal writes. On the other hand, only 4 percent of urban dwellers lack fast internet. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler concluded that Americans should have access to both fast home Internet and mobile broadband.
Walker's Coal Dust Kids: Imagine a thin film of coal dust on everything around you. How safe, how healthy, how nervous would you feel daily?

In 2008 before he was governor, he signed the Koch-backed “No Climate Tax Pledge,” by Americans for Prosperity, that he will oppose any legislation relating to climate change—presumably a cap-and-trade plan or a carbon tax—that would result in a “net increase in government revenue.”Walker has argued, based on a study funded by the coal company Peabody Energy, that the new rules are “unworkable” because they would be too expensive for manufacturers and residents.

Urban Milwaukee: You might call Walker the King of Coal. Just nine states in America are more dependent on coal than Wisconsin. The state now gets 63 percent of its energy from coal, up from about 55 percent when he took office. That’s largely because the Kewaunee nuclear power plant was closed, but it’s also because the state has been asleep on solar and wind power for six years.

Isthmus: Out of step with average voters: 70 percent believe the U.S. should put more emphasis on wind energy production, and 76 percent support increased solar. 60 percent of conservatives support taking action to accelerate clean energy use.

State Parks and Watchtowers crumbling since Scott Walker Eliminated State Funding!!! Sand pit anyone?

Tax surpluses sure sound nice, but the way we got them will haunt Wisconsin for decades and destroy our vibrant parks and tourism industry. 
In 2015, Gov. Scott Walker eliminated state funding for the state park system, more than $4.5 million per year, with the goal that the parks become "self-sustaining."
Well, that didn't work. Big surprise, since state lawmakers were warned similar cuts haven't worked anywhere else in the country. By the way, did you know park and camping fees increased in the last four years?

Republicans are now suddenly backfilling those cuts, by plundering the $10 million operating budget used to run the parks so they can supplement the $1 million already being spent so they can eliminate potential health hazards and replace the parks crumbling infrastructure without falling too far behind. Jakes Wisconsin Funhouse:
An additional $2.2 million would transfer in the 2017-18 fiscal year from the balance of the parks account to the appropriation to be used for parks infrastructure projects ... (replacing) vault toilets in campgrounds ... failing water lines, day-use flush toilet building upgrades, replacement of indoor group camping siding ... ADA-accessible restroom ... renovating plumbing at various shower buildings ... improvements to beach and swimming areas...
Disappearing Watch Towers No Big Deal? If Scott Walker had his way, the watchtowers in many of our state parks that give visitors those majestic views of Wisconsin's incredible countryside...would just disappear forever:

WHA: Visitors to Potawatomi State Park have caught the same view since 1932: a sweeping panorama of Sawyer Harbor, Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay, broken up by miles of green, auburn or yellow forest, depending on the season … the park’s 75-foot-tall observation tower built when Herbert Hoover was president ... the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (will) permanently closed the tower, citing significant wood decay that made the tower unsafe … there are no plans to replace the tower.
Walker has no plan to replace the tower, who cares right, it's not a priority?  And this wasn't the first time a tower would have been lost to time under Walker's watch:

Ironic, former Sen. Frank Lasee voted to defund our state parks, but then became a victim of his own bad policy decision. You can read his pathetic email newsletter response at the bottom of this post. Question; conservative voters trust Republicans to run the government?
Its removal comes just two years after the DNR removed Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park near Fish Creek. In that case, the DNR also cited decaying wood. But there are plans to replace Eagle Tower. A final design was selected in November, but construction has yet to begin. An independent nonprofit group, Friends of Peninsula State Park, is working to raise half of the funds required for that tower, which would include a ramp.

But some, like state Sen. Robert Cowles, R - Green Bay, are concerned about both the slow pace of the Eagle Tower replacement and the impending removal of the Potawatomi State Park tower. Cowles says the loss of the towers could have a "chilling effect" on local tourism. But he says they’re just a piece of the problem. "I am concerned about the observation tower, but I am also concerned about the broader situation with maintenance of our state parks ... These parks are not to be taken for granted, and I think to a certain extent, our government has done that. And because of that, there’s not enough money to maintain that."

But as Cowles argues, that hasn’t happened. He says the state’s eroding towers and trails, and the need for private funding for a state-owned tower, is proof.
Here's Lasee's email newsletter response from September, 2015...yea, he's a real hero:
On May 20th the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources closed Eagle Tower following an engineering report that highlighted minor structural deficiencies.

Over the past several weeks my office has heard from many constituents and business owners concerned about the DNR’s closure of Eagle Tower and future plans for this historic site. With an economic impact to the local community that totals nearly $37 million, it is essential that all park attractions at Peninsula remain open to the public.

The DNR has not yet made a final decision on the future of Eagle Tower – their initial indications have been negative. To encourage the department to repair or replace Eagle Tower and to show community support, I have scheduled a public listening session I fully support the rehabilitation or, if necessary, replacement of Eagle Tower so that future generations may enjoy this historic site and share in the grandeur of Wisconsin’s State Parks.

Having Eagle Tower closed is unacceptable. With your help we can convince the DNR that Eagle Tower is an irreplaceable local treasure. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ryan, the wonk genius, spews stupid again....Deficits + "Baby boomers retiring was going to do that" = ?

There's no excuse for the following comment...none. It's a lie and another show of ideological obedience. MSNBC:
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says that trillion-dollar deficits could not have been avoided by the GOP-controlled Congress, responding to critics within his party who say that leaders have behaved irresponsibly.

“That was going to happen. The baby boomers retiring was going to do that,” Ryan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of projections that the country will start running trillion-dollar deficits as soon as 2020.
Here's what wrote about Wisconsin's embarrassment, Paul Ryan. What he said...:
Ryan: "That was going to happen. The baby boomers’ retiring was going to do that. These deficit trillion-dollar projections have been out there for a long, long time. Why? Because of mandatory spending, which we call entitlements. Discretionary spending under the CBO baseline is going up about $300 billion over the next 10 years. Tax revenues are still rising. Income tax revenues are still rising. Corporate income tax revenues. Corporate rate got dropped 40 percent, still rising."
Which means...he's lying again. At a time when baby boomers were retiring, he's made it almost impossible to save them from certain economic disaster:
Overall, CBO says the new tax law “increases the total projected deficit over the 2018–2028 period by about $1.9 trillion,” mostly because of a reduction in individual income tax revenue and an increase in debt service.

The Myth of the "Fiscal Conservative."

I thought it was funny how Republicans were planning to put the Democrats on the spot for the midterms, by forcing a vote to make the middle-class tax cuts permanent instead of phasing them out to pay for the corporate tax cuts. I guess that passes for strategy these days.

Yet I think most Americans are wise to the scam:
1. The Republican-controlled Congress followed up their corporate tax cuts with a massive omnibus budget that boosts spending past previous budget caps by $300 billion over two years.

2. Most Americans have not noticed a larger paycheck since the law was enacted, according to a CNBC poll released in March.

3. A recent analysis from the pro-reform group Americans for Tax Fairness found that 433 corporations out of the Fortune 500 have not offered any bonuses or wage increase to employees since the passage of corporate tax cuts. Instead, the analysis found, companies spent 37 times as much on stock buybacks.

4. Just 27 percent of Americans think the GOP tax cuts were a good idea, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday. In other words, the Republican tax plan has actually gotten less popular with voters over time. But popularity was never really the goal, was it? The point was to starve the federal government of tax revenue in order to justify slashing the social safety net — something Republicans in Congress and the White House began to address in earnest last week.

5. On Tax Day 2018, just one week after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his retirement at the age of 48 — after spending his entire adult life on the government “dole” — Republicans have once again laid bare their true intentions. Passing a deficit-busting tax bill was intended to explode the national debt and thereby endanger future funding for the tattered remnants of the social safety net that survived welfare reform in the 1990s — including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Scott Walker's Act 10 and Emergency Teaching License Increases!!! Walker's own "manufactured crisis."

Wisconsin was a leader in vilifying the teaching profession thanks to Act 10, and taking education down a peg or two on accountability:

Teacher Shortages Getting Worse: Act 10 is now collapsing the teaching profession, as predicted, just in time for Scott Walker to run for reelection. It seems rural support might be slipping too, as they scramble to approve referendums and deal with teacher shortages:
In 2015, four years after the law’s collective-bargaining limits reshaped the profession, the smallest group of juniors and seniors in two decades was enrolled in teaching programs at the state’s public universities. Some 25% of school districts are reporting an “extreme shortage” of job-seekers for key positions. Wauwatosa Superintendent Phil Ertl told parents at a meeting: “People are being driven away from the teaching profession. It’s not a lifelong career anymore.”
JS: The “Order of the State Superintendent for Public Instruction Adopting Emergency Rules” (is) causing big concern in perhaps every school district and independent school in Wisconsin … Who’s going to fill the remaining open teaching jobs we have? Are we really getting the best people we feasibly could to work in our classrooms?  
"Not Doing much to Increase the Quality:" This is not the kind of quote you want to hear from a principle when you've got kids in school, like in Bangor, WI.

Beyond Walker's Act 10 Teacher Shortages: The shortages go beyond teachers and their substitutes. And to think, this was all about Walker defunding unions and the Democratic Party to get an edge up in state elections:

Some critics put a considerable amount of the blame on political forces opposed to teachers’ unions and in favor of using public money to pay for private schools. One outspoken advocate of such views is Tim Slekar, dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison.

He called the teacher shortage “a manufactured crisis” and said that changing licensing requirements “will do nothing except dramatically increase systemic inequity and genuinely harm the teaching profession.”

“Softening teacher license policies or doing away with the license altogether will kill the profession and turn teaching into a low-wage service sector,” Slekar said.
With all this in mind, it seems we're now having to deal with a whole new set of problems. The effect was predictable. And yet, even after the mass longtime teacher retirements:
No known poll has asked Wisconsinites about Act 10 in the months leading up to Walker's statement on April 1, 2014, and his staff did not cite one.

Walker, Republicans trying to turn Wisconsin Scenery into Frac Sand Mining Hellscape.

It can't be this easy for the Scott Walker campaign to go unscathed after what he's done, especially to his rural voting base. Walker's environmental teardown? What the hell do rural voters see in him?

The Walker Hurt-List Grows: Environmentally, Republicans will stop at nothing to privatize, destroy, and turn state land over to any and all business interests. This is ugly:
Road Side Attraction off 94?
DNR Staff Felt Pressure To Approve Wetland Fill For Frac Sand Mining Project. Emails Show Frustration Over Lack Of Information From Company And Tight Deadlines Set By DNR Administration:

A judge will decide if the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources followed the law when it approved the project last year. Atlanta-based Meteor Timber bought 50,000 acres of Wisconsin forestland and became the largest private landowner in the state. After discovering 137 million tons of frac sand on property it purchased the company proposed building a mine.

Emails ... show staff felt rushed to issue the permit even though they didn’t have basic information about the site of Meteor Timber's planned mitigation project ... staff were told to approve the company's permit no matter what and were even told what questions they could ask and what data they could collect. 

The DNR approved Meteor Timber’s application ... That day former DNR Wetland and Waterways Section Chief Martye Griffin sent an email congratulating his team for writing permits for the wetland fill and a creek realignment just two days after getting new information from the company.
What was in the email? You won't believe this...but under Walker, maybe you will:
"For these staff to set aside the questions, uncertainty, and confusion stemming from the new information and cope with the stress and expectation of delivering high performance resulting in not one but two heavily complicated permits written in 48 hours is an achievement that I don't think can be equaled and that achievement should be properly recognized as such," wrote Griffin.
Late-night Behind the Voters Back Scheme: Sneaky trick on constituents?
A real rural friend? 
State Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, slipped in an amendment to exempt the frac sand project from state wetland regulations into an unrelated wetland bill in a late-night maneuver ... but state Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, blocked it from moving to the Senate floor ... On March 28, Tusler tried again to get an exemption for Meteor Timber. This time he tacked his amendment to a Senate bill aiming to make it easier for convicted criminals to get jobs. That bill also died in the Senate. Tusler didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. Cowles told the Associated Press the attempt to exempt Meteor Timber from state laws was "outrageous."

Friday, April 13, 2018

Steamed Brats?

Ag Schimel appeals to base bragging up scheme to suppress voting.

Scott Walker's simpleton lackey AG Brad Schimel just admitted voter ID was meant to suppress certain targeted voters from casting a ballot. Sometimes these guys forget that everyone can hear them. 

Based on decades of research, we already know our elections were "clean" and "honest," Schimel's slip of the tongue and concluding lie confirms what we already knew...he's a tool:
"We battled to get voter ID on the ballot for the November '16 election," Schimel told conservative host Vicki McKenna on WISN (1130 AM) on Thursday. "How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Senator (Ron) Johnson was going to win re-election or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter ID to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?"
Funny thing, the "Soros" money used to challenge voter ID laws is simply being used to find out if they're constitutional. What is Schimel or any Republican afraid of? I guess if the money dried up to make these challenges, all would be well? 
He has fought in court to keep the law in place and his opponent, Josh Kaul, is the lead attorney challenging it and a host of other election laws. Kaul "works for George Soros going across the country suing states that have voter ID laws," Schimel said.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Apple sells drooling fans HomePod junk!

The smart speaker market is dominated by the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

And yet Apple had the balls to think their HomePod wasn't just a good idea, but a hands down competitor right out of the gate. LOL.

My god I hate Apple, and here's why. They really thought their HomePod was another great Apple "innovation" that people would just fall in love with?
Three weeks after the HomePod launched, it nabbed only 4 percent of sales.
See if you can spot the problems:
1. The limitations around Siri.

2. It works directly only with Apple Music.

3. The $349 price could also be turning some prospective shoppers off.

4. It doesn't help that the HomePod was found to damage furniture, leaving an unsightly ring. 

Ya think? But those in the Apple bubble have another takeaway:
Apple pitched the device not necessarily as a competitor to Amazon's Echo, but rather as a high-end speaker. Apple has long viewed HomePod as a speaker first and internally viewed the device as an accessory that would work with other Apple products rather than a standalone product.
Oh sure, that's the ticket.