Sunday, July 21, 2019

8 Cent Gas Tax is Bridge to Electric Vehicle Future, and will phase-out naturally over time.

Gov. Tony Evers' proposed 8 cents a gallon increase on gas was a fair way to fund highways, asking everyone who uses Wisconsin roads, local and out-of-state drivers, to pay for repairs and replacement.

The Republican reaction to raising taxes showed the world what really matters them most; politics! Sticking with their no tax pledge, Wisconsinites are now on the hook exclusively for transportation funding and spending every penny of their tax cut savings. Sweet. It also lets interstate drivers off the hook. That's Wisconsin friendly.

Scott Walker/GOP record on Transportation: Note the jump in interest for transportation borrowing. Add to that the Republican fee increases hitting only Wisconsinites:

Fee Increase, No Gas Tax is a Bridge to the Future? The only reason Republicans didn't raise the gas tax; as hybrid and electric cars take over, it would negate any increase in the gas tax.

WPT's Here and Now host Frederica Freyberg argued with Republican Rep. John Nygren that such a changeover and possible new toll road funding was a long way off: 

Gasoline/Gas Tax would phase out Naturally with Increased Electric Vehicle Use!!! My head is exploding over how easy this one is to grasp. Adding an 8 cent gas tax now would pay for our roads until then, creating that "bridge to the future." We would also be making interstate drivers pay as well. Republicans are either this stupid, or they're just trying to sell another ridiculous excuse to their unquestioning voters. Maybe both.

Again, the 8 cent increase would naturally phase out in the changeover, so what's the beef? From Upfront, here's Mike Nichols from the right-wing Badger Institute admitting we're about 20 years out from seeing any major benefits from toll roads or a majority of electric vehicles. Imagine how 8 cents a gallon would help fund transportation in that time. Arrgggggg:

All Steil, no Substance!!!

I'd like to have a conversation...?

That's the dumb "do nothing" GOP mantra right now that should be driving everyone crazy. "Having a conversation" is an outgrowth of the failed idea pushing "we need to have a debate," but it's just as nonsensical.

Paul Ryan's generic look-alike replacement Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) appeared on WKOW's Capitol City Sunday blathering on and on about "having a conversation," which in plain terms means "all talk, no action." I suspect this is what he's running on, having a conversation, while at the same time telling voters to forget about solving the big problems. You can't make this stuff up.

Here's a compilation of Steil's "having a conservation" rhetorical crutch:

Steil another Trump Racism Appeaser: Reporter Emilee Fannon wasn't shy about making this safe observation about Steil's disastrous dodge over Trump's obvious racism...
Congressman Bryan Steil (R-WI) refused to answer whether or not he believes President Trump tweets two weeks ago were “racist.”
No, really? Steil blamed "both sides;" the four congresswomen for being women and looking foreign, and Trump's blatant "go back" to where you came from racism. This is a remarkable, rehearsed, and unforgettable fumble:

Steil Favors a "Natural Force" to Raise inserting Government of course: Starting with the current actual numbers showing the "natural forces" of the marketplace at work stagnating wages for the last 40 years...

Steil repeats Scott Walker's excuse for not raising the minimum wage; he blames the "skill gap," and wants "government focused in on solving that problem to allow people to see higher wages." Gotta love that "natural force." Wages haven't gone up even with their current trained workforce. By the way, having better high paying jobs doesn't eliminate current minimum wage jobs they claim were never meant to raise a family on. And that's written in stone where...?:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The "I'm not racist" Trump racist Trump!

Surprise, Trump's not a racist after all? While I thought we finally thought we had Trump dead to rights on racism, with his tweets and comments to the press, his cultist followers heard something completely different.

Leave it to NPR to search out reactions to Trump's racist comments at Montana's Black Butte shooting range. And despite Trump quadrupling down on exactly what he said...:
Paul, military veteran: "Makes me giggle that everyone's all up in arms about this. Trump saying they need to go back to their country, is pretty much saying go back to California, go back to New York." 
...or this Montana Republican Representative trashing our country and elected Democrats, when in fact, the Trump party were the first to trash America saying it wasn't great...

...or this mind-numbing nonsense...
Black Butte Range Co-owner Andrew Stappleton: "Essentially, how I read this, is don't throw rocks if you live in a glass house. It just has to do with, just go back and fix your areas, and then you can try and fix my area." 
...but what about Trump's racism...
Tanner, Trump Supporter as long as he doesn't go after gun rights: "...I mean, it doesn't sound like they really want to be here, so, I agree they should probably...if they don't want to be here, probably go somewhere else." 

The "I'm not a racist" Racism: Now that the initial shock has worn off and most of us finally have definitive proof Trump is a racist, it kind of fun to see Trump supporters coming out insisting "they're not racists." Warning, the following video clip from CNN will make it seem like we're seeing the end of this great experiment. Here are some of the women's comments:

#1. “He was saying if they hate America so much because what we’re seeing out of them and hearing out of them, they hate America. If it’s so bad, there’s a lot of places they can go.”

#2. “I’m glad that the president said what he said because all they are doing is they are — they are inciting hatred and division and that’s not what our country is about.” 

#3. “He didn’t say anything about color,” one protested.

#4. “I wish there was a white one that they — if they aren’t racist, how come they haven’t befriended one of their white female congresswomen colleagues and let her join?” said another woman, apparently missing the point that they are being grouped together specifically because the president attacked them by name, not because they only arbitrarily decided to be friends with each other.

#5. “They won’t,” agreed another woman. “They don’t like white people, come on. They are racist.”

Kellyanne Conway "We're sick and tired of this country!!!" Have you noticed the pattern taking shape for Trump and Republicans up for reelection? They plan to skip the failed policy ideas and lack of solutions to the nations major problems, and instead want to concentrate on calling Democrats anti-American racists, people who hate and criticize our country. That's it. Blows your mind doesn't it? For example, here's Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy:
“In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave. The simple fact of the matter is, the four Congresswomen think that America is wicked in its origins, they think that America is even more wicked now, that we are all racist and evil. They’re entitled to their opinion, they’re Americans. Now I’m entitled to my opinion, & I just think they’re left wing cranks. They’re the reason there are directions on a shampoo bottle, & we should ignore them. The ‘squad’ has moved the Democrat Party substantially LEFT, and they are destroying the Democrat Party. I’m appalled that so many of our Presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to try to agree with the four horsewomen of the apocalypse. I’m entitled to say that they’re Wack Jobs.”

Here's Kellyanne Conway doubling down on Trump's racist comments by being racist:
Reporter Andrew Feinberg of Breakfast Media asked Conway what the president was referring to when he said that progressive lawmakers — three out of four of whom were born in the United States — should “go back” to their countries.

In response, Conway demanded “What’s your ethnicity?” 

“Why is that relevant?” Feinberg responded, taken aback.

Wrapping up, a word from Thomas Friedman, who revealed just what Americans Trump was talking about...all Americans:

This is the official word from the Trump campaign, who will focus only on name calling, forget all issues:

Monday, July 15, 2019

Trump Campaign Train leaves station...

Trump Fascism!!!

UPDATE-7/16: Well, this makes everything perfectly clear:
When asked if he was concerned that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups were finding common cause with the statement, Trump said Monday he wasn’t because “many people agree with me.”
“[They’re] complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave right now,” added Trump. “Come back if you want, don’t come back, it’s OK too. But if you’re not happy, you can leave.”
I wrote a blog post yesterday about a Trump appeaser who doesn't see him as a threat, and it appears I may have understated my point, and that's not a good thing. The one word I should have included over and over? Fascism. See if anything in the chart reminds you of a common Trump theme:

In my blog post yesterday I wrote...Rick Esenberg, the founder of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative-libertarian law firm ... became a willing partner in the Trumpian cultist movement to take down traitorous liberals. For instance, Esenberg's comments in the recent Isthmus ... saying (Trump's) "not a threat to the constitutional order". Seriously? 
1. “I don’t think Donald Trump is that serious about a lot of the things that he says ... And so, he tweets a lot of stupid classless and vulgar things, but it doesn’t really translate to any kind of action.”
Welcome to Trump Fascism: Trump's latest tweet storm posted this morning is probably the most incendiary call to action yet; the total vilification and proposed elimination of America's true enemies; everyone not a Trump cultists:

Heck, parade floats were onto this guy...

Fascist America is here: Explaining fascism is not easy, but the following contemporized look at Trump's reckless version of fascism shows us how real and threatening it is. From Vox, these are the articles main points made by Jason Stanley:    
The targets are leftists, minorities, labor unions, and anyone or any institution that isn’t glorified in the fascist narrative. We’re not on the brink of some fascist takeover. But there are reasons to be concerned, and we should always be on guard — that’s the lesson of history. 

Fascist politics would focus on the dominant cultural group. The goal is to make them feel like victims, to make them feel like they’ve lost something and that the thing they’ve lost has been taken from them by a specific enemy, usually some minority out-group This is why fascism flourishes in moments of great anxiety, because you can connect that anxiety with fake loss.

The story is typically that a once-great society has been destroyed by liberalism or feminism or cultural Marxism or whatever, and you make the dominant group feel angry and resentful about the loss of their status and power. Almost every manifestation of fascism mirrors this general narrative.

Truth is required to act freely. Freedom requires knowledge, you need to know what the world is and know what you’re doing. So, freedom requires truth, and so to smash freedom you must smash truth.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt … she says that fascists are never content to merely lie; they must transform their lie into a new reality, and they must persuade people to believe in the unreality they’ve created. And if you get people to do that, you can convince them to do anything. 

Part of what fascist politics does is get people to disassociate from reality. You get them to sign on to this fantasy version of reality, usually a nationalist narrative about the decline of the country and the need for a strong leader to return it to greatness, and from then on their anchor isn’t the world around them — it’s the leader. 

The thing is, people willingly adopt the mythical past. Fascists are always telling a story about a glorious past that’s been lost, and they tap into this nostalgia. So when you fight back against fascism, you’ve got one hand tied behind your back, because the truth is messy and complex and the mythical story is always clear and compelling and entertaining. It’s hard to undercut that with facts.
My son provided me with the video below that didn't just explain fascism, but ANTIFA, the supposed freedom of expression movement on college campuses, and more: 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

It's bad...

Esenberg, the legal mind defending Walker, Fitzgerald, and Vos says Trump Harmless.

Let's talk about two bloated egos; Rick Esenberg and Trump.

Simply put, Esenberg is a legal conservative elitist who's inflated image of himself is due mostly to his impressive record in profoundly conservative courts. Nice. He'll remind you that he is the founder and wizard behind the curtain of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative-libertarian law firm that became a willing partner in the Trumpian cultist movement to take down traitorous liberals. Come on, Trump's no threat:

I had to laugh at Esenberg's comments in the recent Isthmus, where he unsuccessfully tried to cast a magically crafted spell in defense of Trump, saying he's "not a threat to the constitutional order". Seriously? 

This suppose sharp legal mind imagines that we can somehow separate Trump's "stupid classless" and "vulgar" twitter lunacy from his similarly troubled thinking, overt racism, misogyny, and oppressive actions against humanity. Hey, he's just kidding: 
1. “I don’t think Donald Trump is that serious about a lot of the things that he says ... And so, he tweets a lot of stupid classless and vulgar things, but it doesn’t really translate to any kind of action.”
Sure, nothing to worry about with thinking like this...

This should get him a lot of votes...
Or like the time today Trump told "Progressive Congresswomen" to go back to the countries they came from...yup he really said that:

For policy and political mastermind Rick Esenberg...
2. He dismisses graver existential assessments ... “I think there’s a lot of exaggeration that goes on. What Trump is and what he does — I don’t think that he is a threat to the constitutional order.”
Like the Trump's claim about dirty and diseased immigrants? No threat to anyone Rick?

None of this is a secret to anyone but Esenberg:
1. Sykes says “the nativism, the phobia, the attitude towards women, the character issues involving deception, his isolationism, his willingness to play the race card, his support for protectionism,” set him squarely against Trump from the start. Someday Trump will leave office. But this alternative reality universe and hyper tribalization of politics — that’s not going to disappear when he disappears from the stage. This is a period of real turmoil, and I worry about that.”

2. Ed Wall wrote a tell-all book critical of Walker and ... sees Walker’s leadership as a model for how Trump has governed. “It went from a representative government, where they had to talk and they had to negotiate things, to more of a dictatorship. That bothered me as a taxpayer and a voter,” says Wall, who characterized the prevailing sentiment as being, “We won and we’re going to shove everything down your throat.”

3. Under Trump, that impulse has grown, Wall says. “Look at Vos and Fitzgerald” — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “They feel empowered by an electorate that sees something in Donald Trump.”Wall says: “This is essentially the Republican Party saying, ‘We don’t accept the last election.’ They are acting as if they’re governing now. They’re tightening control.”

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Snap! Dem Governor caught again in GOP School Funding Trap?

The Republican formula is so simple; cut taxes + cut spending = nothing else matters? 

The Vos/Fitzgerald Stunt: Conservative voters love campaign ads ballyhooing how Republicans didn't raise taxes...while at the time they're approving referendums to raise their own local taxes to pay for schools. Huh? Weirder still, their voters still haven't caught on...or have they? Are we that dumb?

Snap! School Funding Trap #1, Governor Doyle: Democratic Governors keep getting lured into the school funding trap. For example, the failed GOP deregulation experiment that caused a global economic collapse, "The Great Recession," forced Governor Doyle to use his veto pen to save our schools...:

WSJ: Former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle used his veto power by stitching together numbers and words from different sentences in order to spend $330 million more than the Legislature intended on K-12 education (taking money from transportation) ...led to voters abolishing what became known as the “Frankenstein veto” via constitutional amendment.
Believe it or not, Republicans continue to brag about protecting transportation funding at the expense of school funding during the Great Recession, and their voters bought it hook, line, and sinker.

Snap! School Funding Trap #2, Tony Evers: After the largest cuts to school funding by any state in the nation, the trap was set for Democratic Governor Tony Evers to pulled out his veto pen so he could fulfill his major campaign promise to restore school funding...snap! How dare he?
Republican lawmakers have introduced a state constitutional amendment that would prevent governors from using their partial veto powers to increase spending in any bills.

The proposal comes less than a week after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers used his veto power in one case to increase school funding by about $84 million more than the Republican-controlled Legislature intended.
Governors Evers Must Be Stopped!!? Since polling indicates that about 60 percent of the public approves of increased spending for schools, just how will our radically right wing gerrymandered safe Republican legislators sell the horrors of Gov. Evers additional funding for schools? A power grab...worse???
State Sen. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon said, “We need to prevent this from ever happening again.” And Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, began circulating the amendment for co-sponsors Monday, calling what Evers did a “power grab.”
Either Courts Legislate or Constitutional Amendment = Block Democrats: After 8 years of one party domination, it's laughable to accuse a Democrat of committing a "power grab," which is strange. Evers grabbed power from...or gain power by...adding more school funding?

You can bet Republicans will try to suck the air out of the room when it comes to other big agenda items pushed by Evers with this constitutional amendment distraction. And that's all it is, but will the media fall for it?
“The public should be outraged at the repeated attempts to change the powers of the office because they disagree with how those powers were used,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"No Tax" Pledge and Laffer Curve Suckers!!!

Republicans are the juvenile party of bad ideas now controlling the country. Here are just two that should embarrass them. 

Grover Norquist, at 12 years old, gave us the "No Tax" Pledge: A little noticed part of the 60 Minutes interview with Grover Norquist should tell you everything you ever needed to know about the no tax pledge, and the idiots who took it. Admit it, didn't Norquist's plan always seem really stupid, unless you were some math challenged conservative?

Norquist actually hatched his idea when he was 12 years old during his bus riding to school.

Let's be clear; the GOP is marching in lockstep to a 12 year old's dumb-ass idea.

Tax Cuts beloved Laffer Curve Myth: An idea sketched on a napkin...why not, and just as ridiculous, taken seriously by every Republican no matter how many times if fails miserably. NPR:

Ronald Reagan's former budget director, David Stockman, calls Art Laffer "the greatest FakeEconomist to ever come down the pike."

Laffer helped popularize the notion that tax cuts pay for themselves through faster economic growth. It almost never works out in practice.

Tax historian Bruce Bartlett, who later worked in the Reagan White House, said "So if you wanted to have a tax cut, you had to either pay for it by raising other taxes, cutting spending or come up with some gimmick like the Laffer Curve to simply assert that it wouldn't lose revenue." 

Laffer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor — from President Trump. "Few people in history have revolutionized economic thought and policy like Dr. Art Laffer," Trump said. "Prominent academics called this theory 'insanity,' 'totally wacky' and 'completely off the wall,' " Trump said. "Art would go on to prove them all wrong."

In fact, it was Laffer's rosy forecasts that were proved wrong, time and time again.

Laffer's journey to this moment began 45 years ago with a round of drinks in a Washington cocktail lounge. At the time, Laffer was a young economist at the University of Chicago trying to convince President Ford's deputy chief of staff — a man named Dick Cheney — that lowering taxes could actually boost government revenue. "He sketched out this Laffer Curve on a paper cocktail napkin at the Hotel Washington, just across the street from the White House."
I also loved this analysis

In the real world, Laffer’s contributions have built a streak of unbroken wrongness over a time and scale few policy entrepreneurs in history can match. 

1. Laffer predicted Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts would pay for themselves. When they instead produced historic deficits, Laffer continued to claim he was right. 

2. He predicted Bill Clinton’s attempt to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the rich would backfire (“I think the plan will fail. It entails price controls, which have never worked. It calls for tax increases, and that’s exactly the wrong way to go. It makes no sense to raise taxes on people who work and pay more to those who don’t work. This is the Reagan revolution in reverse”). Instead, revenue growth exceeded projections.

3. He likewise predicted President Obama’s plan would “destroy the economy” (it did not) and that President Trump’s tax cut would “pay for itself many times over” (it did not pay for itself at all), among many other failed predictions. 

4. Not content to botch his analysis of the federal budget, he has parachuted into several state governments and prodded Republicans into adopting his utterly false worldview. In Kansas and Louisiana, Republican governors listened to Laffer and produced fiscal catastrophe so comprehensive and undeniable Republicans in their state revolted.

Republicans oppose Legalized Recreational and Medical Marijuana...just because!

The permanent gerrymandered Republican majority representing a minority of voters just aren't buying what most Wisconsinites are saying...
The budget GOP legislators approved rejected Gov. Tony Evers' proposal to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of weed. 
You gotta wonder who it is Republicans are talking too about the evils of marijuana...

59 percent of voters say marijuana use should be legal, while 36 percent say it should not be legal. A substantial majority, 83 percent, say use of marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor’s prescription should be legal, with 12 percent saying it should not be.
It's not like people ever stopped smoking pot! But if there's is even one problem...:
Rep. Robin Vos said the governor's plan "created more problems than they created opportunities,” noting some Republicans see legalizing medicinal use as “a slippery slope toward recreational.” 

Vos dismissed the notion that other Midwestern states’ moves to legalize recreational marijuana would change the calculus in Wisconsin. “I think if all they’ve got to offer people is high taxes, high regulations, lower home values and marijuana, that should not be an economic growth strategy,” he said of Illinois in comments to reporters Friday. 
Again, 59 percent of Wisconsinites polled want pot legalized:
Rep. Samantha Kerkman said Illinois’ actions on recreational marijuana are different than what the state’s northern neighbor would consider. “I don’t think Wisconsin and the Legislature are (on board) with recreational, just in talking to my colleagues,” the Salem Republican said.

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck agreed, writing in an email the medical marijuana bill is “a slippery slope to full statewide recreational legalization which is a bridge too far for me right now.”
Here's the breakdown:
Cannabis legalization, with 59% support overall, had major opposition from Republicans, with only 32% saying it should be legal and 65% saying it should remain illegal. However among those who say they lean Republican, Independents, Democrats and those who lean Democrat all supported legalization from 59-79%. Medical cannabis had strong majority support in every demographic.

A few thoughts on Red State Wisconsin Freeloaders...

This blog post is my way of venting, and won't change a thing.

There's a reason why wheel taxes and school referendums are passing all over the state; it's to make up for local shortfalls due to our statewide property tax cap and lower sales/income taxes championed by Republicans. Scott Walker and the GOP have all but killed the idea that when we all pay into the state, the costs are lower than if we pay individually.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi (said), "I think (Wisconsin Republicans) made a deliberate decision that their main goal, despite the stated goal of creating jobs, was to destroy their enemies."
The GOP logic for tax cuts is a mind-blower: It's our national tax ranking. That's it! There's nothing fiscally responsible about it.

Wisconsin is now so out of whack, it's really hard to nail down just what anyone can do about it. Republicans have successfully convince everyone in the state that there is a free lunch, taxes are too high, and more cuts are always the answer. It's a political brand they brag about in election year ads, but it's not real.

We've become a state of freeloaders, expecting something for nothing, without ever paying forward what we got from so many previous generations.

A recent story in the Middleton Times-Tribune made all of this so much clearer, with a fee now added to their water bills. As you can see below, it's all just GOP created smoke and mirrors:

Permanent Out-of-Whack Tax Cuts: Like the failed Taxpayer-Bill-of-Right (TABOR), ratcheting down taxes along with a often repeated "taxes are too high" message, there is no going back. It would now be political suicide to change how lopsided things have become:
WPR:  In other states, local sales taxes and income taxes fund much larger shares of municipal budgets, putting less strain on homeowners and other property owners. Rob Henken, president of the Wisconsin Policy Forum said, "It's the extent to which we are different. It's the extent of that reliance with virtually no other forms of broad local taxation."
This is just how out-of-whack we've become:
Nationally in 2015, cities received about 23 percent of their revenue from property taxes and 21 percent from sales and income taxes.

In Wisconsin, by contrast, municipalities received about 42 percent of their revenue from the property tax, but only about 1.6 percent from sales and income taxes.
Seriously!!! The lower income tax is a gift to the wealthy, surprised?

This all came about because the state decided to spend more on schools, BadgerCare, and prisons, capping local property taxes along the way. Who knew Republicans would reverse that spending:
Henken doesn't recommend a specific policy change ... arguing it could be easier to address now than it would be later. "The economy is doing well. It is often easier to make big changes to revenue structures at times when economic growth is occurring."
But we know that isn't going to happen in our lifetime, so the reality is coming into focus; this is no longer the Wisconsin I grew up in and loved.

It's now strictly a political state Scott Walker can hold up as an example of right-wing values that no longer include dairy farmers, outdoor recreation and sports, and homegrown friendly communities working together. It's time to fight each other. From a previous post:

This is Wisconsin Now? Walker thinks "fighting" is good, a way to bring us together: 
Harwood: "When you talk about fighting and winning, sometimes when I hear that, it sounds to me like the emphasis is on the fighting, almost like you're running to be the hockey team enforcer."

Walker: "Well I think right now people do want to fight in America. I think people want a fighter who can win, get the results. I fought, I won, I got results, and I did it without violating my conservative principles."
Nothing says dangerous disconnect more than ignoring what divides this country...because that will only bring us together:
Huffington Post-Don't Focus On 'Racial Discord' Or You'll Only Create More: "If we focus on unity we’re going to get more of that ... We need to change the tone in America from chants and rallies that fixate on racial division."