Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
The 2001 Bush tax cuts added $2.5 trillion to the national debt and disproportionately benefited the wealthiest households. Have we learned anything?
by Chuck Collins
Republican leaders in Congress have a one-point program for whatever ails the nation: cut taxes for millionaires and large corporations.
Got a revenue surplus? Cut taxes. Got a budget deficit? Cut taxes. Got a toothache? Cut taxes.
These politicians are like my uncle who believed the solution to every problem was a wee glass of scotch. They live in a world of magical thinking.
Dick Cheney: 'I Worship The Ground Paul Ryan Walks On'
Former Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in on the political stature of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) while speaking at an event in Texas on Wednesday, theHouston Chronicle's "Fuel Fix" blog reports.
"I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on," he said of the House Budget Committee Chairman. "I hope he doesn't run for president because that would ruin a good man who has a lot of work to do."
(This is excerpted from testimony presented to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, on May 12.)
Sunday, May 29, 2011
-- and oh yeah: "told you so."
Saturday, May 28, 2011
After the crash: the pauperisation of middle-class America | Richard Wolff | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Obviously, both Republicans and Democrats are agreed to do nothing more that quibble over insignificant margins of so huge a deficit. Meanwhile, they perform live political theatre about their "deep concern about deficits and debts" for a bemused, bored and ever-more alienated public.
Neither party can shake off its utter dependence now on corporate and rich citizens' monies for all their financial sustenance. Therefore, neither party imagines, let alone explores, alternatives to massive deficits and debts. After all, government deficits and debts mean: first, the government is not taxing corporations and the rich; and second, the government is, instead, borrowing from them and paying them interest. So, the two parties quibble over how much to cut which government jobs and public services.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The Chapter 125 Branch Legislation would:
All Wisconsin Breweries and Brewpubs will be negatively affected by losing their Wholesale and retail licenses and the benefits those licenses provide.
Eliminates the current option of a brewer choosing to self-distribute or starting a Wholesale Distribution Company.
Eliminates a Brewers current right to have ownership in two restaurants.
Protects (Grandfather Clause) currents Wholesalers retail licenses, while eliminating that benefit for new start up Wholesalers.
Unfairly burdens new Wholesalers and breweries with a requirement of 25 separate independent retail customers before a Wholesale license can be granted.
Eliminates the ability of Brewers to sell existing retail or wholesale operations separately from the brewing operation.
Eliminates current Wholesale investment in privately held Wisconsin Breweries while allowing investment in out of state and foreign and publicly traded breweries.
Of course you realize, this means war.
MSNBC host Ed Schultz will be placed on unpaid administrative leave for a week after he made sexist comments on his radio show directed at conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham. Schultz issued an apology for the comments Wednesday night.
Holding employees accountable when they make unacceptable comments as Schultz did, is how a news organization behaves. Indeed, it's the way that any responsible organization behaves.
But accountability for unacceptable rhetoric has no apparent place at Fox.
Beck infamously accused President Obama of being a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture." Beck faced no demonstrable accountability at Fox for this statement.
Just this week, Fox's Eric Bolling criticized Obama for traveling to Europe for the G-8 summit, outrageously claiming that Obama was "chugging a few 40s" rather than attending to tragic tornadoes in Missouri. (Local officials have praised the White House for its response to the disaster.) Bolling has been widely criticized for making "racially tinged" comments, but to date there has been no accountability for his comments at Fox.
Yes, Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a sore loser. Why do you ask?
Mr. Ryan may claim — and he may even believe — that he’s facing a backlash because his opponents are lying about his proposals. But the reality is that the Ryan plan is turning into a political disaster for Republicans, not because the plan’s critics are lying about it, but because they’re describing it accurately.
Take, for example, the statement that the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it. This may have Republicans screaming “Mediscare!” but it’s the absolute truth: The plan would replace our current system, in which the government pays major health costs, with a voucher system, in which seniors would, in effect, be handed a coupon and told to go find private coverage.
And so on. Most of this so-called "conservative" budget reform depends on nobody actually looking at the budgets they create.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Madison – Supporters of Milwaukee’s school choice program spent more than $3 million in 2009 and 2010 to help elect Governor Scott Walker and much of the GOP-controlled legislature while opponents spent a million dollars to elect mostly minority Democrats, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign analysis shows.
Supporters of state-subsidized school privatization led by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, American Federation for Children and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce spent $3.36 million on mostly negative electioneering activities and direct campaign contributions to Walker, three fundraising committees run by legislative leaders and 66 legislators – most of them Republicans.
Monday, May 23, 2011
A no-brainer connect the dots.
Public education is targeted for destruction in WI by some wealthy, out of state, contributors to the Repubs pushing the anti-public education agenda.
1) The Walker Budget Repair Bill calls for ending the (WKCE) testing
of students in the voucher/ charter program. This testing was created
by Jim Doyle to ensure charter and voucher schools were accountable
for the tax dollars they were receiving.
2) Please see this article after the Journal Sentinel article as proof
that out-of-state school choice advocates are spending tens of
thousands of dollars to divert tax dollars to private schools. If
anyone questions why WEAC and the NEA get involved with campaign
contributions and why teaching gets political, read on.
Rep. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green received $31,500 from national
advocates for school choice and others big names (see article below).
Other Wisconsin legislators from across the state who benefited from
school choice political contributions according to Roys' figures
include: John Klenke, R-Green Bay, $63,500; Andre Jacque, R-Bellevue,
$44,200; Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, $43,200; Tom Larson, R-
Colfax, $44,950; Erik Severson, R-Star Prairie, $44,250; Travis
Tranel, R-Cuba City, $50,000; Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz, $34,000 and
Karl Van Roy, R-Green Bay, $75,750. (Chalkboard: School choice
advocates spend freely on politics)
3) If readers are Walker supporters, so be it; however, know the
American Federation for Children spent $820,000 to assist his agenda
(See final article and numbers just above).
The Facts Don’t Lie: Expanding the Voucher System is Wrong for Wisconsin
The Center for Economic and Policy Research put out the report which you can find here.
Amy Myers is a pretty, 16-year-old Cherry Hill High School East sophomore and aspiring veterinarian. She is a critic of Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She is also concerned for her personal safety.
She wrote a letter to Bachmann dated April 29. Together with her father, she posted it to CNN’s iReport on May 6. It didn’t take long for news outlets to pick up the story. In it, she criticized the Tea Party caucus leader: She challenged Bachmann to a constitutional debate.
“I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted.”
In fact, many liberals and progressives have questioned the educational background of women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. How do you get through school not knowing the things they don’t know? Where do the weird and bizarre notions they hold originate? Perhaps it is not so much our educational system as some people (Palin, Bachmann, O’Donnell, Angle, et al) not paying attention in class.
Myers also addressed Bachmann’s obligations and responsibilities as a woman:
“As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere.”
The reaction to Myers’ letter has been nothing short of terrifying.
“A lot of them are calling me a whore,” Myers said of anonymous. Amy and her father said the comments from conservative websites alarmed them most. Some commenters threatened to publish her home address. Others threatened violence. Some threatened rape.
Study high tech solutions that would bring new industries to Wisconsin?
-- "No! Wait! That's just what they'd expect us to do."
Last week, and without much reason, Republicans killed a study committeeestablished in 2007 to examine the potential health and environmental effects of nanoparticles used in an array of consumer goods.“They're throwing pretty much all studies done last session in the circular file,” says Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison). “Doesn't matter to them that business people and experts from around the state devoted long hours to the committee… didn't matter that our recommendations would have facilitated the creation of good paying jobs. [They] killed it just because."
So it was not a surprise when the incoming Senate majority leader, Republican Scott Fitzgerald, told reporters a photo ID bill would be the first introduced in 2011. But a recent Fitzgerald statement in defense of photo ID, made to a Green Bay journalist, was an eyebrow raiser.
A Green Bay Press-Gazette editorial on Dec. 9, 2010 quoted Fitzgerald saying: "We continue to see these isolated incidents of people trying to vote five, six times a day; people voting based on some sort of fraudulent documentation that's offered…People think it's important they have open, good, solid, free elections."
Fitzgerald’s allegation that people are voting up five or six times in one election is one we have not heard before.
Is that really going on?
We turned to Fitzgerald’s office, where spokesman Andrew Welhouse couldn’t cite a specific case. Instead, he said there might be cases in other states. But those cases, an anonymous allegation in Oregon and a claim in Alabama, have not been proved.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Birtherism, the debt ceiling, climate change, evolution: Are Republicans losing their grip on reality?
Are Republicans losing their grip on reality?By Jacob WeisbergPosted Friday, May 20, 2011, at 12:22 PM ET
At a press conference last week, someone asked Chris Christie for his views on evolution vs. creationism. "That's none of your business," the New Jersey governor barked in response.
This minor incident, which barely rated as news for a few political blogs, offers a glimpse of Christie's personality, which seems increasinglygrumpy and snappish. But it says even more about the current state of the national Republican Party, where magical thinking trumps rationality, and even to acknowledge basic realities about the world we live in runs the risk of damaging one's political future.
The West Bend GSA has been in the news recently after the West Bend School Board denied it school sponsorship. Student members of the GSA sued the board last week, alleging discrimination against their organization, which has a stated purpose "to combat bullying and harassment through education and advocacy and to provide an emotionally and physically healing learning environment for people of all gender and sexual orientation."
Beginning February 22, Human Arms Will Be Slightly Shorter
FEBRUARY 20, 1996 | ISSUE 29•06
PALO ALTO, CA—In a surprising announcement, scientists at Stanford University revealed yesterday that beginning this Thursday, human arms will become four to six inches shorter. The slight anatomical change, the most significant evolutionary development among homo sapiens in approximately 10,000 years, is expected to occur sometime between 4 and 4:30 a.m. EST.
By DAVID LEONHARDT
Published: May 11, 2011
The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.
The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.
On the other end are Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists. In each case, 20 percent or fewer of followers made at least $75,000. Remarkably, the share of Baptist households making $40,000 or less is roughly the same as the share of Reform Jews making $100,000 or more. Overall, Protestants, who together are the country’s largest religious group, are poorer than average and poorer than Catholics. That stands in contrast to the long history, made famous by Max Weber, of Protestant nations generally being richer than Catholic nations.
Many factors are behind the discrepancies among religions, but one stands out. The relationship between education and income is so strong that you can almost draw a line through the points on this graph. Social science rarely produces results this clean.
What about the modest outliers — like Unitarians, Buddhists and Orthodox Christians, all of whom are less affluent than they are educated (and are below the imaginary line)? One possible explanation is that some religions are more likely to produce, or to attract, people who voluntarily choose lower-paying jobs, like teaching.
Another potential explanation is discrimination. Scott Keeter of Pew notes that researchers have used more sophisticated versions of this sort of analysis to look for patterns of marketplace discrimination. And a few of the religions that make less than their education would suggest have largely nonwhite followings, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Pew also created a category of traditionally black Protestant congregations, and it was somewhat poorer than could be explained by education levels. These patterns don’t prove discrimination, but they raise questions.
Some of the income differences probably stem from culture. Some faiths place great importance on formal education. But the differences are also self-reinforcing. People who make more money can send their children to better schools, exacerbating the many advantages they have over poorer children. Round and round, the cycle goes. It won’t solve itself.
Something for Jim Ott, former TV weather man, Global Warming Denier, friend of Americans for Prosperity.
Warning, this is a bit rough in spots.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s push for major cuts in education funding and state employee compensation rests on his claim of a fiscal emergency he traces mainly to government overspending.
But Democrats and liberal groups say skewed tax policies favoring the wealthy and business at the expense of the middle class are big factors in the state’s budget shortfalls.
Efforts to make that case have often centered on this phrase: "Two-thirds of Wisconsin corporations don't pay state income taxes."
The liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now -- through its affiliated research arm, Institute for One Wisconsin -- has been part of the effort to get that phrase before the public.
The institute’s April report, "We’re Not Broke," called that two-thirds number "shocking," arguing it was evidence that businesses here don’t pay their fair share because of tax loopholes, credits and Wisconsin’s below-average corporate tax rates.
With Walker advocating repealing the corporate income tax altogether, we thought it was time to get to the bottom of this claim.
Look, even Mr. Walker claims to be a born again Christian (although I note he wasn't picked up in the recent Rapture)
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Last week, Walker went to Washington, D.C., to give a speech to school-choice advocates at the American Federation for Children. He started off by reading a Dr. Seuss book, and talking about how "every kid deserves to have a great education."
Then he shocked his own Republican allies back home in the state Capitol by announcing, without warning, that he plans to expand the voucher program from Milwaukee to Beloit, Racine and Green Bay.
Republican Sen. Van Wangaard of Racine and Senate President Mike Ellis objected to being blindsided by Walker's voucher expansion plan, and Ellis backed away from the whole taxpayer funding for wealthy private school families idea.
Madison Wisconsin -- Embattled Scott Walker has already begun the process of privatizing Wisconsin. These changes are radical; however, unless you have been paying very close attention, you may not be aware of what is happening at this very moment inside the Capital. On May 18, 2011 the Walker Administration quietly announced the formation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Most Wisconsinites are unfamiliar with this new government authority which is replacing the former Wisconsin Commerce Department. Yes, Dictator Walker has dismissed a well established Government Department that was subject to procedural policies (such as open meetings laws) and instead installed a Corporation to which he has named himself as CEO. Having pulled off this corporate coup, we should not be shocked by learning about the corporatist henchmen he has appointed to serve as the board of directors.
King Walker has already been accused of cronyism. For example, Brian Deschane although entirely unqualified was hired as head of environmental and regulatory affairs in the state Department of Commerce. Brian’s father sits on the board of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council. This is not a government body. It is a lobbyist group. It turns out that Brian would have been a part of the new WEDC had his father’s association not been discovered. Then there was Valerie Cass, former lobbyist and alleged mistress of Randy Hopper. She received her state job (and subsequent raise) without even officially applying for the position. There is Tom Nardelli who is currently receiving several public pensions and has been awarded a near 100k a year job in the Walker Administration. These are just a few examples, and we offer then as reminders of the pattern of cronyism invading the governmental offices in Madison. Scott Walker rewards his contributor’s, not with government contracts and favoritism – but by giving them a direct and real seat in our government’s business. Remember this, WEDC is a Government Authority. It is calls itself a Corporation but where is their license? It is, in fact, replacing a public authority – headed not by a governor – but by a CEO!
Friday, May 20, 2011
One of the ironies of Archie Bunker's worldview is that the 1930s, 40s, and 50s weren't nearly as conservative as he remembered them. The same faulty nostalgia drives the so-called conservatives of today's Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, who imagine those decades as a time when hard-working Americans pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps.It's true that Americans worked hard during these years. But the bootstraps stuff is nonsense. The 30s through early 60s were the time of the New Deal, low-cost loans from the Federal Housing Administration, the GI Bill, huge subsidies for defense contractors during the Cold War and other industries that employed millions of people, massive transfer of funding from cities to the burgeoning suburbs, federal projects like interstate highway construction and the space program, generous investment in public schools, record union membership, high tax rates for corporations and the wealthy, good job benefits, and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which ensured financial stability in old age and medical crises.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Candidate: McCain doesn't understand interrogation - Politics - Decision 2012 - msnbc.com
McCain said he asked CIA Director Leon Panetta for the facts, and that the hunt for bin Laden did not begin with fresh information from Mohammed. In fact, the name of bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, came from a detainee held in another country.
"Not only did the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed, it actually produced false and misleading information," McCain said.
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday, Santorum said McCain was wrong.
Because Santorum is a gob of Santorum.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Daily Kos: Wisconsin Fast Tracks Toxic Mining Permits, Threatens Great Lakes
-- wait... see? The idiocy-kryptonite is already starting to affect me.
Anyway, nice entry from the folks at Nine Kinds of Pie
Those Who Can, Teach. Those Who Cannot, Pass Laws About Teaching
Making the rounds on Facebook is a button I’d very much like to purchase. This sums up the last decade of U.S. educational policy: “Those who can, teach. Those who cannot, pass laws about teaching.” From “No Child Left Behind” (promoted by President George W. Bush) to the comparably flawed “Race to the Top” (promoted by President Barack Obama), educational policy has been guided by ludicrous ideas like: rather than giving public schools the funds they need, they should be forced to compete for less money. Also: instead of creating conditions that foster learning, let’s focus purely on testing. And let’s not forget this one: instead of making college affordable to all, states should gradually stop supporting higher education, shifting that cost onto those who can least afford it — the students.
Because it's better to be Right than right. ;^)
You hear it again and again, variation after variation on a core message: if you tax rich people it kills jobs. You hear about "job-killing tax hikes," or that "taxing the rich hurts jobs," "taxes kill jobs," "taxes take money out of the economy, "if you tax the rich they won't be able to provide jobs." ... on and on it goes. So do we really depend on "the rich" to "create" jobs? Or do jobs get created when they fill a need?
Here is a recent typical example, Obama Touts Job-Killing Tax Plan, written by a "senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth,"
Better Right than right.
To understand how so many average Americans can be duped into embracing right-wing positions that go against their own interests, you must look at how Fox News (and right-wing media outlets) use faux populism and phony outrage as propaganda techniques, a topic explored by Danny Schechter in this guest essay.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Republicans say they've found the problem in America -- and that problem is the basic framework of the Union as we know it today.
A group of Republicans in the House and Senate are proposing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow a vote by two-thirds of the states' legislatures to override any federal law they did not agree with.
The proposed constitutional amendment, a tea party favorite, is being touted by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in the Senate and co-sponsored by Sens. John Barasso (R-WY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In the House, Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Paul Broun (R-GA) are leading the charge.
During an interview on NBC’s Today show, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered some job-creation statistics to cast a favorable light on the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003.
Host Matt Lauer said to Boehner, "You talk about creating jobs. When the Bush era tax cuts were passed in 2001, unemployment in this country was 4.5 percent. Today it's at 9 percent, just down from 10 percent. So why are the Bush era tax cuts creating jobs?"
In Wisconsin, where public attention now is focused on Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) efforts to undermine the rights of workers to engage in collective bargaining, there is another piece of proposed legislation that could have a substantial negative impact on the state’s young and minority voters. Conservative representatives in the state haveproposed a law, backed by Walker, that would ban students from using in-state university- or college-issued IDs for proof-of-residency when voting. If this legislation became law, it would become one of the strictest voter registration laws in the country and would provide significant logistical and financial barriers for a variety of groups, including student and minority voters.**