Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sen. Alberta Darling trying to sound like Sarah Palin.

YouTube - Sen. Alberta Darling on WI Budget-Extraordinary Session 6.16.11

Doing her Sarah Palin imitation.

All that time sipping mai tais at the country club -- after getting out of Cicero -- must've made it easy to forget what it means to be frugal and have to risk to keep a roof over your head.  The only tax payers protected in this budget are in the top 1%... with enough crumbs to keep the small business owners quiet -- and hopeful that they'll be next.

Alberta, middle class families have been getting screwed by these tax policies for over 30 years.  

Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow justice by the neck

Having choked the State of Wisconsin by forcing an amateurish court decisions on unions down citizen's throats, Justice Prosser was, apparently, not satisfied with metaphorical choking.

Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow justice by the neck

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The trouble with Ayn Rand... review.

She who lives by market share, eventually dies by market share.

The Trouble with Ayn Rand

Civilization teeters on the brink: they’ve made a movie of Atlas Shrugged.
| in First Things

I suppose I should have seen it coming. It’s the fashion of the moment. Ayn Rand and her idiotic “Objectivism” are enjoying a—well, I won’t call it a renaissance, so let’s say a recrudescence. Suddenly she is everywhere. In the stock television footage of Tea Party rallies, there she always is on at least one upraised poster, her grim gray features looming over the crowd like the granitic countenance of some cruel heathen deity glutted on human blood. So it goes. At least it answers one question for me. Civilization is always a fragile accommodation at best, precariously poised between barbarism on one side and decadence on the other, and as a civilization dissolves it begins to oscillate between them, ever more spasmodically, until the final collapse comes. Call it morbid curiosity on my part, but I often wonder where the debris of our civilization will ultimately be heaped; and, if this film portends what I fear, now I may know the answer. Rand was definitely on the side of barbarism.

Robert Nozick, father of libertarianism: Even he gave up on the movement he inspired.

Even the prime theorist for what became current libertarianism, stepped away from his flawed assumptions.

Or, put another way, Paul Ryan ain't Wilt the Stilt.
Just as Nozick would have us tax every dollar as if it were earned by a seven-foot demigod, apologists for laissez-faire would have us treat all outsize compensation as if it were earned by a tech revolutionary or the value-investing equivalent of Mozart (as opposed to, say, this guy, this guy, this guy, or this guy). It turns out the Wilt Chamberlain example is all but unkillable; only it might better be called the Steve Jobs example, or the Warren Buffett* example. The idea that supernormal compensation is fit reward for supernormal talent is the ideological superglue of neoliberalism, holding firm since the 1980s. It's no wonder that in the aftermath of the housing bust, with the glue showing signs of decay—with Madoff and "Government Sachs" displacing Jobs and Buffett in the headlines—"liberty" made its comeback. When the facts go against you, resort to "values." When values go against you, resort to the mother of all values. When the mother of all values swoons, reach deep into the public purse with one hand, and with the other beat the public senseless with your dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality

From Fareed Zakaria.

Party Politics: How Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality - TIME

John Dean covered this point beautifully in his Conservatives without Conscience back in 2006.

There's No Arguing With Conservatives ... No, Seriously, Scientific Studies Prove It

Dan Sweeney: There's No Arguing With Conservatives ... No, Seriously, Scientific Studies Prove It
A new study out of Yale University confirms what argumentative liberals have long-known: Offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative lies only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder.

No surprises here. So, back to 4x4's I guess. Oh, and votes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Crisis.

They're now out of the WMC closet.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Crisis – Far More Serious Than The Ruling On Walker’s Anti-Collective Bargaining Law - Rick Ungar - The Policy Page - Forbes

However, the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court revealed something far more shocking than the ruling which went against the supporters of collective bargaining. It revealed, by way of written opinion, a now ‘out in the open’ battle between the members of the court wherein the minority opinion bluntly and directly accused the majority of fudging the facts to reach the decision they had already determined they wanted to reach. The minority opinion further alleged that the majority was driven by political motives rather than the desire to deliver a fair and judicious opinion.

In the world of the law, this is beyond huge. This is gargantuan.

Walker incapable of telling voters the truth?

Apparently, yes.

PolitiFact | All statements involving Scott Walker

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Biblical Marriage: your options.

A chart for our local Zealots regarding Biblical Marriage.

Russ Feingold GOES OFF at WI rally on Corporate "Tool" Scott Walker

Click the link for the video.

Daily Kos: YES! Russ Feingold GOES OFF at WI rally on Corporate "Tool" Scott Walker

Senator Russ Feingold: "Why are we in a place called Walkerville today? I will tell you why we're here. We are here because we will not stop until we win, until this is over. We are here because the big corporate interests in this country decided, about 20 years ago, 'I think the first thing we'll do is pass a bunch of trade agreements and ship overseas all the jobs of the people in the private sector', that's the first thing they decided to do. They got the job done on that, ruthlessly, tricking both parties into it, and then they said 'Okay, now we go after the public employees. Let's go after, those, let's start saying that teachers aren't the people they are, let's start demonizing public employees, and maybe we can get the people who lost their jobs on the private side to turn on the people on the public side!'. It's divide and conquer by the big money interests in this country, that's always been their strategy. Frankly, I don't think all of us saw it coming."

1 in 4 State Legislators Lack College Degrees - Truthdig

This explains a lot.... except Glenn of course... on the other hand, he is a lawyer.

1 in 4 State Legislators Lack College Degrees - Truthdig

West Bend board OKs Gay-Straight Alliance. Finally.

The re-vote offers a few interesting insights into the West Bend school board, one I had not expected:

1) It would be easy to say that the threat of a big lawsuit, one they were sure to lose, forced the school board to do "the right thing" -- but that would be incorrect. Forget about them doing "the right thing". The truth is it took the threat of a lawsuit to force the school board to do the legal thing. This suggests that, when religious intolerance is elected to positions of power, we can't count on such officials even to do what's legal, much less what's right.

2) Three Zealots on the board (Stepanski, Weigand, and it turns out Williams) voted NO anyway. They apparently succumbed to vanity and placed their amateur opinions ahead of the legal advice provided from 2 different law firms. The law is clear and yet Mr. Weigand, who seems to operate under the impression that his Googled-up understanding of the law is superior to the legal experts advising the district, urged the board to spend whatever it took to take this case to the Supreme Court. When he was asked where the money would come from for this wild goose chase, Mr. Williams bounced into the conversation, like Tigger from Winnie The Pooh, insisting that he'd found lots and lots of money in the shrinking district budget to pay for legal fees.

Legal fees yes. Kindergarten teachers, apparently not.

In fact, Mr. William's reasons for voting against giving the GSA equal club status got weirder and weirder the longer he talked. As far as any of us in the audience could tell, and I polled a few people afterwards to make sure I had this right, his complaint came down to the distraction caused by students wearing tape over their mouths during the Day of Silence protest. Apparently this is not a problem when it comes to students using the same technique to protest abortions. But none of these points are even relevant to the legal quicksand the board's original NO vote landed them in. It's all just distracting smoke and mirrors. The only issue was whether or not the board's vote had put the district -- and district tax payers -- on the wrong side of the law. The answer to that is a crystal clear YES.

In revote, West Bend board OKs Gay-Straight Alliance - JSOnline

West Bend - The West Bend School Board voted Monday to sanction a Gay-Straight Alliance student club at East and West high schools, rescinding an earlier decision to deny the group.
By a 4-3 vote the seven-member board reversed a decision in May to deny club status to the group, which would have prevented it from using the schools' public address system, posting club-related information at the schools, using the schools' equipment and resources, raising funds for club activities and inclusion in the schools' yearbooks.

It is worth quoting Tom Paine's Common Sense here, as it has clearly escaped the attention of the board members who, despite the advice of TWO law firms, voted in violation of the law and, thus, satisfied their conceit rather their duty.

There is a reason why the US Constitution is grounded in what's reasonable for everyone, rather than on the moral values of a few; it's this: moral virtue can't be used to rule people.  As our 3 No-voting board members illustrate, personal morality is always susceptible to overwhelming, personal desires.

Here's Tom:
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue. [my emphasis]
The proof of defective moral virtue? Dave Weigand, Tim Stepanksi, and Bart Williams coughed up fur balls of indignation and self-certainty which they allowed to stand in for the kind of rational and deliberate consideration their positions require -- by law.

That leaves me with a final, and surprising observation:

3) Board member Randy Marquardt, a conservative Christian who's personal views should have required him to have voted with the Zealots, took the time to carefully research the Equal Access Act (he noted, quite correctly, that it was originally put in place to guarantee the rights of conservative, in fact Christian, student groups to be recognized as clubs), he seems to have taken the time to chew over and digest the uncompromising legal situation the district found itself in and, then, he placed his public duty above his personal moral preferences and voted to grant club status to the GSA.

What might well be missed in the flurry of noise surrounding this vote is the courage it took for Mr. Marquardt to set aside his personal beliefs in order to fulfill his public duty. While many of us will continue to spar with Mr. Marquardt's political and religious opinions when they appear in school board debates, no one can dispute his character. His vote throws the presence, and absence, of civic duty on the school board into sharp, and unambiguous 4-to-3 relief.


Monday, June 13, 2011

The GOP's Medicare Lies

From Jim Hightower at Truthout.

The GOP's Medicare Lies

Apparently, Republicans think telling the truth is unfair in today's politics, so they're angry at Democrats for talking about Ryan's plan to kill Medicare. Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican whose sweeping white pompadour covers a totally empty head, recently ranted in feigned outrage that Democrats are trying to "scare the daylights" out of seniors. "I think that's irresponsible," he bellowed, oblivious to his own absurd scare tactics of only two years ago, when he assailed "Obamacare," direly warning that Obama was turning Medicare into "a health care gulag."

They can run, but on this one they can't hide.

Madison360: Walker's scorched-earth start nearly complete

Ah, open for business.... you know, before you can plant a new crop you have to burn everything else to the ground.

Madison360: Walker's scorched-earth start nearly complete

Most of our state's national notoriety in 2011, of course, has been around Walker's efforts to destroy the state's public employee unions.

But the list of other extremist proposals is staggering, even if all of them don't go through: extravagant corporate tax breaks; boosting private schools with vouchers while slashing public education; attacking environmental protections that touch stewardship funds, recycling laws and phosphorus bans; attacking crucial health programs including SeniorCare, Family Care and a broad range of services offered by Planned Parenthood; passing tort "reform" that's shorthand for reducing consumer rights; passing the heavy-handed voter identification law; a gun-promoting "constitutional carry" law; rejecting wind energy and almost anything that touches on urgently needed, future-focused mass transit.


Plus handing back millions and millions in our own federal tax dollars because.... yeah, I don't get that either. It's our money His Lordship is giving back to the feds.

Why the Right Wing's Denial of Science May Screw All of Us ...alternet

The same ideology that insists on voodoo economics insists on denying inconvenient scientific claims about climate and evolution as well. Of course.

Except that it could have terrible consequences....

Why the Right Wing's Denial of Science May Screw All of Us | | AlterNet

Friday, June 10, 2011

A simpler version of the trouble with Mr. Bush's tax cuts.

10 Years Later, How Bush-Era Tax Cuts Changed America

Had enough voodoo economics yet America? No? Well, Republicans can't afford to stop now -- if things improve they won't win the White House.

Here's the Huff Post Article: 10 Years Later, How Bush-Era Tax Cuts Changed America

And the original link to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

I'm particularly taken with the economic benefit the wealthiest received vs the rest of us.

West Bend School Board gets a second chance to do the right thing, but only because they're forced to.

The fact that this is also the morally and legally correct action apparently has little traction with the zealous Puritans... only the threat of fines. I wonder if this is how they operate in the rest of their lives. Randy? Dave? Tim? Only do what's right when there's a sword hanging over you?

Will they do the right thing >NOW

BoardDocs® Agenda Item: 5.A 7:40 Consideration of rescission of May 9, 2011 board action regarding recognition of the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) as a school-sponsored club

Topic and Background:
Based upon their legal analysis of the factual allegations, applicable laws and legal precedence, two separate law firms have indicated that it is more likely than not that the GSA would prevail on the merits of the lawsuit filed in federal court against the District as a result of the denial of the GSA’s application for recognition as a school sponsored club. The two firms estimate that the cost of defending the lawsuit would range from $215,000-320,700. They also estimate the amount of time that Board members, administrators and other District employees would be involved in litigation activities could range from 224-328 or more hours over the next year. If the GSA should prevail, the District would also likely be responsible for payment of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ costs and fees incurred in the litigation.
The leadership recommendation is to approve the application of the GSA for club status.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Ayn Rand & GOP vs Jesus

Ayn Rand & GOP vs Jesus | from Crooks and Liars

I suppose there is some sense in which the GOP's love of Rand's libertarianism squares with their professed love of Jesus...

-- yeah, I was kidding. It doesn't.

The Long, Sad History Of ‘College Not Worth It Anymore’ Articles

The Long, Sad History Of ‘College Not Worth It Anymore’ Articles | ThinkProgress

Kevin Carey has a fun piece up at TNR where instead of directly rebutting the current glut of articles postulating a glut of college educated workers, he simply looks back at the last few recessions’ worth of such articles. I’m gonna skip to the punchline:

The Republican Anti-Tax Position Is Rapidly Crumbling Under the Weight of Deficits

The Republican Anti-Tax Position Is Rapidly Crumbling Under the Weight of Deficits | Capital Gains and Games

Republicans have been very effective at convincing the people who end up receiving more direct economic benefit from taxes than they cost that taxes are "stealing their money", and thereby garner support for policies that reduce taxes for the wealthy people who receive less direct economic benefit from the taxes than they cost. The dirty word that no one wants to talk about is redistribution.

Some of the links in the article are worth while on their own:

Congressional Budget Office

Pew Charitable Trusts

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Let's remember what they call people who are tricked into giving their money away: suckers. And let's remember what they call politicians who won't stand up for these suckers: sleeping Democrats.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Why do the Poor Continue to Defend Tax Breaks for the Rich?

Why do the Poor Continue to Defend Tax Breaks for the Rich? - The Pragmatic Progressive Forum

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” John Steinbeck

The conservative future of education:HS diplomas now for sale in Florida.

Think of the (short term) cost savings to the taxpayer.

Think of the (long term) costs to the nation.

Michelle Rhee's Handiwork: Florida Diplomas For Sale And Much More | Crooks and Liars

The anti-education sentiment trips over its own flat feet...

How is it that people who know nothing about education think they're competent to make decisions about education?

Joint Finance Committee forbids the use of federal funds for broadband program.

Um... why did Joint Finance plug this language into in the next budget?

     “Prohibits the Board of Regents, the UW System, and UW Institution, or the UW-Extension, directly or indirectly, from doing any of the following: receiving funds from any award from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Building Community Capacity through Broadband (BCCB project; disbursing, spending, loaning, granting, or in any other way distributing or committing to distribute any funds received with respect to, budgeted to, or allocated for the BCCB project, and participating in the planning, organization, funding, implementation or operation of the BCCB project.”   

Turn your back on opulence, America

What happens when your culture equates "having money" with "living well?"

America in the 21st century is what happens. Who has the solution?

Aristotle, of course.

Turn your back on opulence, America -

America's bankrupt, but not in the way you think. Not merely financially, but at a deeper level, it's bankrupt in terms of its understanding of prosperity – what a "good life" is imagined to be.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus

This does a nice job of explaining our local crop of fundamentalist Old Testament Christians. Maybe they miss the old abusive, pre-anger management, God? Maybe they resent all this mercy and compassion and forgiveness Jesus kept on about.

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus «

This article was co-authored by Dan Cady is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Fresno. He publishes on the history of the American West, music, and religion.
The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life ( reveal what social scientists have known for a long time: White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus. It is perhaps one of the strangest, most dumb-founding ironies in contemporary American culture. Evangelical Christians, who most fiercely proclaim to have a personal relationship with Christ, who most confidently declare their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, who go to church on a regular basis, pray daily, listen to Christian music, and place God and His Only Begotten Son at the center of their lives, are simultaneously the very people most likely to reject his teachings and despise his radical message.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Artwork shuffle at governor's mansion raises eyebrows

Oligarchs like what they like.

Artwork shuffle at governor's mansion raises eyebrows - JSOnline

A ray of hope: Jon Stewart’s Ratings Are Now Higher Than All Of Fox News

Because when politics is a joke, only comedy can tell the truth.

Jon Stewart’s Ratings Are Now Higher Than All Of Fox News

Ryan’s Cowardly Budget. An attack on regular Americans.

This is how you pay for more tax breaks for the few -- on the backs of regular wage earners.

Ryan’s Cowardly Budget — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Conservative Fantasy for Our Nation?

With Tea Party conservatives and many Republicans balking at raising the debt ceiling, let me offer them an example of a nation that lives up to their ideals.

It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs.

This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled.

The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags.

So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia? Why, it’s Pakistan.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Ryan's budget punked?

Paul Krugman.

The Ryan Mistake -

What I hope regular readers of this blog understand by now is that the Ryan plan is, in fact, a self-serving piece of junk. It doesn’t add up — in fact, it would probably make the deficit bigger not smaller. And far from representing some kind of sacrifice of political interests in the service of the greater good, it’s a right-wing wish-list on steroids: sharp tax cuts for corporations and the rich, savage cuts in aid to the poor, and a gratuitous privatization of Medicare. And again, it’s technically incompetent along the way.

Pat Strachota's common sense. UW-Madison to stay in system

UW-Madison to stay in system, budget panel says - JSOnline

The Journal Sentinel did not really give Rep Pat Strachota  the kind of credit she deserves for her role in working out this legislation, but the Capital Times did.

"This plan is a great start at giving all of the campuses in the UW System the flexibilities they need and have been asking for," said Rep. Pat Strachota, R-West Bend. "It is the product of a lot of thoughtful discussion and compromise and sets the stage to continue the dialogue on allowing further flexibilities in the future."
Strachota and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, are the members of the Joint Finance Committee tasked with taking the lead on higher education issues.

Tip o the hat!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Walker goes after police and fire unions, as expected.

As expected, their turn was coming. Thanks for standing up with and for the rest of us, even before it did!

JFC passes motion requiring new hires to fire and police to pay increased health care and pension rates | Defend Wisconsin

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee passed a motion late Thursday that requires new hires to fire and police departments to pay the increased health care and pension rates. The higher rates would also kick in if an employee took a promotion at a different police or fire department.

The motion also eliminates police and fire employees ability to collectively bargain on the design and choice of a health insurance plan.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

So this is how School Boards negotiate given the new Walkerstein reality.

All of the things that were left, like scheduling, that might have given the teachers some joy -- now that the money isn't available -- seem to be off the table?

Uh, folks?