Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
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.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
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.
[...]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
Party Politics: How Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality - TIME
John Dean covered this point beautifully in his Conservatives without Conscience back in 2006.
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
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.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Friday, June 10, 2011
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?
Thursday, June 09, 2011
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
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
The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Tea-Party-and-Religion.aspx) 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
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
The Ryan Mistake - NYTimes.com
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.
"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.
Friday, June 03, 2011
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