Monday, August 20, 2012

The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan's Cruelty


The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan's Cruelty | Alternet
Earlier this year, Democratic operatives looking for the best way to define Mitt Romney discovered something interesting about Paul Ryan's budget. The New York Times reported that when the details of his proposals were run past focus groups, they found that the plan is so cruel that voters “ simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.”

And that's why they succeed.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Paul Ryan, Keynesian?? Here's his Support Of the Keynesian Stimulus.

This gets better and better.

Mitt and Paul?  More like Mutt and Jeff.

Paul Ryan Support Of Stimulus - Business Insider

MSNBC's Chris Hayes has unearthed a straight-up gem of a video from February 14, 2002, wherein Representative Paul Ryan gives a full-throated defense of stimulus to get the country out of recession.
What's key here is not just that Ryan supported stimulus then, it's that he supported it for explicitly Keynesian reasons, including the idea that spending money during a recession would then juice the economy to improve government revenues down the road. And in addition to supporting tax cuts, he explicitly supports things like unemployment insurance and ongoing support for healthcare.
The whole segment will blow your mind.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-ryan-support-of-stimulus-2012-8#ixzz241E7dv7V

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Knowledge is Power. Ryan's stock trades very profitable.

Reported in the UK Guardian.


Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis.
Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, sold stock in US banks on the same day he attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.


For more, here's the link.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

National Catholic Reporter says Romney is not truly pro-life.

Imposing policies that create more abortions is infinitely worse than policies that merely allow for abortions.  Someone at the Catholic Reporter thought this through carefully.

Which presidential candidate is truly pro-life? | National Catholic Reporter


[...]

For example, Obama's Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney's health care law does. Obama favors, and included in the Affordable Care Act, $250 million of support for vulnerable pregnant women and alternatives to abortion. This support will make abortions much less likely, since most abortions are economic. Romney, on the other hand, has endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's budget, which will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the federal plans that support poor women. The undoubted effect: The number of abortions in the United States will increase. On these facts, Obama is much more pro-life than Romney.

But let's not stop there. Obama does not financially profit from the abortion industry. Romney does. Bain Capital, in the time Romney was listed as its legal head and even when he was attending Bain board meetings, was an owner of Stericycle, a major disposer of the dead bodies of aborted children in the United States. (See: Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show.) Bain owned a share of Stericycle until 2004, selling its interest for a profit in the tens of millions of dollars. We can parse what Romney's 1999 "retroactive retirement" from Bain means, but he still gets an annual payout from the firm. To the extent those dollars are part of Bain's Stericycle profits, a strong argument exists that Romney is an abortion profiteer. How pro-life is that?

[...]


No kidding.

David Stockman says so: Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan

Mr. Stockman was right -- and more courageous than most -- when he told Ronald Reagan the truth and he's right now.  Ryan's playing in the fantasy economics league.

Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan - NYTimes.com

[...]
The greatest regulatory problem — far more urgent that the environmental marginalia Mitt Romney has fumed about — is that the giant Wall Street banks remain dangerous quasi-wards of the state and are inexorably prone to speculative abuse of taxpayer-insured deposits and the Fed’s cheap money. Forget about “too big to fail.” These banks are too big to exist — too big to manage internally and to regulate externally. They need to be broken up by regulatory decree. Instead, the Romney-Ryan ticket attacks the pointless Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul, when what’s needed is a restoration of Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial and investment banking.
[...]

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Daily Kos on Tanya Lohr

A nicely clear and partisan free account of the differences between Tanya Lohr and Glenn Grothman.  

We've earned better representation than Glenn.

Here's why.

Daily Kos: Tanya Lohr vs. Glenn Grothman for WI State Senate: His Words, Her Words

Daily Kos for Tanya Lohr.


A nicely clear and partisan free account of the differences between Tanya Lohr and Glenn Grothman.  

We've earned better representation than Glenn.

Here's why.

Daily Kos: Tanya Lohr vs. Glenn Grothman for WI State Senate: His Words, Her Words

Monday, August 06, 2012

Tanya Lohr's campaign makes the Huffington Post.



Read all about it!  Tanya stayed to fight for her family, and everyone else's.  Here's the link to the Huffington Post.
So it was with shock and fear that Lohr watched the Walker agenda. His budget decimated support for public education and directly attacked government workers, including teachers. Her family considered leaving, but decided to stay and fight. Tanya organized locally to recall Scott Walker and his extremist colleagues, including her State Senator Glenn Grothman. She became a coordinator of the Recall campaign and then Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party. And this November, Tanya Lohr will challenge Glenn Grothman for Wisconsin's 20th District Senate Seat.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Sendik’s, responsible Waste Management? Cool.

Okay, I wasn't the only West Bender who lit candles of thanks when we finally got a Sendiks here, but for me, this is the kind of social responsibility we should expect but rarely see.

Tip o the hat to Sendik's!

Sendik’s, Waste Management Converting Food Waste to Compost - Greenfield, WI Patch

Friday, July 20, 2012

Are conservative intellectuals anti-intellectual?

Whatever happened to conservative intellectuals?

Dreaming of a World Without Intellectuals - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
A new book, America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats) (Encounter), by David Gelernter, a professor of computer science at Yale, affords an occasion to revisit the issue: Do contemporary American conservatives scapegoat intellectuals and teachers? If so, they can claim an all-American pedigree.

William F. Buckley Jr. began his career in 1951 with God and Man at Yale, which lambasted his professors for their godlessness and socialism. Past and present American intellectuals on the right generally disdain economic or social analyses of political dislocations. They attribute socialism's appeal, for example, not to the condition of society but to the influence of nefarious professors and subversive writers.

National Survey Shows Support for Voter ID Laws Strongest Among Those with Negative Attitudes Toward African Americans

So, causation or correlation -- oh wait, it doesn't matter.

Voter ID and Race

A new National Agenda Opinion Poll by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication reveals support for voter identification laws is strongest among Americans who harbor negative sentiments toward African Americans.
Voter ID laws require individuals to show government issued identification when they vote. The survey findings support recent comments  by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who portrayed a Texas photo ID law now being challenged as similar to poll taxes used in the Jim Crow era, primarily by Southern states, to block African Americans from voting. Holder pledged to oppose “political pretexts” which, he said, “disenfranchise” black voters.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations Have Made America Like the Soviet Union | | AlterNet

As we keep saying.


The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations Have Made America Like the Soviet Union | | AlterNet
The great power struggle of the 20th century was the competition between Soviet-style communism and "free-market" corporatism for domination of the world's resources. In America, it's taken for granted that Soviet communism lost (though China's more capitalist variant seems to be doing well), and the superiority of neo-liberal economics -- as epitomized by the great multinational corporations -- was thus affirmed for all time and eternity.
There's a small problem with this, though. An old bit of wisdom says: choose your enemies carefully, because over time, you will tend to become the very thing you most strongly resist. One of the most striking things about our victorious corporations now is the degree to which they've taken on some of the most noxious and Kafkaesque attributes of the Soviet system -- too often leaving their employees, customers, and other stakeholders just as powerless over their own fates as the unhappy citizens of those old centrally planned economies of the USSR were back in the day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confessions of a recovering Objectivis

And while I'm thinking about it, another link from my department conversation:

Confessions of a recovering Objectivist | Victoria Bekiempis | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
[...] 
What's scary is that so many Americans have not grown out of that mentally puerile phase. Instead, this contingent – now largely comprised of Tea Party radicals – remains mired in her pop philosophy. 
(Only now has Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, perhaps realizing that supporting an atheist adulterer might hurt his veep chances,changed his tune from Objectivist fanboy to follower of Thomas Aquinas.) 

REPORT: Scott Walker, Right-Wing “Think Tanks” creating another crisis – Public Employee Pensions

Because if it's not broken, they can't 'fix' it... or put the fix in for their friends.

REPORT: Scott Walker, Right-Wing “Think Tanks” creating another crisis – Public Employee Pensions « Badger Democracy

Recent reports on the fiscal state of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) have been consistent. The Pew Research Center  rated Wisconsin a “solid performer” in employee pension funds. The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) Study  submitted under Act 32 on June 30 reported on the fiscal soundness of the fund as well as reforming aspects of the program, including allowing employees to opt into 401(k) style investment. This report was clear in its assessment of the WRS:

Given the current financial health and unique risk-sharing features of the WRS, neither an optional Defined Contribution plan nor an opt-out of employee contributions should be implemented in Wisconsin at this time.

Despite these two independent reports reaching the same conclusion; right-wing think tanks and corporate conservatives like Scott Walker are colluding to create a “crisis” of unfunded liability and debt. This crisis will be used (much like Walker’s $3.6 Billion deficit lie) to push reform of a successful program which needs no reform, is fully funded, and working. The November election outcome will decide if political will exists to push legislative pension reform in Wisconsin. If successful, corporate conservatives will decimate one of the most beneficial, responsible public pension programs in the world – selling it off to 401(k) investments companies like TIAA-CREF, which stand to profit greatly from “reform.”

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nickolaus changed software before April election breakdown - JSOnline

Probably nothing.

Nickolaus changed software before April election breakdown - JSOnline
Sometime after final testing of Waukesha County's election software - but before the April election - County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus mysteriously changed something in her office's computer programming, according to a consulting firm's report released Tuesday.
Only Nickolaus knows what she did. The consultants can't figure it out, and she's not talking.
But whatever she did, it caused a breakdown in reporting election results that will cost county taxpayers $256,300 to fix, the report says.

Two straightforward dismantlings of Ayn Rand.

We've had some conversations in my department lately about what to do with the disciples of Ayn Rand who occasionally show up and, then, disrupt the class with their attempts to proselytize.  This happens mainly in ethics classes where their insistence on what they unreflectively refer to as "selfishness" tends to blind them to the over 2000 years of clear thinking and rigorous argument that, as a rule, grounds coherent and rational ethics in a kind of altruism.

Frankly, I'm no longer able to distinguish Rand's followers from Scientologists -- except that Scientologists have snazzier technology and, of course, John Travolta.

Anyway, for those of you also interested in the nuts and bolts, the smoke and mirrors, of Ayn Rand's doctrines, two useful links.

Why I'm not an objectivist

and

Critique of "The Objectivist Ethics"

Monday, July 09, 2012

How the GOP saves money. Costs taxpayers $256,300 in Waukesha.

Investigating, fixing Nickolaus election errors to cost $256,300 - JSOnline


After Nickolaus stepped aside, Command Central LLC, the Minnesota election software vendor, wasn't able to arrange training for other county staffers until late August, Cummings said. That led the county to hire Command Central to program the software itself for the May 8 recall primary, the June 5 recall general election and the upcoming Aug. 14 primary, at a cost of $237,300, he said.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Turning the tide on corporate education

For-profit education is for profit.  Not clear enough?

Daily Kos: Turning the tide on corporate education
Progressives love reform, and our public school system could certainly use improvement. But any reform that seeks to introduce a profit motive to education while weakening our teachers is simply not progressive, no matter whether the word "reform" is a part of a carefully focus-grouped tagline or not. We don't consider "tort reform" to be progressive when it limits the rights of ordinary people to seek redress through the courts against bad corporate actors, and we don't consider Medicare reform "progressive" when Paul Ryan seeks to privatize it to make insurance companies even wealthier at the expense of our seniors. We need to apply this same suspicion to all the players in the increasingly complex movement geared toward changing education policy.
The progressive victory regarding Change.org is a small but significant step in raising awareness about this issue, but solidarity is key: Progressives must hold Democrats accountable for supporting the for-profit education agenda just as much as they would for supporting attacks on any other union or worker group. The fight to save public education can be won, but it will require standing together to recognize the threat and oppose it everywhere, every time

Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power

Oh well, we'll never be able to catch up with German technology -- not when we keep cutting education.  

Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power : TreeHugger
Now, FITs do make electricity more expensive, since the cost of subsidizing that higher fixed rate is absorbed by all electricity consumers. But Germanydoesn't really mind . And why not? Simple: its citizenry has agreed that producing more non-nuclear clean power is worth shelling out a few extra bucks for each month. Gasp.
Conventional wisdom here in the states is that proposing anything that would lead to higher utility bills would be impossible; the masses would revolt over "energy taxes." Well, that's what our political class would have you believe: in reality, a very recent poll found that a majority of Americans would indeed be willing to pay over $160 extra dollars a year  to buy cleaner electricity. Of course, support varies from region to region and tends to be consolidated in Democratic-leaning areas.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Reagan-appointed judge says Republican Party has become “goofy”

Judges are notorious for understatement.


Reagan-appointed judge says Republican Party has become “goofy” | TPMDC

Look out you rock and rollers: Marxism is on the rise again?

Thank you, Free-Market capitalism, for this.

Why Marxism is on the rise again | World news | The Guardian

Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable." (The best-selling book of all time, incidentally, is the Bible – it only feels like it's 50 Shades of Grey.)
Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China's) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.
The irony is scarcely wasted on leading Marxist thinkers. "The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation," says Jacques Rancière, the French marxist thinker and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. "Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today's."

The Big Lie Machine practicing for November: Wisconsin Rep. Robin Vos says voter fraud accounted for a portion of Lehman’s victory margin over Wanggaard in Senate recall

Oh, pesky facts begone!!


PolitiFact Wisconsin | Wisconsin Rep. Robin Vos says voter fraud accounted for a portion of Lehman’s victory margin over Wanggaard in Senate recall



Wisconsin Rep. Robin Vos says voter fraud accounted for a portion of Lehman’s victory margin over Wanggaard in Senate recall

The balance of power in the state Senate is poised to flip from Republicans to Democrats after voters in the 21st Senate District chose Democrat John Lehman over first-term Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

Lehman’s margin of victory -- 819 votes out of 71,897 cast -- was confirmed July 2, 2012  after a recount. Lehman’s victory gives Senate Democrats a 17-16 seat majority -- at least until the November elections.

In the days following the vote, Republican leaders noted that Wangaard received 49.4 percent of the votes cast in the Senate district, while Republican Gov. Scott Walker racked up 51.04 percent. (The results showed that Wanggaard received 2,689 fewer votes than Walker, while Lehman got 310 fewer votes than Barrett suggesting that Democrats were more prone to vote for their party’s Senate candidate than the Republicans in that election.)

The Wanggaard campaign is considering a court challenge based on issues found during the recount. The problems identified included a variety of complaints from poll workers and election materials that were found in a garbage bin.

The idea that the election results were tainted was advanced most aggressively by state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, whose Assembly district is part of the 21st Senate District. He offered his views June 17, 2012 on WISN-TV (Channel 12)  "Upfront with Mike Gousha."

"Unfortunately, a portion of (the vote) was fraud," Vos said, adding "I’m not sure the entire 800 vote margin was..."

Gousha interrupted and asked Vos if he could make the statement about fraud "with certainty."

"I can, a portion," Vos said. "Yeah, I do believe that."

Time to start teaching Tea Pot Theory in science classes.


Publicly funded religion for me, not for thee

West Bend fundamentalists, take note.

Publicly funded religion for me, not for thee - The Maddow Blog

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Despite Misleading Conservative Claims, Outside Money Does Not Favor Obama

But it does depend on GOP voters not actually being able to do math.

Despite Misleading Conservative Claims, Outside Money Does Not Favor Obama | TPM2012
[...] 
For example, while the National Review mocks Democrats for making a bogeyman out of American Crossroads, their myopic focus on super PACs leaves out their anonymous money machine sibling, Crossroads GPS. That group spent $24 million on a single ad buy in May, matching the Obama campaign’s first big ad campaign dollar for dollar, and almost single-handedly closing the super PAC gap cited by National Review.
Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit backed by the Koch brothers, recently announced a $9 million ad campaign against the Affordable Care Act. The group and others connected to the Koch family are planning to spend as much as $400 million this election cycle, but by the National Review’s standards, this overwhelmingly anonymous spending doesn’t count since it’s either not made by a super PAC or not explicitly opposed to a candidate. Ditto for the Chamber of Commerce, even though that group is explicitly cited in the National Review piece as an organization Democrats are worried about.




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The trouble with Khan Academy -- the addicting failure of online education.

We don't need to cave in to the lure of a technology that makes kids dumber.


The trouble with Khan Academy - Casting Out Nines - The Chronicle of Higher Education

At some point around the beginning of February 2012, David Coffey — a co-worker of mine in the math department at Grand Valley State University and my faculty mentor during my first year — mentioned something to me in our weekly mentoring meetings. We were talking about screencasting and the flipped classroom concept, and the conversation got around to Khan Academy. Being a screencaster and flipped classroom person myself, we’d talked about making screencasts more pedagogically sound many times in the past.

That particular day, Dave mentioned this idea about projecting a Khan Academy video onto the screen in a classroom and having three of us sit in front of it, offering snarky critiques — but with a serious mathematical and pedagogical focus — in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I told him to sign me up to help, but I got too busy to stay in the loop with it.

It turns out I missed my chance at viral internet stardom, because Dave finally made the video along with John Golden ;(another GVSU math person):


Click the link for the video. It's hilarious.

From 2010: Health Insurer Profits Jumped 250% in Last Decade - DailyFinance

In lieu of all the hand wringing about insurance companies not being able to afford the new requirements set by the ACA, hogwash.

This is from 2010.

Health Insurer Profits Jumped 250% in Last Decade - DailyFinance
 Profits for the 10 largest U.S. insurance companies jumped 250% between 2000 and 2009 while millions of Americans have lost coverage, according to a reportreleased Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report found that the five biggest insurance companies -- WellPoint (WLP), Cigna (CI), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Aetna (AET) and Humana (HUM) -- saw their profits increase 56% in 2009, a year in which 2.7 million people lost their private coverage.What's more, the report found that the companies combined earned a total of $12.2 billion last year. And lest we forget, on the executive compensation, CEOs of the top five received $24 million on average in 2008, the report said.

Given the timing of the release of the report, was the document an effort by the Obama Administration to increase pressure on the insurance industry as it looks to gain the public's support for health-care reform? It's clear that health insurance companies don't seem to have a lot of friends these days. 

Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture: Union of Concerned Scientists calls shenanigans.

Not entirely surprising.

They do have a LOT of money however plus a former employee sitting on the US Supreme Court.

Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture: UCS Spreads the Word | Union of Concerned Scientists
Monsanto's advertisements tell an impressive tale of the agribusiness giant's achievements: Feeding a growing population. Protecting natural resources. Promoting biodiversity. 
It sounds wonderful, but unfortunately, there's a catch: These claims are often exaggerated, misleading or downright false. Monsanto's products—and the practices they promote—may sustain the company's profits, but the evidence shows that they stand in the way of truly sustainable solutions to our food and farming challenges.
In the ads below, we counter Monsanto's feel-good rhetoric with some facts gleaned from UCS analysis. Share them with friends, and spread the word: when it comes to healthy farming, Monsanto fails!



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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Government and Economic Growth: Correcting Common Mythology

More news from the facts-based world.

Government and Economic Growth: Correcting Common Mythology | Next New Deal
The claim that the size of government is inversely related to growth is misguided and detrimental. 
A major purpose of the Rediscovering Government initiative is to counter unfounded and damaging claims about the effects of government on an economy’s growth. The Financial Times published a letter on June 27th, which asserted that all economists agree the size of government is inversely related to growth and that high levels of debt tamper growth. I wrote a brief letter challenging such all-too-common mythology, which was published on June 28th.
See the letter below, followed by links to first-rate scholars’ work that can be found on our web site. This in turn is followed by a link to a well-documented rebuttal to the widespread claim that debt of 90 percent affects growth negatively. Finally, the UNCTAD economist, Ugo Panizza, wrote us and sent his own fine work on the subject. We link to that here as well.

Messing With Texas Textbooks -- a future without Jefferson.

The ongoing attempt to strangle the Enlightenment.

Messing With Texas Textbooks | BillMoyers.com
One of the tasks of the Texas State Board of Education is to update curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas schoolchildren. The Texas school system is so large — 4.8 million textbook-reading schoolchildren as of 2011 — that revisions made by the board are often included in school books across the country, though digital technology has lessened this effect in recent years. In 2010, the board got a lot of attention when it approved over 100 amendments — many of which had a very clear conservative political agenda — to the social studies and economics curriculum standards. Here are some of the more pointed proposals.

Feeling the heat

Not that global warming is actually happening or anything since, like, it's just a liberal lie to help fund the world scientific conspiracy -- the same scientists who keep insisting The Visitors are actually dangerous lizard people.

Silly scientists.  Lock them up.

Eugene Robinson: Feeling the heat - The Washington Post

Friday, June 29, 2012

Rep. Joel Kleefisch lobbied the DNR on behalf of contributor dumping human waste near drinking wells. What?!

Oh seriously...

WisPolitics.com: Michalak Campaign: We've got some questions
An investigation by the Wisconsin State Journal found that Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) quietly lobbied the DNR for leniency for a campaign contributor that dumped human waste near drinking water wells. 

The costs and benefits of investing in contraception in the developing world.

Now, if only we'd do it at home.

The latest release from the Guttmacher Institute.


Ironically, this approach prevents more abortions in a week than all the Right to Life groups in the world have prevented in 30 years.  Maybe they should rethink what they're actually trying to accomplish.




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Jesus approved this message. You might be ready to join the Party!


America's Best Christian, Mrs. Betty Bowers, releases a Super PAC ad for the GOP. They're welcome!

If you hate religious extremists -- but are one -- Join the Party!  The GOP is for you.







This video was written and produced by Andrew Bradley for BettyBowers.Com. Deven Green provides narration. Join Betty on Facebook 





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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Senator Johnson Says Employers Should Be Able To Deny Coverage To Cancer Patients Because 'Our Nation Was Based On Freedom'

When you marry into money, this is what happens -- you think you were smart enough to get rich on your own.  This is what that looks like:

Senator Says Employers Should Be Able To Deny Coverage To Cancer Patients Because 'Our Nation Was Based On Freedom' | ThinkProgress
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Businesses should be allowed to deny health insurance to cancer patients, according to a Republican senator, because “our nation was based on the foundation of freedom and limited government.”


More proof that Mr. Johnson understands neither the principles enshrined in the Constitution nor the process by which those principles are put, usually roughly, into practice.

What he really means here -- what he really really wants -- is to deny his employees with cancer the proper insurance.

Well, okay then: single payer it is.

Wisconsin: You asked for it, you got it: Scott Walker.

And, you got exactly what you paid for.

Fortunately, there are safeguards that make it hard for you to hurt yourself and others.

WisPolitics.com: Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Feds reject Walker admin. attempt to make it easier for health insurers to raise rates
Milwaukee: Citizen Action has learned that the Federal government has rejected a request by Scott Walker’s Insurance Commissioner which would have made it easier for health insurance companies to increase rates paid by consumers and businesses. Last month Ted Nickle officially requested a modification of the rate review requirement from the federal government which would make it easier for insurers to increase rates by more than 10% without facing public scrutiny. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Texas GOP politics, coming to Wisconsin? Banning "critical thinking" in the schools.

You don't want them thinking because if they do, well....

The 5 Craziest Policies In Texas Republicans' 2012 Platform | ThinkProgress
There’s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of “critical thinking skills” because they “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Joseph E. Stiglitz | The Price of Inequality

The problems happen when inequality starts to erode fairness.  That's where we are.

Joseph E. Stiglitz | The Price of Inequality
‎"But, most importantly, America’s inequality is undermining its values and identity. With inequality reaching such extremes, it is not surprising that its effects are manifest in every public decision, from the conduct of monetary policy to budgetary allocations. America has become a country not 'with justice for all,' but rather with favoritism for the rich and justice for those who can afford it."

Class decides everything - Salon.com

But not the classes you'd expect.

Class decides everything - Salon.com
America’s worsening class divides both reflect and are exacerbated by the ongoing structural transformation of the economy and the unprecedented geographic sorting that’s gone along with it. Before we can even begin to fix it, we need to acknowledge that it exists.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Morning Cup of Coffee Kills Monkeys

Oh nuts.

My Morning Cup of Coffee Kills Monkeys | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network
My coffee habit is killing the black-handed spider monkey, a cute New World simian (my favorite kind) that thrives in the canopy of Central American forests with tall trees. That’s pretty much the opposite of the kinds of forests that still exist where the spider monkey lives, because for decades we’ve been cutting down those tall trees to make room for farms. Worse, the monkey requires a large amount of such forest as a home range to find enough fruits to eat.

Religious and fiscal conservatives becoming indistinguishable.

Remember when it was easy to distinguish social/religious conservatives from fiscal/economic ones?  Not so much any more.

How Your View of God Shapes Your View of the Economy | Religion & Politics
This compatibility of social and economic concerns has become apparent, of course, in the Tea Party movement. While Tea Partiers were initially cast as die-hard fiscal conservatives, the movement’s pious rhetoric—along with subsequent polling data—indicated that religious concerns were central to its popularity. Ultimately, the Tea Party movement revealed the extent to which religious and economic beliefs meld in the minds of many frustrated Americans. 
To put this more concretely, approximately 31 percent of Americans, many of whom are white evangelical men, believe that God is steering the United States economy, thus fusing their religious and economic interests. These individuals believe in what I call an “Authoritative God.” An Authoritative God is thought to be actively engaged in daily activities and historical outcomes. For those with an Authoritative God, value concerns are synonymous with economic concerns because God has a guiding hand in both. Around two-thirds of believers in an Authoritative God conjoin their theology with free-market economics, creating a new religious-economic idealism. Nearly one-fifth of American voters hold this viewpoint, signaling that it can be a major political force.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wisconsin: None dare call it vote rigging — Bob Fitrakis For Congress

Hmmm.

Wisconsin: None dare call it vote rigging — Bob Fitrakis For Congress

If vote-rigging prospers, none may call it vote-rigging. It simply becomes the new norm. Once again, the universal laws of statistics apply only outside U.S. borders. The recall vote in Wisconsin produced another significant 7% discrepancy between the unadjusted exit poll and the so-called “recorded vote.” In actual social science, this level of discrepancy, with the results being so far outside the expected margin of error would not be accepted.

US wealth distribution: perception vs. reality.

From the folks at ConnectTheDotsUSA.com

Is perception reality?

It is for Americans these days.



State Of The Unions: Labor And The Middle Class : NPR

An update.

State Of The Unions: Labor And The Middle Class : NPR

As unions have declined, Meyerson says, the average wage in some sectors has fallen — in some cases dramatically. In the auto industry, unionized jobs once paid upward of $28 an hour. He says workers in both union and non-union plants are now hired at about $13 to $15 an hour, and in some cases can't earn more than $19 an hour.
Without a middle class helped by unions, Meyerson says, the U.S. would continue down a path of massive inequality of wealth and low levels of mobility.
"People are not moving up the economic ladder now," he says. "We would have real decline in wealth because people's income isn't keeping up, so most of their wealth is in their homes ... [and] people have lost two decades worth of value on their homes. We would have a really strapped middle class."
This, in fact, is what we have now, he says.

Liberals discover a theory to crush conservative jurisprudence.

Consider the entire Constitution... not just the pieces you like.

Jeffrey Rosen: Constitution Avenue | The New Republic
"The Founders came to Philadelphia in 1787 to fix the flaws in the Articles of Confederation and to create the United States of America, a national government capable of solving truly national problems,”

Friday, June 15, 2012

How does the 1% maintain control? We’ve been brainwashed, duh.

Stiglitz in Salon.

We’ve been brainwashed - Salon.com
Not only do Americans misperceive the level of inequality; they underestimate the changes that have been going on. Only 42 percent of Americans believe that inequality has increased in the past ten years, when in fact the increase has been tectonic. Misperceptions are evident, too, in views about social mobility. Several studies have confirmed that perceptions of social mobility are overly optimistic.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Interview with Terry Eagleton: Why Marx was right.

Do we really believe in equality and justice?  Or is that just rhetorical window dressing designed to hide our economic commitment to the kind of "competition" that pushes our neighbors under the bus?

A nice discussion.

The Oxonian Review » An Interview with Terry Eagleton

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Heartland Institute's Special Guest: Scott Walker | ThinkProgress

Time to start planning for the future of Wisconsin and try to swing some tax dollars to help Heartland make up that shortfall.  It'll create jobs, after all.

The Heartland Institute's Special Guest: Scott Walker | ThinkProgress
Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the Heartland Institute’s benefit dinner in August, 2012. Heartland has lost more than $1 million in expected corporate funding in the wake of public outrage over its climate denial, reducing president Joe Bast to beg for more financial support. Walker is a perfect fit for the anti-science extremists at Heartland — like them, he’s Koch-funded global warming conspiracy theorist. Walker has attacked investment in high-speed railwind power, and even recycling.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Democratic Party is alive, and angry, and unified in Washington County.

We'd be hard pressed to find a time in history when over 100 Democrats stood together in Old Settlers Park in West Bend, Wisconsin.  Best guess: never.

Get used to it.  To my friends and neighbors in the GOP:

Welcome to the New Normal.

Candidate for Lt. Gov Mahlon Mitchell revved up the crowd today -- a perfect, Wisconsin, June afternoon.

Click here to come in and see us.  There's a reason it's called the Democratic PARTY.  ;^)




Sunday, June 03, 2012

How Walker is lying with stats on the jobs question.

Even if the unvetted numbers from BLS are correct, it doesn't help Walker's case.

Walker's jobs record an unmitigated disaster - JSOnline
But let's assume that the QCEW data are correct - what do they really tell us? First, the QCEW numbers run through only December 2011 - but all of the available data suggest that job losses under Walker have accelerated in 2012. So the QCEW numbers only give us, at best, a partial snapshot of jobs performance under Walker, including relatively good numbers from his first months in office when his policies weren't even in effect, and tell us nothing about the most recent, apparently worsening economic period.
Second, the QCEW numbers released by Walker are presented in a vacuum - there is no comparative benchmarking to other states (because, unlike Walker, other governors have respected the apolitical integrity of the federal statistical system and not prematurely leaked the QCEW numbers). But, we can compare these Wisconsin numbers to national trends, and in that context Walker's record looks awful: between December 2010-'11, the QCEW preliminary data show a 0.8% increase in Wisconsin employment; by contrast, employment nationally grew by 1.4% during that same period.
In other words, even using the muddled, misleading and politicized figures released by Walker, his "best-case" data show job growth in Wisconsin at only 57% of the national rate during his first year in office. And this does not even include the first quarter of 2012, when, at least according to CES estimates, Wisconsin's job performance fell off the cliff.

‘War on women’ comes to the Wisconsin recall | The Raw Story

Scott Walker has done what no Democrat has been able to do... mobilize independent women to vote for  Democratic Party candidates.
 

   
    'War on women' comes to Wisconsin recall – and could be decisive (via The Christian Science Monitor)
   
       Edna Kunkel calls herself an “accidental activist.” A writer of technical and scientific manuals from Verona, Wis., she came of age at the height of the women’s movement, and she never expected to take to the streets in defense of those causes more than 30 years later.  In large part, Ms. Kunkel…
   

 

 

An autocratic King Scott damaged state

It pays to remember that this sort of approach is not infiltrating local governments as well.  Ahem.

An autocratic King Scott damaged state - JSOnline

I sometimes think of Walker as a black-and-white TV in a world filled with color. He gets only one channel, and it's tuned to a program called "Scott Knows Best." If nearly half of us don't want to watch, he can safely dismiss us as moral relativists who dwell in the outer darkness.
Walker obviously has no patience with the traditional view of politics as a balancing of interests, a messy but necessary massaging of differences. For him and his tea party comrades, it's total war until we reach a state of, well, totalitarianism. There is something deeply undemocratic and downright dangerous about Walker's approach to government.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Talgo CEO calls Walker a liar and Walker's Wisconsin bad for business.

Why would Wisconsin need good jobs for people when Walker's friends come first?

Murphy’s Law: Did the State Screw Talgo? | Urban Milwaukee

For more than a year, Talgo CEO Antonio Perez has held his tongue as detractors dumped on his company and its trains, until finally he could take no more. Perez cannot believe the State of Wisconsin has chosen to terminate two contracts it signed with Talgo nearly three years ago. His company has put almost three years of work into a project to build and maintain trains in a warehouse in Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor, the long-dormant industrial area Gov. Scott Walker has pledged to help revive with a new, $100 million dollar plan. Yet his administration will kill the only viable company now operating there, Talgo.
“What message does this send to other businesses?” Perez asks. “They should be careful of doing business here because Gov Walker does not keep his word. It’s like we’re talking about a Third World country, where people don’t have respect for their contracts.”

Nuff said.


Wisconsin's opportunity to return to Wisconsin values: Electing Tom Barrett.

It's obvious even to the Washington Post.


Wisconsin’s recall election on Scott Walker: A bid for regular order - The Washington Post
Walker is being challenged not because he pursued conservative policies but because Wisconsin has become the most glaring example of a new and genuinely alarming approach to politics on the right. It seeks to use incumbency to alter the rules and tilt the legal and electoral playing field decisively toward the interests of those in power.

[...]

The paradox of Wisconsin is that, although recalling a governor would be unusual, Barrett is the candidate of regular order, of consensual politics, Wisconsin-style. Wisconsin has had successful conservative governors before, Republican Tommy Thompson prominent among them. They enacted conservative policies without turning the state upside down. They sought to win over their opponents rather than to inhibit their capacity to oppose.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Walkergate: Even more Walker shenanigans while Milw County Super surfacing...

In the Keep Telling The Big Lie category....

Scott Walker Pleads the Fifth with Voters – Bid Rigging Surfaces | Wisconsin Politics
Some Fast Facts about the recently surfaced bid rigging allegations
  • breaking investigative report  from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests that Scott Walker is at the heart of the John Doe criminal corruption probe that has charged six Walker associates with 15 felonies.
  • Particularly, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on January 25, 2012 outlines  a bid competition to house the county's Department on Aging in private office space. John Hiller lobbied on behalf of the brokers at the Boerke Company, including information on which county supervisors to approach to prompt a re-bidding of the deal.
  • Walker appointed Hiller to serve  on the Board of the Milwaukee Private Industry Council in March 2003. The Private Industry Council represents government, business, education, non-profit and labor interests in overseeing employment and training programs, funded mostly by federal grants.
  • In 2004, Walker signed a resolution to guarantee  a $1 million loan that enabled the PIC to buy and improve a building.
  • In 2007, control of the Private Industry Council was transferred from Milwaukee County  to the City of Milwaukee, following criticisms of the Council’s workforce development efforts and a UW study citing a “lack of leadership.
  • John Hiller is not listed as a lobbyist with the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County or the State of Wisconsin. However, a Hiller advertisement in a 2008 newsletter for the Commercial Association of Realtors certainly sounds like he was operating a lobbying firm. “JM Hiller Consulting LLC provides real solutions to your business needs with local government,” the ad reads. It goes on to list services that aid in project approval, zoning, grants and awards. The ad goes on to tout that Hiller has “…over 20 years of business and political experience to assist you in navigating the maze of local government…”[Commercial Focus newsletter, June 2008]
  • John Hiller has certainly not been shy in continuing to leverage his close connection to Scott Walker since he has become governor. For example, the official calendars for members of Walker’s cabinet include meetings with Hiller, before and after his resignation from Walker’s campaign. Examples of these calendar entries include:
  • Corrections Secretary Gary Hamblin met with John Hiller on April 8, 2011
  • Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith met with John Hiller and Maximus representatives on June 10, 2011

Walker campaign sends $100,000 to John Doe legal fund - JSOnline

So....

Walker campaign sends $100,000 to John Doe legal fund - JSOnline
Gov. Scott Walker's campaign has transferred another $100,000 to the defense fund used to pay his pricey criminal defense lawyers in the lengthy John Doe investigation into activities during Walker's time as county executive.
Newly filed campaign reports show Walker's campaign transferred $70,000 to the Scott Walker Truston May 3 and another $30,000 on May 17.
That bring the total the first-term governor has put in the defense fund to $160,000 in the past six weeks.
State law requires that the campaign get prior approval from donors before shifting their money to a legal-defense fund. Walker's campaign has declined to identify the contributors who OK'd the transfers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scott Walker's got 99 problems but the rich ain't one.

Can you hear us now?

Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity Goes All Out in Wisconsin Recall--And Denies It! | | AlterNet

I'm sure they're only interested  in... oh, right: making money off Wisconsin taxpayers.

Go vote.

Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity Goes All Out in Wisconsin Recall--And Denies It! | | AlterNet
DC-based special interest group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is busing-in out-of-state Tea Partiers and spending millions on advertisements, rallies, and phone banks in the weeks before recall elections for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four state senate seats. But the group founded and funded by New York-based oil billionaire David Koch insists its activities have nothing to do with the Wisconsin campaigns or elections.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Walker shares blame for Milwaukee’s woes

Yep, he does.

Plain Talk: Walker shares blame for Milwaukee’s woes
A reader called the other day and asked: How much of Milwaukee County’s population lives in the city of Milwaukee?
The answer is roughly two-thirds — about 600,000 of the county’s 950,000 inhabitants. The remaining one-third of the population lives in Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Wauwatosa,Whitefish Bay, et al. West Allis is the second largest municipality in the county with slightly more than 60,000 residents.
Well then, the caller asked, isn’t Scott Walker, who was county executive of Milwaukee County for virtually all of city of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s tenure, as responsible for the city’s economic problems as he claims Barrett is? After all, the city’s residents were all his constituents too.


Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/dave_zweifel/article_4fdd285a-a6ad-11e1-bbaf-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz1wBQJDalQ

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Conservative Case For Voting Against Scott Walker | Baron von Reed

Pretty good.  It appeals to my love of responsible accounting and what used to be called "conservatism"...

A Conservative Case For Voting Against Scott Walker | Baron von Reed

Walkers War on Wisconsin Veterans

Isn't Walker's idea of a free market -- or, rather, the ideology of Walker's owners -- more important than making sure our veterans are treated fairly?

  It is to him.

Walkers War on Wisconsin Veterans | Wisconsin Politics
Madison -- The start of Memorial Day weekend kicked off Friday, with Veterans in both Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin, speaking out against the state’s embattled governor, Scott Walker and his policies. The national holiday recognizes and reveres those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in order to defend our freedoms at home and abroad. Citizens on either side of the political aisle know that if it weren’t for the men and women in uniform, we wouldn’t be able to have political differences of opinion, nor would be able to enjoy the very freedoms we take for granted today.
The common ground between various political entities is that those that have fallen in current or past wars, along with those that serve in the military today, are our mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who joined together regardless if they were Democrats or Republicans, shoulder to shoulder, to defend our great country.
We as civilians need to do our part to help protect those who have given their lives, limbs and time away from their families from joblessness, homelessness, and discrimination. It is a moral and ethical obligation we owe to our troops to show them and those looking to join the military that we as Americans hold our veterans to the highest honor.
Scott Walker doesn’t agree
On Friday, Military Veteran, Michael Gourlie was one of those speaking out against Scott Walker’s legislation that has harmed veterans and their families. Mr. Gourlie is a member of the Wisconsin Association of Concerned Veterans Organizations (WAVCO), who wrote a letter to Gov. Scott Walker on March 2, 2012 urging him not to sign SB202 into law, as it would strip veterans of their employment discrimination redress via the circuit court.
In essence, the legislation removes protections of military service members who are sent overseas or called up to serve their country from being fired for doing so. The legislation was designed by Republican legislators and signed into law by Scott Walker, to the benefit of businesses that care more about their bottom line than ensuring equality for those who are willing or have given life and limb, so those businesses can enjoy a free market.