Saturday, March 31, 2012

Global Warming Deniers are rolling the dice for the rest of us.

Rolling the dice on climate change is a stupid idea, as Pascal well understood 300 years ago.

Here's the link to the IPCC  report itself.

UN sends global warming alert | World | BigPond News
Climate change experts say a new UN report shows deadly extreme weather events will increase unless nations tackle global warming.

An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released overnight states that global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heatwaves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of dangerous and costly weather disasters.

In the past, the IPCC, founded in 1988 by the UN, has focused on the slow inexorable rise of temperatures and oceans as part of global warming.

The latest report is the first to look at the less common but far more noticeable extreme weather changes which recently have cost on average about $77 billion a year in damage.

The real reason Sen. Snowe is leaving the Senate. For profit education scandal at home.

Speaking of virtual, for-profit, education:

Is There More to Sen. Snowe's Resignation Than Congress's "Crumbling Center"?

Snowe's announcement she will not seek another term in the Senate may have little to do with "civility" or "loss of the center" within contentious politics and more to do with the fact her husband is knee-deep in controversy over an educational for-profit college chain know as Educational Management Corporation or Wall Street ticker (EDMC). 
Snowe's husband is former Maine Gov. John McKernan, and he is currently the chairman of the board of directors of EDMC and former CEO of what is the second-largest owner of for-profit colleges in the country. 
The for-profit educational retail chain has been sued by the Justice Department and eleven states, based on allegations that the firm falsely reported to government officials that it was not basing recruiter salaries on incentives, which is an illegal ploy the for-profits have used to increase enrollment. The government alleges that they did use incentive pay for recruiters.
If the allegations are proven, then EDMC will be held liable for the theft of billions in government funds from Title IV. This could raise some eyebrows regarding McKernan's role as CEO during the time that the company allegedly received Title IV monies illegally and could subject the former governor of Maine to criminal liability.

Ron Johnson sells out Wisconsin tax payers -- votes to keep tax breaks for Big Oil.

Thank you Senator Johnson for looking after our interests by making sure billion dollar corporations get tax breaks.

Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil | ThinkProgress

Vinney Pheng: "Conservative" school board candidate wants tax payer supported charter school for his kids?

It's important to remember that Vinny Pheng, the WB School board candidate who thinks teachers are useless and has his kids in private school, is on the board of the local Baptist Church that advocated for a religious based charter school at TAXPAYER EXPENSE last year.   So, have the rest of the taxpayers pick up the tab for his kids to attend a school that doesn't perform as well as the public school does?

I know. Ironic.

This is what "conservative" has come to mean -- get the tax payer to support his private interests at the expense of any public responsibilities.

He likes Mr. Walker.

Of course.

Virtual-School Group Rewards Scott Walker | The Progressive
The news about Scott Walker’s education initiatives isn’t good this week. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction came out with a damning report on achievement test scores  of kids in private “choice” schools.
In Racine and Milwaukee, kids attending private schools on the taxpayer’s dime through voucher programs are performing significantly worse in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System. In Racine, choice school students scored nearly fifteen points below their public school counterparts in reading, and ten points below in math.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators has posted results of its survey  detailing the effects of Walker’s 2011-2013 budget, which cuts $1.6 billion over the biennium. From loss of essential learning and support programs to massive teacher losses and increased class sizes, things are looking grim for Wisconsin’s public school kids and the k-12 schools they attend.
All this bad news seemed lost on the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families, which bestowed the “Rock Star for Education Reform” award on Governor Walker at a private ceremony in the Concourse Hotel Wednesday. The group of approximately 30 adults and 100 children who “attend” online schools gathered for a lobbying day in Madison.

Paul Ryan: Zombie Granny Starver? Yep.

What happened to real Republicans?  Did the marketing zip created by these polarizing ideas become a kind of crack?  Did the craziness, fall out from a successful Southern Strategy, overwhelm any sense of shame?

Looks like it.

Paul Ryan Endorses Romney - Ryan and Romney: A Marriage Made of Our Insane Times - Esquire

You have to give it to him: It's been a good week for Congressman Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from Wisconsin. Now, if we were still sane in our politics, the zombie-eyed granny-starver would have been laughed out of his own party when his previous efforts at zombie-eyed granny-starving caused the entire nation to blanch as one, and cost the Republicans a congressional seat in upstate New York that they'd held approximately since DeWitt Clinton bought the farm. If we were still sane in our politics, sensible Republicans would have gone to Ryan at that point and told him, You know, dude, maybe for you not so much this budget stuff any more. If we want to hang an albatross around our necks, we'll go out and shoot one ourselves. If we were still sane in our politics, the national media no longer would've gone to the zombie-eyed granny-starver as a wise man on our economic difficulties because, every time the man produces a budget, the Congressional Budget Office has to hand out Thorazine just so its analysts can get through the day.
Read more:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Paul Ryan: Lying about the military.

Apparently diverted from fronting his failed economics .. what with the recovery and all .. Rep Ryan is occupying himself in other parts of the political arena -- like claiming out top military commanders have been lying to the commander-in-chief.

Hmm.  I wonder what the Generals thought of that?

Not much.

Dempsey Hits Ryan For Calling Military Brass 'Liars': 'I Stand By My Testimony' In Support Of Obama DOD Budget | ThinkProgress

Yesterday during a policy discussion hosted by the National Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House GOP’s supposed budget guru, said that America’s top military brass were lying about their support for President Obama’s Pentagon budget. When asked why the GOP’s budget — which passed the House yesterday — ignores the generals advice and increases military spending, Ryan replied, “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Martin Dempsey fired back  at Ryan, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The New McCarthyism: who gets to sign a recall petition?

Being in public service does not mean you give up your rights as a citizen... although some think it does.

Gannett sanctioning of journalists promotes a new “McCarthyism”, reeks of hypocrisy « Badger Democracy
Attacks continue against Dane County Circuit Court  judges, based on their signing of the recall petitions. The Wisconsin GOP has filed a complaint against Judge David Flanagan for his refusal to recuse himself from hearing arguments and ruling on the Voter ID law. As Marquette University Law Professor Edward Fallone points out in a recent faculty blog , the charges are without merit:

“The signing of a recall petition is a right guaranteed by Article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution.  It is a procedure whereby any voter can request that the continuation in office of an elected official in the State of Wisconsin should be put to the vote of the full electorate.  If a sufficient number of voters sign the petition, a recall election is held.  A recall can only succeed in removing the officeholder if both a sufficient number of recall signatures are filed and a majority of the electorate votes in favor of removal.  The Recall is democratic self-governance in its purest form, and along with the Initiative and the Referendum it is one of the three structural vehicles  by which Progressive Era voters sought to bypass the influence that special interests hold on elected bodies.”

A new McCarthyism has arisen in Wisconsin, awakened by desperate Walker defenders. The same constitutional argument holds true for journalists – the recall is not only a Constitutional process, it is by definition a non-partisan process. The searchable  database was constructed with this very intent – a new “red scare” arising from a corporatic party willing to sacrifice the First Amendment for power, and Gannett has played along in shredding the protection of self-governance and expression afforded in the Wisconsin Constitution.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Right back to work pushing Creationism in Oklahoma. When will West Bend have its chance?

Get ready West Bend.   A number of school board members want it -- do they dare? ;^)

-- Oh, boys... please please dare.

Oklahoma Opens The Door For Creationism In Schools | Addicting 

A new round of bills is making its way through Republican controlled legislatures with almost identical language that will allow teachers to “teach the controversy” about accepted scientific facts. Tennessee just passed theirs and now Oklahoma is next up to the plate of scientific illiteracy.

The bill, adorably called the “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act,” purports to expand scientific freedom and inquiry but what it really does is make it impossible for proper teachers to dismiss unscientific (read as religious) “arguments” and to allow unethical charlatans posing as teachers to undermine actual science to further a religious agenda. The idea is to “create an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.” The problem is that “opinion” has no place in the science classroom. It can be my “opinion” that the moon is made out of green cheese, that has no bearing whatsoever on the fact that it is made of rock.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ain't the government what's the problem -- the problem is with them what owns the government.

And that ain't us.  It's time to get the target right -- once this happens, the Tea Party will turn back into Moderate Democrats.

Robert Reich muses on the theme.

'Big Government' Isn't the Problem, Big Money Is | Common Dreams
Conservatives love to rail against “big government.” But the surge of cynicism engulfing the nation isn’t about government’s size. It flows from a growing perception that government doesn’t work for average people but for big business, Wall Street and the very rich—who, in effect, have bought it. In a recent Pew poll, 77 percent of respondents said too much power is in the hands of a few rich people and corporations. 

School Board candidates offer a clear choice

Some common sense from our friend Waring Fincke's Saturday Daily News Column

School Board candidates offer a clear choice
School Board candidates offer a clear choice
Experience and proven leadership skills needed to guide our schools

With the passage of Act 10, our schools entered uncharted territory. Without teacher and support staff labor contracts, the District needs experienced and knowledgeable leaders on the school board to make sure that the children who attend our public schools continue to receive the best education possible in the face of declining revenues and new employeremployee relationships. Kris Beaver and Therese Sizer bring much-needed skills to very difficult issues facing our schools.

Kris Beaver has served well during his seven-year tenure on the board and is seeking re-election. Beaver lives in Jackson and teaches at the Kewaskum High School. Before turning to teaching, he worked for 17 years in various businesses, including management of multimillion dollar budgets. Beaver has steered a middle course, voting to cut when funds were not available and helping to advance more realistic facilities referenda. He voted for budget and programmatic reductions to balance the budget while voicing strong concerns about the impacts those reductions would have on students. He helped bring the Badger Middle School renovation in on time and under budget. He supports creative educational improvements including expanded Advanced Placement opportunities. He brings an educator's perspective to discussions about educational choices and asks tough questions. While on the board, he helped reach consensus on balanced budgets and thorny education issues. His two children attend the high schools where they have received great educations. He wants future high school students to have the same opportunities his children enjoy.

Therese Sizer seeks the other seat on the board. Sizer has lived in West Bend most of her adult life, raising a family and working as a litigation lawyer for West Bend Mutual Insurance for the past 19 years. Her son and daughter both recently graduated from the West Bend high schools. She was an active parent in their education and athletic activities. She is intimately familiar with our schools, their offerings and some of their shortcomings. Sizer familiarized herself with school district funding and educational issues. She stresses the important role quality public education plays in the life and value of our community. She met with groups across the political spectrum, listening to their concerns. Sizer has endorsed a platform for quality public education put forward by an independent group of community leaders, Taxpayers for Excellent Education. She embraces fiscal restraint and accountability. Sizer will bring much needed legal and business skills to the board's deliberations, adding a new dimension to school board deliberations and district oversight.

Southaviney "Vinney" Pheng is making his second bid for a seat on the board. He ran last year, came in last and was eliminated in the primary. Pheng's views were made clear in his presentations to the school board and during the candidate forum last spring. I posted videos of these events on YouTube. We know he is a military veteran and self-proclaimed conservative. His children attend private school. His primary agenda appears to be lowering school property taxes. Pheng believes public education ought to cost a lot less. Pheng urged the board to spend public funds to support a religious charter school proposed by the pastor of the Baptist church where Pheng serves as a Deacon while failing to disclose this connection when speaking in favor of the proposal.

Carl Knepel is a 21-year old college student who is also running for the board for a second time. He dropped out of his last race. Knepel attended the West Bend high schools and served as a student representative on the school board in his senior year. He styles himself a libertarian who seeks fiscal conservative positions. Knepel has little real-world experience and is not a property taxpayer. He has no business skills or experience and has never managed a business enterprise, much less one close to the scope and size of our school district.

Beaver and Sizer offer the experience and skills needed to support innovative high quality education under an uncertain new set of rules and deserve election to the West Bend school board on April 3rd.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have WI state media ignored ALEC’s influence on Voter ID?

Looks like they did.

State media ignored ALEC’s influence on Voter ID | Defend Wisconsin
LEC has a vast legislative influence in Wisconsin that started decades ago. For example, Wisconsin Republican state legislators have been passing bills to “reform” Wisconsin’s public schools that have been poured through the filter of the ALEC’s agenda for school reform before they were exposed to the light of day. One of these bills isAB 110 , which passed the state Assembly in March.  The bill would divert up to $80 million from public schools to private schools without requiring them to follow the same rules or provided needed services. The bill is part of the ALEC‘s agenda for school reform. Specifically, AB 110 is modeled on the ALEC Special Needs Scholarship Program Act . Lately, Wisconsin professors have started to confront ALEC’s threat to public education
ALEC began to focus on voter ID shortly after the highest general election turnout in nearly 60 years swept America’s first black president into office with strong support from college students and African-Americans. Soon after the 2008 elections, “Preventing Election Fraud” was the cover story on the Inside ALEC magazine, and ALEC corporations and politicians voted in 2009 for “model” voter ID legislation .
As a result, dozens of voter ID laws have been introduced in state legislatures over the past two years, including particularly strict measures passed in seven states in 2011 — Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin. In fact, around 34 Voter id bills modeled after the ALEC template were introduced in 2011.
Media Matters study  finds that despite the extensive and obvious influence of ALEC on state legislation, state media have largely ignored the group. The study finds that The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Completely Ignored ALEC’s role in Wisconsin’s voter ID billBased on a content analysis, since January 1, 2009 Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, has mentioned ALEC only eight times. One of these mentions was a letter to the editor which cites ALEC’s position on public employee retirement reform. The remaining seven mentions were contained in straight news stories.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Virginia/Missouri conservative group asks for investigation of judges who signed recall petitions

Codes of ethics are tricky.  During my work day I am not allowed to participate in partisan political activity either, but that doesn't obviate my constitutional rights.

Here's the story: Conservative group asks for investigation of judges who signed recall petitions

And here's the Code of Ethics.

The relevant section is: SCR 60.06 A judge or judicial candidate shall refrain from inappropriate political activity.

Quite sensible.  Here are the practical details:
(2) Party membership and activities.
(a) Individuals who seek election or appointment to the
judiciary may have aligned themselves with a particular political party and may have engaged in partisan political activities. Wisconsin adheres to the concept of a nonpartisian judiciary. A candidate for judicial office shall not appeal to partisanship and shall avoid partisan activity in the spirit of a nonpartisan judiciary.
(b) No judge or candidate for judicial office or judge-elect may
do any of the following:
1. Be a member of any political party.
2. Participate in the affairs, caucuses, promotions, platforms, endorsements, conventions, or activities of a political party or of a candidate for partisan office.
3. Make or solicit financial or other contributions in support of a political party's causes or candidates.
4. Publicly endorse or speak on behalf of its candidates or platforms.
(c) A partisan political office holder who is seeking election or appointment to judicial office or who is a judge-elect may continue to engage in partisan political activities required by his or her present position.
(d) 1. Paragraph (b) does not prohibit a judge, candidate for judicial office or judge-elect from attending, as a member of the public, a public event sponsored by a political party or candidate for partisan office, or by the campaign committee for such a candidate.
2. If attendance at an event described in subd. 1. requires the purchase of a ticket or otherwise requires the payment of money, the amount paid by the judge, candidate for judicial office, or judge-elect shall not exceed an amount necessary to defray the sponsor's cost of the event reasonably allocable to the judge's, candidate's, or judge-elect's attendance.
(e) Nothing in this subsection shall be deemed to prohibit a judge, judge-elect, or candidate for judicial office, whether standing for election or seeking an appointment, from appearing at partisan political gatherings to promote his or her own candidacy.
And the Comment [my underlining].

The rule prohibits political party membership and activities by judges, nonincumbent candidates for judicial office, and judges-elect. When one becomes a candidate for judicial office is determined by the terms of SCR 60.01 (2) which defines "candidate" as "a person seeking selection for or retention of a judicial office by means of election or appointment who makes a public announcement of candidacy, declares or files as a candidate with the election or appointment authority, or authorizes solicitation or acceptance of contributions." The rule prohibits judicial candidates and judges-elect as well as judges from making or soliciting contributions to the party or its candidates and from publicly endorsing or speaking on behalf of partisan candidates or platforms. Although the rule contemplates the continuance of nonpartisanship on the part of Wisconsin judges and those seeking judicial office, judges are not expected to lead lives of seclusion. As members of the public and as public officeholders, judges may attend public events, even those sponsored by political parties or candidates, so long as the attendance does not constitute the kind of partisan activity prohibited by this rule. The judge, judicial candidate or judge-elect is responsible for so conducting herself or himself that her or his presence at the sponsored event is not made to appear as an endorsement or other prohibited political activity. The judge, judicial candidate, or judge-elect should also exercise care that the price of his or her ticket to any such event does not include a prohibited political contribution.

Is signing a petition an "event"? It's a valid question.

And how, then, do we weigh this against their rights as citizens? Surely Constitutional rights can dovetail with a Wisconsin judge's responsibility to avoid partisanship -- although if that were the case, then we'd need to consider Justice Prosser's opinion regarding the Legislature's failure to follow it's own rules as setting a very bad example for the children.

Tennessee Passes 'Monkey Bill' To Teach The 'Controversy' On Evolution And Climate Science

Here's a great opportunity for West Bend's Creationist/Denier/Dominionist/TeaPartier/Anti-Education School board to push, once more, to have evolution sidelined in science classes.

I double dare you.

Tennessee Passes 'Monkey Bill' To Teach The 'Controversy' On Evolution And Climate Science | ThinkProgress
The National Association of Biology Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Institute for Biological Sciences, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Nashville Tennessean, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Tennessee Science Teachers Association, and all eight Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences oppose  the legislation.

The bill now goes to Gov. Bill Haslam (R-TN) for his signature.
Also on Monday, a bill to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings (HB2658) passed the Tennessee House by a vote of 93-9.

Fundamentalist Christianity is not interested in a "sustainable" future.

Remember this.  They don't think it matters.  In their version of Christianity the world needs to be got rid of and is scheduled for demolition.  Why bother preserving it?

Unfortunately, Christians who believe God gave the world to humans as a gift, ran afoul of Corporate Interests.

The ‘Green Dragon’ Slayers: How the Religious Right and the Corporate Right are Joining Forces to Fight Environmental Protection | People For the American Way

In the last decade, as evangelical Christian leaders increasingly became involved inconservation “creation care”  and taking action against global climate change , the alarms went up in corporate America  that many traditional members of the conservative coalition were becoming advocates  for environmental protection. To counter the rise of the faith-based environmentalist Evangelical Climate Initiative , the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance emerged. The ISA, propped up by business interests including  Exxon Mobil , haspeddled misleading and false claims  to make the case that climate change is a myth. In 2007, the ISA was renamed the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation  and became more belligerent and zealous in its anti-environmental activities. 

Paul Ryan’s budget: putting the sting back into hard luck

Because a safety net without holes isn't really a .... wait.  Never mind.

Paul Ryan’s budget hurts the poor - The Washington Post
Paul Ryan, outlining his latest budget proposal in the House TV studio Tuesday morning, said the policies of the Republican presidential nominees “perfectly jibe” with his plan , which slashes the safety net to pay for tax cuts mostly for wealthy Americans. 

Fall out from Walkerstani deregulation.

What Walkerstan looks like... let the local party officials make stuff up as they go along in order to pay for the tax cuts they owe their patrons.

From our friends at Democurmudgeon: 

Collective Bargaining Rules Leave Counties and School Boards without Standards.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Walkergate cont.: Walker Secretly Hired & Promoted Rindfleish Without Knowledge of Chief of Staff

I'm running out of cynicism to clot the flow of exasperation.

Explosive Revelation: Walker Secretly Hired & Promoted Rindfleish Without Knowledge of Chief of Staff | Uppity Wisconsin

We had previously known Russell had hired Rindfleish and that Walker's Chief of Staff, Tom Nardelli, had no idea Rindfleish had been hired until she showed up for work. Now we know that Russell wasn't acting like some kind of lone wolf-- he completly bypassed Nardelli and went directly to Walker for the green light to hire Rindfleish.

Then, for whatever reason, Walker sent Russell over to run the Housing Department and promoted Rindfleish to fill in Russell's old spot as Deputy Chief of Staff. Did Walker bother to mention any of this to Nardelli? Nope. Heaven forbid you would tell the Chief of Staff what the staff he is chief-of are doing.

Walker's only defense is to try to say that Tim Russell was doing all these wildly illegal things that involved numerous people in Walker's County Executive office without Walker having any idea of what was up. This revelation, however, shows that there was a direct, straight-line link between Walker and Russell: Russell asked if he could hire Rindfleish and Walker, and only Walker, said yes. Russell asked if he could promote Rindfleish and Walker, and only Walker, said yes.

Then, Darlene Wink get's busted for doing campaign work on the taxpayer's dime by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and who does Scott Walker instruct to rein-in the illegal activity?

Tim Russell and only Tim Russell.

The latest: Obama Didn't Clean Up W's Mess Fast Enough

So, that whole "eating their own" thing is true, eh?

Romney's New Line of Attack: Obama Didn't Clean Up W's Mess Fast Enough | Crooks and Liars

Now that the Dow is 60 percent higher than when Obama took office and the jobs picture is getting better every month, Republicans have a problem. They can't simply talk about how terrible the economy is, because all the headlines are saying it's getting better.
So Willard introduced a new twist. The economy is recovering from the Bush/Cheney Recession, he said, but not because of Obama.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said today President Barack Obama’s policies have harmed the U.S. economy, hindered its recovery and may cause damage for years.
The Obama administration’s assault on our economic freedom is the principal reason why the recovery has been so tepid,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Chicago the day before the Illinois primary, which polls indicate he’s favored to win.
“If we don’t change course now, the assault on freedom could damage our economy and the well-being of American families for decades to come,” he said.
One wonders which "assault" on our "economic freedom" Willard finds most worrisome. Do you think it's thehistorically-low taxes, the record corporate profits, or the health care law that was modeled after his own, that doesn't take effect until 2014?
At any rate, I'm sure the answer is more tax cuts for rich people. And of course, fewer regulations.

A mental health break with Andy Borowitz.

What oh what to do?

Potential Matchup Between Black Man and Mormon Poses Dilemma for Bigots

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – With a fall presidential contest between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney seeming increasingly likely, America’s bigots are finding themselves in a quandary over which candidate to support, prominent bigots confirmed today. 
Across the U.S., voters who describe themselves as bigots are complaining that a first-ever matchup between a Black man and a Mormon, while historic, is forcing them to ask a difficult question: which group do they hate more?

For Democrats, GOP budget is Christmas in March

Some nice reporting from POLITICO.

I saw a town meeting with Rep Sensenbrenner a few years back when one of my older neighbors, well into his 70's I'd say, pointed his finger from the microphone and told Rep. Sensenbrenner to "tell those socialists to keep their dirty mitts off his Medicare."  Sensenbrenner, without blinking, said "I promise."

He who lives by Medicare D, dies by Medicare D.

For Democrats, GOP budget is Christmas in March - Seung Min Kim -

“They can run, but they cannot hide from their Medicare plan, which ends the Medicare guarantee at the same time they’re providing big new tax breaks to millionaires and protecting special interest tax loopholes,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told POLITICO in an interview Monday. 
At the heart of the Democrats’ war against the House GOP proposal — spearheaded by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — is its plan to dramatically reshape Medicare in order to contain costs and keep the health care program for seniors viable. This year’s budget is expected to incorporate a modified version of the Medicare revamp drafted by both Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would allow seniors to keep the traditional Medicare program or enroll in an alternative private plan.

Read more: 

New GOP Attack Ad Accuses Dems Of Being Villains In War On Women (VIDEO)

Great new GOP Video blaming Democrats for disrespecting women.  Democrats are also racists. A lot of people don't know that.

New GOP Attack Ad Accuses Dems Of Being Villains In War On Women (VIDEO) | Addicting Info

Ryan Budget 2: Paul Ryan and GOP Try to Cut Everything…Again

More of the same.  Again.  But not like last time.  This is different.  It's the same.  But not like last time.

Ryan Budget 2: Paul Ryan and GOP Try to Cut Everything…Again - The 3 Halves

Rep. Paul Ryan was made a household name when he proposed a budget last year that would turn Medicare into a voucher program against the will of most seniors and people who will one day become seniors. Displaying no lessons learned, this proposed budget will turn Medicare into a voucher program as well.  

Wisconsin Candidates respond to questions about ALEC?

A nice assortment of what to do about ALEC -- Democrats, not surprisingly, are generally opposed to having Wisconsin's legislation written by the proxies of rich non-residents.

CMD asks Wisconsin Candidates: What Would You Do About ALEC? | Center for Media and Democracy

The Center for Media Democracy contacted Governor Scott Walker  and the four candidates who have filed to run in the recall election against him. We asked them all to comment on the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on the state of Wisconsin and what they might do about it as governor. 
Three Democrats and one Independent have announced that they are running against Governor Walker; a primary is likely May 8. There is speculation that other candidates may still announce their intentions to run. The general election is expected to be June 5. 
Governor Walker  did not respond to our request, but the other candidates did. Below we reprint their comments in full.

Paul Ryan: too extreme for the GOP?

I'm interested in the way the GOP has used Mr. Ryan as a lightning rod -- and then dump the boy off the roof as soon as the storm is over.  He manages to stay in character anyway... maybe it's his belief in Randian economics?

GOP Conservatives Gripe About New Ryan Budget | TPMDC

House Republicans aren’t all sold on Rep. Paul Ryan’s new budget. 
Seven conservative House Republicans hosted a panel late Tuesday afternoon at the Heritage Foundation, none of whom committed to voting for the blueprint unveiled earlier in the day. One of them — a member of the House Budget Committee — said he’s unequivocally opposed. 
“I will be voting no,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS). “It’s not good enough.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Walker: helping Wisconsin fail out of college too.

Why did Republicans expect a guy who couldn't finish college to get any of this "accountability" or "responsible governance" stuff right?   Yeah, I don't know either.

Wisconsin gets a C-minus for integrity

Wisconsin receives a C-minus in a nationwide ranking of states’ accountability and risk of corruption.
The State Integrity Investigation, released today, ranks Wisconsin 22nd, with a score of 70 percent — a score boosted by the creation in 2008 of the state Government Accountability Board to help clean up government.

Read more: 

More pain for the GOP. Obama's Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan's

Remember, the truth always hurts.  Glad I'm not a Republican these days.

Obama's Spending Record: More Conservative Than Reagan's
 - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

The New Right's anxiety managment.

I stumbled on Gordon Marino (from up der at St. Olaf ja) writing about Soren Kierkegaard, the grandfather of existentialism -- in the NY Times.  Amazing really.  Kierkegaard deserves a wider audience, especially these days.  In addition to being, arguably, the final word on Christian/Protestant faith, he had a lot to say about the giddiness the follows from finding ourselves with too many choices -- and the failure to act that this causes.

Anxiety makes you dizzy with freedom, but that freedom can make you forget your responsibilities to yourself and to others -- and this explains a lot about the neo-libertarian, anti-government, anti-everything-but-me, New Rightists.

Kierkegaard, Danish Doctor of Dread -

Scott Walker: breaking the law or lying, as usual.

From our friends at blue cheddar:

It’s getting old. Scott Walker is either breaking the law or lying as usual. Shall we flip a coin?
Sheboygan Press  “Wisconsin statutes forbid state government officials from seeking or obtaining contributions to a so-called defense fund to pay personal legal expenses, except for the transfer of campaign contributions to a defense fund for limited reasons allowed under the state’s campaign finance laws.
That exception is for government officials being investigated for or charged with a violation of either campaign finance laws or prohibited elections practices.”“  

Walker Administration Clueless Over Wisconsin Veteran Unemployment Rate

Walker's Follies continued.

Walker Administration Clueless Over Wisconsin Veteran Unemployment Rate | Wisconsin Politics

The Walker Administration has sent out news releases and e-updates touting an unemployment rate of 6.9%, trying to lend credibility to a governor who led the state to a nation-leading 12,500 jobs lost in 2011. The blog Friends of Wisconsin Veterans  recently wrote about the plight of those who serve our country and come home from fighting a war and are not able to find a family supporting job. 
That is only half the story. The other half of the story is neither Governor Walker nor Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos have any idea what the real Wisconsin Veteran unemployment rate is. Who is John Scocos you may ask? In August 2011, nearly two years after Scocos was fired as state veteran’s secretary, Gov. Scott Walker reappointed him to his old job. 
Scocos was fired in 2009, but his reappointment seemed to reinvigorate him as he was jubilant in saying he was looking forward to tackling problems such as unemployment among veterans, financial problems at state veterans’ homes, and the solvency of the state veterans’ trust fund. Oh Really? 
The Green Bay Press Gazette Reported:In January, Wisconsin had a 6.9 percent unemployment rate, however, the state unemployment rate for veterans is estimated at 10 to 15 percent, said Reggie Newson, secretary for the state Department of Workforce Development.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Democracy, no. Boots and Sabers, yes.

Boots and Sabers initiates friendly witch hunt against school board member.

It was only a matter of time before our friend Owen Robinson tried to initiate a witch hunt against one of the few non-insane members of our local school board.  Apparently Owen believes that people who hold public office should not be allowed to exercise their rights as citizens.  I guess this is another illustration of the common sense to be found among the true believers in our local Common Sense Citizens, (Inc.) Americans for Prosperity brigade and branch office. I noticed that 9 state judges signed the recall petitions, but clearly Owen is a better judge of the rights of American citizens than they are... or than you are, gentle reader.

What's most remarkable is that most of the school board members did NOT sign the recall petition since their civic responsibility is to improve public education and Mr. Walker, more than any governor in history, has stood solidly against improving public education.

Boots and Sabers is no longer just a name, it's now becoming the expression of Owen's real sense of political theory.

Democracy, no.  Boots and Sabers, yes.

Boots and Sabers - The blogging will continue until morale improves...


SHEBOYGAN — A newspaper analysis finds that 29 judges from 15 Wisconsin counties were among those who signed petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
An analysis by Gannett Wisconsin Media found that about 12 percent of the state's approximately 250 county-level judges signed the petition.
The Sheboygan Press reports Sunday that the judges who agreed to be interviewed say their decisions were constitutionally protected, and are not banned by the Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct.

Read more: 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Glenn Grothman: continuing the attack on single parents

Busy busy busy.

More press on Saint Glenn's attempt to turn back the clocks to the 1600s.

I had completely forgotten that Senator Taylor is a single parent.  Her response:

According to a Wisconsin Bill, Single Moms Are a Child Abuse Threat | Healthland |

The bill has outraged single parents everywhere, including in Wisconsin, where they make up a third of all parents. One of those parents, Lena Taylor, just happens to be a Democratic state senator — and a single mom. She told Fox 6:
“I would say my life speaks against what the senator has stated,” Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor of Milwaukee — who is a single mother, said. Taylor says this is the latest in a line of Republican-backed bills that are hostile toward women.“Is this their style, yes — to single out some group and somehow or another criminalize them — like they criminalized doctors for legal procedures?” Taylor said. “Do I agree with it? I don’t. Will I fight it? I will. But do they have the votes and is it possible it will pass? Yes.”
The legislation is just one more example of states seeking to erode women’s rights and credibility — everything from laws that all but mandate invasive vaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions and bills that lift insurance coverage for contraception. This latest knock against the single mother feels even more personal.

And from Jezebel: Pridemore, not to be outdone, piles on. Lawmaker Suggests Beaten Ladies Remember the Good Times
A thoughtful, sensitive male Wisconsin legislator has proclaimed that he is against divorce under all circumstances — even spousal abuse. And he's got a message to all those ladies out there getting the shit beaten out of them by their husbands: remember the good times, back before things took an abusive turn, and maybe you'll fall in love again. There, isn't that better? Now, chin up, and go back out into that awful marriage of yours like a champ.
The obtuse anti divorce champion is Republican Don Pridemore. And this isn't the first time the Heartless Cheesehead has acted in a manner most unbecoming.
Remember earlier this month when another Wisconsin lawmaker thoughtfully suggested that maybe single parenthood should be considered a factor that may be indicative of child abuse? Pridemore was a co-sponsor of the bill that would've made it a crime for a person to dare try to raise a child on their own outside of the pillowy soft Magic Zone of marriage. But what about women who are being abused by their husbands? Shouldn't they have the option to extract themselves from an unhealthy situation? Nope, says Pridemore. And he's got some expert abused spouse marital advice as well: "If they can refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help."

And so on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Glenn Grothman: turning America into an Idiocracy one new law at a time.

It's been a noisy week of Grothman-powered news this week, largely because as soon as things start to swing back to simple accounting procedures, Senator Grothman decides to say something crazy.  Again.

People always wonder whether Glenn actually means any of this wicked nonsense.  I think this is the wrong question.  I'm coming around to the working hypothesis that it doesn't matter -- that he doesn't say any of it because he believes or doesn't believe it.  I'm starting to suspect the sole intent is to be inflammatory, without any particular end except confusion and disbelief, and to eat up news cycles.

So, a round up from the past week or so.

Hello mother? It's me Norman I mean Glenn. I've just come home from the State Capitol mother. I did just what you told me to do...

Remember when satire was funny because it merely exaggerated people and events?  Nowadays it's funny because it doesn't.

State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), is receiving a well-deserved chanclaso for sponsoring legislation that paints single moms as child abusers. Grothman argues that single women are intentionally getting pregnant so they can receive welfare to support their poor choices, despite research that shows most of these pregnancies are unplanned. And far from keeping his ridiculous views to himself, he wants to legislatively stigmatize these women by citing their predicament as a contributing factor to child abuse. There's actually a reasonable solution to decreasing the number of unwanted pregnancies in Wisconsin.  Instead of trying to slander single mothers as child abusers, the state legislature can make birth control more readily available. Or better yet, the Wisconsin state legislature can require public schools to offer a comprehensive sex education class based on facts and science focusing on the importance of using protection and the effectiveness of birth control. So Sen. Grothman, fuera with your antiquated views on single mothers. They have no place in the state legislature.  

  • Here's a comment from Divided We Stand which noted that an environmentally responsible mining bill might have been just the thing for the economy Up Nort'.  Instead of hammering out something useful, however, our single, Family Oriented, Senator decided that inflaming the civic discourse was more important.
So instead of burning the midnight oil on something exceedingly powerful like salvaging the mining bill Grothman spends his time on nonessential legislation that amounts to nothing more than red meat for the far right. My sense is that for this Senator provocation over accomplishment should be the order of business.

Odd sense of priorities don’t you think?

I spent a good part of my life raising a daughter by myself without the benefit of marriage so I submit to you that I know more about this subject than the officious senator. I guess that my former circumstances make me guilty of child neglect as well.

But I doubt Grothman has the courage to say that to my face.
Believe me Tom, if he did he'd still never make eye contact.

  • And finally this nice little compendium from Foolocracy: where they elected Glenn "Fool of the Week" for somewhat oversimplifying (i.e. ignoring) the difference between correlation and causation in the relation between single parent families and child abuse.

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman is concerned about child abuse and neglect. He sits on a state committee that makes recommendations on how to handle the problem. The problem for Grothman is that he sees the problem in simplistic terms. Grothman sees marriage as some sort of automatic cure to child abuse. His solution was to introduce SB 570 which would require “The Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”
While it is a good idea to help unmarried couples or single or widowed parents, this is not what Grothman is trying to do. His effort is not to provide education, training or other guidance to parents and children in high risk categories. It is his idea to simply get these parents to wed because the problem will then lessen magically.
Grothman is right that 40% of the births in the U.S. are outside of marriage. He is also right that most of those births come in unstable situations. In the past, when almost all births were from married couples, there was still plenty of child abuse and neglect. That was because failed marriages stayed intact. Violence and abuse was endemic in those situations. Today, those bad marriages either never happened or ended quickly.
It is not accurate to say that just because a couple in a bad family situation is married then the children are safer. The problem of a poor family environment still exists whether a couple is married or not.
Nevertheless, Grothman sees this as simply a matter of choice. In Grothman’s eyes, the “unwanted or mistimed pregnancies” are the “choice of the women.” Yes, these are Grothman’s thoughts: Single women are getting pregnant by the millions deliberately. Grothman has done everything but throw pity at the poor men entrapped by these mischievous and lustful women.
Grothman put it another way. He said “I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred.”

And thus, Senator Grothman's march into history continues.