Monday, February 20, 2017

WISGOP Stands Up For Free Speech (Sometimes)!

 By Jeff Simpson

Scott Walker, took the time out of his busy RGA campaign travel schedule recently, to let us have a peek at the budget ALEC wrote for him, that he plans on introducing.    While there were many interesting things in there, one thing I want to call attention to is something that has been called the Milo law.  

Milo Yiannopoulos, is the latest exhibit of the far right to show off "liberals intolerance",  The bigoted racist ignorant Milo, has caused a stir by speaking at college campuses, and where he speaks there are protests trying to keep him from speaking.   Milo gave a speech at Marquette recently, where he singled out a transgendered student, by name and photo, to give a wink wink to his far right supporters on who to target.  

This did not sit well with the sane among us, and so he has not been welcome by a majority of college students throughout the country.   Most people do not want their college littered with such hate and ignorance.  

This, right on cue, stirs up the faux outrage and unwarranted arrogance of the right.   Scott Walker, championing himself a defender of free speech(if you pretend the whole failed debacle of arresting people for singing in the State Capitol never existed), wants to write into law protecting free speech on campus.

The proposed companion budget bill elaborates, stating among other things, that:
  • The UW Board of Regents and each college campus “shall guarantee all members of the system's community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn.”
  • “It is not the proper role of the board or any institution or college campus to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”
  • Members of the system’s community are free to criticize and contest views expressed on campus and "speakers who are invited to express their views, (but) they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.”
  • “The board and each institution and college campus has a responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.”

To prove that Scott Walker "means what he says and says what he means", Milo is headlining the far right extreme CPAC conference this upcoming weekend.   Who will share the stage with the hateful Mr. Yiannopoulos?  Why Wisconsin's very own Scott Walker and Milwaukee's "Democratic" Sheriff David Clarke.  

Who cares if Milo advocates for pedophilia(he is so good at oral sex because of the Father who preyed on him when he was a teen), its all about "free speech" and besides if he pisses liberals off, then its worth promoting pedophilia,.

I admire Scott Walker for being unintimidated (plenty of books still available) and sticking to his guns and sharing a stage with Milo!   It is not like hanging out with adults who prey ion teenage boys is new to him.   Scott just needs to make sure to keep Alex away from the Twitter!

Anyway, this new found "love of free speech" is refreshing, it is just too bad it took a group of white power bigots to bring it out of the WISGOP.  

For those with a longer memory(since the WI Media seem to forget this), but in 2005, the University of Wisconsin -Eau Claire tried to bring Ward Churchill to campus to speak.  Churchill, a college professor,  was widely known as saying that the September 11th attacks on the US, were a result of  our foreign policy and calling the people who worked in the World Trade Centers "Little Eichmanns".  

This upset our friends on the left and the always good for a lunatic quote, Steve nASSelson had this to say at the time(H/T Oshkosh Independent for the best story on this written):

Much to the surprise of the Eau Claire students, the Wisconsin State Legislature tried hard to pressure Eau Claire into canceling the event, including the passage of a joint resolution. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), in 2005 a member of the state assembly representing Whitewater, led the charge to prevent Churchill from speaking. He said “the university wants to hide behind free speech.”  He further told the Badger Herald, “This is not a question of free speech; this is stopping a person who uses hateful, disgusting speech.”

Now, it seems as though the WISGOP and Steve nASSelson has evolved.  Wait we do not believe in evolution, so I should say they "created" a completely new viewpoint.  Recently, there was a UW student, Dan Dropik, who tried to set up a White Nationalist group on the UW-Madison Campus(and who is a non traditional student, because he spent his college years in prison for setting fire to black churches).   Seems Dropik's idea was not very popular amongst the other students at UW and there was major pushback.  

Surprisingly (well not really), Dropik found a defender in the nASSelson combo:

Remember Steve Nass? In 2017 he is a Senator in the Wisconsin State Legislature. He has not yet made any in-depth comments about the governor’s “Milo Law” provisions, but he has threatened to push for reductions in UW funding based on the fact that courses are offered that he finds objectionable. So much for academic freedom. Worse, when non-traditional student at UW Madison Daniel Dropik–who it turns out had in the past been convicted of setting fire to African-American churches–tried to set up a White Nationalist group on campus, Nass somehow found a way to defend him. According to the Associated Press, “Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen said while Nass disagrees with many of Dropik’s views, the university community unfairly targeted Dropik. ‘Individuals who have alternative viewpoints have a right to express themselves in a university,’ Mikalsen said. ‘That did not happen here.'”

If we could mine irony in WI we could pay off Scott Walker's massive credit card debt.

By the way, why didn't anyone ask Mikelson, since he "disagrees with many" of the views of the church burning white nationalist, which of his views does he agree with?

There is a short history of the love of free speech by the WISGOP in Wisconsin!

Editor note, while I was writing this blog, it seems CPAC has uninvited Mr. Milo to be their keynote speaker.  

Instead of the guy that advocates pedophilia they will have to listen to the arrested wife beater and the serial sexual assaulter. 

 I guess the people at the CPAC conference are just a bunch of snowflakes who need a safe space.  

Betsy DeVos Gets Schooled

When Betsy DeVos made her first appearance as Secretary of Education, a spot she bought rather than earned, she had a tough time of it. First, she had problems even getting into the school due to protesters blocking her way.

After a false start, she finally got in. After her visit, she sung praises of the teachers but then changed her tune in a few days:
Newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District’s Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit — her first to a public school since taking office — she stood on Jefferson’s front steps and pronounced it “awesome.”

A few days later, she seemed less enamored. The teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, she said, they seemed to be in “receive mode.”

“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”
This is, of course, utter bullshit but it's standard code words for anyone who wants to put the kids and their futures on the auctioning block for school privatization vultures to feast upon.

Well, the teachers weren't about to put up with it:
“I find it very interesting that the chancellor saw teachers that were pushing rigorous learning, students asking each other high-level questions and cultivating high-level responses, and teachers who take initiative and give their lives to the education of these children,” said Jefferson teacher Caroline Hunt. “DeVos saw something so different. … Maybe if DeVos knew more about education she would realize just how amazing the students, teachers and staff are.”
The school wasn't going to put up with it and launched an eleven-tweet response to the dunce's comments, starting with how they were "about to take her to school..."

After praising several of their teachers, the school ended with this knockout punch:

Ah, but as the gentle reader might have already guessed, there's more. There's always more.

Another one of DeVos' early blunders was to take down the Department of Education's website providing resources for parents of children with disabilities. After catching a lot of fire from both Congressional Democrats and the public in general (trust me, one does not dare try to dome something like that near a parent of a disabled child), DeVos restored the site.

But even then, she couldn't do it without making a bigger fool out of herself by blaming President Obama, the country's last American president:
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Friday announced that her department is restoring and "updating" a resource website for parents and teachers of students with disabilities, which has been down almost three weeks.

" has been repaired and moved to a new server to ensure it's available to parents and educators who rely on it," DeVos said in one of a series of tweets.
The education secretary had come under pressure from Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. The senators sent DeVos a letter last week asking that the site be restored fully and immediately, and for an explanation of why it was down.

DeVos struck a partisan note, in what has seemed to be a Trump administration strategy: Blame Obama.

She said the federal Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA) website was "neglected for nearly four years." This, she said, is "unacceptable" and "an example of complacency I won't accept, and I will remain committed to improving the department and its services."
Oh, and if you don't think direct actions like the ones taken against DeVos don't work:
In the Washington Post, on Friday, DeVos was quoted as saying critics "want to make my life a living hell."
Awww, poor ol' Betsy got her fee-fees hurt by people holding her accountable. Poor little baby.

It's time that we put a dunce cap on this unqualified moron. And it should fit real nice on her pointy head.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Governor Walker Needs to do More to Combat Childhood Lead Poisoning

By Chris Taylor

MADISON – After repeated correspondence with the Department of Health Services (DHS), Governor Walker included an update to Wisconsin state statute in his proposed budget, reflecting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations regarding the definition of lead poisoning. Wisconsin’s definitions of “lead poisoning” and “lead exposure” are dangerously out-of-date and currently allow double the lead poisoning as the federal standard before triggering remediation.

“While I am heartened that Governor Walker is finally updating Wisconsin’s outdated lead poisoning standards, we have much more work to do in protecting Wisconsin’s children from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning, which in many communities throughout Wisconsin exceeds the percentage of kids poisoned in Flint, Michigan,” said Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison).

Both urban and rural communities struggle with childhood lead poisoning. In Flint, 4.9% of children were lead poisoned. Comparatively, Milwaukee has a rate of 8.6%, Watertown has a rate of 8.4%, Buffalo County has a rate of 7.3% and Sheboygan County has a rate of 6.3%.

“Adjusting our state’s standards to reflect the best available medical evidence from the CDC is a good step; however, we must make sure that state officials follow through and investigate the source of these lead exposures, so that we can prevent other children from falling victim to this terrible toxin,” said Sen. Johnson (D-Milwaukee).

Senator Johnson and Representative Taylor call on Governor Walker and Republican legislators to join them in initiatives to:

·         Require lead testing and disclosure in rental properties;
·         Include water testing in environmental assessments for lead-poisoned children;
·         Require facilities serving children under 6 to test for lead and share results with parents;
·         Establish a fund and a low-interest loan program to help with remediation costs;
·         Direct DHS and DNR to apply for federal lead remediation funding.

Lead poisoning, especially in children under 6, causes a lifetime of health and behavioral issues, including reduced intelligence, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gov. Walker’s Risky Self-Insurance Scheme: More Chaos and Higher Costs

By Chris Taylor 

Last week, a group of 11 individuals, all appointed by Governor Walker to the Group Insurance Board (GIB), almost unanimously voted to overhaul health care in Wisconsin by adopting a risky self-insurance scheme that will not only disrupt our entire health insurance market, but may end up costing taxpayers millions more.

The State of Wisconsin has one of the most competitive health insurance markets in the country, which is reflected in the Group Health Insurance Program (GHIP).  Currently, the GHIP is composed of 17 health plans that provide more than 250,000 state and local government employees, retirees, UW employees and their dependents with health care.  Under GHIP, Wisconsin funds state employee health insurance through premiums to a third party health insurer that covers costs and liabilities of all claims.

Insurers work with both local providers and the state to establish service areas that not only keep health care costs low, but also ensure high quality, accessible care.  While some states around the country have seen their health care premiums skyrocket, Wisconsin’s rate increases have remained well below the national average and our current model has saved Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $283 million over the last nine years.

Despite the facts and success of GHIP, Governor Walker seems intent on disrupting this system by adopting a self-insurance model which he insists will save millions, despite an initial report that such a scheme could cost taxpayers upwards of $100 million dollars more in costs.  In a self-insurance model, the state is on the hook for the actual costs and liability of the health care covered employees receive.  The risk that costs could be higher than estimated, due to an unexpected outbreak of a certain disease or other unanticipated factors, is assumed by the taxpayers.

The uncertainty of self-insurance at a time when the future of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid system hang in the balance make this a very bad time for Wisconsin to pile on with further disruptions that could cost millions more, require people to change physicians, and disrupt localized, accessible health care networks.

But last week, the unelected GIB ignored all of this and nearly unanimously voted to plow ahead with self-insurance, dividing the state into four regions which will be served by only six insurers.  In some regions, they propose just one insurer.  If there’s one thing that health actuaries seem to agree on, it is that reducing competition in a health care market most certainly leads to increased health care costs.

With over 100,000 GHIP participants in Dane County alone, what does self-insurance mean for our community?  Simply put, it means job losses, fewer health plan choices, fewer health care providers and most likely more money out of your pocket.

Not only will public employees again be asked to pony-up for more of their health care costs, but all Wisconsin taxpayers should be worried about what self-insurance means for the state’s coffers, for their own pocket books, and for their own health care.  Taking 250,000 individuals out of Wisconsin’s health care market most definitely will impact the health care premiums, provider choices and health care access of everyone else who remains.

The state’s cash reserves are not even close to covering the potential risks of self-insurance, which, at a minimum, would require the state to triple its reserves. Some states that have moved to a self-insurance model, including North Carolina, underestimated the amount and costs of claims and experienced a $250+ million budget deficit due to unexpected claims.  Compared to other states, Wisconsin has larger health insurance costs, partially due to our chronic disease condition rates being significantly higher.  One bad year will force us to redirect money towards covering health care costs that could be going towards our k-12 schools, our roads and the UW System.

While the GIB voted to advance this proposal, the Joint Finance Committee has the ability to stop it.  Whether you’re a public employee or not, this overhaul of Wisconsin’s health care system will affect us all.  Contact your elected officials and tell them that Wisconsin cannot afford to roll the dice with our Governor’s political games and to remove his self-insurance proposal from the 2017-19 state budget.
Office of Representative Chris Taylor
306 West – (608) 266-5342
PO Box 8953

Madison, WI  53708

A Few Budget Details that Didn't Make the Headlines

By Kathleen Vinehout 

Governors are a bit like salesmen,” I recently told a reporter. “They put good news in the headlines and bury bad news in the small print.”

Governor Walker recently released his two-year state budget. Amid much fanfare, he touted providing much needed money for schools, roads, and the UW. I went digging through budget documents released by the Governor. I knew there was more to the story.

First, I must say Wisconsin has one of the most opaque budgeting processes I have ever seen. For example, there is no clear table comparing actual spending in each fiscal year to budgeted spending.

We are still waiting for some details the Governor has not yet released. For example, his capital budget, which includes total proposed borrowing, is not yet available.

In the next month, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) will compile an independent analysis of the budget proposal. The LFB will provide details on where money comes from and how it is spent.

Until then, we have documents prepared by the Governor’s staff and those who write our bills – the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB). The small print I refer to came from the LRB, the Governor’s office, and state agencies’ requests.

How much will Wisconsin spend over two years? The total budget without borrowing is $76,097,880,600. (The final budget will likely be closer to $77 billion, as road fund borrowing and other building projects are added.)

This budget (without new debt) is $2.8 billion more than the last budget and is the largest in state history. Of course, EVERY new budget is larger than the previous budget.

Governor Walker made a special point of reminding people his school and road spending is the “highest ever.” Maybe someone should remind him, total spending is also the “highest ever.”

The budget includes money from state taxes and fees including gas taxes, as well as tuition and money from the federal government. The Governor’s structures his budget around the budget requests from each agency in state government. Governor Walker proposes spending $68 million more than the agencies themselves requested.

Almost one-third of the budget goes to Health, of which ninety-percent is the Medicaid program. This is the largest and fastest growing part of spending. We often think of Medicaid as care for poorer families (BadgerCare). But, roughly two-thirds of the Medicaid budget is spent on long-term care for the elderly and disabled.

Over the next few months, we will learn much more about the budget details. In the meantime, here are a few items of small print that didn’t make it in the Governor’s Budget Address.

The Department of Natural Resources lost 43 positions while Circus World gained ten new positions.

The new budget added almost 500 positions to the Department of Administration (DOA). All but one of these jobs listed were “Supervisory and Management.” This staff increase is almost half (47%) of the DOA workforce. Some positions are transfers to DOA from other agencies. Overall, the Governor increases net staff (some lost, some gained) by a little more than 400 full-time equivalents.

Buried in the small print is the elimination of the stray voltage program. This service helps farmers deal with stray electricity that has dire effects on animals and humans. The governor claimed the problems are mostly resolved. However, constituents tell me, in western Wisconsin, many problems remain.

The budget proposes eliminating the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine. The last issue of this ever-popular magazine is set for winter of next year.

The budget eliminates the Educational Approval Board. This agency oversees for-profit colleges. Eliminating state oversight of for-profit colleges is foolish when some colleges closed, fraud investigations of others are continuing, and students question the value of the education.

Budgets are plans to spend resources based on our priorities. The process must be an opportunity for us to discuss our ideas and concerns for our state and invest money in solutions.

Debate on our priorities for state spending will occur over the next four or five months. Please add your voice to the decision-making process. The state budget is the most important bill lawmakers will take up and it deserves the input of all Wisconsinites!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Paul Ryan's Ever Shrinking Nut Sack

By Jeff Simpson

Congressman Luis V. GutiĆ©rrez (D-IL) asked for a meeting with Acting Director Thomas Homan of ICE in the US Capitol.     It was originally scheduled for Tuesday of this week and postponed for this morning.   When Rep. Guttierrez showed up he was greeted with a first in his more than 20 year career.   Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wall St.) kicked him out of the meeting!  

The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. GutiĆ©rrez, who is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the Chairman of the CHC Taskforce on Immigration.  He represents the 4th District of Illinois and is starting his 13th term. In 20-plus years, I have never heard of the Republicans controlling what meetings Democrats can have with officials of the Executive Branch and never had a staffer ask me to leave a meeting to which I am entitled to attend.  My constituents have questions about who is being targeted by ICE, which DREAMers with DACA they are targeting for deportation, which victims of domestic violence ICE is deporting, which immigrants at church shelters are being targeted.  We know the statements by Trump about targeting criminals is a lie, but we were hoping someone could give us the truth or any information at all.  The new mass deportation executive orders are unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which the Speaker and Chairman Goodlatte are going to control the information being disseminated to Members of Congress.  I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte.  Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?  Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with.  My colleagues and I asked for this meeting and we still have not been given details by ICE about who they are deporting, why, and how.  We simply have hit a stone wall and now Republicans in the House are cooperating in limiting the information that we can provide to our constituents.

Yes the pride of Janesville, will not even allow democratically elected members of the opposing party to hear information, much less question him.

biggest. fake. ever!

Samantha Bee featured Paul Ryan recently:

My only complain is I would call Paul,  Trump's faithful Dachshund

Thursday, February 16, 2017

20 Steps Out Of The Wilderness

By Jeff Simpson 

There has been many columns, posts and articles lately with people's ideas with what need to be done to turn around the Democrats fortunes.   Here is a sampling:

The first, is a story about why the Dems should let Joe Manchin be Joe Manchin and leave him alone, no matter that he stands for nothing.  The author, Anthony Bejarano, feels there are bigger fish to fry than trying to primary Manchin. While I do not necessarily disagree with him, I prefer to focus on Wisconsin at this point(Bejarano, does point out the WI races of Tammy Baldwin and Scott Walker). 

Secondly, our friend Jake over at the Economic Funhouse, weighed in recently also:

  What the party and candidates need to be stressing is a larger, central theme out there of "A better America/Wisconsin" that includes ALL of these issues, with improved economic and political opportunity and fairness being the centerpiece of the campaign. 
The reason this doesn't happen seems to be an institutional problem within the party, and was illustrated this week in an excellent article by Dave Gold in Politico Magazine titled "Data-Driven Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party." Gold says that while data and demographics are important to the professionals in party offices, and gives a livelihood to many a political consultant, what matters more in winning elections is the ability to connect to voters in ways the voters understand and react to.
Go read it allm, Jake makes some excellent points(and bookmark his blog)! 

Finally, Mayor Citizen Dave came up with his road guide for the party: 

The idea that working-class voters are too dense to understand their own interests is condescending, counterproductive and wrong. The notion that Democrats have policy papers to answer every need misses the point that politics is not about 10-point plans but about emotions and perceptions and narratives that help people make sense of their lives.
Democrats are not just losing because of gerrymandered lines on a map. They are losing because they are not connecting on an emotional level and they have conceded the narrative to the Republicans. A Republican will tell you a half-true story that resonates; a Democrat will show you a totally accurate graph that does not. 

Everyone has an idea, so let me share mine.

First let's take a look at the landscape:

The next election is November 2018, a mere 21 months away.   Scott Walker has already started running with his budget.  He did not put some of the money back into education because he cares about the kids.   Scott Walker did it to appear moderate, and has seen the popularity of public schools so he wants to make sure that people think he is their friend.

Scott Walker's plan has not gone unnoticed by the two majority leaders, who are both sick and tired of "waiting their turn" behind Scott Walker's blind ambition.   Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos both have their sights set on being able to occasionally occupy the Governors office themselves while traveling the country on the Wisconsin taxpayers dime!  

That means there will be a three way battle for this budget, to see who can look the most gubernatorial.   While Walker's strategy is to appeal to the public education crowd, the Scorobin couple have no loyalty to public education and have already promised their souls to the road builders of WI.  

What we have to overcome is this:

(The Democratic) party that spent more than $1 billion last year, lost more than 1,000 statewide and congressional seats during Obama's presidency, and has the least power in 75 years. 

Now let's look at how we do that(in no particular order): 

1.  The establishment Democrats have to get over the fact that Bernie dared to challenge Hillary Clinton.  
It is a party primary.  It happened.  I used to be of the opinion that the Hillary supporters owed the rest of the country an apology for putting up such a horrible candidate that she could not even beat The Donald.  I realized that is not coming and moved on.  However I still see many Hillary supporters blaming Bernie Sanders for her loss.    

I am not here to re-litigate the primary but I do want to point out something.  The Hillary supporters are dyed in the wool Democrats.  They were Hillary supporters since the 90's, loved her career, intelligence and were excited for her to be the first female President.   

Many of the Bernie supporters on the other hand, were not dyed in the wool Democrats.  Sure there were some Progressives that were excited for a populist to run in the Democratic Primary finally,  but for the most part Senator Sanders brought in a huge section of people that have been left behind by the economy.    It does not matter if it is the Bush economy or the Obama economy, there are people all over the country who are struggling in this economy and no one else was addressing them.  They were sick of politicians, and wanted someone to shake the system up.  Bernie was that man and so was The Donald.   All the wishing in the world, would not have made many Bernie supporters vote for Hillary,   

2.   Stop writing off whole groups or people and whole areas of the state.   

The screenwriter of the movie, Hell or High Water,  Taylor Sheridan, addressed this point specifically, not only in his movie, but also in many of his interviews(emphasis mine):  

“Hell or High Water” is set deep in West Texas, in community where there are no social services, Sheridan says. Planned Parenthood is three states away, so they don’t understand why funding is going there. And money meant for highways doesn’t make sense because their highways never get fixed.
“All these things, when you study them, start to explain the political leanings that have nothing to do with ideology. It has to do with ‘how can I control this bubble right around me that’s imploding?'” Sheridan told TheWrap’s Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman at a screening of his film Wednesday night.
“We can’t assign beliefs to people who don’t have a voice to express them. And we can’t assume what someone thinks,” Sheridan said. “Those assumptions have created the situation we’re in today.”
“Joking about the flyover states; we sit there and talk about diversity, but we’re going to lump people in an entire region together and sit there and attack them and assign beliefs to them in counties where the average income is $33,000 and we’re going to align them with the top one percent,” Sheridan said. “We attach all this stuff conveniently to people that have absolutely no connection to it. It’s unfair.”
“I knew these people, and they weren’t what Bill Maher was saying they were,” he said. “This was the base of the Democratic party for 100 years. They felt really betrayed, and these are the consequences of what we’re dealing with now.”
But poverty is poverty, Sheridan added. The superficial dividing lines between race, gender and religion he feels serve only to keep the rich making money and the poor down. “Hell or High Water” aims to bring those affected by poverty and those in power together.
“As soon as we start focusing on the similarities and not the distinctions, then we got ‘em
,” he said.
3.  Understand that the Donald is not fit to be President, resist, but resist with Wisconsin in mind.   

Yes The Donald is an unintelligent orange buffoon. but his incompetence will take care of itself as the rest of the country also helps take care of him.  In Wisconsin, we have bigger fish to fry per say,  but can not ignore the traitorous, incompetent mess that The Donald is.  I recommend that every time you feel the need to speak up against Trump, find a way to tie it into Wisconsin.  It is not that hard.  

Want to discuss the Russian ties?  Point out that Senator RoJo feels the biggest problem is that we found out about the Russian ties,  

Maybe the fact that The  Donald has yet to recuse himself from his business interests and in fact has been making money off being President?   Make sure and also mention that the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, could put an end to that.

Still want the swamp drained?  Do not forget the fact that our very own Reince Priebus is POTUS Chief of Staff who is helping to oversee the repopulating of the swamp.  

Also make sure to get as many pictures of these people with The Donald as possible.  Like this(they will come in handy later):

4.   When it seems impossible, that the world has gone crazy, remember that The Donald lost the popular vote by three million votes (not counting the third party voters).  

There are more of us than there are of them!  

5.  Do not rely on the redistricting case saving us.    

Let's hope it does result in redrawn maps, but we can not rely on that. we have to continue working like there will not be a change at all.  

6.   Do not talk about the redistricting case without emphasizing how much of our money the Republicans are spending to make sure that the unethically drawn maps do not change at all.   

It is going to be ALOT!

7.   Vote in every election and especially the spring elections. 

Make it a family priority.  Model it for your children.  Participating in democracy is something that needs to be a priority for all of us.

8.  Make sure Tony Evers wins his primary and the Spring Election.

This is the first state wide race since the November debacle and to start turning the state around starts with the first step.  This is the first step.

9.  Write a letter to the editor and tell your story!

It does not even have to be partisan,  What is happening in the state that truly effects you?  Share it with others.   Would the ACA repeal be dangerous to you?   Are you a hobby beekeeper and know the consequences of The Donald removing certain bees from the endangered species list?   Has your favorite spot in Wisconsin been polluted or overcome by sprawl?  It is not just negatives either,  If you have a positive story, tell that.   Was your child's education enhanced because of a great teacher?  Did a police officer, fire fighter, or other public servant, go above and beyond to help you?   Tell your story.  

10.  Stop working against Progressive media/blogs.

We all know about the right wing echo chamber and how powerful it can be.  I get asked often why the left does not have one also.   The answer is simple, because the left has been too arrogant.    After the election, both the Progressive radio station in Dane County (92.1) and our friend Sly's progressive political talk show were taken off the air.

How many people emailed or phoned? Deleted Iheartradio app?  Unsubscribed from their mailing list?   Took them off your presets?   Anyone?   These were not cancelled because of ratings,   Imagine the uproar if they suddenly cancelled Vuicki Mckenna's show?

The right also has a system of blogs set up that works with for the Republican Party.  The Democratic Party and most legislators have ignored at best and been outright hostile to many progressive bloggers.   In the last couple years some of the best, most informative blogs have stopped blogging (Root River Siren, Blue Cheddar) and we know Zach just recently moved on from Blogging Blue.

With outlets to get progressive news and information dwindling, now is not the time to hold grudges.  Of course the left leaning blogs are not here to tout the Republican party business hook, line and sinker.   We will save that for Kevin Binversie and Jamie Wigderson.   Progressive bloggers can not and should not be partners but we should be acquaintances.  

11.  Support Progressive outlets.

Michael Crute, of the Devils Advocates, recently purchased 1510 AM and now stream progressive talk all day.  Sly still does podcasts, check him out,   Blogging Blue is still going, Our friend Jake has been on fire lately, Forwardlookout in Dane County is a great source of info, RockNetRoots is a Paul Ryan watchdog, James Rowen is the best blogger in the state if not country,  Malcontends is a recovering journalist out journaling actual journalists, John Peterson at Democurmudgeon was originally Vicki Mckenna's partner but it is hard to spew that kind of hatred and vitriol when you have someone fact checking you in the studio, so he had to go.   Uppity Wisconsin is a great place to check daily and finally Political Capital has biting, informative, anonymous insider coverage of Wisconsin Politics.  

Like these blogs on Facebook, read them occasionally share the articles you are interested in, leave comments, etc...

12.  Talk to people about politics!  Politely! 

It is past time that we stop discussing everything but politics with people.  It is also time that we stop only discussing politics with people who think exactly like us.   Have discussion with neighbors, friends, family, etc.  Do not get frustrated, do not lose your cool and do not be mean.    Explain why you feel the way you do and what facts led you there.   Look for common ground, you will find it more often than you think!

Let's all aim to be Daryl Davis!  

13,  Get over the myth that a candidate from Madison or Milwaukee can not win a statewide election.

Many candidates have won statewide being from Madison or Milwaukee.  Tammy Baldwin, Scott Walker, Doug LaFollette come to mind.   Stop trying to perpetuate the myth that there is a difference between Madison and the rest of the state.  

As someone who grew up on a farm in small town Wisconsin, lived in Milwaukee for years, now lives in Dane County, spent much of my childhood in Cable, WI and have spent most of my career traveling Wisconsin, there might be some slight differences but in the end we all want the same things.  

A strong public school for our kids, a job, a vehicle, healthcare, the ability to drink clean water, occasionally go out to eat and vacation once a year.   The basic human needs are the same.   Let us acknowledge them and work together to make sure we all can benefit and experience these.  

14,.  Stop listening to political lifer consultants and start listening to and talking WITH the people of Wisconsin.  

If you hire Nation Consulting or Mike Tate, or anyone who learned the game under these guys, you are doing it wrong.    I will support any candidate for the Democratic Party Chair who will publicly denounce these guys.   They have been a governor on the Democratic party for years!

There was a great article in Politico recently that consultants and an over reliance on data has helped destroy the Democratic party.

For four straight election cycles, Democrats have ignored research from the fields of cognitive linguistics and psychology that the most effective way to communicate with other humans is by telling emotional stories. Instead, the Democratic Party’s affiliates and allied organizations in Washington have increasingly mandated “data-driven” campaigns instead of ones that are message-driven and data-informed. And over four straight cycles, Democrats have suffered historic losses.
We need to TELL STORIES and tell anyone who says otherwise to take a hike!   The last election cycle was the perfect example of this:

Consider the lot of Bill Clinton. It has been widely reported that in 2016, Bill Clinton urged Hillary Clinton’s campaign to message on the economy to white working-class voters as well as to the “Rising American Electorate” (young voters, communities of color and single white women), but couldn’t get anyone to listen to him in Brooklyn. They had an algorithm that answered all questions. Theirs was a data-driven campaign. The campaign considered Bill to be old school—a storyteller, not data driven.

We also need to mix up the WISDEMS administrative committee, they have been costing us seats!  


Ask anyone a question and it is not their responsibility.  The WISDEMS, blame the ADCC who Blames the WISDEMS who then blame the SDCC who then points a finger at the ADCC who then..... well you get the point.   Before you tell me about laws about coordination, and before I mention that those laws no longer apply to Wisconsin thanks to Scott "John Doe" Walker, but that is not what I mean.  

Have some strong honest beliefs and stand behind them,   Mean them!   For instance , stand for public education and NOT using taxpayer money for voucher schools.  Is it that hard for every Democrat in the state to draw the line on that?  When you have a few that are for vouchers and a bunch more that hem and haw when asked, then the message gets blurred and it effects every single candidate with a D after their name,.  

We covered this here.  Make sure when you meet someone for the first time, tell them you are a Democrat, that before they even know you, they know some universal truths about you!  

16.  Truly become a big tent party.  

There are hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin who identify as liberal, progressive, leans left or Democrat but have never joined the party.   They are not the enemy, they are the key to winning.  Yet the Democratic party has treated them like star belly sneetches who just are not as good as us without stars upon thars!  

Knock that off!

I would suggest something that appeals to all.  A sale!   Take a couple weeks sometime this year and offer up membership in the Democratic Party for $5.  Get people involved, have them actually become Democrats then welcome them into the party.

17.  Never make a decision based on what the WISGOP might do.  

I can not count how many times I have heard, "imagine what the Republicans would do with that?"  I do not care.  We are the Democratic party and I welcome anyone on the right to try and take us on regarding the issues.    

18.  We need to diversify.

That goes without saying!

19.  We need to rethink white privilege while respecting it.  

I understand that white privilege is real.  I know, statistics tell me I can drive down the street and not be pulled over because I look like someone who maybe possibly robbed a convenience store a year ago.    We absolutely need to acknowledge the inherent institutional racism that infects our system,

That being said, some white people are more privileged than others.   When you live in a small town outside a medium sized city, the factor that three generations of your family have worked at has closed, your school has class sizes of 30 kids and no art class, and have to do their shopping at Wal Mart, you are not that privileged.  When you have to drive an hour to work, because you finally got a job at the nearest mid sized city but can not sell your house, and make $50k year working 55 hours a week, you are surviving but you are not privileged.  

We need to acknowledge that the economy isn't working for more people than it is working for,  Then address that!

20.  Acknowledge poverty!    

Poverty has increased every year for as long as i can remember.   The more poverty goes up, the less politicians talk about it. It is why the Scott Walkers of the world are allowed to keep dividing and conquering.  We live in a land of great wealth, yet we have thousands of hungry homeless kids in WI.
I know the single mom, living in a motel, doing her best to keep her kids clothed and fed do not vote, but that does not mean they are not there.

 It goes back to telling stories.

"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. "~Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

When we truly stand up for these people, then everyone else will know that we have a backbone and want to improve all of society.  As they say, There but for the Grace of God goes I, many people know that could be us and if we can not take care of them how will we take care of me?  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Is Reince Priebus Being Targeted?

Poor old Reince Priebus, RNC chief turned to Trump's Chief of Staff, must be feeling like he's got a bullseye on his back.

It started over the weekend when longtime friend and ally to Trump, Christopher Ruddy, publicly said that Priebus wasn't up to the job:
One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff.

“A lot of people have been saying, ‘Look, Donald has some problems,’ and I think he realizes that he’s got to make some changes going forward,” Ruddy said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Ruddy went on to detail his critique of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus: “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”
But on Monday, when Comrade General Michael Flynn fell on his shashka, things really escalated quickly.

Briebart, the official Trump news outlet, ran a story questioning Priebus' longevity in the Trump misadministration and accusing him of being behind Flynn's ouster:
Citing several anonymous White House sources, Breitbart News posted a story Tuesday questioning the future of Kenosha-native Reince Priebus as President Donald Trump's chief of staff.

Following the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the story by the conservative web site carried the headline "As Flynn Resigns, Priebus Future In Doubt As Trump Allies Circulate List of Alternate Chief of Staff Candidates."

Breitbart cited multiple sources with "internal knowledge of White House operations." The Breitbart sources blamed Priebus and the "GOP establishment" for forcing out Flynn over his contacts with the Russian ambassador before the election.

The sources also blamed Priebus for not getting congressional Republicans to approve Trump cabinet nominees in a timely fashion.
But with all things Republicans, there's more. There's always more.

Now, keep in mind that the Brietbart sources are unnamed, but I have it on good authority that the initials of the source are Steve Bannon. (Like that was hard to figure out. Bannon and Priebus haven't gotten along since day one.)

Brietbart also accused Priebus of knowing of Obama holdovers and doing nothing about them, feeling that is helping sabotage Trump's misadministration, as if it really needed any help:
But the broadest criticism of Priebus was the claim that he's aware of "as many as 50" holdover staffers from the Obama administration who are suspected of working against Trump.

“They’re hiding like sleeper cells everywhere,” one source told Breitbart News.

"Priebus has full knowledge of their whereabouts, who they are, and what potential for damage they may cause. He is not doing anything about it, these sources add," the story says.
Even though none of this is coming from Trump officially and even though he might not feel that way personally, keep in mind that Trump is very easily influenced, especially by those in his inner circle and by his sycophants. Even if Trump might not agree now, it won't be long before he starts to doubt Priebus.

I don't know if this is all right wing nuts scapegoating or if Priebus' days in government are numbered, but if I were him, I'd polish up that resume now.

Who Has Been Watching Spending at DOT?

"Let me see how much you spent,” my mother said when I returned from the store. As the oldest of five children, I was often sent to the store to buy groceries. When I returned home, my mother checked the grocery bag, the receipt and counted the change.

I knew I could buy no more than exactly what was on her list. She knew how much everything should cost. I needed to answer for every penny I spent. Everything needed to add up.

This simple accountability seems to be completely missing at our Department of transportation (DOT).

My mother has now gone to live with the angels. However, she would be appalled at the findings in a recent audit released by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).

Auditors looked at spending on highways and found actual spending on individual projects much greater than the cost estimates provided to the Legislature at enumeration, which means legislative approval of the project. In some cases, actual costs for highways were four times more than the approved estimates.

Auditors examined highway projects completed from January 2006 to December 2015. At enumeration, cost estimates for none of the 19 completed projects took into account the increases in inflation during the life of the project. In every completed major highway project reviewed, actual costs were more than the cost estimates provided at enumeration. Over half of the projects had actual costs that were more than DOUBLE the cost estimates at enumeration. Two projects – including I-94 to Chippewa Falls were more than FOUR TIMES the cost estimates provided at enumeration.

The I-94 to Chippewa Falls project was enumerated in 1991 and the last bills were paid in 2011. Why did this information not become part of a public discussion before now?

Part of the answer lies in a lack of transparency and oversight.

This audit, just as prior audits, illuminated problems with missing paperwork and poor oversight. Because of prior audit findings, legislators changed the law to require DOT to report clear information on actual compared to budgeted costs.

Despite the new law, DOT did not provide complete information to the oversight body - the Transportation Projects Commission, which is made up of political appointees. The law required regular reporting by DOT to the Commission.

Auditors also examined current DOT highway projects and found similar problems. In every project reviewed, cost estimates in August 2016 were higher than the cost estimates at enumeration. Of the sixteen major ongoing highway projects, eight are more than double the cost estimates at enumeration, with one – Highway 10 from Marshfield to Appleton – over four times greater.

Why have project cost estimates increased so much?

Auditors mention two reasons: unexpected costs and inflation. DOT did not sufficiently consider the effects of inflation. They also made major errors (my words, not the auditors) in their cost estimates due to unexpected cost increases.

An example may help explain these unexpected cost increases.

In planning construction on I-39/90 from Madison to the Stateline, DOT used five-year-old traffic counts. They updated the project with new counts in 2012. DOT then decided to increase pavement thickness and add two more additional lanes near Janesville. DOT bought additional real estate, moved power lines they had not anticipated, increased the shoulder width and provided alternate routes to avoid delays and accidents. These changes explained about three-quarters of the nearly half a billion of the increase in the project’s cost estimate.

All of these changes may appear reasonable. However, serious problems exist in the system when cost estimates increase from about $700 million to over $1.2 billion with no public accountability or legislative authority.

Auditors recommend legislators and the public are kept better informed. In its report, the LAB makes 45 separate recommendations. In response to the audit, Speaker Robin Vos called on DOT to provide details related to all DOT projects and actual cost.

But how is it the Department of Transportation has paid more –sometimes four times more – on projects than cost estimates provided at enumeration?

There are more details in the audit, which provide insight into the current budget problems facing the state as we contemplate the next budget. I will be reporting on these details and the activities of the audit committee. This is our opportunity as thoughtful citizens to say, “Let me see how much you spent.”       

Friday, February 10, 2017

Zephyr Teachout Teaches A Progressive Lesson

By Jeff Simpson  

One of my favorite candidates, who ran on the national level was Zephyr Teachout, who unfortunately lost her election for Congress.   She was a favorite of the Progressives, and was the first candidate Bernie Sanders endorsed.    She was such a power player, that the Hillary team worked hard to get her/intimidate her, from endorsing Senator Sanders!

Ms. Teachout recently gave a great interview where she discussed her campaign and the recent election.  

What went wrong:

Our district went from Obama winning by six points to Trump winning by over seven points, so it was basically a 13-point swing. We thought it was going to be close. I have reason to believe that my opponent thought it was going to be close. I think the biggest factor was Trump’s win or Clinton’s loss, whichever way you want to put it.

One thing that I hadn’t really thought through was just how unappealing a candidate Mitt Romney was in an area like this. Mitt Romney represents this Brahmin East Coast elite insider, and maybe for some people Romney and Clinton are in the same category—part of an elite political infrastructure that has very little to say to the farmers and small business owners in our district. Swimming against that tide—I met so few people who were not in Democratic committees who had any excitement for Hillary Clinton, and I met a lot of people who despised her.

Who Does She Support for DNC Chair(and a keen observation of the Republican Party(emphasis mine)): 

I am a big supporter of Keith Ellison. He himself has run races and increased turnout every single time, so he knows what it is to run in a serious way, in a way that [former Labor Secretary] Thomas Perez does not. When I was running, when I went to D.C., Keith was one of the few people who just started with questions instead of answers. “What are the dynamics, what are the issues, what do people care about?” The first question from far too many others was, “How much is it going to cost you and what’s the polling?”

One of the things that I found running a rural district is that people didn’t necessarily know what Democrats stood for at all. In a down-ballot race you’re breathing through a straw to communicate with people—you can communicate two or three things at most. But I assume that because of that D next to my name, people know that I also stand for public education, Social Security, investing in infrastructure. What I found was that the D was kind of confused because leaders in our party support privatizing schools, leaders in our party have supported offshoring jobs. I think that people really start with a question mark for the Democratic Party and that really hurts all of our candidates. Nobody has a question about what Keith stands for.

Yes that is a problem everywhere.  

In the Tony Evers race, its very important that we re-elect Superintendent Evers, but he makes it hard on us when he brings pro-voucher people into his campaign.   Just as Ms. Teachout points out, Tony Evers hired Brad Wojciechowski, as his finance director.   Brad's only experience in education, is working for Milwaukee School Board candidate Bruce Thompson, who is described as one of the biggest pro voucher supporters in the city

What do we stand for if the best candidate we have to choose from litters his staff with voucher supporters?   Is there no line in the sand for us to draw?  Or are we as progressives supposed to go to the ballot booth every time and say "Thank you sir may i have another" as we continue to be forced to vote for the candidate who keeps reaching out to the right wing extreme to prove bipartisanship?

At some point we need to get back to having someone who stands for the middle class, public education and doing the right thing for all of Wisconsin.  And doing so unapologetically!  Then we can start energizing the people in WI who have been beat down for years now, and are desperate for a Champion and a Leader.     

I was hoping it was Tony, but until he learns the lessons and picks up the signals that are being sent, we are going to have to do this ourselves!  

SO please despite the missteps, and poor hires, please vote for Tony Evers on February 21(the other choices are that bad) and then lets regroup and start turning our state around!   

We need to get to a point where when we leave our families for hours on end fighting for a candidate to get elected, they are fighting for us also!    We need to know that being a progressive/liberal means you have a core set of beliefs that are set in stone and you will fight for them no matter what!     

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Taylor Slams Walker for Pitting School Kids Against Educators

By Chris Taylor 

 After his failed Presidential bid just a year and a half ago, it appears as though Governor Scott Walker is using his divide and conquer tactics to once again revive his role in the conservative spotlight.  Yesterday, in his fourth budget address, he proposes expanding certain provisions of Act 10, forcing school districts across Wisconsin to comply or lose their funding.  Current law only requires units of local government to force employees to pay a minimum of 12 percent for their health care premiums – not school districts.  Under Walker’s provision, school districts would now be forced to comply with this mandate. 

“Pitting our children against our educators is disgusting enough, but then blackmailing districts to comply with his new mandate or lose the new funding they desperately need is sickening.  In the face of a severe teaching shortage, which Walker has only contributed to over the years, his obsession with punishing public sector employees is punitive, vindictive and only compounds the problem.  The big losers once again are our children,” Taylor said.

Madison Metropolitan School District is currently compliant with Act 10 and successfully negotiated with both their local HMOs and educational staff to control health care costs.  They are at risk of losing $11 million under Walker’s proposal.  Madison is not the only district affected.  Districts in Beloit, Janesville, Oconomowoc just to name a few, will also be impacted by this mandate. 

After suffering over $1 billion in funding cuts over the first six years of Walker’s tenure, school spending on teacher salaries and other school staff has fallen faster than the national average.  Wisconsin has already experienced the biggest decline of any state in spending on employee benefits.  As a result, Wisconsin is experiencing an acute teacher shortage. 54 percent of districts are experiencing a teacher shortage in math and 50 percent are experiencing a shortage in science (Wisconsin Budget Project: Budget Cuts and Teacher Shortages 1/11/2017).  Teacher quality is one of the most important school-based determinants of student success. 

“To hold our kids ransom to score political points is the lowest of the low.  I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to stand up for our children and say no to these bullying tactics that are intended to hurt our 870,000 public school kids and make Wisconsin’s teacher shortage worse,” Taylor concluded.