Thursday, July 31, 2008

Well, That Will Really Help

I received an email today from AT&T, announcing a wonderful new service that they are offering.

If my phone ever stops working, all I have to do is get on the computer, go to their nifty website, and they'll help fix the problem.

The only thing is my Internet service is DSL from AT&T. How am I supposed to use the Internet if the line isn't working?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Extreme Screw Over: Home Edition

By now, just about everyone has heard about the Harper family. They're the family that received an elaborate new home from the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It was the biggest home that was built, and there was an extraordinary outpouring of good faith and donations of both time and money.

The Harper family then took a huge loan out against the house and now can't afford the payments. They have decided to let the home go into foreclosure.

I have seen a couple, three bloggers write about it, and Charlie Sykes did some squawking. For the most part, people were blaming either the family, calling the deadbeats, or blaming the bank for making such a risky loan in the first place.

Just about everyone, myself included, think that the real victims were the people that donated their money, their time and their labor to build this home.

But the one entity that is escaping blame, and shouldn't be, is ABC.

Oh, sure, people get all emotionally involved in the different families' stories, the good that they've done for their community and/or country, and the terrible conditions they are forced to live in, until the team comes in and builds them a new home. But ABC is not being completely altruistic in this venture. In fact, they're not being altruistic at all.

First of all, they are going for ratings, which brings in bigger advertising dollars from the sponsors. But that is the nature of the business.

But that is not the only way they are raking in the dough. The same people that own ABC, and hence the show, also own Disney and Sears. If anyone has caught a show or two, know that the family is usually sent on vacation to Disneyland or Disneyworld. All of the tools used are Craftsman, which is owned by Sears. All of the appliances, and most of the home furnishings come from Sears as well. Who knows how many other product placements are going on in that show. It really is not much more than an hour-long infomercial for their products. That's a lot of free advertising.

And they get it by playing on the sob stories of these families, and on their generosity of the people volunteering their services and the products.

Now don't get me wrong. Many of these families obviously need help, and it is a good thing that ABC does by trying to help them, and I applaud them for that. But let's not forget that they are doing it just from the goodness of their hearts.

And the Harpers isn't the only bad story that comes from the show. There was also the family of orphans, being cared for by the oldest sibling, that was evicted before the show even aired. ABC knew this, but still aired the episode, without telling the audience.

Insurance Company Rules

When talking about a responsible, national health care system, many conservatives will come up with the argument of: "Do you want a government bureaucrat making your health care decisions?"

This is nothing more than conservative code for: "We can't let a responsible health care system take away the profits from Big Insurance, even if it would save you money."

What they don't mention is that you have a peon from Big Insurance doing what he or she can to preserve their bottom line instead of worrying about your health. They do this by using "Insurance Company Rules":





To sign an online petition for Health Care For America Now, just click here.

New Restaurant Opens In Green Bay

A new restaurant is now open in Green Bay, Wisconsin:





To celebrate their grand opening, and to commemorate tomorrow's McCain campaign stop in Wisconsin, they will have the John McCain Special. That is where they will bring you a new waffle every ten minutes, whether you want it or not.

Is Your Candidate Smarter Than A Pop Star?

Today, McCain's campaign has come out with yet another lame commercial trying to compare Senator Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. I guess it is just another attempt to get some attention.

Unfortunately for McCain, Progressive Accountability.org has already answered with a video showing that McCain isn't any smarter than Britney:





They were also kind enough to provide quite a number of quotes demonstrating how much McCain is really like Bush, including the part of not knowing what the heck he is talking about most of the time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It Sounds Funny, But It's Not

Polydipsia is the Greek word meaning "excessive thirst." Used medically, it is often connotated with being a symptom of untreated diabetes. In psychology, it is seen in schizophrenics, and can lead to serious medical conditions as that the person could drink so much fluid that it throws the body chemistry off and can cause renal failure and heart attacks. It is also commonly referred to as "water drunkenness" as the person acts as if they're drunk, even without a touch of alcohol.

But sometimes, when I hear the term, I think of "poly" meaning "many" and dips being self-explanatory, I think of many dips.

Why Would Greg Gracz Leave Now?

Last week, Gretchen Schuldt at Milwaukee Rising reported that Greg Gracz, Milwaukee County's labor negotiator, is the top candidate to become the director of human resources at MATC.

Today, All Politics, the JSOnline political blog confirms that Gracz has applied for the job. They also tell us that the job would mean a $4,000 per year pay cut.

This begs the question: Why would he go for another job that would pay less?

He has only been on the job for a year and a half. He was hired right after the current labor contracts had been signed. These contracts expire at the end of this year and negotiations are to start in the fall.

Does he expect to have a difficult time with these negotiations? Is he having a hard time negotiating on the behalf of the County, when he had spent so much time being the head of the firefighters' union? Or is there something we don't know, but maybe we should?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Couldn't Say It Any Better Myself

I was going to put up a post about the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Tennessee.

But then, as I was surfing through the Cheddarsphere, I found that grumps had already said it much better than I would ever be able to:

I'd like to be the better person when I see these anti-immigrant/gay/Liberal/choice/Latino/black/coexistence/anti-anti-anti rantings. I wish I could see through to the kernel of goodness at the heart of their argument but it's damnably hard sometimes.

So often their arguments come cloaked in the mantle of religion or wrapped in the flag. So often they don't even see the hatefulness in their postings. This time hatefulness came with 76 shotgun shells in a fanny pack, having left a raving manifesto behind.

Sometimes it's hard to not see those emotions in a blog post.
For further views, please see Blogging Blue, Illy-T, and Jason Haas.

If This Is Winning The War, I'd Hate To See Losing The War

A couple, three days ago, the AP put out an analysis that we are winning the war in Iraq.

Today, they celebrated the news in Iraq, with a string of suicide bombings that killed dozens and injured many, many more.

Meanwhile, even McCain admits that things are getting worse in Afghanistan.

If this is winning, what the hell would losing look like?

And does anyone honestly believe no matter how long we keep troops in Iraq, that we would ever be able to bring a lasting peace to the region?

Nope, No Racism Going On Anymore

When Senator Barack Obama became the presumptive Democratic candidate earlier this year, many of the local right wing pundits and bloggers declared that to be the end of racism.

What a load of garbage they are spewing.

If anything racism is coming more and more prevalent as Obama gets closer to a victory in the fall. We have seen it from the likes of local media squawkers like Mark Belling to insulting t-shirts. Other Side has a post showing that racism is alive and well on Faux News, which is anything but fair and balanced.

There's the multiple references to Obama as the "Chocolate Jesus." Some racists are at least not as blatant about their feelings, and try to use different code words for their hatred.

We've also seen Michelle Obama being constantly attacked, portraying her as a terrorist, or Fox News' infamous Obama Baby Mama piece.

Today, we've seen that a South Carolina judge has been indefinitely kicked off the bench for making crude racial remarks.

Obviously, not all conservatives, or all people that oppose Obama are racists. But for anyone to deny that there is blatant racism going on, or that things are getting worse as we get nearer the election, well, they're either liars or are racists themselves and just don't have the insight to be honest about it.

Wow! Just How Bad Is She?

I know that Alberta Darling isn't everyone's darling, but I never realized just how much she is disliked until tonight. While messing around with the site meter, I came across a hit from the Jiaxing Artistic kindergarten, that led to this:




That is a how this post looks written in Chinese.


How bad of a state Senator does she have to be, that even Chinese kindergartners don't like her?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Should Have Seen It Coming



First, Favre retired.

Then he wanted to come back.

He only wanted to play with the Packers.

Then he wanted to be traded.

Then he didn't want to be traded, he wanted to be released.

Then he didn't want to be released, he wanted to challenge Aaron Rodgers for the starting position.

He still hasn't sent in his reinstatement papers.

It shouldn't have come to a surprise to anyone.

All these flip-flops should have been expected.

After all, he is a Republican.

Going BaNaNas

As some of you have noticed, I have recently taken the position of Wisconsin Editor for BNN. The job sounds a lot more prestigious than it really is. All I do is monitor the blogosphere on occasion, adding new blogs that meet the criteria and removing blogs that aren't active anymore. That's it. I have no influence on the influence rankings or anything like that.

Well, my tenure started out with a less than auspicious start when Cindy Kilkenny, author of Fairly Conservative, decided she wanted off of BNN's roster. Her original objection was to some of the ads that sometimes appear on BNN's home page. It has since morphed into accusing BNN, and its owner, David Mastio, of stealing her property and violating "Fair Use."

Shortly after Ms. Kilkenny started her crusade, Patrick Dorwin, owner of Badger Blogger, has also raised his objection to being on BNN's roster, with the accusation of BNN stealing his work.

David Mastio, in his own blog, has acknowledged their complaints, but has stated that he is not violating Fair Use.

Well, over the past few weeks, there has been a small flurry of post, comments, and attempts at technological trickery regarding BNN's readers and their ability to read these posts going back and forth.

I have not written about this before for several reasons. One, I don't have a horse in this race. Sure, I'm the editor, but I am doing it to help other new bloggers have a chance to get noticed and to help real conversation going on. Secondly, I have been having a bit of fun watching it all take place. You see, Mr. Dorwin and Ms. Kilkenny are obviously conservative, as is Mr. Mastio, who used to be a speech writer for one of President Bush's cabinet members. It's like watching a conservative circular firing squad. Thirdly, in my humble opinion, it is all rather silly.

Ms. Kilkenny and Mr. Dorwin have not expressed similar displeasure about other entities using their work in similar ways. In fact, Ms. Kilkenny has even boasted about having one of her posts on the editorial links at Wisopinion.com, until she deleted it. Likewise, Mr. Dorwin, who has criticized the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for some of their advertising decisions, has not raised an issue, as of the time of this writing, with them for using his material in this morning's paper.

Nor have they complained, publicly, about Google or Technorati or Wisopinion.com. Nor have they complained about other bloggers who have linked to them, cited them, and/or quoted them, and also have ads on their websites.

It should also be noted that both of Ms. Kilkenny and Mr. Dorwin have ads on their blogsites. They have both cited and quoted other bloggers and news media sources. Does this mean their in violation and are stealing other peoples stuff? Of course not, but it does display how silly these things can get.

And with all their complaining, their still high on the influential ratings chart. (Meanwhile, Cognitive Dissidence has yet to crack the top twenty. Shows my level of influence, eh?)

For another opinion, I offer the post of a fellow BNN editor, Tracy Coenen, who's real life career is being a forensic accountant.

Now, I am not a lawyer, and I don't know if Ms. Kilkenny and Mr. Dorwin have a legal case or not, but I would guess that since other bloggers have tried, and Mr. Mastio is still in business, Mr. Mastio has the law on his side.

With all that said, I also have to say that I think they are right. If they want off the roster, they should be allowed to be off the roster. I think it is a silly thing to want. After all, every blogger has a big ego, and that ego feeds off of attention. The more sources to get hits, to get attention, and to get their 15 minutes of fame would be better.

I know I write because I want to make my opinion heard. If I was really worried about attention, I would have stayed exclusively at folkbum's or Whallah! which gets a heckuva lot more hits than I have gotten here yet. But even if I end up talking to myself, so be it. It will only help me figure out things for myself. And if others want to share what they feel and think, whether or not they agree or disagree with my position-well, that is what blogging is supposed to be all about.

But like I said, if they want off the roster, that is their choice. Mr. Mastio may have the legal right to do what he is doing, but that does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do.

But seeing that the two bloggers have not complained about the other aggregators, and Mr. Mastio does not seem very likely to give up what he sees his right, I would suggest that, if possible, Mr. Mastio have the readers for at least these two sites be set up so that it only shows the blogsite and the post title, and maybe only ten or twenty words, instead of fifty, like Google reader. That should satisfy all parties. Mr. Dorwin and Ms. Kilkenny have not raised similar objections to that reader so they should be comfortable with that, and Mr. Mastio would be able to keep two popular blogsites on his roster.

On a side note, I would like to congratulate my good friend, Illy-T, on achieving his goal regarding his BNN ranking.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The UnderLying Issue

Alberta Darling must be really feeling the pressure from Sheldon Wasserman's campaign. She is starting to flail around in her attacks on him, but is only making herself look even sillier.

All Politics, the political blog at JSOnline, has a recap of the dueling press releases that have been most recent in the battle of who would work harder for the district.

Wasserman's campaign issued a press release included this paragraph about his progress in getting out and talking to people:
Wasserman, who knocked on 735 doors last week, has visited over 18,500 homes. “My opponent likes to tell people she is ‘out knocking on doors.’ But the voters know the difference between riding in a car watching staff drop off taxpayer-funded road maps that people did not even ask for and actually knocking on doors and talking to people,” added Wasserman. “I run my campaign like I run my Assembly office, with a strong focus on personal service and fiscal responsibility.”

This got Alberta all in a tizzy, and she fired back with her own press release, which includes these paragraphs:
“I take great offense to Sheldon Wasserman’s false accusation that I am not actually knocking on voters’ doors, and his continued insinuation that I am too sick to run for office and restricted to campaigning from a car.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m physically fit and in very good health despite what Sheldon Wasserman would lead people to believe. I knock on hundreds of doors every week. My campaign helpers can all attest to this fact, the thousands of voters’ whose doors I’ve knocked on can attest to this fact, and even numerous Assembly candidates whom I’ve run into while doing doors can attest to this fact.

There are a couple items that should concern voters in those few lines.

One is he never said anything, at any time, about her illness. In fact, Darling has said so herself. She is quoted in this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointing out that she has no proof that he had anything to do with this:
Darling said she has no proof that Wasserman or Decker spread rumors about her health. And both Democrats on Thursday denied making any statements on the subject.

So, in one instance, she says that she has no proof that he made these statements, then she accuses him of making them, when there is in fact not one word about her health in his press release. That, folks, is called lying. I personally have no doubt that she is healthy enough to do the door to door canvassing, if she wanted. The problem is she would rather not.

Furthermore, Wasserman never said that she wasn't knocking on doors. I've already shown the gentle reader that Darling herself, said that she and her staff have been knocking on doors. This means obviously, she's not doing them all by herself. Heck, even a right wing blogger sells her out and talks about how he's been doing doors for her. And please note, Darling doesn't release the numbers that she's done by herself, probably because they would look so very pathetic next to Wasserman's.

But all that is is another example of Darling's lying to the voters, trying to make herself look like she is working for them, instead of working on her golf swing. But if she keeps having rounds like these, she'll be able to have plenty of rounds on the golf course next year, since she won't have anything else to do.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brave American Defends American Lawn From Illegal Immigrant Lawnmower

JSOnline reports on a story of some schmuck who in a fit of drunken and/or hungover rage, shot his lawnmower with a shotgun.

Again, like the story yesterday, it raises more questions than it answers:
  1. Did he think the lawnmower was an illegal alien because it said Lawn-boy on it?
  2. What would he have done if it said Toro?
  3. Why couldn't I find one right wing blogger that called the guy a thug for shooting an unarmed lawnmower in a quiet neighborhood?
  4. Does Owen Robinson really think that a guy that has been drinking all morning, lives with his mother when he is 57 years old, and shoots a lawnmower that he couldn't start should have any guns in the house?
  5. Wouldn't using some starting fluid have been more practical than a sawed-off shotgun?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Don't Know Which Is The Most Surprising

Rhode Island arrested a guy for drunk driving. He had a .491 on a blood alcohol test. I don't know which is the most surprising part of the story:

  1. That he didn't die of alcohol poisoning,
  2. That he was even coherent enough to walk, much less drive,
  3. That they released him from prison on a promise to return to court, or
  4. That the guy wasn't from Wisconsin.

The Fumbling And Bumbling Of The County Board

Normally, on any given day, I generally favor the Milwaukee County Board. Oh, sure, there a few supervisors that I could live without, but overall, they are the only line of defense between the county and the havoc that Walker would create in his perseveration to be governor.

Today is not one of those days.

First they fumble and solidly vote to award Ron Malone, Superintendent of the House of Correction, for his incompetence by giving him his job back. Granted, Malone did not have a lot to work with, giving the constant hacking and slashing of the budget by Walker, but it is Malone's job to fight to make sure his institution is the best it can be, and the guy doesn't even know what's going on at HOC. I've already written a laundry list of reasons why Malone shouldn't have been reinstated, but the board went ahead and did it anyway, with only three supervisors dissenting.

Then, as expected, they postpone the vote to override Walker's veto of the sales tax referendum. They postponed it because one or two of the supervisors was unavailable for today's session. I'm sorry, but when you only have one session or so a month, don't you think they would be able to plan around it a little better. To be fair, no reason was given for the supervisors' absences. and they could be legitimate, like for a hospitalization, but I have doubts.

The other thing that concerns me is that the vote to postpone carried by only a 10-7 vote. Seven people wanted to vote on it today, knowing it wouldn't pass if the vote was held. Even if you add the two missing supervisors, that is not enough for an override. Someone is flip flopping on the people again.

I guess the supervisors were just being distracted by other, more important things, like playing golf tomorrow. I wonder if Alberta Darling will be joining them. I hear she plays a mean golf game.

H/T to the Recess Supervisor for Darling's golf tip.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Respect For The Man Grows

I have been fortunate in my life, in the sense that I have made many friends, both in the real world, and in the cyberworld. Some of my friends and I have lifelong relationships that make them seem more like family than some of my actual family members. They have helped me celebrate the good times, and even more importantly, helped me survive the bad.

While my wife always was, is and always will be my bestest best friend, there are many others that I am proud to call my friend. Sometimes you meet a friend that makes a bigger impression on you than either of you realize at first.

One of these friends of mine is Bill, the Duke of Duct Tape. He is the first blogger I met in person, which is rather odd, since Jay Bullock is the one that launched me on the poor, unsuspecting blogosphere. Bill and I are on different sides on most topics, but still have managed to find some common ground, and more areas of agreement than either one of us probably suspected existed.

So you can understand how dismayed I was to see that Bill was going to give up on his blog. I was equally ecstatic to find out that Bill did not give up on blogging, but chose another direction in his blogging, as many of us do from time to time.

But when I read his first post on his new site, I was stunned. The courage it took to write what he did is simply awe-inspiring. It also made my respect for the man grow, if that was possible. I am truly humbled and honored to be able to call him my friend, and I hope he doesn't mind if I join him on his journey from time to time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Time To Go To Override

I wrote last week about the importance of the Milwaukee County Board to override Scott Walker's veto of the sales tax referendum.

Walker has, in the last week, offered up a lot of rhetoric in trying to persuade the Board in not going for the override. His rhetoric is full of false arguments, and a dose of hypocrisy. He claims that the sales tax would make Milwaukee County a "tax oasis", drive business out of Milwaukee County, wouldn't really provide tax relieve, and that the voters already had such a referendum when they re-elected him last April.

I wrote a piece nearly a year ago, at folkbum's, on the irrational argument of a sales tax making Milwaukee County a "tax oasis." And at that time, gas was relatively cheap at $3 a gallon. Now that gas is hovering around the $4 a gallon range, his argument is even more specious. His supporters try to argue about how much money they could save on a large purchase, ranging in the thousands of dollars. But in today's economy, how many people are going to be willing to make purchases that large on a regular basis? Not many, I'm sure.

In the same piece, I pointed out that the sales tax in Milwaukee County was already higher than that in surrounding counties, but that businesses were still thriving in Milwaukee. Having an even higher sales tax in Chicago doesn't appear to have shut that city down either.

If anything, major employers, like Miller, are leaving Milwaukee, but it has nothing to do with the taxes. But transportation seems to have more of an effect on the issue.

Walker is absolutely incorrect when he says that the sales tax won't provide property tax relief. It will do so. Walker is hoping that people will confuse tax relief with tax prevention. It won't keep taxes from going up indefinitely, but it will ease the pain. More long-lasting tax relief would come from things Walker and his ilk oppose, like a rational approach to health care, developing alternative forms of energy and making corporations pay their fair share of taxes. The hypocritical part comes in when Walker argues that in the '90s tax relief measures still resulted in higher taxes. It is hypocritical of Walker to say this, as that a major reason for the increase in county taxes was due to the State government short-changing Milwaukee County (something that he still complains about), due to budgets that he and his Republican allies helped forge and pass.

Walker's assertions about the referendum already being held is as equally laughable as the rest of his arguments. Yes, he was elected by a respectable margin. But so were the members of the County board who are poised to override his veto.

The thing that Walker hasn't mentioned in his arguments about how much the sales tax would cost us, is how much more it would cost the county to have a failing transit system or a parks system that is in ruins. That would do more to drive away taxpayers and businesses alike.

It's not too late to call your local county board supervisor, and encourage him or her to override the veto. You can get the contact information for your Supervisor here, and if you don't know who your Supervisor is, you can find out by clicking here.

Cross posted, with minimal modification for coherency purposes, at folkbum's rambles and rants.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Coggs Is Spinning Her Wheels

Another thing I missed while the old computer was acting up, was Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs coming out with the plan of giving members of the County Board a $300 per month travel allowance.

That is a very bad idea that couldn't come at a more ridiculous time. Even when one takes into consideration that the federal mileage reimbursement rate was increased to 58.5 cents per mile, effective July 1, that would mean that each Supervisor would be traveling 513 miles per month. Considering most of their work is done at the courthouse, I have a hard time imagining how each of them would be putting on that many miles in a month.

If Supervisor Coggs feels strongly enough that they deserve reimbursement for mileage, I would suggest that they do as any other county employee would have to do. Itemize each trip with destinations, purpose of the trip and the number of miles. Nor does travel from home to work or from work to home count. Then, if there is any discrepancies or suspicious entries, they can try to justify that trip, or have it taken off their reimbursement.

Slicing Through The Clutter

So while I was having "computer problems", all of the right wing squawkers were blabbering about how, at some golfing event, state Senator Alberta Darling drove a ball further than state Representative Sheldon Wasserman. Sykes was jeering Wasserman on how he "got beat by a girl." The right wing blog brigade also chimed in with one local blogger showing the tact of describing Wasserman as "wussy."

Apparently, they felt this was some sort of vindication of when someone said that Darling was still too sick from breast cancer. The right has tried to pin the allegation of being the rumor monger on Wasserman, even though Darling herself, casting wildly about, admitted that she has no proof of who said what.

But the question about the golfing event remains: So what?

Basing one's vote on who can drive a golf ball farther makes as little sense as basing one's vote on who you would most like to have a beer with. And we all know how well that turned out.

That Darling beat Wasserman only shows me that while her staff was doing her work for her, she was out playing golf, either at one of her fundraisers, named the Senator Darling Annual Golf Classic, or as Recess Supervisor put it in this comment thread:
Darling’s certainly well enough to bail on her Senate duties consistently to play golf in Florida, so surely she’s well enough to do doors.

Personally, I would rather have someone who is spending time doing their job and listening to the voters, than hoping their staff is on the ball while she is hitting one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Blogging: Computer Problems

Something has crashed on my computer, preventing any further blogging until the issue has been resolved. To complicate the matter, I seem to be unable to find my mouse now as well.




Blogging will resume after these issues have been resolved. Thank you for your patience.

How Incredibly Insensitive

It is in rather bad taste that the media would first tell us the story of a woman who apparently committed suicide and had her body found off the western shore of Michigan, then follow up with a story on trash from Wisconsin being found along the shores of western Michigan.

And it was not just TMJ4 that did the same thing, but many other media sources did the same thing. The story on the trash could've waited, and didn't need to be done within hours of the news of the woman.

This is just tacky and insensitive, but that is what the media has been known for for some time now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let The People Speak

Last week, I wrote about the disparity in the Milwaukee County Park System. My post was inspired by an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that showed how Milwaukee is lagging behind the rest of the nation is spending on local parks.

Today we find that almost a third of the bathrooms in the parks system get poor to failing grades, based on a study done by the Parks Department. The repairs would cost nearly $1 million, and some bathrooms are so bad that the County might be better off just closing them permanently and putting up "prefab bathrooms":
The board's parks committee today got a virtual tour of some of the shabbiest park bathrooms and a bracing estimate of what it might cost to fix them. Remodeling the worst of the worst - the 11 park restrooms given an "F" grade - would cost more than $862,000, supervisors were told.

That's a tentative price tag - the county might be better off to simply close some of those for good or substitute new "pre-fab" bathrooms, said Parks Director Sue Black. The pre-fab units are all the rage among parks officials nationally and would cost less than overhauling outdated restrooms to meet current building codes and federal accessibility standards for persons with disabilities, Black said.

Cost estimates have not yet been made on wiping out the defects at the other sub-par park restrooms.

To add to the County's ongoing embarrassment is an audit that found the Milwaukee County Transit System which found the system to be in decline:
The independent audit, required by state law, depicts the bus system as a cost-effective operation with declining service. Auditors recommended more state and local funding, in the form of a dedicated revenue stream.

Those findings are consistent with the results of previous state audits and of studies by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, the Public Policy Forum and a consultant hired by the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development effort.

These sorts of things have gone on for too long. The decline in quality of life has cost Milwaukee County and its citizens much, much more than a few dollars that it would have cost to restore the parks and the transit system to their previous places of prestige, being yardsticks for the rest of the nation to measure themselves to.

The Milwaukee County Board had approved an advisory referendum to raise sales tax by 1%, with the money to go to the parks, to transit and to property tax relief. Thinking that being in control of a failing county will help his chances to be governor, Walker has vetoed it. I agree with my friend Jay Bullock on how that makes Walker look.

The Board now votes on July 24 on whether to override Walker's veto. The time is now for us to call our County Board Supervisors, and tell them that they must override Walker's short-sighted veto, and take action to restore Milwaukee County back to a place where people would truly find safety, affordability and pride.

You can get the contact information for your Supervisor here, and if you don't know who your Supervisor is, you can find out by clicking here.

Drinking Liberally

Just a friendly reminder that Drinking Liberally is tomorrow night, 7 p.m.-?

It will be at the Sugar Maple, which is in fashionable Bay View. The address is 411 E. Lincoln Avenue. You know the place, it's where all the cool kids hang out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scott Walker: Anti-Bus, Anti-Environment, Anti-Business

This past weekend, the Appleton Post-Crescent ran a story about the local public transit system there. The gist of the story was that Appleton and the surrounding communities would be chipping in to cover a shortfall in the budget, caused in a large part by the soaring price of gasoline.

Unlike Milwaukee County's transit system, but like most the transit systems of most cities, Valley Transit is experiencing a boom in ridership:
Wetter said she is sure the record-high cost of fuel is partly responsible for a 6.8 percent increase in fixed route ridership through the first five months of 2008, and a 5.6 percent hike in fixed route revenue.

"We had a 13 percent increase in ridership in April, about the same time gasoline prices jumped up," she said.

The paper also included a factoid box that had these stats:
  • Fare revenue: $307,069, up 5.6 percent
  • Ridership (total paid trips, including school students): 429,104, up 6.8 percent
  • Rack'n'Roll program usage (use of bus-mounted bicycle racks by Vally Transit riders): 4,281, up 79 percent

The article also mentioned that this year, they had no cut in routes and no increase in fares (although an increase is expected for 2009). In contrast, Scott Walker cut the routes, raised fares, and vetoed a proposal to put bike racks on buses here. Fortunately, the Milwaukee County Board was able to restore most of the routes, minimize the fare hikes and overrode the veto.

It goes without saying that mass transit goes a long way to cut air pollution, as well as cut the demand for foreign oil.

Likewise, common sense should suffice that not everyone can or chooses to drive a car, and the bus is their only way to get to and from work. Many employers keep that in mind when choosing a location for their business, and try to find a site close to a transit line.

But Valley Transit Riders, and their employers, get another benefit that Scott Walker is denying Milwaukee County residents: a tax break. The Federal government has passed a law that allows employers to give payroll breaks to the employees, and in turn, get tax breaks themselves. There are a number of tax incentives that employers can choose from, and they can be found in this pdf on page 10.

Scott Walker's backers in talk radio and in the blogosphere support him no matter what he does and no matter how bad things get, as long as he keeps his inane and inaccurate rhetoric of holding the line on taxes. Too bad they don't want to actually get a tax break, like the people in the Fox Valley are getting.

I guess the conservatives upstate just have a bit more common sense than the local variety does.

Raising The Roof

For the 2.3 readers that have followed me over here from folkbum's, you'll remember that at the end of February, I had a wee bit of a problem at my place up north. Things are starting to finally pick up and things are definitely looking better.

Here is how it looked at the end of February:
Here is how it looked at the end of April, after my vehicle was extracted and the snow had finally melted:
And here it is from yesterday:

They are supposed to hang the new overhead door this morning. Then it is a matter of getting an electrician to wire the place for lights and outlets. That shouldn't be too hard as that most of the wiring is still intact. It will require just stringing across the beams so that we can have some lights and an outlet on the far side of the garage. I'm also planning on replacing the pedestrian door, as that it is rusting out and the frame was slightly damaged from the roof collapse.

Then comes the fun of schlepping everything back into the garage and finding a proper home for it all. That's not a chore that I'm looking forward to, but it will be nice to have life finally back to normal.

Viva La France!

Happy Bastille Day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I Know The Feeling

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis hits it on the head:




Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alberta Darling: My Staff Will Not Be Outworked

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about the political races that are forming up for this fall's elections.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest races on the local scene is the match up between state Senator Alberta Darling and state Representative Sheldon Wasserman. This is what Greg J. Borowski wrote about the race (emphasis mine):
In the Milwaukee area, the marquee battle pits Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) against Rep. Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee). In what could become an expensive battle, Democrats hope a win will add to their edge in the Senate.

“There is a huge mood in this country for change,” said Wasserman, who added, “This race will not be bought. It will be earned by someone knocking on doors.”

Wasserman said he has knocked on more than 17,000 doors (17,274 to be exact). Darling said she and her staff have visited 25,000 homes, including 10,000 since spring.

“I will not be outworked,” Darling said, adding: “People are looking for somebody who listens to them, hears them and works for them.”
It would be interesting to know just how many of those 25,000 homes Darling did herself, and if she spent any time with the people that live in those homes. It is also rather tacky to take credit for the work of others, even if they're volunteers for her campaign.

My personal impressions of Darling are not favorable, and she has spoken out of both sides of her mouth on more than one occasion. I remember that in the mid 1990's, she, along with Mia Farrow and a few other Republican Senators, spearheaded getting Milwaukee County's child welfare system privatized. On the morning that she came to speak to the county workers, in which she was going to thank and praise us for our years of devotion, the MSJ ran an article in which she completely smeared the workers, and not the fact that three different auditors found that the state had been shorting the system for years. Since then, the privatization efforts have only made things worse.

Now, more than ten years later, she even admits that she did a lousy job of it.

Crossposted at folkbum's.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Clash Of The Titan Egos

By now, every blogger and sports announcer and news show has the latest chapter in the Brett Favre/Green Bay Packer saga. In summary, Favre changed his mind again, and now wants to play. The Packers have said, "Fine, but not with us." Now it looks like Favre will either stay retired, or become active to be traded to another team.

But how did this come to pass, and who, if anyone, is to blame for this fiasco.

Many people are upset with Favre. He has a very big ego, but it is a well-deserved one. He has broken just about every record there is for a quarterback to break, has won three MVPs, has won a SuperBowl and played in another. And who can forget that Monday night game against Oakland, the day after his father passed away.

So, yeah, he has been a bit of a diva, but he has earned that right. To a point. And I think that the last few years of will he/won't he retire business is a small part of manipulation on Favre's part to force the Packers to build a stronger team around him. It's also probably a little bit of the fact that he is getting older, and every season is taking more and more out of him. Most of it, though, was just media hype to get people to pay attention to their TV news shows/radio stations/newspapers.

And for many years, Favre got away with that kind of manipulation. That seems to have come to an end this year. But it's end was foreseeable.

Ever since Ted Thompson became general manager of the Packers, he's made it abundantly clear that he wants to make the Packers "his team," and is trying to eliminate any remnants of Ron Wolf's legacy. Even Favre.

So, he did things his way, and wanted to build up a team that he envisioned. I will say that I personally think that many of his moves stunk, and he has a long history of bad decision-making. Furthermore, he made it perfectly clear, he did not cherish Favre as much as the Packer Nation did. Favre alone was the entire Lombardi era Packers rolled up into one man with a strong competitive nature and a boyish face.

Thompson has not done one thing to make Favre feel like he was still part of the team, gently nudging him towards the door. I'm sure Thompson was silently jubilant on the day that Favre told the world he was going to retire. This gave him the opportunity to once and for all remove any traces of Ron Wolf, and to create his own legacy.

In this ongoing battle between the irresistible force and the unmovable object, it appears Thompson will win. Only time will tell if the cost to his reputation as the man that drove Favre away was worth it.

The only thing for sure, is that due to these battling egos, it is the Packer fans that lose. One small thing that we can console ourselves with is that it looks like the Cowboys' star quarterback will have his "good luck charm" around for quite a while.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's Your Life Worth To You?

What is your life worth to you? Most people would take into consideration their earning potential, the value of their possessions and non-measurable things, like your importance to your family and other loved ones.

That's not how the government does it though:
Instead, economists calculate the value based on what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and on how much extra employers pay their workers to take on additional risks. Most of the data is drawn from payroll statistics; some comes from opinion surveys. According to the EPA, people shouldn't think of the number as a price tag on a life.

The news is now, you're worth even less to the government. According to the article, a person's worth has dropped by some 11%, or $1 million, in the last five years.

The drop in your life's value though isn't about the dollar losing it's value. Not at all. Instead, it's based on the Bush administration's efforts to relax EPA rules and help his Big Business buddies increase their already extravagant profit margins:
"It appears that they're cooking the books in regards to the value of life," said S. William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents state and local air pollution regulators. "Those decisions are literally a matter of life and death."

Dan Esty, a senior EPA policy official in the administration of the first President Bush and now director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, said: "It's hard to imagine that it has other than a political motivation."

The article also reports that this isn't the first time Bush has tried to arbitrarily lower the value of a person's life:

Other, similar calculations by the Bush administration have proved politically explosive. In 2002, the EPA decided the value of elderly people was 38 percent less than that of people under 70. After the move became public, the agency reversed itself.

Considering that Bush thinks life is sacred, and is willing to pass special laws and take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court to protect a life (even though it was more of an existence than a life), I guess there are limits, like when it affects the bottom line.

And remember that John McCain wants to continue the same type of disregard for people that Bush has shown in the past eight years. Not only has he gone on to say as much by endorse the continuation of Bush's failed policies, but he, and his supporters, have shown they just don't care what you think. Just like Bush has repeatedly said.

This is evidenced by comments made by Phil Gramm, a staunch supporter of McCain. Gramm was talking about people worried about their lives, as well as their families, as they find themselves losing jobs, yet paying more and more and more for gasoline, food, electricity, insurance and everything else. He had this to say:
"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," Gramm told the Times. He noted that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," Gramm said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline" despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said.

McCain distanced himself from Gramm only after he started to catch enough heat about it. Just like Bush did with Rumsfeld, Brown, and others.

On a side note, Gramm was correct in stating that there is an export boom. That is what happens when the value of the dollar drops like a rock. Needless to say, McCain is OK with this, since he voted with Bush 95% of the time.

In other words, when election day comes, remember this:

A vote for McCain is a vote against yourself.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Disparity In The Parks

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Milwaukee County ranks low among cities nationwide when it comes to parks and parkland. Actually, what is low is the amount of spending on the parks, which should come as no surprise seeing how Walker has been trying to kill of the County for the last seven years, so that he can be the continuous candidate for governor.

Are you ready for a surprise?

I'm not going to go into the whole spending issue. It be a hard sell at best, and that is not what really caught my eye. What did catch my eye is what Milwaukee County is spending the majority of its precious few dollars on. It's not poor people in the city, that's for sure.

MJS was kind enough to include a little graphic along with the article. Notice that Milwaukee ranks 6th out of 26 comparably sized cities when it comes to golfing. That's fine for the suburbanites that are more prone to golf, and who also happen to be Walker's base of voters.

The same graphic shows that community centers, which are more prevalently used by the elderly, the disabled and the poor, are ranked 68th out of 75 national cities. The people that are more prone to use these centers are also not the ones that would be prone to vote for Walker.

There are only nine community centers in Milwaukee County. Five of those are senior centers, two are for the disabled, and two are for the general community. To add insult to injury, Walker wants to close the two general community centers which, not so coincidentally, are located in the near north side and the near south side. He has not stated anything about closing any of the 15 golf courses.

Of course this is not the first time that Walker has shown this kind of disparity between the rich and the poor, between the suburbs and the city itself. That was shown by the nifty camera work of Gretchen Schuldt, who quite capably shows us the stark differences between the city-based Washington Park, and the suburban-based McCarty Park.

He has also shown in the way he has handled the transit system, letting that die a slow, painful death, which of course hurts the poor who cannot afford a car. But he has no problems spending millions of dollars to rip down the courthouse annex so that the freeways can be clear of horrible things like artwork.

The list does go on and on, including the mentally ill, the incarcerated, and the growing number of people that need assistance during these miserable economic times.

Fortunately, the County Board appears poised to taken action against any more of Walker's follies. At least they're looking out for ALL of the citizens in Milwaukee County.

Wait, Where's The Outrage?

For months and months, the right has continuously challenged Senator Barack Obama's patriotism and his loyalty to the country. One of the most notorious and most inane attacks from the right wingers was about a flag lapel pin, of all things.

So I fully expect them to either express their outrage at McCain and question his patriotism or to just admit they were being foolish about the whole thing.

Both candidates appeared before the 79th Annual League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Convention, in Washington, yesterday. Here are the pictures from the convention, courtesy of the AP:



Obama with flag pin





McCain without flag pin

Excuse me if I don't hold my breath for reality to sink in for most of them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

That Was Then, This Is Now

That was then.

Fourteen months ago, Bush said that if Iraq were to request the U.S. troops would be removed, of course they would be removed. After all, we were there as Iraq's "guests" (emphasis mine):
In an interview last month with PBS's Charlie Rose, President Bush said the U.S. would leave Iraq if asked to do so by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"This is a guy," said Bush of Maliki on April 24, "who has been elected by the people. And it's a sovereign nation. And we're there at their request. The truth of the matter is, if they said 'get out now, we're tired of coalition presence, the U.S.'s presence is counterproductive,' we would leave."

Bush then quickly followed up those comments by confirming for Rose that he does not think Maliki will ask the U.S. to leave because to do so, in his view, would lead to catastrophe.

"That's why he's not going to say it," said Bush.

This is now.

Iraq is demanding a timeline for the removal of the troops. Not at all surprisingly, Bush is refusing. From the AP, via JSOnline (again, emphasis mine):
Iraq's national security adviser said Tuesday his country will not accept any security deal with the United States unless it contains specific dates for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

The comments by Mouwaffak al-Rubaie were the strongest yet by an Iraqi official about the deal now under negotiation with U.S. officials. They came a day after Iraq's prime minister first said publicly that he expects the pending troop deal with the United States to have some type of timetable for withdrawal.

President Bush has said he opposes a timetable. The White House said Monday it did not believe Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was proposing a rigid timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals.

But then again, is anyone really surprised that Bush is caught up in yet another lie.

And as the saying goes, "Bush lied, people died". Bush continues to lie, people continue to die.

And for those of the right who say that the left doesn't get it, I'm sorry, but we get it all too well. Later in the AP article:
In northern Baghdad Tuesday, guards opened fire, wounding 13 people when a crowd seeking aid payments for the poor, widows, orphans and disabled people became unruly, Iraqi officials said.

The U.S. military said a soldier had died from injuries sustained when a roadside bomb hit a troop convoy in Baghdad.

The U.S. military says five other soldiers were wounded in Tuesday's attack in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Amiriyah.
When will enough be enough?

Addendum: Grumps has his take on the issue as well.

You Can't Come Around Here No More

Apparently there is an old law in the Wisconsin State Statutes that prohibits people from going to another state to get married, if that marriage would not be recognized by Wisconsin law. If people enter that marriage, upon their return they could be subject to a fine up to $10,000 and nine months in jail.

Obviously, this would put a damper on the plans on any homosexual couples that would want to go to California, get married, and return to Wisconsin.

Julianne Appling, homophobe extraordinaire, is just fine with that. She feels the law should be enforced. And I thought they said that the Gay Marriage Amendment wouldn't have these sorts of problems attached. Heh, go figure.

Emily Mills and Illy-T have more on the issue at their respective sites.

I am just wondering if there was some sort of miscommunication. Perhaps, Ms. Appling didn't mean that they should be arrested, but that it was a case of arrested development. Either way, she is still wrong:


Monday, July 7, 2008

Failure To See Beyond The Anger

For years now, the right wing, led by the hate-talk radio, have taken a rather simplistic view of the gang-related crime in the Milwaukee area. They feel that all is needed to address the issue is to call the gangsters thugs, gripe about the "Stop Snitching" motto of some of the gangsters, and throw them all in jail and losing the key. (Never do they mention how they are going to pay for all the incarcerated people.)

Obviously, name calling isn't going to solve anything. It only makes them ineffective and closes off any hopes of communication.

The right also refuses to acknowledge that there is more to people's silence than adherence to some gang philosophy about snitching, which in itself is merely a bastardization of the honor principle.

People might remain silent out of fear of retribution. Even the city leaders recognize that fact and have created ways for people to report what they know anonymously. There are other reasons as well. Marie Rohde, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, shares an example:
Last week, I overheard a conversation on an elevator in the courthouse that presented a different take on the issue.

A 20-something woman, pushing a stroller with a sleeping toddler got on the elevator with an older woman, who looked as if she could be her mother, and a third woman dressed in a suit, who looked like a lawyer.

"I'm glad he's not snitching," the younger woman said. "At least he'll get out of jail and not be killed."

The other two women nodded grimly in agreement.

It is also irksome that the right find it so easy to dismiss these people as thugs, and never look past that to find out why there is such a prevalence of gangs and gang violence. Many people that join a gang don't do it voluntarily, but are bullied, threatened and coerced into joining. Some do it out of self-preservation. Some do it to fill holes in their lives that their families and other loved ones just aren't filling. And minorities aren't the only ones that join gangs. In my years of social work, I have worked with any number of people that are in a gang, or gangster wannabes, and they come from all races and social backgrounds.

Oh, granted there are some that are just socially maladjusted and are plain mean, or evil if you will, but by no means are all of them.

But no matter the cause for the prevalence of gang-related violence, and the seeming endless supply of gangsters, sitting around and calling them names will not help the situation. A well-devised plan to deal with not only the existing gangs, but to prevent further gangs, is needed. And for the plan to be thoroughly thought through and effective, an understanding needs to be in place first.

For more information on why kids join gangs, and ways to prevent this from happening, please go here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

On A Positive Note...

The preceding post about Bush Derangement Syndrome was prompted by an email I got from a friend of mine.

It reads:

The war in Iraq is still raging, gas prices are sky-high, the federal deficit continues to grow, yada yada... There have been an awful lot of shots taken at our president in recent months, as problems mount and his approval ratings plummet. But I want to be fair: George W. Bush has done some good things, too.

Positive things President Bush Has Done

15. Well, he never accidentally shot anyone while hunting!

14. Dramatically raised the bar for future presidents who want to be considered "Worst President Ever."

13. Brought the tourists back to Guantanamo Bay.

12. Demonsterated that alcohol and drug abuse during one's youth has absolutably no effect on one's job performabication later in life.

11. Finally put all those scientists and historians and economists with their fancy book-learnin' in their place.

10. Took the pain out of long commutes by both making gas too damned expensive to afford and eliminating our jobs.

9. Shattered a glass ceiling by giving female soldiers the opportunity to point at POW penises.

8. Gave the rest of the world a chance to catch up with America.

7. He wrested a country from the clutches of a twisted, tyrannical megalomaniac.
And Ashcroft will never forgive him for it.

6. Stood devoutly aside as the wrathful Lord exacted His vengeance on the depraved
populace of New Orleans, avoiding such heretical modern responses as "humanitarian aid" or "giving a damn."

5. Helped with that whole superiority complex that Americans had going on.

4. Put a serious dent in our nation's brush-clearing problem.

3. Got a really good price for selling America to the oil companies.

2. Caught more al-Qaeda #2s than the Waziristani sewer system.

Number 1 Positive Thing President Bush Has Done...

1. Single-handedly convinced Frank T. Burvis, unemployed Klansman from New Orleans, to vote for a African-American Democrat for president.

Bush Derangement Syndrome Projection

Often, when a liberal makes a point that is less than complementary about George W. Bush, they off-handedly dismiss it as merely being Bush Derangement Syndrome. I understand the popular meaning of it, and realize I wouldn't be able to change that, even if I cared.

But it is interesting to take a few moments to ponder what it means. Usually, in medicine, when a disease has a person's name attributed to it, it usually is because they were the first person diagnosed with it, or they were the ones to discover it.

I highly doubt that Bush has a degree in psychology, much less a medical degree. So I would really find it suspicious if one were to assert that Bush discovered this "disorder."

That would leave it as being Bush who has a certain and specified type of derangement. This I find highly plausible. Not many people, that I am aware of, would normally consider it OK to attack a third party if one was angry with someone completely unrelated. And that's just one example. The possibilities are almost limitless.

So then, the question is, if Bush Derangement Syndrome is to be deranged like Bush, and the right wing uses it to describe lefties pointing out the derangement of Bush, would that just meant that the right, who share the same type of thinking patterns of Bush, are merely using the psychological defense mechanism known as projection?

Walker Paints Himself Into A Corner

Scott Walker, Milwaukee County Executive, wants to be the next governor of Wisconsin. He's wanted this for six years. That is why he ran for County Executive in the first place. He thought it would be a stepping stone for his gubernatorial candidacy. This was in spite of the fact that most of outstate Wisconsin looks down on Milwaukee as being a parasite on the rest of the state.

He started his gubernatorial run immediately, by backtracking on most, if not all of his promises. The only thing he was concerned with was his one-plank platform of a tax freeze (which technically he failed to keep for all of his budgets, but that's old news).

Six years of this, and Milwaukee County has been reeling with the effects of his lack of attention to the job he was elected for while he focused on the job he longed for. The parks are in disarray. The Courthouse is in disrepair. The HOC is just one disaster after another, going from escaped inmates to scapegoating officers for inmates that didn't escape to sexual harassment lawsuits. The paper did a year long expose on the squalid conditions Walker forced the mentally ill to live in, all for the purpose of his tax freeze.

The most telling is probably the transit system. It is all but in its death throes and unless some serious inflow of income occurs, it will be for all practical purposes useless within a few years. And it is not just liberal bloggers saying this. It is people like Rob Henken, who worked for the county for years, and knows the financial workings of the county probably better than Walker does. Even a conservative transit consultant says a sales tax should be seriously considered. It's been said that without some sort of resurrection of the transit system now, the economy of Milwaukee County could become even worse than most people could imagine.

But Walker still has his eyes on the prize, and will not, can not give up his one-plank platform.
He even said so in this morning's paper, in a letter to the editor:
Holding the line on taxes

When I ran for Milwaukee County executive this spring, I told voters I oppose a sales tax increase. Is it any surprise then that I will veto the sales tax referendum proposed by the County Board?

Considering the state of the economy, now is the worst time to approve a $130 million tax increase. Every day, I hear from people who are worried about their jobs, upset about gas prices and frustrated with high grocery bills. Adding to their financial burden is not the answer.Supporters of the $130 million sales tax increase will argue that the measure provides property tax relief, but lawyers for the county note that nothing in the referendum question can legally guarantee property tax relief.

In fact, history shows just the opposite to be true. In 1991, the County Board passed a 0.5% sales tax increase for the purpose of "property tax relief." From 1992 to 2002, the tax levy went up 55%.

We have better solutions to tackle our financial challenges that do not involve tax increases. Our agenda includes ways to add more hours of labor to protect our parks and ways to improve and upgrade our transit system - all without raising taxes.

Scott Walker
Milwaukee County Executive
Wauwatosa

Which does Walker really think would hurt his gubernatorial chances more? Giving citizens a chance to vote for property tax relief while restoring the transit system to its once stellar, world-class level, or to be the leader of a county that went from the state's strongest and best economic engine to among the lowest levels in the nation?

Apparently, judging from his letter, he is picking the former as the biggest threat. Jay Bullock had it correct. Walker sure is dumb.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

One Talking Point From The Right I Agree With

The right wing often likes to state that it's important to remember that who you vote for, whether it is for President of the United States, or for Governor of Wisconsin, that the person you voted for will be appointed that country's or the state's highest judges. They are absolutely correct in this assertion.

From the Associated Press, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, we learn of a widow that was bilked out of her husband's benefits after he passed away. This is even though the employer pulled a fast one on the family. The man, Thomas Amschwand, was dying of cancer, and tried his best to make sure that he had tied up all lose ends, and that his wife would be taken care of: :
Spherion's decision to deny benefits to Amschwand-Bellinger turned on an odd set of facts. Spherion, which employs about 300,000 people, switched insurers after Thomas Amschwand was diagnosed with a rare form of heart cancer. The new policy did not take effect until an employee worked one full day. Spherion never informed Amschwand of the requirement.

Amschwand asked repeatedly whether there was anything else he needed to do and was told no. He asked that the new policy be sent to him. Spherion never did so.

He died without returning to work. His widow said he easily could have worked a day if that was what it took to activate the new policy. Spherion could have waived the one-day-of-work provision, as it did for other employees but not for Amschwand.

The widow, understandably, tried to sue to get the benefits that she were coming to her, but lost the case in court. She's tried to appeal the ruling, but the United States Supreme Court refuses to review the case.

All of this is in spite of the fact that the judges know that what is going on is utter crap. From the same article:
Federal appeals courts, interpreting Supreme Court decisions dating to 1993, consistently have said companies that offer health, life and retirement benefits under ERISA cannot be sued for large amounts of money, or damages. Instead, they can be sued only for typically smaller sums such as Amschwand's insurance premiums.

Several federal judges have bemoaned the unfairness even as they have felt constrained to rule in favor of employers.

"The facts ... scream out for a remedy beyond the simple return of premiums," Judge Fortunato Benavides of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in the Amschwand case. "Regrettably, under existing law it is not available."

So, yes, the righties have one thing correct. It is important, very important indeed, to keep in mind that the person you vote for can have far ranging ramifications. Unfortunately, the right doesn't seem to understand what the ramifications are for the average working man, or his family, or they just don't care.

Where In The World Is Elliot Stearns, Really?

Elliot Stearns, much admired author of "From Where I Sit", claims to be in Minneapolis.

I hope he can confirm this somehow, and that he wasn't really in El Paso, Texas:
EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso police arrested a man on a charge of attempted murder Saturday after he was caught fleeing the scene of a stabbing in his motorized wheelchair.

The 52-year-old is accused of stabbing his neighbor in an El Paso apartment complex after several days of feuding, police spokesman Darrel Petry said.

I know, I know, it says stabbing, but we all know how the press gets information wrong. Or maybe he just ran out of bullets.

Shooting A Hole In The Self-Defense Talking Point

I won't point out the tragedy that marred Independence Day.

I won't dwell on the fact that half of gun deaths are suicides.

But I would like to know is, how many of the people that bought these guns claimed they needed it for self-defense, but only ended up using them for something much more horrific.

And how in the world would having everyone carrying a gun reduce these tragedies?

Take Shelter Immediately!

A factor 5 Bush Warning has been issued. We repeat: Take shelter immediately!



Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency


And if that was not bad enough, western Wisconsin is also under a McCain advisory.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Power Of Sykes And Other False Arguments Regarding Summerfest

Almost every day, I hear and see a lot of incredible and ridiculous things. Today was no exception.

It started out this morning, with Charlie Sykes pleading his case about how he really is still is significant, even though this is not actually the case.

Today's delusion of grandeur de Sykes was premised on an article in the morning paper that didn't even mention him. The article tells of how the army has reinstated a modified version of the virtual war game at Summerfest. Instead of killing people, the player would should at generic targets.

To me it seemed like a logical compromise. Some of my liberal allies felt disappointment at Summerfest's official statement regarding it. As for me, well I learned while a guard at the House of Correction, "it doesn't matter what they say, as long as they do what you want them to do."

The army reinstated another, less-offensive version of the game. Sykes and his crew of squawking sycophants failed to get the original game reinstated, which was their goal. This means they lost. But Sykes merely moved the goal posts, ignored reality, smeared a liberal and falsely claimed he led his faithful listeners to victory. This was, of course, echoed by his minions that probably didn't even know what they were talking about.

If that was too hard to follow, Other Side has a nice, graphic way of explaining it.

Now for the other fallacies...

Some on the right claim that the game only tried to show what the life of a soldier was really like. That is also a lie. It glamorizes war, and doesn't represent the whole picture. It doesn't show the wounded comrades. It doesn't show the dead comrades. It doesn't show the wounded and dead Iraqi civilians, that the soldier may have been forced to kill, or were killed by others. It doesn't talk about the unseen wounds that are brave men and women have to contend with, even after they have returned to their homes.

Some on the right have complained that there apparently is a tent nearby that allows people to play Grand Theft Auto. This too is a false argument. Grand Theft Auto, however inappropriate it may be, is privately paid for by the company that makes it. The Army pays for their stand with our tax dollars.

Some have also called the people that protested this game as "anti-military thugs" which, besides being an oxymoron, is also ironic, considering that some of those that called Summerfest on it are veterans themselves. To make it even more ironic, the same people that mislabel the left are the same ones who back McCain, who has a record of not supporting veterans or veteran benefits.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Support Your Friendly Neighborhood Summerfest

The U.S. Army has a stand on the Summerfest grounds aimed at recruiting volunteers. That's fine and dandy, and I have no issue with that.

However, this year, they have added a media component in which participants and play a game of "virtual war." Apparently it was designed with the intent of showing the life of a soldier in today's army.

Members of a group called Peace Action Wisconsin and another group called Veteran for Peace called and filed their complaints with the Summerfest people, which then asked the Army to take that part down. The Army cooperated without hesitation.

As predicted by James Rowen, this got the feathers of Chickenhawk Sykes and his band of squawkers all ruffled. They are now trying to exert their power of selective outrage against Summerfest to coerce them into allowing the video game.

Keep in mind that the Army is still there and they're still recruiting. It's just the virtual war game that has been stopped. But that fact doesn't seem to stop the right wingers from being mad as wet hens.

Now, you may be asking yourself, "What can we do to stop them from bullying around the Summerfest officials?" The answer is simple. Call Summerfest yourself, at 414-273-2690, and thank them for taking the actions that they have, and to express your wish that they don't back off from their decision.

Why This? Why Now?

A year ago today, Jay Bullock made a terrible error for which the rest of the Cheddarsphere will never forgive him.

He asked me to join his posse of writers at folkbum's rambles and rants.

Four weeks later, a blogger known only as Template exasperated the problem by giving me the key to Whallah!

In what seemed like no time, Template decided to pursue other activities and handed me the reins to Whallah!, which eventually led me to being crowned King of the Left Hate. Ah, but those were heady times!

Alas, as happens in so many of our lives though, things changed. I had changes in both my personal and my professional lives. I found time to become an even more precious commodity than ever before. I found that in trying to keep up with everything, and trying to blog on both sites became too much and was starting to affect my writing (not that anyone would notice crappy writing becoming crappier). I was also just not getting enough sleep, which only made matter worse.

After much inner debate, and driving my friends crazy from constantly asking for feedback, I decided to go off on my own. I'll still post at Whallah! when it is germane to that site, and at folkbum's when I want readers besides myself.

But until then, thanks for checking it out anyway.