Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Pagan Holiday

Hope the Great Pumpkin is good to you...

And let's be careful out there, especially if you're going to be hitting all of the Halloween parties.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leafapalooza

Sorry, folks, but I'll be away from the old keyboard for the most of the rest of the week. I have not one, but two yards full of leaves that will need cleaning up, and I want to take advantage of the warm weather being forecasted.

I will be back in time to join the fray again just before Election Day, although I don't think much will change. The Republicans and the right wing bloggers will become increasingly desperate and increasingly absurd in their negativity. And to be frankly honest with you, I'd rather listen to the whine of a leaf blower than the whine of Charlie Sykes.


Budget Blasts, 10/27

From the office of County Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs:

The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee,
under the leadership of Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, is holding public
meetings throughout the month of October on the County Executive’s 2009
Recommended County Budget. Each day, the seven-member Committee votes on a number of specific departments
and items in the budget.

OPERATING BUDGETS

On Monday, the Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee approved
the following 2009 Budgets on the following votes:,

• 5-2 (No Thomas, Mayo) Employee Fringe Benefits

• 6-1 (No Jursik) DAS- Fiscal Affairs (amended to transfer one position of
Economic Development Coordinator and one position of Housing Program
Analyst to the Department of Health and Human Services and denying the
abolishment of one position of Housing and Program Analyst)

• 7-0 DAS – IMSD (amended to restore funding for seven positions, deny an
appropriation for contracting IT services, deny the abolishment of one
Business Systems Project Manager position, create one Business Analyst
position
and delete narrative language on a cooperative purchase with
Racine County for joint partner Premier Workforce Solutions, instead
referring the item to the Finance & Audit Committee)

• 5-2 (No Schmitt, Jursik) Land Sales (amended to delete potential land
sales and replace with lands approved for sale by the County Board)

• 6-1 (No Jursik) DAS – Property Management (amended to create one position
of Principal Assistant Corporation Counsel, deny the creation of Associated
Director-DAS Property Management and transferring the Real Estate positions
into a new section of Corporation Counsel-Real Estate and Development)

• 7-0 Offset to Internal Service Charges

• 7-0 Appropriation for Contingencies

• 7-0 Capital Depreciation Contra

CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT BUDGET

The Committee also voted to approve the following 2009 Recommended Capital
Improvement Budget:

• 7-0 Fiscal Monitoring System

The Finance and Audit Committee will continue its meetings throughout the
month of October in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The
County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway,
will adopt the County’s 2009 budget on Monday, November 10 at 8:30 a.m. in
Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the County Executive’s 2009
Recommended Budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, November 3, 2008, at the
Washington Park Senior Center.

Darling's Perpetual Double Taxing Milwaukee Residents

Alberta Darling is trying to gain traction with trying to hit Wasserman on his tax stance, all the while ignoring her own violations of the same tax pledge that she also signed.

Somehow, everyone is also ignoring the fact that Alberta Darling is also responsible for Milwaukee County residents being double taxed.

I've mentioned a long time ago, in a blog not so far away, that Alberta Darling was one of the chief authors of the state takeover of the Milwaukee County child welfare system. When the state took over, the tax money that went to the system increased by tens of millions of dollars, but services to the children and their families were cut.

Where did the money go? Well, in 1998, the agencies involved in child welfare in Milwaukee included the State, the County, and five private agencies. That is a lot of administration costs that soaked up the dollars for it. Since that time, the county was kicked out and have no say whatsoever to what happens to the children in the county. Meanwhile, some of the private agencies folded, new ones were created, and mergers happened. All the while soaking up money for administrative duties, and not for the kids themselves.

Now, Milwaukee County residents pay state taxes to support the system, and then lose more than $20 million in share revenues to help pay for the system again. Darling sits on the oversight committee, but has done nothing to correct the problems that she acknowledge exists.

Obviously, Darling doesn't really care about the taxpayers or the kids in Milwaukee County. Unless they can work as her caddy that is.

Take The Day Off

Charlie Sykes, Cindy Kilkenny and other right wingers think it is absolutely absurd that Barack Obama is encouraging people to take the day off of work on Election Day. You know, trying to get voters to polls and promoting democracy is just such a waste of time and benefits no one. Yeah, OK, whatever.

I would like to know how they justify saying it's bad for Obama to do this, when someone they both have supported, Scott Walker, has done the same darn thing. Here is the link (I hope) of Walker's memo to county employees, encouraging them to take the day off on Tuesday, and helping out at the polls. In case the link doesn't work, here is a copy and paste of the same memo:

TO: Milwaukee County Employees
FROM: County Executive Scott Walker
RE: Election Day Workers

November 4 promises to be a very high, perhaps record breaking, turnout. Thousands of poll workers will be needed by municipalities to staff more than 300 polling stations throughout Milwaukee County. The City of Milwaukee alone projects needing more than 2,500 Election Day Workers.

Municipality clerks are actively seeking poll workers to ensure an orderly administration of the elections.

The November 4 election is a minor holiday for Milwaukee County employees. I am writing you today to encourage you to consider working as a poll worker on election day in your municipality. Poll workers are compensated for their time and some municipalities offer shift schedules to make it even easier for you to participate.

Attached is a list of the municipal clerks for all Milwaukee County municipalities. If you would like information on serving as an election worker, please contact the clerk in your municipality.

Municipality Phone Number Ext.
Bayside 414-351-8811 107
Brown Deer 414-371-3050
Cudahy 414-769-2204
Fox Point 414-351-8900
Franklin 414-425-7500
Glendale 414-228-1718
Greendale 414-423-2100
Greenfield 414-329-5219
Hales Corners 414-529-6171
Milwaukee 414-286-3491
Oak Creek 414-768-6500
River Hills 414-352-8213
St. Francis 414-481-2300 125
Shorewood 414-847-2601
South Milwaukee 414-762-2222
Wauwatosa 414-479-8917
West Allis 414-302-8294
West Milwaukee 414-645-1530 124
Whitefish Bay 414-962-6690

What's really ironic is that he is encouraging county employees to take a day off and get more tax money to work at a poll. But for what it's worth, I actually agree with Walker and hope more people get involved to ensure that everyone who has the right to vote, gets to vote.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Darling's Campaign In Trouble?

I wrote last week that Alberta Darling has been doing nothing but negative campaigning through this whole election cycle. I also remarked how her campaign seemed to be echoing McPalin's strategy, and how it wasn't working out for them.

Well, after conversing with some friends on the whole matter of negative campaigning, I thought I'd do some research on it. I was curious on the whys and whens of negative campaigns. For the most part, everything I've read appeared to be conflicting and not very definitive.

The most succinct explanation for these questions, comes from Wikipedia, which gives a few reasons on when a politician usually goes negative:
  • when taking on an incumbent;
  • when being significantly outspent;
  • when there is irrefutable information that the opponent has done something wrong;
  • when the candidate has little name recognition.

Well, Darling is the incumbent, she doesn't have proof that Wasserman has done something wrong, and she surely has name recognition after all these years serving her district.

Now, I am not privy to their campaign war chests, nor do I have knowledge of any current polls that have been taken regarding this race, but it seems to me that Darling is feeling the heat of a close race, or a race that she is actually losing. This would be hard for her to deal with emotionally, especially after all the times she was re-elected without any serious competition.

I then looked at what happens when a politician goes negative. Studies indicate that it is effective, which seems counterintuitive to me. But further reading shows that one of the results of excessive negative campaigning is that is reduces voter turn out, which is usually good for the incumbent, especially if the incumbent is a Republican.

But there can be backlashes, and that seems especially true this year. John McCain blew all sorts of money on negative ads, yet keeps falling farther and farther behind in the polls.

From The Moderate Voice:

An Ipsos public affairs poll released a few days after the final debate reveals that 57 percent of voters said the negative ads aren’t effective. Unless a candidate has a strong positive message outlining what he or she believes and is willing to push if elected, negative ads may also have a backlash effect as voters see only the dirt being thrown.

Sens. Norman Coleman (R-Minn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are among leading
Republicans who have attacked the McCain attack ads. “They don’t serve John McCain well,” said Collins, co-chair of McCain’s Maine campaign. She said the ads, especially an automated telephone “robocall” that ties Obama to radicals, “does not reflect the kind of leader that he [McCain] is.” McCain’s negative ad campaign was also one of the reasons why Colin Powell—chairman of the joint chiefs of staff under George H.W. Bush, secretary of state under George W. Bush—crossed party lines three weeks before the election to endorse Obama.

Another negative arises with the use of negative ads. With voters being bombarded with radio, TV, Internet, and direct mail ads, the effect isn’t so much an additive effect—the more ads, the better the possibility of retention—but a subtractive effect—voters aren’t even paying attention. If they do, it’s solely to names, with name recognition often overriding political issues. Thus, if a negative TV ad mentions an opponent twice as many times, the voter comprehends the name, not the message; the brain may be subconsciously processing names, as it does when confronted by thousands of lawn signs and billboards, with the most mentions leading to a vote.

And from The Nation:

So when should a candidate use negative information about an opponent? The rule of thumb for professional campaign consultants is: "Never, never use negative campaign tactics unless your have to." Clearly, a candidate that can run an impeccably positive campaign and win by a comfortable margin is much better off running a "clean" campaign than a negative one. However, there are many instances in which a candidate cannot (at least in his or her own estimation) win simply by presenting positive information about him or herself. In every electoral contest, candidates try to secure the support of enough voters to win on election day. This process is a zero-sum game. A vote for one's opponent is one few vote a candidate will get on election day. A vote taken away from one's opponent is generally transferred to one's self. Winning voter support, then, can be accomplished by building strong support for one's self or by undercutting public support for one's opponent. When candidates struggle in their efforts to build positive images of themselves, many choose to close the gap by tarnishing the images of their opponents.

Given the realities of modern political campaigning, it should come as no surprise that the candidates most likely to use negative ads are challengers. Incumbents have generally spent years building positive images of themselves among voters. The longer an image of a candidate is maintained in the minds of voters, the more difficult it becomes to change that image. A challenger hoping to unseat and incumbent must provide evidence that the positive images voters have of their opponents are inaccurate. It is generally not enough for a challenger to simply present a positive image of him or herself. In fact, if voters have equally positive feelings about both candidates, the incumbent is bound to win on election day because the incumbent is a more familiar and proven commodity.

Sheldon Wasserman is technically the challenger in this race. However, due to his long record of serving ably in the State Assembly, he already has the name recognition and the good reputation enjoyed by incumbents. That is why he was able to come out with a positive commercial whereas Darling's commercial have been negative.

It can't be a good sign when the incumbent is feeling like the challenger, and feels the need to go negative against her opponent, in a vain effort just to make herself look better in the eyes of the voters. I've said it before, but I still wish Darling all the same results that her negativity brings, as it has been working out for McCain. As I said at the beginning of this post, I don't know what the finances of either campaign are, nor do I know any polling results. But, judging from her desperation and extreme negativity, the numbers can't be good for Darling

I'm not the only one that thinks Darling must be in trouble. Watchdog Milwaukee has seen similar signs, using lawn signs. The only point I disagree with is that I'm thinking Wasserman is not catching up, but is actually ahead.

ADDENDUM: JSOnline is reporting today that Darling is still at it, but that she's just as bad at running a campaign as she is representing her district.

Walker And Allies Waste Even More Tax Dollars

Over the past week or so, I've written on Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's hypocritical position regarding a mailer sent out by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. The mailer in question is a simple one page flier, done in grayscale, to explain the sales tax referendum that is on the ballot.

Walker hypocritically blasts the board for spending tax dollars to mail this flier, but then repeatedly wastes tax dollars and county resources to expound on his views and advocate against the referendum.

I have recently learned that two County Supervisors, Joe Sanfelippo and Joe Rice have each used tax payers dollars to print and mail their own, individual fliers, advocating against the referendum.

I have not seen Rice's flier. (If anyone received one, let me know.) However, John McAdams has told shared that he spoke to Rice, and that Rice has a whole PowerPoint presentation on the issue, again using county property and resources, which McAdams was kind enough to put into pdf form. Rice's presentation gives a lot of talking points, but no proof for the allegations he makes. It is like he is practicing to become a radio talk show host.

I have gained a copy of Sanfelippo's mailer. It is a six-page thing done in color and printed by the inmates at the House of Correction. This came out of the money that he was allotted when from the Board's funding, using county resources, including the guards and print shop workers that oversee the inmates.

In Sanfellipo's flier, he spends a lengthy time explaining why he thinks the referendum is wrong, again using the same talking points, and ends his spiel with this:

I joined County Executive Scott Walker when he vetoed the sales tax increase referendum back in July. Since then, unfortunately, the County Board has voted to override the Executive's veto, and the referendum will be on the November 4th ballot. Between now and then, I will work to "shine the light" on the confusing language of the referendum so that voters know that voting "yes" would RAISE taxes, not lower them.
I don't know if that passes muster legally, but if it does, it sure seems like it's dancing on the edge.

Might I also point out briefly that neither Walker or his allies inform the voters of what the consequences would be to a "no" vote, including the decimation of the transit system that would keep 45% of workers who rely on the bus to get to work from getting to work. Yeah, that'll do the business a lot of good.

Walker then really puts his weaselly paw into his weaselly mouth by joining forces with the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a right wing political action committee, to put out a radio commercial against the sales tax.

In said commercial, Walker flat out lies and says that this is the board that voted to raise their pensions, and that the sales tax is to bail them out. Only five of the current nineteen board members had voted for the pension bail out. But that isn't the worst of it.

Walker has filed a lawsuit against Mercer, the actuary agency he accuses of not informing the then County Board of the true costs of the pension plan that Ament was pushing through. This lawsuit is already on weak legs as that Walker's star witness, Stuart Piltch, whom Walker paid lots and lots of tax payer money, turned out to be an unreliable witness, to say the least. After Walker pinned the pension vote on the board, does anyone really think that the attorneys representing Mercer don't have that commercial downloaded, taped, transcribed and otherwise recorded in every single way known to mankind. Whatever chance that lawsuit had had recouping some of the money is now greatly dimished.

For some guys that are supposed to be worried about the current tax situation, they are sure blowing a lot of taxpayer monies on what is nothing more than politcal grandstanding and posturing.

My Condolences To Gretchen

Gretchen Schuldt, author of Milwaukee Rising and Citizens Allied for Sane Highways, and one of the most respectable bloggers from either side of the Cheddarsphere, has recently lost her best friend and husband, David Doege.

It is my most sincere wishes for David to rest in peace, and my hopes and prayers go out to Gretchen that she may find any condolences and lessening of the pain in the memories she has of David.

Which Is Worse?

I see a lot of conservatives trying to get traction on the "spread the wealth" line.

But which is really worse: Taking some money from the super rich to give the poor and middle classes a break in their taxes, or to drain the poor and middle classes to give it to the super rich?

The Difference


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Palin Calls For The End Of Halloween

Today, in a speech in Palooka, Florida, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin launched her 2012 presidential campaign with a call for a permanent ban on Halloween.

"My fellow Americans, as you know, I've always been somewhat of a maverick," Palin told her dozens of fans, who made it to the rally, even though the weather was a less than friendly 74 degrees and the sun was awfully warm. "That is why I am taking this opportunity, doncha know, to announce my official run for 2012. Yup, that's right, America, I am running to be your next queen, er, I mean, president. That old geezer was just bringing me down in the polls, you bet he was, so I decided to dump his ass. Besides, I got tired of him asking me if I thought POWs were sexy."

"One of the first things I would do as your queen, oh, gosh darn it, dere I go again, I mean president, is to do away wit dat awful holiday known as Halloween. Halloween is one of the worse things out there, and there are many, many things wrong with it," Palin announced to a stunned crowd.

"First, of all, there is all that costume stuff. I tell you, my fellow Americans, I am proud to say not once did I ever let any of my six precious children - Todd, Truck, Branch, Algebra, Trout and Bong - where any of those silly things. No, because then that means there would be less outfits for me, and the cargo hold of my jet isn't even full yet. Besides, we all know that I can't count on that bum of a husband buying me anything nice anyway, so I might as well those outfits." Palin quickly reversed herself, pointing to the tinfoil tiara on her head, making it explicitly clear that Todd had made it for her, and that it made her feel beautiful. She added that it had the additional benefit of "keeping that gotcha media from filtering through my thoughts. Darn you, Katie Couric!"

"Another reason to do away with Halloween is the basic idea of trick or treat. Listen, I don't think our kids should be going around acting like some kind of terrorist, threatening people with acts of terror if they don't hand over candy. And what's up with that whole handing out candy to every little rugrat that comes to your door? I could see you wanting to give lots of candy away if it was one of my precious angels. But it might be one of them unfavorable, lazy kids - you know the kind I mean - that don't do any homework or help with the chores, just because they're pregnant or some other lame reason, and now want a hand out. Well, my fellow Americans, that sounds a lot like socialism to me, and if there is one label you can put on me, well, that is I am the most antisocial person around."

Instead of having Halloween, which she called "a most unChristian" holiday, Palin offered the crowd, which had dwindled down to about 20 people, counting the former stock market investors who were looking for spare change, another holiday to take its place.

"When I take my rightful place on the throne, I mean, in the Oval Office, I will make Congress make October 31st known as St. Sarah Day, named after me, the patron saint of pipelines and oil wells. And if they try to say 'no' to me, Todd and I will see that they get fired."

"Instead of trick-or-treating, all the children will don their best Sunday outfits and go to dance around the pipeline," Palin continued, "Oh, yes, my friends, there will be pipelines running all through this beautiful country of our, you betcha. And just like I'm doing in Alaska, I will see to it personally that they get built. Just don't ask me when."

After the rally, attendees and people waiting for the bus, expressed confusion and befuddlement. "You mean that wasn't Tina Fey on the stage? Then why was she dressed like that and talking so funny? I could have sworn it was a comedy routine," expressed Harvey Frudwumple, who was at the rally, "By the way, do you have any spare change I can borrow?"

In related developments, the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's biggest newspaper, has come out with an endorsement of Barack Obama. The amazing thing is that those terrorist-loving, fascist, communistic, pinko, homosexual, Muslim liberal media people stopped short of calling for Palin to be put in a seal costume and air dropped, by her very own Royal Guard, er, I mean, Alaska National Guard, in polar bear country.

This has been Hyena Blitzed reporting for Faux News, the only place you can get a fairly unbalanced look at today's top stories.

Four Pointers On Pakistan

POINT:

Senator Barack Obama says he would go into Pakistan, if need be, to get bin Laden.

COUNTERPOINT:

McCain criticizes Obama for wanting to go into Pakistan, a supposed ally.

POINT OF ATTACK:

U.S sends drone fighters into Pakistan, attacking suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militant stronghold.

WHAT'S THE POINT?

Palin attacks Obama for wanting to go into Pakistan, just after she agrees we should go into Pakistan.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

ACORN Answers Their Critics

via Open Left:

The attacks on ACORN are spurious to say the least. Here a few key facts that our accusers aren’t telling you.
  • ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are required to turn in LL
    completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.
  • ACORN flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards. In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the same cards we called to their attention.
  • Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.
  • The rate of incomplete cards for the drive was 5 percent (about 65,000 cards) and the rate of “suspicious” cards was 1.5 percent (about 19,500 cards).


Those are just the highlights; we have an entire section of our website, The Real ACORN, dedicated to telling the truth about ACORN’s work.

ACORN is accustomed to opposition. We've been educating, organizing, and empowering low-income communities for nearly 40 years. Our signature campaigns have included raising the minimum wage through ballot initiative campaigns in 2004 in Florida, and again in 2006 in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, and Ohio. This work helped provide momentum for that national minimum wage hike that passed in 2007. We have been at the forefront of the fight against the predatory lending practices. We are also the group now helping people save their homes from foreclosure.

We’ve come a long way in nearly 40 years: from a small group of women on welfare in Little Rock, Arkansas coming together in the summer of 1970 to the national bogeyman for the Right in their desperate attempts to cling to power here at the end of 2008. I can tell you that you make some enemies when you advocate with and for poor people against policies and practices that discriminate and keep communities from thriving. But we've never seen anything like this.

And now, in the past few weeks alone, ACORN staffers have received death threats in Ohio and Rhode Island, and offices have been vandalized in Washington and Massachusetts. Numerous threatening and racist phone calls have been made to ACORN offices across the country. As the Right’s actions have made plain, what’s at stake here is not simply what happens on November 4th, but whether or not merican citizens will be able to exercise their most basic right: the right to vote.

This week we’ve begun to carry the fight back to the Republicans. On Monday we showed that the New Mexico GOP was falsely accusing Latino and African-American registrants, many of them first-time voters, of illegally voting in the June primary. When confronted with the evidence the GOP tried to run from the story.

On Tuesday we held house parties with ACORN members in 17 cities across the country to celebrate the release of a fantastic new video by Brave New Films debunking the outrageous lies.

On Wednesday we released a report called “Insult to Injury” about a GOP election strategy for suppressing votes by challenging voters at the polls using foreclosure filings as a basis to prove the voter no longer lives at that address. The report shows that in six states, the margin in the 2004 Presidential Election was smaller than the number of people who have faced foreclosure in 2008: Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. Caging efforts in these states can have an impact on the outcome of the 2008 election.

Earth To Major Sarah

From the inbox:


Budget Blasts 10/23

From the office of Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs:

The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee,under the leadership of Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, is holding public meetings throughout the month of October on the County Executive’s 2009 Recommended County Budget. Each day, the seven-member Committee votes on a number of specific departmentsand items in the budget.

On Thursday, the Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee approved the following 2009 Budgets on the following votes:

• 6-0 Department on Aging: Amended to deny the outsourcing of the Call Center and Customer Service functions within the Economic Support Division.
• 7-0 DHHS – Department of Health and Human Services (amended to deny the outsourcing of Call Center and Customer Service functions within the Economic Support Division, to provide $100,000 in Potawatomi Revenue to theSafe Alternatives for Youth program, and appropriate $60,000 for maintenance expenditures for the Milwaukee County Research Park.)
• 4-3 DHHS – Behavioral Health Division (Noes Mayo, Schmitt, Johnson)(amended to deny the abolishment of 13 FTEs in the Targeted Case Management unit, deny the abolishment of 55 Housekeeping FTEs, and develop a prescription drug formulary for use at BHD and comprehensively reviewing the potential for leveraging prescription pharmaceutical purchases and administration.)
• 5-2 DPW – Milwaukee County Transit/Paratransit System (Noes Mayo, Coggs)(amended to decrease the recommended Adult Cash Fare to $2.10, the Half Cash Fare to $1.05 and Half Fare Tickets to $1.05, and implement a monthly transit pass option at $60 per pass)

The Finance and Audit Committee will continue its meetings throughout themonth of October in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway,will adopt the County’s 2009 budget on Monday, November 10 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. Click here to access the 2009 budget meeting schedule.

The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the County Executive’s 2009 Recommended Budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, November 3, 2008, at theWashington Park Senior Center.

No Honor Among Thieves

From the Iola Herald, which of course, doesn't have a link, is a story by Bob Cloud:
Waupaca - Judge Philip Kirk ordered a former Republican campaign official to pay $348 in fines and court costs and $324 in restitution to a Manawa bar Wednesday, Oct. 8.

David F. Asman, 61, Manawa, entered no contest pleas to misdemeanor theft and unlawful disbursement of campaign funds. He had been charged in January with 11 counts of theft and one felony count of violating campaign finance laws.

Asmand served as the campaign treasurer for Hyde Murray, who ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for the 40th District Assembly seat in 2006.

[...]

On Dec. 22, 2006, {Manawa Police Chief Jerold} Schuetz spoke with Barb Mohne, owner of the Thunder'N Bar, who said she did not believe Asman had been using the checks for campaign purposes. She said, "They were cashed so he could drink," according to the criminal complaint.

On July 20, 2007, Murray contacted Schuetz. He reportedly said that he first noticed that the campaign funds had been misused when Asman failed to file the appropriate financial records and determined that 26 checks in the amount of $50 each had been written to the Thunder'N Bar.

Murray fired Asman in early August and closed the campaign account. Asman allegedly continued to write checks on the account after it was closed and the checks were returned for insufficient funds.

Schuetz estimated that Asman spent about $1,200 from Murray's coampaign fund for his personal use.

The court dismissed 10 of the misdemeanor counts against Asman but read them into the court record. The felony charge was amended to an ordinance violation.

At first, I was going to make some snarky remark about Republicans stealing from each other.

Then, upon further contemplation, I realized that Asman probably has a serious case of alcoholism. While this is not to justify his actions, I do understand that alcoholism is a sickness.

The thing that made me share this, is the sad fact of how bad alcoholism can be. Not only were these two men friends, but Mr. Murray is quite elderly (I believe in his 70s) and in not good health. In fact, it was his health that caused him to lose the primary, when his opponent used it against him.

I also find it sad that the judge let him off so light. He will not learn anything from this.

All in all, it is too sad of a story for snark.

Onward Christian Terrorists

Mirriam Webster Online defines terrorism as:

the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

The same site defines terror as:

1: a state of intense fear
2 a: one that inspires fear : scourge
b: a frightening aspect
c: a cause of anxiety : worry
d: an appalling person or thing ; especially : brat
3: reign of terror
4: violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands
In other words, a terrorist is someone who uses fear to intimidate and/or coerce a group of people to behave in a certain way. They apparently come in many shapes and forms.

The most obvious example of a terrorist is what most Americans think of when they hear the word terrorist: The bastards that knocked down the twin towers on 9/11.

Other examples might not be so obvious. For example, the Christian terrorists:
Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts.

All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

The imagined look into the future is part of an escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists who are trying to paint Obama in the worst possible terms as the campaign heads into the final stretch and polls show the Democrat ahead.

Although hard-edge attacks are common late in campaigns, the tenor of the strikes against Obama illustrate just how worried conservative Christian activists are about what should happen to their causes and influence if Democrats seize control of both Congress and the White House.

Other examples include Catholic terrorists, squawking terrorists, neoconservative terrorists, Republican terrorists, professorial terrorists and Alaskan terrorists.

All of these groups have one common goal: To prevent Americans from freely exercising their right to vote and from striving for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These terrorist cells are trying to keep America from being the great country it once was, and can be again.

They are using lies, innuendo, smears, threats and everything and anything they can think of just to keep people from voting for Barack Obama.

Don't let them scare you off. On November 4th, go out and vote for Obama.

If you don't, then the terrorists have won.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Milwaukee County Snubs The Good Workers

The local media loves it when a public employee screws up or turns out to be a real loser. One example would be the heavy focus that Dan Bice has been putting on Charlene Hardin lately. And that fine by me. When a public figure screws up, they should be held accountable.

Dad29 caught another story in today's paper showing how a former county worker, with the help of a current one, tried to bilk the system.

But it reminds me of an old poem that I had learned as a lad:
When I did ill
I heard it ever
When I did well
I heard it never

That is how Cynthia Jaeger must feel.

Cindy is a Milwaukee county employee that works in the Economic Support Division. She is a Quality Assurance Tech, which is a fancy way of saying she is one of the people that investigate and recoup overpayments or incorrect payments regarding food stamps, child care assistance and child support. She follows up on claims made by people applying for benefits, and makes them pay it back if they were overpayed, or more often, were caught trying to scam the system.

Cindy is damn good at her job. In 2006, in just nine months, she caught $1.6 million in overpayments. In 2007, that number jumped to an amazing $2,126,623.95 that she recovered. So far this year, as of October 15th, she has reclaimed more than $1.4 million. In less than three years, she has saved taxpayers over $5 million.

This feat was so exemplary that in 2007 she was given an award from the Wisconsin Association of Public Assistance Fraud. The nomination letter, which Cindy shared with me, reads in part:
As many of you know, Benefit Recovery work can be very challenging - but this can be especially true in Milwaukee County due to the huge caseloads and staff shortages. But there is a shining star in the Milwaukee that should be recognized and awarded for her contributions to program integrity.

Cynthia Jaeger always goes above and beyond the call of duty. She truly cares about her job and this becomes obvious just in her personal statistics. In 2006, Cindy entered $1.6 million in public assistance overpayments in only nine months. She also attended 173 fair hearings and won 95% of those cases. And the latest numbers through May 2, 2007, show she has already established $408,722.24 in over payment claims and attended 48 fair hearings of which she won every single case.

I was able to confirm these numbers with Jennifer Bach, Senior Collection Specialist in the Public Assistance Unit of the State's Department of Child and Families. Ms. Bach not only confirmed these facts, but shared that this is not only highest amount collected by one worker in Wisconsin, Ms. Jaeger is the only person in the entire nation who has single-handedly recouped more than $1 million in one year.

Now this money is the State's money, and all the money recouped goes back to the State. However, 15% of any recovered money goes back to the county that recovered it. In other words, just last year, Cindy, all by herself, brought in $318,993.59 to help keep Milwaukee County's tax levy down.

What is disturbing is that even though Cindy is the best in the nation in her line of work, and has won a state award for her production, Milwaukee County refuses to even acknowledge her accomplishments with so much as a commendation.

Needless to say, Cindy's salary and benefits don't come anywhere near the amount she brings in, so she is making money for the County. Inexplicably, Cindy also works in one of the sections that County Executive Scott Walker refuses to completely fill, thus actually losing money for the County. Presumably, this is another area that Walker is hoping to privatize.

I am sure that some opportunistic business person would love to get his or her hands on such a lucrative deal. Not only would that agency get paid by the County per whatever contract they sign, they would also get to reap the benefit of the kickback bonus from the State. It would be a win-win for the business person, all at the taxpayers' expense.

Whatever Walker's reasoning for this may be, I'm sure it would be simply mind-baffling. But I sure would like to know why the County won't even acknowledge Cindy's accomplishments. One would think that they would want to crow about how not all of their workers are crooks or incompetent, as the media reports.

Despite the County's oversight, I personally would like to thank Cindy for all the hard work she puts in.

Afterthought: For my conservative friends that are most probably having a knee jerk reaction, and want to point out that these large numbers of overpayments are an example of why benefits should be stopped, I would like to kindly, but firmly, point out that the Bush administration has allowed companies like Halliburton and Blackwater, to name just a couple, get away with a helluva lot more in overpayments. And there was never any attempts to get recoupement on those billions of dollars.

I've Heard Of Smashing Pumpkins...

...but never of smashed pumpkins.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been doing a multiple story series of the state's relation with alcohol, covering everything from binge drinking to drunk driving.

But I didn't realize how bad the problem was until a friend emailed me this picture:




I categorically deny that this picture was taken at Drinking Liberally, Drinking Right, or at Widgerson's Pub.

Budget Blasts 10/22

From the office of Supervisor Coggs:

The Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee,under the leadership of Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, is holding public meetings throughout the month of October on the County Executive’s 2009 Recommended County Budget. Each day, the seven-member Committee votes on a number of specific departmentsand items in the budget.

On Wednesday, the Milwaukee County Board’s Finance & Audit Committee votedto approve the following 2009 Operating Budgets:

• 5-2 Parks (No Mayo, Schmitt): Amended to restore 48 FTE and unfund 4 FTEPark Maintenance Worker 2 positions; maintain seasonal staff at the 2008 adopted level; deny the creation of 1.0 Clerical Specialist, 9.21 FTE ParkWorker 2 (Seas) and 4.61 FTE Horticulturalist I (seas) positions; decrease unemployment compensation by $119,000; deny the consolidation of the Kingand Kosciuszko Community Centers by restoring 2.0 FTE Community Center Manager positions; restore the positions of 1.0 FTE Office Assistant 3position, 1.0 FTE Special Events Coordinator position, 1.0 FTE Horticulturalist 1 position, 1.62 FTE Horticulturalist 2 (seas) positions and 1.0 FTE Parks Artist position; create one position of Parks MarketingPublic Relations Coordinator and one position of Parks Marketing Assistant; abolish the vacant position of Landscape Architect 2 and create a position of Chief of Administration; increase funding for Capital Outlay to$502,000; provide more County Board oversight of privatizing Parks Department concessions operations; provide a maximum fee increase of 10%; decrease green fees and McKinley Board launch and Slip Fees by 12.5% for a total increase of 3.5%; provide $25,000 to both the King and KosciuszkoCommunity Centers for recreation and/or exercise equipment and deny the installation of parking meters along Lincoln Memorial Drive.
• 7-0 DTPW – Transportation Services
• 7-0 DTPW – Fleet Management: Amended to deny the outsourcing of fleet maintenance operations and restoring necessary appropriations anddepartmental cross charges and denying the outsourcing of right-of-way mowing services and pavement marking services.
• 7-0 DTPW – Highway Maintenance: Amended in accordance with previous FleetManagement budget.)

The Committee also voted to approve the following 2009 Recommended Capital Improvement Budgets:
• 7-0 Dog Park Phase II: Amended to present specific sites to the CountyBoard for review and approval.
• 7-0 Countywide Play Area Redevelopment Program
• 6-0 (Mayo Excused) David Schulz Aquatic Center at Lincoln Park
• 6-0 (Mayo Excused) Parks Countywide Restroom Renovations
• 7-0 Countywide Access Road Improvements Program – Estabrook Park andDineen Park
• 7-0 Root River Parkway Drive – 76th to Grange
• 6-1 Fleet Equipment Acquisition (No Jursik): Amended to increase general obligation bonding $250,000 to purchase a replacement pavement marking machine for DTPW – Highway Maintenance Division
• 7-0 Milwaukee County Public Art Program

The Finance and Audit Committee will continue its meetings throughout themonth of October in Room 203-R of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The County Board of Supervisors, under the leadership of Chairman Lee Holloway,will adopt the County’s 2009 budget on Monday, November 10 at 8:30 a.m. in Room 200 of the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The County Board’s annual Public Hearing on the County Executive’s 2009 Recommended Budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, November 3, 2008, at theWashington Park Senior Center.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Darling's Bad Day At The Forum

On October 16th, 2008, the Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations hosted a forum for the candidates running for the 8th Senate District and 22nd Assembly District. The Assembly candidates were Republican Yash Wadhwa and Democrat Sandy Pasch. The candidates for the Senate were Democrat Sheldon Wasserman and Alberta Darling.

Wisconsin Eye has a video of the entire forum archived at their site, and it can be found here.

I won't go into the Assembly race here, except to say that Pasch is obviously the much stronger candidate.

Regarding the Senate race, Alberta Darling probably was wishing she was at the driving range, or anywhere else for that matter. She did not have a good day.

Some highlights, with the approximate time on the Wisconsin Eye video:

For someone who had picked up the Right To Life endorsement, I'm sure she didn't make many friends among her neocon base by apologizing for her vote in favor of the "Conscious Clause," and basically through all her pro-life backers under the bus. (Approx. 1 hr 6 min)

Darling further alienates her conservative backers by stating that she backs a state wide smoking ban. (Approx. 1 hr 18 min)

One voter confronted Darling on her abusive and offensive robocall, which features Mark Belling literally screaming on his radio show. The voter really let her have it, severely admonishing her for her lack of class and decorum. The voter said that it shows what she really thinks of her constituents. Darling ended up apologizing for that as well. (Approx. 1 hr 23 min)

To hear the offending call, WisPolitics.com has it up as a podcast.

Immediately, after the apology, Darling tried to again offer up her unsubstantiated allegations of Wasserman breaking his no tax pledge. Wasserman quickly pointed out that Darling is lying. He pointed out that if it was true, she would be pointing out to the specific vote(s) in which Wasserman voted to specifically raise taxes. She has nothing.

A little time later, a business owner stood up to ask Darling a question about what the State of Wisconsin is going to do to help him and people like him survive, especially in today's foundering economy. As Darling gave a typical "we need to do this" and "we need to do that" type of answer, the businessman confronted her on her record.

He asked her how long she's been in government (he actually had to ask twice to get the answer). When she told him since 1990, he said that she's been saying the "we need to" spiel for 18 years and wanted to know when she was going to finally start actually doing something.

The business owner then started to walk away in disgust. It was Wasserman who got him to stop and become engaged again. He did it simply by asking the man what help he was looking for, instead of doing like Darling and talking about all the non-actions she had taken.

In summary, Darling managed, in the course of less than two hours, twice dissed her base, got blasted on her lies on her record and Wasserman's record on taxes, was scolded for disrespecting her constituency, and was further scolded for not doing her job for 18 years. Not a good day for her at all.

In related news, Darling seems to subscribe to the political theory of "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth." JSOnline's All Politics blog points out that she is still trying to misrepresent the facts regarding their tax records.

Wasserman himself put it's best in a quote from the post:
"I signed a pledge in 2002 not to vote for any tax increases. Since signing the pledge I have not voted for a single tax increase. Senator Darling voted for 2005 Assembly Bill 58. She can call it whatever she wants, but attaching a catchy name won't hide the fact that the bill authorized increases in property tax levies across the state. ... The truth is that Senator Darling has a long record of supporting tax increases. If she had her way, drivers in Wisconsin would have paid an additional billion dollars in gas taxes over the last 13 years. Look it up. She voted for Senate Amendment 117 to 1995 Assembly Bill 150. She wanted to add a 3.2% oil franchise fee which would have increased the gas tax by 3.52 cents per gallon. I helped defeat that the amendment. It is a shame that the groups like Americans for Tax Reform have stopped fighting for taxpayers and become spokesmen for the Republican Party. Why else would they be attacking the only true fiscal conservative in the race? "

See how easy it is? All one has to do is offer proof to be credible. Darling still hasn't done that simple thing.

Watch the video for yourself, and you will see that Wasserman is the much more powerful, responsible and invested candidate. He is much more deserving to serve in the State Senate than Darling.

But being the helpful type of fellow that I am, I would offer her this link so that she can remain gainfully employed after she loses this election.

What's The Color Of The Sky On Their Planet?

Our humble household was the recipient of a mailer produced by the Republican Party of Wisconsin. That is funny enough in itself.

The mailer encourage my wife and I to use their applications for absentee ballots, and had some of their propaganda, which was too funny.

The talking point of this mailer was the economy, and they were urging us to vote their way so they could "save" the economy. They then listed three things they would do. I will relate these to you here, along with why they are so absurd.

"We need lower taxes to grow the economy and create new jobs."
Um, guys, we had the Bush tax cuts for the rich. It worked so well in creating jobs that some states are now having to worry about running out of unemployment funds.

"We need to drill in America for the oil we have, not pay outrageous prices to countries that don't like us very much."
That's another rip snorter. Even while oil prices have dropped by almost 50% over the last three months, Big Oil has made some major cash on gouging the hell out of us. And even if they started to drill tomorrow, it wouldn't help a bit.

"We need a transparent system to regulate Washington and Wall Street so we don't end up in this financial mess again."
Hardy har har.

McCain's Endorsement Problems

From Steve Kelly:


From Stuart Carlson:



But fret thee not, McCainiacs! McCain did pick up a major endorsement today.

Walker Uses Poor As Pawns In Political Ploy

I mentioned earlier, as part of another post, that Milwaukee County has 717 positions that are fully funded, but are not being filled. Even with not having spent this money, Walker is claiming that the County has a $6 million deficit to cover. I have yet to hear any explanation on where that money went, except that the cronies Walker had hired to fill the cabinet position of Economic Development has failed to do their job.

In this morning's paper, we see that Walker has another reason for not filling these positions. It is so that he can give these lavish contracts to private agencies, amazingly again, with no sign of having taken bids for the contracts.

Walker has willfully failed to fill positions in the call center, artificially causing huge delays in services being provided. The delay in these services have caused people that are in desperate need of aid in getting food on their table the help for which they are eligible.

In other words, people are being denied the help they need and qualify for, kids are going hungry, and parents are going through high levels of stress wondering how they're going to feed their children, just so Walker can try to score some political points in his perpetual run for governor.

To top it off, UW-Milwaukee has already been handing out flyers to county workers, encouraging them to apply. The promised starting salary being offered by UWM is higher than the maximum salary under the County system. Walker doesn't want to save the taxpayers money, he wants them to have to pay more, as long as someone else is doing the actual tax raising. What a weasel!

As we have seen with the community-based support programs for the mentally ill, Walker is willing to withhold necessary services, just in an effort to coerce community advocates to bend to his will. He is now withholding needed aid for people that truly need it, just to get agencies, like the Hunger Task Force, to capitulate to his way of thinking and have them endorse his wrong-headed and wrong-hearted political posturing. This is just a form of political blackmail, folks.

I urge you to call your County Board Supervisor and tell them to restore the services to the more financially and socially responsible public sector. You can find their contact information by following this link.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Alberta Darling: I've Got Nothing Good To Say About Myself

Most people are mainly focused on the presidential race, for obvious reasons. However, there are still other important things to consider this election season. One of these things is the race in which State Representative Sheldon Wasserman is challenging incumbent Alberta Darling for her seat on the State Senate. This race is becoming more and more like a smaller version of the presidential race, between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The race so far has consisted on a lot of innuendo and false accusations, just like the presidential race. And just like in the presidential race, it is the Republican, Darling, that has gone negative in her desperation to win. In fact, her entire campaign has been a negative one.

First, when Sheldon Wasserman has been actually going out and knocking on doors himself, Darling tries to strike back, saying how her staff won't be outworked by one man.

When this failed, Darling then played for the sympathy card, falsely accusing Wasserman of making statements about her health and the fact that she is a breast cancer survivor. While I am glad for Alberta's ability to conquer this horrid disease, it is extremely tacky to accuse Wasserman of such vulgarity, when his own wife is right now fighting the same disease.

Darling then proves she is no darling with more negativity when she, during a debate against Wasserman, starts playing on the Republican talking point of voter fraud. This has been already defined as being a bogus political stunt by the Republicans, but that doesn't slow Darling from trying to avoid the topics and trying to play on people's fears.

Darling's descent into desperation continues as she tries to accuse Wasserman of not adhering to the tax pledge, even though she cannot cite one specific vote. Her biggest argument was that he refused to put the State of Wisconsin into a stranglehold with TABOR.

Even more recently, she is using Grover Norquist as an attack dog. As I pointed out earlier, this is the same Grover Norquist with ties to Newt Gingrich, Jack Abramhoff, and has had a role in drafting Bush's economic policies, which, unless you've been in a coma until just now, you'll realize led us to a full recession, and has this country at the brink of another Great Depression.

Mmmm. I think I would have asked for help from someone more credible than him.

All of this brings us to the battle of the commercials. Wasserman has been airing his commercial for a couple of weeks. His ad is light, humorous, positive, and quirky. The ad, much like Wasserman's campaign, reminds me of the same winning strategy that Russ Feingold had when he first won his U.S. Senate seat.

Darling's ad is darker and much angrier. It does nothing but attack Wasserman. Her ad doesn't even mention her name, except at the end when it says it was paid for by her campaign.

My question is this: Why hasn't Darling ever said one positive thing about herself? Is her track record so bad that she can't find one positive about her entire career?

Well, she has been honest about one thing in her career. That was when she admitted she did a very poor job of it when she passed the law to take over Milwaukee County Child Welfare and privatize it. Darling has admitted that she does not approve of the job she's done being part of an advisory committee for her monstrous creation.

I guess she has also figured out that being able to swing a mean golf club, due to lots and lots of practice, doesn't really make a good qualification to be a State Senator.

I can only hope that all of this negative from Darling has the same effect on her campaign that it is having on McCain's. But whether it is or not, it's definitely not a sign that she deserves to be reelected.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Things I Just Don't Want To Know



I saw a commercial for Tyson chicken nuggets. The commercial was cute enough, with a lot of little kids going through great pains to get rid of food they didn't want to eat. I still wouldn't buy anything from Tyson, given their history of animal abuse, but that is beside the point.

At the end of the commercial, the announcer makes a statement like, "Tyson chicken nuggets. Now with all natural ingredients."

That made me think of two questions that I do not know if I really want the answers to:

What the heck were they putting in their that was not natural?

and

Where are the nuggets on a chicken anyway?

Palin For President?

Ok, this is just downright scary.

And this just downright hilarious. (Hint: Run your cursor over everything, and click on everything, and I do mean everything. Somethings you need to click on several times to get the full effect. I'm still finding things I've missed before.)

Here's Your Chance To Sound Off

From James Rowen:
After a 2004 public hearing in Milwaukee before federal regulators who must every four years re-certify SEWRPC as the region's ubertransportation planning agency, speaker-after-speaker criticized SEWRPC's disconnections from low-income and minority residents.

In response, and at the urging of the regulators, SEWRPC created in 2007 a body called the Environmental Justice Task Force, named one of its commissioners the chair, and appointed citizen representatives to advise the agency about making its work more relevant to these otherwise disregarded constituencies.

After several meetings, the Task Force last Tuesday expressed its discontent with SEWRPC by approving a resolution 8-1 that recommended SEWRPC include an independent socio-economic analysis in any SEWRPC plan before its approval by the full commission.

SEWRPC's Executive Director Philip Evenson strongly opposed the resolution, saying before the vote that it "offended" him and that he took it "personally."

If, and I emphasize, if, SEWRPC's full 21-member board - - on which the City of Milwaukee has zero representation - - does not accept the recommendation of its own Task Force, it would be telling its members, and the public, and the agency's federal regulators that the SEWRPC commitment to citizen input in the planning process, and to social justice in this region, is a sham.

Why did I say that the early signs are not positive for SEWRPC grasping the peril that is approaching?

Because the next federal review before the federal transportation regulators happens to be Wednesday evening, from 5-7 p.m., at the Downtown Transit Center, 909 E. Michigan Ave. - - the very spot where, in 2004, the public came out en masse and showed the regulators that SEWRPC needed some basic changes.

But the 2008 hearing has essentially been cancelled, with SEWRPC's participation.

This time, there will be no public speaking truth to power.Instead of a formal hearing, SEWRPC and the regulators are substituting an open house, where citizens can ask questions of federal and SEWPRC staffers spread around the room at tables - - and if a person wants to submit testimony, they can go to another room and speak privately to a court reporter.

So at the very moment that SEWRPC needs to be embracing public dialogue, and incorporating public opinion from the grassroots into its work and attitudes, it is running the other way.

Read the rest of the article here.

I know this isn't as sexy as whether Obama eats babies or if McCain is really a zombie, but this is where we, as average citizens can do a lot to start changing the worst parts of the bureacracies that government can become. So if you're free, take a pass on watching reality TV and get down there to be heard.

WWJBD?

For more information on what you can do, please click here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why Obama Supporters Can't Get Too Confident

This was forwarded to me by a friend. It was a wake-up call for me that even if Obama would win the presidency, there is still a lot of work to be done. It also was a wake-up call that we need to keep working to overcome these types of attitudes to get Obama elected and start the rebuilding of this fine country.

WARNING: There is some offensive language, but this is really what some people think.

Friends of the Realm

I have a special place in my heart for my 2.3 readers. But now one of them have excelled to an even higher rank of esteem in my eyes.

Blogger has come up with a new gimmick they call "Following", which allows a blogger to put a widget on their sidebar that allows fans of their blog to publicly show support for the blog.

Last week when I came back from a long weekend, I found a new icon on my dashboard that I was not familiar with. It turned out that this one brave soul had the courage to publicly state that they read Cognitive Dissidence.

After musing it over for a week, I thought I might as well put it on the site, and see if I can gain a higher readership, like 3.7, or do I dare hope, 5.4 readers.

My only criticism is that they call it "followers." To me, that seems to be rather condescending. Even though I am a great King, I do not have followers, nor do I want any. But instead, I would humbly offer an invite to any of my readers to become a Friend of the Realm instead. This invitation would also include my conservative friends, of course.

It is supposed to make it easier to read my words of wit and wisdom from your dashboard, if you use blogger.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to meeting more friends. One can never have too many.

To join, please just find the icon in the sidebar, title Friends of the Realm, and click on "Follow this blog."

And let me thank you now for your support and friendship, and welcome you as a friend.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

No, Tom, Race Has Nothing To Do With It

Tom McMahon is a right wing blogger. My first introduction to him was, to say the least, not a favorable one. But at the urging of a mutual friend, I decided to follow him and found that he does have a good sense of humor, albeit a quirky one, and usually has insightful or at least interesting posts. But every so often, as all of us do, he puts up a clunker. Unfortunately, he did it again.

So in response, here is my version:

Imagine if the Democratic nominee for President was someone who:

  1. Joked about mass murder

  2. Was good friends, took money from, and defended a convicted criminal

  3. Belonged to a group that supported terrorists and Nazis

  4. Had so many houses he couldn't remember them all

  5. And threw away all the values that he espoused, like his stand on taxes, torture, foreign policy, etc. and threw them away for political gain.

Would anyone take this guy seriously? As either a Republican or a Democrat?
If McCain wasn't a rich, old white guy, would anyone regard this guy as a
serious candidate?

Seriously, race is becoming too much of a factor in this race. There are many blacks that are voting for Obama simply because of racial identity. And there are too many whites of both parties that would never vote for Obama because he is black.

But I do not recall anyone calling McCain names like cracker or honky. What I am aware of is people making racist t-shirts, buttons, and such. I am aware of the right calling Obama a Muslim, nigger, Chocolate Jesus, and other disgusting racial epithets.

Another prime example, via Lady Kay, is the vulgar mailing that is going out in California, with this on the front:


The most alarming thing about this story is the quote from the head of the group that put this out there:

The president of the organization, Diane Fedele, didn’t understand the charges of racism: "I didn’t see it the way that it’s being taken. I never connected. It was just food to me."

How does one overcome such blatant stupidity?

Republicans: The Politics Of Hate

John McCain claims that he does not appreciate his supporters calling Senator Barack Obama a terrorist, a Muslim, or any other of the usual derogatory statements the right wingers have been saying for months now. Oh really now, John? Then please explain this:



Yet, via Jason Haas, we learn that Obama supporters are getting black eyes after being punched by Palin supporters, and that a reporter was assaulted at a McCain/Palin rally.

Locally, we have Republican thug Fred Dooley and his thug buddies crowing about a guy that is threatening to kill people for stealing a yard sign, of all things. Yeah, a free yard sign is worth someone's life. OK, whatever.

And let's not forget the rabid cheering that our own local squawker, James T. Harris, got for encouraging McCain to continue this base behavior and personal assaults.

I guess this all means that if the Republicans manage to suppress enough votes, and McCain does win the election, this country will have gone from a democracy to a plutocracy under Bush to a thugocracy under McCain.

ACORN Is Not The Problem

I remember two years ago when various Republican legislators from each state had their own perverted version of a performing art stunt in which the legislators would stand in front of a house, usually in the inner city or other poorer area of a major city, waving papers they said had a list of thousands of names of fraudulent voters, and use almost the same speech to demand voter suppression. It turned out that these lists were bogus, and there was no mass conspiracy to steal the election. Not by the Democrats anyway. The Republicans obsession with trying to put the fear of voter fraud into people reached the point where any US Attorney with enough integrity to say that there was no conspiracy, was summarily fired.

Now the Republicans are up to the same shenanigans, but this time, ACORN is their bogeyman.

In the Seattle Post Intellingcer, there is an article this morning about the ACORN issue. Basically, it sums it up as that it is not ACORN that is the problem, but the individual canvassers:
But however deplorable the behavior of ACORN workers in submitting phony registrations for the likes of cartoon characters and sports stars, it seems unlikely that the group's misdeeds will affect many votes in November.

In issuing his dire warning in the debate, McCain apparently conflated voter-registration fraud with voter fraud. Voter-registration fraud -- at least, of the type ACORN workers committed in Seattle last year and allegedly engaged in elsewhere this year -- is annoying, potentially costly to taxpayers and certainly illegal, but not, by itself, a serious threat to democratic foundations.

Voter fraud, on the other hand, can change the outcome of elections.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, said last year that the ACORN case in Seattle had nothing to do with manipulating outcomes and everything to do with the workers' efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs. If anyone was defrauded, it was ACORN, an acronym for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

"The defendants ... cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform," Satterberg said. "The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets."

[...]

Voter fraud occurs when voters deliberately cast ineligible ballots. For example, a voter may fill out, sign and return a mail ballot sent to a fellow resident who recently died. Or a voter could impersonate an eligible voter and register and vote in that person's name. Or a voter who is not a U.S. citizen could nonetheless sign the oath of citizenship on the registration form and be placed on the rolls. Proven cases of voter fraud are rare.

Another type of elections fraud involves crimes committed by elections workers, such as creating bogus registrations and then filling out and counting ballots under those entries. McCain has not suggested that might occur in November.

Of course, facts like this won't slow the Republicans from trying to make ACORN into the Willie Horton of 2008*. This is even more clearly limned by the erudite Brew City Brawler, who highlights the fact that the recently announced FBI investigation into ACORN is purely a political stunt by the Republicans in a desperate effort to maintain what little control they may after the upcoming election.

The bigger concern should be the concerted effort across the country by the Republicans to blatantly prevent eligible voters from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Fortunately, their scheme is so blatantly unconstitutional that even the conservative Supreme Court of the United States couldn't back up their efforts at voter suppression.

Tis a sad thing for the Republicans that they can not win on policies, nor even with their string of negative personal attacks. They have to resort to oppression and intimidation just to have a chance of minimizing the losses they are sure to face on November 4.

* The line was so good I had to steal it from Gretchen Schuldt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Walker's Pattern Of Disregard For Ethics And Laws

I wrote yesterday about Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's questionable practice of using Milwaukee County resources for political purposes. Walker used the County's official website to post a "newsletter" in which he politicked against the upcoming sales tax referendum.

James Rowen and Jay Bullock were kind enough to link to my post, and a commenter on Jay's site got me thinking. The commenter, "John," asked:

Didn't Walker spend tax money on automated phone calls a couple years ago on a referendum?

Well, John, yes, yes, he did. He got nailed for a $5,ooo fine for failing to have a disclaimer that his campaign paid for robocalls, asking people to call the County Board and urge them not to raise taxes.

This then caused me to wonder if this was some sort of pattern for Walker.

So I went back to Walker's official government website, and found this week's "newsletter", in which he again waxes political about the sales tax referendum with his misinformation and political posturing.

Un-fricking-believable.

So then I started backtracking his other "newsletters." I was flabbergasted by what I found:

  • October 3, 2008 - Walker pushes his efforts to privatize the parks and the airport.
  • September 26, 2008 - Walker promotes his budget, which is OK even though I think it is a pile of garbage, but also tries to justify the outrageous raises he gave his cronies in his administration, while laying off workers.
  • September 19, 2008 - Walker promotes an event with Paul Ryan and spreads the voter fraud/ACORN/right wing talking points.
  • September 12, 2008 - Walker pushes for his version of what to do with the $91.5 million waiting to be used to fix our transit system. This one may be marginally OK, but if it is, it's only by a hair's width.
  • September 5, 2008 - Again with the sales tax referendum.
  • August 29, 2008 - Hey, what do you know? This one is actually like it's supposed to be.
  • August 22, 2008 - More ACORN/voter suppression propaganda.
  • August 15, 2008 - More promotion to privatize the airport.
  • August 8, 2008 - More privatization.
  • August 1, 2008 - What, is he running for governor, or is he the County Executive? Stop the propaganda already!

The list could go on forever. Click here to look at all of these "newsletters" yourself.

Such a long record, spanning years, shows a very distinct pattern of what appears to be Walker using questionable practices of politicking, either by failing to follow election laws and/or using government resources to promote his political agenda (which I'm sure ends up with the ultimate goal of running for governor - again).

The question is whether he does this out of ignorance of the law, or just a plain disregard for the law. Either way, isn't it way past time to hold him accountable for his actions?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Scott Walker: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Last week, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker had a major hissy fit about the County Board sending out an informational mailing regarding the sales tax referendum that will appear on the November 4 ballot.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Walker's outrage:

A planned mailing from the Milwaukee County Board to voters on the November sales tax referendum should be halted as inappropriate advocacy, County Executive Scott Walker said Wednesday.

[...]

Walker acknowledged the letter was within the law but said it was biased in favor of the sales tax increase proposal. County Board spokesman Harold Mester called the letter factual and neutral.

[...]

Walker called the mailing “outrageous.” He strongly opposes the sales tax increase and tried unsuccessfully to stop the referendum. Even though the letter may be technically legal, it still reads like propaganda aimed at persuading voters to support raising the sales tax, he said.
The very next day, the supposedly liberal editorial board of MSJ fell into line behind Walker with an editorial echoing Walker's outrage:

While the mailer apparently falls within the legal boundaries of what officials can do on referendums — state law prohibits them from advocating in a referendum, but it does allow for informational activities — the letter sends a distinct signal: The advisory referendum is a good idea. Just because “so, vote yes” isn’t explicitly written doesn’t mean it’s not there, in spirit and intent. That’s an inappropriate message for officials to send with taxpayer dollars.

[...]

Holloway argues that the mailing provides necessary information and that the County Board “should encourage voters to participate, regardless of their opinion.” He’s right, but the board shouldn’t advocate. We hope someone does step forward to get that useful information to the electorate. And we hope someone steps forward with the counterarguments for a vigorous debate. But none of the advocacy should be done with tax dollars.

[...]

But taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for a mailing that seems to favor one argument over the other. The mailing comes too close to advocacy. It shouldn’t go out.
I wrote earlier this week that I thought it was questionable of the Board to take this action, but couldn't quite work up the outrage given some of the questionable actions of Walker, with his constant phoning in and emailing to talk shows like Charlie Sykes, Jay Webber, and Vicki McKenna.

But the real outrage is Walker's hypocrisy. While he is lambasting the County Board for wasting tax payer dollars on alleged advocacy regarding the sales tax referendum, he is doing the same damn thing.

On the official Milwaukee County website, Walker has his own page, which, again, is official property of Milwaukee County. A link on Walker's page leads one to another County website called Executive Updates, and is all full of Walker's newsletters. These newsletters are supposed to be informative and let the reader know of upcoming events, improvements to various County properties like the Zoo or the parks, and the such.

Walker's newsletter dated October 10, 2008 opens up to a two-page newsletter. The first page is all about Walker's outrage regarding the referendum and the Board's mailing.

In the left column is an editorial piece called "Message from County Executive
Walker" and it reads like one of his political press releases:

Supporters of the referendum to raise the sales tax by $130 million want to use our tax dollars to send an "informational" mailing out to the voters in Milwaukee County just weeks before the November 4th election.

Anyone can see that the "informational" letter being sent out to voters contains more than just the facts. It is clearly designed to sway voters to their position on the referendum question.

Worst of all, the very same taxpayers who will get stuck paying the bill on a $130 million tax increase (if the sales tax goes through) are the same people getting the
bill for the mailing and printing costs of the "informational" letter. All of this comes just weeks after the I asked all county departments to freeze travel and other
non-essential spending.

The Supervisors who are pushing this letter are the same ones who expect voters to believe that raising the sales tax will somehow lower our property taxes. It did not happen the last time the sales tax went up. In 1991, the County Board passed a sales tax with the promise of property tax relief. From 1992 to 2002, the tax levy went up 55%.

These are the facts but we are not going to use taxpayers funds to print them out and put them in a letter to voters.

Scott

P.S. Kudos to Supervisors Borkowski, Cesarz, Rice and Sanfelippo. They all rejected Chairman Holloway's request to send the mailing into their districts.
Good Lord, but if that doesn't sound like someone advocating against the referendum, I don't know what does. It is also chock full of half-truths and misinformation.

Walker doesn't mention that the County was having to increase taxes because the state legislature, of which he was a member at that time, kept short changing the County on mandated services. Much like he is griping about every year around budget time.

And for the truth about the referendum, you can visit the website for the Quality of Life Alliance by clicking here, or clicking on that big yellow icon in the sidebar.

The worst part is that he is doing this on an official County website, which was designed, supported and updated with the use of our tax dollars. For him to lambaste the Board for doing the exact same thing he does is the height of hypocrisy.

And if that wasn't enough, he continues in the next column, boasting about his press conference to express his faux and hypocritical hypocrisy:

...Walker pointed to Waukesha County businesses as the beneficiary of a sales tax increase in Milwaukee County. A new sales tax that is a full 1.5% higher than several of our neighbors - and the highest in the state - would create a tax island. At a time when the 2008 budget is tight, Walker asks why members of the County Board are spending funds on a campaign mailing to voters just before the November election.
Now, I am not a lawyer. Nor am I an expert on all the ins and outs of using governmental property for politicking. But if Walker and the MJS editorial board feel that the County Board's action, while perfectly legal, smacked to much of advocacy, what the heck are we supposed to make out of Walker's blatant use of County resources to advocate against the sales tax referendum?

To me it seems fairly obvious that if this doesn't run aground of the law, it should definitely be in the area of an ethics violation.

It is my understanding that this has been or is about to be referred to County District Attorney John Chisolm's office. It is also my understanding that members of the County Board have been made aware of Walker's misuse of County resources. I don't know if anything will come of this, but I will keep you, gentle reader, apprised of things as I learn of them.

If you are as angry at Walker's hypocrisy as I am, I encourage you to contact his office to express your anger. It also would be a good thing to let your County Supervisor know of your anger as well. You can find your Supervisor's name and contact information here.

And while we're at it, can we do that recall yet?

ADDENDUM: Not only does Walker use County property to expound his political points, but it is doubtful that Walker would have the necessary skill to produce these newsletters. The additional question would be then: Who did the work, and how were they paid? Was the author county employees? And if not, were tax payers monies used to pay whomever wrote and produced these "newsletters"?