Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Tuesday, Nov. 30 in La Crosse at the Best Western Riverfront Hotel, 1835 Rose St.
Wednesday, Dec. 1 in Eau Claire at the Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel, 3340 Mondovi Road
Thursday, Dec. 2 in Fond du Lac at UW-Fond du Lac (location to be determined)
Tuesday, Dec. 7 in Madison at the WisDOT Southwest Region Office, 2101 Wright Street
Monday, November 29, 2010
Two psychology researchers at the university found that the brain waves of people with schizophrenia appear to be markedly different than those of healthy people during dreamless sleep, the “light” sleep that precedes rapid-eye-movement sleep where dreams occur.This could cut down on costly hospitalizations and the emotional stress for the patient and their families that comes with not knowing for sure what is going on. This could help a lot of people without being overly expensive.
The experiment tracked the brain waves of 49 people with the illness and 44 people who didn’t have it. About 90 percent of the schizophrenic subjects showed the irregular brain waves.
The experiment also tested 20 people taking anti-psychotic medication for a mental illness other than schizophrenia to test whether the drugs were the source of the irregular brain waves. Their waves, however, were similar to those recorded in the healthy people.
Further research could lead to an easy method for hospitals to test for the signs of schizophrenia. The electroencephalogram (EEG) that would be needed for the test is widely available.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Even though he was appointed as Secretary of Commerce by Governor Jim Doyle, he tried desperately to distance himself from that part of his career. This bullet point on his resume played a big part in his ultimately bowing out of the Senate race.
Apparently he was only kidding about not being part of Doyle's staff. Word is that he appeared at a reunion of Team Doyle held in Madison on Saturday night. Ol' Leinie must have figured stabbing his old boss in the back is just part of the game and all were forgiven.
There is no word yet if he bought everyone a round of his family's brew or not. Or if they were willing to drink it if he had.
The saddest part is he still has more credibility than the guy he bowed out to.
And the opening scene from Naked Gun:
Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen has died.
Family confirmed to Global News that Nielsen died Sunday afternoon in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hospital from complications of pneumonia.
He was 84.
Nielsen, who grew up in Edmonton, appeared in more than 100 movies, with the star shining perhaps most brightly in comedies including Airplane! and The Naked Gun.
Truly, he was one of the best.
Well, she was partially correct after all. There are really death panels out there. But these panels aren't where she said they would be.
One is in Arizona:
In Arizona, 98 low-income patients approved for organ transplants have been told they are no longer getting them because of state budget cuts.
The patients receive medical coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), the state's version of Medicaid. While it may be common for private insurance companies or government agencies to change eligibility requirements for medical procedures ahead of time, medical ethicists say authorizing a procedure and then reversing that decision is unheard of.
One of the most destructive practices of private health insurance companies is the practice of denying care to customers for frivolous reasons. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services started including denial rates on its information section about health insurance companies on HealthCare.gov, in an effort to inform the public about this practice by the industry.
It was this practice of frivolous denials that ended up costing Jacksonville, Florida woman Alisa Wilson her life. For months, Wilson, her family, and the surrounding community had been pleading with her HMO to approve coverage for a liver transplant. Although Wilson was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, she was not guaranteed care because she was “forced to join a private plan as part of a Gov. Jeb Bush-era experimental overhaul of the program,” meaning she had to deal with a private, for-profit insurance company to get her care, not a government agency accountable to the public.
Bush’s overhaul made “Florida the first state to allow private companies, not the state, to decide the scope and extent of services to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, half of them children,” the New York Times reported in 2005, as the move was being considered. “[N]o one is proposing changes as far-reaching and fundamental as” Bush, the Times noted.
It's not President Obama's health care reforms we should be worried about. What we should be worried about is how the incoming group of Republicans, who ran against health care for the unwashed masses of poor people, will do to the reforms that are in place. They are the real death panels.
Is it any wonder that most people want health care reform, or actually make it bigger, in spite of the hateful rhetorical claims from the right?
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I wonder if Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty regrets his support for Walker yet.
Train boosters in Wisconsin aren’t the only ones frustrated with Gov.-elect Scott Walker’s promise to kill the proposed rail link between Madison and Milwaukee: so are our neighbors to the west.
“Obviously, if we don’t have a willing partner, it makes it more difficult to move forward,” says Dan Krom, director of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s passenger rail office. “We all have our state politics to deal with, and the fact Wisconsin is in the middle (between Minnesota and Illinois) is a problem.”
If Wisconsin refuses to get on board and Walker turns away $810 million in federal stimulus money to pay for rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, it is unlikely Minnesota would see its largest metropolitan area connected to the proposed nine-state Midwest rail line anytime soon.
"I saw that big large area of claw marks and I called my wife and her sister out and we saw that area of paw prints, looking around I didn't see anything coming out from under the deck, paw prints in the snow, so we weren't sure if t was under there or not but then when my sister in law let out a shriek and said it's under there, we all went and looked between the boards and we saw it's face and its moving around under there," says Burt Schmidt.
A 200 pound black bear that is... and it looks like it's making a home underneath the deck for the winter.
He says, Surprised... I'd think I've ever heard of a bear under somebodys deck before, the proximity, it's two feet away from me right now."
He says he would like the bear to be relocated as soon as possible for not only the safety of this Wausau neighborhood, but his family too.
That's why he's placed calls to local law enforcement, the DNR, and Wildlife Services.
Schmidt says, "Not too concerned inside, knowing he is going to be more active at night, because it was that night before the snow, that he clawed his bedding underneath there."
The right has their undies in a bundle about it, but to be perfectly honest, I don't see what the big deal is. The commercial shows various footage clips of things going bad, and then getting better. They end the ad with a simple thank you. How in the world is that offensive? Here's the ad:
What do you think?
Friday, November 26, 2010
Since they started this fiasco, they've had more than their fair share of blunders, bloopers and errors. The disdain for this thing goes down both sides of the aisle too.
Now they are announcing a special PolitiFact for Scott Walker and his campaign promises as he takes control of the state next year. Given their poor history of keeping Walker honest for the past eight years, I'm not holding out much hope for this project to be any better. The fact that they are asking for help figuring out Walker's promises doesn't bode well either.
But I have to ask you, gentle reader, why would anyone in their right mind settle for a cheap knock-off when they could have the original Weasel-O-Meter right here, for free?
A) A big pile of dung.
B) Scott Walker's Brown Bag Movement
C) Who are you trying to kid? A and B are the same thing!
If you answered C, then you are correct.
Walker's entire campaign was based on the recycled brown bag movement used in Ohio 12 years ago. His little brown bag included three basic campaign points:
- Don't spend more than you have.
- Smaller government is better government.
- People create jobs, not government.
Consider the first point in contrast to the job he is leaving, as Milwaukee County Executive, his 2010 budget is currently officially expected to have a $8 million deficit. His 2011 budget has another gaping hole in it, leaving tens of millions of dollars as a deficit. In other words, he spent more than he had.
As for the smaller government, that is just another steaming pile of you know what. First, he offers the suggestion of creating a deer czar. Add to that this morning's news about some of ideas for "hitting the ground running," which includes this gem:
A proposal to split the state Department of Commerce so that its secretary no longer divides time between fostering economic growth in the state and regulating everything from amusement rides and elevators to petroleum storage tanks.
The new entity would combine existing economic development functions of state bodies like the Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. To do that, it would likely have to be structured differently than a traditional state agency.
Great, a whole new bureaucracy at the state level. Just how does that equate to less government?
What all this means is he doesn't have a clue to what he is doing. The smart money is on things getting worse, not better, for the state.
And again, I have to ask: Is it too soon to say "I told you so?"
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Fraley, in order to support such an inane proposal, first construct an artificial argument, claiming that it was the public sector unions that forced this reversal in numbers between the private and public sector. The unions diabolical method for achieving this, according to Fraley, is that they vote.
The truth of it is that the Republicans, his group, has been spending decades systematically weakening the private sector unions through the repeal of worker protection laws and by waging a propaganda war against unions in an effort to make them look like the bad guys. This animosity, combined with their diminished rights, has created such a riff that the majority of wealth in our economy is again being concentrated among the elite few.
The right now apparently feels they have the unions where they want them and are preparing to go for the jugular of the middle class and do away with unions altogether. Again, Fraley's argument for this is based on falsehoods. He makes it seem that all public sector workers are living in the lap of luxury and that is why the economy is doing so poorly.
The fact of the matter is that public sector employees are not doing all that well, salary-wise, especially compared to the private sector. Yes, the public sector does tend to have better fringe benefits, but that is simply because they choose to forgo immediate gratification and keep their eyes on the bigger picture. If one really wanted to take care of the high costs of these benefits, it would be much wiser, fiscally conservative, and socially responsible to simply do something constructive about the cost of health care, which is too damn high.
And if you were wondering where all that money is, if not in the hands of those public sector workers, take a look at the top personnel of the corporations, which are making record profits, but not reinvesting it by hiring anyone.
Instead of constructing straw man arguments in order to attack one part of the population who are just as much victims of the economy as anyone, Fraley and his front group should try to be honest with themselves and us, just this once. If their concern is truly the economy and taxes, they should take a long hard look at how they, by rallying their wagons around Big Business and Big Rx, are actually the problem, and admit that their cure would only push this country closer to a plutocracy. Then again, this might be their goal after all.
Likewise, Fraley's argument about Wisconsin needing to be a right-to-work state is equally bogus. First of all, most unions do have it in place where people can opt out of being in the union.
Secondly, this state is already a right-to-work state. If you don't want to belong to a union, don't take a job in a union shop. It's really that simple. If you want to be a serf for the rest of your life, that is your business. Just don't try to take the rest of us down with you.
Because the reaction was so strong, he had his top level apologists, Charlie Sykes and Patrick McIlheran, do their best to spin the story into something it's not.
Basically, these two propagandists tried to shovel the false pretense of how refreshing it was for a politician like Walker to unequivocally say "no" to something, like raising taxes.
But the question is this: Does Walker really mean no?
As Milwaukee County Executive, Walker has said no lots of times, but turns around and does the opposite. The most obvious example of this is regards to the stimulus funds. When these funds were on their way to becoming a reality, Walker said he would not take them. In fact, he went on the national stage to do so. But when the day was done, not only did he grab that stimulus cash with both hands, he even bragged about it, whether it be for the airport or for his "Milwaukee Works" gimmick. (Whatever happened to "Milwaukee Works" anyway? Seems to me it should have been called "Milwaukee Gets Laid Off.")
He said he was going to say no to those big bad unions. But after he was forced out of his first attempt to be governor, Walker not only said "yes" to the unions, but gave them a signing bonus as well.
The list goes on and on and on with every flip flop Walker makes.
For Sykes and McIlheran to try to claim that Walker is a man of his word now is just plain desperation on their part. It also shows that they are as untrustworthy as their friend Walker, but we knew that already.
Cross-posted at Whallah!.
It gets even better when he tries to describe his "girlfriend":
Last week, St. Paul police pulled the Anoka County Republican over and seized his loaded Smith & Wesson after he told them he was "jealous" about his "girlfriend," whom he didn't have any contact information for but suspected was with another man, according to police reports.
Police had been called to the city's Highland Park neighborhood by a security guard at a Planned Parenthood clinic, where Hackbarth had parked and appeared "suspicious."
Hackbarth, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was briefly handcuffed and released without being charged with a crime, and he told the Pioneer Press he did nothing wrong or illegal.
Officers at the scene, however, suspected him of "stalking-like behavior" and borderline "harassment or terroristic threats," so they hung on to his weapon, reports state.
Hackbarth provided officers the name of the woman but said he had no contact information for her and could not recall the website where he met her. Officers couldn't contact the woman, citing a lack of information. The Pioneer Press also couldn't contact the woman.
In his interview with the Pioneer Press, Hackbarth explained that in one of the dating websites he uses, people communicate with each other via e-mail routed through a central website. "You don't have an actual e-mail address," he said.
"I honestly can't give you any information," he said. "When you meet somebody online — if that's where you go — you meet somebody and you go out for coffee. You don't exactly tell each other your life stories."
He said he uses "maybe three or four" different dating sites and couldn't remember which one.
He said the woman he was looking for was the only one he had ever actually met face to face through online dating. "You don't get a lot of responses when you say you're separated," he said.
Yeah, I think those are called escort services.
I just wonder which one of our esteemed overlords will be pulling the Wisconsin version of this stunt.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Talgo, whose future, as well as the future of the jobs they are bringing to Milwaukee, are hanging by a very tenuous thread, is asking much the same questions. Goobernator-elect Scott Walker is apparently choosing political rhetoric over keeping his campaign promise of bringing jobs to Wisconsin, which could very likely lead to Talgo reconsidering whether they stay in this state or go to one that is more prone to economic development.
Talgo is not just asking where is MMAC, but they are also calling out to M7. Both organizations were instrumental in bringing Talgo to the Milwaukee area. And they point out that it is not just them that will be hurt if Walker continues down this path of fiscal irresponsibility:
[Talgo vice president for public affairs and business development, Nora] Friend said a range of additional local vendors will be needed for such things as cleaning and catering, as well as producing electrical components and mechanical parts.I also have to say I find it rather ironic that Paul Ryan, whose district has been one of the hardest hit in this economic upheaval, apparently isn't that interested in improving his communities economy or having some these outside vendor jobs end up there.
Earlier this month, the firm acknowledged it would consider moving the operation out of Wisconsin if Walker killed the high-speed train. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn sent a letter to Talgo and invited the firm to move to his state.
"We are interested in going to whatever state has rail business," Friend said. "Illinois seems to be going forward with their rail plans. That's a possibility obviously. We have to stay open as a business entity. No one can expect us to stay where there is no business. It's a very difficult position."
It's becoming increasingly apparent that the Republican's idea of how to save the economy is to destroy it.
Now Walker et alia have decided to go for a record time for the most flip flops.
Walker, as Milwaukee County Executive, actively opposed even allowing a referendum on whether the county should be allowed to raise the sales tax as a source for dedicated funding for the parks and the transit systems. In return, people would have had their property tax reduced. After he lost the fight and the referendum was approved by the citizens, he called the voters stupid.
This morning, one of Walker's top guys of his transition team, floated out the trial balloon of the state increasing their sales tax by 2 or even 2.5%:
My, doesn't that sound familiar?
A key member of Gov.-elect Scott Walker's transition team is floating an increase in Wisconsin's sales tax as a way to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Former state budget director Rick Chandler says hiking the sales tax from 5 percent to 7 or 7.5 percent would allow the state to reduce income and property taxes, which rank among the highest in the nation.
Well, as you can imagine, it this trial balloon fell like a hunk of lead as people became alarmed that Walker wasn't really who he portrayed himself to be, the worker of miracles with pixie dust and a glib tongue.
Things got so bad that his transition team, instead of creating jobs, had to once again go into damage control mode, claiming that his aide was speaking independently and going for plausible deniability. He even had to call upon his top apologists to help spin away the brunt of the people's anger.
Even with that, people started questioning their decision to support him.
Now, I don't think that they thought this would really fly. But they did lay the ground work for two possible courses of action. His Republican allies could decide to allow a smaller sales tax to pass and blame it on the Democrats or they Walker could decide to go with the use of fees and other similar non-tax taxes.
Either way, I am sure he will find a way to get his tax cuts to his wealthy friends and sticking it to the working class.
Again, I have to ask: Is it too soon to start saying "I told you so"?
Here is a Thanksgiving Turkey recipe that also includes the use of popcorn as a stuffing - imagine that.
When I found this recipe, I thought it was perfect for people like me, who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out. Give this a try.
BAKED STUFFED TURKEY
10-12 lb. Turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is good.)
5 cups uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER 'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush Turkey well with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and flies across the room, it's done.
Imagine the look on your loved ones' faces as you show off your culinary skills.WARNING: If you decide to try this recipe (and you won't be sorry if you do) please print out the recipe and follow it exactly.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Chiovatera is in a spitting match with the city's Common Council over their 2011 budget. The council has recommended that each employees take 7.5 days furlough for the next year to keep the tax levy at the same level as this year. The mayor disagrees with this approach. He uses the most inane and insane logic I've ever heard to argue his point (emphasis mine):
The 7.5 furlough days will save the city nearly $424,000 if all are used.
In 2009, the city required employees to take four furlough days to avoid a budget deficit. That measure was not needed this year.
Under the mayor's budget and the budget approved by the council, the tax rate would be just under $4.98 per $1,000 of assessed value, unchanged from last year's rate.
The $34.3 million budget for 2011 is down about 1% compared with this year's $34.6 million budget.
The tax levy would rise to slightly more than $23.7 million from nearly $23.5 million. Ament said the increase reflects growth in the tax base from construction.
Ament said it is important to keep the tax rate flat because residents and businesses are suffering because of the recession.
"We've got residents and businesses hanging on by their fingernails," he said.
The austerity budgeting, Ament said, also is a reflection that "city employees are not insulated from the effects of the economy anymore."
Chiovatero said his budget, which included layoffs, also reflected that fact. But he considers 7.5 furlough days to be excessive, saying the plan "balances the budget on the backs of the employees."
So, in Mayor Chiovatero's world, 7.5 days of furloughs is excessive, but 365 days of unemployment isn't?
Where do the conservatives come up with these people?
Whoever does take over will have a miserable job of it, having to clean up not one, but two deficit-ridden, illegal budgets, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of repairs and maintenance, a mental health complex in disarray, and lawsuits up to their necks. And that's just skimming the surface.
Because of the relative short amount of time before they can announce and the February primary, a candidate is ideally going to need two, preferably three things:
- Money, lots of money.
- Name recognition: They don't have much time to get all over the county. The candidates who already have higher profiles will do that much better. Otherwise, they'll need even more money to get their name out their.
- A good candidate would preferably have an understanding of the county's problems and have a solid idea of how to address them. I listed this one as being preferred since Walker's last three elections (four if you count the gubernatorial one from three weeks ago) show that people don't necessarily think being qualified is a requirement anymore.
The following is what I am sure an incomplete list of the names politicians that have expressed interest or that I have heard their names being mentioned as possibilities, along with a brief synopses of who they are and what their chances might be.
Sheldon Wasserman: The most recent to announce an interest in the position. He has the money and the name recognition, that's for sure. The concern is whether is heart would be into it, since many have said his main interest is to get back into Madison. We're just getting rid of an executive that treated us as a stepping stone, do we want another one? Furthermore, even Wasserman himself has said his interest is more in his medical practice right now.
Tom Ament: Wait, what? Him again? No way! Not only did he foist the pension scandal on us, but opened the door for the last eight years of Walker's abuse, misuse and neglect. Just for the latter, he should be eligible for a life sentence in prison.
Jeff Stone: State Representative from Greendale. Two words to describe him: Walker Lite. He doesn't have much name recognition outside of his area and has the negative of trying to do a backdoor privatization of the airport. That upset a lot of people, especially those that live near the airport and have had their homes threatened so they could expand.
Josh Zepnick: State Representative. Like Stone, not much name recognition outside of his district. It's unknown how much he knows of or understands the county's issues.
John Hiller: Who? Walker's campaign treasurer. Enough said. Plus he is now part of Walker's transition team, so he might have bigger fish to fry.
Dan Devine: West Allis Mayor and former County Executive.
Jill Didier: Mayor of Wauwatosa. Not much name recognition beyond Tosa. Just stuck her constituents with an unnecessary $12 million tax bill in order to give support to a rich group of developers so that they can tear up the county grounds and the Monarch Trail.
Tom Taylor: Mayor of Franklin. Ask him about his role in the county pension scandal.
Lee Holloway: Well, he's got the name recognition, that's for sure. I would suspect he has a nice bankroll as well. But he is vastly unpopular among the suburbs and other conservative strongholds. He may be able to carry a part of the north side, but not enough to win the race.
Dan Diliberti: County Treasurer. He has the knowledge of the county's issues, but not a lot of name recognition since his office is one of those automatic check types.
Joseph Czarnezki: County Clerk. See Diliberti.
John Weishan: County Supervisor. Extremely knowledgeable about County issues. Weishan does have the down side of carrying baggage from the pension scandal. He also strong ideas of how to fix some of the county's woes, but many might consider his ideas to be too extreme, such as funding buses and parks for only three months and trying to force the state into passing the sales tax.
Johnny Thomas: County Supervisor. He's been working at getting his name out there, taking credit for the benefits part of the recently passed budget (which is still illegal). He also was active in the past year raising many of the county issues. One thing that might work for or against him is that he has gained a certain level of animosity from the unions for flipping his vote regarding a Tentative Agreement from last year.
Marina Dimitrijevic: County Supervisor. One of the strongest candidates I've heard so far, as evidence by the fear she sparked in the special interest-funded group, CRG. She has good name recognition, at least on the south side of the county. She is fluently bilingual. She has a strong knowledge in County issues and has already gotten some of her ideas implemented, saving tax payers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. She has won her district easily, has earned a number of rewards, and is often voted "Best Supervisor" in many polls.
Joe Sanfelippo: Walker the Second, but with even less personality or understanding. Even though on the personnel committee and part of the oversight committee for the mental health complex, and even though it has been going on for more than three years, Sanfelippo announced surprise that the staff at the complex were getting paid a lot of overtime.
Sue Black: Parks Director. She has done a lot with a little, but that doesn't mean she is fit to be executive. Plus, if rumor is true, she has some other things she needs to deal with
As I stated above, I am sure this list will be changing almost daily for a while. This was meant to be only the briefest of introductions and assessments.
*If Walker were to just leave in the middle of the night, would anyone notice? It's not like he's been around much for the past several years anyway.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Fred Dooley, thinking he's got something on me with that comment, put up a rather disjointed post trying to say how silly I was (all grammar and other errata strictly his):
Capper is whining at a post at Boots and Sabers that Christie is costing NJ taxpayers $271 million. Only in the unhinged world of a lunatic like Capper could saving the taxpayers all that money be a bad thing.Dooley uses the presumption that Christie is accurate in his claim that the overrun costs will be $5 billion.
The number is actually closer to one billion dollars, which is still considerable, admittedly.
So now, Christie's "savings" is down to two thirds of a billion dollars. But that is only for the directly related project costs. It does not include the tangential costs:
Ultimately, the harshest criticism of the decision came from U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who said in a release: "This is a tragic day in New Jersey's history. Two weeks ago, Governor Christie made the biggest public policy blunder in New Jersey's history. Today he repeated it. Today he killed the prospect for improving New Jersey's economy and creating thousands of new jobs. He increased the amount of toxic fumes that will be discharged from idling cars stuck in traffic, and he took away an opportunity for New Jersey housing values to go up. . . New Jersey Transit is coming off one of the worst summers for delays in recent memory. Fourteen hundred delays were recorded this summer, and just this week a minor derailment caused hour-long delays for thousands of commuters. Delays and derailments are only going to get worse on our aging infrastructure and thanks to the Governor, New Jersey commuters shouldn't count on new rail service options for decades to come."Lost jobs equals lost revenue for the state. Not only that, but it actually adds to the outflow of cash as people go back on unemployment, food stamps, energy assistance, etc. not to mention continuation of things like the housing crisis. And those rails will have to be replaced sooner or later, and it's not going to get any cheaper.
So now, in one act of bravado, Christie has cost his state billions of dollars, put people out of work, and slowed down his state's economy, just to save some rich people a buck two eighty on their tax bill.
Whether it be Christie or Scott Walker and his lame-brained insistence of killing the high speed rail project, the result is the same:
Tax payers will be kicking in for the original project; then get fined for the costs already invested because of their myopic leaders; they lose jobs, their homes, and their savings; the rail systems continue to deteriorate and will be even more expensive when eventually replaced; and the entire state's economy shuts down as the rest of the country continues to recover.In other words, the tax payers will be paying through the nose to end up worse off than before. It does take an amazing feat of dependent thought to think that this is a good thing.
But don't think for a minute that Christie or Walker is out to really protect the tax payers. They're just doing this crap for their ulterior political purposes.
Is it any surprise that the economy suffers when the Republicans are in charge?
This shows how little of a grasp on reality Walker has.
First of all, these contracts are for 2009-10. He was not governor during these years (Thank goodness) nor was he part of the state legislature. What right does he have to demand to rule over previous work done? It's not like he can go back and make the unions pay retroactively towards their pension or make them go back in time because he doesn't understand that furloughs are not the solution to budgetary woes.
And just by making this demand and trying to bully the state unions even before the election, he was interfering with the labor laws and setting up state tax payers for a big hit.
Fortunately, not everyone is falling down for His Majesty and is going on to actually do the people's work. The Democratic leaders in both the Assembly and the Senate have said that they are going to make a concerted effort to get the contracts done in special sessions before the end of the year.
They certainly better, for their sakes, the sakes of the workers and the sakes of the tax payers.
If they don't get the contracts done, they are going to lose a lot of supporters that they will need if they want to stay in office, much less regain power.
Secondly, the state workers have done the work for two years without a contract. They deserve to have that recognized and a clean slate for when Walker does take office.
Thirdly, if they don't get the contracts settled, any concessions that they might have made are going to be lost for years. Given his past history, when Walker gets to Madison, he'll start being a bonehead, putting his presidential aspirations before the people of the state, and offer up empty political rhetoric but make no efforts in saving tax payers money by settling a contract.
The reason he won't is twofold. One, he knows that he wouldn't be able to inflict the draconian measures he wants to, so it is easier to talk tough instead of just doing what needs to be done. Secondly, when he starts to fail at governing, and he will fail, just like he did in Milwaukee, he'll want the unions to use as a scapegoat.
In summary, if the Democrats know what is good for them and for the state, they will get this done before the end of the year. That are get used to always being in the minority.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
This is a great example of Republican politics. Appeal to voters emotions, conflate cronies wishes with those of general voters, promise the sky, then when reality hits, backtrack and make excuses as to why the initial declaration must be altered, or simply blame someone else or some "liberal" law.
Last week, it was reported that Laurie "Bambi" Bembeneck was near death in a hospice in Portland, Oregon.
This morning, word came out that Bembeneck succumbed to the various diseases that was ravishing her body:
Some argue that she was guilty of killing her husband's ex-wife because she had pleaded no contest. Some say she only did that to regain her freedom and fight to clear her name from the outside. They further say she was railroaded for exposing some bad behaviors by Milwaukee police officers.
Milwaukee's longest running legal saga may have ended with the death last night of Lawrencia Bembenek.
Bembenek died about 7 p.m. Milwaukee time in Portland, Ore., where she was in hospice care, her sister, Colette Bembenek of South Milwaukee, said Sunday.
Bembenek, 52, who later changed her first name to Laurie, had been admitted to a hospital in recent days and then was transferred to a hospice, her sister said. Her health problems included hepatitis C and liver and kidney failure, Colette Bembenek said.
"It went real fast. I'm glad she didn't linger," Colette Bembenek said. "I knew it was inevitable that she probably would be expiring early in life."
I don't know if she did it or not.
All I can say is may she find her peace and justice, whether it's to her liking or not, wherever she is now.
The biggest problem is that the DPW got caught with their pants down and didn't bring in the workers soon enough, and when they finally called them in, they were having problems getting in. Check out this news clip and wait to see why they held off calling in the workers, about halfway into the clip.
I'm sure the two people who died, their families, and the hundreds of people who will now see their car insurances skyrocket are so very glad that Governor Pawlenty and their other elected leaders saved them a couple of bucks on taxes.
So when Scott Walker slashes the little things like this from the state budget, and your insurance doubles or triples, make sure you send him a little thank you card. You might even be able to pay for the stamp with the money from your tax cut.
Rusty the Wonder Beagle had a growth on his backside, which the vet said was not cancerous and didn't need to be removed unless something changed. Well, something changed and it started to bleed and ooze. We took Rusty to the vet post haste, and they ended up keeping him overnight and removing the growth. We authorized a biopsy on the tumor and fortunately it was benign.
Looking at he bill, which was a few hundred dollars, I noticed something that really stood out. The biopsy cost a whole $18. That's it. Eighteen stinking dollars.
That made me think back to when my mom was in the hospital, dying from cancer. When we got the final bill from the hospital, there was all sorts of garbage on it. They charged $10 a day for the privacy curtain. She was there for five weeks. They charged my father's insurance $3500 just to have a privacy curtain that was built into the place. They never took it down and washed it. They didn't let us keep it. All that money for something that would be there whether the room was occupied or not.
During the time I was grumbling about this, some stuff came across my desktop, which only shows how serious a problem this is.
Health care costs across the state rose an average of 6.4%. Even though this is two or three times the rate of inflation, it is actually good news, since most years, the percentage increase is in the double digits.
Of equal or even greater concern is this report about how much the hospitals are charging ever more and more for their services by become monstrous health care conglomerates:
Hospitals' pricing power has grown over the past two decades as they have consolidated to form health systems. With few exceptions, studies have consistently found that consolidation in a market results in higher prices - in part because health insurance plans often cannot exclude a hospital or health system from their networks and remain competitive.
And not only is the health care costs pounding us as individuals, they are a primary cause for the economy going down and staying down as the government has to deal with the coverage gaps for the poor, the elderly and the disabled, not to mention provision of health care for their own employees. To present it in such a way that even a teabagger could understand it, via Hullabaloo, is this video:
No coincidentally, these sky rocketing costs started about the same time there was massive deregulation. The original health care reform would have gone a long way to resolve the issues leading to this pattern of gouging, but it was, like with the stimulus, cut at the knees and bastardized so the reform can't do as it was intended.
If we had leaders with enough testicular fortitude to have fixed it properly, it would have gone a helluva long way to putting money in our pockets, a lot more money that the Republicans are going to do with their phantom tax cuts. But then again, there's just too many people that are still worshiping the almighty dollar and forgetting that there are more important things in life.
Oh, and if you're wondering, Rusty is doing wonderful and is showing no downside whatsoever.
Addenda: Two more stories to drive the above points home even harder.
One, fewer employers are offering health care insurance, especially for the lower paid, poverty level wage jobs. This only exasperates the problem and increases the spiral as these people need medical attention, have no insurance and cannot pay out of pocket. Which in turn puts the costs higher for all of us.
Not only are the health care providers building Taj Mahal clinics and hospitals ever other mile, but they are now sending their executives off with multimillion dollar severance packages, even has they are laying off hundreds of workers and raising their rates.
Friday, November 19, 2010
On one hand, if Walker turns down the federal stimulus money aimed to build the first part of what will become an nationwide rail line, he is throwing away hundreds if not thousands of desperately needed jobs not to mention costing us $135 million on top of the lost funding.
On the other hand, if Walker accepts the funding, and the train, he estranges his base which would not fit in well with his plans to seek the presidency.
But there is a solution to this issue in which the high speed rail and the jobs that go with it comes to Wisconsin and Walker still gets to save face. The problem is it would require a concerted effort by the state legislature which is much akin to herding cats.
The solution is to take a page from the playbook of the Milwaukee County Board.
In the spring of 2009, when Walker was making similar grandstanding posturing regarding the ARRA funds, saying he was going to refuse the bulk of the money that the county was eligible for, the Board stepped up and exposed the county executive's new clothes for what they were:
What was no surprise to anyone is that he County Board overwhelmingly overrode Walker's veto of the resolution allowing the County to aggressively pursue stimulus money. What was interesting is the level of emotions that more and more members of the Board is starting to show as they tire of Walker's showboating and his willingness to sacrifice the county for his campaign.I had further reported how Supervisor Weishan had instructed Corporation Counsel to be prepared to take the matter to court if Walker tried to balk on the newly implemented county policy.
Even more moderate Supervisors like Lynne DeBruin and Pat Jursik are showing signs of disgust with Walker's shenanigans:I'll spare both the gentle reader and myself to point out all of the ongoing hypocrisies from Walker as he tried to spin himself out of the corner he has put himself in. That is something I think I have covered in overly abundant amounts, even though it is still true.
Walker's criteria for taking federal stimulus aid that the board shot down was politically motivated and "totally bogus," said Supervisor Lynne De Bruin. Supervisor Gerry Broderick said Walker's stance on stimulus aid was "great theater or dress rehearsal aimed at the governor's race in 2010."
De Bruin said Walker began backing away from his refusal to even consider stimulus aid after Milwaukee business leaders publicly disagreed with him. She called the standoff between the board and Walker the most upsetting issue of her 17-year career as a supervisor.[...]
Supervisor Patricia Jursik criticized Walker for insisting on rejecting federal aid that required a local match. Walker said his ban on funding that required a local match wasn't absolute.
The question, as I pointed out earlier, is whether the state legislature will have the fortitude to listen to the people now, and to do the right thing by making it law to allow the trains to roll through our fair state. It would be a fight to be sure.
There are many weak-kneed members in our state government that are afraid to take any kind of position on almost any topic. Add to this a list of the usual suspects that care more about protecting their wealthy friends than actually helping the state and its citizens and the job to bring these jobs to Wisconsin to be quite an uphill battle.
Fortunately, Milwaukee County is sending Elizabeth Coggs and Chris Larson to the legislature, and they have years of experience fighting with Walker and running circles around him.
Now they have to teach their soon-to-be colleagues, not only how to do this, but how to screw up enough courage to do what is necessary and in our best interest. They have the play outlined already. Now they only need to execute it.
"I welcome the democratic process as it has made it possible for me to serve my district actively for over 7 years, recently being re-elected with 72% of the vote. It is clear that I am being singled out because I have been vocal about the damage that Scott Walker has done to Milwaukee County. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the residents of the 4th District who depend on me."'Nuff said!
They have an article about the high speed rail saga, with this headline:
State taxpayers likely wouldn't wind up paying all of the $135 million that outgoing Gov. Jim Doyle's administration says would be tossed in their laps by the cancellation of a federally funded high-speed train project, a Journal Sentinel review of the costs shows.
At least $35 million could be covered by the federal or local governments or by the private sector, based on past funding patterns.
Um, you pays the taxes for the federal and local governments if not the public?
Today, the jury got the case and was able to reach the verdict in less than two hours:
It took a jury less than two hours to convict Rory Kuenzi in the 2004 death of Kevin McCoy.I'd still like to see them got through and have to face charges for the deer they tormented and killed, but this is a start.
Six years after the death of Kevin McCoy, the past has finally caught up with Rory Kuenzi. Kuenzi was found guilty of fatal hit and run and homicide while operating a vehicle under the influence.
"I hope he spends the rest of his life in prison. He knew what he did and he lied about it from the beginning," said James McCoy, Kevin McCoy's father.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Jake at his TA Funhouse has a bit more forceful take on the situation:
Oh, and the Cretins for Republicans Governance better back the fuck off of Marina Dmitrejevic in Milwaukee County. 1. It won't work, because Bay View actually has a pair and few senior citizens, unlike the Walker front group. 2. We have a lot more reasons to run your boy Scotty than you do Marina. And we're just biding our time to pull out our petitions.Indeed.
Ya waana bring it? We dare you. You've made the mistake of ticking off people smarter and tougher than you, and that's a deadly combination to overcome.
It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.The completely inappropriately-named special interest group Citizens for Responsible Government has successfully removed all doubt about themselves.
On Wednesday morning, the Clowns of Reprehensible Gimmickry decided to announce that they were going to "assist" a group of people that wanted to recall Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic. Their contention was that Dimitrijevic was apparently being somehow irresponsible by advocating for and voting for fixing Scott Walker's illegal 2011 budget.
This is, to say the least, extremely ludicrous. First of all, they are getting their undies all knotted up over a $7.49 increase. That comes to 64 cents a month or two cents a day. That is not exactly what any rationale person would say is worthy of disrupting the normal democratic process.
To further show their foolishness, they totally ignore the fact that Dimitrijevic is a wildly popular official who won her last election with 73% of the vote. Furthermore, she has won numerous awards and honors, including being on the cover of Wisconsin Woman this year and winning the Eleanor Roosevelt Award last year and being named the Best Supervisor two years in a row in a survey by the Shepherd Express.
Dimitrijevic has also brought such useful, responsible and money-saving ideas like having campaign financial statement put online and Green Print legislation.
Maybe CRG is still upset from having Dimitrijevic condemn the incident from last year when one of their disciples physically attacked two union workers, including a woman.
Actually, the truth is that Dimitrijevic is already being considered a strong candidate for county executive. CRG is only pulling this minor publicity stunt in a lame effort to discredit her before her campaign can start to take off with even greater momentum.
Another reason why this is nothing more than in inane exercise in futility is the fact that they tried the same thing last year against Supervisors Theo Lipscomb and Patricia Jursik. Those recall efforts were even less successful than the two they tried against Governor Doyle. They never really got off the ground, nor did they appear to have any influence on how these two supervisors voted. However, CRG did get their way for the most part and Walker's budget was relatively intact.
The result is a projected $8 million deficit which is guaranteed to hike up the taxes in 2012. If they were truly for a responsible government, they would have gone after Walker years ago.
But it is not surprising that they don't live up to their moniker.
Like I said at the beginning of this piece, there is no doubt about whether they are fools.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Since the election, the people are starting to realize that the Democrats were correct and that Walker's grandstanding could get very expensive. Despite growing concern and repeated warnings, Walker continues his act of bravado with our jobs and money and states that he won't allow HSR to go through Wisconsin, but would rather use the money to fix roads and bridges. (This is the first recorded incident of Walker caring about maintenance of anything, by the way.)
Then, last Friday, as I predicted, Walker started to backtrack on his position, saying he was "in no hurry" to push for the rail funding to be used otherwise, in order to prepare for the inevitable flip flop. You could start seeing the concern growing in his base by then.
The following Monday, reacting to a rally held outside of the Talgo plant and increasing pressure from the state's Democratic Party and groups like One Wisconsin Now, Walker caved in a little bit more, saying he was now willing to allow that money to go to fixing current rail lines. Even the Wisconsin State Journal, which had originally endorsed him, appeared to be having some buyer's remorse. The flop sweat from the right was becoming quite noticeable.
On Tuesday, the desperation from the right was palpable as three of Walker's allies, Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri said that they would introduce a bill that would change the law so that if states like Wisconsin and Ohio, who made terrible blunders in their elections, wanted to forgo jobs and a large influx of money, it would go to back to pay off some of their debt and deficits.
But the chances of that bill going anywhere is somewhere between slim and none. The problem that these three stooges face is that they are not the only members of Congress. To get the bill passed, it would need the support of the representatives from Illinois, New York and now California, as well as any other state that would be more than glad to bring jobs and a recovering economy to their fair states.
To add to the job-killing Republicans disconcertion is the fact that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has again emphatically repeated the fact that if Wisconsin, Ohio or any other soon-to-be backwater state wanted to reject the HSR funding, he would move swiftly to make sure the money is responsibly and fairly redistributed to states that want to actually grow their economies.
And just to pile on more bad news, Walker's idiot ideology won't be cost the state $100 million as previously reported, but might actually be closer to $135 million.
With all of the backtracking, moving of goal posts, and attempts to throw up red herrings, it is easy to see that Walker and his Republican allies have actually created one job. That job is a massive snow job which they are trying to pull over on the state's citizens.
The only real question is which promise Walker going to break - creating jobs, stopping the train or both?
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Former Playboy bunny and Milwaukee Police Officer, Laurie "Bambi" Bembeneck, who was convicted of killing her husband's ex-wife, is reported to be near death.
Private investigator Ira Robbins is reporting that she is in a hospice and is suffering from liver and kidney failure. He further reports that she is slipping in and out of consciousness.
If she is to leave this world, may she find the peace that has eluded her for so long.
Our answer is no, and we offer a variety of reasons.
What was not included was the solution that would offer the greatest amount of poetic justice: Having Scott Walker pay for the shuttle out of his own salary.
After all, he hasn't really earned it for years and it was due to his negligence and poor leadership that led to the tragedy that closed the parking structure in the first place.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Compare that to Scott Walker's illegal budget with a gaping hole worth tens of millions of dollars, but still raises taxes and cuts vital services even deeper.
You know, there's a reason why 62% of Milwaukee County went to Barrett and not to Walker.
Too bad the rest of the state couldn't pick up on which was the proper way to go. It's even worse because now all of us have to pay for that mistake, in more ways than one.
Seems to me that TOMMY!!! was real popular among the road builders as well. How much did he raise our taxes again?
At least now people understand where his resistance to HSR comes from. It's not concern about the tax payers. It's concern about his campaign contributors.
While repeating PP's post at Whallah!, I came across this other video. If you are or know a LGBT teen, have them watch this:
Sunday, November 14, 2010
ME: good lord insurance has gone upI anxiously await when Dooley shares the conversation with his boss about how health care reform actually went back in time and that it wasn't profits or anything like that that caused insurance rates to jump higher every year, sometimes by double digit. Of course, in order to do so, Dooley will have to pull out his secret weapon of ignoring the truth:
SB: well, of course
ME: what are you talking about? I thought insurance was supposed to go down?! It has more than tripled for me because of all the new regulations, some companies have just decided to either jack their rates or get out of the biz.
SB: if you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land in florida….
ME: you cannot be serious! You think they are just jacking up their rates for the money and nothing else? SB, I spent about 2and a half hours in the insurance ladies office just going over my new options!
SB: of course its only about the money. The regulations only help.
Over the past decade, the largest health insurance companies have seen a disproportionate increase in profits of 250%, or 10 times the rate of inflation. During the past year alone, there has been a double-digit increase in health insurance premiums.1
In response to such increases, the new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act,” or ACA), requires the secretary of health and human services, along with individual states, to establish a process for the annual review of unreasonable increases in health insurance premiums. As a result of the new statutory language, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and all relevant states will now review proposed premium increases, and health insurers will be required to justify any increases that these authorities consider unreasonable.
For the past eight years, Walker has tried to run his perpetual gubernatorial campaign on the backs of these workers. In 2006, Walker grandstanded around the issue of negotiating a contract with the unions, demanding all sorts of concessions. When he was forced out of that race, all of a sudden there was a contract that nearly matched the union's original proposal along with a signing bonus.
This time around is no different. For two consecutive budgets, Walker has put in major concessions from the unions, claiming that it was only fair to make public sector employees suffer like private sector employees. I guess it would be too hard for someone who can't even formulate a jobs plan to make things better in the private sector.
But for someone so ready to stand by his convictions, it is rather odd that he refuses to present these demands in the arbitration hearing. Maybe it's because he doesn't understand what good faith bargaining is. Perhaps it's because he knows that they wouldn't fly, since no other local government has had to resort to such drastic demands. Or maybe it's just that he isn't really on the tax payers side and is only pulling a stunt so that he could get elected to governor.
To show that Walker really is a slow learner (which would also explain his collegiate career), Walker has apparently no understanding on where he went wrong in his dealings with the county's unions.
Even before he is sworn in as Goobernator of our not-much-longer-Great State of Wisconsin, Walker is trying to interfere with contract negotiations between the State and their unions, first telling the unions to stand down, and then asking the same from Governor Doyle. Somehow, the memo that Walker thinks he is now king never made it to the real world, and Doyle and the unions continued to follow the law, reaching tentative contracts.
The unions also took the opportunity to let Walker know that they are more than willing to be partners with his incoming administration in improving the conditions for all workers, public or private sector, in Wisconsin. However, if Walker would rather try to scapegoat them like he has Milwaukee County workers, he will find them just as willing to stand up for their rights which are protected under the law.
Jud Lounsbury, writing at Uppity Wisconsin, points out that Walker is also making illegal threats against any people Doyle appoints to civil service jobs. Walker's concern is that Doyle will be appointing his staffers and cronies to jobs so that they can stay working after the transition. (Which is extremely ironic considering what Walker has done for Tim Russell and John Chianelli.) Be it as it may, it is illegal for Walker to make that threat. In reality, what Walker has really done is given everyone a chance to fight any kind of corrective action by claiming retaliation.
It should be noted that just because the State and the unions are reaching these tentative agreements, all is not good for them. They still need the Democrats to develop some spinal strength and testicular fortitude to hold a half-day special session in order to approve these contracts. If they don't, Walker and his Republican allies will tried to kill these contracts. This will lead to a stalemate in contracts negotiations and the tax payers will either have to pay for years of back pay and other benefits after Walker's one term is over or Walker and his allies will lose the inevitable legal challenges and arbitration hearings.
I have no doubt that the state workers and their unions are in for a rough go of things for a while. But if they keep their eyes on the big picture and look at not just the immediate blows that are coming, they'll be just fine. It's the tax payers that are the ones that are about to get cold-cocked by the bill coming from Walker's immaturity and hubris.
Of course, this whole mess could be avoided if Michael Grebe dipped into his wallet and instead of giving his money to the RGA, spent some of it to buy Walker a book he could really, really use.