Sunday, July 31, 2011

Corruption + Cronyism + Incompetence = The Walker Administration

There is a story that is just the latest example of the corruption that is par for the course from our temporary governor, and has been the talk of the town for a day or two already, but there is more to the story that people are seeing.

With a shout out to Jake, who already did a darn fine job on the story himself, the gist of the story is that Scott Walker, who has been repeatedly telling us that the state is "broke" and can't afford things (like paying a sustainable wage; providing care for the poor, the disabled or the elderly; protecting our ecology; or creating jobs, to name just a few things), can somehow afford to pay a private law firm a half million dollars to defend his union busting law.

And I can guarantee you that that is only the first half million. Given his track record as Milwaukee County Executive, he will keep racking up the bill, most likely without informing the legislature until it's another fiscal crisis.

The key point is he signed the contract for the high priced ($300/hour) law firm four days before he even introduced the bill!  Walker knew it was going to be challenged and that it didn't pass muster, but he took our tax dollars that could've supported working class families and provided aid to those in need, and chose to willfully squander them on this poorly-if-at-all thought out plan.  You think for that kind of money, he would have at least given them time to look at it and determine if it would even survive a challenge. But then again, forethought has never been one of Walker's strong  suits.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

From, Jake's source, we see this tidbit:
Signing the contract for Michael Best & Friedrich was attorney Raymond Taffora, a month after he left his job with the state attorney general's office, which usually represents the state on legal challenges.
And as Jake pointed out, the Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, received thousands of dollars from Traffora, while he was an employee of Van Hollen's. On top of that, Walker received $37,000 from the law firm.

Right there you have the epitome of corruption AND cronyism.

But to put the cherry on this garbage sundae is their official excuse why they're dropping all this money (emphasis mine):
Correspondence shows the governor on Feb. 4 requested legal assistance from the attorney general's office in anticipation of litigation on the bill. The office declined, citing a lack of sufficient non-union staff with the necessary expertise. It recommended that the governor appoint special counsel.
There are two points to take away from that one line:

  • Van Hollen doesn't trust his staff, especially the represented workers, and
  • The people that Van Hollen does trust (read: control) aren't up to the job he hired them for.
Of course, these excuses are probably bogus and a false front and mere contrivance to justify their corrupt pay-for-play with a couple of campaign donors.

At the rate he is going, Walker would be better off just stepping down or hoping to be recalled.  Otherwise, when the people take the government back from the special corporate interests, he will be wishing he had all that money to defend himself from impeachment and corruption charges.   

Friday, July 29, 2011

Newt Gingrich Says To Buy American

So why doesn't he follow his own words?

With him being one of the front runners, the GOP Presidential race shoot be a real hoot.

Republicans Are About To Introduce The Third Ring To Their Recall Circus

Courtesy of Green Bay Progressives
As anyone who isn't a hermit knows, Scott Walker and the Republicans have proven themselves to be quite the community organizers.  After showing a complete disdain for things like common courtesy, common sense and the Constitution, they have managed to bring record-breaking numbers of Wisconsinites together to fight their totalitarian ways and, when they still refused to listen to the people, to remove them from office.

The Republicans, instead of showing any introspection, much less remorse, not only continued to follow they bully ways, but doubled down on their amoral and unethical gimmick by pulling a number of stunts. Or, in other words, opening a couple rings in their circus.

The Republicans opened the first ring of their recall circus by running fake Democrats.  And even as they were touting themselves as being the fiscally responsible ones that would never squander tax payer dollars, they did just that by having these unnecessary elections.

But even as the Democrats, the unions and the people of #wiunion were preoccupied with contending with the clowns in the first ring, the Republicans were hard at work getting the second ring of their circus in place.  Sadly, the second ring of the Republicans' recall circus wasn't droll at all.  They went into full voter suppression mode by first disenfranchising a large number of people, first passing one of the strictest voter suppression laws and then moving to close several DMV offices, making it all the more difficult and expensive for people to get past their Jim Crow laws.

At the same time, the ring master, Paul Ryan, was also leading them into totally upending the traditions of generations and throwing all the rules to redistricting to the wind, all in an attempt to secure their tenuous grasp  on the seats they do have.

And now I see that the right wingers are bringing in the A-Team of circus clowns: The teahadists.

Yup, despite his repeated protests and whines about "out-of-state big money" coming into Wisconsin, I don't imagine we'll hear anything from Scott Walker when it comes to the Koch Brothers winging a fraction of the wealth in to support him and his unethical cronies.

And the Mad Hatter Bus Tour doesn't even wait until they get into the state to start their antics.

Heck, just look at what they're calling their tour: "Reclaiming Common Sense."  If they actually did reclaim common sense, it would be the most self-defeating maneuver in the history of mankind.

Besides the usual bits of histrionic and hysterical hypocrisy, such as saying Luther Olson is pro-education, that Alberta Darling cut our taxes, or throwing Dan Kapanke out to the wolves by hanging the target of union-buster on his chest, the most unintentionally comical must be their defensive biography of Randy Randy "Bed:" Hopper, who, as the reader, will remember, left his wife after having an affair with a lobbyist and getting her a job with the state:
Senator Randy Hopper (R) – Senator Hopper ran for office wanting to change the “politics-as-usual” mentality. Upon entering office, he donated his legislative pay raise to three YMCAs’ Strong Kids Campaigns. As a former small business owner, he is focused on economic development and job creation. He has committed to lowering taxes and growing the economy – support Senator Hopper as he fights off this unwarranted recall election!
And as his mistress and his divorce attorney can testify, Hopper has been very good for finding them work and growing their personal economies.

We have a week to prepare for the circus train to come through our state. I say we start preparing to give these outside agitators the Wisconsin welcome they deserve. Who's with me?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Business Leaders Miss Cause And Effect

Anyone could have told them that this was going to happen, but they pushed for it anyway.

Scott Walker and the Republican legislature bust up unions and take away worker rights in both the private and public sectors, and now they can't find enough qualified workers.

This isn't rocket science, you know. But when you have a governor that can't spell or do math, and a legislature that has sold their souls to Big Business, I suppose it might seem that way.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Was Alberta Darling For Unemployment Insurance Before She Was For It?

One of the myriad of hot topics currently going on in Wisconsin is the issue of unemployment insurance.

In April, more than 10,000 Wisconsinites had their unemployment benefits end, solely because the state legislature was too busy finding new ways to stick it to workers, tax payers and voters to actually craft and pass legislation which would benefit these suffering people.

The money was there for the taking, at no cost to the state, since the federal government had already made it available.  The legislature, which is so fond of calling special sessions for all of their draconian measures, could have easily done the same in order to take advantage of that and spare the unemployed weeks and months of no income whatsoever.  But even now, three and a half months later, it doesn't look like they'll get anything done until next month at best.

Enter Wisconsin Jobs Now! who started to hold protests outside of Darling's offices, starting on June 28, 2011.  This prompted a reaction from Darling, who supposedly issued a statement later that day stating her support for these benefits to become available:
However, Darling released a statement after the protest Tuesday saying she supports extending unemployment benefits to the out-of-work in Wisconsin. Darling said legislation is currently in the works to allow the benefits to extend for another 13 weeks.

“Recently, the non-partisan Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council voted unanimously to work with the state Senate and Assembly to craft legislation to address extending unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks,” Darling said. “I support an extension and will work with my colleagues to pass the measure as soon as possible.”
The observant reader will note that at the top of the article, it is noted that the article was edited at noon on Wednesday, (June 29) to include Darling's statement. This would indicate that Darling actually issued her release late on the 28th and that it did not make it to the original story before it was published.

The fact that she supposedly issued the press release was confirmed again a couple weeks later in another article (which leaned heavily towards editorializing)(emphasis mine):
On June 28, roughly 30 to 40 protesters representing Wisconsin Jobs Now assembled outside Darling's Menomonee Falls office demanding this legislation be passed. However, a protest wasn't necessary as Darling issued a statement that day voicing her support of the legislation they were demanding.
Now, again, the observant reader might have noted that I have used the word observant twice now in regards to the press release. There is, of course, a reason for this.

Working on a tip, I found some rather interesting things. The tip included that people who have been watching all of Darling's sites, tweets and Facebook entries had never even seen that press release until July 11.  So I decided to look deeper into it to see if my tipster was indeed accurate.

If one goes to Darling's press page on her official website, you will see that there is the press release, dated 6/28/11, just as reported:

But if the reader would then click on the link for the release, one would find this:

Holy smokes!! The date changed to 6/27/11, the day before the protests and the day before she issued the release, which as noted above in the two news stories, distinctly came after the 6/28 protest.

Well now, isn't that a bit curious?

A little more digging, and going to Google's cache search, one finds this interesting development:

The gentle reader will note that the titles of the two entries are the same, as are the titles on the press releases she issued on 6/27 or 6/28 and the one she released on 7/11.  Not a big thing in itself, showing only that she and/or her staff aren't a lot of original thinkers, something we all already knew.

But look closer and you will see that both bodies include the wording she used on a press release issued on July 5 to bash on the teachers union.

Curiouser and curiouser.

It would appear that Darling (or more likely one of her staffers) had taken the July 5 release and rewrote over to issue both the June 27-28 release and the July 11 release.

But not being the most tech savvy person in the world, I consulted with a friend of mine from #wiunion and asked him to look over the facts and judge the facts to see if my interpretation of events were correct.

My friend did just that and told me that it appeared that I, and my tipster, were correct.

He did his own searches using various tools, my friend came to a similar conclusion.  He stated that it definitely appeared to be two releases that were modifications to the July 5 release.

He further supported the hypothesis that the 6/27-28 release was not actually there until two weeks later.

Here is the rationale for what we see on Google versus what Darling is trying to pull off and that Google just didn't get around to it until then:

  1. The Google cache would not miss her release for almost two weeks, especially when it is attached to a high traffic site such as the site. Pretty much every time that a Google spider pings the site or the site gets linked, Google would find the document. It's unlikely no one anywhere on that site updated or were spidered/cached during that length of time. It's virtually impossible.
  2. The site has increased its traffic from an average of 100,00 visitors a month in December to an average of 400,000 visitors per month. Google typically increases their crawling/archiving schedule big time in such cases.
  3. When you look for "press release" in Google and use a search of the words used in her press release, it is not shown ANYWHERE. There are ZERO other sources for that document.
In summary, it is fairly apparent that Darling only made any kind of statement regarding unemployment insurance as a direct result of the direct action taken by Wisconsin Jobs Now!.  But the fact is she didn't make the statement until after the June 28 protests, and even then didn't put it into writing until two weeks later.  To make matters even worse, she then tried to use deceptive methods to make it look like she was in favor of this legislation all along when, considering all the other actions and statements she had made during the past several months, the odds are that she really didn't give a damn about continuing the benefits until she realized how badly it would hurt her in her recall election.  Her nonchalance towards the people suffering without these benefits is further shown by her lackadaisical approach to the dating of the press release.

It's bad enough that she doesn't care enough about the unemployed workers to feel motivated to enact this legislation back in April when the benefits ended. It's even worse that she would pretend that she actually did, when it was obvious that she didn't.  And the worst part is that she is insulting the intelligence of the voters by lying about it all, and even then, not doing that very well.

Marie Antoinette couldn't have done it better.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Darling's Campaign Strategy Is Part Of The Reason She Is Being Recalled

Last week, Bruce Murphy had a special edition of "Murphy's Law" at Milwaukee Magazine. In this special edition, one of the stories Murphy writes about is whether Alberta Darling has been dodging debates against her opponent, Sandy Pasch.

While Murphy doesn't come out and give his opinion, per se, the evidence he reports on does make it look like Darling is indeed trying to dodge out of debating. This is most likely because her actions are indefensible.

But her campaign manager, Andrew Davis, shows quite the irony in his defense of his boss' elusiveness:
Davis does concede Darling has turned down some requests for joint appearances. “If we take every request we’d be debating every day,” he says. “We feel Alberta’s time is best spent talking to voters in the district.”
And isn't that one of her major flaws? She's been spending to much time talking to the voters and not nearly enough time listening to them.

I wonder if she can hear us now?

It's All the Unions' Fault! Part V: The M&I And Associated Banks Edition

Remember how Scott Walker and WISGOP, both wholly owned subsidiaries of Koch Enterprises, tried to tell us that the current economic woes are because of those greedy union workers? Well than surely it couldn't be because there's a revenue problem due to them showering favors on their big money donors, like the banks, right?

The report shows Green Bay's Associated Bank paid no state income from 2000 to 2009, despite booking some $2.6 billion in profits over the period. 
It also shows Milwaukee's M&I Bank, which was sold recently to a Canadian bank, paid an effective tax rate of less than 1 percent on its boom years' profits. 
No wonder Wisconsin had a budget problem.
Gee, you think that maybe if you were telling campaign donors that they don't have to pay their taxes, maybe that could lead to a revenue problem, which in turn would lead to spending outpacing revenue?

It's not the unions that are the problem, it's Walker and his Republican legislative cronies who are sabotaging the state. That's the disease we need to cure with the only effective remedy: Recall.

Stop the Franklin Boondoggle!

No, I'm not talking about Kevin Fischer (this time).

I'm talking about MMSD's and Franklin's plans to grab up more land for a project that only the land developers want.  Full information at Milwaukee County First.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Walker To Celebrate American Sweat Shop

This is what Scott Walker has envisioned for all of us:
Heussner’s whistle-blowing is of particular embarrassment to his employer because Governor Scott Walker is about to visit in a 45th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, July 28. Not only will Scott Walker grace Opportunities Inc. with his presence, he will proclaim July 28 as Opportunities Inc. Day in the State of Wisconsin.

Heussner describes a workplace where minimum wage workers have no hope of advancement out of their “temporary” status, where one single fan fails to cool hot workers on an assembly line below, where there’s no holiday pay even for Christmas, and a public free clinic has to fill in for health benefits because the employer won’t give them. During Thursday’s “Gala” event “temporary” employees who have worked there for years will stay home with a little less money. It’s an unpaid day off.

Walker promised Wisconsinites he’d deliver 250,000 jobs during his term. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the kinds of jobs Walker celebrates. Are these the sort of jobs Wisconsin needs? Are these the jobs his voters had in mind?
You can read the rest of this compelling story at blue cheddar.

There has been a lot of talk regarding when Walker should be recalled.  One faction has been considering postponing the recall until later in 2012 because that would supposedly give the Democrats the upper hand in number of voters that would be coming out to the poll.

This story shows why we should not and can not wait.  Even though historical patterns might show that Democrats have a distinct advantage, we are talking about real people who are being hurt by these malicious and maleficent laws.  There is no ethical way to justify letting people suffer for another six months or a year before we take action.  To delay would make the Democrats no better than the Republicans who caused this unholy mess.

Besides, given the pain that people are already feeling, I seriously doubt that the old patterns won't matter next year.

When the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears, sports announcers and sports buffs say that past games and records don't matter.  They say this because the rivalry between these two teams is so strong and the players are so motivated to win that almost anything can happen (and often does).

I think that this effect will be seen in Walker's recall.  The anger, the pain and the Wisconsin tradition of wanting our freedom and our rights intact will carry the day.  Even though the spring is what is normally considered a strong time for the Republicans, I think both sides, Republicans and Democrats, are underestimating our motivation to put the state back on the right path and off of Walker's road to hell.

I am really looking forward to VW (Victory Wisconsin) Day.

Congratulations To Emerge WI Class of 2011!

Last weekend, Emerge WI graduated their fifth class, 23 women, ready to take on the world:

Wendy Strout, Executive Director of Emerge WI, also pointed out these items of interest:

  • This has been Emerge WI's largest class to date with the largest percentage (40%) coming from outside of the Milwaukee and Madison areas.
  • At their second class in February, they marched in the snow in solidarity to protest Walker's intent to strip away collective bargaining rights.
  • In May, they had their Shadow Day on the very day that state Republicans rammed through the voter suppression bill. Many of the women were shadowing the Democratic women of the State Senate and were able witness this from the Senate floor.
So what does this all mean? That the Emerge Wisconsin Class of 2011 from all across Wisconsin know that their presence is needed in elected government. They are ready to run and they are ready to win!

Any Democratic women that have thought about running for office at any level, any Democratic women that have marched for workers rights, any Democratic woman who collected signatures for the recall, any Democratic women that have contact their elected officials to voice their opinion, any Democratic women that are concerned about the direction the community, the state or the country is heading because of the Republicans in office, should run for office themselves.

Emerge WI has accelerated their schedule in the face of the completely wrong direction the Republicans are taking this state.  The application process is going on now and any prospective applicants have less than a week to get their applications in.  

If you're a Democratic woman and fit the above description, or even one part of it, you can get your application form by clicking here.  But hurry! The deadline is July 29th!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alberta Darling Sold Out WI Kids To Big Tobacco

You can't turn on the radio or TV anymore without hearing or seeing one of the Koch Brothers funded commercials for Alberta Darling, spreading their distortions and out right lies.  One of her talking points which annoys me to know because of its blatant hypocrisy is when Darling claims to be in favor of the children.and of the tax payers.

Anyone who thinks that this is true will change their mind after finding out what she did in this budget. The following is a press release from We Are Wisconsin:
Jul 21, 2011

Darling pushed through policy written by tobacco industry that helps Big Tobacco market cancer-causing products to Wisconsin children

RIVER HILLS, WI – A recent report has called into question Sen. Alberta Darling role in inserting a last-minute budget amendment that makes it easier for tobacco giant Philip Morris to push cancer-causing tobacco products to Wisconsin children – marketing them with fruity flavors and candy-like packaging. The amendment was pushed in Madison directly by Philip Morris parent company Altria, and provided Big Tobacco with a huge tax break over the status quo and their competition.

The report shows Darling’s amendment to be nearly exact ‘model language’ provided to state legislators by a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive, corporate-funded outfit with strong connections to the tobacco industry. Darling’s connections to ALEC go back to 2009 when she used tax dollars to pay $200 in membership fees to the organization, giving her access to exclusive, closed-door meetings with potential corporate donors, including ALEC member Altria/Philip Morris USA.

And voila! Altria/Philip Morris USA wrote a $1,000 check to Alberta Darling, just days after she became chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee where she was able to insert the language requested by Big Tobacco.

“Alberta Darling’s willingness to sell out the health of Wisconsin’s children to her Big Tobacco pals shows she’s a complete tool of the powerful corporate interests that bankroll her campaigns and push the attacks on middle class working families currently coming out of Madison,” said Sally Evans, a retired kindergarten teacher from Shorewood. “Alberta Darling’s shameless handout toher friends in the tobacco industry to help them market their cancer-causing products to Wisconsin’s children is immoral, unethical, and truly reprehensible.”

Notably, the late-night amendment Darling slid through her committee as a favor to Big Tobacco was actually vetoed by Scott Walker – who said it represented a huge threat to the health of Wisconsin’s children. According to the report, Darling refused to return multiple calls seeking an explanation for her conduct.

Tropical, Er, I Mean, Topical Humor Of The Day

via Dad and email:

This Should Be Mandatory Reading For All Elected Officials

Gee, go figure.

Kochnomics aren't working for the everyday person, like this teacher who can't afford to teach anymore:
She doesn't want to go. After 13 years of teaching high-level math, she has a tested stable of learning methods that helped all her students pass the AP calculus exam. Her room is a popular place for students to escape the drama of the high school cafeteria. Few jobs can indulge her excitement for linear functions and matrix calculus.

"I hate to have to leave it," DeRegnaucourt said. "I really thought I was going to be that teacher, 65 years old and retiring from the education field. That's not going to happen."
She's quitting, she said, because she can't afford to stay.

Two years ago, a divorce left 47-year-old DeRegnaucourt with a single income. Rental properties she owned only caused more financial strain as Florida's real estate market fell apart in recent years. Despite her years of experience, she earns $38,000, she said, less than she made in the past, when teachers received larger supplements for additional certifications.

Once she made a budget, she realized she didn't make enough money to cover her expenses and save for her future. Changing careers felt like the only wise financial move, she said.

DeRegnaucourt isn't the only one.
Would someone be kind enough to sit Chris Abele down and make him read this, please?

Who Do You Know Wants To Go Canvassing?

Here ya go! A listing of the canvassing spots around the state:

Northeast Wisconsin Region
• Green Bay (SD2)
2256 Main St
Office Phone #920-469-1944
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 3pm

• Kaukauna (SD2)
We Are Wisconsin, 131 E.2nd St.
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 3pm
Office Phone #920-469-1944

• Rhinelander (SD12)
We Are Wisconsin, 315 South Oneida Ave., Suite 215
Saturday – 10am and 1pm
Sunday - 12Noon
Office Phone # 715-513-9515

• Merrill (SD12) –
We Are Wisconsin, 1018 ½ E. Main
Office Phone # 715-513-9515
Northwestern Wisconsin Region
• Hudson (SD10)
901 4th Street, #101
Saturday – 10am and 1pm
Sunday – 12Noon

• River Falls (SD10)
111 West Walnut St.
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon, 2pm and 4pm

• Menomonie (SD10)
105 N. 21st Street
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon, 2pm, and 4pm

Central Wisconsin
• Baraboo (SD14)
We Are Wisconsin Office, 215 8th Ave
Saturday – 10am and 1pm
Sunday – 1pm

• Ripon (SD14) - Office
311 Watson Ave
Saturday – 10am and 1pm
Sunday – 1pm

• Fond du Lac (SD18)
Winnebagoland Uniserv, 325 Trowbridge Dr
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 4pm
Office Phone #920-215-1634

• Oshkosh (SD18)
105 Washington Ave
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 4pm
Office Phone #920-215-1634
Milwaukee Region
• Milwaukee (SD8)
We are WI, 6918 W. Brown Deer Road
Saturday – 10-6pm
Sunday – 12Noon – 6pm
Office Phone #414-581-6112

• Milwaukee (SD8)
Milwaukee Area Labor Council, 633 S. Hawley Road
Saturday – 9am-4pm
Office Phone #414-771-7070 x12
Southeastern Wisconsin Region
• Kenosha (SD22)
UAW Local 72, 3615 Washington Rd.
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 3pm

Southwestern Wisconsin Region
• Madison
Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park Street
Saturday – 9:30am – 6pm
Sunday – 11am – 8pm
Office Phone #608-206-9451

• La Crosse (SD32)
423 Jay Street
Saturday – 10am, 1pm and 4pm
Sunday – 12Noon and 3pm

Fiscal Responsibility Railroaded Out Of Town

Remember how Scott Walker was crowing about killing high speed rail in Wisconsin?  He summarily rejected more than $800 million in federal funds which would have built a high speed rail system from Milwaukee to Madison as well as upgraded the line from Chicago to Milwaukee, which would eventually have become part of a greater rail system that spread from coast to coast.

It would have brought thousands of good paying jobs to the state and would have been a great boon to the state's economy.  Walker rejected it outright saying it would have cost tax payers too much money, even though it would have cost no extra money to build and less than $5 million a year to maintain.

But as I had pointed out, Walker's killing off the train was a Pyrrhic victory, to say the least.

Fast forward to this week and we see the Republicans just approved of spending $31.6 million of our tax dollars to fix up the Hiawatha line, and that doesn't even cover the whole bill!  And, just to emphasize the point, this would have been totally covered by the federal funds that Walker said was too expensive:
Wisconsin taxpayers could wind up paying more to keep existing passenger train service from Milwaukee to Chicago than they would have paid to run new high-speed rail service from Milwaukee to Madison, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of state figures.

The Legislature's budget committee voted 12-2 Tuesday to spend $31.6 million in mostly borrowed state money on Amtrak's Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha line, costs that could have been paid largely by an $810 million federal grant that would have extended the Hiawatha to Madison.

But Tuesday's vote doesn't cover all the spending that will be needed to keep running the Hiawatha, a growing service that carried nearly 800,000 passengers last year.

State transportation officials have estimated they would need millions more for locomotives, signals and a new maintenance base, even without expanding service beyond the current seven daily round trips.

And, like the spending approved Tuesday, all or most of those new costs would have been covered by the federal grant spurned by Gov. Scott Walker last year. That's because the Milwaukee-to-Madison service would have operated as an extension of the Hiawatha, as part of a larger plan to connect Chicago to the Twin Cities and other Midwestern destinations with fast, frequent trains.

Taken together, state taxpayers' share of the Hiawatha capital costs that would have been covered by the federal grant could total as much as $99 million, significantly more than the $30 million they would have paid for 20 years of operating costs on the Milwaukee-to-Madison segment, as estimated by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's administration.
The long year of Walker's reign just keeps getting longer and longer and longer. And much more expensive.

Walker, WISGOP Have A Real (WEA) Trust Issue

For several years, Scott Walker has loved to use the unions as his foil.  Whenever he screwed something up, he'd blame the unions.  Whenever he wanted to do something, no matter how foul or unethical, he'd say he had to because of the unions.

About the only thing he hasn't blamed the unions for is his ever-growing bald spot. And for all I know, he has done that, but only privately.

When he came out with his flagrantly unethical union busting bill, he said that it would give local governments the "tools" to balance their budgets despite his slashing their shared revenue from the state to draconian levels.  Walker, of course, said that these "tools" were needed because of the, you guessed it, the unions.

One of his, and in turn, WISGOP's, favorite targets was WEA Trust, the health care system managed by the teachers' union.  His claim, although repeatedly called out as being untrue, was that school systems would save a gazillion million dollars and create eleventy trillion jobs.

But they have begun to develop a real trust issue regarding this (emphasis mine):
Recently, the GOP issued a press release noting how the Marshfield School District had saved $850,000 by dumping the teacher's union insurance plan.

"School districts around Wisconsin are realizing serious cost savings now that they may search for health insurance providers outside of WEA Trust," wrote GOP staffer Katie McCallum. "The trust is a creation of WEAC that held a monopoly on providing over-priced health insurance to districts, formerly protected by collective bargaining agreements."

The only problem? Marshfield didn't dump the teacher's union insurance. It had actually switched to the WEA Trust plan from Security Health Plan, a private provider.
Walker had gotten so used to the kid gloves used by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and talk radio that he forgot there are really reporters in the state yet. People are onto his and WISGOP's way of lying, manipulating and unethical behaviors.

He also misjudged how angry the people would get as he and his cronies lied to us, about us and tried to take away everything we hold dear. It's gotten so bad that now that most people feel that he is doing a bad job and he is polling worse than Jim Doyle ever did.

In other words, things like their false attacks on WEA Trust has only pointed out to the people that it is Walker and WISGOP who cannot be trusted.

Perhaps Walker and company would benefit from a refresher course on the REAL facts about public sector workers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Luther Olson vs. Poy Sippi Elementary School

From Bold Progressives:

Bonus points if you know where Poy Sippi is without looking it up on teh Google or a map.

Previously: Clark's got the momentum on his side.

It's All the Unions' Fault! Part IV (A) - M & I Edition: The Sequel*

Last night I wrote about the hypocrisy of people like Scott Walker blaming the unions for our economic woes while his supporters at M&I Bank were walking away with tens of millions of our tax dollars and without paying off the TARP money they took to supposedly help keep the economy afloat.

Today, the news broke about how their theft is really going to "help" the working people of the state:
About 475 employees, including 100 in the Milwaukee area, will lose their jobs in the wake of the acquisition of Marshall & Ilsley Corp. by the parent company of Harris Bank.

The job reductions will occur over the next four months, Jim Kappel, a spokesman for BMO Harris Bank, said Wednesday.

The M&I and Harris brand names will become BMO Harris when Toronto-based BMO Financial Group completes the integration of the two banks in about 18 months.

Kappel said close to half of the 100 people losing jobs in the Milwaukee area are expected to be offered jobs with one of BMO's vendors. The jobs are mostly in security and human resources.

Milwaukee-based M&I had about 4,300 employees in southeastern Wisconsin at the time the $4.1 billion acquisition proposal was announced last December. The transaction closed on July 5.

The other job reductions will take place across BMO's entire Midwest territory, and about 75 are related to the closing of 13 branches, including one in Wisconsin. BMO said those branch closings aren't a direct result of the merger, but had been planned by M&I and Harris before the acquisition.
Yuppers, it's the unions' faulth, right Scotty?

*Alternative title: Walker's Budget's Already At Work: Part Whatever

Barca On The Fitzmandering By The GOP

Representative Peter Barca has a post on Daily Kos regarding the gerrymandering ways of the GOP and why they're doing it:
Last night, in a surprising move, Republicans in the Senate joined with Democrats to pass legislation to capture $89 million in federal unemployment benefits for more than 10,000 Wisconsin workers and remove the one-week waiting period before receiving benefits that Gov. Walker “applauded” them for requiring.

Many of my colleagues expressed hope that the Republicans had finally seen the light and were now willing to stand with us to end these partisan games and get back to creating jobs and standing up for Wisconsin families.

Instead all we got was more of the same old Fitzwalkerstan political theater that has caused 65% of Wisconsinites to believe their state government is run for a few big, special interests rather than being run for them.

By voting to extend unemployment benefits, but also voting to require a one-week waiting period, Republicans are playing a dangerous, political game where Wisconsin job seekers and their families are the victims. The pair of votes allowed them to appear to help the unemployed, while the actual result was at best forcing a waiting period before benefits begin while also delaying, and perhaps at worst killing, the extension of the benefits by 13 weeks for struggling Wisconsin families.

Essentially, the Fitzgerald brothers have worked to ensure that Senate Republicans, many of whom who facing tough recall elections, get a fake vote in support of the middle-class while also giving Governor Walker political cover by not forcing him to veto the bill.

RIP John McCullough

John McCullough, a long time anchor at WTMJ-TV passed away today:

John McCullough, who anchored WTMJ-TV newscasts over three decades, died Wednesday evening at a hospital near his home in South Bend, Ind.

McCullough was 77.

From 1967 to 1988, McCullough was the premiere anchor in the Milwaukee market.

McCullough brought major national and world stories home to Milwaukee, reporting from political conventions, presidential inaugurations and a papal visit.

I remember watching McCullough as a young man, along with Melodie Wilson. That was when Journal Broadcasting actually reported the news and maintained a certain level of integrity.

Sigh. I miss those days.

It's All the Unions' Fault! Part IV - M & I Edition

We all know the drill.

According to Scott Walker and his Republican allies, the state is broke and it's all because of those lousy union workers.  Except that we know better.

I wonder how Walker and company would explain this then:
Mark Furlong, who was president and chief executive officer of M&I and will continue in those roles at BMO Harris Bank, BMO's U.S. banking division, got $18 million when the acquisition was finalized and will be paid $6 million more a year from now, if he stays on.

Sixteen other executives, most of whom also are continuing with BMO Harris, will get a total of nearly $47 million in cash but will have to wait to get their money until they leave or their jobs end.

In addition, the entire executive team, including Furlong, will be able to cash in stock options that had not yet reached maturity, with a total value of $24 million.
That makes the payout package worth $95 million.

David Milstead, a columnist for The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto called the amount "generous" by both U.S. and Canadian standards.
Remember, it was M&I who received $1.7 billion in TARP funding, but only paid a relatively measly $25 million back until they were bought out by a Canadian bank, who ended up paying the balance.

In other words, the handful of bank executives who failed to keep their bank above water get to walk away with $95 million of our tax dollars, but it's the  person making $15 an hour to keep up the parks or the person getting $12 an hour to mop the floors of the Capitol building which is bankrupting the state.

If that doesn't make any sense to you either, remember that it was these same bank executives that threw money hand over fist into Walker's campaign.

In Fitzwalkerstan, the truth doesn't matter.  With enough graft, the truth can become whatever Walker and his supporters want it to be.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dems Keep Seat, Gain Big Mo

As was predictable, Dave Hansen went on today to win the first recall by trouncing the troubled David Vanderleest (or is it now Vanderlost?) to retain his seat.

But since Vanderleest did just about everything he could to shoot his campaign in the foot, the trouncing may or may not indicate much as far as whether the people of Wisconsin have retained the momentum that the overreaching and overbearing Republicans sparked in February.

I pointed out last night that things I observed up north in the Fred Clark vs. Luther Olson race, the signs showed a bit of an enthusiasm gap which was heavily in the Democrats' favor.

Tuesday's elections showed that even more clearly and undeniably.  In temperatures in the 90s and heat indices that were approaching 100, Green Bay voters turned out in droves to support Hansen, with estimates at 51% voter turnout.  Meanwhile, in Kenosha County, in a Republican primary to see who will lose to Senator Robert Wirch, the Republicans could barely scrounge up 10,000 voters or about 5% voter turnout.

That disparity in turn out shows, without any doubt, who has the momentum going into the August recalls.  The Republicans are either burnt out on politics or more likely, are also turned off by the poor behavior and illegal and unconstitutional power grabbing.

Yet the Republicans in Madison just keep doubling down on their boorish ways as they now go against state law and basic ethics in their drive to further screw with the electoral system with their gerrymandering.

Sometimes A Picture Is Worth More Than A Thousand Words

Today, Tuesday, July 19 is the second round of recall votes, in which the Republicans do their favorite tit-for-tat ploy and go after the three Democrats they were able to finagle enough signatures for.

In Green Bay, the incumbent Dave Hansen is defending his seat against the Republican challenger David Vanderleest, who basically won the chance by default when the favored Republican, John Nygren, couldn't even scrounge up 400 signatures to get on the ballot.

Vanderleest is not the Republicans' knight in shining armor though, given his long legal history which included allegations of domestic violence, tax evasion, child abuse and drug-related charges.

Besides all of his legal troubles, Vanderleest has been an embarrassment to himself and to the Republicans with his poorly worded and rather paranoid-sounding press releases.  The most recent one is accusing the Democrats, Hansen's campaign, bloggers, the unions, and other groups of conspiring against him and doing other dirty politicking. He has gone to say he's going to sue them all (and their little dog too!) and that they under an investigation by the Department of Justice.

The DOJ has come out to say that he is being a bit premature with his statements regarding any investigation and that they just received a two-page complaint which was described thus:
The two-page complaint offers no evidence of coordinated activity other than a statement that it is “evident that these groups are working together, pooling resources, staff, and coordinating their efforts.”
As for the lawsuits, Vanderleest's attorney might want to calm him down and warn his cliet before he gets SLAPPed himself.

Things have gotten so bad that even conservative pundits have written him off as a lost cause.

But not all Republicans have written off Vanderleest yet.  There's still at least one who likes this violent, law-breaking, delusional character. And there's photographic evidence of their chumminess:

Rather fitting, don't you think?

Not Just Another Weekend Up North

As most of my readers know, I have a trailer up in central Wisconsin where I like to go to unwind and recharge my batteries, so to speak.

The past two trips up have proven to be anything but relaxing, unfortunately.

Last month, I had to contend with a busted water pump, a septic tank inspection and a broken rib to name just a few of the "highlights" of that trip.

This past weekend, while neither as costly or as painful, also proved to be interesting.

As I was mowing the lawn (cutting the hay would be a more accurate term), I saw some neighbors who said that there was a rally that evening for Fred Clark.  They asked me to go along and I said sure.  They told me that Steve Kagen and "some woman" would also be there to speak.

When we arrived, the first person I saw was the "some woman," who turned out to be Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.  Since people were first arriving, I had a chance to chat with her for a few minutes.  I was quite impressed with her vision and her ability to explain it so there was no enigma or falseness, unlike Walker and his delusional belief that people will just get up one day and decide to drink the Kool-Aid of his economically suicidal budget.

Tammy did tell me that she has her organization ready to run a state wide campaign for US Senate to fill the retiring Herb Kohl's seat, but was also waiting to see what Russ Feingold might do.  I told her to stay in it regardless and that I thought she would do better than she might realize.

Fred Clark and Tammy Baldwin having a chat
 After doing some people watching and chatting with some of Clark's campaign staff, I wandered around the hall.  They had a phone banking volunteer schedule for all the way up to the August 9 recall election which was much fuller than I would have anticipated for a predominately Republican county.  It was nearly full!

When Fred Clark arrived, the entire hall broke out in ovation and they cheered him like a rock star coming on stage.

Steve Kagen getting the crowd fired up.
When the rally started, Steve Kagen started to get the crowd going by pointing out that Dems can win
in Waupaca County, as he had done.

Tammy Baldwin spoke next and told us how people in Washington were expressing sympathy for what the citizens in Wisconsin were going through and pointing out that the nation's eyes were upon us.  If we fail, they fear that the rest of the country could become a collection of corporate run states.

Fred then spoke and told the crowd how much he appreciated their support and assured us that as a farmer, a forester and a businessman, he does know how things work and what is important to the people in the area.  He added that those things held dear to the people did not include taking away rights or selling out to special interests.

On a side note, while I know the adage of how yard signs don't vote, there was a definite disparity in the number of Clark signs over those of his opponent, Luther Olson.   Where I saw scores of Clark signs, homemade and printed, small and large, I only saw four Olson signs. Three small ones in two yards and mid-sized one in an empty field, mostly obscured by the tall grass.

Between the signs, the crowd and the volunteer list, it is easy to see that there is an major enthusiasm gap going on up there. And it's quite understandably so.  Olson is unpopular with the Democrats and Independents for going along with what he even described as radical plan, taking people's rights, slashing funding to the schools and threatening the local economy by taking so much money out of circulation and into the hands of a few already super rich folks.  He is also in trouble with many of the Republicans because he was a staunch advocate for ethanol, seeing on how is family benefited a great deal from the higher cost of corn.

On the TV, Wisconsin Club for (Koch's bank account's) Growth is running a localized version of the ad they are running against Sandy Pasch and presumably all the other Democrats. Meanwhile, WeAreWisconsinPAC is running this hard hitting ad:

There are debates scheduled for the next three evenings in a row. If Saturday was any indication, I'd expect Clark to win those handily, like he should on August 9.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Milwaukee County's Redistricting Rhubarb

Want to save money during the redistricting process and not cut services?  Well, then increase the size of the county board!


The explanation is at Milwaukee County First.

Dancing With Sharks

Awesome video.  Which gets even better around the two minute mark.

The Walker Budget Is Already Working! Part V

Just barely two weeks old, and Scott Walker's budget and union-busting law is already hard at work!

From BizTimesDaily:
New applications for unemployment benefits fell nationally last week to the lowest level in three months, but rose in Wisconsin.

National initial claims for benefits dropped 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 405,000 in the week ended July 9, the U.S. Labor Department said today. That’s the lowest amount of new applications since mid-April.

The decline in last week’s claims would have been even steeper if not for a government shutdown in Minnesota triggered by a budget standoff. Minnesota said 11,500 state workers filed applications for jobless benefits last week.

In most years, jobless claims tend to rise in July as many U.S. manufacturers shutter plants to retool them for new products such as the latest auto models.

In Wisconsin, initial claims for unemployment surged last week to 13,547, up from 11,973 in the previous week, according to the state Department of Workforce Development.
So now we have even more people on an already overburdened unemployment compensation system and a Republican government that wants to delay and limit these benefits.  This means less money going to local businesses, forcing them to either close or lay off their workers, further exasperating the situation.  Add to that the greatly decreased spending power of public employees and you have an economy headed for a tailspin.

But the right wingers will tell you this is a good thing because they saved a whole 40 cents on their property tax, even as their neighbors are being foreclosed on.  Is it any wonder why they are losing popularity at breakneck speed?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What? Fascism And Overreach Aren't Popular? Paint Scott Walker's Face Red!

Another poll came out today, taking a snapshot of Wisconsinites attitudes towards how things are going in our once and future great state.  Unsurprisingly, more and more people are taking a dim view of Scott Walker's and WISGOP's totalitarian ways, including, but not limited to: taking away our rights, giving away massive tax breaks and other gifts to the super rich while raising our taxes and fees and cutting our services likes schools, ignoring the will of the people, and selling our state's assets, including the workforce, to the highest bidder, just to name a few.

Here are some highlights that the pollsters found:
  • The most recent UW Badger Poll finds that a majority of Wisconsinites are not happy with current state of affairs in the Badger state.
  • 55% are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the state today, a new high for the UW Badger Poll.
  • 81% said Wisconsin is in bad times economically and 50% expect it will be in about the same economic condition in the next 12 months, while 20% said things will get worse.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Wisconsinites feel that state government is run for the benefit of a few big interests over that of all the people and can only be trusted to do the right thing some of the time.
  • 59% disapprove of the way Scott Walker is handling his job as Governor.
  • 60% disapprove of the way the State Legislature is handling its job.
  •  56% disapprove of the job Republicans in the State Legislature are doing.
  •  48% disapprove of the job Democrats in the State Legislature are doing.
  • Wisconsinites overwhelming think the recall option in the state constitution is a good thing (78%), and 50% said the current recalls of state senators made them feel better about Wisconsin politics.
  • 59% of residents statewide preferred that the Democratic state senators remain in office rather than be recalled and 49% said the same of the Republican state senators.
A few other numbers to note is that Walker has lost both men and women at an equal pace with a 59% disapproval with both genders.

And while the overall numbers show Walker receiving a 59% disapproval rating, with likely voters the number shoots up to 65%.

Walker has also manage to alienate almost two thirds of the all important Independent voters.

But the worst news for Walker and his GOP leggie allies isn't contained in that poll.  The worst news for him is the fact that the worst of his budget hasn't even been felt by the people of the state.  Wait until mid to late August when all of his cuts are truly felt, whether it be the loss of decent education because the kids are crammed into classrooms with outdated material, or the economy starts to tank and more and more people get laid off because he took so much cash out of circulation.

Walker's overall approval is already a point lower than Jim Doyle's lowest point.  By the time the recalls kick in in November, the full impact of his budget will be felt, Walker's approval will probably be in the 20s.  I hope the organizers are going to have enough petitions printed and the election commission buys a warehouse to hold all of them when they're signed.

Drinking Liberally: July Rendition

On Monday, July 18, will be the one and only true gathering of Milwaukee area liberals and progressives. From our gracious host, Zach Wisniewski:
Greetings one and all!

Once again the time has come for us to gather, eat, drink (of course) and talk politics. There's a lot going on right now in Wisconsin, and I hope you all will join us to discuss the recall elections, the start of the 2012 presidential race, and more importantly, how we all can get involved to make a difference.

Though we've been fortunate to have been joined by a bevy of special guests over the past few months, we will not be joined by a special guest this month, but I hope to see many of you join us on Monday, because I consider all of you to be special guests.

Here's the details:

When: Monday, July 18th from 7:00 p.m. to whenever
Where: Transfer Pizzeria & Cafe, 101 W. Mitchell Street, Milwaukee, WI

I hope to see you on Monday!

Zach & the rest of the Milwaukee Drinking Liberally crew

Isn't it nice that a rock star like Zach is so humble?!

I'm planning on being there repping Milwaukee County First. So come on down! See you there!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Disgust Of Gerrymandering Plan Is Bipartisan

When WISGOP came out with their plan that for redistricting, which can only be described as unethical gerrymandering , the Democrats, of course, called foul and raised a stink about it, as any right-minded, moral person would.

But when you have both Republicans and Democrats from one region decrying the WISGOP plan to tear their region asunder, you know they made a grave and serious error which will haunt them for years to come:
From Central Wisconsin Broadcasting: "There's something called 'integrity.' Things should be done properly," laments Bill Elmhorst, Vice Chairman of the Clark Co. Republican Party. "I would say it's unethical...They've now created a district in the 7th that is about 300 miles long and in the 3rd district, they're going all the way from Portage County, which is east central, all the way to the southwestern corner of the state...I would say it's unacceptable." Elmhorst continues in the article, saying that he's spoken with other local party members who agree with him.

"I've said many times that for us here in Portage County, this isn't about party. It's about keeping our communities in Central Wisconsin together," said Laura Hauser-Menting, Co-Chair of the Portage County Democrats. "Mr. Elmhorst is doing a gutsy thing by speaking out against his party's leaders, and I commend him for his courage. In this age of increasing polarization, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to agree with my local counterparts in the Republican Party about an issue as important as redistricting."

Elmhorst's statement comes after Chippewa County Republicans -- who see their county split by the plan -- also expressed opposition to the new map (article below). The Chippewa County split is in addition to other changes made in the Ryan-Duffy map that creates a Y-shaped 3rd District by extending a finger up through Adams County to snatch out Democratic-leaning Portage County and Wisconsin Rapids from the 7th. For the past 100 years, Marathon, Wood, and Portage Counties have been united in one congressional district because of their strong cultural and economic ties.
The GOP, in their undeserved arrogance, have forgotten that for many people, family and community comes before politics. When something is attacking their community, people will join together, despite their differences. Add to this that they've alienated many of their other traditional supporters, it's not surprise that their poll numbers are so low and dropping like a rock.

And special kudos and esteem for Vice-Chairman Elmhorst. It does take a rare courage to stand up to such a vindictive, power-hungry bunch as we see the current GOP regime. He's one Republican whose hand I would be glad to shake.

Solidarity Floats

A couple of weeks ago, the local paper, in an ongoing series of attacking public sector workers, pointed out a story in which the Racine firefighters union chose not to expend its limited resources for a non-union float, even though said float was originally designed to honor the victims of 9/11.  It's not that they were opposed to it, but they felt that they could spend their time, money and manpower more effectively on other things.

As one might suspect, the usual suspects, right wing radio squawkers and their echo chambers, chose not to present the situation honestly but rather to conflate it to try to make it look like the unions were against the 9/11 victims and thus against America. Then again, honesty has never been a friend of the right, especially for radio squawkers.

As one might imagine, the float did just fine as people gathered in support, either to genuinely honor the victims, or to take advantage of the publicity to promote their own event or their image.  

Ironically, one of the people that came out to "support" the float was Vicki "Wolf on back, snake on chest" McKenna, nee Pyzynski.  This is the same woman who took to calling the firefighters thugs, despite their hero status, just because they simply opposed the Republicans' abuse of office and unilateral stripping people of their rights.

But how do the victims of 9/11 fell about this whole thing?  Are they mad at the unions for dissing them? Do they feel that the unions were wrong for standing up for their civil rights like that?

Apparently not, according to this news story:

Did you notice that the firefighter highlighted in the clip, claimed to be a Republican? Did you catch when he said that the GOP's attack on the working classed superseded politics or the union/anti-union debate?

So why are right wingers like Charlies Sykes so anxious to make this such a big deal? The answer is simple. They know that they are, once again, on the wrong side of history. So they conflate and exaggerate a non-story in an effort to distract the public from what's really going on.

And thus they make themselves truly the ones that are disrespecting those they pretend to defend.

Cross posted at Whallah!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hopper - Out Of Touch With The People

The second ad against Randy Randy "Bed" Hopper came across my mailbox tonight:

But I do have one criticism.

The ad ends with the slogan of "Send Hopper Home," but do we even know where that is for him?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Remember Your Goal When You Get To The Poll: Democratic Primary Rhymes

Rhyming has always proven to be an effective mnemonic device, and in that light, Joanne Staudacher, part June Cleaver and part meat cleaver, prepared this helpful reminder to avoid voting for the fake Democrat in Tuesday's primary on her Facebook page and republished her at her request:
Concerned that your family and friends may be confused about how to vote in the Democratic primaries tomorrow, especially with reports of automated phone calls giving false information? This note is visible to everyone, so please share/link it widely today and tomorrow! These rhymes endorse the real Democratic candidates.

District 18 - Jessica King is the real thing!

District 14 - Democrats: It's a walk in the park if you pick Fred Clark!

District 10 - Democrats adore Shelly Moore!

District 32 - Democrats: It would be thrilling if you pick Jen Shilling!

District 8 - In the district eight clash, pick Sandy Pasch!

District 2 - The Democrats fancy for you to pick Nancy! Vote Nusbaum!

Just Who Paid For Paul Ryan's Wine?

We all know the story of how Paul Ryan and a couple of right wing friends went out to enjoy $700 of wine as they celebrated cutting people off of Medicaid.

But whose money was spent on this wine?

According to news stories, Ryan put one of the bottles on his credit card, so his defenders say he paid for it.

But hold on a minute.

 It is these very same people who accused me of spending "their" money on things they didn't approve of, like my membership to the union or to the political arm of the union.  In their hate-filled minds, the fact that I'm a public employee and paid with tax dollars means that they can dictate what I do with my money.

Well, guess what - Paul Ryan is also a public employee and gets paid with tax dollars (as well as a lot of lobbyist cash and kickbacks, I'm sure).  That means his money is ours and instead of spending it on overpriced grape juice, he should use it to restore some of the damage he's done in his years in Washington.

Koch Operative Pretold Their Prosser Tactics

While researching the Koch sock puppet piece, I was referred to this article with some telling projection in it:
On an estimated more than 10,000 ballots in Dane County, Wisconsin, where the state capital Madison is, voters selected only a pick in the Supreme Court race, while leaving even the hotly contested mayoral and county executive choices blank. That raises red flags for election experts like Scott St. Clair of the Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“This is the state that wrote the book on squeaker elections,” St. Clair told The Daily Caller. “I wouldn’t put it past somebody in Wisconsin to be selectively revealing ballots or conveniently finding ballots because this is the kind of stuff we’ve seen in the past before. I think it’s also important to note that Wisconsin and Illinois are neighbors and how they vote in Chicago doesn’t necessarily stop at the state line.”
Sure enough, there was all sorts of shenanigans and during politicking, but just not the way St. Clair predicted. It was all on Prosser's side.

And should we even bother wondering who funds this Freedom Foundation?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lady Of The Monarchs Now A Cover Girl

My dear friend, Barb Agnew, head of the Monarch Trail and wise in all things buggy, has made it to the big time.

She is this month's cover girl for the magazine Country Woman, and there is a nice article about her work to preserve what she could of the Monarch Trail in the face of ruthless land developers.

I am proud to know so many heroes and it does my heart good to see them get the recognition they deserve.

Congratulations to Barb!

The Koch Brother Sock Puppet Show Hits The Road Again

In the spring, with the help of a reader, I was able to show you how the Koch brothers used their heavy hands and poured money into the Wisconsin Supreme Court race through their various front groups.  The Koch-purchased David Prosser paid off in spades almost immediately by ignoring the laws of the land and rubber stamping Scott Walker's union-busting bill without hesitation or thought.

With the help of several friends and allies, we now find that the Koch Brothers Sock Puppet Show is on the road again, this time interfering with the recall elections.

Greg Sargent tripped the whole thing with this article showing that John Buckstaff, the fake Democrat in the race is actually a Republican backer and has donated money to Randy Randy "Bed" Hopper.  Furthermore, Sargent tells us that a flyer that they've been distributing telling people to vote for Buckstaff is aimed at getting Republican voters to cross over in the primary and shut the real Democrat, Jessica King, out of the race immediately.

Also remarkable about Sargent's findings is that the flyer is paid for by a group called "Patriot Advisors."

And this is where we go into the same sordid incestuous intermingling that the Koch Brothers are known for.

Patriot Advisors is headed up by Tim Dunn and Denis Calabrese.

Calabrese, the former Chief of Staff for Dick Armey, is also on the director of the Sam Adams Alliance, yet another Koch Brother front group and money chute. This Sam Adams Alliance also funnels the Koch dollars to other groups like Americans For Prosperity and the Franklin Center for Public and Government Integrity*.

The sharp-eyed reader might have already noticed, but it was the Franklin Center which is quoted in the anti-King flyer.

Just to be clear, the Sam Adams Alliance, Patriot Advisors and Franklin Center are all Koch-funded groups with incestuous ties to each other. One of them is using the other to justify voting for the fake Democrat instead of trying to defend the Republican and his boorish behavior or facing the consequences for his actions.

Or in other words, the sock puppet on the Kochs' right and hand makes some statement, regardless of the whether it's true, half-true or a bold faced lie, and then they have the sock puppet on the left hand repeat the lie in order to reinforce it and give it false credibility.

And I'm sure this scenario is being played out in the other races as well.

And this is exactly why the "get out to vote" over the next few days is so important. We can't let the Koch Brothers continue to screw with our elections. And despite their money and their deceitful practices, we have three things they will never have.  We have the boots on the ground of true Wisconsinites. we have the truth and we have the strong desire to defend our homes from the corporate overlords and their malevolent ways.

As a reminder, here is the list of who's who in the primaries, including the Koch funded phonies.

*To show you the irony of the name of Franklin Center for Public and Government Integrity, look at their most recent hire, Kevin Binversie, who likes to slander people, even the disabled, and makes decisions based on the whims of twenty-something year olds.  Perhaps they should look up the definition of integrity before they start demanding it of others.

...And Starring Gerry Manders As The Weasel

Late on Friday afternoon, when politicians typically release news that they know will be unpopular and/or make them look bad, the Republicans announced their redistricting gerrymandering.  It is just yet another example of their overreach.  It is also a tell that they know damn good and well that their agenda is extremely unpopular and bad for the state, so they are doing everything they can to make sure the will of the people are thwarted so that they may keep power in order to form a more perfect oligarchy.

Methinks that they will find that the more they overreach and power grab, the bigger the flashback will be against them.

The Republicans did this with the help of a high-cost private law firm and in complete secrecy.  They did not once consult with the Democrats or with local officials.  They will find that this will bite them in the rear as well, and it is my understanding that at least one law suit has been already filed.

Among the first reactions is that the Republicans have shown that they have no faith in the starving reality star, Sean Duffy, being able to win another election unless he is well protected.  To do so, they've cut out three counties, despite 100 years of tradition of them being in the same district of the far northeast.  By doing this, the Republicans have succeeded in alienating and disenfranchising all the voters in those counties, who rely on Wausau for their TV news.

On a state government level, they Republicans have managed to do their redistricting gerrymandering to almost all of the Democrats involved with the various recalls, either by making those districts much more conservative or by cutting them out, even if by only half a block.

If you want to see what they are doing to your representation, you can find it in these maps.

On a personal level, they would change both my state representative and state senator.

If this is passed as is, my state rep would be first (and last) termer Mike Kuglitsch, whose claim to fame appears to be the successful owner of a glorified bowling alley/banquet hall in the New Berlin industrial park and puppet for the GOP agenda.

Even more exciting, my new senator would be Mary Lazich, known as being one of the worst legislators in the state, as ranked by her peers, who's claim to fame is utter stupidity and a really, really, really bad taste in legislative aides.

A Rare Gem

Since I started blogging, I've had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people, from all walks of life and from all over the political spectrum.

I won't go into name dropping, since that's not what this post is about and not something I care to do.

But sometimes you meet someone that just really stands out for whatever reasons.

I've had that chance this past Thursday.

I had the opportunity to spend a few hours over coffee and good conversation with Lisa Mux, author of Waukesha Wonk (a new blogroll addition).

Lisa is a beautiful and charming young lady who comes from a family of politically savvy people. But it was neither her beauty, her charm, her enthusiasm or her well-versed knowledge of Wisconsin politics and bloggers that made her stand out to me, although they made three hours seem like three minutes.

It wasn't even the fact that she is one of the rarest of all demographics, a liberal in Waukesha County who isn't afraid to speak out against the overwhelming numbers of the fanatical and fatalistic believers of right wing politics, which made her so astonishing.

Lisa's most amazing gift, in my humble opinion, is her impeccable judgement of character.

Keep your eye on her. She's going places, I can tell these things.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Ye Olde Tip Jar

On the sidebar to the right, you will see that I have added a Pay Pal donation button.

It was a move that people have been encouraging me to take for months, but one which I have been loathe to make.

Sadly, reality has had other things in mind. 

Because the Freedom of Speech isn't free after all and because it has been decided that I really don't need twenty percent of my pay (because there are starving millionaires out there that need that money more than my family) or my rights, things are getting pretty difficult to maintain around here.  Add to that that this old computer that I'm banging away on is getting awfully long in the circuit board and I would like to eventually set up this blog as a stand alone site, among the other mundane factors of life, well, it became all too obvious something's got to give.

Hopefully that will be you, gentle reader.

So if you're a progressive and appreciate the information and entertainment I provide, hopefully you'll be able to find some spare money to help me out.

Likewise, if you're a conservative, you could donate and give me gas money to go up north more often and away from the keyboards.

Or for either side, any money you give could keep me from resorting to a second job as a Chippendale dancer, something the entire world would thank you for.

And if someone would happen to know George Soros, since the right wing is always mewling about how he throws his money to liberal causes, maybe you could point this out to him too.

Thank you in advance for any help you could give.

Ryan's Wine Stains

Ryan and friends wining and dining.*
TPM is reporting that Congressdweep Paul Ryan was recently seen wining and dining with a couple of "economists" (or more likely lobbyists) at a swanky DC eatery.  This in itself isn't a problem for me.

The outrage came from the fact that these three moneybags swilled down two $350 bottles of wine during the time, even as Ryan is trying to cut Grandma and Grandpa off the public dole to which they have paid their whole working life.

Not only that, but how can Ryan squander that much money when there are reality television stars starving to death out there?!

* Photo courtesy of TPM

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Senator Darling: You've Failed Us!

I'm damn glad to see this as for two reasons:

One, it's about time they counter the false Wisconsin Club for Growth of Koch's Bank Account's false accusations on who's really to blame.

Two, that's one of my little #wiunion sisters in there. Way to go, Kati!

Walker's Union Busting Taking Economic Toll Already

Just call me Nostrodamus.

In a rant about the negative impact that Scott Walker's union busting would have on the economy, I had written:
The people that get hurt by this are the owners and employees of the small stores, restaurants and taverns, since those are the areas people first cut in their personal budgets. Then bigger companies will feel the pinch, like cable companies, as people realize that they'll need to cut back on luxuries. Also, big ticket purchases will drop, which will lead to things like more real estate problems and less cars being sold. And you know the companies aren't going to allow a hit to their profit margins, so that means they raise rates and/or lay off workers.

The estimates of people in the private sector that are going to lose their jobs just from this one bill is continuously being added to, but the latest I've seen is 31,000 people around the state will lose their jobs because of this decrease in flow of money. To be honest, even that number seems low to me.
Lo and behold, I was proven correct as usual as the first casualties of Walkernomics are being reported:
Kathy Spada said the opportunity with Kocourek was the main reason for closing, but that the economy had also affected business. When asked if the opening of Olive Garden in Rib Mountain affected business, she said any new restaurant can take a “piece of the pie.”

“The economy has made it tough for everyone,” she said.
And this is only the beginning, folks. It's about to get a whole lot worse.

This Is The Republicans' Best?

In the usual game of tit-for-tat that the Republicans love to play, they tried to match the Democrats by starting their own recall campaigns against eight Democratic senators.

But they could not meet the Democrats intensity and only managed to get three recalls mounted.  To make matters even more laughable, they apparently can't find a worthwhile candidate. In Green Bay, their "real" candidate, John Nygren, couldn't even find enough people to sign his petition to get on the ballot.

That leaves the Republicans with their fake candidate, David Vanderleest, to go up against the incumbent, Senator Dave Hansen.  Except, Vanderleest has a criminal history that makes him the least likely to win.  And the left is not going to let the voters forget it, as this ad shows:

Is it any wonder why the Republicans are throwing any piece of dirt or mud they can find? They have nothing else to go with anymore.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Kaukauna Lie Gains National Attention

On Monday, I pointed out an article by Jake in which he dissected Scott Walker's lie about the Kaukauna School District.

The story apparently has gotten the attention of Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, who skewers Walker yet again.

I'd say that young Jake has a reason to crow. Job well done, my friend. Job well done.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Takes Up Writing Creative Fiction

When Patrick McIlheran completed the ultimate hypocrisy of leaving the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to become a part of the big government bureaucracy he spent years raling against, I thought that might be the end of the paper's venture into producing creative fiction.

Wow! I could never have been any more wrong!

Their county reporter, Steve Schultze, teams up with some county officials and does quite the admirable job of picking up where PaddyMac left off. His article is such a convoluted mess of opinion, unexplained facts, half-truths and unchallenged lies, it boggles the mind and makes one wonder where to even start addressing such a miasma of misinformation. It's enough to make C. S. Lewis jealous.

Schultze starts out with saying that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele (pronounced: Walker Lite) hasn't ruled out pay cuts or lay offs to balance a $51 million deficit.  But nowhere does he say when this deficit was discovered, if it's actual or merely projected, or what caused this alleged deficit. Considering this is the first time it's being mentioned, a little background would be nice. Journalistic even.

Then Schultze forgets he's a reporter and gives us an op-ed paragraph:
The new state law, which took effect Wednesday, paves the way for changes that in the past would have been difficult if not impossible to achieve. The county's largest union, District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, made an unsuccessful 11th-hour push to get a new contract before the legal cloud blocking implementation of the bargaining measure was lifted.
Schultze forgets to mention a few things with that opinion. Things such as:
Schultze then delves into the various things that Walker's bill will allow the county to do to protect the special interests, with a surprising accuracy, but then mentions the furloughs.  What he doesn't mention about the furloughs is that they have been found to be illegal and that the county needed to cease and desist immediately and reimburse the employees with back pay for the disallowed forced time off without pay.  Nor does he mention that this finding was sustained when the County went back to WERC to appeal the ruling.

Schultze then brings Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo into this land of make-believe and quotes him as saying:
Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo, the chairman of the County Board's Personnel Committee, said he didn't expect the state law to usher in drastic changes for workers, though he acknowledged workers view the pension and health care payments as significant.
A twenty percent cut in pay is not significant? Would someone let Sanfelippo know that we don't all own taxi cab companies for which we can vote an increase in taxi funding for every time things get a little tight.

Schultze then starts talking about the possibility of privatization. He specifically mentions the security guards being privatized. Brilliant move there by Abele and company. After all, it worked so well last time they tried it, with the less than zero savings and the convicts the private agency hired.

What Schultze doesn't mention is that Abele and company are also looking at privatizing the entire Child Support Enforcement program. This won't help much, considering that child support enforcement actually brings in more money for the county tax payers than it uses, giving the county to support other programs or help pay off some of the debt. Now that extra money will be going to some CEO or board as profit instead of giving the tax payers some relief.

To round off this fiction comes Chairman Lee Holloway with this line:
County Board Chairman Lee Holloway sought to reassure employees they'll be treated fairly without union contracts. He said he wants to appoint a special committee that includes workers to review county work rules to see what changes might be needed. Holloway also wants the rules to apply to all workers. Under the previous system, unions sometimes had different rules than nonunion employees.

"I won't let anybody beat up on union people," Holloway said.
Do I really have to point out that Holloway has not voted in the unions favor in years and with the aid of his new pal, Sanfelippo, chose to screw over not only the unions but also the tax payers just a couple of weeks ago?

Having Holloway say that he's going to take care of the workers is probably about as comforting as when he says he's going to take care of his rental properties.

About the only truthful thing in the article comes from Kurt Zunker, president of Local 882, who pointed out that people aren't feeling very safe right now (emphasis mine):
The prospect has demoralized many of those workers, and several hurriedly retired last week, said Kurt Zunker, president of the AFSCME local that represents the guards, as well as parks and highway workers.

"They're panicking," he said. "You get jerked around so many ways, what do you believe anymore?" Many of the guards fear losing their jobs next year, as well as benefits this year, Zunker said.
Indeed, the route Abele is taking will lead him to greater problems than trying to balancing a spreadsheet. Then again, it may be what he wants, considering that he is part of a group that is trying to "blow up" Milwaukee County, or at least put it under state receivership, like they're doing in Michigan.

I think the only group that might be happy with the course of events lately are the trial lawyers as people's rights continue to get trampled on and as people start suffering real harm from the faulty policies the county is taking on.