July 31, 2011
Feeling kind of stupid?
I am as I watch the Congressional circus called the debt ceiling crisis or, a/k/a the farce. Ringling Brothers comes to mind. I think it was P.T. Barnum's famous observation, "A sucker is born every minute." I am feeling more and more like the sucker.
We are supposed to believe that the billionaires are not running this show? There are probably a thousand well-paid lobbyists working the hallways and expensive restaurants on behalf of hedge funds and banks, and they don't know any more than Wolf Blitzer? Nonsense.
I have decided that if we were really on the verge of collapse, the Dow Jones would be in the tank. The predicted collapse of the "market" never happened. The talking heads kept trying to warn us--but big non-event. Somebody knew something!
So, thank you Mr. Immelt of General Electric. Thank you very much. You accepted a presidential appointment to create more manufacturing jobs in America just a few months ago. We all celebrated your willingness to help. Ah, yes, there are some Friends of Obama who will help!
But now we know. "Greed is Good" or if not "good" it trumps public service. GE, the corporation you control, is sending GE's X-ray factory business to China! One billion dollars--gone. Thanks a lot, Jeff Immelt.
Fascinating article in NY Times about A Call to Action. Priests, nuns, parishioners calling on Vatican to permit women priests.
Bernie Sanders was in there slugging away for all of us and on September 17 Fighting Bob Fest will let Bernie know how much we appreciate him as our leader. Don't forget: Fighting Bob Fest is one week later than normal this year--in part to see if that will help get more students involved.
July 30, 2011
Every four or five weeks, I have the pleasure of having lunch while enjoying discussion with Professor Stanley Kutler, described in the NY Times as "a leading Watergate historian." Change "a" to "the" and the Times would have it right.
In any event, Stanley won another victory for all of us yesterday When federal judge Royce Lamberth, in a suit brought by Kutler, ordered the release of Nixon's 1975 grand jury testimony to the public. As only Stanley could sum it up, this is a rare opportunity to hear Nixon "unplugged."
In a peculiar aside, the Obama administration opposes release of the testimony. Good work, Stanley. Good work.
Redistricting in Iowa and California vs. Wisconsin. Wisconsin Democrats tried to persuade the Walker/Fitzgeraldians to adopt a nonpartisan commission to re-draw district lines, but instead of that sensible solution pioneered in Iowa and followed in California, we get Michael, Best on behalf of Walker and Fitzgerald, drawing hyper-partisan lines in Wisconsin with the haste of first responders to a fire, to beat the probable loss of the majority in the Senate following th recall elections.
Make a guess at the cost to the taxpayers for Michael Best fees. Hint: their bill for work during the budget repair bill was more than $300,000. And, get this: MB has been instructed to avoid any discussion with Democrats in the Legislature or members of the public on redistricting.
Your tax dollars at work!
July 29, 2011
Who picks up the pieces?
The discussion in Congress is, to say the least, depressing. The assumption by Tea Party nuts is that we can cut with a meat axe and all will be fine. I can't add much to this discussion--I would rather read your ideas.
Who will pay for increased costs of education, health care, infrastructure? And our soldiers? One estimate of the cost of disability payments comes to us via NYT from Harvard academic Linda Bilmes. She projects a trillion dollars over 40 years for disability compensation to those who fought and were injured in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Who will pay? Or do we stiff 'em? I listened to as much of the debt relief discussion as I could stand, and no one on the House or Senate floor ever said that we should add a trillion dollars to the future costs. No one wanted to screw up projections. But someone will have to pay.
The discussion has been pathetic.
Meanwhile, the fall-out from the voter suppression campaign by Walker (closing DMV offices) has Democrats furious.
Add the "voter suppression" to the Fighting Bob Fest agenda.
We walked through the Alliant Center, the site of Bob Fest X on September 17, and everyone was impressed. Big hall, big anniversary, big tasks ahead of us.
July 28, 2011
They do sleep but apparently take turns
Given the amount of mischief caused by the right-wing nuts, I wondered if they ever went to sleep. They have reports, studies, books and polls flowing from the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, the Bradley Foundation, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Club For Growth, Right-to-Life and even have contracts with universities, such as Florida State and Clemson, where, for a pittance, the universities agree to provide the aura of objectivity to the wing nuts that only scholars from major schools can bring, permit the Koch boys to name their econ faculties and who knows what else. And if you think they are activists in academe, check the lawsuits, briefs and motions from right-wing law groups! Whoa Nelly!
So, given all the activity and after reading Dave Zweifel's great expose of the Franklin Center for "Government and Public Policy" which supports the so-called WisconsinReporter.com, or as called by Dave, the Fox News of print--fair and unbalanced--I conclude that the right wing might sleep but methinks they take turns.
Need more proof of their mischief while we snore? House Republicans are taking advantage of the debt nonsense by curbing environmental rules!They are using the Walker trick of loading policy proposals onto budget bills--thus they seek an end to EPA, an end to regulation of mountain top mining, and an early death to the Clean Water Act.
They are destroying our country. Meanwhile, voter suppression marches on! Photo ID? Baloney. Picture ID? Only from DMV and they are not expanding to help voters. Nope! They are closing offices to save money. Hello MJS? WSJ? You awake out there?
July 27, 2011
Once upon a time...
This is the time to look back and ask, "What went wrong with our fairy tale called 'democracy'?" Or maybe we should pull out the books and look for the seeds of destruction in pre-W.W. II Germany and Italy. Ask again, how could these intelligent well educated people fall for nut balls like Adolph Hitler or Benito Mussolini? Barbara Tuchman's The Distant Mirror would be worth another reading.
I am positive that many of you might be scratching your heads and asking how I could go so far as to think of the end of democracy, but I think it is time to worry.
Let's look at the franchise, the vote, the election of our ruling class. People died for the right to vote long after the Civil War that was all about voting. Move to the '60s: Bob Moses, leading the first voter registration drive in Georgia--pistol-whipped by the sheriff for bringing blacks to register, might have been killed. The Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 but did not end the struggle. One view is that it simply intensified the battle.
How did the fairy tale do in Wisconsin? Well, for over a century things went well. We made it easier and easier to vote. Live in a nursing home? We will bring the ballot to you. Just moved here to attend the UW? No problem--same day registration and no long-term residency required. And there was no fraud, no double voting, no problem, so the enemies of universal franchise had to create a problem so they could remedy the situation. All sorts of wild assertions were reported as if true. Charges of wide-scale fraud, lawsuits filed, demands for investigations--few turned up anything--a clamp-down on the voting booth.
Wisconsin, without warning, was becoming Florida or Ohio! Now read about the Walker administration's incredible closing of DMV offices for voter suppression but calling it efficiency! Why suppression? The god-awful photo ID bill passed in the budget requires an official photo ID. It is expensive, time-consuming, and wrong! But where can I get one? The DMV. Could it be worse? Walker now wants to close lots of DMV offices! I am not kidding.
They provide the money to win elections at the primary stage; then in the general election. If they suppress minorities and elderly they win. Fairy tale is over!
See you at Fighting Bob Fest.
July 26, 2011
Thanks again, Bernie Sanders
Bernie warned during the health care debate that if Obama gave in to the Republican threats on the public option the threats would never end. Was he on target! Can't wait to hear Sanders at Fighting Bob Fest. He needs to hear from us that he is our champion.
Fast forward to "Boehner's Follies" and the Republicans have turned the debt ceiling debate into another threat just as Bernie predicted, and last night the president sounded like he was in full retreat as he informed us about the cuts (apparently $1.2 trillion) in the big three. Melissa Harris-Perry was on target. She said she was delighted when his speech began. She thought he was announcing his decision to fight cuts in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. She said, "I said, OK but suddenly I realized he was defending over a trillion in cuts! Cuts!"
The GOP has even forced the president to refer to tax breaks for the wealthy not "as tax avoidance" schemes but just "revenue" as in the latest agreement cuts, cuts, cuts benefits, and he was silent on "revenue."
Class war is on the table. Think about it. The Republicans and Tea Party radicals are willing to bring down our government to save tax breaks for the wealthiest among us. Nonsense!
July 25, 2011
For years, the Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ) has salivated whenever someone says "merit selection" for the Supreme Court instead of electing justices. I don't think there is much support for this denial of our long-established election of all judges, but the WSJ doesn't sleep well in summer and Walker can pass any piece of Bradley Foundation-drafted legislation, so we had better be careful about WSJ's platform. Any legislator who supports merit selection will become a favorite of WSJ.
WSJ would feel more comfortable if the editorial board could participate in the selection process. Whoa Nelly. Why WSJ involvement in the process would be an improvement is not clear. It is nonsense.
The WSJ plan is based on the belief that a group of insiders would come up with better candidates for the court than the current system produces and that the court would be less political. Why? Well, somehow, those selected by the elites are assumed to be of higher quality.
Here is how the elites would tighten their control of the court. A judicial selection commission favored by WSJ (all selected by the governor, presumably) would be established by the Legislature. This Legislature has demonstrated that it could not handle such an important task. Hells bells, they can't even control pay-day loans or stop voter suppression through voter ID.
After Scott Milfred and the other almost-always-wrong members of WSJ's editorial board, probably chaired by Tom Still and Jeff Mayers, would nominate five people who would then be submitted to the governor. The governor would select, and a celebration with free champagne and a light luncheon will be provided by the Koch brothers at the Madison Club.
Stop the train. Giving the WSJ the benefit of the doubt, this idea of theirs is based on a wish not a thought. In reality it is just one more step toward right-wing control of our democracy. Bad idea.
July 24, 2011
Buckle your seat belts and don't forget the brandy
It looks Like the tea partiers, Grover Norquist the ant-government guru, Bachmann, and Rush Limbaugh will have their wishes fulfilled. No more government to kick around--unless, of course, flooding, tornadoes or wild fires require outside help. Government "on call" will be required, but only for the top 2 percent. As for the rest of us? Leave some water in the dish for the dog and don't forget the brandy. You may need it before this nightmare is over.
Is this why our country was formed? Yikes!
Remember Grover Norquist said his goal was to get government down to a size where he could drown it in the bathtub? Well Grover, look in the mirror and see the guy who will be responsible for untold deaths, suffering and loss of homes and hope. Babies dying at birth because hospitals are closed or under-staffed, surgeries not performed because no Medicare to pay. That's on your shoulders, tough guy!
Grover, you are the one who got members of Congress to sign a pledge to never, never, never, ever raise taxes no matter what. Fight terrorism? Join the armed forces? For the selfish well-to-do you represent? C'mon, Grover. Time for you and yours to join the Army--fight in Afghanistan--not for pay, because we can't pay, but for country.
Louise Uphoff has passed away. She was a voice we could always count on to demand social and economic justice. She was a fighter and a great progressive who will be missed. But before she left us she inspired many others to join the battle. Well done, Louise. Thanks.
Do you think the Wisconsin Republicans have been reformed? Read Mark Pocan's post this morning and think again. This is almost an unbelievable story of cruel behavior impacting our most vulnerable, the unemployed.
Oh, one other point. The Republicans, with help from their favorite law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, are working overtime to hold down voter turnout. They oppose public finances and have passed the photo ID law that has only one purpose--to hold down minority and elderly voting. A large turnout means a probable liberal victory--small means conservatives win. So the goal is to hold down turnout by requiring a DMV photo ID. How to attack now? Walker is proposing to shut down many DMV offices!
They have no shame!
Fighting Bob Fest is coming soon and we must focus on voter suppression. Get ready--it could be our last opportunity. Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Ellen Bravo, Gwen Moore, Tammy Baldwin, Greg Palast, and everyone's favorite Jim Hightower. Here we go. it is time to respond.
Time for a progressive party?
July 23, 2011
A chuckle or two
As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tried to force the NFL Players to "vote before reading" an altered version of a collective bargaining agreement, not negotiated by a union, that is trumpeted to govern the NFL for 10 years. A person briefed on the deliberations was quoted saying, "A vote on the agreement is absolutely possible." Now, there are some words to cheer, Jerry Jones and Mark Murphy. Last time I checked even Ron Paul voting for a tax increase is "absolutely possible." So, take heart, Mr. President, even your negotiating posture may work. It is "absolutely possible."
Speaking of absolutely possible, I had a good time on Joy Cardin's Week in Review yesterday. Even ultra-conservative blogger David Blaska joined in the fun of promoting Fighting Bob Fest coming up on September 17. Blaska showing up and listening to Jim Hightower, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Ellen Bravo, Tammy Baldwin and other progressives is "absolutely possible."
It looks like the negotiations (not football) have failed, tempers are flaring, fingers are pointing. Who will take responsibility for the collapse of the American economy? This isn't funny. But the GOP has given up; the Democrats are in a daze, and the millions of affected Americans are in denial.
The optimist in me holds out hope. It is absolutely possible, but when true believers are in charge they suck all the air out of the room!
July 22, 2011
Imagine the excitement had Wisconsin actually led the nation in job creation from May to June! Keep in mind that the Koch brothers poster boy promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. That is about the only promise he remembers. (Bad news for Scott, Fighting Bob is keeping track as best we can.)
And the stats can be checked. Yup! He promised 250,000 permanent, family supporting jobs in four years, 62,500 new jobs every year he is in office! To reach that goal he would have to take credit for a business-friendly Wisconsin that would put him in the Ayn Rand Hall of Fame if he could demonstrate that number of new jobs. The Waukesha County Business Alliance said Wisconsin is in the forefront of the nation's job creation.
So what is Walker talking about? There were 9,500 new jobs last month. Who supports the claim made by Walker? Well, there is Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
Walker could not pull it off. He was supposed to keep a straight face during this charade. He couldn't stop the smirk: "Nearly half of Wisconsin's new jobs are in tourism." Even MJS had to admit these are "temporary positions with low pay and few or no benefits."
Can anyone say out loud that tourism has exploded? Leaving nothing to chance, a newly launched nonprofit is keeping track for Walker. And if you believe that Wisconsin created 9,500 permenent, family supporting jobs, send for your Publisher's Clearing House prize. You won.
And did I forget to report that the unemployment rate went up? Whoa Nelly.
July 21, 2011
Are you kidding us?
I rarely feel envy (capital sin you know) but when the London pie-thrower approached Rupert Murdoch with a shaving-creme flavored pie I was filled to the brim with envy.
The pie-thrower was our man! I yelled Bravo! Bravo!, but, as fate would have it, he missed! Dammit, man. How could you miss? A little practice might have helped--or two pies. But no, Ruppert could wear his suit another day and we realize that envy is not the best motivator. Maybe the pie man was hired by Murdoch to make people feel sorry for the man who controls the British media but knows nothing. Maybe!
It is hard to follow all aspects of the World News caper, but we know enough to suggest that we should prevent any further consolidation of the media and begin a process of antitrust suits. If we let the market rule, we will never know when the truth is suppressed. All we will get is what they want us to get. So, force Murdoch to sell the Wall Street Journal, force a sell-off of Fox News; demand transparency. (I know, I know, someone is turning on her computer to suggest that any regulation violates the first amendment. Nonsense.)
My goodness it is hot! But even hotter in Texas.
Read the NY Times story on the Nisqually River in Washington. Don't believe in climate change? You will.
Let's discuss the gang of six. Surely, Mr. President, you are not serious about embracing the recommendations from a group of six who apparently like being called "a gang," who operate in secret and who are pushing forward without a mandate. The Gang of Six. This is nuts! Either Obama is a genius as a negotiator or one of the worst in history. By ducking out of every fight he can claim the middle ground, but there are so many of us under the bus we can't hang on much longer.
The Gang of Six tilts so far to the right it will tip over with the slightest breeze. All I know is that the tea baggers are courting disaster and seem to be rubbing their hands together in glee. Finally Ayn Rand will be proven right. And we know that Social Security and Medicare are "on the table." Whoa Nelly.
I think it is time for the "Gang of 535" House and Senate gangsters to live up to their oaths of office.
July 20, 2011
As a student at the UW, I participated in a project we called "Mock Senate." In this game, students took a senator's name and position on issues. We researched the positions of the senators. It was fun and educational. (I was Saltenstall from Massachusetts, a Rockefeller Republican.) We debated issues, caucused, and voted. While it did not lead to adoption of a national platform, it did help us focus on the issues.
Today, 50+ years later, we see, not Mock Senate but a senate that mocks us, the voters. What a group! Yes, we have some good ones--Sanders, Harkin, Durbin, Boxer, Franken, Klobuchar--but as a group, I would take the students who pretended to be senators over this group five out of seven days. I can't think of a major issue that our "mocking senate" has resolved. As for "leaders," boy do I miss LBJ, Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Al Gore, J.W. Fulbright, Frank Church, Gaylord and...well you can finish the thought.
Unless we repeal the Citizens United decision, it will get worse. If the Koch boys select the candidates, fund them, and train them, there will be a room full of do-nothing, say-nothing automatons toeing the company line, singing the Cato anthem, saluting the Heritage Foundation flag.
Enter the Murdochs. A soon to be TV mini-series. Rupert the pit bull was not responsible. He didn't know what was going on. "Surprised and shocked," he was Poor Rupert, I say. When he hired Roger Ailes to destroy candidates, create Fox News, purchased the Wall Street Journal, took over the print news industry, it was not good government he was after it was corporate domination of this country! (Oh, my, it is the 7th inning--time for God Bless America.) I think he should be given another chance: commissioner of the NFL or CEO of Goldman Sachs.
Congratulations, Dave Hansen for an overwhelming victory. True, the opponent was a joke, but a win is a win is a win! Well done, Dave of "the Fab 14." Well done.
Dr. Bachmann: She suffers migranes and that is nothing to scoff at. But even in dealing with this health issue, she sounds goofy. She thinks migranes come from wearing high heels. Really? And black children in slavery had better homes than African Americans have today. Whoa Nelly!
July 19, 2011
Nobody knows her?
Well, some people know Victoria Nourse, but, Ron Johnson doesn't know anything about her. So Johnson is holding up confirmation of Nourse to the 7th circuit court of appeals. Nominated by Obama, she is well known in the UW law school and the bar association but now she is left out to dry.
This rube Johnson says she isn't well known enough in the Wisconsin legal community to occupy one of the state's traditional slots on the 7th Circuit! I am not making this up. Now get this: "Nobody in the legal community knows anything about her!"
Nobody knows anything about her. So a brilliant appointee will fail to be sworn in because Ron Johnson doesn't like her views--his "hold" on the confirmation is all about ideology not how many friends she has in the Wisconsin Bar. But Johnson is too much the coward to tell us his real reasons for killing the nomination.
Louis Butler's nomination was killed in my view because he is African American. Nourse is a progressive woman. Elizabeth Warren is too qualified! What the hell is going on?
Where is Herb Kohl on his way out the door? Herb said, "I think she's well qualified and deserves consideration." Deserves consideration? Is that really the best Herb can do? Guess so.
July 18, 2011
I challenge you
OK, here is my challenge: Name a person applying for a job who is more qualified than (or as qualified as) Elizabeth Warren is for the job she created out of thin air or rather out of scandal. The position is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
I heard about this amazing woman/academic on Bill Moyer's PBS program and became an instant advocate for her as our protector. I don't understand hedge funds, but clearly she does. I could not go toe-to-toe with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, but she could! All I could say was "thank the lord a Democrat is in the White House" so Warren can create the new watchdog and shape the debate over consumer protection! (Even go after the banksters?)
Thank god that is, but our Democrat in the White House acts like a Republican. Warren is simply too good to be true. I think she is incorruptible, smart as hell, articulate and committed. So, who does Obama appoint? Not Elizabeth Warren! Nope. The GOP said "no," Wall Street said "no," and Obama said "no mas."
What a shame. What a shame. What will happen next? Well, Plan B: stop the second choice of Obama and the third and..." What you will not see is a fight led by Obama to take on "my Republican friends" to fight for the non-Wall Street forces. Too bad.
Okay. I challenge you to name anyone as qualified as Warren.
July 17, 2011
The NY Times scared me this morning with an article titled "Drought: A Creeping Disaster." But is this hot, dry air a drought or just an opportunity for a Rick Perry "pray for rain" event? Neither is one disturbing response. It may be permanent. "You can't really call it a drought because that implies a temporary change. The models show a progressive aridification. You don't say that the Sahara is in drought. It's a desert...if the models are right then the Southwest will face permanent drying out." It is not just our problem--this is one more global issue that cannot be swept under a rug.
Perth, Australia, could become the world's first "ghost city": a modern city abandoned for lack of water. Next? Los Angeles, Phoenix or Las Vegas. Ah, you say, lucky us. We are here and they are not. Want to bet that the southwest will just accept this news? How about diverting the Mississippi River to help the people of the Southwest? No way, you say? Ask people in Alton, Illinois or Missouri what the Army Corps of Engineers is cabable of doing.
If we must begin drinking recycled sewage, under a "toilet to tap" program, anything is possible except survival without water.
Climate change remains a hoax to the great minds of the Republican Party, but for the rest of us, we need a recognition of the crisis. Can Wisconsin be Wisconsin with day after day of 100-degree heat? I don't think so.
Executive pay outs: M&I Bank was, as you know, sold to a Canadian company. The men who negotiated the deal took care of themselves! "This is just the way things are done these days," said one apologist. Maybe. Mark Furlong, president and CEO, got $18 million and $6 million per year if he stays on. Sixteen other executives will get almost $47 million in cash.
If you like the way they negotiate, wait until they get their hands on your credit union! (A little curious if this is the way things are done?) Leave us alone! Let's call for meetings of all credit unions before it is too late.
July 16, 2011
Here comes the redistricting plan!
Duck! As described in the MJS today, the redistricting plan took another big step toward passage--a plan "rocketing through the Legislature."
The long and short: more districts will be solid Republican and solid Democratic; fewer competitive districts, which means two things. Voters have less influence and because the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United ruled that there are no limits on corporate contributions. The Koch brothers will help Fitzgerald and Walker win nearly all "competitive" districts in the future because the Democrats will be out-spent 4 or 5 to 1!
Welcome to one-party rule!
Headline in MJS, "Small banks worry about future." Small banks are worried that the big banks might gain too much control over lending in Wisconsin. Oh really? Gee, I never thought about that! But while thinking about it, take another glance at credit union conversion! With all that money sitting in the state-chartered credit unions, you don't suppose those big banks are ready to pounce, do you? Nah! Bankers want fair competition!
July 15, 2011
Compromise be damned
As we slide toward possible economic disaster one would never know it by listening to radio or reading the paper. It is almost business as usual! Dow is up, Dow is down, Dow jumped over the moon. "Protesters
get Creative in Post-Soviet Nation"; "New herbicide may be Culprit"; "Baboon Study shows benefits for nice guys who finish 2nd"; "NBA Lays off 1,000..."
If the economy will collapse in a month or so, what does it mean to us? Why no excitement? Is there time to end this nightmare? I hope so, but I am beginning to think that the GOP is so ideological that even the hint of compromise is death to the leaders!
Should we pull our money out of the credit union or bank? Stock up on water and peanut butter?
Credit union conversion. Call your credit union and ask if there are any notice provisions in the by-laws regarding conversion to a bank. Ask for a membership meeting to debate the conversion law. Get involved or the credit union will go the way of the dodo bird.
July 14, 2011
Catch this one. The Walker folks want instant re-districting. Why? You know: they want to vote on this highly controversial matter before losing control of the Senate next month. (They lose majority control if three Republican Senators lose to Dems in the recalls next month.) If everything is in place before they lose three seats--sorry, Charlie--too late before the 2012 elections. Walker will quickly sign the new plan and retire to a Koch brothers' resort!
Who is drawing the lines? I was wrong yesterday in reporting on this issue. Yes, Jim Troupis of Michael, Best and Friedrich remains in charge of the re-districiting and has already been paid $300,000 by the taxpayers. But if the GOP can pay two lawyers using your money, instead of one, why not? I erred in not adding attorney Richard Esenberg, who shouts a warning not to dare sue to stop this plan.
Know why? Michael Best and Friedrich threatens to ask for fees from a challenger if the court finds a challenge "frivolous." Who will decide? It looks like the deciding vote would be from Prosser! (Esenberg says he just got on board so look for some more healthy legal fees.)
Normal procedure? Usually ocal governments draw their lines and create maps for county boards, and then common councils hold lots of hearings after studying the plans. It takes time.
What is the excuse for such quick action? I am not kidding: the GOP says they can move faster because of computers! Stay tuned. As for "jobs, jobs," Walker & his guys have created two attorney jobs with MB&F. Huzzah!
Badger poll: 59 percent disapprove of Walker's performance. Assume he is recalled, who should Democrats run against him? Share your thoughts.
July 13, 2011
Real or fake?
Friends around the country keep calling. The question? What in the world is happening to Wisconsin? Are you really spending $500,000 on "fake Democrats" put up to run in recall elections?
Thanks to the voters, all of the fakes were easily defeated. On to the big show!
Meanwhile the state's Supreme Court met and the "Prosser 4" decided that under no circumstannces can a justice be forced to step aside in a case even when an obvious conflict is present. Whoa Nelly!
In the case before the court, Justice Roggensack joins three other colleagues to make four "to allow her to participate in a matter reviewing her own conduct."
Keith Findley of the Wisconsin Innocence Project said, "The majority appeared tone deaf to constitutional concerns." Got that right!
Also, there is a new lawyer for Prosser in the choking case. Now the attorney who represented Scott Jensen will represent Prosser. His new lawyer won't say if Prosser has been interviewed by the investigators.
July 12, 2011
A big name in Wisconsin manufacturing was sold to Caterpillar Inc. for a little south of $9 billion. Bucyrus, after 131 years, is now part of the world's largest mining company, Caterpillar. Bucyrus no more. Guess what mining companies like to do? Wait, wait, don't tell me! Sorry, but I must ruin the suspense: they like to mine! They love third world countries because they can extract copper, gold, diamonds, oil, coal, whatever, and make a huge profit. Caterpillar is stronger than the third-world governments that they deal with and so it is rare for the locals to do well in negotiations.
What must they do to gain contracts to mine in third-world countries? The contracts that they need to earn the billions they need to keep investors happy? Holler "jobs" but, hey, that's our idea. Damn! Is that infringement?
Do you think Caterpillar is salivating when thinking about the proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin? And what are the odds that Walker will protect us over Caterpillar? Slim and none. So, Wisconsin, welcome to the third world! Welcome to Chile, Ecuador...enjoy!
So re-districting is on the fast track. Why so fast? Because they are going to attempt to win the recalls before a vote is cast by changing the makeup of the districts. They are clever and shameless. But am I surprised? No.
It is part of the M.O.: create the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, Bradley Foundation, and pour billions into the political machine and by gosh they are winning! Fair fight? No way. They don't like fair fights. They much prefer loaded dice. What chance do we have in a legislative battle with Bucyrus--oops-Caterpillar?
July 10, 2011
The butler did it!
The excitable David Prosser, who once, middle finger protruding, rushed forward while shouting at the acting Assembly chair, "No way! No way! I will I meet in your office" shouted Prosser. I am not speculating--I was there and so was our videographer. Prosser did not like the idea of "liberals" with a camera capturing the floor debate on the budget.
Prosser has been known for outrageous name calling as well as outbursts in the Legislature. His verbal assault on a great chief justice, Shirley Abrahamson, is bad enough, but now he has apparently turned violent in the Supreme Court offices outside the reach of reporters or Wisconsin Eye cameras.
Prosser has retained Michael Best & Freiderich, the ultra-conservative, go-to-Republican law firm to represent him as the Dane County Sheriff's office and the judicial commission investigate the physical attack on Bradley.
What is going on? Here is my view. Prosser and three other male justices jumped into the Supreme Court race to defeat Abrahamson several years ago. They failed, but have never stopped trying to get her out of the position of chief.
Prosser, working with our governor, set up a confrontation with her on the open meetings case decided by Judge Sumi. (It was odd that Fitzgerald did not "reverse" Sumi by simply taking a new vote. He had a comfortable majority and could have done so but he did not. Had they voted again after proper notice, it would rendered the Sumi decision moot.) But, nothing doing. The GOP right-wingers wanted to get this issue before the Suppreme Court--knowing they would win 4-3, and they did. Why? I think that Prosser, Walker and Fitzgerald planned the attack on Justice Abrahamson. (Not the physical part.)
The four justices making up the "majority" supposedly marched into Justice Bradley's office and demanded the chief heal to their command. A heated argument began and Prosser grabbed Bradley by the throat!
Sounds like assault and battery, but we shall see. The plot thickens. A rumor was circulated by a state Senator that a "coup" was being worked out to remove the chief and install the choice of the four justices as chief justice. When I heard that rumor, I laughed, because it is in our Constitution that the longest serving justice shall be the chief.
So what, says Walker and his co-conspirators, let's get a constitutional amendment moving to get Abrahamson out as chief and to give the "right" control of all three branches of government! Whoa Nelly! Could they be that clever? That malicious? Right right on cue, we got our answer. A constitutional amendment was introduced by Walworth County legislator, Tyler, to strike the provision in our Constitution naming the person with seniority chief. Yikes!
And we are told that the actions of Prosser, Bradley and Abrahamson require us to to have justices appointed not elected! For god's sake, how stupid are we? Very stupid if we follow the State Journal off the cliff.
July 9, 2011
Here comes permanent victory
Many progressives and even more Democrats cling to the hope that right-wing control of the Assembly, Senate and the governor's mansion is "this too shall pass." Yes, Walker killed public sector unions; yes, photo ID is on the way; yes, he will help the banks take over the credit unions; yes, we will become a right-to-work state and on and on. But the Republicans are moving rapidly to re-district Wisconsin. They will try like hell to have it done before the recall elections so they can pick up 10 or 12 districts. If they get away with it, GOP control of state government is likely to be permanent. Well, not permanent, but for decades.
Saul Alinsky said to tip your hart to Lucifer--"he has his own kingdom." So I tip my hat to Walker, our Lucifer. He has no conscience, feels no shame, cares nothing about those who will suffer under his platform. And he is just warming up. Capital punishment, abortion, prayer in school, elimination of corporate taxes, toll roads, voucher schools not public schools, a privatized UW campus. Good lord, it is scary and the Dems don't get it yet!
We need your input at Fighting Bob Fest! September 17--and more good news: Dennis Kucinich will join us again!
July 8, 2011
Does it have a loo?
Think of yourself floating on one of Rupert Murdoch's yachts. Champagne and caviar all around. Suddenly you feel compelled to relieve yourself. Would it be insulting to ask if the yacht has, you know, a "loo" ("toilet" is so crude a term unless, of course, spoken with a French accent). If it does have a loo, there is good news. Not only are you spared from the prospect of "going," shall we say, into the water, but the yacht with a loo qualifies as a, sit before reading, "second home," so you can claim the mortgage interest deduction if you purchase the yacht--err home.
Of such things the GOP is fighting to save as the world sinks into the grand Leu in the ocean. (Or is it in the sky?) I am not making this up. Senator Schumer points to the tax loophole that permits the deduction of yacht-with-loo but also corporate jets! Good lord. Imagine exoisure to regular passengers. "Gawd! The germs! Are the rabble trying to kill us?"
Senator Jon Kyl, never accused of being a Rhodes Scholar, is miffed at Bernie Sanders and even the president for attacking these loopholes. It is a reminder of class warfare. Yachts, jets and all. Here is Kyl:
"They want ordinary Americans to believe they will not be affected by the president's tax-increase proposals." Indeed John! Any working family that buys a yacht will lose the second-home deduction. Right John. Right.
Oh thank god Priscilla, the Times reports that the White House confab involving millionaires from both parties, carving up Medicare and Medicaid not to mention Social Security, were cordial and businesslike. Wouldn't have it any other way, Chauncey. Would not have a free-for-all that could stir the masses.
No use attacking the White House on the verge of an announcement, but all signs seem to predict a disaster on the people's side of the equation.
Paul Krugman writes, "One striking example of this rightward shift came in last weekend's presidential address." Please read Krugman's column and then raise your voices to join the chorus of Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich, Tammy Baldwin, Tom Harkin and others--tell the president--this is it. No forgiveness if you cave to the likes of Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove. Period.
July 7, 2011
Walker is a leader after all
A picture in the NY Times spoke volumes. Despite 100-degree heat, Sacramento swimming pools were closed because of budgetary shortfalls. "Few things in life are more doleful than a child looking at a closed pool on steamy hot day," was the reporter's take. Right on!
I was reminded of "leader" Scott Walker's efforts, as county executive, to shut Milwaukee swimming pools, stop after-school basketball, and sell the parks. I thought that Wisconsin was a leader and would never turn its back on those who need a place to swim, laugh and grow. But Walker went on to be governor and he took his callous disregard for the poor and working class with him and soon sparked an uprising. He isn't done yet. And neither are we.
The MJS reports that bus service in Milwaukee will be cut substantially and may "no longer carry hundreds of thousands of Summerfest patrons next summer." Atta boy, Scott! Why should these kids have fun when the corporations need tax breaks and child labor? Steal their fun, lock 'em up, and wonder what went wrong while sipping a wine cooler at the Club's pool. Hey! I know. Those kids can serve the drinks--jobs, jobs, jobs.
The MJS article's author said most Summerfest patrons he interviewed were "dismayed by the prospect of losing bus service." I'm not!
John Mackey: While writing this blog post, an email arrived from Sylvia Mackey that John passed yesterday surrounded by family.
John was one of, if not the, best athlete to run onto a football field. Number 88: He defined the tight end position and he became the undisputed leader of all sports unions. He saw the NFL in terms of the Civil Rights struggle and he gave his career to the battle to achieve dignity for players.
John was not involved in politics--thought it was phony. At Gene Upshaw's memorial, Jack Kemp asked me who was missing. I responded John Mackey, and Kemp nodded and smiled. Yes, he agreed, John was missing.
John refused to call those who owned the teams "owners" because "they don't own me even if that think they do." Testifying before the late Sam Ervin, John asked about the chaos that free agency would bring to the NFL. John looked at Ervin and said, "My ancestors were tied to a system that was justified on the basis of economics and control. It was not right then and is unacceptable today. We don't want to loosen the chains we want them off."
John Mackey, Alan Page, Kermit Alexander, Ken Bowman, Brig Owens. Names that are locked in the true hall of fame, gave their careers so players could enjoy fair wages and respect.
John, you were one of a kind. We loved you, Sylvia and the children. Once in a lifetime a John Mackey comes along. We were lucky enough to know him.
July 6, 2011
It must be comforting to be the only daily newspaper in print whether we think of Wisconsin State Journal (WSJ) in Madison or the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JS) in Milwaukee. The papers can attack, cajole, publish, or agree with all sorts of people. Mike Nichols a former JS columnist, who now writes a once weekly column in the WSJ is one of the chosen ones.
Today he would have us believe that he has become an expert on judicial behavior on our Supreme Court. Yah, sure Ole!
Nichols seems to be making the physical attack by Prosser on Ann Walsh Bradley into a joke of sorts. And he helps Prosser and the arguments of Prosser's counsel from the law firm favored by the legislative Republicans by suggesting that we should focus on Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson not Bradley and certainly not Prosser. Nichols repeats Prosser's outrageous name calling regarding the chief that showed total disrespect for the court in helping us to get the real message which seems to be: hey, Prosser was prodded to attack a woman justice by her chief's wicked tongue.
What WSJ columnist Nichols and WSJ forgot to mention is that he is that Nichols is now a "senior fellow" of the extreme right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI). WOW! A senior fellow no less. Don't you wonder how they come up with these important sounding titles? Do you think readers should know that he is writing for WPRI, and who funds WPRI, before forming an opinion?
July 5, 2011
Crazy like a fox?
Even David Brooks, the conservative (but establishment) NY Times columnist, suggests today that the faction in control of the Republican Party is about to overplay its hand and the loss will be ours. "They (Republican negotiators) have been tough and inflexible and forced the Democrats to come to them." But now is the time to stop posturing and make a deal.
He suggests the new movement people are crazy to pass up an opportunity of the century. But the new movement--now in control of the old GOP--won't listen to anyone other than themselves. "The movement does not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities...the members of the movement have no sense of moral decency..." They are Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell.
Brooks suggests these nuts would scuttle education, employment, the environment and job creation as if it doesn't matter. Default on our debts? Sure. Why not?
Steven Colbert had it right. He put Grover Norquist on the spot. If all our grandmothers were held captive and would soon be devoured by killer ants unless the top 2 percent paid higher taxes, would he then go along and raise taxes to save Grandma?
Norquist, the perfect stand-in for Paul Ryan, paused for a moment but sided with the ants: "We will have the pictures of grandma."
While the GOP may be in the hands of moral terrorists, the Democrats have no response other than giving more and more concessions to the crazies. So, who is crazy? Joe Lieberman, "We can't balance the budget without dealing with mandatory spending programs like--you guessed it--Medicare.
Who is our hero? You got it. Bernie Sanders our keynote, September 17 at Fighting bob Fest! I can't wait to join Bernie's crusade.
The gods are crazy. NEA accepts teacher evaluation shift--student scores will be a factor in teacher pay. And Obama has not decided if Elizabeth Warren will head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau!
C'mon, Mr. President. C'mon!
July 4, 2011
Share the wealth or let them take it?
Are we a third-world country at the mercy of multi-nationals? Or the proud state of Wisconsin? The proposed iron mine in Iron County may provide the answer.
Holler "jobs" and local officials, the chamber of commerce and the realtors melt like butter over a flame. Immediately, the newspapers (without any investigation), Walker administration officials, and other corporate toadies cast those who favor the mine as the "good guys" who just want to help the good people of Wisconsin by giving them jobs. They will, if given the opportunity, pave the streets in Iron County with gold, while short-sighted fly-fishermen and environmentalists just don't seem to care about new the tax evenues that will come to Iron County, about education, business development, and housing. Here is the pitch from a privately owned mining company in Florida. I'm not making this up. The mining company will create 2,800 jobs over the next 35 years! No guarantees, but skip that small item. All corporations live up to their word, don't they?
Someone came up with that the average pay by Gogebic will be $62,000! (Currently the median salary in Iron County is $34,000 per household. Why would the mining company pay $62,000, almost twice the average house hold income? I guess because they are just out to help us!)
Here is a thought for discussion. Instead of an unenforceable promise, a woof ticket in the black community, to hire a couple thousand workers at $62,000 per year, over 35 years, I have a better idea. Once mined, the iron is gone, the value of the state's asset is diminished. Well, then, why not tell the mining company that 70 percent of all revenue from the mine will be placed in an education fund in Wisconsin. That eliminates the guess work about mythical jobs at inflated wages in a state that wants to eliminate corporate taxes, and it solves the collection issue. Why not?
We know that the mining company will leave a mess behind that someone will have to clean up, but third-world Wisconsin won't be able to collect from the private mining company. Hells bells, they will have filed for bankruptcy long before clean-up starts!
So, memo to the Legislature: The mining company says it will not start the process until the Legislature gives them the permits they need. OK. Want to play that game, do you? Well, no permits until the Mining company agrees in writing to 70 percent of the revenues generated by the mine going to our education fund!
Make sense? Of course. See RFK Jr.'s The Last Mountain, take a glance at Ecuador to get a handle on the pollution of third-world countries, like Wisconsin, face long after the jobs disappear.
Wake up, folks. Don't let them steal our assets. Share the wealth or give it away? Our choice.
July 3, 2011
I miss the Milwaukee Journal
Wisconsin had a gem of a paper when I was groowing up in Wisconsin, the afternoon Milwaukee Journal. It was the antidote to the morning Milwaukee Sentinel. But, alas, good things don't last forever. The merger was announced. The surviving paper? The arch-conservative Sentinel. Too bad for us! (Same result in Madison--Cap Times goes under and WSJ survives.)
First thing the merged Milwaukee paper did was to fire the best writers--Joel McNally was, me thinks, the first pink slip. Now the Sentinel Journal is more of a right-wing newsletter than a news paper. They are the Fox News of newspapers. "Fair and balanced." Major stories go untouched to make space for puff pieces like the one this morning on Ron Johnson.
Today's JS has a feature on Ron Johnson, the quiet senator. It was, to be kind, a puff piece. A "thumb sucker" as they call it in the newsroom.
Meantime, a story the MJS should jump on like a dog on a bone, the planned attack on credit unions, moves into gear. I did my own unscientific survey on the budget item that permits conversion of credit unions to share-holder owned banks. Not one official I called or ran into knew anything about the kill-the-credit-union bill. Not one!
Meanwhile, MJS writes that "Tea Party Ron" appeared on Vicki McKenna's "shout-out" in Madison and he heralded his number-one priority: taking America back from the brink of bankruptcy. How? You know. Kill the federal government and there will be plenty of money to balance the budget. And this guy got elected? Yikes!
July 2, 2011
The Journal Sentinel made an open records request of the seven justices. Justice Crooks refused because no decision of the Court has ruled the Court is subject to open records.
Justice Prosser was, if anything, a tad quick in handing over the emails to JS given the fact that the Court has not ruled. I guess he has decided for the Court by his decision. Whatever, Tim Cullen and Dale Schultz immediately called for a constitutional amendment to have justices appointed. The fact that governor Thompson appointed Prosser is evidence that appointments that involve the governor are not necessarily better than a choice made by the voters.
Could we think about this idea before running around trying to amend the constitution to please the editors of the Wisconsin State Journal?
Meanwhile, a panel was put together to spread the wisdom of former Justice Janine Geske, who quit the Court, and Jon Wilcox who plea bargained and paid a fine because his campaign accepted improper contributions. We need his advice? Whoa Nelly!
July 1, 2011
Blame the chief!
WSJ has started to sound the alarm that the problem wih our Supreme Court is not Prosser's outrageous behavior by calling the Chief Justice, the first woman on the Court, "a perfect bitch" and threatening to "destroy her." He admitted making those statements after a long dodge. He apologized and we thought he was headed for counseling. Not so. He and three colleagues, the majority in the open meeting case, marched into the chief's ofice on June 13 to demand that she get her dissent ready so the court could obey the demand from the Legislature that the court "hurry up" with the decision. (They must have known it was 4-3 in favor of Walker. Ah, details!)
An argument broke out and Prosser was asked to leave Ann Walsh-Bradley's office and our "Who? Me? Problem with women?" Justice Prosser somehow ended up with his hands on Justice Ann Walsh-Bradley's neck.
So, the WSJ and former justice Geske, who quit during her term, start raising the question whether it was Abrahamson's fault. (Dick Cheney shooting the lawyer comes to mind.) Blame Shirley? Good lord.
And just watch as the majority will now try to alter the constitutional provision that says the justice with the longest seniority is the chief. The "majority" wants it altered to say there will be an election on the court to determine the chief.
C'mon, let's get real. If Prosser attacked Bradley that is it. Blame the chief? Nonsense.
Will the GOP compromise?
I think not. They are not just a little irresponsible they are over the top, ready to gamble on our nation's future to make Ayn Rand's point. (Need proof? Look north to Minnesota where Democratic Farm-Labor Governor Mark Dayton is in a show down with the right-wing GOP.)
So what if Social Security stops paying or if Medicare halts needed funds to go on? They don't care!
So we progressives have some choices to make. Are we standing with Bernie Sanders (once again a keynote speaker at Fighting Bob Fest on September 17) or will we blink and urge Obama to avert a short-term disaster while bringing on a long-term one?
I am with Bernie! No question in my mind. The GOP is sowing the seeds of their own destruction in the long run. If they refuse to act and an economic down-turn follows or worse, they will be blamed forever.
Am I scared? You bet! But we all learned that law-abiding folks cannot negotiate with blackmailers. And it is clear that if Obama gives gives in on August 2 the blackmailers will thump their chests and create a new crisis. Ever wonder if these "leaders" have kids? I do.