Saturday, July 14, 2018

This is YUGE!

Donald Trump has a penchant for describing anything having to do with his administration as "YUGE!"

Finally, Trump can finally tout something as actually "YUGE!"--Mueller's indictments of twelve Russian intelligence operatives is just that.

The Mueller probe has definitively gone from "witch hunt" to an actual revelation of crimes against this country. Mueller's investigation had confirmed earlier intelligence regarding massive misinformation campaigns, and now has come across enough evidence to identify actors of the Russian government working to attack our democracy.

Now, without speaking of conspiracy or changing of votes or anything, Mueller has apparently documented what can rightly be called an attack on the United States.

GOP members of Congress will continue to sow discord defaming and touting the bias of the DOJ and FBI, but, really, neither has anything to do with this news. The only "Deep State" that can be blamed for this is the Russian government.

And then there's Trump. I wonder how he'll treat the news?


He decries Mexican immigrants as threats to our country (he's used the word "infest").

He calls out Canada--CANADA!-- as a threat to our national security so he can impose tariffs.

He travels to North Korea to supposedly save the US.

He shuts down travel from Muslim-majority countries because he wants to thwart what he thinks would be any potential attacks.

But yet, a proven cyber-attack on our country, on our democracy--PROVEN!--and there's no reaction. Not really. He blames Obama. He says he believes Putin. And he holds on to his belief (desperate hope, maybe?) that any talk of Russian meddling is a Democrat plot to undermine the legitimacy of his election.

THAT is the most damning of all. The US President doesn't confront or attack or even scold a hostile government that has been repeatedly proven to be attacking the country he represents, whose Constitution he has sworn to uphold.

And I'm not sure why. But I have a few ideas. And I think, in the next few months, we'll see which is the real reason.

And that, my friends, is definitely going to be "YUGE!!!"

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Um, WI, it's not just Trump

While most Wisconsinites are distracted, mouth agape, at the horrific occurrences emanating from our commander-in-chief, we may tend to overlook our own horror show closer to home, in the person of Scott Walker.

In addition to sidling up to Trump, Walker, too, has continued his assault on transparency and honesty, which is really an assault on Wisconsin.

Just today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, classic Walker dealings are highlighted. In one, Walker throws under the bus State Superintendent (and also possible Dem Gubernatorial foe) Tony Evers by claiming Evers's inaction regarding underperforming schools. Walker says Evers should have taken over such schools. Um, but it's not true. Evers neither has the power or opportunity to do so.  Politifact refutes Walker's premise and statement resoundingly:

Walker's actions to decimate WI public education (reducing funding, increasing vouchers, 
demonizing educators) shouldn't ever allow him to cast any (even false) stones
And Walker has continued to get in bed with business at the expense of our state environment (an earlier post here). Today's entry in this category from the Journal Sentinel details Walker quietly receiving talking points from big farm lobbyists to ease environmental restrictions for large livestock farms, whose unregulated runoff decimates our waters.
Green Bay's massive dead zone of too-little 
oxygen is, in large part, due to farm runoff

So, it's merely business as usual. Well, if you're a business.

If, however, you're just a citizen who values things such as transparency and honesty in your government, Wisconsinites are getting a front row seat to "The Creature From the Dishonest Government."

Who needs Trump when we have Walker?

Friday, June 29, 2018

New None-yun: What Winning Looks Like!

White House Top Economic Advisor Lisa Kudrow

Oops, sorry. Economic Adviser LARRY KUDLOW interviews Larry David

Oops, sorry. THIS is Larry David, not Bernie Sanders

Trump Economic Advisor Gives Brief Look at White House Thinking

 New None-yun: What Winning Looks Like!

(um, click the above link)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Another Blow to the Middle Class

While some are cheering the Supreme Court's decision today that  "non-members cannot be pay fees to unions representing public employees," (Reuters) it is another devastating blow, not only for unions, but for the middle class.

I know you aren't all union fans, but things such as improved safety, training, and fair wages are a result of union presence in all businesses--whether or not they employ union employees. Although, yes, unions--as with any organization--look out for their own interests, their interests actually are, believe it or not, their workers--your neighbors, your friends, your family. Add this to tax cuts for those with higher incomes (not including the relative pittance of some of those one-time bonuses, or the meager savings from tax rebates) and previous statewide decimations of union advocacy in both the private and public sectors, and, well, it doesn't look good, really, for the middle class.

By removing the requirement for non-union members to pay for services provided--such as the above-mentioned safety, training, and wages--this Supreme Court decision dramatically reduces the funds for a union to effectively keep those middle-class benefits from deteriorating. It will take money out of the pockets of the workers (thus, the economy will have less flowing into it), and puts it in the hands of the corporate executives and shareholders.

"But isn't that a good thing? That way, shareholders can get more money on their investments, and corporations can put more back into their businesses!"

Um, yeah, but that's not the way it works in the real world. Even while this "trickle-down" theory stemmed recessions under Reagan and GW Bush, income inequality actually worsened. In other words, the rich got richer, and the poor (and middle-class) got poorer.

And that's most of us.

That's already me. From a personal perspective, as a teacher, my union was completely eviscerated in 2010 by the Wisconsin legislature (a post of mine at the time). My wages froze, benefits were reduced (less pension, higher health costs), things such as working calendars and conditions were decided with no educator input, and there were few employee protections (matters are decided by a district-appointed third party). Overall, I lost more than ten percent of my paycheck, and have wages that do not increase unless I petition for it every three years citing additional district-related, but out of the classroom, activities (read: how much extra labor I put in, which really doesn't make it a raise, does it?). And the "savings" to the districts really haven't been put back into the system (districts hold referenda to increase their funding).

I don't mean to complain, I'm just sharing how it really is.

And sadly, for your middle-class neighbors, friends, and family, that's how it also will be.

Well, and likely for you, too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Winnowing down the Dems

Wisconsin's Democratic primary for Governor is going to include ten people. Ten people! (there originally were fifteen, but I guess someone figured out a ballot isn't seven pages long).
Clockwise, from upper left: Evers, Wachs, Gronik,
 Soglin, Pade, Viniehout, Flynn, Mitchell, McCabe, Roys
(montage from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/13/18)

So how does a voter winnow down the candidates to find the most viable to take on Scott Walker in this fall's gubernatorial contest? With Foxconn's arrival of (supposedly) 13,000 good-paying jobs (not mentioning the complete economic and environmental sell-out by the state), as well as presiding over a time with historically low unemployment, Walker's got some momentum with most of the pro-Trump voters.  Hopefully, the anti-Walker rhetoric will not just be about his eventual acceptance and embracing of Trump (although any logical person would think that association would be enough to doom someone's candidacy). But we'll just have to see what happens.

First off, I have to chastise the Wisconsin Democrats for not being able to come up with a unified, strong candidate after certainly knowing for four years (or eight years) that this day would come.

That being said, back to winnowing. Please, please, please understand this is not a scientific process, but what I think might be a glimpse into which candidate voters may think might be the most viable.

First off, baggage. There are some wonderful candidates out there that just won't be able to shake their past political associations. Kathleen Vinehout was one of the Wisconsin Democratic Senators that fled the state to attempt to momentarily stop Act 10.  Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is the definition of a Madison liberal to most outstate voters. Tony Evers is the current state superintendent of public instruction, and has butted heads (kind of ) with Scott Walker (and I perceive, rightly or wrongly, that Walker is the one that is left standing, unscathed). Matt Flynn has close ties to (sorry, but) previous losers, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. He was the liberal talking head on a television show hosted by Milwaukee conservative radio talker, Mark Belling--and I think he may suffer the same big-city liberal tag for outstate voters, if they remember him. Mike McCabe's often described as a Madison activist--which I fear many outstate voters, especially, would equate with the boogeyman or a zombie apocalypse. Mahlon Mitchell, the firefighter from Madison, proudly touts his strong Union ties (and endorsements) which,sadly, now in this state is not a positive selling point for many voters (after unions were systematically vilified and dismantled under the Scott Walker regime).

That's too bad, really. Many of the ideas and plans expressed by some of these candidates are very strong, and many have done positive work for the public, but I just think their baggage is a pretty high mountain to scale.

Well, that cuts it down by more than half.

Next, issues. Josh Pade is a relative newcomer to politics. He preaches a wonderful idea--inclusion and bipartisanship, something I think neither pro- or anti-Trump voters will really go for in this maniacally divided and partisan time in our nation (and our state). 

That leaves self-proclaimed outsider, businessman Andy Gronik, former (rural) WI Assembly member, but Madison-connected Kelda Roys, and Eau Claire WI Assembly member Dana Wachs. Their ideas are spelled out in their campaign sites (with actual plans to accomplish them), and seem to keep Wisconsin citizens in the forefront.

However, there are still some challenges.

For example, would Wisconsin elect a woman as Governor? I'd hope so, although the state didn't go for Hillary Clinton, and Walker's last opponent, Madisonian businesswoman Mary Burke didn't make it, either. So sadly, I don't think Roys will win (she'd be my choice, however--or Vinehout). 

Andy Gronik and I went to the same high school--the same high school that spawned conservative radio talkers Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner (well, and Kato Kaelin), so maybe that'd be good for him (just kidding--his ideas are anything but conservative). However, at least according to Politifact, Gronik has some challenges with accuracy. And The Journal-Sentinel's Daniel Bice reported on some major problems with Gronik's "successful" business career.

So, of the ten candidates cited in the Journal-Sentinel (of the multitude), that leaves Wachs (full disclosure, I thought Dana was a woman for several weeks). He'd be fine, I guess, but I'n not convinced that he can capture the imagination or the support of voters throughout the state.

Um, so that leaves, um, no one to defeat Scott Walker?

It may look that way now.  I never thought Trump would win public office either, so you never know.

Wisconsin Democrats need to make sure that the issues are relevant for all Wisconsinites (health care, education, infrastructure), make connections with the people vs. businesses (especially tax breaks, environment), and stay civil and decent (even though the opposite worked for Donald Trump). They have to convince voters that Scott Walker's plans (Foxconn, crumbling roads, a still-depleted education system, etc.) don't benefit the citizens of our great state.

Hmmm, I wonder if Aaron Rodgers has ever considered the benefits of public service...?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The shoe never drops

Everyday, I check out Trump's Twitter feed to see what offensive, inaccurate, or ignorant thing he has written that morning.

And everyday, I think, "Surely this is the comment that rallies Americans to see what kind of man we have leading our country."

And everyday, I'm disappointed.

I'm not disappointed because there's a paucity of idiocy or manipulation found in Trump's tweets and comments and actions or anything--because there's not--I'm disappointed that it doesn't seem to matter to anyone else.

Sure, it matters to my like-minded friends and family and politicians, and most of the media, of course.

But not to anyone else.
Trump mocks a disabled reporter

I'm thinking the other shoe is going to drop and Trump will be exposed for the man he truly is--whether exposing his racism (s***hole countries, fine people on both sides in Charlottesville, Mexican immigrants are rapists, promoting fake "Muslims are evil" videos), or ineptitude (announcing major policy changes without discussion or input from his experts: tariffs, opening a Jerusalem embassy, banning transgender individuals from the military) or misogyny (bragging about grabbing women by the p****, backing accused child molesters for Senate, dismissing credible charges against him for assault/harassment, paying hush money to women claiming affairs) or paranoia (Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, Mueller and the probe is a "witch hunt", "Spygate"), or out-and-out deception (too many statements to list--on Politifact only 16% registered as more than half-true).

And, everyday, as hard as it is for me to believe, that shoe never drops.

The GOP backs Trump as long as he tends to their agenda. Trump's supporters rabidly believe every piece of garbage he spews forth. Business execs love the money with which he's lining their pockets.

So the shoe never drops.

But tomorrow's another day.