Friday, May 27, 2011

Scraps from Master Walker's table

While corporations feast at his taxpayer buffet, Walker and his pals have agreed to give back to education roughly a scant $100 million of his originally proposed $842 million in cuts over the next two years.  For those keeping score at home, that's a paltry 12%, despite an extra unexpected $636 million now forcast from increased tax revenues over those two years.  Meanwhile, the same Republican-heavy budget committee decided to increase road funding by $160 million, including moving $9 from title fees currently going towards the environment to roads.  Using the scraps from the master's table comparison, doesn't starving the animals just make them meaner?

Stay tuned for the recall elections.

When Wisconsin bites back.

Out of touch in Wisconsin

Like many state Republican legislators, I, too, will be pretty much out of touch with Wisconsinites for the next couple days.  I'll be without phone, television, or Internet.  No, it's not Gilligan's Island, so regular posts should resume in a few days.  Meanwhile, remember to check out the "Links Worth Your Time" over to the right (because they are), and the always interesting and informative "Lefty Blogs" below that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Walker's "shoot-first" decision-making: the gift that keeps on giving

Walker's been out of Milwaukee County for what seems like forever, but his shoot-first, above-the-law actions there could yet cost the county millions in back pay for excessively mandated furlough time.  The Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission found the county negotiated in bad faith with its employee union and its furlough decision now could cost Milwaukee County up to $4.5 million.  The Commission says the county should have upheld a tentative agreement with the union in 2009, but then-County Exec Walker disagreed.   He attempted at the time to also institute a 35-hour work week for county employees to cover what he said was a $14.9 million shortfall--the County Board voted to rescind Walker's order when they declared the deficit was grossly exaggerated by Walker (Walker's number was more than three times the actual $4.5 million projected shortfall).

His arrogant actions have continued as Governor in making decrees that include numerous policies that are facing--or those on which he flipped because of--legal questions: collective bargaining, voter ID, additional furloughs for state prosecutors, to name a few.

Walker's actions follow the credo that it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. The only difference being, asking for forgiveness isn't even anywhere on his radar.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Green Wisconsin takes another step back

Wisconsin is open for business, unless that business has something to do with being Earth-friendly, that is.  A new legislative proposal, Assembly Bill 146, would prevent the expiration of ""energy credits" that encourage Wisconsin utilities to develop their own renewable energy.  Instead of focusing efforts on increasing production of renewable energy in Wisconsin, the Senate okayed last week importing electricity from a Canadian dam and counting it toward meeting our state green energy goals. 

Sen. Gaylord Nelson
This, coupled with continued hostility from Republicans towards wind turbines has, as Sen Mark Miller (D-Monona) says, "driven the development of wind energy out of this state..." In response to the state's lack of commitment to green energies, WE Energies has already canceled solar energy programs and there is concern that this bill could make a Madison-area wind farm currently under construction "the last renewable energy project in Wisconsin for years to come." (Thomas Conent of the Journal Sentinel).  Large-scale wind-farms have already been dropped earlier this year and here in the proud home state of environmental visionaries Sen. Gaylord Nelson and Aldo Leopold, land preservation, water pollution standards, and recycling programs have been seriously diminished or destroyed by Walker and his minions.

And, incredibly, it just keeps getting worse--which isn't good for our state, and certainly isn't good for our planet.

Photo of Gaylord Nelson from

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Why did the WI Republican cross the road...?

This sounds like a bad joke, but it's not.  The Milwaukee Common Council voted Tues. to allow residents to keep chickens if and only if the chicken owners get permission from all their neighbors and also pay for a permit.  The Wisconsin Senate Judiciary Committee votes Wed. to recommend that the state allow residents to keep concealed guns without any training or even obtaining a permit of any kind (previous post here).

That means, in the very near future of our state's largest city, it will be more restrictive to keep a chicken than it will be to keep a concealed weapon.

Does that sound right to you?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hell freezes over! Grothman disses Walker plan

Lucifer's probably strapping on his ice skates right now.  In what seems like an absolutely stunning move, my senator, Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), called Governor Walker's "Jobs Funds Now" program "the most dubious giveaway I've seen since I've been in the legislature." (JS Online)

Um, and he's right. Walker's plan (to create jobs, of course), as described by Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel, "would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to insurance companies, while giving control of a $250 million fund to out-of-state financial management companies that would not have to pay back the fund's principal and would keep up to 80% of its profits."  I think that's like giving money to your rich brother in the hopes that he'll give some of it to the other brother that really needs it.

Grothman cited similar failed Republican legislation from 2003 in his testimony to a joint committee last week.  The mere fact Grothman (as conservative and anti-everything as any Wisconsin legislator since possibly Joe McCarthy) was the sole objector out of 26 people testifying, really is amazing.  It's gotten me to thinking one of two things: He's got a hidden reason for doing this, or the guy from over the weekend missed doomsday, but not by much, for surely this has to be one of the seven signs of the apocalypse. But, don't get me wrong, Grothman is still a major d-bag, even if he once-in-a-while rightly criticizes Walker.

When Grothman (who called protesting teachers "slobs)" reinstates education funds, collective bargaining rights, money to too-many-to list programs to help people and not business, and then changes his deplorable views against women, single mothers, and minorities, then he'll deserve real credit.

UPDATE (8:15 PM): In response to some inquiries, Grothman is (unfortunately) not up for recall in this very Republicanized district. My apologies for not mentioning that in the post.
Read more about "Jobs Fund Now" at Democurmudgeon or from any of probably three million bloggers today.

Photo of Gothman from politifact.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

WI: Sat.'s Doomsday passed, other doomsdays loom

The predictions of a May 21 apocalypse have come and gone, but in Wisconsin, we'll see some doomsdays of our own in the coming days.

Wednesday will be doomsday for true democracy.  The Voter ID (suppression) bill, one that will require photo IDs and new residency requirements, will be signed into law that day, a law Walker hails as a measure that "will go a long way to eliminate the threat of voter fraud," despite virtually no evidence that such fraud is even committed. 

Will it stop people from voting?  Ask Senator Taylor of Milwaukee (her impassioned speech is here).  Ask the thousands upon thousands of Wisconsinites (some estimates say 20% of state voters don't currently have the required ID) , especially minorities, the elderly, those in rural areas, and the poor, who don't have photo ID , or won't be able or likely to obtain one (read a previous post here).  Ask my 78 year old mom, who doesn't anticipate renewing her drivers licence in a few years and joked with a stinging bit of truth, "I'll have to make sure I get my photo ID, though, so I can vote."  Or talk to my disabled and virtually housebound friend if he's even going to be able to stand in line at the DMV to get his.

Doomsday comes Monday for the integrity of state agencies.  Walker will be signing into law a vast increase in the powers of Governor (which Democrats called a power grab), in which the Governor can make rules for state agencies.  The law will strip such powers from agencies including the Department of Public Instruction and the state Department of Justice, which will, among other things, reduce the effectiveness of the Government Accountability Board (which oversees government ethics and elections).  Elected State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers wonders if it's even Constitutional (to which I'm certain Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) would state, as he's had to do to a plethora of recent underhanded Republican actions, that it is).

And doomsday for statewide safe drinking water will be Monday, too, when Walker officially repeals the requirement that communities disinfect their drinking water (although most still will).  Despite evidence showing the desirability of such a requirement, Rep. Eric Severson (R-Star Prairie) asked "Why don't you want these communities to make their own choice on this?"

So maybe doomsday wasn't Saturday, May 21.  For a lot of things in Wisconsin, the doomsday prediction wasn't far off.

And, unfortunately, there looks to be a lot more of them in our near future.

Walker photo from minnpost

Friday, May 20, 2011

WI Court recount over, Prosser wins: What now?

The "Immaculate Election" is complete. With the recount now over for the Supreme Court race, it appears David Prosser retains his seat over off-the-charts-underdog JoAnne Kloppenburg whose 200-vote, April 5, election-day victory miraculously turned into a 7,316-vote deficit because one-time Prosser aide and current Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus forgot--she forgot!--to count some 14,000 votes from heavily Republicanized Brookfield in Waukesha County (previous post here).  And, amazingly, it just happened to benefit Prosser, the candidate in this non-partisan post that the Walker administration brazenly said would best help advance its agenda.

Although Kloppenburg gained only 306 votes during the recount, the far greater impact was that of restoring faith in the state's election system and its officials.  Kloppenburg said in her statement at the time of the recount request, "We must restore trust and confidence in the integrity of this and future elections."

So, what happens now?  Does Kloppenburg go to court to challenge the recount?  Her camp isn't saying.  Blogger Cieran (writng at the Daily Kos), however, tracked nearly 5,000 votes that were suspicious due to things such as improperly sealed or registered ballot bags, so it appears there could at least be a possibility of some tainted ballots.  In the Journal Sentinel, however, former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske implied that kind of challenge would be a very tough battle.

If, on the other hand, there is evidence of something more sinister, shall we say, either behind the handling of ballots by Nickolaus or courtesy of some other improprieties, things could get interesting.

To be honest, though, even without a smoking cannon here, the more this stays in the headlines, the more energized the anti-Walker base will be as recall elections come this July. And if this lasts beyond August 1 (when the next Justice term is slated to start), there will be a vacant seat if the collective bargaining bill then comes before the Court, which could lead to a 3-3 tie, in which case, the Journal Sentinel reports, "a lower court might have the last word."

The recount may be over, but the excitement may have just begun.

Photo of Kloppenburg from

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sen. Taylor's incredible speech on WI's voter ID/suppression bill

Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milw) gave a speech for the ages on the Senate floor today regarding that which the Republicans passed as Voter ID.  Taylor hearkened back to Wisconsin laws barring voting supression as far back as 1849, and her very emphatic points include a passion and a real grasp for the truth behind this heinous Republican bill: to disinfranchise voters, especially minorities and the poor  (read an earlier post here). 

Republicans set an unbelievable and unconscionable one-hour limit for debate on the issue.   They were also met with cries from the public of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as they left the chamber, something, quite sadly,  they must be getting incredibly used to by now.  Eight Democrats refused to vote, and that bastion of democracy, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), reassured the people of Wisconsin that he was "confident the photo ID requirement was constitutional," something he, too, has gotten incredibly used to saying as of late in defending the underhanded politcs of his party (check out today's proceedings in the full  JS Online article by Patrick Marley).

And many thanks to Stacy B. who tipped me off on "another mind-blowing speech by Lena Taylor."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WI GOP moves: Change of heart, calculated, or scared?

Are state GOP "breaks" with parts of Walker's agenda the result of a change of heart and ideology (a break from the wealthy rule of plutocracy), or are they a calculated move (ask for a whole lot more, so merely a lot more doesn't seem so bad), or are such moves a response because Republicans are scared from the real threat of losing recall elections?

An unexpected $636 million windfall from tax revenue has helped shed more light on the true motives of the GOP.

We can rule out the first, it's no change of heart--the entire Republican legislature sided with Walker with no reservations for virtually the last few months.  Given the chance to use the $636 million to reduce the cuts, Walker and his legislators immediately said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Not gonna happen."

How about the second option? Remember not too long ago when oil companies jacked gas prices way past $3, so all of the sudden, $2.50 didn't seem so bad?  Maybe Walker asked for these cuts (such as SeniorCare, BadgerCare, education, recycling, farmland preservation, local governments, mass transit, for example), so when he'd have his loyal legislative minions request some restorations, they assumed people would say, "Thank goodness they restored that...Maybe they're not so bad, after all, those Republicans, hey?"

But it's obviously disingenuous.

The Walker regime can pass--and has shown it will pass--whatever law it wants, no matter what the public says (witness 100,000 people protesting at the capitol against "budget repair," and the illegal--or at least unethical--way it was pushed through the Assembly).  Walker and his pals have shown time and again they don't give a crap about anything except appeasing big business and dismantling the Democrat base (witness Voter ID  and union-busting).

So, that leaves us with door number three.  Successful recall elections are a very real possibility--ones that could turn the Senate and eventually turn out the Governor.  So, now, out of nowhere, Republicans say the $636 million should be used to reduce some cuts, even in--you've gotta be kidding me--education, the institution they've virtually accused of sucking the state taxpayers dry (witness Fond du Lac's recall-bound Senator Randy Hopper now pleading for restoring education funds).  Somewhere, one of the Republican think tank (a very shallow tank, to be sure) said, "Um, you know what?  If we all get voted out of office, those dirty scheming Democrats are going to cheat by trying to change the rules we set up.  Maybe we should throw them a bone to get them off our tails." 

And that bone right now is in the form of SeniorCare and recycling, among others.  Although I am very happy these cuts look as though they will be reduced, I, for one, (and now one of a not-so-silent majority) am going to do whatever I can to make sure we stay on their tails until democracy, and not plutocracy, once again governs our state.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Finally! Wisconsin gets some positive coverage in national media

Don Gorske of Fond du Lac was celebrated because tonight he ate his 25,000th Big Mac! The first day for his obsession was also May 17--in 1972--when he ate nine of the double decker burgers.  Now, maybe finally we can get Scott Walker and the Republicans off the front page. 
Thanks to the AP article in the Washington Post and to the FdL Reporter.  Photo at right is of Gorske's 18,000th Big Mac, from an unknown few years ago.

Brief Newt in WI update: still on for Wed.

Former Speaker and current presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is still slated to host an "open house" near LaCrosse tomorrow night (Wed.) at 6:30 PM, according to a spokesperson this evening from Drugan's Castle Mound Country Club in Holmen , where Gingrich will appear in the "Grand Norway Area."  The event is open to the public, and while it appears there will be no speech, there will likely be opportunity to meet and greet the former Speaker.  Oh, it will also include a cash bar and appetizers (although it was unclear whether or not the appetizers will be free--most likely with public workers having to pay their fair share).

Gingrich is in the midst of a primarily Iowa campaign swing, during which, according to the Des Moines Register, he's "targeting "Obamacare" and promising to eliminate or reduce taxes, mostly for businesses"  (that's a surprise, right?). It's thought that Gingrich has to also assuage conservative angst on character issues which arose primarily from his own marital infidelity  (with eventual current third wife Callista) as he railed about then-President Clinton's infidelity with a White House intern.

Tonight (Tues.), Gingrich is in Minneapolis as the main speaker at a $100+ plate dinner for the conservative Minnesota Family Council.

Wednesday's event in Holmen is about 20 minutes north of LaCrosse, at Drugan's, a site that has hosted Gingrich events before, with owners Mike and Mary Drugan having known for many years Gingrich's current wife Callista, who grew up in nearby Whitehall.

If you go, give my best to the Newtster.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Walker brings the Fonz on board

 Governor Walker has come up big in his pledge to boost the state's tourism industry.  His Department's new "Picture the Fun" tourism campaign travels back to the '50's with the announcement that Wisconsin tourism has brought aboard "The Fonz" actor Henry Winkler from the 1970's TV sitcom "Happy Days" in a 2011 ad to promote the state.  I think it's possible Walker thinks he's Fonzie--viewed as cool and able to solve everyone's problems. Comparing Walker to the bronze Fonz in downtown Milwaukee, it's hard to tell whose head is harder.

Photo of Walker on a Harley from

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Republicans screw WI's teachers yet again

I'm a teacher, and I'm pissed off.  Wisconsin Republicans are going directly after my profession again, and they don't seem to realize (or care) that their moves directly impact kids.  The stripping of collective bargaining, overnight mandatory pension and health "contributions," insults, and almost $1 billion in cuts to WI's education aren't enough, now teachers are going to be disciplined on how their students perform on a one-shot standardized test. 

This is part of the state's proposed new education "reform," which also includes increased charter schools (which haven't been proven to be more effective)--with lax teacher requirements, no income restrictions for participating families, no caps on participation, and not the same required standardized tests as public schools. (Click here for a great article about such detriments and corporate connections).

So, why is this a bad idea? Let me count the ways. Standardized tests aren't really accurate measures of what all kids have learned. Some kids don't do well on one-shot paper-pencil tests.  Some students excel in areas not fully covered by testing (I've got a student who will be the next Stephen King, but his creative writing is never so assessed). Some kids are at a disadvantage because they haven't had the same experiences or backgrounds (I'm required to give an elemenrtary assessment that includes canoes--which if a kid doesn't know that word, they have a problem). 

Kids--just like adults--also have bad days. Imagine if all jobs were dependent on how your production was on a particular day--nevermind that you just had some problem with your family, or the neighbor's party kept you up all night, or you have a touch of the stomach flu.  Your performance on this particular day is the one that counts, And then imagine your boss got paid or judged on your performance for that day alone.  If the state government had that requirement, in light of the nine looming Senate recalls, Walker wouldn't be drawing a salary.

Some years, some groups of kids learn better than others. If I was judged on the smart, enthusiastic kids I have this year, I'd be rich, I guess.  If I was judged on the performances of an unmotivated, not-as-academically-bright class from a few years ago--a class with which I had to work even harder--I'd now be unemployed.  And that same group, sadly, has had difficulties throughout their school careers, despite the best efforts of some very good and dedicated teachers.

And just for argument's sake, how do you judge a class on a standardized test?  Do you give the blame to the current teacher, or the previous teacher?  The one before that?  The "inadequate" experience they had in Kindergarten?  And how about the fact that not even all grades have standardized testing?  Which, by the way, some non-public schools won't even be required to do the state standardized test ever.

And how does this affect students? 

If the impetus behind this is eliminating bad teaching and removing bad teachers, this process will do exactly the opposite.  In lieu of creative thinking and problem solving, students may very well spend their time getting ready for this paper and pencil test.  Bad teachers will look good.  Bad teaching will look good.  Test scores will look good.  But the kids will be much worse off.

Instead, reform the teacher evaluation processes, provide resources for schools, don't tie the hands of public schools by paying students to go elsewhere.  Give a better chance for students--and teachers--to be successful.

And make those changes in an inclusive way--don't just have corporate interests, or those fearful of getting axed by the Walker administration, on such a panel.  This isn't a slam against college drop-outs, but I don't want one in charge of running our educational system--just as I wouldn't want the guy who didn't finish med school doing my heart surgery.

Whew.  Thanks for letting me get that all off my chest.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Newt's Wednesday Wisconsin visit could be fun

Bigtime Walker-backer Newt Gingrich, one week removed from officially announcing his Presidential candidacy, is coming to newly hostile territory in Holmen this Wednesday at 6:30 PM.  The La Crosse Tribune reports the former House Speaker will be visiting Drugan's Castle Mound Country Club in Holmen, about 20 minutes north of La Crosse, near the hometown of Gingrich's third and current wife, Callista.  And I can't imagine the visit will go unnoticed--by the media, or by anti-Walkerites near Holmen.

Gingrich called for Americans to "help" Walker  in February, describing the Madison protests as "a campaign of intimidation and cowardice, (in which) the government employee union bosses and the Democratic Party that is beholden to them, are trying to thwart the will of the people." 

We'll see what the "will of the people" really is.

La Crosse is ground zero for the recall effort.  Current district Republican Senator Dan Kapanke is very vulnerable (he won his 2008 by a scant 2%).  The area's 94th District Assembly seat was recently won by Democrat Steve Doyle, an upset considering it had been held by Walker crony Mike Huebsch from 1995 until earlier this year when Walker appointed him to be his Secretary of Administration, the right-hand-man post in which Huebsch was the chief author of the anti-collective bargaining bill.

Clearly, the will of the people has changed, Newt.  I can only imagine that if people stood outside Walker's Wauwatosa home in February, greeted Paul Ryan with jeers at town meetings, and even came out to join Walker when he went fishing, for goodness sakes, it's likely you're going to get a front-row seat to that change come Wednesday evening.

Have a nice visit.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Voter ID: Republicans 1, Democracy 0

Couched in the guise of preventing "rampant" voter fraud, Wisconsin's Republican Assembly approved the voter ID bill late Wednesday night, making it just an inevitable skip through the Senate and on to Walker to bring this further attempt at Republican-fueled, apparent world-domination into law.

It's not necessary and it's not a good idea for the voters of the state.  Republicans know this.  This is a calculated move to make a variety of voters--college students, the elderly, minorities, heck, anyone most likely to vote Democrat--less likely to vote.  According to research presented to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board earlier this year, "ethnic and racial minorities, high school and college students, senior citizens and disabled, women, and those with low incomes" are more likely not to possess state-issued, photo identification.

A UWM study from 2005 found about 23% of those Wisconsin residents age 65 and older, don't have a state photo ID (177,399 people).  Nor do approximately 100,000 Wisconsinites from age 34-65.  That's a lot of people left out in the cold.

College students could use a college ID, if it had their current address on it, which no UW system school presently provides.

When you bring minorities into the equation, voter ID seems downright racist.  According to the same UWM study, Milwaukee County had only 47% of African American adults and 43% of Hispanic adults with valid drivers' licenses.  The rest of the state came in at 85%.

Even in Indiana, where folks claim voter ID is working, those without ID are more likely to be Democrats that Republicans due to accessibility, familiarity and comfort with bureaucratic red tape, fewer resources, and less knowledge of political processes.

And the fraud won't even be prevented.  It's thought that such a measure would prevent people from voting as someone else, but not one of the 20 voter fraud cases from Milwaukee County in 2008 were even of that variety.

Oh, yeah, and it'll cost in the vicinity of five million dollars, likely with additional costs per year.

So what does it sound like: a really necessary idea advanced for the good of the people, or more of the same self-serving legislation advanced for the good of the Republicans?

As echoed through the Assembly chamber to protest this bill on Wednesday afternoon, "Shame, shame, shame!"

For a visual take on this deplorable issue check out this Phil Hands cartoon of the Wisconsin State Journal.

Pardon the interruption...

Blogger was down for a day.  Regular posts should resume shortly...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One recall in the Hopper

It's official. The recall signatures are valid. Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) better start updating his resume.  Although several GOP State Senators are vulnerable in upcoming recall elections (i.e., Alberta Darling of River Hills, who won by only two percentage points in 2008, and Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, where part of his district recently toppled the longtime tradition of Republicans in the Assembly), none seems nearly as ripe for the picking as does Hopper.

Hopper won his 2008 seat in a virtual dead heat with Democrat Jessica King of Oshkosh (a 180 vote difference out of more than 80,000 cast), who will face him in the recall election.  Recall petitions gathered more than 150% of the signatures needed to bring the election (more than 23,000), tentatively slated for July 12. 

And Hopper's personal problems likely won't help him either.  Last year, Hopper's wife issued a public statement to Milwaukee's WTMJ that declared her husband of 25 years had moved out and was having an affair with a Republican aide.  What makes it even more interesting is that the aide, Valerie Cass, was given a job in the Walker administration,  a hiring the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice reports may have been less than transparent.  For good measure, there were even unsubstantiated reports that Hopper's wife had signed one of the recall petitions.

And so it begins.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Concealed guns for everyone!

Republicans are about to turn back the clock--to 1872, the last time it was lawful to carry concealed weapons in the state (great background here).  That means the stressed guy in the next cubicle, the angry road-rage hothead you just accidentally cut off in traffic, the drunk who's picking fights in the bar could all be packing heat.

And it gets better.  A current Republican-sponsored bill would require no permits, no background checks, and no training. (JS Online article here).  But the bill does have the stringent requirements that someone walking around with a loaded handgun in their Jockeys be at least 21 years old, not a felon, and not have been ruled mentally incompetent.  Thank goodness, huh?

I admit I don't know an awful lot about the issue.  My post was late tonight because I was doing some more research on it.  It seems a lot of the pro-concealed carry argument comes from the seminal Lott-Mustard study of 1997 showing that concealed carry correlates with lowered crime (because, as Lott says, "criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves").  However, there are studies reviewing the same statistics and coming to the conclusion that concealed carry actually increases crime (one example study here).  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any reputable studies from the last ten years that backed either side. 

To be sure, Wisconsin is one of only two states (along with Illinois) that does not allow concealed carry.  And even Senator Russ Feingold backed a Republican-sponsored proposal in 2009 that would have allowed concealed carry into Wisconsin if it was legal in someone's home state.

But that doesn't make it right.

And they figured that out already back in the days of Billy the Kid..

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day from Governor Walker

Governor Scott Walker said today he has "great respect for mothers, I really do."  Shortly thereafter, he announced that today mothers will have to contribute 50% of their brunch costs saying, "It's time mothers pay their fair share."  Walker went on to remark, "It gives kids the tools to balance their budgets" and that "Most mothers would be happy to get this kind of deal."  Walker also promoted his "Mother Recognition Program" to acknowledge the fine work they do in working with the children of our state.  It's a program, as Walker stated, designed to "highlight the most outstanding mothers with public recognition."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Republicrap: Turds from the Capitol

Just a fun, few days from the Republicans have provided a steaming pile of news. 

1. After preaching how important law enforcement is before and during his election, Walker announced last month he'd impose layoffs to state prosecutors because they wouldn't agree to furlough days.  Walker stayed with that completely contradictory stance, until another took center stage:  he realized that he didn't have the legal authority to do so.  So, today, Walker flipped again and said, "public safety is a top concern of my administration and thousands of Wisconsin families that cannot be disregarded. For this reason, we will ensure that prosecutors are not furloughed and receive the funding necessary to pursue justice."  Now, please understand, yesterday this wasn't important at all.

2. Wisconsin's own Reince Priebus, the Republican National Chairman says the Wisconsin vote in 2010 was, indeed, a mandate to act.  That's a mandate in a governor's race in which a three percent swing would have swung the election the other way.  In Milwaukee in 2008, the people of the city voted for a "sick leave" ordinance , 69%-31%.  That seems like a mandate.  When the ordinance even passed a court of appeals, that's when Walker and his pals went to work.  Igonoring this mandate, Republicans passed a bill which Walker signed into law to make such local ordinances illegal (because Walker said it would be bad for businesses).  Milwaukee Democratic Rep. Christine Sinicki called it "a slap in the face to the people of the City of Milwaukee."  If you're scoring at home, a 5+% gubernatorial victory is a mandate to do whatever you want if you're a Madison Republican, while a 38% margin, legally upheld victory on a local ordinance can just be made illegal if it doesn't fit in with the Republican agenda.

3. My personal favorite: As you no doubt know by now, Governor Walker--after eliminating collective bargaining and passing legislation to purposely break public unions; after his legislators called public workers all sorts of nasty names including slobs, thugs, and greedy; after mandating wage cuts of around 8% only to some public workers (with no discussion, by the way), a package he implies his bartender brother would love to have--has just announced a program to recognize outstanding state employees. As Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl writes, "Wow, this could be one awkward awards ceremony."

News from the last few days also includes the serious charges of fraud in recall petitions, fast-tracking open-pit mining in ecologically fragile areas (original post from Uppity Wisconsin), and a guilty plea for illegal campaign contributions from a Walker backer who amazingly says he didn't realize he did anything wrong, even though he also made illegal contributions to Walker's campaign in 2005!

I thought the aroma I smelled was the result of the springtime fields of nearby farmers. 

I guess I was mistaken.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lies and more lies: Recall Petitions against Dems fraudulently obtained?

Democrats have challenged recall petitions filed against three Democratic State Senators due to widespread allegations of fraud.  Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona), in a press release today (and reported by Tim Tolan in JS Online), said that the collection of signatures to recall Sens. Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie and Jim Holperin of Conover, "shows a pervasive pattern of election fraud committed by the shady out-of-state organization hired by Republicans to collect recall petitions."


Republicans farmed out signature collection to Kennedy Enterprises of Colorado, some of whose employees reportedly used measures to collect signatures that included hiding the true purpose of the petition, and even spouted outright lies (according to the Daily Kos, lies such as circulating petitions among Indian peoples claiming they were for "tribal rights").   Some signers that had been named outright denied ever even signing such a petition (Wisconsin State Journal).

And this isn't just a couple of signatures, or the deceased father of a Democratic Representative (as was found to be the case on a Wirch recall petition earlier this week), reportedly thousands of signatures appear to have been obtained in this manner.  The Daily Kos has specifics of many of the charges, which, to be honest, are numerous and, in some cases, astounding.

Get ready for the desperate spin from the right that Democrats signed the petitions fraudulently to discredit the recall efforts.  But what makes more sense--that a mercenary company whose employees reportedly got paid per signature did whatever it could to obtain as many signatures as possible (with no real concern or connection to the voters or issues in this state) or that the Democrats flew way below the radar, filing incredible numbers of false signatures without allowing enough true signatures to be collected alongside them?

Let's just say, based on their recent track record regarding lies and deception within our state, I'm not betting on the Republicans to come out on top.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Walker takes big hit in Assembly race outcome

Democrats won only one seat in the WI State Assembly, but look whose seat it was. And, boy, is it a big deal.

Democrat Steve Doyle defeated Republican John Lautz in the 94th State Assembly District (Monroe and LaCrosse Counties) by a 54%-46% margin for the seat vacated by Republican Mike Huebsch, who was tabbed by Walker to become his Secretary of Administration.

So why is this such a big deal?

Huebsch is Walker's guy--responsible for the budget and for writing the proposal that eliminated collective bargaining for state employees.   Huebsch's hometown paper, the LaCrosse Tribune calls Huebsch the "man in charge" and occupying "what is widely regarded as the most powerful political seat in Wisconsin after the Governor."  As a matter of fact, the last time we saw an Assembly race in the 94th District, Huebsch was re-elected with almost 60% of the vote.

If the people were really with him and his policies, wouldn't you figure his replacement would be a shoo-in?  Instead, a Democrat got the nod in a larger margin (8%) than Walker's self-implied "mandate" when he beat Barrett in the 2010 Gubernatorial election  (about 5%).  It's not unlike what happened to Walker's replacement for his Milwaukee County Executive post, although that was even more pronounced--Walker's pal Jeff Stone got positively stomped by newcomer Chris Abele 61%-39%.

That means the Republican-connected replacements of the state's two most influential politicians most responsible for recent policies of current Wisconsin government were absolutely spanked.

That is a big deal.

The other Assembly races in Republican-laden districts, the 60th (Washington &Ozaukee Counties) and the 83rd (Waukesha, Walworth & Racine Counties) weren't close, but Dem Rick Aaron in 60 garnered 24% in a district that didn't even bother to run a Democrat in 2010, and James Brownlow gained about 5%  from his Democratic predecessor in the 2010 election. (2010 results here; 2011 results here).

So it looks as though the non-Walker base is out there.  It's alive and breathing, and soon will be coming for some unscrupulous Senators.

And, then, Governor, it's coming for you.

Chink in the Armor?

I was going to wait until the results were in, but I'm going to say ahead of time that, yes, the special elections for three Wisconsin State Assembly seats is an important statement for non-Walker forces.

Walker's appointment of three Representatives for his administration created the openings in a 60 Rep-37 Dem (one independent) State Assembly, and to be honest, moving three to the Blue side of the aisle won't make much of a difference as far as voting legislation goes.  The Republican puppets will still do as the puppetmaster commands.

However, the results will speak volumes about the satisfaction level of Wisconsin voters.  Some, such as the AP in the Chicago Tribune, are touting this as a virtual referendum on labor issues.

If labor has managed to mobilize and keep its base energized, there should be some tangible results.  Just as JoAnne Kloppenburg ran David Prosser to an almost vrtual dead heat in the State Supreme Court race--after finishing 30 points behind him in the primary--and the in-your-face vote for Milwaukee County exec Chris Abele over Walker pal Jeff Stone--in Walker's old job, by an incredible 61%-39% margin, so, too, will this gauge how the electorate is leaning.

Granted, of these three Assembly seats, two--District 60 in Washington/Ozaukee Counties (Candidate Rick Aaron), and District 83 (Candidate James Brownlow against Paul Ryan disciple Dave Craig) in Racine/Walworth/Waukesha--are stalwart Republican strongholds.  Even a 30% showing for Dems would be somewhat of a statement (Democrats usually garner no more than 25% or so of the vote in these districts).  35% would be major.  UPDATE: Upon further review, District 83 only went 21% for Dems in 2010, District 60 didn't even run a candidate. 
District 94 (parts of LaCrosse and Monroe Counties) has a real chance to turn the tide (as of this moment, LaCrosse station WXOW is reporting a 51-49% lead for Democrat Steve Doyle, with 23% of the precincts reporting).

It's possible by the time I actually get off my butt and post this thing, the election results will be announced.

Hopefully, for the state of Wisconsin, it's good news.


9:27 PM JS Online
Dist. 60  100% reporting
Stroebel , GOP, 7,331 votes, 76%
Aaron,     Dem,  2,357 votes, 24%

Dist. 83  100% reporting
Craig,      GOP,  8,313 votes, 74%
Brownlow, Dem, 2,895 votes, 26%

Dist. 94 100% reporting
Lautz       GOP,  7,219 votes, 46%
Doyle,     Dem,  8,369 votes, 54%

Monday, May 2, 2011

Special Election Tuesday--Vote!

Tuesday (tomorrow) is a special election to fill three seats vacated by Republicans appointed to Walker's administration.  Even though the elections are in pretty heavy Republican districts, I'm betting not a lot of Republicans show up to vote, so it's possible for a strong Dem showing. 

In my nearby race:
State Assembly 60th District  (Hey, you Trenton people, GO VOTE)--Democrat Rick Aaron,
former teacher and veteran, info about Rick Aaron info here and here.

District 83: Democrat James Brownlow info here
District 94: Democrat Steve Doyle info here

Call your friends and neighbors to help Dems (aka "voice of reason") make up some ground in the State Assembly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Obama's big news: Is Bin Laden dead?

Link here to (original source for this post)

Updated 9:52 PM    According to NBC News Reports, bin Laden is confirmed dead by a military action and the US forces have Bin Laden's body.  Obama is preparing to address the nation.
Link to msnbc here.

Updated 10:55 PM  Personal viewpoint: If anyone's death is justified, the horror and hatred caused by bin Laden made his so.  Someone asked me if he's in his heaven now.  Islam is not about hatred, it is about love.  In my religion, my God is about love.  Right now, no doubt in my mind, bin Laden is burning in his hell.

Never rest in peace, bin Laden.

Obama's powerful message:

Recalls and a house divided...

At a rally here to recall my State Senator Glenn Grothman, people told me of changes in their lives since Scott Walker arrived.  I heard about friends who no longer spoke to one another, and sleepless nights for public workers wondering how to make up a shortfall of hundreds of dollars per month.  Twenty-something Austin was there--as he was in Madison--to "fight a good fight," showing support for his mom, a public school teacher.  There were stories about educators with family members that openly express derision towards teachers and public education, sentiments that weren't even in the conversation three months ago.  And I thought of the distrust and the acrimony of the Supreme Court election, and the misinformation that spews daily on the Internet.

Republican Abraham Lincoln once said, "A house divded against itself cannot stand."  Republican Governor Walker recently said, "Sometimes, bipartisanship is not good."  To those ends, Walker has continued to divide, not unite.  As a result, we'll have maybe nine recall elections this summer.  I can't imagine that will initially bring anyone together.

I spoke with a Walker backer protesting the Grothman recall rally, a very nice guy named Mike.  He's been laid off a painfully long time, hoping for the promised creation of jobs, and tax rates that won't take any more out of his already-too-empty pockets.  His parting comment was,"They talk about jobs and unemployment--both sides--and to them, I'm just a figure, and I'm not.  I'm a real person."

And I couldn't help but hope that no matter which side ends up running the show, they remember Lincoln's words and not Walker's, that instead of dividing, they work to unite all of us, public workers like me and nice guys like Mike.

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