Sunday, April 30, 2006
Good thing we have elected officials that will take action to help us right? Well, it depends on who is supposed to be representing you in Washington. On Thursday a vote was taken in the House of Representatives proposing to take back the huge tax cuts that were given specifically to the big oil companies. The House voted and the proposal was defeated 232-190. This in the face of unprecedented profits for those companies and record costs to consumers.
Congressman Mark Green voted for the big oil companies. Yes their record profits are never enough apparently. Even while Green's constituents suffer at the pump, Green's guarding the back of the same people that are gouging them. I'd like to see someone do a campaign commercial on that one.
Green was not alone in that vote as he was joined by all of the other Republican Congressmen from Wisconsin.
This is not the first time that the Wisconsin Republicans in Congress have sided with big oil rather than the ever suffering consumer. Last year all Wisconsin Republicans voted in lockstep to successfully stop legislation that would have given the government more tools to stop price gouging.
Does anyone else see a pattern here? Apparently if you are a Republican Congressman your loyalties lie with Bush and his oil pals, rather than the common man and constituent.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
In a lengthy private meeting earlier Thursday, Assembly Republicans overwhelmingly voted to kill a bill that would merge the state Ethics Board and Elections Board and give the new agency more power to ferret out corruption.Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) claims that he wanted to kill ethics reform because he wants more public input on the subject. It also seems that he wants more time to look at the issue. My question is how much more time do you need? Didn't the caucus scandal hit in 2002? Exactly how much time do you need to start policing yourselves in Madison? I think that this is all just spin for "we don't want no darn ethics reform!"
They scuttled the bill less than three weeks before a Dane County judge is to sentence former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (R-Town of Brookfield), who was convicted of three felonies and one misdemeanor for ordering aides to campaign on state time.
Jensen is one of five lawmakers - three Republicans and two Democrats - convicted of misconduct since last fall.
The Republican-run Senate passed the bill 28-5 last year, and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle has cited the measure as a top priority.
Sen. Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), sponsor of the bill, said he was disappointed with the outcome.
"It tells you they don't appreciate the gravity . . . that the Wisconsin Legislature has serious ethical problems," he said.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, is quoted as saying the following:
"It's arrogant beyond belief," Heck said. "Are they so disconnected with the rest of the citizens of this state that they think people don't care about this stuff?"From your lips to God's ears Mr. Heck, from your lips to God's ears.
He said, "People will remember in November," when all 99 Assembly seats are up for election.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
It seems strange that they would pass this watered down version during a time when we are paying nearly $3.00 a gallon. We are not in the midst of any natural disaster or emergency right now, so this legislation does nothing about the price gouging that we are suffering from right now.
What is the lesson here? The Republicans have been dragged kicking and screaming to do something about price gouging. Now they can use this bill to say that they "did something." The problem with the "something" that they did is that it doesn't help a soul who is struggling right now.
"We have in Wisconsin terrorists who are training and raising funds," Van Hollen said. "We don't need to be paranoid, but we need to be vigilant."
After making these shocking comments the story says that Van Hollen refused to give any details about the alleged terrorist activities citing confidentiality.
OK, I have a question here. If he really did have information about terrorists plotting in our backyards then why would he say anything at all? Wouldn't that help tip off the alleged terrorists that the feds are on to them?
I can only come to one of three possible conclusions here: A. Van Hollen is over hyping something that he saw in his former job and attempting to use it for political gain. B. Van Hollen is totally making this up for political gain. or the least likely C. Van Hollen is correct and he just blew the feds cover for political gain. No matter which of the three is correct, Van Hollen is not fit do be dog catcher much less Attorney General.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Gazette story focuses on his travel records from the third quarter of 2003. The story reports that Green’s records for that period seem to mix official public business with campaign activity. The story reports that analyzing the documents filed with the FEC are confusing.
Green insists his travel policy is black and white. But searching for an accounting of travel expenses for any particular trip in his FEC report is not as clear-cut.
Although Green’s FEC reports follow federal guidelines, pinpointing how certain trips are reflected in the reports can be confusing because of how the FEC lists disbursements and because of the lack of details required to explain those disbursements.
The story also reveals that the line items are not nearly specific enough and the listing of disbursements is nearly impossible to track.
Green’s FEC report, available online, listed his disbursement transactions in alphabetical order by vendor, making it difficult to track because the transactions are not grouped by date.
His FEC report, however, lists campaign disbursements by date.The public, however, has access to the report only through the FEC filing.
To add confusion, some line items on the report merely say “credit card fees,” with no explanation.
“Simply reporting a payment to a credit card company does not tell the public what you really bought with that money,” McCabe said. “It’s a practice that amounts to concealment, and it doesn’t serve the public interest at all.” (Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign)
Where has Mark Green been all of his time in Congress when it came to making this reporting process more transparent? Too busy thinking about his run for governor? If he wants to pretend now that he is holding some higher standard why didn’t he start with these FEC filings from 2003? Perhaps he would say that he did not because the FEC did not require it. I’m fairly certain that he is not required to give back his pay either, so why is he volunteering to do one but not the other? It seems that his sudden inspiration is more due to it being an election year than to any crisis of conscience. A gimmick rather than a principled stand.
Monday, April 24, 2006
To support her legislation, Yarbrough is relying on a provision from Jefferson's Manual, a procedural handbook written by Thomas Jefferson as a supplement to U.S. House rules.Judiciary Committee? Oh my, does that mean that we would have to count on F. Jim for some accountability? That is certainly not likely to happen.
Jefferson wrote that there are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion, including "charges transmitted from the legislature of a State."
If Yarbrough's resolution passes the General Assembly, it would go to the U.S. House, where it likely would be referred to the Judiciary Committee, said a spokesman for the Committee on U.S. House Administration.
Even though it is likely that this resolution will not go very far, it can at least send a message to the GOP led Congress. It appears that state legislators in California are now following Illinois in this effort.
According to the Illinois resolution the reasons for the measure are some of the following:
Bush has "willfully violated his oath of office" by manipulating intelligence to start the war in Iraq, leaking classified national secrets and authorizing illegal spying on American citizens.True that! Where do I sign up?
Friday, April 21, 2006
What was the result of this independent evaluation? Vast corruption? Pay-for-Play activities?
A complicated web of conspiracy? No, no, and nope. The Journal Sentinel headline sums it up nicely: "State Contracting Called Sound".
Does this mean that Republicans will finally stop with the innuendo and false accusations? Does it mean that they will stop with the elaborate conspiracy theories? Will they finally focus with their own culture of corruption in D.C.? I can't answer for them, but I'd say no, no, and nope.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I hope that Wisconsin seniors follow Mark Green around the state as he campaigns for governor and ask him why he supported such a troubling program. First we find out that the thing is more expensive for seniors and the government, then we find out that the "benefit" nearly kills Wisconsin's Senior Care program. Now it's cause for older folks to get threatening letters in the mail.
Insurers have notified tens of thousands of people in Medicare's new drug benefit plan that they might be kicked out because their premiums have not been paid.
But many who received the letters in the past few days insist they have already paid, have signed up for automatic Social Security deductions or qualify for free coverage, according to insurance counseling programs in California, New York, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.
"A lot of people are very concerned that they might lose their coverage," says Jack Vogelsong, director of the Apprise counseling program in Pennsylvania, which has received more than 800 calls in the past few days.
Medicare officials are trying to ease the anxiety, saying normal one- to two-month delays in processing enrollment into Social Security's automatic payment plan might be partly to blame...
If this big government program was his idea of ÂhelpingÂ seniors then please remind me to keep my grandmother away from Mark Green.
It appears that the Wisconsin Hospital Association wants to be a secret society. According to a story today, they are not very happy that Governor Doyle vetoed a bill earlier this week that THEY WROTE.
The governor vetoed a bill that would have prevented lawyers from subpoenaing information on health care quality when suing hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association, which helped write the bill, said it was needed to encourage hospitals to collect and analyze information on mistakes and other so-called adverse events. That is necessary for hospitals to learn how mistakes can be prevented. At the same time, hospitals worry that information could be used against them in malpractice lawsuits, the association contends.
But opponents - including the governor and Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager - contend that the legislation would have given hospitals sweeping privileges to keep information secret.
Now I could easily get distracted by the story reporting that these lobbyists are writing our bills in Wisconsin, but I'll fight the urge and stay focused.
The WHA claims that this data should be hidden because it's secrecy will help "to continue and encourage the multiple health care reporting and (quality) initiatives that Wisconsin has been engaged in."
So you damage someone through medical malpractice and the first thing you do to improve quality is to sweep everything under the carpet? How does it help improve quality when you have no one holding you accountable? Wouldn't the fact that you screwed up be the driving force behind wanting to improve quality?
Allow me to make a comparison. If I had a bad accident in which I was at fault and the other person was going to sue me, would it be appropriate to hide my driving record from them or their attorneys? I could use the same excuse as the WHA couldn't I?
"Well, you see sir, I want to improve the quality of my driving therefore I don't want you to see how bad my driving was in the past. I must hide my driving records because that will make me drive better in the future."
Doesn't that sound crazy?
Let's call this legislation what it really is, a preemptive strike against victims of medical malpractice before they have even entered a courthouse.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The right wingers have been pretty successful in tagging this tax the "death tax." This name change is not accurate but has been effective in convincing regular folks that they will somehow be affected by the estate tax. It is a tax on the passing of a large amount of wealth, it is not a tax on your death per se.
I have always believed that the vast majority of people in our country do not have enough to be on the receiving end of the estate tax. Based on statistics on a web site that I recently found, my suspicions have been confirmed. Here is an example of how many Wisconsinites are actually affected by the estate tax:
In 2003 when the exemption amount was $1 million, only 544 of the 46174 decendent in Wisconsin had estate tax liability Â 99.7 percent ofdecedents paid no estate tax
If the exemption amount increases to $2.5 million, 99.9 percent of Wisconsin decedents would not pay estate tax, and the number of estates liable for federal estate taxes is reduced by 80 percent
Estate tax repeal is estimated to cost nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars from 2011 Â 2020. If the exemption amount is set at $2.5 million this reform option would cost approximately half the amount of repeal.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
In today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we learn what seems obvious, oil prices are setting records. While working people continue to struggle, pundits and Big Oil spinsters give us a steady diet of mumbo jumbo to explain the phenomenon. Our Oil Executive in Chief says and does very little to ease our burden as his pals add to their soaring wealth. What is a peasant to do?
Well, thankfully we at least have a governor that is watching our back. Governor Doyle has urged the Republican controlled legislature to pass a price-gouging bill. It is not clear if the Republican leadership in the legislature will actually take action on this issue. Given their delayed reaction to giving extra help for heating bills this winter, I don't think I'll hold my breath.
WMC’s gripe is that another source (the Tax Foundation) ranks Wisconsin 7th highest. This shows us that WMC doesn’t mind engaging in their own distortion. They fail to mention how the same study shows that Wisconsin’s highest tax burden was on Republican watch. Yes that’s right, as we reported last week. The tax burden was highest when Tommy Thompson was governor and Mark Green was in the legislature. The very study that they cite shows that Wisconsin’s tax burden ranking has steadily fallen under Doyle. All of this while balancing a monstrous budget inherited by the impulsive spending GOP.
If they were not a simple tool of the Republican Party, they would give Doyle an award or something. Unfortunately they seem content to distort about alleged distortions.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
In any case, I thought that in honor of Mark Green’s press release and Tommy “I need camera time” Thompson, I’d look at the tax burden now as compared to previous years. It should be noted that I am simply relying on the same source that Green used in his press release.
If you take a look at the figures for the time that Governor Doyle has been in office, the recorded tax burden has gone down from the bad old days of Tommy Thompson. The Doyle years range anywhere between 11.3% and 11.7%. During the Tommy Thompson years the tax burden on Wisconsinites ranged from 11.8% to 12.4%. Wisconsin was ranked as high as second in the nation in terms of our tax burden during the Thompson years. The highest that we have been ranked under Doyle has been 4th place early in his administration with a steady decline to 7th.
In 1994 Wisconsin had it's highest tax burden (at least since 1972) at 12.4%. That same year we were ranked as the state with the second highest tax burden in the nation. How ironic that when we’ve had some of the largest tax burdens in this state, it was Republican Governor Tommy Thompson at the helm with state legislator Mark Green serving the supporting role.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
They asked those that were polled, " what is the most important problem facing Wisconsin". Take a guess what was not on the list....The need to "defend marriage" scored a big goose egg. At least those that want to defeat the discrimination Against Gays Amendment (DAGA) scored a 1% on this question.
So much for this big manufactured crisis that the right wingers have dredged up. Wisconsinites are clearly more concerned with everyday issues. Taxes, the economy, jobs, education and healthcare topped the list.
According to these poll results it seems that citizens have not been fooled in making this proposed amendment a major concern in their lives. Let's hope that this will translate to them voting against it in November.
He proclaims a 3-1 margin over his primary opponent J.B. Van Hollen in his press release. There may be a reason that he does not actually cite the actual statistic because it is rather embarrassing. The poll has Bucher leading Van Hollen with a pathetic 15%-6% (with 40% undecided). My first question is why Undecided's campaign is the only one to not to spin out a press release today.
Paul Bucher must really really really desperately want to move to higher office. Why else would he crow about a tiny little lead such as this one? Furthermore, his small small lead is within the margin of error. Why waste the paper and effort to issue such a misleading press release? Desperation perhaps?
The other sad news for Bucher is that he gets whipped by both of the Democrats running for AG. It really almost makes you feel sorry for Paul, poor fella.
It seems that Mark Green is not well known throughout the state at this time. He may be getting some support simply based on the fact that he is "the other guy". I believe that this is artificially inflating his numbers. I have to wonder how they might change when voters start looking at Green's record. Just off the top of my head:
- Almost entirely rubberstamp voting to support a president who has become hugely unpopular.
- Starting a pro-Iraq war caucus while most Wisconsinites/Americans are now seeing the folly of the war.
- Green is a Congressman in a GOP ruled Congress that posts a pathetic 30% approval rate.
- Runaway spending in Congress during his tenure.
- Taxcuts for the super rich while cutting programs for regular folks, and still record deficits.
- Ties to indicted Rep. Tom Delay and convicted super lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
- Voting for the Medicare boondoggle that almost ended superior Wisconsin programs and has proven to be a problem for seniors.
- He has aligned himself with the most extreme elements of his party regarding stem cell research.
Let's hope that Doyle and the Dem's can give the public a steady diet of the Extreme Green record of failure. The GOP will be spinning their pants off, but I believe that the truth of his record can overcome the talking points.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Needless to say, many members of the Judiciary Committee were disturbed by Gonzales comments and tried to ask more detailed questions of him. Gonzales refused to answer several questions about how the program was authorized, which angered several committee members. What shocked me was F. Jim Sensenbrenner's comments to the Attorney General. This from the Washington Post story on the hearing:
The criticism from both parties continued yesterday. At one point during Gonzales's testimony, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (Wis.), the committee's Republican chairman, accused the attorney general of "stonewalling" for refusing to discuss how the NSA program was authorized.Wow, could this actually be F. Jim attempting to conduct some oversight of this administration? It seems that F. Jim has not been willing to do this in previous Bush years. What has finally inspired him to do his job? Election year? Falling poll numbers? Crisis of conscience? I don't know, but let's hope that this was not just a freak thing that happened. Let's hope it is a sign of things to come.
"I think that saying that how the review was done and who did the review is classified is stonewalling," Sensenbrenner said. "And if we're properly to determine whether or not the program was legal and funded -- because that's Congress's responsibility -- we need to have answers, and we're not getting them."
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Is the SS TABOR beginning to spring a leak? In today's Journal Sentinel one Republican legislator plans to abandon the "Taxpayer Protection Amendment" because it does not go far enough.
A lawmaker who has spent years pushing spending limits on state and local governments disowned the latest version of a constitutional amendment to do that, on Wednesday calling it "meaningless" and not worth taking to voters.
"Don't gut this, and then call it something that really works," said Rep. Frank Lasee (R-Bellevue), who led a push two years ago for tight, Colorado-like spending limits and endorsed the first version of what supporters call the Taxpayer Protection Amendment.
At a state Capitol hearing, Lasee said he could no longer support the plan, saying the newest version would allow the Legislature to exempt state and local fees from spending limits.
Amendment sponsors made that change public only this week, Lasee said.
Good. So the Republicans might split on the bride of TABOR while most Dems stay united. Perhaps this will be the death nail to this disaster waiting to happen. Thanks Rep. Lasee!
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Every year since Scott Walker has been Milwaukee County Executive he has tried to privatize the program (last year being an exception). With a lot of work and time we were always able to get enough votes to hold off Walker’s repeated attempts. We thought we could finally take a breather after last year, but now I will have to prepare to defend my family once again. This time not from Scott Walker and privatization, but from Mark Green and budget cuts that may totally end the program.
From the Journal Sentinel story:
The county is in a position to lose $1.3 million in Medicaid funding for a program known as targeted case management, which provides medical, social, educational and occupational services to people with severe mental illness. At last count, the county had 1,318 residents enrolled in the program.
If the federal government cuts funding, some 300 people could lose their eligibility, Henken said in a memo to County Executive Scott Walker; Richard Nyklewicz, chairman of the County Board's finance and audit committee; and Linda Seemeyer, director of the county's Department of Administrative Services.
The county could lose another $1 million in funding for similar programs for children with developmental disabilities.
That's because in February, Congress passed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which includes provisions that might restrict or even eliminate Medicaid funding for targeted case management services.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Mark Green (and the rest of the Wisconsin GOP delegation to Congress) vote for the “Deficit Reduction Act”? Why is Mark Green attacking the vulnerable in my family? Why did he vote to cut funding for this and other programs taking away about $50 Billion ? Oh I’m sure he’d say it was to “reduce the deficit” right? Then why did he promote more tax cuts for the wealthy costing about $70 Billion? Those numbers increase the deficit don’t they? Did Mark Green attack my family member merely to put more money in the pockets of his true constituency, the corporate and the rich?
Whatever his reasoning, many of the victims of his cuts will not take it sitting down. For my part, I will be dedicating as much time as possible to defend our state from someone with such a heartless agenda.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
First let me address a post from Boots and Sabers on the issue.
Actually, I got a chuckle out of the Left’s reaction. It was a flagrant display of their ignorance of faith and how it works in some people’s lives. This ignorance is why the majority of people of faith - especially evangelical Christians and regular church goers - don’t vote for Democrats.Oh, Owen! I’m so glad I made you laugh! That was my intention in the first place. As to your point about this being a “flagrant display of their ignorance of faith and how it works in some people’s lives.” Well, your comments show a “flagrant display of your ignorance” of my background and training. My degree is in ministerial/biblical studies. I earned it from a college run by one of the most fundamentalist denominations out there. I was even a licensed minister for a short time in that denomination before I turned in my credentials. Obviously my thinking evolved as I began to actually think for myself. I soon realized, in my own personal opinion, that these people were more akin to the pharsees than to Christ.
Again, I was only poking fun at Walker and perhaps he is just a little too sensitive right now. I don’t have a problem with his personal beliefs. I would just like to see him take his conversations with God to his “prayer closet” (as scripture tells us) rather than making it a public spectacle. God forbid someone would accuse him of pandering to the religious right or something.
Charlie Sykes also posted Walker’s comments on his blog. He entitled it, “The Left’s God Problem.” This is ironic that Sykes would be critical of someone in this area. Although I commend Sykes for taking on Ralph Ovadahl/TomReynolds in recent posts, could someone not criticize you for doing the same thing for which you are trying to indict “the Left”? I don’t feel that you have a “God Problem” just because you are critical of people that have shall we say “unorthodox” (to be polite) views.
The bottom line is that I have much personal experience with the brand of Christianity to which Walker is a part. I also have close personal friends and family members that likely share many of his views. We disagree often on a great many topics. The difference? They are not an elected official, using their notoriety to promote their personal religious beliefs. I do not regret my post, although I am sorry that those tough talking guys on the right are so darn sensitive.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
With Feingold getting all of the national exposure that a formal Congressional hearing brings, the head Wisconsin GOP spinster Rick Graber decided to chime in with a press release. I’m not sure that you can unspin what he says but let’s take a moment to at least deconstruct the press release.
Russ Feingold and his Democrat friends have no plan to defend America.
I’d hate to have Graber defending me in court because he appears to have a very short memory. Wasn’t it just a day or two prior to this release that the Dems made some news with their own national security platform? They mentioned things that they have been talking about for a while now. Just to refresh your ailing memory Rick, let me mention a few of the points:
- Actually dedicating massive assets to capturing/killing Bin Laden. You remember him, the guy that was actually behind the attack on 911 (some-times you neo-cons get confused as to who actually attacked us that day).
- Responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq, so that they can actually be used in the war on terror rather than “nation building” and refereeing what has become a civil war.
- Eliminate our deep dependence on foreign oil.
- Implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 911 Commission (since he still has not done so, one can only assume that Bush never will).
Well Rick, those sound like plans to me. You may not agree with all of them or you may not like them, but they are plans to defend America.
More from the press release:
He continues to seek cheap political points even though legal experts and several federal appellate court opinions say that Russ is wrong.
Just wondering where you stood when your party was rushing to censure and otherwise punish Bill Clinton. Was that behavior your side’s way of “seeking cheap political points”?
Which legal experts? Bush’s lawyer? Are we supposed to just trust you? We are neither sheep nor neo-cons, we need specifics and facts, not spin. Which appellate court heard arguments about Bush’s warrantless wiretapping of American citizens? Why couldn’t you have at least stated the date and name of these alleged “court opinions.” Not that I think you are a liar, but I’d feel more comfortable if you gave us something verifiable.
Our President doesn't just have the legal right to do everything possible to preserve the safety of our nation, he has the moral obligation to do so.
He can “do everything possible”? So if he says that it is to “preserve the safety of our nation” he can just herd up and imprison those that disagree? Using your logic can, he suspend due process if he claims that it is for “national security” reasons? I have never seen such a bunch of girlie men in my life. Someone says “boo” and you are ready to surrender any and all of your civil liberties.
This week, a panel of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges said that President Bush acted legally…
I’m assuming that you got this talking point from the right wing rag, the Washington Times. You might want to compare their “reporting” of this panel to that of the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and even the Chicago Tribune. None of those papers (or any other that I could find) confirms your assertion that these judges “said that President Bush acted legally.” If you simply dismiss these papers as being part of the vast left wing conspiracy, then try actually reading the TRANSCRIPT of the hearing. Go ahead, I challenge you. Here is a hint; you won’t be able to back up your comment based on any statement in the transcript.