Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did CRG Just “Come Out” of the Partisan Closet?

First the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fails to ask the tough questions regarding Scott Walker's credit card budget, then they fail to hold him accountable for constantly contradicting his own positions. Now they run a story about a right wing group that is pimping themselves out to push the next item on Walker's electoral agenda. Most already know that Citizens for Republican Responsible Government (CRG) hijacked the mainstream outcry over the Milwaukee County pension scandal and used it as a tool to install Scott Walker in his current position. That was the group's heyday and they have had little effect ever since. That being said they have always been available to help push any Walker agenda item no matter how bad for the county and no matter how much it might conflict with their own pretend positions.

If CRG was really an organization that stood for its stated principles it would have applied its recall shtick to Scott Walker a long time ago. Even now with this farce of a proposed budget they not only fail to confront Walker but seek to be used as merely his useful tool. Are they really against credit card-type spending in Milwaukee County government? If they are they should be against Walker's budget. Are they really against taxes/new and increased fees? If they are then they should be against Walker's budget. Are they really serious about a zero percent tax levy increase? Then they should be against Walker's budget because his proposed tax levy today is $40 million (18%) more than HIS proposed amount from HIS budget for 2003. And exactly how do they feel about the federal stimulus and government taking a leading role in creating jobs? If they are really against such concepts then they should be against this Walker budget. But alas they are not and their repeated inconsistency only points to the barely veiled partisan motives involved.

Actually CRG mouthpiece Chris Kliesmet, in a split second of candor, made things crystal clear for us. In a statement in today's MJS story, Kliesmet admits that "he hoped that Walker would be elected governor next year." Can you get any more political and partisan than that? Given that very direct statement in this context and given CRG's willful contradictions, how can anyone describe CRG as truly "nonpartisan"? Even more important, how could the MJS run the story describing this group as being merely a "citizen group"? Are you serious? After their mouthpiece just told you about their political fantasies involving Scott Walker? Actually the story shouldn't have been about the budget at all. It should have been about CRG finally "coming out" of the partisan closet.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Walker was Against ____ Before He Was for It

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did another story on Scott Walker that largely ignores his repeated use of both sides of his mouth. The story focuses on his latest proposal regarding economic development. In the story he suggests that his idea will pass board muster because he says that he would "hate to be the one to say; 'I was against more jobs'." I hate to tell you this Scott but you already did say that with both your words and your actions.

  1. Walker's plan relies almost entirely on the same federal stimulus that he and his groupies have attacked from the beginning.
  2. What happened to the arguments by Walker and those of his ilk that government spending can't help create jobs? His plan would force three years of borrowing and spending into one year (an election year by the way). What changed besides their positions?
  3. What about his argument that the stimulus was good for government but not for "real people"?

So given his past actions and comments about the federal stimulus, is it safe to say that Scott Walker was "against more jobs" before he was for them? It sure seems that way based on his own logic in today's story. It is a pity that such obvious questions didn't come to mind over at the state's largest newspaper. If someone would force him on these issues I would really enjoy seeing the anti-stimulus Scott Walker debate the stimulus reliant one. Even more so, I'd like to see his followers being forced to decide exactly which Scott Walker they were going to support.

If Walker is saying that economic development equals "more jobs" then we are forced to ask a few more questions specific to that issue.

  1. Why did he give economic development a lower profile in his proposed budget for 2009? What? Was he "against more jobs" last year? After all wasn't he the one that eliminated the economic development division including the economic development director position? At the time supervisors warned that it was a mistake and that it was "probably the most important division in the county" so what has changed for Walker in one year besides his position?
  2. Before he eliminated the division, he used it to promote political cronies that "lacked depth" in the area of economic development and made a giant mess of things. In fact their lack of the necessary skills (especially in the area of land sales) was a major factor in putting the county in several budget binds in the last couple of years. So what is the deal? Was Walker more supportive for promoting unqualified cronies than he was for creating "more jobs"?
  3. When a former County worker generously left Milwaukee County $3.1 million in their will, why did the Walker Administration simply decide to spend it to help offset their latest self inflicted deficit? Why did Walker go even further by vetoing a measure to put the gift in an interest earning trust fund, to be used specifically for economic development? Seems like an odd move by someone that is suddenly so fond of economic development.

The bottom line is that the media should be at least mentioning Walker's ever changing positions on these kinds of issues. It is an abdication of their duties to just report the latest version without mentioning the ones before it. This is especially true when they so blatantly conflict with each other. Maybe the Journal Sentinel can't afford all of the space that would be required to point out all of Walker's different positions. At the rate that Walker is changing them over the last week, they may have to just start leaving a fill-in-the-blank in every story. "Scott Walker was against ______ before he was for it." Even that would be better than their current policy of silence.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I Call it the Walker Tax

When Scott Walker officially revealed his credit card budget he did a number of noteworthy things.

  1. In his own proposed budgets from 2003 through 2010, his recommended tax levy number has increased nearly $40 million (an over 18% increase).
  2. He showed that he doesn't mind engaging in massive borrowing and front loading three years of bonding into one year (the year that he is running for governor in).
  3. He showed that he has no problem with suddenly loving and relying on a federal stimulus that only days ago he was attacking.
  4. He has shown that he doesn't mind being a big spender, increasing county spending by double the rate of inflation.

One more thing that a quick examination of his 2010 budget will reveal: Scott Walker doesn't mind increasing fees that affect almost everyone. Here is a sampling of just some of the new and/or raised fees in his current 2010 proposed budget, I like to call it "The Walker Tax":

  • If you want to park along the lake, for the first time ever, you are going to have to pay a fee.
  • If you ride the bus, not only are fares and all passes going to get more expensive but you will also have to pay for a paper transfer (some of the highest in the nation).
  • In what I'm tempted to call "Walker's Death Tax" there will now be a $150 fee for the medical examiner to transport your dead body. After Walker's proposed budget it could actually end up being more expensive to die in Milwaukee County.
  • EMS courses will cost anywhere between $5 and $500 more under Walker's proposed budget.
  • Zoo admissions and parking fees are both raised by a full dollar each and riding the Zoomobile just got $1.50 more expensive ($1.75 more for seniors).
  • The fee for cremation permits will go up from $185 to $225.
  • If you need an expert witness from the medical examiner's office, it will now cost an extra $100 an hour.

So while Scott Walker is proposing to increase Milwaukee County spending by twice the rate of inflation (through borrowing), he expects most of us to also spend more of our hard earned dollars...ON HIS FEES! Again, I like to call his imposition of these fees "The Walker Tax". The real question is, how will Republicans respond to Walker's massive increase in spending, borrowing, sudden love of the stimulus and increase of fees?

Michael Steele, Scott Walker is on the line

Not even a full month has passed since we first speculated that Scott Walker must be placing angry calls to his fellow Republican's for bragging about how the federal stimulus is helping their communities. First it was Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds, then only days later came Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas. We even wondered if Scott Walker may have called the U.S. Economy which had the nerve to be lifted by the federal stimulus. But then a very strange thing happened on Walker's road to "Damascus" and he did a shameless and total 180 on the federal stimulus. In fact his credit card budget relies heavily on the many benefits of the federal stimulus that he once loved to hate. All of these events must truly be embarrassing to poor Scott Walker, but they just keep on coming.

Yesterday, after Walker had presented his proposed budget and after he had finally come to terms with the federal stimulus being a good thing for Milwaukee County, another very funny thing happened. On the very same day that he made his new love for the federal stimulus official, the bumbling chair of the Republican National Committee sent out a not so helpful email to Walker's base. The subject of the email read, "Stop the Stimulus Spending Boondoggle!" I mean it is almost as if Michael Steele has already endorsed Mark Neumann or something (not that we even know what Neumann thinks about the stimulus). So on the same day that Republican Scott Walker finally officially declares his love and need for the federal stimulus, Chairman Steele calls it a "spending boondoggle". I have to wonder how many Wisconsin Republicans received that in their inbox while at the same time read about Scott Walker's credit card stimulus dependant budget?

I can't imagine that Scott Walker was too happy with the bumbling chairman of the RNC. Heck, maybe he even placed another one of his famous angry phone calls.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The County Budget Isn’t Your Campaign Credit Card!

I just sat through about 20 minutes of political talking points with very little substance and whole mountain of double talk. In other words, I just listened to Scott Walker give a speech proposing a 2010 budget that has more to do with his campaign for governor than it does with what is best for Milwaukee County. Essentially he is treating the Milwaukee County budget as if it is really his campaign's credit card, but unfortunately the rest of us have to deal with the maxed out balance later.

The most important thing to point out right from the top is this simple fact:

Walker's proposed budget for 2003 carried a total property tax levy of $218,708,524

Walker's proposed budget for 2010 carries a total property tax levy of $257,637,284

That amounts to an increase of over 18% in the property tax levy during his time as County Executive! Those are Walker's PROPOSED budget numbers, so they can't be laid at anyone else's feet but his (but God knows he will try). With this kind of increase between his first proposed budget and his most recent, he should have to answer a few questions the next time that he tries to lecture anyone about an increase in the tax levy. Reporters and the public should be demanding answers based on this reality rather than based in his delusionary talking points. Walker is just as much of a "big spender" as anyone else.

To further that point. It looks like Walker is not only going to rely on another increase in the tax levy (in HIS proposed budget) but he now wants Milwaukee County take on a massive amount of debt. Shamelessly after attacking the federal stimulus from the very beginning, now Walker has had a convenient change of heart. Now he is heavily relying on stimulus programs that help pay large amounts of interest on his planned increase in borrowing. Will real conservatives that really hate the stimulus hold him accountable?

During his reading of campaign talking points today, he said that he would reject front loading the money won by the county in the pension scandal lawsuit. While he apparently is against front loading that money to pay for his increased spending, he does not appear to be shy at all about front loading other monies. Essentially Walker is trying to spend three years of bonding in one year, and yes it just happens to be the same year that he is running for governor. He is perfectly willing to run up the Milwaukee County credit card for one year with the hopes of leaving the massive debt to the taxpayers as he again tries to leave town.

There is a lot of low hanging fruit that I could rail on after listening to Walker's campaign speech today, but there will certainly be much more time to address the rest. Right now I think that the most important action that we can take is to tell Scott Walker that the Milwaukee County budget is not his campaign's credit card and he should not be trying to use it as such!

Update: The money quote from the MJS story on the speech:

Despite his fiscal austerity theme, Walker's overall county budget would grow by
more than 6% to almost $1.5 billion next year. Greatly increasing borrowing for
capital projects and an expected influx of federal stimulus aid account for much
of the overall budget growth. Walker wants to more than triple annual borrowing
in 2010 to create his own local economic stimulus plan.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Why was Walker at the “Angry Mob” but Neumann Wasn’t?

Saturday the same few thousand right wing fringe dwellers held another rally for failure. I particularly thought it was interesting that they held it at a public (socialist?) park that was named to honor those that served in our country's (government-run) military. Choice of settings aside, it appears that several of the participants called themselves an "angry mob". Given one disturbing description it certainly does sound like the crowd was angry enough to assault. Based on the reports that I have read, the main theme of the event was wild anger over government spending (where were they during the GOP spending?). Considering the main point of the event I have to ask why were some of the usual politicians even present?

Scott Walker was there draped in a flag wearing a University of Wisconsin jacket. What was he doing at an anti-government spending event? Didn't he tell the "angry mob" that he has had a dramatic change of heart recently? Didn't he mention to them that he has new spending plans that will tap into the same federal stimulus package that he has also attacked? I understand that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was there but I have to wonder if he showed up at the wrong rally as well. He has been asking for more taxpayer money to spend over at the Sheriff's Department. There were even reports of Glenn Grothman "grunting" around backstage. Why was he involved in a mob that was angry about government spending? Wasn't he in the state legislature during the Thompson administration, a period of time that is well known for big spending? I'm sorry but these just seem like odd people to have addressing a mob that is supposed to be so angry about government spending.

While the list of politicians that were present is perplexing enough, what is perhaps more interesting is the one person that was apparently absent. Where was Republican candidate for governor Mark Neumann? Didn't the organizers of the event (Americans for Prosperity) invite him to speak? If not does that mean that they are already a useful tool of the Walker campaign? If Neumann was invited, then why didn't he attend? Was he afraid that this was essentially a Walker rally and that he wouldn't be welcome or was he worried about associating himself with a self described "angry mob"? If it is the latter, I think that someone better relay a very important message to Mark Neumann. Perhaps something like this would work: "Mark, you've been out of politics for a while now, and do you see that angry mob over there? The one that you didn't want to be seen with? Well, sadly Mark that is the new Republican base. Now go get'em tiger!"

The Brew City Brawler has pictures of the "angry mob" (aka: the new Republican base).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge

Attention all Teabaggers: Put Your Signiture where your mouth is!

Print and Sign the pledge today!

Here are a few of the highlights:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country,
while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country,
while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but
brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited
to Social Security,Medicare/Medicaid,Police, Fire, and Emergency Services,US
Postal Service,Roads and Highways,Air Travel (regulated by the socialist
FAA),The US Railway System,Public Subways and Metro Systems,Public Bus and
Lightrail Systems,Rest Areas on Highways,Sidewalks.

There is much more in the Teabagger Socialist-Free Purity Pledge, but you get the idea.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Federal Stimulus, Scott Walker is on the line

It all started late last month with Republican Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds. He sent out a press release, rightfully bragging about how the Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus) would actually save taxpayers money. At that time I suggested that he could probably expect a nasty phone call from his neighbor to the north Scott Walker. Surely Scott did not appreciate a fellow Republican County Executive touting the benefits of a stimulus package that he has spent most of the year deriding. Then shortly after Mac's talking out of turn, the County Executive from the most Republican county in the state chimed in about how much the stimulus was helping his county and saving taxpayer money. A day later the conservative Wall Street Journal reported that the stimulus actually has helped give our national economy a much needed lift.

Given his curious actions this week, if Scott Walker did place those angry calls, he apparently was convinced to radically change his tune and support the stimulus. It was a radical conversion indeed because even recently he has put the word stimulus in quotes and even declared that it doesn't help "real people." Again this week's events must confirm that Mac, Dan and the U.S. Economy have successfully converted him to common sense about the stimulus. It certainly has been a long and confusing journey. Walker's "Road to Damascus", if you will.

In one short week he seemed to complain that counties weren't getting enough stimulus money from the state(even though it continues coming in by the millions). This week he has also bragged about other federal funding that he is heavily relying on for a variety of new and old projects. And now today he has officially jumped the stimulus-hating shark in announcing that he intends to take advantage of two subsidy programs that were created under the once vilified stimulus package.

Since I have already wondered about him calling Mac, Dan and the economy, I can't help but wonder if he has also placed a call to the Federal Stimulus. I'm sure he would have humbly apologized for all of the ugly things that he has said and then I'm sure that he quickly asked for his exact position at what he once called "the federal trough".

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don’t Blink! Walker’s Talking Points Changing Again

We already know about Scott Walker's distain for the federal stimulus (Recovery and Reinvestment Act).

  • Originally he said "no thanks" to the millions of federal dollars that was set to flow into the county that he is supposed to be leading.
  • Early on he wrote an opinion piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal about why he wasn't getting in line for federal funds (the same paper that recently reported that the stimulus was helping to lift the economy).
  • In fundraising letters he bragged about abdicating his responsibilities and not submitting a list of programs and projects that could be funded under the Recovery Act.
  • His obstruction was so bad on the issue that the County Board had to take action on their own to ensure that Milwaukee County taxpayers were going to get a healthy return on their federal tax investment.
  • More recently Walker even commented on his Twitter account that the federal stimulus was not helping "real people".

His history on the stimulus and federal funding made three statements that he made this week all the more interesting.

On Monday he spoke at the Wisconsin Counties Association and suggested that the state was not sending enough funds to local governments. In that context he also complained that the state was using federal stimulus funds to fill state budget gaps. He conveniently didn't mention that the specific portion of stimulus money that was used for the state budget was precisely meant for that purpose. There are many millions of dollars that have flowed (and will continue to flow) to local governments from the state, courtesy of the Recovery Act that he has so strongly opposed. Actually that is what made his comment so strange. After all of his hating on the stimulus, was he really complaining that the state wasn't sending enough stimulus money to counties and municipalities?

Then on Wednesday Scott Walker put out a press release saying that he was "pleased to announce" that Milwaukee County was getting $3.85 million in grant money from the federal government for substance abuse and mental health programs. Heartland Hollar has already asked the obvious questions here:

"So why does Walker support accepting $3.85 million from the feds while at the same time opposing $2.3 billion in tax cuts over the next two years and 'a total $5.2 billion in tax savings for Wisconsin families and businesses
over the next three years included in the federal recovery plan.' Why does Walker accept $3.85 million when he opposes $3.7 billion in federal stimulus funds?"

Today is a new day and it also brings another new report of Walker's ever changing positions on the stimulus-style federal funding. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today that Walker plans to use $36.6 million in federal funds for new buses for a "rapid transit" route. It also said that he planned on using an additional $29.7 in federal money to buy 125 new buses to help upgrade Milwaukee's aging bus fleet. I know that the $36.6 million comes from old federal transportation funds that have been stagnant for so long but exactly where is this new federal aid of $29.7 million coming from? Is this aid at all related to that dreaded stimulus package that Walker has never failed to attack? Even if this new federal money is not part of the actual stimulus, what exactly is the argument that makes this federal money good but the other federal money bad?

It should be no surprise that Walker is all over the map on federal funding and the stimulus. After the various announcements this week, I'm actually thinking that his press releases should come with the warning; "Don't blink, My Talking Points Change Quickly!"

UPDATE: Another day brings another way for Scott Walker to use the federal stimulus that he still loves to hate. In fact it appears that his entire plan, reported in the paper today, is based on the assistance that he would get under the federal stimulus.

Gableman Ashamed of His “Right to Lie” Defense?

When Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler was called before a three judge panel regarding her conflict of interest scandal she actually came to the hearing. Michael Gableman must be so ashamed of his "defense" that he stayed away from his own judicial panel. I can't say that I blame him, who would want to show their face to the public when they are essentially fighting for their "right" to lie to them?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sick for Profit

Your private health care dollars "hard at work" (for profits) while your premiums continue to explode and your coverage gets denied. Is this the private insurance-based system that conservatives are so excited to support? Sorry, I'd like to have a real option.

Videos are from SickforProfit.com

Doctors Support Private and Public Options

Yesterday NPR reported the results of a new survey of doctors. The results show that most doctors favor a healthcare system that allows access to both a private and a public option.

ht: Think Progress

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teabagger Education Project: Bushonomics an Epic Failure

Yesterday we reposted an item meant to provide a simple fact in the midst of all the teabagging madness this weekend. Since many teabaggers are claiming that they are "outraged" over our national debt, we decided to remind them that 82 percent of that debt was spent by Republican presidents. We simply don't remember such wild Astroturf movements when Republican presidents were running up the national debt. Now thanks to the release of an annual Census Bureau report we can add yet another lesson in what we are calling the Teabagger Education Project. This time it focuses on the epic failure that the Bush Economy was for average Americans.

On Thursday the Census Bureau released a report card on the well-being of the average American during the dreadful eight years of the George W. Bush administration. The report card specifically takes a look at income, poverty and access to health care. The Atlantic published a very simple summary of the data and also compared the records of Reagan, Sr. Bush and Clinton on the same categories (Clinton does the best across the board). Here are the basics on how Bushonomics "performed" for average Americans(all amounts are in inflation-adjusted 2008 dollars):

  • When Bill Clinton left office after 2000, the median income was at $52,500. When Bush left office after 2008 it had fallen to $50,303, which is a decline of 4.2 percent. That makes George W. Bush the only president in recent history that presided over an income decline over two full terms.
  • When Clinton left office in 2000, the Census counted almost 31.6 million Americans living in poverty. When Bush left office in 2008, the number of poor Americans had jumped to 39.8 million (the largest number in absolute terms since 1960.) Under Bush, the number of people in poverty increased by over 8.2 million, or 26.1 per cent. Over two-thirds of that increase occurred before the economic collapse of 2008.
  • When Clinton left office nearly 11.6 million children lived in poverty, according to the Census. When Bush left office that number had swelled to just under 14.1 million, an increase of more than 21 per cent.
  • When Clinton left office, the number of uninsured Americans stood at 38.4 million. By the time Bush left office that number had grown to just over 46.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million or 20.6 per cent. (Under Bush, the share of Americans who received health insurance through their employer declined every year of his presidency-from 64.2 per cent in 2000 to 58.5 per cent in 2008.)

So what is the simple take away from this data? The George W. Bush administration was an epic fail, especially for the economic interests of average Americans. Most teabaggers were Bush zealots just a short time ago. Given the disaster that he left our country in, most of them have enough sense to now try and distance themselves from him. The problem is that they are still tied directly to his failed policies that put us in this awful spot in the first place. Hell, they are not just tied to them, they are still pretending that they are the answers to all of our problems. Maybe an education is not enough, maybe the teabaggers need a deliverance.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is “Wisconsin Knows” Linked to Walker Cronies?

A right wing blog has started speculating about who is behind the new anonymous blog, Wisconsin Knows. Wisconsin Knows posted a very detailed entry about Republican candidate for governor Mark Neumann and questioned claims that he made recently on Charlie Sykes' radio show. Specifically Wisconsin Knows challenged a Neumann statement regarding his business relationship with his brother, who allegedly had all sorts of business related problems and ended up declaring bankruptcy. The aforementioned right wing blogger spent some time Saturday morning wildly speculating that Democrats just have to be behind the Wisconsin Knows info. Well, I don't have anything better to do right now and two can play at that game, so let me take my speculating turn!

I think that one of Scott Walker's cronies are behind Wisconsin Knows' blog against Mark Neumann! Here are the reasons behind my wild speculation and I think they outmatch the right wing blogger's:

  1. Walker disciples have already been quite vicious towards Neumann and his big boosters like Jim Klauser.
  2. Walker's campaign has already delivered multiple "in your face" moments to Neumann.
  3. Walker enthusiast Charlie Sykes is the one that very publicly brought this issue up to Neumann in the first place.
  4. It didn't take long for the "Scottforgov" blog* to post something questioning Neumann's honesty on the issue.
  5. Not to mention, Mark Neumann is Scott Walker's opponent right now.

There you have it! I think there is more evidence that Scott Walker cronies are behind the Wisconsin Knows blog on Neumann and his business practices. The big question now is how will Neumann and friends respond to these Walker attacks?

*This is not the campaign's official blog, but it is a Walker (conduit?) disciple. By the way I wish I would have seen this blog earlier, there are more entertainingly vicious attacks on Neumann and Company than just this recent one.

UPDATE I: Our friends at Heartland Hollar correctly point out that the Neumann Homes situation was brought up on their blog four months ago, long before Wisconsin Knows. They also offer interesting thoughts on how the issue might play itself out down the road.

UPDATE II:The Walker disciples at the Scottforgov blog are really on a roll! They just posted an item Sunday that does several things: 1. it makes crude jokes about Mark Neumann's "three legged strategy" 2. it suggests that the strategy may be based on old fashioned self interests rather than helping the state. 3. it suggests that Neumann smokes THC 4. it suggests that Neumann may be using his corporate dollars to actually benefit his campaign. 5. it suggests (again)that Neumann is dishonest.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Kapanke should pay for his violations, not taxpayers

Today State Senator Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) acknowledged that he violated state Public Records laws. The admission was made in court filings released today in Dane County Circuit Court. The open records complaint was filed against Senator Kapanke after he and his office delayed, concealed and even destroyed some of the requested records. The records involved his office's questionable use of his state staff and resources for two campaign related events.

The lawsuit calls for the state to pay $100 in damages and $38,000 in attorney's fees. Since Kapanke has admitted wrong doing shouldn't that come out of his own pocket? Why should the public have to pay? Especially given the tough economic times that we are in as a nation and as a state, the last thing that public dollars should pay for is Kapanke's incompetence and violations of important laws. The simple fact is that Kapanke has now admitted to the wrong doing involving the open records lawsuit and now he should have to pay for it.

UPDATE: See the actual court documents at Milwaukee World.

Also take a look at the good points being raised at Blogging Blue .

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What does Walker really think about Mercury Marine?

After Governor Doyle decided not to run for another term, I suggested that the main two Republican candidates for governor actually start giving us some substance about their policy positions. In that blog posting, I said that they would not because they would very quickly paint themselves into an extreme right wing corner that won't play well to the majority of Wisconsinites. Scott Walker is an expert at avoiding substance and his latest example comes to us via his comments on the Mercury Marine situation.

Anything resembling a policy position by Walker has largely been limited to the 140 characters of his Twitter account. So it is no surprise that he has addressed the Mercury Marine situation largely in the same way. Although this week, after the union voted to accept painful wage and benefit reductions, Walker took his tweets on the issue to The Inside Scoop. Even though his comments in that piece went beyond 140 characters it didn't really say anything of any additional substance. In fact, his comments brought up more examples of substantive questions that the media should be asking him.

To start off his Scoop posting, Scott Walker seems to celebrate Mercury Marine's apparent decision to stay in Wisconsin. Conveniently he focuses only on the extremely tough decisions that the workers were forced to make. Walker completely avoids commenting on what may be the real reason for Mercury Marine's change of heart, a $50 million-plus gift from the taxpayers of Fond du Lac County. Inquiring minds want to know, what would Scott Walker have done if he were in that position? We know that his one trick pony in politics is not to raise taxes for any reason at anytime. So would he have advocated increasing the sales tax in his county to help convince a major company to stay? If not then why is he praising the Mercury result so heavily? Doesn't that go against his rigid ideology? If he does support raising taxes to keep employers in his county then why hasn't he suggested that tactic in his own county while it has lost jobs on his watch?

Rather than allowing him to try and tweet his way to the governor's mansion, the media should start asking him some real questions and demand that he provide real substantive answers.

Is MacIver Trying to “Indoctrinate” the Media?

The same week that brought false accusations from the right about "indoctrinating" students, we also may have witnessed what a real attempt at indoctrination looks like. Ironically it was a right wing organization that appeared to be trying their hand at the indoctrination of the media. Last week when the MacIver institute announced their plan to produce political news reports, their executive director and former Scott Jensen Chief of Staff, Brett Healy made several gag inducing comments about their new plan. He claimed that his right wing organization was merely trying to "help fill a void in locally-produced news coverage and analysis that grows larger by the day as news operations are scaled back for economic reasons." Yeah, and where was that bridge that you were trying to sell us?

At the beginning of this week we got our first taste of exactly how this group of right wing partisans planned to "help fill a void". Apparently the main ingredient of that "filling" was a healthy dose of deception. The Wisconsin State Journal reported on Sunday that the used-to-be TV reporter that MacIver hired was deceptive with the subjects of his first two interviews. He walked into interviews with cameras from a local TV station but didn't bother telling the public officials that he actually worked for MacIver and that the footage would also be edited to fit their ideological fancy.

The MacIver institute and their fake reporting are partially funded by one of the traditional sugar daddies of the extreme right wing, the Bradley Foundation. Just last year this foundation gave grants to many extreme right wing groups including those of the Astroturf variety that are trying to stop real health care reform (Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity). Likewise the Bradley Foundation reported giving MacIver a 2008 grant of $50,000.

With right wing sugar daddies like the Bradley Foundation throwing that kind of money at MacIver, why couldn't they afford to provide their used-to-be TV reporter with his own equipment? They certainly could afford it couldn't they? Why did he have to "borrow" equipment from the real media? Heck, if the MacIver Institute and the Bradley Foundation cared so much about the lack of resources for local political reporting, why didn't they just donate the funds to local media?

The fact that MacIver "borrowed" equipment from the local media and then misrepresented what was actually going on suggests an awful lot about their real motivations. It seems clear that they are merely trying to blur some very important lines between the real media and those with a clear right wing agenda. Thus far it seems that their real goal is to "indoctrinate" and/or infiltrate the local media and produce reporting that more resembles Fox "News" than it does objective journalism.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Stay in School Speech vs. A Real Indoctrination

Is this really what had people on the right worked up into such a frenzy? Is this really what caused some school districts to ban the President from their kids?

Not even a hint of politics or partisanship, much less "indoctrination". If people on the right really wanted to see a political indoctrination they should check out this video of Ronald Reagan speaking to students in 1988. I wonder what kind of uproar there was on the right before/after this speech to "the children"?

ht: Daily Kos

MacIver Punks Press, Pols and Public

Poor MacIver Institute! All that right wing money and they still can't get it right. We here at Eye on Wisconsin are all too familiar with the rocky start that MacIver got when they prematurely launched. They had an organization with an invisible staff and many questions about their affiliations that never really got straight answers. The serious questions about this latest right wing organization only increase as time goes by.

In the beginning some flak for the organization (and apparently the only semi real staff person) publicly denied former speaker Scott Jensen's involvement in the organization. Almost right after those declarations, we found that actually Scott Jensen appeared to be writing MacIver's press releases. Apparently he was not too busy preparing for another criminal trial and apparently the truth was too much to ask for from MacIver. As if Jensen secretly writing the press releases wasn't enough of a tie, then the group hired his former chief of staff as its executive director and even put Jensen's favorite media guy in charge of communications.

Then rather than picking a right wing blogger of any substance, they went with the one that is about as extreme as they come. He was barely on the job cross posting between his own blog and MacIver's when he got a little uncomfortable attention. He made Dan Bice's Journal Sentinel column after he put out a string disgustingly racist comments on his Twitter account. MacIver didn't bat an eye about what most would consider unwelcome attention.

Now MacIver is getting some well deserved scrutiny over the latest in a series of questionable antics. Their latest hire is a former TV news guy that has decided to cross all sorts of lines in the name of MacIver. According to the story in the Wisconsin State Journal, Bill Osmulski (formerly of Madison's WKOW Channel 27) interviewed two Democrats and apparently pretended to be from a legitimate news operation while completely failing to notify them that the interview would also be used for right wing MacIver propaganda. Even MacIver's own communications person admits that now-fake TV reporter Osmulski should have been truthful with the elected officials and disclosed exactly what he was doing.

Given its track record in its very short life, I'm not exactly surprised at this latest development. I am however surprised that someone in the traditional media would actually accept and use Osmulski's report as a real news story. The fact that it was generated by a right wing organization powered by extreme ideology and a questionable track record, should have given them pause. But who really knows, maybe MacIver "punked" the media outlet just like they did with two of our public officials. Hopefully the majority of the media in the state will take the advice that we gave way back in early March when we wrote that the "Shady Organization Requires Real Reporting". Hopefully they will look extra close the next time that MacIver releases some "study" or "poll", and keep them from "punking" the public next.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Everyone Should Honor the Labor Movement

I'm sure that most people are looking forward to the extended holiday weekend. The truth is that if not for the labor movement in America, not only would we not have the extra day off but we wouldn't even have a weekend in the first place. Like many of the other achievements of labor, as a society we clearly take it all for granted now.

Here are just a handful of examples that come to my mind: The Eight Hour Workday, The Weekend, Child Labor Laws
Basic Workplace Safety Laws, Basic Benefits Like Vacation time, Paid Sick Days and Health Insurance

Some have chosen to forget what the labor movement won for all of us through blood, sweat, tears, and even death. Let's face it, when have the corporate elites ever given workers anything that they didn't have to fight for? Although they are a favorite target of the right-wing, there are many things that all of us simply wouldn't enjoy today without labor fighting those battles of the past. This weekend we should all honor those sacrifices of the past and think about how we can create a better working environment for the future.

Wow, are they really this paranoid?

"We are all going to be locked up in FEMA Camps!"

"The President is the Antichrist!"

"An encroaching fascist threat!"

"An encroaching socialist threat!"

"Death Panels are gonna Kill Grandma!"

And now the kook fringe believe that our President is trying to brainwash "the children" because he has a 20 minute speech encouraging them on the importance of getting a solid education? I guess you are always going to have people that go to crazy extremes but when you have entire school districts banning the President of the United States from being able to encourage students about education, you have officially jumped the right-wing shark. Exactly what is the President supposed to be "brainwashing" students about? The importance of a solid education and excelling in school? Overcoming personal challenges to succeed in life and maybe even become president? Oh my god, that is terrible! The end of the world is at hand!

I could understand if a district leaves it up to each teacher to determine if it fits the curriculum for their various classes, but basically banning it from an entire school district because of loud people on the furthest fringe? Do kids really need permission slips to hear a sitting president speak (or read "My Pet Goat" upside down)? If they still have a Civics class in schools these days, I guess they can't watch the news anymore, or read newspapers, because heaven forbid that the President may say something in them. This right wing paranoia is really becoming a caricature of itself.

I'm really not sure what drives this kind of madness. I can only come to a few conclusions.

1. Some people really are nuts

2. Some people are really that partisan and bitter about losing

3. Some people are just racists and hate President Obama for that reason

I tend to think that the majority of this is based on a bitterness and hyper right wing partisanship that is willing to go along with the craziest of accusations just because they always want to be on the attack against the other side. If it isn't hyper partisanship, where were all of these crazy accusations and protests when a president by the name of Bush did pretty much the same thing? I almost hope that it is partisanship because the thought of having these many people being this paranoid is a little frightening.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

U.S. Economy, Scott Walker is on the line

In less than a week we have had two separate Republican County Executives touting the benefits of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus). Since this totally conflicts with the talking points of Milwaukee County Executive and endless Republican candidate for governor, Scott Walker, we believe that he is probably not pleased with his two colleagues. In the two blog postings we suggest that each Republican official may be due for a nasty phone call from Walker. We barely got the "Dan, Scott Walker is on the line" blog post up and then saw a report from the Wall Street Journal regarding the effects of the stimulus so far. The story brings bad news for Scott Walker's talking points and good news for the U.S. Economy. The conservative paper that published Walker's hating of the stimulus, is now reporting that the U.S. Economy has received a much needed lift from it.

Much of the stimulus spending is just beginning to trickle through the economy, with spending expected to peak sometime later this year or in early 2010. The government has funneled about $60 billion of the $288 billion in promised tax cuts to U.S. households, while about $84 billion of the $499 billion in spending has been paid. About $200 billion has been promised to certain projects, such as infrastructure and energy projects.

Economists say the money out the door -- combined with the expectation of additional funds flowing soon -- is fueling growth above where it would have been without any government action.

Many forecasters say stimulus spending is adding two to three percentage points to economic growth in the second and third quarters, when measured at an annual rate. The impact in the second quarter, calculated by analyzing how the extra funds flowing into the economy boost consumption, investment and spending, helped slow the rate of decline and will lay the groundwork for positive growth in the third quarter -- something that seemed almost implausible just a few months ago. Some economists say the 1% contraction in the second quarter would have been far worse, possibly as much as 3.2%, if not for the stimulus.

For the third quarter, economists at Goldman Sachs & Co. predict the U.S. economy will grow by 3.3%. "Without that extra stimulus, we would be somewhere around zero," said Jan Hatzius, chief U.S. economist for Goldman.

Since Scott Walker has so deeply (politically) invested in the failure of the stimulus and our economy, we can't imagine that he would be very happy hearing this bit of news. If Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds and Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas did get angry calls from Walker, we can't imagine the kind of foul verbal beat down he is going to deliver when he tries to call the U.S. Economy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Dan, Scott Walker is on the line

Just last week we blogged about Scott Walker's Republican County Executive colleague to the south, Bill McReynolds. At that time we pointed out how Mac apparently didn't get the Walker talking points against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal stimulus). Mac, sent out a press release bragging about how the federal stimulus was actually going the help save Racine County taxpayers money. Given Walker's extreme and ever changing positions on the Recovery and Reinvestment Act he has now painted himself into a lonely corner that even his Republican counterparts in government have avoided. First it was Mac and now it appears that even the leader of the most Republican county in the state needs a brow beating call from the Walking failure from Wauwatosa.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that now even Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas is getting in on the stimulus action. He released his five-year capital plan Tuesday and it increases spending on critical projects mainly due to the funding provided in the Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The federal funds account for a huge $32.6 million of the $111 million he has designated for needed spending. Looks like Dan ignored the Walker memo on trashing everything about the stimulus. It looks like Vrakas, unlike Walker, is going to make sure that Waukesha County taxpayers get a full return on their federal tax investment.

Here are some of the projects that will be funded with the help of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • $1.5 million to pave the county's Lake Country Trail.
  • $1.5 million for energy saving projects.
  • $6.4 million for improved bridges and other road projects.

I'm sure that Walker may not consider the people that will drive on these roads and bridges and those that are employed to carry out these projects as "real people" but obviously Dan Vrakas disagrees with that kind of extreme thinking. In fact he pointed out while talking about the federal stimulus funding that it would actually save the county money longer term.

"When you build a new road, you have less maintenance, you're not filling potholes, it's more efficient, it helps economic development. When you build a new building and equip it with energy savings, those are one-time costs that reduce our budget next year for operations."

I couldn't have said it better myself, it's a very rational approach. Unfortunately, Dan, Scott Walker is on the line and he has been about the furthest thing from rational when it comes to the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

UPDATE: Bill McReynolds and Dan Vrakas are not the only ones loving the federal stimulus right now, apparently so is the U.S. Economy. Sorry Scott, your talking points are empty.

Now Read: "U.S. Economy, Scott Walker is on the line"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The “Solid Idea” that Torinus Failed to Mention

The newspaper columns written by John Torinus should come with full and proper disclosures. If they did, the only people that would lend them credibility would be the usual suspects among the corporate elite and their useful idiots on the right wing fringe. We've seen examples in the past of him failing to mention important pieces of information to his readers and his latest column is certainly no exception.

The Torinus column in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tried to convince us that the Astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity, held a legitimate and "substantive" forum on health care last week. These events were nothing more than a corporately funded defense of big insurance and our dysfunctional status quo. But don't hold your breath for the corporate columnist (with an agenda) to fill you in on such minor details. He would rather pretend that it was purely a "substantive" discussion rather than a right wing self congratulatory love fest. Maybe someone should be congratulated, because so far their misinformation campaign appears to be a success.

In his Sunday column Torinus lists bullet points of what he describes as the "substance" given at these AFP (Republican) rallies. As he is trying to sell the idea that the rally was one of "substance", he conveniently fails to mention one of the more absurd (and worn out) lies that have been told by the key note speaker John Stossel. Even though it has been completely debunked many times over, Stossel has used AFP rallies to push the paranoid idea of "death panels" . Why didn't Torinus list that as one of his "solid idea" bullet points from the rally? Maybe it is because such comments would have cast doubt on his entire spin of the event and would have negated his entire premise. Hey, maybe telling the full truth would have eliminated the need for Sunday's Torinus column in the first place! Now that is what I would call a solid idea!

OWN's Message to Teabaggers at Miller Park

Americans for Prosperity, the corporate-funded interest group behind the private insurance company astroturf group "Patients First" held a party at Miller Park on Saturday August 29. One WI Now wanted to make sure and give them a rousing welcome in the form of a message in the sky.

Sen. Cantwell: Why GOP Should Support a Public Option

ht: Daily Kos