Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mr. Party-Line Beats Mr. Tolerance

Last week the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a giant sized story on their new favorite cover boy, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. I'm so use to seeing him rubber stamp the Bush agenda and vote lockstep with his party, that I was actually surprised by one small comment in an isolated paragraph. The section of interest was subtitled, "Learning from gay friends" and described how Ryan is allegedly not a culture warrior. The story doesn't address the issue for very long, in fact this is what it says in its entirety:

One social issue where he broke with most House Republicans was his support for federal legislation banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"I take lot of crap for that vote" from conservatives, says Ryan, who doesn't consider himself a strict libertarian but says his views lean that way on this may be informed by just friendships I've had,...issue. "The way I see that people I grew up with in Janesville who didn't choose to be gay. It wasn't an orientation they decided to experiment (with) or choose. It's just who they are. They were just created that way."

Unfortunately in a vote yesterday, Mr. Tolerance lost out to Mr. Party Line. The House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act Thursday without the help of any Wisconsin Republicans including Paul Ryan. Apparently his tolerance for the LGBT Community doesn't extend past employment discrimination. Apparently trying to protect communities that are often the target of brutal hate crimes goes just a little too far for Congressman Paul Ryan. The Human Rights Campaign describes the legislation that he voted against as follows:

The LLEHCPA gives the Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. It also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers, or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias motivated crimes.

Oh the horror! Now I can see why Paul Ryan chose party line over tolerance! Naturally I'm being sarcastic, because I can't figure out exactly why this sort of legislation is so controversial unless you are just completely and totally hateful of gay people. Contrary to right wing paranoia, it does not prevent or in any way regulate a person's right to free speech. It is only engaged after a violent CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED. It is tied to a crime not to simple speech or personal beliefs! And let's not pretend that we don't already have statutes on the books that increase penalties for crimes depending on the motivation of the criminal. Manslaughter is treated differently than premeditated murder. Likewise, we punish violent crimes that are done as terrorist acts more severely than if they were not done with a terrorist motive. So this legislation is really nothing new at all, it just includes a new groups of victims – the scary gays.

If this were really about some problem with the idea of punishing criminals differently based on their motivations, then where is the great conservative movement to repeal some of the examples of laws that I just listed above? Why haven't they made it their mission in life to remove the groups that are currently protected by hate crimes law, like those who are victimized based on their religion? The only time that we see a big uproar is when we are trying to include added protection for the often targeted members of the LGBT Community. The most extreme elements that make up the right wing base, simply will fight anything gay. End of story. Unfortunately there are all too many elected officials like Paul Ryan that are willing to turn in their tolerance in exchange for party-line approval.

New Blog Announces "Waterboarding for Walker"

A new blog named Heartland Hollar has surfaced and if its first posting is any indication, it will be worth visiting in the future. In its inaugural post the blog launches a new fundraiser called "Waterboarding for Walker". In it the author challenges right wing talker, Charlie Sykes, to put his mouth where the money is for Scott Walker.

As we know, many conservatives insist that waterboarding is not torture. Fake News blowhard Sean Hannity agreed on air to undergo waterboarding for charity to prove that it is harmless. Heartland Hollar is suggesting that Charlie Sykes follow Hannity's lead, if he really wants to fully get behind Scott Walker. Walker already has the money bags getting behind the other right wing guy, so he could probably use all the help that he can get.

ht: Whallah

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Straw Poll that Could Break Walker’s Back

Last week I asked readers a simple question, "Who will win the Wispolitics straw poll at the Republican convention?" For me, it is a very interesting question and I even set up a simple online poll asking it. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has been running for governor since before he was even elected in 2002. He already has one failed attempt under his belt after losing to a very weak former congressman. The big question is whether all of his endless jockeying will give him any real advantage in a Republican primary. As far as I can tell, so far the answer is an embarrassing "no".

When asked who would win the GOP straw poll this coming weekend, my "super scientific" poll had Walker and Neumann tied at 37 percent. This even though Neumann has only recently begun talking like a candidate. While mine is admittedly just a silly online poll, the closeness of the numbers between Walker and Neumann seem to be an actual reality. A right wing poll showed both Walker and Neumann losing in a hypothetical race against Governor Doyle by the same margin. Given the time that Walker has put into his endless quest, I think that those numbers look pretty pathetic.

Although we all knew that he was going to run again after his failed 2006 attempt, today Scott Walker "officially" announced his candidacy for governor. With all of the free press that he will surly get for this non-event, how pathetic would it be if only days later he ends up losing the straw poll at the GOP convention (and to a guy that has yet to formally announce)? Who knows, the party faithful could wholeheartedly get behind him, but if it is close or if he loses it could end up being the straw poll the broke Scott Walker's back.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Who Will Win the GOP Straw Poll Next Week?

Wispolitics often blogs from political conventions and usually does a straw poll of some kind. With the latest news confirming that Mark Neumann is going to run against Scott Walker in the Republican primary, I have to wonder how the straw poll will end up at the Republican convention next week. Will the guy that has been running for governor nonstop for the last 7 years win it or will the guy with the old school power brokers and money bags come out on top? What do you think?

Who will win the Wispolitics Straw Poll at the upcoming GOP Convention?
Scott Walker
Mark Neumann
Mark Todd
Doesn't matter. They will all lose. free polls

Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Hate crimes legislation has languished in Congress since 1997 largely because of the inclusion of sexual orientation. On Thursday, the long journey to give law enforcement the proper tools to fight hate crimes, came closer to being a reality. The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-12 taking it to the House floor as early as next week. Despite the obstructionist actions of several Republicans on the committee, the majority which included Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin moved the legislation forward.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), an original cosponsor of the bill, gave the following comments after passage:

"The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is an essential step
toward giving teeth to our local and national hate crime laws," Nadler said.
"That Americans would be singled out and victimized because of their race,
ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion is despicable. That our government
currently lacks the ability to fully investigate such heinous crimes and
prosecute the perpetrators is shameful."

The drive to pass legislation picked up steam after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was murdered in 1998 near Laramie, Wyoming. Unfortunately Republicans were in charge for most of that time. Their anti-gay base forced them to obstruct such efforts and protections. Finally, the legislation survived such obstruction and stands a good chance of becoming law.

Oh and by the way, it is not just meant to protect gay people but also people that are often targeted because of their race, ethnicity AND RELIGION!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Walker Should Let Neumann Hop On Back

Scott Walker is preparing to campaign on Milwaukee County taxpayer's dime again. Next week he is supposed to announce the latest chapter in his endless quest for the higher office. Then in June he will ride his motorcycle all over the state promoting himself. With a wink and a nod he claims that it is to promote Milwaukee County but it always happens in the middle of his never ending campaign for governor. He told Wispolitics that he would "keep a fairly good firewall" between his campaign and his alleged promotion of Milwaukee. That comment doesn't pass the smell test nor does it square with his past actions surrounding this ruse. In 2004 an email surfaced showing no "firewall" because his campaign staff and a Republican consulting firm helped do advance work and coordinate the trip.

Walker's self promotion tour is clearly unfair to Milwaukee County taxpayers, because it has very little to do with them. It is also pretty unfair to his most likely Republican primary rival Mark Neumann. The former congressman has been operating a private business in his time away from politics and can't rely on a government job to pay for a statewide tour to promote himself. Walker's little bike ride at Milwaukee taxpayer's expense gives him an unfair and unethical advantage over the wild eyed conservative from the south. If Walker is going to continue to act unethically with this taxpayer funded self promotion tour, the least he could do is try to be fair with his fellow Republican. Since this has little to do with promoting Milwaukee anyway, why not do the stand up thing and ask old Mark to hop on back? Maybe they could both do Wisconsin a favor and ride off into the sunset once and for all. I don't think Milwaukee County would mind investing $3,000 if that were the result of this trip.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Scott Jensen Finally Gets His Man!

The right wing sugar daddies must have a ton of money to burn! It seems that they are creating a new right wing organization every year. Last year it was the Wisconsin Institute for Leadership (WIL), which was apparently mothballed after its Executive Director, Brian Fraley, left to run the Rose Fernandez campaign. Apparently WIL is gone for good because now the most recent org announced that it is making Fraley its director of communications. With the way that MacIver stumbled out of the gate in the first few weeks, they could certainly use someone in that position! Who can forget the rushed press release announcing their existence, or the lack of real content on their site or their oddly invisible staff? The one thing that MacIver wont be able to shake so easily with this new hire, are the continual questions about the real role of Scott Jensen.

Before MacIver's "official" launch it had long been rumored that Scott Jensen was either behind the starting of the organization or was going to be its leader. After MacIver got off to a less than flattering start, one of their invisible employees downplayed the actual role of Jensen. Only days after those comments, we found that Scott Jensen appeared to be writing the press releases for MacIver. As if they needed more Jensen ties, MacIver then hired Jensen's former chief of staff as the executive director. Now MacIver has hired a communications director whose biggest fan seems to be…Scott Jensen.

While reporting in 2006 on the caucus scandal, Wispolitics mentioned a correspondence that was displayed in court at the time. It detailed a discussion about who should be hired for a specific ARC job. Some of the GOP players wanted to hire a former Frank Lasee staffer, but Scott Jensen thought that Brian Fraley was the better choice. Wispolitics quoted Jensen as saying that Fraley should get the job because "he was known as a great campaigner and would benefit the team." Sadly Jensen did not get his way at that time, as the Lasee staffer ended up getting the job. But I'm sure that Scott Jensen is thrilled now, because an organization with so many of his fingerprints on it, has finally picked his man!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Were They Lying Then or are They Lying Now?

While the right wing was rushing to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution, they repeatedly claimed that their troubling second sentence of the amendment wouldn't harm things like domestic partner benefits. Those that stood against the anti-gay discrimination pointed to other states that used the same tactics with similar wording and did eventually move against domestic partnerships. Not very long after the unfortunate passage of the amendment, some on the right wing almost immediately started using it way beyond just gay marriage. It left many that support equal rights in an "I told you so" moment. Now the deception and harm of the second sentence is resurfacing after the Governor proposed a domestic partner registry with a limited number of benefits. Many of the supporters of discrimination will likely come down with a convenient case of amnesia as they are sure to claim that the proposal violates the anti-gay amendment.

Thankfully those that really believe in equal rights under the law are not going to let the right wing forget about their many statements regarding the second sentence and domestic partnerships. Late last week, the ACLU of Wisconsin sent a letter to the Joint Finance Committee about the issue, saying that the proposal is in fact constitutional. In that statement they specifically cited the many statements of amendment supporters. Here are some of the statements that the ACLU provided to the Joint Finance Committee:

The primary author of the Amendment, Representative Mark Gundrum, explicitly stated in his co-sponsorship and circulation memos about the Amendment that it "does not prohibit the state, local governments or private entities from setting up their own legal construct to provide particular privileges or benefits, such as health insurance benefits, pension benefits, joint tax return filing, hospital visitation, etc. …."

Legislators who supported the Amendment, including the coauthor, Representative Suder, issued media releases telling voters that state and local government health insurance benefits and other privileges for lesbian and gay male couples were not endangered by the Amendment. (Suder release, March 1, 2006).

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Rep. Mark Gundrum "said the amendment would allow the Legislature at some point to create a civil union that includes a limited number of benefits, as long as it wasn't 'substantially similar' to what's granted to a married couple." (MJS, July 30, 2006).

The Capital Times reported that lead Senate sponsor Scott Fitzgerald said that the Amendment would not prohibit state and local governments from providing benefits such as health insurance and Julaine Appling, herself agreed that "domestic partner benefits were not threatened." (CT, February 25, 2006)

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, in a January 13, 2007 interview in the Wisconsin State Journal, told reporter Mark Pitsch that he agreed with former Attorney General Lautenschlager's opinion, "that a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would not prevent local governments or private employers from providing health benefits to the same-sex partners of employees."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Speaking Truth to Crazy

Give a progressive blogger an open mic and you get a good hard dose of reality. Good for him!

ht Daily Kos

Quick! Someone Get a Dictionary and a History Book!

I wish that the teabaggers would make up their minds! Is the elected President of the United States a fascist or a socialist? I ask because they keep saying both and I'm pretty sure that it is not possible to be both a fascist and a which is it and why can't these people explain their slur(s) of choice?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Best and Brightest of the Right Wing

It seems that all of the fun stuff was happening out in Madison today, but I dutifully will report on the conservative teabagging that I witnessed in Milwaukee. As I passed Milwaukee City Hall I saw about five people with signs. A few hours later I went over to the downtown post office and saw two or three more teabaggers (or maybe they were the same people). I'm not sure if they were protesting the use of tax dollars to deliver our mail or if they were targeting the evils of mass transit and the Amtrak station next door. In any case, while I was doing my business downtown in the largest city in the state, I saw a grand total of 8 teabaggers.

After reading the AP report and the report at the Lost Albatross, I wished that I could have been in Madison today. It sounds like the corporate sponsored event drew a few thousand of the right wing's best and brightest. Take for example the genius behind the sign suggesting that President Obama was the antichrist. The AP reported that people were posing for pictures with him. They also quoted him saying that our President, "…needs to go, this is the first and last warning he'll get." Then there was the inspirational speaker that accused the governor of smoking crack and his state legislators of cooking and dealing drugs. And how could any right wing rally be complete without a sign claiming that the first African American President in our history was planning on somehow enslaving the poor oppressed white majority? This must have been hilarious to witness!

With all of the wild things going on during the teabagging of the Capitol, perhaps the craziest was the complaining about government spending. Why didn't any of these people, speakers, and politicians organize and repeatedly teabag George W. Bush who turned record surpluses into record deficits? Where was the outrage and where were speakers like Congressman Paul Ryan – oh that's right, he was voting for all of the Bush budgets.

Another crazy point was that we were all being taxed to death. While that may have been an official talking point, it is clearly not based in reality. President Obama's stimulus plan actually gives significant tax cuts to working people and he only raises taxes on the very wealthy – and even then only to Clinton era levels. I guess one could give the majority of the teabaggers credit for clamoring against their own tax cut and being willing to sacrifice it on the altar of the rich.

In the end very little is likely to come of this event. I hope that the yelling, frothing and sharing of conspiracy theories was therapeutic to the teabaggers today. But in terms of actual policy, today's antics will have very little impact. The bottom line is that this rabid contingent have become very sore losers. They have been rebuffed by the vast majority of Americans in both recent elections and in the policy debate. All polls show that the vast majority of the public supports the President and his agenda and reject the right wing failures of the past. All that being said, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to today's teabaggers, they are clearly the best and the brightest of the right wing and they are as funny as hell!

Grassroots Envy and Teabagging Conservatives

Even though all poll numbers confirm that the American people are solidly behind President Obama and his agenda, you would never know it if you watched Fake News. They have been doing their best to whip up the most absurd conspiracy theories and promoting the unfortunately named conservative "teabagging" parties that are happening today.

Conservatives across the country have allowed themselves to be whipped up into a frenzy. They would have us think that this were some sort of a grassroots revolt against paying taxes, but that couldn't be any further from the truth. The fact is that these events did not simply start springing up all over the country on their own. Corporate special interests have manufactured this and are trying their best to pretend that it counts as being "grassroots". Sorry, just because they were able to lead the party faithful by the nose to a local event does not make their "teabagging" some sort of populist uprising.

And if you really want a laugh check out Andy Cobb's "Teabag Party" video (May be R-rated for some)...and his followup video "2M4M 4EVER!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is it Now or Never for Walker and Friends?

Capper at Cognitive Dissidence is asking a few very interesting questions about this waste-of-time Doyle recall effort. As usual, he makes many interesting points, but a few of them really stood out to me. Is this recall hype really about Doyle or is it mostly a desperate attempt to prop up Scott Walker on his endless quest for higher office?

Capper points to a Monday blog by some person representing another right wing front group called Wisconsin Interests Now (WIN). Apparently this group is working with the Walkerites over at Citizen's for Republican Government. The WIN person blogging Monday made several comments that are very interesting. Part of the reason that he gives for trying the recall has little to do with Doyle and everything to do with Scott Walker. One of the stated reasons for the recall is to keep the rumored Mark Neumann from even getting his operation running in time to properly run against Walker. So these folks are admitting that a big part of this recall effort is about political maneuvering and avoiding a Republican primary? The insecurity of the withering Walker crowd is truly amazing.

I'm not surprised that there are serious divisions on the right because that much has been clear for some time. There is what I might call the Tommy wing which includes all of his former aides, some of the older school conservatives and WMC types and then there is the crazed wing that includes Walker, Talk Radio, most bloggers and front groups like those organizing the recall attempt. The later group seems much more extreme and has a big focus on hot button social issues. From my view some of these divisions seemed to pop up most recently in the primary for the DPI race (Van Mobley vs. Rose Fernandez). It seems like the more extreme elements are clearly behind Walker while the Tommy/WMC crowd is trying to recruit anyone but the Walking Loser from Wauwatosa. If Monday's blog is any indication, this waste-of-time recall effort seems to be just another chapter in one conservative wing trying to outflank the other.

Another good point raised by Capper is whether the Walker followers know that it is now or never for him. It seems that they envision a recall vote which would take place before Walker has to face another Milwaukee County Budget. Walker keeps getting more unpopular in Milwaukee County with each passing budget and as he continues to make everything in Milwaukee County much worse. One more year equals one more bad budget and less support for Walker in what theoretically should be his base.

All of this recall rubbish has virtually no chance of ever happening but you can't blame the wacky Walker wing for trying. For them Walker's perpetual quest is quickly becoming a "now or never" situation, even if they have to eat their own in the process.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Luck Brewers!

I realize that no one is reading this blog to hear about baseball, but I am a hardcore Brewer fan. So please permit me the occasional blog posting.

I just wanted to officially wish the Brewers good luck before their home opener today.

I agree with the conventional wisdom that the season is going to pretty much depend on our starting rotation. We don’t have CC or Sheets but if these guys can eat innings and at least keep us in games, we will do just fine.

I had the pleasure of attending the first playoff game in Milwaukee in 26 years in 2008 and it was positively electric. I would really like to do that again, please.

Go Brewers Go!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ryan’s Convenient Conversion on a Loser Issue

We all know that Congressman Paul Ryan never gave a hoot about spending and deficits when someone from his party occupied the White House. It is a well known fact that in his first eight years in Congress, he voted in favor of every single federal budget-joining the then-Republican majority in increasing the federal budget by $1 trillion. Now that his party has lost the White House and Congress, he suddenly had a convenient conversion in the areas of spending, budgets and deficits. Unfortunately for him, during a time of such hardship, that is not the issue that is resonating with voters most.

A new poll released by the Pew Research Center confirms the priorities of most people in the country. It found that spending more to address the health care crisis was a high priority (59 percent) as compared to reducing the deficit (35 percent). Similarly, spending more to improve education was listed as a higher priority (58 percent) as compared to reducing the deficit (38 percent). Although it was much closer, more people said that developing new energy technology should be a higher priority (49 percent) than reducing the deficit (45 percent). That is particularly interesting since we are paying about 2 bucks a gallon as opposed to the 4 that we were paying not that long ago. If the price went back up to those levels developing new energy technology would be a much higher priority.

As it happens, all of these are areas that President Obama is trying to address. I know that the Republican Party is in the middle of an identity crisis but it may be ill advised for people like Paul Ryan to make their biggest issue, the one that consistently lags behind the others. The kicker to this whole thing, is that even though the GOP has suddenly become deficit hawks, the majority of the public still trusts the President to both improve our economy (66 percent) AND reduce the budget deficit (54 percent)!

Paul Ryan and Company can continue to trot out budgets without numbers and make believe graphs, but that is not going to help them when they are constantly obstructing an agenda that the vast majority of Americans clearly support.

The Best of the State Blogs?

I am usually so focused on state issues that I don't always get around to visiting some of the top national blogs. One of those is the Washington Post's "The Fix". Today someone directed me to that blog, saying that Eye on Wisconsin is listed as one of the "Best State Political Blogs". Apparently The Fix readers nominated blogs for each state. I feel a little skeptical since EOW is the only lefty blog named and there are several others that should be on everyone's "best of" list.

In any case, thanks very much to everyone that submitted EOW!

Flip-Flop Scott

This ad was produced by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Monday, April 06, 2009

And About That "Flood of Litigation" Paranoia...

It also turns out to be totally false. A new UW report shows that the "flood of litigation" claims made by WMC, Randy Koschnick, the Wall Street Journal and your garden variety right-winger are complete bogus. Once again a pesky thing that I like to call reality gets in the way of another talking point.

h/t Illusory Tenant

Speaking of Feeding Gun Paranoia...

Not only does Randy Koschnick like to feed it but so does Fake News:

If so many are willing to feed such paranoia, shouldn't we expect that some crazy person just might act on it?

Just in Case You Needed More on Rose…

Just in case you have not heard enough already about why Rose Fernandez would be a nightmare at DPI, Thomas J. Mertz at the AMPS blog gives you a few more reasons. He mainly focuses on her bio and the true nature of the lobbying that she, her virtual org and their corporate backers have done.

Read Part One and Part Two

Hostile Koschnick Wants it Both Ways

Over the weekend, I just commented that Randy Koschnick must feel desperate because he seems to be throwing everything against the wall to see if anything will stick. The item that I focused on in the blog posting on Saturday was him trotting out the favorite right-wing boogie man – gay people. I barely got the scare-by-gay blog posting up and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel dutifully reported their latest in what has become a daily series of running Koschnick talking points as headlines. In the Sunday piece Walters actually runs a headline that is referring to some Koschnick comment from a prior week. And that is new now because…you may have been on vacation when it was first said?

In any case, the week late reporting reveals yet another hot button right-wing favorite that Koschnick is tossing against the wall – someone's gonna take your guns! I'm not sure what is worse on the far right, the paranoia about gay people or the paranoia that someone is coming to take away your hunting rifle. The Koschnick argument in Sunday's story attacked the Chief because he felt that she should have helped rewrite the concealed carry law. Aside from getting nearly all of the facts wrong, isn't this the opposite of what Koschnick has been saying this whole time? Hasn't he been bemoaning the idea of what he calls "legislating from the bench"? How doesn't the rewriting of this law qualify as "legislating" if we are using his own erroneous definition?

This is not just another example of Randy Koschnick throwing things against the wall, but it is also an example of his repeated double standards. Here are just a few of the other examples that we have endured:

  1. Accusing the Chief of being "hostile to law enforcement" for taking on some of the most complex legal issues, when as a defense attorney he made some legal arguments himself that would qualify as "hostile" using his own absurd definition.
  2. Refusing to sign a third party "clean campaign pledge" but instead creating his own and then complaining that his opponent wouldn't sign it. Naturally he went on to break even his own pledge.
  3. Complaining about contributions to his opponent from attorneys, even though it only represented 3 percent of the total, while he also received contributions from attorneys representing 13 percent of his 1999 campaign total.
  4. Saying that he supports free speech even if it is "messy" and then trying to get a third party ad pulled off the air because he disagrees with it.

A few things are very clear about Randy Koschnick as the campaign comes to an end…he is increasingly hostile, he seems increasingly desperate, and he is increasingly invoking double standards.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Koschnick Channels His Inner Drama Queen

Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick must be really desperate as Election Day is now imminent. It seems that he is trying to throw just about everything against the wall, just to see if it will work. What good right wing extremist would go through an entire election cycle without trotting out their favorite boogie man, "the gays." Perhaps Koschnick is preparing to move to Iowa and run for their state Supreme Court since he is now attacking them for protecting the equal rights of gay people in that state.

Koschnick, not being satisfied with name calling distinguished jurists in Wisconsin, decided to start calling names of the Iowa justices that ruled for equal rights under the law. He said Friday that this gay marriage decision was the result of "activist" judges. Naturally he didn't bother to mention that this decision was unanimous and that several of the justices on Iowa's high court are "conservative" which is how he describes himself. Actually it is Koschnick's uninformed reaction that proves to be "activist" as he clearly would push away and ignore the constitution in an effort to reaffirm his own personal beliefs and prejudices.

In his comments Koschnick fell back on the same old shtick, saying that these sorts of issues should be decided by the legislature. Frankly it is quite bizarre that Koschnick doesn't know that there are three co-equal branches of government, including the judicial. In the real world, there is no such thing as a super legislature as Koschnick appears to be suggesting. The judicial branch actually has an important role and without it we never would have had decisions protecting things like freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the right to get an education anywhere regardless of color. Koschnick must believe these were terribly "activist" decisions, if he is going to be consistent.

Clearly the Iowa Supreme Court saw Koschnick's kind of bumper sticker attack coming when in their very well reasoned decision they commented:

This court, consistent with its role to interpret the law and resolve disputes, now has the responsibility to determine if the law enacted by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch violates the Iowa Constitution.

Yeah, because that is their job. Unfortunately for the Koschnick's of the world, they had to state the obvious.

Maciver: You Do the Work, Because We Can’t

Every year it seems that we have a new right wing organization, and this year it was the shady Maciver Institute. Apparently the sugar daddies on the right wing have more money to burn than they know what to do with. For weeks this organization only produced tweets, then they graduated to sending out press releases that were secretly being written by Scott Jensen. In the weeks since their clumsy launch, they have produced a poll and a few "studies" with one common theme – they were all done by someone else. One can't blame them, since they still don't appear to have a staff. But now they are extending this pattern of behavior even further. They are trying to get the public to start doing their investigative work for them. At some point, don't we get to ask if this is really an actual organization?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rose Fernandez and Her Corporate Backers

We already know that Rose Fernandez is connected in several different directions to the out-of-state for-profit K12, Inc. We know that they have bragged about making as much as $5 million off of Wisconsin taxpayers and would surly like an ally leading the Department of Public Instruction to pocket even more. We also know that executives and other staff from this out-of-state special interest have given cash to the Fernandez Campaign. But it looks like not only that special interest is involving itself in the DPI election, now even more corporate interests are getting into the act.

It appears that Americans for Prosperity is set to run radio ads supporting Fernandez. This is the same organization that was created in 2003 by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. That foundation itself is financed by the fortunes of Koch Industries and its owners David and Charles Koch. This is an oil and gas conglomerate and is the largest privately-held company in America. They have been on the wrong side of many issues and have tried to repeatedly use their corporate power to influence policy both nationally and locally. The head of the Wisconsin chapter of this corporate interest mouthpiece is Mark Block, a man that was at the center of what the Wisconsin State Journal described as "one of the largest political-corruption cases in state history."

Speaking of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), it should also be noted that they made a January poll public (sort of) that seems to be very Rose Fernandez specific. Although AFP may have put up a link to it, I would like to know who actually paid for this preprimary poll? Was it AFP or was it actually paid for by some corporate sponsor? Was this poll shopped around Wisconsin by anyone and does that help explain some of the conservative support for an inexperienced candidate like Fernandez over one like Van Mobley? If so, then who shopped it around and what interests do they represent? Furthermore, did anyone in or close to the Fernandez Campaign see this poll after AFP made it public and did they use any of it in any way? It just seems awfully convenient that this expensive poll was conducted when the Rose Fernandez campaign probably couldn't afford to do one themselves.

Whatever the answers to these important questions, the new ad push by AFP only confirms that Rose Fernandez is the candidate of the corporate special interests.

Vote on the Foul Four

One Wisconsin Now has been running its own bracketed competition that they have entitled March Badness. They have lined up many of the worst of the right wing, allowing people to vote which ones score the highest on the badness scale. Each of the losers moves on to what is now being called The Foul Four which includes: Randy Koschnick, Rose Fernandez, George W. Bush and Jody Harding. Visit the March Badness site to vote today! Just in case you need help picking the worst of the worst, take a look at the OWN News cast below.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

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Thank Goodness Rose Isn’t In Charge Right Now!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the first disbursement of stimulus funds for Wisconsin education is ready. It amounts to a $365 million investment in our students and it is only the first of several. About $147 million of this first amount will be used for low-income students all across our state and $218 million will be used to help with funding special education programs. These additional funds are going to mean a great deal to school districts and students all across the State of Wisconsin. They could also prove to be a savings to property taxpayers all over Wisconsin. Thank goodness Rose Fernandez is not in charge right now! We all know how she waffled on whether she would even accept the stimulus money. We don't have time for waffling and the twiddling of thumbs when there are real investments to make in the education of our children.

A Few New Graphs for Ryan's Collection

Last week he wasn't using numbers at all but yesterday Paul Ryan was misusing numbers for his budget projections chart. He used Bush era numbers for Obama's budget and he was attributing his projections to CBO estimates that don't even exist (they haven't done an analysis through the year 2080). So while he is fixing his fake projections charts, I have a few charts that he should take a close look at before the next round of obstruction. I'll give you a hint, the American people are solidly behind the President and his agenda.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No Experience and No Attention to Detail?

We already know that Rose Fernandez has ZERO experience in the area of education. Even hard line right wing partisans noted this serious problem before the primary. Nothing about her lack of experience has changed since those observations were first noted. Unfortunately that is not the only problem with having Rose Fernandez at the helm of education in Wisconsin. Since we have no track record in education, the only thing that we can do is take a look at how she has handled other responsibilities. In doing so, we have to look at her administration of the virtual schools group that she led and the small business that she and her husband operate.

We already know that Rose Fernandez did not leave the Wisconsin Coalition for Virtual School Families in the most organized fashion. Apparently when she was leading the organization, she never set a system in place to comply with important IRS disclosure rules. In a previous blog posting, I detailed the odyssey that I was forced to go through just to obtain the organization's IRS form 990's. These documents are supposed to be readily available upon request and it was very clear that she had never established a process by which her organization could adequately respond to a request for disclosure. This lack of organization led to a formal complaint, because these disclosure rules are important and complying with them should have been very easy.

While I was trying to locate the missing 990 forms, the registered agent for the organization suggested that communication with its leaders has always been a challenge. I assume that this includes the time that Rose Fernandez used to lead the organization since she only recently stepped down. Since one of the primary responsibilities of a registered agent is to keep the organization's documentation updated, I decided to check the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions records for the Fernandez-run organization. A quick glimpse at the information offered on the DFI site seemed to confirm a disorganized theme. The record shows that the virtual schools organization first registered with DFI in 2005 and promptly is marked as "delinquent" as soon as 2007. That "delinquent" status appears to have continued all the way until earlier this year. The only thing that DFI needed the Fernandez-led organization to do is simply provide an annual report and pay a fee. Apparently that was too hard to manage.

Rose Fernandez and her husband also operate a small business, which is organized as a Limited Liability Company. As such it is also required to file annual reports with the DFI. Yet again, a look at the status of this small business contributes to what appears to be a common trend for Fernandez. The DFI website shows that their business, Roll n Rack LLC, was first recorded in 2003. Once again, we find that Rose Fernandez business has had a "delinquent" status with DFI since 2008. Again, the only thing that DFI really needs from Fernandez is for her to file an annual report and pay a fee, why is there such an apparent and reoccurring problem with such simple tasks?

We already know that Rose Fernandez has ZERO experience in the area of education, but now we must ask some real questions about her leadership and attention to important detail. The above examples are really fairly simple tasks but on Fernandez watch, none of them were addressed properly. If Rose Fernandez cannot negotiate the simple obligations of a small organization and small business, how are we supposed to trust her with the many complex duties of running the entire Department of Public Instruction for the State of Wisconsin? No experience and no attention to detail? That is not the kind of "change" that we need at DPI.

Paul Ryan’s April Fool’s Day Joke

First the GOP's "young gun" was unloaded by a pretend budget last week. Now he is trying a do-over on April Fool's Day. Today Paul Ryan presented the Republican's alternative budget and it turns out to be a bigger joke than the one without the numbers. Unfortunately it is a cruel joke on the American people because most of it is the same old stale stuff that helped get us into this economic crisis in the first place. Naturally, the centerpiece is Bush-style tax cuts for the rich.

Perhaps the biggest punch line of Paul Ryan's stand-up routine today was him trying to pretend to care about spending and deficits and the like. This is the same Paul Ryan that, for his first eight years in Congress, voted in favor of every single federal budget - joining the then-Republican majority in increasing the federal budget by more $1 trillion. Now he suddenly cares about spending? Yeah, tell me another one.

UPDATE: Not only is the Republican budget a joke but so is Ryan's pretty graph.

UPDATE 2: Another story about Ryan misapplying Bush era numbers to his fake budget projections chart.