Today is

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

GOP State Chairman: Ryan's District "a bad accident"

Despite a veiled threat from Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus, it appears President Obama will still host a townhall meeting today on the local economy in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin. The area's economy, facing tremendous obstacles legislated by congress and accelerated by President Bush over the past 10 years, is finally gaining some traction from the free fall thanks largely to federal stimulus capital.

Nevertheless, the GOP state chairman made these remarks describing the area.
The Daily Reporter Excerpt:
“I think he’s going to be met with despair and disgust when he’s in Racine,” Priebus said. “It's just personified failure when he comes to that area. … This is sort of like being witness to a bad accident.”
In the article, Priebus then alludes to something far more ominous for the president by calling his scheduled stop in Wisconsin, "a dangerous move."

Obama's not afraid.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Good News: 29 State Legislators Not On The Take

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued their latest report on contributions for 2009 to state legislators showing dollar amounts and the percentages of contributions coming from inside and outside their districts.

As can be expected, the Janesville Gazette cherry-picked from the report what they needed to editorialize support for their misguided political mission against local democratic state legislators.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Brett Davis, R-Oregon, falls into the latter category. He’s running for lieutenant governor and pulled in more than $62,000, or 64 percent of his $97,000, in donations from outsiders. Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, collected less at $25,000, but he trumped Davis in one figure—92 percent of big donations came from outside his district.
One thing Sheridan has as assembly speaker that Davis doesn't and hopefully never will is what can be viewed as a statewide position. Remember, these contribution figures are for 2009.

But lets put it this way, Brett Davis, a republican running for lieutenant governor, is nearly four times on-the-take compared to Mike Sheridan. That's right, Davis took in a total of $97,438 to Sheridan's $25,221. Davis's out of district total is $62,592- nearly three times the out of district amount for Sheridan. In addition, two of the three top money collectors are Republicans whose amounts are nearly double than those listed next up in contributions. The editors at the Gazette don't tell you any of this. Percentages are important but money trails and influence are not bought with percentages, they're bought with dollars. I'm not making any excuses for anyone - just stating the facts.

Yet newspapers like the Gazette who deny their partisanship, will regurgitate the WDC's report to pick apart individual legislators of their choosing without offering any genuine analysis or substantive proof.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Sheridan’s critics—and we’ve been among them—could reasonably argue that special-interest money reveals why payday loan legislation wound up weaker than Sheridan’s previous stance.
Here is where the WDC's report, with a little 5th-grade math and curiosity, practically proves how unreasonably wrong the Gazette really is.

Once Again - Republicans Killed The Interest Rate Cap

If you recall, the decision to table the interest rate cap in the Assembly was approved (I'm using only the Assembly because Sheridan is the Speaker) by a margin of 56 - 41. Now, if we crosscheck only the legislators who collected zero dollars (there are 29 of them, 21 of them in Assembly) from outside their districts to their votes on the interest rate cap amendment, we find that the interest cap would have still been defeated. That's right, clean money legislators would have defeated the cap in a 12 to 9 vote. But here's what I found both disturbing and confirming. Clean money democrats voted NOT to strike down the interest cap by a 7 to 3 margin. Clean money republicans overwhelmed the Dems with an 8 to 2 (one Indy, Wood, voted the Republican's position) vote to kill the cap. This is a clear yet rare case in point how rigid party ideology and not money, was the main reason why Wisconsin's payday loan reform did not contain an interest rate cap.

I was surprised by the cross-checked results myself. I really expected the majority of clean money legislators, regardless of party, to vote in favor of an interest cap. But it confirmed all my earlier posts that Republicans and not Sheridan were primarily responsible for killing an interest rate cap on payday loans. The Gazette continues to want people to think otherwise.

But there is a bright side to the Democracy Campaign's report - a very bright side. At the bottom of the page (really should have been the top of the page) is a list of those 29 legislators from both parties who did not take one dime from special interests outside their district. That includes (God forgive me) Republicans on the list. As much as I'll challenge their twisted moral values and backward political philosophy, their loyalty and service to their respective districts cannot be impinged. Those are the names their respective political party's should be mentioning and trumpeting as a example for the rest of the state's legislators and candidates to follow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Business Groups Seeking New Power To Confiscate Tax Revenue

Wealthy business groups, but more specifically republicans, are leading the way to sidestep legislative and executive decisions in order to carve out tax revenue from government budgets.
JG Excerpt
The Finding Forward Coalition says transfers from the fund to help balance perennial state budget deficits has hurt the state's infrastructure, jeopardizing commerce and costing jobs.
They've gone full metal-jacket with their deficit spending rhetoric and earmark hypocrisy. They want to constitutionalize "earmarking" tax dollars for special interest priorities - even if it guarantees deficits or makes them worse.

GOP candidates for governor, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, support that deficit guarantee.

GOP Support For Interstate Expansion Exposes Deficit Hypocrites

President Obama held a press conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Toronto and at the very end he called out the GOP rhetoric on the deficit.
Politicususa Excerpt:
Obama said, “I hope some of these folks hollering about deficit and debt step up, because I am calling their bluff.”
Sure, he's addressing both the national and global economies, but on a smaller scale I've been calling out those same anti-spending rhetoric folks, local chambers of commerce and other GOP establishment business groups including their conservative newspaper enablers to step up and explain how they could support both state and federal deficit spending to the tune of $1.5 billion on the I39/90 interstate expansion and at the very same time support a deficit grandstander like Paul Ryan and other anti-stimulus hypocrites like Scott Walker and Ron Johnson who have built their entire campaigns largely around deficit spending and debt hyperbole. I can't think of a more glaring example of the local right's hypocrisy on deficit spending than the I39/90 interstate expansion.

It's time to say what you mean - or mean what you say. All politics is local.

Additional reading -- Walker commits to deficit spend interstate expansion

Interstate Expansion - Where's Paul Ryan?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Paul Ryan Has No Room To Criticize Budget

Congressman Paul Ryan has been making the regular rounds with his media enablers over the past week taking his usual shots at congressional Democrats for not proposing a budget resolution this year. But does Ryan have any fiscal credibility to stand on?

Afterall, he was the GOP's pitchman for the past two years when they made a pretty big deal over their so-called budget alternatives.

Remember the one in 2009? Appropriately unveiled on April Fools Day, Ryan stood in front of cameras waving an empty budget that appeared to be no thicker than a children’s coloring book. Of course the main problems with the GOP's budget plans are also the most obvious - none of them are actual budgets and they didn’t contain any numbers! What they do contain are the same old crackerjack tax cuts and trickle-down ideological claptrap that the GOP regurgitates as the solution to all of our problems. That they were able to find space in their 19-page budget booklet to criticize the democrats budget should be really telling of their sincerity. Each time, the GOP's alternative budget was actually the same tax code right-wing manifesto they perennially present for jobs, balancing budgets and dismantling Social Security, Medicare or for just about any economic crisis that may arise - only under a different bumper sticker slogan every year. Ironically, their budgets are the framework to what led up to this economic mess in the first place.

None of that should let the current Congress off the hook for not passing a budget resolution, but "numble's" Ryan should be one of the last people on Earth to scold the other side about the lack of a budget resolution when his own so-called "alternative" budgets lacked of all things - numbers.

First Read -- A Budget with no hard numbers

Raw Story -- GOP budget proposal contains no numbers

Politifact -- Republican budget proposal lacks numbers on revenues and costs

Digg GOP Budget Contains No numbers

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Where was Ryan's Concern For National Deficits Earlier?

Less than two years ago in August of 2008 and just one month before the Great Recession meltdown, what was Congressman Paul Ryan talking about at "listening" sessions in his district? Anyone remember? Was he warning us about the national debt? Noooo. Was he warning us about the rampant and destructive greed on Wall Street and its imminent collapse? Not really. Was he warning us about the consequences of selling our debt to other countries? Not quite. So what was Ryan talking about back then?
Rock Netroots Excerpt:
August 11, 2008 - "He was trying to get his point across as a Republican by pitting the Democrats and the Republicans sides as too different," he said. "They're trying to say the Democrats aren't working with them to get bills passed to drill" for oil.
That's right. Ryan was doing back then what he has been doing now and always - that is perverting every argument and every response on old tried-and-true partisan calculations to divide the electorate and to divert attention away from the real causes of our problems - not to propose any workable solutions.
Rock Netroots Excerpt:
In the middle of the forum, a woman asked Ryan about Racine's economy. Ryan said he thinks the economy will remain in trouble, but that the answer goes back to fuel. He suggested lowering gas prices and reducing inflation as ways to fix the country's apparent recession.
Ryan's top priority to get the economy going again less than two years ago - drilling for oil and lowering gasoline prices - was standard issue GOP boilerplate at the time.

Back then, Ryan did a fabulous job pretending to the "little people" in his district like he knew what he was talking about - just like he does now. He still slaps up PowerPoint presentations and yammers on in riddles about the selfless morality of capitalism and trickle-down economics. Little has changed.

Not that I ever toot my own horn or expect anyone to pay much attention, but who was among the ignored chorus of concerned citizens warning about the consequences of selling our debt to foreign countries and spiraling uncontrolled deficits seeded by tax cuts during war time and rampant spending back in August of 2008?

Let's just say it wasn't Paul Ryan.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Newspaper Editor - Yard Debris Pickup Is Too Taxing

The Janesville Gazette's editorial on June 12th titled "Yard work is the order of the day," was a seemingly minor and harmless rant imploring Janesville homeowners and residents to find the time and make the effort to clip the hedges and pick up yard debris. They even suggested it might be better to lend a helping hand to a neighbor that may have been effected by the downturn in the local economy before they recommend that you report them to the city for code enforcement. Their compassion is uplifting.

Plus, you never know when a doped-up head-banging freelancing wannabee journalist from one of those liberal rags like Mother Jones or Rolling Stone (sarcasm) might trip into Janesville and start asking questions about the economy and begin snapping pictures with their Brownie Hawkeye camera. So put on a happy face and keep those lawns mowed.

Okay, it's understandable to want to keep up appearances, but what does the newspaper's Op-ed editor propose soon after that editorial? In his blog, he suggests (broaches or wonders if) Janesville should get rid of our twice-a-year yard waste pickup to save $30,000.
Blog Excerpt:
(My favorite line from his post with a slight modification)
Residents who don’t take advantage of the (...substitute any government service you don't use here...) might wonder why they’re helping pay for the service through their tax dollars.
That's the newspaper's conservo-community spirit that I've grown to know over the years.

So whadda'ya think? The editor feels that if those tree-hugging liberals up in Madison can cut two of its eight crews that regularly collect yard debris, then certainly the manic-conservatives running the City of Parks can eliminate our bare bones twice-a-year yard waste pick up altogether.

I suppose the theory is if the liberals in Madison keep lowering the bar for us, the newspaper at least have someone to blame when asked, "What the hell happened to this place?"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Video: Janesville Textile Firm Invents Tarp To Soak Up Oil Spill

Check out this video from Monterey Mills in Janesville, using wool fabric to soak up oil!

Here's a link that let's you visualize the size of the spill if it happened in our area.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Walker, Neumann Propose Tax Heist For Highways

This article, about the future of state funding for highway maintenance and construction, seemed to show the top three candidates for governor were in agreement about the budgeting problems created by "raiding" so-called segregated funds and tax revenue streams. Until the Republicans opened up and showed their true colors.
Walker also said he would divert sales tax revenue from new cars into the transportation fund. That money — estimated to be about $516 million for 2011 — now goes into the general fund. Its removal could force cuts to other state programs.
Neumann too also proposed raids on the general fund.
And like Walker, he supports a constitutional amendment to protect the transportation fund.

Neumann also said he would divert sales taxes generated from other transportation-related items such as auto supplies — which now go to the general fund — into the transportation fund.
How they can bitch and moan about Democrats "raiding" so-called segregated funds and propose diverting and earmarking general fund money for special interest purposes in the same article in the same breath without challenge is totally mind-numbing.

Clearly, Republicans proved without a doubt they never had a problem about diverting or raiding so-called segregated tax revenue streams if it benefits their pothole filling campaign donors. What they propose is exactly what they have disingenuously complained about for the past eight years - only worse.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Paul Ryan Really Thinks Of CBO Estimates

Last week I received via snail mail a seven page brochure titled, "A RoadMap for America's Future" from Congressman Paul Ryan's office.

The more I review this piece of work, the more it begins to look like an abstract to guarantee the wealthiest children a grave-to-cradle tax free inheritance entitlement by repealing all future spending and debt. Simply put, Ryan believes America (read "the wealthy") can no longer afford a standard of living that has made the country so exceptional, and that any opposition to his safety net dismantlement schemes is strictly a partisan attack. Those statements are typical and old news from Ryan.

The brochure also contained at least four cynical attempts by the congressman to game statements, projections and estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for his RoadMap scheme.


(RoadMap on Social Security) Makes the program permanently solvent, according to the CBO...

Makes Medicare permanently solvent, based on CBO estimates and consultation...

I asked the CBO what our tax rates would have to be when my three children are my age....The answer was shocking.

The charts ... were prepared using data from the CBO and GAO and reflect the country's dire fiscal situation.
During an interview in March on The Mark Levin Show, Ryan had little respect for CBO estimates when Democrats' drew on them for health care reform.
DirectorBlue Blog Excerpt:
Ryan: That's right. And the Congressional Budget Office can't tell you this. Because their statute is that they estimate whatever you put in front of them. And if you put in front of them garbage in, you'll get garbage out.

If you put in front of them a manipulated bill and all of the smoke and mirrors, they have no choice but to score the bill as you wrote it. And if you write it intentionally to disguise all of this, then you'll get a disguised estimate, and that's what we have here.
One man's garbage is another man's treasure. Unless you're a republican. Then it's basically all one category.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bludgeoned Into Prosperity - District Locals Go Over Ryan's Head For Capital

Last week Friday, Edward B. Montgomery, President Barack Obama's counsel on automotive communities and workers, completed scheduled appearances in Janesville and Kenosha to find out what kind of help the locals want or expect from the federal government.
State Of Wisconsin Excerpt:
Dr. Montgomery toured the Rock County Job Center, where he learned about the many employment services and programs available to the public. Following the tour, Dr. Montgomery, along with Secretary Gassman, U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and other officials, heard presentations at the UAW Hall in Janesville.
Both auto communities, reeling from major lay-offs and more expected unemployment, reside in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin - Ryan's district. Yet, from all the press accounts I scoured through on this important visit, Congressman Paul Ryan was not acknowledged in attendance.

To be honest, it never really mattered.

In this video posted by the Janesville Gazette, Montgomery mentions Ryan in a roll call of local officials only to find him - not there.
JS Online Excerpt:
So far, $3 billion in federal economic recovery funds has come to Wisconsin; of that, $300 million has been targeted to the congressional district that includes Janesville.
$300 million is nothing to sneeze at but it's only about one-tenth of the money that Ryan has bled away from the district over the past 5 years.

Is that important? I think it is because according to this article published by the Janesville Gazette, the main gripe coming from district constituents at the meeting revolve around the obvious lack of, and access to - capital.

Even today, few people would connect Ryan's deliberate decapitalization of the district through federal grants and assistance, to the tune of $3.5 Billion dollars - that's with a capital B - to the apparent lack of robust intra-district capitalization. While other Wisconsin congressional districts have held a reasonable and steady average in tax return revenue over the past ten years - only Ryan's district has seen a dramatic drop since 2005.

This dramatic drop coincided with Ryan's appointments to the Budget and House Ways and Means committees. At the time, Ryan boasted that he will bring home even less while he had no qualms approving of tax cuts for the rich and appropriating a total of $2.75 trillion for wars, an unfunded pharmaceutical subsidy under Medicare and eventual Wall Street bail-outs, thus sending the country on a glide path of snowballing deficits and fiscal ruin. Some people really believe he's some kind of a fiscal guru. Honest.

Returning to Janesville's recovery, this meeting was attended by local leaders in labor, county and local governments, transportation and housing agencies, health and human services, justice, environmental protection, business, education and economic development, science and technology industries - just about everybody - together they presented a list of eight projects and proposals totaling slightly more than $40 million. But instead of presenting this list of well-intentioned earmarks to Congressman Paul Ryan, where it belongs - these establishment types, many of them known GOP party supporters and deficit spending pseudo-conservatives - present it to the Obama White House official.

The same can be said about the $1.5 billion interstate expansion. So where is our representing congressman? No doubt, he's out somewhere promoting his Randian scheme to pull Social Security and Medicare out from under unemployed worker's feet.

Ironically, a few days after this recovery summit, it was announced by the White House that Montgomery would become the dean of Georgetown University's public policy institute.
DailyMe Excerpt:
I'm disappointed," Borreman's said, "but not disappointed to the degree that it was a waste of time."
What's one more day without help when the district has been dealing with an ideologically damaged and economic's challenged congressman bent on bludgeoning the district into prosperity over the past 12 years?

Like I said earlier, it never really mattered.

You can find Paul Ryan's position on his district's projects and recovery proposals to expand the interstate and stimulate the local economy here.

P.S. Just so you don't think I'm sending you on a wild goose chase, you won't find Ryan's response to his district's local recovery proposals at his House Web page or anywhere on the Web.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

City: Treated Pool Water Safe For Environment

As reported earlier in the Janesville Gazette, the wading pool in Janesville's Palmer Park was closed after a leak was discovered. The cause of the leak was due to a damaged or missing 2-foot long strip of caulking.
JG Excerpt:
City staff initially questioned whether the 50,000 gallons of water that leaked into the ground below the pool would cause any negative environmental effects, given the chemicals placed in the pool to keep it clean. However, city water treatment officials said those chemicals would be inert, meaning they do not react with any other elements or compounds. Malone said there would be no environmental impact.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Given The Chance, Ron Johnson Would Poison The Well For Big Oil

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Excerpt:
Earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the worst oil spill in history had put at risk 78,264 square miles of fishing area, an area nearly exactly the same size as the Great Lakes. Nevertheless, Ron Johnson announced his support to drill for oil in the Great Lakes, which are estimated to hold oil and natural gas.
more >>>

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

IWF's H-D Report: Combined Reporting Not An Issue

Despite pleas from Harley-Davidson not to politicize state tax policy (combined reporting) in their efforts to extract concessions from its labor union, local Republican candidates continue to denigrate and waste Wisconsin's business climate in their misleading tax campaign against Democrats.
IWF Excerpt:
(Titled - Harley-Davidson: No reason to re-open corporate tax loopholes
Combined reporting is designed to ensure tax fairness. Because some large corporations were able to use legal techniques to eliminate their Wisconsin tax liability, other firms — all other taxpayers, in fact — were required to pay more to make up the difference. It was a slanted playing field favoring the largest companies willing to be the most aggressive in their tax-avoidance tactics.
Those who continue to use Harley-Davidson to attack Wisconsin revenue policies, and those who argue that combined reporting damages a state’s job totals, are all making spurious claims unsupported by the facts. -- IWF

Read the full Institute For Wisconsin's Future (IWF) report here.

Related Harley Davidson Sure making A Lot Of Noise

Monday, June 14, 2010

City's Bridge Strategy: Spin And Stimulus

There was an amusing article in the Janesville Gazette over the weekend about the shoddy looking Jackson St. bridge in Janesville potentially qualifying for federal stimulus funds.
JG Excerpt:
The deteriorating bridge was built in 1918, and nearby residents such as Bill McCoy have advocated for years to improve the bridge.
Why not just say the bridge was built in 1918 and for the past decade and more, it was left to deteriorate into it's current condition ...on purpose. Here's the proof.
JG Excerpt:
The state requires all bridges in the city be inspected every two years. The bridge received a rating of 43 out of 100 after its recent inspection, Weber said. That means the bridge has aged enough since its inspection two years ago—when it received a rating of 55.7—to qualify for the federal funds, he said.
Of course it's not that the bridge "aged enough" to qualify for federal replacement funds since they don't reward funds based on age. More accurately the bridge couldn't age in just two short years to qualify for federal replacement funding unless it was allowed to "deteriorate" over the previous ten.
Transportation.Org Excerpt:
A bridge’s sufficiency rating affects its eligibility for federal funding for maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement. For bridges to qualify for federal replacement funds, they must have a rating of 50 or below. To qualify for federal rehabilitation funding, a bridge must have a sufficiency rating of 80 or below.
Left unreported in the article is the the fact that earlier ratings including the (2008) 55.7 rating qualified the bridge for rehabilitation funds years ago. But city officials never bothered to apply. Apparently, they didn't want anyone to think they were ignoring the bridge.

Over the years, the city received many complaints from residents about the city's relative inaction to address the bridge's obvious safety and appearance problems. The city's response was typically "not to worry," that the decay was merely "cosmetic" and that the bridge was structurally sound. So many complaints since then that a "special" committee was set up just to disseminate information about the city's bridge strategy.
JG Excerpt:
The committee’s purpose is to help dispel misinformation about the bridge, Weber said. “People were stating we were ignoring the need to address this bridge,” he said.
Why in the world would anyone ever think THAT?

Bridgehunter Jackson St. Bridge Slideshow and other interesting information.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BP Stock Plummets - Congressman Throws Tarballs

As reported in the Journel Sentinel, Congressman James Sensenbrenner took some shots at President Obama over the government's handling of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
JS Online Excerpt:
In a strongly worded letter to the president Wednesday, Sensenbrenner called the federal government's response to the crisis "erratic" and suggested that the administration's "apparent lack of regulatory oversight" allowed safety problems within BP to go undetected.
Sensenbrenner owns 3,604 shares of BP.
CBS News Excerpt:
"Before the spill happened, this stock, BP, was trading at more than $60 a share," said CBS News business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis. "That was back before April 20. Now it is below $30 a share. That free fall has halved the company's stock. And just to put the value into perspective, the company's stock itself has lost $90 billion for shareholders."
Ever wonder how a BP shareholder would vote on some key energy issues in Congress?
Sensenbrenner On The Issues

Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy.
Voted NO on investing in homegrown biofuel.
Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies.
Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore.
Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels.
Voted NO on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013. (Jun 2008)
Voted NO on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M. (Jun 2006)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Walker Commits To Deficit Spend Interstate Expansion

Scott Walker's #1 rule at his Brown Bag site is, "Don't spend more than you have."
NPR Excerpt:
Titled - "Interstate expansion may hinge on governor’s race"
Of all the gubernatorial candidates, only Republican Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker will say—without hesitation—that he'd support the project if elected. He says “it’s obviously important” to Rock and Dane County, and the Wisconsin Dells, and adds “there’s no doubt it should happen.”
It's no secret that beginning with the days of Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, the state of Wisconsin has suffered through a string of consecutive structural deficits. Through boom, bust, republican or democratically led legislatures, the state has been unable to pull out of the red ink. So chances are high that the next governor, like Doyle when he was elected, will inherit a structural deficit. The deficit for 2010 is projected to land around $2 billion.

So while Walker recently made the full commitment to deficit spend nearly a billion dollars or more on the I39/90 interstate expansion (Fed kicking in half?), he's going to pay for it with his Number #1 rule on job creation - lower taxes. Strictly Bush economics, but on a state level.

But if you read Walker's ideas on spending reform, nearly all of his positions on his version of spending reform collides head-on with his endorsement of the interstate expansion. Even the infamously deceptive GOP establishment belly-ache, "End the practice of raiding segregated state funds to pay for other programs" is built on the false premise that tax revenue collections are constitutionally segregated. They're not. It's a nice campaign talking point, anyone can use it. But in real time under the real duress of a looming budget hole and changing priorities, a governor would have to be a fool to let a baby starve while others are lushing down filet mignon and Petrus.

So while Democratic candidate Tom Barrett has offered a plan that could save state government more than a billion dollars a year, Scott Walker makes a commitment to spend nearly a billion upfront on something he believes is obviously important to Rock, Dane, and the Wisconsin Dells. Yet rule #3 of Walker's spending reform says, "The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayers’ ability to pay. It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign." Okay, forget the obvious that Walker is running a campaign right now and appears to be horse trading with at least a hundred individual interests (loyal Paul Ryan supporters) led by the politically active business lobby "Forward Janesville" on the interstate expansion. You'd think Walker would at least connect with the lunch bagging tax payer, right?

I'll give one thing to government-doesn't-create-jobs Walker, by unwaveringly supporting deficit spending on the interstate expansion, at least we know where he stands. I have yet to hear where Brett Davis (running for Lt. Governor) or Paul Ryan stand on the deficit built expansion.

Open up fellas, we're all ears.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Local Newspapers Continue Negative Campaign Against Coroner's Office

Over the past week, the two largest newspapers in Rock County editorialized their position regarding the county board's decision to referendum whether voters are willing to relinquish their right to elect a coroner and turn over political control of the office to the county board.
Beloit Daily News Editorial Excerpt:
(Titled: Who’s to decide, voters, or board?)
Excuse us, but didn’t the voters elect the supervisors with the expectation that the board would make county government’s housekeeping decisions?
Depends on what your definition of "housekeeping" is. If it means we elect county supervisors or any other office holder to unilaterally act as part of a collective to fundamentally change the form of government - I'd say absolutely not. It's like as if the legislative branch of government decided to abolish the administrative branch simply because of a personal vendetta or God forbid ...politics. But if it means we elected supervisors to make informed decisions on our everyday changing circumstances by interacting with elected officials, local governmental agencies and the general public respectively mutual of the powers granted to those offices by the voters - well, you can count me in. That - I can agree with.
Beloit Daily News Editorial Excerpt:
RETURNING TO THE supervisors’ inability or unwillingness to decide to keep electing a coroner or switch to appointing a medical examiner, it might be useful to recall the case of a former coroner’s theft of prescription drugs from death scenes. In that 2005 episode, the then-coroner admitted misconduct in public office. She was forced from office by the criminal scandal and died not long afterward.
It's not useful and in all actuality - it's irrelevant. The Janesville Gazette also seems to enjoy bringing up the previous coroner's problems in nearly every recent article about the current coroner's office. That's like bringing up the allegations of sexual harassment that eventually engulfed the previous Rock County sheriff every time the paper writes about the office or job performance of the current sheriff. It's not only a totally absurd talking point - it's a deliberately mean spirited juxtaposition meant only to smear the current office holder.

Speaking of the Gazette, their editorial this past Sunday was not much different than the BDN's.

According to the Gazette editors, their opposition to the coroner's office is not about politics (on their behalf) or the current coroner’s job performance. Even though the coroner's office is just one of several partisan elective county offices, that the Gazette claims politics has no bearing on their opposition to it is a good thing - if you can believe them. And it certainly can’t be personal right? That would make the newspaper editors and certain county board members prime candidates for a series of anger management and diversity classes. So, what exactly is their problem?

Well, according to Sundays’ editorial, the Gazette editors now feel its about ineffective county supervisors not asserting enough hubris or authoritarian power to wrestle the office away from the people and its democratically elected office holder. Strangely, the newspaper appears unwilling to fathom the possibility that some county supervisors actually respect the power of the ballot box and their constituents, so the paper rallies against the majority will again - the county board majority that is. The board voted 17 - 11 to place a non-binding referendum on the medical examiner/coroner question.

The Gazette editor(s) also wrote as if county residents won’t rest comfortably (no pun intended) until we know what it’s like to have a medical examiner instead of a coroner.
JG Editorial:
(Titled: Referendum on Coroner is wrong Choice)
How will the average voter know whether a coroner or medical examiner would best serve residents?
How will we know that a banana republic is any better than a democratic republic? Until we try it, huh? How do we know if an appointed certified CPA is any better than an elected county clerk? Or, how do we know if an appointed Financial Security Officer is any better than the elected county treasurer? Or how do we know if an appointed Deputy Commissioner of Finance is any better than an elected sheriff? Or whether an appointed medical examiner is any better than an elected coroner? We don’t, and since it’s not about performance or politics – why bother? But they bother because it's personal for some and a power play for others. And it's political.
JG Editorial:
(Titled: Referendum on Coroner is wrong Choice)
First, we live in a representative democracy, and we elect officials to represent us. We trust them to study the issues and see the big picture.
We trust them all except the coroner I suppose. For some reason I don’t envision a city council, a county board or congress when I think about “representative democracy.” They’re a mere panel of people just like the rest of us. The first thing I see when I hear the words “representative democracy” is the ballot box. Maybe it's just me, but it all flows from the ballot box and no matter how they spin it, that is exactly what authoritarians want to abolish.

With that said, I agree with the title of their editorial, “Referendum on coroner is wrong choice,” because there is no point or reason to be entertaining any of this in the first place. Proponents on both sides of the debate admit there’s nothing broken to fix, while some board members actually admitted they want more control (power) over the office. But if they feel the absolute need for a referendum, it should be initiated and petitioned by the people and not the county board, and it should be a referendum on all elected county offices – not just target the coroner’s. This would once and for all settle any arguments about intent and questions over what the “people” really want. I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll prefer a ballot box “appointee” over a political crony appointment every day of the week.

The Gazette deserves further honorable mention here because they felt the public meeting about the county board's resolution to abolish the elective coroner's office wasn't important enough to inform their readers about beforehand, but the county board's decision regarding the final action made front-page headlines the next day and picked up an editorial dedicated to changing the course. Still think it's not political?

It's unfortunate for democracy that we live in an era of taking the easy way out. That we'd rather get rid of democracy than bother to get rid of the forces that are constantly at work to corrupt it. Both newspapers, the Gazette and the BDN, come off sounding as if we have too much democracy in Wisconsin – and as if it’s a bad thing.

Note: This posting is the independent perspective of its author.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Video: Ron Johnson At Janesville Tea Party Rally

I wasn't sure whether to post this video or not but I promised a good friend I would if he would do the legwork. Nevertheless, it was uneventful.

Will a rich guy willing to spend $10 million be able to buy his way into a U.S. Senate seat?

Joe McNally The Tea party's Mad Hatters

Blogging Blue Ron Johnson on “Producers vs. Parasitic Non-Producers”

Friday, June 04, 2010

Campaign Donors - One Collective Paul Ryan Ain't Rand With

Ryan pretty much had his way Thursday evening with the group of about 80 hometown residents sitting in the auditorium of Craig High School on the east side of Janesville. For the sake of not rehashing through Ryan's yawning presentation, most of his rehearsed talking points and respun disinformation can be read here.

All seemingly went as planned for the Congressman until one member of the audience threw him off his game explaining how Big Business and lobbyists have bought much of Congress and asked Ryan if he would propose or support campaign finance reform. In response, Ryan at first joked about the apparent and widespread dissatisfaction in McCain - Feingold, but then explained how limiting government is ultimately the answer because limited government means less government to influence, and less government means less money will be spent to buy influence - really!

From there he offers his ideologically damaged assessment of Fannie and Freddie before attempting to move on to another question.

But Ryan never answered the question and his inquisitor knew it. Before Ryan had a chance to move on, the same citizen stood up (unannounced) and asked Ryan again if he would support campaign finance reform. Ryan snapped back demanding that he sit back down. After settling down, Ryan then twisted the citizen's question and concern into an affront against free speech and spoke as if he didn't know what the questioner meant by campaign finance reform. The congressman also slyly equated individual's rights to the rights of collectives including corporations, a la corporate personhood and the controversial Supreme Court ruling. He also repeatedly said he would not vote for anything that would take away from an individual, a group of individuals or a business's right to express themselves. Strangely, the audience mostly applauded.

In other words, the current state of campaign finance is just about right for Paul Ryan. Why fix something that ain't broke?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

To Retain Jobs, Wisconsin Should Be More Like Mexico

FDL Reporter Excerpt:
Under the title - Creating jobs must be our top priority

"If it’s easier for companies like Polaris to make snowmobiles in Mexico than it is in Wisconsin, clearly our state is doing something wrong." -- Wisconsin State Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Here and Now Dissects Walker's "Results" Ad

In this video, "Here and Now" dissected several dubious claims in Scott Walker's "Results" campaign ad.

I find it highly contradictory and self-ingratiating for anyone to pontificate over returning part of their salary back to the taxpayers only to spin around and complain about brown bagging their lunch. What's up with that?