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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Government Bootstrapping Jobs In Rock County

It's gotten to point now where nearly every business start-up or big business expansion expects some kind of an entitlement or hand-out from local and state tax collectives. It's not just Wisconsin, it's everywhere.

This story from the Janesville Gazette explains how local and state governments were eager to bootstrap the growth and expansion of several businesses in Rock County with tax payer dollars. One company, without identification or mean's testing, gave only basic details: what they made, what they might bring to the area and most importantly, what they needed.

They got this little package just for the asking:
JG Excerpt:
-- 20 percent in direct developer incentives for 10 years.

-- A $500,000 forgivable development loan from the state Department of Commerce.

-- $510,000 in tax credits from Beloit.

-- A $132,000 Transportation Economic Assistance grant from the Department of Transportation.

-- A $50,000 grant to train new employees at Blackhawk Technical College.
Local government officials seem proud that this one package of "incentives" bootstrapped nearly 100 jobs. But, aren't these precisely the hand-outs that senate candidate Ron Johnson and guber Scott Walker claim that are wrong? Those two candidates in particular swear that government doesn't create jobs. Would those jobs have been created without government intervention? Johnson seems to think so. Have we been duped?
JS Online Excerpt:
At campaign stops on Friday before groups at a Wisconsin Rapids restaurant and later at the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Johnson said he sees a society that is lurching toward a culture of entitlement dependency.

"People are saying, 'That's my right, give it to me.' That's not the America I recognize. I think we're losing America. That's what's at stake in this election."
Those incentive packages are so routine that many businesses won't make a move without them. They are the new corporate entitlement. Johnson should come down to Beloit or Janesville and ask the business owners and CEO's why they chose to leverage their decision with government hand-outs instead of privately funded investment dollars.

Like he did.

Quote Of the Week
John Casper:
"Sen. Sunspot married 3rdbase and claims he hit a triple."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beck, Palin Believe America Dishonorable

I'll begin this by suggesting that Glenn Beck, at least on camera, did not appear to desecrate MLK's legacy. On the other hand, Beck's traveling circus did not match the historic place or King's revered message, nor did he accomplish what he claimed he would do at his much hyped "restoring honor" rally.

He did not reclaim the civil rights movement like he said he would, nor did he restore honor - whatever his definition of honor is. It really never mattered anyways. He did deliver a rather boring if not unmiraculous sermon-on-the-mount speech that most of us might hear on any given Sunday. Though he said the country needs to turn to God, he also said the event has raised $5.5 million so far for Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The skin-crawling Sarah Palin too echoed the military and war when she said she was appearing as the mother of a soldier, not a politician.

But the propaganda behind their calculated message is that Beck and Palin think Americans have lost their honor by voting for democrats in general and Barack Obama specifically. They didn't say it that way but it was evident. They are asking voters, under the cloak of apolitical theatre, that in order to restore honor, Americans will have to turn to God to ward off the evil values and misguided principles they believe have perversed the nation. In truth, Beck and Palin are trying to con American voters into voting against their own Judeo-Christian values of compassion and American exceptionalism founded on social and economic justice. This is one reason why Beck spent the last year of his show unchristening social justice, distorting the founding fathers intent, and disparaging Obama and anyone tied to his administration.

In other words, Becks' religiously bent rally was purely political and one in which Martin Luther King, if he were alive, would find himself a target of.

On second thought, Beck did desecrate MLK's legacy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beck Dishonors MLK's Legacy

Web posting causes uproar on eve of Glenn Beck rally.
USA Today Excerpt:
WASHINGTON (AP) — On the eve of political commentator Glenn Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial, a blogger's assertion that parts of the nation's capital should be avoided touched off accusations of racism and a sharp response by angry city leaders.

Thousands of conservative, "Tea Party" supporters were expected at the demonstration Saturday that Beck has called a "Restoring Honor" rally to show support of the country's military at the site where Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech 47 years ago to the day.

Sharpton described the demonstration planned for Saturday by Beck and his supporters as an anti-government rally advocating states' rights. And he said that goes against the message in King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, in which the civil rights leader appealed to the federal government to ensure equality.

Friday, August 27, 2010

David Rosenberg: We're Paying The Piper Now For Bush Era

Who knew?

Rosenberg said there's no quick fix to a debt deleveraging cycle.

"We went through a parabolic credit cycle from 2001 to 2007, and we're paying the piper right now because a lot of this debt is bad and has to be extinquished." -- Economist David Rosenberg

Watch for it beginning at 2:25

Rosenberg: We Are In A Depression

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Watch Fox News? Terrorists Win!

The second largest shareholder in News Corpse -- the parent company of Fox News -- has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes linked to the imam planning to build a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, according to a report from Yahoo!News.

In the video below, Jon Stewart proceeds to tie Fox News to the Ground Zero "terror" mosque by connecting Fox News parent News Corp's second-largest shareholder, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, to the Kingdom Foundation, which has done business with the mosque's principal planner, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, whom Fox News hosts have fear-mongered repeatedly as connected to terrorism.

Using their own rhetoric, in order for Americans to help break the chain of terror funding, Stewart suggests, "stop watching Fox."

RoJo Bootstrapped Business Expansion With Government Loan

Double-talkerAccording to this article by Capitol Bureau Chief Bob Schaper, when anti-government mister-free-enterprise businessman Ron Johnson leveraged some capital to expand his business in the 1980's, he side-stepped free-market banks in favor of a super-duper below-market interest rate gov-mint bond.
WKOW Excerpt:
According to a July 19, 1985, article published in the Oshkosh Northwestern, a $2.5 million industrial development revenue bond was approved by the Oshkosh Common Council on July 18, 1985. An article in the same newspaper, dated Feb. 16, 1986, said Pacur Inc., co-owned by Johnson, used the money to build a 40,000-square-foot addition.
And yet another hand-out here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Johnson Factchecks Himself – Loses

This is almost funny. When a candidate posts their own “factchecks,” the first impression I get is that they are disputing "claims" made in the media or by the opposition. Not so with GOP senate candidate Ron Johnson.
Johnson Campaign Excerpt:

Claim: “Johnson willing to ‘horse trade’ mortgage interest deduction.”

Truth: This claim was made following an interview with WKOW’s Bob Schaper. During the interview, Johnson stated his willingness to “take a look at all of the options in terms of how you simplify taxes.” Johnson supports the mortgage interest deduction, but stated a willingness to explore a variety of options to reduce the tax burden and simplify our tax code. Johnson’s response was a far cry from any assertion that he would specifically look to “horse trade” mortgage interest deductions and simply an inaccurate claim.
Johnson refers to this as a dubious "claim," when in reality it is his own actual quote published in its intended context. It was Johnson himself who introduced "horse trading" the mortgage interest deduction as an option to do away with it among options he would consider. That of course means he's willing to do it.
WKOW Excerpt:
We asked if that applied to home mortgage interest deductions, and whether that popular program should be eliminated. Johnson said his goal is to lower taxes and simplify the tax code, and, as part of that, he wouldn't rule out doing away with the interest deduction."
Even taken in the broad definition Johnson now claims he said it in, in his Factcheck, he still supports the notion that he's willing to ‘horse trade’ the mortgage interest deduction, as an option.
Johnson Campaign Excerpt:

Claim: Johnson believes sunspots are the cause of global warming.

Truth: Johnson’s quote was used in the broader context of his argument against passing legislation such as cap and trade that would raises taxes and put tens of thousands out of work in Wisconsin. Several reports however focused only on a single remark rather than the true intent of the answer.

Johnson’s full quote read: “I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sun spot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate.” He later went on to say that “We would just penalize our economy tremendously and for the state of Wisconsin it would be extremely harmful.” (Ron Johnson, Interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, 8/16/10)
Again, Johnson fact checks the "claim" by confirming its true, "it’s far more likely that it’s just sun spot activity or something." No argument here.

I might be giving Johnson too much credit by saying his fact checks are an attempt by his campaign to confuse voters. Johnson basically starts an argument for the sake of argument saying, "no, I did say that. Stop slinging mud."

The lesson learned here is just because he fact checks himself, doesn’t mean he’s disputing his claims - he's disputing everybody else for repeating them. How’s that for the ultimate in smug counter-flip-floppency.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hatched Candidate Caught In The Act

In many regards, where would I be without the Janesville Gazette. Right?

Today's Gazette ran a article about a candidate challenging the incumbent for the county coroner's office that didn't smell quite right. The story that is. But before I begin here, it should be noted that the Janesville Gazette has been actively publishing against the Democratic incumbent Jenifer Keach in both articles and editorials. They are bold about it and hey, it's their newspaper and everyone is entitled to their opinion, including them.

So, today's story was about the challenger, Terry Holder, getting caught somehow running for public office while also remaining employed with the U.S. government, a direct violation under the Hatch Act. Just to refresh, the Hatch Act is a United States federal law whose main provision is to prohibit federal, state and local government employees from running for partisan public office.

As it turns out, when the challenger filed her papers (on or before July 13) to run for political office, she was still employed at the William S. Middleton Memorial VA Hospital in Madison. Ooops. The newspaper reported that she eventually resigned from her job at the VA, but that was a month later on August 12th.

To be fair, it's not a malicious crime and is something that a candidate could understandably overlook through all the excitement when initiating a run for public office. Still, it's not like somebody was being accused of ethical wrongdoing or violating laws that don't exist. There is no gray area, it is a clear and sturdy federal law.

The Gazette begins their article...
JG Excerpt:
When Terry Holder filed as a candidate for Rock County coroner, she had no idea she was violating federal law.
She had no idea. Okay. So the newspaper proceeds to lay out a series of events beginning with a complaint filed at the Rock County Clerks' Office. Simple enough for a newspaper. Just lay it all out, timeline and everything, right? But nothing is simple enough when you're trying to work out an advantage for someone - things become a little distorted.
JG Excerpt:
The district attorneys office confirmed that Holder was violating the Hatch Act, and Holder called the US Office of Special Counsel, which enforces the law.
Whoa! There's quite a gap there going from the DA confirming the violation (to the Gazette?) - to Holder calling the OSC. So, how and when exactly did Holder find out she was in violation of the law since she was unaware of it? Remember the article begins, "...she had no idea she was violating the federal law."

Given the newspaper's history and circumstances, the anti-incumbent-coroner-Gazette did everything they could to defend Holder in this news article and make her appear innocent through ignorance, yet turned it around as if she was smart enough on her own to contact the U.S. Office of Special Counsel about a law she had no idea she was in violation of.

That might not be totally accurate either because we just don't know. My main point here is less about the candidate, and more about the publishing tactics of the Gazette. Everyone deserves a fair shake. But questions abound. Is there a grace period for being in violation of the Hatch Act? Was her candidate petition valid on July 13th? I'm not smart enough to answer those questions.

But, who is the Gazette covering for? Did the newspaper tip her off about the complaint? Did someone at the Rock County clerks office or the DA tip her off (to call the OSC)? OR did the county or the OSC issue a formal letter of charges or the complaint against Holder? If so, why is that aspect left unreported in the Gazette? Would she be in violation if no one issued a complaint? Should anyone care anything about this? I think it is important because voters need to know the whole story if one is to be told at all.

Is the Gazette privy to information that they believe their readers can't handle or shouldn't know? Can we get an open records request on a newspaper?

Where would I be without the Gazette?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Johnson: Wisconsin Jobs Creatively Destroyed

Capital Times Excerpt: (By John Nichols)

Johnson has staked out a particularly bizarre position on the question of whether U.S. economic and trade policies should be stacked against American workers -- especially in traditional manufacturing states such as Wisconsin.

Several weeks ago, Johnson claimed on Wisconsin Public Radio that “the fact of the matter is NAFTA and CAFTA have actually been successful for our economy.” The multimillionaire was then asked if it wasn’t true that Wisconsin businesses blamed free-trade deals “for hurting their business.” That is, of course, the case -- as has been well documented by state and federal analyses of the impact of the trade agreements.

Confronted with reality, Johnson adopted the belligerent approach of the ideologue who says “don’t confuse me with the facts.”

“Well, in a free-market capitalist system, there are always winners and losers,” preached Johnson. “It’s creative destruction. That just happens. It’s unfortunate. But let’s face it, if it weren’t for that we’d still have buggy whip companies.”

It does not bother Johnson that the people he describes as “losers” are Wisconsin workers.
Sure, instead of buggy whip companies, we have steering wheel companies. But obsolescence through technological progress doesn't explain why Wisconsin workers and factories ended up on the short end of the stick while Chinese factories got the steering wheels. Johnson's "creative destruction" is just another way of saying "you were legislated out of your job by the so-called "free" market trade agreements. Tough shit, deal with it."
Economic Policy Institute Excerpt:

NAFTA is a free trade and investment agreement that provided investors with a unique set of guarantees designed to stimulate foreign direct investment and the movement of factories within the hemisphere, especially from the United States to Canada and Mexico. Furthermore, no protections were contained in the core of the agreement to maintain labor or environmental standards. As a result, NAFTA tilted the economic playing field in favor of investors, and against workers and the environment, resulting in a hemispheric "race to the bottom" in wages and environmental quality.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are Local Whistleblowers Less Inclined With The Gazette?

Monday's Janesville Gazette contained a couple of "thumbs down" editorials that were too good to pass up given the newspaper's history of hypocrisy and political bias. The first one I tackled a few days ago was about the Gazette's unsupported criticism of Sen. Russ Feingold's campaign ad about stimulus jobs.

The other negative editorial was about what they believe was poor treatment of a whistleblower in a recent controversy surrounding a state prison warden. Yep. This coming from a newspaper that completely mishandled the two most prominent whistleblowing cases in recent Janesville history. In the earlier case, the newspaper head-lined whistleblowing/informant employees of a local private club as squealers and published their real names despite being identified with code names by the local police department. That's sure to set a welcoming stage for future whistleblowers, heh?

In a public sector whistleblowing case, the Gazette introduced the story with an open record's request and allegations from a Janesville city employee who recorded conversations with her supervisors because she feared of losing her job without having evidence to support claims that she was being targeted and unfairly treated. But instead of the "watchdog" Gazette following through and hammering out an exclusive investigation, they relied mostly on results from an internal investigation carried out by a city-hired private attorney who attempted to paint the whistleblower as the primary wrongdoer. Much like the state prison case the Gazette now describes as "appalling." Although the Gazette offered some barely acceptable post-investigation analysis on the city employee's case, their publishing attitude during the city's investigation was totally amateurish and almost helped create a cover-up.

We can only hope the Gazette's indifferent attitude toward local whistleblowers during these two events are kept in short memory and will not cause employees to be less inclined to step forward and blow the whistle on wrongdoing in not only the public sector, but the private sector as well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tune In To JATV For RCP's "Democracy After Citizens United"

Tune in to cable JATV - 98/994 this week and watch Mike McCabe, Exec. Dir. of WI Democracy Campaign, host a Rock County Progressives "Making Democracy Work for People after Citizens United," discussion on campaign finance reform.

On Thursday, August 19. Showing at 12:40, 5:40 & 10:40 pm

On Saturday and Sunday, August 21 and 22. Showing at 9:30 am, 3:30 & 9:30 pm.
75 minutes.

Corporate Power Blowing In State's Wind Industry

Just like Wisconsin's Video Competition Act proved to be a stacked deck of cards against local control by relentless corporate power, the PSC appointed Wind Siting Council also was heavily stacked with profit-driven wind proponents bent on restricting local government authority as much as possible.

It's even more troubling when environmental groups step up and pinch-hit for corporate power hitters in the name of crushing local rules that are "holding up some projects" and declare Wisconsin as "not a good place to do business."

Old Patchwork of Rules - Meet The New Patchwork Of Rules

Last week, the wind advisory panel completed its work on statewide wind farm siting rules by adopting their report on a 11-4 vote. The minority group members wrote a dissenting viewpoint that included stricter health and safety rules and a plan to protect property values. They wrote...
Wind Watch Excerpt:
“When people are abandoning their homes, when they find it difficult or impossible to sell their homes, when symptoms experienced in the vicinity of wind turbines do not occur in other environments, it is not useful to dismiss such reports as inaccurate or hysterical.”
"Nonsense" writes the state health officer....
Wind Watch Excerpt:
In a letter to the Council, State Health Officer Seth Foldy stated, “Current scientific evidence is not sufficient to support a conclusion that contemporary wind turbines cause adverse health outcomes” at the setbacks proposed by the Siting Council. He resists the dissenters’ opinion that turbines are keeping people awake. “Symptoms such as sleep disturbance and headache are common and caused by a wide variety of conditions,” he writes.
A few days later in what appears to be a direct contradiction to the health officer's opinion.
Daily Reporter Excerpt:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State utility regulators will consider a recommendation that homeowners who live near wind farms be compensated for concerns about noise and reduced property value.
At this point, I don't put much trust in anybody on this deal. But you know the first sign of systemic setback failure is when compensation must be considered for those who live where evidence doesn't exist for their concerns. Somebody should call a mistrial.

There is little doubt that green energy is an inherently “liberal” solution to help wean us off of fossil fuel problems – but by throwing in with corporate interests at the expense of property rights and personal peace and enjoyment – liberals and environmentalists are not only wasting valuable political capital and their reputation in standing for the common good, but are also allowing the renewal energy industry to fall to the same oppressive money masters and con artists that have corrupted the free market system and wrecked our economy. That to me, is perhaps the worst revelation to come out from Wisconsin's wind siting council.

Video: Watching The Wind Flicker

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Social Security Turns 75 - No Thanks To Paul Ryan

Strangely, Paul Krugman didn’t mention Rep. Paul Ryan even once in his latest op-ed defending Social Security. Nor does Krugman mention Ryan after explaining the Right’s ideologically driven hatred and obvious political posturing towards Social Security. And, after Krugman recognized the ignorance and indifference to the realities of American life underlying the motives of Social Security’s attackers, along with their broken math – again he does not mention Ryan.

Krugman also exposed the intellectual dishonesty of those who rely on an exercise in three-card monte...
NY Times Excerpt:
... in which the surpluses Social Security has been running for a quarter-century don’t count — because hey, the program doesn’t have any independent existence; it’s just part of the general federal budget — while future Social Security deficits are unacceptable — because hey, the program has to stand on its own.
Again, no Paul Ryan. Krugman also pokes at the bait-and-switch schemes ginned up by some of the program's attackers...
NY Times Excerpt:
And having invented a crisis, what do Social Security’s attackers want to do? They don’t propose cutting benefits to current retirees; invariably the plan is, instead, to cut benefits many years in the future. So think about it this way: In order to avoid the possibility of future benefit cuts, we must cut future benefits. O.K.
Once again he doesn't mention Paul Ryan.

He never had to.

Janesville Newspaper Doubts Stimulus Jobs Exist

Monday's Janesville Gazette contained a couple of "thumbs down" editorials that should have given the editors a time to pause and reflect on their own biased reporting and editorial misgivings.

In the first one, they questioned Sen. Russ Feingold for not using a real person's name in the now overexposed "Ackland" TV ad touting his support for the federal stimulus. But by posing such a frivolous question to the senator, the Gazette's editors must either believe there were no jobs created using stimulus dollars, or they are truly oblivious to the bully/smear campaigns and negative politics they have helped foster. In these seek-out-and-destroy-times and high taxpayer sensitivities, Feingold was right not to exploit a "real" private citizen or subject their reputations to the vagaries of right-wing bloggers and newspapers, providing of course that the stimulus did create jobs. Which it did.

On the other hand, real citizens often do step forward and offer their personal perspective and support for any given candidate. Feingold gets his share of those too. My main point is, the stimulus is not a person and Feingold's ad was a positive, clean and classy way to message that jobs were created. I'd say opponents of Feingold or the stimulus need not worry whether the real person Ackland exists, but should worry to prove whether the jobs don't.

But that would let opponents off the hook too easily. Newspapers like the Gazette should step up to plate and do one of two things: Either prove the stimulus did not create any jobs OR, seek out and interview real people working on projects funded by the Stimulus Act.

The City of Janesville, Congressman Paul Ryan's hometown, has applied for over $74 million in stimulus dollars, so I'm certain the Gazette can find real persons jobbed by stimulus funding and report about it in a non-partisan way. Okay, I know I'm stretching it a bit here, so forget about the "non-partisan" way. But clearly, there should be no shortage of people and personal stories here for the newspaper to exploit, if that's what turns the Gazette on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Will Voters Rehire The Arsonists?

An extremist bloc of congressional Republicans including our Congressman Paul Ryan, voted "NO" on every piece of legislation in the following list. Will their obstruction to progress strategy pay off in November?

Information from Vote Smart.

  • Oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program
  • Credit Card Regulations
  • Price Gouging Prevention Act
  • Mental Health Coverage Bill
  • Safe mining Act
  • Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) Amendment
  • Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (Farm Bill)
  • Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008
  • Unemployment Benefits Extension
  • Establishing Small Business Lending Fund and Amending Tax Laws
  • Flood Insurance Program Extension
  • Regulation and Oversight of the United States Financial System
  • Food Safety Regulation Amendments
  • Energy and Environmental Law Amendments
  • Establishment of the Office of Congressional Ethics
  • Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements
  • Employment Discrimination Law Amendments
  • Pay-As-You-Go Rule
  • Aid To States for Medicaid, Teacher Employment, and Other Purposes
  • Health Care Reconciliation Act
  • Renewable Energy Credits and Other Business and Individual Credits
  • Women's Rights Equal Pay Bill
  • "Whistleblower Protection" for Offshore Oil Workers
  • Trade-in Vouchers for Fuel Efficient Cars
  • Housing Bill with Energy Tax Credit Extensions
  • Electronic Communications Preservation Act
  • Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization and Expansion
  • National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act
  • Mortgage Restructuring In Bankruptcy
  • Mortgage Reform and Anti-Subprime Lending Act
  • Appropriations, Tax Law Amendments, and Unemployment Benefit Amendments ("Stimulus Bill")
  • Science and Technology Funding
  • Stem Cell Research Bill of 2005
  • Assistance to States for Purchasing Foreclosed Homes
  • Housing Foreclosure Assistance Programs

  • Voters are justifiably frustrated and angry, but are we stupid enough to rehire the arsonists? Republicans say...Yes to destroying the country

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Janesville Residential Property Value Drops 7.5% in Year

    Janesville homes lost nearly $216 million in assessed property value from last year, according to a Department of Revenue report released Friday.

    The falling values led to a 7.56 percent decline in residential property citywide. What is most alarming is the short time-frame of only one year for such a steep decline in home values. Janesville's total property value (commercial, residential, manufacturing, AG, etc.,) for 2010 is $3.99 billion, down from $4.25 billion in 2009 for a total 6.12 percent decline.

    According to the Department of Revenue, nearly every city in Wisconsin saw its equalized value decline this year. In neighboring Walworth County, the city of Delavan lost 3.64 percent in residential value while all property value city-wide lost 4.67 percent. Lake Geneva residential lost 9.85 percent, all property lost 6.07 percent. Kenosha reported a 5.8 percent drop in property value to $6.4 billion. Racine residential lost 6 percent, all property saw a 4.65 percent decline.

    Statewide, property value declined 3.1 percent while home value fell 3.5 percent, which was better than the national average of 5.6 percent. While southern Wisconsin residential property generally took a big hit, commercial property values remained relatively less volatile.

    This year is only the third time in the last 50 years that Wisconsin property values fell statewide, and is the largest decline in value since at least 1959. Property values fell 0.5 percent in 2009 and 2 percent in 1986.


    Note: The map above originally depicted assessed values for 2009-2010. Soon after this posting, the revenue department changed it to the less offensive 2008 - 2009 map of equalized values.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Ron Johnson: Want a Job? Expect Lower Wages

    The GOP-anointed-rich-guy-businessman-wants-government-job Ron Johnson made a contributing comment for Keith Olbermann's Countdown segment (video below) about the republican's war on the working-class unemployed when he said that in order for many Americans to get back to work, they'll have to start accepting lower wages.

    Johnson, who considers himself a "producer" reported a gross income of $1.46 million in 2009.

    The segment soon afterwards with George W. Bush would be funny if it weren't so sad. After an empty-nester single mom ("elderly" baby boomer in Bush's eyes) says she needs three jobs just to make ends meet, Bush says "fantastic" followed by "uniquely American, id'din it."

    Related: October, 2006 - It's a Republican Economy, Stupid

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    No Love For Teacher Calling Hotdog a "Wiener"

    The religiously insane Janesville puritans are at it again. This time, they've projected their own sexual hang-ups onto a teacher working the school picnic who said, "want a wiener?" while holding a hotdog with grilling tongs toward an employee's plate. They filed a complaint.

    The teacher has been reassigned jobs as the result of an investigation.

    Warning!! Explicit lyrics! Video may not be suitable for undeveloped minds

    Sunlight Foundation Presents "Poligraft"

    Here is a new data-driven media tool from the Sunlight Foundation that allows anyone to uncover political, campaign and lobbyist interconnections of individuals, organizations and other subjects in media articles, press releases or even blog posts.

    The site, Poligraft, is very straight forward and a snap to use. Just cut, paste and click passages or the url of a blog posting or article and Poligraft will present you with an enhanced view of the interconnections and relationships described in the piece.

    Check it out!

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    How Are Those Profits Working For You?

    May 17, 2010 -- GM swings to first profit in three years
    Marketwatch Excerpt:
    SAN FRANCISCO -- General Motors Co. on Monday turned in its first quarterly profit in three years, riding a strong rebound in worldwide sales and the cost benefits of having emerged from bankruptcy almost a year ago.
    Great news!! Plus, GM returned the government loan money they borrowed years ahead of time.

    August 3, 2010 -- GM to invest $500 million in Mexico Manufacturing plant
    WSJ Excerpt:
    MEXICO CITY --U.S. automobile giant General Motors Co. said Tuesday it plans to invest close to $500 million in its Ramos Arizpe plant in northern Mexico ...
    D'OH! This is totally nuts.

    It's not like I expected special favors from GM, after all, American taxpayers only bailed them out from non-existence. But what a major public relations gaffe this is. While eager and waiting American plants remain idled, the first plant to get a major capital injection after a small profits gain is in Mexico.

    The nose-breathing right-wing corporate fascists are already blaming government motors Obama for this one.

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Local Regressives Giddy Over Low Wage Progress

    The High Cost Of Low Wages
    Capital times Excerpt:
    • Home foreclosures in the county have skyrocketed from 55 homes in 2008 to 421 last year — a nearly eight-fold increase, according to Realty Trac Inc. This year is on pace to be even worse: In the first five months of 2010, 283 homes were repossessed in Rock County.

    • The average hourly wage for private sector Janesville employees dropped from $23.27 in 2007 to $18.82 last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    • Reports of child abuse and neglect — while on the decline elsewhere in the state — rose 30 percent from 2007 to 2009, from 1,205 to 1,568, according to Rock County Child Protective Services.

    • Rock County’s unemployment rate is 10.8 percent as of July — one of the worst in Wisconsin. Beloit, the county’s second-largest city, is the hardest-hit in the state with a 16.5 percent jobless rate.
    After hearing that GM may consider opening one of two idled plants if sales remain strong (the Janesville facility is officially an idled plant), the Janesville Gazette offered their view of the possibility in an editorial on Saturday...
    Janesville Gazette Editorial:
    Leaders in initiatives such as Rock County 5.0 are working hard to put Janesville on the road to a brighter, more diversified future. We wouldn't want Whitacre's comment to sidetrack those efforts amid hopes that GM might return. And if GM did reopen here, Janesville would again be riding that roller coaster of auto industry ups and downs.

    No, we certainly wouldn't want that. We certainly don't want an instant injection of a billion dollars worth of low skill/high wage economic activity to spoil all the prosperity the Rock County 5.0 has planned for us .... no siree.

    But, why the Gazette bothers to mention the Rock County 5.0 group regarding any talk about the GM plant in Janesville is bizarre since group members themselves have claimed they are not a reaction to the GM Janesville plant closing. Yet without the Gazette, who would ever hear of or know of the Rock County 5.0? The group, a conglomeration of 18 local favor-seeking private industry government insiders would be virtually unknown without their sixth partner, the Gazette, overstating their effects and importance to the area's economic recovery. So the editorial turns out to be just another plug for the group paid for on the backs of their subscribers. Perhaps it's high time they call the private group the Rock County 6.0 to include their propaganda partner, the Janesville Gazette.

    After demonstrating the negative effects GM would have on Janesville for the hundredth time, the Gazette editorial ends with this ...
    Janesville Gazette Editorial:
    If GM does come calling, local and state officials should do everything possible to offer incentives. But don't count on it.
    What if anything was the message behind this editorial? I have no idea.

    Saturday, August 07, 2010

    Economic's Laureate: Ryan a Charlatan, Roadmap a Fraud

    Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics winner Paul Krugman literally flattened Paul Ryan and his class war Roadmap plan in his latest op-ed. Krugman, apparently outraged and mystified on how easily the media seems taken in by Ryan's traveling medicine show, refers to the double-talking congressman as a flimflam man and a charlatan. Not to say I blame him for his veracity, but it does sound uncharacteristically heavy, even for Krugman.
    NY Times Excerpt:
    The Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce the flow of red ink: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020.”

    But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan’s request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts — period. It didn’t address the revenue losses from his tax cuts. -- Paul Krugman
    Milwaukee buzz Excerpt:
    Ryan admits his proposal could be unsafe for Republicans. He tells the Post that Democrats are “going to try to wrap my Roadmap around people’s necks.”
    Ryan admits his plan could damage Republicans? What gives him that idea? The problem of course is Ryan seems more worried about what his half-baked trick bag ideological trainwreck will do to his precious political party before considering what it would do to the country. He thinks Democrats are trying to wrap his roadmap around people's necks?? This coming from a guy making regular rounds on Fox News freak shows trying to wrap his roadmap around the neck of anyone foolish enough to listen. "Oh, got a question about my ideas on the economy? Just go to roadmap dot gov and follow the links for all the answers to your questions."

    Krugman is right, Ryan's plan is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future. Ryan, not the democrats, wrapped the ropes around his party's neck. It's time to kick the horses and see if they will hang.

    On Our Local Media Coverage
    Blogging Blue Comment MadCityMan:
    The Janesville Gazette, the Journal Times of Racine, Kenosha News and other publications serving his district have a moral obligation to cover what Nobel Peace Prize Winner Paul Krugman has to say about Paul Ryan’s fraudulent plan. I suspect that the New York Times editorial pages are not high on everyone’s reading list, but when a luminary like Krugman demolishes a local politicians platform, they should cover it.

    More Krugman's "FlimFlam Man" here.

    Friday, August 06, 2010

    Gazette's Radio-Winger Quitting The Show

    Whatever you can make of this article posted at the Janesville Gazette, I thought they did a fairly good job on keeping out all the details why political commentator Stan Milam is quitting the Gazette’s WCLO radio line-up.

    My hunch is that two of the more obvious acts of Gazette inspired chaos sent him on a trajectory out the door.

    After the Gazette recently published a negative article about Paul Ryan's democratic challenger John Heckenlively, Milam bragged about the Congressman's good fortune to have a newspaper perform such a wonderful hit job on the democratic challenger and declared Heckenlively's campaign over. Milam said, "stick a fork in him, he's over," as he used the newspaper's distortions to further ream him on the air - Fox News style.

    In October of last year, Milam made veiled threats of newspaper retaliation to Janesville city council members if they refuse the newspaper's request to start council meetings earlier so the paper can meet its publishing deadlines. That went over real well.

    I bring up those two examples only as evidence that Milam merely echoed Gazette office banter and inadvertently channeled what the hierarchy at the Gazette were up to and thinking - one too many times. For this he became dispensable.

    Although I rarely found common ground with Milam's political perspectives, I also never considered him a lead technician in the local media’s socio-political agenda, but he did carry their water and it's for that reason he became an honorary subject of about a dozen of my blog postings.

    So far it looks like he was forced out, but more details might come out in the next couple of weeks - his last day is August 20th.

    Wednesday, August 04, 2010

    Bush2Johnson Morph

    Same, but different

    No Retraction From Newspaper For Swift Boat

    Now that over a week has passed since the Janesville Gazette characterized a local decorated Viet Nam vet's combat action as played dead while under attack, we can safely assume the vet won't be receiving a retraction or apology anytime soon if ever.

    That's too bad because the Gazette editors will have missed a golden opportunity to show they recognize their error and made an attempt expected of professionals to rise above the fray.

    This could have been an easy one too because most newspapers issue retractions and corrections all the time - but the Gazette must feel they have no regrets and nothing to correct. That's the way it is.

    Yet, I can't help but think what an apology or retraction could have looked like given the awkward circumstances - it could have went something like this...

    "We've made an editing error transcribing your daughter's responses for the story that might lead some of our readers to misinterprete the statement. We want to let you know that despite the differences between us, we have no doubt of your honorable combat service to our country and that any implied doubt or mischaracterization was completely unintentional. Sorry for any misunderstanding on this matter."

    Not a chance. Instead, the Gazette ran a series of comments at the top of their fraudulent anonymous "Sound Off" column in last Wednesday's paper in what appears to be the editor's back-handed way of rubbing even more salt into the wounds by assuring the journalist of his remarkably precise works.

    Stay classy, Gazette.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    Gazette a Government Watchdog? Not Even Close

    The Sunday edition of the Janesville Gazette contained an editorial about our need for newspapers and the important role they play watchdogging the government. The editor also used the recent L.A. Times article about Bell City (CA) officials granting themselves huge salaries as an example of good newspaper work. I agree, but good newspapers also have sharp investigative and analysis reporting and are not beholden to their advertisers, socio-political environment or economy. That leaves the Gazette out.

    Genuinely good newspapers are the ones suffering or folding because subscriptions aren't enough and local officials, businesses and corporations will not financially support anything that might run counter to their own propaganda. That means market-based tabloids like the Gazette, with all of their deliberately disjointed information, the regurgitation of local government responses without challenge, anonymous rumor columns and propaganda in defense of the local establishment players, will go along to get along and continue to do well profit-wise despite the internet's competition or the poor economy. Of course having a pure monopoly on local news doesn't hurt either.

    For the four years I've been blogging, what the Gazette has mistaken for government watchdogging is nothing more than their version of chasing down a few troubled individuals, school teachers and other non-elected workers in the public sector along with digging into the personalities and private lives of local democrats. They want to dig through HR computer e-mails after a public-sector worker has either been disciplined or fired - but not before. That's it.

    What the Gazette does not do is exactly what L.A. Times did to blow the lid off of Bell city officials salaries. The L.A. Times open records requests were not part of a mission to carry out the death wish from an anonymous tipster or a political operative. Instead they were made as part of a broader investigation looking at public pay in the region. Secondly, the L.A. Times followed the money - instead of targeting an individual. That gives great credibility to the L. A. Times and their story.

    In a previous post about our watchdog newspaper, I suggested (not like I thought they would actually take them) that the Gazette drop their vendetta style of watchdogging and instead look for fraud and criminal activity in all departments of local government - not just one individual or one department, and report the findings. I also suggested the paper should connect all the individuals and private interests working behind the scenes in local government to their political and personal business activities - find out who's who, connect the dots and follow the money. Start with members of the Rock County 5.0, get into Forward Janesville and work out from there. You'd be amazed at what you might find. Report all discoveries regardless of party affiliation.

    Obviously, those suggestions didn't go over too well simply because the Gazette is a passive player in much of the local activity and they willingly turn a blind eye towards associates AND they are afraid to offend and lose advertisers. Any which way, the newspaper is part of the problem.

    I'm not bragging here folks. In fact this is more a sad testament to our captured local media than anything else, but this blog is the only citizen/blogging source in the Rock County area that challenges local reporting and in doing so I have uncovered nearly a dozen very problematic events if not outright scandals involving the city, the county and the local media over the past several years. Nearly all of them were discovered by using basic reading, comprehension and observation skills reviewing newspaper articles, television reports and public meetings. No staff and no funding. Unfortunately, I may have missed dozens more.

    So yes, good newspapers do keep a watchful eye on government. But what does that have to do with the Janesville Gazette?

    Sunday, August 01, 2010

    Ryan Votes Against Protecting Seniors From Fraud

    The House of Representatives passed the Senior Financial Empowerment Act. Introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the legislation aims to protect seniors targeted by fraudsters and financial criminals.

    The Federal Trade Commission reports that nearly one in five seniors are defrauded each year. Additionally, according to a report by MetLife Mature Market Institute, "the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion dollars."

    With strong bipartisan support, the legislation passed by a vote of 335 to 81. But 79 Republicans, nearly half of the caucus — including Wisconsin Republicans, Sennenbrenner, Petri and Paul Ryan - voted against the legislation.
    Wisconsin Internet News Excerpt:
    “Representative Baldwin is one of the foremost champions of elder justice in Congress,” said Robert Blancato, National Coordinator for the non-partisan, 650-member Elder Justice Coalition. “Financial abuse, including the newest form, Internet abuse, costs seniors billions a year and must be addressed. Enacting this bill is one key solution,” Blancato said.

    Related: Heckenlively - Ryan Votes Against First Responders.

    Man-o-man, just one after the other here. Is there anything Ryan ever does for the little people?