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Saturday, February 27, 2010

How To Save Social Security

Consider this. My idea to genuinely save Social Security for future generations would give all current and future beneficiaries 65-and-up a "choice" at retirement time to take a onetime cash buyout to invest in the capital markets for themselves or to receive the monthly pay-outs. This would actually work both morally and economically because by retirement age most folks know whether they need the guaranteed payments SS promised. I can imagine some of the wealthier folks (and all of Ryan's supporters) taking it. This way the trust fund won't be drained as quickly and the next generations could enjoy the same opportunity of monthly endowment benefits as beneficiaries receive now, and because they will continue to pay into it.

The key feature to this idea is it preserves the current entitlement system for everyone under the age of 55.

INSTEAD, Rep. Paul Ryan proposed the exact opposite!! He proposed to leave the current recipient's schedule unchanged and without that choice, while throwing the next generations of SS participants under a bus by offering a poisoned T-bone savings account to invest in the capital markets long before they will know what their future will look like. Folks can invest and save in the markets right now without government intervention or control, so why bring in even more intrusive government control? Of course, Ryan's plan is designed to intentionally starve Social Security.

I don't believe this "buy-out" tool is the single and ultimate fix-all for SS, but it should be considered along with other serious solutions such as a higher income ceiling to keep it permanently solvent.

SS offers a promise to keep the average worker out of absolute poverty. It doesn't come cheap.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ryan Explains Why National Health Is Unaffordable

Radicalized Ayn Rand ideologue

Ryan began his diatribe at yesterdays' health care summit by agreeing with the president's claim that health care reform is deficit reform. That's a fair assessment and I could expand on that by saying health care reform is jobs, jobs, jobs and will put more money in people's pockets. But soon after that statement Ryan spends the rest of his conference time flipping it over by implying deficit control is health care reform. It's not! It's nearly as if Ryan is attending a deficit reduction conference and not a national health care summit.

Like a corporate insurance P/L analyst, Ryan begins to throw out micro-bites of numbers and numbers of money from the fringes of the plan because quite frankly, like all republicans and conservatives in congress, Ryan suddenly believes concern over deficits and the ability to turn a profit are more important than concerns over national health. That is a fact, it's suddenly all about controlling the national deficit and how reducing individual health care costs will reduce the deficit. Except he doesn't have a viable plan for reducing health care costs in the for-profit industry. His rambling narrative proves that point. This is what the Tea Party's platform and the health care reform opposition is built on.

Simple fundamentals. Health care cost inflation is a private sector status quo cause to effectively grow profits. The private health care industry accumulates huge profits while simultaneously bankrupting Medicare, small businesses, the government and our country. That is happening WITHOUT a public option or universal health care.

At the end, Ryan tries to hijack a populist tone by assuming that as a representative, he knows what his constituents want and what the American people want. Honestly, I think anybody who makes that naive assumption is completely out of touch to say the least.

“The people who drove this country into the ground are going to come out looking like heroes because the Democrats came to the table and didn’t know where they stood. We’ve created an opportunity for someone like Paul Ryan to look very good when he doesn’t deserve it” -- Paulette Garin
How true. No matter how good the intentions, wafflers never look good when their opponents are confidently opposed to anything they propose.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Subsidiaries Scheduled To Bump Heads At Summit

President Obama invited congressional leaders and top committee members to a health care summit scheduled for today. The four House and Senate leaders were asked to choose up to four members each. Among those chosen to attend by House Minority Leader John Boehner was Rep. Paul Ryan leaving no doubt the private health care insurance lobby will be aptly represented.
JG Excerpt:
Ryan recently introduced legislation to give future Medicare beneficiaries vouchers to buy private health plans and to give future Social Security beneficiaries the option of investing some of their Social Security money in private accounts.
Paul Ryan's plans "give" absolutely nothing to Medicare or Social Security beneficiaries... his plans take away.

On another front in what can be viewed as "stand and brand" legislative action, Ryan voted no on the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act thus identifying himself as one of at least 19 wholly owned private insurance representatives masquerading as congressmen in Washington, D.C.

"Republicans - Wholly Owned Insurance Subsidiary"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Woods Degenerate Lifestyle a Rand Hallmark

There’s nothing wrong with a personal celebration of one's own individualism. It's part of who we are and why should always strive to be our own person. Who in their right mind would want to live somebody else?

But, after listening to Tiger Woods apology, the first thought I had was about the half-baked, narcissistic psycho-babble and sophomoric fairy tales written by nazi-conservative hero Ayn Rand. And how someone like Woods had proved that a pathological love of money driven by Rand based distortions of individualism above all others, in practice - eventually leads to a degenerate lifestyle and personal destruction.

Yet there are some who countered in defense that Wood's only downfall was that he got caught.
CNN Transcript:
"I want to say to each of you, simply, and directly, I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in….

I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish.

I knew my actions were wrong. But I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have far -- didn't have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself.
At the CPAC convention, Fox News stooge and political reprobate Glenn Beck twisted this statement by Woods into a lesson against "entitlements." Nice try.

Still, folks who think with their brains immediately drew the parallels with Woods and Rand.
Decateur News Online Excerpt:
Concerning Rand, Woods and your Sociopath Neighbor
To Rand a man must above all do what benefits himself, and society will have to be a product of just that ethical standpoint. Her opinion on ethics concludes with a statement that could also be used to describe a sociopath: "The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life."

This explanation reveals that Woods is just another modern successful businessman with extravagant tastes and habits. But another explanation is that he is an individual who wanted only the ideals of a wife and children, and had no intention of refraining from pursuing his own self-interest and happiness. If this is the case then, considering his use of other people and wantonness, he seems to fit the description of Rand's moral man and a sociopath; an extremely rich and powerful, obsessed-with-winning, sex-addicted, domineering sociopath.
One merely needs to look at Wood's life driven by a relentless and selfish pursuit to personal greatness at any costs -- was full of fractured and deceitful relationships, personal unhappiness, and a disintegration of his circle of friends, supporters, and sympathizers -- to understand how wrong it is to practice Rand's fictional brand of inhumanely cold and deviate individualism in the real world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Bother To Attend Public Hearings and Meetings? Pt.2

Brace yourselves. Depending on your perspective of democracy and fiscal responsibility, Mondays' Janesville city council meeting was either a complete hoot or a complete shame.

In a concern troll sort of a way, several council members worried about the (high) costs for interested residents to keep and maintain four chickens and build a coop. Really! That those in support of keeping chickens can't possibly be smart enough to know the costs involved since they are stupid enough to even consider wanting chickens in their backyards in the first place. Sure, they didn't say it that way but that's the way I heard it.

Using their cost and supermarket analysis on the chickens ordinance, it’s very possible the fishing and the backyard swimming pool industries could be in jeopardy here in Janesville. Is the city council aware of the tens of thousands of dollars some fishermen spend on 200 HP Basstrackers, depthfinders and other exotic fishing gear? Just to catch a little fish that they can buy cleaned and breaded in the supermarket for just a few dollars? Or what about backyard swimming pools? Some homeowners spend thousands a year on an activity they can enjoy for free at Lions Beach. Did you ever smell rotting fish left in the yard? Or an unsanitized swimming pool?

Obviously, it was not only condescending and offensive to use costs as justification against the ordinance, but arguments such as these are also intellectually dishonest. Council members trying to use land covenants, costs and supermarkets were clearly stretching for reasons to deny the ordinance. But the main failure to this ordinance was the planning commission’s earlier incompetence when they failed to debate and plan for the necessary changes required to make the ordinance more palatable. Sitting in their high chairs, they instead lazily offered a negative edict against the proposal. The same can be said for the administration.

From another angle, council members Steeber and Brunner both claimed the residents they spoke to were heavily opposed to the proposed chicken ordinance, but apparently not opposed enough to come to the public meeting. At Monday's final public hearing, ten people spoke in favor of the ordinance, five were opposed. Again, 10 against 5 in Janesville means the 10 loses. This strikes sharply against the very purpose and intent to hold public hearings and to encourage citizens to attend meetings in Janesville. Why should people bother?

Still, another council member compared keeping chickens to a hobby, like archery, and thus should be denied - as if THAT makes sense. The council voted against chickens in the backyard by a 5 to 2 vote. McDonald and Rashkin voted for it, while the other five talked themselves out of it any way they could. Literally, it seemed like they were just making stuff up to reject the request.

But it got predictably worse. Later during the meeting, the city council entertained the Janesville Gazette's third request of the council to start meetings a half an hour earlier - from 7PM to 6:30PM. Although the request narrowly failed, Council member George Brunner echoed an earlier comment from McDonald and felt changing the city council meeting time to a half an hour earlier was about more than being only selfishly about the Gazette. He was worried how the little people in attendance who wanted to voice their concerns on an issue might leave early during late running drawn-out meetings. As if their voice really matters.

But the council saved the best for last. Here they dealt with a request from the city manager to extend (eliminate?) the deadline to help the wealthy private group meet it's fundraising goal by buying into a consultant study at the very last minute of the long and winding ice arena proposal. Although NOT ONE PERSON from the private group of wealthy investors thought it important enough to attend such a trivial hearing, the city council still agreed to pay for the study with $10,000 in a deal that might eventually involve giving away an additional $2.5 million in tax dollars. Talk about a kick in the face and loving it. When the Big 3 went to Congress for a hand-out, at least they attended the meeting even if they had to fly in on their private jets. The ice arena folks are above all that. After the council cowered in approval, council member Kathy Voskuil actually began questioning other council members apparent lack of enthusiasm towards public/private partnerships for economic development. No - really.

The Janesville city council as a unit can fool some folks, but they don’t fool everyone. From examples as lightweight as an urban chicken ordinance to the wild and open-ended ice arena fiasco, to the content, purpose and goal of each proposal on the council agenda, to the ideological and personal biases of the city council and administration, to the selective appointments for committees and their expected duties and responsibilities, and to the false democracy propped up by the at-large city council, Janesville city government, it’s organizational process and it’s power structure are in complete shambles.

If there’s one additional point that I’ve made in my blog that was driven home during Monday night’s Janesville city council session, it’s this:
The people the city council are listening to and taking marching orders from are obviously NOT the ones that show up.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Despite Editorial Hypocrisy, Newspaper Still Seeking A Payday

Saturday's Janesville Gazette editorial ironically titled, "Payday Loan Bill Should Have Included Rate Cap" was yet another shameful attempt by the newspaper to isolate Speaker Mike Sheridan.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Speaker Mike Sheridan of Janesville says a bill that the Assembly passed Tuesday is tough on payday lenders. He says he has stopped seeing Shanna Wycoff, a lobbyist for the industry, and he apologized for being evasive about their relationship. He claims dating her did not influence his stance on legislation. Of course he would say these things. Sheridan wants to put this episode behind him. It’s not that simple, however.
It sure isn't that simple. Not when you're trying to keep a smear campaign alive.

Not surprisingly, the newspaper completely ignores the facts and the math on the payday interest cap amendment and the rollcall votes that eventually led to the cap's demise, and instead continues to blame Sheridan for Republican's obstruction and failure. The paper rambled on...
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Last September, Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, introduced a bill to cap interest on payday loans at 36 percent. Sheridan supported that but later—was it before or after he started dating Wycoff?—backed off.
That no longer matters because regardless of which way Sheridan voted, two overwhelming truths remain after the fact. One; it would have failed anyways because assembly republicans negative vote overwhelmed the Democrats pro-cap vote and two; why should the newspaper criticize Sheridan for voting against the cap when the deceitful newspaper, despite the title to their editorial - IS ALSO AGAINST THE CAP!
JG Editorial Excerpt:
We believed a 36 percent cap was extreme and would create unintended consequences. At that rate, lenders wouldn’t rake in enough on a two-week, $100 loan to pay for the paperwork. Most would shut their doors.
But it's not just the 36% number they were against because...
JG Editorial Excerpt:
Even Sheridan’s neighboring Democrat, Rep. Kim Hixson of Whitewater, supports a rate cap. Hixson issued a news release saying he voted for AB 447 because it’s a step in the right direction.
Unlike local Republicans, Sheridan like Hixson, also voted for AB447, the Responsible Lenders Act. So what is the Gazette referring to here? Why it must be Hixson's position on the interest cap amendment to AB447. The newspaper offers a supporting hand for Hixson's position on an amendment they just finished saying is too extreme and a bearer of unfortunate consequences.

Make no mistake, the predatory publishers at the Janesville Gazette can't keep their own partisan posture straight. They are against Sheridan because he voted against the cap, but they are against the cap too. But wait, no, they're for the cap because Sheridan's position against the cap runs counter to another local Democrat's position on the cap, and they could use that as political foil - see, Sheridan stands against his own democratic colleagues.

And what about Republicans and the lobbyist industry who were solely responsible for crushing the cap amendment? Why they don't even get an honorable mention in this editorial.

The bottom line here is the newspaper that blasts Sheridan over changing his position in a matter of a few months on the rate cap can't even keep their own position straight in a matter of a few paragraphs. If the newspaper was the honest Joe they claim to be against a strong 36% rate cap, they should be commending Sheridan for changing his vote. Not tearing into him because they agree.

I couldn't even begin to make stuff up better than this. Click Cartoon For Lobbyist Story Click cartoon for Lobbyist Story at Racine Post

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ice Arena Study Obviously A Stall Tactic

One week away from the moment of truth, the Janesville city manager proposes an ice arena study!!
City Website Excerpt: (Page 4)
At this time we have raised almost $690,000 from the private sector, but with the outcome of the study unknown, we feel it would be more appropriate to wait until the report is provided to the city before pursuing additional fundraising efforts. -- Ice Arena "Community Donors"
Why waste $100 or $10,000 on a study since the March 1st fundraising deadline is fast approaching? Don't proceed with the study until you know the private donors have their $1.5 million vouched for. It's only one week away. If the ice arena group can wait for the study, the city should be able to wait one more week for their committment.

But wait, what am I saying? We're not dealing with normal reasonable people here. These are local banksters, political operatives and marketing profiteers.

I'm not trying to kid myself or anyone else for that matter. These folks are organized and committed to capture the $2.5 million tax payer subsidy any which way they can under any circumstances. They already have a Website up and running, have a pliable city council and administration AND most importantly, they have zero organized opposition. At this point, the $2.5 million already belongs to them, it's theirs for the losing.

I'm posting this perspective only to provide for a Sunday funny. Thanks Chumps

Friday, February 19, 2010

Republicans Killed Cap On Payday Loan Legislation

Winona Daily Excerpt:
The Democratic-controlled Assembly voted 56-41 to kill an amendment that would have capped the interest rates lenders could charge at 36 percent.
That is a misleading statement. Although it is true the Democrats control the Assembly, it was the Republicans who rejected the 36% interest cap. They voted 34 - 10 to reject (table) the interest cap amendment. While the Democrats failed 22 - 31 to reject.

South-Central Wisconsin legislators voting to institute the 36% cap were Democrats Benedict and Hixson. Sheridan voted to reject (table) the cap along with Republicans Davis and Lothian. However, Sheridan did vote for the final bill while the two republicans noted here voted to keep the industry fully unregulated.

Afterwards, some state republicans insisted that now is not a good time to regulate the loan sharking industry (600% interest is just dandy) while other republicans continue to milk the tabloid media circus constructed around Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan.

The state Senate now takes up its own payday loan legislation.

View Assembly roll call on interest cap amendment here.

View Assembly roll call on Responsible Lending Act here.

Additional: Racine Post Is Payday Loan Regulation A Partisan Issue? Duh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

City Council Insiders Speak Without Notice

The February 6th edition of the Janesville Gazette carried an article titled, "Hold the Phone" dealing with the use of cellular phone and text messaging technology during city council meetings. After noticing some council members fidgeting with their portable electronics during official meetings, Janesville City Council President Bill Truman made this request:
City Website Excerpt:
The use of audible cell phone ringers and active use and response to cellular phone technology by the governing body, staff and members of the public is discouraged in the Council Chambers while the Council is in session.
Apparently, that is not enough. Despite the admonishment, Council Member Tom McDonald said that probably won't stop him from using his PDA - personal digital assistant - during meetings and he doesn't have a problem with residents contacting council members during meetings.

Currently, Janesville residents have to give their name and address before they can speak at the podium to the Janesville city council, so why should anyone be able to weigh in unannounced and unidentified during a council meeting with a text message to a single council member?
...It'd be interesting to find out whether those text messages opened and read by city council members during official city meetings are subject to the open records law. -- Anonymous
Note: The Gazette article on city council texting was not published on the open Web, it'd also be interesting to find out why.

District Outsiders Buying Ryan's Campaign

As reported in the Janesville Gazette, so far it looks like it's Ryan's $1.5 million against William Proxmire's Paulette Garin's $545.
JG Excerpt:
Those were not all large contributions. Of the 5,571 Wisconsinites who donated to his campaign in 2009, 62 percent gave less than $100, Ryan said.
Congressman Ryan tries to play it cool with "Wisconsinites" and numbers because according to this report ending Dec. 31, 2009, a solid majority (over 90%) of individual contributions have dated single receipts showing $101 or more. Now, he does report $61,820 in "other," but combined with the itemized individual contributions of $100 or less, it's plain to see where he picks up the vast majority of the $1.5 million reported on hand. It came from mostly PAC's, corporate interests and wealthy individuals from outside of our district.

In July of 2009, I looked at the details of Ryan's campaign numbers and reported this...
Rock Netroots Excerpt: (From July 21, 2009)
Since Ryan is a representative of a district with borders, it's only fair to count only those $100 donations coming from inside his district to get a clear perspective of constituent support. After flipping through the report and checking a map, it turns out approximately $4,625 or 2.7% of the $167,975 were $100 donations from within his district - and that figure included $100 donors from the city of Milwaukee. 97.3% were donations of either more than $100 OR from outside his district.

It would be very safe to assume the percentages haven't changed all that much in seven months. In fact, with his heavy state and national exposure, $100-plus contributions from outside his district have probably grown at a faster rate than from those inside.

Question is, what are these folks buying since he is not their representative in Congress?

Great toon. The GOP keeps screaming, "We can't afford Social Security, Medicare and Health Care" while also screaming "We need more tax cuts and more wars!"
...and the Democrats can't win this fight? -- BartCop

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why Bother To Attend Public Hearings, Meetings?

As it seems to be all too often the case in Janesville, a special minority rules.
JG Excerpt:
JANESVILLE — Janesville Plan Commission members listened to a dozen residents speak Monday about a proposed ordinance change to allow backyard chickens before recommending against the proposal.
As reported in the Janesville Gazette, nine residents made the effort to attend the hearing and spoke in favor of allowing chickens (up to 4, no roosters) in Janesville yards, three spoke against it. Nine against three in Janesville means the nine lose.

Predictably, the Planning commission without any discussion or debate voted unanimously against the proposal, with one member abstaining. When given the choice, the position of city committees along with the opinions of city administration employees hold all the marbles against the wishes of the majority.

The commission’s negative recommendation goes to city council members, who are scheduled to discuss the issue and hold a public hearing at their meeting on Monday. But seriously, why bother? If city officials and some council members ask for citizens to attend meetings to voice their position, get it, and then reject it in favor of the opinion of city panels and employees, who are they listening to? Letters, phone calls, emails and text messages? If that's the case, why bother with the hearings?

The fact is, this recent decision is just another in a long line of dubious decisions handed down from Janesville City Hall against independent community organizers. Regardless of where you stand on chickens in the backyard, if you want to exact any kind of positive change in Janesville and you're not part of one of the many power cliques, you lose. In fact, the stronger your group becomes, and the more vocal it becomes, and the larger it becomes, the more opposition you'll face from their media marketing enablers. IF your group is truly independent, you'll be painted as negative and a interloping power grabber. It never fails.

Does anyone ever wonder why there are no community citizen groups independent of city government in Janesville? By this I mean the only citizen groups allowed any input or success in Janesville were eventually captured and used as an extension of the city administration. Friends of Riverside Park are one example, inventions like neighborhood action teams are another. The other point is, if your "movement" runs counter to the corporate rightwing legislative mission of Forward Janesville, you won't even see it coming regardless of how many people you bring to the meeting. Chickens in backyards and skateboarders in Palmer Park don't stand a chance. In fact, most of Janesville's (not all) council members will view a large independent turnout at a meeting as confrontational or unproductive. They'll vote against you just because of your numbers.

With some time and the right search words, you'd be able to find at least a half-a-dozen recent examples archived in this blog of the Janesville city council voting against the published and vocal consensus.

The structural process of Janesville city government has to change before any real democratic progress will ever come home to roost in Janesville. But don't expect that to happen any time soon.

Related reading: Non-partisan elections like throwing darts.

Note: This posting is the independent perspective and opinion of its author and is not a position statement on the "chickens in the backyard" issue.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ryan Should Resign From Congress On TARP Admission

Ryan's 1984
The Daily Beast Excerpt:
In the nightmare scenario of Rep. Paul Ryan—probably the House Republicans’ leading expert on health care and the federal budget—he’s standing in the crow’s nest of the Titanic shouting “Iceberg!”
The problem with that statement is, the disingenuous congressman would rather scuttle the Titanic with a bundle of dynamite to prevent it from hitting the iceberg, but not before contemplating on whether or not the resulting explosion can be used to further advantage himself. Never mind the folks on board.

In a recent interview, Upfront host Mike Gousha hammered Congressman Paul Ryan and exposed his forked-tongue shape shifting rhetoric for exactly what it is. Ryan's fumbling responses to a few simple questions topped the tank with illogical representations and baseless assertions. Anything more than an eye roll to his responses should be considered complimentary to the congressman.

Gousha throws the Congressman off of his circus act roadshow when he mentions the high unemployment in his district and asks, "what do they (constituents) need from you? Ryan not only views federal capital targeted for jobs stimulus as "borrowed money," but he also implies that returning those tax dollars to the pockets of his constituents under a federal program is little more than a pork project. In other words, Ryan is prepared to do absolutely nothing for his district. In the past, he's actually bragged about it saying he, will bring home even less.

But Ryan outdoes Gousha when he asks his own question, "If your congressman knew the fiscal crisis that occurred in 2008 was going to happen and did nothing about it because of politics, wouldn't you want to fire that congressman?"

What about when a Congressman isn't sure whether a fiscal crisis will occur, and makes the decision based on nothing but politics? That is exactly what Ryan admitted to in a recent interview at the Daily Beast when he spoke about his reasons for supporting the TARP.
The Daily Beast Excerpt:
"... TARP... represented a moment where we had no good options and we were about to fall into a deflationary spiral," he said. "I believe Obama would not only have won, but would have been able to sweep through a huge statist agenda very quickly because there would have been no support for the free-market system."
In other words, Ryan admits voting on what was arguably the most important and urgent piece of legislation in the past 60 years not on the nuts and bolts of the proposal, but on whether or not the resulting consequences can be used in any way to the political advantage of his imaginary enemy and ideological nemesis - the President of the United States!

Dishonest even to his own Randian ideology, at this point it must be understood that Ryan actually was the House GOP point man for TARP and ran to the collective system of taxation (statism) for a series of capital injections to help keep the free markets free of risk. From these most recent revelations, Ryan in his mind wasn't saving capitalism to save it, but did so to save capitalism from a hallucinatory fascist liberal statist agenda he channeled onto President Obama. Ryan attempts to reframe Obama because Obama supported saving capitalism by using TARP without reservation. But just when capitalism was teetering on total collapse, what fascist liberal statist or Socialist would want to save it? Obama did and Ryan can't face up to that fact.

But Ryan's media supporters claimed he was courageous for turning to the collective (state Socialism) for the rescue. But, that other option "individualism?" Was nowhere to be found.

And he thinks Democrats are unfairly criticizing his corporate-fascist societal manifesto? Paul Ryan is one scary dude.

Congressman Ryan is beyond reproach. I'd say he should save himself from the firing while the gettin's good... he should resign. Immediately.

View UpFront Interview here.

Additional Reading: Democurmudgeon's Ryan Voted For TARP To Save Us From Liberal Fascism! Goodnight!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Republicans See Payday Stalling Lender's Regulations

The bill passed the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee 6-5, with all Republicans voting against it."You're in the soup," Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) told Democrats. "Trying to rush this through, get it by, get the stories over - I don't know. It's not pretty."

Committee On Financial Institutions

The five Republicans who voted against passing the payday bill through committee are:

Brett Davis
Michael Huebsch
Dean Kaufert
Bill Kramer
Scott Newcomer

Wisconsin is the only state that does not regulate payday lenders.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is Paul Ryan's Radical Mindset Dangerous?

“If I lose my job over this, then so be it. If you’re given the opportunity to serve, you better serve like it’s your last term every term.” -- career insurance rep Paul Ryan, trying to steal some of Obama's mindset.

About two months ago during an interview with Pat Robertson, Rep. Michelle Bachmann ridiculed Obama as a "radical" when he said, "I'd prefer to be a one-term president and achieve my agenda than being a two-term president and not achieving my agenda."

Pat Robertson agreed saying that kind of mindset is "dangerous."

Watch Robertson/Bachmann interview here

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

InsurCorp Miffed By Profits - Will Jack Up Premiums

Insurer spent nearly $9.5 million lobbying against health reforms; CEO’s annual salary tops $10 million. Its parent, WellPoint Incorporated, has seen its profits soar earning $2.7 billion in the last quarter of 2009 alone.

According to recent reports, the company wants to raise its premiums by up to 39 percent for roughly 800,000 Anthem Blue Cross customers in California who hold individual policies.

The company, apparently complaining about the circumstances that led to it's windfall profits, then issues this statement...
Raw Story Excerpt:
“We regret the impact this has on our members,” the company said, according to The Washington Post. “It highlights why we need sustainable health care reform to manage the steadily rising costs of hospitals, drugs and doctors. As such, it is important to go back to the beginning and get health care reform done right.”

Ryan's "Just Like Congress" Talking Points Don't Hold Up

I completely disagree with President Obama that Congressman Paul Ryan's roadmap schemes deserve serious honest debate. Not just because he uses cheesy used car salesman tactics to sell his class war lemon, the "Roadmap for America's Future" but that his rhetoric simply does not own up to the reality. I don't trust Ryan one bit on any of it.

Just consider his core principle on health care.

Roadmap Excerpt:
* Provides a refundable tax credit – $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families – to purchase coverage in any State, and keep it with them if they move or change jobs.
Ryan uses the talking point "just like the program enjoyed by Members of Congress" religiously throughout his roadmap plans, yet the words carry little weight.

For instance, the federal government subsidizes Ryan’s family health care with about $9,200. He co-pays about $4,300 a year for a grand total of $13,500. Numbers are approximate. Ryan has repeatedly stated that his Roadmap health care plan will give everyone the same coverage as he gets, but for less. Ryan expects families to pay for $13,500 worth of insurance with a $5,700 TAX CREDIT subsidy. At the same time, his plan relieves employers from the duty of sponsoring a health care plan. Why? Because that is where the $5,700 tax credit comes from – his plan shifts the employer tax credit incentive to the employee.

No more group leverage, you’re on your "Randian" own in state exchanges. For everyone except himself of course – the government employee. He gets to keep his employer $9,200 subsidized private plan - it's champagne and caviar.

Americans should ask Ryan if his employer (us!) will be relieved of subsidizing his personal family health care plan like his plan does for other employers, so that Congress can enjoy the same tax credit he wants all of us to have.

Social Security

Ryan still doesn't get that Social Security is a government backed payroll funded insurance policy that guarantees a monthly endowment beginning at age 65 for most participants. It's NOT a "personal savings account." It's in addition to 401k's, Roth's, saving accounts and other investment vehicles.

The Congressman also implies that his reformed Social Security system offers the same investment options — just as Members of Congress and Federal employees get. Again there is a major disconnect. So why doesn't Congress invest SS I.O.U.'s into the low-risk bond markets to keep SS solvent?

For years I've received political emails from all sorts of people (Left and Right) demanding that Congress should not be be allowed to skip out of the Social Security. The people want Congress to participate in Social Security - we want Congress, Federal employees and other public sector employees to have the same as the rest of nation, not the other way around. Social Security only needs more participants and a higher income ceiling to extend it into the distant future. Besides, private investment options and savings accounts are available to everyone of their own free choosing right now. Why would we want more government control?


Ryan's Roadmap plan DOES end Medicare as we know it. Despite his own fact checking remarks. You can't have two different Medicare's, one for people under 55 and one for people over 55 with completely different points and parameters and call it the same plan! It is fundamentally illogical. How stupid does he think Americans are?

"The Medicare reforms provide future beneficiaries (those currently under 55) with health coverage options just like the program enjoyed by Members of Congress." -- Paul Ryan

Is Congress on Medicare? They must be if the above statement is true and Ryan is honest that his plan doesn't end medicare as we currently know it.

Ryan and his GOP colleagues are in complete "denial" mode. Social Security, Medicare and our tax system are not crushing our country and making it uncompetitive. The high cost of health care is.

What's wrong with Paul Ryan? Why is he so dishonest?

Monday, February 08, 2010

About Credibility And The Janesville Newspaper

The Janesville Gazette continued to pile on Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan in both Saturday and Sunday editions with gangland style attacks, even bragging about how their trumped up story received statewide attention.
JG Editor's Views Excerpt: (Feb.7, 2010)
In nearly every case, the Gazette got credit for reporting the story first. We love to be first with any story. We particularly like it when the story has statewide significance.
On Saturday the newspaper ran two articles, one asserting that Sheridan no longer lives in his district since filing for divorce, and the other one describing the findings (comical) uncovered by the AP's Open Records search of the legislator's e-mails. What they found was a series of e-mails describing a shell-shocked staff wondering how and why a seemingly legitimate newspaper would fire off repeated rounds of vicious rumors to hurt the speaker's reputation.

Adding to the poisonous newsprint mix was Stan Milam's column of buffoonery and fabrications questioning in disbelief why Sheridan's colleagues would come to the defense of the wrongly maligned legislator. A solid 80% of Milam's rant was just made-up stuff, not typical even for this establishment concern troll.

Then on Sunday, the Gazette unleashed one of their puritanical editorials attempting to shame the legislator even further with sensationalized rehashments of previously ratched-up news bites, and a cartoon.
JG Editorial Excerpt: (Title: Sheridan Is Eroding Credibility) They accuse us of trying to destroy Sheridan because he's a Democrat. That's nonsense. Why would we do that when we've repeatedly endorsed him and when someone in his position could help Janesville's economic recovery?
They continued..."no lawmaker should be friends with a lobbyist." Is that so?

How about when a newspaper enthusiastically endorses a lawmaker who by most definitions IS a lobbyist? Let me explain.

Do you know why the newspaper endorsed Mike Sheridan for assembly in the Wisconsin State legislature? Any idea? They endorsed him because...and this is the unbelievable part, they endorsed him because at the time, he was still the UAW chief at the Janesville GM plant! Technically the UAW local chief is not a lobbyist, but I would challenge anyone to draw up definitive enough descriptions between the two to show any major differences. At the time, he wasn't dating a lobbyist nor was he in bed with a lobbyist so to sir, nothing that politically offensive...instead, HE WAS THE LOBBYIST! He was a state legislator and a paid special interest representative all wrapped in one. This made him a prize in the Gazette's eyes. That is precisely why they endorsed him!! There was no other reason. I can't stress this enough.

Just a few days after the newspaper's chilling endorsement back in 2006, I wrote the following...
Nov. 4, 2006 -- On Nov. 1st, the Janesville Gazette editors endorsed Rep. Mike Sheridan for the 44th state assembly. I thought for a moment, “wow, this IS news, a Democrat,” but after reading the full story, their reasons became increasingly clear. Sheridan also happens to be president of UAW local 95, and it is this corporate connection that the Gazette finds highly desirable in elected public officials. Sheridan's ability to play both fields would seem to pose a moral dilemma for principled progressives and Democrats. But the difference between principled politics and Gazette principles is far apart. ...but it's also plain to see if he weren’t the Janesville GM union leader, the Gazette would have endorsed Yoss in a heartbeat.
I'd like to see the Gazette re-publish their editorial endorsement for Sheridan from 2006.

Granted, none of this effects anything in Sheridan's personal life today. But for the Gazette to impart any editorial credibility today, they would have had to have some credibility yesterday on which to stand on before accusing this legislator or any legislator of a conflict of interest. Yet, it's undeniable this peek into the newspaper's editorial history uncovers yet another marketing campaign deeply rooted in intellectual dishonesty and partisan publishing. The newspaper isn't even true to themselves. But there's more.
Rock Netroots Excerpt:
After he was first elected to Wisconsin legislative office, I was one of few who spoke out against his continued employment with corporate GM as a conflict of interest to serve the greater good. I was happy to see that when it came time to make a decision of either/or, he chose public service. -- Kaye
The Janesville Gazette and their minions not only turned a blind eye towards this unethical relationship, they actually trumpeted it. I was one of a very few who spoke out against the legislator's ties with GM. And yet they call me the partisan? The truth is, Sheridan came clean nearly two years ago from this conflict of interest when he finally cut his commissions to the UAW and corporate GM.

So what's changed? From here on I could leave that up to you, but let me explain further while I still have your attention.

For one, Sheridan is no longer bringing Janesville the economic security he once did as a UAW lobbyist working the legislature, so he no longer possesses those Gazette-desirable qualities he once had. Plain and simple. Two, the GM plant's operational infrastructure has been gutted since early 2009. There are no signs of GM coming back anytime soon.

No longer a lobbyist pulling the strings for the GM juggernaut, Sheridan becomes expendable to the profiteers at Forward Janesville and the Gazette. That he happens to be a Democrat at a time of perceived party weakness and heightened political partisanship, he then becomes intolerable to the right-wing tabloid. He's become an easy target.

To the predatory publishers at the Gazette, Sheridan is now like a piece of used chewing gum that's lost all its flavor.

Folks should ask the Gazette. Why did they endorse Sheridan for legislature when he was a fully salaried special interest lobbyist, but now run a smear campaign against him for merely having a date with one? What really changed? Was it the payday loan industry's perceived lack of economic contribution to the Gazette's bottom line? As compared to the wealth that previously trickled down from GM to the Gazette? Is this how the newspaper wages political war to finally spit out that used wad of gum? Why was only one legislator targeted when they all are directly effected by the corrosive influence of lobbyists? Who are the sources that the newspaper has been taking marching orders from? What is their motivation and party affiliation?

The perception to the matter is, no matter how juvenile and petty the ethically challenged Gazette comes across in Sunday's editorials on Sheridan, they've still damaged his honorable reputation.

The bottom line in my opinion is; the Janesville Gazette owes the entire State of Wisconsin and their newspaper industry colleagues an apology. But more importantly, they owe Mike Sheridan a public apology with sugar on top. But it shouldn't end there. They also owe the citizens of Rock County and their subscribers an apology for the constant feeding of disinformation. That would be a good start. It's time to come clean.
NOTE: This posting is the independent perspective and opinion of its author. Kaye has no affiliation with political parties or collaborated in any way with the subjects in this commentary.

Sheridan should seize the moment

Newspaper Attempting To Malign Mike Sheridan

Opportunities of a serious rumor

GOP targeting local Dems

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Ryan Should Expect A Tea Party Challenger

This is something that should be seriously considered.

In a previous post, I mused over President Obama's casual remark at the Republican Caucus conference when he spoke of Ryan possibly getting a Republican challenge. Perhaps I misread the President. But if you take the congressman's own words at some of his townhalls, it's easy to think he isn't a republican. Although he's a solid party-line loyalist and rubber stamped massive annual deficits for the Bush Administration, he constantly distances himself from George W. Bush and speaks about the current Dem-led and past GOP-led Congresses as if he has yet to become a participating member. How Ryan has been able to wash his hands clean of our blood is a magical trick indeed. Despite being the party's golden boy, he's still somewhat of a pariah among the more traditional conservatives.

The congressman has been making a huge media splash with his "Roadmap" novels and truth be known, the novels run opposite to both democratic ideals and most Tea Party ideals as well. His schemes transform health care into new voucher entitlements and self-imposed rationing by guilt-tripping the cost of seniors health care against the future of their own grandchildren. This is downright evil.

Ryan also views Social Security as a Wall Street investment cache illegally held by the U.S. Government and hopes to redistribute the federal notes into the capital markets before Congress has the chance to repair and regulate the broken system. drop the insurance based concept in favor of "personal savings accounts." This would eventually defund the core principal required to keep the Social Security safety net solvent. Ryan forgets that Social Security is in addition to personal savings accounts currently available to anyone. It is a non-transferable insurance policy designed to protect individuals from economic disaster. Think insurance - not savings.

His plans are said to potentially reduce the deficit slightly over 80 years. But in 2007 it should be remembered, George W. Bush projected a federal balance by 2012. So much for crystal ball theories.

With that, it is reasonable to assume this media exposure is meant to divert attention away and quell any Tea Party opposition. In the meantime, it's only ten months away from November and there is no time to waste if the Tea Party intends on toppling this Wall Street shill.
Down With Tyranny Excerpt:
And Paul Ryan's is one of Wall Street's most devoted partisans on Capitol Hill, a veritable lobbyist inside Congress for all of their interests. Teabaggers don't like politicians who voted for the irresponsible Bush bank bailouts. Ryan didn't only vote for it-- twice-- as a high ranking member of Ways and Means and Banking Committee, he persuaded dozens of reluctant GOP colleagues to vote for it and after it failed the first time, is said to have been the key figure in passing it the second time a week later!
There's no reason not to assume Ryan will run under the Republican banner yet again.

Ryan's district should be the ultimate litmus test for the Tea Party. If they run a viable candidate against him, I will be a believer. Are they what they say they are? Are they for real? Or are they just a tool for Fox News and the Republican party?

Ryan's Road To Recovery

Friday, February 05, 2010

Paul Ryan Scores 'F' On Fighting Poverty

In 18 poverty fighting pieces of legislation in 2009, Ryan voted against 15. View scorecard here.

State of Wisconsin

Population: 5,654,774

Poverty rate: 10.4%

If you didn't think it was possible, one other Wisconsin legislator actually scored lower on poverty than Ryan's "F".

Ryan 12, Sensenbrenner 11

Geithner: Ryan's Bush Congress Dug Country Into a Trench

Paul Ryan: Why aren't you giving us a budget...that actually is sustainable?

Timothy Geithner: Congressman, we're proposing a budget that takes the huge mess we inherited and cuts the deficits dramatically.

Ryan: You can blame Bush only so long.

Geithner: It's just a factual thing. Again, when I left the Treasury in 2000 it was surpluses on OMB and CBO’s around as far as the eye can see. When we came in, it was a deep trench.

-- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, at a congressional hearing this week shutting down Rep. Paul Ryan with the facts.

Geithner To Ryan: Are You Willing To Be Fiscally Responsible?

Paul Ryan's Plan to Slash Grandma's Medicare and Burn Pop's Social Security

Ryan, Republicans In Denial

Thursday, February 04, 2010

From White Elephant To Hot Potato To Boondoggle

While watching last week's Janesville city council discussion about the ice arena, I was both flabbergasted and insulted by at least two council members readiness to throw Janesville taxpayers under a bus, or to imply that tough economic times means taxpayers must expect to sacrifice even more.

Nearly every council member spoke about "time" and how they need to do all they can to get the ball rolling on a new ice arena. After listening to the back and forth banter, it turns out it's the council who can't track the the ice arena fast enough. As far as selling the naming rights to the public facility were concerned, the council refused to vote on the proposal at hand and instead pushed the matter back onto the city manager.

The City Manager Eric Levitt in my opinion gave the quote of the session when he said this about literally giving the donor group $2 million dollars to build and maintain their own facility, just so the city can unload the entire boondoggle...
City Council Meeting:
"it would save long-term the city many dollars operationally, and save the city many dollars capital-wise long-term, so the investment would pay back the city over the next twenty years more so than if the city ran the facility." -- Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt
In short, the city would be better off giving away $2 million and walking away from the ice arena altogether. That was quite a statement.

Of course, the hand-out reeks from one end to the other. I don't really know where to begin. Should I start that the suggestion is actually an admission that the city council screwed up royally when they approved of that totally obnoxious concessions/advertizing lease with the for-profit WHP?

Or that despite all the "community" talk from the private donors, none of these proposals would even exist had the council not approved the WHP lease in the first place? It all revolves around the WHP group. That is a widely held observation.

Or, how about the idea that in order to save around $1 to $1.5 million to renovate the current community ice arena into a state-of-the-art facility, the city will tear it down and literally give a private group of wealthy individuals $2 million in taxpayer cash AND a parcel of land worth approximately $1 million to go build their own arena?

Was this entire scheme hatched just so the city can save $1 million on land acquisition for a new fire station? If it is, someone needs to tell the administration and council to please... stop trying to save us money! All the while the city loses a community facility when public use was just beginning to peak before the Jets arrived on the scene.

Or how about the thought that the new arena will be property tax free while it's primary tenant is a for-profit business group?

Or how about the idea that the private group will charge the residents/taxpayers for usage and keep all proceeds?

Or how about the thought that the naming rights to the proposed city owned facility and ice sheets were worth about a million to the private donors, while the taxpayers $2 million will be lucky to buy itself a plaque on the wall.

Or how about the math that $2 million should be able to buy Janesville taxpayers $50,000 worth of skate time for 40 years. Hmmmm, at $500 per event, the privately owned and operated facility can hold 100 open skate events per year for Janesville residents - for free.

Or how about the fact that had a senator, congressman or state legislator propose a $2 million earmark for a special interest group to build and privatize their own ice arena, they would likely be burned at the stake. But at least they'd pay property taxes.

Or about the fact that while the city of Janesville contemplates giving away $2 million to a hockey club, Janesville public schools are asking for donations to meet its bills.

Or how about the notion that as soon as it seems a public asset or community facility might show any promise of turning a profit, the asset is turned over to private interests?

Gee, where should I begin?

More Ice Arena Fumbles

It's a "good ol'boys club."

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Judy Robson Exploring Run For Lt. Governor

As a supporter of State Sen. Judy Robson, I of course was disappointed when she announced that she will not seek re-election to another term in the Wisconsin legislature. Now comes word she may be exploring a run for lieutenant Governor, according to the Beloit Daily News.
BDN Excerpt:
Wisconsin politics may not have heard the last of Judy Robson. The Democrat state senator from Beloit says she is considering a run for higher office — the post of lieutenant governor. Robson said she has not made up her mind, but confirmed she may seek the office.
There is no question Robson has the experience and integrity to do the job, and knows what it takes to stem the tide of slash and burn politics. She'd make an excellent Lt. Governor.

Plus, despite undeservedly poor treatment and GOP-machine attacks from the Janesville Gazette and Messenger newspapers, district constituents have shown strong support for Robson's steady leadership. She's been through the grinder, that says alot.

In the meantime, Robson's eventual open state senate seat will likely attract a few fresh faces that could make the local election interesting. It goes without saying, I'll be paying close attention to the local media framework leading up to Election Tuesday - you can count on that.

The worst thing we could do to fill the senate seat is elect a nanny-corporate tool who insists government must exert even more power to manipulate competitive pressures in the so-called free markets to coerce businesses to create jobs. We can't ignore the fact that millions of jobs have been legislated out of the country by "Contract On America" congressionals, and we can't pretend that they'll come back if only we legislate a few state kick-backs and tax credits to the wealthiest among us. It's an unsustainable premise with a recent history of enormous failure. We don't need the faux-conservative doctrine of socialized losses and privatized gains. That's what got us to this point in the first place.

Note: Robson is the first Democratic incumbent to not seek re-election. Sen. Alan Lasee, De Pere, and Sen. Ted Kanavas, Brookfield, both Republicans, have also said they would not seek reelection.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sheridan Should Seize The Moment

Mike Sheridan should seize the moment created by his hometown newspaper and use this awkward episode as exhibit A to write legislation to rid Madison of the scourge of play-for-play lobbyists once and for all. The greatest outrage from his constituents seems to revolve around the potential that he "changed his mind" about a piece of legislation because of his relationship with a lobbyist. This strikes at the heart of why lobbyists are allowed in the capital in the first place. For the most part, their only mission is to influence legislators, conflict business and "change minds."

Other PayDay Loan Lobbyists
JS Online Excerpt
Other lobbyists in the game include former Assembly Majority Leader Steven Foti (R-Oconomowoc); ex-Rep. Tim Hoven (R-Port Washington); Bill McCoshen, a former top aide to ex-Gov. Tommy G. Thompson; Scott Stenger, best known for representing the Tavern League of Wisconsin; Jim Smith, who ran the successful Democratic effort to take over the Assembly in 2008; and Jason Childress, who led the campaign for Senate Democrats.
Mister Speaker, don't let this rare groundswell of public interest die down. The legislator should even engage with the activist newspaper as a marketing partner to help keep the momentum going. They seem to be more than willing. Getting rid of this corrosive influence is half the battle to good clean government.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Will Paul Ryan Face A Republican Challenger?

This may have come across only as a tongue-in-cheek remark by President Obama during the Republican caucus conference, but perhaps there is more than meets the eye when he said... “And by the way, in case he’s going to get a Republican challenge, I didn’t mean it,” the president joked. Turning to Ryan, he said, “I don’t want to — don’t want to hurt you, man.”

No question, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Redundant) is considered the GOP's brainy "golden boy." But who could argue that the Freedom Working Ryan doesn't fit the Tea Party platform of arbitrarily cutting taxes across the board, blind opposition to any economic stimulus and deficit reduction at any costs excluding war spending? So, who could blame Obama for thinking that Ryan could possibly be challenged by a genuine Republican.

Republican Senator Describes An Ideologue

On Faux News Sunday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) was asked if Obama is an ideologue. His answer actually described Rep. Paul Ryan and all of his rigidly detailed and rehashed schemes and "America's Future" novels to a tee.
"I think he doesn't think he's an ideologue, but I think he approaches things in a way a professor would in terms of big comprehensive schemes," Alexander continued. "When, in fact, the way the big complicated country we have works best (is) when we solve problems step-by-step." -- Senator Lamar Alexander
In fact, it is Obama that is attempting to solve our problems with step-by-step trades-offs and compromises, a concept that is not working too well with either side of aisle. He's trying to please the center and nobody in Congress belongs to that party.

Republicans Vote "NO" - even on proposal they co-sponsored!