Wednesday, August 29, 2012

No matter what they say in Tampa, it still ain't working in Wisconsin

Saw our fair governor was making the rounds at the RNC in Tampa and getting a big ovation from the oligarchs and nutjobs that make up your typical RNC delegates. I didn't care to watch Scotty's crap last night, just like I'm not going to watch Paul Ryan's sure-to-be equally BS speech tonight, but I am going to make a prediction- neither Ryan nor Walker will give the results of the latest Philadelphia Fed surveys of state economies.

I've mentioned these monthly reports a lot here, and in the last week, the Philly Fed came out with their coincident indexes showing the economy of the last 3 months, as well as the leading index for the next six months. And just like on election night, you don't want to see your state in any shade of red on these maps. And Wisconsin is red in both of them.

Here's where we've been the last 3 months

And here's where we're projected to go for the next 6 months.

And notice the one state east of the Mississippi that is dark green for both maps? OH-IO. Yesterday, Ohio Gov John Kasich was at the RNC, and broke with the party's nudge-nudge agreement to not talk up the economies in their states, lest it reflect positively on President Obama. Kasich bragged about Ohio being 4th-best in the nation for job growth in the last year, and credited his GOP policies for the gains.

What I bet Kasich didn't bring up is the fact that a lot of those gains are in the automotive industry that Obama helped save with a bailout in early 2009, including a $220 million expansion at 2 sites to help build Chevy Cruzes for GM in the next year. Oh, and another inconvenient truth I'm betting ol' Johnny didn't bring up? That most of Ohio's gains have been since the state's voters overwhlemingly vetoed Kasich-backed legislation that restored collective bargaining rights to public employees last November.

Walker mentioned in the famous David Koch phone call that he talked to Kasich "every day" about how to proceed with this ALEC-written legislation, but the difference is that Wisconsin has gone nowhere while Ohio has boomed over the last year. This graph uses the Philly Fed leading index, and allows us to see what the total result of the first 2 years after many of these governors and many of their fellow TeaBag legislators took power. For Wisconsin, it's a lot of crawling along the 0 line.

Also interesting to see the decline that has started in Michigan (and to a lesser extent Illinois) is expected to pick up even more in the next few months, which could be worth keeping an eye out for as we go forward. Also, notice that the U.S. as a whole is slated to continue growing through the next 6 months, and at a pace similar to the upwardly revised 1.7% annual rate U.S. GDP grew by for the Q2 2012. So despite the fact that the right-wing bubble world and the media members covering it is convinced Scott Walker is a huge success in Wisconsin, the reality-based world tells us that he is an abject FAILURE, and has stopped what was previously a steadily-growing Wisconsin economy.

No wonder that Walker repeated his recall-election campaign trick today, saying the BLS "confirmed" his tricked out QCEW stats that show job growth, when in fact they probably had just received them (like they did in May). And if it's like the last time, Walker's claims of the numbers being "confirmed" will be proven to be lies, and the feds will show Walker and the DWD inflated these numbers as well.

And our paid-off media will let again Walker and his sketchy DWD slide on this disgusting decpetion. And I'll probably be writing another article on Walker's false report in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

WisGOP has bought off Wisconsin media- the smoking gun

A must-read article from Scott Wittkopf at Badger Democracy exposing how Scott Walker and his administration scripts interviews with right-wing talk show host such as Charles Sykes, Jerry Bader, and Vicki McKenna, including the forwarding of talking points and instructions on which softballs to lob to Walker so he could give his ready-made answers.

Not that it should really surprise us that shows such as Sykes', Bader's and McKenna's are nothing more than GOP propaganda, but this happened during the Senate recall election cycle, and no doubt happened numerous times during Walker's recall election campaign. This is a clear case of a station using its power to do one-sided electioneering during a campaign, which is in violation to a station's licensing agreement with the FCC.

I'll also remind you that like all other Wisconsin stations, WTMJ, WISN and WTAQ have their licenses up for renewal, and WISN and WTMJ have already had a complaint filed against them in May by the Media Action Center for violating equal time provisions, and airing the equivalent of hours of free GOP advertisements. Sounds like the Media Action might have another item to add to their complaint, especially if Democratic lawmakers offered the same time for interviews (even without the scripting) to these right-wing stations and were turned down.

And another Wisconsinite found out the hard way when he tried to spew his partisan BS to someone who actually wasn't in on the script, and wouldn't let him get away with it. RNC Chair Reince Priebus came on MSNBC to try to spread his anti-Obama spin, and Chris Matthews called out Priebus and the RNC for their racist dog-whistle tactics, including Mitt Romney making a birth certificate joke last week. What follows is a verbal beatdown the types that far few journalists will give to a politician that is throwing out baseless lies. I especially like how Priebus claims the GOP isn't trying to make Obama seem like a foreign "other", then Priebus starts talking about "European" style health care within 30 seconds, and Matthews just lets him have it.

Hey Reince, this isn't a Milwaukee talk show, now is it? Welcome to the big-time, little guy, and real media isn't going to cover up your Koch-backed voter caging schemes like they did at JournalComm in 2010. Of course, the J-S buried this humiliation of Priebus in a fawning "look at how important our little Wisconsinite is" story from yesterday, and their suck-up coverage and years of cover-ups for Paul Ryan are even more pathetic.

Still don't think WisGOP and Milwaukee talkies aren't part of the same team? Then explain this sloppy, wet kiss from Reince to Chuckles after the 2010 elections.

Scott Wittkopf's article should take this discussion of right-wing Wisconsin media bias to full blast, and it is well past time to call these corporate slimeballs onto the carpet and demand balance and fairness in our state's media. Cause we sure haven;t gotten it for the last 2 years.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A graph on Paul Ryan you won't see at the RNC

I imagine there'll be some video accompanying Paul Ryan with his speech accepting the VP nomination at the RNC this week, and it'll probably have some BS about him being a Midwestern boy "who never forgot where he came from." Well, in addition to the part about being from Wisconsin being false (Ryan's hasn't had a job based in Wisconsin since he graduated high school 24 years ago, Shirley Manson's more of a Wisconsinite than Paulie), Ryan has certainly forgotten the 1st district of Wisconsin.

There are two MSA's in WI-1 that the BLS sets aside for job numbers- Janesville and Racine (Kenosha gets sucked into the Chicago MSA for this). I wanted to compare those places' performances to the rest of Wisconsin to see how they've done since Paul Ryan rose to power. I even disallowed the first 3 years of Ryan having that seat, because I recognized the 2001 recession would skew numbers. I also wanted to include the effects that have hit since Ryan signed off on the first Bush tax cuts in 2001. So let's start the clock from January 2002 and see what we get.

You see that Racine never gained jobs like the rest of the state did in the bubble years of 2004-2007, and then continued to trail the rest of the state after the Great Recession took hold. Racine had a slight gain after Obama policies took hold in mid-2009, but once Scott Walker became governor in January 2011, they declined like the rest of the state.

Janesville is an even more startling picture. They had a bomb dropped on them between the start of 2008 and the middle of 2009, losing more than 11% of their jobs as the automaking and related businesses folded up. And they've recovered some of those losses since Obama bailed out the auto industry, and even slowly gained a few of those jobs while the rest of the state has lost jobs in the Fitzwalkerstan. But those losses are nowhere near to getting Janesville back to where they were before the Bush/Ryan policies started to take hold in 2002. Janesville is still down more than 7% in total jobs compared to where they were 10 years ago, and it is possible the city may never come back all the way.

Somehow I'm guessing Paul Ryan will avoid mentioning the huge job losses in his boyhood hometown when he gives his acceptance speech. And they'll have some intro song like John Mellencamp's "Small Town" accompany him to the stage to give a false impression Ryan being some homespun guy (unless John tells Ryan to fuck off and stop playing his songs, like Dee Snider and Tom Morello have already done).

What the RNC should really play is some Springsteen, as this song best describes what Ryan and his embrace of failed supply-side and free-trade policies have done to the people he allegedly "represents."

Jobs > deficit- fiscal cliff report confirms my choice

You might have seen last week that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) came out with their new budget and economic predictions, and it laid out in stark terms the ramifications of the impending "fiscal cliff." You may remember that the fiscal cliff is the result of the deal reached between Congress and the President to avoid a government shutdown over the country's debt ceiling, and included huge automatic spending cuts in exchange for allowing the debt ceiling to be raised through the end of 2012. For the record, GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan voted for the debt ceiling deal, and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin was the only Wisconsin Congress member to vote against it, complaining that the rich and corporate didn't have to pay extra taxes while the deal relied on cuts in domestic programs.

The CBO's news this week would be a good sign if you're into having the deficit be lowered above everything else, as you'll get your wish- the deficit will probably go down. But if you like having a job and being able to pay your bills, you won't like it. I added emphasis from the CBO's report (and here's the whole thing if you want to read the details and numbers) for the big takeaway for me if no action is taken and we come to the fiscal cliff.
The deficit will shrink to an estimated $641 billion in fiscal year 2013 (or 4.0 percent of GDP), almost $500 billion less than the shortfall in 2012.

Such fiscal tightening will lead to economic conditions in 2013 that will probably be considered a recession, with real GDP declining by 0.5 percent between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013 and the unemployment rate rising to about 9 percent in the second half of calendar year 2013.

Because of the large amount of unused resources in the economy and other factors, the rate of inflation (as measured by the personal consumption expenditures, or PCE, price index) will remain low in 2013. In addition, interest rates on Treasury securities are expected to be very low next year.
So the CBO is saying, if you want to withstand another recession, feel free to go over the fiscal cliff. And by the way, the CBO says that recession will hurt some of the deficit reduction effort.
For the period from 2013 to 2016, CBO lowered its projections of nominal GDP, which in turn resulted in a decrease in projected taxable personal income, including wages and salaries (starting in 2014) and capital gains realizations. Those changes led CBO to lower its estimates of receipts from individual income and social insurance taxes over the four-year period by a total of $115 billion.
Hmm, it also strains Social Security and Medicare budgets as a result of fewer people working. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear some people like Paul Ryan would like that, because then it's easier to call it "bankrupt" and then sell it off to financial and insurance companies instead of funding the promises like we have over the last 80 years. But wait, didn't I see Purty Mouth Paulie complaining this week about impending military cuts . You know, the SAME CUTS HE VOTED TO PUT IN PLACE WITH THE DEBT CEILING DEAL?
"The only way we maintain this exceptional nation – this American idea – is because our veterans have time and again, generation after generation, secured it for us," he said. "It's our duty to preserve this legacy, to support our voluntary (military) force of men and women ... and not let them be pawns in a political game." - Paul Ryan, August 23, 2012
No one is more responsible for turning the military into "pawns in a political game" than Paul Ryan clinging to his failed budget ideas. No one. The man has no shame.

However, if following Paul Ryan's "Road to Economic Failure" doesn't sound so inviting, the CBO says there is another way, and I'll emphasize the GDP effects here as well.
CBO has produced projections under an alternative fiscal scenario that incorporates the following assumptions: that all expiring tax provisions are extended indefinitely (except the payroll tax reduction in effect in calendar years 2011 and 2012); that the AMT is indexed for inflation after 2011; that Medicare’s payment rates for physicians’ services are held constant at their current level; and that the automatic spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act, which are set to take effect in January 2013, do not occur (although the law’s original caps on discretionary appropriations are assumed to remain in place).

That set of alternative policies would lead to budgetary and economic outcomes that would differ significantly, both in the near term and in later years, from those in CBO’s baseline:

In 2013, the deficit would total $1.0 trillion, almost $400 billion (or 2.5 percent of GDP) more than the deficit projected to occur under current law.

The economy would be stronger in 2013: Real GDP would grow by 1.7 percent between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013, and the unemployment rate would be about 8 percent by the end of 2013, CBO projects.
And I think that 8.0% figure is high, because we're at 8.25% right now, and that's 0.8% lower than it was 1 year ago with economic growth similar to what CBO projects for the next year. I'd think it would drop into the mid-to-low 7's, unless CBO is assuming a huge amounts of entrants coming back into the work force (that hasn't happened yet, and with Boomers retiring every year, I think that creates a big offset to new entrants).

And the one concern that comes with high deficits that can hurt growth - higher interest rates as people don't want to buy all our debt - is not projected to occur any time soon.
Despite the surge in federal borrowing in recent years, net interest outlays are projected to hold steady at 1.4 percent of GDP through 2015, primarily because interest rates are expected to remain near historic lows for the next few years. Interest rates are anticipated to rise noticeably thereafter, causing net interest outlays to increase to 2.3 percent of GDP by 2020, CBO projects.
In fact, interest rates have been cut in half in the U.S. over the last 4 years as our deficit has gone up, as shown in this chart.

10 Year Treasury Rate Chart

And at the Federal Reserve's last meeting, the Board members indicated they would continue to act to keep rates low, and possibly jump in with more actions if needed. So this fear of higher interest rates due to high deficits is foolish, and shows that we should be concentrating on continuing to get people back to work over caring about deficits in the short term.

By the way, who's to say that all of the moves in CBO's alternative scenario have to happen? Why can't you mix in tax increases on the rich and raising capital gains taxes, both of which have seemed to limit wage and employment growth more than help it over the last 10 years. I'd argue that this would both lower the deficit AND help employment growth, which also works to drop the deficit. After all, a large reason behind our giant deficit is a lowering of revenues, as a result of lower employment and reduced wages.

Revenues as % of GDP, 1990-2011
1990- 18.0%
1995- 18.4%
2000- 20.6%
2005- 17.3%
2008- 17.6%
2011- 15.4%
2012 (projected)- 15.7%

If we got revenues back to the 18% of GDP we were at in 1990, we'd shave $357 billion off of our deficit for 2012, which would be 1/3 of the deficit right there. So why not shoot for that as a target (and taxing the rich as well as raising the $110,100 cap on Social Security taxes would go a long way toward doing so), combine with some military cuts and minor reductions in other spots, and have our deficit at the reduced levels we'd have under the "fiscal cliff?" And I'd bet we wouldn't go into recession to do this.

So what we should really fear from this week's fiscal cliff is not the deficit that we currently have, it's the recession that would kick in if obsessed with the deficit and went over the cliff. We should instead be encouraging continued government investment and a more progressive tax structure (as I said yesterday, trickle-down doesn't work and inequality is our real economic problem), and that's going to be the way to not only reduce the deficit, but continue our steady climb out of the Bush-era hole that was made from 2007-2009.

Do I think our media will have an honest discussion on this important report with the facts laid out like this? HELL NO. Which is why I have to write it out here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Robert Reich destroys Romney-Ryan

Tremendous stuff from the always-good Robert Reich. He exposes the Ryan-Romney for the deficit-raising, recession-causing feudal garbage that it is with 3 minutes of drawings and explanation.

I also love his usage of the phrase "left to the mercy of the insurance companies" when describing why replacing Medicare with Vouchercare is such a disaster for seniors. If Obama had straight, honest talk about the failure of corporatism, for-profit insurance and trickle-down economics, he'd coast to re-election.

Inequality is our real problem, and class warfare is real

The Pew Center released a fascinating report on entitled "The Lost Decade of the Middle Class." And it illustrates how much damage has been done to regular working Americans, not just in the last 10 years, but in the last 30.

There's a lot of good things in here. I'll start by pointing out is the damage from the lost decade itself.

Median household income, overall (2011 $)
1997- $51,705
2000- $54,842
2010- $51,006 (DOWN 7.0%)

Median Household income for 3-person family (2011 $)
2000 $63,277
2010 $59,127 (DOWN 6.6%)

And even more than incomes, the housing and stock market crashes destroyed the net worth of millions of Americans, putting them in a bigger hole to climb out of.

Median net worth from poll of middle-class
2001 $129,582
2010 $93,150 (DOWN 28.1%)

And you see that effect in people's increasingly concerned and pessimistic attitudes when polled by Pew for this study.

Among middle class, how are you since recession started?
Worse off 42%
Better off 32%
No change 23%

Maintaing middle-class lifestyle vs. 10 years ago?
More difficult 85%
Less difficult 9%
About the same 4%

More financially secure vs. 10 years ago?
More secure 44%
Less secure 42%

Age 50-64- 35% More, 52% Less
Age 65+ 23% More, 49% Less

Can most people get ahead if they work hard?
1999 74%
2003 68%
2007 67%
2011 58%

And this worsening status is despite tax cuts for both incomes and capital gains over the last 10 years, and I'd argue that last question shows that people are starting to get what that really means for social mobility. You'll see why with these next graphs, because the deregulation and tax-cutting of the last 30 years has not paid off for the everyday American- only the rich and the corporate. For example, since 1983, the middle and lower classes are really no better off when you adjust for inflation, but the upper class has seen their net worth double, even after the Great Recession hit.

Net worth by class level 1983-2010

And the same trends show in incomes, as the upper incomes continue to grab a higher amount of money from the middle class, to the point that the upper classes had more total income than the middle class by 2010. This amount of overall income for the U.S. between the middle and upper classes has been steady at around 90% for decades, but who got the money favored the middle class by 2 to 1 in 1980, before Reagan took office and started the 30-year trend of tax cuts and deregulation that continues to this day.

And the last 30 years has caused a vanishing of the middle class itself, as more people have either moved up into the upper classes, or back down into the lower ones.

As opposed to the "rising tide that raises all boats", our last 30 years (and especially the last 10) have been more like a Vegas casino, where the high rollers are going to be OK regardless of what happens at the tables, a few of the average bettors may win and move up to the big tables, but the average folks are more likely to break even. Or worse, they try to play the big-table games and get cleaned out.

    I've seen a Teabagger bumper sticker that says "Redistribute my work ethic." Well, the last 30 years have shown that their work ethic has indeed been the rich and corporate that GOP panders to. This June, Business Insider released a report that put this all together, showing that corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high, and wages vs. GDP at an all-time low.

   The wages part is especially worth mentioning because it has steadily declined from 1970's high of nearly 54% to today's 44%. The only exception to this decline in the last 40 years? When it rose 46% in 1992 to  49% in 2000...right when we had the Clinton tax increases on the rich. And they ended with the Bush tax cuts to the rich.

   No, that's not a coincidence. And that's why the Bush tax cuts to the rich have to end, because the rich and corporate have been stealing U.S. worker's productivity and putting the proceeds into their pockets. They'll be a whole lot less likely to do that if they got taxed more, and might (juuust might) decide to pay their workers and expand their businesses instead of what they do today- funnel those profits into legalized Wall Street gambling and paying off politicians.

   Class warfare is real, and it's being waged on the vast majority of us. We need to be honest about it, and fire back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When cheating and Fitzwalkerstani hackery collide

Saw this freaky story about a guy trying to set his wife on fire in the papers last night, and once I clicked further, it got a whole lot freakier.
After helping put out a fire that briefly went up her arms and legs, Andrew D. Spear, 59, told Mary Spear that the storage locker, where Spear had his wood shop, would be the last place she would see, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

"You're gonna die in here and nobody will never know," he told her, according to the complaint. "They'll never find your body."

The alleged incident happened after days in which Andrew Spear was alternately despondent and threatening over his belief that his wife was having an affair with her boss, state Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith, according to the complaint.

Mary Spear, who told police that Smith is a longtime friend, is the chief legal counsel for DHS. According to the complaint, she denied to her husband the affair but later told him that she loved him and was sorry that she had lied to him.
While there's nothing close to an excuse for taking out your jealous rage the way Andrew Spear did (read the criminal complaint, although it is quite disturbing, it almost reminds you of Michael Madsen abusing the cop in "Resevoir Dogs" without the ear-cutting), I couldn't help but make a sardonic grin when I saw the name of former Heritage Foundation think-tanker Dennis Smith mentioned. You know, the guy whose main experience before his DHS job was in demanding that certain health care programs be privatized and destroyed, and the guy who's worked with Gov. Walker to throw up every obstacle he can to avoid Obamacare being implemented in the state, including lying about the results of study which showed Obamacare generally would be a plus for Wisconsinites? Yeah, that guy.

Smith is also the guy who helped orchestrate the Family Care debacle, when thousands of Wisconsinites were illgally kept from the care they were entitled to for months in a budget balancing pose. Smith also consistently has been less-than-forthcoming on DHS's Medicaid and Badgercare changes, leaving thousands more at risk, along with hundreds of millions in federal matching funds.

What he's also done is hired a number of out-of-state hacks whose main qualification seems to be that they would dismantle Wisconsin's strong safety net and 3rd-in-the nation standing for most people with health insurance. Among those were two hires from Texas in January 2012, which has the highest amount of UN-insured in the U.S. at 24.6%. One was an oncology nurse taking a high-level job, and the other was a health insurance lobbyist named...Mary Spear.

So in addition to Ms. Spear's lobbyist career and out-of-state background, we now find out that she was allegedly having an affair with the guy who gave her the big-money job at DHS- Dennis Smith. And that the job she was hired to do was to deal with other health-insurance lobbyists to work on policies that you can bet have very little to do with helping Wisconsin's poor and sick get the care they need and deserve. Sure, dealing with extramarital affairs is a bit seamy and usually has nothing to do with the ability of someone to do their job. But despite the awful abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband, we still absolutely should ask how Mary Spear got her taxpayer-funded job, and what her REAL qualifications were to do so, now that it seems she was banging the boss at DHS.

But we shouldn't be all that surprised by this incident (well, other than the husband beating his cheating wife and trying to set her on fire, that's pretty screwed up). This is just another case Fitzwalkerstani hackery, where you get the job "not on who you know, but who you blow!" Ain't I right, Ms. Valerie Cass?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paul Ryan and other political media fails

It's really sad when you live in a reality-based world, because you see politicians clearly lying and/or covering up their records, and our media chooses to be an accomplice in these deceptions. You can see no more obvious evidence of this than in Paul Ryan, who's been sheltered for 14 years by a Wisconsin media who seems more concerned about Paulie's pretty face and P90X abs instead of his grotesque and hypocritical stands over the years.

For example, the 2012 Ryan is all about denigrating Barack Obama's successful stimulus and stabilization policies, and disliking "borrowed and spend" as a method of getting the economy going. The 2002 Paul Ryan? All about stimulus to get the economy going, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes exposes.


   This proves yet again that Paul Ryan is no ideological true believer, but instead he's an opportunistic con man whose main talent seems to be saying his lines with a convincing face.

In fact, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel had to rely on an AP national media story to break the fact that Ryan asked for stimulus funds in 2009 to help Wisconsin organizations get green power grants. And where was the Journal-Sentinel to inform Paulie's constituents on Ryan's virulent anti-choice and anti-female views? This includes co-sponsoring bills on "personhood" with Tod Akin and agreeing to add the "forcible" modifier to rape (indicating that some other types of rape are OK'd by the victim). I bet this is the first time many people in Wisconsin knew about how the smiling boy is just as hateful and one-sided on these issues as say, Glenn Grothmann.

But there's a good reason the J-S has constantly covered for their boys Paul Ryan and Scott Walker - they make a lot of money off of them. And not just from the 9 Hours of Hate that they approve each day on WTMJ (with regular appearances from Ryan and Walker in the form of softball interviews). Last month Journal Communications announced a huge increase in 2nd Quarter profits, largely due to political ads resulting from the recall elections, and they stand to gain more later this year from more November election ads. Now did the J-S use those extra funds to beef up their reporting staff at 333 W. Wisconsin and improve their product? OF COURSE NOT. Instead, JournalComm spent nearly $32 million last week to buy back preferred stock in order to pump up their EPS for future quarters.  

With Wisconsin now closer to toss-up status for both president and Senate with Ryan on the ticket, JournalComm stands to make even more money. And even if Obama pulls away over the next 11 weeks, you can bet JournalComm will go out of their way to continue to portray things as close even if they're not, just so they can have more ads thrown on TV-4, TMJ 620 and online at Once Romney made Ryan his pick for VP, you can bet there were some serious cigars being fired up at JournalComm's corporate headquarters as the culmination of a multi-year strategy of allowing Bradley/Koch front men in Wisconsin to rise without challenge from the 4th Estate.

But JournalComm is hardly the only corporate insider media failing the public with awful political coverage. Ryan admitted on Fox News last week that he didn't know when his budget balances because they "hadn't run the numbers" on his plan. Well how the hell do you know the budget balances if you have no numbers saying so? I mean, I could say with a confident face that I'd be out of student loan debt next year, but it'll take a whole lot more than me saying so to make that true. Amazingly, the media lets Ryan's admission go, and continues to portray him as some kind of smart guy who has big ideas. HE'S A CON MAN, GUYS, and anyone with an ounce of sense sees it.

There's a great scene in the HBO show "The Newsroom" that illustrates why our media refuses to press Paul Ryan on his empty rhetoric and tell people the truth. Jane Fonda plays the CEO of a media conglomerate that owns the station which produces "Newsnight," which has been exposing Tea Party hypocrisy in unflinching terms. In this great scene between Fonda and the station's boss (played by Sam Watterson), Watterson tells her that our media needs to start telling it like it is, including the great line "Evolution? I think the jury's back on that one." Fonda replies (with the really good stuff starting around 2:40) that "Newsnight" needs to back off the Kochs and the Baggers, because "I have business in front of this Congress," and that she got ahead for "knowing who to fear."


As Rolling Stone brings up,  broadcast media stands to make up to $3 billion in political ads for the 2012 elections, so do you think they're going to make that extra effort to expose who's fronting the bills for "dark money" SuperPACs and how paid-off their political front men and women are? Hell no, because "they have business in front of this Congress," and are getting a helluva return on it.
In essence, broadcasters are now profiteering from a vicious circle of corruption: Politicians are beholden to big donors because campaigns are so expensive, and campaigns are so expensive because they're fought through television ads. The more cash that chases limited airtime, the more the ads will cost, and the more politicians must lean on deep-pocketed patrons. In short, the dirtier the system, the better for the bottom line at TV stations and cable systems.  
According to an analysis by Moody's, political ads are expected to account for as much as seven cents of every dollar broadcasters earn over the full two-year election cycle for 2012. The influx of political cash also means that TV news divisions have what [the Sunlight Foundation's Bill] Allison calls a "huge conflict of interest" when it comes to reporting on campaign finance. The profit motive stifles critical coverage of top donors and meaningful reforms, such as public financing of elections. "Broadcasters have an incentive not to see the system changed," he says.
So that's why we see such false equivalency BS, lies passed off as opinon, and punditry spoiling our political coverage in 2012. Because it's a nice symbiotic relationship for corporations, politicians, and corporate media. The D.C. media/politician incest is so thick that Politico's David Catanese spent numerous tweets yesterday trying to pass off Tod Akin's obscene comments about 'legitimate rape' as worthy of "nuanced discussion", and got his ass suspended after readers reminded Catanese and his seamy publication that RAPE ISN'T A NUANCE, IT IS RAPE.

With "both sides to the story" stenographers like Catanese being the main sources of MSM coverage of politics, is it any wonder that our political media has a 10% favorable rating, which is worse than Congress? People can see they're not being given the real story, and rightfully have lost trust with a corrupt, paid-off media that cares more about gaining ad revenues over gaining readers and viewers through high-quality, honest reporting.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lying, stalling, cheating, frustrating - the WisGOP playbook

As I watch the latest Walkergate shenanigans (covered best by the real authority on this case, the Cognitive Dissidence blog. Read here for the latest installment. ), I see a familiar pattern taking shape.

Walker appointees Kelly Rindfleisch and Tim Russell continue to file motions and take actions that delay their cases. Rindfleisch's frivolous attempts to give herself immunity because of her Caucus scandal doings (she just pulled another soon-to-be-denied appeal last week), or through Russell being on his 5th defense attorney after the GOP lawyer that was in his most recent one left in order to take a job in Fond du Lac under sketchy circumstances. And as these Walker-appointee moves take place to slow the wheels of justice and keep more details of the Governor's involvement from coming to light, it then allows right-wing media and operatives to argue that there the John Doe case is a "witch hunt" because Walker hasn't been charged more than a year after the investigation started.

Well, of course there hasn't been a charge yet, because while the case against Walker is being strengthened with each revelation from his crooked former staff members, the accused are holding up the case with their stalling manuevers. Therefore, it takes longer than it would without all of the WisGOP/ Walker team intereference. Heck, remember how Charles Sykes complained about the John Doe investigation "leaking like a sieve," and then it turned out that Russell's lawyers were giving Sykes the leaks he was complaining about. But this is the GOP plan, to stall the John Doe case, lie and demean the motives of Milwaukee County D-A John Chisholm, and make people sick of hearing about it. Then if/when Walker does get charged, they can claim it is "desperation" or a "reach," and say "after all that time, THIS is what they came up with?" They know better, but are counting on you not to know better. Don't fall for it.

And it's the same routine they've pulled on events surrounding the Wisconsin recall. Remember that a Walker supporter filed the first recall petition 10 days before the Wisconsin Dems planned to, allowing Walker to start his fundraising advantage. Then once the recall process officially started, Walker supporters tried to set up fake organizations to claim all signatures were received, and similar fake signature collectors were organized to try to diminish the process.

Once the recall signatures were handed in, Walker supporters and RW organizations spent months claiming there was widespread fraud when the actual rejection rate was just over 3%, with more than 900,000 signatures approved of. But between Walker, WisGOP and out-of-state Astroturf groups, the certification of the recall against Walker and Lt. Gov Kleefisch was delayed for 2 1/2 months until late March, which meant that the recall primary was pushed into May, and the general election into June. It also allowed time for the GOP to push a meme that the recall was a waste of taxpayer dollars, as illustrated by this January rant from ALEC Cabin Boy Robin Vos in a Northwoods newspaper.
"The citizens of Wisconsin should have known the estimated cost on local governments before a single petition was circulated," Vos said. "Is this how they want their valuable taxpayer dollars spent? At a time when local government budgets are very tight, this will have a dramatic impact on the dollars that pay for our streets to be plowed and our neighborhoods to be protected by police and fire departments."

Vos observed that few attempts to recall governors had been successful, and he said he expected this effort to fail as well.

"The real results of the statewide recall election will be a financial drain on our local governments and an emotional drain on our electorate," he said. "The recalls are not healthy for our state."
Well, if Wee Wittle Wobin and WisGOP really cared about the taxpayer cost, they would have accepted the inevitable recall, and had the primary election go along with the presidential primary on April 3, with the general election falling in May. This would have resulted in 1 fewer statewide election and saved millions of dollars.

But that's NOT what WisGOP wanted. Not only did pushing the recall election into June make it much more difficult for college students to vote (because school was out and many of them were heading home for the Summer, making them have to re-register or vote absentee on campus), it also turned the recall into a war of attrition. As it wore on, WisGOP hoped that people would be frustrated by the whole recall process, and vote to retain Walker solely because they didn't want to go through a draining thing like this again. And by election day, that strategy of delegitimizing the recall through stalling maneuvers was successful for WisGOP, as evidenced by this response to an exit poll question.

When do you think recall elections are appropriate?
For any reason 27%
Only for official misconduct 60%
Never 11%

And guess what, because Walker and WisGOP have been stalling John Doe, Walker hadn't officially been charged with official misconduct at the time of the recall election (and still hasn't), and those 60% of "misconduct-only" voters voted for Walker 68-31, according to the exit poll. It also means many voters did not feel it was worthy to throw Walker out of office even if they disagreed with his policies or found his actions to be failing.

I have little doubt this was because voters fell for this message from WisGOP that the recall process had gone on long enough, needed to end, and was costing their communities more money than it was worth to remove this administration from power. I hope those people realize and regret that they got used by WisGOP. And they did get used, because the biggest reason the recalls got viewed as "frustrating and costly" were due to Republican stalling, lying, and game-playing, but many voters blamed the Democrats for it happening.

You can see the GOP trying to pull the same routine on a national level, as both Mitt Romney and U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson refuse to release years of tax returns. They and their talk-show mouthpieces will stall, deceive, complain and whine about the process, and if they haven't released them in a couple of months, they will turn around and ask "Why are you still talking about this, no one wants to hear about it."

That's why we have to stand up and constantly hawk these people, because they will try to use their lying, stalling and cheating to turn voters against people like us who demand accountability and transparency from corrupt politicians. We need to remind media and the public at large that they are being played, and that the only reason these issues continue to exist is not because of the people pressing the issue, but because THE GOP REFUSES TO ANSWER THE ISSUE.

If we don't do this, we face the possibility of cheaters like Scott Walker staying in power, and liars like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan coming to power, because people into today's GOP will not play fair, and will not accept the defeat and consequences for rule-breaking that they so richly deserve. It is their fault, not ours, that these scumbags decided to flout the law and delay justice, and we need to constantly remind a passive public of that fact.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You wanted Fitzwalkerstan, YOU GOT IT! Part Deux

I have a feeling this will be a recurrent theme, where pro-Walker areas get their asses kicked due to the Walker policies they supported. We saw this 2 weeks back with the drinking water disasters in Jackson and Oconomowoc, and the higher school levies in Shawano, and more news out this week added to this trend.

1. You may remember that I ripped WEDC and the Village of Menomonee Falls for their $100 million tax credit giveaway to Kohl's Corporation. Well, that Bagger town (voted 70-30 for Walker) suffered another setback this week when it was announced that Innoware paper was closing, taking 100 jobs with it.

So not only does Menomonee Falls lose jobs, it also loses that tax base from that Innoware Property, and given that Kohl's also isn't paying taxes in the next few years, guess who has to pay the difference? That's right, those same folks who voted overwhelmingly for Walker in June, because property tax rates will have to go up to make up for the lack of tax base these companies will contribute. And oh yeah, that's on top of Falls schools losing nearly $1.5 million in school aid from the state for this year, which means property taxes will have to be raised to make up the difference. And yet, a lot of Falls residents probably voted for Walker because they thought their property taxes wouldn't go up. SUCKERS!

2. And if you are a homeowner, chances are that you're less wealthy in the age of Fitzwalkerstan, as the Wisconsin DOR came out with their annual equalized values report, and it showed that Wisconsin property values dropped 3.2% in 2011, the largest one-year drop in decades.

And it's even worse when you drill down into the DOR's equalized values report. Check out some of the drops in the largest and most pro-Walker counties.

Residential property value change 2011-2012
Walworth -7.41%
Waukesha -4.44%
Washington -4.34%
Ozaukee -3.49%
Sheboygan -3.70%
Outagamie -2.91%
Marathon -3.08%

And when those property values go down, that means there's less value out there to tax, so everyone's rates has to go up just to stay level. Well if you're in a home that did keep value or wasn't revalued for 2012, that means your property taxes just went up, even with Walker's tax limits put in place. And oh yeah, good luck trying to sell that home now that you've defunded schools and devalued community services. But hey, people in those communities identified themselves as "taxpayers" and part of an "ownership society" instead of being people who cared about their community and investing in what makes it desirable and livable. So now they'll pay the price with higher taxes and underwater home values.

3. And Act 10 isn't "working" the way they thought it would. Remember when Act 10 was sold as a one-time fix to get costs under control, and that things would likely return to normal once the "tools" were put in place? Well, Walker's DOA sent out instructions this week to departments for their 2013-2015 budgets, and that isn't going to happen. But before we get to that, let's also note that much of this letter is a giant pile of garbage and spin that anyone who's followed the Fitzwalkerstan budget knows is false. The budget instructions letter quotes the "$3.6 billion budget deficit" figure that has been debunked, and also says it didn't do one-time gimmicks when the Walker folks borrowed more than a half-billion dollars to balance this current budget.

Anyway, the budget instructions tell departments they will get no increases in their budgets from the cuts given in the last budget. Which means that prisons will continue to get more money from the state than the UW System will. (Nice priorities, eh?) This 0% increase budget is despite the fact that the CPI is up 5% in the last 24 months, so this means further cuts in service will have to happen.

No, the Walker spin of "we put in Act 10 to save services" is not going to come to fruition. All Act 10 really did was take money out of the pockets of teachers, nurses, and other public workers and send it to Walker's cronies in the form of tax cuts and high-paying government appointments. And yet 38% of households with a union member voted to keep this bum in office (if you believe the exit polls). Hope that vote was worth it, you self-absorbed dingbats, because your community and your family's paychecks are declining as a result of votes like that one.

The theme rolls on- It still ain't working for Wis. jobs

I know this gets repetitive, but I guess I need to keep driving it home. The brutal July jobs report, with 6,500 jobs lost and unemployment rising 0.3% to 7.3%, continues a bad trend for the state of Wisconsin under Walker/ WisGOP policies. This means there has been 17,300 total jobs lost (on a seasonally-adjusted basis) in Wisconsin since the June 5 recall elections. Remember 2 months ago, when Scott Walker said would open up the floodgates with jobs being offered once the "election uncertainties" went away? Well, you've seen how the "job creators" have reacted to the certainty of Scott Walker being governor for the next 2 1/2 years- they're running away from Fitzwalkerstan.

Of course, the Walker folks tried to mitigate the awful job news by pulling the same stunt they did before the recall elections- releasing their own Quarterly Census job numbers before they were verified by the federal officials. And while the pro-Walker J-S might have dutifully accepted this BS in a classic false equivalency story, I won't do the same.

Why not? Because Walker lied about this report during the recall elections, and the feds showed that Walker's DWD inflated the jobs numbers by more than 15%. Sorry, I'll go apples-to-apples, and continue with the newly-released national numbers instead. Those numbers show that Wisconsin remains the Number 1 state for job losses over the last 12 months, with nearly 22,000 jobs gone since July 2011 (while the U.S. has gained 1.8 million jobs at the same time).

As a result, the Walker jobs gap has jumped in the last month, and now is at 85,000 private sector jobs, and 86,500 jobs overall.

And no, Governor, you don't get to make excuses like Obamacare or the presidential election as reasons for the recent losses. Everywhere else in the U.S, has these same variables going on, and most of those states are growing just fine (or as in the case of Ohio, more than fine, with 100,000 new jobs in 12 months. Guess that public sector collective bargaining's just a job-killer, eh?)

These failures are on Scotty and the WisGOP policies that changed the direction of those red lines starting in early 2011. PERIOD.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are we better off than we were 3 years ago? Damn right!

I had a giant "What the fuck?" response to a pathetic GOP talking point, done in both a Koch ad, and in a speech by a certain Koch whore.

First is the ad from Koch front group Americans for Prosperity, which invaded my Brewers broadcast last night, features 3 actors claiming they voted for Obama but that he hadn't delivered on making things better for the economy and the country. In fact, they say "Obama made it worse." And Koch front man Paul Ryan said the same line in Colorado this week.
When we take a look back four years ago, we had a very tough economy and without a doubt President Obama inherited a difficult situation. He’s the problem – he made it worse. We have seen a failure of leadership -- a failure of leadership -- to get the economy growing.
Yep, Purty Mouth Paulie implied that this country's economy is worse off than it was when Obama took over for Bush. Yes, he went there. Well, let's go to the numbers and see if he's got a point. And we're going to look for Summer 2009, which is after the "failed" stimulus was passed and after the banks had stabilized, so we get to see where we've been heading under the Obama policies, with the Bush years slowly fading away.

Given that we've had a number of economic headlines in the last few days, we also can use very up-to-date data to see hwere we stand. We'll start with consumer confidence, which just came out this morning.

Michigan consumer sentiment survey
Overall average, August 2009- 65.7
Overall average, August 2012- 73.6

Current conditions, Aug. 2009- 66.6
Current conditions, Aug. 2012- 87.6 (best since Jan. 2008)

Well, Americans certainly don't agree with Ryan's sentinment that things are worse than 3 years ago. But maybe they're just deluding themselves. Let's look at some other stats that just came out this week that measure the consumer- retail sales and housing.

Retail sales (last released Tuesday, Aug, 14)
July 2009- $340.600 million
July 2011- $387.932 million (+13.90% over 2 years)
July 2012- $403.929 million (+4.12% over 1 year, +18.59% over 3)

New Home permits (released Thurs, Aug. 16)
July 2009- 595,000
July 2012- 812,000 (most since Obama took office)

New housing starts
July 2009- 594,000
July 2012- 746,000

Looks a lot better off in 2012 to me. Well, let's try jobs. After all, the GOP's are always complaining about Obama's record on jobs. I'm sure they'll be proven correct here.

Ok, Ryan and the GOP are not correct. In fact, we're up more than 3 million total jobs in the last 36 months, and 3.68 million private sector jobs. And that slow-but-steady improvement also shows in the unemployment rate.

Unemployment rate, U.S.
Jul. 2009- 9.5% (UP 3.7% vs. 12 months prior)
Jul. 2012- 8.3% (DOWN 0.8% vs. 12 months prior)

These job numbers also illustrate how the stimulus and Obama/Dem policies worked to stop the bleeding caused by the disastrous Bush policies that Paul Ryan voted for.

Oh, I know! Paul Ryan being the Wall Street lackey he is, I bet it's that the socialist Obama screwed up Wall Street, and the market crashed because of this great redistribution of wealth.

S+P 500, 2009 vs. 2012
Aug. 17, 2009 close- 979.73
Aug. 17, 2012 close- 1418.06 (+44.74%)

Hmm, not so bad, actually. Oh, and today marked the end of a 6th straight week of gains, with the VIX "fear gauge" at its lowest level since 2007. So much for the "uncertainty" these lying sacks are constantly using as an excuse for why corporate America won't hire more.

Oh, I got it. Obama is a big spender and we'll spend decades paying back what we've had to borrow, which will be shown by rising interest rates. I mean, the 10-year yield has got to be spiking, given how we have to print even more money.

10-year yield U.S. Treasury Bond
Aug. 18, 2009- 3.53%
Aug. 18, 2012- 1.82% (DOWN 1.71%)

Oh. But at least there's the "spending like a drunken sailor" part, right?

The chart's courtesy of CBS Marketwatch's Rex Nutting, who adds
What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year. It takes time to develop a budget and steer it through Congress — especially in these days of congressional gridlock.

The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
And you know who signed off on TARP and most other Bush big-spending initiatives like Medicare Part D and the war in Iraq? Paul Ryan.

So when Paulie and his Koch puppet-masters claim that we are somehow worse off than we were 3 years ago, there's practically no evidence to support that as true. Ryan knows he has nothing if he's pressed on it, but like the con man he is, he's trying to pull one over on a public who doesn't have the day-to-day experience in following the economy. The cynicism of such a move is disgusting, and shows how little Republicans and the Kochs think of the average citizen. It also shows how empty trickle-down economics is at its core, because its proponents wouldn't have to lie about Obama's record (and their failed record) if it actually worked.

It's not been all candy and rainbows, but we are undoubtably better off at the end of Barack Obama's first term than we were at the start of it, and we are better positioned to continue in a good direction by staying oon our current path. So why the hell would any sensible person change gears now, especially when the change you'd make would GO BACK TO FAILURES OF THE PAST?

So don't, and don't fall for the Romney/Ryan con game.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

4 graphs on why we can't go Back to a GOP future

As I've mentioned in the last day since lifetime grifter Paul Ryan was given the VP slot, expect the GOP to complain about the U.S. debt and try to claim that their policies will be the ones to restore a booming U.S. economy. There's one big problem with that claim- there's nothing in the last 30 years of reduced taxes on the rich and the corporate that bear this out.

On online article put all of these stats together about 2 weeks ago. You can go to Daily Kos to check it out if you want, as it's a combination of numerous studies and statstics from government agencies thrown together in one place.

First off, take a look at the $14 trillion national debt, and you'll see it has a whole lot less to do with Obama than it does Reagan/Bush (as usual, click on the graphs to make them bigger).

Add it up and you have:
$9.5 trillion GOP presidents since '80
$3.8 trillion Dem presidents since '80
$1.0 trillion before Reagan.

And notice that the smallest additions since 1980 was during the Clinton years, which were the only years in the group that had 39% top tax rates on the rich. Don't think that's not a coincidence.

The next chart will show the linkage between the lowering of taxes on the rich and corporate and more money moving upward to the rich and away from everyone else. Check out how the share of income going to the bottom 90% of earners was steady at around 65-70% for 40 years once World War II broke out, and going all the way to Reagan's election in 1980. And then watch how it drops.

That's right, by the time the Bush era ended, the top 10% were making about as much in income as the lower 90%. The only other time that happened? 1929, and I think we all know what happened then.

When you have an economy based 70% on consumption, and once you understand that rich people don't consume extra money as much as they hoard profits and send funds into legalized gambling like stocks and real estate speculation, you can see how hard it can be for an economy to have widely-felt growth. And how lowering taxes further on the rich (which Romney-Ryan want to do) will make it more likely for this destructive trend to accelerate, and another inequality-based crash to come.

Lastly, Romney's plan makes our deficit much worse than Obama's plans. Look at this chart, and see how Romney fails, partially due to weak revenues, and partially due to exploding spending on the military. Even the extra, economy-slowing budget cuts of the Ryan plan doesn't do as well as the policies under Obama, because Obama and Dems know that revenues matter when you discuss deficits.

And the last chart is a reprise from last week, as it shows that Obama has created more jobs and presided over more economic growth than Bush's first term.

If the trends of the last 2 years continue, Obama will be president in a time when nearly 5 million private sector jobs will have been added between the start of 2010 and the 2012 elections. It may not be the 20 million jobs created in Clinton's 8 years, but it's a whole lot more than I think a lot of us thought we'd be at this time in 2009, as we found out just how badly this country had been screwed over by the Dubya years (with Paul Ryan approving of every one of Dubya's budgets when the GOP ran Congress from 2001-2007).

Now that you see all of these charts, I got a simple question. Why in the world would we ever go back to the losing strategies of GOP presidents in the '80s, '90s and '00s for the '10s? But that's what the Republicans are running on. Good luck with that in the fact-based world, guys.

Paul Ryan and today's GOP- Pushing Koch beats solving problems

Still in bemusement over the pick of Paul Ryan as Republican Vice-President. But it goes along with what gets you ahead in the 21st Century Republican Party- look convincing while giving empty talking points and kissing the right backsides.

Look at Ryan's "career", as outlined by the Journal-Sentinel in one of their numerous fawning pieces over the guy-
Key positions: Chairman of the House Budget Committee; member House Ways and Means Committee.

Campaigns: Elected to U.S. House of Representatives seven times since 1998

Prior work: Aide to U.S. Sen. Robert Kasten of Wisconsin, 1992; staff assistant, Empower America, 1993-1995; legislative director for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, 1995-1997; speechwriter for Jack Kemp vice-presidential campaign, 1996; consultant to Ryan Inc., 1998.

Education: Graduate of Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville; BA, economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio, 1992.
Notice what's missing? How about ANY private-sector job experience based in Wisconsin? Paul Ryan's spent every one of his 20 post-college years in D.C-based right-wing jobs, where spin and political gain matter more than results and data. But somehow he's regarded as an expert in economics and budgeting while constantly touting the virtues and efficiencies of the private sector. How the fuck does he know what works in the real world? He's never had to deal with the consequences of failed decisions and policies like real people in the working world do, and he's certainly never adjusted his thinking to reflect the disastrous effects of the Reagan/Bush years on the middle class and our industrial economy.

But see, that doesn't matter in today's GOP, it's all about how you look, how you stick to the team's line, and how many rubes you can trick into thinking you have the answers. Purty Mouth Paulie looks good on TV and can spread his BS with that Dubya-esque smirk while not hesitating to let a fact or counter argument get in the way. So in that insular world, it really doesn't make a difference that economists such as UW's Menzie Chinn show that Ryan's budget only balances if you assume that the federal government drops spending on everything else that's not Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security by 2/3rds. This would mean major cuts to roads, defense, food stamps, college assistance and research, aid to states, and pretty much anything else.

And if you follow Ryan's budget figures, it assumes our economy will strongly grow despite all of this assistance being cut and passed off to states and localities (making them raise taxes). This is because apparently things will be different from the last 30 years, where tax cuts haven't trickled down to the public, and the Reagan/Bush policies never grew the economy as strong and as evenly along wage classes as it did in the 1990s when tax rates on the rich were at their highest. This also assumes the U.S. is different than all the European countries who are in recession right now due to austerity measures, and ignores the reality of the last 18 months in America, where GOP-led government funding cuts have reduced GDP growth by more than 1%.

But people Paul Ryan don't care about the economy's effects on us (you know, the people whose taxes pay their salaries), he works as the front man for the corporate campaign contributors who only want extra profits and power, without regard of what happens to the rest of the country. For proof, check out who starts showing up as one of the biggest D.C. Congressional backers of Koch policy around 1:45 of this video (from the excellent movie "Koch Brothers Exposed".)

Remember Ryan's time at "Empower America" after Russ Feingold beat Bob Kasten in 1992? Empower America is now Freedom Works, headed up by Dick Armey with major Koch money, and a notorious Astroturf Tea Party group. In fact, Freedom Works is so Astroturf and D.C-led that local Tea Party groups in Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Racine all distanced themselves from Freedom Works' "Tea Party Express" support of Mark Neumann in Tuesday's U.S. Senate primary.

Dick Armey's Tea Party Express being representative of Tea-bagging Wisconsinites is sort of like how Paul Ryan represents himself as some independent Midwest guy from Janesville when he's really an oligarchy PR man whose worked his entire adult life in Washington, isn't it?

Then again, the REAL GOP theme song in 2012 isn't some sappy country flag-waving anthem. No, it is this tune, which Trent Reznor wrote during the Bush era.

But when you're today's GOP, and you have the Faux News and D.C. propaganda echo chamber to give your garbage an uncritical airing, you can trick enough stupid, fearful and cynical people into following along. Unless we make lifetime grifters like Paul Ryan and the D.C. cocktail party-media that enables him have to confront the failed results of their beliefs and policies.

This is our job for the next 3 months, and the next several years as we continue to dig out from the messes caused by partnerships such as Koch/Ryan. And I have full confidence that we will succeed.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan? BWAHAHA!!!

If ever you needed proof of how far the GOP has descended into D.C. think tank bubble world- look no further than Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for VP. A lot of us in Wisconsin know what a clown this guy really is, and it'll be a lot of fun to see this guy's alleged credibility destroyed.

Don't believe me? Check out what President Obama said about Ryan's GOP budget plan, in a speech delivered the same day that and Romney were skirting Wisconsin election laws by handing out free subs at a Waukesha Subway.

I couldn't find the video from a couple of years ago where Ryan gave some hot-air "statement in a question" to Obama, and then Obama immediately destroyed it by showing that Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare WOULD DO NOTHING to stop the rising cost of health care, and is merely an accounting exercise that would leave tens of millions of Americans with higher out-of-pocket costs, and would constrain both their own economy, and the U.S. economy at large. This is common sense, but Ryan's made a good living with his Koch-fronted grift, and so there's never been any incentive for him to stop trying to sell this fallacy.

This is true even in the rare case when he's softly challenged, like George Stephanopholous did a month ago after Obamacare was upheld. Watch how Paulie starts rambling around 1:30 in this link, and is unable to give any specifics on where the hole in his Medicare budget goes.

Couple of reactions to that video: 1. Leaving people at the metcy of insurance companies doesn't lead to rationing or a lowering of care quality, does it, Paulie? The difference being that government has to care about its constituents (that "we the people" thing) while insurance companies only care about making blood money off of us.
2. Lyin' Ryan is basically saying that cutting Medicare will leave for more in the future, but can't tell that truth, so he uses these Orwellian euphenisms to try to confuse the rubes who aren't smart enough to see through his bullshit.

Also, will our media remind Americans of Ryan's "budget", which was filled with asterisks and assumptions about the final product, with absolutely no idea how to get there? Paul Krugman has been taking this charlatan apart for the last few years, and here is a great example from last year of Krugman exposing Purty Mouth Paulie as fraudulent.
And even after the cracks in the House budget proposal became apparent, much of the commentariat clung to the view that whatever you might think of Ryan’s priorities, he really is serious and sincere.

But he isn’t.

Jon Cohn points out that the real question about the Ryan plan isn’t whether it reduces the deficit in the right way; it’s whether it reduces the deficit at all. And Cohn doesn’t even take on the giant magic asterisk on the tax part of the plan: Ryan claims that he will keep revenue at 19 percent of GDP despite large tax cuts, by closing loopholes — but has said nothing at all about which loopholes would be closed. The truth is that this is almost surely a deficit-increasing plan, not a deficit-reducing plan.
I mean, I could claim that I'm going to be a millionaire within 2 years by publishing the notes from this blog, because that's what American dreams are made of, but just saying so doesn't make it happen. And that's what flim-flammers like Paul Ryan are selling- a whole lot of fizz but absolutely nothing of substance other than false hope and failed trickle-down garbage.

It's why you gotta think in the West Wing today, this is the general reaction to R-money choosing Ryan.

And it sure isn't going to help the GOP carry Wisconsin this fall. I'll still take Obama -9.5 as the line on that one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Time for a break...of Pondamonium!

I could give you my thoughts on the polls that came out today in Wisconsin (none of which is surprising, other than Tommy's alleged lead in the Milwaukee-centric Marquette poll), or how I think the Republicans are stalling on #Walkergate to try to make people forget about this governor's clear corruption. But I'm just not feeling it. Not this week.

Especially when I finally get to see these guys tomorrow. And not only is this my favorite song from them, it may well be fitting at the ol' Duck Pond tomorrow.

Yeah, we're all a lot older than we were in 1995, but that doesn't mean this still won't be awesome. It'll also be awesome if I see something like this as well- and given that the Lips shoved their performance back to the evening, I don't doubt that I might.

And then it's onto 1 day of work, and then a Great Taste weekend. Weather even looks like it could cooperate. I'll take it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My thoughts on Oak Creek (Pt. 2)- the role of hate media and enabling politicians

But what leads someone to go after a Sikh? This is my last point, and where the real conversation has to take place. 9/11 happened over a decade ago, and Sikhs aren't even Muslim, but apparently this doesn't matter to the type of trailer trash that would attack these innocent people. Why do they decide to go after them? Probably because they're fed a steady diet of hate radio and hate TV that continues to portray brown-skinned people as a dangerous enemy. And politicians feed off of that hate to get support and their faces on TV.

Remember last month when Michelle (Batshit) Bachmann and 3 other GOP reps asked to investigate the Muslim Brotherhood and smeared State Department official Huma Abedin? And Mitt Romney refused to condemn Bachmann's statements last Friday, saying "I'm not going to tell other people what things to talk about." Why not Mittens? Do ya need the bigot vote that badly? Yes he does, and so do a lot of politicians, so they let the dog whistles continues, and I got a bad feeling they came in loud and clear to the guy who did the shooting in Oak Creek today.

A lot of Wisconsin radio stations make a lot of cash off of race-baiting and other types of hate. May I remind you of Mark Belling complaining about "wetbacks" voting or that a Congressional debate couldn't be held in (mostly black) north side Milwaukee because they'd be "intimidated" thinking they might be "shot in the head." How about Charles Sykes' false claims of inner-city voter fraud, or Vicki McKenna calling Madison fire fighters "filthy, rotten scoundrels." AM stations across Wisconsin feature 9 hours of this type of hate every day, where several different groups of "others" are denigrated with the intent of agitating the listeners and making them take action against these groups.

A frequent guest on all of these shows is Scott Walker, who used that radio-amplified resentment of public employees and "welfare-sucking minorities" to his advantgae in the recall election, along with playing on the fear of the NRA gun nuts. Today, he gave the following statement on the Oak Creek temple shooting.
"While the situation in Oak Creek continues to develop rapidly, we are working with the FBI and local law enforcement. I became aware of the situation late this morning and continue to receive updated briefings.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence.

"At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends.

"Tonette and I ask everyone to join us in praying for the victims and their families, praying for the safety of our law enforcement and first responder professionals and praying for strength and healing for this entire community and our state."
It's a nice statement overall, fitting of a chief executive. However, I can't ignore the irony of Walker giving "gratitude" to first responders when he has made it tougher to fund these positions due to cuts in shared revenue and collective bargaining. I also note that Scotty "struggles to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence." REALLY? Walker and his WisGOP colleagues clearly gave a wink and a nod to Char-LIE and Icki and Belling and the rest of the hate brigade to denigrate anyone that dared to confront this administration lies and failed policies. He also says nothing to go against these programs' party lines of race-baiting and scapegoating, and instead is more than glad to give them interviews whenever he feels he needs to get his message out. You want me to believe that you'll do something to confront the evil that begets this violence, Governor? How about telling Icki and Char-LIE and Wagner and Belling and Bader to tone down the hate and the dog whistles, and don't go on their shows until they show that they have done so. Does anyone think Walker has the true strength to actually stand up to the people who give him the time to spread the propaganda he needs in order to have his failing administration stay afloat? Of course not.

This inability to stand up to the hate extends to the owners of the radio stations these cynical d-bag hosts are on. I called out the corporate acceptance of this degrading programming last March, and we need hammer these guys even more today.

Instead of working for more responsible programming and improving the discourse on the publically-owned airwaves, these corporates are laughing all the way to the bank at the rubes who drive up ratings because of their need for a scapegoat. And they never make their hosts pay a price for the destructive environment they cause with their seditious broadcasts.

THAT HAS TO END RIGHT NOW. We need to demand that Clear Channel, JournalComm, Midwest Communications, and other acceptors of hate to face the consequences if they do not shape up their product, and confront and expose any politician who chooses to scapegoat and race-bait their way into a November election.

As they said in Roadhouse, "Be nice, till it's time not to be nice." Well being nice hasn't stopped the destructive road this state and this country is on, so I think it's time not to be nice, and not to be tolerant of those who are hateful and intolerant. There aren't "both sides of the story" when it comes to this type of fear and negativity - and the media is every bit as complicit as the people performing the hateful acts. Make these degraders pay in the pocketbook, in the voting booth, and in the court of public opinion.

My thoughts on Oak Creek (Pt. 1)- the Good and the Guns"

When I heard the news about the POS who shot up the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek and killed at least 6 people today before he was taken out by the cops, my thoughts weren't sad. They were angry.

Now fortunately I've had a few hours to cool off, through drinks at the Union with my Dad, Grandmother and fiancee, and by heading over to Capitol with about 50-75 others to give our thoughts and show our support (a small gesture, to be sure, but it's a start). But now that I'm back home, it's time to look at this incident, and yes, I am going to GO THERE. Some may say it is too soon to look at action and point the finger at causes, but we do this all the time, and we never seem to keep the next horrific mass shooting and hate crime from happening. So we have to talk about it now.

The first point I'll make is a positive one. Great work by the Oak Creek police and first responders on the scene. It seems that they avoided further atrocities and a possible hostage standoff that would have made this awful situation so much worse. Maybe we should give a little more respect to public employees like these guys who lay it on the line in thankless situations like this all the time. Whatcha say, Guv? Are these guys "lazy thugs" there, Scotty, doing the job that they did on a Sunday morning?

I also appreciate the immediate classification of this as "domestic terrorism, because it is. BS'ing about it and claiming it's a random 6-person killing does not get to the heart of what this bastard has done, and why it was done, and truthfully calling it "terrorism," even when it's a middle-aged white guy doing it, allows us a better chance to get to root of the problem, and make it more likely it doesn't happen again.

Now, the bad stuff. This continues the awful pattern of America's easy availability of guns leading to disasters. We always have this talk come up whenever a Gabby Giffords incident happens or the guy in Colorado shoots up a theatre, but it never gets further than that, especially when the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby starts threatening politicians with a lack of support or major opposition if they dare to restrict who can get a gun. Well, NO MORE. We need to find out how this wack-a-doodle got his gun, and any other stuff that was stashed in his old place in Cudahy (as of now, the neighborhood is being evacuated).

I am tired of people saying that the 2nd Amendment means that anyone and their dog should be allowed to have a gun. With that right to bear arms comes great responsibility, and it's pretty evident that some people can't handle that responsibility. If someone has a history of mental illness or violence or instability, maybe they should be able to have a weapon of potential mass destruction? Is that a really hard compromise to make, gun-nuts? Look, if you want a gun in your house or other places, and you haven't broken laws and pass a basic competency test, then you can have all the freaking guns you want.

But God forbid that someone ask for one day of training before getting the right to carry. Attorney General J.B Van Hollen wanted to put a rule in requiring 4 hours of training as part of the state's Walker/WisGOP-approved concealed carry law. But then the gun lobby spoke up, and Wisconsin legislators caved to the NRA and company, throwing out the 4-hour requirement last November. Oh, and do you think I've forgotten pro-Walker commercials the NRA ran during the recall election? You know, like this one?

The necks better pray this guy didn't get his weapons mail-order or over-the-counter last week.

Another thing I am tired of is people claiming targeted mass shootings are isolated incidents. Just three days prior to the Oak Creek shooting, a man in Mlwaukee walked into his work supervisor's office, shot his boss, and then killed himself. You had the Aurora theatre shooting just last month, the Giffords shooting in January 2011, and others in the last 5 years including the Virginia Tech killings, a guy killing 13 in a Hmong community Center, and Major Hassan at Ford Hood. Note how a lot of these follow a pattern of "one guy, crowded room?" Let's stop thinking these things only "just happen" and blow them off, and let's start dealing with the violent society we have built. One where someone feels a gun is their only way to solve their problems, and get even with the world.

It also isn't the first time someone went after a Sikh. The head of the Sikh-American Defense and Education Fund noted several anti-Sikh crimes in America in the last 18 months, including 2 being murdered in California, death threats to a Virginia family, aggravated assaults, and vandalism to a temple. 92 members of U.S. Congress sent a note to the Department of Justice this April asking to collect information into crimes against American Sikhs, and it is noteworthy that the FBI is taking an active role in the investigation in the Oak Creek killings.

So that's the first round of thoughts I have- your #wiunion thug law enforcement are the heroes of this story, and something we should be proud of as Wisconsinites on this dark day. But the availability of guns must be discussed (and this has been a failure of both Obama and the Republicans), and this country needs to have an honest conversation that goes into our violent culture, and how we can truly make this a more perfect union. Because it sure doesn't feel like it right now, with a loud minority controlling an issue that seems to be out of step with those of us in the common sense and decency world.