Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Dave Zweifel Commemorates Jeff Simpson

Last Friday, Dave Zweifel, Editor Emeritus at The Cap Times, dedicated a whole column to the memory of Jeff Simpson.

Zweifel starts by reminiscing how he first met Jeff, who had won a silent auction for the chance to sit in on an editorial board meeting with a prominent state or local politician.  (Jeff picked Russ Feingold.)

Zweifel then wrote a segue that would have made the buttons on Jeff's shirt pop off in pride.

As I said when I spoke at Jeff's funeral, Jeff was very happy and very proud of writing at this here blog and having his voice heard around the state.  Keep that in mind at this bit from Zweifel's column:
Jeff did join in the Feingold interview, and when he left, I thought that might be the last I heard of him. How wrong. He soon appeared as a regular blogger, espousing his strong beliefs in local, state and national politics, taking on those politicians he felt weren't representing the people they served, but instead the moneyed interests who contributed to their campaigns.

His blog drew many readers and was most recently found on Cognitive Dissidence, a popular statewide site which is frequently linked on our daily online opinion round-up, the State Debate.

Meanwhile, he got himself elected to the Monona Grove School Board, and became an outspoken advocate for public education and the need to support public school teachers.
Zweifel finishes his column by reproducing Jeff's last blog post, stating that "It says loads about Jeff's life and the kind of person he was."

I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sensenbrenner Finally Announces Long Overdue Departure From Congress

To many people's surprise, U.S. Representative F. James Sensenbrenner finally announced on Wednesday that he would not seek reelection in 2020. He had fed at the public trough for more than half a century - 10 years as a state legislator and 40 years in Congress. Many people, including myself, had long thought that the only way Sensenbrenner would leave was when they carried him out in a box.

Sensenbrenner denied that his announcement had anything to do with fear of losing or for health reasons but that he wanted to go before redistricting occurred in 2022:
Sensenbrenner said he is not retiring for health reasons or because he is worried about a re-election challenge. He is at least the 15th GOP member of the U.S. House to announce retirement this year, a group that includes Duffy.

Sensenbrenner said his decision was also unrelated to serving in the minority, where he has spent virtually half his congressional career, and unrelated to the turbulence of Donald Trump’s presidency.


“I’ve said all along I’d know when the right time came and I’ve come to the conclusion it has,” he said. “There is nobody running against me. Nobody can say they’ve pushed me out. I am doing this on my terms.”

Said Sensenbrenner:

“You can see the end of the line sometime. Being able to do this on my timetable rather than after a redistricting in 2022 will allow me to go out on a high note … This is just me feeling the time would be coming in the next few years, and I think this is the best time for me personally, and for both the Republican Party and for me politically.”
I don't know but it sure sounds to me like he's scared of what could be coming down the road.

Some of the "highlights" of Sensenbrenner's career include:
  • Creating the oppressive Patriot's Act
  • Being a "House Manager" during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton
  • Referring to First Lady Michelle Obama's "large posterior" and "big butt"
The gentle reader shouldn't lose a moment's sleep worrying about Sensenbrenner's future. He's got millions of dollars stashed away from not only being overpaid as a politician but from being an heir and former stockholder of Kimberly Clark.

The gentle reader also shouldn't hold their breath in hopes that the district will turn blue in 2020. His district is so badly gerrymandered by the Republicans, that it is strongly red (R +13). It also lies mostly in the WOW counties, which produce the highest Republican turnout in the state and the country. I just hope that whoever the Republicans decide to run isn't as big as a goof and idiot as Glenn Grothman.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Jeff's Last Post

Before he died, Jeff Simpson with the help of his wife, wrote one last blogpost.  But instead of posting it anywhere, they gave it to their pastor to read at his celebration of life last week.  When the pastor read it aloud to us, I knew I had to ask for it, not only because of what Jeff said, but also because it was pure Jeff.  With the help and full permission of his wife, I present to you Jeff's last post, edited only to fit the format:
In my nine plus years of battling cancer, I learned a few lessons that I feel the need to share. The first is, as the late Coach Jim Valvano famously said, “Don’t Give Up….Don’t Ever Give Up.” In my time fighting this dreaded disease, there were some very dark times and yet with so much to fight for, I never considered giving up.

The Second lesson is Build Your Army. No one accomplishes anything alone in this world. You have to build your army and be willing to accept help. MY army was incredible, it consisted of my amazing family, my incredible medical team at UW Hospital, the Cottage Grove and Monona Grove community, My Gilda’s club support group, my Messiah Lutheran family and of course Jesus. With that strong of an army, who can stand against me?

Third is Be Active in your community. It is important that we all do our best to make our world a better place and the best way to do that is right out your front door. Run for local office, attend local meetings, volunteer locally, shop locally when you can. Help your neighbor with tasks if you are able. The best way to change the world is acts of service and kindness with your neighbors, let the goodness trickle up.

Fourth and final – Be Nice. As the Bible states “and the Greatest is Love" We have become so polarized as a nation and state and there is too much anger and hatred in the world. I know in my time, I was in the middle of many of these battles, but I truly tried to engage civilly and with all people. We need to stop treating each other as enemies and instead look upon them as the human being that they are and find common ground.

Also a couple more requests – Lets cure Cancer, we have brilliant minds in this world, this disease is horrible and we need to stop it.. Let’s get money out of politics also, so the good of the people will be the main policy driver not the profits of the corporation. Support your Public Schools. They are staffed with people who really care about all kids, so support them the way they support the community. Finally, live your life with passion and every day will have blue skies!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Vos, WISGOP, Still Complete Jerks Towards Paralyzed Democrat

Wisconsin Republicans, led by Speaker Robin Vos, are still befouling themselves in their treatment and attitude towards State Representative Jimmy Anderson, a Democrat who was paralyzed from the chest down when a drunk driver smashed into the car that Anderson was riding in.

It started when Anderson made a simple request to appear via telephone at some Assembly committee meetings when his physical disabilities and health concerns won't allow it. Vos denied him this right guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and accused Anderson of "grandstanding" in his request.

Bad enough, right? But as with all things Republican, there's more. There's always more.

Anderson circulated a letter to each and every fellow state representative to ask Vos to allow Anderson his request for this accommodation. All 36 of Anderson's fellow Democrats signed the letter willingly. However, not one Republican would sign the letter. This includes Republican State Representative Barbara Dittrich, who prides herself as being a long time advocate for those with disabilities.

But Vos still wasn't done. Apparently concerned that there might still be some lingering doubt, Vos wanted to make sure that the world knows that he is a complete and utter shithead.

Vos did this by trying to play the victim card. Yes, you read that correctly. Vos tried to portray himself as the victim, stating that Anderson was only making the request to make him look bad:
Vos told WISN's Jay Weber he believes the timing of Anderson's public appeal, which included speaking to a Journal Sentinel reporter, was meant to undermine the announcement of Vos taking over as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
But Vos didn't say it even that tactfully. What Vos actually said was way worse and about as callous and petty as I have ever seen:
"(This) does not seem like an accident to me," Vos told a conservative radio show host Thursday. "Everything they do is political and trying to make the other side look bad."
So in Vos' deranged mind, Anderson purposely went out and got hit by a drunk driver, an accident which took the lives of both his parents and his brother and leaving him paralyzed, just in order to make Vos look bad years later. And that doesn't mention all the physical and emotional suffering that Anderson apparently went through willfully, just for the chance to embarrass Vos at some future time.

Belatedly realizing that his bluster, bullying and pettiness were hurting his aspirations to be governor, later tried to backtrack, saying that "some accommodations" were likely but refusing to specify exactly what those accommodations would be.

The smart money is on that there will be only minimal, if any, changes made and that Vos only said that in a lame effort at damage control.

Vos is as sick and deranged as they come.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A Celebration Of The Life Of Jeff Simpson

As most people know, my friend and blog partner, Jeff Simpson, passed away last weekend.

On the behalf of his family, and with their full permission, I am reproducing Jeff's obituary here:

Obituary for Jeffrey William Simpson

COTTAGE GROVE - Jeffrey William Simpson, age 53, of Cottage Grove, beloved husband, father, brother, son, caring friend to all, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, after a long and courageous battle with cancer. As he wished, in his final days and hours, he was surrounded by his loving family and close friends. Jeff was born on June 19, 1966, in Beloit, Wis, son of Richard and Sandra (Fornecker) Simpson. In June 1969, his mother married his step-father, John Ryan, when they moved onto John’s family farm in Newark, Wis. Some of his favorite childhood memories were of days at the Rock County 4-H Fair, where he would show his precious pigs and cows, like Esmeralda. Jeff graduated from Parkview High School in Orfordville in 1984. He continued his studies at Beloit College, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a certification in Secondary Education. While attending Beloit College, Jeff played baseball and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, maintaining life-long bonds with his fraternity brothers.

Jeff married his best friend and the love of his life, Deb Farrar, on Sept. 25, 1999. He readily shared with everyone that he could not believe how fortunate he was to have found Deb, and that such a beautiful and amazing woman agreed to become his wife. Jeff and Deb were blessed with two caring children, Luka (16) and Kennedy (13).

Following college, Jeff worked in sales, with 15 years of his career being spent with New Balance, the athletic shoe company, where he became forever friends with many of his co-workers, as they got together regularly for their annual sales meetings. Jeff aspired for his life to have purpose and meaning, and to leave this world a better place, so in 2012, he decided to serve his community by joining the Monona Grove School Board.

Jeff loved being a father and was always very involved. When Luka and Kennedy were young, he coached their soccer and basketball teams. During their school years, he attended all of Luka’s plays and Kennedy’s dance recitals, showing so much pride while watching them come alive on stage! Throughout his life, Jeff identified with and fought tenaciously for the underdog. His passionate interests included politics, specifically related to education, equity, and labor rights. Jeff was an active political blogger, most recently for Cognitive Dissidence. Through his blogging, and his time on the Monona Grove School board, Jeff was known to be a fighter for truth, for what was right, for educators, and for EVERY student, all based on his foundational belief in the innate goodness of our youth. He was a true champion of humanitarian values, activist for justice, and a strong voice for positive political change. Since his cancer diagnosis in 2010, Jeff has publicly shared his fight against the disease on both Facebook and CaringBridge, always with great honesty and humility, as well as humor.

Kind, witty, courageous, optimistic, strong, and smart, Jeff was most known, and admired, for his deep and loyal relationships and connections with friends, family, and his larger community. His love for his family, big heart, and willingness to help others was absolute and served as the foundation of his identity. Jeff took great joy in traveling with his family, staying at many Bed and Breakfasts with Deb, and being an avid sports fan for the Brewers, Bears, and Badgers, always with Luka by his side. He also loved country music, such as Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, but would thoroughly enjoy a KISS or ACDC concert as well.

Jeff is survived by his wife, Deb Farrar-Simpson; children, Luka Simpson, Kennedy Simpson, and Zach (Janna) Schultzhaus; God Child, Jacquita Wilder; two sisters, Shannon (Rick Brockwell) Ryan and Johna (Dan Moore) Ryan; brother, Larry (Martha) Ryan; parents-in-law, Daniel and Kathleen Farrar; sister-in-law, Kristine (James) Mazzuca and her step-children Brandon and Brooklyn; and Rosie, the devoted family dog. Jeff is also survived by several aunts and uncles, and an abundance of friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Richard S. Simpson; step-father, John C. Ryan; and on July 31, 2019, by his mother, Sandra M. Ryan.

Jeff’s family would like to thank his healthcare team at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center and the compassionate and supportive friends they found through Gilda’s Club and Camp Kesem. They also want to express their gratitude to the multitude of friends who have provided much-needed support throughout Jeff’s cancer journey. Their many acts of kindness and care have been a true blessing.

A celebration of Jeff’s life will be held at MESSIAH LUTHERAN CHURCH, 5202 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 23, 2019, with Rev. Jeff Vanden Heuvel presiding. A reception will immediately follow at the church with an opportunity to visit with the family. If you are not able to attend Jeff’s service, yet want to participate, please access the live feed option thru Messiah Lutheran Church’s website

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Gilda’s Club of Madison and Camp Kesem UW-Madison.

Jeff will remain in our hearts forever, until we meet again!

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive
(608) 221-5420
A celebration of Jeff's life will be held on Friday, August 23, at 2 pm.  The celebration will be held at Messiah Lutheran Church, which is at 5202 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, WI. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Rest In Strength, Jeff Simpson

It is with a broken heart and heavy sorrow that I must report the passing of Jeff Simpson, who passed away Friday night after a long and courageous battle with a rare form of cancer

As the gentle reader already knows, Jeff was a proficient writer her at Cog Dis and a very good friend of mine.  Jeff had many attributes and qualities that I and many others appreciated.  Even though I disagreed with him on the rare occasion, I could not help but to admire his passion and sincerity in everything.

He has a fierce determination and unsinkable spirit.  Whether it was beating up internet trolls, calling out politicians who did wrong or fighting the cancer, Jeff never faltered.  A few weeks ago, when I saw that he was declining rapidly, I reached out to him to see how he was doing and if they needed anything.  Jeff replied that the cancer had won a round or two but that he was going to get better and kick its ass again.

But there was so much more to Jeff than just his passion for politics, which actually played a relatively small part of his life. 

His greatest strength of all was his love for his family.  He adored and loved his wife, Deb, to no end and was constantly expressing his appreciation and love for her.  And he lived for his children, Luca and Kennedy.  One would just need to glance through his Facebook page to the pride and love for them that overflowed from him.  After he was diagnosed with the recurrence of the cancer, he put all his time into them. He attended most, if not all, of their athletic events, plays and recitals.  He and his family went on many vacations so that he could give them the greatest gift of all, the memories and knowledge that he loved them more than words could ever describe.

Besides his family, Jeff leaves behind many friends, some of whom he had known since high school.  The fact that he had so many friends is testament to the kind of man Jeff was.

Jeff, my brother, not only will I miss you and never forget you, but hundreds of others will as well.  Godspeed and may you rest in peace and strength, my friend.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Vos Finds Self In Hole, Keeps Digging

Image from Jimmy Anderson for Assembly

Wise people know that if you find yourself deep in a hole, they should stop digging. Wisconsin Republican Speaker of the Assembly is not a wise person at all. In fact, he's rather fricking stupid.

On Thursday, I reported that Vos was refusing to make a small accommodation for Democratic Representative Jimmy Anderson, who is paralyzed from the chest down. Anderson wanted to be able to appear telephonically for committee meetings for when he is unable to be there due to his health concerns or not having a personal care worker available to help him for very early or very late meetings.

That same day, Vos sent a very nasty letter to Anderson, accusing him of grandstanding:
"This is an unfortunate way to communicate," Vos wrote. "It calls into question your seriousness. Instead of resorting to political grandstanding, you could have called my personal cellphone at any time to discuss the matter."
But Vos wasn't done there.

Vos then went on to say that Anderson never told anyone about his need or his request for accommodation. Vos also insinuated that Anderson was a liar because in 2017, Anderson voted against having any sort of telecommunications for meetings.

In reality, in 2017, Anderson wasn't but a month into being in office and didn't know what his needs were going to be at that time. Anderson also pointed out that he had raised the issue in the early part of 2019 when the state assembly was again addressing the rules for that legislative body but that Vos ignored him.

I would also point out that when a person has a serious disability and health related complications, their needs can change, sometimes very rapidly.

But wait! There's more! There's always more.

Image from PRWatch
Vos dug that hole even deeper by offering Anderson a non-compromise. He said that they could videotape the meeting and then let Anderson vote by a paper ballot after the fact. But as Anderson points out, this would not allow him to offer input or ask questions, thereby not allowing him to properly represent the voters of his district.

Quite understandably, Anderson is even more upset and angry than he was before:
In an interview, Anderson said Vos' proposal fell short and he thought he would have to sue the state to get the accommodations he says he needs.

"This doesn't allow me to participate in the legislative process," Anderson said of Vos' proposal.

"It seems like Speaker Vos is going to take every opportunity to denigrate me and act as if I'm acting inappropriately when I'm simply asking for accommodations related to my disability. And so at this point I can't trust him to do the right thing and that's really frustrating. It really feels like we're moving toward having to file a lawsuit."
Just in case Vos hasn't quite proved himself to be the scum of the earth and a miserable excuse for a human being, there is one more thing that needs to be pointed out.

While Vos won't make one simple, common sense accommodation for a fellow lawmaker who has a disability, he had not problem whatsoever delaying actions and votes for Republican fundraisers and special interest funded junkets around country and the world:
Legislative Republicans are delaying the start of their state budget deliberations until at least May 9, according to the office of Republican Joint Committee on Finance co-chair Alberta Darling, as reported by the state news service WisPolitics. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher noted the delay gives top Republicans, including Senate and Assembly leaders Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos and the co-chairs of the powerful Joint Committee on Finance, the chance to shake down special interests at a fundraiser hosted for them at the offices of a Washington D.C. lobbying firm on May 1.

“It’s a pretty clear sign of the Republicans’ budget priorities when they’re delaying the start of their budget deliberation until after they’ve had a chance to shake down special interests for campaign cash,” said Eicher.

Wisconsin Republicans’ hosts at the Washington D.C. firm the BGR Group were reported to have made over $27 million in income in 2018 from lobbying on behalf of special interest clients including big pharmaceutical, tobacco, oil, energy and insurance companies.

Individual event attendees will need to donate at least $1,000 per person for the general reception. A special “host” reception is available for donors willing to pony up a minimum of $5,000, payable to the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Ironically, the May 1 fundraising event is being held on the same day the Republican-controlled legislature began voting on the state budget in the Joint Committee on Finance in 2017.
It's obvious to anyone who is not a corrupt Republican or Republican apologist that Vos needs to profusely apologize to Anderson and the people of Wisconsin. Then he needs to step down from the speakership, since it is equally obvious he is not fit for the job.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Pettiness of Robin Vos Reaches New Lows

Jimmy Anderson is a Democratic Wisconsin State Representative from Fitchburg. Jimmy was paralyzed from the chest down when a drunk driver slammed into the car that Anderson was riding in. This tragedy also killed his parents and his brother.

Along with being paralyzed, Anderson also has a number of serious health problems. Appearing in committee meetings is not always easy for Anderson due to these health concerns and the difficulty in finding an available personal care worker, especially if the meetings start early or run late.

Due to these concerns, Anderson has respectfully requested to sometimes appear at these meetings via phone, pointing out that he otherwise would not be able to do his job to his best ability.

The Republican Speaker of the Assembly, Robin Vos, in a display of breathtaking pettiness and callousness has denied this simple request, despite strong federal laws mandating that accommodations are made for people with disabilities. Vos' reasoning for this cruelty is that he felt Anderson would be "disrespectful" if he did so:
Vos, of Rochester, noted lawmakers have accommodated his needs in other ways, such as by providing him with a computer that has voice recognition software. But Vos said he was unwilling to change the rule that requires representatives to show up at committee meetings in person.

"It just comes down to the fact that I think it’s disrespectful for someone to be asking questions over a microphone or a speakerphone when individuals are actually taking the time out of their day to come and testify in person," Vos said.
This is beyond absurd and outrageous. Even Wisconsin courts will allow people to appear telephonically for mitigating circumstances less serious than this.

Anderson is pissed, and rightfully so:
"I think it is absolutely ridiculous to say that an accommodation needed for a disability would somehow be disrespectful to people," Anderson said. "I think it's disrespectful to exclude a duly elected member of the Legislature to be able to fully participate when the need for an accommodation arises."


Anderson said he prefers to participate in meetings in person but can’t always do so. It’s difficult to find personal-care workers who can assist him if meetings start early or go late and it’s not healthy for him to be in his chair for extended periods, he said.

“There are some very personal and private things that are related to my health and disability that no other representative is expected to talk about with Vos,” he said. “It’s crazy that I would have to have discussions with Vos about those issues just to get simple accommodations.”
Anderson is currently looking into whether he can sue under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). He has also has the Dane County District Attorney to whether or not Vos' denial violates the state's open meetings laws. The DA has passed it on to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Vos, blinded by his pettiness, spite, and hunger for power, is willing to gamble even more of taxpayers money that he is somehow above the law.

And to think, Vos has aspirations to gain even more power by being governor some day. Good luck with that.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Is James Wigderson really a dummy?

By Steve Carlson and Jeff Simpson

It’s tough to watch a once great man tumbling into decline. There was a time when human Foghorn Leghorn and occasional Topo Gigio impersonator James Wigderson was a genuine force in Wisconsin conservative politics. A time when the unrelentingly raw, merciless stench of his haphazardly hyperbolic and buffoonishly bellicose rhetoric could not be ignored, much like your aging, alcoholic uncle’s periodontitis scented halitosis wafting across the picnic table at a close quarter family reunion on a hot Sunday afternoon. But no more.
A quick perusal of the Not Quite Right Wisconsin website, where Wigderson serves as editor, reveals a recent body of work woefully bereft of substance, wit or originality.  There are small minded ramblings about Mandela Barnes and bongs, Milwaukee street cars and bikes, that Scot Ross, essentially, is an asshole, and so on and so forth.
The majority of Wigderson’s output, though,  appears to be little more than a parroting of the latest press release from the misnomerly named “ Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty” , the Bradley Foundation funded old white guy club where “ ride to the sound of the guns “ seems to be the corporate motto. Law, Liberty, Guns. Sounds kind of like a Warren Zevon song!
Wigderson’s articles so dutifully repeat WILL’s views on everything from health care policy, to DPI powers, to school choice that, against one’s will, an image slowly comes to mind of Wiggy perched precariously on WILL CEO Rick Esenberg’s lap, his jaw flapping in time to an unseen and unheard metronome while Esenberg’s lips seem to barely move.  Try to unsee that!

It’s a neat trick though one shudders to wonder where Esenberg’s forearm has been. Note to Esenberg: you can now get hand cleaning towels by the bucket!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Duffy Has Meltdown Trying To Defend Trump's Racism

On Tuesday, leading up to the final vote on the resolution saying what we've known all along, that Trump is a racist bastard, former reality TV star Sean Duffy, from Wisconsin, took the floor to defend Trump and deny that he is really a racist. In a matter of a minute or two, Duffy escalated quickly into a full meltdown and ending up calling "The Squad" as being anti-American:
Duffy defended Trump on the floor, saying the president’s remarks could not be racist because they did not cite anyone’s race.

Duffy then went on to accuse the four Democrats criticized by Trump of being anti-American.

“I see nothing (in Trump’s tweets) that references anybody’s race. Not a thing! I don’t see anyone’s name referenced in the tweets,” Duffy said.

“But the president is referring to people, congresswomen, who are anti-American! And lo and behold, everybody in this chamber knows who he’s talking about,” Duffy said.
Duffy got so far out of hand that Representative Pramillya Jayapal (D-Washington) had to ask that Duffy's comments be stricken from the record because they were "defamatory."

However, on Wednesday, Duffy became a profile in courage by saying that his comments were "misinterpreted" and threw Trump under the bus:
Duffy said in the interview Wednesday that when he said, “the president’s referring to people, congresswomen, who are anti-American,” he was referring to Trump’s characterization of those House members as anti-American, not making the charge himself.

Duffy said he was making an argument that if Trump accused unnamed Democrats of being anti-American, and it was widely assumed by Democrats and by journalists that Trump was referring to these four lawmakers, then for Democrats and the media, “they are the four that must match the definition.”

Asked in the interview Wednesday if he thinks those four congresswomen are anti-American, Duffy said, “I think those four have made anti-American comments. I’ve never called them anti-American.”


Asked in the interview Wednesday if he thinks Trump’s tweets went too far, Duffy said, “I wouldn’t use the president’s language or the president’s tone. I’ve always said that. But did I think he’s making a point that you have some people who don’t like this country and make anti-American comments? I don’t think he went too far (in that regard)."
Duffy should really know better, being a former reality TV star and all. The minute he goes off script, he really makes a fool of himself.

Scott Walker: Rural Votes Should Count More Than Urban Votes

Since being finally ousted from the governor's mansion, Scott Walker has been scrambling to find a soft place to land through the conservative welfare system. One of the empty figurehead jobs he got was the chief national fundraiser for a right wing front group, National Republican Redistricting Trust, which goal is to raise money to help the inevitable gerrymandering the Congressional Republicans are going to try to pull. Because of this, Walker will occasionally throw up some lame rationalization for gerrymandering on social media and/or his podcast, ironically names "You Can't Recall Courage."

Media Matters caught an exceptionally gobsmacking moment form Walker's podcast on July 5:

During the July 5 edition of You Can’t Recall Courage, Walker offered further justification of his tweet. Complaining about high voter turnout in liberal-leaning Madison and “unbelievably big” Democratic margins of victory in districts in and around Madison, Walker said it’s a “flawed argument” to say that “a vote in Madison counts the same as a vote in a very rural community or in a suburban community.”

“Just because a bunch of votes are packed into one given area doesn’t mean the rest of the state has to have an equal number of legislative districts held by Republicans and Democrats,” Walker added.

The logic behind this argument is confounding. For example, high margins of victory are a direct consequence of partisan gerrymandering, where minority-party voters are packed into small numbers of districts with the goal of diluting the impact of their votes. And Walker’s previous citation that the vast majority of districts in Wisconsin -- which, again, have been gerrymandered for partisan advantage -- voted Republican in 2018 is itself an argument that boils down to saying that plots of land, rather than residents, should determine representation in the Assembly.
There's a couple, three things that Walker omitted and Media Matters subsequently missed.

One, Milwaukee is also a Democratic stronghold so it's just not one area that is seriously affected.

Secondly, the Republicans have their own strongholds that they heavily depend on to carry statewide elections, the WOW counties:
Wisconsin’s “WOW” counties — Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington — are legendary for delivering turnouts and landslides that made them among the highest-performing Republican counties in swing-state America.

They aren’t about to turn blue, and they haven’t “abandoned” the GOP the way some suburban counties have in other states. But the Republican vote has now lagged there for two elections in a row.
This only strengthens Media Matters point of how severely gerrymandered Wisconsin is right now.

Thirdly, and most significantly, these urban areas that Walker is disdaining, especially Milwaukee, has the highest concentration of African Americans. In other words, Walker is saying that African American voters aren't as important as the white, rural voters.

While the Republican effort to gerrymander the entire country is obviously a control issue for them because they know they couldn't win in fair elections, but now we have further confirmation on whom they want to disenfranchise to maintain that control.

Cross posted from Crooks and Liars

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Nation’s Fyre Festival?

By Steve Caer

When news broke early in 2019 that the Democratic National Committee had shortlisted Milwaukee as a possible site for its 2020 national convention, many wondered aloud if the city had enough hotel rooms to accommodate the expected 50,000 convention attendees. WDJT Milwaukee reporter Mark McPherson noted at the time that Milwaukee has 18,000 hotel rooms, compared to Miami’s 57,000 and Houston’s 91,000, the other two cities that were still under consideration. Hospitality Marketers International President Greg Hanis told McPherson
“To be realistic you need more rooms than Milwaukee has “and “I would be scratching my head as far as how they could pull this off.”  In spite of these concerns the DNC announced in March that Milwaukee would host the convention, and a great cheer went up from democrats across Wisconsin.
Now, however, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the city’s hotels and restaurants don’t have enough workers to handle the expected DNC convention crowd, making an iffy situation even iffier. With the convention just a little over a year away this seems a bit of a precarious situation. So how did Milwaukee win over the DNC with these kinds of shortages almost certainly known beforehand?
As we’ve reported previously, it appears the inept, though well compensated, folks at Nation Consulting, the ones who brought us State Supreme Court Judge Brian Hagedorn, have played a central role. Over-selling and under-delivering seems to be standard operating procedure over at Nation HQ, so perhaps it’s no surprise it’ll be a race to the finish to see if the convention comes off as planned.
McFarland lured thousands of unsuspecting fest-goers to a remote island in the Bahamas with promises of a world class music fest replete with top flight accommodations and gourmet chow. Upon arriving at the island, however, attendees abruptly found themselves directed to FEMA tents and cold cheese sandwiches, while a group of local musicians played for a few hours, the only music played during the entire festival. Predictably, lawsuits and criminal charges soon followed and McFarland is currently doing time in Otisville federal prison in upstate New York, the same joint that houses Trump’s former “ fixer “ Michael Cohen.
 We certainly hope the DNC  convention in Milwaukee is a success and that attendees have a good time during their stay here, and we further hope that the event inspires a blue wave that hands Wisconsin to the eventual Democratic nominee in the 2020 November election. But if you’re coming in from out of state, or even out of town, it couldn’t hurt to pack a sleeping bag and a loaf of bread. We have no doubt Nation will supply the cheese.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Lyin' Ryan And Trump Rekindle Their Love/Hate Relationship

Tim Alberta is about to release a new book titled 'American Carnage.' This book takes a look at the tenuous relationships Republicans have with Donald Trump and how they all eventually willingly caved in to him, knowing how bad things were going to get.

Part of the book gives the opportunity to Lyin' Paul Ryan to have his say about Trump and why he decided to retire as he did:
Perhaps no one has had a more tortured relationship with the president than former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — who went from wanting to abandon Trump after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape to working to enact his agenda after the election all while doing his best to avoid commenting on his tweets and controversial statements.

Alberta reports that Trump berated Ryan over a 2018 spending bill because it didn’t include funding for his border wall but then said he would sign it if Ryan were to give him time to build suspense on Twitter. Ryan agreed and then publicly sang the president’s praises after the meeting.


Now out of office and trading in his power suits for a blue vest, Ryan is back to critiquing Trump in unflattering terms in conversations with Alberta, who writes the former speaker could not stand the idea of another two years with the president and saw retirement as an “escape hatch,” in Alberta’s words.

“We’ve gotten so numbed by it all,” Ryan says. “Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don’t call a woman a ‘horse face.’ Don’t cheat on your wife. Don’t cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.”

Ryan depicts Trump as uneducated about the government.

“I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right,” Ryan recalls. “Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government . . . I wanted to scold him all the time.”

Ryan says he sees the presidency getting worse, with Trump determined to govern and campaign on his terms, rejecting calls from other Republicans to moderate his message in 2020.

“Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time,” Ryan says. “We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”

In Alberta’s telling, Trump calls Ryan a “f---ing Boy Scout.”
True to his nature, Ryan is lying his ass off.

Ryan wasn't looking for an escape hatch. He went along willingly with Trump's agenda since it so closely matched his own, including things like the GOP tax scam; killing Social Security and Medicare; suppressing voters' rights; and a general dislike of brown and black skinned people. The only difference between Trump and Ryan is that Trump would say out loud what both of them were thinking.

No, Ryan didn't want to escape Trump. The real reason Ryan up and quit was because he was afraid of losing to Randy "Ironstache" Bryce. And even if he would manage to squeak out a victory, he saw the writing on the wall and knew he would lose his position as Speaker of the House.

As we all knew would happen, the deranged orangutan had a twitter meltdown over someone saying something less than praising him:

I seriously doubt that anyone would be surprised by this. Just like they wouldn't be surprised by the fact that Trump is also a pathological liar. As they say, there's a tweet for that:

I don't think any fallout between Ryan and Trump is due to any philosophical, ethical or any other type of difference. No, any tiff between these two would be the result of too many similarities and seeing themselves in each other.

But if Ryan felt that strongly about disliking Trump, he really ought to consider challenging him in a primary. Now wouldn't that be fun to watch?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

What Has Act 10 Cost You - The Milwaukee County Edition

Let me start this post with two sentences that I never, ever thought I would say in my life, especially as a public sector worker:

The first one is:
Thank you, Scott Walker!
Ooh, that was painful!  OK, the next one is:
Thank you, Chris Abele!
Ugh! I'm never going to get rid of this rotten taste in my mouth!

No, I haven't gone stark raving mad.  I actually have a valid reason for those statements.

To explain, let me remind the gentle reader of something that I have reported on in the past, which is how Walker's Act 10 would have a particularly detrimental effect on Milwaukee County taxpayers:
In 1991, Milwaukee County enacted the "Rule of 75," which meant that when an employee whose age and years of service totaled 75, they were eligible to retire with full pension benefits. However, this rule only applied to non-union represented employees or represented employees that were hired in 1993 or earlier. Represented employees weren't eligible for full benefits until they reached the age of 60 or 64, depending on their date of hire.

When Act 10 was enacted, AFSCME, the union representing public sector workers, chose not to play the Republicans' union busting games and didn't bother holding a vote to recertify. Their contention was that only the unions could decertify themselves and AFSCME wasn't about to do that. Thus, Milwaukee County chose to not recognize the union and claimed that all of its members were now non-represented.

This meant that over 1,000 employees suddenly became eligible for the Rule of 75.

Recognizing this loophole, the county then passed a resolution which basically said that if the employee wasn't eligible for the Rule of 75 then, they weren't eligible for it now.

AFSCME filed a class action lawsuit, arguing that the previously represented employees were now eligible. In other words, the county was trying to have it both ways.
AFSCME had won that lawsuit in 2016.

As I had predicted at the time, Abele appealed it. He lost a second time in 2017.

So Abele then appealed it again to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. I'm sure that Abele thought it would be a slam dunk for him, given how friendly he is with the conservatives, especially his "special friend," Rebecca Bradley.

I would have loved to see his face when the Supreme Court issued their decision in favor of the workers. Especially when the court's ruling was written by Bradley herself:
The Wisconsin Supreme Court delivered a victory Tuesday to a group of Milwaukee County employees, allowing them to take advantage of early retirement benefits that county officials say they didn't mean to give them.

The 5-2 decision is expected to worsen the county's long-term pension liability by $6.8 million, according to a 2016 report. That would force the county to contribute more than $800,000 a year for 20 years to cover the liability.
So, you can see, while I would have much preferred to have had my rights as a worker left intact, there was a silver lining to the whole debacle. To make it even sweeter for me, because of Abele's stalling tactics, not only was I eligible to retire, I was eligible for a modest backdrop - sorry Daniel Bice and Mark Murphy, not enough for you to start frothing at the mouth like you like to do - but enough to make up for a large hunk of the money Walker and Abele stole from me over the past seven years.

Last Friday, I retired as a Milwaukee County worker of more than 24 years.

All that said, as a taxpayer, I am considerably less than thrilled about this course of events.  According to the paper, the cost of all the eligible people retiring would be about $7 million dollars.  I would love to know how Abele came up with that number since there is no way for him to really know.  The County irretrievably lost parts of workers' records in 2013, when Abele, through his negligence, set the Courthouse on fire. He has no way of knowing even who is eligible to retire due to the ruling, much less how much it might cost. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Same As It Ever Was

By Jeff Simpson

One thing we know about our friends on the right, especially the folks at Wisconsin Law and Liberty (WILL) is that they love to file frivolous lawsuits.   Rick Esenberg, has to justify his $200,000 + year salary(running his "non profit") by using his law degree to sue anytime a Democrat in WI sneezes. 

Now we see on White Right Wisconsin( I read it so you don't have to), that a "teacher" is joining the lawsuit to keep ACT10 since the operating engineers are trying to have it ruled unconstitutional. 

The "teacher" name is Kristi Koschkee and her argument is:

“As a public school teacher who refused union membership, the lawsuit will restrict my freedoms in the classroom,” Koschkee said in a statement released Friday. “The public unions are once again trying to use the courts to handcuff all teachers, union or not, to collective bargaining agreements. If the unions are successful, it will hurt my ability to do what I love: teach students.”
Kristi Koschkee, was much more famously known as her maiden name during the ACT10 battles of Kristi Lacroix.  LaCroix who was a teacher, then left to try and start an alternative to teachers unions(irony alert), and now is apparently teaching again.   Along the way, Ms. Lacroix also had a stint with the Knot my Wisconsin goon squad, all the while complaining about the supposed vitriol spewed at her by union supporters.   She more than fulfills her daily dose of irony! 

Now Kristi Koschkee's argument, is that by restoring collective bargaining, it will hurt her ability to teach students.  Not exactly sure how that would happen but it makes for a great line to throw red meat out to the hard core right wing base that will never be able to understand the nuance or lack of logic in her statement.   The fact that WILL can base an argument on such loose logic explains what you need to know about them also.     That is why they are known for frivolous lawsuits, they have unlimited Michael Grebe money to clog the courts. 

While I do not know when or why Kristi returned to teaching, there is something I do know for certain about her contract.  Thanks to ACT 10 that she so vocally promoted, she (and all teachers in WI) make $2000 less in base pay than they did pre Act10.

Thanks to White Right Wisconsin we know that the attacks on public education are nevereneding with a certain, well funded group in WI and we need to continue to stay vigilant.

Our kids are depending on us! 



Friday, May 10, 2019

Scott Walker's Clueless Columns

By Jeff Simpson

In the immortal words of - Ronald Reagan - the person Scott Walker first voted for as a teen"There you go again".

Walker who, for some reason has been giving column inches in the Rev. Moon's Washington Times, is out with his second column.   The first was incomprehensible and things have not gotten much better   However what you can gleem from Walker's second column is that he has never had much self awareness. 

Recently, Social media giant Facebook, culled from its community a bunch of far right extremists, like hate monger lunatic Alex Jones, Wisconsin Republican Parties own white Supremacist Paul Nehlen, even a crazy WISGOP group Wisconsin Conservative Union(which has caused Dan ODonnell countless faux tears), among many others (even Louis Farrakhan). 

One thing that our friends on the right are great at, is playing the part of the poor innocent victim.   Yes, there are claims of censorship, but Facebook is a private company and not bound to the first amendment.   When the Republicans can not control something/someone it makes them crazy. 

Which leads us into Walkers latest attempt at an opinion column.  Incredibly titled - Who wants to live in a country that can block free speech.   More of his obsession with Venezuela.

History shows us that dictators often seek to deny the people access to information to thwart revolutions. And in Venezuela, the government has historically had a heavy hand on the media.
Radio and television are censored by an organization sympathetic to the government, and most newspapers are owned by supporters of Mr. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez.
Now, they are turning their efforts to blocking digital to stop dissent. We saw similar attempts in 2011, during the April Spring uprisings. Eight years ago, the government in Egypt shut down all access to the Internet. Now, it is happening again in our hemisphere.

Scott Walker, who controlled the message for 8 years, by when he did make a rare appearance in public, only had the courage for invite only events. 

However, nothing showed a heavy hand of the Government and total censorship of free speech as when Scott Walker as Governor, ordered the arrest of anyone who dared sing in the Rotunda of the Capitol. 

Here are pics of the Capitol Police arresting Vietnam War Hero Will Williams and then him falling down on the stairs as they take him down to process him.  He put his life on the line for our country in Vietnam but was treated like crap by Scott Walker for singing in a public building. 

While there are many many many other stories of censorship and desperation in controlling information from the Walker administration, there is one image that sums up the lack of transparency and Unconstitutional actions that defined Scott Walker.

When this picture defines your tenure, you should probably take a good, hard, long look in the mirror before you offer an opinion on censorship anywhere else in the world!