Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Walker Agenda Is Still Working! Part CCVII

You know it's getting bad when there's not only a spike in the homeless population but there's not enough food to feed them:
After experiencing a decline in donations as the holidays fade into the New Year, the Guest House of Milwaukee has exhausted almost all its food resources and is in need of emergency donations.

According to Erik Koepnick, manager of volunteer services and communications for the Guest House, the nonprofit organization does not have any food to feed its residents over the next three nights.

The Guest House currently houses 86 men full time. The shelter will begin overflow tomorrow as 15 additional men move in.

“That’s a lot of mouths to feed,” Koepnick said.

Throughout the year, the Guest House relies on the generosity of families, neighborhood groups, faith communities, restaurants, organizations like the Salvation Army and other volunteers to provide meals to its residents each evening.

St. Ben’s Community Meal Program, held at St. Benedict the Moor in Milwaukee, also often feeds residents of the Guest House.

But during frigid weather, the shelter prefers to host meals in-house, according to Koepnick.

During the holidays, the Guest House typically receives an influx of food and monetary donations, followed by a significant drop-off largely due to donor fatigue, Koepnick said.

“I think part of it is that the community has given a lot throughout the holidays, and so there’s kind of that giving fatigue,” Koepnick said. “People have given what they have.”

Though it’s unusual for the Guest House to experience three nights in a row of food shortage, he said.

The nonprofit is now turning to the community for immediate help.
The worst part is things are only going to get worse. With Scott Walker and Chris Abele forcing their austerity agendas on us, we are going to see more and more homeless and more and more hungry people.

Things have to change, sooner than later.  

A New Year's Resolution For Scott Walker

Scott Walker sent out a last minute please-give-me-your-money-before-the-end-of-the-year fundraising emails.  He's done such a Gish Gallop, I don't even know where to start:

Click on image to embiggen

To make it easier to read, here it is formatted to fit the blog:

As we close the chapter on 2013, I can't help but reflect on all that we have accomplished together over the past twelve months.

Together we cast partisanship aside for results. In the past year we:
  • Reformed the state's tax system so Wisconsin tax payers will see nearly $1 billion in tax relief for families and small businesses.
  • Signed an additional property tax-cut relief bill that saves taxpayers $100 million.
  • Helped Wisconsin's unemployment drop to 6.3% in November - the lowest it has been since December 2008.
In 2010 and 2012, your support made it clear that we are ready to move Wisconsin forward again. We stood up to the politicians, bureaucrats, and Washington interest groups that want to take us back to the days of Jim Doyle - days marked with rampant job loss and skyrocketing taxes.

As this year comes to a close, I ask you to join me again in this fight.  Despite our success in the last election, national special interest groups have already committed to spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat me next year. They will be watching to see how much support we have by the end of the year.

Our support comes from grass roots [sic] leaders in every corner of Wisconsin - that's why we need your help today.

The reporting deadline ends tonight and every dollar is vitally important to our efforts to keep Wisconsin in the hands of the hard working taxpayers. Please consider contributing to our campaign today. You've stood by my side over the past three years and look at what we have accomplished together.

Thank you for your unwavering support.

Your friend,

Scott Walker
Apparently "families" is code for the Koch Brothers and "small businesses" is code for the Bradley Foundation, because they are the only ones raking in that kind of cash. Most of the people I know have seen their taxes go up and their wages go down or get stopped altogether because of layoffs.

I would hope that the gentle reader also noted that he is staying way clear of his failed 250,000 job promise.  The most generous tally I've seen says he's only 42% of the way there, but this number is a lot smaller if one is honest and gives credit for a large part of those jobs coming from Jim Doyle's budget and policies.

And don't even get me going about that grassroots nonsense.  Not only can't he spell the word, he can't tell grass from astroturf.

I would strongly urge Walker to make one New Year's Resolution - Start telling the truth.

As it is now, I don't even know if he knows how to do that anymore.

Fundraising Email Quote Of The Day

On Monday, I got yet another fundraising email from Scott Walker and this time, he actually put his name on it.

The bulk of the email was his usual and worn out lies of supposedly turning a deficit into a surplus; the laughable claim of lowering taxes; and creating "thousands of new jobs."  Well, OK, the last one was true.  He's only created thousands while the surrounding states have created tens of thousands.

But anyway, the line that really caught my eye and then made it roll around in its socket was this:
The next 2 days are vital to showing these special interests that the voters want a Governor who stands with the hard-working taxpayers and not the special interests.
Excuse me? But, really?  Did he really just say that?

Well, maybe Walker needs to have his memory jarred a little bit with two words.

John Dough.

I Need A Favor!

By Jeff Simpson

I am a member of the parent's advisory committee and also someone whose children has benefited greatly from Camp Kesem - UW and they need your vote.  It only takes a few seconds, and you can only vote once.  

 Please go here and vote for Camp Kesem - UW Madison.

They have a chance to win $10,000, which will help send kids to their free summer camp. 

 A little About Camp Kesem:

Camp Kesem UW-Madison is a college student run summer camp for children throughout Wisconsin with a parent who has, or has had, cancer. This free, week-long summer camp is offered to children ages 6-16. Lead by college students, Camp Kesem is a national organization with 54 chapters across the country. Camp Kesem UW-Madison has grown from serving 16 campers to 120 campers in just four years. They strive to provide each camper with a supportive, lifelong camp community that recognizes and understands the camper’s unique needs.

Camp Kesem UW-Madison reaches out to local hospitals and related organizations to find families that would benefit from their services. In addition to the week-long summer camp, Camp Kesem UW-Madison provides year-round support for the campers and their families, including hosting camp reunions, sending birthday and holiday cards, and providing extra support to the families when needed.

If they won Sentry’s $10K for a Cause, Camp Kesem UW-Madison would put the money directly into sending kids to camp. As the only national organization serving kids with a parent affected by cancer, Camp Kesem UW-Madison understands that when cancer strikes, the whole family is affected. To provide camp for 120 kids, Camp Kesem UW-Madison raises nearly $70,000.

Also if you know someone who has or has had cancer, and has children,  PLEASE give them this information

For inquiries about Camp Kesem, please contact us at
info@campkesem.org  or (260) 225-3736 / (260)22-KESEM
For fundraising inquiries, please contact us at magic@campkesem.org

If you know someone who is currently attending UW-Madison - send them this link

Thank you!  I appreciate it, and so do they. 

Happy New Year!  


Kaleka Is Getting Warmer, Zerban Is Still Hot

A couple of months ago, we learned that there would be a primary in the First Congressional District to see who would get to take on Paul Ryan.

One of the candidates is Amardeep Kaleka.  At the time that Kaleka was announcing his candidacy, I noted that several concerns about his campaign, one of which was that his exploratory committee was based in California:

Just like almost every other political candidate and every group, Kaleka sent out an email begging for that end of the year contribution before Tuesday night's reporting deadline.

The email in itself isn't anything unusual as far as these sorts of emails go.  However, I did notice that there was a new address for Kaleka's campaign:

Now, instead of being based in California, the campaign is now headquartered in a post office mailbox in Franklin.  That seems legit, doesn't it?

Fortunately, the voters in CD 1 has a better choice in Rob Zerban, who has not only resided in the district all this time, but has been there standing with the people through the hard times.  His positions has been clearly laid out and he has a serious agenda on how to turn things around for not only the district but for the entire state and the country, bringing back good paying jobs and restoring our rights.

We all agree that Paul Ryan needs to go for the good of the state and the country and Zerban is the person to make it happen.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Zombie Politics

Henry Giroux was recently on Bill Moyers.

Our friends at the Wisconsin Democratic Party and the Mary Burke campaign could use some lessons on how to message from Professor Giroux:

BILL MOYERS: You paint a very grim picture of the state of democracy, and yet you don't seem contaminated by cynicism yourself.

HENRY GIROUX: No, I'm not.

BILL MOYERS: How do we understand that?

HENRY GIROUX: Because I refuse to become a part of it.
Become I refuse to become complicitous. I refuse to say--I refuse to be alive and to watch institutions being handed over to right wing zealots. I refuse to be alive and watch the planet be destroyed.
I mean, when you mentioned-- you talk about the collective imagination, you know, I mean that imagination emerges when people find strength in collective organizations, when they find strength in each other.
Believing that we can work together to produce commons in which we can share that raises everybody up and not just some people, that contributes to the world in a way that-- and I really don't mean to be romanticizing here, but a world that is we recognize is never just enough. Justice is never done. It's an endless struggle. And that there's joy in that struggle, because there's a sense of solidarity that brings us together around the most basic, most elemental and the most important of democratic values.

Texas Style Humor

By Jeff Simpson

From Texas Republican Congessman Steve Stockman's facebook page:

Steve Stockman is one funny man!   When he is not busy lubing his gun with "liberal tears" he is praising Jesus!

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

In case you want to call the Congressman and give him some other ideas of what to lube his gun with:

326 Cannon House Office Building
Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20515 
Phone: 202-225-1555
Fax: 202-226-0396

Meet Sara Geenen - Candidate For Assembly District 19

For years, Assembly District 19 has been ably represented by Jon Richards. Now that Richards has decided to run for Attorney General, his seat has become an open one.  Fortunately for the people in AD 19, they have a great slate of candidates to chose from to be Richard's successor.

Sara Geenen
One of these candidates is Sara Geenen.

I had the opportunity and privilege of speaking with Geenen about her campaign and her race yesterday.

Geenen was the first to announce her candidacy at the beginning of November. I asked her why she decided to enter this race. Geenen readily replied, "I've got kids. I want them and all kids to have the same opportunities for a good education and for good jobs." Geenen also pointed that as a lawyer, it is her job to advocate. She said that she has skill to allow her to do a good job. She said that she knows the law and can look at the big picture.

I pointed out that the voters of AD 19 are very fortunate in that they have a wonderful slate of good and solidly progressive candidates.  I asked her what made her stand out and why the voters should choose her over the others.

She replied that she is the candidate with real world, practical experience.  She understands the real impact of the laws and policies being passed in Madison today.  She discussed how she has seen people who have worked their entire lives based on promises that are no longer being kept and how this is taking away the security and livelihood that people need.

She also pointed out that she grew up in a progressive family and she learned how important it is to help the community.  She also said that she would advocate for Milwaukee, not just in Madison, but across the state.

I then asked Geenen what issues she felt were the most important.  She answered:  "I think that it is important that our legislature focus policies and laws that strengthen Milwaukee and Wisconsin, which means that we must decide what kind of future we want for our neighborhoods, city and state, and must stand up for that future. A first priority is maintaining and creating family supporting jobs, which also includes ensuring access to job training programs, addressing related transportation issues and recognizing the importance of meaningful collective bargaining rights. It is also critical that we strive for the best public education we can provide at all levels and that we address the disparities in our public education system."

Geenen's strong support of labor issues has already gained her the support of the Steelworkers Union.

I pointed out that she doesn't have the name recognition or political connections that some of her opponents enjoy.  I asked her if how she would deal with this disadvantage.  She said that just meant that she would have to work harder, keep doing doors and going to events.  She feels that her strength is that her campaign is a true grassroots movement.

Geenen has been an attorney at the Previant Law Firm for the past seven years, specializing in labor laws and representing unions, retirees and individuals.  Besides her work for Previant, Geenen volunteers at MPS.

She has been married for almost six years and has two boys, ages three and one.

For more information about Geenen, you may visit her website and her Facebook page.

I have not decided who I will endorse - or if I will even endorse anyone - in this race. That said, I feel that Geenen would be a good representative and a formidable force in Madison who could make a real impact.

The Alternative to Teacher's unions - Isn't!

By Jeff Simpson

Interesting article today in the Wisconsin State Journal regarding the American Association of Educators. 

AAE promotes itself as The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.

However it is really the furthest thing from that.   As Molly Beck points out:

While it markets itself as being without a political agenda unlike teachers unions, the American Association of Educators gets significant funding from conservative-leaning foundations and often advocates for school choice and publicly rejects what it calls “forced unionism.”

Some teachers just wanted a “have really been searching for a less politically charged alternative”.  So they found one - or not:

The Bradley Foundation from Milwaukee has sent about $645,000 to the AAE since 2008. Rosno said the foundation has given the AAE a grant to create a Wisconsin chapter office. The Walton Foundation also has given the association about $1.5 million since 2009.
Nothing says apolitical in public education like $2,000,000 grants from the etreme right wing Walton and Bradley Foundations.

But wait there is more:

It cost $180 per year to join and you get absolutely nothing for your money except some serious irony.  See in the AAE they have actual highly paid bosses.
 Members of those organizations also appear among the AAE Foundation’s board of directors. Secretary and treasurer Becky Norton Dunlop is vice president of the Heritage Foundation, and Alan P. Dye is the legal counsel to ALEC.
Then there is this kicker that makes it all worthwhile:

 Though the association calls itself nonpartisan, the group publicly supports or opposes matters related to education or unionism if a certain percentage of members vote to take a position, according to its website.

So if a majority of their members approve of something, they advocate for it?  I wonder who else does that?


Chris Abele's New Year's Resolution

And we all know how resolutions are made to be broken...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Meet Marina Dimitrijevic - Candidate for Assembly District 19

For years, Assembly District 19 has been ably represented by Jon Richards. Now that Richards has decided to run for Attorney General, his seat has become an open one.  Fortunately for the people in AD 19, they have a great slate of candidates to chose from to be Richard's successor.

Marina Dimitrijevic
One of those candidates is Marina Dimitrijevic.

I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Dimitrijevic for almost ten years, since she was first elected as the Milwaukee County Supervisor for the Bay View area and in her current role as Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board.

I had the opportunity to interview Dimitrijevic earlier today to discuss her campaign and the race in general.

The first question I asked is why she chose to jump into the race.

Dimitrijevic said that the state is "absolutely out of control" and that she is angry with the constant attacks on workers, women, the LGBT community and on local control.  She said that she wants to take her experience to Madison and turn things around.  She added that the state legislature has been so destructive that she can't take it anymore and feels the need to take a more direction in reversing this.

I pointed out that this race was a progressive's dream in that some very qualified and progressive candidates in the race.  I also pointed out that she has a distinct advantage over her opponents due to her name recognition and that she has had three very successful campaigns

Dimitrijevic said that she has a lot of respect for her opponents and is looking forward to a positive, competitive race. She also said that she is not taking anything for granted, pointing out that her last opponent for her seat on the county board outspent her 4:1.

Dimitrijevic also said that she feels that she is the best candidate due to her experience and proven record.  She said that she understands what is important to her constituents and has delivered on those issues.  She feels that she is a "proven champion" of the people and would be "ready on day one" to start working on these issues.

Dimitrijevic proudly pointed out that she was the author of the domestic partner benefits resolution and worked with County Executive Chris Abele to get it passed.  She also pointed to her work on authoring green legislation which has not only increased the county's environmental sustainability, but also saved county taxpayers millions of dollars.  She also said that she has spent the last decade standing up for workers against two executives who have been very hostile towards the county employees.

Dimitrijevic summed it up by saying that it's one thing to just say that one is in support of something, but she also delivers on it.

Dimitrijevic said that it was her proven record of delivering on her promises that has earned her many prominent endorsements, including those of Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Mayor Tom Barrett.  Dimitrijevic also proudly pointed out that she has the endorsement of many unions, including SEIU, American Federation of Teachers Local 212, the nurses' union, the firefighters and the deputy sheriff's union.

As an exclusive to Cog Dis, Dimitrijevic also confirmed that she has received the endorsement from AFSCME.

She also wanted to note that for five consecutive years, readers of the Shepherd Express has voted her to be the best county supervisor.  She emphasized again that this was due to her ability to follow through and deliver on what she says.

Dimitrijevic said that her top issues include:
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Equal rights
  • Marriage equality, saying she wanted to get the state caught up with a growing number of other states and legalize marriage for all people.
  • Workers' rights
  • Job creation - specifically good, family supporting jobs
  • Education
Dimitrijevic said that education is one of her most passionate issues. To explain why, she went on to share a very personal story which she said that I could share with the gentle reader.

She said that her parents immigrated to the United States from Serbia and settled in the South Side of Milwaukee, where she has lived her entire life.  She said that it was the Milwaukee public schools that she attended that taught her to be fluent in Spanish and exposed her to music and to the arts.  She also said that when her family hit financial hard times, it was the schools that made sure she was fed.

She said that she found that Scott Walker's cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from public education and siphoning even more to privatized schools to be unacceptable.  She said that not only does she want to reverse this and restore funding for public schools, but wants to start universal pre-kindergarten classes throughout the state which would be funded by the state.

She pointed out that many other states are already doing this, as are many European countries.  She points out that numerous studies have shown that a child learns things the best while they are very young.  She feels we need to catch up with the curve to give our children a fair chance of succeeding later in their lives.

I would point out that Dimitrijevic has had seven years of experience of dealing with Scott Walker while she has been on the County Board.  Just like State Senator Chris Larson, who was also a county supervisor, she knows how Walker thinks and has proven herself to be an effective in dealing with his attacks.

Dimitrijevic has been married for 5 years and has 3 stepchildren.  Dimitrijevic proudly noted that her husband, Eduardo, is very supportive of her campaign and is the hardest worker on the campaign, bringing his experience and enthusiasm from working in politics in his home country of Uruguay.

You can learn more about Dimitrijevic by visiting her website and her Facebook page.

I have not decided who I will endorse - or if I will even endorse anyone - in this race.  That said, I can say with confidence that were Dimitrijevic were to win this race, I am confident that she would very ably represent the people of AD 19 and would not disappoint them in the job she would do.

Sean Duffy: Clueless and Classless

Reality TV star Sean Duffy (T*-Kochville) sent out a holiday email in which he expressed surprise that there were poor people in his district.  He was also surprised that poor people are suffering:
During this season of joy, I find myself more aware than maybe ever before of the people in our community who are in need of great comfort this Christmas. Whether it is a mother who is struggling to pay her utility bill, or a father who is dealing with the loss of his family’s health insurance plan, this week I have been fortunate to work with many people from our community on ways we can help the neediest among us and hopefully make life a little more comfortable for them.

Building Effective Awareness: A year ago I sat down with many of the pastors in Wausau and asked them, “What are the needs in our community?” I was taken back when all of them commented on the issues of hunger and homelessness in our community. I think I’m like a lot of people in our community who don’t know the issues that a lot of people who are having a tough time are facing. I wanted to do what I could with my team to make sure we can make a difference with those who have fallen on hard times and make sure we can collaborate together on community resources. Also collaborate on the Federal and state side to make sure resources don’t just flow to the urban parts of the country but can actually come to the parts of the country that have real problems but don’t have huge staffs to cut through the red-tape.
This is coming from the same guy who was complaining how he couldn't make it on his $174,000 salary and had to drive - oh, the horror! - a used minivan!

But it shouldn't come as a surprise to Duffy at all.  Scott Walker's agenda of austerity has been repeatedly shown to be an utter failure, causing unemployment to soar across the state.  Some of the highest unemployment rates are in Duffy's own district.  For him to be surprised that there were poor people and they were hurting shows just how out of touch he is with what's going on.

But as with all things Duffy, there is more.  There is always more.

Duffy is also a raging hypocrite.

Even as people were reading the piece of tripe he sent out declaring his compassion, he was also skipping out of Washington, D.C. without lifting a finger to address the 2.2 million Americans who were about to be cut off of unemployment compensation. Because of Duffy's inaction, 24,000 Wisconsinites have were cut off of their unemployment compensation on Saturday, with another 42,000 losing their lifeline in the first half of 2014.  This number includes the 2,770 people in his new hometown of Wausau that just found themselves cut off.

Robert Mentzer, regional opinion editor for Gannett Central Wisconsin Media, wrote a compelling column discussing the folly of letting these benefits come to an end, including this snippet:
“We shouldn’t let emergency federal benefits expire,” wrote Michael R. Strain, a think-tank scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, on the conservative site, “because the same fundamental logic that led to their being (correctly) enacted still holds today: The labor market is still in bad shape, the economy is still weak, there are three times as many unemployed workers as job openings.”

Unemployment benefits require the worker to be available and able to work and to be actively searching for a job. Cutting off the benefit isn’t going to magically force all these people to find jobs. The jobs aren’t there. Instead, Strain and others argue, it will cause many workers to leave the labor force permanently, making them the problem of public and private social services agencies.

Cutting unemployment benefits, in other words, is a very expensive way to save money.
So now we see that not only is Duffy clueless and classless, he's a major spendthrift as well.

Fortunately, the good people of the 7th Congressional District can make a change for the better in 2014.

Kelly Westlund is running to unseat Duffy.  With Westlund, the people of the 7th CD would have their voices heard in Washington and would have someone fighting for them.  That is a much needed change from what they have now - just another Koch Brothers owned sockpuppet.

*T = Teapublican

Paul Ryan vs. Pope Francis

I am a HUGE fan of Pope Francis. I grew up in an Irish Catholic household where we all had our First Communion and did CCD every Saturday morning. Whilst I haven't identified as Catholic in years for many reasons, Pope Francis has given me a renewed hope in the direction the church is heading. His messages on feeding the poor, helping the sick and homeless, and rejecting rampant capitalism are exactly what the world needs to hear right now. His message is resounding with millions and millions of people across the world. But of course, you can't always please everyone. Enter conservative American Catholics or followers of "corporate Catholicism." Notably jackass congressman and Wisconsin's number two most embarrassing citizen, Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan had a few choice words for Pope Francis.

"The guy is from Argentina, they haven’t had real capitalism in Argentina, they have crony capitalism in Argentina. They don’t have a true free enterprise system." -Paul Ryan

First of all, his isn't referred to as just "the guy from Argentina." That's just incredibly disrespectful (but what else would you except from Paul Ryan?) And second of all, the fact that he saw poverty all the TIME in Argentina proves he has A LOT of ground to stand on when discussing the truly evils of capitalism. Ryan can't see the own poverty in his district from his white picket fence, let alone understand it in a foreign nation. And yes, I know, Ryan DID volunteer at a soup kitchen last year in a ditch effort to ebb a little bit of the sinking ship that was his presidential ticket with Mittens Romney, but no one bought it, so I don't think that really counts.

Paul Ryan and his conservative Catholic cohorts in congress despise the Pope because of his anti-poverty message. Ryan supported over a million Americans no longer receiving unemployment benefits. He's told America he isn't interested in helping the poor or sick both verbally and legislatively. This week, he was the main player in eliminating unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who counted on it as their only source of income. He hates the Affordable Care Act, which has been key in countless Americans being able to pay for insurance for the first time in months and years, and for some, for the first time ever. He supports cutting programs that feed and house children, all while telling women they can't have birth control or abortions. He scoffs at the idea that maybe, JUST MAYBE, it's up the the government to help protect and care for those citizens who are most vulnerable. I highly doubt however, he thought of that as he was trying to get rid of social security and throw it into the hands of the "free enterprise system" he loves so much. And he certainly doesn't think about it when he writes and supports legislation that keeps veterans homeless and hungry. I truly believe there are two main players when it comes to poverty. First, there's the poverty itself. The other half are the people who are keeping poverty alive and well, like Paul Ryan.

You know America is heading down a dark hole of fiscal oppression when we have a person who is actually LIVING like Jesus Christ did, not just talking about doing as He did, and Republicans have a big issue with it. This just proves that everything the GOP stands for is exactly what is wrong with America. What I really find the most ironic about this entire American conservatives VS. the Pope issue, is that the right wing claims to be the most Godly. Talk is cheap. Yet God's worldly rep actually does as Christ did and Rush Limbaugh labels him a Marxist (clearly not understanding Marxist teachings on religion.) Right now we actually have a religious figure tackling issues that ARE important. The Popes teachings could lead to poverty coming to eradication. Families around the world are counting on it. All we need to do is lend him our ears and our hearts, and reject message of disdain coming from Paul Ryan and his teabagger circus in congress.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Phil Robertson - My Favorite Heel!


By Jeff Simpson

I have never watched a second of Duck Dynasty and I can not change the channel quick enough when  "reality" TV comes on.   I was also getting sick of the whole Phil Robertson 'fiasco", then it hit me.   Phil Robertson isn't a redneck racist(well he might be) but instead he is a brilliant marketer of himself. 

While I no longer watch professional wrestling either, I used to be a huge fan of the WWF and even beofre that as a kid watching All Star Wrestling on Sunday mornings with the High Flyers, Vern Gagne, nick Bockwinkle, Rock and Roll Buck Zumhoff and even the very beginnings of Hulk Hogan.

The person who always garnered the most attention was the heel.  The heel, for those who have never watched wrestling, was the person they marketed as the "bad guy" A good wrestler could go back and forth between being a heel and being a "face" (good guy).

One of my favorite "heels" was always Bobby Heenan.  Heenan would say and do anything to piss people off.  The more crazy things he said the more popular he became.  

The problem that Heenan had though was he was limited to professional wrestling.

Then the phenomena that is Fox news came along.   This allowed the marketing division of the republican party to turn people into "faces" and "heels" without them even being involved.   They could whitewash history with no worries about facts, intelligence or even logic. 

One of the by products of this phenomena that no one had foreseen was what would happen when they made someone a star.   All Roger Ailes propaganda machine had to do was find someone the "liberals" did not like and their star would shoot up faster than Trey Radel. It did not matter what their intelligence or talent was.  The liberals are bad message is a money maker.

For instance, a plumbers apprentice named Sam, asked a fake question under a made up name that actually pointed out that President Obama's tax policy was better for the average American than John McCain's was.     The media pointed out that he was a complete phony and the Fox Phenomena turned Sammy into a victim and he then transformed himself into "Joe the Plumber" who now is a hero to the far right.  

Exhibit 2: is of course Sarah Palin.    Sarah Palin was picked to be John McCain's running mate, strictly on her looks and gender. Early on in her unveiling as a national candidate, they offered her up to the queen of softballs, Katie Couric, who tripped Ms. Palin up with the hard hitting question - "What do you read"!


Ms. Palin and Mr. Ailes then were able to tun that into the liberal media attacking poor Sarah with "gotcha" questions.  Instead of being relinquished to the answer in a trivia game, she rose to right wing superstardom. 

In both of these instances(and others), we find out that the stupider, more racist, homophobic quote you can on nation TV the better.  Say something that upsets a "liberal" and you will find right wing extremists all over the country willing to send you their hard earned money.   

Which brings us back to the Duck guy

 All the right-wing religious zealots are up in arms about the suspension of the family idol Phil Robertson for the now widely distributed remarks which have not only offended many Americans, but has landed him in the A&E jailhouse. What is the response of the shows huge Redneck following? Well, it appears to rush down to the nearest Walmart store and buy Duck Dynasty stuff right here at the ” prime time” of the holiday sales season. Great timing for a promotional stunt wouldn’t you say?

I do not know for sure if Phil Robertson is a racist homophobic bigot.  I do know for sure though, that he is playing YOU!   And laughing all the way to the bank!

 As someone once said, "If you look around and can't tell who the sucker is...its you!"  

 you're playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you.
Paul Newman
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/sucker.html#XecFLous3u7b2aQ1.99

Meet Jonathan Brostoff - Candidate For Assembly District 19

For years, Assembly District 19 has been ably represented by Jon Richards. Now that Richards has decided to run for Attorney General, his seat has become an open one.  Fortunately for the people in AD 19, they have a great slate of candidates to chose from to be Richard's successor.

One of those candidates is Jonathan Brostoff.

Jonathan Brostoff
I have had the pleasure of knowing Brostoff for a number of years from when he was a staffer for then Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson.  After Larson won his seat in the state senate, Brostoff followed him as his district legislative aide.  I also got to know Brostoff through his work for DemTeam, a highly effective training program to teach Milwaukee County Democrats how to run effective political campaigns.

I had the opportunity to interview Brostoff the other day to discuss his campaign.

I pointed out that there were a number of highly qualified candidates running for this seat and asked him why the voters should choose him over the others.

Brostoff said that his campaign is not about his opponents, but about him.  He said that he has the utmost respect for his opponents, but feels that he has the right skill set for what is needed right now.  He said that not only does he want to forward progressive values but to work on taking back the state senate and eventually the state assembly.  He said that he is also willing and able to commit himself fully to the job of being the district's representative and would hold no other jobs while in that seat.  He also said that he is not looking to use this seat as a stepping stone to some higher office, but to be the best representative he can for the people of AD 19.

Brostoff said that he is running for office because the current state of affairs is beyond the pale.  He said that having worked in homeless shelters, he has seen first hand the real impact and the harm being done by the current policies.  Brostoff said that he is motivated by the fact that the state is in an emergency mode and that things are so unhealthy right now.

Brostoff also said that his experience from working in the homeless shelters has also taught him to be as effective as possible with the time that he has, regardless of what the task at hand might be.

Besides taking back the state legislature, Brostoff said his priorities include:

  • Restoring public education, especially in Milwaukee.  Brostoff points out the attacks on public education are unsustainable and he wants the focus to go back to providing a quality education.
  • Restoration of women's rights. Brostoff was very passionate about correcting the wrongs that the current legislature has thrust upon women including the restrictions on women's ability to make their own decisions on what happens to their bodies, the invasiveness of the ultrasound probes and the attack on their rights to safety and to voting.
  • Reversing Act 10, which he called a long term project.
  • Raising the minimum wage and shrinking the wage disparity
  • Non-partisan redistricting.
I pointed out to Brostoff that while he is well known among political circles, and already has compiled an impressive list of endorsements, he doesn't have the same name recognition among the voters that Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic has.  He agreed with this assessment but said that he has worked on many campaigns for the underdog, often with great success.  He said that even though he is the underdog this time, he still plans on using the same approach.  He plans on working long, hard hours; getting out and doing as many events as he can; and doing the all-important shoe campaigning and doing as many doors as he can.

Besides Brostoff's experience as a legislative aide at both the county and state levels and his work in homeless shelters, Brostoff has been on the state board and in the Milwaukee chapter of the ACLU.  

He has been married since September 2012 and has no children yet.  Brostoff and his wife live on Milwaukee's fashionable East Side.

You can learn more about Brostoff by checking out his website, his Facebook page and in this article by Tracey Pollock, writing for Urban Milwaukee, which appeared in November.

I have not decided who I will endorse in this race - or even if I will endorse anyone - but I will say that if Brostoff were to win the seat, the people of AD 19 would not be disappointed with the job he would do representing them.

The Walker Agenda Is Still Working! Part CCVI

Hurrah for Scott Walker's agenda and austerity! They're doing just what one would expect them to do:
Unemployment rates increased in most Wisconsin counties and in 14 of the largest cities in November, including Brown County and Green Bay.

The state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday that rates increased in 53 of 72 counties between October and November. Unemployment also went up in 14 of the 32 largest cities.
Oh, and it gets better. Good old Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele, who has doubled down on Walker's austerity, is making sure that Milwaukee stays on top of the dung heap:
Racine had the highest unemployment rate among cities at 11.2 percent, followed by Milwaukee and Beloit both at 9.4 percent.
The thing that I find really ironic is how the "progressives" who scream about Walker's failures embrace Abele for his same failures. We need to lose these people along with the Teapublicans. Both are as equally harmful to our economic health.

And to add to the grief, they are also cutting out unemployment compensation for about 24,000 Wisconsinites today.

We are going deeper in a crisis mode and our leaders of both parties are sitting on their thumbs.  This is no longer acceptable at all.

Leadership - Abele Style

Recently, WisPolitics.com named Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele as a "rising stock" in leaders in Wisconsin.  But then again, they named Scott Walker as one too, showing that leadership doesn't necessarily connote a positive asset.

One of the most glaring examples of Abele's brand of leadership, which is remarkably similar to that of Walker's, is being brought back to the forefront this coming week.

When the Milwaukee County Board cleaned up Abele's 2013 proposed budget, Abele and his fellow plutocrats in the Greater Milwaukee Committee had the mother of all hissy fits. They bought themselves some Republican state legislators and had them pass a bill that usurped power from the County Board and concentrating it in Abele's inept hands.

You know, because representative government and a system of checks and balances simply isn't efficient.

Obviously the people of Milwaukee County aren't rich like Abele and so doesn't know what's in their best interest.

In this coming week, more of the havoc caused by Abele's temper tantrum will be seen and felt throughout the county as the majority of the County Board's aides and staff are moved out of their jobs, if not laid off outright:
The staff and expense cuts will translate into poorer service to constituents, supervisors said. Response times for fielding complaints will increase and it will be particularly hard to keep people in disadvantaged neighborhoods informed, they said.

The pressure for greater County Board budget cuts will grow in future years, said Supervisor Theo Lipscomb. That's because of the formula written into state law limiting the board's budget to a fraction of 1% of the county property tax levy and the tight limits on increasing the levy, he said.
Not only will it slow response times, but it will also increase the likelihood of problems stemming from Abele's corruption and/or ineptness.

Just this past year, the County Board had to deal with Abele's budget which contained more than $3 million in errors; the Courthouse catching fire due to Abele's deferred maintenance and corner cutting; a full frontal assault on workers' pay and workers' rights; sketchy and possibly illegal bidding processes; and an extraordinarily large amount of staff turnover in Abele's office which he yet has to explain.

You know, come to think of it, it really does make sense why they would credit Abele with having leadership the same way they do with Scott Walker.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Irrefutable Evidence That Chris Moews Would Make A Better Sheriff Than David Clarke

Just about everyone in Milwaukee County knows that there is a three way power struggle going on in county government.

Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele hates the County Board, especially Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic.  Abele also hates Sheriff David Clarke.  His hatred has caused him to usurp power from the County Board and to try to cut the Sheriff's budget and staff to irresponsibly low levels.

At the same time, Clarke has shown his hatred towards the Board and towards Abele by issuing immature, reckless and offensive press releases.

Meanwhile, the County Board has been increasingly forced to be the adults in a room and keeping Abele and Clarke from ruining the county with their ego trips.  For this, Abele and Clarke have only stepped up their assaults and insults.

Obviously, the county would benefit greatly from a new county executive and a new sheriff.

The bad news is that - short of a recall - we are stuck with Abele until 2016.

The good news is that we can rid ourselves of Clarke in 2014.  The better news is we have a very viable and much more qualified candidate in Chris Moews.

Not only would Moews be a more effective law enforcement official, but he could also help the entire county government by being able to work with both Abele and the County Board.

And for proof, look at this picture, courtesy of his campaign's Facebook page:

Yes, I know Abele looks like he just swallowed a live toad, but the fact is Moews got him to pose in the same picture with Dimitrijevic.

You would never get Clarke to pose with either Dimitrijevic or Abele much less both of them at the same time.

A higher level of public safety and less drama in the courthouse are more than enough reason why we need to support Chris Moews for Milwaukee County Sheriff!

The County Emperor Versus Solidarity

Milwaukee County Emperor Chris Abele has a deep disdain for workers of all sorts, but it is county workers that he really likes to take his arrogance out on.

Abele and his staff have spent months poring over spreadsheets, comparing pay scales and benefits between the various job titles and between the various unions.  Abele claimed that they were looking to make things more equitable between job titles and unions.  What Abele didn't tell people that the equity he was looking for involved the lowest common denominator.

Abele's ultimate goal was to break AFSCME - which has been a constant barrier to Abele's plans of running rough shod over the workers and privatizing everything so that he and his fellow plutocrats can make the county into their own cash cow - and then in turn pick off the smaller unions at his leisure.

He used this as an excuse to freeze pay raises for all county raises (except for his own staff of course!).  He also was looking to all but destroy the grievance process, making it a Machiavellian system that was stacked against the workers.

Furthermore, he wanted to make safety and written reprimands as the only grievable issues.  In other words, if the worker got an oral reprimand, they were out of luck.  If one worker was given twice as much as work as the worker who was Abele's crony, the first worker was out of luck.  If management created a hostile work environment, the workers were out of luck.

Under Abele's proposed system, the workers' only choices was to live with the unfair practices, quit their jobs or sue the county.

There was one thing in Abele's way of doing this - the Status Quo Ordinance.

A couple of years ago, the leadership of AFSCME District Council 48 saw what was coming with Act 10 and how it would cut the union off at the knees and throw the county into chaos.  The unions then worked with the Milwaukee County Board and Abele to codify as much of the contract the union had with the county as possible under Act 10.  This would prevent some of the chaos that is happening in other governments and protect the workers as much as possible.

But then Abele changed his mind after realizing that the Status Quo Ordinance would keep him from his corporate takeover of the county assets and hence his plan which he calls "Cross Walk."  It should really be named "Cross Hairs."

Earlier this month, Abele tried to launch his attack by presenting it the County Board's Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee.  The unions had seen this coming and had already been working together and sharing their concerns with Board members.  Thus they drafted a resolution that not only maintained the Status Quo Ordinance, but strengthened it by including the small unions.  Ironically, this also met Abele's stated goal of equity.

Undaunted and unthinking, Abele still had his people present his plan, which got shot down in favor of the immeasurably more preferable resolution.  It didn't help Abele's cause much when Kerry Mitchell, Abele's handpicked Director of Human Resources, insulted the committee members:
Things got testy during the board's finance committee meeting Thursday over a proposed set of work rules that Human Resources Director Kerry Mitchell said she'd been trying in vain to get supervisors to discuss.

"I don't think any of you have any comprehension" how difficult and complex the work rule project was, Mitchell said. She said she could tell supervisors also didn't understand a complicated salary study.

Supervisors said they were insulted by her remarks.

"Maybe I'm just too much of a bumpkin to get it," Cullen said.
The committee voted 9-0 to approve the resolution strengthening the ordinance.

Abele was so upset about again being told no that he had yet another one of his temper tantrums, accusing committee members of ignoring legal advice and breaking the law and said that they should be recalled:
Abele even suggested the board's failure to listen to the advice of county lawyers on those issues could provoke a recall effort against supervisors.

"When your legal adviser tells you this isn't legal and you do that anyway, the word that usually comes to mind is recall," Abele said.
In an exclusive report, I demonstrated that Abele was a bold-faced liar with an email showing that not only did Corp Counsel help write the ordinance and found it legal, but Abele already knew about it:

Click on image to embiggen it
On December 19, the County Board voted on it as a whole.  It passed with a remarkable 18-0 vote.  Even the traditionally anti-union, pro-Abele supervisors voted for this.

The moral of the story is that when people pull together, when we work in true solidarity, we can overcome the big money special interests and thwart their attacks on the people.  The keys are to educate and to organize.

As I keep pointing out time and time again, "The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor." (Quote from Thomas Donahue)

Perhaps it's time we beat this into the Democrats' collective head so that we can take on the Kochs and the Bradley Foundation and their sockpuppet, Scott Walker.

Madison Retains Title of Crony Capitol of the World

As soon as Scott Walker took office in 2011, he started going about the job of thanking all of his cronies and campaign donors by giving them cushy jobs in state government, where they did little more than collect their paycheck.

Nearly three years later, and he's still paying back the favors, with the latest being Lynne Van Hollen, the wife of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen:
Lynne Van Hollen has been named an assistant legal counsel at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Van Hollen, who is married to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, will start January 13, says Joy Staab, director of public affairs for the Department.

Staab says she did not know Van Hollen's salary and would have to check with the Human Relations coordinator who was out of the office Thursday.
As usual for the corporate media, the real story is buried at the bottom of the article:
Ed Wall, the secretary of the Department of Corrections, was one of J.B. Van Hollen's top deputies at the Department of Justice when he was tapped by Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 to head the Department of Corrections.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. This isn't a government anymore, it's a corporate-run syndicate.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fab 14 Antagonist Running For Congress - Campaign Based On Hypocrisy

The gentle reader surely remembers back to the early days of 2011 when the 14 Democratic State Senators left the state in order to buy time for the citizens to come together and stand up for their rights as Scott Walker and his fellow ALEC-sponsored Teapublicans were trying to ram through the infamous Act 10.

The senators, commonly referred to as the Fab 14, had secreted themselves to Illinois for the duration. harassed the senators.  Hale made it very clear that he proudly stood with Fitzwalkerstan's most extreme Teapublicans - Scott Walker and Paul Ryan.
David Hale
RWNJ extraordinaire
 While in Illinois, a group of teahadists from Rockford Illinois led by David Hale, a particularly nutty right wing nut job, tracked down and

Now this goon has decided to run for Congress. But like most Teapublicans, he can't do so without a heaping, steaming pantload of hypocrisy.

One of the things he is criticizing his primary opponent for is taking campaign donations from the operating engineers union* (emphasis his):
According to the website, my opponent has received more than $5,000 dollars from the "Operating Engineers Union" in this 2014 Election Cycle and $10,000 dollars in the 2012 election cycle against Don Manzullo. To most observers $5,000 dollars doesn't seem like much until you compare it to the amount of money in my campaign which is less than $4,000 dollars.

He received that donation from one entity which contributed to his more than $500,000 dollar war chest. Even more striking about this particular donation is who the organization represents. From Open Secrets you can see it is not exactly an organization that represents our best interests as Republicans or Conservatives.

"The International Union of Operating Engineers represents heavy equipment operators, mechanics and surveyors in the construction industry, as well as operations and maintenance workers in building and industrial complexes. The union has more than 400,000 members and is one of the largest unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO. It is a strong supporter of Democrats, as evidenced through its PAC donations."
Hale has a problem with this complaint though. He is contradicting himself on whether the operating engineers union is a good thing or a bad thing.

Clearly, Hale thinks that the fact that his primary opponent took campaign donations from them is bad and should put doubt in the voters' minds on whether his opponent is a true conservative.

But then he should have to explain why he is OK with Paul Ryan taking money from the same union.

Hale would also have to explain why it's not only OK for Scott Walker to take money from this union, but why it was OK for Walker to use them as political props as evidenced in this stomach-turning photo from Walker's State of the State speech early in 2013:

Image courtesy of blue cheddar
Hale should have to explain his apparent hypocrisy.  But then again, part of being a teahadist is not having to explain those things. It's just part of their nature.

*The fact that the operating engineers union is stabbing themselves - and the rest of the state - in the back is a matter for a whole other discussion.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Don't Worry About Think Tanks - They're Meaningless!

By Jeff Simpson

I just had the unfortunate experience of stumbling upon this article by VeraSage Institute - "revolutionary" Think Tank Found Ron Baker:

Don't Worry About the Trade Deficit––It's Meaningless

This is what Adam Smith meant when he wrote, “Nothing can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade.”
The gains from trade are what we import, not export. The purpose of production, in the final analysis, is consumption. The more imports we can acquire for fewer exports, the wealthier we are, either as individuals or as a country.
Other countries face the same realities, and we are no more likely to obtain the goods and services we desire by trading pieces of green paper with other nations than we are to send letters to the North Pole and get gifts from Santa Claus.
Being a creditor or debtor nation simply has no correlation with a country’s standard of living.
First, let's take a look at the "trade deficit":

1. What exactly is the trade deficit?
The U.S. trade deficit we read about most often is only one of several different trade balances reported in official statistics. It’s the merchandise trade deficit, which is actually the narrowest overall measure of America’s transactions with other countries. Thus, it can’t tell the whole story of our trade position with the rest of the world.
The merchandise trade balance, also called the bal­ance on goods trade, is the difference between the total dollar value of U.S. exports of tangible goods (like wheat and turbines) and the total dollar value of U.S. imports of tangi­ble goods (like t-shirts and auto parts) over a specific month, quarter, or year. When imports of tangibles are greater than exports of tangibles, then the trade balance is negative, and there’s a deficit.
How are we doing? Not so well:

Components of the Current-Account (300)   

What does that mean to the US

There are roughly 5.1 million fewer American manufacturing jobs now than at the start of 2001. And China is to blame for more than one-third of that loss, says a new report.
[See why temp workers are making big job gains.]
The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning economic think tank in Washington, D.C., estimates that America. lost 2.7 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit between 2001 and 2011, 2.1 million of them in manufacturing. Wages of American workers have also suffered due to the competition with cheap Chinese labor, EPI says. A typical two-earner household loses around $2,500 per year from this dynamic.
So when someone ties to tell us that the trade deficit has no "correlation with a country’s standard of living" - 2,700,000 unemployed Americans would beg to differ. 

But WAIT, there's more!  Leading economists, Jared Bernstein and (my favorite) Dean Baker teamed up to put this myth to bed recently:

Simply put, lowering the budget deficit right now leads to slower growth. But reducing the trade deficit would have the opposite effect. Not only that, but by increasing growth and getting more people back to work in higher-than-average value-added jobs, a lower trade deficit would itself help to reduce the budget deficit.
Running a trade deficit means that income generated in the United States is being spent elsewhere. In that situation, labor demand — jobs to produce imported goods — shifts from here to there.
When we run a trade deficit, as we have since 1976, we are spending more than we are producing. When that happens, the national savings rate goes into the red. Either private savings (by households and businesses) or government savings, or both, must be negative.
Private savings are usually near zero, with companies net borrowers and households net lenders. The exceptions came during the stock and housing bubbles, when bubble-generated wealth caused household consumption to soar and savings to drop. The housing bubble also led to a surge in home building.
That rise in investment, coupled with the fall in savings, filled the gap in demand created by the trade deficit. But after the housing bubble burst, consumption fell back to more normal levels and construction tanked as a result of overbuilding. The government stepped up and at least partially filled the gap in demand, leading to large negative savings in the public sector, or budget deficits.
In other words, we’ve been bouncing from investment bubble to deficit spending to offset the income that is being drained out of the economy by trade deficits. And now, with the bubble behind us and politicians obsessively focused on lowering the budget deficit, we’ve lost our offsets. Meanwhile, the trade deficit remains a hefty 3 percent of gross domestic product, about $500 billion a year.

How do we fix it?  Bernstein/Baker offer these suggestions:

 First, we could pass legislation that gave the government the right to treat currency management as a violation of international trading rules, leading to offsetting tariffs.
We could also tax foreign holdings of United States Treasuries, making the usual tactic of currency managers more expensive. And we could institute reciprocity into the process of currency management: If a country wants to buy our Treasuries, we must be able to buy theirs (which is not always the case now).
The Obama administration, however, has not taken such measures, preferring instead to try to meet its goal of doubling exports by 2015. But there’s a key word missing from that formulation: “net.”
If you asked me how my basketball team did last night, and I told you, “Great — they scored 92 points!” you’d presumably want to know how many points the other team scored. Unless we’re targeting net exports, or exports minus imports, we’re not in the game.
The administration has other helpful measures in play, including tax credits to incentivize domestic production. But unless we’re willing to go after exchange rates — the value of our currency relative to that of our trading partners — we will not be able to significantly lower the trade deficit.
The impact of doing so would be striking. Suppose the reduction in the value of the dollar cut the trade deficit by two percentage points of G.D.P. This would directly create close to 2.8 million jobs, a disproportionate number of which would be relatively high-paying manufacturing jobs. And that’s not counting the fact that a factory job has a high multiplier effect, creating more work in other sectors to support it.

I would offer another suggestion.  Ship leading free market "think tank" founders(like Ron Baker), over to China and make sure they have a hand in setting THEIR Foreign trade policy.  We could reduce our trade deficit and get people working again immediately!  

As Bernstein and Baker said, Scott Paul also points out "currency manipulation" has to end!   ASAP!  


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for all of our readers, whether you like us or not! :)

Thanks for all of the comments, shares, criticisms and compliments!

Looking forward to everyone joining us on the 2014 election year ride, where we take back our state!