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.