Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Workers Memorial Day 2020

Today, April 28th, is Workers Memorial Day, a day used to honor, remember and commemorate people who have died from work place accidents and/or illnesses.

This year, today is significantly more poignant with the coronavirus pandemic that has almost every state and almost every country in some state of lockdown.  Countless lives have been lost due to our political leaders failing to identify and properly address the pandemic in a timely manner.  More lives have been lost, such as Italy's Lombardy, due to businesses being more worried about their bottom lines than their workers' lives.

To commemorate today, people are being asked to take a moment of silence at noon.

Then at 5:30 pm, we are invited to join the Milwaukee Area Labor Council for a virtual commemoration that will include videos, stories and a reading of the names of those were killed on the job during the last year.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg Attacked By Anti-Semites. But She's Not Jewish.

Meet Katie Rosenberg, the newly elected mayor to Wausau, Wisconsin. Rosenberg, a lifelong Democrat, beat the Republican incumbent, Robert Mielke by a solid 5%. She became an instant internet sensation with her simple two word tweet when the results were finalized:

But her friends and the people of Wausau know her better for her iconic peace sign she flashes as readily as she flashes her contagious smile. She also ran one of the cleanest, most positive campaigns that I have seen in Wisconsin in a long time, which is not surprising for someone like her.

I've been cyber friends with Rosenberg for a many years, even before she entered politics and became a Marathon County Supervisor, and always found her to be direct, honest and thoughtful. I have always enjoyed our chats and gained insights from her that I hadn't thought of before.

Unfortunately, not even the charming community of Wausau is immune to the hate and bigotry that has become all too prevalent in our society. Rosenberg has been the victim of uncounted misogynistic attacks. She has also been repeatedly been the target for anti-Semitic attacks as well:
Rosenberg had plenty of examples.

“The majority of it is online via Twitter or Facebook. It’s usually name-calling (I am sure you know all the anti-Semitic names) and I block or delete them,” she said in a Twitter direct message exchange. “Last summer I had some guy (obviously drunk) come up to me and tell me that I was trying to ‘Jew’ him.”

The experience was not new to her family.

“Growing up my dad was on our local city council and we received tons of mail addressed to ‘Jimmy RosenJew.’ I only received one letter like that,” she said, attaching a photo of a pile of hate and hoax mail her father got.
But there's a catch. Rosenberg isn't Jewish:
Despite her last name, Rosenberg isn’t Jewish — we asked her about it.

“Any Jewish heritage I might have was lost a looooong time ago, before my family left Europe,” she said in a private exchange with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Twitter. “I don’t know the story, unfortunately.”

But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had some quintessentially Jewish experiences, which she explained in a manner that was consistent with the in-your-face attitude in her victory tweet.

“A lot of people assume I am Jewish and I don’t see any reason to correct them because a lot of it comes in the form of anti-Semitism,” she said.
Given that Rosenberg is only 36 years old, Wausau has a long, bright future ahead of it. And with the election of William Harris, the first African American to serve on the Marathon County Board, that entire region is a breath of fresh air in the general miasma of Wisconsin politics today.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Did Republican Sh*tshow Elections Cause Uptick In COVID-19 Cases?

Image courtesy of Crooks and Liars
As the gentle reader is aware, Wisconsin Republicans were hoping to suppress the vote in the spring elections by forcing it to be held last Tuesday, during a pandemic, in spite of the advice of health experts and common sense. They were hoping to keep as many people from voting as they could so that they could keep the Scott Walker appointed Dan Kelly on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

And what a shitshow it was!

In Milwaukee, instead of the customary 180+ polling stations, there were only five. There were so many demands for absentee/mail in ballots that many counties ran out. Hundreds of thousands of people never received them because county clerks were overwhelmed. To make matters worse, the post office managed to not deliver hundreds of ballots. The people denied their ballots ended up risking their health and lives as well as the health and lives of their family to exercise their right to vote. People stood in line for up to two and a half hours, sometimes in pouring rain or hail, for the opportunity to vote.

Pretty much, the sentimentality of the voters were the same:

Despite the Republicans best efforts to suppress the vote, it was a massive turnout by Democrats - much higher than for the past few years. Their cherished Kelly lost to the challenger, Jill Karofsky. In a delicious irony, the Republicans immediately started mewling that the election had been rigged. No, really.

Unfortunately, we are now starting to see the other results of that poor decision to force the elections. While Wisconsin was starting to see a flattening of the curve and it looked like things were going to be better than expected, there is a new uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Here are the state numbers on April 14, one week after the election:

And here are the numbers from the very next day:

As the gentle reader can see, there was a jump of almost 170 confirmed cases. While that is low compared to hard hit areas like New York, it is significantly higher than the average daily increase in new cases in Wisconsin as the curve was starting to plateau.

I'll admit that one day does not mean a trend, but it apparently was enough to cause Governor Evers to extend the "safer at home" order for another month, until May 26. Of course, the Republicans are in such denial that they refuse to see the cause and effect of their piss poor decision making. They, like so many others around the country, are pushing to lift all the restrictions because of MONEY!! The Republicans still can't fathom that dead people don't work and don't help keep the economy going.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Robin And Michelle Vos: The Most Dysfunctional People In Wisconsin

By now, just about everyone and their uncle caught the video of Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the Assembly, who was a driving force Tuesday's shitshow of an election, making a fool of himself by telling people that it was perfectly safe to come out to vote in Tuesday's elections in Wisconsin while he is bedecked in full PPE, including gloves, facemask, goggles and a full length hospital gown. What a lot of people missed is that Vos was an "Election Inspector" in a drive-thru polling station in the small city of Burlington with a population of 10,000. This means that while other workers, who were not nearly as protected as Vos, would go up to the cars to get the person's Voter ID and signature and run them to Vos who entered them into the computer to verify them. Vos had absolutely zero contact with any members of the public.

Also missing was the whole clip, included in this tweet, which showed Vos explaining that if people applied for an absentee (mail in) ballot but hadn't received it, they could just email the clerk's office and have one emailed back to them:
However, this advise was completely false, as reported by PolitiFact when another person gave the same misinformation:
"He was wrong," Magney said.

And later in the day, so was state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who made a nearly identical claim to a reporter while working as an election inspector.

His staff later admitted the error. Spokeswoman Kit Beyer confirmed Vos was mistaken, saying the elections commission "had guidance recently on that fact, which staff hadn’t briefed him on."
Vos' third (or is fourth now?) wife, Robin Litgens Vos, did no better. She was also an election inspector in the small village of Rochester, Wisconsin, a population of 3,600 people. She posted on Facebook that is was perfectly safe to vote, but as Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pointed out, there were no voters there:
But what can you expect from a woman who, while a state representative herself, abandoned her husband and children to have an adulterous affair with Vos?

Nor was this Litjens Vos' first foray into the realm of the super stupid. In March, she also shared her opinion that the reactions to COVID-19 were "way overblown:"
Michelle Litjens Vos, a conservative pundit and former state lawmaker, called the country's coronavirus prevention and mitigation efforts an overreaction in a series of posts on her personal Facebook page.

"I want to go on record and say we could be unnecessarily destroying our economy," she wrote.

"COVID IS NOT AIRBORNE (droplets yes, airborne no)," she wrote. "My GOD we're over reacting."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that respiratory droplets — "produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks" — can carry the disease from person to person.

A New England Journal of Medicine study found that the virus could remain suspended in air between a half-hour and up to three hours,


In another post, Vos wrote, "Yes people will die of this. It just isn't worth shutting down our whole economy - except grocery stores. In my opinion."
I wonder if these two asshats even realize they already have blood on their hands from all the people that will die from forcing the elections yesterday.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Republicans to Wisconsin: You Vote, You Die!

Like many other states, Wisconsin's elected leaders were befuddled about what to do, if anything, regarding the general spring elections and presidential primary, which is scheduled for tomorrow, April 7. However, thanks to the Republican-controlled legislature, the election has become a full-fledged clusterfuck.

Weeks ago, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, started pushing for the election to be held as scheduled but asked for the Republicans to change the law to allow it to be all done with mail-in ballots.

The Republicans refused, stating that they didn't wan't think that COVID-19 was all that contagious. Despite the Republicans official stance, officials and politicians of both parties started pushing for voters to request an absentee ballot. The system became overwhelmed with more than a million people asking for their mail-in ballots, and counties ran out of ballots, creating a backlog where several people have not received their ballots weeks after making the request. (My wife and I made our requests early on and have already returned the completed ballots.)

In the meantime, the County Clerks for both Milwaukee and Dane Counties, in an effort to make voting even safer, ruled that people didn't need to have a witness sign the ballots. Predictably, the Republicans had a meltdown about this because both counties are Democratic strongholds and sued to stop this. After a series of hearings, it was decided that the witness signature was indeed needed but they had an extra week to return the ballots.

Rather belatedly, Evers called for a special session for the state legislature, scheduled for this past Saturday so that the Republicans could postpone the election date. The Republicans, led by Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos and Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald, gaveled in and immediately gaveled out of session, postponing any decision to Monday, the day before the elections. On Monday, the refused to postpone the elections. They'd rather needlessly expose poll workers and voters to the COVID-19 virus rather than allow people the ability to safely exercise their right to democracy.

Following the Republicans absolute refusal to do their jobs, Evers issued an Executive Order postponing the in-person voting until June 9, citing the health risk of having it as scheduled while confirmed COVID-19 cases are spiking.

Guess what the Republicans did? Yup, they had another temper tantrum and immediately started to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court, saying that Evers didn't have the authority to issue such an order. Again, because this cannot be overemphasized, the Republicans are saying that they would rather see democracy and voters die rather than be adults about the whole thing.

Even if Evers' order stands, it presents a new set of issues, since many of the races in the general election were local races and the winners were to be seated later this month or in early May. Again, this is an issue that could have been resolved if the Republicans chose to do their jobs instead of turning their grandstanding into a shitshow.

All that said, the Republicans haven't been just sitting on their butts but are concerned about things that are more important to them, such as lifting the ban on many non-essential business because MONEY. At the same time, they want Evers to open up the golf courses and attend Easter and Passover services, because nothing says fellowship like contaminating each other with a potentially deadly virus.

And of course, while they want all these things to get opened, the Republicans also want Planned Parenthood to be classified as non-essential and the clinics closed. In other words, golfing is a necessity in life, but women's healthcare is just a trivial nicety.

I certainly hope that the voters will remember all this when the spring elections are held as well as in November, when we get to decide which is more important - our very lives or their political careers.

ADDENDUM: The Republican controlled State Supreme Court just issued a possible death sentence for Wisconsin voters, the rat bastards that they are.