Thursday, June 30, 2011

Heard on the Radio

I was listening to Randi Rhodes today and she's a liberal but like myself she was railing against the handouts that go to big business and the wealthy. Everyone is concerned about giving money to the poor and the unemployed but if you tell government you're going to open a factory and the government says "how much do you want". It's ridiculous! Give me $1 million dollars and I'll go into business. But us little guys can't get deals like that. In Wisconsin look at the money that was thrown at Mercury, GM (went under anyway), Chrysler (closed the plant), Talgo (moving), and this is the short list. That is our money that went to pick winners and they missed on a few occasions.

The President Blows it on the Debt Limit

The President gave a press conference yesterday where he was getting close to being on track but in the end he failed again. As I see there are 2 choices in dealing with these Republicans (keep in mind that these guys voted to raise the debt limit many times but now they are not going raise it), first is he could just agree and let the country go into default and take the country back to 1929 when we had much less of a social safety net than we have today. Just maybe when there are people on the streets because they don't have anything we can finally have an adult discussion about how the economy should work. His other choice is to walk into congress with $300 billion in budget cuts. Where is going to get that? Shut down the wars and bring the troops home. Cut the military force by 50%. Redeploy the navy to US coastal ports. Cut the defense budget by about 50%. Cut funding for all new weapons systems. Force the Republicans to vote on that. The country will not be left defenseless. We can cut our military 50% and still have more military than most countries, especially the ones that we are likely to go to war with.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michelle Bachmann and Farming

Now Michelle Bachmann is backing away from any ownership of a farm in Wisconsin. I would think that anyone running for President, especially as a Republican would play up their roots as farmer. Aren't farmers the kind of conservative, family values, rugged, independent, individuals that the Republicans count as their own? Yes, farmers get subsidies. She should be up front about it. Say something like "I do oppose these subsidies but I'm not going to turn them down" or she could admit that the image of the farmers is not what the general population has. Family farms don't exist without subsidies whether it is price supports, crp payments, government purchases, disaster payments, or planting regulations farmers get government money and then complain about government payments to others. The press just never talks about how much government money farmers are getting.

Mineral Point/ Junction Road Update

Once again the Mineral Point/ Junction Road/ County M intersection shows a lack on planning among the government entities involved. The current plan is to rebuild the intersection resulting in the elimination of the building that houses Steve's Liquor. The reality is that there is just not enough space that doesn't have buildings on it to solve the problem. What to do about this problem. Well some government body approved the building of a cell phone store on the East side of the intersection. This makes absolutely no sense for a number of reasons. First it will narrow the area that can be used to reconstruct this intersect without the demolition of a brand new building. Second why do they need a new building? There are plenty of vacant retail locations available on Madison's Westside. It is really quite astonishing that there is so little thought about the increased traffic that will use the intersection especially just weeks after the controversial rebuild plan was announced.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Justice Prosser

After winning a tight election to the supreme court, Justice Prosser has allegedly assaulted a fellow judge. People are calling for his resignation, that is not going to happen. He could be impeached, again not likely. He has lost the support of the Governor (a little bit) who would appoint the replacement (pressure on the Justice might work). It looks like we will be stuck with the Justice for the foreseeable future.

The Recalls

I was asked over the weekend why I don't have a recall Walker bumper sticker. My response has shocked many. I believe that recalls should be rare and that they should be for someone who has done something that rises to the potential of being illegal. So, I don't agree with these recalls. The Republicans campaigned on the agenda that has caused people to be upset with them. The time for a recall was the last election. I had several people comment that they didn't think that would pass everything or that they didn't know what they were going to do. Jefferson described the dangers of an uninformed electorate, I think that we are finally seeing that electorate. This is a fact that is shown in the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) civic literacy quiz. The quiz results are bad even among groups who should know better (elected officials).

Since we are going to have the recalls I will vote in them, all the while disagreeing that they should take place.


Michelle Bachmann says that she didn't benefit from $30,000 in State and Federal money to her husbands clinic or in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money to her father in laws farm (she is a partner). This defies logic. The State money was used to train employees. Come on Michelle you are supposed to be a business woman. Great the money was used to train employees, or stated another way it was $30,000 that you didn't have to spend. How is this not a personal benefit? With the farm she reported income. She can say that it went to her in laws , but without these subsidies would the farm have been profitable enough to have paid her income? It is unlikely. She would end such programs. I agree that we should end farm subsidies and set price by public trading. Such a program will no doubt lower farm income and quite possibly the price of food. That is what farm subsidies do, the artificially increase the price of farm commodities. Michelle Bachmann really needs to study the issues of what government pays for.

On another note she has interest in a farm in Wisconsin yet has never mentioned the unfair nature of the Eau Claire rule in setting (government) milk prices.

Also, isn't ironic that the person most opposed to health reform owns a clinic?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spending Proposal

The spending proposal to limit spending to 18% of the GDP is a good one. The problems with this proposal however are numerous.

1. Spending hasn't been at such a level since before WWII.
2. The promoters of this bill are the same people who helped get us here in the first place.
3. It would prohibit spending more even in times of crisis like what we are in right now.

Tim Pawlenty at the Debate

There was just so much quotable material from the Republican debate the other night but this one from Tim Pawlenty stands out. When asked about people born here and citizenship he responded by saying that there is nothing in the Constitution that says that you are a citizen just because you are born here. Unfortunately for Mr. Pawlenty that is exactly what the Constitution says. By his reasoning only the people who obtain citizenship are citizens (they had to more than just be born here). I'm waiting for the mis-spoke explaination. Maybe he just meant brown people from Central and South America couldn't be citizens if born here. I'm pretty sure that my ancestors started families here before they were naturalized citizens, so what does that make my Great Grandfather, and anchor baby?

Obama is being sued

This is a case that I agree with, although it is for the most part being pursued by people had no problem allowing other Presidents to do the same thing. Notable exceptions: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. And these same Republicans were all over the TV before we went into Libya saying that the President needed to act. So, when he does they are all upset that they didn't get a chance to vote. The good thing about the suit is that it might keep us from committing ground forces to Libya so that we can maintain our current 2 war posture.


I overheard in response to Chancellor Martin's announcement (who I thought was an excellent chancellor) the following. Maybe we should get someone without a degree like the Governor and many of his cabinet people because they understand the real world. To which someone responded "I seem to remember when you were all upset that people without degrees in our organization were being paid more than you". My response was that it is a little different when you are talking about people that you agree with in terms of qualifications. I do agree that a degree is not the end all be all but I do think that if you are in a high level position in government that you can benefit from having a broader education about the state, the country, and the world and how they interact and operate. And, maybe a little economics about how companies expand when they need to meet demand, they don't expand because they have money laying around.

Personally I'm hopeful that we hire a chancellor with only a BS so that I can apply.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Ruling

A very interesting if not unexpected ruling was handed down late yesterday. What the court essentially said was due to separation of powers we have no jurisdiction over the legislature when questions of their rules come up. Historically the courts have said that they have the ability to review all laws, but not in Wisconsin anymore. Basically what the court said is that the legislature was being accused of violating their own rules and that it was up to the legislature to enforce their rules. This is so cool, I can't wait until we get a legislature comprised of people who the 4 don't agree with and try to do the same thing. Does anyone seriously believe that this court will hand down the same ruling? I doubt it the 4 in the majority have shown that they are nothing but party loyalists. Remember when Justice Crooks was considered the conservative on the court, he wrote a separate dissent on this case.

As a post script the unions have filed Federal cases, I guess they just want to see what a 5-4 US Supreme Court decision looks like.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The President's Economic Team

Great letter to the editor today explaining why it is a good thing that Obama's economic team is going back to academia because they were out of touch with how real economics works. Really! Most of Obama's team was pretty conservative. Larry Summers former head of the world bank and from the Chicago School as a liberal laughable. If Obama were to follow a liberal economic policy you would want Reich and Krugman. Those guys weren't called and they disagree frequently with the President's policies. Instead the President has chosen to be Bush lite on economics. He has followed the Bush policies of giving the store away to the wealthy and big business with hope that they might throw a little bit back to us. His replacement picks will be telling, I'm not holding my breath. All we need to do is look at South America to see the future of following the policies advocated by the republicans and their Chicago trained economists.

Bike License Plates

A recent letter in the State Journal suggested that bikes be licensed so their traffic violations can be called into the police by the law abiding (this being Madison if you are in a car when the light turns red that means 3 more can go) car driving public. This is a great idea and I think that we have enough people in the Legislature who would support such a measure that we could get it done. The bike riding community should also be for such a measure. They should support it because overnight they would become in terms of numbers the largest users of the road system in the state as document through the sale of licenses. I would think that fact should entitle the bikes as the largest user group of the road system more say in how transportation funds are spent. It should also entitle them to a little more law enforcement on the law abiding drivers who have declared open season on cyclists, through their intimidating driving actions and hit and run accidents. There continues to be riders getting hit and very little if any charges filed.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Real Paul Ryan

I like many have wondered what would have prompted Paul Ryan to come up with his budget proposal that begins to undo 70 years of social welfare programs. Was he from a rich family that despised any handout that didn't go to them? It turns out that he wasn't. It turns out that Paul Ryan owes an awful lot to the United States Government and the US taxpayer. It turns out that his family collected social security survivor benefits. It turns out that the US taxpayer funded his college education. I'm sure that he was treated under medicaid. May have even collected food stamps, but unlike say the President (similar situation) who would leave the safety net Congressman Ryan says no I got mine. What Paul Ryan should do is write a big check to the US taxpayer for everything that they did for him plus interest. While the Congressman was enjoying his subsidized college years some of us were working, paying taxes, and covering our own college expenses. I can relate to the sentiment of doing away with all of these handouts because I have never gotten one but maybe we should recover money from the people who these programs helped.

New From the Republicans

A proposal has been put forward in the legislature to increase venture capital in the State of Wisconsin. Hmmm, how are they going to encourage that? They are going to do it by giving $200 million dollars to venture capital firms, mostly out of state companies, and having them invest. I agree with Glenn Grothman (R) who called it a scam. The investment banks (who did you think) will do ok, a few of the businesses that they picked will do ok, and the taxpayers might end up holding the bag. What happened to the "government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers"? Oh, that's right a private company is going to actually pick the winners and losers. The government is only going to pick the winning investment bank. This is going to be pure cronyism, currently there is money available for loans but many businesses have been unable to get loans. It all depends on who you know, as it always does.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tim Pawlenty What Happened?

Tim Pawlenty went from being dull to being crazy overnight. Gov. Pawlenty has introduced his economic plan and it makes the Ryan plan look reasonable. He would change Medicare immediately, he would eliminate capital gains taxes, he would lower the top tax rate to 25%, he would deregulate business more, and he would privatize all functions of government except the military. The theory is that if the wealthy just had more money they would finally create jobs. His plan would cost $7.8 trillion dollars over 10 years. This plan does nothing to increase demand for goods or spending which is what drives this economy. The rich cannot possibly spend enough of their money to keep the economy afloat. Until we get more money into the hands of more people this economy will stagnate.

Broadband Changes

The legislature in their infinite wisdom has voted that allowing the University of Wisconsin to extend their computer network throughout the State using Federal money will somehow harm the telecommunications industry and must be stopped. There is this belief among the Republicans that if the private sector can do something not only should they do it but they will and at a affordable price. Well, broadband is sort of like rural electrification. The companies are looking at the cost of extending fiber optic line across miles and miles of land which has no customers. It is just not going to happen and is not happening. This is where the idea to extend the network came from. People who live in rural areas (some not far from Madison) and smaller towns are unable to get high speed internet access which is important for education and businesses to create jobs. This is just another of the many laws recently passed that I don't understand. Providing lower cost internet to the rural parts of the State makes sense to me.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rick Santorum is In

Rick Santorum is running for President. He was on with George Stephanopoulos and said the most incredible thing about Medicare. He faulted Paul Ryan for not going far enough. Then he proceeded to state that about 25% of Medicare recipients are currently in Medicare Advantage which is the same plan as the Ryan plan. He then went on the say that the primary takers of the program are the less educated and poorer retirees because they recognize that it is a good. This has to be a mis-statement. Some people would say that these are the people who are likely taken advantage of. In fact, he failed to mention that Medicare Advantage costs more, covers less, and people generally don't like it, which kind of indicates that they were taken advantage of. Again it fits in with the less education and less wealth.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


The letter writer said that the walkerville residents should change the name to Obamaville, or Unionville because it is their policies that have allowed them to be unemployed and have time to protest. Really! What misguided nonsense. Who drove the economy into the ditch. George Bush and a Republican Congress. They pursued a policy of tax cuts and deregulation of business and what did we get out of the deal. The top 2% got all of the money and left a banking, housing, and manufacturing sector in shambles. The answer from Scott Walker and the Republicans nationwide is that we need to do more of the same. We just didn't deregulate enough or cut taxes enough. I think that with the 10 years of tax cuts we should be in the biggest boom economy ever, but we are not. Why is that? It is really pretty simple, we could make the taxes on everyone zero and it wouldn't help the economy out at all because there is simply no demand. Revenues to Governments are down because we have cut taxes and the economy has not recovered. So, here Scott Walker is right we must cut back on expenses. But his cuts are to education, health care, taxes, and the environment in exchange for the exact kind of jobs that he and other Republicans have criticized the President for creating or funding as being unsustainable. Unfortunately we live in an economy that is predicated on spending money and right now only 2% of the population has the kind of money available to spend and they can't possibly spend enough to support the other 98% nor do they need to. This leaves the spender of last resort the US Government. The plan to fund infrastructure will create jobs and those people will spend money. The plan to build a 21st century transportation system will create jobs and allow for a more mobile workforce in the future. Right now we are funding these kinds of projects in Iraq and Afghanistan which doesn't create jobs here. In fact I just saw that Iraq is building renewable energy systems. We can't fund that here, instead we give tax breaks to companies who are making billions of dollars if they will drill holes in the ground. If we are going to change the name of Walkerville it should be to Republicanville.

The Bumper Sticker Said OOPs

The bumper sticker on the car in front of me said OOPS with the O's being the Obama campaign symbol. I for one don't understand the kind of strong opposition to President Obama. These same people would counter by remembering the opposition to President Bush. There was a big difference. Starting with Bush's election amid what appeared to be multiple cases of election fraud. Then he wrote and passed the patriot act. Then he became the first president in history to launch a pre-emptive war. Then he presided over 2 disastrous occupations (not the occupier in chief). Then he oversaw the distruction of the US economy. He spent as much as Obama on the economy except the lion share of the Bush expenditures went to the people who caused the mess to happen rather than to the people who were screwed out of house and home by these people. And where would we be in John McCain had won? McCain said that he had a plan to fix the economy, I can understand keeping it a secret during the campaign, but where is it? McCain said that he knew how to get Bin Laden, but he doesn't appear to have helped the President get Bin Laden. He said that he could end the wars, where is that plan, other than advocating for more wars and giving the President additional power with which to start future wars? No, I'm afraid that the President has not gotten as much done as I had hoped for but the alternative from the Republicans is to do pursue policies that do even more of what caused the economy to collapse and unravel the social safety net. They are truly disappointed that we don't have tent cities and people on the street. Their desire is to take the country back to 1929. Look up what it was like to be out of work, retired, poor, been a victim of bank failure, been a victim of fraud, ... in 1929 and tell me that is the kind of country we need to have today.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On the Road with Sarah

As candidate (personality) Sarah continues her vacation in the East she continues to mangle the Nation's history. Her latest gaff is on the ride of Paul Revere. Her telling is that he was warning the British that they were not going to come and get our guns but we were going to be free. Not exactly, he was riding to warn the colonists that the British were coming not to get your guns but to put down an armed rebellion and they were serious about it. This revisionist thinking that everything was about the right to be armed is non-sense. The revolutionary war is much more complex than that. Some colonists were angry that they weren't represented in the House of Commons, some were angry that the taxes were too high, and still others were angry that they were not making enough money in their businesses. The gun right didn't come until later and because they wrote 3 clauses into the amendment it has been hotly debated ever since. It says as we all know " A well regulated militia as being essential for the protection of the nation. The right to keep and bear arms. Shall not be infringed." The strict constructionists out there (Sarah) focus on the right to keep and bear arms. They don't talk much about the well regulated militia very much or the infringement. We have passed some type of concealed carry in nearly every State. But, nearly all of those require some type of license and or training. That is an infringement. Not talked about much by the NRA or the right wing. No one is out there saying that you need to be a member of a well regulated militia. Well regulated implies Government run and we know that Government is the problem. If not Government who has the power to regulate? The founders were not anarchists. They were businessmen, scholars (elitists), and farmers who recognized that Government played a role in regulating (leveling the playing field) and governing in order to maintain a civil society. This would be at odds with our current leadership which ignores the general welfare clause of the Constitution in favor of removing the safety net so that desperate people are on the streets. That scenario has not worked out well in history.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sarah Palin

Sarah has kicked off her nationwide vacation (to call it a tour would imply a schedule) by riding in a Harley parade. In her statement at the parade she channeled Robert Duval with her comments about how she likes the smell of the emissions. Some have said that she used emission as a slam to the liberal elite, I think that she was searching for something that would be remembered like Duval in Apocalypse Now. "Smell that,...that gasoline smell it smells like victory, I love the smell of napalm in the morning".

Wisconsin Voter ID and the Proof of Citizenship

The Wisconsin Legislature (Republicans) just passed the voter ID bill and a proof of citizenship during a traffic stop is working it's way through. On the surface these sound great. We don't want people who shouldn't be voting, voting. We also don't want people voting in the wrong area. You could change the outcome of the election, if for example a bunch of people from Madison decided that they wanted to vote against Rep. Nass they could go to Whitewater and vote against him. Same thing with the proof of citizenship, we don't want illegal immigrants working or driving cars. The problem with both of these bills they won't solve these problems. For voter ID they will accept a driver's license. The problem is that there are a lot of people who have driver's licenses who legally cannot vote. For example: convicted felons (you lose the right to vote permanently) , foreign nationals who are legal residents, and finally some illegal immigrants. The same problem applies to citizenship. Having a drivers license is not proof. Only a passport is proof of citizenship because it is issued by the State Department and is presumably difficult to forge.

I believe that if you really want to do voter ID you need to come up with a State issued ID for everyone who can legally vote with a renewal of every 2 years so that a reasonable attempt can be made to catch the people whose voter status may have changed. For the proof of citizenship require everyone to carry a passport.