Gov. Walker believes in freedom from government, except for unions

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker would have people believe he is a large thinker.  A doer in state government that gets things done. He believes people should be free from government interference, unless of course you belong to a union, then he believes his “mandate” as an elected official is to interfer with and dismantle the structure of unions.

But he doesn’t say this on the campaign trail. As The Washington Post’s columnist Dana Milbank states in a recent column following Walker speaking to the  American Legislative Exchange Council, which by the way is underwritten by the Koch brothers.

Milbank writes: “The bulk of Walker’s stump speech to the Koch-brothers-financed ALEC was about how his “big, bold reforms took the power out of the hands of big government special interests” — namely, unions. Left unmentioned: how his big, bold reforms produced only half the number of jobs he promised, and resulted in delayed debt payments and deep cuts to education to overcome a budget deficit.

Walker, describing the bargain shopping he does at Kohl’s department store, said he would do the same with taxes. Arguing that “few people could afford” high tax rates, he proposed that “we can lower the rates, broaden the base, and increase the value of people participating in our economy. Years ago, a plan like that worked pretty well . . . We called it the Laffer Curve back then. Today, I call it the Kohl’s curve.”

It was a zany analogy. Kohl’s offers discounted merchandise for middle and low-income consumers. The Laffer curve, as the basis for supply-side economics, meant huge tax breaks for the rich that never trickled down.

But deception is the demagogue’s tool. Walker spoke Thursday about “the death threats not just against me and my family but against our lawmakers,” and about the nails put in the driveway of one lawmaker to puncture his tires. Such behavior is beyond the pale — though hardly unique to Walker’s opponents. And some of Walker’s claims — including the alleged threat to “gut” his wife “like a deer” and of protesters “beating” and “rocking” a car he was in — could not be substantiated by independent authorities.

 

Such deception, however, is only in the service of the larger deceit at the core of his candidacy: By scapegoating toothless trade unions as powerful and malign interests, he enlists working people in his cause of aiding the rich and the strong.”

But it is interesting to note that Walker never talks about those other powerful government special interests, namely lobbyists for large corporations.  The tax subsidies that many of which still exist, even though these are large international corporations now.

He like so many other ill-advised Republicans still believe in the trickle-down effect. And crudely, the trickle down involved is generally waste from the top, with little or no sustainable nutrients for those below.

Unions, like other organizations, can have some bad apples and make bad choices. But the groups protect many workers and help procure basic needs beyond salaries. And if and when the “other 49%” when up and understand that by their involvement, unions are indeed beneficial. And like government, it takes its citizens participation to make it vibrant and effective.

The hubris and other distorted views expressed by Gov. Walker will continue, and hopefully people will wake up to see him for what he is, an elected special interest procurer for those with money.

 

Gov. Scott Walker works in the dark

This story has already played itself out. The legislation submitted by the Wisconsin state Republican party was dropped. Gov. Scott Walker’s team denies any participation. Just like when he said he wouldn’t pursue a right to work law in Wisconsin, he signed it.

So Walker’s statements are at best disingenuous. The Republican state party submitted a bill that would effectively hidden all goings on from the public and the media watchdogs that involved any publicly elected official spending any public money from the taxpayers.

This proposal for limiting public access to records bill would limit access, as described by a Chicago Tribune story, “Nearly all records created by state and local government officials, including bill drafts and communications with staff, would not be subject to the Wisconsin open records law under a sweeping surprise change Republicans introduced in committee Thursday as an amendment to the state budget.

The changes were part of a 24-page final motion to the budget that makes 67 alterations to the two-year, $70 billion spending plan that the Legislature was expected to vote on next week. The panel was to vote on adding it to the budget Thursday night. The full Legislature, along with Gov. Scott Walker, would have to sign off before they would become law.

Numerous new protections would be extended to the 132 members of the Legislature, their staff, support agencies, and all other state and local government officials, including members of school boards.

“It’s astonishing,” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. “It is a full-frontal assault on the open records law as it pertains to the state Legislature and other agencies of government.”

Can this Gov. be trusted? Some of his local constituents say yes, and others raise their eyebrows. On a national level, why would anyone believe this man when he opens his mouth?

One reason floated about for this law is that the governor was embarrassed about trying to change the mission statement of the state’s university system. A change was inserted into a budget bill. Quite a common Republican tactic when wanting to get its own way.

The Washington Post reported: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system — known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

Walker, in a budget speech given earlier this week, didn’t bother to mention the change, which is more than a simple  issue of semantics. There is a national debate about what the role of colleges and universities should be. One group, including Walker, see higher education in big part as a training ground for workers in the American workplace; another sees college education as a way to broaden the minds of young people and teach them how to be active, productive citizens of the country.”

We can only wait to see what other great plans the Governor has in store for citizens of this country. And whether this man is fit to be…….

 

 

Gov. Scott Walker’s jobs Economic Development Corporation

Gov. Scott Walker recently announced his presidential candidacy. He has big plans. He plans to do away with unions, limit women’s rights to their own bodies, meet America’s enemies with steel (read go to war) and create jobs.

It all sounds so nice doesn’t it. The first three should give people pause. The last one, folks may not know much about his creation of jobs in Wisconsin.

But as the Associated Press continues reporting about the dismal failure of Gov. Walker’s Economic Development Corp., of which he made himself chairman, read the story.

The AP story begins: “After declaring an economic emergency, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s newly created economic development agency backed a plan to turn dirty plastic forks and ketchup-stained napkins into jobs.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation awarded $1.2 million in grants and loans in 2011 and 2012 to Green Box NA Green Bay LLC, a company that said it could produce recycled products, electricity and even diesel from fast-food waste.

“Gov. Walker and I are firmly committed to doing everything possible to expedite the processing and awarding of this incentive award,” then-agency Chief Executive Paul Jadin wrote in a September 2011 letter to Green Box.

There were warning signs. Green Box told the state that the company and its founder, Ron Van Den Heuvel, had no recent legal troubles. But court records showed that Van Den Heuvel had been sued 27 times in the prior five years by banks, business partners, state tax officials and even a jeweler. Green Box said it held seven patents, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists no patents granted or assigned to Van Den Heuvel or the company.”

The story continues: “Nonpartisan state audits have determined that the agency doled out tax breaks, loans and grants in ways that ran contrary to its own rules and state law. Expected jobs never materialized, with some award recipients receiving payouts even as they outsourced Wisconsin jobs overseas. Awards appear to have gone to Walker’s political supporters and allies— at least in one case, after a high-ranking Walker appointee interceded on an applicant’s behalf.

“It just keeps getting worse,” said Peter Barca, a Democratic assemblyman and minority leader who sits on the agency’s board. “Never in my wildest imagination would it occur to me that WEDC would give out loans with so little oversight.”

If the governor can not do due diligence in trying to create jobs, what kind of due diligence will he do in determining who are this country’s enemies? Or will he just launch missiles indiscriminately?

His game plan should worry voters, He doesn’t like unions, so that means he doesn’t like middle class citizens. But he apparently likes dodgy types and those with money, lots of money. Ask the Koch brothers.

 

 

Supreme Court backs independent election panels

One other bit of good news out of the U.S. Supreme Court recently, in addition to marriage equality for all and the continuance of the Affordable Care Act, the high court also backed Arizona’s citizens wanting an independent election commission to determine voting districts.

A Washington Post article states:“A divided Supreme Court on Monday said voters concerned that partisan gerrymandering is creating unfair elections are entitled to take reapportionment away from state legislatures.

The court ruled 5 to 4 that the Constitution does not give legislatures exclusive control over congressional redistricting and said voters may vest the power in independent commissions by ballot initiative, where this option exists….

The Republican-led Arizona legislature had objected to the plan the commission drew, and pointed to the Constitution’s Elections Clause to contest the validity of the district map. The clause states that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”

The court’s usual suspects were on either side of the issue, but the prevailing side wrote that “legislative leaders may comment on the plans the commission draws up, but they cannot alter the maps, nor can the governor veto them.”

Which will be good for the voters in that their voice was heard and will be heard when they go to the polls.

 

 

Pres. Obama shifts gears on overtime

Pres. Obama recently mentioned to a news outlet that he is amending rules concerning overtime, something that hasn’t been done for decades, even for inflation.

A writer for the Washington Post writes that millions of workers will be helped by this legislation. Raising the ceiling of earnings so not just people making around $23,000 will be helped, but up to $50,000, will be eligible for overtime.

The piece states: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers have to provide overtime pay (usually time and a half) to employees who work more than 40 hours a week, but executives and managers are exempt from the requirement, as are those who make higher salaries. The trouble is that the rules don’t account for inflation, and so over time, what constituted a higher salary became absurdly low. The threshold has been raised only once since 1975, when it covered nearly half of U.S. workers; today it stands at less than $24,000, or lower than the poverty level for a family of four. (This document from the Economic Policy Institute offers some background on the regulation if you’re interested.)”

And Pres. Obama is also taking into account future inflation, and including adjustments based on a per cent of income.

So those persons “designated” as a manager and expected to work 50-60 hour weeks for a business so the business can get by on the cheap, will now be able to claim overtime and be paid. Or maybe work 40 hours and have more time for their family.

NJ newspaper writer calls Christie a liar

Star Ledger editorial board writer Tom Moran says he has been covering New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for 14 years. And he said the one thing he learned during those years is that Christie lies.

Moran leaped into his piece stating: “My testimony amounts to a warning: Don’t believe a word the man says.

If you have the stomach for it, this column offers some greatest hits in Christie’s catalog of lies.

Don’t misunderstand me. They all lie, and I get that. But Christie does it with such audacity, and such frequency, that he stands out.”

He continues: “He’s been lying on steroids lately, on core issues like Bridgegate, guns and that cozy personal friendship with his buddy, the King of Jordan. I’ll get to all that.

But let’s start with my personal favorite. It dates back to the 2009 campaign, when the public workers unions asked him if he intended to cut their benefits.

He told them their pensions were “sacred” to him.

“The notion that I would eliminate, change, or alter your pension is not only a lie, but cannot be further from the truth,” he wrote them. “Your pension and benefits will be protected when I am elected governor.”

He then proceeded to make cutting those benefits the centerpiece of his first year in office.

This, we know now, was vintage Christie. Other lying politicians tend to waffle, to leave themselves some escape hatch. You can almost smell it.

But Christie lies with conviction. His hands don’t shake, and his eyes don’t wander. I can hardly blame the union leaders who met with him for believing him.”

If this is so, it will be interesting to see what lies lay ahead for those Republicans that listen.

 

Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings refreshing

Not much needs to be said about recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings as they have been extensively covered by local, regional and national media. If not the rulings themselves, the reaction to the rulings by people on both sides of the cases.

Moderates and liberals can enjoy a small satisfaction of deeds accomplished. But current Republican presidential candidates and a certain known Iowa congressman have vowed to fight these decisions. So the work is not yet done.

But approval of gay marriage nationally and of the Affordable Care Act shows the country, well most of it, is moving the country forward and the high court wants to see fairness to all citizens.

And now the Supreme Court says that independent panels can draw election district lines, meaning that political parties can be kept from gerrymandering election outcomes.

The story states:

“The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that independent commissions may draw electoral district lines.

The case arose after Arizona voters opposed to congressional gerrymandering had taken the power away from state legislators.

The Supreme Court has largely stayed out of partisan gerrymandering cases, unable to agree on a test that would allow the court to discern when expected political maneuvering rises to the level of being unconstitutional.

Arizona voters tried to take care of the problems themselves in 2000, when they turned over redistricting to an independent commission. But Republicans who control the legislature say the Constitution gives them the right draw congressional districts, and they cannot be cut out of the power.”

But by a 5-4 decision, the Republican dominated legislature and governor are told to keep their hands off. And citizens of that state can have election district lines fairly applied and not rigged to keep a certain party in office.

 

Cong. King not a darling of GOP leadership

In a recent article posted to The Hill’s website, “The dozen rebels targeted by GOP leaders” the writer does short vignettes about what kind of retaliation the GOP leadership took against outliers in the Republican party.

Iowa’s 4th District congressman was among the group singled out.

Revoked travel privileges

House GOP leadership aides say that taxpayer-funded travel is “a privilege and not a right.” At least three conservatives who frequently oppose leadership — Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Ted Yoho(Fla.) and Louie Gohmert (Texas) — learned the lesson the hard way. The Speaker’s office informed King of his revoked funds just a few hours before his flight was set to depart for a congressional delegation to Egypt. Yoho, one of the three long-shot Republicans to challenge Boehner for Speaker, was removed from a spring congressional delegation to attend the Summit of the Americas in Panama. And Gohmert was removed from scheduled trips to Egypt and Africa earlier this year.

Outcome: King ultimately went on the trip to Egypt anyway with his own money and “literally reached into my kids’ inheritance.” Yoho kept quiet about the revoked travel privileges until this week when he felt compelled to speak out in the aftermath of recent retribution for voting against a procedural motion for the trade package this month. Gohmert remained defiant: “As a result of [Boehner] canceling my trip this weekend, I get to be on Fox News,” he declared on the House floor in March. Still, it’s a lot harder for these lawmakers to join colleagues for expensive foreign trips when it’s on their own dime. “

During a recent outing in Iowa Cong. King told constituents and supporters that he may offer a bill that strips funding away from the Supreme Court to reign in those rogue judges, which he said even lowly plumbers could see was wrong.

He also took issue with the upholding of the Affordable Care Act telling his constituents that government is taking away your choice to decide your own health issues. Mmmmmmm? Like the choice of a woman to go to Planned Parenthood to seek prenatal care?

Like the choice of a woman not to have an invasive hand put inside her to tell her she has no choice but to also have an ultrasound and to seek counselling about any decisions she may want to make.

Cong. King said the federal government should not be dictating your health choices. He must have missed that part of his party’s platform.

 

 

Fox News still acting irresponsible

A recent clip posted online shows the result of a Fox News personality throwing a double-bladed axe and nearly cutting the arm of a drum corp member playing nearby on national TV.

Did the personality run over to see if everyone was alright and offer assistance?

No. He cowered and walked away. Not only are they irresponsible with their words, but their actions as well.

And this “incidence” was referred to as a news blooper. Someone falling down, etc., during a live segment is a blooper. Someone throwing a hand axe and hitting someone else is not.

Yes it was an accident, but a mighty dumb one with severe consequences.

Seems like someone might be paying someone else’s kids college bill for such an act.

GOP candidates stumble to respond

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote a recent piece about the current crop of GOP presidential contenders, and how none of them seemed very presidential when it came to addressing the current situation involving the massacre shooting at a church in Charleston, SC, in what has been described as a racist hate killing.

He references another piece by two other Post reporters who did a story about the shooting: “The massacre last week at a church in Charleston, S.C., opened a leadership opportunity for the nearly two dozen politicians running to be the next president.

But few stepped forward to seize it.

The Republican hopefuls mostly stammered and stumbled in response to the shootings. At first, some resisted calling the massacre racially motivated, only to reverse course when it became obvious it was.

Most stopped short of calling for South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol in Columbia. Some, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, declined to comment at all. Only after South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, emotionally declared Monday that the flag should come down did most GOP candidates join the chorus.”

Sargent continues writing:

“David Axelrod, a longtime adviser to President Obama, said, “Presidential races are full of these unexpected moral tests and tests of mettle. It’s generally the person who rises to them who ends up winning the day.”

For Republicans especially, rising to the occasion has proved difficult. The candidates have been balancing the political imperative to present a welcoming face to minority and moderate voters with hesi­tancy to turn off conservative white voters who see the Confederate flag as a representation of their family heritage and Southern traditions.

The result has been timid, measured responses. It is telling that the most unambiguous Republican statement came from a non-candidate; 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney tweeted Sunday, “Take down the #ConfederateFlag at the SC Capitol.”

It seems these presidential wannabees are not willing to take a risk. But should any of them become president, they will have to make tougher calls and take bigger risks, than possibly offending someone in their party. And heaven help the rest of us should that happen.

 

 

Woodbury County Democrats, promoting democratic ideals and greater participation.