Republicans and government service

Republicans need to realize that government service, that is public service, is just that. Service to the entire public. They either serve all, or resign their positions. In an Atlantic magazine piece a writer talks about a story he covered a number of years ago.

He writes: “Thirty-five years ago, as a reporter for The Washington Post, I spent 13 weeks following young recruits through Marine Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. That February, 226 candidates entered OCS; in April, 117—about half—got their lieutenant’s bars. One of the candidates wanted to be a Marine aviator. He was fit, fast, and smart—good officer material. But as he neared the halfway mark of the training, he underwent a crisis of conscience. OCS training is demanding and martial. Instructors emphasized the realities of combat day after day. (One went so far as to read the candidates “Dulce et Decorum Est” by English poet Wilfred Owen—a vivid description of a World War I gas attack that left blood “gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs” of dying soldiers.)

At some point, this candidate realized he could not in good conscience engage in warfare. “Can I put a squad of men up against enemy fire?” he asked himself. “Can I permit my men to kill other human beings?” He struggled with his beliefs—even debated them respectfully with the battalion commander—but concluded he could not stay.”

The writer makes the argument that it is not up to this clerk to decide anything, but to carry out her duties to the residents and citizens of her county, or resign.

“Is it possible to agree on what religious freedom is not? It’s not a right to wear a Marine uniform but refuse to fight. It’s not a right to be a county clerk and decide which citizens you will serve and which you won’t. Religious “accommodation” doesn’t mean what Liberty Counsel thinks it means. If a person can perform the duties of a job with some adjustment for religious belief, that’s an accommodation. If they’re not willing to do the job, they have to leave. That’s not just a requirement of law; honor requires it as well.

When will Republicans realize that this country isn’t just theirs, but belongs to a diverse group of American citizens that also deserve respect and service, and that these Republicans’ selfishness is not part of the service they are bound to give when occupying a public servant’s office.



Gov. Walker, has a dream

A recent piece in Politico writes: “DES MOINES, Iowa — When Scott Walker returns Monday to campaign at the Iowa State Fair, he’ll be in an uncomfortable position, watching competitors in the crowded GOP field threaten his hold on a state he needs to win to survive.

After seven months as the clear favorite to win this first-in-the-nation caucus state, the Wisconsin governor is suddenly sinking in the polls— overtaken by the summer’s massive anti-establishment wave and at risk of losing his grip. 

“He’s lost a lot of momentum here because he didn’t convert that early momentum into committed caucus-goers. Now he’s got to re-start his engine here, and that’s not easy to do,” said Doug Gross, a GOP operative who supported Mitt Romney four years ago and has yet to commit to a candidate this cycle.”

Walker still has a lot of explaining to do how he thinks his policies will help a nation, while they have hurt his home state. And recently, supporting a sports franchise that makes a lot of money, it’s the same old Republican song and dance. Help the rich, forget the poor, and my life will be just fine.

Carly Fiorina, enjoying the debate bump

After the first Republican debate Republican candidate Carly Fiorina got a bump in the polls according to most pundits. But a couple stories that have appeared still question the woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Fortune 500 magazine writes that if Fiorina plans to use her credibility as a CEO and business person for the nomination, she should reconsider.

She’s running for President on her track record as CEO of HP, but if that’s the case, Fiorina might want to rethink her strategy.

“Fiorina is eager to be seen as the answer to Democratic slogans of a Republican war on women. She’s often been erroneously referred to as the first woman to lead a Fortune 500 firm, Hewlett-Packard . That title actually belongs to The Washington Post Company’s Katharine Graham. Then there are the many other trailblazing women leaders preceding Fiorina, including Beechcraft’s Olive Ann Beech, Mattel’s Ruth Handler, Beatrice Food’s Loida Nicolas-Lewis, the Body Shop’s Anita Roddick, Martha Stewart, and Oprah Winfrey.

Still, with a scant 5% of Fortune 500 firms employing women CEOs, her leadership of a huge global enterprise in the macho field of IT is impressive. But how did she do?

The answer in short is: Pretty badly.

In 1999, a dysfunctional HP board committee, filled with its own poisoned politics, hired her with no CEO experience, nor interviews with the full board. Fired in 2005, after six years in office, several leading publications titled her one of the worst technology CEOs of all time. In fact, the stock popped 10% on the news of her firing and closed the day up 7%.

Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of HP’s founder, commented when discouraging voters from supporting Fiorina in her 2010 senatorial run, “I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded.”

The article continues with more tidbits of information about Fiorina.

“Sure, she doubled revenues—through a massive, ill-conceived, controversial acquisition of Compaq Computer in 2002—but Fiorina did nothing to increase profits over her five-year term, with the S&P 500 showing net income across enterprises concomitantly up 70%. Furthermore, shareholder wealth at HP was sliced 52% under her reign against the S&P, which was down only 15% in that bearish period. She modeled the old joke of “making it up in the volume.”

Fiorina rammed the Compaq deal through despite intense opposition by analysts, employees, and shareholders. When it appeared that she would lose the proxy vote, the balance was tipped back the other way using hardball tactics that would make Donald Trump wince.”

And when it comes to health care, Fiorina says if parents do not want to inoculate their children against diseases with vaccines, they shouldn’t have to.

The Washington Post reports : GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina said Thursday that parents should not be forced to vaccinate their children against diseases like measles and mumps, although she added that public school systems can forbid unvaccinated children from attending.

When in doubt, it is always the parent’s choice,” Fiorina said during a town hall in an agricultural building in rural Iowa on Thursday evening. “When in doubt, it must always be the parent’s choice.”

Fiorina’s comment came in response to a question from a mother of five children who said that because of her religious beliefs, she will not allow her children to receive any vaccines that were created using cells from “aborted babies.” Fiorina told the woman that parents must be allowed to make such decisions.

“We must protect religious liberty and someone’s ability to practice their religion,” said Fiorina, receiving a round of applause. “We must devote energy and resources to doing so. Period.”

So maybe Fiorina lives in a bubble world where she and her family can interact only with those people they want, and shut the rest out. It’s possible that when people live within a society, the benefit of the entire society should come before that of the individual, especially when scientific fact shows that with vaccinations communicable diseases like measles and mumps have become almost nonexistent.

Or does it take a few deaths for these people to realize the vaccines are there for a reason, and why do they have the right to put other people’s children and folks at risk above their own selfish wants?


Woodbury Dems August Central Committee meeting

A nice sized crowd turned out for the August meeting of the Central Committee with a number of local candidates attending as well as representatives from three campaigns that included Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

Local Democrats are energized with so many candidates either already running or looking to run, which includes Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore. Some mention they are taking the opportunity to go hear them all speak when in the area before deciding who they might caucus for in 2016.


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.


Woodbury County Democrats, promoting democratic ideals and greater participation.