Sunday, June 18, 2017

Streetcar Or Safety

Looks like Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinkski might be setting himself up as a challenger in a run to be the Mayor of Milwaukee.

Current Mayor Tom Barrett recently announced he might have to eliminate some safety-worker positions (police officers, firefighters,nurses, code inspectors) due to budgetary constraints.

Zielinkski immediately ridiculed the Mayor, saying even mentioning the possibility of cutting positions as "reckless" and "unreasonable".

Zielinkski framed the discussion as being between keeping the positions and building the streetcar. Because those are the only two budgetary choices that can be made - keep safety positions or build a streetcar?

And, just for some context, Wisconsin has spent over a billion dollars on new stadiums for the Brewers, Bucks and Packers in the last decade. Private sport structures whose benefits go to their private owners. But Milwaukee spending $128 million on a streetcar to be used by residents, tourists and businesses is a waste?

Barrett, himself, even stated that cutting those positions is not what he wants. But sometimes, as Mayor, you have to make choices that won't please everyone.

I get that the streetcar is a bit of a lightning rod and certain persons with access to the media love to pile on about what a waste the streetcar is. Although every other major city has some sort of streetcar, light rail or similar. So, it seems more like, as usual, Milwaukee is behind the curve as far as what businesses and workers want in amenities and infrastructure. Local infrastructure is what creates jobs and draws businesses, residents and tourists.

In our current police-state era, funding for defense/police/safety can never be diminished. More officers and more guns, always. In 2013, 59% of the City of Milwaukee budget went to just the police (41%) and fire (18%) departments.

We've been doing this for decades now, it hasn't worked. To keep funding this imaginary, more-cops-is-the-answer paradigm, is simply throwing away money. Why, when it comes to defense or safety, is there no limit on the amount of people needed or the amount of money that should be spent? At the local, state and federal level, America's defense/safety budgets dwarf those of other nations. Yet, we're no safer. What is all this money being spent on? Seems like there is obviously a lot of efficiency that can be made.

The Police Association's President Michael Crivello stated, "We're going to do everything to keep this community safe, but we won't be as effective as we otherwise would be should we be properly staffed."  How is this quantified? What does "properly staffed" mean? What metrics is the Association using to determine safety, effectiveness, staffing, etc.?

Maybe we do need to keep the positions. But using fear and emotion to guide a decision is definitely not how policy should be made.

We should start by making a more scientific basis for these discussions and decisions. Platitudes and bumper-sticker slogans sound great, but they typically don't have the nuance and depth required for good public policy.

We could remove some exemptions, raise the local sales tax, add fees for certain services, collect more taxes, provide less incentives to private developers and businesses, and on and on. There are numerous ways fund the many services we all count on from our local government.

The saddest thing is that this is being pitted as a streetcar versus safety debate. It shouldn't be. These are not the only choices.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Journalism Is Dead

A 7-part series on the making of a golf course?


Really, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?

This is the in-depth, investigative journalism we need right now?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Labor: Human Activity That Provides The Goods Or Services In An Economy

"If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates Labor, he is a liar." ~ Abraham Lincoln

Yet, this seems to be exactly the message of Wall Street, conservatives and capital investment, in general.

According to investors, workers don't really deserve the fruit of their labor.

What's wrong with giving out pay raises? Plenty, according to some Wall Street analysts
“This is frustrating. Labor is being paid first … again. Shareholders get leftovers,” wrote Citi analyst Kevin Crissey in a note to clients. 
Jamie Baker of Morgan Stanley downgraded American shares to “neutral” from “overweight,” saying the pay decision “establishes a worrying precedent, in our view, both for American and the industry.”
John Cotton condensed the Wall Street view:
"There’s always this tension between what companies would want for the long term and what Wall Street wants for the short term," said John Cotton, professor of management and director of the Executive MBA Program in the College of Business Administration at Marquette University. "As far as Wall Street is concerned, if you could pay minimum wage to everybody on every job, that would be great because that would leave more money for stockholder. 
"Wall Street, they don’t care so much long term," Cotton said. "They would rather have the company buy back stock than, say, invest in making their business more effective over the long term, because that’s not going to pay off in the next 90 days. 
"It is short-sighted, but then Wall Street almost by definition is short-sighted," he added. "If you could do something to jack up your stock price 5%, the fact that it’s going to hurt your company over the next 10 years is irrelevant."
 American Airlines CEO defended worker raises:
"As a service organization, investments in our team are investments in our product," Parker said during a conference call with analysts. "We think it's precisely this kind of investment in our people that is going to make the difference in our service. And while this won't happen overnight, we also think it's the kind of investment that will continue to drive revenue (growth) for American. And as that happens, all of you will be the beneficiaries of those returns."
For Wall Street, raises should be reserved for the CEOs that decide to fire workers and/or suppress wages.

If we want to address the increasing income inequality in our society, we need to break from this capital-worship paradigm.

"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." ~ Abraham Lincoln

Sunday Reading

Corporate Profits Are Way Up, Corporate Taxes Are Way Down
Trump's Tax Plan: Having A Laugh On Laffer
Water Bill Violate Constitution
U.S. Appeals Court Upholds 15-Miles Residency Rule For Milwaukee Cops, Emergency Workers
Hacked Records Show Bradley Foundation Taking Its Conservative Wisconsin Model National
Evaluating Trump's First 100 Days - On His Own Terms
New Study Suggests That Men Need To Drink With Friends Twice A Week To Stay Healthy Wisconsin ranks among U.S. states with the heaviest tax burdens

Trumpcare: Less About Health Care, More About Ideology

Monday, April 17, 2017


"Getting pretty tired of these guys walking around in cowboy hats and cowboy boots. You ever see these jack-offs? Can’t we kill some of these motherfuckers? Walking around in a fucking cowboy hat. Grown men. It’s not even Halloween for christ-sakes. I say “hey Tex grow up and get yourself a wardrobe consistent with the century you’re living in”. Why do certain men feel the need to dress up as mythic figures? You don’t see anyone walking around in a pirate costume do you? When was the last guy you ran into who had on a viking outfit? Make-believe cowboys… the closest they ever got to a cow, is when they stopped to take a piss at an Arby’s." George Carlin

Saturday, April 15, 2017

There Really Is No Escape From Conservative Duplicity

There Christian Schneider goes again.

Another classic from the Republican playbook - Blame the Democrats for outcomes of Republican actions.

It's well known, for Republicans, that everything wrong with the world is the Democrats' fault.

In his latest blaming the Democrats for Republican measures, Schneider proclaims There Really Is No Escape From America's Liberal Politics.

Yes, those damn liberals have politicized everything!

Put aside the Southern Strategy, Republican commingling of church and state, perpetual obstructionism, shutting down the government, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Tea Party, and the denial of a Merrick Garland hearing, to name a few.

As Schneider declares:
There is now no segment of American society to which one may retreat without being subjected to politics. Every corner of our lives is illuminated with talk of filibusters, health care strategy and minor cabinet appointees. It is as if the American economy now runs on demagoguery.
The cognitive dissonance is great in Schneider and the Republicans.

Is there any policy during Clinton or Obama that the Republicans didn't filibuster?

Republicans having been fighting against good health care for Americans since forever. They stonewalled Clinton's attempt and threw up every roadblock they could in attempting to stymie Obama.

Schneider's article then goes off on an odd tangent claiming that even sports are just liberal politics in disguise. Never mind all the jingoistic and militaristic events, language and imagery associated with sports. And, he uses the well-worn (paraphrased) Republican talking point of "Athletes and actors should just shut up. They don't know anything." Unless of course they're conservative, then they're glad to have them on their shows, write op-eds and appear at their events.

He goes on to complain of a cloud of inescapable "progressive condescension." He implies liberals are continually berating poor conservatives in all aspects of life. Is Schneider not familiar with Jesse Watters? Republicans have no other journalism other than gotcha journalism.

Republicans have been doing nothing but using fear and ignorance to politicize anything and everything they feel could possibly win extra votes.

Schneider then goes on to knock Jon Stewart and Seth Meyers - what do they know and no one cares what they have to say anyway. He's upset because even comedians are being political. Schneider must be new to comedy because politics has been a topic of humor for centuries.

Republicans have done all they can to dumb-down politics whilst politicizing everything in sight and now that their sledge-hammer approach has resulted in Trumpland ... it's the Democrats fault!

Keep on drinking that Kool-Aid and peddling your misinformation and hate, Mr. Schneider. And then keep on pretending you can't believe how things got the way they are or why they are that way.

If I wasn't living through all this I wouldn't believe it.

Weekend Reading

The results were clear: these basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels, even in the industries that are most impacted by higher minimum wages. To the contrary, in the substantial majority of instances (68 percent) overall employment increased after a federal minimum-wage increase.
Filing Taxes Could Be Free And Simple. But H&R Block And Intuit Are Still Lobbying Against It
The makers of TurboTax and other online systems spent millions lobbying last year, much of it directed toward a bill that would permanently bar the government from offering taxpayers prefilled filings.
Fearing Germs Is Making Us Sick
We need to reconnect our kids with the microbes they need and, more generally, with the wild they need, however tiny that wild may be.
The Generation Of Nonsense In The Boston Globe
The main economic story of the last four decades is the massive upward redistribution of income that has taken place. The top one percent's share of national income has more than doubled over this period from roughly ten percent in the late 1970s to over twenty percent today. And, this is primarily a before-tax income story, the rich have used their control over the levers of economic power to ensure that an ever larger share of the country's wealth goes into their pockets. (Yes, this is the topic of my book, Rigged [it's free].) 
Anyhow, the rich don't want people paying attention to these policies (hey, they could try to change them), so they endlessly push out nonsense stories to try to divert the public's attention from how they structured the rules to advance their interests. And, since the rich own the newspapers, they can make sure that we hear these stories.
How Stephen Colbert Finally Found His Elusive Groove
On Nov. 8, Stephen Colbert was hosting a live election night special for CBS’s sister cable network, Showtime. A program that was built around an expected Hillary Clinton victory went off the rails almost as soon as it went on the air at 11 p.m. As election returns came in, audience members, who had been asked to shut off their phones an hour earlier, gasped as it became clear that Donald J. Trump could very well become president. Mr. Colbert looked dumbstruck. 
Sensing the gravity of the moment, Chris Licht, the executive producer of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” walked over to Mr. Colbert’s desk during a musical performance. 
“Stop being funny and go and just be real,” Mr. Licht told the host.
Record-Breaking Public Subsidy Lures Hated Football Team To America's Gambling Capital
Clark County taxpayers will contribute $750 million to the new arena, a record for a sports facility—about $354 per resident, taken from an increased tax on hotel rooms. That tax currently pays for schools and transportation, in addition to tourism-related expenditures.

Stanford economist Roger Noll said it was the “worst deal for a city” he had ever seen.

That it came together at all is remarkable.
Here's The Real Rust Belt Jobs Problem - And It's Not Offshoring Or Automation
Many struggling U.S. cities and states compete fiercely with one another to attract and keep firms that offer jobs. Unfortunately, these are not the “good” jobs that Americans are looking for, jobs with middle-class pay, benefits and security. This race to the bottom drains public coffers, preoccupies local leaders and fuels voter cynicism. “America First” sidesteps the problem.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The U.S. Is NOT Overtaxed!

For Further Reading:
Sorry America, Your Taxes Aren’t High

The "Friendly" Skies?

For Further Reading:
Airline Deregulation #Fail

What Would A Dick Do?

If Scott Walker is worried about those receiving public aid being drug-free, then he needs to test everyone receiving public aid.

Walker Gearing up to Unveil Welfare Drug Testing Proposals
We may soon learn whether President Trump will allow Wisconsin to drug-test some people applying for federal benefits – including Food Share and Medicaid. Gov. Walker says he plans to submit a request, after he unveils his full proposal next week. Walker mentioned the move during his budget address in February.
Scott Walker wants Trump to let him drug test tens of thousands more poor people
Most recently, Walker is continuing his quest to drug test as many of the low-income residents of Wisconsin as he can, asking the Trump regime for permission to drug test Medicaid applicants.
So, this begs the question, when will Wisconsin start testing all recipients of aid?

If Walker's unfair and punitive proposal passes, I want to see Bud Selig and the Brewer's organization; Ted Thompson and the Packers; Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and the Bucks organization; the numerous developers throughout the state receiving public aid; Harley-Davidson; Mercury Marine; Johnson Controls; Brunswick; Kohl's; Northwestern Mutual; Quad Graphics; Marcus Corp. and all the other corporate welfare recipients, who've received greater aid than any low-income resident, lined up with their pee-cups in hand, ready to take their drug tests.


For Further Reading:

The Scott Walker Wrecking-Ball Crew Update

Fiscal bureau: Scott Walker's budget leaves $1.1 billion hole starting in 2019

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for the state’s next budget creates a larger structural deficit than previously thought, nearly $1.1 billion, in the ensuing budget cycle beginning in 2019, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal office said Thursday.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released the findings in a memo made public late Thursday.

It shows Walker’s plan for the 2017-19 budget, which back-loads spending and tax cuts into its second fiscal year, leaves a structural deficit of $1.1 billion that lawmakers would have to erase in crafting the 2019-21 budget.

Failed Presidential Candidate Scott Walker Wants to Hack Public Schools

But if we're talking about governors who easily dispose of public education, from kindergarten through graduate school, we have to go to Wisconsin. That's where Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage this particular Midwest subsidiary, has acted with unconcealed contempt for everything that Wisconsin once stood for in terms of educating its citizens. 

First of all, the man couldn't quite catch up to the B.A. that hung on my wall has determined that teachers should leave those kids alone! From The Washington Post:
A proposal in Walker's new budget plan calls for ending the state's current minimum requirements — 437 hours for kindergarten, 1,050 hours for elementary schools and 1,137 hours for secondary schools — and allowing school districts to do what they want in terms of seat hours for students. Districts and schools would then be judged on their state report cards, which are produced annually by the Department of Public Instruction, based largely on standardized test scores. During a recent visit to a school in Waukesha to talk up his budget proposal, he said: "To me, the report card is the ultimate measure. It's not how many hours you are sitting in a chair."
Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal axes state farm-to-school post

The cafeterias in the Germantown School District take a decidedly fresh turn in the fall.

For as long as it lasts, food and nutrition director Shelley Juedes brings in a bountiful array of fresh produce: scrumptious apples from nearby Rim's Edge Orchard and fresh vegetables — broccoli, onions, potatoes and more — from longtime area farmer Lenny Semerad.

"What a major difference it is to have that fresh produce instead of getting it from a vendor where it might have sat in a warehouse for weeks," said Juedes, who would like to increase what she buys from local farmers if she could figure out how to do it.

"It's fresher. It looks more appetizing," she said. "It's great for the kids, and it benefits the local farmers, too. It's a win-win."

That win-win was exactly what the Legislature had in mind when it created the Farm to School office in the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in 2009.

Since then, advocates say, the Wisconsin office has become the gold standard for the farm-to-school movement nationally, connecting growers and schools, helping to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants, improving children's nutrition and knowledge of agriculture, and pumping millions of dollars into the state's economy.

Now, they say, that may be in jeopardy.

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed cutting the office's now-vacant coordinator position and 15-member advisory council as part of his 2017-'19 budget, a move that would save $132,800 over the biennium.

If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has his way, the Badger State will become the first to stop requiring students in public schools to spend a minimum number of hours in class.

A proposal in Walker’s new budget plan calls for ending the state’s current minimum requirements — 437 hours for kindergarten, 1,050 hours for elementary schools and 1,137 hours for secondary schools — and allowing school districts to do what they want in terms of seat hours for students.

Districts and schools would then be judged on their state report cards, which are produced annually by the Department of Public Instruction, based largely on standardized test scores. During a recent visit to a school in Waukesha to talk up his budget proposal, he said: “To me, the report card is the ultimate measure. It’s not how many hours you are sitting in a chair.”

Scott Walker wants to let schools cut down on class time. That’s really risky.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doesn’t seem to care how many hours schoolkids are in the classroom, as long as they can pass standardized tests — a proposal that could go against the academic consensus that time in the classroom matters.

In his recent budget proposal, Walker called for state lawmakers to get rid of the minimum requirement for how many hours students spend learning each year. That would make Wisconsin the first state without any guidelines for how long students must spend in the classroom. Typically, states require at least 180 school days, and Wisconsin law currently requires 1,050 instructional hours for elementary school students at public and private voucher schools and at least 1,137 for middle and high school students.

Scott Walker Moves To Kill A Century-Old Nature Magazine, And Readers Are Furious

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) plans to do away with a nearly century-old, state-run nature magazine, sparking outrage among critics who see it as part of an ongoing anti-environment agenda.

Walker’s 2017-2019 budget, which he unveiled in February, calls for suspending publication of Wisconsin Natural Resources next year. The magazine, a product of the state Department of Natural Resources, has kept Wisconsinites informed about hunting and fishing opportunities, species conservation, environmental issues and much more since 1919.

The Walker administration argues it doesn’t fit the department’s core mission.

“While the magazine has a loyal following and is supported by subscriptions, it became clear as our staff continued to examine what they did and why they do it ... that we at DNR are stewards of resources and not magazine publishers,” department Secretary Cathy Stepp said during a legislative hearing late last month. She added that her agency’s time is better spent focusing on digital communication.

But a former department secretary, two former editors of the magazine and dozens of Wisconsin residents have blasted the governor’s plan.

“Anyone that says communication and education is not a core value of a natural resource agency doesn’t get it,” George Meyer, who served as natural resources secretary from 1993 to 2003, told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Scott Walker’s Plan to Kill Nature Magazine Spurs Backlash

Dozens of Wisconsin residents have contacted the office of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to protest his plan to kill a nearly 100-year-old, self-supporting state magazine that has previously been purged of content touching on politically sensitive environmental issues, according to records obtained by The Progressive.

Walker’s biennial state budget, unveiled in early February, included a call to suspend publication of Wisconsin Natural Resources in early 2018. The bimonthly magazine has nearly 90,000 paid subscribers and is produced by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Walker’s office claims that doing away with the magazine will let the DNR focus more on its core mission.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Retired Wisconsin Law Professor's Supreme Court Case Could Save Democracy

Meet the man who may end gerrymandering: A retired Wisconsin law professor’s Supreme Court case could save democracy
The case with the most promise to deliver a lasting judicial remedy is Whitford v. Gill, from Wisconsin, which advances a fascinating standard called the “efficiency gap.” It is the brainchild of law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos and political scientist Eric McGhee, but has an elegant simplicity that is easily understandable outside of academia. If gerrymandering is the dark art of wasting the other party’s votes – either by “packing” them into as few districts as possible, or “cracking” them into sizable minorities in many seats – the efficiency gap compares wasted votes that do not contribute to victory. 
In November, a panel of federal judges smiled upon this standard and ruled that the state assembly districts drawn by a Republican legislature in the Whitford case represented an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. “Although Wisconsin’s natural political geography plays some role in the apportionment process, it simply does not explain adequately the sizable disparate” advantage held by Republicans under these new maps, wrote the court. 
The judges ordered new state assembly maps in time for the 2018 election – a big deal, considering these district lines have helped give Republicans their largest legislative majorities in several decades, despite years in which Democratic candidates receive more votes. But just as important, it accepted the “efficiency gap” rationale and sent it toward Justice Kennedy. If Kennedy finds it workable, it would become much more difficult for politicians to choose their own voters and rig maps in their favor.

Stolen Seat

Hey Christian Schneider, ever hear of Merrick Garland?

Schneider: Democrats' Supreme Court filibuster of Gorsuch is a petty charade

Republicans steal the selection from the Democrats, then bitch because Democrats aren't letting them get away with it.

Fox News Takes The Words Right Out Of Trump's Mouth

Fox News host promoted by Trump calls on Paul Ryan to step down
Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro, whose show President Trump urged his followers on Twitter to watch earlier in the day, opened her program on Saturday evening by calling on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to step down. 
"Ryan needs to step down as Speaker of the House. The reason, he failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill, the one trumpeted to repeal and replace ObamaCare," Pirro said in her opening statement.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Barack Obama One Of The Most Consequential Presidents In American History

Barack Obama is officially one of the most consequential presidents in American history
He signed into law a comprehensive national health insurance bill, a goal that had eluded progressive presidents for a century — and built it strong enough to withstand assaults from the Supreme Court and avoid repeal from a Republican administration. He got surprisingly tough reforms to Wall Street passed as well, not to mention a stimulus package that both blunted the recession and transformed education and energy policy. 
He's put in place the toughest climate rules in American history and signed a major international climate accord. He opened the US to Cuba for the first time in more than half a century, and reached a peaceful settlement to the nuclear standoff with Iran.

Report Of Trump Associates' Possible Collusion With Russia

Statement by California Representative Ted Lieu on report of Trump associates' possible collusion with Russia:
The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House.

Other than allowing routine governmental functions, there must be a total and complete shutdown of any agenda item being pushed by the Trump Administration. Congress cannot continue regular order and must stop voting on any Trump-backed agenda item until the FBI completes its Trump-Russia collusion investigation. 
Congress must immediately form an independent commission and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the collusion allegations with impartiality and independence. Congress also needs to pass the Resolution of Inquiry, authored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and I, to compel the Trump Administration to publicly disclose information on its Russian ties to the American people. At this point in our nation's history, there is nothing more important than finding out whether or not high crimes were committed by associates of Donald Trump or possibly by Trump himself.  [source]
For Further Reading:
Did Putin Direct Russian Hacking? And Other Big Questions

Friday, March 24, 2017

Despicable Sheriff

Should Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke continually be using the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Facebook page to disparage the City and the Mayor of Milwaukee? Was that page created for Clarke to settle personal vendettas?

Clarke just used the murder of a City of Milwaukee worker as a springboard for his right-wing talking-points and criticism of Milwaukee, the Mayor, the police and the media.

Again, Clarke is using anything and everything - even a tragic event like this - for political gain. What a low-life.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail Forced A Woman To Give Birth While In Shackles

Sheriff David Clarke’s Jail Forced A Woman To Give Birth While In Shackles
In July 2016, a newborn baby died at the Milwaukee County Jail after the mother was forced to give birth on her cell floor. Now, three months after Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke’s Office was sued over the baby’s death, the controversial law enforcement leader is being sued for additional jail abuse of pregnant women. 
According to a federal lawsuit filed on March 14, plaintiff Melissa Hall was shackled before, during, and after childbirth at a local hospital in 2013. A “belly chain” was allegedly wrapped around her waist when she needed to use the restroom, and she had “her wrists attached to the waist and her legs attached to one another by leg-irons.” Hall claims the jail deputies also denied medical providers’ request to take the chains off her during childbirth, which made it difficult for those providers to give her an epidural.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Reading

How Milwaukee Shook Off The Rust
Mark Cuban Rips Trump As The Zoolander President
Scott Walker's Promise To Create 250,000 Jobs In Wisconsin Remains Elusive
One Way To Counter Job Killing Robots: Stop The Federal Reserve Board From Raising Interest Rates
What Is Unemployment?
Trump's Industrial Rebirth Is A Dead End
The Truth About Obama's Economic Legacy And Trump's Inheritance
That $1.9 Trillion Cost Of Regulation

Sheriff Super-Douche

If one were to attempt to intervene to protect a woman and child from a drunken, tire-iron wielding doofus, for most sane and civil people, this would not elicit ridicule and insults. Many would probably even say it was an act of courage or bravery, or, at least, the right thing to do considering the circumstances.
Milwaukee Mayor's Alleged Attacker Faces 40 Yrs-Plus In Prison
But in the self-serving, opportunist, know-nothing, faux-cowboy world of Sheriff David Clarke, trying to defend a woman and child, and being unable to withstand body blows form a tire iron, makes a person a wimp.
“The last time Tom Barrett showed up at a crime scene he got his ass kicked by a drunk, tire-iron-wielding man who beat him within inches of his life," Clarke said in the lengthy post. "The milquetoast mayor trying to play cop foolishly thought he could simply talk the man who beat him senseless into backing down. Bet he won't try that again!" [source]
Barrett, in response to a reporter's questions, stated a couple a facts about Clarke. Clarke has been more interested in being a right-wing, talking-point parrot than in doing his job as the Milwaukee County Sheriff. Barrett also mentioned that he has never seen Clarke at a crime scene. I guess reality really pisses Clarke off.
Barrett set Clarke off when he said in a TV interview earlier this week that the sheriff has a “great gig going right now: He’s fighting crime one conservative cable TV show at a time.” He said everyone knows that Clarke “rode his horse out of town a long time ago.” [source]
Just like his idol, Donald Trump, Clarke doesn't like the real world. If things don't comport with Clarke's distorted world view, something is wrong with the world, not his perspective.

So this is where we are at now. When presented with facts, the right-wingers and Trumpsters hurl insults and threaten violence. Forget using your brain. When the truth doesn't fit into your political paradigm, time for pitchforks and torches.

Are we interested in actually electing public servants? Or do we just want cartoonish caricatures of Wild West buffoons?

Clarke not only ridiculed Barrett (for an act of bravery), he then did what all Wisconsin Republicans love to do - he took shots at Milwaukee. According to Wisconsin Republicans, Milwaukee is a crime-ridden hell-hole. Maybe if Clarke actually set foot back in Milwaukee one of these days (instead of doing the conservative talk show circuit) he would see all the activity and development taking place. And, as Bruce Murphy recently pointed out, Milwaukee Subsidizes The State.
The city gets only 66 cents in state spending for every dollar in state taxes paid.
So while the Republican playbook has been bankrupting states and cities across the country, Democratic places, like Milwaukee, are on the ascent. While Scott Walker's policies haven't done anything near his campaign promises, Mayor Barrett has overseen a boom in Milwaukee jobs and development.

Let's also not forget that Republicans are supposed to be the party of morals, family values, honor, country, dignity, blah blah blah. Yeah, it's all just a facade. There are no principles underlying any of their proclamations. Their opinions morph as needed. And, the saddest part is all the people that support and parrot the rhetoric. Still towing the party-line and supporting these ever-changing opinions and policy prescriptions. Just look at the faces of their party - Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, David Clarke, Steven Bannon, KellyAnne Conway. All lying, racist, sexist, self-serving, know-nothings only concerned with maintaining power. How can honest, America-loving conservatives look themselves in the mirror and believe any of this rhetoric or that these opportunists are good for the country?

Wake up, people! Time to see past the smoke, mirrors and vitriol. Sheriff Super-Douche and his band of destructive deplorables are not interested in you or your well-being. Please help us make this a functioning democracy again. Democrats are not perfect, but truth, reality and governance still mean something to them.

This is all so fucked up it's flabbergasting.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Weekend Reading

GOP Lawmakers To Write Blank Check To Hire Lawyers
Donald Trumps Economic Inheritance In 7 Charts
Janet Yellen Debunks Trump's Case For Killing Dodd-Frank
The Chair Of The Federal Reserve Just Fact-Shamed Donald Trump
Banks Are Lending A Ton, Despite Trump's Claims
Walker Proposes Eliminating Labor, Judicial, Education Oversight Commissions
Four Milwaukee County Retirees Receive Pension Backdrops Topping $1 Million
A Short History Of The Trump Family
Updated Figures Show Manufacturing & Agricultural Tax Credit Is Inefficient, Costly
Pharma's Inflated Claim About Drug R&D Costs
How Drug Companies Inflate Research Costs To Justify Absurd Profits
Walker Proposes New Welfare Work Requirements In Wisconsin
Wilbur Ross And The Era Of Billionaire Rule
The Illusions Driving Up Asset Prices
How Statistics Lost Their Power - And Why We Should Fear What Comes Next

Debt As A Share Of GDP Joke

Source: Congressional Budget Office.

Obama’s Stock Market Legacy

The Robot That Takes Your Job Should Pay Taxes, Says Bill Gates

Robots are taking human jobs. But Bill Gates believes that governments should tax companies’ use of them, as a way to at least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment. 
It’s a striking position from the world’s richest man and a self-described techno-optimist who co-founded Microsoft, one of the leading players in artificial-intelligence technology. 
In a recent interview with Quartz, Gates said that a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather than relying on businesses, in order to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes. The idea is not totally theoretical: EU lawmakers considered a proposal to tax robot owners to pay for training for workers who lose their jobs, though on Feb. 16 the legislators ultimately rejected it. 
“You ought to be willing to raise the tax level and even slow down the speed” of automation, Gates argues. That’s because the technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement. “You cross the threshold of job replacement of certain activities all sort of at once,” Gates says, citing warehouse work and driving as some of the job categories that in the next 20 years will have robots doing them. [source]

87-Year-Old Woman Trolls Trump From The Grave With Her Obituary

“Liz is smiling now, not to be living during the Trump presidency,” it reads. [source]

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Milwaukee Subsidizes The State

Milwaukee Subsidizes The State
In fact, even as Walker was libeling the state’s biggest city, the reality is the opposite was true: it was Walker’s state that was the relative loser, that was leeching off the city. By 2012, the data shows, the city’s economy had become so successful that Milwaukee got back just 88 cents in total state aid for every dollar in total taxes it paid to the state. 
That includes every category of state dollars flowing to Milwaukee, from state aid to Milwaukee Public Schools to shared revenue to cities, transportation aid and other smaller categories, and also includes every form of taxes flowing from Milwaukee to the state, including sales taxes and personal and corporate income taxes paid by city residents and businesses. All this information is tracked by the state Department of Revenue (DOR) and it shows Milwaukee is a net contributor to the state.

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Symphony of Destruction

You take a mortal man
And put him in control
Watch him become a god
Watch people's heads a'roll
A'roll, a' roll

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Skewed GOP Map In Wisconsin

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton finished in a near tie statewide, with Trump prevailing by roughly three-quarters of a percentage point. 
Yet Trump led Clinton in 63 of the state’s 99 Assembly districts, according to a review of state election returns. 
And he led her in 23 of the state’s 33 state Senate districts. 
Those numbers reflect the baked-in advantage — and virtual lock — the GOP enjoys in the battle for control of the Legislature, thanks to a one-sided map. [source]

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Delusion Is Great In This One

Delusional [dəˈlo͞oZH(ə)nəl] (adjective)

1) characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.

2) based on or having faulty judgment; mistaken.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has been in the news lately. His grandstanding, threats and all-around odd behavior has been increasingly troubling.

Clarke's response to the attention he has received was pure delusion:
In an act of political grandstanding, the political witch hunt continues by democrat politicians and operatives. This is nothing more than an attempt to harass and bully Sheriff Clarke. This is fake news. He remains undeterred and unfazed as he has been dealing with this for more than a decade. These fake news stories from the Sentinel Journal and their dweebs at the editorial board are so transparent that the casual observer can see this for what it really is.

The latest political stunt by County executive Abele is a waste of time. He does not have the authority to investigate the Sheriff’s Office, and the sheriff is making it very clear that personnel responsible to him will not be talked to by anybody from the county executive’s office. County executive Abele knows he does not have the authority, but can’t resist the opportunity to politically grandstand. This is the same little man who spent $263,000 of his personal wealth in an attempt to defeat the sheriff in his last election. Abele failed. Since he has failed, he has continued his political attacks. 
Abele supported Mrs. Bill Clinton for president and Russ Feingold for US Senate. These attacks have everything to do with the sheriff’s support and the role he played in helping Donald Trump become the 45th President of the United States. The election is over. Donald Trump has been sworn in, and it is time for everybody to join Sheriff Clarke in helping make America great again, and to make America safe again.
So, Clarke harasses and bullies a fellow airline passenger and when he's called out for it, he claims he's being bullied and harassed? And, as always, Clarke had to include some Trump talking-points -- "fake news" and "make America great again".

He states that he has been dealing with "fake" news stories for decades and then resorts to name-calling the Journal Sentinel editorial board. What a dignified public servant. Can Clarke name even one thing he has done to improve the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department? Has he made the department greater? Has he made Milwaukee County safer? It seems over the last two years, Clarke has spent the majority of his time advocating for Donald Trump, not so much for Milwaukee County.

Clarke paints this investigation into his behavior and professional conduct as a political retaliation of County Executive Chris Abele's doing. Abele is a Democrat and has supported candidates other than David Clarke, therefore, that's the only story here for Clarke. Somehow, Clarke being called out for being a bullying jerk is really just Abele and Democrats being sour because Trump won? Is any sane person following any of this reasoning?

And, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. What topic or photo opportunity doesn't David Clarke turn into a partisan tirade? David Clarke couldn't be more of a tool if he had a hammer for a head. Clarke is the one making this (along with everything he talks about) political by trying to drag everyone around him into it. And, of course, he's full of all those Trump-esque platitudes. If anyone is making this a political stunt, it's Clarke. That's really all he's ever done.

The Republican party is always looking for a good little soldier to spout outrageous, reprehensible, attention-grabbing invective. Clarke has been more than happy to be that useful idiot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Triumph Attends Trump’s Inauguration

Despicable Mike

Mike Pence is anti-LGBTQ, has an aversion to women’s rights and was a terrible governor. He used campaign funds to pay his mortgage, he defied the Constitution to turn away refugees, he “dragged his feet” during an HIV outbreak as well as a lead-poisoning crisis. [source]

The Radical Crusade of Mike Pence He's trampled on the rights of women, LGBTQ folks and the poor. Then there's the incompetence. Meet, quite possibly, the next president.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Republican Drug Addiction

White Nationalist Richard Spencer Punched In The Face

Sheriff Wingnut Threatens To Grab Himself By The Throat

"When I hear people say that we need to reach across the aisle and work with people, with the Democrats, you know what I say? The only reason I'll be reaching across the aisle is to grab one of them by the throat," Clarke said to raucous cheers and fist-pumping. [source]
Maybe most of the deplorables outside of Wisconsin are not aware (and even some inside Wisconsin), but Sheriff David Clarke runs for office as a Democrat.

So maybe he's just letting the cat out of the bag here - that he's a complete political opportunist who will do and say anything, buddy up to anyone and lie to his constituents for his own benefit. 

It seems he's trying to set himself up for a position within the Trump administration, so he may not really care about running for County Sheriff anymore. Although, if he does try to run for another term as Milwaukee County Sheriff, he should have to run as a Republican. 

Words mean things. The Trumps, Clarkes and the rest of that basket should have to mean what they say and stand behind the garbage that spills out of their mouths. Enough of their mealy-mouthed bullshit, saying whatever will gain applause from the crowd and fanning the flames of anger and misinformation, while shamelessly changing positions every other day.

Clarke is glad to call himself a Democrat to get elected in Milwaukee County, yet he wants nothing to do with the Democrats? 

So, Mr. Clarke, if you're going to run around spouting conservative bromides, start labeling yourself a Republican. Until then, grab yourself by the throat, squeeze and don't let go until that last breath leaves your hateful and ignorant body. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Beautifully Covered ... By Insurance Or Six Feet Of Dirt

"Of course, we won't know the official numbers until the Congressional Budget Office releases its report which by law it must do for any bill over $5 billion. With one -- this is kind of funny -- exception. Thanks to new rules passed by the Republicans, this law shall not apply to repealing the Affordable Care Act. That's right. The GOP is so confident the repeal will save money, that they don't want to know if that's true. And if Congress can make it illegal for us to know how much it costs to repeal ObamaCare, I think they might have stumbled on the replacement. Just make it illegal for your doctor to tell you your diagnosis. That way -- that way you'll need insurance as far as you know. 'Well, Mr. Johnston, I have your chart right here. Let's see. And I can't legally tell you how you are. Uh, just make the most of your day. And here's a hint, don't worry about the expiration dates on your food. Your milk's going to be fine.' So Republicans -- so Republicans are right to keep news the dark. I know when someone is screwing me, I like to keep the lights off. And that's the word." [source]

Now, Can We All Agree Sheriff David Clarke Is Unfit For Office?

Recently a man named Dan Black had the misfortune to interact with Sheriff David Clarke:
According to Black, he asked the sheriff, who was dressed in Dallas Cowboys apparel, if he was Sheriff Clarke. When Clarke said yes, Black noted in his original viral Facebook post that "he shook his head at him and moved on." Clarke then asked if Black had a problem, to which Black claimed he shook his head no. When the plane landed, however, Black says he was greeted by "about six cops and drug/bomb dogs who questioned me for about fifteen minutes before escorting me out." [source]
So obviously Clarke has a thin skin and has no problem abusing his power (just like his hero Donald Trump).

Black has since filed a harassment claim against Clarke.

Clarke responded,
Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out. The Sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.
Clarke has also taunted Black in a Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office Facebook post:

Is Clarke, in the Facebook post, threatening to kill Black? WTF?!

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has commented and apologized to Black on behalf of the County:
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele blasted Clarke for posting the meme and making a “juvenile” threat.

“Most cops, most deputies, most law enforcement officers don’t pull stunts like this,” Abele told Fox6. “I’ve already apologized to Dan Black on behalf of the county.”
Looks like Wisconsin has its own Joe Arpaio.

Welcome to the era of Donald Trump. Abuse of power, racism, sexism, crony capitalism, class warfare and nepotism.


For Further Reading:
More Than Just A Wingnut Sheriff
Unfit For Office
Crazy Clown Time
Sheriff Wingnut At It Again
Wingnut Sheriff Encourages More Violence

Republicans & Their Endless Tax Cuts Are Bankrupting Us

Swamp Drained

Barack Obama Inauguration 11:30 am 2009

Donald Trump Inauguration 11:04 am 2017

Obama's Accomplishments

Monday, January 16, 2017

Which States Rely The Most On Federal Aid?

The top recipient of federal aid per capita in FY 2014 was Mississippi, which relied on federal assistance for 40.9 percent of its revenue. Other states heavily reliant on federal assistance include Louisiana (40.1 percent), Tennessee (39.9 percent), Montana (39.1 percent), and Kentucky (38.5 percent).

Journalism Versus Public Relations

Eight Men Own The Same Wealth As The Poorest Half Of The World

8 people have same wealth as world's poorest half
Income inequality is so now lopsided that eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world. 
A top corporate CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 garment factory workers in Bangladesh. 
And the world's 10 biggest corporations together have revenue greater than the 180 poorest countries combined. 
These findings by Oxfam, from a report titled An economy for the 99%, was released Sunday as the globe's leaders and the business elite traveled to Davos, Switzerland, for this week's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The conference is partly aimed at eliminating extreme income inequality. 
The study found that the richest eight people on the planet have net wealth of $426 billion — equivalent to what's held by the bottom half of the world's population.
An Economy For The 99%
Yet the global inequality crisis continues unabated: 
• Since 2015, the richest 1% has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet. 
• Eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world. 
• Over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1 trillion to their heirs – a sum larger than the GDP of India, a country of 1.3 billion people. 
• The incomes of the poorest 10% of people increased by less than $3 a year between 1988 and 2011, while the incomes of the richest 1% increased 182 times as much. 
• A FTSE-100 CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 people in working in garment factories in Bangladesh.
• In the US, new research by economist Thomas Piketty shows that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50% has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1% have grown 300%. 
• In Vietnam, the country‟s richest man earns more in a day than the poorest person earns in 10 years.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Economic Development, Tax Incentives and The Plutocracy It's Creating

Tax incentives have become part of the economic development lexicon. The public sector has become a crucial funding cog in private sector projects. If not for the public injection of funding, the project, supposedly, would not get done. So much for the "free" market.

A quick perusal of news stories of the last few months are littered with tales of incentives creating jobs and growth. Such as the stories about how much sport teams add to the local economy and how much the new Amazon facility in Kenosha will boost their prospects.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in Green Bay Prepares For Playoff Game At Lambeau,
"The estimated impact is $14 million," said Toll, who, maybe only because he was standing with the Packers stadium in the background, bears a surprising resemblance the stadium's namesake. Advance ripples of that economic wave arrived first thing Monday morning, with fans streaming into the Packers Pro Shop and snatching up all the NFC North Division champions baseball hats by noon.
Sadly, the boost felt in Green Bay is a loss for others. Unless the money spent is above and beyond what would have already been spent, there is no growth taking place. If consumers merely traded dinner and a movie for Packer memorabilia and tickets, there is not growth, but merely a realignment of spending.

Another blogger wrote, "Whether or not you like the priorities, pro sports are one of the few things that seem to be booming and sparking the Wisconsin economy in 2017, and we'll see more examples of it today."

Much of this optimism seems prefaced on the Build-It-And-They-Will-Come mantra. Much of this new development will simply displace and devalue older businesses. Again, realigning spending, and in the case of sports (or large, big-box retailers), funneling money to absentee landlords -- persons or businesses that do not live in the city or state from which they are receiving funding and consumer spending.

Gregg Easterbrook, of The Atlantic, detailed How The NFL Fleeces Taxpayers.
Judith Grant Long, a Harvard University professor of urban planning, calculates that league-wide, 70 percent of the capital cost of NFL stadiums has been provided by taxpayers, not NFL owners. Many cities, counties, and states also pay the stadiums’ ongoing costs, by providing power, sewer services, other infrastructure, and stadium improvements. When ongoing costs are added, Long’s research finds, the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Tennessee Titans have turned a profit on stadium subsidies alone—receiving more money from the public than they needed to build their facilities. Long’s estimates show that just three NFL franchises—the New England Patriots, New York Giants, and New York Jets—have paid three-quarters or more of their stadium capital costs.

Many NFL teams have also cut sweetheart deals to avoid taxes. The futuristic new field where the Dallas Cowboys play, with its 80,000 seats, go-go dancers on upper decks, and built-in nightclubs, has been appraised at nearly $1 billion. At the basic property-tax rate of Arlington, Texas, where the stadium is located, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would owe at least $6 million a year in property taxes. Instead he receives no property-tax bill, so Tarrant County taxes the property of average people more than it otherwise would.
The situation has become so distorted that the revenues from suites, club seats and national TV deals are more important to most NFL teams than the average seats at stadiums.

The development panacea has trickled into college sports, too. As Eben Novy-Williams describes in College Football’s Top Teams Are Built on Crippling Debt:
Football critics nationwide often point to multimillion-dollar coaches as emblems of excess. They should be more worried about debt, which costs more and lasts longer. A high-priced coach might earn $4 million to $5 million a year. Meanwhile, according to public records, athletic departments at least 13 schools in the country have long-term debt obligations of more than $150 million as of 2014—money usually borrowed to build ever-nicer facilities for the football team. 
For some schools, millions in TV money can support a high level of debt service. That includes the University of Alabama, which plays Clemson for the national championship on Monday. The Crimson Tide owes $225 million over the next 28 years. In the Big Ten, also flush from a rich media deal, the University of Illinois owes more than $260 million. If that revenue stream fails to grow or starts to drop, as it already has for some programs in the top tier of college football, the results could be crippling.
How can these can't-fail projects, guaranteed to bring jobs and growth, lead to such debt? The reality appears to be almost exactly the opposite of what all the boosters are claiming. The beneficiaries of these projects are not workers or the community, in general, but the ownership that gets to avoid costs and pocket the profits.

Much has also been made of the new Amazon development in Kenosha. Again, supposedly, a big win for the community and its workers. First, this ignores the numerous stories of the abusive practices in Amazon warehouses. The company has been investigated by OSHA over its warehouse practices. Second, these warehouse jobs are low-wage and typically temporary positions. The pay is usually 16% lower than average warehouse worker pay. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) found that local brick-and-mortar retailers employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales, Amazon employs just 19 people for every $10 million in sales.

Between 2012 and 2014, Amazon extracted $431 million in tax incentives and other subsidies from local and state governments. ILSR also found that Amazon has eliminated about 149,000 more jobs in retail than it has created in its warehouses.

As Daniel Gross explains, "Paying more, making work more attractive, and offering perks is one tried and tested way of meeting the need for labor when labor markets are tight. Another tack is to design machines, systems, and consumer experiences that reduce or eliminate the need for human labor. Amazon is doing that, too. The New York Times reported in December that Amazon is now experimenting with a retail concept dubbed Amazon Go. It has built an 1,800-square-foot store in one of its office buildings in Seattle that should start operations next year. Open at first only to Amazon employees, it will be stocked with drinks, snacks, and prepared meals. One thing it won’t be filled with is many retail employees. The store will be outfitted with technology — a smartphone app, scanners, sensors — that will enable people essentially to load goods into their bag, then walk out and pay without stopping at a check-out lane." Thus, while Amazon takes these subsidies whilst promising jobs, they are actively pursuing strategies to eliminate their need for workers.

Amazon received $21.8 million in TIF subsidies for the Kenosha facility and $10.3 million in state enterprise zone tax credits. These final subsidy numbers also increased from the originally proposed $17 million TIF subsidy and $7 million in credits.

All of these subsidies have helped Amazon grow from a 2006 market value of $17.5 billion to a 2016 market value of $355.9 billion. 8 other large retailers, over the same period, have seen their combined market value drop $102.4 billion.

This phenomenon ties into recent research on Rising U.S. Business Concentration and The Decline in Labor's Share of Income.
The economists look at firm-level data on the labor share of income to see what’s happening. Using firm-level data on sales and employee compensation, they find a strong correlation between increasing concentration of sales among firms and a lower share of income accruing to workers in the same industry. The five economists argue that competition within these industries is shifting income toward successful, less labor-intensive firms “superstar firms.” 
Note that it’s not a lack of competition resulting in higher price markups that’s causing the decline in the labor share of income in these industries, as some other research has argued. Rather, this new paper emphasizes the role of competition in shifting sales toward firms with a lower share of income going to workers. The analysis of the data by the five authors shows that most of the decline is due to the shift in higher sales toward firms with low labor shares.
Much of this tax incentive, economic development paradigm seems to be funneling money into fewer and fewer, select hands. Whether it be sport or big-box retailers, much of the incentives offered seem to be counterproductive and often fail on delivering the jobs and growth for the communities and their workers.

For Further Reading:
With 6,000 New Warehouses Jobs, What Is Amazon Really Delivering?
4 Ways Amazon's Ruthless Practices Are Crushing Local Economies
A Local Book Publisher Laments Amazon's Impact
Before You Click On Amazon, Here's Why Your Choice Matters
How Amazon's Tightening Grip On The Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs and Threatening Communities
Will Amazon Fool Us Twice?