Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blackmail Pro

Bass Pro won't build on wetlands, but they will use the jobs carrot to secure subsidies from localities where they build their stores. Often garnering giveaways and allowances which make the gain of a Bass Pro store a net loser of an investment for the locality.

Where's The Money?

In all of the heated rhetoric surrounding deficits, debt, budgets, and where we are going to get the revenues to pay for the services we all desire, why do we ignore the glaringly inefficient, unneeded, unnecessary, and gratuitously bloated military budget?

The second largest military (China) spend 6.7 times less than the United States. We spend $660+ billion, while China spends almost $99 billion. Canada and Germany only spend 1.3% of their GDP on military expense. The U.S. spends 4.3%. Only spending as much as these two other highly productive and advanced nations would equal a 70 percent reduction in our military spending. Our military budget would only be $198 billion. A savings of $462 billion.

But, for arguments sake, lets assume we could have an equally effective military spending just 4 times what China spends. We'd still be spending just under $400 billion. But we'd now have over $260 billion to spend on infrastructure, education, health care, Medicare, debt, etc.

A much better bang for the buck. (No pun intended.)

Hut, Hut, Socialism

Friday, January 28, 2011


Cenk Uygar and Rep. Jan Schakowski discuss Paul Ryan's ridiculously misinformed response to the SOTU and the disastrous plan that is the Paul Ryan Roadmap.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Home Team

Poor Harley Davidson has only seen a $91.4 billion profit over the past two years. Makes a lot of sense to see them threatening taking away jobs from cities if they aren't given a handout, and threatening their unionized employees with job loss.

In other local, prideful, business news, A.O. Smith (a company that has been moving jobs to Mexico since the early 1990s) saw its earnings rise 42 percent.

Two great examples of local corporate interests whose actions are directly responsible for the loss of many good paying jobs in America. All the while, they are raking it in alongside subsidies from the government.

It's class warfare alright. And the uber rich are winning.


Robert Scheer wasn't very impressed with Obama's State Of The Union (SOTU). Or, more precisely, he felt Obama, yet again, missed an opportunity to more unequivocally address the most important issues, draw a line in the sand, and expose the Republican and Tea Party talking-points for the lies that they are.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Union Facts

Lately there has been an enormous amount of misinformation, agitation, and outright lies being spewed at unionized workers. The right-wing is trying to set union workers up as the scapegoats for any and all problems America faces.

Here is a compilation of unionized-worker facts which correct the anti-union propaganda being echoed throughout the media:

  • Overall, public workers total compensation is 3 percent less than their private sector counterparts.
  • "When state and local government employees are compared to private-sector workers with similar characteristics - particularly when workers are matched by age and education - state and local workers actually earn less, on average, than their private-sector counterparts. The wage penalty for working in the state-and-local sector is particularly large for higher-wage workers," Schmitt notes.
  • For every $1.00 invested in state and localities, $1.41 is returned. A very good bang for the buck.
  • But with government being the same size (when adjusted for population) as it was in the 1970s and with unions representing only 10 percent of the total working population, to keep blaming these two entities as the cause of all our fiscal problems is an exercise in elaborate delusion.
  • State and local spending for public employee payrolls was 9 percent below the national average and ranked 33rd.
  • In 2008, Wisconsin was 8.2% below the national average in the number of state and local employees for every 1, 000 state residents, ranking 41st nationally.
  • When the number of full-time equivalent positions was measured relative to each state's 2009 population, Wisconsin was 4.4 percent below the national average and ranked 38th, meaning only 12 states had a leaner public sector.
  • Keith Bender and John Haywood have found, "Over the last 20 years, the earnings for state and local employees have generally declined relative to comparable private sector employees."
  • Dean Baker discovered, "The average pension for a public employee was $22,000 a year in 2007."
  • Lauren Smith found, "Federal workers earn 22 percent less than their counterparts in the privatge sector, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management."
  • "The federal workforce today as a proportion of the total U.S. workforce is about half what it was in 1970."
  • "In 1980, the ratio of top- to bottom-earners in Fortune 500 companies was 41 to 1. By 2007, it had risen to 411 to 1," Mr. Holland informs us.
  • Nancy Folbre adds, "Once adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage in the United States is lower than it was in 1967.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Untouchable Taxes

Lawmakers in four states want to make tax reform even more difficult. In Wisconsin, the idea being floated about is to require a supermajority (two-thirds) vote to raise taxes.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trickle-Down Truth

Rachel Maddow Takes Stephen Moore To Task

Repealing Ryan's Rhetoric

Paul Ryan was given a platform, yet again, by the Journal Sentinel to bash health care reform. As expected, his piece is full of obfuscation and falsehoods.

He begins with the biggest lies regarding health care reform the Republicans are pushing: that it will cost trillions of dollars, it will raise taxes, and it will put government at the center of individual health decisions.

Paul tells us that serious people - policy experts, actuaries, etc. - have looked over the reform and have agreed that it's just smoke and mirrors.

Paul throws around a lot of numbers in an attempt to give his article some gravitas. Everyone else, it appears, is wrong and he has the real numbers. If you haven't heard, Mr. Ryan is a very serious man. Plus, he likes economics (and pretending like he is an economist). Therefore, don't be afraid to let him spoon-feed you his wildly misguided analysis.

Strangely he never mentions any studies or other scholars to support his opinion nor the numbers he cites. One would think, with so many others supposedly in agreement about how terrible health care reform is, Mr. Ryan could at least offer up some supporting evidence.

The best he does is to parrot the right-wing belittling of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO has given nonpartisan, unbiased analysis to both parties on bills since 1974. Republicans are fond of citing the work of the CBO when it fits their goals. When a CBO analysis is in opposition to Republican policy, then the right-wing feels the CBO is full of hacks using smoke and mirrors. And, Mr. Ryan also falsely states that the CBO has admitted reform will increase our national debt. In reality, they have stated that our debt will be lower with the reform than it would have been otherwise. They have also found that repeal could cost $230 billion.

Lets also remember some of the positives accomplished by health care reform:
  • 30 million more people have insurance
  • insurance companies can no longer cap coverage
  • you can no longer be refused for an existing medical condition
  • dependent children can remain on the parent's plan until they are 26
  • free preventative health care
  • small business tax credits
  • Medicare expansion to rural areas
  • enhanced fraud checks
  • improved appeals process
Republicans seriously want to repeal all this? Seems the Republicans are more interested in the health of the insurance companies and other vested interests profiting from our inefficient health system, than in an orderly delivery of health services to American citizens. A better strategy would be for the citizens of Wisconsin to repeal (recall) Mr. Ryan from office. His actions and opinions continually show he does not have much of an interest in the well-being of his constituents.

Republican Ryan Eyes

Jon Perr has a great column on the Paul Ryan Roadmap.

How Dare You Say My Hateful Speech Incites Hate

Who is the most dangerous (well, top 9) person plotting against America? According to Glenn Beck it's Frances Fox Piven, a 78 year old political science and sociology professor.

Peter Dreier has the sordid details including Beck's numerous incitements and his minions responses.


Dave Neiwert, from Crooks & Liars, has more.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


“Keith Olbermann’s announcement tonight, the very same week that the government blessed the Comcast-NBC merger, raises serious concern for anyone who cares about free speech. Comcast proved expert in shaking down the government to approve its merger. Comcast’s shakedown of NBC has just begun,” stated Marvin Ammori, law professor at the University of Nebraska.

Public Disregard

It's all a bit vexing to see misinformed citizens commenting, on the Journal website, about greedy union members, bailouts, and the public sector as the cause of all ills. The commenter even throws in 401Ks to complete the gauntlet of unintelligible proclamations.

First, union members are declared the cause of all fiscal woes for Chrysler and General Motors. Next, we are told Harley-Davidson, Mercury Marine, and Kohler were brought to their negotiating knees by the diabolically nefarious unions.

Ah, to have such ignorance fueling misplaced anger.

The only reason any private sector company pays public-equivalent salaries, offers health care, and has some sort of retirement account in place, at all, is because of the years of struggle of organized labor. You'd all still be sleeping in the factory, making widgets 16 hours a day, if it wasn't for unions.

Business owners don't dislike unions because of any true principles the owners may hold. Unions more equitably spread the gains of a business amongst it shareholders (workers), rather than allowing the productivity gains to simply be gathered by a select few at the top of the organization.

It's amazing how angry working- and middle-class people get at other low-income, working- and middle-class people. Yet, none of their vitriol and contempt is ever heaved upon the CEOs making 400 times what their shop-floor worker is making.

Even Fritz Henderson, CEO of GM, said, "They [the United Auto Workers] have been more a part of the solution than part of the problem."

The more naysayers continue to belittle union's gains - living wage, health care, and a retirement plan - the more we see those workers' rights disappearing for all workers - public or private. So, if you don't like having a health care plan at your job, if you'd rather work until you drop - without a chance at ever being able to retire, and if you're happy getting by on a minimum wage (surely buttressed with crippling credit card debt), by all means, continue to criticize unions. What a paradise it will be when we are all WalMart workers.

The 401K story is a perfect example, a microcosm, of the problem with putting our full faith into an all-knowing free market. As many have realized, more so since the Great Recession, defined contribution plans are highly volatile and a very bad vehicle to hitch one's retirement dream to.

Let's also remember some crucial facts about our much, recently, maligned unionized workers:

  • They are more educated than their private sector counterparts - 48% versus 23%.
  • The public sector acts as a safety cushion. During economic recessions they still spend - using restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, buying appliances, doing remodeling, etc. - enabling businesses to stay open and workers to keep their jobs.
  • The total unionized workforce represents 11 percent of total employment.
  • Overall, public workers total compensation is 3 percent less than their private sector counterparts. The wage penalty for working in the state-and-local sector is even higher for higher-wage workers.
  • For every $1.00 invested in state and localities, $1.41 is returned. A very good bang for the buck.
These are tough times and sometimes venting and blaming the other can make us feel better for a short period. But this doesn't change the fact that unions have been more a part of the solution than the problem. To claim differently is delusion and a stubborn disregard of the evidence.

For Further Reading:

If Only We Could Harness Walker's Hot Air

A primer on the Scott Walker wind turbine failure:

Discredited Proposal

Scott Walker thinks his business tax credit proposal is going to ignite job creation throughout the state. We should, we're told, lower the tax burden on small businesses, allow them more of their earnings, let them reinvest in their companies, resulting in job creation. Sounds pretty good. Superficially, at least.

The Business Journal details the plan, "The proposal calls for a 15 percent tax credit, to be applied to future tax payments, for small businesses making $250,000 a year or less. The credit would fade out for businesses making $250,000 to $500,000 a year." The Journal Sentinel elaborated, "Businesses with gross sales of less than $500,000 a year and an income tax liability could qualify for the proposed tax credit." Although, PolitiFact has found Walker's claim that 98 percent of small businesses will be able to take advantage of the tax credit is "false".

Growing business, in general, is a laudable goal. But isn't this the "picking winners" game that Republicans abhor whenever Democrats try to make such programs or initiatives more effective and/or more heavily invested? Plus, comparatively, isn't this really, in the greater scheme of things, ineffectual trifle which will barely make a dent into unemployment? And, relative to the subsidization provided to our "too big to fail" entities, the $40 million per year statewide tax credit (obviously inflated for appearance), amounts to a spit in the bucket. This amounts to about .0002 percent of Wisconsin's gross state product.

This isn't a "game changer." This is merely another giveaway to the select few who will take advantage of the credit. Yet another loophole in the tax code. And this from a Republican administration that supposedly hates taxes and wants them simplified.

As Madison's Channel 3000 discovered, for most businesses able to participate in the tax credit, the savings would range from a few hundred dollars up to $2,000. It's nice to have a few extra bucks. Yet, no business owner is going to hire staff due to an extra $2,000.

Come on, Scott. 250,000 is a large number of jobs. The clock is ticking. Thus far, your suggestions are real stinkers. If you're serious about creating that many jobs in your first term, you really need to lose the partisanship and your party line. You could have had billions of dollars of investment - trains and wind turbines - flowing into the state creating jobs, but you had to settle old political scores and push through bills that pat your party brethren on the back rather than accomplish job creation for Wisconsin.

Tort Reading

Are Doctors Sued Too Much?

Weekend Reading

Petty Woman Indeed

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Petty Woman
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Money Makes You Real

More good stuff from Chris Hayes...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

As You Wish Your Majesty

Looks likes NBC (now Comcast) wants to get in good with the new conservative administration, Keith Olbermann Fired!

The NeverSpending Story

Chris Hayes, filling in for Rachel Maddow, beautifully lays out the Republican's and Paul Ryan's vision for America. "A political party that is the vehicle for certain constituencies."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Having Your CBO & Eating It, Too

Damn that CBO!

But the CBO said...

Palin Fatigue & Disintegration

Colbert, you magnificent bastard!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Mika Brzezinski Experiences Palin Fatigue

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The Word - Disintegration

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Save Big Money

Menard's, the third largest home improvement retailer, headquartered in Eau Claire, has had problems with employee treatment, age discrimination, numerous environmental illegalities, amongst other infractions.

Just recently Lee Berquist wrote, "Menard ordered to pay $30,000 to settle illegal dumping charge." This concerned, "A 2007 case in which a pallet of herbicide was dumped on a parking island of a Menard store in Onalaska."

Needlessly environmentally reckless acts, such as this, are commonplace, it seems, for Menard's. As these excerpts from the Milwaukee Magazine show:
  • In 1994, Wisconsin obtained a civil judgment against Menards for the unlicensed transportation and disposal of ash produced by incinerating CCA-treated lumber. Wood treated with CCA contains chromium, copper and arsenic – a known carcinogen. It is considered hazardous waste and requires proper disposal in a licensed landfill. The company was fined $160,000.
  • In 1997, John Menard was caught using his own pickup truck to haul plastic bags filled with chromium and arsenic-laden wood ash to his own home for disposal along with his household trash. Menard pleaded no contest to felony and misdemeanor charges involving records violations, unlawful transportation and improper disposal of hazardous waste. Menard and his company were fined $1.7 million for 21 violations.
  • In 2003, the Minnesota attorney general charged that Menards manufactured and sold arsenic-tainted mulch in packaging labeled “ideal for playgrounds and for animal bedding.” Warning labels from the CCA-treated wood were found in the mulch. The EPA recommends that CCA-treated wood not be converted into mulch. The case is still pending.
  • In 2005, Menards agreed to a $2 million fine after Wisconsin DNR officials found a floor drain in a company shop that they believed was used to dump paint, solvents, oil and other waste into a lagoon that fed into a tributary of the Chippewa River. The sanction broke the previous record fine of $1.7 million set by Menard in 1997.
  • In 2006, the construction of a $112 million warehouse became a campaign issue in the Wisconsin governor’s race. The warehouse was to be erected by filling in a .6-acre bean field the DNR considers a seasonal wetland used by migrating tundra swans. Menards offered to build a wetland more than twice its size as a replacement, but was rejected by Scott Humrickhouse, a DNR regional director. Humrickhouse said that solution could be used “only when every alternative for saving the original wetland was exhausted.” The increasingly heated dispute got considerable media coverage, with a DNR warden calling Menard’s general counsel a “legal bitch” and the company threatening to move jobs out of Wisconsin. Tempers seemed to cool after Gov. Jim Doyle arranged $4.2 million in state aide to help the company expand its Eau Claire manufacturing headquarters. Menard had previously contributed $20,000 to Doyle’s campaign.
What punishment is going to stop this $6.6 billion annual sale behemoth from continuing to do such devastation? What would stop the owner - with a personal net worth of $5.2 billion - from doing such destructive acts? A $30,000 fine?

When it's cheaper to just dump the toxins into a stream or put it in a landfill and pay a fine, rather than taking the necessary and sometimes costly steps of disposing of such hazardous materials properly, short-sighted and greedy people will choose their bank accounts over your (and the planet's) health every time.

This is why regulation is necessary and in place for so many activities we participate in. Yes, it's messy. But, without it, our water, food, air, it would all be toxic; lowering the quality of life and the vitality of our whole civilization. These externalities (costs) have consequences on society that businesses do not pay for, nor do they take them into account when talking about their impact (economic and environmental) on a city or region.

This isn't a "substantial fine," as Menard's spokesman Jeff Abbott claims. It's a pittance considering the devastation not only to the land itself, but to the water supply and people of Wisconsin (and in the numerous other states where the stores are located). It is .000005 percent of Menard's annual sales.

Enforcing the regulations on the books would, no doubt, increase this expense for the company. But that's part of the cost of doing honest and responsible business. Instead, they just pollute alongside a comparatively meager donation ($30,000) and have taxpaying citizens pick up the bill - in soil contamination and land remediation costs, through water supply damage, through ecosystem degradation, and through health-related consequences.

Just another example of why we need to organize (unionize!) and bring back a healthy, sustainable, shared prosperity. We need rules. We can't allow disproportionate penalization for different classes within our society. The punishment should fit the crime and the criminal.

Wages for the majority of workers have stagnated since our adoption of trickle-down economics. A simultaneous decline in unionization has occurred. The economy grew 160% from 1973 to 2005. The top 1% saw their income grow 250%. Our (collective) loss is the enormous gain of a select few. Unionization has declined, while wages have stagnated. We're little rats, running faster and faster, yet losing ground. And while our 'social betters' gobble up more and more of the pie, they leave us with the effects of their waste and selfishness.

In the days before neoliberalism, and the unjustified adoration of the private sector and all-things business, there was inequality. But it was nothing like the grotesquely diabolical monster we see today. Our current era of inequality, ushered in by the false messiah of the right (Ronald Reagan), eclipses the Gilded Age. Let's give the Community idea another chance. Relatively speaking, our 'broadly-based, mixed economy of the (roughly) 1940-1970 period' served all of us much better than the 'post 1980 low tax/deregulation' experiment.

Let's govern the Menards of the world again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You And Your Rules!

It appears the operatives at FOX have infiltrated the White House with some of their Kool-Aid. President Obama is parroting the right-wing mantra of "too much regulation" as a reason for the slow-growing economy and our lack of job growth.

If we actually had left post- Great Depression regulation in place, modernized other regulations to keep apace with financial chicanery, and allowed these policies some teeth, we wouldn't have a near-Depression economy and anemic job growth.

Tax Evasion

James Rowen writes about the reclassification of the Pabst Farms' land to an agricultural designation.

Another great example of why everyday home owners pay more in property taxes than they should. (And, another great example of how the well-connected screw us over all the time.)

This was supposedly a win-win, no-brainer development. Of course we needed highway widening, an interchange, and a mall complex. You just can't have enough of that kind of stuff.

But now that the reality has set in (after taxpayers have funded the interchange infrastructure) that we don't really need this development. The developers are now claiming it's just farmland. Which, of course, they are only doing because agricultural land is taxed at half the normal rate. And, of course, the taxing entity is allowing this tax evasion because, as we all know, we must do all we can to aid business.

This property was so dynamic that a TIF needed to be created and taxpayers had to improve the access to the site (with the interchange) of this capitalist paradise.

We keep hearing about how we - everyday workers and taxpayers - have to help business and make things easier for them. We must improve the business climate for these very smart and very serious people. We need to follow the developers, financiers, and investors orders. They know what they are doing. After all, they're disciples of the magic free market. (Free for them, but you need to fork over your tax dollars. Similar to "free" trade.)

I'm all for tax dollars trying to revitalize the most downtrodden areas of our cities and our society. Using our collective action (and dollars) to bring up the least amongst us. Instead, over the past few decades, Republicans have told us to forget about the poor. The way to live the American dream is to deregulate business, give them tax breaks, and help them pay for the costs of their business and its necessary infrastructure. (Even though they don't want to pay taxes to help pay for the infrastructure that allows their business to operate - roads, sewers, plowing, etc.)

Now we have a socialism for the rich. Or, as they like to call it, the "free" market economy. Taxpayers provide low interest loans (through bonding), TIFs, highway and interchange construction (along with the necessary sewer and electric, not to mention the added police and fire protection), parking structures, tax credits, tax breaks, grants, and a whole litany of other giveaways. And who garners the majority of the rewards? They do. Ah, but guess who gets to cover any losses? You (the taxpayer) do, silly.

The 'free-market, business-climate, anti-regulation' emperor has no clothes.

Republican (Anti) Jobs Plan

The Scott Walker Administration's top job creation priorities:

Tort Reform
Voter ID
Concealed Carry
Health Care Reform Repeal

These items either add to the deficit or they have no bearing upon it whatsoever. These are red herrings in every sense. These have nothing [positive] to do with job creation.

The Republican are selfishly, again, pushing forward their favorite pet projects and bills, alongside their ever-present ideology of deregulation and low taxation (to the benefit their corporate puppetmasters) which has crippled our economy and destroyed our middle class over the past four decades.

What a joke!

Will voters making less than $250,000 ever learn - Republicans don't give a shit about you or your family.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guns For Growth?

Is this really the legislation Wisconsin needs to pass at this moment? How exactly is a concealed carry law going to create jobs?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Guns & Teabaggers

More Guns Does Not Equal Less Crime

The Teabaggers & The Founding Fathers

Closed For Business

How many hundreds of millions of dollars of investment can Scott Walker kill in less than a month in office?

Voter Identification

Republicans and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are doing their yearly voter ID song-and-dance routine. They are pounding the drum about a fictitious scenario of widespread voter fraud, and therefore the need for voter identification.

They conveniently ignore the fact that over 20 million American do not have the necessary paperwork to obtain identification. Typically these people are elderly and minority voters, whom usually vote Democrat. Republicans are using the voter fraud myth as a tool for voter suppression. Not the most inclusive, big-tent platform. Nor is this the most important issue to address while the country faces double digit unemployment. In fact, tackling campaign finance is a much more important and effective way to address voting, elections, and to improve our democracy.

Open for business? Trying to create jobs? More plausibly just trying to push through the same old destructive conservative platform of cronyism and class warfare.

For Further Reading:

Privatizing The State

A new report by Good Jobs First, The Risk In Privatizing State Economic Development Agencies, couldn't be more timely.

An excerpt of their findings:

Most of the seven states that currently make use of economic development public-private partnerships (PPPs) have experienced a variety of performance problems. These include the following:
  • Misuse of taxpayer funds (Rhode Island, Florida and Wyoming)
  • Excessive executive bonuses (Virginia, Florida, Michigan and Wyoming)
  • Questionable subsidy awards by the subset of PPPs that have a role in that process (Michigan and Rhode Island)
  • Conflicts of interest in subsidy awards (Florida, Utah and Texas, which makes limited use of PPPs)
  • Questionable claims by the PPP about its effectiveness (Wyoming, Florida, Utah and Indiana)
  • Resistance to accountability (Florida and Michigan)
Wisconsin, Scott Walker, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, are you listening?

For Further Reading:

Public Employee Unions

Convenient Scapegoats: Public Workers


Red States Are Welfare Queens

False Equivalence

There's been a major dust-up over blame for the Arizona tragedy. Many on the left are pointing fingers at the vitriolic rhetoric of the right as agitating such misguided violence. Those on the right are using their well-worn, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people" schtick. There will be no mea culpa from those on the right. In the fantasy world of conservatives, words only have ill-fated consequences when spoken by Democrats.

It appears Jared Loughner wasn't unequivocally a Republican. He was, though, obviously a disturbed individual whom should have been commited, from his many reported awkward instances, long ago. Yet, the fact that he chose to target a Democrat should give us some indication on which side of the spectrum he tended to lean.

Nevertheless, the fact remains, Republican rhetoric has instigated and inflamed violent and uncivil actions across America. Even moreso since Barack Obama has taken office. Soon after Obama was inaugurated reports were released detailing the rise in right-wing extremism. Conservatives ignored and/or scoffed at the reports. The Becks and Limbaughs of the world continued their end-of-times warnings and hate-filled broadcasting.

Oddly, some on the right want to claim, "Democrats did the same thing [violent rhetoric] back in 2004." Really? Democrats were telling people to use "second amendment remedies" to take their country back? Democrats were blanketing the internet with gun crosshairs on Republicans they wanted out of office? Democrats were labeling those on the right as fascists bent on destroying our country and way of life? Not even close!

And, another big difference between those of us on the left and those on the right is the fact that when and/or if someone on the left were to use such incendiary language or images, the overwhelming majority of Democrats would condemn such actions. On the right, instead, we see nearly the entire party rally and defend such divisive spewings.

Even in the aftermath, conservatives continue to criticize. These ideologues just don't get it. So much for teachable moments.

For Further Reading:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meme Masher

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) corrects two pieces of misinformation the Republicans are hoping will gain traction:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Crying Game


Unnecessary Exemptions

Think your property taxes are too high? The Institute For Wisconsin's Future has a new report detailing many exemptions we could discontinue which would lower the burden for most home owners.

Arizona Shooting

Tragedy in Arizona.

I'm sure those on the right will tell us their rhetoric (like that of Sarah Palin's below) had nothing to do with it.

Tort Deformity

Scott Walker and the Republicans are rolling out "tort reform" (basically capping corporate liabilities) again as a key to balancing budgets and growing the economy.

This is a completely bogus issue. The litigation in question accounts for roughly 1 percent of costs. Republicans are, again, merely looking out for the bottom line of their corporate paymasters.

For Further Reading:

Getting Squeezed

In a great article, by Heather Boushey and Joshua Holland, they explain the falsity behind the message, being spread by Republicans, that we don't have money to afford a safety net any longer.

Read this article!

Here are some excerpts:

"The top 1% has grabbed most of the gains, seeing an impressive 250% increase in income between 1973 and 2005 from an economy that's grown by 160%."

"The share of federal revenues contributed by corporations has declined by two-thirds since 1962."

"The typical married couple works an additional 13.3 weeks per year - 533 hours - compared to a generation ago."

"The share of income going to wages is at the lowest level ever recorded, while the piece of the pie gobbled up by corporate profits is at its highest point since 1960."

Brie Penis Cure

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Weekend Reading

A Physicist Solves The City

Friday, January 7, 2011

Selective Hearing

The Republicans like to use the phrase, "This is what the American people want."


Republicans, are you listening?

[h/t Blogging Blue]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Debt Ceiling

Jon Perr gives some much needed perspective and insight into the completely manufactured debt ceiling issue with which the Republicans are trying to blackmail the Democrats.

Republicans, during the George W. Bush administration, raised the debt ceiling 75 percent. Thus far, under Barack Obama, the debt ceiling has only been raised roughly 18 percent.

For Further Reading:

Unregulated Insanity

Republicans are storming into power with their usual no taxes and deregulation bromides. Barry Ritholtz asks, "How did that work out [previously]?"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rail Transit

... what could have been.

Cognitive Dissonance

We really can't see the forest for the trees.

Deja Vu

Tom Still, at the Journal, has a whopper (and laughable) wish list for business growth. We'll take this steaming pile one turd at a time.

He begins with a defense of tax cuts and the wealthy. He wants us to ignore increasing unemployment, poverty, inequality, wage stagnation, increasing health care costs, declining retirement coverage, amongst the many other hardships the bottom 99 percent face. He finds justification because a select few earning the most also happen to pay a lot in taxes. The funny part is when he states, "They [the rich] already pay their fair share and help keep the economy humming." Indeed, nearly 10 percent unemployment, foreclosures, and increasing poverty - that's humming along.

Next free trade is given boosterism. Here the typical right-wing talking-points are on display. Free trade, no strings attached, is good policy...damn the evidence. Luckily more reasoned analysis is out there - Jobs With Justice and Economic Policy Institute.

The University of Wisconsin system, we're informed, will get the "freedom to manage its own resources." Which means they will be responsible for more of their own costs. Slowly spinning our UW system into a quasi-privatized entity. Again, as is the problem with everything in life for right-wingers, the system has too much regulation from the state. Running the university system like a business will produce much better results. (Yes, I'm trying to hold back my laughter, too.) Just look at how great this privatization scam has worked for the economy.

Now we get to the magical world of venture capital. As I've written earlier, "Josh Lerner, of Harvard, has found the number of exceptional venture capitalists is very small. Harold Bradley, of the Kaufmann Foundation, believes venture capitalists have plenty of money, but allocate it very inefficiently, and therefore should not be receiving additional public dollars with the hope of boosting a local economy. Bradley and Carl Schramm, in an article for Business Week, write that the current focus on fees has promoted start-up flipping rather than nurturing." Another attempt of throwing those well-worn conservative talking-points -- entrepreneurial, venture capital, flexibility, etc. -- out there and seeing what sticks.

Mr. Still would also like Congress to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research grant program. This is another area I find so hypocritically disturbing among conservatives. They bad mouth everything about government. They talk of how omnipotent business and the market are. But, for some reason, government money and initiatives are the crucial elements for so much of private sector progress.

It's 2011, but some things never change. Delusions and misinformation are out in full force to start the new year.

For Further Reading:

Vouching For Delusion

Although I've written about this before, thanks to a few more articles in the Journal Sentinel I find myself asking, why when the evidence shows they do not accomplish better results does the media continue to push charter schools as a viable alternative to the public school system?

The Journal is even upset that MPS won't sell their property to competing charter schools. It's not enough that public dollars are already siphoned to charter schools, now we should sell them MPS buildings, too.

The Journal previously highlighted a "study" of Milwaukee school performace by the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF) - the study was funded by the Bradley Foundation. (I wonder why the Journal, as they always do with labor or Democratic entities, didn't label the Bradley Foundation "conservative," "business-friendly," or similar.) Basically, Milwaukee has some bad schools [insert leap of faith despite evidence here] so let's continue to funnel money to charter schools because the teacher union is mean and we'd rather the money be misappropriated by private-sector educational cranks.

A conservative newspaper spotlights a conservative foundation's study which specifies where the worst performing schools are in Milwaukee, according to their own methodolgy, and then uses this to implicitly push for more charter/voucher schools.

It's great that whatever you believe is correct, even when it's not.

Diane Ravitch - the number one debunker of the charter school boondoggle - has completely eviscerated any and all arguments regarding the performance of charter/voucher schools.

It is really unnerving that every half-wit, pea-brained scheme the right-wing comes up with is vigorously adhered to despite empirical evidence completely disproving its efficacy. This isn't, nor should it be, a political battle. This is education. It is the future of our country. If you're really a patriot and care about your country you wouldn't push for policies that waste money, which show no better results, and which harm the long-term competitiveness of the nation.

The best way to address educational shortcomings - address poverty. But this would involve higher taxes and "spreading the wealth around." And, we know the right-wing is against such altruism and long-term planning. Thus, ultimately, we know they are against improving education or helping those in poverty. Slick marketing and ineffectual privatization schemes are much easier.


I see Patrick McIlheran had to echo the conservative position on school choice. His main argument is that money spent for charter/voucher/choice schools is better than spending money on public schools.

But, the ultimate outcome of this game of moving chairs - taking public dollars from public schools and giving it to choice schools - is that students perform no better. He cites numbers to show that some public students cost $10,000 to $12,000 per year, while the choice student only costs roughly $6,400 per year. Sure it's great to save a few bucks, but the object here is actually to educate children. Let's assume the numbers are correct: so, we pay less, but the students perform no better.

I encourage everyone to read The Myth of Charter Schools by Diane Ravitch. (Much of the article dispels falsities from Waiting For Superman.) Here are just a few excerpts which completely demolish the nonsense being spewed by the choice crowd:

"Another highly praised school that is featured in the film is the SEED charter boarding school in Washington, D.C. SEED seems to deserve all the praise that it receives from Guggenheim, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and elsewhere. It has remarkable rates of graduation and college acceptance. But SEED spends $35,000 per student, as compared to average current spending for public schools of about one third that amount".

"Guggenheim complains that only one in 2,500 teachers loses his or her teaching certificate, but fails to mention that 50 percent of those who enter teaching leave within five years, mostly because of poor working conditions, lack of adequate resources, and the stress of dealing with difficult children and disrespectful parents."

"According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60 percent of achievement is explained by nonschool factors, such as family income. So while teachers are the most important factor within schools, their effects pale in comparison with those of students’ backgrounds, families, and other factors beyond the control of schools and teachers."

"Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent.Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money?"

For Further Reading: