UPDATE: Now read Heartland Hollar's interesting take on the Gingrich visit and why some people are clearly not being honest with the people of Wisconsin.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
LaCrosse Tribune reports: "Walker said the promotional ride will do no more to boost his gubernatorial campaign than doing a good job back home."
Surprise! This small story is less about promoting Milwaukee and more about Walker's campaign and whether this trip was on the level.
It is worth noting that while Walker was on his self promotion tour, he had to "call it in" to get into a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story yesterday. It was about a major Milwaukee based company being sold. Not only is it Milwaukee County based but it is also the biggest tenant at the Milwaukee County run airport, Midwest Airlines. While other local officials were on hand to meet and speak with all parties involved, Walker was too busy doing a bad job of promoting himself and was satisfied with only a canned press release. What did he say about "doing a good job back home" again?
Walker's little bike ride ends today and I am actually quite surprised at how little coverage the stunt has received outstate. I'm talking about coverage at all. So far I have found 3 stories that mention his campaign for governor and only 2 stories that mention strictly tourism in Milwaukee County. With a wink and a nod you can check one more in the fail column for Walker.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By the way, I have been meaning to ask conservatives why they want to take away my free choice of having a public health care option? I thought they were against taking away consumers choice when it comes to healthcare reform?
Yesterday Michael Steele was kind enough to send me another email updating me on the status of this "urgent!!!" fundraiser. Based on that email I found out the "great" news that they had reached their fundraising goal of $100,000!!! Is he serious? Their goal to run an ad on a national TV network in prime time was $100,000? What markets were they planning on running this ad in exactly, Minot North Dakota? I'm starting to wonder if this was all some kind of joke. They sent out a pretty large email blast last week because it somehow included me and yet they only reached a $100,000 goal? Wow, either this really was a joke or perhaps the Republican Party has become a total joke.
Speaking of jokes…in this weeks email Steele misrepresents the President's goals for real health care reform. Stuffed with the usual hyperbole and straw man fallacies, the Steele update attacked the public OPTION piece of the President's plan. If Steele is going to continue sending out "urgent!!!" fundraising emails to a wide cross section of Americans, he may want to do a little better market tested research next time. New polls show overwhelming support for a public OPTION. Attacking such a popular feature might not be the best strategy when you are trying to raise money…unless the average American isn't really your prime constituency.
There has been much discussion about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's report regarding the affair between UW-Milwaukee Journalism instructor, Jessica McBride and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. The day that the story appeared on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's front page I even heard a sports program talking at length about the subject. Thus far I have not addressed it at all on my blog. Although I don't care about what other people do behind closed doors, in this case I think that the Journal Sentinel was justified in reporting the story. It involves a prominent public official and a well known reporter/commentator who also happens to teach journalism at a public university. I think that it is nearly impossible to deny that there are very legitimate ethical questions that should be asked regardless of the exact timeline of events. So I think on several levels this story was a legitimate one to print.
The fact that I think that the MJS was justified in running the story does not mean that I agree with the way that they handled it and with every word that they have and have not printed about it. In fact, based on Michael Mathias blog at Pundit Nation, I think that there is still at least one important question that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel must still answer. Michael blogged Tuesday about a list of questions that he sent to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel managing editor George Stanley and he gave some of Stanley's responses to them. One of Stanley's responses stuck out to me and I think it calls for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to answer at least one more important question regarding this entire issue. If the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that this was a print worthy story, then why didn't some of these same MJS people report on a similar incident with McBride while she was still working for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?
While reporting about this current scandal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel disclosed that when McBride was working for them as a reporter that they had to move her assignment when they found out that she was dating then-Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher. They obviously couldn't allow her to continue reporting on Bucher once they found out that she was dating him. But given their defense of their current reporting, why didn't they report this incident? How was it any different other than it would have made them look bad instead of their competitor Milwaukee Magazine? It appears that they discovered that she was dating Bucher while she was also responsible for reporting on him. He was a prominent law enforcement official and appeared to still be married to his previous wife at the time (based on the date of the divorce filing). So what exactly is the difference between this incident, which the MJS didn't say a peep about and the one that they promoted to the front page last week? Although there are many other legitimate questions being raised right now, this is one that George Stanley and the other officials at MJS must answer.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Scott Walker's latest self promotion tour has started but this time with a bit of a twist. He is infamous for trying to privatize everything in Milwaukee County, even though in many cases it actually costs more. So how appropriate that he has now decided to partially privatize/corporatize this year's self promotion tour? Walker forcing Milwaukee County taxpayers to finance his self promotion tour in the past was bad enough, but the odd mix that he is using this year raises a whole new set of ethical questions.
This is the second time that Walker has gone on this tour while also running for statewide office. With a wink and a nod Walker continually insists that this practice is only about promoting Milwaukee County. Yeah right, and that is why he was busted using his campaign staff to help organize the last trip.
Knowing that he has had serious problems separating his campaign from his last tour, Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he will "strictly avoid any talk about the governor's race or politics" during the news interviews that he does on this trip. This naturally is disingenuous as Walker knows that many will report on his run for governor whether he directly talks about it or not. For that reason, we are going to track what the local media says about Walker's self promotion tour and just how much they mention his campaign for governor.
The first installment of "Walker Wink and Nod Watch" comes from Business North just one day after he launched the tour. Business North appears to be a news outlet that covers both Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Did the story say anything about his campaign? Well, I don't know, take a look at the first phrase of their title for the story; "Wisconsin governor candidate Walker stops in Superior…" With a wink and a nod, Walker's mission is accomplished.
If you find any local reporting that we should know about, please let us know!
While we are talking about Scott Walker's self promotion tour, let's take a look at the latest DPW web ad about it:
Friday, June 19, 2009
I should note that I am not the first person to make the comparison between Scott Walker and the Groundhog Day movie. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Steve Schultze made the comparison in a blog late last year. He was specifically talking about the dysfunctional budget process that we have had in Milwaukee County government on Walker's watch. It goes something like this: Walker threatens vetoes, Walker issues vetoes, the board overrides his vetoes and corrects his budgetary mistakes and Walker runs around town bashing the board. Same drill every budget…just like Groundhog Day.
But the budget process and pools are not the only areas where we go through the same thing over and over with Walker. The way that Scott Walker is dealing with county workers in bad faith is also nothing new. Walker's tactics have not changed much year after year. After running around talking about a $15 million deficit, that later proved grossly exaggerated, Walker tried to rush the unions to agree to an open ended furlough and reduction of hours. When they didn't immediately agree with him, he started with his threats of imminent layoffs of hundreds of workers. Keep in mind that Walker is supposed to be working on a new contract with the unions and it is hardly acting in good faith to do all of this in the media rather than at a negotiating table. Yet this is also not a first, it is only the latest Walker repeat. Take a look at some of the things that he has done involving county workers in the past. Does any of this sound familiar?
- In an August 13, 2003 Journal Sentinel story, they report that Walker was jumping up and down about deficits. What was his solution at that time? Shortened work weeks for all employees. What did he say when unions didn't simply jump on board? He threatened to lay off hundreds of them. Again, it was another case of either/or from Walker even though there were serious questions about whether he could unilaterally take some of those actions in 2003.
- A December 16, 2006 Journal Sentinel story reminds me of yet another time when Walker was planning on laying off over 100 workers. The story states that the union successfully got a temporary restraining order stopping Walker's effort to lay off the workers and replace them through privatization. Again this incident happened in the middle of contract negotiations and the union said that public statements by Walker appeared to be linked to concession demands that Walker wanted the union to make. It should be noted that the story states that Walker issued the layoffs this time even though there was still funding for the positions. About a month later a labor agreement was finally reached and extended through 2008.
- An October 7, 2008 Journal Sentinel story cites Scott Walker's 2009 budget and once again mentions that he plans on laying off 339 workers and privatizing the services. Given his pattern, it is no surprise that Walker again chose to make these threats at a time when a new contract negotiation was close at hand.
Now here we find ourselves once again, in the middle of contract negotiations, and Walker is pulling all of the same stunts. Demand blind acceptance of furloughs, shortened work weeks, pay cuts or face drastic layoffs. Again we have questions of Scott Walker acting outside of his authority and again we have pool closings and new fees being retracted just about as quickly as they were proposed. With Walker there is nothing new and given his repeated pattern we certainly know what to expect. Unfortunately very little of it is good for Milwaukee County.
Thanks to Zach at Blogging Blue for providing the above picture
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Today walking train wreck and RNC Chairman Michael Steele sent me an urgent message of the greatest importance. It was a fundraising email that repeatedly told me that it was so very "urgent" and he even added a healthy supply of exclamation points to drive that point home. What was the "urgent" issue? Apparently the Republicans are all bent out of shape because ABC News is going to air a special on the number one issue in our country: health care reform. What really has them worked up is that as part of the coverage they will be airing a town hall on the subject that will be taking place at the White House. Oh the humanity!!!!!!! For that reason Michael Steele sends me an "urgent" appeal for cash? Sorry Mike, I gave at the office.
Apparently Fake News got the same email and decided to donate via in kind contribution. They have since been railing against competitor ABC News for their "unprecedented" coverage of the White House. If I had a dime for every time that their hosts and guests said that this was "unprecedented" I might have enough money to afford health care coverage. What the folks at Fake News didn't count on apparently is someone checking the way back machine for their "unprecedented" coverage of the disaster that was the George W. Bush White House. Thankfully Daily Kos put together this handy dandy little video mashup for us:
Budget-Time always seems to drag the real motivations out of some people. Republican's in the legislature for example are so protective and territorial about the current tax break for capital gains on investments. Even though Wisconsin's 60 percent tax exemption is one of the most generous in the nation, Republicans in Madison turn into chicken littles at the very thought of peeling it back even a little. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today, the tax break only benefits 9 percent of Wisconsinites and even then, they only net an average of $920 from it a year.
If Republican heads were spinning over the idea of simply peeling it back, what is going to happen to them with the idea in the Senate version which calls for ditching it altogether? I'm afraid that their heads could simultaneously explode. Its very nice of them to get so worked up protecting the interests of 9 percent of Wisconsinites but they should really think of their health! While they're at it, they should also start thinking of the health and well-being of the other 91 percent of us as well.
The Senate version of the budget has no increase in the sales tax or the income tax (for the vast majority of people). Further it offers controls on property tax bills. That is not good enough for the GOP in Wisconsin, they are simply too obsessed with standing up for the 9 percent (and even more elite types) to worry about the rest of us.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Time to jump on a timely soap box.*
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics is considering a bill to raise the pay for private lawyers that provide criminal defense for the indigent. I say that it is about time! It should go without saying but everyone accused of a crime has the right to a vigorous defense and that includes the poor. I worry that if we continue to pay these attorneys so little that we will chase many talented people out of such a necessary job. Most of these private attorneys do great work and often deal with very complicated cases and even more complicated clients. The simple fact is that they have not received a raise in a very long time and they deserve it. Currently they only get $40 an hour for this necessary and noble work. That is only $5 more than what they were paid back in 1978 for goodness sake! A five dollar raise in 30 years? How many of us would be OK with that in our own careers? It will be interesting to see if we can ignore the inevitably shallow attacks long enough to do the right thing. Kudos to Rep. Fred Kessler for introducing the bill.
*I used to almost exclusively do investigative work for criminal defense attorneys so I am well aware of their struggles and the fact that they have been severely underpaid for far too long.
Not content with misleading people in this country, Wisconsin Congressman F. Jim Sensenbrenner took his show to China last month. He was part of a climate change-based congressional delegation. Just before he left China he had a press conference where he essentially said that China was not serious about climate related reforms. The suggestion from his comments seemed clear, that the U.S. should basically continue to do nothing as a result. That is the same tired argument for inaction that we have always heard from the right wing. Allegedly Sensenbrenner based his negative outlook on remarks made by Chinese economist Professor Pan Jiahua. After an exclusive interview with Pan, the Center for American Progress reported today that the professor has said that Sensenbrenner misused his words in an "improper and unethical" manner. He went on to completely contradict Sensenbrenner saying that "China is in fact ready and willing to engage with its international partners to help shape a new multilateral climate policy." Although this new report might correct Sensenbrenner's misleading words, it is hardly going to be enough to stop his practice of advocating inaction on climate change.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
This weekend from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention in Green Bay, Wispolitics reported the results of their straw poll. One of the questions asked was which Republican candidate for governor would be most beatable: Scott Walker or Mark Neumann? A majority said that Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker would be more beatable than former Congressman Mark Neumann. Walker received 124 votes to Mark Neumann's 90. Obviously this is only a straw poll of a specific group of people but it is interesting nonetheless.
Here are a few questions that I have related to this poll question: Is Walker in fact the more beatable candidate (why or why not?)? Should Republicans take note of how their opponents view their two most likely candidates and should this designation give Republicans pause about the possibility of nominating Walker?
Frankly I'm not sure exactly how I would have voted on that particular question. The only two polls that I have seen so far (MacIver and Daily Kos) have both Walker and Neumann in basically the same position (behind by double digits). I think that the case for which Republican is the weakest could be made either way. Walker's failure as county executive is rich with material that makes a huge case against him all by itself. On the other hand Mark Neumann has not been in politics for over a decade and he is known for being wildly extreme (not that Walker isn't) while most of the population is trending the other way. So who is the weakest? If I had to choose, I would have to agree with the convention goers and pick Scott Walker. I could easily be swayed if someone could make a convincing argument that Neumann is actually the weaker of the two but in the end I think that there is too much current ammo to use against Walker.
Since we are talking about Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, here is a web ad newly released at the convention this weekend (although I saw it first via Capper):
Friday, June 12, 2009
Daily Kos released a Research 2000 Wisconsin Poll yesterday and right now the numbers for each potential matchup for governor look a lot like they did the last time.
- Governor Doyle 48%, Scott Walker 36%, Undecided 16%
- Governor Doyle 49%, Mark Neumann 35%, Undecided 16%
The poll also has numbers on Lt. Governor Lawton, Senator Russ Feingold, Congressman Paul Ryan and Tommy Thompson. For more visit Folkbum.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Pardon me for a moment as I think out loud and speculate. Does everyone remember the latest right wing (GOP front) group the MacIver Institute? Remember? They are the folks that got off to such an odd start, even lying about the real role that Scott Jensen played in the starting of their organization. Well, they have finally begun to hire people to replace their initially invisible staff and they have been budget blogging something fierce this week.
In only two days MacIver has tried to put negative focus on three specific state legislators and naturally they are all Democrats. It makes me wonder if this should really be viewed as budget blogging by MacIver or if we should really look at it more as their target list? And by "their" I mean the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) because they are clearly promoting the MacIver stuff for a reason.
I will be very interested to see which Democrats in the legislature that MacIver attacks next. I would guess that most will likely be in swing districts and will probably be up for reelection next year. It will be interesting to watch MacIver and the RPW in the coming weeks to see just who they attack and just how they interact with each other in the process. If my speculation is right, then we can look at MacIver blogging as less about actual issues and more as a Republican Party of Wisconsin target list.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
- George W. Bush brought in less than 1 percent
- The last Republican candidate for President, John McCain came in at only 6 percent
- His running mate, Sarah Palin was not even on the list
- Walking train wreck and RNC Chairman Michael Steele scored a pathetic 2 percent (Wisconsin's Reince Priebus must be so proud!)
- One percent of Republicans think that "everyone" is in charge of their party.
And now back by popular demand!
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
On Monday Governor Doyle signed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act into law. The law will more effectively guard against pay discrimination by employers. A primary goal of the law is to help close the still glaring wage gap between women and men, but it will also cover other areas of pay discrimination. In the battle for equal pay it will serve as one of the toughest laws in the nation. The signing caused all of the howling that we would unfortunately expect from the right wing and their corporate masters.
Who could possibly be against the idea of more aggressively fighting pay discrimination? Well apparently Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) is and he can't wait to tell us how "outraged" he is about it. Why am I not surprised that the same guy that fought the Martin Luther King holiday years after the right wing gave up on the issue, is also leading the charge against stronger pay discrimination laws?
Amidst his wailing over the issue, he does a lot of complaining about the punitive damages that are possible under the law. In his press release he says, "Senate Bill 20 can give up to $300,000 in punitive damages to people who claim they were discriminated against." (emphasis mine) That is not correct, he is being deceptive and he knows it. It can give up to $300,000 to people that have already gone through several layers of fact finding and legal proceedings and have already PROVEN that they were discriminated against. Grothman deceptively tries to make it sound like just anyone that files a claim can get in line for 300k, which simply has no basis in reality. So apparently Glenn Grothman is mad because we are exposing employers that have already been proven to have discriminated to a possible $300,000 in punitive damages. Cry me a river Glenn. He then goes on to undercut his own argument by admitting that the vast majority of claims don't ever go nearly far enough to even think about punitive damages.
We know that Wisconsin's big business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) has long been against such tough equal pay legislation. So it is no surprise at all, that they trotted out all of their favorite alarmist talking points. The tactic that they chose to use in their press release is also no surprise. WMC has a long pattern of not giving one hoot about crime or criminals until they want to find a way to use those issues to scare or otherwise influence the public. On the equal pay issue they fall, as if by default, back to that tired tactic. Reading their press release, if you didn't know better, you would think that this new law was meant to solely protect the rights of convicted felons. If employers are breaking the law by discriminating against convicted felons then they should be held accountable, but that is not the solitary focus of this law even if WMC is trying to spin it as such. It is about more aggressively fighting employer pay discrimination against many groups including women and older employees. While WMC tries to use nearly their entire press release to make this only about convicted felons, they go back to what they really care about when they list 20-plus of their other recent gripes. I'll give you a hint, none of them have anything to do with criminals but they do have everything to do with big corporate interests.
The new equal pay law was the right thing to do, even though it brought out such inferior spin from the right.
Friday, June 05, 2009
ht: Daily Kos
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Once again our friends at Heartland Hollar bring up a few good points surrounding the Scott Walker campaign. Heartland Hollar notes that perpetual Republican loser R.J. Johnson has signed on to the Walker campaign. He appeared at Walker's official announcement event on April 28 and was officially named to the Walker campaign a couple of days later. The problem isn't that he was hired by Walker, heck he has made plenty of money working for many different campaigns (including that of Mark Neumann in 1998). The issue that Heartland Hollar has identified is that since being brought into the Walker campaign, R.J. has also acted as a spokesman for two so-called "independent" groups; the Coalition for America's Families and the Club for Growth-Wisconsin. Both organizations are little more than GOP front groups and they both are currently attacking Governor Doyle in ads. An activity that certainly helps the Scott Walker campaign.
So exactly how do these nonprofit groups explain that they aren't partisan when their spokesperson is a current operative for a political campaign that benefits from their attacks on the Governor? Likewise, is the Walker campaign really content to play so fast and loose with the rules governing this kind of activity? Isn't there supposed to be more of a separation between nonprofits and political campaigns? Someone from the media should be getting to the bottom of this apparent conflict and ask the tough questions of R.J. Johnson, the involved right wing organizations and the Scott Walker campaign.
Monday, June 01, 2009
"Neumann is last decade's news. He will be a lame duck opponent."
"As a steadfast republican, I will not be voting for Mark Neumann in 2010. The last thing the state of Wisconsin needs is a bankrupt home builder trying to reinvent himself…"*
"I'm not concerned about Neumann."
"Newmann has been out of the political loop too long."
"Let's not nominate a noble but unelectable candidate like McCain. PS Where has this Klauser been over the last few years? Answer: Who cares!"
"No one remembers Mark Neumann. That was a political lifetime ago. He probably has 10% name recognition in this state."
"I don't know who has better chances, but as someone who's not overly enamored of Tommy Thompson, any endorsement coming from his camp just makes me more leery, not excited."
"Mark is a well-known anti-social loon. Worse, his wife is the de facto manager of his campaigns and micro-manages to the nth degree. This is not a good development in Republican politics."
"Now, again, we have misguided leaders (Klauser and Neumann) working for Doyle in 2010. I say it's time for 3rd party in WI as Republicans are self destructive."
"Mark needs to stay out of this race…Mark is as vanilla as the come and will offer NOTHING…"
"Oh great...a 'has been' political hack endorsing a "used to be" politician. Klauser is just upset that Walker won't kiss his ring."
"He's the country club republican's candidate….not the average conservative's candidate. Neumann can't (shouldn't) just come in and buy his way in after being gone for years."
"Oh god, I can just see the lameass ad for Neumann now: (cue elevator music) "Hi, I'm Mark Neumann and this is my lovely bride and family (camera pans over family, dog)......vote for me, I won't raise your taxes."
"The only reason Neumann is going to get in is because Klauser doesn't like the fact that Walker doesn't kiss his ring and come running to him for his approval of everything he does. Graber didn't work out…so now Klauser rolls out Neumann. Klauser, Neumann ,et al. represent the country club republicans."
*For the record, the bankruptcy part of this statement is factually incorrect but I am reposting it just to demonstrate the bad feelings that apparently abound.