Friday, January 29, 2010

A Delusional Come-to-Tommy Moment

If it were not already clear that the right wing is not satisfied with U.S. Senate candidate's Terrence Wall and David Westlake, it certainly is now. Not only does Charlie Sykes, a recovering Tommy-hater, want Thompson to get in the race, but he and others on the right wing are all giddy over a questionable poll. The poll from Rasmussen, which doesn't have a great record for accuracy in Wisconsin, tells us that Tommy Thompson's numbers are slightly ahead of those for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. This latest grasp by the right wing seems to only underscore their obvious desperation in this race.

Given the past comments by Sykes and right wing bloggers regarding Tommy Thompson, it is really remarkable that some of them would be completely seduced by Tommy's latest "will-he-wont-he dance". Their jumping up and down over a poll by a questionable firm is just the latest example of their desperation. Try to think about this logically, for a moment. Would you really rather be up 4 points in a questionable poll with a candidate that isn't even running or would you rather be up $3.65 million to ZERO against a candidate who isn't running? I ask this because just yesterday the Feingold Campaign announced that it has $3.65 million cash on hand and without a real candidate challenging him. Do you really think that this is the time to jump around in excitement over a poll that you can't trust regarding a candidate that you hate, that has raised no money and isn't even in the race? Really?

I thought it was strange that these full blown Tommy-haters were now begging him to get in the race in the first place. But their obvious desperation has officially moved into full blown delusion. One might call this phenomenon a come-to-Tommy moment for the extreme right wing. Sadly, after the seductive "will-he-won't-he dance" is over, they will likely be left disappointed and go right back to their Tommy-hating ways.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In Critical Condition, Walker Should Beg for Reform

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker sent out a message on his Twitter account before the President gave his State of the Union address last night. In his latest substance-free tweet, Walker asks:

"Will the President dump Obamacare tonight? Other predictions?"

Given the critical state of Milwaukee County under Scott Walker's dreadful eight years, he should be open to just about anything that would change the dysfunctional status quo. The Public Policy Forum's recent report reveals many things about the administration of Milwaukee County, and none of them are good. One thing that is highlighted as a major problem is the ever escalating costs of health care. Milwaukee County has many areas of dysfunction and problems that are totally unique, but ever increasing health care costs are not among them. That has been a major problem for individuals, small and large businesses, and units of government on all levels. Gee, maybe that is why the President has been trying to lead on that issue at the expense of his own poll numbers. A concept that I don't expect someone like Walker to understand.

If the government that you are leading is being strangled by the health care industry, one would think that you would be fighting for reform rather than sniping on the sidelines with the latest bumper sticker slogan. But then again, I did say if you were "leading" and we all know that the only place that Scott Walker is willing to lead is (himself) to higher office. He is perfectly willing to leave Milwaukee County in a ditch if he thinks it will help him get one extra vote. If he really cared about the fact that he has left Milwaukee County in critical condition, he would be begging for health care reform right now, not feeding the obstruction of it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Know when to fold ‘em?

Last week WTMJ's Charlie Sykes offered a list of Republican names that he thought would be better choices to run for U.S. Senate this year. He felt the need to offer his suggestions because he had just blasted the current lead candidate Terrence Wall. After interviewing him Sykes said "not great reviews to the debut of Terrance Wall" and that he was "not impressive." Given all of these happenings, it was no surprise that Sykes would start throwing out names of just about anyone else to replace the bumbling Wall. I must admit, however, that I was a little surprised when Charlie Sykes included former governor Tommy Thompson in his list.

Charlie Sykes, and by extension the Republican Party, must really be worried that Terrence Wall is a terrible candidate. How else can you explain Sykes bringing himself to offer Tommy Thompson's name as an alternative? Back in 2006 Charlie Sykes wrote a piece that was targeted directly at Tommy Thompson entitled, "Know when to fold 'em". The subtitle read, "It's time for Brett Farve and Tommy Thompson to face facts". He then goes on to compare Farve and Thompson saying that they are both "waffling prima donnas". Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Sykes piece on how Tommy should "Know when to fold 'em":

"…Thompson revels in the spotlight, clearly relishing the speculation that he might answer the call to return to the governorship, a call that apparently only Thompson is hearing."

"But both these guys have a problem with the ego thing. They are so used to thinking the world revolves around them that they haven't noticed it's not the '90s anymore."

Sykes' 2006 observations on Tommy are not only entertaining but they are also very informative about what the conservative base in Wisconsin really thinks about Tommy. Later in the piece, Sykes apparently gives us a glimpse into a Republican smoke filled room.

"Tommy doesn't realize he's the political version of '80s retro-pop, without the big hair. So he's reportedly on the phone to insiders, trying to reignite the old passions. As gently as they can, they are trying to tell Tommy that the bus has left, the ship has sailed, the train has pulled out of the station, the parade was last week, we just sold the last ticket to that show, the ants got into the picnic basket, and Elvis has definitely left the building."

Sykes goes on to speak about Thompson as if he were a child that won't leave the RPW alone. He sarcastically suggests that maybe if they agree to name something after him, he will go away once and for all. Sykes then ends the piece saying that "there has been a changing of the guard, even if Tommy hasn't yet gotten the memo."

If I were Tommy, I wouldn't only be offended at Sykes words from 2006, but I'd also be very careful about listening to his encouragement now. So which is it Charlie? Do you want me to "go all in" or do you want me to "know when to fold 'em"?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tough Love Talking Points for Walker’s Orion Visit

This afternoon Scott Walker is scheduled to tour Orion Energy Systems in Manitowoc. As a public service, I am offering some of the suggested talking points listed below to the Walker campaign. Some of them call for a little "tough love" but sometimes you just have to stand up for what you really believe in, (assuming that Walker actually believes in something other than getting the next vote).

First let's look at a brief description of the host: Orion Energy Systems is a leading power and technology company that designs and manufactures energy management systems. Most of those systems consist of high-performance, energy-efficient solutions including renewable solar technology. They have deployed their energy management systems in thousands of facilities all across North America including 120 of the Fortune 500 companies.

Now on to the suggested "tough love" talking points for Walker!

  1. Being a loyal member of the Party of No, Walker should chide Orion executives for being a part of an event with President Obama last year. During the event the President highlighted his goal of building a clean energy economy. He went on to highlight specific examples from his budget that give tools and stability to such forward thinking companies. That includes strengthening the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit and making it permanent. Walker must demand that Orion apologize for being present at the event and supporting the president's agenda.
  2. Walker should find and chastise the Orion executive that was pictured on the White House blog at the above described event, (sitting right next to the dreaded Van Jones no less!). Glen Beck would not be happy!
  3. WMC and other elements of Wisconsin's right-wing are attacking Governor Doyle's Clean Energy Jobs Act, but Orion Energy is listed as part of a forward thinking group of businesses that support the effort. Scott Walker must declare to any media at the event today, that Orion Energy is wrong for supporting such absurd concepts such as investing in job creation through clean energy!
  4. Scott Walker must warn Orion not to take any of the dreaded stimulus money to create more private sector jobs. We already have examples of private green companies taking advantage of such programs in the Recovery Act and that needs to stop! After all, we all know that neither these companies nor their current or future employees are "real people".

Even though I am kindly offering the Walker campaign these talking points, I'm not sure that they will stay consistent with their positions long enough to use them. So if they neglect to stay consistent, I hope that someone at the media event at Orion today will think to highlight some of these important "tough love" talking points.

Walker Compliments Governor Doyle

On Friday I blogged about Scott Walker's comment about Wisconsin not needing healthcare reform because our rate of uninsured is smaller than most states. In that blog I focused mainly on the fact that there are still people that are struggling with health care issues and only significant national reform will change that fact. There is another important take on the Walker comments, however, that I should have also included in that Friday blog posting. Essentially you could say that Walker was complimenting the effort by Governor Doyle to greatly reduce the ranks of the uninsured in Wisconsin.

Walker's comment was that the number of uninsured is much lower in Wisconsin, so we don't need fundamental reform. Our number of uninsured is not lower based on some accident, rather it is because of the determined and focused leadership of Governor Doyle on this specific issue. Health care programs that have been pioneered by Governor Doyle have obviously been wildly popular and effective at driving down our number of uninsured. Badger Care Plus Core, as only one example, was so popular and the need so great that the plan quickly reached its enrollment limits. Now Governor Doyle's administration is working on ways to get a basic level of insurance for those waiting for enrollment into Badger Care Plus Core.

As Governor Doyle said in October, "Despite the tremendous work we have done here in Wisconsin, Badger Care Plus and (other) state plans like it, are merely bridges to get us to national health reform." By all accounts those bridges have been very successful, so successful in fact that even Scott Walker had to compliment Governor Doyle's efforts.

Friday, January 22, 2010

“Wisconsin Doesn’t Need Fundamental Change”

"Wisconsin doesn't need fundamental change." –Scott Walker

Well that is one heck of a campaign message! And that is exactly what Scott Walker said when the top three candidates for governor met with the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association yesterday. Walker was talking specifically about health care reform and said that there was no need for change because "only" 8 to 9 percent of the population lack health insurance. Well, apparently in Walker's Wisconsin we can just discard those 500,000 plus people.

Walker's comment also fails to acknowledge that although people are "insured" often times they are actually underinsured. In addition, all-too-many "insured" people are practically driven to bankruptcy when they actually need their "insurance" the most. This doesn't even include the fact that people are forced to pay ever-increasing premiums every year. Remember that Wisconsin has some of the highest health care costs in the nation. Health care costs have been out of control for so long, that the impact is unbearable on individuals, business and local governments alike. Walker should know this...but his rhetoric sure does make you wonder at times.

While I'm talking about the event at the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association, I'm just wondering why Walker and Neumann didn't take the opportunity to explain why the stimulus money that was recently awarded for a major biofuel project in Park Falls, was a bad thing. The private company receiving the help said in an announcement that the stimulus money would help "…create permanent, high-skilled operating jobs in the region, long-term logging jobs, and short-term engineering and construction jobs…" It seems like it would have been a perfect time for Walker to explain why those long term jobs were not actually helping "real people."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wall’s Turn to Wear the Tommy-Sized Millstone

Back in early October 2009, before Terrance Wall officially announced that he was running for U.S. Senate, I said that he should talk to Tim Michels before he jumps in the race. At the time, talk was that the national GOP big-wigs were courting him and no doubt promising him the moon and the stars. They did the same thing to Tim Michels and left him high and dry to spend a ton of his own money. Apparently Wall was moved by the national courting and eventually jumped in the race. But now, only a few months later, there are rumblings that some of those same national GOPers are quickly looking for alternatives.

Practically on cue, the old Republican millstone Tommy Thompson has begun his seductive dance with the media. Only a matter of months ago the majority of questions for Tommy were about him trumping Walker Neumann or waging a bruising fight in Elroy. Now Tommy has taken his seduction to the national media and Politico has reported that he is "not saying no" to running for U.S. Senate. It is only a matter of time before the state media feels neglected by Tommy's national flirtation and starts beckoning him to come hither for endless headlines.

As Xoff has already pointed out, apparently Tommy's rusty reading of Massachusetts tea leaves tells him that voters are so angry that they want a rich Washington, DC lobbyist to run for the US Senate in Wisconsin.

If his endless flirtation ever does end, I hope that Tommy will be a little more forthcoming in revealing his financial situation since leaving the Bush administration. During his doomed presidential run, who can forget him having to request multiple extensions in filing his financial disclosure statement? He finally did fulfill the requirement but only after pulling the plug on his candidacy. That filing in 2007 reported him feeding at a special interest trough to the tune of $4.6 million in annual income for 2006. Like any other major DC lobbyist, I'm sure that Tommy has been grabbing every corporate dime that he could find since that time. I would certainly be interested in looking at how much more he has made from special interests in the last couple years. I wonder how those gory details would play with a public that has not had a good look at the newer and richer Tommy.

Whether Tommy Thompson decides to stop seducing the media this time or not, the big loser is Terrance Wall. He apparently put his faith in national GOP leaders that appear to be second guessing him behind closed doors. He has stumbled and bumbled his way out of the gate badly enough that even right wing talkers are giving harsh assessments of his candidacy. Questions abound over his tax issues, business dealings, and even his pretend pumpkin patch. All of this bad news and now Wall must take his turn at wearing the Tommy-sized millstone around his neck.

UPDATE: More bad news for Wall. Conservative blogger David Blaska is not exactly a fan (nor is he a fan of Westlake). Things are apparently so bad, that one right-wing shock jock is trying to convince the other one to become a candidate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Punked by Another Right Wing Org

Both the press and the public have already been punked several times by the newish right wing org, the MacIver Institute. In their early stages they pretended that Scott Jensen was not involved, but then it turned out that he was actually writing their press releases. Then MacIver launched a deceptive effort sending one of their right wing staffers around pretending to be a legitimate TV news reporter. While MacIver's attempts to punk the press and the public have been fairly direct, their older cousins at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) have chosen to take a behind-your-back approach. Thanks to the work of our friends at One Wisconsin Now, we now know that WPRI has been punking the press and the public with their polls.

Last year WPRI and the University of Wisconsin-Madison's political science department announced a new joint polling project. When it was announced many objected pointing to the fact that WPRI is little more than a Republican cheerleader, skewing facts to fit a rigid right-wing ideology. Nonetheless, the polling project moved forward and the media soaked up and reported the results often times without mentioning WPRI's ideological bias.

On Tuesday, One Wisconsin Now announced that they had obtained emails that showed how political calculation was front and center in a September 2009 poll conducted by UW and WPRI. The emails and other documents that OWN obtained through an open records request allow us a behind-the-scenes view of internal discussions between UW-Madison professor Ken Goldstein and WPRI President George Lightbourn (a former Republican state official). OWN reports that the emails and other records show some of the following:

  • Emails from Lightbourn to Goldstein expressing concern over specific statewide poll numbers showing opposition to private school vouchers. In the emails Lightbourn expresses concern that "WPRI's own data as showing a lack of support for choice." He then appears to suggest departing from standard operating polling procedure by hiding the unfavorable data.
  • Integrity be damned, Lightbourn gets his way and the statewide numbers opposing private school vouchers were kept from the press release and deleted from a PowerPoint presentation of the poll's findings.
  • Later Lightbourn expresses his thanks to Goldstein saying, "It helped immensely with my correspondence with my board and other consumers of WPRI material."

How many media outlets reported the filtered results of this partisan poll? Will the fact that they have been punked by yet another right wing organization give them second thoughts when the next fake item comes around? While Lightbourn claims that the filtered poll results helped with his board and "consumers" of WPRI material, what has the arrangement done for UW-Madison besides compromise its integrity? Although they ignored some warnings when this joint effort was first announced, now the press and UW-Madison have a clear example ideological bias. The only question remaining is whether these various entities will allow themselves to be punked again by yet another right wing org.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Which are not “public safety functions”?

In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on Monday, Scott Walker offered a curious quote regarding his patchwork budgeting for public safety. In it he remarkably commented that "workers in the courts and district attorney's office 'do not perform public safety functions…'" Unfortunately he did not elaborate on what exactly qualifies as a "public safety function" in his opinion. Apparently Walker believes that public safety begins and ends with an arrest.

The story goes on to quote other public officials that spell out exactly how county workers actually do play a key role in public safety functions on a regular basis. They also go on to spell out exactly what Walker's patchwork budgeting will mean for various public safety functions.

  • Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm said that he would have to make "triage decisions" in which charges for lesser crimes are delayed or skipped so prosecutors can focus on serious felony cases. He also said that whole categories of cases might get less attention and that some suspects could be referred for diversion programs instead of prosecution. Good thing, none of those things are "public safety functions".
  • Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers suggested that Walker's patchwork public safety budget would translate into 27,000 fewer hours for court personnel. He went on to say that, "clearly, someplace in the system is going to suffer." Good thing that running trials of alleged criminals isn't a "public safety function."
  • The Milwaukee County Clerk pointed out that Walker's patchwork budget for public safety is going to lead to delayed arrest warrants, trials and restraining orders. Good thing that none of those tasks have anything to do with a properly functioning public safety system.

I know that I shouldn't expect anything more than campaign sound bites from Scott Walker for the rest of the year, but I would really like to hear him elaborate on his absurd comment regarding what is/isn't a "public safety function". I would equally like to hear him explain how each of the above functions have nothing at all to do with public safety.

For more reading: See the Milwaukee County First blog on the subject. They point out even more examples of "public safety functions" that are being harmed by Walker's patchwork budgeting.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Paying More than T-Wall in One Paycheck

Based on a report from Wispolitics, if you collect any paycheck at all, then you probably paid more personal state income taxes in that one check than Terrance Wall has in several years. Even though the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate reports as much as $15 million in income and $129 million in assets, Wispolitics reports that Wall paid no personal state income tax in four of five years.

I will never understand how someone flipping burgers can pay more in one single paycheck than a multimillionaire does over several years. As if this kind of scenario isn't baffling enough, then it is usually the big shot that whines and cries about burdensome tax rates and how we invest our hard earned tax dollars for the common good.

It is certainly no surprise that a multimillionaire would adopt strategies to avoid paying as many taxes as possible. Surely they can afford to pay a small army of lawyers and accountants to take advantage of every possible loophole in the book. Based on other recent reports on T-Wall, it appears that this possible strategy is not just applied to personal state income taxes.

With that kind of record, exactly who does Wall think that he is going to have credibility with on the issue of taxes? Maybe the diehard right-wing partisans will rush to defend him, but that is out of political necessity more than anything else. Explanations for his tax avoidance will likely ring hollow with most hard working Wisconsinites. The simple fact is that most have paid more than T-Wall in one single paycheck than the multimillionaire has paid over the course of several years.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Walker Allies Object to “Patchwork” Public Safety

On Wednesday I posted a blog about Scott Walker taking credit for someone else cleaning up his administration's mess at the Milwaukee County House of Correction. As it would happen, the very next day the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a story about Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke giving a reality check to Walker regarding his "patchwork" budgeting for public safety. The story not only gave us some interesting quotes but it also spelled out exactly how Walker's "patchwork" budget would cause the release of 120 inmates, reduced freeway patrols, and early elimination of rehabilitation programs. It is another example of Walker's "patchwork" budgeting having real-life and negative results on public safety.

This is not the only time that Sheriff Clarke, usually a Walker ally, has been critical of his policy. Back in 2008 when the Walker administration was trying to implement its policy of sending work release inmates back into the community on GPS monitoring, Clarke sounded a stern warning. At that time Clarke bluntly promised, "if you are not going to do GPS right, I'm going to stand in the way of it." He went on to say that serious unanswered questions still remained about Walker's GPS plan. Clarke said that a proper system would include complete screening, frequent drug testing, and extra law enforcement help to round inmates that strayed from approved locations and travel routes. Sheriff Clarke bluntly said that "all of those things cost money that hasn't been found yet."

Clarke is not the only Walker ally that has had problems with him on public safety issues. Only a month after Walker's administration first announced its idea to send work release inmates back into the community, one of those same inmates was found to have committed a homicide while in the community. After that failure of the Walker-administrated work release facility, frequent Walker ally, Supervisor Mark Borkowski said that "people have to be held accountable" and that "it starts at the top."

As I cited in Wednesday's blog, Supervisor Borkowski was also a frequent Walker administration critic regarding their gross mismanagement of the House of Correction. As I cited in the previous blog posting, Borkowski made some of the following comments:

"the elephant in the room is the staffing and for them not to even
acknowledge that is very disconcerting to

"Walker and Malone have not shown any sense of
in correcting problems at the House of Correction."

Even though his official spokesperson claims that Walker "takes a strong stance on public safety" it seems very clear that even some of his closest allies don't exactly trust him in that department. If the people that know him best don't then why should we?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Walker Rhetoric, the House of Shameless

Yesterday Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker gave his "state of the county" speech. Once again, it was more about his own short-term political future than it was about Milwaukee County's long-term stability. Some have already given us differing and interesting takes on Walker's comments yesterday. I would offer Xoff, Capper, and Supervisor Lipscomb as must-see reading regarding the event.

One thing that stood out to me, based on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel summary of the event, was Walker's choice of things that he tried to tout as his accomplishments. Specifically, he bragged about sending 20% of Milwaukee County workers to the unemployment line, his pension bond scheme, and the Sheriff's Office taking over responsibility of the House of Correction. While all three claims are worthy of rebuke, the last one is the most remarkably shameless in my view.

Scott Walker had very little to do with the Sheriff taking over the House of Correction. In fact the only real role that Walker played in that entire episode was that his administration mismanaged the House of Correction so badly that there were no options but to take it away from him. Let's just quickly walk down memory lane, a route that Walker willfully chose to take a detour from yesterday.

  • Walker repeatedly failed to staff positions at the House of Correction that were already fully funded by the County Board. Where that money actually went? I have no idea.
  • Because of that kind of Walker-trademarked short-term thinking, overtime costs skyrocketed at the House of Correction in 2007 and 2008. As a result of mostly mandatory and never ending overtime, corrections officers began to burnout and suffer from deep morale issues.
  • It was around this time that escapes and even an unnecessary inmate death occurred.
  • A federal audit was done on Milwaukee County lock-ups and highlighted all of the mismanagement, safety and security issues and overall dysfunction at the House of Correction.

It was only after this terribly long chain of events that the County Board voted to take responsibility away from Scott Walker and give it to the Milwaukee County Sheriff. The Walker administration's only real role in this process was grossly mismanaging the facility in the first place, and then not standing in the way when it was taken away from him. Even his frequent ally on the County Board, Mark Borkowski, called out Walker's mismanagement during the height of his incompetence. Here are just two quotes from Borkowski while Walker's incompetence at the House of Correction was on display:

"the elephant in the room is the staffing and for them not to even acknowledge that is very disconcerting to me."

"Walker and Malone have not shown any sense of urgency in correcting problems at the House of Correction."

Walker's House of Correction disaster can really serve as a microcosm for his entire tenure as county executive. Short-term politically motivated thinking leading to eventual disaster and increased long-term costs for Milwaukee County taxpayers. It also provides a classic Walker example of shamelessly trying to take credit for others coming in and cleaning up his mess. I think that I might coin this specific situation and his rhetoric yesterday as "Walker's House of Shameless".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Neumann’s Teabagger Support Real or Virtual?

As much fun as we have had with Mark Neumann thus far, you simply can't discount him for two reasons: his ability to spend large amounts of his own money and his ability to pick the low-hanging fruit that Scott Walker has left all over the place. Neumann has clearly been trying much harder in recent weeks, given the number of supporters sending letters to local papers, his public appearances, and his announcement of policy positions.

As a key part of his recent efforts, Mark Neumann is also very clearly trying to make a play for teabagger support. One example of this was demonstrated on WISN's Up Front program on Sunday. During the program he spoke about his ill-advised boilerplate positions on term limits and what some have described as his California-style referenda idea. On the program, Neumann said that these positions reflect the anger and the frustration expressed by teabaggers. Despite his coy comments to the contrary, it is clear that he is trying to grab some of the teabagging crowd from Walker.

I have to wonder if he has not been partially successful, at least in the virtual sense. In a very short amount of time, Neumann has surpassed Walker in his use of social networking and online activism. Given a recent incident, he must have a good amount of teabaggers in his midst. Today Steve Jagler from reported on a response that he received from Neumann supporters. It was regarding his recent comments about Wisconsin's economy beginning to rebound. Apparently those supporters are in no mood for talk of recovery while Democrats are in charge and all that they needed was a nudge to go completely off the edge. Apparently after Jagler released a set of economic indicators showing possible good economic news, Team Neumann posted a link on his Facebook page questioning the information. The next thing you know, Jagler reports getting all manner of wild-eyed reactions.

"Bullsh_t many jobs lost will not come back ever."

"None of the stimulus money goes into small businesses…just leftist groups like ACORN and NAMBLA!"

"dum ass!" (his spelling)

I don't know about you but that sure sounds like the high minded teabagger rhetoric that we have come to know and love. At least based on this reaction and his recent efforts it seems that Mark Neumann may have been partially successful. The remaining questions are, exactly how many teabaggers has he successfully pulled from Walker and are they real or only virtual?

Slippery Scott the Big Spender

Back in November I pointed out a few examples of Slippery Scott Walker selling snake oil to his followers. Whether it is proposing a tax levy in 2010 that is $39 million more than the one he proposed in 2003, or his flip flopping on the stimulus or his massive spending increases, the point remains very clear - Walker rhetoric does not match the reality of his actions. Yesterday, One Wisconsin Now released an analysis that further underscores this exact point.

The One Wisconsin Now analysis looked at spending increases in the proposed budgets of Governor Doyle, Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Even with all of his right wing rhetoric against government and spending, over his time as Milwaukee County executive, Walker came in first with a proposed 34.66% in increased spending. It is important to note that these are Walker's numbers taken from his own proposed budgets, so he can't pass them off on anyone else. If Walker is really against increased government spending, then perhaps he should resign today, because he is the leader in that department.

I don't personally think that increased spending is inherently a bad thing, but then again I am not the one running for office promoting an anti-government spending platform and then doing the exact opposite. That would be Scott Walker. The real right wingers that genuinely care about such issues should hold him accountable for his slippery rhetoric. Unfortunately, it seems that too many are already too emotionally involved to back out now - even if that means trading in their fervent beliefs about increased government spending. The sad truth is that they have jumped on a bandwagon controlled by a slippery big spender.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blogging as Therapy after a Tough Loss

As I have said before, no one comes here to read about sports. However, occasionally I have to post something that is either amazing (like Brandon Jennings 55 point game) or as therapy. Unfortunately the later is the case today. Although I, like all other Packer fans, am bitterly disappointed after the result of yesterday's game, I am also very proud of the team. The Packers and the Cardinals provided for some pretty wild entertainment, including unexpected twists and turns and the breaking of all sorts of playoff records. In many ways yesterday's game seems like it could serve as a microcosm of the entire season. Dramatic ups and downs, major drama, and immensely entertaining even if disappointing at the end.

My 2 cents about the season:

  • There is no escaping that we have a franchise top 5 quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. You only have to look at his stats and his unbelievable calm leadership in games like the one yesterday. All of this in only his second season as a starter and after spending the entire first half of it on his back. There are some that will take pot shots at him no matter what, but lets face it, most of that stems from him not wearing a number 4 jersey. It simply isn't fair nor is it rational at this point.

  • For the most part, we have a young elite receiving corps, especially with the emergence of Jermichael Finley.

  • Aside from yesterday's game, we had a top of the line defense.

  • We worked through the Farve drama and a disappointing start, reversed our record from last year, and got back to the playoffs as a real contender.

  • Our team is young and highly talented, so we are in a position of contending for several years to come.

My wish list for next season:

  • Solve that penalty problem!

  • Strengthen that offensive line. We have a franchise QB, lets not get him killed early in his career.

  • We need a more consistent running game (and I think a lot of that is on the coaching).

  • Finally start pulling the trigger on key free agents. This is one of the legitimate criticisms that Ted Thompson-haters have. Even though we have a very talented young team, it is counterproductive to remain the youngest for so many years in a row.

  • Our secondary is older and the drop off in talent is steep, so we need to address that ASAP.

  • Also the biggest key to winning is giving Cory free tickets to a regular season game next season!

There, I feel so much better now. I'm proud of Aaron Rodgers and our very young but very talented team! Now when does Brewer spring training start again?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I Don’t See Any Deferred Maintenance

In late 2008, the Public Policy Forum conducted a third party analysis of Milwaukee County's Park system. At that time they estimated that the system had between $275 million and $300 million in deferred maintenance. Earlier this week, Milwaukee County released an internal audit that estimated that the number was closer to $200 million. When those massive numbers were released, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Scott Walker disputed them. I don't recall him giving any data or sound reasoning for his challenge of the findings but he disputed them nonetheless. So if Walker refuses to believe a third party analysis and a Milwaukee County audit, would he believe his own Parks department estimates?

Funny that I should mention it because in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they report on a long-range plan drawn up by the parks department that puts the number at $238 million. If Walker disputed the audit's $200 million figure, that must mean that he also disputes the even higher figure set forth by his own parks department right? How awkward of him. Maybe he should remove the hand from his eyes long enough to see reality and the results of his own short term approach to parks policy. How many reports/audits will it take for Walker to admit that his deferred maintenance problem is massive? Maybe he is keeping his eyes covered on the issue because of the self inflicted nature of the subject.

But if Walker were to actually take a look at the reality that he helped create, he would have to focus on an actual solution. One of the primary solutions from his own parks department is for it to have its own sales tax. If that sounds like a familiar idea, it is probably because in 2008 Milwaukee County voters approved such a dedicated source of funding for not only parks but for transit and other quality of life and core services. Walker has rejected voter's insight on the issue and likewise he apparently rejects his own parks department.

In a rare move, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel appeared to criticize Walker's hand-over-the-eyes approach to his parks problem. They suggested that his observations were "sugar coated" and "too rosy". That is the understatement of the year since we are clearly dealing with a person that is trying to move forward by avoiding reality and with his hand firmly implanted over his face.

Afterthought: I wonder if the long-range plan that is mentioned in today's MJS is the same long-range plan that won that gold metal last year? You know the award that was based on an application, a video presentation and a submitted long-range plan? Wouldn't it be odd if Walker was running around touting an award last year that was partially based on a plan that he for the most part rejects?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I’ll Pay it When I Run for Office Next

It appears that Libertarian Republican candidate for state Senate Ed Thompson has decided to get himself off the Monroe County delinquent taxes list as he runs again for a larger spotlight. The Tomah Journal reported several days ago about a list of property tax delinquents in Monroe County. According to the report, Ed Thompson rushed in to pay the $31,000 in taxes and interest covering both his residential home and his supper club business.

Thompson blamed his very large delinquency on the impact of the recession but that large amount of money seems like it stretches back pretty far. A person commenting on the online version of the Journal's story, claims that this is a pattern for Thompson. They suggest that when he decided to run for Tomah mayor last time, that he similarly rushed in to pay delinquent property taxes. According to Monroe County records, there appears that there may be some accuracy to that observation.

  • Ed decided to run for mayor of Tomah again in 2008.
  • On 1/16/2008 he appears to have paid $4,703.63 toward the 2006 property tax bill for his supper club.

It is certainly true that it doesn't take much to make life difficult for regular folks and small business owners. But I must say that $31,000 is quite a large number. Perhaps even more concerning is what appears to be a pattern in this situation. Based on appearances and the available information, it seems that Ed may have adopted a policy of "I'll pay it when I run for office next." That may have worked for him so far, but I can't believe that the hard working people of the 31st Senate District would admire such a strategy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Isn’t Mark Neumann Doing His Homework?

Many observers have completely dismissed Mark Neumann's chances of overtaking Scott Walker in the Republican primary for governor. Personally, I have not completely closed that door because of really only one factor - Neumann's pocketbook. That being said, Neumann has not looked like a contending candidate in his race against Scott Walker. Sorry, I just don't see any sign of the killer instinct that would be necessary to overcome someone that has been running for governor for 7 years.

There are several reasons to question Neumann's campaign so far, but I recently discovered a new one. Why isn't Mark Neumann doing even some introductory homework on his primary opponent? Recently, I had occasion to look at open records requests that were sent to Scott Walker's office in 2009. As far as I could tell, none of them came from Neumann, his campaign operatives, or any other professional that he may have hired. Call me crazy, but if your opponent is a government official, shouldn't you have at least sought some kind of public record from his office by now?

Neumann wouldn't have to look very far to find all sorts of things to use against Walker, even from a "conservative" perspective. So is Neumann's heart not really in this? Is he getting bad advice? Is he banking on a massive (and apparently uninformed) spending spree? Whatever the reason, one thing seems clear to me, Mark Neumann isn't doing his homework…and that is an odd thing for a former teacher.

Bush Decade, Awful Decade or the Lost Decade?

A few weeks ago I highlighted an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll which showed that a majority of Americans viewed the "Bush Decade" as either "awful" or "not so good". At that time I wrote that it should be no surprise, given the awful data released by the Census Bureau in September. It found the nation worse off in median income, poverty and in other important areas. Now, over the weekend, the Washington Post released a story looking at additional economic data. In that story they refer to 2000-2010 as a "lost decade" for the American economy.

The story starts by stating that this "lost decade" was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times. For example, the report shows that there had been zero net job creation since 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940's had job growth of less than 20%, much less a net loss of jobs. Furthermore, household income and net worth went down while total household debt rose 117%.

Although extremely depressing, the Post story does end on a somewhat positive note by saying that forecasters are generally expecting the job market to turn around in early 2010.

As for that last disaster of a decade, the only thing left to know is what we will call it? Will it be the "Bush Decade", the "Awful Decade", or the "Lost Decade"? However we refer to it, I just hope that we have learned a few lessons and don't return to the policies that helped usher it in.

ht: Think Progress