Tuesday, September 29, 2009
“I remember driving over to Madison one day,” recalls Walker, “with two or three other guys in the carpool, and Sykes was on the radio that morning, and Charlie said, ‘you know, Scott Walker should run for county executive.’”
“And then, after I pulled the car back onto the road,” Walker chuckled, “all the guys in the car said ‘why don’t you run?’”About a week later, according to Walker, he made the decision to declare his candidacy...
Monday, September 28, 2009
Feel free to correct any grammatical and/or vocab mistakes in the comments section. There will likely be many.
Henri Bernard-Levi, widely considered to be France's pre-eminent public intellectual, signed a petition that read in part:
We ask the federal Swiss justice system to release Roman Polanski immediately and not to make this brilliant film-maker into a martyr of a dubious judicial-political mess between two democracies such as the Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as much as honor, suggest as much. Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the ultra right-wing National Front:
The support which [French Foreign Minister] Kouchner and [French Culture Minister] Mitterrand gave to this criminal pedophile, in the name of the rights of the politico-artistic clique, is scandalous and justifies that one asks their resignation. "Politico-artistic clique" is an awkward French conservative version of "Liberal Hollywood."
There's a petition being circulated by various French and European film-makers that sort of suggests that Polanski's arrest will have repercussions on artists' ability to speak and travel freely in the future.
Oddly enough, the best answer to the question "Why now?" in any language I've read thus far gets answered in a blog post post in L'Express, which is sort of like the French Time or Newsweek. Here's the whole translation:
By becoming the first DA in California history to be re-elected three times in a row in 2008, Cooley knew how to flex his muscles, particularly in cases which appealed to the popular conscience. His office -- 1000 prosecutors, 800 administrative civil servants, supported by an annual budget of some 350 million dollars -- became famous for tracking down Mexican criminals who had returned to their country after committing murders in California. For instance, diplomatic pressures originating in California contributed to the abolition of an amendment in the Mexican constitution forbidding the extradition of Mexican nationals back to the United States. The lawyers in the DA's office in Los Angeles appear among the best specialists in extradition. _________
1. "Nous demandons à la justice fédérale helvétique de remettre en liberté immédiatement Roman Polanski et de ne pas transformer ce génial cinéaste en martyr d'un imbroglio juridico-politique indigne de deux démocraties telles que la Suisse et les Etats-Unis. Le bon sens, autant que l'honneur, y invitent."
2. "Le soutien qu'ont apporté MM. Kouchner et Mitterrand à ce criminel pédophile, au nom des droits qu'aurait la caste politico-artistique, est scandaleux et justifie que soit demandée leur démission."
3. "Pour entrer dans l'histoire californienne, en devenant, en 2008, le premier District Attorney de l'Etat réélu trois fois de suite, Cooley a su montrer sa poigne, en particulier sur des dossiers qui marquent la conscience populaire. Ses services, 1000 procureurs, 800 fonctionnaires administratifs, soutenus par un budget annuel de quelques 350 millions de dollars, se sont illustrés dans la traque des criminels mexicains réfugiés dans leur pays après avoir commis des meurtres en Californie. Les pressions diplomatiques émanant de Californie ont contribué par exemple à l'abrogation d'un amendement de la constitution mexicaine interdisant les extraditions de ressortissants de ce pays vers les Etats-Unis. Les juristes du D.A. de Los Angeles figurent parmi les meilleurs spécialistes en matière d'extradition."
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I was a proud volunteer of the Milwaukee Tea Party who could of have watched the Badgers on TV beat Wofford last Saturday, but I volunteered to make the event a success for Americans for Prosperity.Not the Wofford game!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Frankly, it's the single most substantive post written in opposition to the President's reform plans we've read from any blogger in Wisconsin.
That being said, there are significant flaws with each of his suggestions. For example, what Krause calls "graduated, flat-tax rates" (Step 5) looks a lot like the "progressive tax" currently in place, eliminating Medicare and Medicaid (Step 1) is next to politically impossible and even Draconian tort reform (Step 6) would do little to stem the tide of rising health care costs. That's half of Krause's health care plan right there.
Yet it was Krause's Step 3 that caused us to do a double take:
Third step--Revise the tax code to exempt all medical expenses incurred by Americans after they have spent 15-percent of the their gross income. I don't think budgeting 15-percent of what you make toward health care is that unfair. And those medical expenses will be a tax credit--meaning every dollar you spend on the doctor or prescription meds means a dollar less you will pay in taxes. That credit includes all premiums paid for private health insurance.There's a ton to go through here, so this little paragraph right here, which essentially serves as the heart of Krause solution to the health care reform debate is packed with peril. Best to go through them one at a time.
First, I, personally, think spending 15% of my gross income on health care is outrageous. Germans contribute 8% of their incomes to health care and they have universal health care, complete coverage for every individual, no instances of bankruptcy due to health care catastrophes. Germany also does NOT have a public health insurance plan. The catch is that even Germans think 8% is a little on the high end of things. 15% would be, and is, outrageous.
Now, I know that not every one would pay 15% per annum due to varying levels of health and personal maintenance, but Krause seems to suggest that every American should store 15% of their income away in a kind of rainy day health care fund (or HSA) -- can you imagine the ripple effect if up to 15% percent of the American economy was frozen at any given time? It would drive every other industry in the country completely insane.
The said, the thing is that health care is already over 17% GDP right now. Aiming to get it around 15% wouldn't be cutting costs all that much at all. On the other hand, 15% might not be enough if costs continue to rise at the current rates.
Second, 15% means different things to different people. Two people need a kidney transplant that costs, say for the sake of convenience, $50,000. Person A makes $200,000 a year, while Person B makes $50,000 -- then Person A gets a tax credit on the first $30,000 of the transplant, while Person B only gets a credit on the first $7,500. That's unconscionable, especially considering that Person B will likely have a net income of $0 after the operation.
Third, how do people who don't receive income put away money for health care costs? I'm thinking of children and the elderly -- does a parent have to divide his 15% among his three kids (and possibly wife) if he's the bread-winner? If so, doesn't this in effect punish parents for having children? As for the elderly, these are the folks that tend to have the most expensive health care costs and yet the most minimal incomes. How does that get reconciled?
This is why the GOP has been very vocal about it's health care policy alternatives. As long as they don't offer their own solutions, they avoid having to answer question about the policy proposals that were cooked up at the Cato or Heritage Institutes. Again, Krause deserves credit for at least proposing alternatives, but the specifics he provides do very little to offer much in the line of reform.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
I now have a confession to make. I have greatly underestimated Mr. Barrett: he's far more batshit insane than I previously understood.
I gotta say, I never gave much thought to how 9/11 Truthers spend their days. I was naively under the impression that they yap about cruise missiles and controlled demolitions and all that jazz -- and to a certain extent this appears to actually be the case -- but, man, by no means do these guys stop waxing crazy with "9/11 was an inside job!" shtick.
Here are a few other assertions Barrett makes on his blog:
- Amy Goodman, anchor of Democracy Now! and Gary Trudeau, cartoonist of "Doonesbury" fame, are both CIA stooges.
- The Mossad was responsible for the "controlled demolition" of the World Trade Center.
- Former Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff is an "unregistered agent of a foreign power," legalese for spy.
- The U.S.S. Liberty incident was the result of "treasonous LBJ and his enablers in the secret covert-ops executive committee of the National Security Council collud[ing] with hardline forces in Israel to launch the 1967 war, then attempt to bring the U.S. into the war by attacking the U.S.S. Liberty and blaming it on Egypt."
- Osama bin Laden died in 2001 (!!!)
- The perpetrators of 9/11 are murdering survivors years after the fact.
- Zbigniew Brezezinksi is responsible for the rise of Barack Obama.
- The following were "false-flag" operations carried out by Israel and blamed on Muslims: "9/11, 7/7, London, Bali, Madrid, Bombay, Achille Lauro, Entebbe, Locherbie, and of course the botched Lavon Affair and USS Liberty attacks are examples."
- Boilerplate blood libel (all caps in the original): "ZIONISTS INTENTIONALLY SLAUGHTER PALESTINIAN CHILDREN AS A MATTER OF OFFICIAL POLICY."
- "I certainly do think the prime authors of 9/11 were probably of Jewish ethnicity, yet religiously har[d]core atheists, like their mentor, Leo Strauss."
My favorite is that Osama bin Laden was killed in 2001. I suppose that would naturally mean this was pre-recorded...
I would suggest that addressing each of these points individually would be a waste of time and that looking at the common theme running through all of these, i.e. that the Jews are somehow responsible for all the ills of the world, would be a far more productive way to expedite this fisking. I'm not sure what came first, Barrett's virulent antisemitism or his nutjob conspiracy theories (though I can offer an informed guess), but the two do seem to have a symbiotic relationship that is hard to ignore.
Barrett's Hebraic hatred isn't just limited to alternative histories. Sometimes it becomes more overt. Apparently Barrett has recently had Kevin MacDonald -- a fringe figure who, I'll just let his Wikipedia page do the explaining -- on his radio show. (MacDonald, you may notice, and much to my chagrin, is a native of Oshkosh). MacDonald is an odious figure who deserves to be denounced in the strongest possible terms. Instead, Barrett merely distances himself slightly only to find value in MacDonald's work: "MacDonald's message should be taken as a warning and a wake-up call," Barrett writes.
No, it shouldn't. Judge for yourselves -- I doubt it will take long for any reasonable person to determine that MacDonald is not a credible thought leader on the subject.
Then there are the times when Barrett is aggressively antisemitic, such as:
A gang of genocidal lunatics, otherwise known as Zionists, has already invaded, occupied, and ethnic-cleansed Palestine, and they are intent on extending their reign of terror to the whole Middle Eastern heartland.The bit about the Israeli flag is classic PLO and Hamas propaganda. The actual symbolism and origins of the flag are far more benign.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the Israeli flag. See those two blue stripes, one on each side of the star of David? One stripe is the Nile, the other the Euphrates. The Zionist nutballs believe that a genocidal god named Yahwe promised them this entire stretch of land. Sort of like David "Son of Sam" Berserkowitz, these people are hearing hallucinatory voices telling them to engage in mass murder.
There is little that Barret is the kind of person that Richard Hofstadter was thinking of when he wrote "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." The problem is that Barrett's Trutherism is merely a symptom of a genuinely repugnant hatred.
Barrett's yesterday's news. His "run" for Congress was little more than an uncomfortable piece of amateur performance art that exposed his tenuous grasp on reality and deep-seated emotional instability (the press releases alone from his campaign -- alas, no longer available online -- were stunning works of fevered paranoia). Yet as something of the Ur-Truther it's instructive to see how one fundamentally untrue belief -- in this case, 9/11 did not happen like we think it happened -- can lead by corollary to dozens of others.
Far be it for me to ascribe logic to Truthers, but that first step that led Barrett to considering 9/11 a "hoax" led him to an almost fully realized alternate reality. In other words, conspiracy theorists like Barrett don't devote their energies to "proving" an alternative view of one historical event, they quickly move one to others and ascribe the same haphazard skills of analysis infused by an irrational hatred of someone else to those events. In short order they've constructed an entire worldview based a false assumptions and it seems like after a certain point there's no going back.
I hope Barrett is an anomaly and not a harbinger of things to come. He's no longer got the crazy market monopolized -- he's competing with Birthers and neo-Birchers these days and God only knows what else down the horizon. Hopefully he'll just end up as a cautionary tale on the dangers of succumbing to postmodern paranoia and not as the latest incarnation of an all too familiar American political archetype.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
If you're away from a computer and want to chime in via Twitter, just use hashtag #gbpack.
If you're submitting your first comment, it may take a few moments to appear. Don't be discouraged, every comment made after that will be instantaneous.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Broadcast starts at noon. We go live at 11:45 am. The sooner you get here, the quicker I can grant you unlimited commenting privileges, which will make your enjoyment of the entire experience all the better.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Here's Rodriguez on what he calls Walker's "political viability":
First and most interestingly, Walker has demonstrated a certain proficiency at winning elections. In the world of politics, Walker has a perfect, undefeated record at winning election contests.Right off the bat, Rodriguez make a demonstrably false statement. Walker may have a very good track record when it comes to winning elections, but he does not have a perfect one. He did, after all, lose the GOP Gubernatorial primary in 2006. Walker campaigned for 14 months before packing his tent up in 2006. This isn't something that can so easily dismissed.
After securing a State Assembly seat in 1993, Walker has won every successive re-election bid until he sought the office of Milwaukee County Executive. In 2002, Scott Walker was the first Republican ever to be elected to Milwaukee County Executive. And after acquiring the seat of County Executive, Walker has won all three [sic. -- it was only twice] re-election bids in Milwaukee. Walker's political dominance in Milwaukee illustrates an effective salesmanship and an expert knowledge at waging successful campaigns.This too needs some mopping up.
Rodriguez seems to be really impressed that Walker won his elections for Count Executive, and while it's an impressive feat to be sure, it certainly is not the stepping stone to the Governor's mansion Rodriguez makes it sound like it is. So far as we've been able to find, no one has ever made the leap from county executive -- of any county -- to governor in Wisconsin.
Secondly nearly all of Walker's elections for County Exec have been under circumstances that were advantageous to him. In 2002 Walker won a special election following the recall of the prior County Exec who got caught up in the pension scandal, circumstances that are usually a boon to the opposition party or change agent. In 2004, with the pension scandal still fresh in voters' memories, Walker was able to take advantage of the benefits of incumbency without having to carry much of the baggage of an office-holder who has served a full term. In 2008 his opponent was Lena Taylor whose most glaring political liability is the fact that she's Lena Taylor.
So Walker has been the recipient of some tremendous good fortune when it comes to being County Exec.
None of this should be held against Walker. Knowing when to pounce is often just as difficult as knowing how to pounce. Walker saw an opportunity in 2002 and seized it. Good for him, but the challenge he gets next year will likely be closer to the challenge he faced when he ran against Mark Green than when he faced off against Taylor.
Next, there are also considerable institutional differences in running for County Exec and running of governor. The first is that County Exec is a nonpartisan office. Pratically speaking, candidates may (and do) run as essentially a Dem or a Republican, but there's no (D) or (R) next to the candidates names on the ballot and that changes the way people vote and how campaigns are waged.
The second is that Milwaukee County Execs are elected in the spring, when voter turnout is significantly lower than during major elections in the fall. When Walker beat Taylor last April, less than 167,000 people voted. Seven months later, roughly 477,000 voters went to the polls -- and this bleeds into Rodriguez's next point.
Secondly, Walker has proven to be popular in Milwaukee County, which is no small feat for a conservative politician.I don't know how else to read this other than Rodriguez suggesting that Walker will either carry or at least contend for Milwaukee County.
Politically speaking, Milwaukee and Madison are democrat havens. With a collective population of 813,000, these cities tend to pack a pungent one-two punch for liberal candidates. Walker's situation, however, is somewhat anomalous. Walker's popularity in Milwaukee means at least two things. It means he is a more viable GOP candidate than say Mark Neumann. And second, it means that Democrat contenders will lose the advantage of Milwaukee County as a political springboard for their election bid. The one exception to this rule is possibly Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, if he were to run for governor.
Rodriguez seems to base this simply on the fact that Walker's been elected County Exec several times, but this is just part of the picture. Very frequently a group of people will elect someone to one office, but not another -- just ask Al Gore how Tennessee voted in 2000. Plus, as we noted above, Walker will be running under different circumstances in Milwaukee next fall. He'll have an (R) next to his name and be running against someone with (D) next to theirs. That will dramatically change Walker's popularity in Milwaukee county.
Let's put it this way: Barack Obama won 316,916 votes just in Milwaukee county in 2008. John McCain got 147,573. Obviously, we won't be looking at these types of numbers next fall, but it does serve as a gauge as to how Milwaukee county is currently composed. The question then becomes: is Scott Walker popular enough to significantly close a 170,000 vote disparity?
Doubtfully. In 2008, Walker got 98,039 people to vote for him, but in 2004 he got 136,099. That's a significant drop-off, even if it isn't completely attributable to waning popularity, and is a trend that doesn't bode well for Walker's attempt to negate the advantage Democrats have in Milwaukee.
Now here's the fun part: none of this matters. Walker needs voters "outstate." A conservative Republican can win a statewide election by getting clobbered in Dane and Milwaukee counties if he still manages to connect with the 75% of voters who don't live in those two counties. That's not going to happen by, say, running around Stevens Point screaming "They love me in Milwaukee!" That's how one loses votes up here in the sticks.
We're pretty confident that the boys down at Walker Headquarters were tickled pink by the sentiment of yet another one of Rodriguez's sloppy wet kisses to their candidate, even though "viable in Milwaukee" isn't exactly staying on message; but we also have this quaint little visual of a Walker staffer shaking his computer monitor with both hands while huffing through gritting teeth "Ixnay ethay Ilwaukeemay uffstay!!!" as he read Rodriguez's post.
So is Walker "viable" in Milwaukee county? No -- and this will only get worse as Walker seeks to distance himself from Milwaukee. In order to appeal to voters outstate Walker will inevitably have to take positions that screw Milwaukee and alienate the voters back home, thus making him even less viable.
Milwaukee's a lost cause for Walker, and anyone who tells him otherwise is fooling himself.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Aaron Kampman Will Sack Your Quarterback, Devour the QB's Children on the 50 Yard Line, then Sow Salt in the Fields of Opposing the Coach's Fields
Check out Kampman's interview with the Sporting News -- then join us this Sunday for The Chief's Packers live blogging free for all.
Show starts at 11:45 am.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
So far as we can tell, the first evidence of the Wisconsin Knows website can be traced back to Kyle Maichle, who seems to be the first person to blog about it. Before that, there's nothing. It's as if Wisconsin Knows just appeared from the ether and with only one single blog post to it's credit, Maichle knew where to find it -- and only a couple of days after the blog's inaugural post too. We were impressed (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Now, this mysterious site exists without an author, which allows Maichle to make the absolutely ridiculous assertion that the writing style of the site is similar to a press release put out by the DPW the same day. Maichle should not consider leaving his current line employment to pursue a career in forensic writing analysis because the two pieces of writing are nothing alike.
The only common trait they share is a broad criticism of Mark Nuemann. The DPW release doesn't even mention the central criticism of Nuemann by WK, that is, his business dealings. The DPW is written by a professional, someone who knows how to make a quick attack. WK is a rambling, disorganized mess that is far too taxing on the reader to be effective.
It's clearly amateur hour over at WK. Stylistically, the two writings are nothing alike. DPW uses time-tested political rhetoric, employing phrases like "record of extremism" and "extreme right-wing views and anti-consumer business practices" and " the best interests of Wisconsin" and "out-of-touch and out-of-step rhetoric" and so forth. These are cliches to some ears, but they are the language of political professionals. None of that appears in WK, which exists solely do "prove" Nuemann's "sketchy business practices" ... whatever those happen to be. In fact, it's clear that the author of WK is ignorant of both political language and business language, as he seems to not have the first damn clue what he was reading with regard to Nuemann's financials.
WK segments its arguments by headers (i.e. "Just the Facts Man..."), uses bold to help differentiate which Nuemann brother the author is speaking of, uses both bullet points and numbered bullets to separate sections, and lastly uses cumbersome spread sheet type boxes to discuss specific properties. None of this appears in the DPW -- which doesn't even mention Nuemann's brother while WK dwells on him obsessively. WK links to a variety of sites that seem to have nothing to do with what they are talking about -- in one case it links to an article about a state legislator from North Carolina named Wil Nuemann, not even the right guy.
Clearly, whomever is in charge of WK is an amateur. Why Maichle seems to be such in arms over it is beyond me. Most people would simply look at, laugh and walk away without paying it any heed. Not Maichle, who sees an opportunity to smear the DPW with the baseless accusation that they are in charge of it and to do so without any substantive evidence.
And no, "they're written alike" doesn't count since they are written nothing alike.
There is no advantage to either the DPW or Walker campaign in putting something like WK out in a non official capacity. WK is an awful website. It looks like shit, is written like shit, and is completely uninteresting despite desperately trying to be so. The DPW or Walker would be better served by putting their name on a good looking web site maintained by professional. This amateurish crap is embarrassing and it's usually the kind of bullshit that some over-eager activist puts together in his or her spare time.
Cory Liebmann think it's the work of pro-Walker, right-wingers. Let me do him one better and give him the name of the person we feel is responsible for WK: Kyle Maichle.
Both WK and Maichle's blog are powered by Wordpress and web folks tend to use the same platform when they make new sites. WK's first post appeared at 9:00 PM on September 9th and three days later Maichle's writing about it on his site -- that's an amazing coincidence since no one knew anything about WK prior to Maichle's post.
Maichle also seems to be begging folks to take seriously something any normal person would immediately out of hand. Here's some more Maichle:
The credibility of the post by WIsconsin Knows will fall on deaf ears unless who wrote the story gives credit to where they got the records as federal bankruptcy records are public records under the Freedom of Information Act.WK has no credibility. It's an anonymous blog that could be making shit up for all anyone knows, and for Maichle to think for a moment that Mark Nuemann's financial history isn't known to most opposition researchers in Wisconsin is hopelessly naive. Whomever is in charge of WK is not breaking any news. Besides, Maichle says it himself: bankruptcy records are public -- it's not like he broke into a probate office in the middle of the night.
Plus, the financial information outlined in the post is hardly incriminating. All it does is outline some bad real estate deals made by his brother. Yawn ... Wake us up when you've got pictures of Nuemann with hookers or killing puppies ... or both at the same time.
That's all speculation, of course. I can't prove Maichle's involvement. So instead of just wallowing in idle speculation, like Maichle seems perfectly willing to do, let's look at what few actual facts surrounding the case. The fact of the matter is that Wisconsinknows.com is registered by Domainsbyproxy.com, a service that buys up web sites for people that don't want their names associated with the site. That's it, folks. Unless you have access to the purchase records at Domainsbyproxy.com, then there's no way to know who's in charge of WK.
Keep that in mind when Maichle writes this:
When someone forwarded me a e-mail about this and there was an Milwaukee Address on the bottom of the e-mail linked to the website, it was important that research had to be done on the actual address. When the address on Silver Spring Drive was looked up on the Huffington Post’s and other campaign finance databases I had every assertion that it comes from a solid blue section of Milwaukee County as according to the databases as the first indicator. The address was near the border of Milwaukee and Glendale which is a pretty solid blue section.So Maichle knows the physical address of the operator of Wisconsin Knows? Because he got an email? And all of this has happened within 5 days and only two (2!) posts at WK?
Are you fucking kidding me?
My bullshit meter is going off like a Geiger counter at Chernobyl after reading this. Why would someone go through all the trouble of hiring a third party to register the domain name to conceal their identity and then let enough people know about it that within a week of going live Maichle is somehow able to track down the brick and mortar HQ of the WisconsinKnows.com after receiving an email?
This stinks to high heaven and by our estimation the stench is coming from Maichle. He clearly knows more about WK then he's letting on and, frankly, this acting coy bullshit feels like a transparent attempt to sucker his readers. Maichle's tried to carve out a niche for himself by attacking Mike Tate since he became party chair earlier this year and it seems only reasonable that his obsession has escalated to an internet frame job. This isn't about Mark Nuemann's finances so much as it is trying to make Tate and the DPW look like dirty crooks.
Do I have any proof that Wisconsinknows.com is actually one of Maichle's diabolical plots? No. I, frankly, don't even know if he's smart enough to come up with something like this -- and it's not like a political mastermind is needed to concoct this pathetic scheme. But since Maichle's isn't going to do anything but speculate on the matter because he erroneously thinks two pieces of writing are kind of alike, then I have just as much standing to attribute the authorship to him.
So either come up with some tangible evidence or stop making these ridiculous allegations. Whomever is in charge of Wisconsinknows.com doesn't have the first damn clue what they're doing. It's embarrassing and amateurish -- both Chairmen Tate and Pribus know better than to pull this kind of shit -- the real question is, does Maichle?
So we went looking for a Packers live blog to watch the game with last night and weren't really happy with the results, so we're going to host our own next Sunday when the Pack play the Cincinnati Bengals.
Anyone is welcome. Points will be awarded for witty banter and trash-talking. We'll be taking suggestions on how to best run this thing during the week, so if you have any great ideas, feel free to drop them off in the comments section below.
Tell your friends -- the more the merrier. We'll be using CoveritLive, which means folks will be able to participate using Twitter. More details to come in the days ahead.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Can someone do us a favor and send Joe Wilson flowers or a fruit basket ... or even just pat him on the back for us? It'd really mean a lot. Thanks!
This guy really is a piece of work. On Wednesday he makes an ass of himself at Obama's speech to Congress. On Thursday he gave a totally unconvincing account of his apology to the White House. On Friday he could be found asking people for money. This morning he hit the talk show circuit, claiming he wasn't going to back down. This guy is apparently for real.
Evidently, Joe Wilson aspires to be the least effective representative in the House and he's in the midst of setting a land-speed record for accomplishing this feat. Prior to getting his 15 minutes of fame this week Wilson was a back-bencher whose only legislative accomplishment was getting re-elected several time. Now he's trying to parlay a stupid mistake into enhancing his stature in Washington.
The problem is that he's clearly not up to the task.
Wilson has made repeated PR mistakes in the wake of his "You lie!" comment. First he admitted that the GOP leadership basically forced him to apologize to the President. This made him look like both a tool and like he's not smart enough to realize that an apology was in order. Then, Wilson foolishly tried to do some fundraising, something that should have been done by proxy. Now he's refusing to apologize again, which suggests that his first apology wasn't genuine.
He is the reason why the House GOP leadership must be buying antacids in bulk this weekend.
A sane person would have apologized profusely at the indiscretion while remaining silent on the substance of the disagreement. In fact, Wilson should have just quietly dropped out of the health care debate altogether (it wasn't like he was making much of an impact prior to Wednesday). In Washington he should have groveled to the right people behind closed doors and just laid low til the whole thing blew over. Instead, he's decided to become the public face of the anti-reform effort -- the modern day equivalent of the blind leading the blind.
Judging by his on camera arrogance and/or obliviousness, Wilson hasn't done the requisite groveling that could save him from an official rebuke. That should be the least of his worries. Wilson is perilously close to being blackballed by the House Dems, if he hasn't been already. Maybe there's a defense contractor in Wilson's district vying for a lucrative Pentagon contract and they need Wilson to make a push for them? Yeah, that's not going to happen now. If the Dems were smart they pull every earmark request, kill every pet project and basically turn off the spigot of federal funds flowing to his district. That will voters' attention in hurry.
Right now Reps. Boehner & Cantor should be doing everything in their power to shut Wilson up. They should bring in crack PR pros and promise to help Wilson fundraise to offset gains made by his opponent because they can not let the health care debate turn into "Joe Wilson vs. Barack Obama." Wilson -- and the GOP by extension -- will lose that battle. Then he's likely to lose his job.
Then again, the GOP leadership might be in the process of letting go of the leash they have on Wilson so that he can hang himself with it. Wilson has been carrying himself like someone who's gone off the reservation. It wouldn't surprise me if they started giving Wilson the Tancredo treatment: making him a persona non grata with the leadership, but sort of an emissary to the lunatic fringe.
The most striking thing about Wilson, however, is the utter selfishness of his actions. He's demonstrated no regard for his party or his district since he made his debut as America's most famous heckler and he doesn't seem to be letting up any time soon. I didn't think it was possible but Wilson behavior since Wednesday has been even more deplorable than at the joint session of Congress.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
The Tea Parties are powerful statements made by grassroots activists who are tired of government doing stuff. They represent the little guy, Main Street, apple pie and so forth, etc. And just as Jesus Christ was born in a manger, so too did the Tea Parties spring to life from humble origins.
As Laker reminds his readers, the Modern Tea Party was originally the brain child of one Rick Santelli, an Average Joe who was once Vice President of Interest Rate Futures and Options at the Chicago trading firm of Drexel Burnham and Lambert. Santelli, when he is not clipping coupons and balancing his checkbook at the kitchen table, appears over a dozen times a day on the financial cable news station of record where he has an open forum to say whatever the hell is on his mind and reach hundreds of thousands of the most important financial movers and shakers in the world -- just like the rest of us! So it was fitting that Santelli delivered his now famous "rant" on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange where just like the employees of every mom-and-pop small business in Middle America, he punches his time sheet like every other scrappy American working to make a living.
You've come a long way, baby!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
In the latest example of her brazen disregard of facts, "Mary Lazich" cites a "report" advocating the repeal of the estate tax. Here's he describes the report's authors:
Holtz-Eakin estimates thatGot that? Douglas Hotlz-Eakin -- noted former Congressional Budget Office Director, Economist, and McCain campaign adviser/spokesman -- teamed up with Julaine Appling -- carpetbagging, homophobic hack -- to work on a report calling for the repeal of the estate tax.
would lose 10,996 jobs if Congress does not eliminate the death tax during 2010. Julaine Appling, the CEO of Wisconsin Family Council that also worked on the study compares that to losing General Motors in Wisconsin three times over. Janesville
Does that sound like it ever happened?
Well, of course it didn't. The "report" that "Lazich" cites is actually a review of two papers, one of which was authored by Holtz-Eakin. It's the Cliff's Notes version of the actual report(s) -- one put out by the Family Research Council, the parent organization of Appling's freak show. Appling had nothing to do with the report.
I'm guessing that "Lazich" didn't even bother to read the review of the report and instead just cribbed a few talking points from a press release Appling sent out along with a link to the review.
Here's how she ends the post:
You can read the full study, “Repealing Death Tax Will Create Jobs and Boost Economy,” here.You'll note that the link doesn't go to the "full study," just the "review" of the study.
Maybe she can't tell the difference?
Seriously, like Appling would be working with Douglas Holtz-Eakin on an academic economics paper? And I did a weekend of duets with Sinatra at the Sands back in the '60s...
Nevertheless, we continue to have strenuous objections to both Zimmermann's beliefs on 9/11 and his relevance at the Americans for Prosperity tea party in Sheboygan. To wit:
I feel that the engineering video I have linked raises a lot of very interesting questions. I don’t want to believe that there is some dark conspiracy behind the attacks, but I can’t simply ignore such compelling evidence. If anyone who has watched the video can convince me of why the claims are not true I would be happy to concede the argument and remove the link from my site.The video can be found here. The "questions" raised by the video (and multiple imitators) have been independently debunked by numerous sources. One of the most accessible was a special issue of Popular Mechanics that sought to eliminate any and every doubt that 9/11 was an "inside job." We encourage Dr. Zimmermann to take a look at it.
The emphasized sentence above reinforces Zimmermann's belief that the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11 was the product of "controlled demolition." This is a view that is antagonistic to accepted facts. It is a sign that someone does not comprehend the basic elements of an event with fundamental importance to contemporary discussion. We can wax philosophically about post-structuralism, deconstruction and the age old question "What is truth?" -- but civic discourse does not operate on that level. Saying "There is significant evidence that the 9/11 attacks did not take place the way the government claims" is like saying "2 + 2 = Pancakes:" it makes no sense.
This is no small matter because having such a belief testifies to the believer's ability to make reasoned opinions on other issues. Zimmermann goes on to say:
I do not claim to be an expert on healthcare, just someone who is passionate about helping others and promoting freedom and accountable government. [...] AFP is certainly not promoting me as an authority on the subject.This last assertion is fundamentally false. Zimmermann was billed as a "resident physician at the University of Wisconsin Madison" and carries the title of "Dr." -- both of which carry connotations of authority and expertise in medicinal and health care fields to the average observer. Zimmermann may not have thought he was being used as a "health care expert" (in which case he should have known better), but Americans for Property sure was suggesting as much.
We have little doubt that Zimmerann's beliefs, misguided as they are, come from a sincere place and with the best of intentions to correct what he sees are grievous injustices in the world. But that does not make his worldview with regard to 9/11 any more palatable. Nor does it make his proposed remedies any less ridiculous.
Take, for example, his recommendation that Wisconsin secede from the Union. Zimmermann claims an Independent Sovereign Wisconsin would benefit from no longer being entangled in the United States' military adventures. Perhaps. Yet, what Zimmermann fails to understand is that an Independent Wisconsin would need to raise and support its own self-defense force, a task that would without question require universal conscription. So an unintended consequence of Zimmermanns's desire to de-militarize Wisconsin would be total militarization of the state. That's an absurd and self-contradictory argument.
This is just part and parcel of the entire secession argument -- which exists as a ludicrous solution to shedding Wisconsin residents of the "evil" federal government. In fact, all secession would do is create the need for more government. Who would regulate the nuclear power plant in Two River if Wisconsin didn't have access to the NRC? How would senior citizens get back the money they put into the Social Security fund? I realize this is the unambiguous goal of many conservatives and libertarians, but one doesn't need to live in a State of Nature to know that life is nasty, brutish and short -- one only has to live without the FDA.
Americans for Prosperity wants that world. They cloak their arguments up in patriotic rhetoric, use philosophically complex words like "freedom" and "liberty" like buzzwords because they are part of the American vocabulary, but what they really want is deregulation for the sake of enhancing profits -- and AFP is obviously not above using the ignorance of it's speakers to prey on the ignorance of its constituents. That should speak to their credibility as much as it does to Zimmermann's.
Zimmermann's presence at the Sheboygan rally indicates one of two things to us. The first is that the organizers were so enamored at the idea of a doctor speaking against health care reform that they jumped at the first person they could find without properly vetting him. The second is that AFP was so happy that it got a doctor to speak against health care reform that they didn't care he was a 9/11 Truther or thought no one would notice. If the first case, then AFP is too disorganized to be considered a legitimate voice in the public discussion. If the second, then AFP is too craven. I suspect it was combination of the two and would like to see organizations such as AFP held accountable.
Towards the end of his reply Zimmermann writes: "This is a free country. We all have different views on issues and it is our ability to freely discuss our ideas that makes this nation strong." We couldn't agree more, but a variety of views doesn't make them all equal. As we noted earlier, we have little doubt that Zimmermann's intentions are good, that he has arrived at this views not by way of madness, but from a sincere desire to right the world's wrongs. That's never an easy thing to do, and sometimes can seem so daunting that there appears to be no other explanation than that the world is conspiring to keep good men down. But the world is a far more complicated place and answers are never that easy. We don't think Zimmermann should end his quest to make the world a better place, we just think he should try harder.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
After being elected through the democratic process in 1933, Hitler burned his own Reichstag and used the attack to push through the Enabling Act which suspended civil liberties and lead to the horrors of what we know as Nazi Germany. An eerily similar sequence of events has transpired in the United States. There is significant evidence that the 9/11 attacks did not take place the way the government claims.As if the bolded line above weren't enough of a smoking gun already, the comparison to the Reichstag arson is a vintage Truther meme.
Not surprisingly, Zimmermann is also paranoid about the Federal Reserve and genetically modified food. In other words, Zimmermann subscribes to a hodgepodge of whackjob conspiracy theories and is pooling them all together to form a "unified field theory" of secession.
This is the guy Americans for Prosperity wants to promote as an authority on health care ... which begs the question: was Kevin Barrett not available?
EVEN MORE: Dr. Zimmermann replies in the comments section, I'd encourage everyone to read it.
MORE STILL: Here's our response.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Under the "resources" category, WR.org links to the web site of a group called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and to the infamous underground "documentary" Loose Change. Screen capture below:
This is unacceptable. Americans for Prosperity should apologize for giving the site's operator, Dr. Zimmermann a platform to appear legitimate and denounce his views on 9/11 at both the state and national levels. Zimmermann apparently used some of his speaking time to pimp his web site at the Sheboygan Tea Party, doing so with AFP's blessing. It doesn't matter if Dr. Zimmermann was there to talk about health care, secession or the price of tea in China -- it speaks to his credibility and that of Americans for Prosperity to let a 9/11 Truther yap away at one of their events.
This is such a lunatic fringe concept that it has no place in serious public discussion, yet AFP, which has been trying to position itself as the state's premier conservative supper club, did just that when it invited Dr. Phil Zimmermann to speak at its Sheboygan Tea Party this weekend. Zimmermann apparently runs a website, WisconsinRepublic.org that advocates Wisconsin leaving the Union, an absolutely absurd concept that is made even more so by the site's nutjob six part "argument" for secession.
The reasoning deployed by the organization is downright offensive:
Others may feel that it is "un-American" to withdraw from the union and that it does not honor those who have given their lives in service to our country. If one is to equate "America" with a federal government, it is understandable why one would feel this way. [...]Got that? It wasn't the Civil War that proved once and for all that Secession was not part of the deal, rather it was the Revolutionary War that demonstrated that anyone can pack up and leave any time they want.
Our founders understood this. Though they considered themselves "British," their loyalties were to the principles for which they believed Britain should have stood, not to the British government itself.
We feel that the circumstances are such that a peaceful dissolution of the union should be seriously considered to preserve a free and healthy society... Secession is one of the most sophisticated and elegant principles of an advanced democratic form of government. It embodies the very heart of a free society by providing for the people’s right of self-determination.Emphasis in the original.
This is sheer lunacy. Most organizations would be embarrassed to have this guy show up to their event. AFP gives him a microphone and a speaking slot. Why not just let a Birther do the keynote next Tea Party?
Saturday, September 5, 2009
To understand this, we need to first look at the job of a notary. Notaries public are the law's way of preempting any challenge to a legal document's legitimacy. Armed with those nifty embossing stamps, notaries are America's authenticators.
Now notaries are supposed to be dispassionate observers. Their job is to witness an act and authenticate said act. It's not their job to judge the virtue of that act. For example, Bill is divorcing his wife and needs the divorce papers notarized before the divorce is final. He goes to Steve the Notary and signs the papers in his presence. Steve witnesses it, authenticates it, does his thing with the stamp and ... voila, Bill is now back on the prowl. It doesn't matter what Steve thinks of Bill's divorce -- all the notary has to worry about is authenticating the signature.
But what if a notary did care about the divorce? What if Steve refuses to authenticate the divorce papers because he thinks Bill and his wife would be better served if they just went to counseling? The practical solution to this problem is that Bill just goes to another notary and since there are thousands of them it's not exactly a chore to find a more amenable verifier, just an inconvenience.
But what if there were only one notary? It's kind of an odd thought since notaries are a dime a dozen, but that's exactly the position the state government finds itself in with respect to legislation. State governments need to have their legal documents authenticated just like everyone else, after all.
The Secretary of State is essentially a notary public, except he has one client: the state of Wisconsin. That's what is meant by the phrase "to keep the Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin and affix it to all official acts of the Governor" in the SoS's job description. The SoS is the Governor's independent authenticator. Affixing the state seal is the law-making equivalent of a notary stamping a legal document. The SoS also has another important job: "Wisconsin's Constitution requires the Secretary of State to maintain the official acts of the Legislature and Governor."
This explains why the SoS needs to be directly elected by the people of Wisconsin. SoS can't be appointed by the Governor because then the SoS would no longer be "independent." (In principle, at least. SoS have been appointed in the past to finished terms left by deceased office holders.) Likewise, the Lieutenant Governor can't do the job as things currently stand because the LG runs on the same ticket as the Gov.
Think of the SoS as the quality control expert of the legislative process: he's the guy voters hire to say, "Yup, that all happened the way it was supposed to" at the end of the law-making process. If laws were jackets made by the Gap, the Secretary of State would be Inspected By 23.
But what would happen if, like Steve the Notary from earlier, the SoS decided not to affix the seal of the state of Wisconsin to an act of the Governor? What if an "activist Secretary of State" objected to a piece of legislation and decided not to validate by either affixing the seal (i.e. "notarizing" it) or publish and "maintain" the official acts of the legislature?
The only thing that anyone can seem to say with certainty about such a hypothetical situation is that no one knows.
There's no precedent. It simply hasn't happened before, but such a scenario does pose some interesting paradoxes.
First, what can the Governor do? Not much. Because SoS is an independently elected office, the Gov. can't fire him. Furthermore, any executive orders to reign in the SoS would need to be authenticated by the SoS for them to become legal, and there's likely little chance that an SoS would authenticate something that would screw him or her.
Could the legislature impeach the SoS? Possibly, but in order for an act of the legislature to become official it needs to be published by ... the SoS (!), so there's some question as to the authority such an act would carry.
The most likely solution to the problem would be a lawsuit -- filed by the Governor, the legislature, the Attorney General or possibly even a sympathetic third party advocacy group -- seeking a court-ordered injunction forcing the SoS to authenticate the neglected document and/or appointing someone who would do so in the event of further SoS intransigence. Even this wouldn't be much of a "solution," because the legal proceedings would invariably be cluttered by the political motivations of the opponents and proponents of whatever act the SoS refused to validate.
In other words, the SoS has what could be referred to as an "Existential Veto." If SoS doesn't like a bill, SoS could simply refuse to acknowledge that it exists and thereby can not be authenticated. But, instead of the bill going back to the legislature for a potential over-ride, the entire law-making machinery of the state grinds to a screeching halt.
So what's stopping Doug LaFollette or any other SoS, for that matter from wielding this power? Common sense, for one thing, and politics for another -- the SoS does have to get re-elected, after all. But for the sake of argument, lets remove both of those variables from the equation and consider the following hypothetical: an anti-tax advocate wins election to become the next Secretary of State by promising not to authenticate any legislation that includes a tax or fee increase. Would that newly elected SoS have any ground to stand on?
No one knows. That part of Wisconsin government has yet to be beta-tested. There is no precedent in Wisconsin law to say either way, or so I'm told. There may be, however, precedent in other state's. Earlier this year the Minnesota SoS refused to certify Al Franken's election to the U.S. Senate until the legal questions surround his election were reconciled by the courts. This came on the heals of the Illinois SoS refusing to certify the appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate in the wake of the Blagojevich "pay to play" scandal. In both cases, Secretaries of State delayed or refused to make authentications for political reasons -- the overarching question posed by this post is what if those actions were taken to their evolutionary extremes?
So is it really that simple? Does the Wisconsin Secretary of State hang over the legislative process like the sword of Damocles or is all of this merely a precis for a thesis at the Glenn Beck Institute of Art Criticism & Appreciation? Frankly, we don't know, we sure hope this is simply a thought experiment that took a wrong turn and ended up in Crazytown -- and if there's something missing from this train of thought, please, for the love of God, let us know.
There is, however, one thing we can say with certainty: should a SoS ever withhold authentication of legislation to satisfy his or her own personal agenda, it would result in scorched Earth campaign against the office and office holder. The individual would assuredly never get re-elected and the Governor and legislature would team up to end the office altogether. First, all responsibilities would be outsourced to other departments while funding and staff are eliminated from the budget. Then an amendment ridding the state constitution of the office would be drafted and passed and brought to the voters for approval. The problem is that this takes a minimum of six years -- think of how much gridlock a rogue SoS could create if he or she managed to hang on to their office for the four years of their term?
Let's put it another way: if, in fact, all of the above is actually a prerogative of the SoS, then the only thing seperating Wisconsin government from an outright legislative clusterfuck is the temperament of the SoS. That's not exactly what I would call a trustworthy check on power.
Friday, September 4, 2009
- Juggalos are no more a "gang" than the Kiss Army is a paramilitary organization.
- Gangs have hierarchies, leadership and even business plans -- I doubt you'll find any such organization among the Juggalos.
- That being said, and just like a gang, it's likely that the "Juggalo community" is one of the few communities these kids feel welcome in.
- The most logical answer for why the Juggalos have recently adopted the sundial downtown as their hangout is because the New Moon coffee house across the street has an open mic night on Tuesdays. Ergo, the open area across the street is a good place to retreat to when the music starts to suck and/or shit gets boring (as it tends to frequently do when your an adolescent).
- Also, is it any surprise that kids who are so attention-starved that they wear outlandish costumes and ghoulish make-up would chose one the city's most visible corners to congregate?
- Is it any surprise that the Juggalos started hanging out at the Sundial during a summer when school's out and there are minimal summer jobs for young people?
- The nice thing about outdoor teen gathering areas in Wisconsin is that they rarely survive the winter. By the time, spring rolls around, kids are looking for a new place. That's just the nature of being a teenager.
- While there's very little scientific research done on the "Juggalo demographic," there's a consensus that Juggalos tend to be young, white, male, under-educated and from working or lower class families with little structure. Who else would think dressing up like retarded clowns and rapping about necro-bestiality would be cool?
- The OPD deserves a lot of credit for deciding to air out their grievances with the Juggalos in a public forum instead of doing it after an incident of some kind late at night. We can think of times in the past where subcultures were not treated with this level of courtesy (or in such a timely nature), which lead to simmering tensions between the two parties. We can't help but wonder if Chief Greuel read this New Yorker article from earlier this summer that describes a criminologist who is having success reducing recidivism by preemptively asking criminals to knock off all that crime.
- Did anyone else think this meeting was a small town version of COIN strategy?
- Likewise, good on the Juggalos for going to the meeting. Hopefully they will learn that expressing yourself honestly and with good faith in a public forum is far more productive than emulating these douchebags.
- These kids gathering in public is actually better than them operating in garages, basements or other unsupervised places where they can actually get away with illegal or harmful behavior.
- Which brings us to probably the elephant in the room: this is largely about aesthetics. Because these kids look like walking billboards for Prozac, they're basically a form of human blight. That's just the reality of their appearance. I wouldn't want them hanging around my neighborhood just based on their image alone and nor would most people.
- The Insane Clown Posse is the single worst musical act of all-time. There is absolutely nothing redeeming about any aspect of their entertainment product. Eventually, some of these kids will realize this and the shame of this youthful indiscretion will haunt them for the rest of their days.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
King explicitly says he wants to expand the reach -- and by extension, the cost -- of the Sec. of State position:
Republican David King says Tuesday that like Rice, the Wisconsin secretary of state should go into trouble areas and try to solve problems. King, who runs the nonprofit Milwaukee God Squad, says he wants to use the position to be a mediator and counsel children about drug abuse.It takes money to travel to those "trouble areas" and to hire speech writers to "counsel children" and "mediation" ain't cheap either. That's all in addition to the traditional filing responsibilities of the Secretary of State.
King's candidacy poses an interesting dilemma for Wisconsin's conservatives: his social conservatism is attractive, but his platform goes against the very principles he's been promoting at Tea Parties around the state. While King may be a personal acquaintance to some bloggers -- and thereby an easy person to endorse -- what King plans to do with the office is in direct contradiction with what he says in public. That's not a candidate that can be taken seriously, and anyone who supports that candidate likewise risks losing his or her own credibility.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
David King, who runs something called the Milwaukee God Squad, announced today that he's running for Wisconsin Sec. of State, a job he is in no danger of winning whatsoever. Yet his candidacy should provide the state with some amusement.
First, King was a willing participant in former state senator Tom Reynolds' ridiculous "Clean Sweep Wisconsin PAC," having received a paltry $75 from CSPAC when he ran as a Dem. There's not a whole lot one can do with $75, so accepting the money really is mostly about demonstrating one is on board with the donor's platform. In this case, that platform is kinda crooked ... and being run by crazy-ass Tom Reynolds.
Unlike his ill-fated attempt at a state assembly seat two years ago, King is running as a Republican, presumably a conservative one, yet he is running on a platform that includes expanding the responsibilities of the Sec. of State:
A Milwaukee minister who announced his candidacy for Wisconsin secretary of state says he is using former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as his model.Condoleeza Rice? Does he think he's going to be speaking at Davos when he gets elected? But it gets better: he wants to increase the scope and cost of government:
Republican David King says Tuesday that like Rice, the Wisconsin secretary of state should go into trouble areas and try to solve problems. King, who runs the nonprofit Milwaukee God Squad, says he wants to use the position to be a mediator and counsel children about drug abuse.That makes more sense -- he wants to be a motivational speaker, and evidently the kind that rolls into high school gymnasiums and bores the living shit out of students. Well you don't need to hold public office to do that, though I imagine holding office sure does help when trying to book gigs (which seems to be the actual objective here, not public service).
I doubt this will be the last we hear from King. He's been making the rounds at the Tea Parties held around the state (and here, here, here, and here), so he should have a lot of fun selling his proposed increase in government to these folks.
Judging by his track record, King clearly craves attention. His appearances at the Tea Parties demonstrates a comfort with shallow public gestures, so I'd put money on seeing some kind of ill-advised publicity stunt from him in the future. At least King will make things interesting ... just like Tom Reynolds did not so long ago.