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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Why I followed Scott Walker to Iowa, and what I learned


The quote from Walker's speech that is getting played over and over is, "I am not intimidated by you." That line actually made us laugh. If he was not intimidated, why wouldn't he answer some simple questions about his positions and his record? About 50 of us were there at his soapbox speech at the State Fair — including health care workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and others who are still fighting for higher wages and the right to stick together in a union through the Home Care Fight for $15. A few of us brought our children to show them how politics works up close and why it is important to stand up for the things that matter.


So when Scott Walker says he will not be intimidated by a CNA and mother of two from Jefferson, I am not sure what he is trying to prove. If he wasn't intimidated by me, or by my co-workers, or by the rest of us at the soapbox speech in Iowa, he would have answered our questions. Because he ignored us in Des Moines, I want to give him a chance to answer our questions. Here they are, and if he's not intimidated, he should answer them:

■You called the minimum wage "lame," killed the idea of a living wage in our state law and came up short on your promise to create new jobs. Why should anyone trust you to stand up for regular people and good jobs, and not the millionaires and billionaires who are bankrolling your campaign?


■Why did you compare working people like me to ISIS and Vladimir Putin? How are working people in Wisconsin the enemy?

Add it all up, and you have someone who is less and less popular in his own state because of his record, who has lost his big lead in Iowa in the presidential race and who is too busy running away from his problems to answer simple questions, whether it is about immigration, or raising wages, or anything else. I learned in Iowa that maybe "intimidated" isn't the right word to describe Walker after all. Maybe he's just plain scared.

'We Are All Criminals' exhibit portrays the long reach of our laws


The traveling exhibit features portraits and stories of mostly white, middle-class people who admit they have broken the law, but have suffered no legal consequences. Their identities are protected, but the portraits show their environments and illustrate their privileged lives. Their stories are contrasted with those of people who were caught, prosecuted or imprisoned for similar actions, most of them people of color.


For example, one man interviewed for the project spent his freshman year of college in Wisconsin, across Lake Superior from his home in Minnesota. For his sophomore year, he transferred to a school back in his hometown, moving in with some high school friends. They quickly realized he was in a perfect position to sell drugs at his former university, since he knew the students personally and would be able to distinguish them from undercover cops.


Through the conversation, the man, who now is a business owner, realized that if he'd been caught, he wouldn't have graduated, wouldn't have gotten the internship where met his wife, wouldn't have become the father of his two sons. And even if he had somehow managed to meet his wife and have his kids, he never could have volunteered with their hockey team, which asks potential volunteers to check boxes indicating whether they have been convicted of various crimes.


"We Are All Criminals" will be on display Monday through Thursdayon the third floor of Madison's Central Library, 201 W Mifflin St. Baxter will speak from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednsday at the library as part of Madison's Forward Festival. The presentation is free and open to the public; RSVP by visiting: weareallcriminals.splashthat.com/.

The 2016 field is full of deadbeats


There's a certain demographic in this country — it's unseemly to mention the specific population by name — that has no sense of personal responsibility. I don't know whether their problem is cultural or biological. But these people refuse to acknowledge any bad decisions they have ever made, or the many times others have bailed them out. They want everyone else to pay for their failures, and sometimes even their successes. By now I think you know which deadbeats I'm talking about: the people running for president.


Then there are Republican governors who promise blockbuster economic growth, despite denying responsibility for the busted economies in their own home states. Asked in the presidential primary debate to justify holding himself up as an economic sage when, under his leadership, his state has undergone nine credit-rating downgrades and ranked 44th in private-sector growth, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responded: "If you think it's bad now, you should've seen it when I got there." Likewise, when prompted to explain why he'd delivered less than half the jobs he'd promised in his gubernatorial campaign and had overseen a state ranking 35th in the country in job growth, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also shirked. He said voters elected him because he "aimed high, not aimed low," declining to acknowledge that low was where he eventually landed.


But by far, the leader of the personal responsibility deadbeats is Donald Trump, a welfare queen if there ever was one. This is a man who has proudly "used the laws of the country to advantage." That means racking up hundreds of millions of dollars in tax abatements — that is, government subsidies — to finance his real estate empire. That means using "government's incompetence as a wedge to increase his private fortune," as one former New York City tax auditor put it. It means borrowing lots of money that he never paid back, because it was discharged in four (corporate) bankruptcies, which he now looks back on with pride.


At least Trump's business record provides a useful lens for understanding the few concrete policy proposals he's offered: 1) force Mexico to pay for a border wall he wants to build and, 2) force Middle Eastern countries to pay for U.S. military operations he wants to engage in. "Get someone else to pay for it" has been his business strategy all along, now newly applied to public policy.

10 FUN FACTS About Scott Walker


4. In the 2010 governor’s race, Walker’s campaign spent $11.1 million, compared to $6.8 million by his Democratic rival. In the 2012 recall, his campaign spent $36 million (more than five times his opponent), with two-thirds of his individual contributions coming from out-of-state. In his last election, in 2014, Walker and his running mate spent $36 million, compared to $17 million by their Democratic rivals. These totals did not include independent spending by outside groups.


6. Walker wrote in his book that among the many death threats he and his family received in 2011 was one threatening to “gut” his wife Tonette “like a deer.” After he repeated this story to a gasping audience in Iowa earlier this year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that state officials “have been unable to produce any record of this particular threat,” although a former state police official said he remembered having seen it.

7. Scott and Tonette Walker left the Baptist church they joined in Wauwatosa after it voted to affiliate with a “gay-accepting” national church group. One parishioner told the New York Times, “Tonette said they were looking for a more family-friendly place”; Scott said they left for a church that had more children his sons’ age.


9. According to Walker’s most recent Statement of Economic Interests, a required state ethics disclosure, he has less than $100,000 in investments and between $10,000 and $100,000 in credit card debt. The Boston Globe has calculated his net worth at negative $72,500. That makes him by far the poorest serious contender for President, followed by Bernie Sanders, worth $330,000.

Wisconsin: DNR move to sell prime spring ponds outrages trout anglers

"Sportsmen for Walker" is one misguided bunch of rubes.


The state Department of Natural Resources has identified more than 1,000 acres of state-owned land in Langlade County that could go on the auction block — a move that has angered trout anglers because the properties contain a cache of ecologically significant spring ponds with native brook trout populations.

The ponds, gouged by glaciers thousands of years ago, are fed by rich sources of groundwater that sustain the fish and neighboring streams, rivers and lakes.

The DNR recently posted 13 properties in Langlade County on its website that contain the small ponds. They are among 118 parcels, covering approximately 8,300 acres, the DNR could sell to private parties or other units of government.

The driving force is a directive by the Legislature to put 10,000 acres of state-owned land up for sale. The property must be made available to the public by June 30, 2017. It's part of a broader effort by lawmakers to exert more control over the agency's sprawling land holdings, and the state stewardship program that buys land for recreational use.

Judge repeats gun rights slogan during sentencing for illegal buys

This guy Randa is a Squat Wanker's crony who tried to kill the investigation into his corruption including ordering that all evidence be destroyed. Also a gun nut.


In giving probation with no jail time to a Milwaukee man charged with 55 counts of buying firearms with fake identification and dealing them without a license, a federal judge delivered a message:

"People kill people," U.S. District Rudolph Randa said, echoing a common gun rights slogan. "Guns don't kill people."

Dontray Mills, 24, purchased a total of 27 firearms, mostly handguns, between December 2012 and April 2014 and pleaded guilty to one of the charges on April 22, 2014, after an ATF investigation. As a result of the conviction, Mills will never again be able to buy firearms legally.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed with the one year of probation.

Russ Feingold on living wage ...

Wisconsin: The Disappearance of Martha Laning


Martha Laning, who took over the chair of the Democratic party in June in a contested race, has been missing in action. A quick Google search find quite a few stories about the election but nothing after that. Knowing that she has to have been doing something, I dug a little deeper.


Posted July 15, 2015Following is a statement from Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning on the deal for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

“With the extreme divisiveness and polarization we’ve seen in Wisconsin over the past few years, bipartisan cooperation has become practically non-existent. So it’s incredibly encouraging that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are working together now that the disastrous budget is over to reach an agreement on building a new Milwaukee Bucks arena.

“This project is good for workers, it's good for Milwaukee, and it's good for Wisconsin. Thanks to Senate Democrats for working with Republican leadership in crafting a deal that will create thousands of family-supporting jobs in Milwaukee.”

Laning seems to be emulating past chair Mike Tate. Let's hope she's better than that.

The resale shop had marked it down. Twice. Still, I managed to pass.

But not without taking some pictures first ...

Surprisingly, there are only four pawns included.

Obama's sad record on open government


Last week, it involved the Obama administration's sad record on transparency and open government: More than 50 media and open government groups sent a letter to the White House, calling on President Barack Obama "to stop practices in federal agencies that prevent important information from getting to the public," in the words of the Society of Professional Journalists.

"The national organizations sent a letter to Obama Monday urging changes to policies that constrict information flow to the public, including prohibiting journalists from communicating with staff without going through public information offices, requiring government PIOs to vet interview questions and monitoring interviews between journalists and sources," the SPJ report said.


On his first day in office, Obama issued a directive to create the Open Government Initiative, aimed at "creating an unprecedented level of openness in government," in the president's words. There's even a website for the initiative, which lists policies, a national action plan, open government progress and a heading that says "We want your input on building a more open government."


Last week's letter to the administration noted that "The public has a right to be alarmed by these constraints — essentially forms of censorship — that have surged at all levels of government in the past few decades.... Surveys of journalists and public information officers (PIOs) demonstrate that the restraints have become pervasive across the country; that some PIOs admit to blocking certain reporters when they don't like what is written; and that most Washington reporters say the public is not getting the information it needs because of constraints. An SPJ survey released in April confirmed that science writers frequently run into these barriers. This information suppression is fraught with danger."
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