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Member since: 2002
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Thanks, the part about the Bradley Foundation/UW-Madison/Milw. Journal-Sentinel.....

...was certainly interesting. From your first link:

About a year ago, we discovered that the far-right Bradley Foundation front, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), made a deal to "partner" with the political science department at UW Madison. The Poli Sci department agreed to conduct WPRI polls with questions provided by WPRI. WPRI and Political Science agreed that the agreement and all polling would be outside the reach of open records laws. Incredible. Reporters who routinely use Open Records to get information wouldn't think of asking Marquette Law School about their brand new polling operation. Keeping all the relevant data outside the reach of the public is not pants on fire it is "building burning down!" And they agreed that a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter would have first crack at revealing the poll's results. A scoop so to speak.

....But I wasn't really thinking about the exit polling or the accuracy or possible bias of the poll takers; I was more
focused on how -- with more than 3 hours to go, while the polls were still open -- FAUX News could have come to
the conclusion that the race was over, and our side had lost.

...I was listening to Stephanie Miller on Chicago Progressive Radio (online),
earlier this morning, and got led back to a story that was posted here. From our friends
and neighbors over at the D.U. Minnesota Group:


I couldn't help noticing that the name, Kathy Nickolaus, popped up again in quite a prominent

Forty-six Wisconsin counties and 3,000 voting machines are being controlled by a two-person company operating out of a strip mall in Minnesota


Uh…down the hall from Michelle Bachman's campaign office

That's a whole lot of Wisconsin counties, 46. More than half the total, I'm pretty sure.
(How many do we have, 75?)

From that link in the Minn. Group:

In June 2011, the Wisconsin County Clerks Association held their annual summer conference in Ladysmith. Seventy-five county clerks from across the state came together to, among other things, “assist the legislators in developing sound legislation that affects county clerks and county government by providing accurate and useful information.” WCCA Legislation Committee chair at the time was Kathy Nickolaus.

....By law, voting machines must be publicly tested prior to every election. A Programmable Read Only Memory (P.R.O.M.) pack or cartridge is used to reprogram the machines with the details of the current election. Clerks receive two PROM packs from Command Central: A PRE-LAT, which is used a week or so before the election for the public test, and an “Official” pack used on Election Day. Whoever programs the PROM packs has the ability to inject all the machines with a virus that will flip votes only on Election Day. With two different PROM packs in play, it’s easy to see how public tests could be flawless and the machines could still flip votes Election Day.

In his report of his experience with the November 2010 gubernatorial election for Scott Walker, John Washburn, an election integrity investigator and professional software tester for almost 20 years, states, “I have been to dozens of voting system test sessions and have never seen any of this faux ‘testing’ actually test the voting system software correctly. This is the professional opinion of a software tester testing software since 1994.”

Which is a roundabout way of going back to my original question -- when it came to the signatures on all the recall petitions, it became open season for Tea Party volunteers to pore over the lists of names, to file away and do with whatever they chose, in order to "verify" the recall.

But it doesn't seem likely that anything similar will ever happen with the actual vote totals in the election. Touchscreen voting machines don't leave a paper trail and in the middle of last summer -- when the first round of recall voting had just started -- Kathy Nickolaus helped to push through a "new lamps for old" agreement through which that two-person company operating out of the strip mall near Michelle Bachman's campaign office supplied TWO touchscreen voting machines, for free, in exchange for ONE optical-scanner voting machine (1,500 of them, all together?), to 46 different Wisconsin counties.

.....Nah, nothing to see there. Let's just move along, shall we? (And move "forward" with our new/old political leaders. It's not as if any of them have been indicted for any fraudulent activity, yet, or been the focus of any actual criminal investigations. ...Oh, wait -- oops -- never mind.)

Seriously? Do you know what you're implying?

If that's all true, then what you're saying is enforcement of new codes is an inevitable
cost multiplier -- like the curse of annual inflation, but with a much more steeply rising
curve -- negatively impacting those who can afford it the least, the most. (The costs
"trickle down" to renters and 1st-time home buyers.)

I'm in manufacturing, not home building, and I actually checked out this post to find out
if UL (Underwriters Laboratories) codes -- which our electrical department has to get
certification for -- were cited, and if it transferred at all to what we do.

But your post doesn't provide any actual information or examples or specifics, it's just a
big "no" to the whole concept of safety and economic feasibility having anything other
than a zero-sum relationship. (Fundamentally opposed, "your loss is my gain."

That's not really been my experience. Far from it. We make packaging equipment for
beverage makers. The gallon of milk you bought yesterday or the day before was very possibly
filled (and the bottle capped) with machinery that we manufacture. Food safety standards
are what our company needs to be aware of, so that our customers (many dairies and
juice and other beverage bottlers) won't be put in the position of getting fined, or having
their products recalled. For example, there's a whole major taxonomic genus of machinery
lubricants -- specially manufactured oils and greases -- that are functionally equivalent to
conventional, petroleum-based lubricants, but aren't harmful to human health. So that if a
micro-small dollop of lubricant meant to keep the bottle-capping machine working efficiently
somehow -- God only knows how -- ends up inside one of the bottles, it's not going to hurt

That used to be called the "NSF" (Food Safety) category of lubrication products. But it's no
longer a government-overseen or regulated classification standard. I can't remember, it may
have been near the end of Bill Clinton's 2nd term, or maybe it happened during the administration
of the second ARBUSTO, but the whole government department that oversaw and supervised
those "regulations" was eliminated. Privatization by eliminating the competition. I think there
was a generally held presumption that some industry council or other private group would
step forward and take over the responsibility for maintaining NSF standards, but that hasn't
happened. (Go figure -- all of the responsibility and risk but no potential at all for a financial
return -- it just hasn't happened.)

So at the moment, the next time you twist open a bottle of water, because gosh -- you're
sooooo thirsty -- the guidelines for keeping harmful crud out of that bottle -- haven't been
updated since I can't remember when.

That's actually been my general experience with these kinds of codes and regulations -- they
ALWAYS take a back seat to any economic factor that could possibly interfere with the price
of the product, or the economic health of the company that's involved.

So I'm wondering, can you go into any detail on your own experience, what it is exactly that's
made life so difficult for you, in the home building industry? If you have any specifics about UL
codes or other, municipal-jurisdiction or other local ordinances, that have impacted your company's
bottom line -- I'm still curious, trying to keep up with what's going on and staying current.

Tough question. Best short answer I can think of...

...is that the Gospel Message ("Love One Another" is also reflected in the core beliefs of
any number of other religions. From Confucius' Golden Rule (which sounds an awful lot like
the "Do on to Others" message in Christian teaching) to the respect for Others and the Earth
taught by 'primitive'/indigenous people, it would appear that there's at least a little bit of
consensus on the meaning of spiritual values, no matter where or from what religious tradition
different people are from.

But what also seems to show up, in looking at Christianity and other belief systems as well,
is that the basic message is often received differently, in sharply contrasting ways. Some
people are able to accept that "it's not all about you," that the real meaning or purpose of
life is bigger than the recipient. Other folks are more afraid, more angry or full of themselves
or whatever, so they tend to confuse their own personal outcomes with the fundamental

For whatever it's worth, that contrasting world view also seems to be echoed in political
life. Hard line Republicans (I'm talking about today's Republicans, not the leaders who once
helped define that party, like Eisenhower or Dirksen or Percy) now emphasize "You're on
your Own" when it comes to critical decision-making, and Democrats prefer to consider
"we're all in this together" when the answer to the question is really important.

As a professing Christian, myself (I'm Eastern Orthodox, and have to admit that I honestly
value weekly get-together's with some of my most valued personal friends, on a regular
basis) it bothers me that that's the way things go, established-religion-wise.

But what are you going to do?

Decide if fear, isolation and anxiety are going to rule your life, or maybe there's more to
it than that.

It's not unlike health care. We pay more for less.

And the difference goes in to the pockets of ALEC-supporters like
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, who fund politicians who make sure that
we'll always get more of the same:


I saw comparisons of the quality of service on Counterpunch, but
this Alternet article came up higher:


Since 1991, the telecom companies have pocketed an estimated $320 billion --- that's about $3,000 per household.

This is a conservative estimate of the wide-scale plunder that includes monies garnered from hidden rate hikes, depreciation allowances, write-offs and other schemes. Ironically, in 2009, the FCC's National Broadband plan claimed it will cost about $350 billion to fully upgrade America's infrastructure.

The principal consequence of the great broadband con is not only that Americans are stuck with an inferior and overpriced communications system, but the nation's global economic competitiveness has been undermined.

In a June 2010 report, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the U.S. 15th on broadband subscribers with 24.6 percent penetration; the consulting group, Strategy Analytics, is even more pessimistic, ranking the U.S. 20th with a "broadband" penetration rate of 67 percent compared to South Korea (95 percent), Netherlands (85 percent) and Canada (76 percent). Making matters worse, Strategy Analytics projects the U.S. ranking falling to 23rd by year-end 2010.

The article suggests that too many politicians are being paid too much cash by too many lobbyists to have any concern at all for their constituents' phone bills.

There might be a larger umbrella covering both points of view.

As in, while *most* people don't value old newspapers so much that they fill their living space with them,
and *most* people don't enjoy the company of dozens of felines.... some do.

Similarly, while most of us (99.9%) are untroubled and unfazed by the sheer gravitational force -- constantly
drawing more assets towards its own center -- of a really, really, really large pile of wealth, for a select few that
astronomical physical PULL is a life-affecting issue.

Either way, what may have begun innocently enough, with a small pile of accumulated good reads or a couple or
three kitties (or consider the early, start-up/entrepreneur years of Ebeneezer Scrooge's business career), it all turns
into something resembling the Sorcerer's Apprentice. ....I once had the misfortune of spending a couple or three days
with someone who was both a hoarder and a miser. "Annie" was only hours from a sheriff's eviction. No one
in her family, none of her kids, none of her other 'friends' would help her pack up all those valuable THINGS filling
the attic, both floors and basement. So it was me and two Mexican-(not quite legally)-American gentlemen hired
off the street for ten dollars an hour packing semi-priceless paintings, sculptures, carvings and other objets d'art
into stacks of plastic totes. Every one of those THINGS had a value (known to the last penny) but there was no
oxygen in the house. It was stifling in that place, with the collective weight of all those valuable assets pushing the
air from everyone's lungs. With the clock ticking down and the Sheriff due to arrive within hours -- and big piles of
stuff still unpacked -- it was like waiting for Death. The inevitable moment when a normal person would figure out,
"no, you can't take it with you, maybe there are just a few other things making life worth living" but that never
happened. It was 3 in the morning but I had to leave, with "Annie" working the phone, planning to move into a much
nicer place in a few weeks. By herself. It was a steal of a deal, the new house, but I never saw the miser again so
I don't know how it all turned out.

Interesting reading, thanks for posting.

I also posted this response in the "Wisconsin" forum, then remembered that was the courtesy copy,
not the original. Anyway....

Thanks for posting:

I remember being shocked -- no, seriously, I *was* shocked -- at some of
the people who showed up to testify in favor of the Payday Loan industry,
not that long ago., here in Wisconsin.

State legislators were holding hearings all around town. (It was a completely
different fight.) Some of the folks testifying on behalf of the Payday Loan stores
looked like they'd been let out of jail that morning. The people herding
and directing them looked pretty slick.

This is apparently a much more high-stakes game than the simple
extraction of excessive fees and charges from the lowest-of-low-credit
borrowers. But overall, in the bigger picture of things, skimming off a
little bit here and there from any large group of people -- so a fat wad can
be turned over to a private contractor, or a mine owner, or some other
corporate tool -- after a while it all starts to look and smell the same.

Great little detail from your post:

We already have proof Walker is replacing state workers with prison labor when we saw inmates decorating the Capitol Christmas tree, and currently there is an investigation into other businesses who are making deals to use prison labor for $2 an hour, one I cannot yet comment on. But stay tuned as we discover if any of that $2 is even going to the prisoners who are replacing union workers.

If anyone is interested, here is the "villain" of your piece: Todd J. Rongstad:



...former legislative aide, lobbyist, and political hitman. He is now an artist, writer, filmmaker, business-owner, scholar and graduate of UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts Film/Video/New Genres and Masters in Liberal Studies Programs.

(A Master in Liberal Studies! He must know all of us only too well.)

Here are his favorite books:



  • I Shot a Man in Reno: A History of Death by Murder, Suicide, Fire, Flood, Drugs, Disease, and General Misadventure, As Related in Popular Song, by Graeme Thomson

  • White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery And Vengeneance in Colonial America, by
    Brumwell, Stephen

  • Columbine, by Cullen, Dave

  • The Third Reich at War, 1939-1945

  • Arguably, Selected Essays, by Christopher Hitchens

(That's by no means a representative list, there are quite a few more titles. I picked
a few that particularly caught my eye which may not be entirely fair.)

So to balance out the scale, here's a GREAT read. Link to the Project Gutenberg
(FREE online text file version) of Upton Sinclair's "King Coal." Written a couple of years
after the Ludlow (CO) Massacre, the largest and bloodiest conflict in the history of
the American labor movement, it's actually a bit more "optimistic" than "The Jungle"
or "Oil."


But it's the same damned story. Nobody really cares or bothers or pays much attention
to a whole lot of small people, all being cheated equally, when the big fat wads of profit
that are generated from so many small larcenies are all kept conveniently out of sight
and out of mind.

It's worth at least forty minutes or an hour's time to get an idea of how much things have
changed, and how in so many other ways -- they haven't.

Here's a small sample:

"...A miner's life depended upon the proper timbering of the room where he
worked. The company undertook to furnish the timbers, but when the miner
needed them, he would find none at hand, and would have to make the
mile-long trip to the surface. He would select timbers of the proper
length, and would mark them--the understanding being that they were to
be delivered to his room by some of the labourers. But then some one
else would carry them off--here was more graft and favouritism, and the
miner might lose a day or two of work, while meantime his account was
piling up at the store, and his children might have no shoes to go to
school. Sometimes he would give up waiting for timbers, and go on taking
out coal; so there would be a fall of rock--and the coroner's jury would
bring in a verdict of "negligence," and the coal-operators would talk
solemnly about the impossibility of teaching caution to miners. Not so
very long ago Hal had read an interview which the president of the
General Fuel Company had given to a newspaper, in which he set forth the
idea that the more experience a miner had the more dangerous it was to
employ him, because he thought he knew it all, and would not heed the
wise regulations which the company laid down for his safety!

...In Number Two mine a man was caught in this way. He stumbled as he ran,
and the lower half of his body was pinned fast; the doctor had to come
and pump opiates into him, while the rescue crew was digging him loose.
The first Hal knew of the accident was when he saw the body stretched
out on a plank, with a couple of old sacks to cover it. He noticed that
nobody stopped for a second glance. Going up from work, he asked his
friend Madvik, the mule driver, who answered, "Lit'uanian feller--got
mash." And that was all. Nobody knew him, and nobody cared about him...

,,,Hal asked what they would do with the body; the answer was they would
bury him in the morning. The company had a piece of ground up the

"But won't they have an inquest?" he inquired.

"Inques'?" repeated the other. "What's he?"

"Doesn't the coroner see the body?"

The old Slovak shrugged his bowed shoulders; if there was a coroner in
this part of the world, he had never heard of it; and he had worked in a
good many mines, and seen a good many men put under the ground. "Put him
in a box and dig a hole," was the way he described the procedure.

"And doesn't the priest come?"

"Priest too far away."

Afterwards Hal made inquiry among the English-speaking men, and learned
that the coroner did sometimes come to the camp. He would empanel a jury
consisting of Jeff Cotton, the marshal, and Predovich, the Galician who
worked in the company store, and a clerk or two from the company's
office, and a couple of Mexican labourers who had no idea what it was
all about. This jury would view the corpse, and ask a couple of men what
had happened, and then bring in a verdict: "We find that the deceased
met his death from a fall of rock caused by his own fault." (In one case
they had added the picturesque detail: "No relatives, and damned few

For this service the coroner got a fee, and the company got an official
verdict, which would be final in case some foreign consul should
threaten a damage suit...."

There are so many more PR people (and PR dollars) than

journalists (even bad ones), or budgets that include
any "honest, objective, investigative reporting."

It's like we live in this constant, fulminating miasma
of obfuscation and disinformation, it's changed the
atmosphere. We might as well be living on Venus.
Always hot and dark, with cyclones of thick gas
swirling all the way up to the stratosphere.

I think it goes back to that drag queen G-Man, and
the corporate/government partnerships that came
out of the Cold War. What John Perkins wrote about
in "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" has been

Judi Lynn, thank you for being an active D.U.'er.

Along with the obvious inferences, "War is Hell," and "There are certain Video Clips
our Public News Media Will Never Show Us,"

....this one makes me think, "our guys over there must be way, way, way over-

When I was a kid, there was a war on. It was "the war to save Vietnam from the
horrors of the Red Menace, Communism."

Television news regularly gave us views of that war. Even when they were

That's no longer true.

This horrific "war on terror" has been completely sanitized. But there may be
Americans paying the cost for that news suppression. The war is invisible.
Anything that happens only exists in their own psychic zone.

Edit to add:

Link to a great book on war propaganda, and it's consequences:


"The First Casualty: the War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker
From the Crimea to Kosovo"

Not that war, or THOSE wars.

The "War on Terror." It's never been declared or ratified by Congress.

After promising to close down Guantanamo, after not living up to the
hopes that he'd prosecute Bush and Cheney for war crimes, President
Obama has continued THAT war pretty much on schedule. The withdrawal
from Iraq had been negotiated by The Chimp. The timetable wasn't moved
up one day.

This is a war that respects no borders. Drone attacks that kill civilians have enraged
and disgusted and angered people all over the world. We don't see those film clips
on our nightly news.

But people living overseas -- and Americans serving overseas -- are all only too
familiar with the horror and sheer, utter wastefulness of all of it.

It's a sad commentary on all of us that only a very few Republicans or
Democrats have spoken out against the war profiteering corporations that
are in charge.

Most everyone here who's commented on the Ron Paul candidacy abhors his
views on environment, on health care and government, in general.

But who are you to say he has no right to represent his three largest
constituencies? His three largest donor groups are the U.S. Army, the
U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. A whole bunch of small donations from very
many underpaid, over-worked (and nearly invisible) human beings. They're
on the front lines.

They deserve to be represented in our democratic process -- much more so
than the Daddy Warbucks "corporate persons" whose interests they serve --
and right now, based on their political donations -- looney unka Ron is their
candidate of choice.

Which isn't to say President Obama doesn't deserve more time, or a second
term, to do right by them. But that whole "War on Terror" project is supposed
to be a 30 Year Plan, and we're not even halfway there yet.

It's Hannibal's elephant in the room. Military spending and waste are as much
to blame for our economic woes as the 1%. They're inter-twined. These are
discussions we should be having, not dismissing out of hand, without giving
them any serious thought or honest analysis.

(edit for typo)

Ron Paul represents one serious, important constituency. Our troops.

All of the forgotten, invisible, never-spoken-of grunts, sailors and marines that have been
fighting how many wars, for how long?

How many revolving door deployments and re-deployments and re-deployments do
those men and women have to suffer through, until someone listens to what they're
trying to tell us?

...I was really surprised to see that -- on the "Open Secrets dot Org" -- tote board for
campaign contributions, while Romney's biggest contributors are ALL banksters -- R.P.'s
top 3 are the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.

NO ---> he doesn't have Pentagon support, but that web site bundles contributors
according to their place of employment.

I put up a post today that immediately dropped out of sight, but the last link shows
the comparison between the Robotic One and looney old unka Ron. He may be a
horrible economic theorist. He is (unfortunately) an elderly, white Southerner and
represents some viewpoints that are (deservedly) long past their expiration date,
but on that one count, alone, I think he deserves some respect.

Check out the contributions. (Last link at the bottom is the head to head one.)

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