It’s hard being rich….no really, it is!

Talk about being out of touch… (emphasis added)

“I’m not Zen at all, and when I’m freaking out about the situation, where I’m stuck like a rat in a trap on a highway with no way to get out, it’s very hard,” Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc., said in an interview.

Schiff, 46, is facing another kind of jam this year: Paid a lower bonus, he said the $350,000 he earns, enough to put him in the country’s top 1 percent by income, doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square- foot Brooklyn duplex.

“I feel stuck,” Schiff said. “The New York that I wanted to have is still just beyond my reach.”

Yeah, God forbid Andrew Schiff actually….gasp….tighten his belt like so many American families who struggle to make ends meet on a fraction of what he makes in a year.

Walker signs wetlands destruction bill into law while joined by appreciative developers

Yeah, this just about sums up whose interests Republican Gov. Scott Walker cares most about…

The Republican governor approved the controversial legislation before an appreciative audience from the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

As noted by Jim Rowen over at The Political Environment notes, we can look for Gov. Walker to sign the fast-track mining bill that should make it to his desk in a couple of weeks at the Hurley offices of GTAC, the mining company that helped write the Assembly version of the bill and which has given Walker and other mining proponents campaign donations.

After all, nothing says payback by signing a bill pushed hard by special interests into law while those very same special interests are in attendance.

Democratic Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa blasts GOP redistricting plan

Earlier this week Democratic State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa of Milwaukee issued a statement blasting Dan Kelly, an attorney for the state of Wisconsin, after he said Zamarripa did not oppose Republican-drawn redistricting maps

Here’s Rep. Zamarripa’s statement.

“I am outraged that the GOP attorneys would resort to potentially slanderous statements in order to defend the Republicans in their web of lies and deceit of the public.

“In fact, I was on the witness list to testify, but in a strategic decision by attorneys based on the court’s directive that the trial conclude in two days, I was not called to testify.

“This redistricting plan deliberately and cynically divides our Latino community. It is an abuse of power designed to marginalize Latino voters.

“I cannot state emphatically enough that I do not and never have endorsed the redistricted maps that were forced upon Wisconsin with no public input, no thoughtful timeline and no regard for our fellow Wisconsinites.”

Under the new districts drawn as a result of Senate Bill 148, the 9th Assembly District would become a Hispanic voting-age majority district, with the percentage of Hispanic residents of voting-age rising from the current 22.9% to 54%, while the Hispanic voting-age majority in the 8th Assembly District would be cut to a 60% Hispanic voting-age majority.

“Election Expert” Kevin Binversie declares Voter ID law ‘A-OK.’

The following is a guest entry written by Eric Basile.

‘Election Expert’ Kevin Binversie declares Voter ID law ‘A-OK.’

Kevin Binversie – serial reality-denier, Republican thug apologist, and self-appointed election expert – is back again with a column hyping the results of the February 21 primary election as validation that Wisconsin voter ID requirements are no big deal.

While it is true that the recent Feb. 21 primary election was conducted largely without incident, Mr. Binversie conveniently neglects to mention that it was an extremely low turnout election. This, despite the fact that the Wisconsin Reporter article his comments stem from makes reference to the low election turnout no less than five times.

Dane County Clerk Karen Peters: “I think because it’s such a small turnout, the people (who were voting) were prepared.”

Wauwatosa City Clerk Carla Ledesma: “There were no lines, it’s not that high of a turnout election,” she said. “Many of the locations had nobody when I was there.”

Susan Edman, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission: “It’s been a very quiet election; voter turnout hasn’t been real heavy.”

Most municipal clerks were forecasting turnouts of approximately 10 percent. In my humble home, the City of Sun Prairie, there were only 1,611 ballots cast on February 21. If we use the latest available GAB voter registration data, this means an approximately 9.75% turnout in Sun Prairie. No surprise there – there were no national or statewide races on the February 21st ballot, and it’s likely that the few people who bothered to vote were die-hard voters who already possess a photo ID.

Yet, in the bizarre fantasy world Mr. Binversie appears to inhabit, an obscure spring primary with no headline races and abysmal voter turnout is somehow proof positive that the system works just fine and isn’t disenfranchising anyone.

Compare the 1,611 ballots cast on Feb. 21 in Sun Prairie to the Fall 2008 election when 14,780 ballots for President were cast. Only one tenth as many voters turned out in Sun Prairie for the February 21 primary as did in Fall 2008. Mr. Binversie knows full well that the vast majority of voters generally don’t turn out unless it’s in a presidential election.

The truth is neither I, nor Mr. Binversie, nor anyone else for that matter – have the slightest clue how this is going to work in a high-turnout election, with large numbers of occasional voters, the elderly, college students, absentee ballots, and provisional voters. These are all factors that were almost entirely absent in the February 21st election.

And let’s not forget, Mr. Binversie, that it was the stooges from your party that tried to close DMV locations around the state, which would have made it that much harder for individuals to obtain photo ID. It’s those same stooges that are making damn sure that the DOT can’t publicize the fact that individuals seeking an ID for voting purposes may obtain that ID free of charge. And finally, despite Mr. Binversie’s bombastic insistence that “it is almost impossible to function in society without an ID card,” he conveniently forgets that there’s plenty of people – like Ruthelle Frank of Brokaw, who never needed an ID until now. But that’s what you get when you have a thirty-something Republican blowhard who thinks he knows everything.

So, Mr. Binversie, popping the champagne cork and celebrating the success of voter ID is more than a tad premature, pal. Perhaps you might consider withholding the snide and condescending remarks until we see how the voter ID law impacts a high-turnout and high-stakes election. The commentary you peddle is short on facts, and long on empty-headed partisan cheerleading. But I suppose you’ll crank out any old piece of garbage, so long as the checks keep rolling in from your anonymous Franklin Center donors, huh?

South Carolina Snipe Hunt Ends in Complete Failure

And by “snipe hunt” I mean search for fraudulent voters.  There weren’t any.  There never were any.  There never are any.  Voter ID is a fraud perpetrated on the voters by a party that can’t expand it’s membership because they hate all the groups that are growing.  The only way to ensure continued electoral viability is to keep the undesirables from voting.

Well, here’re the results!

Of its review of the 207 contested votes cast in 2010, the commission found:

• 106 votes were clerical errors by poll workers – mistakes like marking John Doe Sr. instead of John Doe Jr.

• 56 votes were “bad data matching” – meaning the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which raised concerns about zombie voters, was wrong in assuming the voters were dead.

• 32 votes were “voter participation errors,” meaning someone was credited as voting in an election when they did not, most likely because of a stray mark on the voter rolls that was electronically scanned to record a voter’s participation.

• Three ballots were cast absentee by voters who died before Election Day.

The Election Commission said it had “insufficient information” to explain the 10 contested votes because:

• In seven cases, the voters’ signatures on poll records could not be matched to “another voter.”

• In two cases, the poll list is missing “making it impossible to match the signature with another person.”

• In one case, the voter’s signature appeared to match a voter in another precinct “but could not be verified.”

There you have it! Not one single solitary zombie / dead / double voter in the whole lot.  Kind of like the research about Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin in 2004, dozens of voters were alleged to have voted twice. After further investigation, the vast majority were affirmatively cleared, with some attributed to clerical errors and confusion caused by flawed attempts to match names and birthdates. There were 14 alleged reports of voters casting ballots both absentee and in person; at least 12 were caught, and the absentee ballot was not counted. There were no substantiated reports of any intentional double voting of which we are aware.

In memory of my friend, Travis, 1975-2012

My friend, Travis Gagnon, passed away from complications of the flu on Saturday, February 25, 2012. He was 36 years old and the father to newborn daughter, Camryn. Travis was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, and made me feel very welcome when I first moved to Waukesha. He liked to joke that he was in a “mixed relationship” because he was a liberal and his significant other, a conservative. Politics aside, Travis was a beloved community member and his loss will be felt deeply by anyone who knew him at all. Please consider donating to his daughter’s memorial fund or to the fundraiser that will be held in his name at the Wisconsin Athletic Club (West Allis) on March 2 and 3rd.

Thank you,

Lisa

Travis Andre Gagnon

Travis Andre Gagnon, 36, of New Berlin, WI, died Saturday, February 25, 2012, at Waukesha Memorial Hospital following complications of pneumonia.

Born December 18, 1975, in Wausau, WI, Travis was a son of Gary and Judy Bahr Gagnon. Travis attended Sheboygan public schools and graduated from Sheboygan North High School, class of 1994. He continued his education at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Science in Business, Economics and Math.

Travis was a self employed business consultant based in New Berlin, WI. He enjoyed tennis and hockey and was a competitive racquetball player at the state level with his home court at the Wisconsin Athletic Club. Travis enjoyed life to the fullest, traveled extensively and his competitive spirit helped him excel in every area of his life. Travis looked at every challenge in his life as an opportunity to excel.

He is survived by his newborn (January 3, 2012) daughter, Camryn Cerie Gagnon, New Berlin; his significant other, Jill Pearson, New Berlin; his parents, Gary and Judy Gagnon, Sheboygan; his sister, Tara Gagnon, Port Washington, WI; his furry companion, Tanner; aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and many close friends.

Funeral services will be held at 8:00 p.m., Thursday, March 1, 2012, at the Lippert-Olson Funeral Home, 1132 Superior Ave. Relatives and friends are welcome at the funeral home on Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until the time of services. Entombment will be in Gardens of Peace Mausoleum of Greenlawn Memorial Park.

A memorial fund has been established in his name for his daughter, Camryn’s, College Education Fund, with a special fund raiser to be held March 2 and 3 at Wisconsin Athletic Club, West Allis, WI,1939 South 108th Street  West Allis, WI 53227 , (414) 321-2500

Condolences may be emailed to the family at travisgagnon@lippertfuneralhome.com.

The Lippert-Olson Funeral Home is serving the family.

(Published in Sheboygan Press from February 28 to March 1, 2012)

The Nonsense of Common Sense

Common sense is, in a sense, so common.  Common, not in the sense that it is widely found, but rather common in that it is pedestrian and lacking in subtlety.  It’s an appeal to a base understanding that is not founded on facts or evidence.  It’s common.

This is why common sense is so often wrong.

Take the oft-cited “but we’re broke” meme trotted out by the Neanderthal right (no offense to Neanderthals intended) when they talk about the Federal debt.  “We’re just like Greece,” they exclaim.  “Hyperinflation is immanent!”

Idiots.

Neoliberals claim that governments, like households, have to live within their means. They say budget deficits have to be repaid and this requires onerous future tax burdens, which force our children and their children to pay for our profligacy.

They argue that government borrowing (to “fund” the deficits) competes with the private sector for scarce available funds and thus drives up interest rates, which reduces private investment—the “crowding out” hypothesis.

And because governments are not subject to market discipline, neoliberals claim, public use of scarce resources is wasteful. Finally, they assert that deficits require printing money, which is inflationary.

 

Most people are unaware that a major historical event occurred in 1971 when President Nixon abandoned what had been called the gold standard (or US-dollar standard).

Under that monetary system, which had endured for eighty-odd years (with breaks for war), currencies were convertible into gold, exchange rates were fixed and governments could expand their spending only by increasing taxes or borrowing from the private sector

After 1971 governments issued their own currencies, which were not convertible into anything of value and were floated and traded freely in foreign currency markets. Most nations have operated “fiat monetary systems” ever since, and as a result national governments no longer have to “fund” their spending. The level of liquidity in the system is not limited by gold stocks, or anything else.

So the neo-liberal propositions are designed to appeal to our common sense. The “common sense” is then reinforced by the propaganda machine that is mainstream macroeconomics. If I was to confront my professional colleagues about this (I have often) they admit that the analogy is false and then resort to the claim that pedagogical vehicles have to be false by definition.

If mainstream macroeconomists cannot break out of the cycle-of-stupid, what hope do we have as a nation to move beyond the gold buggery (fuck you very much, Ron Paul) that is leading us to destroy our own economy?

Money is not what you think it is.  Get over it, move on, and grow up.

The cognitive dissonance is acute. The mainstream model is incapable of explaining why Japan has run continuing and increasing budget deficits, as the largest public debt ratio, yet has maintained almost zero interest rates for two decades, as low inflation if not deflation, and the bond markets queue up for every public bond tender with relish.

Once you accept this evidence you realise that: (a) applying our common sense to Japan and other advanced nations is fraught; and (b) the mainstream macroeconomic narrative that attempts to reinforce this common sense is a blatant misrepresentation, if not, a lie.

At that point,the common sense approach should be avoided and more serious study undertaken.

Scott Walker’s Legacy

EVeryone who engages the public probably has dozens of these by now. The Capitol Times Dave Zweifel recently shared one of his:

My recent column suggesting that it’s time we stop demonizing public workers in Wisconsin generated a huge response from around the state.

Many thanked me for writing it, others suggested I take a long walk off a short pier.

One response, in particular, caught my attention. It came from a farm woman I’ll just refer to as Brenda and it expresses the frustration she feels about her and her family’s predicament, all of which doesn’t make her feel kindly about folks who work in public jobs.

Dave Zweifel shares an email he got that showed us exactly what Scott Walker has brought to our great state. Here is a little more of what “Brenda” had to say:

“My surgery is a direct result of wear and tear from grueling physical exertion to keep all of our animals healthy and well cared for (regardless of whether someone in a public servant position mandates it or not). The past few years have been horrific. Our health care is out-of-pocket (empty) with a $10,000 deductible.

“We could hardly understand the policy when we bought it because it was so well disguised. We don’t get sick days or days off, until now. My husband has had to hire someone to help him. This is an extra burden on our dwindling income. We have tried to refinance our debt to a lower percentage rate, but we’re told we don’t qualify because we don’t make enough. Funny, our current bank is doing well each month off our higher rate.

“You could say why don’t you just sell the family farm and get jobs so that you don’t have to work like slaves to the banks? I ask you, do you know anyone who is quitting their public service job, so I can get health care I don’t have to worry about, having security in my employment and maybe even be able to have disposable income I could put away for retirement instead of my monthly contribution to my health care provider?

“My husband and I are both from big families and it seems the only ones who are weathering this depression are the ones at the public trough. In fact several of the retired ones are in Arizona and Florida as I write. We are one more major health crisis away from losing all we have worked for our whole lives. Please forward me that job application soon.”

So “Brenda” rails against the outrageous cost of healthcare and the banks who have had a major cause in the economic downturn and figures out that the finger can be pointed directly at – public workers? huh? Well Brenda is not alone. We recently had such a post that probably went virtually unnoticed on our humble blog but it has been sitting open on my desktop since I received it(Here is Kris):

I am amazed at the people who decide when they dont get get get everything they feel “they” deserve how they decide they will take back the election that they won fair and square. I expect that those of you writing in right now are part of a public union and let me guess you aren’t getting it all handed to you anymore. Maybe you might be held accountable for the crap job you do
Well welcome to the rest of the world where you just don’t get everything handed to you:) the rest of us who pay for some of our healthcare and don’t get our retirement handed to us. By the way Scott walker was voted in by 54% of the wisconsin voters not 1% Idiot.

Just a few things to say to Kris(If he/she is still reading). While I have a problem with almost everything you wrote, there is a sentence that specifically stood out to me:

I expect that those of you writing in right now are part of a public union and let me guess you aren’t getting it all handed to you anymore. Maybe you might be held accountable for the crap job you do

Do you have any idea what these public workers do? What do you base your “crappy job” evaluation on? Let’s take a quick look at what some public workers do.

* 907 homeless children in the Madison School district. Who do you think is charged with education these children?

* Maidson Firefighters were called to a fire at 5:19 pm and by 5:31 pm the fire was extinguished.

* A 15 year old girl in Madison was recently found after being physically, mentally and sexually abused by her family for years. Who do you think will help this poor girl on her way to what we all hope will be recovery?

* This UW college student might disagree with your assessment.

* Who is plowing the roads in nothern Wisconsin for the biggest storm of the winter?

* I can personally vouch for the amazing job that the nurses and all staff at UW Hospital do.

I think you get the point. I am not a union member but I appreciate the work that these amazing public servants do. Maybe it is time we held them accountable for making the quality of life in our state what it is today and reward them for it. Lets start appreciating our amazing public workers and tell them thank you! I know I do!

The question is would “Kris” have sent this email 5 years ago? 2 years ago? if Tom Barrett had won?

I think we all know the answer….RECALL!

PS: to Kris, Walker won %52.3 – Barrett's 46.5%.!

OohRah! Marine shows us how far we’ve come since elimination of DADT

In this video excerpt from a Hawaii television report, we see Marine Sgt Brandon Morgan and his boyfriend Dalan Wells discussing the photograph of the welcome home kiss that two shared after Sgt. Brandon returns from deployment overseas.

Love is love….

Meanwhile Sanctimonius was throwing up over JFK’s speech about separation of Church and State, Michelle Bachman was foaming at the mouth, Maggie Gallagher’s (NOM)  eyes were popping out, Bryan Fischer (AFA) and Tony Perkins (FRC) saw dollar signs and more opportunity for their antiquarian views to be spouted on Fox News .

It gets better….