VIDEO: WisconsinEye interviews Assembly candidate Chris Miller

Before my doctor-imposed break from blogging begins, I wanted to post a few things that caught my eye.

First up is an interview WisconsinEye did with Democrat Chris Miller, who’s vying to unseat incumbent Republican Rep. Ed Brooks in the 50th Assembly district. Chris is a great candidate well worth supporting, but watch for yourselves.

If you’d like to help Chris Miller beat Ed Brooks in November’s election, please consider surfing over to ActBlue and making a secure contribution to his campaign.

Taking a break from the blog

Just a quick note to let you all know that beginning tomorrow I’ll be taking a break from the blog to deal with a medical procedure I’m having done.

I hope to be back sometime next week depending on how I feel, and I hope that in the meantime Ed, Jay, Steve, and the rest of the crew will hold down the fort.

Bernie Sanders weighs Democratic challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016

Yes please…

Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) is gearing up for a presidential primary challenge against Hillary Clinton and hopes to capitalize on Democratic concerns over Clinton’s coziness with Wall Street banks.

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, plans to travel to two crucial presidential battleground states next month.

He will speak at an AFL-CIO breakfast hosted in Manchester, N.H., over Labor Day weekend and then travel to Iowa in mid-September, when Clinton will be there building support for her own 2016 campaign.

Sanders plans to return to New Hampshire, which neighbors his home state, on Sept. 27 to speak at the Stafford County Democrats annual dinner near Durham, according to his staff.

Gov. Walker admits withheld casino payment impacting state’s limited reserves

On Tuesday it was reported the Forest County Potawatomi tribe, the operators of a casino/hotel in Milwaukee, are withholding their $25 million casino fee to the state as part of an ongoing brouhaha over the Menominee tribe’s proposed off-reservation casino/hotel in Kenosha. Gov. Walker was supposed to make a decision on whether to approve or veto the Kenosha casino proposal last year, but he deferred making a decision until after this year’s election, likely to avoid actually having to take a position that will anger some segment of voters.

While the decision by the Forest County Potawatomi to withhold their casino fee is disconcerting, what’s even more worrisome is the fact that in a letter to lawmakers regarding the withheld payment, Gov. Walker indicated the state’s budget had only limited reserves and that the absence of the payment is having an impact on the biennial budget. Gov. Walker’s admission that the state has only limited reserves and that the absence of a $25 million payment is having an impact on the state’s multi-billion dollar budget should give anyone cause for concern, and it should call into question Gov. Walker’s ability to effectively manage the state’s budget.

Once again this proves Republicans are great at winning elections but terrible at actually governing.

Let’s get real – President Obama’s not a progressive

Earlier today I shared an interview with Cornel West in which he accused President Barack Obama of posing as a progressive, only to turn out being something decidedly not progressive.

In response to my original post, a couple of folks took to Twitter to condemn West’s comments while defending President Obama’s “progressive” record. Here are the tweets in question.

While there’s no denying that more Americans have health insurance coverage than when President Obama took office, it’s important to remember that key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) were based on proposals made by Republicans in the U.S. Senate in 1993 – specifically the individual mandate, the creation of purchasing pools, standardized benefits, vouchers for the poor to buy insurance, and a ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. A much easier (and much more progressive) alternative would have been a single payer healthcare system that didn’t involve individual mandates, purchasing pools, and vouchers.

So in the interest of reviewing President Obama’s “progressive” record, let’s look at a few key issues on which President Obama has been decidedly NOT progressive.

Judicial Nominees:
Earlier this year President Obama came under fire from members of his own party after he nominated Michael Boggs to a lifetime seat on the federal bench. The nomination of Boggs came under fire over past votes he made as a legislator to keep the confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, to tighten restrictions on access to abortion and to ban same-sex marriage.

That doesn’t sound like a progressive judicial nominee to me; in fact it sounds a lot like the kind of judicial nominee we could expect from a Republican president.

Domestic Spying:
As president, Barack Obama has continued the Bush-era domestic spying program including demands that telephone companies provide all metadata for phone records originating in the United States for three months.

Perhaps some may consider the use of warrantless wiretapping and domestic spying as being progressive, but I’m not among those people.

Drone Strikes:
In yet another example of President Obama continuing a policy used heavily by President George W. Bush, President Obama admitted to using drones to assassinate American citizens suspected of terrorist activities without affording those American citizens the rights they are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. During his time in office, President Obama has authorized six times more drone strikes than George W. Bush did during his eight years in office.

The use of drone strikes to kill American citizens (and non-American citizens) who are simply suspected (but not necessarily proven) of having engaged in terrorist activities doesn’t strike me as the hallmark of a progressive presidency.

Public Employees & Labor:
As a proud member of a labor union, I can’t help but think President Obama’s record of supporting organized labor has been mixed at best. Affter all, this is the same man who in 2011 opined that public employees needed some “burden sharing” in regards to the benefits they were receiving. As any public employee here in Wisconsin can attest to, the kind of “burden sharing” President Obama was referring has come to pass as a result of the anti-union provisions of Act 10, and the results have not been pretty.

What’s more, at the height of the 2011 protests surrounding Act 10 here in Wisconsin, President Obama was absolutely nowhere to be seen, despite his 2007 campaign promise that he’d “put on a comfortable pair of shoes” and “walk on that picket line” with workers who were being denied their right to organize or collectively bargain. Obama the candidate also stated “workers deserve to know someone is standing in their corner,” but apparently he forgot that statement when workers here in Wisconsin needed someone to stand in their corner against Gov. Walker and Republicans who were hell-bent on destroying Wisconsin’s public employee unions.

Social Security:
Among the proposals in President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget proposed was a change that would have meant a cut in the Social Security benefits of nearly $1,000 a year for an average 85-year-old with smaller cuts for younger retirees.

In my opinion, support for Social Security is the hallmark of a progressive, and I don’t consider proposing cuts to Social Security benefits for those already receiving those benefits to be progressive.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility:
On August 2, 2007, candidate Obama promised that “As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions.” However, as we near the end of President Obama’s second term in the White House the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility is still open.

Now don’t get me wrong – I absolutely believe President Obama is certainly far more palatable than President McCain or President Romney, but let’s not kid ourselves – President Obama is no progressive. He’s a corporate Democrat through and through, and he’s far more of a moderate than many on the left (and the right for that matter) are willing to admit.

PolitiFact? More like PolitiFarce!

How desperate have the folks at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s PolitiFact gotten? So desperate they’ve taken to determining the accuracy of statements Mary Burke made about her preferred beer.

During a “getting to know you” Q&A with ABC News, Democrat Mary Burke fielded a question that hardly will change the course of Wisconsin’s future.

But it did present a dilemma for the would-be governor of the state of beer and brats.

The question: Spotted Cow or Summer Shandy?

The question forced Burke to choose between two well-known Wisconsin beer makers: New Glarus Brewing Co. and Chippewa Falls-based Leinenkugel’s.

She had to choose between a regional craft brewery and a much larger company. And between a slightly cloudy “farmhouse ale” and a wheat beer mixed with lemonade.

Burke didn’t equivocate in her reply.

“Spotted Cow,” she said. “New Glarus is a great brewery and Spotted Cow, you can only get it in Wisconsin and (it’s) one of my favorites.”

Wait, what? We didn’t realize Spotted Cow was so exclusive.

And when we asked some beer drinkers — journalists know a few — several seemed surprised that the brew wouldn’t be available beyond the border.

For the record, Mary Burke’s statement was absolutely true – Spotted Cow is not available outside Wisconsin.

Cornel West: Obama posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit

In a recent interview with Thomas Frank of Salon, professor Cornel West shared his belief that President Barack Obama posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit who was more attuned to Wall Street than main street and who not only continued the national security policies of his predecessor but in many cases (drone strikes) made even greater use of those policies.

Here’s just a snippet from Thomas Frank’s interview with Cornel West – the rest is most definitely worth taking a few minutes to read.

So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

Scott Walker’s campaign gets $20,000 from Ashley Furniture after Walker’s WEDC approves $6 million in tax credits to company

I’d love to hear some of you conservatives defend this.

The board overseeing the state’s flagship job-creation agency has quietly approved a $6 million tax credit for Ashley Furniture Industries with a condition allowing the company to eliminate half of its state workforce.

As approved by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, the award would allow the Arcadia-based global furniture maker to move ahead with a $35 million expansion of its headquarters and keep 1,924 jobs in the state.

But it wouldn’t require Ashley to create any new jobs, instead granting the company license to lay off half of its current 3,848 Wisconsin-based workers in exchange for an enterprise zone tax credit, one of the most valuable and coveted state subsidies.

I’m not entirely sure how the WEDC, the agency Gov. Scott Walker personally oversaw the creation of and which is tasked with economic development (creating jobs) in Wisconsin can justify giving away $6 million in taxpayer dollars to a company while granting that company permission to lay off half its workers in Wisconsin.

As if that’s not bad enough, just two weeks after Scott Walker’s WEDC voted to give Ashley Furniture a $6 million taxpayer handout while allowing Ashley to cut jobs in Wisconsin, the owners of Ashley Furniture donated $20,000 to Gov. Walker’s reelection campaign. Whether you’re a fan of Gov. Walker or not, I would hope we can all agree that there’s something really wrong with the circumstances surrounding Ashley Furniture receiving $6 million in taxpayer handouts and then donating $20,000 to Gov. Walker’s reelection campaign. Pay-to-play certainly comes to my mind, and I know I’m not alone.

Paul Ryan refuses to answer question about his $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy (VIDEO)

During a stop last week in Pensacola, Florida to promote his new book, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan had an awkward exchange when he refused to answer a question he was asked about his $5 trillion tax break for the richest Americans. Here’s some video of the exchange.

Elected officials (especially those with a national profile and national ambitions) make votes all the time, and they ought to be held accountable for those votes. By refusing to answer the question asked of him regarding his policies, Rep. Ryan made it abundantly clear he’s not interested in engaging voters in a dialogue or in being held accountable for the policies he’s espousing.

Losers Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney: Hillary Clinton “beatable” in 2016

This is ironic, coming from two men who’ve demonstrated they know nothing about how to win a presidential race.

“Looking at her record, seeing how ineffective she was in securing more security, is going to be a great handicap for her in the general election,” said Romney. “I don’t think it’ll hurt her in the primary, but it will in the general.

“That picture of her with the foreign minister of Russia, smiling ear to ear with that red reset button, I presume that’s going to be an ad. Of all the miscalculations in foreign-policy history, that stands out as an unfortunate one.”

His former running mate also downplayed Clinton’s fall odds. “She’s beatable,” said Ryan. “Her assets are her name identification, her ability to fundraise, and her campaign experience. Her liabilities are policies and track record. She was one of the architects of the Obama foreign policy.

Granted, Hillary Clinton (and each and every other presidential candidate considering a run in 2016) is certainly beatable, but I find it hard to take electoral analysis from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, given neither has a sterling record when it comes to winning national elections.

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