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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Blood Center Needs Your Help


by capper (remember me?)


Summers are always rough on the Blood Center of Wisconsin. Regular donors are busy with vacations and other things, and lose track of when they can donate, so their supply levels drop.

To make things worse, because people are out doing things that are more physical, there is a higher percentage of injuries.

Higher demands and lower supplies puts them in a rough spot. Now, with last week’s flooding, things are even tighter for them.

They are asking for people to help by donating whole blood. They also especially need help with getting platelets, which help clot wounds. There need is so great that they have expanded their hours to Sundays for platelet donations. (My appointment to donate platelets is Saturday afternoon.)

So, if you can squeeze an hour or two from your busy schedules, please take the time to donate. You will be helping more people than you realize, you’ll feel good about yourself, and you get cookies and coffee afterwards. It’s a win-win-win for all involved.

You can schedule your appointment to donate by visiting their website or by calling 1-877-BE-A-HERO (1-877-232-4376).

(Cross-posted where I can.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Taxing Situation

by folkbum

Sorry for the slow blogging this week. This is the last week of the summer program I work with, and it is quite busy and hectic around these parts. (I'm still waiting for that whole "summers off" thing that I was promised when I signed up for my gummint job.)

Anyway, here's three things you need to read, with excerpts. Read them in this order:
  • "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace. [. . .] The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth."
  • "Call me crazy, but after a decade of living large in ever more sumptuous beach houses and promoting policies that almost wrecked the economy, I think the folks earning a million bucks a year can probably afford to pay an extra 5% in taxes. Seemed to work OK in the 90s, anyway."
  • "Letting Bush's tax cuts for the rich expire affects only a tiny number of small businesses; it doesn't affect them very much; and it generates revenues of $678 billion. If the only thing you care about is keeping taxes low for rich people, you won't be convinced. For the rest of us, it's a no-brainer."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zombie Lies, MPS Edition

by folkbum

Among the left blogosphere, something is a "zombie lie" if it is held as true by significant numbers of politicians, media figures, or regular people, no matter how many times it's killed. The classic example is the lie that Social Security is going bankrupt and people my age won't see a dime. This is, sadly, both a total falsehood and believed by 6 in 10 Americans.

Today's zombie lie concerns the Milwaukee Public Schools and it comes to us by way of the Heartland Institute's Brien Farley (not to be confused with the MacIver Institute's Brian Fraley, who has repeated the lie himself--just not today). Here's the Heartland Farley:
The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association dismisses as “simply false” reports that Milwaukee taxpayers could save $47 million a year by renegotiating the teachers’ health insurance plan. [. . .]

“The MacIver Institute published the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Administration’s math on how nearly $48 million dollars in health insurance savings could be achieved,” notes MacIver President Brett Healy. [. . .] The school system’s own numbers, as reported by MacIver, reveal the cost difference between the teachers’ current Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) and the proposed Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) is $4,512 for single plans and $7,380 for family plans.

MPS currently pays for 2,610 single PPOs and 4,810 family PPOs. Switching plans, therefore, would save MPS $11,776,320 on single plans and $35,497,800 on family plans, for a total savings of $47.3 million. With annual salary and compensation costs currently at about $100,000 per teacher, $47.3 million could pay for some 472 positions.

MTEA, however, insists that the switch in plans would save only $7 million, salvaging no more than 50 teacher jobs.
We have been through this. Not that long ago. It is very simple, even though this lie--thanks to people who should know better at MacIver--is almost everywhere. It started with Alan Borsuk and a politically motivated board that has more to win from bargaining in the media than bargaining with its employees. (The board provided last week material related to bargaining health care costs that the union requested nearly six months ago, for example.) The was recently in a Wall Street Journal editorial, for example, and repeated uncritically by this reporter who, as it's her job to cover MPS for the state's largest daily paper, should know better.

MacIver does simplistic math with complex numbers without bothering to try to understand where the numbers come from. The trick here is that MPS fully self-funds its health care, with Aetna (for the PPO) and United Health Care (for the EPO) acting simply as administrators. (That's why the cheaper plan is an EPO and not an HMO, technically, because UHC doesn't "manage" anything but shuffled paperwork.) So the cost of each MPS health plan is based on the total utilization of the members of that plan.

And here's the uncomfortable (for those who like the lie) truth: The people who choose the plan with the broader options for care--the PPO--are the people who either have more severe health care needs or think they might. Yes, the PPO has slightly higher reimbursement fees for doctors (why does MacIver hate Milwaukee's doctors?), and that's why MTEA agrees that there would be some savings. However, once all the people with higher utilization rates jump to the EPO, the average cost of the EPO plan will rise to nearly the level of what the PPO is now--patients are unlikely to change their health conditions when they change their health plans.

So while the math that Borsuk and the board and MacIver and Farley all do is arithmetically accurate, it is conceptually false. They all make the same fundamental error by not considering the way MPS's health care plans actually work.

Now can we please, please, please let this zombie die for real now?

Reminder: Chill on the Hill tomorrow!

by folkbum

Looks like the weather is going to hold for Chill on the Hill tomorrow night at the Humboldt Park bandshell, unlike last year when the audience and I got rained on.

This year at 5:30, the Park People are sponsoring a 5k run/2k walk to raise money for the parks. The run ends at the bandshell at 6 , which is when my set starts. Following me at 6:30 is a zydeco band from Oshkosh (really!) called Copper Box.

Not to mention food from Hector's and Streetza Pizza, as well as drinks. Bring a blanket or some lawn chairs, bring your kids or your dogs or both, bring $5 so you can buy a copy of my CD. But come on down tomorrow and enjoy some free, quality entertainment in your Milwaukee County Parks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

RIP, Daniel Schorr

by folkbum

I only knew him from NPR, but his was one of the last great news voices of his generation.

Republican Domestic Policy Plan Revealed

by folkbum

It seems that Rep. Michelle Bachmann, leader of the Tea Party Caucus, has revealed the Republicans' domestic policy agenda:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a plan for what the Republicans should do if they win control of the House of Representatives: Spend all their time investigating the Obama administration.

"Oh, I think that's all we should do," Bachmann told the Three Fingers of Politics website. "I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another."
To review: On the economy, Republicans want to return to the go-go economic times of the 00s. And now Bachmann's pining for the good ol' days of the 90s when it was all Clenis all the time.

How can they believe any of this is a good idea?

FriTunes

by folkbum

A preview of tonight's entertainment.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stimulus

by folkbum

Obviously, the city or the state can't print the money to do this, but we could kill a bunch of birds--metaphorical birds, I don't want to get in trouble with yet another interest group this week--with a single stone here.

There are still hundreds of thousands gutters in Milwaukee County that feed into the storm sewer system and, eventually, feed the great mass of water in the deep tunnel during the 100-years storms we seem to get a couple times a year now.

Let's hire a bunch of people--500? 1000?--and have them spend the rest of the summer and fall disconnecting them and installing rain barrels, leaving behind some basic instruction of how to use the rain barrels, of course. MMSD already has a program where homeowners can do this for themselves (at a cost of $45 a barrel), sure. But the vast majority of homeowners haven't done so, and probably won't.

So let's just do it, as stimulus. The barrels are made in Milwaukee. The people installing them will be from Milwaukee, and picking up employability skills and a work history that they can take with them to (hopefully soon) another job once the economy picks up. Plus, injections of cash into the community will stimulate demand more broadly.

Undoubtedly, there are also thousands of miles of water infrastructure that needs updating to the 21st century, too, though MMSD has been among the leaders nationally in that regard. But storm events like tonight's remind us that solutions to infrastructure problems not only are necessary, but can be done now as stimulus.

Republican Economic Plan Revealed

by folkbum

If you like what's happening now, you're going to love life under Republican control:
In a meeting with several reporters this afternoon, House Minority Leader John Boehner outlined the top three measures he'd pursue if he becomes Speaker of the House next Congress to create new jobs. But, those who thought he'd outline specific programs and how they would create jobs were disappointed with a familiar litany of wish-list items: repeal health care reform, eschew climate legislation, and renew the Bush tax cuts.

In other words, repeal a program that largely hasn't yet taken effect; prevent new legislation that is also not in effect; and keep a current tax structure in place.
Memo to Boehner: The status quo isn't working. You might want to try something different.

Related: Republicans explicitly eschew something different. And almost unanimously vote today against extending unemployment benefits which, as we all know, is a far better demand stimulus than, say, not.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If I tweeted

by folkbum


@JamesTHarris B sure 2 mention we at the blog also ? journalistic integrity of Kilmeade &Co., not just guests http://tinyurl.com/2d89fcn

Quote of the Day, American values edition

by folkbum
Louisiana Republicans are facing a choice between a family values incumbent who solicited prostitutes and a family values challenger who is currently sleeping with his stepson's estranged wife.
Shirley Sherrod saves a white family's farm from bankruptcy and gets fired; one of these two (white, male, upper-class) philandering pigs will be a US Senator next January.

You might be a racist if ...

by folkbum

... Charlie Sykes says you're a racist*.





* I guess he would know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Speaking of Racism

by folkbum

So the right-wing hack machine known as "Big Government"--the studio responsible for last summer' blockbuster ACORN tapes--has pulled another fast one. Here, they've been caught editing an African-American woman's story of learning to trust and work side-by-side with whites for a common good into a clip that makes her sound racist and like she's abusing her federal position to keep the white man down. It's a lie!
Sherrod [the black woman in question made out to be racist here] noted that few news reports have mentioned that the story she told happened 24 years ago--before she got the USDA job--when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race." [. . .]

But Spooner [wife of the (now deceased) white man Sherrod allegedly screwed over], who considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.
Indeed, the Big Government-released video actually claims that this happened "in her federally appointed position overseeing billions of dollars," not two decades ago. Shameless! (CNN has a report here, too.)

Certain segments of the right have been targeting successful activist African Americans (Van Jones, Desirée Rogers, even Regina Benjamin) and organizations whose mission is to help African Americans achieve political, economic, and social parity (ACORN) since November 2008. It seems to me that many of the protestations that it's we liberals who are really racist are classic cases of projection.

Clarence Thomas, Roger Maris

by folkbum

You'd think James T. Harris's fans would be happy to find him in such illustrious company.

Monday, July 19, 2010

James T. Harris is a Black* Conservative*

by bert

WMCS was right to spurn James T. Harris and his attempt to make a debate into a self-serving stunt.

As I learn from media columnist Tim Cuprisin, WMCS and its host Earl Ingram Jr. invited WTMJ's right-wing talk show host Harris to debate the NAACP's charge that the Tea Party movement should renounce the racists in its midst.

Things began to go wrong when Harris showed up with a videographer. The WMCS people told Harris he couldn't videotape the exchange (Harris had taped an earlier appearance on the station). Then, after a failed attempt to at least record audio with the video camera, Harris left without taking part in the debate.

According to Cuprisin:

"We had a go-around," Harris tells me. "I said, 'Earl, this is how I roll.' He said management said we can't let any cameras in. . . But when Harris left, Ingram let loose on him. On Twitter, Ingram called him a "drama queen," and on the radio, Ingram said Harris was "prostituting himself" as a conservative talker.

Ingram told me Friday that Harris and the cameraman said the video was to advance Harris' career.

"Well good riddance, take a walk, take a hike. We are not going to help you advance your career," says Ingram.

Harris denies his career was discussed, quoting Ingram as saying, "I'm not here to promote you."

Harris says he countered by saying to Ingram, "I'm here to promote you... I'm all about that. Why wouldn't you want to do that or me. We're two brothers in radio."

Harris is a black with an asterisk. Like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Harris reaps personal benefits from his black status for himself by perpetrating the structural disadvantages for fellow blacks. This gets James T. paid and publicized because it is soothing to many whites to hear blacks deny those structural problems are real, or to attack those black leaders who are trying to fix them.

Harris also sounds like a phony black, trying a little too hard to speak the way suburbanites think blacks should sound, as in the quotation above when he throws out "that's just the way I roll" or "my brother" to a fellow black.

Harris is a conservative with an asterisk. He takes the position all the way down the boilerplate of a conservative for fiduciary reasons. Harris wants pub. That's why he was doing the video thing at WMCS, and that's why he grandstanded for the news cameras in a phony rant during the campaign stop for McCain.

If Harris were a dog, he would walk around on two legs. If he were a woman with unusually large breasts, he would show them off in skimpy clothes. Harris sports phony conservative implants because they are unusual on a black man and thereby attract the leering attention of conservatives and their media outlet managers.

Your Monday morning puzzler

by folkbum

If there were no racist elements in the tea party movement to begin with--the teapartisans have been at great pains to say so all weekend after the NAACP said there were--then why did the tea party movement have to publicly kick the racist elements out yesterday?

McIlheran goes Galt

by folkbum

Journal Sentinel calumnist finally does something right.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Welcome to the world, Ellison Henry.

by folkbum



We'll try not to screw it up too much more for you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

McIlheran Watch: The McAdams pre-buttal

by folkbum

As I have noted previously, I am among an oh-so-super-lucky group of punditerati that gets an email preview a couple times a week of what Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calumnist Patrick McIlheran gets up to in print. So no surprise when my inbox dinged this morning with a McIlheran missive:
Don’t worry, says the state agency that’s running radio ads about how you can get a home with (almost) no cash. This time, they’ve got it all figured out.

Sure about that?

The money window’s back open, no place sooner than in Wisconsin. . . . The federal Treasury gave federal mortgage reseller Fannie Mae billions, so Fannie lent $325 million to WHEDA, which is passing it through banks to you if you haven’t owned a house in three years and have managed to save up pretty much nothing. All you need is $1,000 for closing costs and a middling credit score. No mortgage insurance needed, either.
McIlheran is referring to the WHEDA Fannie Mae Advantage program, run by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic and Development Authority, and apparently he doesn't like it.

I am certain a lot of that has to do with the continued insistence by those on the right that the present economic crisis is the result of abuses by Fannie Mae and ACORN intimidation of banks to lend to poor people and the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act. It grates on many conservatives (though not all) that the wealthy and successful could possibly be responsible for messing up anything. After all, their success is the market's success, and the market is infallible.

That is pretty clearly wrong, and WHEDA's own track record proves it. WHEDA ran for many years a similar Zero Down program, and--

You know what? I'm going to turn this over to Marquette Professor John McAdams--make note of this, as I will never say it again--who is right about WHEDA and actually took this on two weeks ago*:
[R]easonable concessions to allow people with modest assets to buy a home make good public policy sense.

But what concessions are reasonable?

Letting people with poor credit get a mortgage? Certainly not. But the WHEDA program requires a 680 credit score to qualify, and the average credit score of people who get mortgages is 732. That’s credit worthy.

How about employment and income? Under the WHEDA program, employment and income are checked. Too low an income or a spotty employment record can get you rejected. [. . .] WHEDA claims that historically its default rates have been low.
On that last point, WHEDA offers McAdams some specific stats in an email (pdf):
WHEDA and other Housing Finance Agencies around the country were never part of the sub prime mortgage problem thatplagued the housing industry in recent years. Quite the opposite--our 35-year track record of safe, responsible lending is what has resulted in a foreclosure rate of only 1.25%--far lower than the state's average of 1.82% for similar "prime" fixed-rate loans, according to the latest data reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association. During the height of the foreclosureepidemic, WHEDA's rate remained at less than one percent for several months. Moreover, the WHEDA foreclosure rate is miniscule when compared with the Wisconsin foreclosure rates for FHA and subprime loans, which are 4.30% and 11.31%respectively.
And note that none of the conditions for the WHEDA program under discussion here--or any WHEDA program, ever--come close to the greatest abuses of private mortgage brokers making subprime loans, like the infamous NINJA loan. And as we learned last week, wealthy homeowners (at least, those owning million-dollar homes) have defaulted at nearly twice the rate of middle-class and poor homeowners.

McAdams concludes, "[O]n a public policy landscape littered with outrages, this falls far short of being an outrage. In fact, it’s probably an outright good thing." And I agree. McIlheran, indefatigable defender of the upper classes, does not deem the working poor worthy of this assistance.

* Indeed, this WHEDA program was apparently a Charlie Sykes talking point and McAdams stood up for the program then. I'm surprised McIlheran didn't see the McAdams pre-buttal and leave this thing alone.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend open thread, because I got nothin'

by folkbum

Hey, remember when Obama was going to shut down right-wing talk radio and enforce the fairness doctrine with his youth army? Ah, memories.

FriTunes: Lately I'm feeling old edition

by folkbum

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

And furthermore

by folkbum

The next person who comes by here all "99 weeks is too long to be out of work, they should just get a job already" gets smacked in the head with an eel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Problem With Tax Cuts

by folkbum

I mean, there are several problems with tax cuts. For one, they provide very little actual stimulus effect. For another, they tend to be political bon-bons rather actual economic strategies.

But here's the problem I mean today: Tax cuts cause insanity. Exhibit A, Jon Kyl:


On a friendly network with a friendly anchor, Kyl can't hit the relative softball of what he would do to offset the cost of keeping Bush tax cuts in place for the one income group that has weathered the recession and can afford to pay a little more--the top few percent of earners. He swings and misses and settles for a dumb "you never have to offset tax cuts" line that grates against reality. Insanity, I say again.

This is a similar effect as that seen with military spending, where any spending on war or war toys is sacrosanct and magically disconnected from the fiscal reality that is the federal budget. (Exhibit A for that this week is Sarah Palin, who can--in the same speech!--demand that the government beast be starved and that the Pentagon's own requests to trim programs be ignored in favor of more blowy-uppy power.) It stems from an irrational belief that cutting taxes is always the right thing to do and that it has no effect on government revenue or deficits.

Not just similar--the two are actually symptomatic of the same problem, which is what you might call faux-hawkery: Pretending to care about the deficit just long enough to convince people to let you cut programs for the poor and cut taxes for your wealthy friends and neighbors, but not long enough to actually eliminate the deficit and start paying down debt. Kyl can't be specific about offsetting the tax cut because saying what he wants out loud--cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, veterans' benefits, the Department of Education--is unpopular with real people. And saying what makes sense out loud--raising some taxes and cutting defense, which is bigger than any of the previous items--is impossible because those, as we've established, run counter to Kyl's magical belief system.

Ezra Klein says, thinking about Kyl's answer, that a tax cut is no different from a spending increase when it comes to the fed's bottom line. Well, that's not exactly true--as the CBO has noted time and time again, extended aid to the unemployed has a multiplier effect on the economy (and therefore a positive effect on federal revenue, reducing the deficit) while tax cuts do not produce that result. So in fact, despite the protestations of Kyl and others that the only possible reason to extend unemployment is to be nice and charitable, the better reason is to move the economy forward and, consequently, reduce the deficit long-term.

(The chart here is from this paper by the CBO. Click for a larger image, and note that more aid to the unemployed is predicted to have an effect on the GDP five to seven times greater than cutting income taxes. Aid to states--like funds to hire back more teachers or to supplement Medicare--also beats tax cuts handily in terms of effect on the GDP.)

But back to taxes: The other problem with tax cuts during tough economic times, is that no one ever offers the converse, tax increases in good economic times. Indeed, in 2001 the Republicans trotted out their "experts," including Alan Rand Greenspan, who fretted about the negative effects of budget surpluses and insisted that tax cuts were the only way to deal with such a boom in the economy and federal revenue.

If the US ever gets out of its current funk, you can expect to hear the exact same case made again. Despite the fact that taxes will undoubtedly remain at historically low levels, once the economy is humming again the only tax policy we'll be allowed to debate is how much lower they can go. With a fairly sure bet to be made that cutting ("privatizing" or "personalizing") Social Security will be all the rage again, with calls to ramp up defense spending a pretty safe prediction as well.

None of that will do a thing for deficits or the debt.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Post Office--Who Knew?

by folkbum

Apparently, it's the very model of some modern mail efficiency. (Sorry about putting that song in your head.) (Okay, not really. I did it on purpose.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

And this is why people who steal music will rot in hell

by folkbum
Click on the image for the original, and the article that explains it. It's bad enough the record companies rip off the talent; fans shouldn't be making it worse.

Don't illegally download songs, ok?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Congrats, Zach

by folkbum

Zach W. of Blogging Blue is a Democracy for America/ Netroots Nation 2010 scholarship winner! Way to go, Zach!

Friday, July 09, 2010

I blame this on the Community Reinvestment Act and all those ACORN thugs

by folkbum
Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.

More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic.

By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent.

FriTunes: Carley Baer CD Release Party TONIGHT Edition

by folkbum



7:30 tonight at the FIXX in St. Francis. Find her online, too.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fox Morning Zoo mocks Johnson Muse

by folkbum

As we all know by now, nascent tea-partier and likely Republican US Senate candidate is in the race for one simple reason: Dick Morris reached out through the teevee and licked his toes said, "Hey, if you’re a rich guy in the state of Wisconsin maybe you ought to decide to run."

As we artists often do when confronted by such combed-over bald inspiration from our Muses, Johnson leapt from his La-Z-Boy and said, "That's me! I'mma do it!"

But what of this muse, this Dick Morris? Well, the comedians on the Fox Morning Zoo Crew think he's a shilly hack shill:
KILMEADE: And the third part of Dick Morris' analysis was buy my book, go to my website. And that is what is not brought up enough.
I'm telling you, when you've lost Brian Kilmeade, you probably took him to the mall have lost everything.

So, Ron Johnson, did you buy Morris's book? Do you wish you had your money back--in more ways than $26.99?

Scott Walker, Equal Time Edition

by folkbum

Never let it be said that I do not offer space to those who disagree with me. Yesterday, I offered a post about Scott Walker not being a liar*.

So, equal time: Scott Walker is too a liar.

* I was disappointed none of the whine brigade bothered to note that only a week earlier I myself had said the opposite.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

It's not that Scott Walker is a liar; it's that he's a loser

by folkbum

One of the popular anti-Scott Walker arguments on my side of the internet is that Walker has a bit of an honesty problem because of all the things he promised when he was first elected in the Great Milwaukee County Recalls of 2002, and hasn't lived up to. One classic example is that Walker promised he would only run for one term after that recall election, but 2008, of course, found him running a second re-election campaign for Milwaukee County Executive.

And then there's the one that has poor Roland Melnick in high dudgeon this week, that Walker "gave himself a $50,000 raise." When Walker ran in 2002, he promised to give back half his salary to the County, an admirable thing. But then he bought a big house with a pool and likely found his budget stretched beyond what his half-salary could accommodate, so in 2008 he started taking most of that salary back. Not something that earned a ton of disapproval at the time, but something that raised a lot of eyebrows when, a year later, he forced pretty much everyone else who works for the county to take nearly two dozen furlough days, meaning steep cuts in pay for everyone else right at the time he jacked his own pay (and that of some of his political appointees) right on up.

Melnick flames away righteously that Walker's salary, even at its present heights, is neither a "raise" of his own choosing nor out of line with what other officials earn. And he's right about that--Scott Walker's not doing anything wrong, and his taking nearly the full pay his position entitles him to is not what makes him a bad person.

But Roland Melnick and everyone else on that side of the internet needs to come to grips with something: Scott Walker made a lot of promises in 2002, as I noted, and he did so entirely predicated on his plan not to stick around in Milwaukee. Walker fully expected to be the Republican nominee for governor in 2006, and to win that election, so he had no reason to look very far out when running that initial campaign in 2002. Run for re-election? No need to! Half salary? I can scrimp for a few years! Long-term deferred maintenance issues and parks upkeep and transit expansion and consequences of my starving the beast to curry favor with the wingnut Republican primary crowd? That'll be the next guy's problem!

It's just too bad that Walker's god wasn't talking to him then.

So I think all sides need to face up to something here. Walker isn't some big fat liar; he's just a loser whose failure to win four years ago means things are coming back around to bite him square on his loser behind. All that stuff he was hoping to run away from and dump on someone else is catching up to him, right when he's making his second escape attempt.

And that's why, even though Melnick may have a bit of a point, the Walker "raise" and the deep borrowing in Walker's supposedly "balanced" budgets and the steady deterioration of things like our parks and transit system are real and important issues to talk about as Walker runs for governor: He left a string of broken promises and failing systems because he expected to use the office as a stepping stone and never really cared what happened under his watch. How can we trust him again?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quote of the Day, Economics Edition

by folkbum
It was also easy to see that the stimulus approved by Congress was inadequate. Demand siders rely on something called "arithmetic" to reach this assessment. After pulling out the $80 billion fix to the alternative minimum tax, which had nothing to do with stimulus, and the $100 billion or so designated for later years, the stimulus provided for roughly $600 billion in spending and tax cuts over the years 2009 and 2010. This comes to $300 billion a year. Roughly half of the federal stimulus was offset by cutbacks and tax increases at the state and local level, leaving a net stimulus from the government sector of roughly $150 billion a year.

Demand siders did not believe that $150 billion in annual stimulus from the government could offset the contractionary impact of a reduction in annual spending by the private scctor of $1.2 trillion.
Oh, there's more--including a clear explanation of why your pants-wetting fears of additional deficit spending are unfounded paranoia and a robust defense of the kind of real stimulus measures some of us demanded, and did not get, last year.

It also continues to baffle me that there's not enough support for extending the unemployment benefits, as pulling additional demand out of the economy helps exactly no one. Never before have we cut benefits off with unemployment still this high, even at times when our debt-to-GDP burden was higher than it is right now.

Fake Monday open thread

by folkbum

It irritates me that the City of Milwaukee deemed that last night was the night for fireworks in the parks, because that just meant two consecutive nights of being kept awake by local municipal displays and a freaked out dog.

Anyway, here's some slam poetry to start your work week. Well, my work week. (No, I do not get my summer off, thankyouverymuch.)



(Text version, for those so inclined.)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Purfuit of Hapineff

by folkbum

I expect, when things kick back up next week, to see all of your fingers just where they started.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Friday, July 02, 2010

FriTunes: Deep Thought Edition

by folkbum

Deep thought: All the Wisconsin Republicans appalled at Mark Neumann's "dirty tricks" would gladly vote all day for Ron Johnson if you let them.

Deep Red Bells:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lessons in Hypocrisy from Charlie Sykes

by bert

WTMJ talker Charlie Sykes once “wrote” a “book” about lessons not taught in school. Since the tragedy at the O’Donnell Park ramp last week, I can only surmise from listening at times to Charlie that there are a few other, I guess, lessons that must seem obvious to him, but, to be honest, had not really made sense to the rest of us up to now.

#1: Charlie can talk a lot about the parking lot tragedy and the issue of who is not to blame. However, it is insensitive and “despicable” that others have talked about the parking lot tragedy and who is to blame.

#2: We should not try to find the cause for falling cement in a county parking garage, at least not for a long time. However, a rapid response was called for when Charlie and fellow WTMJ talker Jeff Wagner were on the air blaming the governor and Milwaukee mayor within the hour in May when it was announced we needed to close the Zoo Interchange bridges for repairs.
UPDATE: Playground Politics also picked up on this inconsistency.

#3: Because the death of a 15-year-old resulted from the parking lot tragedy, it is reprehensible to suggest blame rests with a government entity. That’s playing politics with a tragedy. On the other hand, Charlie was a righteous avenger letting loose with both compassionate barrels when he railed ad nauseum against the state-run child welfare agency and Gov. Jim Doyle for their obvious role in the death of the 13-month-old foster child Christopher Thomas in Milwaukee last November. That’s because Charlie cares about kids.

If there are no further questions, class is dismissed.