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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, October 29, 2010

FriTunes: Have a safe weekend

by folkbum

A nice song set on Halloween:



And a reminder of what can go wrong if you party too hard this weekend:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eight lies people believe

by folkbum

I'm sure you've seen this by now, but my posting abilities are a bit hampered by circumstance and temperament lately, so this is what you get:
Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:
1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
4) The stimulus didn't work.
5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Click through for a link-laden check of reality on all these items, especially those of you who think some of them may be true (Ron Johnson, you for example need a brushup on #4 and #7; Scott Walker, you need to check out #5 before you blow that hole in Wisconsin's budget).

Oh, and:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wisconsin Senatorial Apples and Oranges

By Keith R. Schmitz

Swim in this political pool enough and you can smell a talking point a mile away.

When the subject comes up of RoJo's attempt to campaign from a TV studio while trying to buy the election with money from his inflated salary, his defenders will ask what's the difference between him and Herb Kohl.

A big one in fact.

Johnson wants to get into office to essentially vote for policies that will increase his personal fortune, at the expense of the general good.

While no one could accuse Herb of being a progressive, his voting record tended towards supporting policies that would not necessarily increase the Kohl family personal fortune, but enhance the public good.

Actually smart people recognize that many of the things Herb has backed did increase his fortune, and all of ours in the bargain.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's no wonder Ron Johnson is escaping media attention

by folkbum

Consider the Senate candidate competition:

In Kentucky, the Republican nominee either a) is too stupid to man up to his frat boy hijinks and apologize or b) a believer in aqua-Buddhism, where the preferred method of proselytizing is kidnapping women and dragging them to lakes in the nighttime.

In Nevada, the Republican nominee is a white woman who can't tell the difference between Latinos, Asians, and Canadians.

In Alaska, the Republican nominee has such a raging fetish for East Germany he wants to build the Laredo Wall and has the New Stasi working for him.

In Oregon, the Republican nominee lives in Washington State. (Sorry--that's the Republican candidate for governor.) In West Virginia, the Republican nominee lives in Florida.

In Illinois, the Republican nominee is a liar so serial he would lie about teaching at a church school. In North South Carolina, the Democratic nominee (gotta be fair!) is a porn-loving basement-dweller.

That Johnson has managed to, so far, not be as bad as any of those, has meant that a lot of press normally reserved for extremists like Johnson has been diverted elsewhere. Under normal circumstances, a candidate who suggests that Americans need re-education and that sunspots cause climate change and that poor minority home owners brought down the global banking system would be under a spotlight.

Lucky for him, the competition for craziest girl at the ball is pretty stiff this year. Unlucky for Wisconsin, we may have to go home with RoJo anyway.

RIP Kathy Carpenter

by folkbum

The Cheddarsphere has lost a long-time voice.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scott Walker and Charlie Sykes

by bert

As the couple walked back hand-in-hand from their picnic in a flower-speckled members-only meadow, Scott Walker could not conceal dread in a sigh that escaped his lips.

“Is something troubling you my dear?,” Charlie Sykes asked.

“Oh Charlie, you know me better than I know myself. There is a small worry.”

“Then please dear, by all means tell me. You know we have no secrets between us."

“Well, it’s just that ... that attackskit or whatever you call it that your station WTMJ-AM produced to attack Russ Feingold.”

“Right, I know sweetie, we manipulate sound bites from Feingold and use a voice actor that sounds nothing like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in order to drill Orwell-style the image into listener’s minds that Feingold is a lap dog beholden to the wishes of Reid. What’s the problem?”

“Well, it’s just that...”

"Is it that I only command the resources of our station, a powerful means of disseminating information to a broad range of society over a good fraction of the state’s area, in order to speciously attack Democrats. That the only other time I produced one was to liken Jim Doyle’s unwillingness to expand charter schools in Milwaukee to the opposition by Orville Faubus to black students attending the Little Rock schools?"

Are you going to say that I could just as easily on the few occasions that we produce those little skits use that means to, say, promote volunteerism to improve Milwaukee schools, or solicit donations to Earthquake victims in Haiti?"

“Oh, no, no, no.” and Scott breaks out in a hearty laugh, covering his mouth with the white glove on his left hand. Charlie joins in the hearty laugh. “You wouldn’t use your show to address any real problems. Come on.”

“Of course not. Then what it is my snookums?”

“Well, if you are saying that Feingold is not independent, but instead linked to the will of another public figure, are you going to lead people to the fact that I am strongly linked to you and your will, that I am far from independent but really largely a product of your political strategy and the priceless hours of time given to glorifying me with no hint of tough questions or a voice for my opponents? Aren’t I your lap dog, Charlie?”

“Now, now Scott,” and Charlie ruffled Scott’s hair as a tease. “Have you never heard of Karl Rove? I am doing to Feingold that tactic Rove teaches where you attack an enemy on precisely the theme that should be their strong point”

“I don’t know about any of that political strategy stuff. That’s why I have you,” said Scott. "But, still, it might seem wrong, even funny, that you are attacking others for being in the control of some Svengali. Why, you have the word 'Svengali' tattooed on your cute little bicep.”

“Look, Scott, listen to me.” And hear Charlie stopped their walk toward the carriage and turned to face Scott. Charlie cradled Scott's cheeks in between his palms and looked into his quivering eyes. “That fact that I do it, or any right-wing radio guy does it, is exactly why we accuse the enemy of doing it.”

Scott only tilted his head like a lab puppy, looking quizzical.

Here Charlie chuckled, and tousled Scott’s hair.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little head,” Charlie said. “I’ll handle it.”


“And when I get to be governor?” Scott asked.


“I’ll be right there beside you, sweetheart.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

#MythsRonJohnsonBelieves

by folkbum

I have to admit, the twitter can be fun sometimes. The news that Ron Johnson also believes that the Community Reinvestment Act--a law that did not apply to that vast majority of subprime lenders who caused the housing crash--is responsible for the recession got me wondering what else RoJo believes.


Add your own here! If you twitterate, that is.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes the elected officials do some unqualified good

by folkbum

From a release by my alderman, Tony Zielinski:
My office and appropriate city departments have been working with the [Milwaukee] Journal/Sentinel to address the unwanted delivery of Marketplace ads on people's stoops and yards.

After making it clear that citations will be flowing to the Journal/Sentinel if unwanted deliveries were continued there finally has been a resolution.

Instead of littering people's stoops and yards the Journal/Sentinel will start mailing the ads. This will address the garbage and litter nuisance caused by these ads.
The bags from those ads end up as litter everywhere, and they're not recyclable. It will be nice not to see them cluttering the city any more.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yes, but will Ron Johnson ask the Chamber to name ITS foreign contributors?

by folkbum

At tonight's debate--observed here at casa folkbum entirely through the twitterations of locals who didn't have better things to do--Ron Johnson said he would ask the groups running ads in his favor to disclose their contributors' names, contra the recent Citizens United case.

At least, that's what the twitterers said, all, um, atwitter.

This is a great idea, and if Johnson lives up to that promise good for him. But I think he can do more, so so much more. More than I can say clearly in words. So, a picture!



Blogger's limitations being what they are, the graphic may be hard to see--you can click the pic to go straight to ThinkProgress whence the flowchart originated. The short version of it, though, is that the Chamber of Commerce takes in a ton of money from interests outside the United States. Those funds flow directly into a pot of money from which the Chamber is buying ads all over the country, including in the Wisconsin Senate race here.

The Chamber has refused to name names but they won't deny that they're doing what they're doing.

So how about it, Johnson? Will you ring up your buddies at the Chamber and ask them to name not just names, but the foreign interests those names represent? I have a guess at the answer--it's the same one your friends in the Senate chamber have been saying for four years straight: no.

I could have written this

by folkbum

If you cut and paste from things I've written here and elsewhere in the last decade, I probably have written most of these sentiments. But Louanne Johnson puts them all in one place:
Most American teachers are good at their jobs -- when they are allowed to do their jobs. And that is the primary problem with our public schools. Teachers are not allowed to teach.

Or rather, they are told how to teach in such great detail and required to document what they are teaching in such great detail and expected to spend so much time teaching students to pass the tests that will prove the teachers have paid such great attention to detail that the teachers don’t have time to teach the information and skills their students need.

Friday, October 08, 2010

FriTunes: Laugh With Me edition

by folkbum

Or laugh at me, I don't really care. Here's the important thing: Comedy Sportz Milwaukee's fall Rec League season starts this Sunday afternoon. There will be three one-hour matches starting at 2 PM. My team, We Fly Coach, takes the stage at 4 PM. The shows are FREE and the laughs will be non-stop, so come on down and enjoy the show. Now, the tunes:

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Your Explanation Will Be Illuminating

By Keith R. Schmitz

Someone sent this to me. Since this place is troll town, the reactions should be interesting.

TEA BAGGERS, Republican "Conservatives" and Other Angry People....

It is truly amazing to realize that:

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA agent got outed by Cheney's office.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when our government deceived us about "weapons of mass destruction" and spent billions to attack Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us, instead of finishing the job of getting rid of the real terrorists in Afghanistan

You didn't get mad when $500 billion a year was borrowed to pursue that war.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you saw the Abu Grahib photos.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when the previous President inherited a budget surplus, then ran up the national debt up to $10.024 trillion.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans and the President lied about it.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden in Tora Bora.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible treatment of combat veterans at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when FEMA failed in New Orleans.(Heck of a job Brownie).

You finally got mad when????

When the government decided that people in America deserved the right to health care if they are sick.

When some regulation of irresponsible financial institutions is enacted. When stimulus programs are enacted to help repair our aging infrastructure and create new technologies and jobs.

When we try to salvage something worthwhile from the previously botched war in Afghanistan.

How is it possible that Illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, tax cuts to make the rich richer while running up huge deficits are all ok with you, but helping lower and middle income Americans makes you mad?

Of course. All of the above will be rationalized.

Whistling Dixie Over China

By Keith R. Schmitz

Want something to really worry about?

China is starting to invest in its people. Meanwhile, this country is seeking ways to whittle at our education system and is engaged in contentious battles with its educators.

Case in point why we should be concerned. About five years ago in Beijing, stopped in at one of their popular Border's style bookstores on Wangfujing Street on the way to the Forbidden City.

On the first floor, where the Harry Potter and the latest right wing rant and rave books should be there were books on math and science, and even customer service books broken down by industry. They had a full free standing bookshelf on differential calculus.

Second floor was devoted to books and other media on how to speak and read English. By the time you reach the third floor there were the popular titles. Not a formula for retailing success here, but when you look at the big picture, not pretty.

This is not a lesson necessarily though on selling, but on selling us out.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Politi"Fact" continues its big, sloppy kisses to Republicans

by folkbum

I am not sure how much the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel paid to buy the PolitiFact brand, but if they were expecting their own brand to be buoyed by a true independent voice this election season, they got ripped off.

Take the last two Politi"Fact" Wisconsin stories. On Tuesday, they examined a claim in a TV spot from Republican candidate Ron Johnson about Democratic Senator Russ Feingold's vote on health care. Here's a bit, with my bold (italics in the original):
A closer look at the language [in the ad] shows Johnson frames the issue around a question the polls did not ask.

The pre-vote polls used straightforward references to the "health care reform plan" or "proposed changes to the health care system." That is in contrast to the Johnson ad, which says a majority of Wisconsinites opposed--and Feingold voted for--a "government takeover of health care." [. . .]

That two-word phrase--government takeover--became Republican shorthand in opposing the legislation, even though Democrats dropped the "public option" approach under which the feds would have run a plan to compete with private health insurance.

Our PolitiFact colleagues have repeatedly probed the truth of the government takeover charge, and found it ridiculously false--a Pants on Fire. In truth, the health care law creates a market-based system that relies on private health insurance companies.
So looking around the page there, you might be wondering: Where are the dancing flames? Where is the honest labeling of what Johnson has done, as determined by PoltFact's own standards?

Indeed, in missing the opportunity here to call Johnson's ad a pants-on-fire lie, Politi"Fact" keeps its streak of only awarding flames to Democratic candidates alive. (They awarded one pants-on-fire rating to a statement by a conservative yakker at a competing media conglomerate, true, but no Republican candidates even when they clearly deserve it.)

Then today's Politi"Fact" awards the first and to date only 100% "True" rating in the feature's near two-month-long history. And what claim was rated as true? That Scott Walker, Republican candidate for governor, gave back a large chunk of salary in his first six years on the job as Milwaukee County Executive. Here:
For years, folks in southeastern Wisconsin have heard about Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, giving up thousands upon thousands of dollars of his salary. [. . .] The returned money was part of a 2002 campaign promise to cut the job’s salary by $60,000 per year. Walker, the Republican candidate for governor, made the pledge in the wake of a scandal over lavish county pensions.

His Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, has taken a jab at Walker, pointing out Walker has reduced his annual giveback from $60,000 to $10,000. The Barrett campaign points to a 2002 Walker flier, which includes the promise to reduce the county exec salary by $60,000 per year.

That promise, however, didn’t specify for how long Walker would reduce the salary by $60,000. And in April 2008, he was re-elected after telling voters he would reduce the giveback to $10,000. (Walker joked at the time, according to a news report, that his decision to give back nearly half of his $129,114 salary had been unpopular with his wife.)
It goes on from there to talk about just how precisely accurate the number touted by Walker is.

But do you notice anything missing? That's right--no one has challenged Walker's salary claim as untrue. Politi"Fact" is literally answering a question no one has asked. It's one thing to take a disputed item--like whether or not the Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a "government takeover of health care"--and arbitrating the truthity or falsity of that claim. It's another thing to take an item that no one has claimed to be false and declare it true.

And the part of this Walker claim that is disputable--whether or not he broke a promise--is glossed over with a glib "whatevs" when a nearly identical semantic distinction made by Russ Feingold was awarded pants-on-fire status. Can the bias be any clearer?

Profile in Jello

By Keith R. Schmitz

Lt. Gov. wannabe Rebecca Kleefisch refuses to debate opponent Tom Nelson.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A request of the media

by folkbum

If anyone can manage to pop the Ron Johnson protective bubble for a moment, can you ask where he stands on the minimum wage? I'm sure the middle class and working poor of Wisconsin would like to know.

Quote of the Day: This is why I have no hope for America anymore edition

by folkbum
Back in Washington, Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the [energy/ climate change] bill “before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process,” one of the people involved in the negotiations said. “He would say, ‘The second they focus on us, it’s gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and it’s gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.’ ” [via]
It's bad enough when a single senator can block legislation or appointments on a whim, or when a whole bill is rewritten to suit a single senator's needs (how often in the last year have we seen legislation altered to get Collins's or Snowe's vote, or Baucus's vote, or Scott Brown's?). But now apparently legislation can also die because a single senator is afraid someone will say mean things about him on Fox News.

I don't care where you were on the specific bill here, if you're glad it died or worried now over the fate of the planet. You ought to be just as disgusted by this new reality as I am.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Milwaukee Guitar Club

by folkbum

On a much more positive note: Here's my story from the Bay View Compass about the Milwaukee Guitar Club, which is where I've been hanging out most Tuesday nights lately. The winter location is upstairs at the Bay View Brew Haus. Grab your axe (acoustic; there's not really any outlets upstairs) and come on down if you wanna.