Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Child labor exploitation creeps quietly back into Wisconsin, and parents can't do a thing about it.

Kids can now work without a parental permission permit. 

No one asked for it, but parents are now at a major disadvantage, and business can now exploit child labor again while kids should still be in school. Laws designed to solve the problems of the 19th and 20th century are being eliminated, and Democrats are saying what? Doing what? 

Keep in mind, the excuse Republicans used to exploit child labor targeted just a few kids who were not living at home, leaving the other 70,000 parental permits in the dust. 
The good old days....
Republicans said the bill is a barrier to employment for some low-income youth and a needless government intrusion. Democrats and labor unions said it prevents parents from being able to control the work/school balance for their children. More than 70,000 permits were issued to 16- and 17-year-olds last year.
 How did we ever survive without out this change?
Gov. Scott Walker signed 10 bills into law Wednesday, including (an) end to work permits for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Two of the bills drew opposition from Democrats, including one that eliminates the phrase "child labor" from statutes and replaces it with "the employment of minors." 

The law turns back a century-old requirement that teenagers obtain a parent's signature and permit in order to work.

Republican government bad for Republican Rural voters!!!

From my own observations talking to rural Wisconsinites, there is an embedded tradition that makes getting Medicaid assistance a nonstarter. Some do take it when crop losses and the cost of running their business zeros out profits, but many don't.

So the warnings that rural America is going to take a major hit on health care may not have the kind of impact many might think. Rural voters might not change how they see their Republican politicians, despite getting stiffed by them on this and so many other issues. Still...

From a Conversation opinion piece, there are many who are still concerned:
(The) commitment to improving the health of rural Americans requires attention to the so-called upstream factors shaping rural health. That means preserving the safety net programs so vital in rural areas with underemployment and low-paying jobs, strengthening rural economies and investing in high-quality education. If our leaders are serious about reform that will lessen the rural-urban mortality gap, they should recognize the unique needs of rural America and ensure health care policy reflects how vital access to quality care is to their financial success – not to mention their well-being.

Researchers call it the “ruralmortalitypenalty.” While rates of mortality have steadily fallen in the nation’s urban areas, they have actually climbed for rural Americans. And the picture is even bleaker for specific groups, such as rural white women ... As researchers who study the mental and physical health of rural Americans, we believe this would have disastrous consequences.

The nature of rural employment, for example, is characterized by self-employment, seasonal work and lower-than-average pay. This means rural workers are less likely to get insurance through their jobs and thus face higher premiums when buying their own policies.

Both the House and Senate bills to repeal and replace Obamacare would drastically reduce rural Americans’ insurance coverage and significantly threaten the ability of many rural hospitals and clinics to keep their doors open. Analysts show that the bill would provide insufficient tax credits to pay for rural premium costs, drastically increase the price of rural premiums and increase uncompensated care in rural hospitals.

Walker's Wisconsin grows more dependent on Corporate Cash to bailout Public Services.

There’s something inherently wrong with commercial sponsorship's that pays for vital public services. What happens when a business pulls its sponsorship or demands a better deal once they know government needs and depends on their money?

The argument from the Walker administration? Other states are doing it. Yes, 17 other states took the plunge. But then you gotta ask, has there ever been an original thought in Walker’s agenda?

Who Likes Insurance Companies Anyway? Let's face it, when it comes to health care, they're monsters. When it comes to auto insurance, they've gamed the system and shifted all the expenses to you. It's also not surprising that every auto insurance company below has a lousy rating. But the state of Wisconsin has now given their blessing to State Farm Insurance, because apparently, they like the way they do business:

PBS News Hour (Dec-2016): A unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a jury verdict that State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. committed fraud against the federal government after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. State Farm shifting Mississippi claims to federal flood insurance that should have been paid by private wind insurance. 

Mississippi filed its own civil fraud lawsuit against State Farm, saying the state paid as much as $522 million to State Farm policyholders after the company manipulated the reports of adjusters and engineers to limit its responsibility.
That's a rocky history! Again, to be fair, all car insurers have made the top ten in "bad faith practices," even a company I tend to like because I liked their convenient roadside assistance window sticker. But then I haven't needed their services yet, knock on wood:
WSJ:  The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced Monday that it has sold corporate sponsorship of the department’s roadside assistance services to insurance giant State Farm … the first of its kind for the department … The newly named “Wisconsin DOT State Farm Safety Patrol” will bear the company’s name and logo on roadside assistance trucks … the patrol operates on heavily trafficked highways and in road-construction zones, where breakdowns can create safety hazards and traffic bottlenecks.

Hunt said the deal will help defray the department’s cost of about $1 million a year to provide the services … a $225,000 sponsorship fee the first year, with the fee open to negotiation in subsequent years … “It has kind of a stadium naming rights feel to it,” DOT spokesman David Hunt said. “It’s the same good service for less cost to the taxpayer.”

Seventeen other states, including Illinois, have similar agreements with State Farm. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp created controversy in 2015 when she said that the state would consider selling naming rights to state parks to help them operate without tax support — a step the department has yet to take. Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said the State Farm deal may irk some … But Berry said the deal is “not unusual in the public context. It may be new for state government, but it’s old hat for state universities and counties and municipalities.” 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dumb Ron Johnson Admits GOP Market based Health Care Guarantee doesn't Work!!!

The GOP health care plan is actually worse than many of the experts predict because they continue to low ball premium and deductible increases. I remember how the market worked before the ACA in the individual market, and it was bad, real bad. Back around 2006, and with no health problems, my deductible was $10,500, imagine what it would be today.

Dumb Ron Johnson is Back: Paul Ryan wrongly conflates health care with a consumer product, so he can make a "free market" argument for reform. He's scamming us.

So in roars Dumb Ron Johnson comparing our bodies with "crashed" cars. But we don't keep cars our entire life, and cars can be junked...not our bodies. If it's true that guaranteeing coverage for the sick crashes as Johnson claims, than maybe that market model is wrong? That's why every other country uses a different model, some form of a universal care, and it works...no crashes:
Johnson: “We know why those premiums doubled. We’ve done something with our health care system that you would never think about doing, for example, with auto insurance, where you would require auto insurance companies to sell a policy to somebody after they crash their car.”

“States that have enacted guaranteed issue for preexisting conditions, it crashes their markets. It causes the markets to collapse. It causes premiums to skyrocket.”
So...let's go with that plan?



Rand Paul says he want to legalize "Inexpensive Insurance," basically Junk Policies: I heard one reporter say Paul is pushing "junksurance." Sure, you may be under-insured and go bankrupt, but Rand Paul is there to protect your freedom. Yeah?

Paul is apparently unaware of the role men play in women's pregnancies. So he's thinks women should pay the whole bill. "Social responsibility" and "for the greater good" are being replaced with the politics of resentment, where you can always ask, "why should I have to pay for someone else's problem."

US Supreme Court going Trump Rogue...why not?

I figured it out the other day. Conservative judges and justices who say they are strict constructionists are simply allowing themselves to throw out precedent setting cases and judgments based on the supposed intent of the founding fathers text in the Constitution. How else could you explain Justice Thomas’ reasoning on the use of cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners, where he felt the founding fathers didn’t intend the Eight Amendment to apply to them. Wow.

So it is today, contradicting courts across the country on Trump’s travel ban intended to target Muslims, the activist right wing court allowed part of the ban to be enforced until they could hear the case. You'll notice new Justice Gorsuch siding with Thomas and Alito...going with a religious ban? 
The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration the go-ahead Monday to begin enforcing part of the president's executive order restricting travel from six predominately Muslim countries. The court also agreed to take up the Trump administration's appeal of lower court rulings ... unanimous on granting the administration’s appeal. 

The only noted dissent came from Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, who said they would have allowed the travel ban to be enforced in full. Because the Supreme Court will not hear the case until early October, the 90-day ban will likely have lapsed by the then. In that event, the case might then be dismissed as moot. But the administration would have succeeded in fully carrying out the executive order in the meantime.
Church and State Wall Tumbles: Those “Humpty Dumpty” conservative “strict constructionists” on the US Supreme Court are simply reinterpreting the Constitution. Can you reduce the wall of separation between church and state? Why not:
The Supreme Court reduced the wall of separation between church and state Monday in one of the most important rulings on religious rights in decades. The decision could doom provisions in 39 states that prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches. Monday's ruling said Missouri was wrong to exclude Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri from a program intended to help non-profits cover their gravel playgrounds with a rubber surface made from recycled tires. The church wanted to improve the playground at its preschool and daycare center.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ALEC Chairwoman...and oh yea, Republican State Sen. Leah Vukmir includes Faculty, Regulating "Free Speech."

I guess I'll have to wait a little bit longer to hear a talk show host introduce State Sen. Leah Vukmir as not just a Republican, but the national chairwoman of ALEC, a group that writes and promotes extreme right wing legislation nationwide. Her influence and position at ALEC isn't something we should ignore.

Especially since ALEC is now targeting our First Amendment free speech rights on public college campuses, with Chairwoman Vukmir's own proposed ALEC legislation. Here are just two ALEC topics from their site:


ALEC Chairwoman Leah Vukmir offered these purely anecdotal "reasons" for regulated free speech (sounds weird doesn't it?), reasons Republicans have called 'mob rule" since the 60's protests. Her press release states:
“Across the country, free speech rights are under assault. Students, professors and administrators are using intimidation tactics to silence those they disagree with. Now is not the time to treat this issue lightly; well thought-out legislative action is required. This must end.”
BIG GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS: Unconstitutional, yes, but requiring "legislative oversight" with a "strict disciplinary system?" Vukmir is not just the targeting of protesters, but campus faculty as well:
The proposal would explicitly outline protections for free speech in statute for students, faculty and staff on both university and technical school campuses. With legislative oversight, the UW Board of Regents and Technical College System Board would implement a strict disciplinary system for those who infringe on others’ free speech rights.
From Upfront with Mike Gousha (goo-shay), Vukmir feigned concern with her urgently framed second-hand anecdotally based talking points of "victimized" conservatives afraid to speak out on campus. Someone should ask for proof sometime, that isn't subjective:
Vukmir: "And I've talked to college kids across the state of Wisconsin on the campuses...now we have students who are fearful of speaking..."


Turning Government into a Racket: Besides allowing conservative speakers to sue colleges so they can receive thousands of dollars in taxpayer money just to settle, Vukmir's bill drains taxpayers pockets again for "security," a scheme many speakers use to boost their conservative reputations.
UW System President Ray Cross testified there are circumstances where a university might not allow an invited speaker on campus because they couldn’t protect his or her safety. This bill also creates a statute to preserve a speaker’s ability to come to campus in those cases.
Here's the legislation that forces taxpayers to pay for right wing security:
The bill also requires administrators to make all reasonable efforts and make available all reasonable resources to ensure the safety of individuals invited to speak on campuses. If administrators determine that they cannot ensure an individual's safety, the bill requires that the individual must be allowed to speak in spite of that determination. 
And even though you might have a right to protest...well, probably not (highlighted below as separate issue):
The bill also prohibits a person from threatening an invited speaker or threatening to organize protests or riots or to incite violence with the purpose to dissuade or intimidate an invited speaker from attending a campus event.
Not only does a protester lose the right to oppose a speakers appearance, but it normalizes radical politics, with no way to alert the public.

Looking up a little background on ALEC chairwoman Leah Vukmir, I found this at Urban Milwaukee:
recent story in Milwaukee Magazine by Matt Hrodey reports, fellow Republicans “sometimes called Vukmir ‘Nurse Ratchet’ … The Shepherd Express did a 2009 story entitled “Why Republicans Dislike Leah Vukmir,” complete with a cruel caricature that managed to make the attractive legislator look like a gorgon. Earlier that year Marc Eisen interviewed a range of Capitol insiders to pick the state’s best and worst legislators for Milwaukee Magazine and Vukmir made the list of the ten worst.

Only 14 percent of her huge campaign war chest of $446,910 came from donors living in the district.

In June 2013, the liberal Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) sued Vukmir, contending she had violated Wisconsin’s open records law by not turning over records related to her involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Councilthe conservative group bankrolled by corporations that creates and promotes model legislation to benefit these companies. Vukmir stonewalled and then responded to the CMD suit by claiming she could not be sued while in office. As the Wisconsin State Journal reported, a process server hired to notify Vukmir of the lawsuit says “a Vukmir aide assailed him with abusive language, chased him and pushed him to the ground outside the Capitol.”  The emails showed Vukmir was championing a model ALEC bill opposing the expansion of state Medicaid programs under Obamacare. 

Vukmir led the effort to eliminate the nationally acclaimed non-partisan Government Accountability Board with one controlled by legislative leaders.
ALEC’s Campus Free Speech “Resentment” Campaign: Since the 60’s war protests, conservatives have wanted to right that wrong and end once and for all any signs of public protest. They think they’ve found a way to do that with their massive state majorities across the country:
Taxpayers hand over their hard-earned money each year via appropriations to pay the salaries of university presidents, directors of student services, and campus police chiefs in every state. Until legislators hold university presidents, administrators and campus police accountable, they will continue to live the same day over and over again, just like Phil Conners in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day”. It is time to get it right and end the nightmare.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) seems to be more interested in turning education majors into liberal activists … a required class for students wishing to become teachers … to persuade students to a certain political view. The course will feature … discussions regarding the vocation of teachers, social justice, dis/abilities, bilingual education, social class, poverty, sexuality, gender, race and community membership.
Sounds good…except ALEC thinks social justice, social class, poverty, sexuality, race, and community membership aren’t conservative values at all.  
Thus, the class is intended to change the self-perception of these future educators … as advocates of progressive ideas. UNCG forces future educators to study a political agenda disguised as a lesson on education.
ALEC Confused, Contradicts Own Agenda: While ALEC loves the idea of using vouchers in religious schools teaching Christianity as the only religion, it trashes that same idea below. In a head spinning contradiction, ALEC even suggests a political bias where there is none:
One of the class assignments (at the end of the semester) is to write a “Personal/Professional Commitment Statement” … to social justice (7-8 pages), given all the new knowledge(s) that the course participants generated every week. What stood out? What did you learn about yourself … what’s your personal/professional commitment to social justice? 
Heck, a conservative as well as a liberal could answer that in any way they want, yet to ALEC…
These future educators must act like liberal social activists … flies in the face of academic freedom.  
To make their point, ALEC makes this contradictory argument, which by the way makes a great case against taxpayer funded vouchers to religious schools:
To put this issue in another context, it would be equally outrageous if a world religion teacher required students to exclusively read material meant to promote the viewpoint that Catholicism is the only true religion. Then, in order to pass the class, the students have to write a paper about how this class has brought them closer to the Catholic Church.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The real reason for the Decline of Coal!!!

John Oliver continues to do the work news networks should be doing. If you thought renewable energy and low natural gas prices were the big reasons the coal industry is taking a hit, well, that's only part of the story:



John Oliver, HBO and Time Warner have been sued for defamation for allegedly executing a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of an Ohio coal company and its boss during a long-form story about the industry on Last Week Tonight's June 18 episode ... accusing Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious and false" attack on the coal industry, part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration."

Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment lampooned the Trump administration's effort to revive the coal industry, saying coal has declined over decades as other energy alternatives have advanced. He also jokingly likened coal to "cocaine for Thomas the Tank Engine."

Murray's claim that President Trump "gets" the coal industry was caustically dismissed by Oliver on the show. "Uh, hang on there, Bob, no he doesn't. He barely gets what mining is," Oliver said.

Michael Phillips: "Yes, I'm Scared, scared at what could happen to me if Medicaid cut comes to pass."

If you want to know what we've become as a nation under Trump and the "leadership" of Paul Ryan, what you'll see below will set the record straight. If 33 year old Michael Phillips and his mother's bullet proof arguments don't inspire you to strongly act on his and everyone else's behalf, then I don't know what will. It's 13 minutes (edited to include additional story highlights) you won't forget:
Michael Phillips, who has spinal muscular atrophy and whose life literally depends on Medicaid, shares his fears about what Medicaid cuts could mean for his care. Watch the remarkable full interview with Ari Melber on MSNBC:
Michael Phillips' Mom Karen summed up the whole discussion regarding the GOP health care plan:
"It's amazing after all these years I would have to fight to spend less money!"

Michael Phillips: "Ever since, November the 9th, 2016, I haven't been sleeping well. I've been scared. I've never been scared by the results of an election. It's an odd feeling. I always felt like the federal government exists to protect citizens, even when state governments won't do so, maybe especially when state governments won't do so...so yes I'm scared, scared at what could happen to me if Medicaid cut comes to pass. 

I'm a published writer, I helped develop assistive technology, I'm not exactly Ryan Gosling, but I lead a good life. Losing Medicaid, being forced into an institution, I'd lose everything. I'd lose the rights guaranteed to me under the Constitution, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." People with disabilities know happiness isn't guaranteed, but we want a shot at it just like everybody else."
The amazing Michael Phillips took to twitter...and here are a few of his tweets that really stood our for me:



What kind of country have we become? Thankfully Trump in-the-bag-supporters, who admire how he speaks his mind because it now gives them license to do the same thing without a conscience, laid it out very clearly below:
  



Friday, June 23, 2017

A real Democrat, Ryan Bryce.

Randy Bryce is what a Democratic candidate looks like and talks like. His message is critical, humble, urgent and heroic...real.
Wisconsin ironworker Randy Bryce will challenge Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for re-election in 2018. If Bryce wins, it would be the third time since 1862 that a Speaker of the House has lost re-election. Lawrence O'Donnell talks to Randy Bryce.


The Nation's John Nichols wrote this:
Randy Bryce has a different set of values, forged on the work sites of Wisconsin. “My values are my neighbors’ values, and we know that Washington has gotten way off track,” says the challenger. If Bryce keeps emphasizing how and why Paul Ryan steered things off track, he has a chance to change the political debate—and the values debate that must underpin it if anything is ever going to change—in Wisconsin and America.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WTF!!! ACLU backs away from challenging GOP shredding First Amendment with "Free Speech" Bill.

Well, that's that. What seemed like an easy one was allowed to slip by....
The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin criticized those punishments as “unnecessarily draconian,” and warned they could chill free speech on campus.

Senate "Healthy Tax Cut Care" ironically renamed "Better Care" Reconciliation Act!

Pure politics...(see below).

I'll be taking a look at the plan right here later. What I did find interesting was a point made on NPR this morning; the argument that insurers were abandoning the market in so many areas means Republicans must do something now. Aside from the fact their uncertain plans are making insurers run from the individual market completely, on and off the exchanges, the number of people effected is misleading...big surprise. 
It's a sign of the uncertainty in health insurance right now in the United States, with insurers like Anthem unsure what the market will look like going forward. "Until there’s some certainty about what the market is going to look like, it won’t be surprising to see insurance carriers more and more saying, we don’t think we can go forward in this kind of business environment that’s very uncertain. We need some kind of certainty.'"
While around 50,000 people might not have a choice of insurers around the country, that pales in comparison to the 23 million people losing insurance if the Senate bill is passed.
And rural areas will be most negatively impacted due to the Senates changes to Medicaid:The GOP's American Health Care Act would cut Medicaid — the public insurance program for many low-income families, children and elderly Americans, as well as people with disabilities — by as much as $834 billion.

Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding. And a rural hospital closure goes beyond people losing health care. Jobs, property values and even schools can suffer.
Pure Politics: With an eye toward the presidential election, and further gerrymandering in 2020, Republicans are delaying changes to Medicaid expansion. There is no other reason. VOX.COM:
The Senate bill begins to phase out the Medicaid expansion in 2021 — and cuts the rest of the program’s budget too. The Senate bill would end the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans. This program has provided coverage to more Americans than the private marketplaces.

The Senate bill provides smaller subsidies for less generous health insurance plans with higher deductibles. The Senate bill will tether the size of its tax credits to what it takes to purchase a skimpier health insurance plan than the type of plans Affordable Care Act subsidies were meant to buy. Essentially, these tax credits buy less health insurance.
Here's a little more on the above changes. Remember, Republican falsely claimed people on ObamaCare could get sick and then buy insurance...not true, but the Senate plan does just that. Any complaints voters?
The Senate bill repeals the individual mandate — and replaces it with nothing. takes away a key incentive healthy people have to buy coverage, meaning only sick people may sign up.  Building a health insurance system without an individual mandate or any replacement policy runs a significant risk of falling into a death spiral, where only the sickest people buy coverage and premiums keep ticking upward.
 The bill would cut taxes for the wealthy.

The Senate bill would tether its tax credits to less generous health insurance. Specifically, it would provide subsidies that make a plan with a 58 percent actuarial value (meaning, on average, it covers 58 percent of enrollees’ costs) affordable. This means that the plans people could afford under the Senate bill would likely have more copays and higher deductibles as a way to bump up the amount enrollees have to chip in for their own coverage. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

DNR...RIP!

Has anyone else noticed that after just 6 years of Scott Walker, we no longer have a Department of Natural Resources?

It's a kind of shell company that doles out get-out-of-jail free cards instead of money for the environments worst offenders.

On the outside it's called the DNR, but technically its been transformed into an advertising arm of the Walker administrations to promote the parks and attract big business. Concerns about the environment, water, air matter only when it affects what corporate special interests can plunder most and get away with.

This was the final nail in the DNR coffin, which pretty much explained the DNR's new role, not just at the fair:
The DNR will no longer operate a major venue at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis. Effective this year, the DNR will no longer offer fisheries, wildlife or environmental management booths, casting clinics, archery, a children's nature play area, Smokey's Schoolhouse and a number of other attractions.

It will continue to provide information only on state parks … DNR spokesman Jim Dick said the agency's presence at the fair would focus on the state park system, state forests and state natural areas, which he described as “places we can promote as premier destinations for outdoor activities. This is an opportunity to educate visitors, many from urban areas, on what recreational locations and activities are available not far from home."

News of the changes shocked many in the Wisconsin conservation community. 
Here's a little history:
Two years ago, Walker and lawmakers enacted a budget that cut 18 DNR science service bureau researchers amid complaints that their research related to climate change, pollution and wildlife habitat were controversial and unneeded. Now the science services bureau is being dissolved and its remaining scientists moved to program offices that use their research. Former DNR secretary George Meyer said placing the researchers in program offices may make them subject to a variety of pressures that could affect the way they design their research on controversial topics such as chronic wasting disease in the deer herd. 

A frequent critic of the DNR said the move will give more control to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, who was appointed by Walker in 2011 to make the department friendlier to business. “I think it’s a more disciplined approach where the leadership of the Department of Natural Resources really directs that research,” said Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican and part of the GOP majority on the Legislature’s budget committee.

Stepp should be able to ensure that research benefits sportsmen and the DNR should be better able to prevent further research that takes climate change into account, Tiffany said

Two years ago the DNR stopped publicly laying out its research plans and priorities. 

GOP votes to kill Free Election Recounts confirming Election Integrity; don't care about Election Hacking at all.

Anyone think the following seems a bit odd for a party obsessed with voter fraud and clean elections?

1. If Republicans care so much about voter confidence in the integrity of our elections, then why are they trying to block free voter recounts paid for by losing candidates. It's backs up their claims, doesn't it? 
AP: The state Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would make it far more difficult to request election recounts in Wisconsin ... amid anger from some Republicans that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was able to request a recount in Wisconsin last year even though she finished a distant fourth ... only candidates who trail the winner by 1 percentage point or less in statewide elections could petition for a recount. Gov. Scott Walker has signaled his support for the measure.
2. If Republicans care so much about voter confidence in the integrity of our elections, then why aren't they worried about having a hacked voting machine system? Seriously, they've never mentioned it, not once. Could there be another reason for their voter ID laws?

Even if most voting machines aren't connected to the Internet, says cybersecurity expert Jeremy Epstein, "they are connected to something that's connected to something that's connected to the Internet."

A recently leaked National Security Agency report on Russian hacking attempts has heightened concerns. According to the report, Russian intelligence services broke into an election software vendor's computer system and used the information it gained to send 122 election officials fake emails infected with malicious software. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that Russia might have attempted to hack into election systems in up to 39 states.

University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman says it's just the kind of phishing campaign someone would launch if they wanted to manipulate votes. "That's because before every election, the voting machines have to be programmed with the design of the ballots — what are the races, who are the candidates. So as a remote attacker, I can target an election management system, one of these ballot programming computers. If I can infect it with malicious software, I can have that malicious software spread to the individual machines on the memory cards, and then change votes on Election Day.”
Anti-Government Lunacy: The biggest reason for letting the hacking continue, maybe even get worse?
FBI Director James Comey has warned that Russia will try once again to influence U.S. elections, possibly as early as next year. To prepare, the federal government has declared elections to be a part of the nation's critical infrastructure that demands special attention.

But the federal government's focus has state and local election officials, who are very protective of how they do things now, extremely nervous. They're mainly concerned that the federal government will tell them how to run their elections — even down to where polling sites should be located — in the name of security.

While two states — Arizona and Illinois — had their voter registration systems infiltrated last year by Russian hackers, no records were deleted or changed. And no actual votes were affected, despite signs that Russia had scanned election systems in at least 20 states. "The voting process itself was not hacked, manipulated or rigged in any way."

Republicans turning University of Wisconsin into Swill Hole for Right Wing Politics.

What's wrong with this statement about the UW free speech bill:
Opponents to the bill argue the changes would violate the free speech rights of students who want to protest campus speakers
What's wrong? The answer if pretty simple: This is unconstitutional, and violates the First Amendment, not just the rights of students on campus. Framing is everything. Anytime you mention "regulation" in the same sentence with "free speech," free speech is already a goner.

It's funny how the simplest most common sense regulation on handguns is a violation of our Second Amendment rights. But with speech, Republicans have no sense of guilt or hypocrisy. What follows is so broad that it defies logic:
Under the proposal, students who disrupt campus events at UW System schools could be expelled ... new rules for free speech and expression on system campuses. That includes penalties for people who disrupt free expression on campus by engaging in, "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud or other disorderly conduct ... establish a special council in charge of disciplinary hearings when a student is accused of preventing someone from speaking or restricting their free expression. Anyone can report a student at one of the system's four-year or two-year colleges for violating the policies and a student would automatically be sent to a disciplinary hearing if reported twice.
This mind blowing ironic part...:
New students would be informed of the system's free expression policies and receive First Amendment training.
I know, stunning isn't it?

Have university officials threatened to challenge the law in court? Has anyone? Let me know in the comments section if anyone has stepped forward to challenge this state law.

Off Campus Speech as well: Check out this amazing Scott Walker explanation from Upfront with Mike Gousha from back in April of 2017:


Walker: "Whether it's against me or somebody else say, "I disagree," but disagreeing and even protesting is one thing ... But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they're liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, I just think that's wrong." To me a university...anywhere free speech should be upheld...but disrupting and shutting down as we've seen here in Wisconsin, but elsewhere across the country, shutting down the ability for someone to actually be heard is not free speech."
Where does it say that in the Constitution?

The right to be "heard" is not protected by the Constitution.
 But Walker wants to go beyond the Constitution, with "I just think that's wrong" as a standard, which is pretty much all it takes under an oppressive government. And who knew we could specifically select "anywhere free speech should be upheld?" Where are those other areas? I found a few in a previous post, here.

Republican Attack on the Left: Pure and simple, this is a politically motivated attack. The absolute arrogance of power allowed for this slip-up by the author of this bill:
Rep. Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum, said ... the "elitist media" of "losing their minds over someone with a different opinion." Kremer said the "left's unhinged attacks" on his perspective — which he said included death threats and profanity-laden messages — demonstrated the need for his legislation. 
Associate Professor Dave Vanness tweeted:



Conservative Guest Speaker Con Game: As I've mentioned before, here, here, and more recently here, speaker controversies and protests are the best way to bolster that persons reputation and fees, so it's in their best interest to play it up and to feed their legend.

Plus with this bill, Republicans are conning us again, this time seeking taxpayer cash funding for conservative whack jobs via frivolous lawsuits brought by these "offended" speakers:
"Speakers who believe free speech rights are violated by UW could take school to court under Assembly bill."
Turning the University of Wisconsin into a Swill Hole for Right Wing Politics: The Journal Sentinel offered this incredibly insightful look at why this is happening in the first place, and it has nothing to do with free speech or their current rules for dealing with disruptive behavior:
Conservative foundations that for years have quietly given money to help student groups bring speakers to college campuses recently have been under scrutiny in the wake of speaker protests, suggesting the push for conservative views is from off-campus.

The Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in recent years has given Young America's Foundation tens of thousands of dollars for such activities as increasing the number of conservative-leaning campus events it sponsors, including in Wisconsin ... Young America's Foundation was making efforts to reach more students in the Midwest."

"This is balancing of the scales," said Donald Downs, who in the fall of 2006 co-founded the UW-Madison Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy.
"Liberal Democracy?" Here's a thought, see if you find anything "liberal" in the following description of Downs Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy:
The second mission relates specifically to the University of Wisconsin. It is to advance intellectual diversity at the University by taking ideas seriously that we believe have not always enjoyed sufficient respect on campus. Such ideas include the various strands of conservative political thought and libertarian thought, in addition to thought addressing religious liberty, foreign policy, and the role of the military in American society and on campus.
Wow, the role of the military in society and on campus, really?

I'll give this Democratic press release the final word:
State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) blasted Assembly Republicans Unconstitutional Bill Addressing Republican-Manufactured Crisis: 
“Once again, Republicans are making it abundantly clear that they only care about what’s happening on University of Wisconsin campuses when it suits them: when they’re a sounding board for what Republicans want to do, when they teach students what Republicans want to have taught, and when they promote values Republicans want to have promoted.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Randy Bryce's campaign ad taking on Paul Ryan the real thing.

Yesterday I visited my nearby urgent care center over a possible tick bite, and after being told there was a 1 to 2 hour wait, I decided to wait it out. That was an obscene amount of time though.

Sitting across the room was a 12 or 13 year old boy, weary a required surgical mask to block airborne germs from spreading, moaning and crying in his chair. This went on for a nightmarish 20 minutes. It was heart wrenching to watch others being called in to see the doctor while this child sat crying in the lobby in so much pain.

At least he had some kind of medical coverage, or he wouldn't have been there at all. But it was an experience I will never forget.

I just watched an great campaign ad from a new Democratic challenger to Paul Ryan that piggy backed on my experience at that urgent care center:


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is already facing his second challenger. Randy Bryce, a union ironworker, announced on Monday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to run against Ryan, and released a video emphasizing what has so far been the biggest issue of the year: health care. 

The two-and-a-half-minute video featured Bryce’s mother, who described living with multiple sclerosis and the 20 drugs she must take to survive. “There’s no doubt in my mind that there are thousands of people like her who don’t have what she has,” Bryce said in the video. “The system is extremely flawed.”

Bryce issued a challenge to Ryan. “Let’s trade places,” Bryce said. “Paul Ryan, you can come work the iron and I’ll go to D.C.” Bryce is a cancer survivor, community activist and Army veteran. 
But someone this sincere and with this kind of message had his chance once, according to WISGOP, and had been castoff by Democratic voters. In another example of extreme projection, WISGOP wrote: "Bryce will say and do anything to...defend his liberal special interest friends." Real substance there:
He’s also run unsuccessfully twice for the state legislature, The Associated Press reported. Republicans were quick to seize on that.
“The voters of Wisconsin have already rejected Randy Bryce multiple times. Instead of fighting for hardworking Wisconsin families, Randy Bryce will say and do anything to get to Washington and defend his liberal special interest friends.”

Walker declares war on Drinking Water Supply, Lakes to Swim in, and DNR Scientists.

I think it’s time to write following story the way the news media should have from the beginning, so here goes (quote is my emphasis)…
“Schimel ignored past court cases, other state laws and the Public Trust Doctrine of the Wisconsin Constitution, which all give the DNR authority to protect water resources...”
After being ordered to by…
“...Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), chairman of the Assembly Committee on Organization, to clarify the authority of the DNR over high-capacity wells.”
Clarity was a wink and nudge to pass and completely destroy the DNR, defying common sense and public responsibility. Leaving no one in charge...
"...Schimel concluded the DNR lacked explicit authority to place conditions on farms and or other entities that wanted to construct large wells — even if the wells harmed state waters."
Odd that after all this time, the state never found a way to protect the state drinking water supply.

Now there’s a 2016 lawsuit against that decision that hopes to reverse Rep. Vos' politically driven AG's right to plunder:
Employees of the DNR expressed concerns in emails in 2015 and 2016 about potential harm to lakes and streams from the construction of new wells in areas where irrigation was already widespread, court records filed on Friday show. The emails were included in the latest documents of a 2016 lawsuit by an environmental group and lake association that challenged a major shift in state policy that weakened the regulation of high-capacity wells. The October 2016 suit contends the DNR violated the Wisconsin Constitution and ignored other state laws and court cases after the agency announced it would no longer examine applications of large-scale wells by taking into account the impact of other nearby wells.
Destroying the Watchdogs; Scientists: Republican disdain for science is at a whole new level in Wisconsin, making it an environmental hell hole

Two years ago, Walker and lawmakers enacted a budget that cut 18 DNR science service bureau researchers amid complaints that their research related to climate change, pollution and wildlife habitat were controversial and unneeded.

Now the science services bureau is being dissolved and its remaining scientists moved to program offices that use their research.

A frequent critic of the DNR said the move will give more control to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. Sen. Tom Tiffany, a Republican and part of the GOP majority on the Legislature’s budget committee, said Stepp should be able to ensure that research benefits sportsmen and the DNR should be better able to prevent further research that takes climate change into account.
Walker Bags Smokey the Bear: Walker put the Kibosh on the State Fair's DNR exhibit. Seriously, who needs big government preaching to kids about taking care of the environment anyway: 


Effective this year, the DNR will no longer offer fisheries, wildlife or environmental management booths, casting clinics, archery, a children's nature play area, Smokey's Schoolhouse and a number of other attractions.
What Me Worry...about Blue-Green Algae? On the subject of water, Scott Walker is making Wisconsin "green" by designating it the official color of our lakes...with blue-green algae. Walker and his band of plundering legislative Republican pirates, don't seem alarmed that we can no longer go swimming in our lakes...even in June. WISC:


Our Little Friend, Cyanobacteria? Good for you Heart: Science might be coming to Walker's rescue though, even if he doesn't believe in that either. I don't know if we're talking about the same species of blue-green algae, but you never know....The Smithsonian:
In a study published this week in Science Advances, Dr. Woo and his team show how they successfully replaced blood with microscopic cyanobacteria, plant-like organisms that also use photosynthesis. By co-opting the process to help heal damaged heart tissue, the team was able to protect rats from deadly heart failure. Fixing an ailing heart, it seems, may be as simple as shining a light on the situation.

For cardiologists, the challenge for preventing subsequent heart failure is to rapidly supply damaged heart tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But “if you look at nature, photosynthesis answers that question,” 

Dr. Woo and his team grew a strain of Synechococcus in their lab and injected to the impaired heart tissue of a living rat. Then, they turned up the lights. After 20 minutes, they saw increased metabolism in damaged areas. Overall cardiac performance improved after about 45 minutes. The evidence suggested that the oxygen and sugar Synechococcus created through photosynthesis was enhancing tissue repair.

After injecting living bacteria into a body organ, you might expect an infection. But interestingly, the researchers didn’t find any immune response after TK HOURS “The bugs are just not there anymore, it disappears,” says Dr. Woo. “And maybe that’s the best kind of bacteria”—a friendly helper that sticks around to do damage control, then disappears without a trace. The recent study is merely proof-of-concept, but scientists are now on the path to trying the technique in human subjects. Next they’ll try it in larger animal models that are closer to humans, and they’re working on ways to deliver and shine light on cyanobacteria without an open heart surgery. They’re even considering genetically editing Synechococcus to make the critters release more sugar.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trump Attorney Fumbles and Bumbles Chris Wallace Interview...fun!

Fox New host Chris Wallace listens to his guests, every word, and it shows. Love seeing Jay Sekulow, a conservative activist and attorney for President Donald Trump go ballistic for his own sloppy arguments. Sekulow tried to rein it in at the end, but too late. He looked like hack. Incredible.

The Senate Secretly passing Nightmare Health Care bill filled with Tax Breaks to Special interests.

Sen. Chris Murphy is getting a lot play out of this because of what the Republicans are secretly trying to do with Americans health care, or maybe what they're not doing.  It's the health care windfall bill for special interests. Brutal and honest:

Republicans Scared of supposed rising Left Wing violence.

The anti-science, anti-education Republican Party are really at a disadvantage when it comes to physics, specifically this part of Newton's Law: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Things were just fine when armed Second Amendment thugs bullied women's anti-gun groups; armed losers scared the daylights out of families in fast food restaurants; those 20 kids and 5 adults mowed down in an elementary school proved we should have had armed guards everywhere; and militia groups formed to take back our country from an power mad unworthy black president.



Bunkerville's Cliven Bundy was a real American hero, and mental health issues explained the shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords and not the telescopic site markings on a map from Sarah Palin's website. In fact, the right wings pollster Rasmussan Report just posted this unsettling result that proves radicalized conservatives believe they can do no wrong:
Fifty-five percent (55%) of Americans agree politics is to blame for the incident that left one of the GOP’s top House leaders in critical condition and aren’t writing it off as just random violence.

By comparison, just 28% said the shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six others in Arizona in January 2011 was the result of political anger.
The baseball shooting that targeted Republicans is an example of Newton's law, and Republicans are freaked out about it. But wait, liberals don't like guns...what happened?
Those who track extremism say that while there are a few far-left groups that raise red flags, their numbers remain small.

Much of the conservatives' anger has been aimed at "Antifa" — short for "anti-fascists." Antifa are loosely affiliated groups of mostly young people; "People are desperate," says one masked counter-protester, a student at Evergreen State who gave his name as Felix. "They see the government turning back to regressive Reaganomics and racist undertones and rhetoric, so once they start kicking 25 million people off health care, then you're going to start seeing riots."

Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism: "The far left is very active in the United States, but it hasn't been particularly violent for some time." 

He says the numbers between the groups don't compare.
"In the past 10 years when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders. You have to go back to the 1970s to find the last big cycle of far-left extremism in the U.S.” 
Here's an important mind blowing thought:
Pitcavage says Wednesday's shooting attack ... is a warning sign. He is especially concerned because the shooter apparently was not particularly extreme in his political ideas; his views were seemingly in the mainstream left.
"One act does not a trend make. But I am concerned that, in this highly polarized and divided society, more people who have stances that fall within the mainstream, on the left and right alike, may consider political violence an attractive option."
Domestic terrorism experts say that concern is only heightened by the fact that the line between what's considered mainstream and what's considered fringe is becoming increasingly blurred.
From NPR audio, the complete report:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Teaching 8 year old kids in school to recognize Fake News in "Media Literacy" class...catching on!

After getting one right wing news site link after another from my conservative friend in Milwaukee, I think it's time we develop a media literacy class that teaches kids how to identify fake news:
PBS: How can teachers help students tell fact from media fiction? Educators and media literacy advocates in Washington state are working together with legislators to address the problem.