Monday, September 29, 2014

First Lady's presence in Wisconsin more effective than a duo of scandal-clad governors

Michelle Obama's appearance alongside Mary Burke probably did more good than having Gov. Chris Christie alongside Gov. Scott Walker

Here’s the difference between the two political “celebrities” (for lack of a better word) that visited the Badger State today.

On the left, you had First Lady Michelle Obama. What comes to mind when you think about her? Someone who dares to push for a better America. Someone who doesn’t settle for “good enough,” who thinks that our nation can rise to greatness, even in the shadows of adversity. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m inspired by this woman, and I think that her presence in Wisconsin was a positive one, and very helpful for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke.

On the right, you had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stumping for current Gov. Scott Walker. Let’s not kid ourselves -- Christie is seen as a rising star on the conservative side, someone who represents the future of the GOP. But let’s also not forget that he's also embroiled in a scandal, with his administration accused of misuse of government resources to score political payback against a community leader that didn’t want to endorse Christie back in his own re-election bid.

Walker himself is surrounded by scandal, ranging from cronyism, illegal use of state resources, and improper coordination between campaigns, among other items. Whether Christie is popular or not across the nation, having these two scandal-clad governors together merely reinforces a meme that Walker would rather have Wisconsinites soon forget.

Both Michelle Obama and Chris Christie did what they were meant to do today, and that is encourage the base. When it comes to luring independent and undecided voters (however few there may be remaining), who was more effective? For my money, I’m betting on the First Lady.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lunchtime musings: En banc decision further proves the need to delay voter ID

The divided en banc decision of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't necessarily validate the voter ID law. If anything, it demonstrates more reason to delay its implementation.

The court could not come to a comprehensive decision, which shows that at least half of its judges realized the complexities of implementing an ID law just weeks before an election. Confusion of voters and registration problems will abound.

I previously called on Gov. Scott Walker to delay voter ID for this election season. If an appellate court is divided on this issue, it stands to reason that it's an important topic not to be taken lightly, and deserves more review before it's just suddenly thrusted upon the citizenry a mere month before Election Day.

Walker should still delay its enforcement to ensure voting rights are preserved for this election cycle.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Attention to 100-year old statute makes it clear: we're failing our neediest

Scott Walker, other political leaders, demonstrate moral decline when it comes to minimum wage workers

Wisconsin Jobs Now, an organization dedicated to empowering workers in the state, has brought attention to a statute on the lawbooks, more than 100-years old, that requires employers to pay a livable wage. It’s their hope that in doing so, Wisconsin lawmakers will be coerced (or forced) to raise the minimum wage.

It’s really ridiculous -- not on the organization’s part, but rather the fact that it might take an obscure law like this to force action from the state.

The minimum wage as it stands today isn’t livable -- and that makes it morally reprehensible. Those lawmakers who stand in the way of raising it do so at the detriment of thousands of their own constituents, who work hard every day and struggle to make ends meet when the paycheck finally comes.

If ever a law could be needed to improve the lives of people, to improve our own moral standing, the minimum wage is it. We owe it to those who continue to struggle day-in and day-out to raise the wage, if only to say that we as a people are empathetic to their needs and concerns.

One candidate for governor, Democrat Mary Burke, supports raising the wage to a livable standard. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, on the other hand, calls it a “political stunt.” Don’t forget that when you go to the polls this November.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Air Force removes "so help me God" requirement, and more thoughts on religion

No religious tests should ever be required for those willing to serve

The decision to make optional the phrase “so help me God” at the end of the oath for enlistment into the U.S. Air Force is the right move to make. What’s surprising isn’t the sudden policy change, but rather that it took this long to happen.

I’m not an atheist, but I’m often erroneously called one by those who know my views on Church and State. In spite of those short-sited accusations, I do believe in God, and celebrate my specific religious beliefs where it’s appropriate to do so.

My religious beliefs stop with me. Going beyond my own being, and demanding others to accept my beliefs as their own, goes against my moral thinking. Similarly, requiring those enlisting to serve their country to speak the words “so help me God” -- whether they are religious or not -- is a violation of the tenets our nation was founded upon.

Lunchtime Musings: Vukmir, Darling hold Walker to a lower standard

Republicans in the state continue to make absurd accusations and demands.

Now they are calling on Mary Burke to drop out of the race for governor.

Nevermind the fact that it was a subordinate's use of "plagiarism" that created this mess, not actually Burke. And never mind also that this person used their own words from previous documents of their own writings, negating claims of plagiarism itself.

No, Burke apparently acted so egregiously in this instance, according to Republicans, that she MUST drop from the race.

For those keeping track at home, questionable "plagiarism" is more terrible than any action of Governor Scott Walker's, including cronyism, secretive email systems on the taxpayer's dime, illegal collaboration between campaigns and issue groups, appointments to offices based on donor contributions and proximity to the governor himself, and lest we forget, broken campaign promises on jobs.

If Burke has to drop out over this small incident, what action would be amiable for Walker too take? Scandal seems to follow him wherever he goes. Yet, the GOP overlooks it all.

Does Walker need to be held accountable to the same degree, or does the "R" after his name render him a free pass? Please let us know, Sens. Leah Vukmir and Alberta Darling.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

WISGOP response to hyped-up “scandal” goes overboard, ignores "sad days" under Walker

Republicans in the state blow Burke scandal out of proportion, and ignore the scandals under the head of their party

Let’s set the record straight: plagiarism is a bad thing. There’s no doubt about it. Taking someone else’s original ideas and claiming them as your own is morally, ethically, and at times legally wrong.

Now, it’s questionable whether Mary Burke or her campaign engaged in actual plagiarism. An article at the New Republic explains it best:
So is Burke guilty of plagiarism? Of course not. She’s guilty of sharing a campaign consultant with other Democrats in her state.

... The Burke scandalette...[is] an instance of lazy p.r. tradecraft, and the consultant who “plagiarized” his own talking points has been fired for it.

... If a politician copy-pastes large segments of his academic thesis, it’s plagiarism. If he recites long passages taken from various sources in his speeches, it’s plagiarism. If he regurgitates the same sanitized Plan for AmericaTM as a fellow party member, it’s just message discipline working a little bit too well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Value meal" tax breaks don't create jobs in Wisconsin -- and the latest jobs report proves it

Latest “gold standard” numbers proves that a strong consumer base is required to grow jobs.

The QCEW jobs survey -- called the “gold standard” of jobs surveys in the past by Gov. Scott Walker and his administration -- came out today. Once again, we see that Wisconsin performed poorly when it came to job creation. And when you look over the entire tenure of Walker’s time in office, it paints an even worse picture.

First quarter annual job growth (from March 2013 to March 2014) grew at 28,712 jobs. That puts Wisconsin 33rd in the nation in growth, below the national average and 10th out of 12 states in the Midwest over the year.

Lunchtime Musings: Voter ID? How about Corporate ID?

To partake in debate and exercise your speech rights, you are not required to show an ID. Nor are you culpable to felony charges for using your religious freedoms in whatever way you deem without identification.

So why the extra standards on voting?

Voting is only meant to be different in one way. You must prove you reside in the district you want to vote in. And you are capable of doing so without an ID.

Rampant fraudulent voting hasn't been an issue in Wisconsin. Yet now, this basic right requires an ID for participation.

If we are going to start requiring identification for the use of our rights, I have a suggestion: a Corporate ID law, one that requires corporations to disclose their expenditures for political purposes in the state. Failure to disclose should have similar penalties -- a hefty fine, jail time, and a felony record.

Such a plan would be more beneficial to our democracy than IDs at our polls.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lunchtime Musings: Walker should delay Voter ID

With tens of thousands of absentee ballot voters potentially deprived of their vote;

With handfuls of elections officials scrambling to determine a course of action on how to implement the new ID law;

And with an uncountable number of citizens lacking the proper paperwork, adequate time, or documents in their hands needed to enter the voting booth;

With all of these concerns in mind, voter ID ought to be delayed at least one more election cycle.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why we should hold Walker to his 250,000 jobs pledge

Campaign promises will fail to mean anything if Walker's "good enough" attitude is acceptable

In 2010, then-candidate for governor Scott Walker made a lofty jobs pledge.

Walker said he would enact reforms that would create at least 250,000 jobs in his first term -- but with a little more than three months left until that time expires, the governor is about 150,000 jobs short of his pledge by most measures.

Monday, September 8, 2014

In one way, Walker's structural deficit is worse than Doyle's -- it came during a recovery

Gov. Scott Walker has no excuse for why the state's financial books are in disarray

Wisconsin is facing a $1.76 billion budget shortfall, and Gov. Scott Walker has no one to blame but himself and his Republican friends in the legislature -- the structural deficit is their own creation, and blame cannot be spun to portray it any other way.

Gov. Scott Walker (image by Gage Skidmore)
The new shortfall blunts the argument that Walker has made previously that he and his so-called “reforms” helped turn things around in Wisconsin. In campaign advertising, Walker continually says he turned things around in the budget, inheriting a deficit and creating a surplus.

Now, due to his irresponsible budgeting and election-year tax cut gimmicks, Walker is facing a significant budget shortfall of his own, one that couldn’t come at a more problematic time for the embattled governor. Walker currently trails Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke by four points in the latest poll, just two months out from election day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Support candidates that pledge to implement "Iowa Plan" of legislative redistricting

Gov. Scott Walker has yet to commit to a plan for making the state legislature more representative of the people's wishes

Two candidates for governor have said they would support a measure to reform how Wisconsin draws its legislative districts. One candidate has been silent on the issue.

According to Common Cause in Wisconsin, a group that focuses on (among other things) positive electoral reforms that would work to benefit the people of the state, more than 50 candidates running for office this year support the so-called “Iowa Plan” for redrawing Wisconsin's 99 Assembly and 33 State Senate districts every ten years.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gov. Walker wants a passing grade for failing his jobs assignment

Governor won't make a second jobs pledge this time around

Gov. Scott Walker has stated that this time around he’s not making a second jobs pledge. And nor should he -- he's still working on the first jobs pledge he made in 2010.

In his first run for office, Walker promised he’d create 250,000 jobs -- “I want my Cabinet secretaries to have branded across their heads, ‘250,000 jobs,’” Walker said shortly before taking office, reiterating his campaign pledge from months before. “I want them to know their job is on the line because my job is on the line to create 250,000 jobs in the private sector” (emphasis added).

Now Walker has changed his tune a bit. He says he has no regrets about the pledge, but that he aimed high simply to get results -- and that he deserves another four years in office, even though he currently sits below even 50 percent of his promise.

The lesson here is that accountability doesn’t matter. Just in time for school, students in classrooms can learn this from the governor: when asked how well you can perform at any given subject, make up a standard that would be impossible to achieve. When called out on it, simply state that you did your best, and ignore the problem afterwards.

Got a huge assignment and need to write 1,000 words on the history of agriculture in early Mesopotamia? Promise to write 1,500 words instead, and deliver less than 750. Tell your teacher, “Hey, I set myself a big goal because I wanted to try and reach it! Don’t judge me for failing to deliver on the assignment!”

The allegory above matches Walker perfectly. The assignment? Recovering jobs lost during the recession. Walker’s promise? A huge, then-unthinkable 250,000 jobs in four years. With 133,000 jobs being the acceptable measure, Walker has failed to produce even that number. When called out on it, he merely says that we’re “headed in the right direction.”

That may work for Walker’s base, but I dare any kid going back to school to make such a promise in their first classroom assignment. When they fail to deliver, you can have them tell their teachers that they were headed in the right direction.

They’ll still get a failing grade, and you can count on things changing quickly in that classroom if that student wants to earn a passing credit. The governor ought to be held to the same standard.