Monday, October 16, 2017

Rand Paul's group discount scheme: Single Premiums: $6,251 a year; Family Premiums $17,545 a year. Cheap?

Media Swings at Republican curve balls, and miss again: Just like the discussion around the Affordable Care Act, reporters and media pundits didn't know squat about health care, and that ignorance helped Republicans spread all the lies so many people believed today.

It's happening all over again, this time with Rand Paul's bizarre "group" health insurance idea. He wants every American to leave the individual insurance market and join a group association plan, pay their dues as a member (added cost), and get a similar group policy break that big businesses get. Sweet, it doesn't simplify buying insurance, it adds a whole new mind boggling level of bureaucracy.

What a deal...but there's a bigger problem.

The inconvenient truth #1; health insurance for employers is really really expensive too (according to Kaiser Family Foundation, 2015): 
This type of coverage is commonly called a “group health insurance plan” or “employer-sponsored health insurance.” In 2015, the average premium for single coverage is $521 per month, or $6,251 per year. The average premium for family coverage is $1,462 per month or $17,545 per year (source).Sep 28, 2015.
The inconvenient truth #2; worse still, group associations don't kick in the employer contribution side of the premium they normally give to employees:
On average, employers paid 83 percent of the premium, or $5,179 a year. Employees paid the remaining 17 percent, or $1,071 a year. For family coverage, the average policy totaled $17,545 a year with employers contributing, on average, 72 percent or $12,591. Employees paid the remaining 28 percent or $4,955 a year. Feb 16, 2016.
Group associations do no such thing, since they just provide a group buying discount for it's dues paying members. And then there are the high deductibles...etc.

The above figures are from 2015, and show pretty generous employee contributions. But the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show employers shifting their costs onto their employees ("Civilian" includes both private and government):

So Rand Paul really doesn't know what he's talking about, and yet, he sounds so confident. Note: Not one of the 2 morning show pundits asked about these two major points, which is why I didn't include them:

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Slowly turning Campuses into Right Wing Institutes.

I've never understood shouting down guest speakers on campus. Maybe adding a profound comment during the lecture would be more effective. Or make your point if there's a Q and A afterwards. Even better was this fun story, as told by another whiny conservative victim..:

Oh, those evil far left groups. Luckily, there are no far right groups anywhere.

War on College: The point is, it's interesting to watch Republicans pollute campuses with mindless ideological dogma, unrelated to actual curriculum, all the while drumming out and vilifying liberal professors nationwide with their finely tuned network of elitist media stars and anonymous social networking trolls.

Unqualified Speakers: For instance, here's the very naive, starry eyed rantings of a youthful 29 year old conservative speaker pushing campus carry at the UW (I'm using the same argument GOP uses against youthful liberal college students:
Katie Pavlich, a 29 year old Fox News contributor and author, spoke to a nearly full lecture hall about the history of the Second Amendment, follows the passage of a policy that will sanction students across the University of Wisconsin System for disrupting free speech. 
Pavlich's "lecture" went on without a hitch, uninterrupted. Oh oh, that can't happen, because then no one would have noticed. She would be just another gun nut speaking to the choir. 

So, leave it to Pavlich to take a shot at the protesters outside, allowed under the new UW pollicy:
Outside of Brogdon Hall a couple dozen people waved around sex toys in the rain to protest Pavlich ... making a comparison between laws and policies barring the display of obscene materials in public, and being able to carry a firearm in public.

Pavlich said the students’ actions were “sexual harassment” and called it “immature, silly, absurd, and really quite frankly, out-right dumb.” 
Brave Katie Pavlich, bashing the free speech rights of protesters outside, by calling them names? Now that's what I call college level "diversity, cultural awareness, and tolerance.” The Republican sponsor of the free speech bill Robin Vos should be proud...
Vos: "Civility begins by appreciating and understanding that the other point of view isn't's don't agree with. It's not evil, it's just perhaps somebody you need to inform." 
What, you don't have a gun around? You "silly, absurd, and really quite frankly, out-right dumb" liberal, don't you know you've created a public "death trap," a favorite target of law abiding gun toting mass murderers.
Pavlich called gun-free zones, such as the buildings on the Madison campus, “gun-free death traps.”
Personally, that would make every room in my own home a gun-free death trap." And hasn't the loosey-goosey right to bear arms created these "death traps?" 

Obvious Ploy: Speakers are recruited off campus:  
The UW-Madison chapter of the student organization Young Americans for Freedom sponsored Pavlich’s lecture and hosted Ben Shapiro, a former editor for the conservative news website Breitbart, on campus last fall. While he spoke, students shouted him down several times.

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."
What about the threat of big government Republican purging professors they don't agree with?
The most recent case involves professor Olga Perez Stable Cox at Orange Coast College in California. An anonymous student in her human sexuality class secretly recorded Cox discussing her political views. She referred to Donald Trump as a “white supremacist,” his running mate Mike Pence “as one of the most anti-gay humans in this country” and their election as an “act of terrorism.”

Her words were clearly liberal … In the days since her “act of terrorism” talk ripped across the Internet, she has received terroristic death threats herself. Cox has since fled the state. Meanwhile, the Orange Coast College Republicans — the group that disseminated the gotcha video — is campaigning for her firing.

In a similar vein, the conservative group Turning Point USA recently published a “Professor Watchlist,” a catalogue of what it thinks are dangerous and “anti-American” professors who deserve public shaming for allegedly trying to “advance a radical agenda in lecture halls.”

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Trump has another button to Push...?

Washington Post: We now have an idea what prompted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call President Trump a "moron": NBC News is reporting that Trump had spoken openly in the preceding meeting with national security leaders about a return to a Cold War footing with nuclear weapons — what would amount to about a tenfold increase.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Law Professor Turley sees problems with just approved "Free Speech" UW policy.

Jonathan ("collusion is not a crime") Turley, Professor of law at the George Washington University, has been a big supporter of so-called free speech legislation on public campuses around the country. But even he has some reservations when it comes to the University of Wisconsin's just adopted policy that punishes protesters who may or may not have tried to shut down speakers, guest or otherwise. 
Turley: State public schools Superintendent Tony Evers was the only negative vote. In fairness to Evers, I think that the policy could be more specific on key terms when it proscribes conduct that “materially and substantially disrupt the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity.” Vague terms can themselves be inimical to free speech. Clearly students should be able to protest and those protests can be “disruptive” in the sense that their size or volume can impact an event. However, the proscribed conduct should focus on actively barring doors or entering rooms to prevent speakers from being heard. For that reason, I would not favor this draft of the policy ... I am equally concerned by language like the following:
"The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not mean that members of the university community may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. Consistent with longstanding practice informed by law, institutions within the System may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or discriminatory harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the university."
Again, it is not clear what is “otherwise directly incompatible with the function of the university” — an expression that could be read quite broadly. 
Here's the legislation cooked up by Republicans so far, that forces taxpayers to either pay for right wing security or, believe it or not, throw caution to the wind when it comes to public safety:
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 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 think you have a right to don't, considering the broad prohibition below:
The bill also prohibits a person from ... 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.
Despite Democratic opposition, their opinion is irrelevant until they get a Republicans stamp of approval. That's just the way things are now:
Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) said “It’s disappointing that the UW System Board of Regents are willing to consider a policy that will give comfort to people coming to our campuses preaching hate and that we are threatening expulsions for students who stand up to hateful rhetoric and actions."

Kat Kerwin, UW-Madison student and Associated Students of Madison representative, said as a campus leader and activist, she was concerned that the vaguely defined definition of punishable protest "may put my education at risk at the expense of my activism."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Trump Tax Cut Plan Explained!

Vox did this great piece on how tax reform will benefit the rich, and mean almost nothing to us.

Reversing Clean Power Plan like Reversing Time, not happening...

When Scott Walker brags about keeping energy costs low in Wisconsin by doggedly standing by the coal industry, keep this amazing fact in mind:
"Electricity rates paid by businesses and residents of Wisconsin now rank highest among eight Midwest states."
Industry analysts are warning that Trump administration efforts to support coal and nuclear energy by repealing the Clean Power Plan could upend wholesale markets and drive up electricity rates for Wisconsin consumers.
Wisconsin Slammed the Door on dangerous Wind Energy 5 years ago: Wisconsin Republicans turned away an entire industry and the massive jobs it is now creating elsewhere, long before Trump stepped in to save the dying coal mines. The rhetoric below seems idiotic, and almost funny now: 
Sheboygan Press Sept. 2012: State Sen. Glenn Grothman plans to introduce a bill that would freeze renewable energy requirements for Wisconsin utilities at 2012 levels in an effort to stop wind farm development throughout the state. The announcement comes as a developer is looking to build a wind farm in the West Bend Republican’s senate district in southwestern Sheboygan County. Officials with RENEW Wisconsin said Grothman’s proposal would be “profoundly detrimental” … “It would send a big message to the wind industry that Wisconsin is not open for renewable energy business,” said Michael Vickerman, program and policy director with RENEW Wisconsin.

WPR April 2013: People who claim that wind turbines make them sick would be able to sue wind developers under a proposal introduced by Republican state Senator Frank Lasee's (la'-say) ... bill would allow families that claim to be physically or economically affected by wind turbines to sue the companies that own them and property owners hosting them. Chris Kunkle represents the American Wind Energy Association in Wisconsin says Lasee's bill is par for the course: "This is just another attempt from Senator Lasee to install a level of uncertainty across the industry. It's another piece of his ongoing hostility towards an industry that creates manufacturing, construction, operation and maintenance jobs all around the state."

Message sent:

Sen. Lasee's concerns about nearby wind developers harming local citizens does not transfer over to those who will be near mines, where Republicans are pushing a bill that would harm local towns and villages. their roads, water and air, by eliminating local control:
The repeal of Wisconsin's so-called mining moratorium would limit public opportunities to contest DNR decisions ... Repeal a law requiring the DNR to deny a mine's request for a high-capacity well that would unreasonably harm the ability of others to have drinking water or enjoy lakes and streams.
And while we spend billions of taxpayer dollars for up to 13,000 possible jobs relating to Foxconn, look at what Iowa did by simply supporting wind energy:
Iowa had about 30,400 clean energy jobs last year, nearly 7 percent more than in 2015, an industry group estimates.
Iowa is already a renewable energy leader. It gets 36.6 percent of its energy from wind, leading the nation in the percentage last year. It ranks second nationally in the amount of wind energy generated, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Wind is second only to coal as a source of energy.

Brenna Smith, a spokeswoman for Gov. Kim Reynolds, said Iowa's large renewable energy portfolio has been a leading factor in landing economic development projects such as Apple and Facebook data centers. But without the Clean Power Plan, environmental leaders say Iowa's wind-energy manufacturing industry — building wind blades, nacelles and towers — will lose out on business and jobs if other states are no longer required to adopt wind, solar and other clean energy technologies.

"Iowa sees significant economic benefits from wind and solar development that would have only increased with implementation of the Clean Power Plan," said Nathaniel Baer, the Iowa Environmental Council's energy program director. "Manufacturing jobs would have likely increased ... as Iowa and other states in the region shifted to renewable energy," Baer said.

Costs are declining for both wind and solar energy, Baer said, adding that wind is the cheapest form of new energy capacity installed today — even without federal production tax credits (that end in 2020).
Trump and Pruitt's Clean Power repeal is time wasting Republican wheel spinning, since even big energy has moved on from coal, considering Trump's move just a blip in time:
MidAmerican says its construction of 2,020 turbines across 23 counties has created about 3,800 jobs with $230 million in payroll. The wind farms support 320 permanent workers earning an average of nearly $69,000 annually, a total of $22 million a year. The investment and jobs help keep hospitals and schools open and pay for county roads and bridges, said Michael Fehr, who leads MidAmerican's wind development. Wind revenue helps counties "maintain their rural way of life."
...or this "free market" renewable movement ignored by Republicans:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: EPA proposes killing Clean Power Plan, but market already cutting carbon. Market forces continue to push down the cost of renewable energy and keep natural gas competitive with coal, the most carbon-intensive fuel used by power plants. And there’s still almost no interest among utilities to invest in new plants as old ones retire. And after President Donald Trump was elected and signaled he would repeal the carbon regulations, Ameren opted to make the biggest renewable energy announcement in its history. Just two weeks ago, the utility said it planned to spend $1 billion on some 700 megawatts of new wind power by 2020. That’s about three-quarters of the capacity at its Sioux coal plant in St. Charles County. “For Ameren, the markets were penalizing them for being not diverse.”

By next June, Dayton Power and Light (DP&L) will close two coal-fired plants in Adams County, Ohio What’s happening in the two Ohio River counties, little more than an hour’s drive from booming Cincinnati, illustrates how powerful trends in technology and finance are quickly reshaping American electricity markets, Kabel of DP&L said that the proposal did not sway the utility. “The company has not made any changes to its previously announced plans,” she said.

Pfeffer, of Mason County, said he is not surprised. “What I’m seeing from generators, they see whatever measures that happen in this administration as a blip. They don’t see it as something that is long-term.”
Here's a timeline projection of what we can expect from renewable energy:

Republican Tax Reform Plan? Republican "Clean Power" Replacement Plan...?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Republicans suppress "Free Speech," silence college instructors via national fake news media.

What the hell is wrong at the University of Wisconsin Madison? The administration has adopted a policy that takes aim at its own students on behalf of the carnival barker crowd of right wing speakers crying alligator tears over not being able to exercise their "right to be heard" on campus. I've always loved that right.

This speech suppression scheme based on the myth conservative have to remain silent and hide on college campuses. This imagined threat is so unfair. Never mind that college educators don't share in that freedom...more on that incredible hypocrisy later.

For Scott Walker, he just thinks it's wrong, so goodbye dissenting free speech:
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."

The UW did nothing to censor or discourage right wing appearance on campus, but they are surrendering their students right to protest, to Republicans who have threatened to cut funding.

Republicans are demanding a conservative agenda on campus, at the same time they're denouncing the supposed liberal agenda on campus. So far, Republicans have boldly stacked the Board of Regents with Scott Walker picks (all but 2), influenced curriculum, require their guest speakers, and soon will have total control over hiring instructors.

I think this pretty much sums it up:
Regents President John Robert Behling told the board before Friday’s vote that adopting the policy ahead of the legislation shows “a responsiveness to what’s going on in the Capitol, which helps build relationships.”
Yup, it's that bad here. In fact, Republican Robin Vos' insecurity shows through when he packages the appearance of these bigots, racists, and authoritarians as good solid people who aren't wrong, just someone we would disagree with. Also, the arrogance of professors who think they're smarter than some ideologically drive partisan political hack spouting anecdotal "facts" to his drooling base:

Vos: "Civility begins by appreciating and understanding that the other point of view isn't's don't agree with. It's not evil, it's just perhaps somebody you need to inform." 

With the Regents adopting this cancerous right wing agenda, I tweeted this....

And the big monied special interests are at the heart of right wing speaker circuit:
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."
Expect more of the following previous successful attempts to kill the UW:
Nass #1: …he expressed cutting funding of a UW-Madison center because its studies were "too far to the left."  

Nass #2: State Sen. Steve Nass blasted a UW-Madison economics professor ... calling the academic's report on right-to-work legislation "partisan, garbage research." "Attached is yet another example of wasted resources at the UW-Madison/UW Extension … Hiding behind academic freedom to issue partisan … I will certainly forward this email on to UW System President Ray Cross … as just one suggestion of a faculty member with time to teach more courses. Or maybe not!"

Nass #3: WRN: Republican Rep. Steve Nass has gotten the UW’s School for Workers to cancel an “Art in Protest” exhibit that had been scheduled for next month. “The problem with it is that it would be funded with taxpayer dollars and that’s through the Extension.”  Nass charges the exhibit would have provided a one-sided view of last year’s protests at the Capitol, with UW Extension taking the side of protesters. “I did indicate to Extension that … any problems that arise from that, or any misbehavior by the protesters – which I certainly would expect, it would probably be very despicable … and I will be watching.”
And finally, the whole reason I posted this story. This isn't about free speech at all, just the opposite. It's the right wing campaign to suppress free speech on campuses, by going after instructors, anonymously with the power of the entire right wing network of fake news:
Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom: The outrage machine geared up as it often does, with a minor conservative media outlet — in this case, the Daily Caller — chopping my tweets up into a misleading mishmash that transformed a nuanced diagnosis of white male frustration into an attack on white people in general. When the Daily Caller posted the article to Facebook, moreover, the intention was clearly to incite: “Absolutely unforgiveable” (sic) read the post, which by now has been shared nearly 2,000 times and commented upon more than 3,000 times.

Hate mail and death threats began to roll in. “I will beat your skull in till there is no tomorrow.” “Soon all you p‑‑‑‑‑s will get exactly what you deserve.” “Do the world a favor, and kill yourself … I’ll help you find death sooner than later.” One called me a “pig f‑‑‑er like Obama,” adding homophobic slurs for good measure. Many called me a “cuck” — a favorite racial and sexual insult of the alt-right — while others urged me to move to North Korea or Venezuela. One “love note from a WHITE American” wrongly identified me as a “greasy South American a‑‑hole.”

From there, the contagion was rapid, with Stephen Bannon’s Breitbart News and even Milo Yiannopoulos’s own website running their own cribbed copies of the same story. Then came FrontPage, the Blaze, the College Fix and the campus mercenaries at Turning Point. Soon, the manufactured story had hit the conspiratorial fringes of Infowars and online forums across the right: from “blue lives matter” to those preparing for the inevitable rapture.

Finally, the story crossed the mainstream-fringe barrier at its most permeable point: Fox News. Fox claimed that not only do I blame Trump for the Las Vegas massacre, but that I even somehow blame the victims. Threatening emails increased to a flood. An invitation to appear on Tucker Carlson’s show arrived in short order, only confirming the insular nature of the machine, which amplifies to a furious roar the same small group of voices. I declined.

I am by no means the first, and will not be the last target of this kind of smear campaign by conservatives aimed at academics. In every case, it is the same right-wing media outlets leading the charge, and campuses are increasingly the target. Universities and colleges have become the perfect target for such crusades: Purportedly hotbeds of multiculturalism, “safe spaces” and political correctness, campuses represent everything the resentful right is afraid of. At the same time that the right-wing media smears professors like myself, decrying our tenure and demanding our heads, they breathlessly chronicle the supposed intolerance of the left when confronted with provocative campus tours by Yiannopoulos, Richard Spencer, Charles Murray, Ann Coulter and others.

And things aren’t letting up. While noteworthy cases such as Saida Grundy and Zandria Robinson in 2015 gave a glimpse of what was to come, the months since Trump’s election have seen a generalized assault on anti-racist academics. In May, Tommy Curry at Texas A&M was targeted for a years-old podcast; Princeton’s Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor was forced to cancel public events after threats following a commencement speech; and Johnny Eric Williams at Trinity College was targeted and suspended reposting someone else’s words on Facebook. Increasingly, leftist professors are being targeted for “things they never really said.” As Princeton’s Eddie Glaude has put it, when the right is so easily triggered by anti-racism and feminism, they make it perfectly clear who the “real snowflakes” are.

Caught in this wave of right-wing threats and provocations, many universities are scrambling to keep up with the coordinated onslaught. In the best of cases, university administrations and departments have publicly condemned threats against faculty and made clear that they do not cave to intimidation campaigns. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has even responded to our cases with new guidelines urging universities to resist the targeted online harassment of their faculty.

In response to such illegal threats of violence, Drexel has chosen to place me on administrative leave. Earlier in the week, I asked my students to explain the relation between white masculinity and mass killings, and they offered in a few short minutes of class discussion far more insight than any mainstream media outlet has offered all week. But now, their own academic freedom has been curtailed by their university, and they are unable to even attend the classes they registered for.

By bowing to pressure from racist internet trolls, Drexel has sent the wrong signal: That you can control a university’s curriculum with anonymous threats of violence. Such cowardice notwithstanding, I am prepared to take all necessary legal action to protect my academic freedom, tenure rights and most importantly, the rights of my students to learn in a safe environment where threats don’t hold sway over intellectual debate. Alongside organizations like the Campus Antifascist Network, I will continue to challenge white supremacists in an effort to make Drexel and all universities safe space for an intellectual debate among equals.

Pruitt's EPA picks Winners (Coal), and Losers (Clean Air/Water)

Come on folks, this is an easy one, and we've been letting Republicans get away with it for years...think about it: The absurdity of striking a "balance" between clean water and air for a few extra jobs and cuts to regulation. Let's see..."a little" dirtier water and air in exchange deregulation and possible jobs?

"Balance?" Nope. And yet we tolerate dumb ass statements by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, heck every right winger, everyday:
“As EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt is working to strike an appropriate balance between protecting water and air, and preventing the kind of job-killing overregulation,” McConnell said, according to CBS News, adding that Pruitt has been working to “stop the war on coal in its tracks.”
And yet, a new UCS analysis found that humans can effect climate:
Between 2008 and 2016, 17 percent of US coal capacity retired. Another 4 percent converted to other fuels, mostly natural gas. These closures led to:
-80 percent less sulfur dioxide, a source of acid rain,

-64 percent less nitrogen oxide, a key component in smog,

-34 percent less carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas.
Clean Coal Lie Exposed by Coal Baron: Trump shot off his mouth again, without thinking, stirring up his mindless base:
Trump boasted, “We’ve ended the war on beautiful, clean coal, and it’s just been announced that a second, brand-new coal mine, where they’re going to take out clean coal — meaning, they’re taking out coal, they’re going to clean it — is opening in the state of Pennsylvania.” 
Another Trump Lie: Take it away Murray Energy's CEO, and "member of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — which has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to persuade the public that clean coal is the solution to global warming:"
Coal baron says carbon capture and storage ‘does not work’ and ‘is just cover for the politicians.’ While President Donald Trump continues to tout “clean” coal, coal baron Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, the country’s largest privately held coal-mining company, says it’s just a fantasy.
“Carbon capture and sequestration does not work. It’s a pseudonym for ‘no coal. It is neither practical nor economic, carbon capture and sequestration. It is just cover for the politicians, both Republicans and Democrats that say, ‘Look what I did for coal,’ knowing all the time that it doesn’t help coal at all.”
Oh, don’t forget how well the move to “clean coal” is going:

Mississippi pulled the plug on one of the country’s biggest CCS efforts last month after the company spent billions on trying, and failing, to make it work. Mississippi utility regulators finally figured out the best way to make the state’s wildly expensive “clean coal” plant much cleaner and more affordable: Skip the coal part entirely.
Free Market Winners and Losers? Nope: Former Republican, turned Democrat, and then Republican again Gov. Jim Justice posed this not so free market idea based on the fear the eastern energy grid might not be secure:

Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry Tried, but failed, to backup Trump's EPA:
Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered up a study of the reliability of the nation’s electrical power grid. The coal and nuclear power industries had been arguing that the system faced challenges that required special breaks for their energy sectors.

The study was released, and it found the energy grid is in pretty good shape. Wind and solar power are playing an important role on the grid. Cheap natural gas, not government regulation, is primarily responsible for the closing of coal-fired plants … alternative sources like wind and solar are cheap, clean and growing, and appliances are more energy-efficient, meaning energy use is down.
And again, for all those “free market” right wing purists…let's spend taxpayer money on dying industries:
The coal and nuclear industries have been arguing that they need better compensation for the reliability of their energy contribution … the nuclear power industry, which accounts for 20 percent of the U.S. electrical supply, are extraordinarily expensive, and older plants are closing. Illinois is among the states subsidizing aging nuclear plants just to preserve jobs. market forces make such investments dicey.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trump's White (House) Supremacy.

It has always fascinated me to see how Republicans were always hell bent on destroying everything liberal. They hate it when they see the Democrats solving the countries problems with big government liberalism. So what's their counter attack? Simply repeal the Democratic agenda. That's it! Problems, what problems?

Black President? Elect Trump, Problem solved: The Atlantic's "The First White President" cut through the last eight years of GOP rhetoric, that shockingly reversed what was thought to be an enlightened post racial America. Here a few amazing highlights surrounding Trump:

1. His political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built. But long before birtherism, Trump had made his worldview clear. He fought to keep blacks out of his buildings, according to the U.S. government; called for the death penalty for the eventually exonerated Central Park Five; and railed against “lazy” black employees. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it,” Trump was once quoted as saying. “The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” After his cabal of conspiracy theorists forced Barack Obama to present his birth certificate, Trump demanded the president’s college grades (offering $5 million in exchange for them), insisting that Obama was not intelligent enough to have gone to an Ivy League school, and that his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, had been ghostwritten by a white man, Bill Ayers.

2. Trump is the first president to have served in no public capacity before ascending to his perch. But more telling, Trump is also the first president to have publicly affirmed that his daughter is a “piece of ass.” The mind seizes trying to imagine a black man extolling the virtues of sexual assault on tape (“When you’re a star, they let you do it”), fending off multiple accusations of such assaults, immersed in multiple lawsuits for allegedly fraudulent business dealings, exhorting his followers to violence, and then strolling into the White House. But that is the point of white supremacy—to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification. Barack Obama delivered to black people the hoary message that if they work twice as hard as white people, anything is possible. But Trump’s counter is persuasive: Work half as hard as black people, and even more is possible.

3. For Trump, Obama ... a black president, insulted him personally ... when Obama and Seth Meyers publicly humiliated him at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011. Replacing Obama is not enough—Trump has made the negation of Obama’s legacy the foundation of his own. And this too is whiteness. “Race is an idea, not a fact,” the historian Nell Irvin Painter has written, and essential to the construct of a “white race” is the idea of not being a nigger. Before Barack Obama, niggers could be manufactured out of Sister Souljahs, Willie Hortons, and Dusky Sallys. But Donald Trump arrived in the wake of something more potent—an entire nigger presidency with nigger health care, nigger climate accords, and nigger justice reform, all of which could be targeted for destruction or redemption, thus rectifying the idea of being white. Trump truly is something new—the first president whose entire political existence hinges on the fact of a black president.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Comedian Mitch Henck: Dem Tantrum, too many Cappuccinos reason for Liberal Dane County study proving "9 people" were discouraged from voting!

Our authoritarian overlords don't like it when liberals, Democrats and progressives make them look bad. Like voter suppression.

Taking a line from Republican know-it-all's who bashed Jimmy Kimmel for criticizing their health care plan; what does a comedian like Mitch Henck know about voter suppression? What makes his media elitist opinion count?  

In a whiny opinion piece, Mitch pondered why the  two biggest Democratic counties in the state looked into voter suppression via the voter ID law, without the approval of our authoritarian overlords in the state legislature:
So why did The Dane County Board vote to spend $55,000 to study Wisconsin election law in Dane and Milwaukee counties? After all, the study wasn’t authorized by the state Department of Justice or state lawmakers or state election officials.
Hey Mitch, ya think state lawmakers and the Justice Dept. were wondering how their voter ID laws discouraged people from voting? Didn't think so:
The study, by UW-Madison political science professor Ken Mayer, was pushed by progressive Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell and approved by our progressive County Board. About 2,400 surveys were sent out and 293 people responded. From that, the professor figured that: 
1. Nearly 17,000 people in Milwaukee and Dane counties didn’t vote because of the state Voter ID law. 

2. Roughly two-thirds of the respondents said they didn’t vote because of the Voter ID law, even though they had legal IDs. 
“That’s the point,” Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said. “People are confused.” She added the old chestnut, “This is a solution in search of a problem.”
Mitch had a hard time understanding why anyone would even care if a few people lost their vote, and because HE didn't, why waste $55,000 on something the state would never even think to study themselves:
I asked her why Dane County taxpayers were paying for a study of a state law and how it was affecting Milwaukee County. “I wish the state would do a broader study,” Corrigan responded, “but we did what we could because compliance with this law is costing the state way too much.”
Of course this was all a waste of taxpayer money...studying something that strikes at the heart of our representative democracy. It's at this point Mitch suddenly cared more about abuse victims and road repairs, then people voting. So Mitch blamed this on just another liberal tantrum (projection much?):
That’s interesting. We are talking about taxes and fees of people living in Dane County. Board members didn’t spend the $55,000 on road repair or shelters for domestic abuse victims. They spent it on a study that gathered 293 responses and calculated from that that nearly 17,000 people didn’t vote in two counties because of a state law Dane County Board members and the clerk really hate.
Mitch then decided he needed a little backup, so he included knuckle head Matt Adamczyk's response, and propaganda think tank MacIver Institute's assessment that only 9 people were kept from voting. Yea, what's the big deal. Oh, may I remind them Scott Walker said if only one person lost their vote via fraud, that was one too many? Were talking nine...but that's different?
Wisconsin Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, who ran on getting rid of his office, went so far as to say Dane County should lose $55,000 in state revenue sharing because it wasted local taxpayers money on the election study.

The conservative MacIver Institute blasts the study for basing its results on too small of a sample. MacIver points out that only nine people of the 293 respondents were kept from voting by the ID law. But survey architect and UW professor Mayer says the respondent number is fine for an estimated 150,000 registered eligible non-voters in the two counties.
It's at this point Mitch ran out of wacky ideas, so it was time to drag out some good old right wing name calling and stereotypes:
The problem is that hard-core progressives on the County Board can’t change state law no matter how many cappuccinos they consume before their meetings. That job is still up to those darn state legislators, whether they are gerrymandered or not.
Lattes, cappuccino drinkers...they're all the same. After all, Mitch represents the Bud Light breakfast drinking real Americans. 

Of course Mitch much have been away on vacation or something when Democrats opposed all those voter suppression laws passed by Republicans, because the study really had more to do with...Hillary?
It’s safe to say that supervisors would not have spent our money on the study had Democrat Hillary Clinton won the White House.
Sorry Master Mitch, for spending taxpayer money on a silly tantrum proving Republicans successfully suppressed the vote:
I sympathize with legitimate voter grievances. But I roll my eyes at the Dane County Board when it spends our money like candy because progressive supervisors didn’t get the results they wanted and threw a tantrum.
For anyone who cares about reality and facts, here's what Ken Mayer had to say on WPT's Here and Now:


Saturday, October 7, 2017

National educational standard the key to improved education?

We could call it the lost years, where Trump's Dept. of Education Sec. Betsy DeVos took the nation off on a wild uncharted ride into an educational fantasy land, where parents feel good about knowing "what's best for the child," and schools equate religion with science.

We could also call it a national ideological experiment, where kids are used to prove a conservative theory. If the experiment fails, not one of those kids will be able to make up for their lost years.

The overarching point of the following report emphasizes a national standard, that allows for innovation at a local level while maintaining a set high standard. That's much different than the DeVos plan that does away with a national standard (Common Core) and accountability, letting education do whatever it wants, with no way to duplicated what works or discontinue what doesn't. 

Note: As you read the report from Ed Week below about the US PISA score, keep this important statement from the Economic Policy Institute in mind:
Conclusions like these (PISA score), which are often drawn from international test comparisons, are oversimplified, frequently exaggerated, and misleading. They ignore the complexity of test results and may lead policymakers to pursue inappropriate and even harmful reforms. A re-estimated U.S. average PISA score that adjusted for a student population in the United States that is more disadvantaged than populations in otherwise similar post-industrial countries, and for the over-sampling of students from the most-disadvantaged schools in a recent U.S. international assessment sample, finds that the U.S. average score in both reading and mathematics would be higher than official reports indicate (in the case of mathematics, substantially higher). This re-estimate would also improve the U.S. place in the international ranking of all OECD countries, bringing the U.S. average score to sixth in reading and 13th in math. 
Here's the Ed Week article:
The lead article in our current Center for International Education Benchmarking newsletter, on Germany's rise in the PISA league tables.  

In December 2001, German 15-year-olds performed well below the average of OECD countries, ranking 27th out of 30 countries in reading, 28th in mathematics, and 25th in science. Moreover, the results were highly inequitable; the gap between the highest performers and the lowest performers was higher than in any other industrialized country.

The “PISA shock,” as it was known, spurred policymakers into action. They adopted a sweeping series of reforms, including; 1. Vastly expanding early childhood education, including making early education and care an entitlement for all children age 1 and older; 2. Providing more autonomy to schools; 3. And creating national standards for student performance—a first in a country where education was the responsibility of the states. The ministers of education of the German states worked together to create their own "common core" state standards for student performance. The results were dramatic. In a few short years, Germany climbed to the top of the international rankings on PISA, and it has remained there. The plan was coherent and powerful.

The United States quarreled about standards and tests, blamed its poorly paid teachers for the poor performance of the schools and placed a lot of faith in choice as a school improvement strategy.

What is so striking about this story is that Germany and the U.S. were actually performing at virtually the same level on the 2000 PISA survey.  What was different was the national reaction to that performance. One is as likely to hear people talk about the evils of interstate standards as the need for them. There are bitter controversies among supporters of charter schools who think they should be regulated for quality and those who don't, but neither side seems to argue that charters would vault the United States into the ranks of the countries with the world's best education systems. There are the usual math wars, but there seems to be virtually no interest whatsoever in learning how more than 30 countries are outperforming the United States in mathematics.
click to enlarge

Friday, October 6, 2017

Trump/Rick Perry scheme to Raise Coal Energy Prices even more in Wisconsin, goodbye tax cut savings.

The Republican agenda has never been about saving taxpayer money, or even serving their voters. It's always been about serving business, and spending taxpayer cash on their "horse and buggy" throwback agenda.

Want proof? Wisconsin utility customers are about about to see their energy costs rise thanks to Trump and the Republican "picking winners and losers" energy plan. That's bad news because:
"Electricity rates paid by businesses and residents of Wisconsin now rank highest among eight Midwest states."
A Lump of Coal for Wisconsinites: I guess we've been bad this year, saving our hard earned money with energy saving home products, solar panels and wind turbines. After Republicans here proved the "free market" was always just a lie (the Foxconn taxpayer giveaway), on a national level, they're now doubling down on that idea, going for broke:
Industry analysts are warning that Trump administration efforts to support coal and nuclear energy could upend wholesale markets and drive up electricity rates for Wisconsin consumers.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has proposed a new rule that would boost prices for electricity generated at plants with a 90-day supply of fuel on hand — which translates to coal and nuclear generators — in an attempt to slow market trends toward natural gas and renewable sources.
Yup, it's as blatantly anti-free market as you can get:
“The wholesale market is basically capitalism at its best,” said Gary Radloff, an energy policy researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “To sort of come out with a rule that says we want to prop up coal and nuclear plants that aren’t competing in the wholesale market is kind of anti-capitalism. They’re using this rationalization that the grid stability is threatened, and there is absolutely no evidence that that’s true. I mean none. It’s a solution in search of a problem.” 

“This would blow the market up,” former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff told the industry publication Utility Dive

Industry experts say the rule would put upward pressure on rates, especially in states such as Wisconsin that still rely heavily on coal for fuel.
And lets dispel some of the renewable energy myths:
But the study that Perry cites as the impetus for the new rule actually showed that cheap natural gas and falling electricity demand — not renewable energy tax subsidies — are primarily responsible for the demise of coal, and that the early retirement of coal and nuclear plants has not affected grid reliability. 

Outage data from the Energy Information Administration show that of the nine major outages in Wisconsin since 2014, four were due to coal shortages. (Severe weather and vandalism were the other culprits.) 
Horse and Buggy Energy Policy? Heck, this runs counter to big energies own plans:
But CUB director Content said the proposal seems out of step with Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities, which have all pledged to to reduce their carbon footprints. Xcel Energy has lead the way, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent during the past decade and pledging a 60 percent cut by 2030. 

While he doesn’t expect the rule would change the long-term trend, Tyler Hueber, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a clean energy advocacy group said it could delay retirement of coal plants and slow investment in new alternatives.
“This is like propping up the horse and buggy industry when the automobile is hitting mass markets,” he said. “It’s a look to the past.”

The GOP's Blind (Gun) Justice!!!

A "sense of hopelessness" is now settling in. After the Las Vegas massacre, it's become obvious Washington Republicans have detached themselves from reality and their constituents, digging in on what can only be described as a societal death wish.
The Horror in Las Vegas seemed to change nothing at the Capitol. House Speaker Paul Ryan promoted the virtues of mental-health care.
Really? What about this...
Donald Trump repealed without public display an Obama administration gun regulation that prevented certain individuals with mental health conditions from buying firearms. Only 3% to 5% of all violent crimes involve people with psychiatric disabilities, including conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder ... (Ryan) has proposed stripping away community and medical supports from people with mental health needs ... 
How bad is the GOP death wish by gun? If this guy isn't convinced, no Republican will ever move an inch:

Steve Scalise, who was back on the job for the first time in months after a disgruntled shooter ambushed congressional Republicans on a softball field in May ... Scalise had told 60 Minutes that the attack on him did not diminish his belief in the Second Amendment and credited his security detail with saving his life. "If it's not a gun, it'll be a hand grenade, or it will be a knife or an ax," he said.

Patrick Dunphy, an attorney who has sued a gun shop said, "If Sandy Hook didn't result in legislation that either eliminated or restricted the type of guns that can be sold, or the people to whom they can be sold, nothing will ever change. When you have someone slaughtering kids in a grade school, if that isn't enough, what is?"
Who are these elected officials, and why are they dead set on siding with just 3 percent of the lunatic fringe who own nearly half of all firearms in the US? This recent Pew Survey proves D.C. Republicans aren't trying to represent their constituents:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Republicans Oblivious to their push for All-Payer Government Health Care.

Oh boy. Republicans are proving once again that they know little or nothing about health care...big surprise. Not only that, they keep pushing "single payer" health care ideas, without even knowing they're doing it.

State Republicans latest brilliant "all-payer" idea is an example:
Under the proposed change, the state would create a list of set prices for workers’ compensation medical procedures. Forty-four states have those lists, which are called "fee schedules." The prices in Wisconsin would be based on average prices negotiated by group health plans in the state.
Even the enemy of hard working Wisconsinites, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, thinks this is a good idea. Except once again, this is part of universal, single/all payer health care systems worldwide, a not-so-free market, money saving plan:
"In all-payer rate setting, all of the insurers negotiate jointly with all of the health care providers, and set on one specific price for each procedure."
Scott Walker's Single Payer Government Health Care Idea: It wasn't so long ago Walker wanted to go single-payer statewide for public employees. Of course his band of plundering Republican pirates whined that it would destroy the unaffordable free market system we have now:
WSJ: The Walker administration is considering switching 236,000 state employees and family members from a competitive HMO model, in place since 1984, to a self-insured program … Self-insuring, paying benefits directly and assuming the risk, instead of buying insurance, can save money while maintaining strong benefits, an organization of self-insured employers said.
If Walker is talking about what is essentially a single payer system for state employees, and now Republicans want to save money by establishing lower set fees, what the hell is the disconnect? I am seeing an incredible irony in what Walker and now Republicans are proposing.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Walker's Wisconsin, no longer safe for people...

It's almost impossible to pin point what exact era, free from science, Republicans want to take Wisconsin back to.

Sure, the lakes, rivers, wetlands, and geological makeup of Wisconsin differs greatly from other states, that goes without saying. But Republicans, who can't stop complaining about one-size-fits-all big government regulations, are now demanding a one-size-fits-all federal approach to environmental regulation. Never-mind that Trump is targeting those same federal regulations for termination too. That would take us back to the anything goes rough and tumble 19th century.

...and it only took 7 years...
And you can bet their loyal rural voters won't give a damn, as long as they keep getting tax cuts. Again, Republicans are dismantling the EPA, and state Republicans that know that, but are still assuring us the EPA will be there. And it doesn't matter how different geographically our state is. This is what they call "balance," a bullshit feel good word that tips the scale dramatically away from the public good, and life sustaining clean water and air.
Republicans want to eliminate state protections for wetlands and air quality except when mandated by the federal government, saying they are costly for businesses.

About a million acres of wetlands could be left vulnerable and as many as 300 hazardous air pollutants could become unregulated.

The proposal’s backers point out that it would preserve the current legal requirement ... “Wisconsin is one of just a small handful of states that recognizes a class of wetlands beyond what is defined by the federal government,” state Sen. Roger Roth ... “It is with this smaller portion of total wetlands where our bill seeks to strike a balance.”

The wetland association’s Erin O’Brien called it a “pay to pave” plan. “They are eliminating a permit system in favor of just writing a check for permission to fill in a wetland,” O’Brien said.

Air pollution bill: Republicans Rep. Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum, Rep. Cody Horlacher of Mukwonago and Sen. Duey Stroebel of Saukville were seeking co-sponsors for a bill to require the DNR to repeal state rules limiting pollutants not regulated under federal law. “Currently, the DNR regulates nearly 300 more hazardous air pollutants than what is required by federal law, and of those regulated less than a third are actually emitted ... This creates an undue burden on Wisconsin businesses...”

States regulate pollutants that may not be problems nationwide, but can harm health or the environment regionally, such as ammonia from food processing and chlorine dioxide from paper mills in Wisconsin, said Tyson Cook of Clean Wisconsin, which mapped pollution sources that would no longer be regulated under the proposal.

Why does this sounds so wrong, yet so acceptable to Republicans Kremer, Horlacher and Stroebel:
 "(Who) are also seeking support for a bill to stop DNR monitoring of air quality in Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan County, and to seek an EPA waiver of penalties. Republicans and the DNR say some of the ozone pollution there comes from Illinois and Indiana.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters said the proposals needlessly undercut protections for public health.

Kremer’s research director, Nik Rettinger III said,“All the bills have been receiving solid support among southeastern Wisconsin legislators (whose) constituents and job creators are directly affected by these burdensome policies, as well as legislators from throughout the state who believe these common sense reforms are important to take up to help everyday folks do business in Wisconsin.”

Air quality problems in southeastern Wisconsin have led to monitoring and alerts when pollutants reach unhealthy levels.
Need I bring up all the other Republican proposals to take out public lands and trash em:
• Limit public opportunities to contest DNR decisions, eliminate an automatic hearing with an administrative law judge and rolls back a judge's authority to halt mining activities if such a hearing was granted.

• Ends DNR authority to require a mining company to provide evidence that its solid waste disposal process will protect ground water indefinitely.

• Repeal a law requiring the DNR to deny a mine's request for a high-capacity well that would unreasonably harm the ability of others to have drinking water or enjoy lakes and streams. Instead require the mine to replace a dried-up water supply or temporarily shore up the water level in an affected lake or stream.

•  Eliminate rules that address the specific problems that a mining project can cause by disturbing the flow of water above and below the surface.
Here's something that ignored and affected a whole bunch of local communities:
WPRWisconsin residents can no longer challenge state Department of Natural Resources permits for a high-capacity well if state officials failed to look at what the well might do to overall groundwater in the area. Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker got rid of the cumulative impacts challenge when they passed the state budget a year ago. 
WKOW took a look at Wisconsin's problem with climate change, something that will make everything worse above...
"latest installment of the award winning documentary series, "Our Wisconsin: The climate change effect," examines the environmental, social and political impacts of climate change in Wisconsin."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

To Republicans, NFL Football a welcome relief from the suffocating demands of Free Speech.

It looks like Trump is winning the NFL kneeling debate? That was the text I got from my conservative friend in Milwaukee, bragging about the decline in NFL ticket sales. What about Trump hurting another American businesses bottom line. Go patriotism.

But flag waving nationalism should scare us, and I'm horrified it doesn't. Dictators thrive on this kind of stuff. My conservative friend said he doesn't want the politics, but that's like say you don't want the First Amendment during football. These are "cafeteria constitutionalists," who often talk about being strict constructionists, all the while defending an imagined "respect the flag" requirement.

He also sent me this phony patriotic gem by Fulton Homes, standing up for those hard fought freedoms they now want to take away:

GOP Worship of Statues and Symbols Exposed: Flag pins and car magnets supporting veterans were the early symptoms of a bigger problem, phony patriotism. So the time was right for a flaming nationalist bigot and racist like Trump to ignite a nationalist fire that would rage out of control for decades to come.

Disrespect? Are Americans really this Stupid? The most troubling part? That so many people think there's an acceptable time and a place for the 1st Amendment. I say give up your season tickets and let real fans and families fill the stands, especially Trumpian Packer ticket holders.

or what about the two high school football players tossed of their team by their Marine veteran coach, who never really got the whole concept of fighting for our freedom:
Sophomore Cedric Ingram-Lewis and his cousin Larry McCullough were kicked off their team at Victory & Praise Christian Academy, the Houston Chronicle reported. The pair didn't play in the Friday night game for their private church-affiliated football program in the Houston suburb Crosby.


Republicans in Wisconsin made it mandatory for high school graduates to take a civics test. Phony patriotism, sure, but ironically something we apparently desperately need...for Republicans:

When we asked fans if the controversy would make them more or less supportive of the NFL, 71% said less and only 15% said more. Of those who said they are now less supportive, 74% said their change of heart was permanent, and only 3% said they felt it was temporary. Public attitudes are fickle, and it’s entirely possible boredom with the issue — or terrifically exciting football — could make people forget before long. The NFL, after all, has faced other disturbing issues that didn’t seem to dent its popularity.
 I thought the response below spelled it out perfectly:
"I can't walk past the television screen, news or sports, without seeing this on the bottom line; "NFL players protest anthem."  It is amazing to get a fact error in a four word headline."

Never mind Trump bashed the flag waving ritual back in 2014...his breathless followers still don't feel duped: