Wednesday, March 22, 2017

House intel chair's interference is 2nd GOP pro-Trump ploy

Disgusting that the House Intelligence Committee chair ran down to the White House and in front of cameras to yammer inappropriately about a leak allegedly helpful to Donald Trump, but don't forget this earlier effort by this top GOP official
Reince Priebus CPAC 2017 by Michael Vadon.jpg
to try and get Trump out from under the story and an unprecedented FBI criminal and counter-intelligence investigation: 
Priebus request to FBI violated norms, if not rules
...President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus asked senior FBI officials, including Director James Comey, to publicly refute a report about Trump associates’ contacts with Russian intelligence.

Rays of Sunshine Week didn't light up WI Supreme Court

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, having already sacrificed its reputation to conflicted, right-wing campaign financing, recently issued a ruling in a 3-3 tie - - but kept the individual Justices' votes secret.

Which Justices voted for which party?


Tut, tut, Bucky, mere citizen with no need to know. 

Too bad the ruling didn't come a few days earlier during Sunshine Week, when media highlight government secrecy.

Regardless, On, Downward, Wisconsin:
Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote a brief concurring opinion to note that it was the first time since 1979 that the court did not divulge where each justice stood in the tie. 

Record US gulf warmth could spur damaging Spring

Trump, and the fossil-fuel tool he's installed at the EPA, and the new budget director who thinks spending money on climate change science is a waste of money should pencil in some serious on-the-ground damage inspection
April 14, 2012 Marquette, Kansas EF4 tornado.JPG
and victim-consoling time in the US South and plains this year:
Water temperatures at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and near South Florida are on fire. They spurred a historically warm winter from Houston to Miami and could fuel intense thunderstorms in the spring from the South to the Plains...

Trump picked wrong time to slash climate science budgets

Following Trump and Big Oil's orders, Budget Director Mulvaney is slashing federal spending on climate change because it "was a waste of your money."

Regardless, the multiple consequences of a warming planet are apparent 


and the the need to understand and confront climate change continue:
After a season that saw temperatures soar at the North Pole, the Arctic has less sea ice at winter’s end than ever before in nearly four decades of satellite measurements. 
The extent of ice cover — a record low for the third straight year — is another indicator of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, a region that is among the hardest hit by climate change, scientists said.
Too bad these ideologues don't read what's out there, or care. 


Surreal Arctic weirdness continues: via

When they go lower...they then find a new low

Surprised he didn't say, 'Now I love leaks!'

GOP Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes 
Devin nunes.jpg
must believe that from a partisan perspective - - which is not the platform from which which the chairman of that key committee should operate - -  he'd bungled Monday's hearing where FBI Director Comey revealed criminal and counter-intelligence probes into Trump's campaign, transition and White House.

And he probably got spanked by fellow GOP committee members and all sorts of operatives in and around the White House for having allotted too much time to Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic Intel Committee member, to firm up the multiple lines of Trump-Putin connection.

So in the last hour, Intel Committee chairman Nunes hosted and enjoyed a lengthy news conference at the White House after running over there to breathlessly inform Team Trump outside of all protocols of some legal surveillance information.

A stunt designed to falsely vindicate Trump's anti-Obama Tweetstorm and further muddy the waters to prevent people from grasping an already complex picture.

And, oh, by the way, he also tipped off people under investigation of some details not properly managed by the Committee he chairs.

Nunes is intentionally wrecking the his committee's reputation and four-decade long procedure and derailing the government's ongoing investigation - - which helps only Trump and his people.

And, of course, Vladimir Putin.

That's a new low in partisan service to help a self-destructive Presidency at the expense of democracy and fair play.

The Republic is teetering anew.

Walker/Ryan's guy could cost WI 2,000 medical/research jobs

Nearly 2,000 jobs and up to $280 million lost to Wisconsin.

That's the economic and employment estimate provided by Dr. John Raymond, Sr., the President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin should Paul Ryan push Donald Trump's budget through the US House and into law:
The annual total of the unprecedented cuts to research would tally about $7 billion nationally...each $1 million of NIH funding has been estimated to create 17.5 jobs in the sponsoring institutions and their supply chains — and to have a regional economic impact of $2.2 million and $2.6 million. 
So those cuts will cost Wisconsin nearly 2,000 jobs and $220 million to $260 million annually.
The cuts would diminish our country’s leadership position in biomedical and applied research at a time when other countries — especially India, China, the European Union and Pacific Rim countries — are investing heavily in research. I respectfully but vigorously oppose the proposed cuts.
And let's say the estimate is off by 50%. 

Or that 50% of the funding is restored.

Why would Wisconsin GOP political leaders support Trump and Ryan's Draconian budgets if that would slash 1,000 high-paying and life-affirming jobs in just this one part of the economy in our slow-growth state where pay is falling and which principally adds low-wage work?


Where Walker is still more than 60,000 jobs short of the 250,000 new jobs he promised to create after four years in office - - and now we're in his year seven.


And where the middle-class has suffered the most drastic shrinkage in the nation?

The Walker/Ryan/Trump ideology is worse than useless. It's destructive.


More evidence:


Report: Wisconsin's older adults would pay thousands more under Republican health plan


 




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Paul Ryan's sick sycophancy

The House Speaker is setting records for cravenly quick and complete embrace of an unbalanced, woman-grabbing, pathologically-dishonest Republican Party President just to be able to tell his wealthy House of Representative campaign donors
Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
that tax breaks he's been promising during a six-year campaign to take away health care coverage from millions of lower-income Americans may be in sight through Trump's equally contemptible class warfare.
“The president just came here and knocked the ball out of the park,” Mr. Ryan said. “He knocked the cover off the ball.”

On climate change, Trump & Walker far behind what people want

Right-wing WI GOP Governor Scott Walker's Department of Natural Resources has scrubbed climate change information and links from official state web pages, and Donald Trump wants to drastically reduce climate change science and work carried out by the US EPA and other federal agencies
Smoke stacks from a factory.
but the general public's concerns and awareness about the changing climate are way ahead of both these special-interest driven politicians, according data published by The New York Times today:
A majority of adults in every congressional district in the nation support limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. But many Republicans in Congress (and some Democrats) agree with President Trump, who this week may move to kill an Obama administration plan that would have scaled back the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Nationally, about seven in 10 Americans support regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants – and 75 percent support regulating CO2 as a pollutant more generally. But lawmakers are unlikely to change direction soon.
By the way, May is Clean Air month, as the DNR reminds us, below, without regard to irony or Walker's ideological stance against recent clean air rules:
Clean air is important to human and ecosystem health. Poor air quality can affect people of all ages, especially those sensitive to air pollution, including people with asthma or heart conditions, people who work and exercise outdoors, and older adults and children. These facts make it all the more important to understand air quality and recognize the importance of clean air.

Poetry contest
poetry contestCalling all parents and teachers. Have your 3rd, 4th and 5th graders submit poems and riddles for the 2017 Air, Air Everywhere Poetry Contest. 
The contest is a nice activity. 



Put Save-WI-DNR-Magazine items on 4/10 Conservation Congress radar

I had noted the other day that the annual Wisconsin Conservation Congress was happening statewide on April 10th and suggested people who oppose a sandhill crane hunt in Wisconsin show up for these important grassroots meetings, run for a voting delegate seat and sponsor resolutions in opposition to send that message to the public, Legislature and DNR.

Here is a link to these public meeting and voting procedures.


A reader of this blog, having followed the widespread publicity about Gov. Walker's intention to kill the DNR's popular Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine


in the face of its nearly 100-year history and surging subscriptions sent me a terrific idea for another item to have added to these meeting discussions and the eventual voting results:
But wouldn't it be great if at least one sportsmen for Walker introduced a resolution in each county of the state to retain the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine? 
The congress portion of the meeting, like the hearing, is open to every resident of the state. Anyone can introduce a resolution for the congress to consider, which may then be moved up through the congress process.  
The more resolutions on a single topic, the more likely the congress would be to advance the question to statewide vote, like they did with the sandhill hunt.  How to write a resolution: 
http://dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/Documents/spring_hearing/HowToWriteAResolution.pdf  
It could make quite a statement that sportsmen for Walker want to retain the magazine if there were multiple resolutions introduced across the state. 
Agree completely, and remember, anyone can introduce such resolutions. 

Here is an address list for each of the 4/10 county meetings.

More on the process, here:

BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS/MEETINGS 
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 10, 2017, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress will hold its election of county delegates in each county.  
Upon completion of the delegate elections, the joint Spring Department of Natural Resources Rule and Informational Hearing and Conservation Congress County Meeting will convene. 
Immediately following the close of the Conservation Congress County Meeting, the WCC delegates (including those newly elected) will meet to elect the county delegation’s chair and vice-chair.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announces that it will hold public hearings on the fisheries and habitat management protection bureau’s spring hearing agenda, permanent rule Board Order FH-10-16, and a meeting on the wildlife management bureau’s spring hearing agenda at the times and places shown below.

Board Order FH-10-16 is a permanent rule that would modify NR 19-23 and 26 relating to fishing regulations on inland, outlying, and boundary waters of Wisconsin. The wildlife management spring hearing agenda addresses potential changes related to hunting, trapping, refuges and closed areas, and wildlife nuisance control.

Monday, March 20, 2017

James Comey, master politician

Textbook political inoculation: Comey knew the FBI had already opened in the summer its major criminal and counter-intelligence investigation against Team Trump
Comey-FBI-Portrait.jpg
so sandbagged Hillary with his 11th-hour news conference three months later in the fall over those laptop nothing-burger emails and knows Trump's people will be unable to claim any history of Comey bias. Trump today fell back on his rote, "fake news" whining which sounded appropriately crying-wolf tired and weak. 

You don't get to be FBI Director without being a political pro.

Advantage Comey.

Official Gov. Walker site shows incomplete travel record

On Scott Walker's official state website there is a "Follow Scott Walker on the road" offering with an "activate map" tab showing about 30 Walker stops in Wisconsin. 

Most of the stops shown are undated, though some go back as far as October, so the information is hardly current and of limited value.


It's also incomplete because it omits his considerable out-of-state travel, including:

* A Republican Governors Association event during a NFL playoff weekend in Atlanta in January;

* His attendance also in January at the annual Koch brothers donor event in California'

* The Presidential Inauguration weekend in the Nation's Capital;

February appearances in and around Washington, DC when a conservative activists' organization held its annual conference;

* A late February lunch with Donald Trump at the White House during a National Governors Association get-together.

There may be more: that list represents about twenty minutes on Google.

Why no full disclosure of all of his appearances on "Follow Scott Walker on the road?"


Because that could undercut Walker's pitch to voters for another term as Governor of the state which he frequently leaves for higher-profile exposure?
 

A London correspondent weighs in on Trump

I'd posted this guest post last month, and offer have another commentary from across the pond 
File:Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
for readers today:


A EUROPEAN TAKE ON ANTI-EUROPEAN RHETORIC: NO GO AREAS, UNREPORTED TERRORISM AND THE BUGGING OF TRUMP TOWER
On the whole it does look to us that what’s coming out of the White House chimney is largely smoke without fire.  The problem remains: how will we tell when there really is a fire?
---------------------------------------------------
Halfway through the first hundred days of a new US President is no time to draw conclusions about a Presidency. But plenty of Presidential rhetoric has been launched across the Atlantic in our direction over the last few weeks. So at least we should ask: is there any fire behind the smoke?
No Go Areas in European cities?
At first sight this is just another flight of fancy - part of a dystopian image of European civilization, crumbling in the face of mass migration from the Islamic world. For sure, that’s exaggerated: there’s no part of any city here in the UK where police would be reluctant to enter. There are a few areas where single people would feel uncomfortable walking home late at night, but a good deal less uncomfortable than they would feel in parts of Washington, Baltimore, Chicago or Milwaukee.
Look a little more carefully, though, and a more complex picture emerges.  For here in Europe we certainly do have, shamefully, large pockets of unassimilated immigrants. 
For decades, they have retained not only their language and culture, but also – particularly in France and Belgium - their economic and educational disadvantages. This was the result of the well-meaning but disastrously flawed policy of multiculturalism – which inhibited the kind of speedy immersion into the mainstream that characterized immigration to the US in the first half of the twentieth century.  So what began as respect for migrant culture has resulted in deprivation and poverty: badly performing schools, high unemployment, poor prospects – and a fertile breeding ground for those who preach radicalism.
So, yes, these are no go areas in Europe. Not perhaps in the sense in which the President meant it, but in an equally meaningful way. We have failed to go in with an insistence on our values, our language or even our laws. In the UK we have permitted communities where women are not respected, where even UK-born pupils are being taught in Urdu-speaking schools, where local Sharia courts are allowed to operate.
The suggestion that the media here in Europe turns a blind eye to acts of terrorism is, frankly, a bit more of a puzzle.  It seems to us obvious that a wildly competitive news reporting industry falls like ravenous wolves on every atrocity.  But perhaps our media is a little more careful about jumping to conclusions.  To us, the US media seems sometimes rather too eager to cry terrorism in order to big up their ratings (a recent episode of Homeland convincingly nailed that).  
Anyway it doesn’t seem terribly likely that this blind eye theory would play well in the US industrial heartlands to which the President is generally talking. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the White House has quietly dropped this line of argument.  It certainly wasn’t revived in the aftermath of the incident at Orly airport on 18 March – which headlined the news bulletins across Europe, even though the only person to die was the terrorist himself.
There’s a very different attitude to terrorism on the two sides of the Atlantic.  It derives from your experience of one history-defining attack as against our experience of atrocities spread over decades.
You say: never again. We say: whatever they do, they will never win. So far, we have both been right – 9/11 was not repeated, the IRA laid down their arms. But deep in the psyche, you still say: this must not happen because it’s unbearable, whereas we say: we are determined not be moved, however much it happens. Maybe that explains why President Trump would like to suggest that there is more of it over here than, in fact, there is.
Did British intelligence bug Trump Tower? It has been vehemently denied by our agencies, and it too seems highly unlikely – why would we? – but it’s hard to prove a negative. And, as the President himself reminded us yesterday, US intelligence did indeed bug Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone. More striking to European ears than the allegation itself was the use of the President’s official spokesman, on the record, to give credibility to an unsourced TV report.  
Instead of telling us what the President believed, he told us what the President wants us to believe. Over here, that would soon diminish the attention given by the press to official spokesmen. But in Washington there seems to be no limit to the fascination of the press corps with White House briefings.


Great Lakes officials hearing appeal of Waukesha diversion

A hearing is underway in Chicago on Waukesha's diversion of Lake Michigan water, and WUWM-FM is there. 

More later:

 
8 minutes agoMoreCompact Council convenes in Chicago as argues against Waukesha diversion decision

WI DNR again touts its Walker-doomed magazine

I'd noted the other day that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources was praising its popular, subscriber-funded Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine even though Scott Walker disclosed last month that his proposed 2017-'19 budget would end the magazine's nearly 100-year run.

As I wrote:

MADISON - Subscribers to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine will be treated to some dramatic images of some of Wisconsin's most iconic and historic Great Lakes lighthouse in "Picturing Wisconsin lighthouses," in the February issue that is being mailed this week...
Last but not least is the much-awaited update to a popular groundwater insert - "Groundwater: Powering Wisconsin's Economy." It is introduced by "A peek beneath the surface," taking readers into Wisconsin's basement to discover the aquifers that hold and transport our groundwater. 
Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine as an inexpensive gift that gives all year. Six big issues for $8.97. People can subscribe at 1-800-678-9472 or online at wnrmag.com.
Not the first time that information released by the DNR is at odds with what has come out of the Governor's Office, and since those offices and leadership all share the same 'chamber of commerce mentality' and conservative ideology that Walker openly has assigned to a compliant senior DNR management team, it's baffling why the two offices are not on the same page.

Is it governance-by-confusion or willful pushback by the DNR to defend its tradition mission?


Back to the magazine, where new subscriptions are spiking, and which Team Walker says will be closed in February, 2018.


I have several times publicly urged people to get on the magazine's subscriber list to help save the publication, and after ordering a three-year subscription and having happily received my first issue I was surprised to find with the bill that arrived Saturday an upbeat note from the DNR that sure doesn't sound like the agency is on board with the magazine being killed through Walker's budget, especially since it says, in boldfaced caps - - UPON PAYMENT ABOVE, YOUR NEW EXPIRE DATE WILL BE DEC. 2019:


Trump dismisses rural citizens, following Walker's lead

[Updated from 3/20/17] The Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel main front page story and headline sent a strong message to small town online readers, home delivery subscribers, grocery store shoppers and coffee shop customers today:
Rural Wisconsin takes hit in GOP health plan after backing Donald Trump
And Trump's cuts extend far beyond health insurance, as this Politico.com story and lede explain:
The White House budget blueprint unveiled Thursday calls for a 21 percent cut to USDA discretionary spending, threatening to hit programs that invest in rural infrastructure, target rural public radio and demolish food-aid programs that buy up farmers and ranchers’ commodities. The proposed deep slashes to spending, among the largest of any federal agency aside from the EPA and the State Department, has prompted immediate criticism that President Donald Trump turned his back on the very voters who came out in droves to support his campaign, reports Pro Ag’s Jenny Hopkinson, Helena Bottemiller Evich and yours truly.
Let's not forget that after a few weeks in office, Walker similarly stuck it to his rural supporters when it came to Internet access: 
State giving back stimulus funds intended for broadband expansion
State officials are returning $23 million to the federal government, saying there were too many strings attached to stimulus money that was supposed to be for expanding high-speed Internet service in schools, libraries and government agencies.
The money was to have boosted broadband connections in 380 Wisconsin communities, including 385 libraries and 82 schools. It also could have been used to improve police, fire department and hospital communications in rural areas...
It was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included about $7 billion in grants, loans and loan guarantees to extend broadband to underserved rural areas and was compatible with President Barack Obama's goal of making high-speed Internet available to 98% of Americans by 2016.
Walker's 2017-'19 re-election budget contains some funding boosts for his base rural constituencies, but along with adding broadband funding and restoring some across-the-board cuts he's got a lot of areas to repair and years of disregard to fix.

You can add rural roads to the list, as documented a few weeks ago by Wisconsin Public Radio:

In Small Wisconsin Towns, Paved Roads Return To Gravel
Communities Feel The Pinch Of Construction Costs And Budget Cuts
You might want to also put this 2015 item in your archive:
Walker's budget cuts the rural health programs he touted at the Iowa Ag Summit
Walker's 2015-17 budget deletes the rural physician residency assistance program, administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health's Department of Family Medicine. The proposal calls for cutting a little more than $750,000 and 3.62 positions in 2016-17...
The budget also deletes two loan assistance programs — one specifically for physicians, and another for physicians, dentists and other health care providers. Through that program, practitioners who agree to work in an under-served community for at least three years are eligible to have some of their student loans repaid. 
And here's the big one:

Walker has long ignored the clean water and environmental needs of rural residents by cutting Department of Natural Resources staff and minimizing big feedlot, farm and sand mine pollution inspections and enforcement, with the not-surprising consequences I wrote about the other day:  

Don't look for Walker on manure spill inspection duty 
He won't be inspecting the latest Wisconsin manure spill - - 3.5 miles long until it hit a waterway - in the feedlot-besieged NE part of the state:
The Wisconsin DNR says nearly 100,000 gallons of manure spilled at a farm in Brown County Monday.
Officials say the spill occurred at the James Kroll Farm on Finger Road and County Road V in the Town of Humboldt, after a valve was left open by a farm employee.
The manure flowed 3.5 miles reaching the Luxemburg Road crossing and into School Creek.
A question - - Why did it take three days for neighbors to be notified?
...Action 2 News spoke with some residents, who didn't want to speak on camera, who don't feel the same way. They are upset they weren't notified about the spill until 3 days after it happened.
And apparently the farm in question is not one of the behemoths, but don't look for the state to tighten up its oversight, as Walker has sent the DNR in the other direction.
State audit finds DNR not following own rules on water pollution
History lesson - - I remember when the DNR fined an operator $464 for a million-gallon manure spill. This recent spill of 100,000 gallons wouldn't be worth the DNR's paperwork time to write up and collect a $46.40 citation.

Side note - - Do not wonder why Lake Michigan into which these manure-polluted creeks and rivers empty has a persistent dead zone?

Also - - Do not wonder why so many rural Wisconsin wells are contaminated:

Nitrates Polluting 1 In 5 Private Wells In Wisconsin
State Data Says 90K Wells Could Be Contaminated By Farm Runoff
Plus - - expect to read more about land and water pollution in rural Wisconsin if Team Walker gives the biggest users of groundwater permanent resource control combined with intentionally-weakened oversight.

Because that's the plan.

Coincidentally, I suggested here the other day that manure spills are part of the Walker iconography, as he and his allies in the Legislature, on the State Supreme Court and in the Attorney General's office, have enabled the explosive growth of animal feeding - - with more on the way - -  at the expense of the neighboring landscape, clean air and a sustainable water table. 

Surely the symbol below also from NE Wisconsin represents the consequences of Walker's tenure, writ regrettably large and pungent:
*  How about a plume of cow manure flowing like this one in Kewaunee County from one of the large animal feeding operations which Walker is deregulating, along with rule and legislative changes to give big well-water users easier and permanent access to the nearby groundwater through his ideologically-managed 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources. 
Note that the DNR barely did any inspections of these big feeding operations or wrote up any violations, according to state auditors' records.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Walker still posting pix of his half-eaten meals

Scott Walker was mercilessly mocked by Samantha Bee for his "horrifying" posts about the food he eats:
“To me, ham and cheese is something I have had for, boy, about 25 years. Two ham and cheese sandwiches most days, packed in a brown bag,” Walker said. “I’m just a normal guy.”
For Bee, this was anything but normal.
“Unless you are a koala bear, eating the same thing every day for a quarter century isn’t normal,” she fairly pointed out.
Noted earlier on this blog here.

And here:


But a check today of Walker's Twitter feed shows Bee's segment had no effect on Walker's Twitter feed or the feed he consumes:
  1. Pre-game at Jackson's with Tonette, Matt & Alex.