Thursday, March 31, 2016

MI AG: Waukesha, WI water diversion bid misses mark

[Updated] While it is the Michigan Governor who has the all-important vote on Waukesha's precedent-setting application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water,

(a single "no" vote by any of the eight Great Lakes governors sinks the out-of-basin diversion bid, while Canadians are actively exercising their advisory role), a negative review by the Michigan Attorney General will reverberate across the state and the rest of the eight-state Great Lakes region:
Waukesha hasn't proven it needs Lake Michigan water, says Michigan AG 
On Thursday, March 31, Bill Schuette sent a formal letter to the council of Great Lakes governors considering whether to approve the controversial request by Waukesha, Wis., to divert water from the Great Lakes basin. 
More questions about the request need to be answered, Schuette wrote.
"Waukesha's request to divert millions of gallons from Lake Michigan is very serious and unless the strict exception standard is met, should be denied..." 
To get Lake Michigan water, the interstate Great Lakes Compact agreement requires Waukesha prove its has no reasonable alternative water supply and cannot meet demand through conservation efforts.
The city has yet to demonstrate that need, wrote Schuette. 
More questions about the diversion plan have been raised recently and in Canada, other states, and in Wisconsin, for years.

Note this video, too.

Fearing loss of control, WI GOP & far-right goes Cruzing

It's been astonishing to watch the far-right GOP establishment in Wisconsin led by AM talk radio and embodied by Gov. Scott Walker embrace the unapologetically extremist Ted Cruz - - he who supports making the Middle East glow from carpet bombing and wants to set up police states in "Muslim neighborhoods" in America  - - because the far right establishment in Wisconsin says that Donald Trump is too extreme.

Talk about short memories and contradiction.

The GOP establishment in Wisconsin was ever so happy to embrace some very far-right people and tendencies when party regulars needed that people-power and energy to save Walker - - he who called himself the "original Tea Party in Wisconsin - - and also, by extension to save themselves and their partisan privilege, too.

Remember when the GOP came to Racine County for the Save Walker Recall Rallies of all Rallies? The Racine Journal Times was there: 

'On Tuesday we save Wisconsin,' Ryan tells huge Racine TEA Party rally
Speaker after speaker stated and restated the national interest in, and importance of, Tuesday’s recall elections during a 2-hour Racine TEA Party PAC rally on Saturday morning at Gorney Park, 8201 Nicholson Road. The event drew an estimated 4,000 people, one speaker said, and featured a series of major Republican politicians and conservative commentators... 
Their accompanying, repeated message was: Get out as many like-minded voters as you can to rebuff Tuesday’s attempted recall of Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine. The latter two spoke during the rally.
Walker amped-up the right-wing by dog-whistling loudly in Waukesha County during the same campaign that his re-election was the only thing preventing Wisconsin from resembling that urban area just down the highway.
People do not want to see Wisconsin "become another Milwaukee," Walker said.
And who amplified that same message in the 2014 campaign when he labeled public assistance recipients as lazy, X-Box couch potatoes who needed to be drug-tested before getting food stamps which he also cut back.

But look what's happened since.

Walker fell flat on the presidential stage because the angry far-right prefers the billionaire celebrity outsider Trump to careerist insiders like Walker and Ryan and elite DC power brokers like Priebus. 

Which explains the establishment talk radio freakout here of late over Trump's seizure of the GOP nomination process which Priebus set up but which played right into Trump's hands - - and that loss of control has come to threaten the sweet deal which party insiders and funders have made for themselves in Wisconsin over the last few years that has guaranteed:

*  Self-serving, favor-dispensing, gerry-mandering majorities in both houses of the Legislature;

*  Self-serving, favor-dispensing rulings by State Supreme Court;

*  Self-serving, favor-dispensing hands on the profitable levers of power at key regulatory agencies like the now-weakened Government Accountability Board, and the chamber of commerce-mentalty Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the un-apologetically pro-corporate Wisconsin Public Service Commission, the Attorney General's Office and others.

And others across all of state government now more politically-managed than ever through Act 10 and a deliberately politicized and weakened civil service.

No wonder that GOP elites and their friends on the AM radio airwaves are "all in" for Cruz, as Walker put it Tuesday, to stop Trump - - he figured out how to co-opt the same far-right constituencies which the GOP and the talkers nurtured as theirs to manipulate while revealing the cynicism behind the establishment's control.

Which means that the farthest right-wingers in grassroots Wisconsin want Trump and the even greater chaos than the havoc Walker pledged to wreak in Washington.

Leaving it to a self-serving, back-in-the-game Walker and his allies to set up the anti-Trump barricades.

When the havocwreakers pose as the guardians of order, carpet bombs, official anti-Muslim street patrols, self-serving favoritism and crushing ironies are part of the bargain. 

It's all head-shaking and deeply ironic, but saying that doesn't feel adequate.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Walker signs $7 million cut to popular energy conservation program

As with his opposition to wind and solar power, reducing fossil fuel use through conservation is not what his corporate funding enablers want, as I noted earlier:
It's important to understand that Wisconsin Republicans and their big-money backers have a detailed and long-range strategy to hold power here.
It began in 2007 when Walker, a senior Koch brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity official (and about a dozen others as yet-unnamed in part because local media will not lift a finger to flesh out the story already broken by met "along the shores of Lake Michigan" to plan the political capture of Wisconsin for conservative interests.
It is hardly a coincidence that Walker has since been elevated to Wisconsin Governor, has been saved from a recall election defeat as well as John Doe prosecutorial investigations by tens of millions of dollars in conservative donations, and is being pushed forward in the pre-2016 presidential politicking by that same combination of right-wing organizations and their funding.

Can we say that Trump nuked his campaign today?

After refusing to rule out using nukes in the Middle East, and Europe - - after urging nuclear proliferation in Asia - - and punishing women who obtain abortions. 

Media must confront GOP candidates on climate change denial

Reporters and debate moderators must refocus the campaign debate and force Republican insult presidential candidates (Cruz and Trump) to face up to genuine issues, like this alarming report from The Washington Post:

Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday...  
If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, [scientists] concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 15 meters (49 feet) by 2500.
Similar story in The New York Times today, and multiple posts about these issues on this blog - - a 2014 sample - - dating to 2008. Consult the index.

DC Metro is cautionary tale about deteriorated infrastructure, deferred maintenance

DC Metro could shut down entire subway lines for up to six months.

How many other transportation systems, including bridges nationwide, are in dire need of major fixes put off by politicians and managers in various stages of denial?

Walker, Johnson, Bradley trending up in MU poll

Setting aside presidential primary numbers which show gains for Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz that are not hugely surprising, the bigger news is that Gov. Scott Walker's favorable statewide rating is still under 50% but his rehabilitative travels have lifted his number to 43% from 39%.

Also important is that Walker's hand-picked State Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley is outpolling state appeals court judge JoAnne Kloppenberg by five points - - 41-36 - - and incumbent GOP Senator Ron Johnson is closing in on the front-running challenger, former Democratic US Sen. Russ Feingold.

The poll shows high percentages of undecided or disinterested voters in the Bradley-Kloppenberg race with just a few days left before the April 5th election.

That surprises me. Voter fatigue maybe, or an electorate swamped by the presidential chatter, but still a fluid race ultimately tipped by the presidential candidates' turnout.

Kloppenberg benefits if there is a big Sanders/H. Clinton turnout, just as Bradley benefits from a competitive GOP primary. If H. Clinton pulls resources and redirects the spending and energy to bigger state NY, Kloppenberg could lose some spinoff votes, no?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ted Cruz & The Constitution - - Atty. William Lynch guest post

[Updated] Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said on Twitter today when endorsing Ted Cruz for President of the United States that Cruz was "a principled constitutional conservative."
I endorse , a principled constitutional conservative who can win.
Noted Milwaukee civil rights attorney William Lynch had sent me yesterday what is a timely and relevant critique that I am privileged to post:
Will Ted Cruz Restore the Constitution or Distort it?
      The first issue on Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign website is “Restore the Constitution.” Cruz is attempting to make the Constitution a major political issue in this year’s primaries. By presenting himself as the defender of the Constitution he implies that his rivals will not defend it as vigorously as he will.
     Having devoted much of my professional life to efforts to make our Constitution a reality, I am deeply concerned when its civil rights and civil liberties provisions are threatened in the name of its defense. Senator Cruz’s claim to being a defender of the Constitution should not go unchallenged. We all should critically examine what Senator Cruz, or any candidate means, by defending the Constitution.

     We must ask why does our Constitution need to be “restored”? What policy goals will be advanced in the name of defending it?  What provisions  will be defended, and what provisions will be ignored?
     In many respects, Cruz’s so called defense of the Constitution instead will weaken it.  His “defense” will not restore our Constitution, it will distort it.
     The equality provisions of the Constitution are especially vulnerable to being ignored by Senator Cruz. For example, he  sees the decision of the Supreme Court in the marriage equality case as “a judicial assault on our Constitution” and a “symptom of the disease of liberal judicial activism.” He is so upset by that case that he proposes amending the Constitution to provide for election of Supreme Court Justices.  He thinks the Justices who voted for marriage equality, especially Justice Kennedy, should be impeached for that case and for upholding Obamacare. 
     The Supreme Court, however, properly applied the equality provisions of the Constitution and its amendments when it decided the marriage equality case. It appears that imposing his religious beliefs about who can marry on others is more important to Senator Cruz than upholding the Constitutional right to equal protection of the law.
     In contrast, when it comes to the Second Amendment, Cruz considers the Supreme Court’s decision reinterpreting the Second Amendment to provide for an individual right to possess weapons a victory for defending the Constitution, not liberal judicial activism. In order to find such an individual right, however, the Court had to overturn settled precedent by ignoring the plain language of the text of the Amendment respecting service in a militia. But, for Sen. Cruz, conservative judicial activism is no disease.  
     For Senator Cruz, defense of the Constitution’s equality and religious liberty provisions does not include prohibiting  discriminatory treatment of Muslims and Muslim neighborhoods. Championing religious liberty takes a back seat. 
     Another provision ignored by Sen. Cruz is the provision of the First Amendment prohibiting laws respecting establishment of religion. While Senator Cruz claims to be a champion of religious liberty, he fails to mention the Constitution’s limit on the government imposing religious beliefs. He sharply criticizes past Supreme Court decisions prohibiting  the government from imposing religious beliefs as judicial assaults on our Constitution. Upholding  this prohibition, however, is as important as securing the free exercise of religion. They go hand in hand. Protection against imposition of religious beliefs on others, the freedom not to believe, is an essential component of religious liberty that Sen. Cruz ignores. 
     Senator Cruz also ignores the provisions of the Constitution that protect personal autonomy and privacy from government intrusion when matters of reproductive health and birth control are impacted. Defense of the Constitution should also include opposing government intrusion into peoples’ private lives. For Senator Cruz imposing his beliefs respecting  access to abortion and contraception is  more important than upholding women's personal autonomy.
      The press and all of us should question Sen. Cruz about what in the Constitution needs to be restored and what specifically that restoration will accomplish. In my opinion the Constitution does not need to be restored. It needs to be upheld.
     Our Constitution is definitely worth fighting for and defending. The contours of that fight should not be left to Senator Cruz, or to any politician. In my opinion Senator Cruz’s visions or  changing our Constitution would distort it, not restore it. We all share the  obligation to  challenge any efforts made in the name of the Constitution that will undermine it.   
William H Lynch is a Milwaukee civil rights attorney.

Trump rally set for Paul Ryan/idled GM plant's back yard

[Updated from Friday, March 25.]

Janesville is the perfect strategic spot for Trump's appearance today if establishment ineptitude plus career politician failure is his theme.

*  The site is a Holiday Inn convention center with only a thousand-person capacity - - but it's within easy driving distance of bigger cities, like Milwaukee, and Madison and the Chicago TV media market, too - - so there should be an overflow crowd of both supporters and opponents to fill the seats and TV screens.

*  There's also an idled General Motors assembly plant in Janesville. What a perfect prop for Trump's assaults on trade deals that have exported American jobs. Trump says as President he would kill a new Ford assembly plant in Mexico; who's to say he won't change the script and say he could convince Ford to open that plant in Janesville?

*  The establishment politicians whom Trump regularly vilifies haven't been able to revive the Janesville plant.

Career politician and current GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan just happens to hail from Janesville - - is Trump living right, or what - - and other than calling the abandoned GM factory a "4,000,000 million square foot dust collector" - - hasn't been able to lead the city and GM and the shuttered plant towards an innovative, new-jobs solution.

*  Nor has career politician, GOP Wisconsin and 'open-for-business' Gov. Scott Walker, an early Trump presidential nomination victim made a priority of the plant, though a pro-Walker billboard was briefly and oddly positioned nearby during the 2012 recall election.

Walker failed during his first term to meet his signature promise to create 250,000 new private sector jobs in Wisconsin  - - falling short by nearly half, says Politifact - - and also has on his hands a failed development agency of his creation now mired in scandal-and-audit-hell.

So neither Walker or his PR-driven agency can claim a humming or repurposed auto plant in Janesville as a win.

Billboards and self-serving political spin are the measure of career politicians who like to blame the unemployed for their circumstances, but in the real world do nothing for working men and women in Wisconsin.

In fact, Walker said yesterday that job creation is no longer his priority, which begs the question: when was it?

Janesville is the perfect spot for a Trump appearance if establishment failure and crony capitalism are on the menu.

WI Cruz/Trump talk radio effect was noted last week

When I see headlines like the one on the front page of the Journal Sentinel hard copy edition today:
Trump, local talkers tangle
I note, for the record, this one from this blog six days ago:
Righty talk radio setting Wisconsin on Cruz control
Trump should not have been surprised, as Wisconsin righty talk radio is as establishment a GOP service as it gets. 

 Which is why Walker made his endorsement announcement on one of the establishment right's radio talk shows.

Loop, case closed.

Walker's telegraphed Cruz endorsement today's lede non-story


May they enjoy a Muslim neighborhood patrol ride-along together.

Monday, March 28, 2016

In Wisconsin, UGE outbreak of Trump Derangement Syndrome

[Updated] I'd noted last week that Milwaukee talk radio was leading the pro-Cruz, stop-Trump movement, and Monday's talkers really sounded panicked.

I missed it, but Charlie Sykes sparred with Trump, live.

Followed by Jeff Wagner on AM 620 WTM just after noon today, who labeled Trump "crazy."

And Wagner - - admittedly not a big fan of Cruz - - nevertheless labeled Trump supporters the equivalent of the "Mayhem" character who causes car crashes and injuries in those wacky Allstate Insurance TV commercials, and talked over the pro-Trump callers he asked to phone in and explain themselves.

Righty talkers have told their listeners lo these many years that The Enemy was Barack Obama, and before Barack, The Enemy was Bill Clinton.

GOP-leaning-and-leading conservative talk radio always needs an enemy to drive up listeners' blood pressure and amp up the ratings, so liberal leaders are the most logical and profitable targets, but now it seems that the world-ending problem du jour has been borne from incompetent GOP party leadership.

Which, through poor rule-making and other internal contradictions enabled a 2015-'16  candidate field so unappealing weak and inept - - Exhibit A, Jeb! Bush, Exhibit B, the failed insult comedian Marco Rubio, Exhibit C, the ever-mysterious Dr. Ben Carson, et al  -- that a megalomaniacal reality TV host, casino magnate and neophyte campaigner is both the GOP's front-runner and talk radio's new Public Enemy #1.

Because he was savvy enough to out-think-and-strategize them all, seize control of the conservative movement from the grassroots and, as the GOP establishment now sees it, jeopardize the survival of the known Republican Party.

It's the End of the Line for the GOP as We Know It
So with but only eight days until the now-pivotal, April 5th Wisconsin primary, GOP makers-and-shakers are counting on a Coalition of the Desperate to foil the Donald Trump they find repellent though he has captured the very Tea Party anger which the GOP fostered, feasted on and used tactically without shame for nearly a decade with:

*  An equally-and perhaps-even-more-repellent Ted Cruz - - he who would turn communities in The Land of the Free somehow defined as Muslim into occupied police states while also masquerading as the last best hope in 2016 of the Party of Lincoln.

*  A weakened, poorly-polling Scott Walker - - the Walker whose policies helped pave the way for Trump in Wisconsin - - and whose million-dollar+ presidential campaign debt Cruz volunteered to help retire

The Texas senator took to Twitter on Sunday to urge his followers to donate money to help retire Walker's lingering 2016 campaign debts"I stand with my friend @Scott Walker & hope you will too!" Cruz tweeted to his "#CruzCrew."
*  And speaking of big money - - millions of dollars in outside spending targeted against Trump which only reinforces his message, effective to date, that GOP fat cats care little for working people except as voters they can manipulate and deceive - - a claim reinforced in Wisconsin by so-called Walker and GOP establishment 'reforms' from Act 10 to a frozen, minimal minimum wage to right-to-work worker paycheck losses to higher entry fees at state parks and campgrounds on land and at waters which the people already own.

Bottom line:

The GOP is hoping to find enough voters in Wisconsin who can fill in a ballot for Ted Cruz while crossing their fingers behind their backs, holding their noses and not falling flat on their faces while hog-tying Donald Trump.

And while finally meeting the enemy, which as Pogo would have said:

About fighting terrorism, Walker, Ron Johnson head scratchers

In a single story about combating domestic terrorism, you've got Ron Johnson praising the Obama administration while a self-referential Scott Walker, still living the national figure dream, has nothing original to say.

"I would actually suggest here in this state, the most effective strategy is one you all have heard me talk about multiple times: if you see something, say something. Not limited to certain neighborhoods or certain backgrounds," Walker told reporters.
“Positive engagement in communities would be far more effective way of doing this,” Johnson told WRN. “I’m highly supportive of what the Department of Homeland Security is trying to do, what this administration is trying to do.”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Updates on big $$ golf course aimed at WI nature preserve

[Updated] This blog has been following since 2014 the political and environmental issues surrounding the proposed loss of a 247-acre nature preserve (additional photos) - - 
The Wisconsin DNR must deny Kohler Company the use of  public State lands for their private profit. The role of the WDNR is to protect the environment...not work for developers.
that includes rare a Walker donor can build another high-end golf course.

The proposed location is very close to the Lake Michigan shoreline (within the woods below)

and includes at least one Native American effigy/burial mound just south of Sheboygan that is adjacent to and would take several acres from the popular Kohler Andrae Wisconsin State Park.

I want to point you to four five relevant items:

*  A fresh release from the grassroots opponents' organization Friends of the Black River Forest:

Town May Get Stuck with Kohler's Bill to Insure Its Safety 
* A new petition by the opponents.

*  Information about some of the wetlands - - some rare - - that are on the site.

*  Information provided to the state by the company's environmental review which raised additional questions from the Wisconsin DNR as it continues to write an official state Environmental Impact Statement.

*  A bigger-context view: 

Walker's push to privatize Wisconsin land, water and air

Why we know Walker's Ted Cruz endorsement is imminent

[Updated from Saturday, 3/26] Because there is no other explanation for Cruz to be saying he was "inspired" by something Walker did.

No one has ever used the word "inspired" in a sentence with the phrase "Scott Walker," so count on Walker to reward Cruz with the power of all 39% percentage points of the unintimidated Governor's recent polling and make Cruz's tall tale telling worth his while.

Update - - A reader reminds me there is another explanation:

Ted Cruz solicits donations to pay off Scott Walker's campaign debt

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Walker's push to privatize Wisconsin land, water and air

On the issue of the people's land, air and water under Scott Walker:

While his 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reviewing controversial proposals that would a) locate a precedent-setting 26,000-pig raising operation within smelling distance of Lake Superior and the City of Ashland's drinking water supply, and...

b) locate a high-end golf course on a bluff along Lake Michigan in a wetland and nature preserve...

The Wisconsin DNR must deny Kohler Company the use of  public State lands for their private profit. The role of the WDNR is to protect the environment...not work for developers.
and that is adjacent to and would even encroach into the popular Kohler Andrae State Park, and that also contains a Native American burial or effigy mound...

And in the face of new disclosures of sand mining pollution...

And groundwater contamination near concentrated animal farming operations...

Let's also go back to the record and assess this Walker claim:
Walker Contends He's Left Wisconsin's Environment Cleaner Than When He Found It

Business/DNR axis again wrecks WI well water

You may have followed the news about persistent nitrate contamination in Wisconsin drinking water near the state's rapidly expanding industrial-scale animal feeding operations, (CAFOs) and additional news about the Legislature's push to further de-regulate big groundwater users' withdrawals and make their groundwater access permanent and transferable.

This groundwater grab is taking place as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been stripped by Walker and the Legislature of science staffers and operating revenue, and is directed on a daily basis by a former GOP state senator and home builder who had ridiculed agency staffers before becoming Walker's chamber of commerce tool to further privatize the public's air, land and water.

And there is a fresh report from State Sen. Kathleen Vineholt, (D-Alma), of well water contamination, state inaction and business thoughtlessness involving one of the state's many water-intensive, barely-regulated sand mines and some Trempealeau County citizens who live nearby:

Almost immediately after the mine began operation...Neighbors' water pressure dropped dramatically during blasting; a well went dry; water filters normally changed every 30 years had to be changed every two or three months; chicken watering devices clogged with sand; chickens died and heavy metals appeared in drinking water...
Stacy lives about a half-mile from the mine. She sent me photos of her water, which was a murky brownish orange, and photos of her scooping handfuls of sand out of her toilet tank... 
But the worst came in January. Stacy lost Apples, her horse. Stacy said, “I took it very bad.”Apples died of liver failure. The horse had heavy metals in his tissues. Stacy told me the metals were “too much for his body. He can’t process or get rid of it.” Her vet said her water “was the worst water he’d ever seen.” 
County officials started a well-testing program. They contacted the state and asked if conditions of the farm well permit used by the mine were violated. When the county couldn’t get answers they called me. 
Ironically, the Senate was considering a bill to change high-capacity well laws... 
During the Senate debate, I asked colleagues to support amendments to review well permits ...The Senate majority voted down all my amendments.

Friday, March 25, 2016

WI DNR Sec. Cathy Stepp's 14-minute Palinesque speed rap

In a consulting firm's best practices talk posted on YouTube,  DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp whom Scott Walker appointed because she had the "chamber of commerce mentality" he was looking for strings together some observations about all the difficulties that she - - the frustrated "private-sector Cathy," as she calls herself at one point - - has to deal with while running a public agency.

Difficulties like employees with crossed arms - - she demonstrates, you know - - the "curmudgeons" and union employees who do not appreciate her "inspired" boss - -  and employees whom it would take about seven years to fire, she complains.

An agency populated with "us versus them" staffers that date back to...horrors!...Earth Day...and who carry around the mistaken belief that things like clean air and water - - not customers who need servicing by the "permitting" agency she is trying to establish - - pay taxes that fill DNR paychecks, and so on.

[I'd noted earlier that clean air and water do pay taxes if one remembers that Wisconsin is a tourism and recreation state, with fishing, hiking, boating, brewing and other business sectors that rely on clean air and fresh, pure water. which the DNR is actually supposed to respect and protect.]

But ...back to the video:

Stepp assures the audience that she is not a government bureaucrat and touts her belief in private sector holy grail - - management tools, employee surveys, metrics - - as she has done before.

Though in the outside world, she's signed off on budget and staff cuts and eased pollution enforcement while the state and some of its customers citizens continue to face well water contamination - - suggesting that Stepp and best practices are not necessarily a match made in heaven.

Breaking news: Big Ag admits role in WI well water contamination

Some of Wisconsin's largest concentrated animal feeding operations, (CAFOs), are now admitting what everyone else has been screaming about: these large producers of milk, and thus runoff, seepage and manure, are putting nitrate pollutants into nearby groundwater and wells
Three of Kewaunee County’s most prominent dairy farmers are changing their opinions on whether large-scale agriculture is to blame for groundwater contamination.  
These large farms have certainly played a role in polluting people’s private wells, and farmers need to find a solution, the owners of Kinnard Farms Inc., Pagels Ponderosa Dairy and Dairy Dreams LLC said during an interview with Press-Gazette Media... 
"We are the larger producer of nitrates. We have to have played a role in it,” Dairy Dreams Owner Don Niles said.
It's a start, though "played a role in it" isn't going to cut it.

Public awareness about contaminated drinking water has grown since the catastrophic poisoning of drinking water in Flint, Michigan - - and opposition to CAFOs is spreading from dairy operations in central and NE Wisconsin to Bayfield County, where an Iowa operator wants to put a 26,000 pig CAFO - - by far the state's largest such operation - - within smelling distance of Ashland's drinking water supply and Lake Superior.

Wisconsin public interest attorneys, environmentalists, CAFO neighbors and activists, including this blog, have been sounding the alarm here repeatedly, and it's time that the Wisconsin Legislature and the DNR stop serving special water interests - - and given that the DNR is blatantly obstructionist and ideologically one-deaf - - federal officials need to be here yesterday to take the lead.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ex-Walker aide helped instigate Trump-Cruz spousal spat

Lest you forgot how to connect the dots, Bucky:

An ad aimed at conservative Utah voters this week that featured a racy photo of a former model before she got married to Donald Trump was created by a pro-Cruz, anti-Trump PAC, Make America Awesome, that is run by Liz Mair:

Liz Mair, founder of Make America Awesome, said the point of the campaign is to rally voters around Ted Cruz, and she expects the ads to reach 10,000 Mormon voters per day.
The ad kicked off days of nasty, personal volleys between Trump and Cruz, and some of the reporting now sports Wisconsin datelines because the GOP nomination fight has moved to Dairyland.

And if Mair's name rings a bell with Wisconsinites it's because she had worked for Scott Walker and was slotted to be a key communications figure in his Iowa campaign...

...Until she had to go:

An online communications strategist working for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) campaign-in-waiting resigned late Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, after controversy erupted over disparaging comments she had made about Iowa. 
The news agency said that Liz Mair’s resignation — only a day after news broke that she had been hired — would be immediate, quoting a statement from her.
But she didn't go quietly: 
Liz Mair, ex-communications consultant for Scott Walker, offered up an extended commentary in tweet form about his exit from the presidential race on Monday. 
And now, months later, Walker is under pressure to endorse Cruz as part of the stop-Trump movement.

Small, wacky world, and so many connections.

Walker heralded Trumpism in Wisconsin

It's become fashionable among conservatives who fear that Donald Trump's capture of the Republican Party is making them look similarly angry and intolerant.

Don't give us any of that Trumpian guilt-by-association, they're saying. We're the party of compassionate conservatism, the party of Lincoln, after all.

Well...remember when Walker, who governs through polarization, said in Waukesha County towards the end of the 2012 recall election campaign a few miles from the more relatively-lower-income and heavily-minority City of Milwaukee that re-electing him would keep Wisconsin from becoming another Milwaukee?

That's a pretty loud dog whistle aimed right at fearful, resentful suburban and smaller-town voters.

Remember also when he told a West Bend audience during his 2014 re-election campaign that his support for legislation (which he subsequently signed) to drug test public assistance recipients was all about  "getting people off the couch," putting aside video games and finding a job?

In the final month and a half of the campaign, Gov. Scott Walker is making a blunt promise to voters — that he'll ensure jobless workers aren't on drugs, or their recliners.  
"My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering Republican campaign volunteers last week in West Bend. "We need to get them the skills to get back in the game and get back to work."
Because, said our divide-and-conquer/blame-the-poor-people Governor who has yet to keep his repetitive, now five-years-old+ pledge to create 250,000 new private sector jobs in Wisconsin:
"We don't have a jobs problem in this state,""We have a work problem."
The Walker-Trump dog-whistling duo is explored, in depth, here

State officials aware of tainted drinking water, sources

That is - - in Wisconsin, and noted earlier - - and not just in Flint, MI.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Having calmed the House, Ryan showcases himself as convention savior

The 'reluctant' House Speaker and former Veep candidate is clearly signaling that he's available to unlock a deadlocked GOP convention:
Ryan delivered his remarks as lawmakers left town for a two-week spring recess. He spoke in the lofty hearing room of the Ways and Means Committee, which he once chaired. 
It was the latest occasion since Ryan became speaker last October that he has summoned his party to unity, and delivered lofty pledges that the House of Representatives will be the vehicle for producing a bold governing vision for the GOP.
He might as well be buying TV spots and billboards to advertise his availability if the Cruzikins and Trumpkins deadlock the GOP convention and the reliable old consensus savior is needed, again.

The Fix, a Washington Post online posting, thinks Ryan is positioning himself for 2020 as the 'told you so' Cassandra, but who's to say Ryan and the GOP can wait that long?

Righty talk radio setting Wisconsin on Cruz control

I'm assuming that Scott Walker will fall in line with other so-called establishment GOP politicians like Jeb! and endorse Ted Cruz for President, in large part because conservative talk radio in the state which has long boosted Walker is leading the pro-Cruz, stop-Trump bandwagon.

Such a move by Walker before the April 5th primary voting here would tick off his more rural constituents in the state's northern and western counties where Trump has some backing, but Walker's deeper base is in the solidly-conservative Republican counties - - Waukesha,Washington, Ozaukee - - surrounding Milwaukee where talk radio is strong and where GOP voters supply the party with funding and turn out in droves.

And Walker needs those Milwaukee suburban counties for a 2018 re-election campaign, and can spend time and political capital in the north and west to make nice and make up with Trump supporters, if need be.

The contradiction, of course, is that Jeb! and Paul Ryan others attacked Trump's call for banning Muslims' entrance into the US as antithetical to the reputation of The Party of Lincoln.

And to intelligent and productive engagment with Muslims as everyday Americans with rights, and also in the broader war against ISIS, as reported by The New York Times:
Mr. Bush drew applause from when he challenged the wisdom of Mr. Trump’s call to temporarily halt Muslims from entering the nation.  
“I hope you reconsider this because this is a policy that makes it impossible to build a policy that takes out ISIS,” Mr. Bush said, referring to the need to build an international coalition to act against the terrorist organization. “Sending that makes it impossible for us to be serious about taking out ISIS and restoring democracy in Syria,” he said. “I hope you’ll reconsider.” 
Yet Cruz yesterday called for enhanced patrolling and monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods - - wherever those neighborhoods or residences might be, let alone identified.

Jeb! said he was endorsing Cruz to call out and stand against Trump's vulgarity.

Surveilling some American neighborhoods according to residents' religious affiliation as Cruz is urging isn't vulgar?

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton gets what Cruz and his backers don't:
“He doesn’t know the hell what he is talking about, to be frank with you,” Bratton told “CBS This Morning.” 
We'll see how the pols and talkers in Wisconsin manage the inconsistencies and risks of a Ted Cruz embrace which rejects The Donald, along with Mr. Lincoln.