Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Art of The Deal becomes No Heart, All Heel

After viewing, but predictably not absorbing, the Honor Motherhood Message of the Democratic National Convention which nominated Hillary Clinton, a history-making female candidate - - and who is also, for good measure, a mother and grandmother, too - - Donald Trump went out of his way to mock and insult the Muslim father of a fallen Army hero.
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP"
And not satisfied that he hadn't added enough heartache to his target's suffering, Trump threw his patented bile on the deceased soldier's obviously grieving Gold Star mother by snidely misinterpreting her silence on the DNC convention stage as some sort of personal, family or religious shortcoming.

Leading Ghazala Khan, the soldier's mother, to explain in a Washington Post op-ed her grief-stricken comportment to Trump  - - the kind of public explanation which no parent mourning the death of a child should ever have to write, and no politician - - no human being anywhere - - would ever want to have aimed his or her way.

Especially when auditioning for the highest office and the respect from others that would attach to winning it. 
Here is my answer to Donald Trump. Because without saying a thing, all America felt my pain.
All America, that is, except Donald Trump.

She also wrote:
Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.
All, that is, except the heartless Donald Trump.

Because to Trump, the world and everyone and everything in it is but a mirror in his hand in which he only sees himself - - a behavior which snuffs out insight or outgoing compassion.

And what of Wisconsin's cowardly band of Trump partisans - - Paul Ryan, who said he had found enough shared principals to justify his Trump endorsement, or Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who spoke at the Republican Convention and gave Trump a full-throated endorsement, and RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who smoothed the way for Trump's nomination.

All these GOP leaders active or passive support have put Trump in the position, as nominee, to attack the Khan family. They think he is White House-worthy.

What kind of a thin-skinned and insecure presidential candidate feels obliged to whine and go toe-to-toe with a righteously aggrieved citizen? What will that nominee do, if President and Commander-in-Chief, when a warlord or dictator says a lot worse about him?

In which category of shared GOP principal or value do we place this latest display of defective Donald Trump behavior?

Walker said big SE road spending on hold. He lied.

[Updated July 31]  It was widely reported on June 27th that Gov. Scott Walker had instructed his Wisconsin Department of Transportation to minimize major road projects in Southeastern Wisconsin - - those unaffordable 'freeway' expansions costing in the multiple billions of dollars which he has been instrumental - - on behalf of his road-builder donors - - in promoting for more than a decade, records and media reports indicated:
Gov. Scott Walker wants his transportation secretary to submit a budget request that minimizes spending on major construction projects in southeast Wisconsin. 
And a few weeks later, Walker left the impression with a northern Wisconsin television outlet that the cutback in SE road spending would be accompanied by more road spending up North: 
Phillips - Last summer, the state of Wisconsin committed hundreds of millions of dollars to reconstruct the massive Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee. That left some people here in northern Wisconsin upset, hoping more money would go toward fixing their local roads… 
We spoke with Walker last week in Phillips. If the governor gets his way, his plan could mean more money for road repair in northern Wisconsin.
"My priority is I want to make sure that safety and maintenance are the focal point, not major new projects," Walker said. "We're not going to do, in the foreseeable future, any big projects, particularly in the Milwaukee area."
Walker's statements on the subject have been manipulative, misleading and false, because it was reported today by The Journal Sentinel that on May 13th - - before his remarks about minimizing big SE road project spending in Southeastern Wisconsin - - Walker had told federal highway officials in writing he wants to forge ahead with the most controversial portion of his beloved Southeast Freeway plan - - the $850 million expansion from Miller Park to the Zoo Interchange which will edge or bridge three cemeteries and bring unwanted pollution across the Democratic residential stronghold - - an attractive target for the super-partisan, payback-motivated Walker - - the Story Hill neighborhood:

As Gov. Scott Walker talks about cutting Milwaukee highway megaprojects to avoid gas tax hikes, he's telling federal officials that he'll green-light another nearly $1 billion job in southeastern Wisconsin. 
This month, Walker told a Northwoods television station the state is going to focus more on outstate roads and "not going to do, in the foreseeable future, any big projects, particularly in the Milwaukee area..."  
But in a May 13 letter, the GOP governor told the Federal Highway Administration that his administration wants to kick off an $850 million project to widen an east-west stretch of I-94 between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges from six lanes to eight.
List me among the snookered all these recent weeks:
Walker pledges restraint on unfunded road-building he long championed
What we have here is classic Scott Walker policy-by-bomb-dropping and scheming by misdirection.

Equally bad: in order to pay the state's share of highway expansion in SE Wisconsin - - portions of which both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County have said they do not want - - especially because Walker has also ruled out any tax or fee increases to help for the bills - - many other state programs will have to be cut in the next budget to put the transportation budget together without new state fees or additional gas taxes.

Final note: as with the other SE Wisconsin freeway expansion projects, the plan Walker will now push includes no funding for transit, continuing a discriminatory transportation spending pattern in favor of automobile owners and against lower-income, minority and urban residents and workers.

Litigation by civil rights groups when Zoo Interchange spending began without a transit component led to a Federal Court-approved settlement which forced Walker's transportation department to add about three years of bus line services.

That it took civil rights litigation to bring a measure of equity to public spending in Wisconsin speaks volumes about Walker's relationship with minorities and the City of Milwaukee.

Look for similar efforts in this upcoming round of public spending, since the roadwork begins and ends in Milwaukee.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Judges find GOP Jim Crow in WI, NC

Federal courts in North Carolina and Wisconsin ruled separately on Friday that bills passed by GOP-dominated legislators and signed by GOP Governors in both states were aimed for partisan reasons at suppressing African-American and other minority voters.

In the Wisconsin case:
U.S. District Judge James Peterson, in a 119-page ruling issued late Friday, said that the state Legislature tailored...the [in-person absentee voting] law to curtail voting in Milwaukee, specifically “to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African-Americans...”
The Legislature reduced the time that municipalities could offer in-person absentee voting, from a period of as long as 30 days ending on the day before election day to a period of 12 days that ended on the Friday before election day. It also limited absentee voting to one location per municipality.
“The Legislature’s objective was political,” Peterson wrote. “Republicans sought to maintain control of state government. But the methods that the Legislature chose to achieve that involved suppressing the votes of Milwaukee’s residents, who are disproportionately African-American and Latino.”
A federal appeals court decisively struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law on Friday, saying its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.
And you think Jim Crow is dead? 

Or that Barack Obama's election meant we were now living a post-racial social success?

The goal of legislatures and governors in North Carolina and Wisconsin, and in GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Mike Pence's Indiana, or in other states like Texas that rushed into the vacuum created when the John Roberts US Supreme Court rolled back the Voting Rights Act, was to tilt the scales and make sure that America would never again elect an African-American President, and to further ensure than any GOP presidential candidate would go into the election with a cheater's advantage embedded by illegal laws.

And what was the reaction of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to the judge's identification of an official web of racist, unconstitutional governance - - in the state which gave birth to the party of Abraham Lincoln?

Predictably, Walker fell back on his now-ironic and stripped bare talking point turned right back on him and his fellow cheaters by true facts:
"Voting should be easy, but cheating should be hard.”
How hollow, from our hollow Governor.

One more thing:

Remember that we, the voters and taxpayers send these elected officials to Madison, give them the keys to our historic State Capitol and Governor's mansion, pay them handsomely, shower them with benefits from pensions and health plans to conveniences and pure freebies - - primo parking, overnight lodging, meals, cell phones and even weekend mileage to bop around their districts on weekends when constituent interaction is indistinguishable from electioneering - - and how did these self-serving GOP partisans use our resources and generosity and their access to power?

They turned it against the people for racial dominance, party permanence and room-service favoritism for their special-interest donor friends.

In 2016.

Beyond shameful.

Throw the bums out.

Friday, July 29, 2016

WI voting barriers erected by Walker, GOP ruled illegal

A huge win for unfettered voting, as a federal judge in Wisconsin - - on the same day related measures were invalidated in North Carolina - - ruled that several GOP-written, Scott Walker-endorsed-and-signed voting barriers were unconstitutional.

I have no doubt that as with GOP-written, Scott Walker-endorsed-and signed legal barriers to the provision of legal abortion services which were also ruled illegal, Walker and his allies knew these laws were un-American and would be knocked out in the Federal Courts.

But they went ahead knowingly and intentionally contaminating the legislative process and rigging the system with the public's funds for as long as possible and as deeply as possible to gain for themselves and their party as much partisan advantage as possible - - just like the operation of Walker's gubernatorial campaign's secret email system and illegal use of public resources evaded the Open Records law until its revelation in 2010 - - until law-and-order was restored.

I would not be surprised if Walker's creation of a mandatory drug testing program public aid recipients - - based on no known science or set of compelling facts other than partisanship and dog-whistling to his base - - meets a similar fate.

Such a joke that Walker has thrown in with the ill-informed demagogue Donald Trump's purported law-and-order campaign when Trump has endorsed the illegal torture of battlefield prisoners and execution of their families and while signature Walker programs which were twisted into law are being ruled illegal.


Waiting for Trump to belittle Mike Pence

After Trump mocks Mike Bloomberg:
Donald J. Trump
"Little" Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!

Pence has this to say:

Donald Trump's running mate decries 'name calling' in politics

During post-DNC Twitterstorm, Trump negates Trump

Donald J. Trump
"Little" Michael Bloomberg, who never had the guts to run for president, knows nothing about me. His last term as Mayor was a disaster!
Mike Bloomberg is doing a great job as Mayor of New York City. Ray Kelly is a great Police Commissioner. 

Waukesha officers, Pence workers didn't get democracy memo

[Updated] Negative image-building:
At Pence’s first public event since he was introduced as the Republican vice presidential candidate two weeks ago, a [Washington] Post reporter was barred from entering the venue after security staffers summoned local police to pat him down in a search for his cellphone.
This was in a public venue, mind you, and the local police were Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies on the public payroll.

Even after leaving his computer and cellphone behind - - and the general public was allowed to bring their cellphones into the event - -  the reporter was 'escorted' from it.

Waukesha officials see nothing wrong with their behavior.

Neither does Pence, who ducked the issue with a wordy, non-responsive response.

Your freedom party at work.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Will Trump come to WI? And does Walker help?

I'm sure that the GOP will send Donald Trump into Wisconsin more than once until the November election because Wisconsin will be a battleground state and local boy Reince Priebus can't be accused of withholding the standard bearer from the Party's Chairman's home state.
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP"
But I don't think bringing The Donald to Wisconsin is necessarily a plus for Trump and his down-ballot hostages, because everywhere he goes he'll harden Democrats' resolve to send him packing and take the rest of the ticket (Ron Johnson, for example) with him.

Ditto to putting Scott Walker on a public stage with Trump. 

Walker is mired below 40% in the polls - - not much of a coattail - - and it doesn't help the GOP that Walker flip-flopped on backing/not backing Trump.

Nor does it speak well for Walker that he ultimately abandoned GOP voters who turned out in the primary in larger numbers for Ted Cruz than for Trump.

Another issue boding badly for Trumping in Wisconsin: explaining how he's an authentic Republican and party presidential nominee in the state where the Republican Party/Party of Lincoln was born.

Like Madison, or Milwaukee or a dozen other Wisconsin cities, I don't think Ripon will be on Trump's itinerary.

On the other hand, I am predicting a heavy schedule in Wisconsin for Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders.

I figure we'll see more in Wisconsin of Mike Pence, the Indiana Governor and Trump running mate.

Though the Walker/Pence team in Waukesha got the GOP show off to a rocky start.

I expect to see Trump family members and lesser surrogates.

Coming to a suburb near you: Chris Christie and Dr. Ben Carson.

Just some early thoughts.

We'll see.

Republicans are done with all that Freedom stuff

It's hard to miss the fact right now that the former party of the Great Emancipator has devolved into serving up Freedom Fries in the US Capitol, running an intentionally misnamed "Freedom Caucus" in the House of Representatives that keeps that body inert while the GOP-controlled Senate has frozen the US Supreme Court into 4-4 gridlock now free to do little but spin its wheels.

And the anti-freedom party has hit political bottom by nominating for President a candidate who would rule the country rather that serve it with an un-American, dictatorial "I alone can fix" the-country promise.

Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP"
Except with the help of Russian one-man governing band Vladimir Putin and his military's secret cyberspies whom Trump has asked to cancel out American citizens' rights to privacy and communication.

A candidate who is parroting the discredited "law-and-order" programs and slogans of Richard Nixon - - uniquely forced by American law to resign for having broken several laws - - and is willing to order American soldiers to break the law by torturing prisoners and murdering their families.

A candidate who doesn't have the mental order to understand the nuances and formal difference in our most fundamental legal structures between The Articles of the US Constitution which frame our free society and the amendments to it which further ensure our freedom by constraining the government - - another concept foreign to Trump.

Who, unprepared for public service, let alone the Presidency, embrace dictatorial, one-man, law-and-disorder rule, would:

* Obliterate the First Amendment's sacred guarantee of freedom of religion by banning further Muslim immigration while surveilling Muslim citizens and communities here;

* Negate free speech and assembly at his rallies ("Knock the crap out of [protesters] them");

* Already toss out, literally, a free press, and;

* Pick a vice-presidential running mate who yesterday emulated The Boss by enlisting government agents to frisk and ban reporters assigned to practice at GOP events their First and Fourteenths amendments freedoms of speech, assembly, due process and equal protections for their employers, readers, listeners and viewers.

The more you listen to Trump, or follow the freedom-cancelling agenda of similar power-hogging Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker who routinely travels Wisconsin at public expense and has held dozens of by-invitation events and appearances closed to the general public and reporters, the more you understand that freedom these days for Republicans is freedom to control people and public resources by either one-man rule or one-party, gerrymandered, 'chamber of commerce' management - - or both.

And, of course, the GOP's two main freedom goals:

* The freedom from Barack Obama. 

* The freedom to maintain the all-male Presidency,

You know, to take the country back.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Walker, Ryan have endorsed the Trump-Putin ticket

[Update] So Donald Trump has found today's equivalent of Richard Nixon's plumbers, except that Trump's team of invited thugs makes Nixon's collection of minor spies and ideological chumps look beyond amateurish and give unimaginable elevation and definition to 'outside agitators.'
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP"
The blustery and erratic head case but Head Republican 2016 Donald Trump - - whom Paul Ryan and Scott Walker and other Republican 'leaders' have endorsed for President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of our nuclear-tipped military - - has publicly called on the ex-KGB officer-for-life and Russian 'strongman' Vladimir Putin -- whose military is conducting cyber warfare against our government and others, and whose army invaded and occupied and annexed (stole) part of Ukraine, and whose air force is harassing US aviators, and whose operatives are suspected of assassinating Putin foes in and out of Russia - - to commit espionage and cyber crime during the presidential election to help Trump by hacking Hillary Clinton's email.

Setting aside Trump's towering political stupidity and pure freebie handed to Democrats while media are concentrated at their convention where President Barack Obama is poised to speak on national television tonight, it must be occurring for the umpteenth time to Walker and Ryan and the other fools who have thrown in with Trump that the man is not well.

Wednesday p.m update: MSNBC's Chuck Todd chastises GOP officials' silence in the face of what he calls "an attack on US sovereignty."

Making the #NeverTrumpers look prescient, while the others stuck with him by choice look as ridiculous as their publicity-absorbed candidate who gathered the media today to give Vladimir Putin his illegal campaign assignment.

Lock who up?

I know one who needs it for his own good and our protection.

Easy explanation for WI road funding, repair crises

His trail continues to run one-way - - out-of-state. 

And when he drops in here, a State Trooper driver smoothes out the bumps, which works out well, since Walker is asleep at the wheel:
Wisconsin faces nearly $1 billion shortfall on roads

Bill O'Reilly, meet Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly

You may have missed Fox News talker Bill O'Reilly's jaw-dropping minimization of slavery after First Lady Michelle Obama noted in her speech Monday night at the Democratic National Convention that the White House was built with slave labor.

O'Reilly knows the statement is true, but felt compelled to add a peculiarly callous and ignorant bit of spin:
Slaves that worked there were well-fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government, which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. 
The slaves were "well-fed and had decent lodgings?"

What is he conjuring up - - a summer camp brochure?

There's something, anything virtuous about enslavement?

So you say, what would you expect from a Fox News blowhard - - at least there aren't serious people in policy-making positions who could so completely misinterpret the evil essence of owning people?

Regrettably, there was another such sugar-coated distortion of slavery by Atty. Daniel Kelly, whom Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just elevated to a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court  - - and there's no doubt that Walker saw Kelly's statement because Kelly included it in his official application to Walker for the position:

In his application, Kelly included a 2014 book chapter in which he wrote same-sex marriage would rob marriage of any meaning and likened affirmative action to slavery. 
"Affirmative action and slavery differ, obviously, in significant ways," Kelly wrote. "But it's more a question of degree than principle, for they both spring from the same taproot. Neither can exist without the foundational principle that it is acceptable to force someone into an unwanted economic relationship. Morally, and as a matter of law, they are the same."
Slavery is "an unwanted economic relationship?" 

What kind of mind can reduce and reconfigure the sinful, violent, obscene personal and cultural coercion of thousands and thousands of captured human beings - - many of whom died in chains on slave ships or were raped and murdered while in bondage in America after losing their freedom, names, families, identity - - into a sanitized collection of obfuscatory, overly syllabic words like "unwanted economic relationship?"

What is this: An Econ 101 term paper topic?

I'll tell you what's an unwanted economic relationship. Getting slammed and overbilled by a phone company. Having your email address sold by one political campaign to another, leaving you with pesky electronic solicitations or fliers on your doorstep. 

Spending your life as a captive, in a foreign continent and country where no law protects you, but enforces your kidnapping and shields your owner - - even if you are, by some apologist's warped standard, well-fed and lodged - - is a helluva lot more profound and consequential than being in "an unwanted economic relationship."

And what kind of Governor responds by saying to all that by saying through an official action: 'just the guy to sit on the state's highest court.'

Yeah, we know. The Badger who would be President.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tracking precedents for DNR draft review of Kohler golf course

[Updated from 7/25/2016] I'd recently posted about the slow response from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to an Open Records request I'd submitted about a high-profile and controversial development plan.

I did get some information last week and will bring you the details, but first some background.

The agency had released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)  - - a first state step in studying major projects which could impact land, air, water, and other socio-economic factors - - that reviewed the suitability of constructing an 18-hole, privately owned high-end golf course along Lake Michigan on a wooded, water, sand dune and Native-American artifact-laden 247-acre nature preserve south of Sheboygan that also abuts the popular Kohler-Andrae State Park.

More about the state park's relationship to the golf course plan will be included in another post coming today, but for now, back to the draft EIS:

Since the DNR has yet to receive a detailed, formal proposal with requisite permit applications for the project from the Kohler Company - - the land owner and potential developer - - project opponents are crying foul over what they see as cart-before-the-horse state input that could help the developer eventually nail down project approval.

I had noticed that Mike Thompson, a DNR official, told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lee Bergquist that other plans had also received similar draft EIS analysis prior to the submission of formal proposals:

Mike Thompson, environmental analysis team supervisor, cautioned that the document is a draft and could be changed, based on comments from the public, and as other information becomes available. 
Thompson said there have been instances when the DNR has moved ahead with the environmental impact report before receiving a formal application. He said the company did not ask for the analysis to be done before it filed an application.
I asked several people familiar with the DNR if they could recall such instances and no one could supply a relevant example, so I posed the same question to the agency, and asked for the records, or links or citations for them.

A fair question, I thought, given that the project would be developed by a powerful and well-connected Walker campaign donor whose golf course plan would also take control of between four-and-twenty acres of public land in the adjoining state park.

In the DNR's response to my request, David Siebert, director of the 
Bureau of Environmental Analysis and Sustainability said via email:

When Mr. [Mike] Thompson was speaking with Mr. Berquist [Sic], before his article of June 29, 2016,  he was referencing projects that he was familiar with, where DNR worked on a joint EIS with the PSC.  In those circumstances that Mr. Thompson was thinking about during the interview, a DNR/PSC EIS was developed before DNR had all the DNR permit applications in hand.  We would be happy to provide you a  copy of  one or more those documents if you like. 
NR 150 and WEPA require that DNR conduct an environmental analysis in advance of making permit decisions. 
Siebert later wrote:
The example Mr. Thompson was talking about was the Fox Energy Generation Project, Final EIS August 2002. I checked this morning and unfortunately the PSC electronic file system does not have a link to the document...There are likely other examples like that in that timeframe, but that was what he was thinking about at the time of the interview.
To be clear, I appreciated the information and Siebert's offer to supply hard copy material about that project.

If I am correct, The Fox Energy Generation Project involved proposed power plant and related supply facilities which ultimately were not constructed - - an undertaking far greater in cost and scale than the possible nature preserve golf course and which could justify preliminary reviews as early as possible.

I assumed when I read The Journal Sentinel story that the DNR had a longer and more recent list of draft EIS reports - - plural - - for projects similar in scope and timeline to the golf course project.

More later, perhaps.

Tuesday update:

Siebert today emailed me this further information and I am happy to add it in full:

Mr. Rowen—

FYI.  This was not one of the examples that Mike Thompson was thinking of during his June 28 interview with Mr. Bergquist, but is responsive to your open records request.

The Department prepared an EIS for this proposed project, although no stocking permit application was ever received. See the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law at the end of the document.

·         Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Introduction and Stocking of Landlocked Salmon into Big Green Lake. The document is available under Doc ID # EA0214 at:


or at the direct link to the document: