Friday, April 28, 2017

EPA imitates WI DNR's climate information scrub

Trump's hand-picked anti-science and corporately-obeisant EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has ordered the systematic scrubbing of climate change science from its agency's web pages - - just as right-wing GOP WI Gov. Scott Walker and his hand-picked anti-science corporately-obeisant WI DNR administrator Cathy Stepp had ordered the systematic scrubbing of climate change science from that agency's web pages.

Birds of a feather...

Imagine: With our tax dollars, these temporary Republican occupants of critical public agencies are denying proven science and are denying to people on our warming and storm-plagued planet basic information and tools that people need to react and adapt.

What could be more short-sighted, arrogant and dangerous?
Smoke stacks from a factory.


Clarke's jail body count may look good to Trump

Four jail deaths last year, including one by dehydration which has been widely reported and is in front of an inquest jury right now ?

Could be just the scenario that the guy who's being sued for inciting violence at his campaign rallies wants to reward:
The White House is considering David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, for a position at the Department of Homeland Security, three people familiar with the administration’s planning told POLITICO. 
Clarke is in line to be appointed as assistant secretary at DHS’ Office of Partnership and Engagement, which coordinates outreach to state, local and tribal officials and law enforcement. The position does not require Senate confirmation.
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore.jpg 

WI water grab accelerates, permanent privatization on horizon

[Update from 4/26/17 - - An historically destructive Wisconsin water abuse and privatization bill that violates the State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine, Wisconsin history and every known principle of resource stewardship, conservation and public health protection is being rushed by special interests and their GOP lackeys to an Assembly vote next Tuesday, after which Walker will immediately sign it.]
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When it comes to Wisconsin waters, the tag line off an old song is 'danger, heartbreak dead ahead,' and it all began in 2007 when Koch interests anointed Scott Walker as the man for the job.

And about a year ago, these same special interests now aligned to serve Scott Walker and his corporate backers coordinated and produced a legal opinion from a far-right and ideological compliant Attorney General that is about to literally open the floodgates and send the people's water in perpetuity to the largest private users.


There's no way to minimize the environmental and legal disaster being imposed on Wisconsin and its publicly-owned waters by conservative bottom-line rightist ideologues, donors and corporately-manipulated Republicans who occupy and are coordinating the Governor's Office, Legislative majorities in both chambers, the Office of Attorney General, all relevant stage agency management positions and a 5-2 majority on an openly-conflicted, giddly-greedy State Supreme Court.


As I wrote in 2013:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target in Wisconsin is the Public Trust Doctrine
There is a principle in state law and history known as the Public Trust Doctrine. Though awkwardly titled, it's crucial to Wisconsin's appeal by guaranteeing everyone here the right to access and enjoy all waters in the state.
The Public Trust Doctrine dates to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 - - long before Wisconsin statehood - - and is etched as Article IX in the Wisconsin State Constitution.
You can read about it on a DNR website, here.
But this basic Wisconsin birthright remains under continuous assault by Gov. Walker, Republican legislators, business groups and even short-sighted judges.
And you don't have to be a water expert of political scientist to see that removing the Public Trust Doctrine from the state constitution, or watering it down to insignificance is atop the GOP's conservative and anti-conservation agenda. 
And despite alarms raised, Wisconsin under Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' governance is:

*  Approving a rush of high-capacity well permits even in areas with known groundwater shortages;


*  Closing in on making these high-volume groundwater pumping permits permanent for their private owners without ongoing reviews of the downstream or cumulative impacts;

*  Continually bending bend law and policy in favor of the big water users and even polluters who abuse the terms of their easy-street permits;


* Letting big corporate users take keep the public's water in direct violation of Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution, which has long-declared that:

Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
No wonder the way Wisconsin's environmental legacy is being hijacked is seen as the model for the Trump administration's commandeering of the US EPA, the Department of the Interior, and other science-based public agencies and managers of public resources.

New negative jobs report for Walker's Wisconsin

Republicans are in charge and running governments from the Wisconsin State Capitol to the White House like businesses and the news ain't good.

*  Trump's first quarter 'growth' was really squishy.

*  And the most recent monthly job-creation estimate just released for Wisconsin is a big fat minus 2,700.

Which won't help right-wing WI Gov. and unparalleled state stagnator Scott Walker meet his 250,000 new jobs' pledge which was the centerpiece of his 2010 and 2012 gubernatorial campaigns it is still out of reach more than two years after the first-term deadline he set.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why Trump's first 100 days have been a huge success

The first 100 days were a failure if you thought that Trump was a politician interested in policy and an agenda to be moved through Congress.

Trump is a first and foremost a businessman-cum-con man in performance artist costume who saw the Presidency as the best means available to bump up his personal wealth and family businesses' bottom lines.

$

In his first 100 days;

* Trump's new DC hotel is stuffed with political visitors and foreign delegations.

* Trump Tower in Manhattan gets multi-agency 24-hour-a-day protection, new internal security infrastructure and other publicly-paid enhancements.

* Trump's more than 420 properties are escalating in value and cachet.

* Ivanka Trump's branded items are selling like hotcakes and she just won a boatload of trademark permissions to sell them in huge markets in China.

* Trump's sons announced plans for a new chain of hotels nationwide and are working on deals worldwide with taxpayer-paid and provided travel perks and security.

* Trump doubled the membership fee at his Mar-a-Lago resort to $200,000, doesn't have to operate his own Boeing-757 to get there and back on weekends, and doesn't have to pay for the taxpayer-paid  security details that accompany him there, or anywhere.

* Trump is working on tax 'reforms' and regulatory minimization that will increase lower his taxes and enhance his wealth.

Ka-ching!




Wisconsin Republicans find new way to be the Pollution Party

[Updated from 4/15/17] Wisconsin Republicans just can't stop being the Pollution Party.

Now right-wing GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his 'chamber of commerce mentality' administration are playing pollution enabler again.

Not content with speeding along and otherwise endorsing ruinous open-pit iron mining in the Bad River watershed, unchecked clean air and water pollution from sand mines, massive groundwater privatization for Big Ag & Dairy, eased wetlands fillings, hundreds more impaired rivers, greater shoreline development, fewer pollution inspections and enforcement actions, expansions of big feedlots, decades more phosphorous pollution in state waterways, widespread nitrate contamination in rural drinking water, the dead zone in Lake Michigan, and smokestack emissions from power plants - - one Wisconsin GOP special interest practitioner who is also a state legislator has come up with yet another way to give polluters freer rein to contaminate the land and water:
The bill, introduced Monday by Rep. Andre Jacque, of DePere, would extend the current 90-day deadline for correcting violations found through the DNR environmental compliance audit program.
Violators would be allowed 180 days for most violations, and would be allowed 360 days if modification of pollution prevention equipment is required.
The bill also would eliminate the current legal requirements that businesses notify the DNR at least 30 days before beginning a compliance audit, and that the public be notified and be allowed to comment on timetables for bringing a business into compliance.
It seems that Jacque has forgotten words attributed to him in a recent news release about phosphorous pollution - - again an issue his party has made worse by extending clean water and clean-up schedules:
Rep. Jacque noted, “Our residents, area businesses and local governments all have unique responsibilities and perspectives to contribute toward protecting water quality. This is a great opportunity to provide input and to ensure all viewpoints and suggestions are considered- everyone that lives and works in a watershed both uses and impacts the quality of our waters.” 
Jacque is also Wisconsin's leading linguist as well as the GOP's expert on women's health programming.
Picture of Representative André Jacque

Those WI 'harvested' bears belong to all the people

Props to the indefatigable Wisconsin Wolves of Douglas County blog and advocates for the Open Records request that exposed questionable reimbursements to Minnesotans for their hunting dogs run off-leash and lost to wolves.

There have been multiple stories and exposes of this only-in-Wisconsin cash-for-dogs sanctioned cruelty scam - - this one, for example, showed that these payments have even gone to scofflaws - - but it's also important to remember that the bears Wisconsin encourages to be killed by the thousands every year - -
Image result for cathy stepp bear cub
 - - like the wolves which may again regrettably be snared and shot - - are part of the people's wildlife held in trust too often disregarded by the state.

Progress in milk dispute, yes; evidence of Trump/Walker role, no.

Good to see that there are short-term fixes for most of the Wisconsin dairy farms facing possible shutdown over protectionist trade barriers thrown up in Canada.

The life-saving arrangements appear to have been created by others in the Wisconsin business, not government.

I see no evidence that windbag Trump's photo-op promise on the ground in Kenosha
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg
of a party line call including "Scott" and "Ron" and "Paul" - - video, here - - ever took place, though Trump later announced a retaliatory tariff on Canadian lumber exports to the US, thus accomplishing nothing except adding $1,200 to the price of average new US home construction, CNBC reported.

Trump tax cut/job growth 'plan' echoes Walker's WI fail

Donald Trump yesterday tossed out a skimpy, one-page outline of his 'growth-through-tax cut plan' that had less to do with real planning and more to do with getting a First 100 Days photo op on the record.

Republicans always tout their tired mantra of growth through tax cuts, but look to Wisconsin for a lesson.

You may remember that both right-wing GOP Gov. and failed job creator Scott Walker and his GOP Assembly Speaker valet Robin Vos both said Wisconsin's economy would take off like a rocket when Walker's 'standard GOP philosophies' - - like tax cuts principally for the wealthy and business - - took root.

But as one non-profit national watchdog group put it:
After his 2011 election, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker aggressively pursued and helped pass a series of tax cuts in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015. His policies pushed the state into bad fiscal straits and there is no evidence that tax changes enacted under his leadership have had the positive impact on the state’s economy that he promised. In addition, Gov. Walker has hinted that he favors repealing state and federal income taxes, a move that would make the tax system substantially more regressive.
Perveresly, Walker also raised taxes on low-income Wisconsinites in his first budget, and is again proposing to hammer the poor through the tax code in his latest, proposed budget.

The true facts are that Walker's tax cuts were implemented, yet he's more than two years past his self-declared four-year deadline for creating 250,000 new jobs but short of the goal, and the state's economic rankings continue in the lower tier.

Look out for falling, failing rocket duds.
Such as the falling rocket-propelled arrows stuck in Hatay



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National report says WI models Trump war on environment

Any number of publications - - from this blog to Scientific American - - have noted the intentional and fine-grained destruction of Wisconsin's environmental legacy and everyday clean land, water and air protections by right-wing GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his "chamber of commerce mentality" government.

And have written about Wisconsin as the model for what Donald Trump - - with help from corporate ideologues like Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel who's in lockstep with Trump's big business-obeisant EPA chief Scott Pruitt - - has in mind for the US EPA, climate science and resource extraction.


But I wan to call attention to an excellent publication on these issues with the focus on what Walker has done and Trump appears ready to do to the environment with respect to Native American land, water and rights.


It's a must-read.

The Wisconsin Experiment
Donald Trump’s war on the environment was prototyped by far-right politicians in state government. We can learn from Indigenous communities who fought back in the name of science and democracy — and won...
Bad River, Wisconsin Bad River reservation, WI DNR photo
While Trump is a uniquely dangerous figure, he did not start this war. Since 2010, far-right politicians in the Midwest have been running their states as experimental laboratories where they refine efforts to undermine science and democracy. 
(Pruitt himself rose to prominence as attorney general of Oklahoma, where he sued the EPA fourteen times on behalf of corporate polluters and trade associations, many of them campaign donors.) 
The Wisconsin Experiment is particularly egregious. In the past six years, Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature, backed by the Koch brothers, have transformed a state once known for pragmatic, decent, common-sense politics into fertile ground for Tea Parties and Trump rallies. 
Walker now has a direct line to the president through House speaker Paul Ryan and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who also hail from the state. To put it bluntly: What’s the matter with Wisconsin?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

On Twitter, Walker wants you know how good he's got it

Walker praises himself for wanting to drug test poor people while loving his taxpayer-paid lakefront mansion, kitchen and patio. (Not sure why Boston Globe piece Walker posted is not showing.)
  1. Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug tests for Medicaid recipients
  1. 1st campfire đŸ”¥ of 2017!
  2. Brats for dinner plus a beer for me and a brandy Old Fashioned for Tonette on the lake tonight.




DNR again serves up soft news highlights

I've noted it before, so just for the record the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources again in its weekly news highlights serves up a list of soft features principally related to hunting and fishing
The new Kingsford Flowage boat launch is expected to draw additional visitors to the area thanks to easier access to the local fishery. Environmentally protective features including stormwater collection and infiltration elements were incorporated into the design.
and no updates on clean air or water or big project permit reviews, groundwater pumping, pollution inspections or enforcement actions, etc.

Here's this week's list:


Does Trump think Wisconsin is a border state?

You could read it that way. Either way, his retaliation by slapping tariffs on Canadian timber exports to the US isn't going to help the dairy farmers faced with a May 1 doomsday deadline which also seems off Walker's radar:
  7 hours ago7 hours agoMoreCanada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!
Donald Trump official portrait.jpg

Walker amps up 'East coast values' dog whistle

You were wrong, Bucky, if you thought Walker was hunkered down in Trump-scheduled meeting to save Wisconsin dairy farmers faced with a May 1 doomsday deadline in the state Walker said was "open for business."

Walker was in Nebraska, campaigning for a local conservative and also for himself as he reprised the middle-class busting wage cuts and divisive politics he spread across Wisconsin through Act 10 as just whats needed in Nebraska:

Walker, whose moves to restrict labor unions have made him a polarizing figure nationally, said there’s a clear distinction between Stothert and challenger Heath Mello. The governor came to Omaha in part as a response to last week’s Mello rally with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
With this Walker twist: 
“Do you want Midwest common sense?” Walker asked about 250 attendees. “Or East Coast radical values?”
Memo to Walker: You're inching towards those 'New York values' which backfired so badly on FUBAR GOP US Senator Ted Cruz during the presidential primaries. 

Meanwhile, Trump is sending Wisconsin dairy farmers the message they should go milk trees

Apparently Walker's OK with that now that Ohama is in the rear-view mirror.
 

Scientists form advocacy group "Wisconsin's Green Fire"

In the face of the Walker administration's coordinated and ideological attack on sound science and conservation in Wisconsin - - long a theme on this blog - - there's a hopeful new development I am happy to share

Dozens of Wisconsin experts have banded together in a non-profit entity together to speak up for science and respect for the land- - 
Canoeing 
- - to provide solid, non-partisan information and to offer assistance to groups and local governments with the legacy of the great Wisconsinite conservationist Aldo Leopold as the guiding light:
Under Governor Walker’s administration, budgets have been slashed for Wisconsin State Parks and public lands management, scientific research, the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. 
Scientific information on climate change has been scrubbed from Department of Natural Resources communications and restrictions on Department of Natural Resources staff have limited access to science at public hearings...responsible, science-based, long-term management practices are no longer welcome at the table.
In response to these threats, a group of retired and active Wisconsin scientists with experience from a wide range of institutions—including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin, federal natural resource agencies, nonprofit environmental groups, research institutions, and the private sector—have established Wisconsin’s Green Fire...
The group takes its name from one of Aldo Leopold’s essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain”... 
More information about Wisconsin’s Green Fire: Voices for Conservation, a website, and opportunities to join and/or contribute will be available in coming months. For information now, you can contact terryldaulton@gmail.com.

Monday, April 24, 2017

About Paul Ryan's polling plunge...

Though his numbers have cratered - - 
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll published Monday found that 40 percent of voters have a negative view of the Wisconsin Republican, compared with 22 percent who have a positive view.
Paul Ryan's official Speaker photo. In the background is the American Flag.
GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan can find comfort in the grading offered by fellow GOP badger Scott Walker for Donald Trump's recent performance:

"You can always do more."

WI highway-building, Walker re-election move to the fore

WI Republican pols are coming home to their core values, so hold your nose.

Under right-wing-one-party-GOP rule, and led by Governor and road-builders' compliant/career campaigning politician Scott Walker, Wisconsin's ruling party is getting ready to put highway construction above clean water, pothole repairs, transit upgrades, health-care expansion, social programs - - and always, always with another shot at the poor, which has been his routine.

As Walker and the Legislature he controls do their dance about 'fixing' the transportation budget he has damaged for years while protecting Walker's 2018 bid for a third term.

And so the 'save-Walker/back slap the road-builders/screw the people' agenda is closer to reality
Gov. Scott Walker on Monday latched onto the possibility of funneling money from the state’s main account toward highways to try to help solve Wisconsin’s road funding woes... 
The general fund is made up of collections from income taxes, sales taxes and a host of other taxes and fees and is used to fund schools, the University of Wisconsin System, health care for the poor and elderly and numerous other programs.
I've been warning about just this scenario:
At risk along with some major highway schedules: local street aids and transit, already underfunded, and social programs which could be raided for dollars turned into concrete. 
No surprise.
  

County Jail dehydration death should send Sheriff Clarke packing

[Updated thought: Did those seven days coincide with days when Clarke was out on the paid speaking circuit, book tour or campaign trail for Trump? Calling all all Open Records practitioners.] 

The details had been piling up, but this on its own should be the end of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke's disgusting tenure:
Prosecutors: Inmate's water cut off for 7 days before his death in the Milwaukee County Jail

Repeal, replace, recall, whatever

WI over-produces milk; WI producers want more mega-dairies

No doubt you've heard that several dozen modestly-sized Wisconsin dairy farms may have to close and send their herds to the slaughterhouse because Canada has cut back on what it imports from Wisconsin and there is a known over-supply of milk in the state.

Yet:

* Right-wing GOP WI Gov. and captive of the dairy lobby Scott Walker has been promoting a massive expansion of dairy farming in the state because the bigger the special interest, the more Walker is there to serve.

Like the costly-mega highways he's championed at an unsustainable rate. big is not better. Republicans keep telling us government needs to be run like a business, but so far we know that does not include road construction firms or dairy farms.

* One large and controversial operation in Kewaunee County which recently expanded to 6.500 animals began in 2000 with just 350, the Journal Sentinel reported.

*  There is still a pending and highly-controversial application to build a mega-scale dairy with operations spanning Wood and Portage Counties which would house 5,300 animals and require 33 high-capacity wells - - the very large-capacity ag pumping operations that are draining the water table.
File:Confined-animal-feeding-operation.jpg
The very kind of high-volume pumping of the people's water which the Wisconsin DNR is waiving through almost universally to private applicants and which GOP Wisconsin legislators and Gov. Walker intend to lock-in through perpetual privatization.

And which the corporately-controlled WI GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel has said cannot be monitored by the state, just as he also opined that the state cannot mandate the size mega-dairy herds regardless of their impact on groundwater, neighbors or downstream waters.

So how many of these big animal-feeding, manure-producing, water-draining operations with dairy operations accounting for most in The Dairy State?

One DNR data base says there are 200 such big feeding centers with current permits and another 93 not currently operating.

Another DNR website shows approximately the same information, though it graphs data ending in July, 2014, as I noted last month:
Some DNR data on CAFOs stuck in 2014
More later.