Saturday, July 21, 2018

Tweet about Trump, collusion, is tweet of the day


  Verified account   @MSNBC 
5 minutes ago
Photographs of Trump's prepared remarks appear to show that a line about bringing the election hackers to justice was crossed out, and a line denying collusion was added.

Trump hits environment-fouling trifecta this week

It was easy to focus this week on Walker and Trump's self-inflicted Russia-related wounds, but here's some of what their official corporate bellhops were doing to further trash the environment that you might have missed:


Law That Saved the Bald Eagle Could Be Vastly Reworked

The Trump Administration is Expected to Weaken Fuel Emission Standards Next Week

Interior Fast Track's drilling's Arctic impact: Report


Grizzly Bear Family in Glacier National Park.jpg
And do not forget that Walker has done his share of damage to clean water, endangered species and clean air, too, noted here and here and here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Arizona mismanages water. Don't get smug about it, Bucky

You might have seen a long piece in The New York Times Thursday about Arizona's disappearing groundwater due to ridiculous law and industrial-scale agriculture, including this: 
In 2014, a Saudi Arabian-owned company, the Almarai Corporation, bought 10,000 acres in the town of Vicksburg, northwest of Sulphur Springs Valley, planting alfalfa to ship halfway around the world to feed Saudi cattle. Then, a United Arab Emirates farming corporation, Al Dahra, bought several thousand-acre farms along both sides of the Arizona-California border. These purchases were perfectly legal, but many residents felt these newcomers were essentially “exporting water.” 
That nugget from the Times story sounded familiar, as I'd referenced it in this 2015 post:
Water use and abuse, here and there  
Keep reading if you want to know why... Saudi Arabia is using Arizona desert groundwater to grow and harvest huge amounts of even thirstier alfalfa for shipment to dairy cattle operations in the parched Saudi desert.
Sounds crazy, right, but hold on Bucky and take in few home-state matters.

* If repeatedly cavalier use of water for commercial purposes grinds your gears, then consider that it's not uncommon for the Little Plover River right here in Wisconsin to dry up in summertime because heavy pumping by nearby big farms leaves the trout to die.


I've written about it more than once, and posted photos which originated with River Alliance of Wisconsin.

River Alliance of Wisconsin photos
Dead Brookie
* Water-for-business-growth underscores Foxconn's controversial pursuit of Great Lakes water diverted from Lake Michigan - - combined with a return to the lake of a portion after its use in proprietary, chemical-laden processes - - to produce liquid crystal display screens for televisions and other devices. 

*  Waukesha's separate diversion of Lake Michigan water always had a business-development component. 
Through a spokesman, business organizations in Southeastern Wisconsin had the same idea, as I noted in 2010:
“Waukesha… has the potential to serve as a template for responsible intra-basin diversions,” he said. “If you proceed from the premise that access to Great Lakes water is an economic advantage, it’s to our region’s advantage to draw who has access as broadly as possible. We want to be sure we are maximizing our regional advantage with the competitive advantage we were able to get in the (Great Lakes Water Compact).”
Opening the Great Lakes spigot to assist business was backed by metro home builders association leader Matt Moroney, a strong proponent of Great Lakes diversions expressed while serving as a member of a southeastern Wisconsin regional planning commission advisory body.

That advisory committee and the full seven-county commission endorsed Waukesha's proposed diversion and other region-wide draws of Lake Michigan water.

In comments submitted to a state legislative council several years ago, Moroney opposed the pending Great Lakes Compact which eventually was approved. It did establish barriers - -which are not insurmountable - -to certain diversions. 

The link contains Moroney's comments in full. This section has always caught my eye:
I have heard several arguments that being located next to the Great Lakes will become an economic advantage for Wisconsin in the years to come. However, if the water cannot be utilized for economic growth, being located next to the Great Lakes will put Wisconsin at an economic disadvantage. 
So it's not surprising that Moroney is Wisconsin's newly-appointed liaison to Foxconn, having progressed in Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' administration from Deputy Secretary of the DNR, to a senior Walker office position to the newly-created contact position for Foxconn.

Now I'm not saying that these examples are as concerning or egregious as is growing grain in the Arizona desert for export to Saudi dairies. 


But think about the diversion precedents Wisconsin is establishing in the region while none of the seven other Great Lakes states has made a diversion application.


And look also at our baffling tolerance for contaminated rivers, algae-polluted lakes and manure-laden drinking water, and you will see an corporate-friendly but unacceptably foul picture of water abuse come into focus right here.

Is 'We're not as reckless as Arizona' a worthy state slogan, let alone the guiding water management philosophy we really want?


Remembering the Tea Party, other Republicans undermined Mike Ellis

Seeing Walker's remarks today on the passing of the former old-school, relatively-moderate GOP Senate leader Mike Ellis
Mike Ellis. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.
made me remember how the Tea Party bashed Ellis before he got the message and retired.

I also remembered who had boasted to CNN that he was "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin."
Walker: 'I was the original Tea Party in Wisconsin'
"When people ask me, 'How do you appeal to Tea Party folks?' I say: I was the original Tea Party in Wisconsin," Walker said.  

Walker's embarrassing tweet against the Russia photo scoop

Pathetic Twitter response to the real scoop.
Continuing to celebrate

Scottholes & Russiagate pix each worth 1,000 words of incompetence

For his detractors, Scott Walker's failed seventy-one day 2015-toe-dip into presidential waters is the gift that keeps on giving.

For Walker, it has to be a looping nightmare.


It was bad enough that to launch it, Walker had to throw home-state voters and interests under the bus by killing the Kenosha casino project and waffling all over the place on ethanol fuel to please certain Iowa businesses and opinion-makers.

Then when polls cratered that once had him leading,  Walker was forced to drop out, broke and disorganizedbefore any Iowan for whom he'd stumped, motorcycled and pandered got the chance to give Walker a single caucus vote.

This debacle was followed by his having to spend months calling for dollars, selling mailing lists and autographing remainders of his unfortunately-titled campaign bio "Unintimidated" to payoff a $1.2 million dollar debt run up in what for a presidential campaign is a nano-second.

Further followed with an apology tour across Wisconsin aimed at voters whom he had misled about being dedicated to serving out a full second term with a series of humiliating, 'hey, remember-me' listening sessions made even less credible and more pathetic credible because the meetings were by invitation only.

By the way, the Walker book can be had today for as little as ten cents, used, on Amazon - - where it is also ranked #712,566 on its best-seller list.

And speaking of the book, it probably didn't serve Walker well that one its more incendiary claims about his being endangered while not unintimidated in La Crosse by protesters was ruled "false" by Politifact.

Anyway, here we all are nearly three years out from his goofy presidential bid and it turns out that Walker appears to be the only 2015-16 presidential candidate  gullible enough to get himself photographed with a-now-indicted alleged Russian spy and have the meeting demoralized through photos posted on a supporting PAC's website.
Torshin, Walker, Butina
Hawking something so patently absurd as gun rights in Russia. C'mon. Seriously? Did she ask him to come outside and see the unicorn she rode in on?

We're now at the point that Walker can't jet off to the White House where's he scheduled for an Foxconn attaboy from President Trump without the largest paper in the state adding, among other Russia-related information:
And Walker has had to explain how he came to have his photo taken in 2015 with a woman now accused of being a Russian agent. (Walker has said he talked to the woman briefly when she and another Russian approached him in 2015 at a National Rifle Association convention to get their photo with him, just as many of his supporters have.)
And that was not the first time that Walker was proven dupe-able; there was the time he was pranked into spilling guts over the phone to a prankster he thought was mega-GOP-financier David Koch.

I always thought Walker would sweep that under the rug by claiming his office cut-ups were playing a game of "Pepsi, or Coke?," and just as the Koch call came through on line one he thought he heard someone shout out, "Coke, number one, brother!"

Walker isn't above offering a creative, or duplicitous explanation after getting caught with his political pants either falling down or on fire.  

Like his intentional rewrite of the "Wisconsin Idea" he tried to as a budget "editing error" by others when it was intentional as a central ideological and financial element in his campaign to muddy-up Madison, diminish the UW system and upend its traditional and iconic public service mission.

Now I'm not saying images of paling around with an alleged Russian spy are enough to send Walker packing in November - - more photos, here - - but here's one that could.

Schimel hires lab consultant. Can proclamation, task force be next?

GOP Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has hired a Florida consultant to help with crime lab testing delays which have defined his tenure in office.
Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has hired a consultant to identify ways to speed up testing at the state crime labs as criticism over delays mounts.
Image of Brad Schimel
Ah, the Hire-a-consultant-gambit. Well played, sir.

It's the classic first step by a public official who is a) acknowledging that there is a problem, but b) passing off the responsibility to get it fixed to someone else c) using more of your money.

So look for these follow-up do-nothing-real steps:

Step 2. Issue a proclamation, pretending that words are actions.

Step 3. Appoint a Blue Ribbon Task Force, with more strong words and responsibilities assigned to others. 

Step 4. Give the Task Force a 'report-by' date after the election, but keep their updates coming and publicized. Illusion sells better if momentum can be conjured.

Step 5. Convert the issue into a campaign video and post it with a claim to leadership, just as Schimel did when touting his 'leadership' on the state's worsening opioid crisis.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Democrats, are you listening?

A poll-tested political plank is right in front of you.

People hate their Scottholes.
Northern, Western Wisconsin Residents Have Dismal View Of Roads In Latest Survey.


Rural innovation, from Wisconsin to England

Some interesting reading about good ideas I knew nothing about.

5,000 Wisconsin farms are recycling tons of plastic.
Old silage plastic is getting a new life, thanks to a plastics recycler based in Arkansas. Revolution Plastics’ has recycled over 40 million tons of ag plastic since launching its recycling program in Wisconsin two years ago... 
“The post-consumer resin, which is made from the silage plastics from Wisconsin can go into trash can liners, construction film, agricultural film, polytube irrigation, just a number of things it works great in,” [business operations director Price] Murphy says.
And in England, the green energy company Ecotricity - - 

An Ecotricity wind turbine at Green Park Business ParkReadingEngland, generating electricity for ~1000 homes.

- - can supply power from renewable sources including electricity that is free of animal byproducts. You can read more about how we make our green electricity here.
Why should you switch to vegan energy?
You don’t have to follow a vegan diet to switch to vegan energy – there are other reasons to make a change:
  • Cut your carbon emissions. Energy, transport and food production account for up to 80% of our personal carbon emissions. By switching to vegan energy, you’re doing one of the biggest single things you can do to cut your carbon footprint.
  • Support ethical energy production. If you switch to vegan energy, you can be sure your energy bills don’t support factory farming or the unethical treatment of animals. Instead, you’ll get animal free, 100% green, ethical energy.






Campaign sing-along. "Maria! I've just met a girl named Maria..."

You see a photo, I see a campaign ad soundtrack. Leonard Bernstein, meet Scott Walker. And Maria.

Maria!
I’ve just met a girl named Maria
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same
To me

Torshin, Walker, Butina

More Walker-Butina photos

We'd seen some, but here are others, and they originated on a Walker PAC website, just for the record.
Former NRA president David Keene introduces Maria Butina and Alexsandr Torshin to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, April 2015.

Groups working to slow politically-driven Foxconn bulldozing

When he was Milwaukee Mayor, John Norquist used to wryly observe that there were only two stages to WisDOT's highway planning before the orange barrels went up. "It's too soon to know," followed by "It's too late to do anything about it."

When it comes to Foxconn, Walker and his allies, with their 2018 campaign schedules driving the process, just skipped to the last step and sent in the bulldozers, the route paved politically by over-promising, fast-tracked subsidies, gaudy propagandizing photo-ops, environmental exemptions and, if they were to need it, seizures or productive land and finely-maintained homes under a twisted definition of blight removal. (see photo of what can be called blighted, and seized).
Cabbage fields on the 'blighted' Foxconn site, 2017

Enter a court filing and related actions aimed at putting the cart behind the horse where it belongs. 
The filings ask a court to put a hold on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ diversion approval during the ongoing legal challenge. 
Additionally, the groups requested that the city of Racine hold off on beginning any construction work on new water infrastructure related to the proposed diversion of water from Lake Michigan.
You can access a full year's postings about Foxconn, here. 

As I've said on this blog many times, it's wrong that so much private money has to be spent Wisconsin these days to battle with taxpayer-funded agencies and officials to get public policies serving the public interest, but until there are ballot-box wins, this will remain the case.

So props to the activists trying to restore sanity, fairness and fiscal health into a corrupted and polluted political environment. 

Where you can't drink the WI water. Or step in it.

Wisconsin's clean waters are increasingly blue-green, brown and unhealthy.

9:00 a.m. update 7/19/18 - - I'd posted this at 8:47 p.m. with a reference to Marinette County water contamination, but now there is this added reporting:
A Wisconsin company that makes fire suppression foam says it has found more evidence of toxic compounds polluting water in ditches near one of its operations in Marinette — the latest indication that some of its chemicals could be flowing into Lake Michigan
* Widespread well water contamination reported in Juneau County.
Testing of  more than 100 water wells in a rural area of Juneau County found 42 percent of them had high levels of nitrates and nitrogen, making the water unsafe to drink, a groundwater specialist said Tuesday.
Add that to:

*  Fecal contamination in Kewaunee County groundwater, recently described as "disgusting."
One evening in October 2016, as [Erika] Balza and her husband were getting ready for bed, they turned on the faucets. Out came dark brown water that smelled like manure. "I mean, that's just disgusting," Balza says. 
CAFO runoff in Kewaunee County
*  Groundwater contaminated with dangerous chemicals in Marinette County near Lake Michigan.

*  The doubling of impaired waterways in Wisconsin under Walker.

*  The persistent dead zone in Lake Michigan and a blue-green algae outbreak in 2016.

*  Lake Michigan dead zones, 2017 update.

*  Blue-green algae outbreaks in 2018.

*  Two years of raw sewage contamination tolerated in Eau Claire waters.

* The precise make-up of Foxconn's industrialized wastewater which will have begun as a multi-million-gallon-per-day Lake Michigan diversion is unknown.

So maybe Walker thought it was a meeting of the National Russian Association

[Updated from 7/18/18] So we're getting more of Walker's typical 'don't ask me! I know nothing' behavior.

Thought he still has nothing to say about the Trump's-Putin FUBAR bear-hug in Helsinki, he has broken his silence about how he managed to get his picture taken with an alleged Russian spy who seemed enamored of his 2015 Presidential bid and who herself has managed to get herself charged by the US government for operating in the country as an unregistered foreign agent.

Walker finally said he remembered meeting the woman at an NRA convention back when he was polling strongly prior to the Iowa caucuses


MSNBC screen shot, 7/18. Russian connected banker/pol Alexander Torshin to Walker's right, and arrested alleged Russian spy Maria Butina to Walker's left.
only because other people have pointed it out now, that he doesn't remember speaking Russian to her (as she does), and doesn't know anyone who's been contacted by the authorities in the matter, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Walker might as well say he thought he was at a National Russian Convention, looking for a pen pal.

His denials and disinterest are a variation on his frequent absence of an opinion, whether it be about immigrant kids being snatched from their parents at the southern border, or on, say, evolution.

Frankly, a lot gets past Walker.

A few years ago, I noted some of the issues Walker said he knew nothing about, including whether being gay was a matter of both or choice and if President Obama was Christian.

Or if he knew anything about the John Doe probe, or, at the time, about whether his campaign for student body President had broken any rules.

Or, if he had talked to mega-donor Diane Hendricks about a divide-and conquer strategy.

You see the pattern.

Elsewhere I noted that Walker didn't know if he had signed recall petitions against Sen. Herb Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold, and didn't know anything about a patient at a Milwaukee County facility starving to death when he was County Exec.

Walker defends withholding Mental Health Complex report

"I don't know what's in it, so it's hard for me to say" if it should be released, Walker said. His administration had nothing to do with the report being withheld, Walker said.
Then, as now, don't bother asking. He knows nothing. 


So exactly where is Schimel's claimed leadership "against opioid abuse?"

Wisconsin's GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel's campaign Twitter account has at the top of the feed a permanent, "pinned tweet" which includes a promotional video and this text. 

May 17
MoreWe launched our first digital ad of the cycle. Brad Schimel is leading the nation in the battle against opioid abuse.
Square that claim with these facts.

*  This story posted nine weeks prior to Schimel's Tweet details skyrocketing opioid overdoses in Wisconsin: 

Emergency room visits for suspected opioid overdoses increased 109 percent in Wisconsin from July 2016 to September 2017, the highest spike among 16 states closely tracked, federal health officials said Tuesday. 
The ER data show trends in the opioid abuse epidemic before deaths do, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the study.

* And as for joining other states in litigation against opioid manufacturers
Schimel Won't Join Lawsuits Against Trump Immigration Policy, Opioid Makers
*  Leaving the litigation leadership to local officials in Wisconsin, even in Waukesha County where Schimel had served as District Attorney before being elected Attorney General.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Maybe Walker though it was the National Russian Association

[Updated from 7/18/18] So we're getting more of Walker's typical 'don't ask me! I know nothing' behavior.

Thought he still has nothing to say about the Trump's-Putin FUBAR bear-hug in Helsinki, he has broken his silence about how he managed to get his picture taken with an alleged Russian spy who seemed enamored of his 2015 Presidential bid and who herself has managed to get herself charged by the US government for operating in the country as an unregistered foreign agent.

Walker finally said he remembered meeting the woman at an NRA convention back when he was polling strongly prior to the Iowa caucuses
Torshin, Walker, Butina
only because other people have pointed it out now, that he doesn't remember speaking Russian to her (as she does), and doesn't know anyone who's been contacted by the authorities in the matter, the Journal Sentinel reports.

Walker might as well say he thought he was at a National Russian Convention, looking for a pen pal.

His denials and disinterest are a variation on his frequent absence of an opinion, whether it be about immigrant kids being snatched from their parents at the southern border, or on, say, evolution.

Frankly, a lot gets past Walker.

A few years ago, I noted some of the issues Walker said he knew nothing about, including whether being gay was a matter of both or choice and if President Obama was Christian.

Or if he knew anything about the John Doe probe, or, at the time, about whether his campaign for student body President had broken any rules.

Or, if he had talked to mega-donor Diane Hendricks about a divide-and conquer strategy.

You see the pattern.

Elsewhere I noted that Walker didn't know if he had signed recall petitions against Sen. Herb Kohl and Sen. Russ Feingold, and didn't know anything about a patient at a Milwaukee County facility starving to death when he was County Exec.

Walker defends withholding Mental Health Complex report

"I don't know what's in it, so it's hard for me to say" if it should be released, Walker said. His administration had nothing to do with the report being withheld, Walker said.
Then, as now, don't bother asking. He knows nothing. 



Why Trump's right at home when private land seizures loom

There was a missed opportunity at the Foxconn ground-breaking.
Not Trump's first eminent domain rodeo

Understandably, because reporters and GOP operatives alike know Trump has no self-referencing sense of humor - - (Google Trump, Seth Myers, Barack Obama).  

But someone perhaps on the cusp of retirement should have asked Trump as he and Walker and Ryan and Co. gazed at nicely-maintained farmland and homes available for seizure through eminent domain if he was having a Coking flashback.

No, not that coking. 

Vera Coking.

Who was a strong-willed, law-abiding homeowner who refused to sell her New Jersey home to Trump so he could tear it down for limo parking at his now-defunct New Jersey casino.

And fought in court the deployment of eminent domain on his behalf by the government so he could have her private property.

For the record, Ted Cruz remembered Vera Coking.

Also for the record: she won her case, though Trump and his businesses succeeded in other government-sponsored grabs of private property for his use.

A nice summary of how his eminence has employed eminent domain is here.

Three more things for you to read on the subject.

1. This update on local efforts to prevent eminent domain seizures of perfectly fine agricultural land and well-maintained homes enabled by a blight designation - - noted here in 2017 - - laid down by the Village of Mount Pleasant.

2. A conservative law and policy outfit's concern over the Mount Pleasant matter, here, suggesting that Goliath hasn't won yet and David may have more friends than he knows.

3. My year-long Foxconn archive, here, to which I will add today's installment.