Friday, February 28, 2020

Homeland Security GOP Senator stars on Disease Control Incompetence Team

He might as well haul out his sunspots trope. 

As coronavirus news cascades about the Trump's self-inflicted failures to keep key scientists in place and effectively address pandemic planning in general, this assurance weeks ago from our already scientifically-challeged Senator Johnson 

gives you an idea of how Team Trump really operates:
I spoke with the director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) last night so the administration is completely on top of this," Johnson said....They don't want to underreact, but they don't want to overreact. And the chance they'll get it 100% right is probably next to zero. But they are completely on the case....
"It really does fall on local officials to understand the serious steps of preventing the virus to spread," Johnson said.
Yes, I said "already scientifically-challenged."  

So get on it, Madison or Monroe or Manitowish Waters....because other very important people have a wall to build and a tee-time at Mar-a-Lago to keep.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

GOP-run WI State Senate finally OK'ed Preston Cole as DNR Secretary

It only took the always-campaigning - - like this one and that one - - and poisonously-partisan GOP State Senate obstructionists a mere fifteen months to get around to approving Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' selection of Preston Cole as Wisconsin DNR Secretary.

Preston D. Cole

Though you can understand the Republicans' principled anxieties, as there's no way of getting around the fact that Cole doesn't have the home-building and McDonald's restaurant management credentials and mentality of Cathy Stepp, Scott Walker's long-serving, chamber of commerce-minded DNR boss.

Not to mention in no way matching the time Stepp put in at Trump for President rallies before joining the EPA that Trump is working hard to unburden of its defining environmental protection and public health mission.

FYI: "Chamber of commerce mentality" was Walker's nicely-turned phrase, not mine.

Cole has pledged to focus on climate change science, so lacks the Walker-Stepp dedication to scrubbing climate science off the public record, so let's hope that Cole's decades of higher education, parks, forestry and administrative work can somehow compensate.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

After today's Milwaukee mass murder, JS tells it like it is

[Update: I have edited and changed my original text. The headline should have read "GOP leaders." The phrase "State leaders" is overly broad and not specific to the Republicans who refused to even debate Evers' gun safety proposals. My bad.]

Props to the Journal Sentinel for the strong headline and lede on this evening's story.
State leaders made clear hours before Molson Coors shooting there will be no new action on gun legislation 
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, early Wednesday afternoon made clear that the state's gun laws would not change under a Republican-controlled Legislature despite a call for a review from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers...
His comments came just after Evers again called on lawmakers to take up legislation aimed at keeping guns away from people who are dangerous, underscoring the deep divide between Evers, Democrats and Republicans on the issue of gun restrictions.  
You may remember that several months ago, GOP legislative leaders shut down after about a minute and with no debate whatsoever the special session on gun safety measures proposed by Evers.
Screenshots don't do justice 
to the arrogance of his outrage, but the video posted by Madison TV station NBC15 of Fitzgerald's contemptuous, cowardly adjournment in mere seconds of a special legislative session called to debate better citizen protections against gun violence will live forever as 'How a Bill Does Not Become a Law.'

Evers backs education. Republicans wanted incarceration. And talking points.

Props to Gov. Evers for vetoing a GOP bumper-sticker bill that did not use state surplus funds to improve teaching and learning in public schools Walker and his right-wing legislative lieutenants savaged ideologically and budgetarily for years.
Republicans had passed an alternative as they scurried towards adjournment and a paid, ten-month 2020 vacation that would have authorized a prison-building spree without the money to pay for it while also providing a tax cut next year worth a cup of coffee a week per tax filer.

The VosGerald 'brain' trust knew that Evers would veto the bill so they could yammer about it during the 2020 elections, as I said earlier:
Actually, Republicans are less interested in their having their tax cut implemented; they hope Evers vetoes the coffee-a-week plan so they can scream in the 2020 elections about Evers denying people a tax cut.
 As I've said, Vos-Gerald are all about playing the game - - whether it be about gun safety, education, CAFO contamination, CAFOs, groundwater and public health, and even bar closing time during this summer's Democratic National convention - - and not actually getting anything of substance done.
The GOP-led Wisconsin Assembly is like the monopoly cable provider which screws up your service, intentionally ignores a simple repair and then tells you the fix you didn't order includes pay channels you don't want - - and a land line you didn't ask for, either.

Experts - some in WI - can help Trump explain, manage coronavirus threats

Trump is said to be planning a news conference about the coronavirus.

Since his relationships with doctors and big words usually substitute confusion for order and fiction for facts, let me suggest he bring in or use as surrogates in the next few days these veteran health and management experts:

Grover Norquist. He could explain how his goal of government shrinkage to bathtub-drowning scale showed the wisdom of Trump's budget and personnel cuts to science, medicine, and disease prevention,

Ditto for Scott Walker, who successfully weakened state phosphorous discharge law and cut science and staff at the Wisconsin DNR that boosted the number of contaminated rivers - -

 More lopsided data on the DNR list for 2016 in favor of pollution: 
In the proposed 2016 list update, DNR proposes to add 225 new waters. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. A significant number of new listings were also based on poor biological condition. Ten waterbodies are proposed to be delisted.
*  Same story in the 2018 list
In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add 240 new water segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five waterbodies are proposed to be delisted. 
So allowing for some portion of the total to have taken place in one year of the Doyle era, and also allowing for some late changes, the cumulative numbers in these reports which encompass most of Walker's tenure show the addition of 804 newly listed polluted waterways to the "more than 700" cited in 2012.
The additions, 804, outpaced deletions, 96, by a ratio of more than eight-to-one, and leaves Walker with about double what he inherited.
- - and kept rural drinking water systems filthy from Kewaunee County to the Central Sands and beyond:
Another day, another report and story about fecal contamination in rural Wisconsin wells. 
Tests show more southwestern Wisconsin wells contaminated with fecal matter
* And to perfectly round out the toxic trio, (sorry for the repetition) but who better to help Trump make his case than WI GOP State Senator Tom Tiffany - - 

Image of Tom Tiffany
- - since he pushed Walker to cut the DNR's science staff, led the move to add hazardous sulfide mining near state waters, promoted wetland filling on a massive scale, and hopes to transfer that Walker devotion to Trump servitude and a Congressional seat.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

WI DNR says "climate change." Skies don't fall, and may get clearer!

Unlike the preceding administration which treated the subject as anathema, it's nice to see the WI DNR using the phrase "climate change" 
Smoke stacks from a factory. 

and applying it in the real world:
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources awarded more than $750,000 to 40 projects aimed at improving Wisconsin's air quality and addressing climate change. 
The grants are for projects that fund the replacement or upgrade of older, higher-emitting diesel engines on school buses and construction equipment across the state with newer, cleaner technologies. One of the projects funds the purchase of zero-emission lawn mowers in the city of Eau Claire to replace aging diesel equipment. 
"While older diesel engines can be reliable, they pollute more than newer models," said Gail Good, DNR Air Program Director. "These projects will help improve the air quality in communities across the state." 
Diesel engines emit harmful pollutants, including fine particles that can lodge deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream. These pollutants can contribute to serious public health problems, including asthma, lung cancer and various other cardiac and respiratory diseases. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to these impacts.
In addition to improving local air quality, these grants advance Wisconsin's efforts to address climate change and implement Governor Tony Evers' Executive Order #38 releating to clean energy is Wisconsin. Executive Order #38 calls on state agencies to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 
Diesel engines emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, as well as black carbon, a compound that is a major contributor to global climate change. Since the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions from sources like diesel engines is necessary to effectively address this issue.
Visit our website for a complete list of the funded projects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds the projects through the State Clean Diesel Grant Program which is part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. The DNR administers the grant and provides matching funds. The DNR anticipates the next round of State Clean Diesel Grant Program funding in the fall of 2020.

Boo on Midwestern metaphors. And generalizations.

I'd say 'Midwestern iciness' - -
Pete Buttigieg vs. Amy Klobuchar: An Abridged History of Midwestern Iciness
is as useless as 'Midwestern nice.'
Debaters, viewers - - be not fooled by 'Midwestern nice' Scott Walker
The only thing icy about the Midwest right now is the weather.

The Milwaukee River in February. James Rowen photo

Monday, February 24, 2020

Coronavirus spreads. Can WI's re-election chair justify Trump's public health fail?

All of Trump's Wisconsin enablers, from Ron Johnson to 2020 state Trump re-election co-chair Scott Walker 

to the VosGerald geniuses whom Walker will rely on all year should be asked - - as the coronavirus spreads - - to justify this sequence of Trumpian failings years in the making:

Trump Proposes Deep Cuts In Detecting Disease Outbreaks Worldwide
In Trump's proposal, funding for the program would drop by about two-thirds, from about $180 million each year to about $60 million each year. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to downsize its operations — or even close up shop — in 39 countries by September 2019. It will continue its work in 10 countries. 
Top White House official in charge of pandemic response exits abruptly
The top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic has left the administration, and the global health security team he oversaw has been disbanded under a reorganization by national security adviser John Bolton.
The abrupt departure of Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer from the National Security Council means no senior administration official is now focused solely on global health security. Ziemer’s departure, along with the breakup of his team, comes at a time when many experts say the country is already underprepared for the increasing risks of a pandemic or bioterrorism attack. 
So time out here: 

You know that coronavirus suffering and body counts, already catastrophic and accelerating elsewhere, are coming to our shores, too.

That is, barring a miracle, or, by the grace of skilled work through scientists and public servants the likes of whom the GOP crew routinely underfund, undervalue and dismiss.

So we'll ask those in Wisconsin GOP 'leadership' who've offered nary an empathetic peep for members of the world family who are sick, nameless, or otherwise can't:

Will there be from you Trump loyalists any acceptance of accountability, or will 2020 be for you a seamless continuation of your easy-peasy political lives while you:

* Enjoy speaking gigs and holidays between cruises and party trains (see Walker's Twitter feed);

* Spend a spring, summer and fall filled with parades and fund-raising picnics  befitting safely-gerrymandered Legislative incumbents;

* Be swept up into privileged hobnobbing with Trump when he floats on Air Fore 1 into the state again and again and again for another and another and another publicly-subsidized ego massage at the Rally Corral;

* Or indulge in Capitol parlor games, like the dulling, deadening distraction now being perpetrated for partisan entertainment at the expense of actual public service, and Democrats: a bar closing extension time for the DNC this summer - - still undecided

What synthetic drama!

Back to what Republicans should have to answer for right now:

US underprepared for coronavirus due to Trump cuts, say health experts
  • Steps put in place after Ebola outbreak have been scrapped
  • Post of global health czar eliminated and CDC funding cut
White House Will Ask Congress for Emergency Coronavirus Funds

The request will arrive at the same time the Trump administration is proposing cuts to health programs across the government and as health officials across the nation struggle to keep up with costs....
Lawmakers are skeptical of the White House’s intentions. The president’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October proposed tens of millions of dollars in cuts to health and human services’ Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, in addition to the department’s Hospital Preparedness Program, which helps hospitals handle surges of patients during disease outbreaks. 
The administration also asked to cut more than $85 million from the C.D.C.’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, which directly works on outbreaks like the coronavirus, which is believed to have emerged from live animals in Wuhan, China. 

'Moderate' WI GOP State Sen. Luther Olsen retiring. 'Moderate?'

Media are reporting that 'moderate' WI GOP State Sen. Luther Olsen is retiring. 

Image of Luther Olsen
Here are some recent Olsen votes which help define GOP moderation: