Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Walker has debt tantrum, is silent on Trump's $5+ trillion upper. And borrowing for Foxconn

The flickering dim bulbs on this string are definitely disconnected.

After promising to wipe out the US national debt in two terms, failed businessman and super-failing 'President' Donald Trump has already presided over an increase in that debt of $5.2 trillion.

A fact disregarded by the defeated, multi-billion-squandering and big borrowing boosting
ex-Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who shilled on Twitter Tuesday for one of his pet 'causes.'

Jeepers: isn't there anyone Walker could call about this?
We need a Balanced Budget Amendment - before it’s too late!
Quote Tweet
National Debt Tweets
$26,324,627,931,089.54 (+) #NationalDebt

Monday, June 29, 2020

Fresh WI voting restrictions mean hard work to minimize risk, guarantee turnout

Here we go again; voting made unnecessarily risky during Covid time.

A long-delayed series of reactionary rulings by a GOP-friendly Federal Appeals Court panel means more intensive organizing ahead for progressive organizers in Wisconsin, and principally in urban Democratic strongholds where expanded early absentee voting to better spur along democracy is being rolled back to a uniform, two-week window statewide.
Appeals court limits Wisconsin early voting to 2 weeks before election, stops voters from receiving ballots via email, fax
It's another win for Republicans who have for nearly a decade limited ballot access with roadblock after roadblock, beginning with the imposition of voter ID in the name of preventing voting fraud found only in GOP fear-mongering propaganda.

Two of the Seventh Circuit judges who made the ruling had earlier helped validate the voter ID law in a separate opinion.

Rational judges and fair-minded lawmakers during a pandemic that has imposed all sorts of limitations on in-person voting should be going out of their way to make obtaining a ballot and casting it as easy, simple, and stress-free as possible.

Gov. Evers is under pressure to expand the sites where voter ID can be obtained, according to a release from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
All Voting is Local Wisconsin and 28 voting rights groups, including the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, called on Gov. Tony Evers to enforce his own Executive Order and compel the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to expand access to photo ID by increasing locations and hours where voters can obtain the identification necessary to cast a ballot. 
The paucity of voter ID outlets and hours of service statewide was a deliberate Walker tactic that I've written about before.

But the Monday court ruling shows that right-wing policymakers in the legislature and on the bench will do just about anything to stymie the fullest participation in elections to harden the self-serving status quo.

Let's make sure that the progressive turnout on November - and beyond - is a repeat of the April tallies which bounced incumbent right-wing State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly even after the right forced many electors to risk their health by voting in-person with the Covid-19 virus lurking less than six feet away.

New limitations on early voting guarantee that some Wisconsinites will be right back in lines like these in April to cast ballots which a more safety-conscious legislature and judiciary should have ordered for November.
That cynical game plan backfired once; it can be turned around a second time in November, and beyond.

Big city Milwaukee has state park, separate state forest

In addition to a noted wealth of city and county parks (thank you, wise legacy Socialist leaders), I thought I'd remind people that in the City of Milwaukee there also is Havenswood State Forest on the northwest side, and Lakeshore State Park downtown east of the Summerfest grounds.
Bike riders pedaled a Lakeshore State Park trail in August above the Summerfest lagoon in downtown Milwaukee. Lake Michigan is beyond the ridge.
I'm posting this because you don't necessarily associate state parks and forests with "urban." 

And because I'll never get Walker's broad, public smear in Waukesha County of Milwaukee out of my head
People do not want to see Wisconsin "become another Milwaukee," he said.
He took that calculated shot despite the multiple thousands of local people and businesses who for years kicked in through their taxes to keep him on public payrolls, enrolled in health care and boost his growing pensions.

Walker now lives in a downtown Milwaukee condo where the city and its taxpayers clean the water, groom nearby Cathedral Park, built and maintain the close-by Riverwalk which also adds value to his property, and provide many other services and amenities which smooth out his routines. 

Would that there were more gratitude in his attitude.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Will his racism remove Wilson's name from DC institute Walker chairs?

You may remember that Trump threw Walker a bone - membership on the board of the Wilson Center for International Scholars.

It's a think tank within the Smithsonian Institution; Walker recently became the Center's board chairman, according to a Center news release.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Harris & Ewing bw photo portrait, 1919.jpg 

The release said this is the Center mission:
The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.
But Wilson's racism, as explained by the President of Princeton University, is why that school has taken Wilson's name off its prestigious policy center there, according to its current president: 
For decades, the university has celebrated Wilson’s record of public service and his achievements.
Wilson was also a racist. He discouraged black applicants from applying to Princeton. While president of the United States, Wilson segregated the previously integrated federal civil service, thereby moving the United States backward in its quest for racial justice and contributing to the systemic racism that continues to damage black lives and our country today. 
It looks like the Wilson Center is already feeling the pressure, having issued a statement Sunday acknowledging Wilson's racism:
The Wilson Center was chartered by Congress in 1968 as the official memorial to President Wilson. The namesake of our institution – while a visionary in international affairs – held racist views and implemented racist policies as President of Princeton University and as President of this country.
As recently as our nation’s marking of Juneteenth this year, we have acknowledged this aspect of Wilson’s legacy. In February of this year, the Wilson Center’s Hubert H. Humphrey Lecture was given by the former Provost of Northwestern University, Dr. Johnathan Holloway, who examined President Wilson’s legacy through a critical racial lens. Our diverse, international team of scholars will continue to grapple with these issues with clear eyes, open hearts, and an unwavering commitment to the truth.
We know this is not the end of the discussion, but a new opportunity to wrestle with our history and chart a better way forward. We will continue to serve Congress and the American people as the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community. 
So that's it? "...this is not the end of the discussion, but a new opportunity to wrestle with our history and chart a better way forward."

For God's sake, Wilson an unabashed racist who was a vocal defender of the Ku Klux Klan, according to this report in Vox:
For his part, Wilson lent The Birth of a Nation his approval by screening it at the White House and reportedly telling Griffith that it could  "teach history with lightning."
Elsewhere...Wilson attacked Reconstruction on the grounds that "the dominance of an ignorant and inferior race was justly dreaded."  
He was strongly against black suffrage: "It was a menace to society itself that the negroes should thus of a sudden be set free and left without tutelage or restraint." He praised those freed slaves who "stayed very quietly by their old masters and gave no trouble" but bemoaned that they were the exception, the being "vagrants, looking for pleasure and gratuitous fortune" who inevitably "turned thieves or importunate beggars. The tasks of ordinary labor stood untouched; the idlers grew insolent; dangerous nights went anxiously by, for fear of riot and incendiary fire."
At the end of Reconstruction, "Negro rule under unscrupulous adventurers had been finally put an end to in the South, and the natural, inevitable ascendancy of the whites, the responsible class, established." In a 1881 article that went unpublished, Wilson defended the South's suppression of black voters, saying that they were being denied the vote not because their skin was dark but because their minds were dark (yes, really)
Given those facts and admissions, why hang on to the name?

If Princeton can find a better name for the former Wilson policy school on its campus, can't the Center find a more fitting and less insulting name for a government-chartered study center that conducts "relevant and timely research and...dialogue...to address the critical and current and emerging challenges confronting the United States...?"

Like, say, 400 years of systemic racism? Fundamental US inequality? Repetitive violence against African-American citizens by law enforcement under color of law? And continuing voter suppression aimed at minority election rolls, neighborhoods, and polling places? 

And while it wouldn't be Walker's decision, I wonder what tune Walker will sing about it, given a catalogue that includes plenty of voting suppression and multiple dog-whistles.

And, by the way, Walker had been bashing the Democratic Party's segregationist figures who were dominant decades ago before Republicans like Southern Strategy Nixon and Strom Thurmond and Steve King others took over that role.

I wonder if Walker will put his own association with Wilson into the Twitter discussion he's been recently stirring up:

The Hill

Embedded video
WI Gov. @ScottWalker: "Joe Biden and his party want people to ignore the history of their party... a party that's filled with racists."

Wisconsin's attack on Covid is supremely screwed up

It's fair to say that Wisconsin's statewide effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 remains supremely screwed up.

That's because the GOP's little legislative dictators in year two of a power-grabbing binge (assisted by a friend of the court brief from the Tavern League of Wisconsin) waltzed to a depressing State Supreme Court ruling surprising no one 
Right-wing WI Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack wrote the 4-3 majority opinion shelving the state's Safer-at-Home order - while the Court safely met online.
which abruptly ended - without the Republican's promised alternative - Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' proposed extension of the science-based virus-suppressing 'Safer-at-Home' order.

The New York Times noted the outcome unique to our state:
There have been legal challenges to stay-at-home orders in MichiganCaliforniaKentucky and Illinois, but none of those were successful in persuading a court to fully strike down the order, as the plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case were.
The Times piece also carried Evers' prediction: "People will get sick" in the chaos that was coming.

And here we are with Wisconsin's official count again showing a not-surprising spiking growth of new Covid-19 cases; when the Court issued its infamous ruling, Wisconsin had reported 10,902 cases. Saturday, June 27, the reported total was 27,286.

This was how Urban Milwaukee had reported it on June 24:
Biggest Number of New COVID-19 Cases in Three Weeks
Positive case rate is trending up, the opposite of what public health officials want to see.
Lamentably, infuriatingly, a worse headline that this ugly one about two months ago:
Wisconsin reports largest jump in coronavirus cases in at least two weeks
This isn't a trend, or another 'uptick,' as headline writers are repeatedly wont to write: it's a disaster - and this Washington Post headline is more to the point:
With Trump leading the way, America’s coronavirus failures exposed by record surge in new infections
In Wisconsin, we're now among the states with at least a 50% growth in new cases in the last two weeks. So we're not Texas and Florida, but is that really what you want to put on your bumper-sticker?

And, hey, give it time and we just get there now that more businesses, bars and restaurants are open, Northern Wisconsin is open to seasonal tourism and our beach weather is where it was in Texas and Florida a few weeks ago.
Despite COVID-19 uptick, Bradford Beach continues to draw large crowds
The message sent to beach-goers and others eager to hear what they wanted from the majority on its already openly-compromised Supreme Court by catering to Republican ultra-partisan posturing, contorted 'freedom' orthodoxies and special-interest obeisance isn't much different than what Trump intentionally communicates with his embrace of quack virus 'treatments' and his refusal to lead by wearing a mask:

Science is bunk.

We're not all in this together.

I'm in the wrong job.

Forget that being your brother or sister or grandparents' keeper these days, but feel free to be their vector.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

White incumbency explains how privilege will protect its 'rich history'

But will he read a powerful, first-person account of what that history and monuments to it are really all about.

And does he know much about the last 400 years of 'process' on race, equality, fairness, privilege and power?

Read on.

This reliably right-wing and monotonously empathy-free senior WI GOP Senator 

(though more energetically engaged when it comes to his self-interest, sexual abuse shoulder-shrugs and pre-and-post Trump-impeachment-excuse-making) would like (read: white/establishment-directed) 'thought' and 'a process' to determine when monuments to slave-holders and traitorous Confederate rebels might be delicately removed.
"...there could be a process for taking a look at anything. But it should be a process, it shouldn't be a mob, it shouldn't be taking things down," he said...
Note, that's "could be a process for taking a look..." Oh, wait, let's bump that up to "should be," but then "it should be taking things down...," so what are we talking about? Perhaps some new signage? 
"I am concerned about erasing our past. … I don't like doing something in the heat of the moment without thought. … I am absolutely opposed to try and erase and purge America of its rich history — the good, the bad and the ugly."
Process? Remember how all that process involved in voting and litigating and looking to the highest court for justice after those 400 years again just worked out?
The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision refusing to extend a deadline for absentee ballots in Tuesday's Wisconsin elections reflects Chief Justice John Roberts' cramped view of voting rights in America, a long-held position that has often favored Republican interests. 
The pattern, joined by Roberts' fellow conservatives, was epitomized by a 2013 decision that restricted a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act and has allowed states to eliminate polling places, limit voting times and adopt other practices that make it harder for people, especially racial minorities, the poor and elderly, to cast ballots.
Speaking of that "rich history" - and please read the entire piece for more of Johnson's denial of systemic racism in American policing, or his so-it-goes reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic kicked into high gear by the 'President' whom Johnson helped keep in office back in Impeachment Time - is there any chance that some Senate staffer willing to lose the job might stick this NY Times column in Johnson's must-read folder today?
You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument 
The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Trump's list of US expendables now includes the GOP

If there is a method to Trump's ghoulish pre-election move to kill off Obamacare just as the US Covid-19 death toll heads for 200,000 it's to fertilize a new strongman party with the ashes of the GOP.

And if that 'plan' fails, and Trump comes out of the election with self-inflicted political martyrdom, no problem for him, because he's clearly without interest in the confines of a presidency as the founders structured it.

Losing would let him spend the rest of his life holding rallies, airing grievances and raising defense fund finances with self-promoting informercials on late night right-wing TV book-ended by pitches for reverse mortgages and survivalist food prep. 

I'd been saying the GOP under Trump had become a Death Cult for policies that discounted workplace safety during the pandemic - let alone that routinely disregard for clean air and safe drinking water so donors can make more money and keep the corporate state fat and financed -

- but I didn't realize until now that Trump would sacrifice the remaining husk of the Republican Party - and the 200,000 people in Wisconsin enrolled in Obamacare - to keep selling red hats, and his own ego.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Green Bay urges Trump civility, can't bill for today's visit

Green Bay taxpayers who may be appalled by Trump's distinctly unpresidential behaviors and feel harmed by his policies and words can't be happy about the city's high-minded policy that doesn't bill sitting Presidents for public service costs of their visits. 

It's one thing to suffer through threats, discounting and humiliation, but worse to underwrite it when the source arrives in your own backyard for an adulation fix.

Some financial relief on that score may be on the way, as Green Bay will begin charging all such visiting campaigns in 2021, next year, though some candidates' on a bi-partisan basis shrug off the bills.

And to add injury to insult, a maskless Trump and his minions can serve as thoughtless Covid stupid-spreaders because Brown County's Green Bay is in virus hot spot.

I do applaud Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich's clear-minded outreach to Trump in advance of Thursday's presidential visit.
“Our instinct toward hospitality, of course, extends to our president, but I want you to know that it has its limitations. We don’t tolerate intolerance or willful ignorance, and we won’t endorse or ignore divisive and bigoted rhetoric. I hope your town hall event is a legitimate opportunity for you to listen to and learn from all members of this community, including those who have been left out of your vision of America....
This moment calls for honest, empathetic, and courageous leadership, and I ask you to exemplify these qualities tomorrow and in the days ahead.” 
Eric Genrich.jpg
Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Covid-19 finds victims behind all manner of walls

A genuinely-compassionate society would take a deeper, more prescriptive look at the public health and safety implications where people are directed to live and work - and even die a pandemic's death.

But we can't even get broad acceptance of the simplest things during a pandemic, like wearing masks and bellying up to the bar while leaving six feet of safe space for the next customer.

Worse, food-packing facilities in Green Bay and correctional facilities in several Wisconsin communities are on the New York Times latest, long list of institutions with more than 50 reported Covid-19 cases.

You say 50 is a big number?

Among those I see on the list with more than 50 each are the JBS meat plant in Green Bay - 348 cases; the American Foods group meat plant, also in Green Bay -241 cases; a Bird's Eye Food plant in Darien - 100 cases, and the Smithfield's Foods meat plant in Cudahy - 75 cases.

It certainly underscores the ignorant insensitivity of Wisconsin right-wing politicians like Chief Justice Roggensack 

and GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who separately blew off the risks and penalties endured by meat-packing employees during the pandemic. There are links to their remarks in this recent blog post.

Wisconsin prisons and jails on the Times' list include the state correctional facility in Waupun - 250 cases, and the Milwaukee County House of Corrections in Franklin - 73 cases.

Sharper eyes than mine may find some locations I have missed. Let me know.

And the number of nursing home or long-term care facilities nationwide on the list is absolutely staggering. How on earth does that allegedly-regulated 'industry' survive what happened behind these institutions' walls to very vulnerable residents who got sick, and did not survive?

A separate accounting showed hundreds of known cases and scores of deaths in many Wisconsin nursing care facilities.

Here is a more comprehensive look at the issues in Wisconsin using official state data:
Wisconsin public health investigations as of June 24, 2020
  • Long-term care facility total: among the cumulative 318 public health investigations in long-term care facilities, 146 facilities have had single confirmed cases and 229 facilities have had less than 5 confirmed cases. The median number of confirmed cases per investigation for long-term care facilities is 2, the average is 8, and the range is 1 to 100 confirmed cases.
  • Skilled nursing facility (nursing homes) totalthere have been a total of 119 public health investigations at nursing homes (active and closed investigations) including 71 active investigations. An active public health investigation begins when one or more staff or residents test positive for COVID-19. An investigation is considered closed, and the facility removed from our listing, 28 days after the last positive case was confirmed.
A humane society that took its obligations for public health far more seriously would take a deeper and prescriptive look at all facilities - public and private - where people with little or no say in the matter can be housed, or where racism, economic discrimination and other forces determine where people are directed to live, work and then lose their health and life.