Sunday, January 24, 2021

WI COVID deaths are now 6,000+, and GOP aims to ban Evers' masking orders

This is why the Wisconsin GOP has become a death cult:

* Republican lawmakers in the Legislature, after taking most of the pandemic year 2020 off at full pay and sitting out any leadership on COVID19 prevention, are now poised through a measure Gov. Evers cannot veto to end his state masking orders.

Even though mask wearing is known to provide crucial protection agains spreading or acquiring the highly contagious and fatal virus.

Wear Masks To Protect Yourself From The Coronavirus, Not Only Others, CDC Stresses

* COVID19 deaths here have already passed 6,000 according to New York Times-gathered data.

That number was no doubt boosted by the WI Supreme Court which, at request of the same GOP legislators, prematurely ended Evers 'Safer-at-Home' order last year without an alternative COVID19 action plan in place.

* A plan the GOP legislator-litigants told the Court was forthcoming, but which they have not passed despite overwhelming majorities in both the state Assembly and Senate.

(Note that state's official death count at just under 5,700 is consistently under-reported, but both data sets represent huge numbers of our fellow citizens.)

* And the right in Wisconsin has consistently been coddling COVID19 since the virus first struck.

So let's be clear: The Wisconsin GOP is a havoc-wreaking death cult that puts a higher priority - on playing partisan power games - 

Beginning in Nov., 2018, still continuing...

- than protecting public health - and the result is a COVID19 body count in Wisconsin that now exceeds 5,700, or 6,000. 

Like I said, it's a big and unacceptable number either way.

 

Friday, January 22, 2021

WI GOP death cultists unveil new COVID-spreading strategy

Just as COVID-battling science regains a foothold lost to a year of madman politics which oozed out of the White House, the power-hungry 

GOP death cultists at the State Capitol in Madison are maneuvering to forbid a masking mandate in Wisconsin:

The move comes as deaths from COVID-19 are spiking in Wisconsin despite new cases being at their lowest level in four months, albeit much higher than they were last summer. Republicans have also introduced a series of bills to take more control over the response to the pandemic, including requiring that everyone in the state be eligible for the vaccine in mid-March regardless of whether supply can meet demand.

To date, 5,643 people have died from COVID-19 in Wisconsin and more than 530,000 have tested positive, according to the state Department of Health Services.

The maneuver employs a joint resolution of the Legislature which Gov. Evers cannot veto. This is the same maneuver through which the GOP could enact another decade of democracy-strangling gerrymandering that has given them more power than is deserved by their statewide vote totals.  

WI Natural Resource Board votes against immediate wolf hunt

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board at its special meeting Friday voted 4-3 against establishing an immediate wolf hunt that would have begun no later than February 10.

What sank the motion was the board being told by staff and its legal counsel that an immediate hunt with quotas established without required consultation with Wisconsin's native tribal bands would likely not comply with a controlling Federal court ruling known as the Voight decision that affirmed tribal rights established by treaties with the US government.

Below is a running blog post I'd been updating for a couple of days:

FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2021

WI Natural Resource Board is now considering immediate wolf hunt

1:45 p.m. update - the Board is poised to open the hunt in February, but DNR staff is saying it has not yet had the required consultation on kill quotas with the native tribal bands required by a controlling federal court ruling.

12:25 p.m. update - the Board has closed public testimony which began at 8:30 a.m. and will reconvene its discussion at 12:40 p.m. 

It can take a range of options, from no action to approval of a wolf hunt that could begin before the end of this month.

--------------------------

I am Zoom-watching the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board's meeting on gray wolf hunting -

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

- as I noted this week, but I failed to emphasize that what is on the agenda is implementing an immediate wolf hunt.

Even though Wisconsin state law mandates a single annual hunt beginning in November, as was the case when previous hunts were legal between 2012 and 2014.

The entire matter is back before state regulators because the federal government removed in the closing days of the Trump administration the gray wolf from protected status.

The board oversees the DNR - and the agency does not support an immediate hunt, so it remains to be seen whether the agency position or the oversight board position will carry the day.

Walker appointees still make up the Board's majority. 

Testimony so far reflects long-standing differences in positions between hunting interests and legislative backers, like now-US Cong. Tom Tiffany, (R), and opponents from environmental organizations, and native tribal bands which consider wolves to be their brethren.

Since Wisconsin created its original wolf management plan decades ago there have been advances in awareness of the benefits wolves' bring into the wild.

These benefits have been made more relevant by climate change pressures on forests, water and wildlife, and also by wolves ability to control the spread of deer sickened by naturally removing diseased animals.

It has been pointed today by opponents that holding a rushed hunt right now with little advance notice and based on an outdated plan would trigger litigation a) by disregarding the tribal bands' treaty rights, and b) by disrupting and endangering wolf packs during breeding season.

All of which could fuel pressure on the Biden administration to renew protections for wolves by proving that states would implement wolf hunts based on outdated science and rushed and inadequate public input.

Further 1/22/2021 update:

I am pleased to add this statement by Atty. Jodi Habush Sinykin on behalf of Midwest Environmental Advocates:

To:          Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

From:  Jodi Habush Sinykin, Of Counsel, Midwest Environmental Advocates

Date:  January 20, 2021

Re:          Statement in Opposition to Mid-Winter Wolf Hunt 2021

Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony outlining the consequences of Wisconsin authorizing a rash and unsound 2021 wolf hunting and trapping season.  

With wolves only recently returned to state management, Wisconsin would be wise to take it slow and smart with respect to management of this iconic species.

Rushing to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season in the absence of an updated state management plan and wide public support will accomplish little, other than invite heightened controversy and litigation. 

In order for state governments like Wisconsin to prove their capability to manage wolves in the absence of federal protections, our state must first demonstrate a strong commitment to science-based and representative wildlife management in keeping with Wisconsin’s public trust obligations.

At the present time, our state is in no position to meet this threshold. The biological and social science underlying Wisconsin’s 1999 Wolf Management Plan is critically outdated. Wisconsin citizens and our state’s scientists have yet to be afforded the opportunity to provide substantive input. Consultation with the Tribes, required by law, has not been done. 

Indeed, state decisions pertaining to wolves, particularly state-authorized hunting and trapping seasons and management plans, must be the product of a democratic and transparent process to ensure that a range of representative viewpoints are recognized. 


We need only look to Minnesota, who has wisely invested the time needed to conduct an inclusive, science-driven, and transparent process to update their 2001 wolf plan before initiating a wolf hunting season. Wisconsin should do no less.


Act 169’s wolf harvest mandate already compromises the state’s and Tribes ability to manage wolves in a sustainable and socially acceptable manner. A premature move to reinstate wolf hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin underscores these actionable shortfalls and effectively disenfranchises Tribal nations within Wisconsin’s borders and non-consumptive wildlife users—a course of action that is sure to invite legal challenges at the national and state level.

Accordingly, we ask that members of the Natural Resources Board act judiciously, mindful of good governance and best science, and refrain from backing an immediate wolf hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin.

------------------------------



WI resource board is now considering immediate wolf hunt

1:45 p.m. update - the Board is poised to open the hunt in February, but the DNR is saying it has not yet had the required consultation on kill quotas with the native tribal bands required by a controlling federal court ruling.

12:25 p.m. update - the Board has closed public testimony which began at 8:30 a.m. and will reconvene its discussion at 12:40 p.m. 

It can take a range of options, from no action to approval of a wolf hunt that could begin before the end of this month.

I am watching the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board's meeting on gray wolf hunting -

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

- as I noted this week, but I failed to emphasize that what is on the agenda is implementing an immediate wolf hunt.

Even though Wisconsin state law mandates a single annual hunt beginning in November, as was the case when previous hunts were legal between 2012 and 2014.

The entire matter is back before state regulators because the federal government removed in the closing days of the Trump administration the gray wolf from protected status.

The board oversees the DNR - and the agency does not support an immediate hunt, so it remains to be seen whether the agency position or the oversight board position will carry the day.

Walker appointees still make up the Board's majority. 

Testimony so far reflects long-standing differences in positions between hunting interests and legislative backers, like now-US Cong. Tom Tiffany, (R), and opponents from environmental organizations, and native tribal bands which consider wolves to be their brethren.

Since Wisconsin created its original wolf management plan decades ago there have been advances in awareness of the benefits wolves' bring into the wild.

These benefits have been made more relevant by climate change pressures on forests, water and wildlife, and also by wolves ability to control the spread of deer sickened by naturally removing diseased animals.

It has been pointed today by opponents that holding a rushed hunt right now with little advance notice and based on an outdated plan would trigger litigation a) by disregarding the tribal bands' treaty rights, and b) by disrupting and endangering wolf packs during breeding season.

All of which could fuel pressure on the Biden administration to renew protections for wolves by proving that states would implement wolf hunts based on outdated science and rushed and inadequate public input.

Further 1/22/2021 update:

I am pleased to add this statement by Atty. Jodi Habush Sinykin on behalf of Midwest Environmental Advocates:

To:          Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

From:  Jodi Habush Sinykin, Of Counsel, Midwest Environmental Advocates

Date:  January 20, 2021

Re:          Statement in Opposition to Mid-Winter Wolf Hunt 2021

Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony outlining the consequences of Wisconsin authorizing a rash and unsound 2021 wolf hunting and trapping season.  

With wolves only recently returned to state management, Wisconsin would be wise to take it slow and smart with respect to management of this iconic species.

Rushing to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season in the absence of an updated state management plan and wide public support will accomplish little, other than invite heightened controversy and litigation. 

In order for state governments like Wisconsin to prove their capability to manage wolves in the absence of federal protections, our state must first demonstrate a strong commitment to science-based and representative wildlife management in keeping with Wisconsin’s public trust obligations.

At the present time, our state is in no position to meet this threshold. The biological and social science underlying Wisconsin’s 1999 Wolf Management Plan is critically outdated. Wisconsin citizens and our state’s scientists have yet to be afforded the opportunity to provide substantive input. Consultation with the Tribes, required by law, has not been done. 

Indeed, state decisions pertaining to wolves, particularly state-authorized hunting and trapping seasons and management plans, must be the product of a democratic and transparent process to ensure that a range of representative viewpoints are recognized. We need only look to Minnesota, who has wisely invested the time needed to conduct an inclusive, science-driven, and transparent process to update their 2001 wolf plan before initiating a wolf hunting season.  Wisconsin should do no less.


Act 169’s wolf harvest mandate already compromises the state’s and Tribes ability to manage wolves in a sustainable and socially acceptable manner.  A premature move to reinstate wolf hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin underscores these actionable shortfalls and effectively disenfranchises Tribal nations within Wisconsin’s borders and non-consumptive wildlife users—a course of action that is sure to invite legal challenges at the national and state level.

Accordingly, we ask that members of the Natural Resources Board act judiciously, mindful of good governance and best science, and refrain from backing an immediate wolf hunting and trapping season in Wisconsin.

------------------------------

More later. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Friday WI wolf hunt meeting has 8 a.m. Thursday comment deadline

[Updated, 6:45 p.m.] Heads-up, Wisconsin conservationists: The Wisconsin DNR's oversight Natural Resource Board is holding this Friday an online hearing about the reintroduction of a wolf hunt.

The country's gray wolves recently had their federal protections stripped away and states were freed to bring back wolf killing under their own rules

Below is Zoom meeting registration information for the hearing, and please note that the official notice establishes an 8 a.m. Thursday morning deadline - that's tomorrow! - for the submission of comments, as this notice circulated by a coalition of wildlife preservationists points out:

We have just learned that the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board will be holding a meeting on Friday of this week to discuss a potential wolf hunting and trapping season–as soon as this month. 

This condensed rule-making process shuts out public input, ignores science, and could result in wolf hunting and trapping during breeding season. 

Please attend the meeting online and speak out in opposition if you are able.

Please contact Laurie Ross, NRB Liaison, at 608-267-7420 or by email at laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov to register to testify at this meeting. 

If you cannot attend in-person, please submit a written comment opposing this rushed effort to begin killing wolves in Wisconsin.

Submit your comment online

Thank you for your commitment to Wisconsin's wildlife and wild places. 

Sincerely, 

The Endangered Species Coalition 

------------------------------------------------------------

Recent items from this blog with history about these issues are here, and here:

Good to see a coalition of organizations challenging the outgoing Trump administration's heavy-handed, heavily-ideological and science-free removal of endangered species protection for the country's grey wolves.  

The action was in response to the Jan. 4 delisting of the species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which allowed state agencies to resume management of wolves, including the possibility for hunting, trapping and other lethal control measures. 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves
-------------------------------

Update:

Here is a statement of opposition posted by Midwest Environmental Advocates, which reads, in part:

In order for state governments like Wisconsin to prove their capability to manage wolves in the absence of federal protections, our state must first demonstrate a strong commitment to science-based and representative wildlife management in keeping with Wisconsin’s public trust obligations. 

At the present time, our state is in no position to meet this threshold. 

The biological and social science underlying Wisconsin’s 1999 Wolf Management Plan is critically outdated. Wisconsin citizens and our state’s scientists have yet to be afforded the opportunity to provide substantive input. 
Consultation with the Tribes, required by law, has not been done.

------------------------------

Below is a letter in opposition to a wolf hunt sent January 12, 2021 by the Timber Wolf Alliance to the Wisconsin Legislature's Assembly and Senate Committees on Sporting Heritage: 

Re: Senate Joint Informational Hearing on 2021 Wolf Harvesting Season

The Timber Wolf Alliance (TWA) would like to comment on the potential to hold a wolf harvest in Wisconsin this winter. TWA has been a supporter of wolf conservation in Wisconsin since 1987. TWA has supported the federal delisting of wolves, and has not opposed the public harvest of wolves. But TWA believes any wolf harvest should be based on sound science, be done in a representative and open process, and be sensitive to cultural concerns, including addressing concerns of Native Americans.

The recovery of the gray wolf has been a very successful wildlife conservation program for the state. We are proud to be part of that successful conservation effort, and hope all future management including public harvest of wolves, continues to build on that success.

Rushing into a premature harvest without taking all the steps that are normally used to set harvests for other wildlife species such as bears, deer, and bobcats, would undermine sound conservation of wolves.  Such harvest plans would not allow adequate use of sound biological and social science. We need to demonstrate sound conservation of the Wisconsin wolf population to avoid the back and forth federal listing/delisting that has plagued wolf management in Wisconsin for the last 18 years.

Starting a wolf harvest in mid-winter would potentially disrupt breeding activity, precipitate pack dissolution, and increase the negative effects that a harvest could have on the wolf population. These mid-winter disruptions to wolf behavior might also disrupt the ability of wolf trackers to obtain reasonable counts of wolves.

There is no logical and scientifically sound reason to start a wolf harvest this winter. Depredation control trapping by USDA-Wildlife Service will be the main tool to control wolves depredating on livestock and pets.  There is little scientific evidence that harvests have any impact on levels of hound depredations, which vary from year to year. The deer herd is doing well across northern and central Wisconsin, and there is no scientific evidence a wolf harvest would increase deer hunting opportunities.  

TWA recognizes and accepts that a public harvest of wolves will occur in fall 2021, and encourages a careful and scientifically sound quota setting process to establish a wolf harvest for the state.  Unfortunately the state wolf plan that should inform such a quota setting process is now 22 years old. Until a new plan is developed, the Timber Wolf Alliance encourages a conservative harvest system to maintain the wolf population near current levels.

Starting a pre-mature wolf harvest this winter represents poor use of this public trust resource. TWA hopes the legislature supports Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources efforts to carefully plan a fall wolf harvest and update the state wolf plan to represent the best available science.  Sound conservation of wolves in Wisconsin needs to be carefully planned and should not be rushed.

For more information and please go to our web site Timber Wolf Alliance - Northland College

Sincerely,

Alan Brew                       

Director                                       

Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute  


Adrian Wydeven

Chair of Advisory Council  

Timber Wolf Alliance             



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

WI GOP-run legislature plays 'gavel-in/gavel-out/do-nothing' fun game again

For the 4th time since he took office two years ago, WI Gov. Tony Evers called a special session of the Legislature...and its GOP leaders convened and dismissed themselves quickly without taking any action.

Tuesday's session was to take up repairs to the state's unemployment compensation system which Republicans had deliberately monkey-wrenched to get benefits to fewer recipients. 

Republicans have been blasting Evers for benefit disbursement problems during pandemic joblessness but today declined to do anything about it.

* Just as they did with Evers' calls of special sessions on police accountability and gun violence, and election calendar changes when the pandemic began to surge.

Intentional overtly-partisan actions similar to the Legislature having remained on vacation for most of 2020 while the pandemic raged statewide. 

WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin has regularly dawdled, slow-walked and frozen Legislative action for partisan purposes, but as you can see here did move quickly when Pres. Trump's plane was landing in Milwaukee last winter.

Because playing partisan power games they have rigged in their favor through blatant gerrymandering is more important to Wisconsin GOP legislative leaders than is actual problem-solving and governing.

Do real work? Please. Work is for the suckers whose pockets are about to be picked again by careless, contemptuous Republicans. 

And when the Legislature finally returned a few days ago after their long, long fully-paid recess, the GOP-led Assembly controlled by Robin Vos first balked at passing a COVID19 action bill proposed by Gov. Evers, then threw together its own long-promised/never-delivered COVID19 bill which was so full of irrelevance and deal-breakers that the GOP-run State Senate declined to take it up.

It was another variation on 'gavel in, gavel out, taxpayers lose' GOP do-nothingness.

Not one more taxpayer dime for Vos's 1st Amendment contempt

The last time the breezily arrogant Speaker Vos thumbed his nose at taxpayers and flipped off the First Amendment for Twitter manipulations it cost taxpayers $200,000 to settle the lawsuit he lost.

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that Vos is at it again.

Speaker Vos puts limits on who can respond to tweets despite First Amendment ruling against him

I say, not another dime of public money for repeating this behavior. 

Vos needs to pay the inevitable legal fees and settlement costs himself. No more buying his way out of self-inflicted legal troubles with money three-card-montied from those hard-working taxpayers he and his party always laud when it's campaign commercial filming time.

Maybe he can gerrymander the legislature and pick his own district's voters

but he shouldn't be allowed to pick more money from our wallets.

Foxconn to hire 10,000 workers, but...

In Vietnam, not Wisconsin:

Foxconn gets green light for $270M factory in Vietnam

Foxconn is set to build a new factory to produce tablets and computers in Vietnam, which could be part of Apple's plan to widen its iPad and MacBook production lines outside of China....This will not be Foxconn's first foray in Vietnamese production, with it having already invested $1.5 billion in the country so far....including the recruitment of 10,000 local workers.

Hmm...where have we seen that number before? Oh, on Feb. 2-3, 2019, here:

Now Foxconn's chairmen Terry Gou is saying after discussing the project with Donald Trump that it's projected Wisconsin workforce of 13,000 employees will hire far more engineers than blue collar workers:

"Foxconn plans to hire more than 10,000 engineers to do research and development," he said. 

And how's that going? 

* You be the judge:

Behind-the-scene report details Foxconn's failure to live up to its promise in Wisconsin
The company spent two years exploring ideas to generate revenue such as fish farming with water piped in from Lake Michigan, exporting ice cream and storing boats. In addition, golf carts were purchased to retrofit into autonomous vehicles that would cart in employees, but the idea never reached fruition.

“As the divisions bickered, bored employees would come down from the Milwaukee headquarters to race the carts around the empty building, until the batteries finally died,” the Verge reported. 

And:

Walker-Trump Foxconn world wonder to flounder for years

And while there have been reports about ventilatorsmasksserver components and airport coffee kiosks in various stages of planning or production there, there are no big flat panel devices being made in Foxconn's now-completed-but scaled-back main building which is what the whole deal was based on.

Which is why the company's relatively few hires didn't quality in 2019 for any of the whopping state tax credits which Walker and the Legislature had quickly approved.

But wait, there's more:

Foxconn not expect to meet hiring goals in next 3 years  
The Department of Administration’s projection came in its budget request for the fiscal years 2022 and 2023.  
Hundreds of additional posts and links, here

* Promises, promises: 

With state $, Lake Michigan water, Foxconn sending super suburban sprawl to once-bucolic Mt. Pleasant
Foxconn promotional video suggests Versailles is coming to Mt. Pleasant. Or is it DisneyWorld? 

 

Monday, January 18, 2021

WI health official Palm heads to DC; Tiffany, et al, outsmarted.

Two thoughts about Andrae Palm's promotion into the Biden administration. 

Wisconsin's top health official, who has thus far led the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis, is poised to leave her post Wednesday to join President-elect Joe Biden's administration. 

1. Good for her flight over the cuckoo's nest.

2. And good that Wisconsin's rightwing politicians - who did nothing but grovel before Trump while they his administration failed their basic pandemic-fighting obligations - did not manage to fire Palm after repeatedly smearing her through inflammatory rhetoric, and also now-US Representative

Image of Tom Tiffany

Tom Tiffany's special brand of garbage:

"Wisconsin's economy and health care system are collapsing. Small businesses are closing their doors for good. Tens of thousands of people are struggling to apply for unemployment in an attempt to survive the storm she caused.

"New data shows us how we can make a targeted response to the Wuhan virus, but Ms. Palm will hear none of it. A native New Yorker, ally of Hillary Clinton's, and Washington, D.C. insider, Ms. Palm understands very little of our Midwestern values or how her decisions have devastated our way of life.

"Ms. Palm came here as Governor Evers' hired gun, and she will leave with Wisconsin's corpse if she continues."

I'd noted months ago that Wisconsin's leading partisan game-players were undercutting DHS Secretary (designee) Andrea Palm by withholding her Cabinet-level confirmation.

Note this July, 2019 posting: 

WI GOP legislators use cheesehead McConnellism to further de-legitimize Evers

How much bowing, bending and scraping must take place in front of these self-important, per-diem subsidized and generously salaried legislators before they behave like adult public servants and less like bratty students who have decided to throw paper airplanes at the substitute teacher...

When Republicans were in charge across-the-board, "certainty" was gospel.

Now it's just another GOP norm tossed away in favor of tacky tactics and raw partisanship, like fiscal conservatism and local control, until the GOP can restore what it had come to see as the biggest norm of them all - - Republican domination for their own careers and special interest donors in all three branches of government.

A final thought: As Bruce Murphy made clear on Urban Milwaukee, it was the Legislature's leadership of Fitzgerald and Vos - and not only the GOP's most whacked-out caucus members - who led the campaign against Palm as part of a larger effort to discredit Gov. Evers. 

During an historically-brutal viral pandemic.

And Wisconsin's COVID19-death toll now approaching 6,000 which was accelerated by the GOP-led Legislature's extended 2020 do-nothing vacation certainly makes Tiffany's 'Wisconsin's corpse' wisecrack especially loathsome.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Push to reinstate protection for nation's gray wolves

Good to see a coalition of organizations challenging the outgoing Trump administration's heavy-handed, heavily-ideological and science-free removal of endangered species protection 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

for the country's gray wolves:

The action was in response to the Jan. 4 delisting of the species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which allowed state agencies to resume management of wolves, including the possibility for hunting, trapping and other lethal control measures.

Anticipating the federal move, Wisconsin is preparing a state-sanctioned hunt. Some current and recent history that suggests this is a bad idea, and in the wrong hands, is here.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Fast-learning WI Rep. is new DC King of Stupidity Mountain

The mountain in DC is better known as Capitol Hill, and the new King who displaced Louis Gohmert and fellow Badger Glenn Grothman at the top is Wisconsin's newest Republican US Representative Scott Fitzgerald.

Props to his meteoric rise - only four days on the job and he'd already broken his oath of office - after just been promoted to the GOP's US Capitol Insurrectionist Caucus by voters he gerrymandered into his district after years of practicing for this moment by mastering pea-brained-politicking as GOP Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Senate:

Wisconsin Rep. Fitzgerald not sure Trump to blame for riot

I don’t think we know yet," Fitzgerald said when asked at a virtual WisPolitics.com and Milwaukee Press Club event if Trump was to blame.  

Fitzgerald had his amazingly rapid 

    Wisc Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.jpg

breakthrough scaling Stupidity Mountain after being in Congress for a mere 11 days

There are probably Members of Congress who needed more than 11 days to figure out the hallway maps or whether their assigned park places were on North or East Capitol St.

So it's conceivable that Fitzgerald is being mentored by more experienced double-talking Republican truth-deniers like Senior Trump-defender Ron Johnson.

We'll know that for sure if Fitzgerald's investigation finds that either Hunter Biden or sunspots were to blame for last week's fatal Capitol Hill riot.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WI GOP-led Assembly thumbs unmasked nose during wolf hunting hearing

Wisconsin Republicans keep proving they will ignore science when they are legislating meddling in public policy.

Look no farther than their years of denying the realities of climate change or promoting water pollution or substituting ideology or special interest privileges over science when public health and welfare were at stake.

33 times Walker disregarded, dismissed science

So it was not surprising Wednesday that the Republican-run state legislature would again display its primal dedication to power and core contempt for science when it held a public hearing in the era of meeting-via-Zoom without offering Democratic legislators the opportunity to attend remotely...while in-person legislative attendees were free to go without pandemic-blunting face masks. 

Unlike in the Senate, the Assembly isn’t offering lawmakers the option of calling in to meetings or floor sessions remotely, leaving it up to Democrats to either show up and face intermittent mask wearers, or not show up at all.

Mind you, this is the same GOP crew which already had its own in-house COVID19 outbreak that it tried to cover up - and yet they get to set their own rules regardless of known risks because exercising power is more important to them than is exercising good judgment or social consciousness.

I'd refer GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and his caucus to this article, How Masks Can Help Prevent The Spread of COVID-19, but it appears on TheScientist website and we've repeatedly documented what Wisconsin Republicans in the Assembly and elsewhere think of annoying facts and sciency-things like that:

The 10 worst things WI GOP/rightists said & evaded about COVID

The hearing Wednesday was not about COVID19; it  concerned the reintroduction of a state-sanctioned wolf hunt.

And the science-denigrating atmosphere in the room connected back to the GOP-run legislature's state sanctioned wolf-hunting plan that was rushed to adoption in 2012 and avoided science as well as mainstream ethics.

Wisconsin is killing its wolves 

The plan was thrown together by legislators with so little regard for science that a judge had to delete the legislators' legalized blessing of hounds in the wolf-chase before it led to a lot dead dogs in the Wisconsin woods.

[Though hunters during bear season get paid handsomely by the state - $845,000 and counting so far - when their hounds chase bears through wolf territory and pay the ultimate and reimbursed price.]

Back to the previous wolf hunt which was the sort of policy you get when the state relied for 'advice' from a hunter-heavy advisory committee which the DNR had stripped of wolf-hunting opponents.

The wolf hunt continued through three hunting seasons characterized by broken kill quotas until a Federal judge stopped grey wolf hunting nationally after 2014, but the way Wisconsin's legislators kept science and good practices from the bill  had not gone unnoticed, as I had written in a blog post several years ago -

...about the politics and realities of Wisconsin's lobby-driven and especially cruel practice (leg traps allowed, along with pursuing hounds), and one of the very early items from July, 2012 is on-point...

While a Journal Sentinel editorial wants the proposed Wisconsin wolf hunt green-lighted with policy outcomes autopsied after the fact, environmental legal advocate Jodi Habush Sinykin makes a good case that the hunt is being hurried to a cruel and sloppy start this fall.

Here was the heart of Sinykin's position, which is echoed in the court ruling Friday:

Rushed through the legislative process with no notice to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife experts, no input from the state's Wolf Science Advisory Committee and no tribal consultation, the law prescribes a first hunting season for wolves. The law is drawing significant opposition from scientists, mainstream hunters and conservationists alike, owing to an excessively long, 4½-month season that allows hunting of breeding females and to the array of hunting and trapping methods viewed as out of line with traditional values of fair pursuit and public safety considerations... 

So I find it unsurprising and more than a little ironic that the same Legislature which ignored the pandemic throughout much of 2020 as it infected more than a half-million people in Wisconsin and killed over 5,000  - data here - and had disregarded science the last time it set up a controversial wolf hunt in Wisconsin would re-launch itself back into that science-demanding wildlife issue by thumbing its unmasked nose at COVID science, too.

Delaying Trump's impeachment trial puts more pressure on Ron Johnson

Having the Senate delay - but hold - a Trump impeachment trial following Wednesday's House impeachment action will be a good thing, for four reasons:

* Most importantly, a delay will allow Biden to focus on his forward-looking agenda and implement better responses to the pandemic which Trump obstructed, then botched - even deliberately:

*It will allow more evidence about the attack on the Capitol by Trump devotees to surface that could strengthen the case for a Senate conviction.

Rumors about some officials' collusion with rioters need time to be checked out before Trump's trial, as the facts  could be pivotal:

* A delay allows more time for pressure to build against Trump enablers who'd surely prefer the entire matter evaporate so they wouldn't have to sit in judgement on Trump again.

That would no doubt include Big Lie spreader Ron Johnson; The Lincoln Project and others have already begun that work, and just today Wisconsin Democrats announced an anti-Johnson ad buy.

Think he wants to take another vote on convicting Trump as he considers whether to run again for a third term he'd earlier ruled out?

* And a trial, conviction or not, would absolutely buttress the deterrent effect of the entire impeachment process. Leaving the White House shouldn't come with a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

Convicting Trump would complete and win the case against him, but would require a two-thirds vote of the Senators present as jurors - a very high bar that would require many Republican Senators' votes.

Additional majority-only votes could then ban Trump from holding federal office and perhaps cost him some benefits and privileges normally extended to former Presidents, but it's a complicated matter that has never before been applied to a former President.

But as Tump would say, 'let's see what happens.'


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Everybody knows Trump's alter egos will disappear, too

Bonus benefit of Trump's 

impending departure:

His imaginary friend "Everybody" who made another appearance at a Trump event just today - and has for years, here - along with special occasion twin victim "Everyone"  -

"I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side." - 

will also be exiled with America's Biggest Loser to everyday irrelevance and invisibility at Mar-a-Lago.

So happy trails, everybody, and may you enjoy every one of your upcoming, subpeonas, grand jury appearances, lawsuits and trials - every last one of them. 

Fresh power grant to gerrymandered GOP legislators threatens WI waters

This predictable decision - 

Wisconsin Supreme Court Says Lawmakers Can Intervene In 2 Cases Involving DNR's Authority

- puts the state's water supplies purportedly protected in the constitutionally-created Public Trust Doctrine at grave risk. 

The anti-science Walker and his equally rightist Attorney General Brad Schimel have been voted out of office, but their big business agendas at the people's expense - examples here and here (among many) - are getting fresh life served on a silver platter to gerrymandered and corporately-obeisant GOP legislators by the State Supreme Court.

And because we have known for a long time where those legislators stand, er, bow, I think we can see where this grant of legislative power over water management is likely to lead:

Corporate WI hand-delivers to legislators its water control demands

A pretty stunning memo was sent [in October, 2015] by multiple trade groups and corporate special interests to the State Legislature in advance of today's hearing about the fast-tracked Wisconsin water giveaway bill I wrote about yesterday that puts groundwater and downstream users' access in private hands.


(Hap tip to the Malcontends blog for pulling back the curtain on how bills become law and pointing readers to the memo.)

The bold, hand-delivered memo, its bold-faced language and the weighty array of powerful logos at the top tell the story:

An urgent communication to all Wisconsin legislators 
We are at a crossroads. It is imperative that the legislature assert its authority and bring certainty and sanity to the regulation of new and existing high capacity wells in Wisconsin. 

And..
However, we cannot accept any legislation that would create new, stifling regulations or establish regulatory uncertainty as to how DNR and the state will approach new well applications moving forward. 
Among the coalition's "solutions" - - 
Clarification of the public trust doctrine consistent with the Supreme Court's Rock- Koshkonong decision 
More about that here, but it's clear that what industry wants is primacy over state waters and decisions about who gets it.