Friday, February 26, 2021

WI wolf kill quotas became goals. How convenient.

In the rushed run-up to the gray wolf slaughter 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

greenlit by a Jefferson County judge in an unappealable ruling, the state's official plan included quotas

During the Natural Resources Board Special Meeting on Feb. 15, the board unanimously voted for a harvest quota of 200 wolves outside reservation lands. Of the approved quota, 119 wolves are allocated to the state, and 81 wolves are allocated to the Ojibwe Tribes in response to the Tribes’ declaration and in accordance with their treaty rights within the Ceded Territory.

The department's approved quota considered 2020 wolf population data, population response to previous harvest seasons, scientific literature, and population model projections. The quota's objective is to allow for a sustainable harvest that neither increases nor decreases the state's wolf population.

I see the word four times in those two summary paragraphs from the DNR website. 

But now we read that the quota system - which connotes fixed quantities that can and should be enforced if the authorities care to do it - was more of a 'goal.' 

So, what - oops? Our bad? 

Heck. no - the quotas were allowed to grow - more than 80% to 216 - and morph into goals. Oh, how shocking!

Was that something we wanted to have happen? Absolutely not.' Gray wolf kill rises to 216, 82% above state-licensed goal

File that tactic away should you get pulled over by a state trooper for going far in excess of 100 per hour on I-94 where official signage says the speed limit is 70. 

"Yes, officer, I know the posted limit is 70, but isn't that considered more of a goal?'' 

And who thinks it's a pure coincidence that a way was found to allow more wolves to be killed than the Ojibwe had protected - bonus quota, if you will? 

Remember that the fast-tracked killing plan knowingly short-circuited consultations with Wisconsin's native bands whose hunting and fishing treaty rights were affirmed by through the Voight Federal Court ruling.

This state-sanctioned devaluation of native people's rights and shoulder-shrug of wildlife stewardship as the DNR's wolf-killing quotas were dying with the wolves in the woods - just as the 'quotas' did in all recent, state-sanctioned wolf seasons  - looks like it will guide 'management' of future 'harvests' of this portion of Wisconsin's wildlife trust -  allotted through special interest pressure for $49 bucks a shot to hounders newly-enabled to run dog packs through wolf dens at night during the breeding season:

"We have a robust, resilient wolf population," said Keith Warnke, DNR administrator of parks, land and wildlife. "I think we are very confident we will be able to manage (wolves) properly going forward."


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Electric vehicle assembly at Foxconn WI site?

Updated: I'm not ready to jump up and down over the possibility that a California-based startup may take over a  building at the assembly line-free Foxconn site in Mt. Pleasant and build electric cars there.

Let me rephrase that. The possibility is fine. 

Just show me some results.

I've been following the Foxconn fiasco for nearly four years - a link to that complete archive is here.

Keep in mind that while Tesla and other corporations are putting more drivers in EVs every day, and the US Postal Service just contracted with Oshkosh Defense to build a new fleet of mail delivery EVs that echo Amazon's ambitious EV commitment, too - startups on this scale face big challenges that are often too big to overcome.

Especially if there are already big companies like GM and governments the size of China already in the mix.

Do you remember when Walker threw - and threw away - big state money at a airplane startup that was supposed to energize his failed job-creating promises and also jump start the City of Superior's economy?

I'm also not yet celebrating because we've been teased before about what Foxconn might built in Mt. Pleasant - ventilators for COVID19 patients or airport coffee dispensing machines - after the original complex which state and local governments have subsidized shrank to one-twentieth its promised size.

And which never produced large flat panel screens for electronic devices.

That were never delivered along so-called smart, driverless trucking lanes to Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport as part of an incomplete, publicly-funded 'scale up' linked to anticipated Foxconn activity.

It would welcome news if something other than fill dirt from bulldozed farm land and scrap from demolished homes actually came off the site.

Especially if some actual green jobs were created which were also were good for the environment that has already sacrificed wetlands and widened roadway right-of-ways. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for EVs, will definitely buy one if I were ever to buy another vehicle.

I just don't want to get suck into another Foxconn promise that disappears.

Update - And an hour after I posted this, I see that only 10% of the EVs to be delivered to the Postal Service will be EVs, so another disappointment and a warning that for every step forward in this area, there are more steps back.

Though how ironic would it be if the project created the very type of energy-efficient vehicles which the previous Republican administration had discouraged with a $75 annual registration upcharge - a move that dovetailed with Walker's long and wider attack on renewable energy that undercut solar power development and delayed wind farms.

Wisconsin wind farm, east of Waupun
A wind turbine east of Waupun, Wisconsin - though developed by an out-of-state firm.

Much of that history is here:

Walker's hostility to alternative energy and other benefits to the environment are catalogued  by the dozens, here, and in a recently-concludes blog series, here - - despite his propagandizing 'our legacy.'

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fresh Ron Johnson outrage is routine WI Republicanism gone national

Edited and updated from 2/22/21:

America got another creepy look at Wisconsin's senior GOP Senator Ron Johnson Tuesday -


- as he extended his running lie that there hadn't been an armed attack on the US Capitol.

Wednesday update - Assuming Johnson reads little fact-based journalism, someone on his staff might show him this stunning NY Times story
Retired N.Y.P.D. Officer Who Guarded City Hall Charged in Capitol Riot

Thomas Webster turned himself in on charges that he assaulted a Washington police officer with a flagpole during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress.

A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Mr. Webster attacking the Washington officer, first with a metal flagpole that earlier had flown a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands.

He performed this preposterous stupidity on national television by reading into  a Senate hearing record the purported first-hand account of a jovial, pro-police, family-oriented party that some evil provocateurs at the Capitol chose to ruin.

Two things about what Johnson had to say:

1. While people in 49 states and worldwide will be shocked by the 'thinking' of a two-term US Senator, Wisconsinites will not be even mildly surprised because we have seen this blend of Trumpian water-carrying and flat-out wackiness from Johnson before: 

If you're trying to figure out why Ron Johnson would blame the catastrophic, ideological mismanagement of the Texas power grid on a Green New Deal before any such plan has been adopted, you might recall that he's been throwing shade at the skies and sun for years, though not yet measured in eons of time:

Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says 

In fact days before Johnson's bizarre and dangerous testimony Tuesday, the middle-of-the-road Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had editorially said Johnson needed to go: 

It's obvious now that he won’t do the honorable thing and resign after violating his oath to support and defend the Constitution. By what he has shown of his character, there is no reason to believe he will keep his campaign promise to not run for a third term when this one expires.

If he runs again, Johnson must be opposed in both the primary and general elections by people who care enough about democracy to support and defend it.

2. And while people in 49 states and worldwide may be shocked at what comes out of the mouth of a two-term Senator, Wisconsinites know he is no anomaly.

Ron Johnson is central to what remains of mainstream GOP thinking and behavior from other Wisconsin Republican leaders who have for years dragged the corpse of the party as far from common sense, common decency and the dying party's Ripon, Wisconsin founding.

After all, contemporary, far-rightwing Wisconsin GOP leaders allied with Johnson have said on the record that:

* A war on men that lets unmarried "gals" having babies grab $38,000 per child a year (and $44,000 per child in Milwaukee) at the expense of white workers, families and business owners is the danger from within that will destroy America.

* It was "incredibly safe" to go outside as the COVID19 pandemic was raging.

* The minimum wage shall remain frozen at $7.25/hour and called it a livable wage.

* Lazy men (you know who they are) in "inner cities" are responsible for urban decay and their own plight.

* Poor people needed multiple cuts in food and financial aid or else they'd stay home playing video games on their sofas

* Same-sex marriage would lead to people marrying their pet dogs and furniture

* Low-income women should stop buying their kids "name brand shoes" and get busy washing their dishes.

* "Hard-core left wingers" were promoting Kwanzaa, a 'fake holiday,' to divide the races.

* It was justifiable to try and overturn certified tallies in the 2020 Presidential election - even after all court challenges to those results across the country had been dismissed by neutral judges, yet voted to overturn those results after the terrorist attack on the Capitol.

Which led to five deaths (seven if you count two additional police officer suicides in the wake of the attack) and 140 injuries to police officers in a failed effort to invalidate the certified results.

The same attack which Ron Johnson, the highest-ranking WI GOP elected official, has been fictionalizing to solidify his leadership position in the Wisconsin Republican Party.

A party whose leaders back Johnson 100%.


'Surprise! Hunters' hounds, tech & traps rapidly 'harvest' WI wolves

It's winter 'harvest' time in Wisconsin this week, but this particular season is also about what's flowing back into the snow and soil along with what's been torn from it.

For the record, the ground work for this 'harvest' had been championed and inserted in state law by former GOP State Rep. Joel Kleefisch who appeared to have been subconsciously salivating over the event:

Since being introduced back into the Wisconsin wildlife, wolves have thrived and grown to the point that their population must be managed,” said Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc)....“A hunting season will allow for reasonable control of the population, while marinating viable and sustainable pack numbers for this majestic animal.”

And though that Kleefisch (but not this Kleefisch) is gone from state politics, fresh allies were lined up.

Along with coordinated details like permissible, GPS-controlled dog packs, legal baiting (no more than ten gallons per dump) - and I suppose some field reconnaissance to ensure that nothing resembling a fair or true sporting chance was underway - so in a single day, Wisconsin has become America's go-to bloodsport state.

Wolf kill reaches 50% of statewide quota after first day of season; DNR to close three zones

But wait, there's more:

Even with the planned closures, it's likely wolf harvests in the zones will exceed the kill targets. 

Which is the way it has gone before.

Because Wisconsin treats this portion of its public wildlife trust as a special interest's propriety disposable - freshly enabled to do even more damage during the current wolf breeding season - 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves

- because there's been a routine wolf overkill even when the state-sanctioned and so-called managed 'harvest' was supposed to be shut down, as I'd noted in 2014:

Despite the obvious, WI DNR let hunters, hounders break wolf kill quota

One more thing shows how little value Wisconsin places on authentic conservation which understands that healthy woodlands need wolves:

Wisconsin only charges its home-state residents a $49 wolf-killing license fee. 

That fee had been $100, but then-Gov. Scott Walker cut it 51%, because, you know, red state politicians have their 'values' and unlike the wildlife, ballot-box constituencies have to be protected.


 


Monday, February 22, 2021

Ron Johnson renews his war on the sun

If you're trying to figure out why Ron Johnson would blame the catastrophic, ideological mismanagement of the Texas power grid on a Green New Deal before any such plan has been adopted, you might recall that he's been throwing shade at the skies and sun for years, though not yet measured in eons of time:

Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says

A global warming skeptic, Johnson said extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as many scientists believe. 

"I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson said. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination." 

Johnson, in an interview last month, described believers in manmade causes of climate change as "crazy" and the theory as "lunacy." 

"It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," he said.

Does Johnson know the evil sun was spotted over Milwaukee in just the past few days? Talk about clear and present danger.


Losing the chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Security Committee is no excuse to overlook the local threat right up there!

State-approved WI wolf 'harvest' is an unnatural slaughter

Since the anti-government right is forever griping about what it considers 'politically correct' speech on the other side, can state government and Wisconsin's 'sporting' lobbies stop calling the rushed wolf hunt blessed creatively by Jefferson County judge a "harvest?"

Wisconsin is killing its wolves 

It's not a "harvest." 

When Ojibwe tribal members - who, by the way are exercising their hard-won cultural and legal treaty rights to protect wolves from leg traps and heads shots - bring their life-affirming wild rice every year into small boats - that's a harvest.

The wolf killing won in court by WILL, the high-profile law firm funded by the right-wing-GOP-friendly Bradley Foundation is an unscientifically-justified wildlife slaughter.

During the wolves' breeding season.

Which will also endanger tracking hounds, because this hunt, unlike the earlier versions, allows dogs throughout the season, and hunting at night, and the use of bait.

What sport!

All made a bit tidier perhaps for some people who might find relief in desensitizing words that smooth over playing a role in this state-sanctioned wrong, bloody thing:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 22, 2021
Contact: DNRPress@wisconsin.gov

February Wolf Harvest Season Feb. 22-28

 

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced today the February wolf harvest season is underway through Feb. 28, 2021 in accordance with a circuit court order.  

The DNR received 27,151 wolf harvest applications. There are 2,380 harvest authorizations available for purchase for applicants who are eligible to obtain a license and carcass/pelt tag.

During the Natural Resources Board Special Meeting on Feb. 15, the board unanimously voted for a harvest quota of 200 wolves outside reservation lands. Of the approved quota, 119 wolves are allocated to the state, and 81 wolves are allocated to the Ojibwe Tribes at their request in accordance with their treaty rights within the Ceded Territory.

Harvest updates and zone closures will be posted to the website here as information becomes available.

 

 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

GOP empathy deficits add suffering and enforce inequality

[Updated from 2/20/21]

Scorching hashtags like #LyingTedCruz shot across the Internet when it was discovered that Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz had bolted to Cancun, Mexico with his family - and without the family dog - from his frozen, suffering home state.

The snark was brutal and well-deserved.

But it was a short and brilliantly precise Facebook posting about Cruz's behavior by the Wisconsin repertorial treasure George Hesselberg that really had me thinking all day Friday and into Saturday

Here, with his permission, is what he wrote:

Truth be told, the presence of Sen. Cruz in Texas is not necessary. Whatever work he can do to alleviate the suffering in his state can be done from anywhere. What he and his do not seem to understand is that empathy gets work done, motivates people, inspires a domino effect of positive activity. You just show up, don't get in the way, use your own skills to solve the problems. Above all, you don't make it worse. He made it worse. No empathy. Not a shred. He should stay in Cancun. 

Particularly this line: 

What he and his do not seem to understand is that empathy gets work done, motivates people, inspires a domino effect of positive activity.

And I thought, isn't this really the reality on the right here in Wisconsin? 

We see it over and over because GOP ideologues without empathy wield great power inside they government they profess to hate, so a decade of Republican control which has kept people down has also produced this unsurprising record.

Hunger in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin515,930 people are struggling with hunger - and of them 179,180 are children.

Rising poverty in Wisconsin

UW–Madison Institute for Research on Poverty: Wisconsin poverty rate rose in 2018 overall, for children, and for the elderly

An expanding wealth gap in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile state and local governments, facing huge declines in taxes collected, are contemplating cuts in service that could have the worst impact on poor and middle class people. One bright spot for Wisconsin was the online sales taxes have increased, but it turns out that the Republican-led state Legislature passed a law requiring that all such revenue must be used to lower income taxes paid. That means 20 percent of tax relief will go the top 2 percent of the state’s taxpayers, with none of it going to lower income taxpayers.

Wisconsin Republican legislators and the Gov. Scott Walker also passed the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, which nearly wiped out state income tax liability for manufacturers and agricultural producers in Wisconsin. Nearly all the value of the tax break goes to the very wealthy. In fact, just 11 claimants, all of which had incomes of $30 million or more, received an estimated combined tax break of $22 million in 2017.

Walker and Republican lawmakers piled on the benefits for the wealthy in a controversial lame duck bill, adding a $60 million tax cut that mostly benefits the top 20 percent of taxpayers. That likely includes members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose conservative majority has ruled against lawsuits arguing the lame duck laws were unconstitutional.  

And we repeatedly see ideologically-and-donor obeisant Wisconsin Republicans - like Cruz - choosing to help embed big picture problems by disregarding or dismissing solutions within their easy reach.

* Consider that then-Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker raised taxes on low-income Wisconsinites, and created barriers to their obtaining food aid, and kept the minimum wage frozen at $7.25 per hour, and even stripped away some lifeline financial assistance to poor people through paternalistic budget wording aimed at motivating poor people to get out there and look for work. 

This from a career politician who ended up enjoying more than 25 unbroken years of generous public salaries and taxpayer-supplied family health care coverage, and other perks including eight years as Governor with a state-provided lakefront residence complete with two kitchens.

And a salary which topped out at $144,000.

And who now regularly inveighs on Twitter against what he calls socialism.

While finding work at several non-profits (the government-provided tax code means the rest of us have to make up the lost revenue), including one group which Walker will take over sometime early this year as President that paid its previous President $995,000 in salary and additional compensation. Details of Walker's financial package have not been public reported.

* Or consider the empathy-free displays by our habitually self-interested GOP millionaire Sen. Ron Johnson who, I remind you, is also perhaps the Senate's most-consistent and highest-profile, unyielding opponent of Obamacare.  

A brief digression, but given Johnson's jaw-dropping dismissal of the recent fatal attack on the US Capitol, isn't this 2011 headline just about the most ironic you've read in a long time? 

On the Capitol: Worst assault in Sen. Johnson's lifetime? Obamacare  

But back to present day Ron - who has twice recently voted against payments to people during the crushing COVID19 pandemic. 

Though taxpayers provide him a $174,000 annual salary, though when in session, the Senate usually meets Tuesday-through Thursday.

Johnson also has control over an annual office budget in the $3.7 million range which he is free to allocate as he pleases, and which includes numerous personal perks (some listed here), from excellent health and pension benefits to free air travel to subsidized on-site food service.

Yet he is on record (video, here), telling high school students in October, 2017 that food and health care are privileges, not rights.

When a student asked him if he considers health care to be a right or a privilege, Johnson replied, "I think it's probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as 'rights' is 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"

I would add that privileges are easier to come by and enjoy if you are lucky enough to marry into opportunity.

Or as a Senator can influence tax-writing legislation which allowed corporations like the Johnson family business to shelter more income from taxation.

* Which brings me to WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He kept his chamber adjourned for most of 2020 while collecting a full salary and eligibility for meal and housing expense reimbursements which he'd expanded as Speaker.

And, while avoiding any productive leadership during the pandemic, just voted in favor of a tax break on COVID relief loans he could apply to his own private businesses.

Sounds like more of that Johnson-Walker 'socialism for me, capitalism for the rest of you' ideology and lifestyle that helps solve their problems, not yours.

And Vos, like Walker, is another long-time beneficiary of the public payroll, beginning as a legislative staff aide after graduation from UW-Whitewater (where he'd roomed with potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate Reince Priebus), followed by election to the Racine County Board of Supervisors in 1994 and later winning a seat in the Assembly

*And since were looking ahead to the 2022 elections - RoJo says he needs another year to decide if he'll keep his promise to walk away from a third term  -  let me turn to former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch who is surely going to be a 2022 gubernatorial candidate.

This screenshot is from a January video Kleefisch posted on her PAC's Facebook page. She says she made 86 appearances in 2020 for Trump and down-ballot GOP candidates. Building up chits for 2022.  

To see her empathy deficit, I give you a four-minute video I believe was made for her 2010 campaign. It was posted on YouTube 8 days after she was sworn in as Lt. Gov. in January, 2011.

The opening is an absolutely ignorant rant about climate change, so don't fast forward to her put-down of the reporting profession before she launches into an empathy-free stereotyping of poor people.

The video shows Kleefisch speaking to what may be a class of journalism students, and has her judgmentally reprising her work as a TV journalist on a piece about lead abatement. 

Lead paint in older homes often found in lower-income neighborhoods is a toxic source of childhood blood poisoning because children put flaked-off lead paint chips in their mouthes.

Kleefisch explains to her audience that she was in a low-income family's home on an assignment when she worked in TV news and saw roaches all over the walls and dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink while people were on a mattress - without a box spring - on the floor playing video games on a big-screen TV.

Kleefisch says that while some journalists would see the family as "victims," she was wondering why the people she was there to write about had spent their money on expensive toys or "name-brand sneakers" instead of on a box spring or roach traps or dish soap.

After all, she said, she'd washed her dishes by hand before she got a dishwasher!

Sound like the kind of post-COVID-catastrophe Governor Wisconsin needs?

Actually, we already one.

Walker made this very same attack during his 2014 campaign to stir up resentment voting in his base rather than actually solve real problems because it was the right thing to do:

In the final month and a half of the campaign, Gov. Scott Walker is making a blunt promise to voters — that he'll ensure jobless workers aren't on drugs, or their recliners. 
"My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering Republican campaign volunteers last week in West Bend. 

Maybe Walker was taking cues from Kleefisch. Maybe they both were channeling Walker's idol Ronald Reagan who made 'welfare queens' famous.

But one person's welfare queen is just another well-positioned and entitled partisan - like Johnson or Walker or Vos, and yes, Kleefisch - with a reserved seat at Big Government's 'Socialist' buffet.

Less than three weeks after Kleefisch's term as Wisconsin Lt. Governor ran out in January, 2019, the Republican White House found her a six-figure salary as Executive Director of a national commission planning the 100th anniversary of Women's Suffrage.

Serving in a voting suppression state administration for eight years before punching that nifty ticket was certainly ironic, but not disqualifying.

Now, we don't know if Ron Johnson and Rebecca Kleefisch can win upcoming Wisconsin elections.

But we do know that both of them practice socialism for themselves while enforcing austerity and more problems on those who already have the least.

As George Hesselberg might put it, they should just get out of the way.

 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

GOP empathy deficits add suffering and enforce inequality

Scorching hashtags like #LyingTedCruz shot across the Internet when it was discovered that Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz had bolted to Cancun, Mexico with his family - and without the family dog - from his frozen, suffering home state.

The snark was brutal and well-deserved.

But it was a short and brilliantly precise Facebook posting about Cruz's behavior by the Wisconsin repertorial treasure George Hesselberg that really had me thinking all day Friday and into Saturday

Here, with his permission, is what he wrote:

Truth be told, the presence of Sen. Cruz in Texas is not necessary. Whatever work he can do to alleviate the suffering in his state can be done from anywhere. What he and his do not seem to understand is that empathy gets work done, motivates people, inspires a domino effect of positive activity. You just show up, don't get in the way, use your own skills to solve the problems. Above all, you don't make it worse. He made it worse. No empathy. Not a shred. He should stay in Cancun. 

Particularly this line: 

What he and his do not seem to understand is that empathy gets work done, motivates people, inspires a domino effect of positive activity.

And I thought, isn't this really the reality on the right here in Wisconsin? 

We see it over and over because GOP ideologues without empathy wield great power inside they government they profess to hate, so a decade of Republican control which has kept people down has also produced this unsurprising record.

Hunger in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin515,930 people are struggling with hunger - and of them 179,180 are children.

Rising poverty in Wisconsin

UW–Madison Institute for Research on Poverty: Wisconsin poverty rate rose in 2018 overall, for children, and for the elderly

An expanding wealth gap in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile state and local governments, facing huge declines in taxes collected, are contemplating cuts in service that could have the worst impact on poor and middle class people. One bright spot for Wisconsin was the online sales taxes have increased, but it turns out that the Republican-led state Legislature passed a law requiring that all such revenue must be used to lower income taxes paid. That means 20 percent of tax relief will go the top 2 percent of the state’s taxpayers, with none of it going to lower income taxpayers.

Wisconsin Republican legislators and the Gov. Scott Walker also passed the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, which nearly wiped out state income tax liability for manufacturers and agricultural producers in Wisconsin. Nearly all the value of the tax break goes to the very wealthy. In fact, just 11 claimants, all of which had incomes of $30 million or more, received an estimated combined tax break of $22 million in 2017.

Walker and Republican lawmakers piled on the benefits for the wealthy in a controversial lame duck bill, adding a $60 million tax cut that mostly benefits the top 20 percent of taxpayers. That likely includes members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, whose conservative majority has ruled against lawsuits arguing the lame duck laws were unconstitutional.  

And we repeatedly see ideologically-and-donor obeisant Wisconsin Republicans - like Cruz - choosing to help embed big picture problems by disregarding or dismissing solutions within their easy reach.

* Consider that then-Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker raised taxes on low-income Wisconsinites, and created barriers to their obtaining food aid, and kept the minimum wage frozen at $7.25 per hour, and even stripped away some lifeline financial assistance to poor people through paternalistic budget wording aimed at motivating poor people to get out there and look for work. 

This from a career politician who ended up enjoying more than 25 unbroken years of generous public salaries and taxpayer-supplied family health care coverage, and other perks including eight years as Governor with a state-provided lakefront residence complete with two kitchens.

And a salary which topped out at $144,000.

And who now regularly inveighs on Twitter against what he calls socialism.

While finding work at several non-profits (the government-provided tax code means the rest of us have to make up the lost revenue), including one group which Walker will take over sometime early this year as President that paid its previous President $995,000 in salary and additional compensation. Details of Walker's financial package have not been public reported.

* Or consider the empathy-free displays by our habitually self-interested GOP millionaire Sen. Ron Johnson who, I remind you, is also perhaps the Senate's most-consistent and highest-profile, unyielding opponent of Obamacare.  

A brief digression, but given Johnson's jaw-dropping dismissal of the recent fatal attack on the US Capitol, isn't this 2011 headline just about the most ironic you've read in a long time? 

On the Capitol: Worst assault in Sen. Johnson's lifetime? Obamacare  

But back to present day Ron - who has twice recently voted against payments to people during the crushing COVID19 pandemic. 

Though taxpayers provide him a $174,000 annual salary, though when in session, the Senate usually meets Tuesday-through Thursday.

Johnson also has control over an annual office budget in the $3.7 million range which he is free to allocate as he pleases, and which includes numerous personal perks (some listed here), from excellent health and pension benefits to free air travel to subsidized on-site food service.

 

Yet he is on record (video, here), telling high school students in October, 2017 that food and health care are privileges, not rights.

When a student asked him if he considers health care to be a right or a privilege, Johnson replied, "I think it's probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as 'rights' is 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"

I would add that privileges are easier to come by and enjoy if you are lucky enough to marry into opportunity.

Or as a Senator can influence tax-writing legislation which allowed corporations like the Johnson family business to shelter more income from taxation.

* Which brings me to WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. He kept his chamber adjourned for most of 2020 while collecting a full salary and eligibility for meal and housing expense reimbursements which he'd expanded as Speaker.

And, while avoiding any productive leadership during the pandemic, just voted in favor of a tax break on COVID relief loans he could apply to his own private businesses.

Sounds like more of that Johnson-Walker 'socialism for me, capitalism for the rest of you' ideology and lifestyle that helps solve their problems, not yours.

And Vos, like Walker, is another long-time beneficiary of the public payroll, beginning as a legislative staff aide after graduation from UW-Whitewater (where he'd roomed with potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate Reince Priebus), followed by election to the Racine County Board of Supervisors in 1994 and later winning a seat in the Assembly

*And since were looking ahead to the 2022 elections - RoJo says he needs another year to decide if he'll keep his promise to walk away from a third term  -  let me turn to former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch who is surely going to be a 2022 gubernatorial candidate.

This screenshot is from a January video Kleefisch posted on her PAC's Facebook page. She says she made 86 appearances in 2020 for Trump and down-ballot GOP candidates. Building up chits for 2022.  

To see her empathy deficit, I give you a four-minute video I believe was made for her 2010 campaign. It was posted on YouTube 8 days after she was sworn in as Lt. Gov. in January, 2011.

The opening is an absolutely ignorant rant about climate change, so don't fast forward to her put-down of the reporting profession before she launches into an empathy-free stereotyping of poor people.

The video shows Kleefisch speaking to what may be a class of journalism students, and has her judgmentally reprising her work as a TV journalist on a piece about lead abatement. 

Lead paint in older homes often found in lower-income neighborhoods is a toxic source of childhood blood poisoning because children put flaked-off lead paint chips in their mouthes.

Kleefisch explains to her audience that she was in a low-income family's home on an assignment when she worked in TV news and saw roaches all over the walls and dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink while people were on a mattress - without a box spring - on the floor playing video games on a big-screen TV.

Kleefisch says that while some journalists would see the family as "victims," she was wondering why the people she was there to write about had spent their money on expensive toys or "name-brand sneakers" instead of on a box spring or roach traps or dish soap.

After all, she said, she'd washed her dishes by hand before she got a dishwasher!

Sound like the kind of post-COVID-catastrophe Governor Wisconsin needs?

Actually, we already one.

Walker made this very same attack during his 2014 campaign to stir up resentment voting in his base rather than actually solve real problems because it was the right thing to do:

In the final month and a half of the campaign, Gov. Scott Walker is making a blunt promise to voters — that he'll ensure jobless workers aren't on drugs, or their recliners. 
"My belief is we shouldn't be paying for them to sit on the couch, watching TV or playing Xbox," Walker told cheering Republican campaign volunteers last week in West Bend. 

Maybe Walker was taking cues from Kleefisch. Maybe they both were channeling Walker's idol Ronald Reagan who made 'welfare queens' famous.

But one person's welfare queen is just another well-positioned and entitled partisan - like Johnson or Walker or Vos, and yes, Kleefisch - with a reserved seat at Big Government's 'Socialist' buffet.

Less than three weeks after Kleefisch's term as Wisconsin Lt. Governor ran out in January, 2019, the Republican White House found her a six-figure salary as Executive Director of a national commission planning the 100th anniversary of Women's Suffrage.

Serving in a voting suppression state administration for eight years before punching that nifty ticket was certainly ironic, but not disqualifying.

Now, we don't know if Ron Johnson and Rebecca Kleefisch can win upcoming Wisconsin elections.

But we do know that both of them practice socialism for themselves while enforcing austerity and more problems on those who already have the least.

As George Hesselberg might put it, they should just get out of the way.


Friday, February 19, 2021

WI Appeals Court: November wolf killing can begin next week

I am not privy to the parties' legal strategizing, but it seems that unless an appellate court dismissal Friday afternoon can be moved to the State Supreme Court200 Wisconsin wolves - a number not based in science, meaningful consultation with the state's Native American nations or through available public input - will be 'hunted'/'harvested' killed, principally through leg traps, then head shots.

Wisconsin's gray wolves are falling prey to hostile fictions, rightwing anti-conservation lobbies and calendars.

The wolves lost their federal protection during the prior President's last days in office.

The wolves natural calendar says February is during  breeding season which stabilizes and perpetuates their packs.

And while state law says a legal Wisconsin hunt is a November 'season,' the rulings so far have declared February as the New November to facilitate the 'harvest.'

Attorneys may enlighten readers and me as to Friday's dismissal posted on the state's courts records page:

Opinion/Decision
Judge Panel: Brash, Dugan, Donald
Opinion: Memo Opinion
Decision: Dismissed Pages: 5
Order Text: IT IS ORDERED that the notice of appeal filed in appeal No. 2021AP256-LV is dismissed for lack of a final judgment or order. 

This court lacks jurisdiction over a direct appeal at this time. No costs to either party.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the petition for leave to appeal is denied. No costs to either party.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the conditional petition for leave to cross-appeal is denied ex parte. No costs to either party.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for a stay pending appeal is denied as moot.

Details about the current case and some history are here, and more from 2014 when the killing had been banned, here.

The ugly history surrounding Wisconsin's now-banned wolf hunt

[Updated, Sunday, Dec. 21, 12:02 p.m., from Saturday, Dec. 20, 3:42 p.m.]  
A few more words about the merciful and unexpected end to the gray wolf hunt in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin, ordered by a Federal judge Friday.
Wisconsin is killing its wolves
A summary post about it, with several links, here, and an update. 


Dirty air alert for WI - for two days. Bring on cleaner, greener power!

Do you recall the published findings a few days ago that air pollution is responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths world wide?

Smoke stacks from a factory. 

With that in mind, and remembering both the pass former GOP AG Brad Schimel gave a major corporate air polluter and the political favor the previous 'President' did for Walker and Foxconn that eased air pollution standards in SE Wisconsin - please note that the WI DNR has issued an air pollution alert across Wisconsin for the next two days. 

Cold air can trap smokestack and tailpipe pollutants close to the ground through a phenomenon called "temperature inversion." 

Another reason to demand more renewably-powered electricity generation and cleaner-running vehicles as a matter of public health.

From the DNR via an email alert:

Advisory for Particle Pollution (Orange)

Start Time: 3:00PM CT Friday, February 19, 2021
End Time: 3:00PM CT Sunday, February 21, 2021
Counties: Adams, Brown, Buffalo, Calumet, Chippewa, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Door, Dunn, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Grant , Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Kewaunee, La Crosse, Lafayette, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Pepin, Portage, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Shawano, Sheboygan, St. Croix, Taylor, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, Wood

AIR QUALITY INDEX CHART

Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health ConcernColors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are:...as symbolized 
by this color:
0 to 50GoodGreen
51 to 100ModerateYellow
101 to 150Unhealthy for 
Sensitive Groups
Orange
151 to 200UnhealthyRed
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurple
301 to 500HazardousMaroon

For More Information: