Saturday, August 30, 2014

Walker: 2012's "gold standard" jobs numbers "misleading", but "inaccurate" numbers awesome!

So, here we have yet another example of Scott Walker illustrating his disregard for consistency and honesty. Wisconsinites might remember that, during the recall election, some of Walker's opponents touted unfavorable job numbers. These numbers were deemed unreliable by the Walker camp because they were just monthly estimates -- as opposed to the comprehensive hard numbers, that Walker himself touted as a "gold standard" in job numbers.

Well, Scott has got a new ad out. And guess what set of numbers he's relying on -- the "gold standard" or the "unreliable" estimates?

If you're thinking "the unreliable estimates," well, you would be correct (and, if you think "the gold standard", now might be a good time to lay off the kool-aid).

NPR sums it up:
Walker's [new] numbers are based on cumulative monthly estimates between July of last year and July of this year. These are the same monthly estimates Walker attacked as unreliable during his recall campaign. Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson described them as numbers that are “inaccurate,” and that “cannot be trusted.”
But it's worse than that. Walker has newly found these unreliable estimates to be trustworthy, but he also accuses Mary Burke of "misleading" people by quoting his former "gold standard" numbers.

Fox News' Mike Lowe reports:

“Those are numbers she’s using and not pointing to the most recent statistics. Wisconsin now ranks third in the Midwest for actual private sector job creation.  That’s just this week from the current employment statistics by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Walker said. 
The employment survey comes out every month, and is simply an estimate. That’s the number Walker is using when he says Wisconsin ranks third. 
The quarterly census, which Walker called “the gold standard” to measure jobs is hard data that is much more reliable. That’s what Burke is using when she says Wisconsin is “dead last.”
And, as NPR points out, "Burke's ad, however, accurately quotes detailed quarterly census numbers covering Walker's first three full years in office."

In other words, our illustrious governor has not only reversed his position on "unreliable" monthly estimates (as they benefit him); not only reversed his opinion on the hard numbers, the "gold standard" of job numbers; but he accuses Mary Burke of misleading voters by using the numbers that he himself described as the gold standard, rather than the numbers he and his party derided as unreliable estimates. I think it's fair to say that when it comes to honesty, Governor Walker is full of it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Bill Maher's atheism is not a religion...classic

So, yeah, I'm watching atheist videos as I make jewelry tonight...stumbled on this one. I've seen it a few times before, but, you know, it's pretty damn good. It looks like HBO doesn't want this embedded,  because the embed feature is turned off on every video I come across. Alas, I can only link to it (sorry!). However, it is worth the click. Whether you've seen it before or not.

If I had a nickel for every time some jackass has told me that I'm just following a different religion, well, I wouldn't be making jewelry to sell in my spare time. ;) Comedy sometimes is the best way to handle these things.

Best line? Probably "You don't get to put your unreason up there on the same shelf with my reason. Your stuff has to go over there, with Zeus and Thor and the Kraken."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The $700K question of Scott Walker's new attitude toward mining

So by now we all know that Gogebic's $700,000 donation couldn't possibly have influenced Scott Walker, according to Scott Walker. See, our grand governor has always been pro-mining. Except when he wasn't, of course.

In fact, he helped block a proposal to construct another major mine in northern Wisconsin years ago.
In 1998 — as a member of the Assembly — Walker voted in favor of a mining moratorium that put the brakes on a proposed copper and zinc mine near Crandon. The measure passed in the Assembly on a 91-6 vote and was signed into law by Gov. Tommy Thompson.
The mine was never built.

 A far cry indeed from his more recent actions.

In March 2012, state senators rejected legislation aimed at clearing the way for the $1.5 billion mine. Just two weeks after Walker won his recall election that year, he launched an effort to put together a bill favorable to Gogebic Taconite.
The GOP-controlled Legislature passed a measure last year rewriting the state's mining laws, a bill that the mining firm helped draft. An alternative proposal by three state senators — Democrats Bob Jauch of Poplar and Tim Cullen of Janesville and Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center — failed to garner support

Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now perhaps phrases it best:

"The record is clear: Scott Walker the legislator was for tougher environmental laws on mining before Scott Walker the governor was against them," said Ross, who gave $250 to Walker's opponent, Democrat Mary Burke. "The '$700,000 Question' remains — what changed Governor Walker's mind?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

John Oliver literally destroys piñatas (and has something to say about click-bait headlines, too).

So, if you, like me, cannot stand those "You won't believe this!" or "so and so DESTROYS some other so and so!" click-bait will enjoy this. While John Oliver is great, and his show is often brilliantly done...this is, to my knowledge, the first time he has "literally destroyed" anything on air.

On the other hand, for examples of John Oliver figuratively destroying things...

The "both sides of the climate debate" nonsense is, of course, a highly memorable one:

And his Dr. Oz segment is certainly worth a mention:

And his Ferguson coverage is surely a worthy contender:

And those are just the first three that come to mind, where John Oliver has done a wonderful job of addressing important points. Without taking a bat to anything. Feel free to nominate your favorite in the comments.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Walker's WEDC votes for Ashley furniture $6 mil tax credit, owners then donate $20 K

So just yesterday I posted about some of the *ahem* peculiar things we're learning about what Scott Walker has been doing in (to?) Wisconsin. One of those items was:
And, finally, in an unrelated but also curious move, Walker's WEDC -- the purpose of which is to create jobs in the state -- is giving a Wisconsin company a 6 million dollar tax credit to build headquarters in the state -- with the okay to lay off 1,900 employees (half its workforce), and with no new job creation requirements. Because, you know, it's all about the jobs and workers. Just not the ~2000 who are going to lose theirs, apparently.
Well, wouldn't you know it, within a month of getting Walker's goody bag...Ashley Furniture's owners felt moved to donate $20,000 dollars to Scott Walker's campaign.

About two weeks after the WEDC vote, on Feb. 17, Ronald and Joyce Wanek of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Todd and Karen Wanek of Arcadia, each gave $5,000 to Friends of Scott Walker, state campaign finance records show.
Ronald Wanek is founder and board chairman of Ashley. His son Todd is president and CEO of the company, which is privately owned.
Also worth noting?
The company and city of Arcadia have received 10 awards from WEDC and the Department of Commerce since 1988, but the $6 million tax credit approved in January would total more than all the others combined.
In the words of One Wisconsin Now's executive director, Scot Ross:
“They just got a $6 million tax break that allows them to cut half their jobs and two weeks later they give Walker $20,000. I think it speaks for itself."

Georgia gun-nuts give rapists, pedophiles back their guns

So I came across this truly mortifying story, about a Georgia cop who tried to sodomize a woman with his service weapon. That failing, he raped her.
Krauss was convicted of sexual assault against a person in custody, and this one instance of sexual assault is far from the only allegation against him. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “[h]is record was filled with allegations of misconduct: that he beat a prisoner so severely the man’s brain bled; that he threatened to fabricate charges against a suspect so he could sleep with the man’s wife; that he pressured at least 10 women for sex to avoid arrest.” The former cop, for his part, is unrepentant. When asked about his sexual assault conviction, he claims that “[t]here wasn’t any crime,” and that “I was dealt a bad hand.”
Now this cop sounds like a poster boy for the NRA's "bad guy" that we all need to be armed against, right? Funny* story...due to Georgia's gun nuttery, this POS is now another "bad guy with a gun" -- because last year "the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles restored Krauss’ right to carry a firearm." And he's not alone.
According to a Journal-Constitution tally, he is one of 358 violent felons who regained these rights over a six year period. That includes 32 violent felons who killed someone, and 44 who committed sex crimes. One man regained his right to own a gun in 2012 after serving a 10 year sentence for child molestation and aggravated child molestation. Some offenders regained their gun rights after being convicted of crimes such as armed robbery, burglary or aggravated assault.
Between re-arming violent criminals and rapists and opposing background checks that keep firearms out of the hands of those legally barred from owning them, it's getting more and more obvious that the right's gun nuttery has nothing to do with a legitimate exercise of second amendment rights, or the safety of Americans. In fact, America's gun nuts are actively enforcing policies that do the opposite: that put children, women and everyone else at risk by making it easier for criminals to own arms -- and even re-arming violent criminals.

*and by funny, I mean f'ing horrifying

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A roundup of this week's "Scott Walker says and does the darndest things" moments...

So, some interesting news from Wisconsin, about our illustrious governor, Scott Walker, mostly about his dance with unethical and illegal behaviors.

For starters, we have this:

Newly released court documents include excerpts from emails showing that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recall election campaign team told him to instruct donors to give to a key conservative group that would run ads for Walker and distribute money to other conservative groups backing him. 
The documents released Friday by a federal appeals court also show that prosecutors believe Walker personally solicited donations for conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth to get around campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements as he fended off the recall attempt in 2012. 
Aides told Walker to tell donors that they could make unlimited donations to Wisconsin Club for Growth without having the gifts publicly disclosed. Wisconsin Club for Growth then funneled the money to other conservative groups that advertised on Walker's behalf. 
"As the Governor discussed ... he wants all the issue advocacy efforts run thru one group to ensure correct messaging," Walker fundraiser Kate Doner wrote to campaign adviser R.J. Johnson in April 2011, a little more than a year before the recall election. "We had some past problems with multiple groups doing work on 'behalf' of Gov. Walker and it caused some issues ... the Governor is encouraging all to invest in the Wisconsin Club for Growth."

Now, as we all know, money has no -- zero, zilch, nada -- impact on politics. Thus it's all perfectly legal for groups to accept unlimited cash for political purposes, because no elected official would ever, could ever, possibly be persuaded by the offer of money. Or, put in the form our legislators like to peddle:

While the law fully accepts that politicians will never, ever be persuaded to, or dissuaded from, action by the lure of cash, they still demand that politicians maintain the flimsy pretext of separation between interests and actions. Which is to say, a group can lobby a politician to do x, y and z, while making giant donations, with the express purpose of buying that politician's votes; but they can't acknowledge that they're doing it for that purpose. A politician can consistently be persuaded to see eye-to-eye with those who write him large checks, but he can never draw a line between the check and his persuasion. In American politics, the former is all proper and on the up-and-up, and the latter dirty politics.

According to Walker, he has behaved in a perfectly legal and upright fashion. On the other hand,

Prosecutors contend Walker and the club [Wisconsin Club for Growth] stepped over a line by working together to secretly funnel unlimited sums to groups backing Walker.
As one example, investigators say Walker was set to participate in a December 2011 conference call with James Buchen, a top official with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's largest business group. Wisconsin Club for Growth gave WMC $2.5 million the following year, which WMC used to produce and air commercials promoting Walker and criticizing his recall opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett.

Walker, of course, denies this.
Walker said he helped solicit contributions to Wisconsin Club for Growth in 2011 primarily to help GOP senators who faced recalls. The court filings suggested, however, that he was involved in raising more than $1 million for Club for Growth in the months before his own recall election.
As to speculation that Walker was in any way influenced to rollback environmental protections in order to facilitate a new Gogebic mine by a $700,000 donation by Gogebic, Walker simply has no idea what anyone is talking about. And, in fact, the whole thing is ridiculous!
Asked whether he was aware that Gogebic Taconite secretly donated $700,000 to Wisconsin Club for Growth — a pro-business advocacy group directed by the governor's campaign adviser — Walker said, "Not to my knowledge." 
When asked if the previously undisclosed funds and subsequent legislation were part of some pay-to-play scheme, Walker said, "That's a ridiculous argument."
Not everyone agrees with Walker. Even some from his own party see this as a potentially damaging revelation:
Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), the only Republican senator who voted against the mining legislation, indicated he was not surprised by the donation. Schultz sought to craft a bipartisan mining bill with Jauch and Sen. Tim Cullen (D-Janesville).  
"The fact that someone gave a donation in and of itself does not indicate solid evidence that there is pay-to- play," Schultz said. "But there just isn't any question that the quality of public policy making in Wisconsin has suffered since big money has come to this state."  
He said it was "particularly disturbing" that the mining company sought to conceal its activities.
"They have obviously tried to channel their money in places where the public won't see it," Schultz said.  
"I just think in this state that is going to get a very negative reaction from the public. And I think it has taken an exceedingly long time for all of this stuff to come out," Schultz continued. "As my dear late mother used to say, 'Eventually the truth will win out.' I guess I'm just saddened. I love this state. I have loved its political traditions, and I just don't think this is us. I really don't."
It's also worth noting that, due to the continued fight to keep these documents hidden from public scrutiny, these were pulled from the court's website shortly after being released.

And, finally, in an unrelated but also curious move, Walker's WEDC -- the purpose of which is to create jobs in the state -- is giving a Wisconsin company a 6 million dollar tax credit to build headquarters in the state -- with the okay to lay off 1,900 employees (half its workforce), and with no new job creation requirements.  Because, you know, it's all about the jobs and workers. Just not the ~2000 who are going to lose theirs, apparently.