Jeff Smith running for Democratic Party Chair

This afternoon I talked to Jeff Smith on the phone about his run for Democratic Party Chair. Jeff is the former representative from the 93rd district, and has worked as an organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.  I talked to Jeff about what his plans are, what he would do as party chair, and what makes him different from the other candidates.  Please excuse some of the audio quality here - this was a cell phone interview.

Walker plans to "right-size" -- more accurately right-wing size -- Wisconsin state government. RIGHHHHHHHT.

"Right-sizing" is a slyly meaningless yet onerous term used in the business community to explain cutting staff, outsourcing, reducing reserves of capital and commodities and generallty making everything smaller to boost profits. And it's also used by product marketeers trying to suggest to customers how economical and/or healthy their offerings are.

Now Scott Walker is using the term to justify and explain an obvious Republican move to further cut state social programs, environmental protection, low-income housing programs and other policies that helped build Wisconsin's superior quality of life. Before we started out on Captain Walker's downstream riverboat ride towards Wisconsippi.

Hey, Walker insists, things under his regime have turned out great. Who needs all that state "programmy" stuff, besides of course the citizens of Wisconsin who need all that stuff? Poor people, you see, simply don't deserve a helping hand because that only serves to impoverish them, even though they're already impoverished. Meanwhile, the state's dwindling middle class doesn't need any help either. At least not from your state government.

LAB Fraud Hotline: Working to Stop Waste, Abuse and Mismanagement

LAB Fraud Hotline: Working to Stop Waste, Abuse and Mismanagement
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
The disabled folks from Black River Falls who called me were on to something. They described problems (like waiting for a van that never came) with state contractors who were supposed to transport Medicaid patients to a doctor or therapy appointment. The problems they described were happening in many parts of the state.
The complaints led to a public hearing. Last spring lawmakers directed the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) to conduct an investigation into contactors hired by the state to provide non-emergency medical transportation. Auditors were to investigate the complaints raised about substandard service. 
But some people were afraid to complain. For a kidney dialysis patient, life depends on the ride to the dialysis center.

Paul Ryan and the GOP "voodoo time machine" tries to change history

Reality is full of inconvenient truths. And facts (as comedian Stephen Colbert famously said) have a known liberal bias. Which explains why policy-deficient Republlicans react accordingly. Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman this week reflected on the GOP's continued insistence on believing in -- or at least spreading around -- sheer fantasy. In his New York Times column, Krugman in particular used Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) as an example of this.

Krugman first reflected on how newly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) now takes credit for months of national economic resurgence,  when before the fall election, McConnell and his brethren were blaming President Obama for the nation's supposed economic malaise.

Ron Johnson: A Working Single Mom Should "Find Someone to Support Her"

Oh, this is rich.

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, you know-- the guy who got rich by finding someone to support him, has a pearl of wisdom for all the working single moms out there:  If she wants to "increase her take-home pay” instead of having yet "another child out of wedlock" to increase her welfare windfall, she should instead "find someone to support her." (see video below)

THE REAL STATISTS: Solar issue shows how Walker Republicans are for top-down government, as long as it's corporate-based

Based on Scott Walker's own actions and comments over the years – as in, “I was the original tea party in Wisconsin” – many voters and pundits regard Wisconsin's governor as a mainstream right-wing Republican, “mainstream” in the sense that the tea party has driven much of the party's modern ideology, to the chagrin of some of its putative national leaders.

However, now that he has a lengthening record as a state legislator, county executive and governor, it's becoming very apparent that Walker is fundamentally not driven by the often peculiar politics of his party's tea party wing. Rather, it seems to me, Walker represents the mainstream GOP's continuing fetish for statism.

That idea may raise eyebrows among observers with some knowledge of political science, since statism is often regarded as a government-centric, top-down philosophy -- one that Republicans, libertarians and other ideologues often seek to assign to the Democratic Party and anyone else to their left. But if you could describe Scott Walker in one word, I think it should be statist.

Vouchers for special education will hasten money drain from public schools.

Perhaps the least-understood educational topic is special education. Special ed students make up such a small part of the student population they don’t seem worthy of much attention.

However, if Republicans and voucher proponents get their way and “voucherize” special education, public school districts could find themselves in a funding death spiral.

It costs about $12,000 to educate a k-12 student in Wisconsin. However, if that student has special needs that average cost per student (and the key word here is average) jumps to around $27,000 a year. (And bear with me for using rounded and averaged numbers.)

Special needs is a broad category. One student may have a reading disorder which may require only an hour a day with a reading specialist. Another student may be severely disabled and require a full-time aide, assigned to that student for the entire day. In some cases this may be portal-to-portal assistance requiring that aide to be on the bus with their charge to and from school. That aide may also undergo student-specific training to administer medications or deal with medical emergencies.