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.

When right-to-work group says jump, tribe seeking Walker's Kenosha casino OK asks how high, then drops deal with labor unions

Here's the awful truth, in two parts. For years now, the Menominee Tribe has been trying to get the state's permission to build a gambling casino in the Kenosha area. Gov. Scott Walker has delayed deciding that issue again and again, for what seems no good reason other than politics. Well, in mid-December, Wisconsin Right to Work, a conservative anti-union group, decided to help Walker come to a decision. From a report in the Appleton Post Crescent newspaper:

Wisconsin Right to Work, a newly formed organization aimed at the passage of right-to-work [legislation] in Wisconsin, has expressed concern over a potential deal between the Menominee Indian Nation and two labor unions that would recognize the union[s] via card-check.

Yup, it's true. The very most important and critical issue in the Menominee proposal isn't whether gambling is good or whether the casino would create jobs or anything else about the proposal other than the fact the the tribe has openly been dealinig with -- HORRORS! -- labor unions.

And as of this week, the tribe blinked, big time. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel let its readers know that today in a story under the following headline: Tribe, union dissolve pact in bid to sway Scott Walker on Kenosha casino

Taxing hybrids and electrics: WisDOT's proposal and the shunning of common sense

All ye need know about the current mindset of transportation planners in Wisconsin -- and the politicians who direct them -- is contained in a new radio feature that just aired on National Public Radio's "Here and Now" program, which focused on Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) proposals to raise new road construction revenues by creating new fees on hybrid and electric motor vehicles.

The program, reported from WUWM-FM News in Milwaukee, quoted Chris Eichman, who with his wife bought the first all-electric Nissan Leaf ever sold in Wisconsin two years ago. The Eichmans also own a Toyota Prius hybrid and are okay in concept with paying their fair share in gasoline taxes or alternative fees. But, said Eichman, "“A flat fee really doesn’t take into account that we chose these cars because they’re energy efficient and we purposely don’t drive as much,” he says. “And I don’t think it takes into account all the rest of people in the state who drive a standard car — or even the less efficient cars that just pollute more.”

Mark Gottlieb, WisDOT secretary, defended his proposal:

“So the hybrid owners ask me, ‘Well, I drive a hybrid car, you’re taking away all my incentive to do a good thing,'” he said at a Chamber of Commerce gathering in Milwaukee. “No we’re not, we’re not!”

Pay Attention - There’s a New Legislature in Session

“Raise your right hand and repeat after me,” the Supreme Court Justice directs newly elected and re-elected lawmakers.
 
So begins the new 2-year Legislative Session.
 
On the first working day of 2015 a new group of freshman legislators began their work. Ordinary folks from ordinary lives receive a crash course in state services, agencies, budgeting and parliamentary procedure.
 
Soon an onslaught of proposed bills will appear in the email in-boxes of lawmakers.
Over 1,500 bills will be introduced before the 2-year legislative session adjourns. These bills will flow through 16 Senate and 33 Assembly committees. Certain proposals will also be reviewed by 10 joint committees.

Ron Johnson: "I Do Orders of Magnitude More" Outreach than Feingold Did

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold was known far and wide being for staying in touch with his constituents.  He came home to Wisconsin every weekend; he had listening sessions in every county, every year; and he had five Senate offices set up across Wisconsin.  

His successor, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson?  Not so much.

Johnson bought a house in D.C.; he permits only a handful of secretive townhall meetings every year (he doesn't allow anyone to record them); and he maintains only two Senate offices in Wisconsin, both on the East side of the state. 

This stark contrast hasn't been lost on Wisconsinites.  On one of the rare occasions when Johnson ventured out to meet with constituents, one participant challenged him on it and remarked that he should come to every county, every year like Feingold used to, adding, "We see you on TV all the time but where the work gets done is in a room like this."  

The Year of Living Doltishly: Ron Johnson's Top 20 Face-Palms of 2014

Here it is folks-- the best of the worst of Ron Johnson during 2014.  It really is quite a body of work:  

20.) Earned his first "Pants on Fire" Rating from Politifact for claiming that "20 to 25 percent" of all money spent on "Medicare" and other "programs" is lost to fraud.  Dang, Ron!  One in four dollars is lost to fraud!  Do tell: You just figured out a quick way to balance the budget and keep Medicare solvent! 

19.) In June, Johnson intense criticism for being one of only three senators to vote against the bill to fix long wait times for war-injured veterans seeking health care. 

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