Man MKE's blog

THE DAILY DYSFUNCTION: All the news that's hissy-fit to print

We can't keep up with it! Every day, news of our decaying, corrupt democracy oozes forth like pus from a deep wound in the body politic. Corruption is rampant. And so we introduce The Daily Dysfunction, an occasional (not really daily) feature summarizing some of the more egregous developments in government debasement, especially right here in formerly pristine Wisconsin. Today:

1. Subject of John Doe inquiry makes prosecutor a target:
Eric O'Keefe, a leader of the conservative Wisconsin Club For Growth, insisted that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm appoint a special prosecutor to investigate himself. Otherwise, in a letter reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, O'Keefe said "he will attempt to launch a probe by other means, including by going to Gov. Scott Walker, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen or a judge." Like he has before. Fruitlessly. Gumming up the works for fun and profit, again.

Wisconsin's increasing reliance on context-free politics and spending cuts -- enjoy your mostly imaginary tax break, though.

Scott Walker is out there yet again, with a new ad plying the airwaves. And today comes Politifact Wisconsin to judge whether the ad is truthful. 

Walker's ad claims that his income tax cuts and property tax relief, signed into law by the Republican-dominated legislature, will result in savings of $322 for an "average family." That's for the 2014 tax-filing year.

Politifact asked Walker aides to back up the figure and was largely satiisfied with the response (you can read the whole column by clicking on the link below). Politifact gave Walker a "mostly true" rather than a "true" based on certain missing information. 

The Walker claim, Politifact said, is based on an "average family" defined as four people with a median household income of $81,000. How many families do you know making that much every year? Is that an "average" Wisconsin family? Yes, according to Politifact: "U.S. Census figures show that a family of four in Wisconsin has a median income of that amount, or slightly higher. A family of four is a common measuring stick. About one in five family households in Wisconsin is that size." Ah, well, maybe 20 percent of us are going to get that $322 tax break, then.

Je récuse! Walker thinks Supreme Court justices who got aid from his pals can objectively consider the Doe case

Gov. Scott Walker offered up his usual tasty looking but utterly non-nutritious word salad when asked by a news reporter why the four conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court should not recuse themselves if civil lawsuits aiming to blunt the John Doe investigation are taken up by the court. That, of course, is the John Doe investigation looking into Walker's own campaign activities. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today noted that those four conservative justices, forming the court's majority, all have received heavy financial support from three conservative interest groups. The Doe inquiry has looked at those same three groups for possibly breaching the firewall between candidate campaigns and supposedly independent political action.

Walker's social darwinism turns Wisconsin social safety net into net loss

-- From wearethesafetynet.org

Good news from the Affordable Care Act. Despite continued Republican moaning about the "failure" of "Obamacare," new numbers suggest that as a result of the law's first year of expanded health care (about 10 million Americans gained private insurance or Medicaid coverage), hospitals nationwide will save $5.7 billion in providing care to impoverished, previously uninsured Americans who otherwise would show up without coverage at emergency rooms, or go without care whatsoever.

You might ask: How much of that huge savings will benefit hard-pressed hospitals in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker refused to accept expanded Medicaid support from the federal government? The exact figure is not yet parsed, but the likely answer is: little, or nothing, or -- most likely -- higher state deficits instead.

Walker may be clueless, but it's not like no one else saw this coming. The association representing Wisconsin's hospitals heavily lobbied the Walker administration and legislators to accept federal dollars to expand the state's version of Medicaid, known as BadgerCare, knowing in advance that, otherwise, this very thing would happen. The governor's answer to that concern: <cue sound of chirping crickets>

Hey, Koch brothers, just pour all your million-dollar bills right into this hole, and tamp them down hard

First rule: Stop digging

Salon.com has a new feature this campaign season: General Election Stupid Ad Watch, which looks at political campaign ads all across the USA to find the dumbest and lamest ones of all.  "We watch the ads so that you don’t have to," Salon intones, adding: "Let’s catch up on the latest phase of the Great American Dumbing Project."

This won't surprise many Wisconsin voters. According to Salon, the biggest dumbth of all the many, many TV campaign ads running across America this week? It's the one where Scott Walker is in a deep hole. Salon's description:

Here is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker going lo-fi and climbing a ladder out of a hole. Dimensionally, it’s much like the hole in which he buried a century’s worth of hard-won labor rights a few years ago. Why is he in a hole? According to Scott Walker, this hole represents the state of Wisconsin’s finances when he took office. It’s taken a term’s worth of hard work, he says, to climb out of that hole. This hard work is represented by him climbing a few rungs of a ladder. Just look at that hand-eye coordination, as he climbs while looking into the camera. His opponent, Mary Burke, probably can’t climb a few rungs of a ladder, because she is a girl Democrat.

Scott Walker and the GOP: Time for some election problems in Wisconsin

In every single state, it's already easier to buy an assault weapon than to vote

When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office evidently decided to punish certain local government officials for not supporting him politically, the word went out from Christie's staff: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," referring to the crippling and otherwise unnecessary closing of lanes on a critical bridge serving the communities led by those contrary local officials.

When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his hegemony-minded Republican colleagues decided to leave nothing to chance and began their push to suppress the votes of anyone who might support their political challengers through the ballot box, Team Walker sent out word of its own. The effective message: "Time for some election problems in Wisconsin."

Christie's gambit has not only caused him serious legal trouble, but also has damaged his plans to run for president. It remains to be seen whether Walker's similar ploy will wreck his own chances to win another term as governor or his ambition to run for president. In a just world, both politicians not only would be punished by voters; they'd also face the prospect of jail time for misconduct in public office.

VOTER ID IRONY OF THE DAY

Scott Walker and all those Republicans who enacted Voter ID? Well, they didn't need an ID to run for office in Wisconsin, or to hold elected office when they won. Never had to produce an ID when making their their filings to be on the ballot. They just signed an official state document "verifying" they live at the address they claim to live at.  Progressives could reasonably ask if any of them actually live outside their districts, or maybe outside Wisconsin, or perhaps in Hawaii. We want proof!

Oh, and why is it that in Wisconsin, your concealed carry gun permit is sufficient proof of ID under this stupid law, but your official college ID card isn't? Might that have something to do with how intelligent you are, or how likely you are to agree with the GOP's regressive, elitest, unwise and unsafe policies? Just asking.

MONSTERS FROM THE VOTER ID

Doc Ostrow: Morbius was too close to the problem. The Krell had completed their project. Big machine ... no instrumentalities ... true creation.
Adams: Come on, Doc. Let's have it.
Doc Ostrow: But the Krell forgot one thing.
Adams: Yes, what?
Doc Ostrow: Monsters, John. Monsters from the Id.

-- From the 1956 science fiction film, "Forbidden Planet"

A dark day for Wisconsin, indeed. But the darkness won't last forever. The state's Republican Party, led by Scott Walker, has engineered a new political machine to control the vote. But the GOP forgot one thing: Monsters from the Voter ID. Yes, at some point, the law of unintended consequences will kick in, and we voters will kick out the misbegotten geniuses who thought we wouldn't notice them trying to steal our state and our country, putting both to their own, exclusive use.

On matters political, our state news media too often still can't see the forest because of the trees

Sigh. The state's largest newspaper does it again. And again. Once more with feeling, please.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is working hard to balance its campaign reporting. Too hard, in some respects. News reports across the media are replete with stories of corruption in the Scott Walker campaign -- how, for instance, he benefitted from a $700,000 contribution to an "independent," "nonpartisan," "issues" group that likes Walker and coordinates its campaign messaging with him, which is why it along with Walker is a target of the pending John Doe probe. Or for instance there's all that coverage of how Walker appears to have personally directed independent campaign efforts to incorporate his own campaign messaging, apparently in violation of state law.

CONSERVATIVE AGENDA: Secrecy for them, transparency for you, and a justice system that's blind-eyed to justice

In the uproarious wrangling over the John Doe investigation involving Scott Walker, his campaign, and supposedly independent campaign and issues groups, a bigger and more fundamental issue has lurked in the shadows. And that's just fine with conservative interests, who these days increasingly depend on fear, uncertainty and doubt to advance their interests. Oh, and misdirection, too. 

The conservative movement's legal and PR effort to end the Doe probe is part of a bigger, longer-term effort to cloak their own activities while they continue exposing yours, mine and everyone else's behavior to harsher light.  In an era when their ideology is falling farther from favor, conservatives operate best in obscurity, as for instance when the Walker administration hides the governor's schedule from reporters, conceals palsy-walsy tax subsidy deals with state businesses that outsource jobs, and delays or re-jiggers public release of jobs data that would otherwise make Walker look bad. The rest of us enjoy no such cloaking.

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