Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sisters From Another Mister: The Baldwin/Burke Comparison

Another week, another poll. It's not a happy picture for Scott Walker going into November. He doesn't have the commanding lead he had over Tom Barrett in the recall, and political pundits are taking notice.

We think it's a waste of time trying to compare Mary Burke's campaign against Scott Walker to Tom Barrett.

Tom Barrett had already lost once to Walker and had but a paltry 30 days to campaign as the Democratic nominee once the primary was over.

The Siren thinks Tammy Baldwin's race against Tommy Thompson is a more comparable race.

First, Thompson was a governor, with a pretty high approval rating among Wisconsin Republicans - as does Scott Walker.

Baldwin cleared her field of primary candidates, so voters could get to know just her - Burke nearly cleared the field with Brett Hulsey offering some weak primary action.

Even though Baldwin was cast by the GOP as super liberal, she stuck to the issues and never really banked hard left, which appealed to independents and moderates outside Madison.

Mary Burke has taken the cue and hammered Walker on his economic failings and staked her claim as a businesswoman which appeals to the WMC crowd in a way that Scott Walker, as a lifetime public employee, never can.

Most interestingly, at this point in the 2012 election cycle, Baldwin was tied with Thompson in early September. Tommy dominated Tammy all summer, by fall, he just couldn't top 48 percent.

Sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it?

In Scott Walker's Koch-fueled Wisconsin, it seems impossible that a gay, liberal from Madison could topple good 'ol Tommy Thompson, but Baldwin did - by five and a half points. Of, course that was a presidential election year - but there are an awful lot of similarities.

Both Baldwin and Burke talk about their homespun, Wisconsin upbringing. Baldwin was criticised for being too nice, too soft spoken and Burke gets hammered for not portraying herself as more of a liberal.

Looks count too. We think Baldwin and Burke both look like Fairest of the Fair alumni - Wisconsin milkmaids who appeal to the rural crowd and make Scott Walker look like a furtive weasel with a greasy 5 o'clock shadow.

That they are smart, competent women only increases their appeal statewide.

Barrett never led Scott Walker in the polls - Burke does - even if it is within the margin of error.

In a year that looks like it's going to be a good one for women, we suggest that Mary Burke is much more like Tammy Baldwin and the trajectory of her statewide campaign might be just as similar - and that's a very good thing for Democrats.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wrong Way Walker: Only The Koch Brothers And Jesus Know Where He Is Headed!

Inspired by a clever turn of phrase from the insightful, James Rowen, at the Political Environment, we give you "Wrong Way Walker."

The latest Marquette poll which came out yesterday is pretty bad news for the Walker campaign. The guy just can't break 48%.

Worse, on issues voters were polled on, Walker is sucking the big one.

He's wrong on the minimum wage increase. He's wrong on Medicaid expansion. More people are catching on about his jobs numbers - with awareness about Wisconsin's poor job creation record under Walker has firmly taken root.

Seventy three percent of people polled are not happy at all about outsourcing and 55% think Wisconsin government can do things to prevent it - which is really bad for Walker and his personal creation of WEDC and their sad record of giving away millions of public dollars to companies in Wisconsin who have been regularly outsourcing jobs.

It's an ironic twist, considering the outsourcing issue was what the campaign had hoped to hang on Burke and Trek bicycle - only to be blown back for criticising a beloved Wisconsin company. That must chap their asses on a daily basis.

Barack Obama's approval numbers are up too - and guess what? Barack Obama is coming to Milwaukee on Monday for Labor Day - just after he meets with Mary Burke. It just isn't getting better for them.

Last, with Walker's new round of happy-clappy ads singing the praises of Wisconsin's awesome "personal income growth"  caused by an increase in Social Security benefits and Obamacare subsidies - the Walker factoid, however only measured the last quarter. Progressive blogs posted some inconvenient facts about Wisconsin's ranking over Walker's entire term, which found Wisconsin actually ranks last...and Politifact concurred it was true today.

That's the problem with statistics...and facts.

It is fascinating watching the Walker campaign spinning their wheels - there is just no traction to be found. Walker can't seem to spin much these days - and on the actual issues - he's caught himself firmly going in the wrong direction.    

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's Cherry Picking Season With Scott Walker

Scott Walker has always had a flair for weaseling the truth - especially about numbers.

One week he says the BLS quarterly report is "the gold standard" and next he's touting CES numbers after calling them "not accurate."

It all depends on what numbers give him a better outlook - and that is getting awfully hard to find.

Walker's new ad claims that Wisconsin ranks 3rd in the Midwest for job growth. He's not wrong - it's just that 3rd place represents the last 30 days. Walker wants you to think when Mary Burke says 10 out 10 in the Midwest, he has somehow magically fixed the problem. He hasn't.

It's interesting that Walker is reaching back into his back of recall tricks - after all, they worked once before. Yes, but he was also up in the polls then, unlike now. His record and his promises are going to be his undoing so he's cherry picking anything that sounds positive.

Walker also wants supporters to know that Wisconsin ranks first in "personal income growth" as if anyone even knows what that is - a little less descriptive than "dead last in new business start-ups" don't you think?

Turns out "personal income growth" is the amount of money people take in - in the form of dividends, rent and a whole assortment of stuff that has nothing to do with Governors. PIG grew in 42 states, including Wisconsin.

Wanna know what the biggest factors were?

COLA's for Social Security and Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in the form of marketplace subsidies and additional access health care. So, congratulations...President Obama.

Walker newest, freshest cherry picked today is from a tweet this morning:
WI created nearly twice as many jobs during our 1st 3 years as were created in 3 yrs Burke worked for Doyle #WIComeback vs. #DoyleThirdTerm
Cute. Except during that same period, Wisconsin had 57,000 more jobs than today and state unemployment was a full percent lower.

Oops, not such a fresh picked cherry.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Your Panicked Governor: August

The walls must surely look like they are caving in over at Scott Walker's campaign headquarters - with all that money they can't even buy themselves a good headline.

Friday brought the unfortunate Son of Doe document dump, revealing Walker was running the Club for Growth like a second campaign committee. A committee that didn't need to adhere to campaign finance laws like individual limits and disclosure policies.

Walker's campaign is trying to whistle and tap dance through the bad news, saying it wasn't "technically" illegal activity. Maybe, maybe not. The devil is in the details, however. Walker can raise money for Club for Growth - which is what they are solely focusing their comments on. What he cannot do is tell them how to spend to spend their money - which he totally did. In fact, he raised money for Club for Growth so he's have better control over how they spent their money and what everybody said about him once they got the cash.

See, in Wisconsin, you aren't allowed to have TWO campaign committees. That is why there is a John Doe investigation in the first place.

Oh, and the mining company gave nearly a million dollars, to the Club for Growth and Walker says he knew nothing about that...right.

If you have followed this story and wondered why these groups have fought so hard to keep the documents sealed - now you know why. The appearance or corruption is pretty stunning and it also seems clear regardless of what they say now - they thought what they were doing wasn't exactly legal.

So, Friday wasn't exactly a stellar day.

Sunday brought more bad WEDC news. Walker's creation really has become a Frankenstein for him.

Documents were released which revealed that Ashley Furniture was quietly given a sweet $6 million tax credit with a condition included that allowed them to cut nearly 2000 Wisconsin jobs.

$6 million for firing 2000 workers? Wow. Just, wow.

As Chairman of the WEDC board, why would Scott Walker ever approve a plan like that?

Ashley executives are doing some major spin control over the news - Scott Walker is saying nothing.

We do know that just a few weeks after the WEDC vote, Ashley's owners gave Scott Walker's campaign a $20,000 check. Any more questions?


Friday, August 22, 2014

Emo Paul Ryan & Other Fairy Tales

Everybody loves a great personal reinvention story. It's our second favorite after poor guy becomes billionaire (or wins the lottery) kind of story.

Paul Ryan, cast as the granny starving, "health care is a privilege" Republican guy, has reinvented his public persona as a guy who can feel your pain.

The man who has never held a private sector job, except a summer stint at fast food restaurant in high school, wants us to know that he knows what it is to be down and out, because he talked to a half-dozen poor people.

Hooray! You say. Sister Simone and the Council of U.S. Bishops finally turned Paul Ryan's heart. The Catholic boy won the internal personal war against the Ayn Rand acolyte!

Yeah, no.

This reinvention is just as fake as that soup kitchen, pot scrubbing photo op. Just as phony as his marathon race time.

With a new book to sell, Paul Ryan wants us to know he's human. Not just human, Paul Ryan is misunderstood, too. See, it's not his ideas that are callous, it's the presentation of his ideas - like everybody misunderstood what he meant by "takers" and "inner-city" men.

Emo Paul Ryan, cool haircut, same guy.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Did Scott Walker Think He Could Create 250,000 Jobs? Obama.

Photo: Gage Skidmore
The Scott Walker campaign has a new hashtag: #WIComeback.

Yes, it looks as desperate as it sounds, because there ain't nobody claiming these days that Wisconsin is in a comeback mode - not even teabillies.

Along with their sad hashtag, the campaign is slicing and dicing BLS numbers, so they don't look so bad - that is unless you know the numbers they are leaving out.

Walker puppet, Reggie Newson, at the Department of Workforce Development came out with a wildly encouraging press release the other day claiming Wisconsin's unemployment rate dropped a full percent from July 2013 to July 2014.
Highlights of today's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report of state-by-state employment and unemployment estimates include: · Wisconsin's unemployment rate declined a full percentage point between July 2013 and July 2014, from 6.8 percent to 5.8 percent, and below the national rate of 6.2 percent and below other leading manufacturing states of Indiana and Michigan.
Awesome. Except as our super smart friend over at Jake's TA Funhouse points out, Wisconsin has had an equal or lower unemployment rate to Indiana and Michigan since 2007 - not exactly progress. Also, Indiana and Michigan had drops in unemployment (1.7 and 1.3 percent) that were greater than Wisconsin during the same period..

Walker also loves to claim (because he's literally got nothing to hold on to) that Wisconsin has a lower than national rate of unemployment. It's true. What is also true is that the national unemployment rate has fallen at a significantly greater rate than Wisconsin.

It really is what you don't say, that matters.

So, it makes us wonder why did Scott Walker climb so very far out on that limb and promise 250,000 new jobs in his first term? Did he really think that union busting, voter suppression, and forced ultrasounds would herald a new wave of manufacturing in the Dairy Land?

Hell no, he thought Obama was going to do it.

As Jake, and his smart commenters point out - in 2010, the Wisconsin economic outlook was on track to keep up with U.S. Except it didn't, not even close.

Which is why, Mr. 48% has to weasel the unemployment numbers and make them sound good, instead of telling residents that he made a gigantic promise and then fucked it up.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Journal Sentinel Spanks Walker On Obamacare

How many people, if they are lucky enough, actually understand their health insurance policy? Most of us send the bill in and pray to the gods of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, they cover some of the cost.

Understanding health insurance is harder than learning German.

So, it's actually no surprise that it has taken regular people a while to figure out how badly Scott Walker fucked over Wisconsin by not expanding Medicaid - which we like to call BadgerCare.

It has taken a year, but the editorial board at the Journal Sentinel just figured it out in today's edition.

However, it is not that difficult to figure out. Walker's scheme is simple.

Cover less people at a higher cost to taxpayers. We wish we were oversimplifying it - but we're not. Here's what the Sentinel had to say:
"Wisconsin would have saved $206 million over two years if the Walker administration had chosen to accept a full expansion of federal funding for BadgerCare, according to a new nonpartisan report. The state could have saved more than $500 million over 31/2 years, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates, and about 87,000 more adults a month would have been served under BadgerCare Plus. 
In the interest of both taxpayers and the poor, Walker and the state Legislature should correct this mistake."
This is just the grim reality of his political decision that helped his chances of becoming President and not the people in the state he governs.

This is also why you see fewer and fewer Republican candidates talking about Obamacare - because understanding that Scott Walker was wrong is actually much easier than understanding what a PPO is.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Open Letter To The Racine City Common Council On Raising The Minimum Wage

Dear City of Racine Common Council,

This evening, you will discuss and vote whether or not to place an advisory referendum on the November ballot which asks voters if they support raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin to $10.10 per hour.

The Siren understands that advisory referenda are not binding. It is merely a symbolic gesture which is not the job description of Common Council members who are charged with actually running the city.

It is a valid point, with one major flaw.

Our Governor, and his Republican controlled legislature are in opposition to raising the minimum wage even though a majority of Wisconsin residents support it. Even if we could gain the support of our state legislators (which in the case of the city of Racine, we have), our voice is not heard in Madison.

We have a minimum wage bill (SB 4) sponsored by Senator Bob Wirch and Representative Cory Mason. Thirty four other legislators signed on to it - none were Republicans. SB 4 never made it out of committee and it died.

Are we to accept that this is our fate when over 600,000 Wisconsin residents would be impacted by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour?

By voting to place an advisory referendum on the November ballot, you are allowing the people of Racine to make their voice heard in Madison where our legislators failed. We have but only a few tools with which to speak to an unwilling Administration.

You are being asked to be a conduit for democratic action - which is actually your job description.

All legislation and ordinances start as an idea. They are pushed, pulled and discussed into life. Every item on your agenda started as an idea about how Racine should be governed and what will her priorities be as a city and how best can Racine be governed. You make those decisions through committee deliberations and public input.

This is not so very different.

You are not even being asked whether or not you as a person support a minimum wage increase, but to instead allow the people of the city to say so on the ballot.

The people who brought this measure before you, may not win. They are willing to take the chance that if Racine votes against raising the minimum wage, that statement may provide opponents an even greater mandate.

However, the Siren doesn't think they will lose.

You have heard from many people about what good raising the minimum wage can do in Racine. (Some of you heard from a few over zealous activists from outside Racine who lacked subtlety and finesse and were asked to stop.)

We live in a city with the highest unemployment rate in the state and the highest infant mortality rate for black babies. Our state has the greatest achievement gap for black children in the country and Wisconsin incarcerates more black men, per capita, than any other state.

How can these miserable, shameful outcomes not be connected to wages?

Every state that has raised their minimum wage has experienced faster job growth than states that have not. Wisconsin lags behind not only our Midwest neighbors - but most of the country.

What may seem to you to be a novel idea, put on the ballot for political reasons, is actually a matter of surviving or not surviving for many people in Racine.

Please, do not stand in the way.    

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pimp Vos Pushes Lobbyists To Knock Doors For GOP

Republicans, who are desperately dissecting state income numbers to try and find one good talking point to tell each other (BTW, Wisconsin unemployment went up in July), have some good news - the lobbyists are coming to rescue!

Smarmy, Robin Vos is pushing an effort to coordinate with lobbyists to knock doors on behalf of their favorite Republican candidates.

Not only does Robin Vos want lobbyists to jack up the personal amount they donate to him, he wants them out on the street, knocking doors like they were campaign volunteers...or prostitutes, depending on your point of view.

"Knock, knock. Hello ma'am, my name is Chip Buckwheat, and I represent various members of the coal industry in Wisconsin. I am here today to ask you to vote for Scott Walker and Robin Vos, because if I don't, I won't get an appointment with their offices for the next two years." 

Omygod, he's such a dick.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mark Gleason Must Resign - How Independent Press Helped To Save Land & Jobs Deal

Mt. Pleasant Village President, Mark Gleason, should resign his position immediately.

He won't.

The idea would never cross his mind, but that doesn't mean village residents shouldn't call for him to do so, anyway.

A joint village meeting between Sturtevant and Mt. Pleasant took place last night and they were able to hammer out a deal for a land swap/utilities agreement that will bring a development with a bunch of jobs to the area.

It's great news. That is, if they can lure back the developer who is now shopping in Kenosha because Mark Gleason and pal, Kurt Whalen, nearly killed the deal with Sturtevant.

Don't let them tell you different. They walked into a previous meeting with Sturtevant officials and announced the deal dead.

(We're not sure a deal can actually be dead if you, as Village President, never brought it to the Board of Trustees in the first place.)

Had it not been for the Racine County Eye, the online local newspaper run by the former editors at the Mt. Pleasant and Caledonia Patch, we wonder if anyone would have known about the land swap clusterfuck in the first place.

Frustrated Sturtevant officials were able to tell their side of the story to Racine County Eye reporter, Heather Asiyanbi, which revealed the utter incompetence of Gleason and Whalen, thus pressuring the village to act.

Nothing like a spotlight, when you get caught with your pants down to make you pull 'em up real quick.

FOG (Friends of Gleason), which is the entire board in Mt. Pleasant, save Gary Feest, will tell you the Racine County Eye is too negative, the board members in Sturtevant will tell you something very different - since the Journal Times was nowhere to be found until Asiyanbi shed some light on Gleason's pale, white bum.

Now, we don't much care for Mark Gleason. He's arrogant and never returns phone calls. He still hasn't paid his 2013 taxes on his Dora Lane house for Pete's sake!

But this is a big deal.

We're talking a few hundred jobs in an area with the highest unemployment in the state. Why? Because he just didn't get around to scheduling it on the agenda - even after he knew Sturtevant had already discussed and voted on the matter. Mt. Pleasant hadn't even brought it up casually.

When Sturtevant came forward, ready to go, Gleason said the deal was dead. Why? Because he didn't do his job.

Mark Gleason would have killed the deal rather than admit he hadn't even scheduled it for discussion with village trustees. Now the developer is looking at property in Kenosha because Mt. Pleasant didn't have it's shit together.

Had it not been for the Racine County Eye, there may not be even a second chance to pull this thing out of the crapper.

Please subscribe to the Racine County Eye. The writers do it for peanuts. Like them on Facebook or place an ad. What writers, Heather Asiyanbi and Denise Lockwood do is extremely vital and we need to support them.

As for Mark Gleason, he should resign. If he won't, the Siren suggests residents show up at village meetings every month and politely ask him to go away.

The next meeting is Monday, August 18th at 6:30 pm.