Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Swift Bike Republicans File Complaint On Trek

The amazing, Ruth Conniff, at The Progressive magazine called Scott Walker's weird attack on Trek Bicycle Company - "swift-biking." Ruth sure did nail it.

The "swift-biking" became laughably weirder yesterday, when the state GOP party filed a complaint with the GAB, alleging John Burke's full page ad (defending his family's company) amounted to a illegal campaign contribution.

They say John Burke and his sister, candidate for Governor, Mary Burke, coordinated illegally to place the ad in the Journal Sentinel. Yes, you heard that right - illegal coordination.

The same people who tried to stop the John Doe investigation because their right to coordinate with charitable organizations was an infringement of free speech. Free speech for me and not thee?

This is either sheer stupidity or desperation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Walker's Trek Gamble Misfires, Badly

Harley Davidson, Wolf, Johnson Wax, Trek Bicycles. Just a few retail names associated with Wisconsin. They are as "Wisconsin" as the Dells and Door County.

So, what happens when a sitting Governor takes a giant crap on one of the most beloved and respected companies in the state?

Nothing good, as it would seem from the response to Scott Walker's "Fortune" ad that attacks opponent, Mary Burke, via her family's company, Trek. In the ad, Walker claims Burke made her fortune outsourcing jobs overseas, since a whole bunch of their bike are made there in addition to the ones built in Wisconsin.

A bold and risky move. Some might say, ignorant and cynical too.

It is as if Scott Walker came out and criticized Harley Davidson for making motorcycles overseas. No one running for office in Wisconsin would dream of doing that. (BTW: Harley does produce some of their motorcycles and plenty of parts outside the U.S.) It hasn't stopped Walker from appearing on his Harley with his HD jacket made overseas has it?

John Burke, Mary's brother, took out a full page ad in Sunday's Journal Sentinel defending the family company. He was not happy.

Also worth noting, is that Trek was one of five Wisconsin companies featured on WEDC's website just two years ago, praising Trek and its "pioneering spirit."

Walker doubled down on his attack by responding to Burke's ad through Twitter, by saying Burke didn't address their criticisms. This is not going to end well for Walker, which is a good thing for Mary Burke.


Friday, July 18, 2014

PWNED: Mary Burke Shuts Down Walker's Creepy Grandma Ad

Earlier in the week, the Scott Walker campaign released an ad taking a swipe at Trek bicycle for outsourcing jobs to China.

(Like it was some master plan to fuck over Wisconsin workers. There are seriously a half BILLION bikes on the roads in China. Compare that number to that of Wisconsinites one sees on bicycles every day - in all fairness their bikes could be loaded in the back of their SUVs, but we doubt it.)

If you were a company who wanted a piece of that kind of bicycle action, where would you build them? Never mind that Trek is the ONLY American bicycle company who actually builds ANY in the U.S.

Walker's ad was a creepy, mock comedy, of a Grandma (with some really disturbing teeth) reading a fairy tale to a child of Trek's story to take jobs away from Wisconsin workers. (These kind of wink and nod ads are only effective when the topic is not quite so serious, otherwise they come off as churlish and dumb.)

The timing was also a little stupid after newspapers across the state ran with articles this week about WEDC funding three Wisconsin companies who outsourced jobs to Mexico and China after they got awarded some nice taxpayer dollars. (Perhaps Walker's campaign advisors were too busy trying to figure what was mentioned in the John Doe emails set to be released to consider how ill-timed the ad would seem.)

Not taking that sitting down, Mary Burke came back with an ad that is smart, pointed and hits Walker right between the eyes. Enjoy...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Scott Walker's Obamacare Problem

The Siren has nearly made it a part-time job writing about how Scott Walker screwed up his side of the Obamacare rollout. In spite of our best efforts, Scott Walker is still screwing it up, months after the fact.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services came out today with a report which says that nearly 70% of people (roughly 54,000 residents) who were kicked off of Badgercare under Scott Walker's plan, did not purchase health insurance through the marketplace.

Why? Because insurance on the marketplace was too expensive and not designed for people at that level of income. Something Scott Walker knew and was warned about, but did anyway.

That is why the President and the federal government offered Wisconsin 100% of the cost to keep them on Medicaid (Badgercare) and Scott Walker said no.

Not only did Walker say no, he said his plan made sure that everyone in Wisconsin had access health care. He didn't mention the part about because he turned the President down, Wisconsin taxpayers were footing 40% of the bill to cover less people instead of 0%.

The DHS report highlights not only are 54,000 people without health insurance in Wisconsin (driving up health care costs when they become sick and can't pay for it) but we're paying more for a shitty outcome.

Just to make your head explode, our gentle reader, the Siren reminds you that Walker's "Weaslecare" is in the red - to the tune of about $100,000,000 million. Worser and worser.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kaleka Fails To Make It Rain

Paul Ryan has millions of dollars to spend on his campaign with enough left over to buy him some political friendship for the rest of the millenium. This doesn't surprise anyone, the man practically prints it himself.

And even though Paul Ryan committed himself to a congressional term limit of 12 years and it's now 16 years later - he's still the king.

In 2012, opponent Rob Zerban, raised more money than anyone ever did against Paul Ryan - combined. Zerban also tightened up Ryan's win margin more than anyone in the past.

Then came 2013, and word spread of a new opponent on the horizon. Amar Kaleka, son of a slain Sikh leader in Oak Creek captured a lot of people's imaginations. Kaleka promised the support of Sikh's worldwide and name-dropped a whole bunch of famous people he knew and could count on.

With just less than 4 weeks to go before the primary election between Kaleka and Zerban, Kaleka filed his campaign contribution report with the FCC this week. In the last quarter, Kaleka raised less than $29,000 and has just under $10,000 cash on hand.

Not a stellar showing. (Zerban raised just about $84,000 and has $102,000 cash on hand.) Kalekas operating expenses have outpaced his fundraising and drained quite a bit of his resources with literally days to go before the primary.

There is no polling to tell us how voters are feeling about the race, so we can only really measure cash supporters.

In 2012, Zerban had to wait out the recalls before he could really get rolling campaigning and he was certainly affected by some election exhaustion through the summer. It would be a shame if this primary against Kaleka holds him back again - especially if Kaleka doesn't turn out to be as strong of a contender as some hoped.

Monday, July 14, 2014

WEDC: Losing Money, Rigging Bids & Outsourcing Jobs Since 2011

Scott Walker's big brainy idea that was gonna get him 250,000 jobs was to shut down the Wisconsin Commerce Department and start up a quasi-private one called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation aka. WEDC.

Like most of Scott Walker's ideas, this one turned out to be problematic and kinda illegal, when they discovered federal funds might not be available because of the semi-private part of WEDC. (A first year law student could have pointed that out to them before they got started, but the Walker Administration never contacts legal advice until after the fact it seems.)

Things didn't really improve for WEDC.

They lost track of money, a whole bunch of corporations failed to repay their grants or create any jobs, and they blew through a bunch of WEDC CEO's really fast. It was a real life scandal.

With folks watching what WEDC was doing with all those millions of public funds, they tried really hard to stay out of the spotlight. It worked for a while and people began to forget what a mess WEDC was.

Then some people noticed that an awful lot of WEDC money was going to some companies who were big Scott Walker fans. In fact, 60% of WEDC funds granted were going to companies with ties to Scott Walker's campaign even though they only represented 1/3 of companies trying to get grants in the state.

In other words, 30% of the applicants got 60% of the money because they were friendly with Walker.

Between 2 John Doe investigations, 6 arrests and a secret router system to raise campaign money on public time - no one could find one single person who was surprised to learn that Scott Walker's semi-private commerce department was rewarding their friends with public money.

Then, the other shoe dropped.

Late last week we learned that two companies who had received WEDC grants had actually outsourced jobs in Wisconsin. This morning we learned there are at least three companies.

At least $20 million of public funds were awarded to these companies, and guess what? They too were generous Walker donors. They laid off roughly 300 Wisconsin workers for jobs that went to Asia and Mexico and one of the companies got a second grant after the fact.

WEDC spokesperson, Mark Maley, had this to say:
"If a company makes a business decision to move some of its jobs out of the state - despite our best efforts - we will continue to work with that company to ensure that as many jobs as possible remain in Wisconsin."
Okay, then. Way to go, Mark. Let's PAY them to send jobs out of the country.

No shame. No embarrassment. Amazing.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pro-Life Wisconsin Endorses Wanggaard & Vos OPPONENTS!

There used to be a time when Republican candidates could count on the endorsement of anti-choice groups with no sweat. Then the teabillies took over and put up their own candidates to primary the Republicans and staked their claim on real estate to the right on the ideology scale. (Liberals didn't even know there WAS real estate that far right.)

Now, perfectly ordinary right-wingers are getting painted as RINOs and losing endorsements to this new class of know-nothings.

Pro-Life Wisconsin (the even more conservative version of Right to Life Wisconsin) came out with their list of endorsed candidates this week and Van Wanggaard and Robin Vos found themselves shut-out of contention when their rightier-right-wing opponents got the endorsement nod from the group.

Both Jonathan Steitz and Vos' opponent, Bryn Biemeck, proudly announced the endorsements from Pro-Life Wisconsin - a group which allows no possible abortion exceptions for rape and incest, and who's entire list of organization officers is made up entirely of men.

That's gotta hurt for Wanggaard and Vos.

Steitz's supporters have spent the week comparing Wanggaard to Dale Schultz (an insult tantamount to being called "Hitler" in these circles) after Media Trackers came out with a hit piece on Wanggaard's supposed "lies" about his concealed carry record. The same day, Wisconsin Carry, Inc. came out and endorsed Steitz.

These guys think the only pure candidate is a guy or gal who believes people should be able to carry guns everywhere with no permit and no fees - like it's a birth-right.

Interestingly, this is a position the public does not share (like the rape and incest exception) and is widely opposed by law enforcement, who kinda know a little about the subject.

Van Wanggaard's personal history as a police officer (public worker), labor representative (union thug) and elected official (crony insider) has come around to bite him hard in the ass - making a few political observers predict a potential defeat for Van in the primary.

The Siren has to admit, it's looking rough for him with a month to go.

Van has never run a real primary race before - he's always been the chosen guy. Both he and Vos got themselves nice district maps that insured a Republican win. But as John Nichols remarked just yesterday - so did Eric Cantor.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Scott Walker's Veteran Problem

Mary Burke is making the AP wire today with her promise to help repeal Scott Walker's law that makes it harder to sue for exposure to asbestos. It's part of his overall "tort reform" scheme to make it nearly impossible for everyday people to sue corporations and/or their employers in general. "Tort reform" is a dog whistle issue that only conservatives can hear that usually goes with the discussion about "frivolous lawsuits" and "wealthy trial lawyers."

What is significant about Burke's promise is that asbestos exposure causes cancer most often found in veterans. Apparently, servicemen and women were surrounded by asbestos which then laid dormant for years. Unknowing exposure also helped expose spouses and other family members too. All became prime candidates for mesothelioma cancer.

Military members can't sue the government for exposing them to asbestos, but they can sue the companies that made it. The list of those companies in Wisconsin is long - heck, the places in just Racine alone where you could have been exposed is scary-long.

Since life expectancy after diagnosis is roughly 4 to 18 months - the slower one can make the legal process, the better for businesses, and that's just what Scott Walker did to the grave disappointment to Wisconsin veterans.

Mary Burke says she will change that.

Scott Walker doesn't really want to talk about veterans, given his very embarrassing appointment of the guys who stole more than $60,000 from Operation Freedom.

He also doesn't want to talk about how Wisconsin is in the top ten in states with highest veteran unemployment, either. Veterans aren't one issue voters, but these lapses indicate a pretty big record of failure where vets are concerned.

This is a big problem for Scott Walker - it's nice to see Mary Burke calling him out on it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Scott Walker's Gay Problem

Talk about passive-aggressive family behavior! Scott Walker's son, Alex was a witness in a gay marriage ceremony recently.

(Apparently during the week when Wisconsin couples rushed to get married until judge Barbara Crabb put the breaks on them and stayed JB VanHollen's appeal.)

Young Walker's behavior drew the spotlight back on his dad's refusal to discuss gay marriage (as if he had never been an absolutely unapologetic opponent of marriage equality) that isn't fooling anyone.

Somehow, as a candidate against Gwen Moore, his opinion counted on the subject. As a candidate for his first run at the Governor's seat, his opinion counted. As Milwaukee County Executive, his opposition was clear. But NOW, as Governor, he has nothing to say about it...and he's sticking to his story.
"Asked June 12 if he were rethinking his views on gay marriage, the first-term Republican governor — and possible presidential contender — said: "No, I'm just not stating one at all."
You don't suppose the polls that show a giant shift in attitude have anything to do with that, do you?

Republicans are taking a very uncomfortable inventory within their ranks about that one. Some, who found themselves not so scandalized about marriage equality on a personal level are left working for candidates who have and still are, outspoken opponents of gay marriage.

In Racine county, GOP Senate candidates, Jonathan Steitz and Van Wanggaard have repeated their opposition numerous times. Robin Vos is against marriage equality - as if anything he has to say about the institution of marriage at all should be taken seriously. Paul Ryan has been equally clear, too.

Scott Walker is pretending like it isn't a state matter for him to decide - a laughable defense - and his fellow GOP ticketmates are following suit (except for Glenn Grothman, naturally). But marriage equality is a state issue - mostly because Republicans made it so by putting it on the ballot in 2006.

Now their issue has come home to roost. Eight years later, people don't feel the same way, in large part because they have sons and daughters who don't think institutionalized discrimination is very cool - like Scott Walker son does.

The koolaid drinkers in the GOP will give Walker as pass on his silence - because they have to - and they aren't so dedicated to marriage equality that they will withhold their votes for him, even though they should.

Independents, the five or six of them around, won't see his silence as very inspiring. They will see it as the cop-out it is. This includes the real anti-gay faction who want to see Walker stick to his guns.

His capitulation is not endearing to them at all.

Mary Burke has been forthright and outspoken on the issue - one almost might say on gay marriage, she has been rather unintimated.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Scott Walker's Woman Problem

Republicans are obsessed with vaginas. Not like a hobby, but rather like icky creepers who must control them if they can't have one for themselves.

In spite of a lot of lip service from Reince Priebus about "rebranding" the GOP as more women, minority and youth friendly, GOP politicians act and vote like charter members of the He-Man Women Haters Club.

With the Hobby Lobby decision this week, allowing a privately held corporations to withhold paying for their employees birth control, which was made mandatory under Obamacare, the Supreme Court opened a Pandora's box on what businesses won't want to pay for based on religious grounds.

And it ain't gonna be Viagra, right Hobby Lobby? (Who famously use their corporate 401k to invest in pharmaceutical companies who manufacture abortifacients, but Sally in the yarn and fabrics department can't get an IUD paid for by her insurance.) Fuckers.

In Wisconsin, women have seen some pretty blatant vagina creeping from Scott Walker, who cut over a $1 million to Planned Parenthood (who try to make those IUDs affordable, since Sally can't get them through her employee insurance) resulting in the scheduled closing of four of their rural health clinics.

Mrs. Daughter of the American Revolution may not have to worry about paying for birth control, but chances are she's got a daughter or some nieces who might - who can't get a regular pap test or mammogram anymore either because Scott Walker cut the funding so he could give out a few more tax breaks to millionaires who contribute to his campaign.

Then there are the thousands of Wisconsin women who lost Badgercare under Walker's convoluted health care scheme (that's in the red, yo) and told to get health care through the marketplace - which wasn't designed for people that poor. Affording birth control would be a luxury - if they could get it - but they can't because their clinic is closed after Scott Walker cut the funds.

If poor Sally turns up pregnant, she's gonna have a transvaginal ultrasound (which is uncomfortable as hell) before she can have an abortion - even if her doctor doesn't want to administer it - he or she has to do it or faces going to jail. Sally gets to pay for the ultrasound too. Scott Walker signed the mandatory ultrasound bill in 2013.

If Sally discovers Fred, over in scrapbooking gets paid more even though he is less qualified and is the store managers lazy cousin, she can forget about taking the boss to a state court, because Scott Walker repealed the Wisconsin Equal Pay provision. Sally has to try her hand in federal court. Have you ever hired a lawyer who brings cases to federal court? Sally can't even afford her IUD!

If Sally happens to be gay, she can't get married in Wisconsin. She, and/or her kids with her partner, have no rights should one of them become ill. No tax benefits, no social security benefits like married people. Sally is on her own.

Scott Walker says what he thinks about marriage equality doesn't matter. His Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, says it's the same as marrying a table or your dog. Gay Sally is out of luck in Wisconsin with Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch in charge.

If Sally is black, her children live in the state with the worst outcomes for African American children with the biggest achievement gap between white kids and black kids in the nation. The motherfucking nation.

If Sally had a black husband, the chances he was or is in prison is 1 out 8. Wisconsin locks up more black men than any other state in the country. That costs a lot of money - money that can't go to women's health clinics so Sally can get a cheap check-up or the IUD Hobby Lobby won't pay for. It means less money to go to Sally's kids schools which means her kids will be at the bottom of the achievement barrel increasing their chances of going to jail - especially the boys.

Sally is tired. We are too.

Will the Sally's of Wisconsin take all that baggage to the polls this November? Some people think they will. Scott Walker polls terribly with women. He's got a bright, well funded business leader for an opponent - who also happens to be a woman.

Who do you think Sally is gonna like more as the election grows near?

Midterm elections are about change - the pendulum swing. 2010 was a swing and the GOP took over. The Siren thinks they have overplayed their hand and it's gonna cost them with women.

Scott Walker has a serious woman problem. He knows it. Republicans know it. We need to make sure every woman in Wisconsin knows it too.

Have a happy holiday - see you all next week.