Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Republicans Release Compromise Mining Bill - for Republicans

The Republicans have finally compromised on mining legislation for Wisconsin. Compromised with themselves that is. And no agreement has actually been reached between Republicans.

In the press release, Senators Darling and Vos specifically mention Senator Dale Schultz as the one man they are trying to compromise with. You couldn't mistakenly think they were trying to compromise with anyone else at all.
"For the past week, we have been meeting...with State Senator Dale Schultz."

"We have listened to his concerns and responded with a compromise proposal which address many of the concerns we heard from Senator Schultz.

"We hope he takes the time to thoroughly review the measure and that we are able to find common ground."
The Republicans are making no attempt to compromise with Democrats or the public of Wisconsin, just compromise enough to get a bill passed.

The Darling/Vos compromise changes the floodplain exemptions that were mentioned here. Whether the changes still affect flood insurance for Wisconsin citizens is yet to be seen.

The Republicans didn't really yield on anything. Every change appears to be just a slight modification.

Dale, stand by your convictions as you did with the collective bargaining rights-stripping bill.

Update: Dale Schultz has refused the Darling/Vos compromise (JS paywall link). Thank you, Dale Schultz, very much!

His primary concerns are keeping environmental protections and contested case hearings in place, and he says he won't support a bill that removes them.

Mining Bill Could End Flood Insurance for Wisconsinites

The Ashland Daily Press is reporting that the Wisconsin Assembly's mining bill may make it difficult or impossible to receive flood insurance in Wisconsin. Larry Larson of the Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc. said that passing AB 426 “may have a dramatic negative impact on the ability of Wisconsin’s citizens to be able to buy flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program, thus increasing their financial risk as well as jeopardizing their basic life and safety.”

The problem with the industry-crafted bill is that it excludes mining from floodplain regulations. Similar exclusions in other states have jeopardized their ability to receive funds for flood disaster relief and caused them to be "kicked out" of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA's chief of Floodplain Management says the mining bill is a violation of federal law and could jeopardize Wisconsin's eligibility for NFIP which insures billions of dollars in property value for Wisconsinites.

The compromise bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Jauch (D) and Dale Schultz (R) doesn't exclude mining from floodplain regulations and therefore wouldn't affect eligibility of flood insurance or disaster relief. However, Walker and his allies say they and Gogebic Taconite will walk away from the compromise bill.

How can we come to an agreement if the Republicans refuse to compromise?

Republican: "Uh, what is compromise?"

Person who gets stuff done:
An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
Settle a dispute by mutual concession.
noun. agreement - accommodation - settlement - conciliation
verb. come to terms

Monday, February 27, 2012

Will Walker Resign Over Walkergate?

There are some rumors and blog posts saying Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker may resign very soon due to his involvement in the FBI's John Doe investigation otherwise known as Walkergate. The thought is that the investigation is inevitably leading right to Walker (Walker is "John Doe"), and apparently there are "sources of sources" that have heard Walker may be arrested as early as this week. The arrest would then put immense pressure on Walker to resign.

72% of Wisconsinites are aware of the investigation. So for those of you who don't know about Walkergate, or just want to learn more, check out which (much like details all of the people, charges, convictions and nearly everything in between.

Will Walker be arrested this week or sometime before the recall election? Will he resign before we ever get a chance to recall him? Blue Cheddar examines what would happen.

Walker Recall: No Fraudulent Signatures

With millions of dollars, thousands of workers, and thrice the normal time, Scott Walker has been unable to find any fraudulent signatures in the campaign to recall him from the office of Wisconsin Governor, and he's throwing in the towel.

There are no known fraudulent signatures in the recall of Walker. Walker couldn't even find one, according to Wisconsin Democrat Party Chair Mike Tate.

So, the campaign to recall Walker has verifiably collected nearly as many signatures as people who voted for Walker (1.1 million), and a recall election is now inevitable. The GAB just has to certify the recall, and without a challenge, certification is little more than a rubber stamp. (This is a little misleading, because Walker got a judge to make the GAB verify the signatures, costing more taxpayer money, but if Walker can't find any fraudulent signatures, there aren't enough, if any, fraudulent signatures to not certify the recall.)

No names were challenged as "fake" in any of the recalls against Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and 3 other Republican Senators either, despite all of the ruckus over Mickey Mouse signatures and duplicate signers.

Can you smell blood?

Update: Walker wants the out-of-state "Verify the Recall" group to challenge signatures, but the GAB has denied his request. Walker could have submitted any of their supposed findings if he felt they had any merit. Instead, he declined and left the BSing to a third-party.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

WI Rep. Joel Kleefisch Caught Voting Illegally

Wisconsin Rep. Joel Kleefisch has been caught on video committing voter fraud, voting in someone else's name. In the video below, you see Kleefisch recording votes for absent members on their machines during Tuesday's session.

Notice how he glares down the videographer after noticing he was caught. What a creep!

According to Assembly Rules, "only the members present in the assembly chamber may vote."

WTMJ asked Kleefisch whether he broke a rule, and he responded, "It depends upon how you interpret the rule."

Kleefisch is referring to the Assembly's definition of the chamber which states, "Assembly chamber: The entire area west of the easternmost doors of the assembly, including the visitor's galleries, lobbies, offices of the speaker, majority leader, and minority leader, and hallways."

If you interpret the rule as applying to only the chamber room, Kleefisch would admit he was in violation of Assembly rules. If you interpret the rule as applying to the Assembly's definition of chamber, then Kleefisch says he was within the rules.

However, Kleefisch is trying to distract us from the core issue with his behavior. The issue isn't whether or not someone is in the chamber. The issue is that Kleefisch is voting in someone else's name. That's voter fraud!

Kleefisch was so worried about voter fraud that he voted for the Voter Suppression Law last year. Apparently, Kleefisch feels voter fraud applies to everyone but him. However, the comparison is somewhat mute. We all know the Voter Suppression Law wasn't passed to prevent voter fraud, because it doesn't stop any case of voter fraud Wisconsin has seen, but it does prevent many poor, elderly and minorities from voting. In fact, the Advancement Project sued Wisconsin today over the discriminating law. Kleefisch doesn't give a crap about voter fraud, and he has no problem committing it himself.

Psychologists have a name for this type of behavior, projection. If there's anyone who's been messing around with votes and elections it's been the Republicans, and since they do it, they assume other people must be, too.

Governor Scott Walker used to think this behavior was unacceptable when he worked in the Assembly. Walker wanted to change the rule so that only actively participating members may vote. "Change the rule to apply to people we are talking about who aren't in the chamber and aren't aware of what is going on," Walker once said.

What does Walker think of his Lt. Governor's husband voting in someone else's name?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wisconsin Republicans Refuse to Fix Gerrymandered Maps After Judges Plea

A three-judge panel in Federal court, who has lambasted the Republicans for their secrecy many times, gave the Republicans the option yesterday to make changes to their gerrymandered maps to fix the issues that brought them to court. The Republicans responded by saying they wanted to, but couldn't change the maps because of some ancient one-time Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling.

Today, the three-judge panel called out the Republicans for their ridiculous assertion. Judge Diane Wood said, "Nothing stands in the way of further revision of the redistricting plan."

By fixing the maps, the Republicans could have ended the court case. Judge Robert M. Dow Jr said "We wouldn't be sitting here if we didn't think there were some issues for trial. You guys can take those issues off the table."

The Republicans were given until 2pm today to decide if they would fix the maps. At 2pm, the judges gave them more time to decide, until 4pm. However, the Republicans continue to waste taxpayer money in court and refuse to make any changes. They have officially refused to fix their gerrymandered maps.

So, now that they can change the maps, they don't want to. Seems they were lying when they said they had any desire to fix their gerrymandering.

Keep wasting the taxpayers' money on frivolous arguments to keep your gerrymandering process secret and the result unchanged, Republicans. You could have stopped this now and saved a lot of time and money. Instead, you continue to stick your nose in the sand, believing in your own twisted reality.

I guess we'll see you Republicans in court again tomorrow.

Wake the f**k up, Wisconsin, and get these Greedy Bastards out! -> Walker is still a toss-up in the latest polls!

Doug La Follette for Wisconsin Governor

According to WisPolitics, Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette will put his name in the mix of Democrat candidates for Walker's recall election.

You may remember La Follette who stood as the last line of defense against the collective bargaining-rights stripping bill. He ordered the Legislative Reference Bureau to not publish the bill following a court order, because the Republicans violated the Open Meetings Law. Then, he later waited until the last minute to publish it when the decision was overturned. He stayed within the legal boundaries, doing exactly what the law required of him to do, but he helped as much as he could.

La Follette's website is at

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Has Scott Walker Done for Wisconsin?

Walker says he balanced the budget, but he hasn't.

Walker says he created thousands of jobs, but he hasn't.

Since taking office as Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has had very little to brag about. He'll brag to his rich corporate donors that he crippled the rights of workers in Wisconsin, but the two other accomplishments he touts are myths.

What has Walker done for Wisconsin? He didn't balance the budget or create thousands of jobs. He walked Wisconsin back 50 years and then gave it to his corporate donors and their allies.

He's made the poor and middle-class pay for tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. He's drastically cut education funding from K-12 to our highly respected UW System.  He's held Wisconsin back on innovative projects such as high-speed rail and wind energy for ideological reasons. He's pushed tens of thousands of jobs away. He's exacerbated our government's increasing use of foreign energy. He's made our kids work more hours while in school. He's increased taxpayer funding of private schools such as religious schools (think Scientology, Islam or any religion you might not support). He's increased many people's property taxes by reducing state aid to local communities. He's cut health care for seniors and the poor, and he's looking to make further cuts.

All of these and far more are nicely outlined with sources in Losses to Working Families Under Governor Walker.

Wisconsin is quickly falling behind, because Walker wants to fight his ideological battles.

Instead of getting Wisconsin on track for the future by working to find the best solutions to our most critical problems, educating our workforce, and enticing high-tech and biotech companies to start in or come to Wisconsin, Walker has done a few other things that are anti-Wisconsin.
  • Made it more difficult to vote requiring more time and taxpayer funds and producing longer lines - injuncted
  • Concealed carry - opposed by 60%
    • For those in support, why do you need to conceal your weapon if you're using it for protection?

The lies about the budget and jobs aren't Walker's only lies. Last year, he tried convincing us that we could save money by stripping collective bargaining rights from our public workers. A month later, Walker admitted under oath to Congress that "it doesn't save any." He also said that he campaigned on stripping those rights, but video has now surfaced of Walker saying, a week before the election, he would negotiate with unions using collective bargaining. And that's just some of the major lies, PolitiFact found a lot more with even more under Pants on Fire!.

So, what has Scott Walker actually done to improve your life?

Update: (5/31/2012) For more recent actions, read What Has Scott Walker Done for Wisconsin Lately?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Secret Republican Documents Reveal They Orchestrated Public Testimony in Gerrymandering

The Journal Sentinel has inspected the 84 documents that Republicans fought tooth-and-nail to keep secret, now that they were made public today when the Republicans were "slammed" by three judges for their secrecy.

The Journal Sentinel's inspection of the documents shows "among other things, that those who drew the maps orchestrated the testimony in favor of the maps for a public hearing that occurred just after they were made available publicly."

"The records provide an inside view on the process Republicans used to draw the maps and show the testimony in favor of the maps was largely orchestrated by those who drew the maps. They recruited people to testify and supplied them with talking points."

Wisconsin Republican leadership was able to keep these secret in part through intimidation of their peers.

Last year, Republicans rudely denied any plans to draw new maps in secret.
'“You talked to Democrats who ‘think’ that Republican leaders have these grand plots,” Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, says in an email response to questions about GOP plans. “I guess I’ll leave it up to your journalistic standards if their motivated speculation is worth reporting on.”'
Update: (7:16pm) The Journal Sentinel has updated their page with additional information.

From the Journal Sentinel, "The redistricting team considered forcing some senators who were not up for re-election in 2014 to go through special elections in 2012, the emails show. They did not pursue that plan after determining it might violate the state and federal constitutions."

WI GOP "Slammed" for Secrecy in Gerrymandering

The latest decision in the federal court case against the Wisconsin Republicans for gerrymandering is a harsh review of recent Republican tactics, calling them "shameful," the Journal Sentinel reports. The Republicans were fighting tooth-and-nail to keep some 84 documents secret, but have now been ordered to make the documents public.

The Republicans were claiming the documents fell under attorney-client privilege, because they consisted of only legal advice. However, the panel of three judges (2 Republican appointees and 1 Democrat) found the documents to primarily consist of political advice. Thus, the documents can't fall under attorney-client privilege. The panel wrote,
"In the court's view, it is quite apparent that these email discussions involve advice on political strategy, as opposed to legal strategy, and, therefore, are not afforded attorney-client privilege protection."

"Without a doubt, the Legislature made a conscious choice to involve private lawyers in what gives every appearance of an attempt -albeit poorly disguised - to cloak the private machinations of Wisconsin's Republican legislators in the shroud of attorney-client privilege. What could have - indeed should have - been accomplished publicly instead took place in private, in an all but shameful attempt to hide the redistricting process from public scrutiny."
The court gets it. The Republicans did the work of the people in private through intimidation, when they should have done it in public. Now they think they can keep the documentation behind that work secret. The Republicans are dead wrong.

The Republicans in Wisconsin are finally being called out for their intimidation, secrecy and lies.

We now have a glimpse into why the Republicans fought so hard to keep the documents secret.

Operation Angry Badger: Out-of-State Influence of Recall Elections and Attack on Workers' Rights

According to the New York Times, a Chicago non-profit organization has a plan to use $612,000 to influence our recall elections and other battles over workers' rights called "Operation Angry Badger." The plan was uncovered in leaked documents from the Heartland Institute, a non-profit member of ALEC supported in part by the Koch brothers.

blue cheddar dug through the documents and found some interesting stuff. On page 13 of the Heartland Institute's 2012 Fundraising Plan they list 5 projects in Wisconsin:
  1. Recruit and promote superintendents who support Act 10 (collective bargaining rights-stripping bill)
  2. Explain the benefits of Act 10
  3. Document the shortcomings of public schools in Wisconsin
  4. Expose teacher pay in key districts
  5. Create blogs that shadow small town newspaper coverage of the controversy
While the group undermines public schools, they also plan to spend $250,000 promoting charter schools.

You can't make this stuff up.

blue cheddar has more information on donors and thanks "labor advocate and radio producer Brett Banditelli who read the document in full and directed I and other bloggers to this attack on Wisconsin. Here’s his twitter and I think you’ll want to check out his work at The Rick Smith Show." The New York Times has other background information.

How many other well-funded organizations from outside Wisconsin have a similar plan?

Democrats Push for Redistricting by GAB Bill

According to WPR, the Democrats will push today for a vote on a bill they introduced last July in the Wisconsin Assembly to change the way we handle redistricting every 10 years. The bill calls for the GAB to draw up new maps, and then the maps would go to the legislature to be voted on. If the maps don't pass, they're sent back to the GAB.

Such a bill would prevent any more secret gerrymandering in the future, but Republicans are expected to block it.

Scott Walker Has Miraculously Recovered from Debilitating Flu

Thank God, I didn't want him to miss his meeting with his REAL bosses at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) today. According to Scott Walker's latest tweets, he miraculously recovered from the flu that prevented him from visiting Master Lock, a union shop, with the President yesterday.

Walker first tweeted that he was sick on Tuesday morning. Wednesday morning, he tweeted that he was "still recovering from a nasty case of the flu," and then a few hours later, just after his scheduled meeting with President Obama was to take place, he tweeted that he was feeling better.
"...glad I'm feeling better after some rest.

After a good afternoon of rest, was able to host Hispanic leaders for discussion of expanding prosperity & opportunity."
I gave Walker the benefit of the doubt yesterday, believing he was sick while others doubted. However, his quick and timely recovery, allowing him to skip just the successful union shop, looks very suspicious. We all knew he wouldn't miss time in front of the media or his meeting with some of his biggest campaign supporters at the WMC lobby group early this afternoon.

One wonders why he didn't want to go to a successful union workplace with the President who's increased private-sector jobs every month for the past 23 consecutive months. Probably 'cause that's not Walker's tune: success, job creation and unions.


Join the Wisconsin Wave in protesting at Walker's meeting
"In protest the Wisconsin Wave will lead a picket and rally outside of the event to further expose and delegitimize this secretive, reactionary institution which literally wrote and funded most of the anti-worker, anti-family, anti-Wisconsin legislation forced through the legislature this past year.

WMC and its undisclosed industry backers are the entities who really run the show in Wisconsin, no matter who is in power. Join us as we call out WMC for their role in buying our democracy (more on this below) and advancing their extremist right-wing agenda."

Scott Walker Doesn't Care About Victims, Willfully Stealing

Repeated and passionate calls by many prominent people and organizations for Walker to reverse his decision to steal money from victims have fallen on deaf ears. It's become quite evident that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker doesn't care about victims of document fabrication, forgery and other financial service abuses. Walker announced plans last week to steal that money to help fix his budget deficit of over $3 billion.

Walker has also shown how little he cares about getting Wisconsin moving forward again. Wisconsin will continue to suffer as long as the families and communities in need of this money continue to suffer. Milwaukee itself has large swaths of affected areas, and the $31.6 million Walker plans to steal won't even be enough for a full recovery. The settlement money is desperately needed, but Walker doesn't care.

Walker is supposedly one of those governors who doesn't use "one-time fixes" such as settlement money. In Walker's Budget Repair Address nearly a year ago, he criticized previous governors for taking money from the tobacco settlement.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has called on us to contact both Walker and Attorney General Van Hollen to try to convince them to not steal money from victims to solve Walker's budget problems.

Contact Scott Walker:
Contact Attorney General Van Hollen:
  • Phone: (608) 266-1221

Wisconsin GOP in Disarray

Scott Walker and his Super PACs can't stop lying about his mythical balanced budget, and Walker has now resorted to stealing from victims to help plug his hole*. He "called in sick" instead of join President Obama to visit the union shop Master Lock in Milwaukee.

The GOP is still fighting tooth-and-nail to keep their secret gerrymandering operation a secret.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald threw a tantrum Tuesday, just before adjourning the Senate until 12:01 AM Wednesday, so he could ram through a disastrous wetlands bill. Later Wednesday, Fitzgerald abruptly, and without notice to some Republicans, disbanded the committee setup to create an acceptable mining bill to replace the Assembly's industry-written bill.

The Wisconsin GOP is flailing. They're making quick strategic decisions that aren't very strategic, and they hold all the cards. Even with their millions from out-of-state donors, the Republicans are clearly worried about their upcoming recall elections.

Other people are seeing the same dysfunction.

Help keep the heat on them by contacting them as well as your legislators to tell them how you feel. Tell your friends and family too, politely. People are starting to listen. Sticking to facts you know, and admitting when you don't, goes a long way.

Maybe the Republicans will accidentally vote in Wisconsin's interests before we recall them.

*The hole was created due to Walker's tax reductions and sustained job loss.

We Can Stop Wisconsin Republicans' Destructive Mining Bill

Scott Fitzgerald put a big kink in passing a mining bill when he disbanded the mining bill committee Wednesday. The committee was debating a slightly better version of the Assembly bill. Disbanding the committee has shelved any hopes of a better bill than the Assembly's mining bill. However, shutting out debate on the bill will put some Republicans in a tough spot.

Some Republicans have resisted supporting the Assembly's mining bill. Even the Journal Sentinel is against the bill. In particular, Dale Schultz has publicly stated that he cannot vote for the Assembly's bill. That means, without any other Republican defectors, the vote would be 17-16 against the bill.

Any constituent of Dale Schultz should contact him and ask him to reject the Assembly's mining bill or any bill that doesn't receive appropriate public comment.

Scott Fitzgerald says he hasn't counted votes yet, which means he doesn't yet have enough. Disbanding the committee was a horrible strategic mistake without enough votes to pass on his own. You can bet the pressure will be on Schultz to cave into his demands. If Schultz sticks to facts and reason, it'll be a huge blow to Fitzgerald who is facing a recall election later this year.

Given that we won't get a better bill, and the Republicans hope to ram it through, our chance is now to stop the bill. Fitzgerald has cancelled the public hearings in Platteville set for Friday and Ashland, so few opportunities remain.


The Republicans are using this bill as their one major jobs plan. Really?! Mining is the future of Wisconsin jobs? This is the best jobs plan they could come up with? You've got to be kidding. The future of Wisconsin jobs is in high-tech, biotech, and high-tech manufacturing, not mining.

We're screwed.

Scott Walker Supporters to March on Wisconsin GAB

Rachel Maddow broke the news that Scott Walker supporters are planning on protesting at the Government Accountability Board office this Friday. According to this note on Facebook, the group Let's march for Scott Walker is asking people to "March on the GAB! Protect your vote!" They say the recall process isn't fair, and their vote is "watered down" by the recall process. What they clearly don't understand is that they can simply vote again, that's fair.

Nearly as many people stood out in the cold to recall Walker as voted for him in a warm polling building, and until the Voter Suppression Bill goes into effect, voting for one candidate is easier than signing a recall petition. I'd say that's more than enough to suggest he should undergo another election and so does the Wisconsin Constitution.

Here are some choice statements from the note:
  • The GAB and the system are failing to protect the citizens of Wisconsin who voted November 2010.
  • Signatures on the recall petitions out weigh the voter
  • GAB does not have the ability to verify over a million signatures!
  • GAB Will you listen to the registered voter who voted Nov 2010?
  • GAB does listen to signatures that cannot be truly verified!
  • Tell the GAB we do not want our vote watered down.
  • GAB, FORGET the lawyers. Use common sense. Our state and Country's future is at stake! You MUST do your mission. Protect the vote! Do NOT protect all the signatures!
These people are called uninformed voters, and they are the main reason people like Scott Walker get elected. Help everyone by doing your best to politely inform.

However, there's a very scary statement in there. "Do NOT protect all the signatures!" Republicans, in particular the Scotts (Walker and Fitzgerald), need to publicly denounce such notions and confirm the credibility of the recall process. You tried recalling Democrats, but just because you couldn't get enough signatures doesn't mean the process for which you sought is somehow now flawed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walker Skips Out on Event at Union Business

The President is coming to visit union shop Master Lock to tout the success of bringing jobs back to America, but Walker won't go with Obama on the planned trip. According to the Journal Sentinel, he'll meet Obama at the airport, but won't go to Master Lock, because he is recovering from a flu.

Update: I thought at first this might be Walker trying to get out, but he tweeted he was sick yesterday. So, unless they planned on sneaking out of the meeting in this fashion earlier than today, he is genuinely sick.

WisconsinEye Must Open Their Videos To All Wisconsinites

WisconsinEye is to Wisconsin politics what C-SPAN is to federal politics. They're a non-profit organization that provides video of all public events in the State Assembly and Senate as well as news conferences and other public policy events. WisconsinEye broadcasts these videos on Charter Cable Channel 995 and via streaming video on their website. WisconsinEye is an invaluable public resource, but they're not as open as they appear, nor as they should be.

As a non-profit resource for the citizens of Wisconsin, WisconsinEye must make their content easily accessible and available to all Wisconsinites. However, they currently lock down their video in proprietary Microsoft software. This makes it very difficult for Wisconsinites to view and share the pivotal events that take place in the people's house, and it unnecessarily increases WisconsinEye's expenses.

The videos are stored in the Windows Media format, which makes them very difficult to view unless you're running Windows. If you use a Mac, you have to install special Microsoft software called Silverlight, and even if you run Windows you may have to. In the days of YouTube, where special software is rarely required to view videos online, why does WisconsinEye make us install special software to view public content?

The level of difficulty that WisconsinEye users experience and the steps required to view a video is depicted in WisconsinEye's barely helpful help page.

I don't use Windows. I don't even use a Mac most of the time. I use a beautiful OS called Linux. So, since the videos are in Windows Media format, I have to violate a few questionable user agreements just to view the WisconsinEye videos. Why should it be potentially illegal for Wisconsinites to view videos of sessions of our Senate and Assembly? There's absolutely no good reason.

Linux isn't even the biggest WisconsinEye loser. No smartphone can view and access the WisconsinEye video archives. Not iPhone, and not Android. So, when you're not sitting in front of a computer, you can't view what's going on in the Capitol, but you can watch all the YouTube videos you want. We can do better, cheaper.

WisconsinEye should make it easy to embed videos in third-party websites as other video and news sites such as YouTube and MSNBC do. Wisconsin's other non-profit channel, Wisconsin Public Television allows embedding of videos. If WisconsinEye doesn't want to offer the bandwidth to embed their videos in other websites, they need to offer their videos for free download - not just streaming. Without that ability, we're left to chopping up the WisconsinEye videos and posting them on YouTube via the fair use doctrine. Not only that, but WisconsinEye wants you to think you're in violation of the law when doing so, by making you click through a user agreement.

This is absolutely unacceptable, and recently, WisconsinEye seems to have made sharing even more difficult. It should be clear that Wisconsinites have the right to share clips of WisconsinEye videos, and Wisconsinites should have the right to share full videos for non-commercial use.

This is not how a non-profit resource should be provided. It's like your local library saying you can read all the books you want in the library, but you can't make copies of any text or take any books out of the library to share with friends. That's just ridiculous.

There is free software that WisconsinEye could use instead of the proprietary Microsoft software to both save money and make it easier for Wisconsinites to view and share WisconsinEye videos. Switching from Windows Media to a format such as WebM would reduce the complexity of viewing files for the majority of WisconsinEye users. Most users won't have to install any additional software to view WebM videos. It would also immediately add support for Linux users (I realize we're few and far between, but we also tend to be informed and vocal). A different royalty-free video format, H.264, would allow iPhones and Android phones to view WisconsinEye videos, too.

All WisconsinEye videos of government proceedings should be licensed under a Creative Commons license. So that everyone knows that we can share the public resource, and so we have the unambiguous right to share full videos. WisconsinEye can still lock down their original content (which is quite good) and try to make money selling DVDs, but the videos of government proceedings must be open and freely available online. Making these changes probably won't reduce their revenue from DVD sales, they'll save money on Microsoft license fees, and they'll get more exposure and viewers.

I find it difficult to support WisconsinEye while they keep their videos of government proceedings locked down. It just doesn't make economic or ethical sense.

Time Warner Cable or AT&T U-Verse customer? You're missing out on WisconsinEye.

Late Night Destruction of Wisconsin - Wetland Destruction Bill Passed

Republicans in the State Senate rammed through another bill under cover of night, the Wetland Destruction Bill (SB 368), even though the Republicans campaigned against such tactics. Just like the collective bargaining rights-stripping bill (1 AM) and the voter suppression bill (11 PM), the vote took place late at night, just past midnight.

How do you know the bill is bad? Because the Republicans rammed it through as quickly as possible when the fewest people will notice. Many people, including environment and wildlife sporting groups, are very concerned the bill if enacted would result in substantial loss of Wisconsin wetlands and wildlife.

Earlier Tuesday, Scott Fitzgerald abruptly postponed debate on the bill after Democrat Senator Fred Risser moved to vote on a bill restoring collective bargaining rights for public workers that were taken away by the collective bargaining rights-stripping bill (Act 10).

Senator Dave Hansen gave a passionate speech for the rights of workers. Then, at his first chance, Fitzgerald jumped up and ripped into the microphone, "It is the anniversary, but I'm wondering what we're talking about. Are we talking about Kathleen Falk?"

Were you listening at all, Scott? We're talking about restoring rights you took away. What does Kathleen Falk have to do with the bill Risser tried to bring to a vote?

If it's about corruption, Fitzgerald said, "I'd love to talk about that all day if you want." Is it so wrong that a gubernatorial candidate said they support workers' rights? Is that corruption? An open statement in support of rights? And secret meetings at private law firms to gerrymander your district isn't corruption?

Fitzgerald ended his tirade by slamming Senator Hansen and then moving to adjourn until 12:01 AM, "Senator from the 30th, boy I wish Senator Nygren would have gotten enough signatures to get on the ballet, because you'd be gone too right now." It sounds like Fitzgerald is worried he'll get voted out and jealous that Hansen wasn't.

Senate Republicans voted in step with Fitzgerald and the Senate reconvened at 12:01 AM and quickly moved to a vote on the Wetland Destruction Bill. The Republicans passed the bill onto the Assembly on a party-line vote. Protesters against the bill could be heard in the gallery, but I'm sure far fewer people were able to attend or watch at midnight.

I don't have a video for you, because WisconsinEye continues to lock down their videos, making it impossible for us to share videos of our government's proceedings. However, if you have a Windows PC, or are good with your Mac, you can view the videos here and here.

If you are unable to see the debate and votes, you can thank Scott Fitzgerald for his part. This is one of the reasons he has been recalled.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Republican Intimidation, Secrecy and Lies

Last week, we learned through a court order that the Republicans signed confidentiality agreements and were told to ignore the public comments of their fellow Republicans while gerrymandering Wisconsin. The memo read, "Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments." Republicans kept this secret all while doing the work of Wisconsin at a private law firm, and then later fought tooth-and-nail in court to keep this stuff secret.

Today, PolitiScoop has an article regarding an anonymous Republican NDA-signer who says they were threatened into signing the NDA. Zak Schultz from Wisconsin Public Television has the scoop in this video from WPT's Here and Now on Friday.
"According to one lawmaker who asked not to be named, the logic they were given was the maps and the documents would be protected by attorney-client privilege, and the secrecy pledges were needed to protect that. But this lawmaker told me he felt part of the pledge was intimidation, to keep the rank and file from complaining. He was even shown two versions of the map, one more favorable and one less favorable, and was told if he didn’t go along, the less favorable version would become law."
The WPT Here and Now clip has lots more background information, including an interview with UW-Madison Professor Barry Burden.

Last year, Republicans rudely denied any plans to draw new maps in secret.
'“You talked to Democrats who ‘think’ that Republican leaders have these grand plots,” Andrew Welhouse, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, says in an email response to questions about GOP plans. “I guess I’ll leave it up to your journalistic standards if their motivated speculation is worth reporting on.”'
Now they have.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 11th: Wisconsin Day!

One year ago today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Koch brothers unleashed their assault on the rights of our public workers, our education, our poor, our health, and nearly everything else Wisconsin values.

One year ago today, the people of Wisconsin stood up to Walker and his rich corporate interests in historic fashion. The Wisconsin Wave has declared February 11th a new holiday - Wisconsin Day. We began the first big protests of the United States in recent history and that energy later led to the 99% and Occupy Wall Street movements. Wisconsin Wave is holding a rally noon today at the Capitol to mark the first Wisconsin Day!'

Rallies start today at 10:30am marching from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to the Capitol in the Bury the Mining Bill Feeder March until the Wisconsin Day rally at noon.

From the Wisconsin Wave:
February 11th is the one-year anniversary of the day Walker and his funders launched their all out assault against everything that makes Wisconsin a great place to live, work, and learn. It also marks the anniversary of the day the people of Wisconsin rose up in mass protest to not only “kill the bill,” but also to demand an end to the many economic and social injustices present in our society.

Come celebrate this historic day with a rally hosted by the Wisconsin Wave to mark a new holiday- Wisconsin Day! Speakers will address the challenges and opportunities the grassroots social movement born a year ago faces moving forward.

The rally will also serve as a launching point for a “No More Stolen Elections” campaign which will work to ensure future elections are free of voter suppression and the intentional manipulation of election results.

Speakers include: Peter Barca, State Assembly Rep.; Mahlon Mitchell, Professional Firefighters of WI; John Nichols, Capital Times & The Nation; Charity Schmidt, UW-Madison TAA; Leland Pan, UW-Madison student government, Ben Manski, Liberty Tree Foundation; John Peck, Family Farm Defenders and others!

RSVP/spread the word on facebook here:

This event is part of an Anniversary Week of Action to celebrate the Wisconsin Uprising. Click here for more info!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scott Walker Stealing Victims' Money to Repair Budget Deficit

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker lies when he says he balanced the budget. Using accounting tricks, Wisconsin has a deficit of $216 million. Using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which we demand of every other business and government in Wisconsin, we have a deficit of about $3 billion.

Wisconsin was awarded $31.6 million from the Wall Street mortgage fraud settlement. This money is supposed to go to Wisconsin taxpayers who were victims of fraud and abuse by banks. However, Walker is planning on stealing most of the money to help repair the budget deficit he tells us he fixed. Walker is stealing from middle-class taxpayers, because he can't be truthful about his incompetence, and he can't make the tough decisions such as appropriately taxing the rich corporations and individuals who fund his campaign.

These people are really hurting, but Walker has no problem taking from them to keep the millions of fundraising dollars pouring in from outside Wisconsin. The settlement money isn't meant to help Walker do his job. It's meant for people who work hard doing their job and were victims of illegal financial practices or negligence. Walker used to say he was against things such as accounting tricks and stealing settlement money. Like during his Budget Repair Address nearly a year ago.
"The facts are clear: Wisconsin is broke and it's time to start paying our bills today — so our kids are not stuck with even bigger bills tomorrow. This deficit did not appear overnight. Wisconsin got here through a reliance on one-time fixes, accounting gimmicks and tax increases. Previous governors and legislatures from both parties took money from our tobacco settlement."
Please, Mr. Walker, don't steal from those who are down, those victims and taxpayers. Where's your Christian heart when you need it?

Wisconsin: Ignore the Public Comments

"Public comments...may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments."

That's what Wisconsin Republicans were told to do while they secretly redrew district maps to keep them in office. Of course, the Republicans didn't want Wisconsin to know they were screwing us over. The Republicans also signed confidentiality agreements to not talk about the maps while they worked on them in secret at a private law firm in Madison.

The information came about during court proceedings for a lawsuit against the Republicans in front of a three-judge panel. The Republicans fought hard to keep this information secret, but the judges forcefully ruled against them saying,
"Quite frankly, the Legislature (Republicans) and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process."
"Indeed, the arguments advanced by the Legislature more than suggest that it wishes to have its cake and eat it too. "
"...the Legislature has taken action that affects the voting rights of Wisconsin's citizens and now attempts to cloak the record of that action behind a charade masking as a privilege."
"Finally, given the Legislature's refusal to adequately cooperate in the discovery process, despite the Court's having twice denied their requests for privilege, the Court reaffirms its earlier directive: cooperate immediately. Neither this Court, the parties in the case, nor Wisconsin's citizens have the interest or time to endure the litigation tactics being used by public officials or their private counsel in what has quickly become a poorly disguised attempt to cover up a process that should have been public from the outset, despite the Legislature's concerted efforts to mask the process behind the closed doors of a private law firm."
Ignore the money they spend, too. We taxpayers paid $400,000 for these secret meetings to draw up where and who we vote for. The secretly gerrymandered maps were finished months ago, but we're still paying for two Republican aides to work at the private law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. We pay the two aides $129,236 per year in total, and we don't know what they're doing there. According to the Journal Sentinel, the agreements say the aides are "working at the direction of Michael Best attorneys."

When asked about the news, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said, "You almost get the image of a shadowy government." An immigrants rights group has written a complaint letter to the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to investigate the Republicans' redistricting process as another violation of the Open Meetings Law. You may remember the last one.

Wisconsin: Ignore the public comments of Republicans, because they clearly aren't being the slightest truthful. Do we really want to be ruled by the secret government of Scott Walker?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wisconsin Rights Protesters Featured in Super Bowl Ad

We made it to the Super Bowl! Well, not really, but Wisconsinites standing up for their rights did. Chrysler's "It's Halftime in America" Super Bowl 46 commercial features a short clip of protesters outside the State Capitol in Madison. The commercial aired during the game's halftime.

At about 50 seconds in, there's a clip of protesters outside the Capitol from the Spring 2011 protests against Governor Scott Walker's rights-stripping bill.

Here's the video of the ad with the venerable actor and director Clint Eastwood

If you're unsure, here's a screenshot of the video with the Hans Christian Heg statue on the right side.

You can see the same statue in this daytime photo from Flickr user courthouselover

"...and our second half is about to begin. All that matters now is looking ahead and finding a way forward." Public workers were trying to negotiate to move Wisconsin forward in 2011, but Walker just wanted to divide us and dismantle the unions. We're just ramping up, and once we get rid of Walker and his uncompromising cronies, we can get Wisconsin moving forward again. They are clearly impeding our progress and refuse to work together.

Update (10:35pm): To the talk of whether or not the protest signs in the clip are "Photoshopped," it looks to be the case.  I don't recognize any of the "readable" signs, particularly the repeated signs. However, there's a sign in the far back left with red hearts that looks like it could be a familiar teachers union sign. I don't blame Chrysler, they're not trying to take one side or the other in their message. They're asking us to come together.

The meaning of the Chrysler commercial, IMNSHO, is that we need to come together, and we have come together before, to get America "back in the game," just like the people of the big car companies in Detroit did. We have to come together to start moving real solutions forward. No more holding up debate for partisan gain and ignorance of facts and reasoning. The only thing that matters is getting it right, it's time we all start working together. "Because that's what we do."
"...But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right and acted as one.

Because that's what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can't find a way, then we'll make one.

All that matters now is what's ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together, and how do we win?

Detroit's showing us it can be done, and what's true about them is true about all of us.

This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again. And when we do, the world's gonna here the roar of our engines!

Ya, it's halftime America, and our second half's about to begin."

Update: John Nichols confirms that the protest signs have been edited in the Chrysler ad, and Blogging Blue has screenshots for comparison. Again, I don't impune Chrysler for doing that, because our message wasn't their message. Clearly, they're proudly promoting the success they've had by coming together with employees on tough decisions, but the more partisan their ad appears, the less impact it will make on an integral portion of the population. Chrysler didn't want everyone to associate the clip with the specific problems here in Wisconsin, as Nichols points out, they went so far as to remove the engraving on Heg's statue. They weren't promoting any specific policy, just the idea that we've had some trouble and deeply-divided disagreements, and now it's time to get back to working together to solve our problems. That's the American way.

Don't make Chrysler wish they just used some stock protest clip from the '60s. We all know it's us, and it's not Chrysler's job to get political. More people should be standing up and demanding that we work together, which is what Chrysler did with their ad and we did during the 2011 protests.

Just bask in the knowledge of the impact we made to motivate someone to even consider putting a clip in their Super Bowl ad, and let's get back to solving problems.

It's Halftime in America

"...and our second half is about to begin. All that matters now is looking ahead and finding a way forward."

This has to be the best Super Bowl 46 commercial. It aired during halftime and features Clint Eastwood talking about America coming back, just like Detroit has come back. Everyone came together, workers, shareholders, and creditors, and now GM and Chrysler are back from the brink. To the benefit of us all.

At about 50 seconds in, there's a clip of protesters outside the Wisconsin State Capitol from the Spring 2011 protests against Governor Scott Walker's rights-stripping bill. (more info)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Walker Hauling In More Out-of-State Than Presidential Super PACs

According to the latest numbers on Presidential Super PACs from the New York Times, Scott Walker's latest month of $4.5 million in out-of-state fundraising has outpaced most of the Presidential candidates' total fundraising from Super PACs.

The recall election will be a tough battle to reinstill our Wisconsin values with a governor that will follow them. Who's concerned about out-of-state interests, Walker or the people of Wisconsin? You decide.

Thanks to James Rowen at The Political Environment for pointing these facts out.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Definition of a Super PAC

Super PAC: a frothy mix of lube and campaign funding that is sometimes the byproduct of politics.

You hear the term thrown around a lot, Super PAC or SuperPAC. But many people ask what is a Super PAC? A great visionary in Super PAC development, Stephen Colbert, provided this simple definition. He gave us this definition during his television program, The Colbert Report, on Thursday. A Super PAC is a frothy mix of lube and campaign funding that is sometimes the byproduct of politics.

If you want to help change this, support the DISCLOSE Act.

In case you're interested, here's the real definition on Wikipedia.