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Archive for October, 2009

Kevin Conroy Mulls Governor’s Run

What?!?  It’s not THAT Kevin Conroy

Well color me bummed by this news then.

After two high-profile Democrats have bowed out of the race for governor, a new potential candidate is starting to emerge

Kevin Conroy, CEO of Exact Sciences Corp. in Madison, is actively considering getting in the race, said Joel Brennan, Conroy’s brother-in-law and a former campaign manager for Tom Barrett’s runs for governor and Milwaukee mayor.

Conroy is preparing campaign filings, interviewing staff and developing fund-raising plans, Brennan said Wednesday. He said a final decision on getting in the race had not been made.

Brennan called Conroy a “progressive with a pro-business strategy.” He has been considering a run since shortly after Gov. Jim Doyle announced in August he would not seek a third term.

Must say, what is this now four or five Democrats in this state who are multi-millionaires?  Can we stop the Republicans are the party of the rich talk already?  Kohl, Kagen, Leinenkugel (rumored), and now this guy; no wonder I laugh whenever Zach W. at Blogging Blue goes off on Terrance Wall being a rich guy running for the Senate.  Apparently he keeps forgetting we have Herb Kohl in the Senate already representing this state.

That’s okay, a lot of us do as well.

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Cartoon of the Day

Heller_Tapping

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WTAQ to Have Announcement on Bader Tomorrow

Here’s hoping it’s just a suspension from the air.

WTAQ Announcement

Bader is a friend, both on and off-line.  Part of it’s ideological, part of it’s the fact we’ve both lived and worked in the Sheboygan area for part of our lives.  When Jerry was in Washington for a conference doing his show last year, we got lunch together and I then acted as both his tour guide and photographer as he wanted his picture taken near many of the National Mall’s familiar landmarks.

I’m not going to deny thay Jerry made a huge career mistake, but I seriously believe he had the facts to back up his report when he posted it.  This no doubt was a grave error on his part, but me as a friend who doesn’t want to see it cost him his job.

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Now They Tell Us…

Oh wait, our side was saying this the entire time.

A new NBER paper from Harvard’s Alberto F. Alesina and Silvia Ardagna (”Large Changes in Fiscal Policy: Taxes Versus Spending”) makes the case for tax cuts over spending as stimulus:

As we well know a very large portion of the current astronomical 12 percent of GDP deficit is the result of bailout of various types of the financial sector.  … But part of the deficit is the result of the stimulus package that was passed to lift the economy out of the recession. About two third of this fiscal package is constituted by increases in spending, including public investment, transfers and government consumption. According to our results fiscal stimuli based upon tax cut are much more likely to be growth enhancing than those on the spending side. In this respect the US stimulus plan seems too much based upon spending.

Needless to say when considering a single episode many other factors jump to mind, factors which are difficult to capture in a multi country regressions. For instance, American families were saving too little before the crisis. An income tax cut might have just simply been saved and might have had not a big impact on aggregate consumption. However, more saving might have reinforced the financial sector, think of the credit card crisis for instance. In addition, one could have though of tax cuts that stimulate investment. Also, given the gravity of the crisis an increase in the generosity of unemployed benefits seems quite warranted both in terms of social justice and in terms of sustaining aggregate demand, since the unemployed probably save very little anyway. The benefit of infrastructure projects which have “long and variable lags” is much more questionable.

NBER  is short for the “National Bureau of Economic Research.”  They’re commonly seen as the guys charged with labeling a Recession a Recession and so on.  So often, when it comes to economics, they’re often the smartest guys in the room in a statistical/analytical sense.

Here’s what the Economics Thinkers at the Heritage Foundation were saying the right kind of economic stimulus should have been in February:

Capable of producing a short-term stimulus, capital gains tax cuts are also a responsible pro-growth policy. Such cuts trigger an immediate stimulus because distortions on investors’ behavior are eliminated. Yet there are also long-term benefits to cutting capital gains taxes cuts: a real reduction in the cost of investment.

Borrowing and spending may provide some immediate relief, but such policies reduce growth in the longer run and tend to expand government permanently. A policy of reducing tax rates allows the private sector to produce the stimulus instead, thereby avoiding such flaws.

When the financial sector and private investment are weak, as is currently the case, the best taxes to reduce are investment-related taxes. The elimination of capital gains and dividend taxes would encourage increased investment that puts more funds into the financial service sector so that the economic pipes can begin flowing again.

Perhaps its well past time the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress stopped demonizing tax cuts.  Then again perhaps it will rain frogs in Washington, DC too.

Stranger things have happened.

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Clearly, I Worked for the Wrong White House

We never got perks like this. Frankly, I was just happy I got to see the White House Christmas decorations.  (Sadly no pics, my camera at the time didn’t work.)

During his first nine months in office, President Obama has quietly rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.

High-dollar fundraisers have been promised access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to bundle $300,000 in contributions ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to internal Democratic National Committee documents obtained by The Washington Times.

One top donor described in an interview with The Times being given a birthday visit to the Oval Office. Another was allowed use of a White House-complex bowling alley for his family. Bundlers closest to the president were invited to watch a movie in the red-walled theater in the basement of the presidential mansion.

Mr. Obama invited his top New York bundler, UBS Americas CEO Robert Wolf, to golf with him during the president’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation in August. At least 39 donors and fundraisers also were treated to a lavish White House reception on St. Patrick’s Day…

Over the summer, for instance, one of Mr. Obama’s deputy chiefs of staff, Jim Messina, flew to Los Angeles and San Francisco to provide in-person briefings to a small collection of top donors to explain the administration’s plan for tackling health care legislation and counter the rising tide of opposition at town-hall meetings. In another, a group was briefed by one of Mr. Obama’s top economic advisers, Austan Goolsbee.

Top-tier donors gain membership to the DNC’s National Finance Committee or to the ultra-exclusive National Advisory Board, both of which meet four times a year, including this week at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington.

Hmmm…thought these guys were the “We don’t put the White House for sale” type.  Guess they were the “White House Political Briefings for sale” type.

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The More They Push Barrett, The Less This Makes Sense to Me

Ok, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Doyle and Barrett want the Mayor of Milwaukee to take the reins of the failing Milwaukee Public Schools System.  It is well-known that Doyle is not shy about praising Barrett about being “his guy” to succeed him as the next Democratic Governor of the State of Wisconsin.

Pardon me for asking, but if Barrett’s out running for Governor for most of next year, who the hell is supposed to be overseeing MPS?

Milwaukee’s mayor would have the power to not only appoint the city school system’s superintendent but also set its annual tax levy under a legislative proposal Gov. Jim Doyle detailed Tuesday.

Flanked by five Milwaukee-area legislators, Doyle released more components of what he said would be within a bill introduced in the Legislature giving the mayor a strong hand in governance of Milwaukee Public Schools.

With little time left in the legislative session and the bill still in the drafting stage, Doyle said he may call a special session this year to consider mayoral takeover of MPS.

“I think we all feel this incredible sense of urgency that this has to be done,” Doyle said.

The plan would not just give the mayor the ability to fire and hire the MPS superintendent, according to a handout drafted by the governor and legislators. It also would move authority over budget and fiscal issues, curriculum, facility decisions and collective bargaining from the School Board to the superintendent.

The mayor would set the annual tax levy.

School Board members would provide oversight and perform duties related to community relations and student discipline. A referendum to reauthorize mayoral control would be held after seven years.

Even though a bill that would give the mayor a hand in the schools has not yet been introduced, Mayor Tom Barrett said in an interview Tuesday that he has been talking with others about what characteristics he wants in the next schools superintendent. He called on the School Board to postpone its Nov. 19 deadline for applications for the MPS superintendent position, which the board is looking to fill before Superintendent William Andrekopoulos’ departure in June.

Those who have talked to me in private about this issue pretty much know where I stand.  The idea isn’t totally baseless and without merit.  MPS is in horrible shape by a combination of managerial waste and fraud, inattentive parents who gave up on not just bettering their kids, but their neighborhoods years ago, and a school board which is well…words fail to describe it sometimes.

Milwaukee’s Public Schools are in need of a fix, and something indeed needs to happen to make that change a reality. Under the right kind of leadership from a mayor who has a record of tackling education reform head on, Milwaukee could start under many of the same reforms DC has seen under Mayors Williams and Fenty.

However…

What we are very likely about to see if what Democrats (and seriously folks, you are kidding yourself if ever believed otherwise since the NEA started calling the shots in that party) always do:  Use kids as a smokescreen for the realpolitik going on behind the scenes.  I mean, seriously, after months of this idea being out there and complaints from Milwaukee officials, suddenly they find legislative authors.

Where were these folks weeks ago?  Did they just materialize over-night?

And then next week, what do you know, the Big Guy’s coming to Madison.  And what is he talking about?  You guessed it, education.  Does anyone honestly think there won’t be some ‘alone time’ with Mayor Barrett or that Michelle Obama won’t give the “shared sacrifice speech” to his wife Kris?  That guilt trips about ‘grand Democratic loses from Milwaukee to Superior and parts in-between’ won’t be laid upon them every chance they get?

Now that’s all fine and good.  It’s how some party politics go down behind-the-scenes, but they’re using the guise of reforming Wisconsin’s largest, most bloated, most in need of repair school system as the puppet theater to move the political chess pieces on the board.

That’s low.  That’s not going to help any one’s kids or any kid’s future with the sort of half-hearted effort I fear we’re about to receive from Doyle and friends.

That’s not reform; and frankly, if that’s how it’s likely to go down, then don’t bother doing it.

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Hey, I’m on the 50 Yard Line. You Too, No Way?!?

Wait a minute, people try to scam folks during big sporting events?  Who knew?

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is warning football fans that big games such as this weekend’s Vikings-Packers game tend to invite ticket scams.

Already this season, one Packers fan paid $4,000 to an online seller for season tickets that never arrived. Last season, police found that counterfeit tickets for big games were sold near Lambeau Field.

The agency recommends the following precautions:

Make sure tickets have a ‘Packers’ watermark on the back, perforated edges of the left and bottom, and ink that doesn’t smudge when moistened.

If you buy tickets online, choose a seller with a long history of satisfied customers.

Get the seller’s real name and contact information.

Pay with credit card, check or Paypal, not cash.

Another tip: If you’re trying to get your tickets through a ticket broker, work with one that’s either had a long relationship with the NFL or the Packers organization itself.

Finally, if you’re a Packers season ticket holder who sold your ticket to a Vikings fan, please surrender your seat now.  I’m sure there are 70,000 other people who would have preferred to sit in that seat instead of the jackass in the horned helmet.

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Cartoon of the Day

gm09102720091027093138

Obama in the Elmer Fudd role…that is irony there.

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From the Desk of Ben Urich…

I’ve been asked to pass this on by a friend who would prefer not to be named, so I’m assigning him the pseudonym “Ben Urich.” He may or may not be a further contributor.

440px-Ben_urich
One justice raises over $20,000 from lawyers before the Court.

That same justice benefits from third party issue ads.

That justice’s campaign ads proclaim the candidate to be “law enforcement’s ally.”

Does it matter?

When has a judge crossed the line and is no longer able to be an impartial arbiter of justice?

Tomorrow at 9:00 am the Supreme Court Justices will sit down to discuss rules for recusal on cases before the state highest court.

In a move that may be unprecedented and one that certainly raised eyebrows in the legal community, the liberal minority on the Supreme Court Justices Abrahamson, Crooks and Bradley filed a personal statement regarding recusal motions on October 15, 2009.  Weird that the justices would comment on a pending case (State v. Carter) before the Court, which they distributed through the court information officer to the media.  An argument could be made that commenting on a pending case could itself violate the Wisconsin Judicial code of Ethics, no?  Other groups outside of the Court itself, ranging from The League of Women Voters to WMC, have weighed in on the recusal rules as well.

While she may hold the title of Chief Justice, Shirley Abrahamson no longer controls the Court’s ideological majority. Voters in 2008 elected a justice (Michael Gableman) that was a stark contrast from the liberal incumbent, former Justice Louis Butler. Yet, Abrahamson is still the Chief. A chief, it could be argued, who is grinding the wheels of justice to a halt by raising the recusal issues in an effort to push off her colleague, Justice Gableman, from criminal case before the Court.

The left are determined to undo the decision voters made in 2008 when they elected Justice Mike Gableman to the court. They argue, among other things, that third party support from WMC and the comments the judge made during the campaign make it impossible for defendants to get a fair shake from him.

Yet those same individuals and groups who are up in arms over Gableman turn a blind eye to the most recent campaign for Supreme Court, that being the reelection of Chief Justice Abrahamson herself.

You see, it is Abrahamson who has raised tens of thousands of dollars from attorneys with cases before her Court. It was Abrahamson’s campaign that proclaimed her to be “law enforcement’s ally’ and Abrahamson received support from third party campaign ads, just as others on her Court have.

  • Attorneys trying cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court have contributed more than $20,000 to the Chief Justice in this Court term alone, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s website. Does this mean Abrahamson has a conflict of interest? Should she step aside on cases in which the arguing attorney has contributed to her campaign?
  • The Greater Wisconsin Committee (GWC) ran ads on Abrahamson’s behalf during her most recent campaign.  According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign website, “The Greater Wisconsin Committee’s first ad was launched about two weeks before the election. The ad praises Abrahamson for decisions that protected people harmed by bad medical care or injured by dangerous or shoddy products. The ad concludes by accusing her opponent of rulings in favor of big business and wealthy special interests. Because Abrahamson was the beneficiary of thousands of dollars worth of television advertising by a third party group should she recuse herself from cases where trial attorneys are arguing before the Court for plaintiffs in medical cases or personal injury suits?
  • In her 2009 television ads, Abrahamson’s campaign touted her as a law-and-order, tough judge by proclaiming her “law enforcement’s ally” in addition to listing that she is endorsed by 147 police chiefs and sheriffs, 40 district attorneys and 14,000 officers.

The left should be careful what they are asking for. Or, at the very least, consistent.


**** FACT CHECK****

Text of Abrahamson’s 2009 campaign ad below:

“Dangerous sex offenders. Law enforcement puts them behind bars.

“And Shirley Abrahamson wrote the decision to keep them there. For life.

“Two strikes and you’re out. It’s Wisconsin law. And it’s the support Wisconsin law enforcement needs.

“Chief, she’s law enforcement’s ally.

“And why police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and cops on the beat all support Abrahamson.

“She’s protecting Wisconsin families.

“Shirley Abrahamson.  She’s Wisconsin’s Chief.”

VISUALS

o Endorsed by 147 police chiefs and sheriffs.
o Endorsed by 40 district attorneys.
o Endorsed by 14,000 officers.

Below is a brief review of Justice Abrahamson’s donations drawn from the publicly available database of the non-partisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Also you will find that she has received between $16,000 and $30,000 from lawyers with cases before the court this term.  (It was unclear if one $7,000 donor was the same lawyer practicing on a particular case, so see the footnote below.)

Additionally, you will see that political action committees with cases pending have donated to her campaign committee.  Schill v Wis Rapids School District regarding release of a teacher’s email to the media. WEAC and the public employee unions oppose the release of the email granted by the lower court.

Campaign Finance Facts

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Interest Categories Total Amount
Agriculture $5,719.00
Banking & Finance $43,025.00
Business $72,546.72
Civil servant/public employee $303,683.03
Construction $35,250.87
Defense $300.00
Education $134,449.09
Energy $10,200.00
Health Professionals $49,097.30
Health Services/Institutions $30,350.11
Insurance $7,050.00
Labor Unions $27,780.61
Lawyers/Law Firms/Lobbyists $589,549.37
Manufacturing & Distributing $25,588.00
Natural Resources $19,950.00
Non-Profit/Social Services $19,075.00
Political/Ideological $14,735.19
Real Estate $39,380.00
Retired/Homemakers/Non-income earners $145,126.04
Road Construction $400.00
Telecommunications & Computers $23,335.00
Tourism/Leisure/Entertainment $20,934.93
Transportation $10,979.00
Unknown $32,619.00

Time of this request: October 26, 2009

Wisconsin Campaign Finance reports show Abrahamson’s campaign raised and spent nearly $1.5 million in 2008 and 2009. (January 2008 and July 2009 Continuing Reports)

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At This Point, He Would Be

Wiggy points out who the current Democratic Gubernatorial front runner is.

Godspeed kid.

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