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Archive for March, 2011

“Mad Men” Deal Struck, Still Won’t Air Until 2012

Because of the campaign, I missed the last part of Season 4.  All I know from what I saw of the season is that Sally Draper is going to be one messed up little girl for a long, long time.

I suppose we should rejoice.  (Though in my opinion, “Breaking Bad” is probably both the best show on AMC and all of television.)

Don Draper might make it to the 1970s after all. After a protracted standoff, AMC, Lionsgate and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner have reached an agreement for seasons five and six of the Emmy-winning drama.

Weiner, who will return as showrunner, has also signed a new long-term deal with Lionsgate. As a result of the negotiations, however, season five isn’t expected to air until next year.

“I want to thank all of our wonderful fans for their support,” Weiner said in a statement. “I also want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning.  I’m excited to get started on the next chapter of our story.”

“AMC’s original programming began with a mission to create bold storytelling of the highest quality, and Mad Men was the perfect expression of that commitment,” Charlie Collier, president of AMC, said in a statement. “We’ve been proud to support this show from the day we read Matt’s ground-breaking pilot script and have loved building it with Matt and Lionsgate into the cultural phenomenon it has become. For everyone involved in the show and its passionate fans, we are thrilled to announce that the series will continue on AMC under the exceptional vision of Matt Weiner.”

The reason for the postponement is simple; there are no scripts.  Without a concrete contract, Weiner and his team of writers had no obligation to write one word.  So, they could have all the ideas they need for “Mad Men’s” Season Five, the actors have no words to say in front of the cameras.

(Though, given the pace of some episodes, who would have noticed the difference?)

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MacIver & Others Seek Senate Democratic Emails

Hey, if Walker’s emails have been anally-probed six ways to Sunday by the Associated Press, Bill Lueder’s Isthmus crew, and the rest of creation, why can’t the same be said of the Democrats who fled the State?

At least two politically minded groups have made extensive open records requests for emails sent and received by state legislators, two of the groups confirmed Thursday.

A third group has made at least one such request.

A spokesman for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy said the Wisconsin-based think tank had asked for emails from six Democratic legislators dating from the beginning of the year until now. The spokesman, Brian Fraley, said the group was seeking correspondence related to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

Orville Seymer of the group Citizens for Responsible Government said Thursday that his group asked for emails from five Democratic senators dating from Feb. 17 to March 28.

He said the five were Sens. Chris Larson of Milwaukee; Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie; Dave Hansen of Green Bay; James Holperin of Eagle River; and Mark Miller of Monona.

Seymer said the group wanted to see the correspondence citizens wrote to the legislators in connection with Walker’s bill that would eliminate most collective bargaining for most public employee unions.

Mike Browne, a spokesman for Miller, confirmed that three groups – the MacIver Institute, Citizens for Responsible Government and a third group, Wisconsin Family Action, had made open records requests for emails from Miller’s office. Browne said the groups wanted to see emails over an extensive period of time.

But, will we get it?

(H/T Berry Laker) Apparently, the Wisconsin legislature works a lot more like Washington, DC than we’ve ever thought.  In case you weren’t aware, Congress is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act or FOIA.  The overall thinking from inside Capitol Hill is that by dealing with constituent mail and other work, they get to shield themselves from inquiries.

The Lakeland Times discovered Wisconsin legislators have a more simpler loophole — and one of the fleebaggers has practice using it — the “Delete Button.”

The office of the state attorney general told The Lakeland Times this week it has no statutory jurisdiction to offer a legal opinion about a policy adopted by state Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) of routinely deleting emails his office receives.

But assistant attorney general Lewis Beilin nonetheless said lawmakers should promote the cause of transparency, even when laws do not obligate them to perform certain functions.

Beilin was responding to a request by Lakeland Times publisher Gregg Walker, who asked attorney general J.B. Van Hollen for an opinion after Holperin informed the newspaper that he and his staff had begun to delete emails they didn’t consider substantive.

Holperin did not deny that emails sent to his office were public records, but said he was not required to retain them for any length of time.

Walker questioned whether Holperin’s policy was legal under state law.

“If I ask for an email and he hasn’t yet deleted it, he says he must turn it over,” Walker wrote in his letter to Van Hollen. “On the other hand, if he gets an email, he says he can delete it five minutes later, and, if we then ask for it, we are out of luck.”


After being publicly stung earlier this year by the publication of some of his emails to constituents – in one email Holperin wrote that “the Governor’s got enough little tax and fee hikes in that budget of his to sink a good sized battleship” – the senator began exploiting a nearly 50-year-old statute exempting the records and correspondence of lawmakers from the permanent use collection of the state’s public records board.

That statute, separate from the open records law, governs retention times for various public records.

In other words, emails his office receives are indeed public records so long as they are retained – and thus subject to release if an open records request is made for them – but lawmakers are under no obligation to retain their records for any length of time.

So…here’s hoping they are all still there.

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WTO Gives U.S. & Boeing the “Airbus Treatment”

Wrote a little about Boeing winning its case in 2009, you can read that here.

Given the millions spent in lobbying, the political gamesmanship, and God knows what else Boeing and their advocates have been asking for, I’m not all that surprised to see this come down from the World Trade Organization.

Planemaker Boeing received at least $5.3 billion of dollars of banned U.S. subsidies, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday.

The subsidies included banned support in the form of research and development payments from the NASA space agency.

The ruling by a panel of trade judges is the latest round in a six-year battle between the industry’s two giants that has spiralled into the world’s largest and costliest trade dispute.

A separate WTO trade panel condemned European support for Boeing rival Airbus in a parallel case last year.

Both sides immediately claimed the upper hand in the row, which now extends to 2,000 pages of rulings in the most complex and bitter battle ever brought before the Geneva trade court.

Airbus, part of European aerospace group EADS, said it had lost $45 billion in aircraft sales because of the subsidies.

“It’s time for Boeing to stop denying or minimizing the massive illegal subsidies it gets,” said Rainer Ohler, head of public affairs and communications at Toulouse-based Airbus.

Boeing acknowledged receiving $2.7 billion of illegal U.S. funding on top of a dispute that has already been aired, but said this was dwarfed by more than $20 billion of European aid which it said the WTO had earlier identified at Airbus.

“This WTO ruling shatters the convenient myth that European governments must illegally subsidize Airbus to counter U.S. government assistance to Boeing,” said Michael Luttig, executive vice-president and general counsel at Boeing.

Someone once told me during my Heritage days that plane makers have gotten so big, and the airline industry so picky about its fleets that the only way these companies are making any money at all is through government subsidies.

I had hoped that person was just being factious with that statement, but they were probably more correct than I assumed at the time.

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Madison Unions Drop Suit Consolidation Attempt

Apparently, what changed their mind was the realization such a move would allow the state’s attorneys to seek a new judge in the case. [A rather common practice mind you.]

The current judge assigned to the case; why Maryann Sumi of course!

Two city of Madison labor unions and Dane County dropped their request to consolidate their complaints over the guv’s collective bargaining law after being told doing so would allow the state to seek a new judge.

Dane County and two city of Madison labor unions, AFL-CIO Local 236 and Firefighters Local 311, sought to consolidate their separate complaints over the act.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs asked the state to agree not to seek a substitution of judges before moving forward. But Judge Maryann Sumi said the defendants did not have to bind themselves to that commitment. The motion was then withdrawn.

Sumi also agreed with state attorneys that the motion to combine the cases was likely premature and cautioned attorneys in all cases related to the budget repair bill about their public comments when emotions are running high.

Emphasis added.

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Press Release of the Day

Goes to the Dane Co. GOP, who fight the perpetual uphill fight in the “Land of the Mad,” and the “Home of the In-Dane.”

(Oh, that’s clever…I should trademark that line.)

The Republican Party of Dane County sent out a press release on March 29th criticizing Judge Maryann Sumi for holding up the publication of Governor Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reform bill. Upon further reflection we’d like to apologize for not understanding her point of view.

Sure, Governor Walker’s bill is unquestionably constitutional, increases worker’s rights and helps local government balance budgets without having to fire public workers. The Wisconsin state legislature consulted with their non-partisan parliamentarian to make sure that the passage of the bill followed the rules of the Senate and Assembly. But this isn’t about the law, is it?

The Republican Party of Dane County recognizes that Judge Sumi is a leftist living in Dane County. Her friends are leftists living in Dane County. Her son is a left wing activist in Dane County. She goes to cocktail parties held by leftists in Dane County. She shops at organic gourmet food shops run by leftists living in Dane County. If she were to enforce the law of Wisconsin and do what was in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin, she’d be exiled from her lifestyle. She’d lose her friends!

The leadership of the Republican Party of Dane County have all made the choice to stand against the Dane County elite. We accept that Left feels righteous vandalizing our homes and keying our cars. It’s only fair. We disagree based upon logic and principle. That is intolerable! We prioritize the Constitution and the well being of the people of Wisconsin over foie gras at cocktail parties. That’s the choice we made. We respect Judge Sumi’s decision to live her life with the rich diversity that liberals cherish.

My one issue with it is the “foie gras” mention.  Was pretty sure the animal rights folks like PeTA got it taken off most left-wing menus.

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State Employee Unions Circulating Boycott Letters

“Nice business you have there.  True pity if anything were to happen to it.”

Members of Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, have begun circulating letters to businesses in southeast Wisconsin, asking them to support workers’ rights by putting up a sign in their windows.

If businesses fail to comply, the letter says, “Failure to do so will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.”

Jim Parrett, a field representative of Council 24 for Southeast Wisconsin, confirmed the contents of the letter, which carries his signature. But he added that the union was also circulating letters to businesses thanking them for supporting workers’ rights.


Parrett referred questions to Marty Beil, the head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union. Beil was not immediately available for comment.

In the letter from Parrett to some businesses, he says that, “It is unfortunate that you have chosen ‘not’ to support public workers rights in Wisconsin. In recent past weeks you have been offered a sign by a public employee who works in one of the state facilities in the Union Grove area. These signs simply said, ‘This Business Supports Workers Rights,’ a simple, subtle and we feel non-controversial statement gives the facts at this time.”


Terri Gray, executive director of the Union Grove Chamber of Commerce, said she had received many calls from member businesses about the union-led effort. She said most of the calls came from businessmen and women who preferred to remain neutral in the dispute between Gov. Scott Walker and organized labor.

“They don’t want to pick a side,” she said. “I told them, ‘I believe you can choose to not choose.'”

Gray said the campaign appeared to have started a day or two ago. She said she didn’t know whether the sign campaign was having an impact.

Asked Wednesday about the boycott effort, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said “that any nonviolent tactic used to get attention to the steamroller tactics it seems to me are reasonable. I encourage people to remain nonviolent and disciplined in their protests.”

Asked if he supported boycott efforts in Wisconsin, Jackson did not directly endorse them.

He said: The best way to resolve conflict is when everybody is at the tabel and they can negotiate through some rational institutional process.”

Thanks Jesse, seriously.

I had heard from some friends in and around Madison that signs like this had become the “in-fashion” on State Street; so of course, some idiot liberal thought “Hey, it works in Madison.  Let’s take this thing statewide!”

Once again a reminder: What works in Madison, sans a Badgers sporting event, rarely, if ever works statewide.

For weeks now, the Left has been saying that the tactics of Walker, the Fitzgeralds, and other conservatives have been “stoking the fires” against the State GOP, Justice David Prosser, and the State Senate Recalls.  What’s to say that this little stunt from AFSCME doesn’t have the reverse effect and stokes the fires of Wisconsin conservatives?

No one’s ever said Marty Beil had a brain attached when he’s frothing with rage…

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Wisconsin Soldier in Afghanistan: “‘Wisconsin 14’ Should Resign”

From a letter to the editor in my hometown weekly newspaper, The Tri-County News. (H/T One of my siblings via Facebook)

To the editor,

I am a soldier serving in the U.S. Army currently serving in Afghanistan.

I am writing as a result of recent actions, or lack of actions, in the state Senate. I am fully aware of the situation and the terms brought to the table concerning the budget and the legislation to fix it. What concerns me are not the issues at all.

Regardless of party or political view, the actions of the Democratic senators were appalling! Running away from a vote because of the fear of failure is wrong on many levels.

First of all, as a politician it is an obligation to vote on matters regarding the state and the welfare of the people of the state. An American citizen has a right to vote, which means they may choose to vote how they see fit or not to vote at all. As a senator the right to vote is now not only a right but an obligation.

Also I see a very large double standard in a senator campaigning and asking for votes to run away from a vote themselves. The job of a senator in this situation is to vote “yay” or “nay” and let the votes fall as they may. This is how democracy works, not to act like cowards and run. Running abandons Democracy and all of the American people they swore to represent.

Regardless of any views on this war we are fighting right now, my comrades and I are American soldiers. As soldiers we fight to defend democracy. Democracy is based very largely on the right-and as a senator the obligation-to vote. By “running away” the 14 Wisconsin senators slap democracy in the face, therefore slapping all who defend it in the face! Being from Wisconsin I am heartbroken and extremely let down by the appalling actions of these senators on a public, national stage.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

The above is the oath of office which each Wisconsin senator swears to when entering office. The end of that oath states, “I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter; So help me God.” This statement does not state, “I will vote when I feel like it and abandon my office which I have sworn to uphold when the result may be other than I would like to see.” I know for a fact, having worked in the wonderful state of Wisconsin, that if any company employee blatantly decided to walk out on their job and to publicly disgrace the company they worked for they would be terminated immediately.

This may sound as a bold request to some but I am calling for the resignation of all 14 of the senators who abandoned their job, the people of the state of Wisconsin, and their duty as political officers, and publicly disgraced the entire state.

I fear what our state and furthermore our country will become if this type of action is allowed to continue without consequence.
A very concerned and insulted American soldier,

Justin Cook

If there is such a thing as a “silent majority” out there; you get the feeling this is what it’s been feeling for the past month and a half, and this is what is sounds like.

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Louisiana Becomes 9th State to Seek Full Waiver from ObamaCare

From Investor’s Business Daily.

IBD has just gotten word that Louisiana will become the ninth state to request a waiver from ObamaCare’s medical-loss-ratio regulations.

An MLR is the share of health premiums spent on medical costs. Under ObamaCare, insurers in the individual and small group market must have an 80% MLR, which means that 80% of premiums are spent on medical care, leaving 20% for things like salaries, advertising, fraud prevention and profits.

Violate that minimum and an insurer must rebate the difference to policyholders.

Many insurers have MLRs considerably lower than 80%, which means that they will have to rebate the difference. Of course, if they can’t afford to do that they will simply drop out of the market. Since states would rather not let that happen given that people losing their policies can turn into angry voters, they have begun requesting a reprieve from ObamaCare’s MLR regulations.

Louisiana makes similar arguments in its official waiver request:

A review of the language of the Affordable Care Act has raised concerns that there may be unintended yet harmful provisions included.  These provisions will, if implemented as written, be disruptive and detrimental to Louisiana’s market.  As currently proposed, implementing the 80% loss ratio in the individual market will act to decrease consumer choice, make coverage more expensive and less readily available, and work to drive valuable trained producers out of the market just when they are needed most.

Of the eight other states who sought a waiver, only Maine has seen it granted.

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Back to the Shores of Tripoli

Stay safe Marines.

Stay safe.

Twenty-two hundred Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune are preparing to deploy off the coast of Libya in northern Africa. They said goodbye to their families Monday afternoon, and they’ll be leaving in the days ahead.

“There’s always in the back of your mind what if, what could happen,” Marine wife Carrie Cochran said.

Cochran, like the other wives, is confident her Marine is prepared for the mission.

“As long as he knows how to do his job and he keeps his concentration going, he can take care of his Marines then he can bring everybody home,” Cochran said.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit was set to deploy to the Mediterranean later this year but that got bumped up once NATO forces launched an air assault on Libya.

The unit is relieving the 26th MEU, which took part in some of the initial assaults. The 22nd is a Marine, air and ground task force. Some are trained for aviation combat, others for ground combat. They can handle evacuations and humanitarian missions too.

As the news report says, this was an expected military move.  This particular group of Marines was set to go to somewhere in the Middle East; I just don’t think anyone planned it was to be Libya.

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Get Ready for an Earlier Primary

Frankly, in my opinion, it’s about time.  (From Wisconsin Reporter)

Wisconsin voters preparing for a politically loaded 2012 election period should be ready to adjust their calendars.

Lawmakers are trying to schedule all even-year statewide primary elections, held in the second Tuesday of September, at least a month earlier.

The change stems from a federal law approved in October 2009 that requires states to give military and overseas voters more time to receive, consider and submit their absentee ballots.

Under the Military and Overseas Empowerment Act, known as the MOVE Act, local election officials would have to send ballots overseas no closer than 45 days before a federal election upon request.

During the 2010 election, Wisconsin election administrators were constrained by the Sept. 14 state primary election and could not distribute official ballots overseas within that 45-day time frame.

The federal government and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, the state agency that administers elections, settled in court on provisions for that election period that would allow additional time for both election administrators and overseas voters.

But with 2012 coming up, the Wisconsin GAB has recommended lawmakers permanently change the state primary election date for even-numbered years, when federal elections are held, to comply with the MOVE Act provisions.

The changes “will get done this year,” according to state Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, the chair of the Senate Transportation and Elections Committee.

I for one have never been a fan of Wisconsin’s late primary.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  I’ve felt an early September primary has been a “wink-wink agreement” between the two state parties for decades and is nothing more than a giant incumbent protection.  Most incumbents hate it because they have to (horr0r) actually campaign for more than two months (double-horr0r) and can no longer go into a money hording, then spending it all while their newly minted general election opponent is flat broke.

Secondly, this is about the MOVE Act and ensuring those who are fighting wars or serving overseas get their ballot on time and are able to participate in the very democracy they are defending.  If you don’t like that, and prefer the status quo, there is something seriously wrong with you.

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