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Keep Pressure On Wisconsin Republicans Over Open Records For Bill Drafts!!

July 3, 2015

The pressure we put on the Wisconsin legislative Republicans is working. We knew there would be an outcry over the dismantling of allowing for the public records of bill drafts to be seen and viewed by the folks who pay the taxes.

I am a little surprised it is working this fast as the news made known a short time ago.

In response to the extensive criticism, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican leaders indicated this afternoon that they would likely back off the proposal, although it is unclear to what degree they will do so.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON.  We must not let the conservatives who wish to tear our state apart prevail with this matter.

The Joint Finance Committee sneakily and stealthily tucked the changes to the open records law into the version of the state budget proposal it passed Thursday night. The changes are SWEEPING, essentially allowing public officials to keep secret records that reveal how they do their jobs!

We must win this one.

FAUX News Needs “At Least One Sane Realistic Voice”

July 3, 2015

Hillary Clinton spoke the truth about Faux News.   In the latest batch of declassified emails the then-Secretary of State said she thought shows on Faux News could use “at least one sane reasonable voice.”

I suggest pulling the first person off the street in front of their studio would be much more enlightening than the crop of blonds who seem more suited for centerfolds than news or the Republican mouth pieces the network places on the air.

It was in 2009 that Marty Torrey, a friend to Clinton, asked in an email if she had seen an appearance on Faux News by Harold Naughton.  who was a Massachusetts state representative.  It was from this exchange that Clinton made her sensible suggestion about Faux News.

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Economist Cover Perfect Image For Greece’s Referendum

July 3, 2015

This weekend one international story will dominate.  The same story that has captivated us all week long.  What will happen in Greece and how it will impact the rest of Europe and the financial markets around the world?

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“Europe’s future in Greece’s hands” (a statue of an ancient, shot-putting a euro coin)

“Whatever its outcome, the Greek crisis will change the EU for ever”: “The European Union has never seen the like of the past eight days in Greece: barred banks, capital controls, the first IMF default by a developed country, the collapse of a multi-billion-euro bail-out, plans for a referendum that may hasten Greece’s ejection from the single currency, and the beggary of the people. … [I]t is a tragedy, where an outcome that all sides say they do not want-Greece’s exit from the euro-seems increasingly likely. …

“For the rest of Europe, … ‘Grexit’ has well-rehearsed risks, notably that of a failing state on the continent’s south-eastern flank. But as the drama has become more desperate, so Europeans seem less worried. They take comfort from the fact that Greece is uniquely dysfunctional. … Without Greece, many now conclude, the euro zone might actually be more stable. Sadly, that is wrong. Look beyond Greece, and the threat of further conflict within the euro is all but inevitable. … If the single currency does not face up to the need for reform, then this crisis or the next will witness more Greeces … In time, that will wreck the euro and the EU itself. …

“Sunday’s vote will ask Greeks to assess the creditors’ restructuring plan (which is no longer on offer) and their debt-sustainability analysis (which requires a degree in economics). The prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, says a No will strengthen his hand with creditors and so help keep Greece in the euro. European leaders retort that a No is in fact a vote to leave. … The moral of Greece’s disaster is that Europeans must face up to the euro’s contradictions now-or suffer the consequences in more ruinous circumstances.”

Wisconsin Legislative Republicans Flushing Definition Of Public Records For Bill Drafts

July 2, 2015

While the complexities of transportation funding and stadium building might make eyes glaze over the idea that the inner workings of the legislative branch should be secret is a non-starter.

It is simply mind-numbing to learn about the intentions of Wisconsin Republicans as they strive to find any working combination of their zealots and partisans who can come together to vote for a state budget. On Thursday, in what was termed “Motion 999” which made many of us think back to the silly campaign proposal of failed GOP candidate Herman Cain, an idea was offered to stifle the right of citizens to know the intent of legislative bill drafts.

One of the items in the sweeping motion would limit public records requests for lawmakers’ communications with their staff and for drafting records of legislation after it’s been introduced in its final version.  Under this breath-taking proposal the very definition of public records is flushed and a new one is produced.

Anything defined as communication, opinions, analyses, briefings, background information, recommendations, suggestions, drafts, correspondence about drafts, and notes all becomes part of the mystery that would be created between elected officials and the public they serve. If this motion passes in the budget the press would no longer be able to do the job that we need them to undertake so democracy is open and transparent.

If the public records have anything to do with creating state policy and making a decision in that process it can be removed from the sight of those pesky folks who pay the taxes and desire to know how their government operates.

Citizens need to be very concerned about the direction Wisconsin has taken as we lurch deeper into the ditch. (We left the road a long time ago.)  Over the past years we have witnessed severe reprisals for those who dare question policy or fight back to restrain the most partisan efforts of the majority party. (Just try and find the offices of our Secretary of State.)

When Republicans wanted better election results they ginned up a solution to a non-existent problem with Voter ID. When they did not like investigations that proved corruption during the tenure of Scott Walker as county executive, along with the campaign practices during his time as governor, they worked to undo the Government Accountability Board.

When confronted with a Supreme Court Chief Justice that would not bend to their will they removed her from the position.

This latest move over public records has to be considered in light of the mess that a nation-trotting governor with Potomac Fever made over the UW Mission Statement.    There is every reason for Walker and Republicans to feel embarrassed over their inept handling of trying to undo the Wisconsin Idea. Thankfully due to public records we know exactly how the mess came to be, and who is to blame. But because we know there now has to be retribution to never allow that light of day to shine again.

If the Republicans get their way and records and information are not able to be accessed the public will be severely disadvantaged.

I am quite certain that come Sunday many of the state newspapers will have this issue front and center for the editorial page. There are many issues to ponder and argue within any state budget or legislative session. But there is no way for the citizens to have a full-throated dialogue if the pertinent records are not available to view and learn from.

This is one of those times legislative Republicans need to pull their head from the muck and backtrack on a horrible idea.

Jeb Bush And Guacamole

July 2, 2015

This is simply my favorite news story of the morning.  This made me genuinely smile.

In a demonstration of transparency, Bush, the former Florida governor and Republican presidential hopeful, tweeted out his e-mail address, inviting those curious about his finances to “email me directly.” (As governor, Bush encouraged Floridians to e-mail jeb@jeb.org. Many got a personal response).  Bush campaign aides said jeb@jeb2016.com was meant for use by voters eager to hear from the candidate himself, but this reporter decided to give it a shot.

So, I drafted an email, knowing that it might drop into the dustbin of cyberspace.

Rather than dwell on his economic plan or some other weighty subject, I decided to ask about an even more pressing matter: The raging debate, sparked by a recipe published in The New York Times, suggesting that peas might be an appropriate addition to guacamole. (Bush, of course, is a major guacamole aficionado).

Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

From: jeb@jeb2016.com

Date: July 1, 2015 at 3:20:59 PM CDT

To: Smith, Candace M.

Subject: Re: Hello!

I have not nor will I start now! Jeb

On Jul 1, 2015, at 3:41 PM, Smith, Candace M. wrote:

Hello Governor,

I don’t know if you’ll ever see this but figure I’ll give it a shot!

What’s the oddest question you’ve ever gotten to any of your public email accounts?

Also- have you ever actually had guacamole with peas?

Many thanks,

Candace Smith

I couldn’t figure out what to feel: Shock that the governor responded to me directly, or crushing defeat that I had wasted a question on dip.

“Heads Will Blow Up” Over GOP Budget Amendments Proposed For Joint Finance

July 1, 2015

An informed source told Caffeinated Politics late Wednesday afternoon that amendments requested by Republicans for the final day of Joint Finance deliberations will make “heads blow up”. “It will be an early Fourth of July” when news of what is afoot becomes public on Thursday morning.

This news, given what has already occurred in the budget process, should make rational and educated citizens nervous.   There seems no limit to the conservative excesses this Republican controlled legislature wishes to engage.

More to come as developments occur.

“They Could Write Like Angels And Scheme Like Demons”

July 1, 2015

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Several days ago I thought, with the Fourth of July approaching, that it would be fun to read a book about something associated with the Founding Fathers.  I went through my unread books and decided on A Magnificent Catastrophe by Edward Larson.   When I started it the first line jumped off the page and I had to stop and consider if it was not perhaps the best opening line to any book I had read.

“They could write like angels and scheme like demons.”

The book is simply perfect.   The excitement of the 1800 presidential election which proved to be a barn-burner of a race featured John Adam and Thomas Jefferson in the first of what would become partisan and party affiliated features of our nation every hour years.   It was such a hard fought and intense election that year Jefferson would refer to it as “America’s second revolution.”

America is front and center as the news of the French Revolution made for unease, high taxes and a standing army created angst, and the possibility of war with France created political tension.  At the heart of the campaign was President Adams and his elitist Federalists who seem to delight in shutting down those who freely published their ideas that ran counter to the official line.  In opposition was Jefferson with his radically democratizing Republicans.  The personalities are huge, and the stakes higher than anything the political world of our new country had before encountered.    Add to the mix Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr and readers are set for a pure donnybrook that unfolds in about 300 pages.

The political intrigue as to how electors were chosen in such key states as New York and Pennsylvania, is in and of itself, a book within a book.  President Washington may have thought party politics to be an unwise force to encourage but it is nearly impossible to not understand how the political party structure started and once organized never could be stopped.  It is also easy to see how a whole array of characters such as James Madison, John Jay, James Monroe, George Clinton, John Marshall, Horatio Gates, and even George Washington himself all made political moves that created tensions that resulted in parties that would then fight it out at the ballot box.

As with so many other book I love, it is due in part, to the incredible research that the author engaged in while pouring over diaries and letters of the principal players as well as accounts in the newspapers of that period.  When I wanted a book to read about the Founding Fathers there was no better choice for me this week than A Magnificent Catastrophe.  

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