Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Category: Politics (page 1 of 4)

Rand Paul: Reasonable?

There’s nothing that I love more than watching the Republican Party slowly implode.  If it was still the Party of Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and even Nixon; this would be sad.  But, the GOP is the party of Paul and Cheney – two men who are feuding about the very idea that we should go back to Iraq.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney believes that we need to go back.  Of course he does.  Haliburton, the company that rewarded him with $20 million when he left them to be Vice President, made a lot of money on the Iraq War.  If we go back, they’re sure to make billions more.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is usually not someone to whom I were refer to as reasonable, is against this idea.  For once, he and I are in agreement.  I don’t know his views, but in my view we shouldn’t have gone there in the first place.  The very idea of spending American dollars and lives to go back seems like too high of a price.

The only hope I have for this show of reason is that before we go back (and, I’m hoping we don’t go back) that we have the type of debate in this nation we should’ve had back in 2003.

WiscNet – Why should you care?

I received the following email from Senator Vinehout.  Because WiscNet is providing low cost high speed broad band to Wisconsin schools and libraries.  AT&T thinks this is unfair, even though it WiscNet followed the rules and came out as the lower bidder.  We’re supposed to save money – not spend the most.  The members of our legislature need to remember that they work for the people of Wisconsin.  And, we’re fed up with them caving to special interests like scared children.

 

Bowing to Political Pressure, UW pulls the plug on WiscNet
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“It’s a sad day when political pressures from telephone company lobbyists keep us from working together? It’s frustrating, yet fascinating,” read a recent statement from WiscNet officials. At issue is the decades old relationship between the University of Wisconsin and WiscNet and whether, despite separating from UW, WiscNet will be allowed to contract with the University to provide internet services.

The internet was developed by researchers and education institutions. The Department of Defense and many universities contributed to its creation. To this day universities share data on super-fast connections created and maintained through cooperative efforts of the universities themselves.

WiscNet was a natural outgrowth of work at the UW and its desire to share the internet with public and nonprofit entities. At least 38 other states have similar research and education networks. Many networks operate under the auspices of the state universities and today continue to provide services to local county and municipal governments, health care institutions, libraries and schools.

The thinking is: sharing services lowers the cost of government.

WiscNet evolved into a nonprofit that served 500 members including three quarters of public schools, all libraries, technical colleges, state agencies, the legislature and the court system. A 2012 Legislative Audit Bureau report showed WiscNet accomplished its goal to bring low-cost internet to public entities. WiscNet fees were substantially lower than published commercial prices especially for high bandwidth users. The audit also showed the network functioned in ways that revealed its UW parentage – sharing staff and using the UW personnel, benefits and accounting systems.

WiscNet’s success attracted the attention of commercial telecommunications companies, especially AT&T. The telecommunications giant is a big player. AT&T spent almost $1 million lobbying state legislators in the last session with 21 lobbyists working on their behalf – more than half were employees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, last year the company spent $17 million nationwide and ranked 10th out of over 4,000 organizations that lobbied in 2012.

Lobbyists found fertile ground in the State Capitol for germinating their argument that the public sector should not compete with the private sector. Slipped into the 2011-13 budget was a provision that stopped the UW from being a partner in WiscNet. But internet services provided to the UW could still be competitively bid and – presumably- if WiscNet won the bid in open competition they could be awarded a contract like any other company.

This is exactly what happened this spring – in an open and competitively bid process, WiscNet was awarded a contract to provide services for the UW Madison. Part of the justification for this selection was that WiscNet’s initial equipment cost was 85% less than AT&T’s bid. The university claimed it was following the Supreme Court decision that “insures[s] that the public receives the best work or supplies at the most reasonable price”.

In June, AT&T threatened the University in a letter. The UW responded noting they followed the letter of the law in the procuring services from WiscNet; but would be withdrawing their award to WiscNet citing “business and political considerations—including the potential for ongoing appeals, litigation and legislative changes”.
Instead of competitively bidding services, UW Madison will now “begin transitioning to the operation of our own network.” This action prompted the Senate and Assembly higher education-related committees to call a public hearing to further delve into operations at the UW.
All the uncertainty surrounding WiscNet concerns many local superintendents. I spoke with a few local schools districts and learned some schools are ending their relationship with WiscNet and others are leery about the future and looking for options.  One local Instructional Technology Director said he was watching carefully and wondering if his job truly was to bring the lowest cost, best service to his school district.
People complain about the cost of government and encourage schools and local governments to work together. But when the 8,000 pound gorilla shows up in the Capitol and complains they can’t win a bid, often legislators are too eager to change the rules.
Things have gone too far when big companies threaten the state because they’ve lost a bid.

Affordable Care Act & Scott Walker

Fact:  By 2014, all 50 states have to have their health care exchanges up and running.  If they don’t, the Federal Government will step in and take control.

Fact: By 1/1/2013, all 50 states have to have a plan in place on just how they’re going to create these exchanges.

Fact: Scott Walker doesn’t like Federal Government Control and yet, he is putting off beginning the work on the exchanges until after the November election.  He’s probably thinking that Romney will win and he’ll never have to put it in place.

Opinion: Scott Walker is a dofus who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.  It’s too bad the man kept his throne in the Wisconsin State House, because he’s going to screw us like he is the Marquis De Sade.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek (August 13 – 26, 2012),  “only 18 states had even started putting in place the …health benefit exchanges.”  That’s one eight, people.  One of those states is Wisconsin.  The article states: “The Republican governors of six states are simply refusing to create the exchanges…”  And, our Governor is one of them.

Apparently, Scott Walker wants to wait until the outcome of the November election (see article here) to act on creating an exchange.  He also ” turned down $38 million in federal money that could have gone to implementing the federal health care law in Wisconsin.”

Does he even have a clue about what setting up a health exchange will entail?  First, you need an interface that end users (that’s us) can interact with to pick out the insurance, actually, that would be second.  First, you need the list of insurance companies, plans and rates that will be sold.  Then, an end user interface.  Then, you need for this software, database, etc. to interact with Medicare and Medicaid.  You need an interface for the insurance companies.  You need an interface for the government employees that will have to assist people signing up for insurance.  You need all of this to speak to the Federal Government’s computers.

And, you need money to create it, run it and maintain it.  So you really shouldn’t turn down $38 million from the Federal Government earmarked to help you do just that.

You need Business Analysts who can talk with all the parties to see how this can be put together – that can’t be done in a day.

And, Walker thinks he can wait until after November to do it.

The man is doesn’t understand the value of making it easier for people to purchase insurance.  And, he doesn’t understand the value of getting this project off the ground.  He doesn’t see the big picture.

Our state is still losing jobs and Scott Walker wants to put this off as long as he can.  Let me explain the big picture:

Setting up a healthcare exchange requires (at the very least) the following:

1. Business Analysts

2. Project Managers

3. Quality Assurance Testers

4. Database Administrators

5. Data Analysts

6.  Web Designers

7. Network Engineers

8. Web Services Programmers

9. Computer Programmers

10. Managers

11. Administrative Assistants

12. Technical Writers

When your state leads the nation in job losses, a project like this can put a lot of people to work, which in turn creates demand in the economy.  Think about it, when one person is working their money (i.e., wages) spreads through their community.  They pay their rent or mortgage – rent is better, as the money goes to a landlord, who then spreads it out.  But, a mortgage payment means a bank has money to lend (in a very simplistic view).  They purchase gas at their local station.  They buy groceries at their local market.  They take their family out to dinner.  They purchase new clothes and, this is personal, they purchase new programming books.  (I’ve never started a new project without purchasing a book.)  $10 here, $20 over there and pretty soon demand is up again.

But, Scott Walker is sitting on his hands, ignoring the Federal Government Mandate and hoping it just goes away.  He has to have the plan in place by January 1,2013.  Walker’s hoping that 1/20/2013 will bring in a new President and he won’t have to follow the law.  Romney’s not going to win, our country can’t be that full of stupid people.  But, even if he does win, the Affordable Care Act won’t disappear that face and Scott Walker will be breaking the law.  Oh – one more little item – Walker proclaims that he doesn’t want Federal Government interference, but the Feds will take this over if he doesn’t comply.  Why would you want to give up control of something so momentousness?  Could it be that Scott Walker is out of his realm?  That he cannot get this job done, because he is an uneducated man who doesn’t know how to run a project?

Thanks, Governor Walker.  I cannot tell you how much I hang my head in shame that my fellow Wisconsinites voted for you not once, but twice.  God help us all.

 

This morning in Wisconsin

I just woke up this morning to learn that the Democrats only took two of the recall elections. With the whole nation watching, we handed the state right back to the extremists. Sadly, this is the state of our nation. The majority of the people no longer understand the basics of economics. They can no longer think for themselves. They honestly believe that cutting funds to education is better for the state. They’re so glued to their Fox News – which has the largest ratings of any news outlet – they believe what Fox says is true.

The people who believe in consensus. The people who believe in human rights. The people who believe that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. The people who realize that with the slow decline of unions, middle class wages have remained stagnant and will start a slow decline. The people who realize that We the people is becoming We the corporations. The people who can think for themselves and do not need a talking head to think for them. We are becoming and, we really are, the minority in this country.

It saddens me. Just because you’re a majority, doesn’t mean that you are right. For the first time in my adult life, I actually believe that America might just not bounce back. For the first time in my adult life, I am truly and honestly scared that America will fail. It’s really sad. I love my country, but I fear the extremists who are taking it over.

Walker Won’t Defend Domestic Partnerships

Can you imagine the Governor of your state coming out and actually telling people that the few rights your relationship enjoys are unconstitutional?  Of course not, don’t be silly.  That could never happen.

If you’re straight, that is.

Governor Walker doesn’t want to defend Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership law.  Well, it isn’t his job nor the job of Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to NOT defend a law that was passed by the Wisconsin state legislature.  It is their freaking jobs.  Van Hollen should lose his for refusing to defend the law.  This isn’t about his own personal beliefs.  This is about upholding a state law.

Where do these two jackasses get off not defending the law?

Both of them should lose their jobs.  I pay taxes for to pay their salaries and I expect my money’s worth.

And, I’m not getting it.

And, you know what?  I think marriage for straight people is unconstitutional.  I don’t think the government should be allowed to choose who can and cannot get married.  I think if not every relationship is acknowledged – then NO relationship should be.  Marriage is a religious decision and it should never have been afforded civil rights in the first place.

Equality for all or equality for none.

Which is it going to be?

Recall Walker.

Here – Have a shot & Please sign this Recall Petition

Right up front I’m going to say this:  I don’t care which political party buys pretty girls drinks to get them to sign a recall petition.  It is completely and utterly wrong – it isn’t illegal, but not everything unethical is illegal.

That said, I think it’s pretty bad that the recall effort the Republicans have launched against the 14 Democrats is so bad off that signature gatherers are resorting to trading shots for signatures, according to an article on the Huffington Post.  It doesn’t matter what you think of the recall efforts of either side, you should be outraged at the following:

  1. Drunk people are signing the complaint.  Shouldn’t you at least be in your right mind when making a political decision?
  2. There are citizens out there who give so little thought and care to our political process that they are willing to sell their signature for a shot or two.
  3. Not one Wisconsin Paper – as I’m writing this – has bothered to pick up the story and run with it.  A little investigating reporting would be appreciated.  However; that’s not what we’re going to get out of any news organization in this state.  Especially since it makes the Republicans look bad.  Say all you want about the main stream media, but then ask yourself, who owns the station.

Prosser: Just Say No to a Recount

Here’s a newsflash:  Justice David Prosser doesn’t think that his election victory against JoAnne Kloppenburg doesn’t warrant a recount.  I’m not sure why this is news, what else is the man going to say.  If Kloppenburg had won, especially under the same circumstances, I bet she’d be saying the samething.  I really can’t blame the winner for not wanting a recount.  That’s is to be expected.  I can’t blame Prosser for his attnorney, Jim Troupis, stating, “We will take every and any step to prevent this frivolous matter going forward.”

You really can’t blame them.

That said, I want a recount.  I want an investigation in the reason that 10,000 votes suddenly made an appearance.  I want someone to tell me if the rumor that I heard – these 10,000 votes were just for the Supreme Court Justice spot and not for the mayor race – is true.

Our elections are really getting out of control, from the debacle in 2000 that left thousands of Gore votes uncounted to the sudden appearance of 10,000 votes in Waukesha county, something smells fishy.

Maybe, it is our fast news society, paraphrased from a comment on this blog that is the cause for errors.  It could be.

Maybe, it is just good old fashioned Murphy’s Law – the one that states anything that can go wrong, will.

Maybe, the rest of the country is just becoming like Chicago, where the dead get to vote.

Whatever it is, it bugs the heck out of me.  Perhaps, we should not make announcements on election night.  No conceding, no victory speeches until all the votes are in, checked and rechecked and we’re sure just who the victor is.

Recall Walker

I haven’t said it in a while and I just didn’t want any of you to think I’ve forgotten. If you’re lucky enough to live close to one of the three budget meetings that are left – one was held yesterday afternoon – please try to attend. Here in Racine, Cory Mason and Bob Turner are holding a Public Hearing, since Governor Walker doesn’t really give a rat’s behind what any one of us in Racine think and he isn’t holding one here.

WHAT: Public Hearing on the State Budget
WHEN: Monday, April 11, 2011, 5:00p.m.
WHERE: Gateway Technical College, 1001 S. Main Street, Racine
Great Lakes Room
WHO: State Representative Cory Mason
State Representative Bob Turner

The Morning After – Totally Embarrassed!

Governor Walker and the Senate Republicans have completely embarrassed my wonderful state by making this end run.  It wasn’t about balancing the budget.  Walker doesn’t care about working people – that’s what state employees are – working people who – when compared to private workers in similar jobs earn much less for the same education and experience.

As far as paying for their pensions, they all ready do – the pension money comes from deferred pay.  Is Walker set to give them the deferred pay upfront?  I’m betting not.

And, he’s taken away (according to the original bill) the right of state workers to protest “who participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit−down, stay−in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the of operations or services of state government, including specifically purported mass resignations or sick calls.”

And, I harp on this A LOT, but I don’t want my state giving away our energy assets without any bidding involved.  And, yet, there my state government goes…

My Republican mother brought this up the other day when we were discussing the elimination of state workers’ rights.  Maybe, you’ve heard it before:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

– Pastor Martin Niemoller

For those people who have no problem negotiating downward, think about this: Whose rights do you think Walker’s coming for next? What does his buddy, David Koch, want now? He’ll get our energy assets and then he’ll be allowed to underpay workers and Walker will see to it that workers have no rights.

When I discuss this matter with people who disagree with me, they all just don’t get it. They don’t see how wages have stagnated in this country for the last thirty years. How deregulation has directly lead to the current bad economy. It’s like they’ve never read a history book or knew about the early unionists who had to fight for decent wages, working conditions and a forty hour work week. It’s like they’ve never had a bad job, where the employer expected more and more and gave less and less.

Gave is probably the wrong word. Your employer and my employer do not “give” us anything. We earn it. I love my job and I love the place where I work, but I haven’t always been so lucky to work for a company where my work is appreciated. My last company could’ve used a union. They “gave” a 1.1% raise – a total insult – and then expected 90 hour work weeks (I’m salary, that means no overtime) – AND, for further insult to injury, because of the bad economy one Vice President actually said that we (the team I was on) were “lucky to have jobs”.

That’s how non-union shops treat people, like cattle and not with any decency or respect.

That’s what’s on the line with Walker. He wants to roll back the times and make our state one where you can see the clear lines of the haves and have nots. And, all of the haves will have contributed to his campaign.  If you think for one moment that Governor Walker is on the side of the hardworking people of this state, you are fooling yourself.

One last item:  Where are the jobs Walker religiously promised during the campaign?  I haven’t seen one thing in this budget that will create one job.

Can you say RECALL, boys and girls?

A CEO sitting with a Tea Party and Union Members…

My Republican Mother told me this:
A CEO, a tea party member and a union member are sitting at a table with a dozen cookies sitting there. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies and says to the tea party member, “Look out, that union member is trying to take a piece of your cookie.”
If you don’t find this funny, you don’t really understand what’s going on in the country.

Older posts

© 2018 Top Of My Head

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑