HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Monday, February 28, 2011


I realize this plate of what's left is not really appetizing, but I shot the photo almost as an after thought - because this breakfast was really delicious!

I have always been a fan of canned corn beef hash. Usually I cook it in a cast iron skillet until it is really browned and crispy, then I ease two gently poached eggs onto the top of the hash, break the yokes, and have at it with a couple of slices of toasted English Muffin Bread.

But this day, I let my mind wander, and just as the hash was about ready, I began whisking the eggs in a bowl! Then I thought, oh, well - and I broke up the hash, added the slightly beaten eggs, some salt and pepper, and mixed them both together thoroughly in the skillet, until the eggs just started to set, then I removed them to my serving dish.

And WOW! I can hardly wait to do this again.



I/2 can, Mary Kitchen Corn Beef Hash
2 or 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
freshly snipped chives (optional)
cooking spray
salt and pepper

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for several minutes. spray the skillet with cooking oil. form a patty of the corned beef hash and add it to the hot pan. Fry until the hash is brown and crispy on both sides, then break it up, add the eggs, chives, and mix together thoroughly until eggs just set.

I like it with ketchup.



By Dave Obey

Governor Scott Walker’s assault on workers' rights, under the pretense of budget concerns, is nothing less than an assault on the moral underpinnings of democracy and enlightened capitalism.

It is an attack on Wisconsin’s long and much admired tradition of social responsibility that has defined this state since the turn of the last century. That was when Robert La Follette wrested control of state government from insider domination by the railroads, mining companies, and timber giants and gave average working people a seat at the table where their future was being decided.

In the wake of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt put the nation on the road to economic recovery and stability by taking government actions that enabled working class families to get a bigger piece of the American dream. But today, in the wake of the Bush recession, Republican throwbacks like Governor Walker are pushing to shrink the middle class’s fair share of that dream.

In the 1930s and ‘40s, Roosevelt used the tools of government to strengthen wages, improve working conditions, and weave a retirement safety net by creating Social Security and guarantying that workers would have a seat at the bargaining table. But today, Walker and his powerful and immensely wealthy backers want to weaken that safety net and shift an even larger share of national income into the hands of the economic elite.

Policies that Walker would have us pursue are clearly designed to put “uppity” workers back in their place in the back of the economic bus, and some workers who have been pounded by bad times are getting sucked into following him.

Last week, I saw a woman quoted in the press saying, “I can see the point of unions in past days but today they aren’t needed. We’ve got our rights and there are laws to protect them.”

It is that kind of thinking that is a menace to every working family in the country. How does she think workers got those rights? How does she think those rights will be protected if politicians like Walker are able to crush organized workers because the only tools to defend themselves are taken away? Is she willing to rely on the courage of politicians and the good heartedness of giant corporations to guarantee those rights? Good luck on that front.

If we take away the bargaining rights of public employees today, do we really believe private sector workers won’t become the target tomorrow?
This is not the time for workers to allow themselves to be divided. There is an old saying that in unity there is strength. Ben Franklin put it a little bit differently when he warned our founding fathers that if they did not “hang together, they would all hang separately.”

This is not the time for workers to run out on each other. It is time to stand up for your neighbor’s rights today to protect your own rights tomorrow.

Virtually every pressure in today’s economy is pushing workers’ wages downward. The only pressure pushing in the opposite direction is the ability of workers to stand together at the bargaining table.

Over the last three decades we have seen the largest transfer of income up the income scale in the history of the universe. Isn’t that enough to satisfy the Walkers of this world? Shouldn’t we finally draw the line and say, “Enough is enough! I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to swallow it anymore!”

For the good of every hard working middle class family in Wisconsin please stand with the Wisconsin 14. They are standing with you.

And one more thing: For the past 10 days the governor has said he would not talk with the state Senate Democrats to negotiate anything except their surrender, but he had 20 minutes to talk with someone who he thought was his corporate sponsor, one of the Brothers Koch.

The Koch family has poured a huge amount of money into the governor’s campaign. Let me tell you a little about them. According to Forbes magazine, the Koch brothers run the second largest private company in the United States. Their conglomerate, based in Wichita, Kansas, apparently brings in $1 billion dollars a year. They own oil refiners in Alaska, Texas, Minnesota, and they control about 4,000 miles of pipeline. They also own many other products; Brawny Paper Towels, Dixie Cups, Georgia Pacific Lumber, Stainmaster, and Lycra.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Justice Department filed two lawsuits against Koch Industries, Inc., claiming that it was responsible for more than 300 oil spills which had released three million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers. Koch Industries, Inc. settled for a record $30 million civil fine.

In 1999, a jury found Koch Industries, Inc. guilty of negligence and malice in the death of two Texas teenagers in an explosion that resulted from an underground leaking butane pipeline. The Justice Department also levied a 97-count indictment against the company for covering up the discharge of tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company was liable for $350 million dollars in fines and four Koch employees faced up to 35 years in prison.

It has been reported that Koch Industries, Inc. spent $900,000 to support the candidacy of George W. Bush and other Republicans during the 2000 elections. Those reports reveal that the brothers have spent more $50 million lobbying the government in the last decade and have given more than $100 million to dozens of seemingly independent organizations through several charitable foundations they control.

Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, recently said, “The Koch Brothers are on a whole different level. There is no one else who had spent this much money….They have a pattern of law breaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I have never seen anything like it.”

They also poured more than $1 million into one front group –- Americans for Prosperity -- which in turn is pouring efforts into Wisconsin to determine the outcome of this fight between Governor Walker and the middle-class workers. Does anyone believe that the Koch Brothers would be doing that if they did not believe they would get their money’s worth out of Walker and the other politicians who follow their lead?

This is a time for choosing. Which vision of Wisconsin do we think is in the interest of Wisconsin working families: the vision of Bob La Follette and Gaylord Nelson, who signed into law the workers’ rights provision that Governor Walker is trying to gut, or the Darwinism vision pursued by Koch Industries and its corporate allies?

There is a world of difference between those two visions. The La Follette tradition calls for a strong balance between individual responsibility and social responsibility. The Koch-Walker vision is utterly devoid of social responsibility. It seeks to govern by dividing rather uniting. It is foreign to the public ethic that has always made Wisconsin a special place. That ethic cannot be abandoned.

February 27, 2011

Rep. Nick Milroy posted this letter on his facebook page at 11:00pm Friday night. It is written by a prison guard, and addressed to the Republican Reps. who voted FOR the Budget Repair Bill passed by the Assembly. PROFOUND.

Friday, February 25, 2011 at 10:59pm

"Good Afternoon All,
I just wanted to voice my extreme displeasure to all who voted for Walker's Budget Repair bill!!!!! Do any of you know who is affected and what they really do for a living and what they make? I know that you all can't possibly believe in your hearts that this is the best thing for the state of Wisconsin!! Why then are you all following like little lambs??? I just don't get it!!

By the way, I am a 46 year old lifelong conservative Republican and I'm a Corrections Officer. I worked hard to get this position via testing (aptitude and psych), lie detector tests or LVA, several interviews, etc. The process took almost a year to get into Corrections. After that, it was 4 weeks at the academy and 8 weeks training on the floor, then a year of Probation.

You use the word entitled very loosely and I'm not one who feels entitled, but I definitely feel that I earn the great benefits that have been associated with the Public Sector! I brush shoulders daily with some of the most dangerous criminals including local and Federal prisoners. Many of these have been incarcerated for some time and many have some type of disease such as HEP A, B, or C or worse yet, HIV. All it would take is for them to spit on me and get it in my eye or mouth and it will change my life forever!!! Did you know that inmates like to save their urine and feces so that they can throw it at Officers. Sounds like fun doesn't it and I do it proudly to protect the Public outside the facility and the very same individuals I just spoke of. I work a 4 on 2 off schedule which means that I only get a 'weekend' once every six weeks and I work most Holidays. Yes, I get paid for working the Holiday, but the fact is we are there 24/7/365. By the way, I work a 2pm - 10pm shift and when a third shifter calls in, sometimes when I'm ready to go home after a stressful shift, I'm told that I need to stay another 8 hours until 6am to fill out third shift and I do it. Again, yes, I get paid overtime, but you try working 16 hours straight and then hang with criminals.

Walker excluded Police and Firefighters because they are Public Safety workers. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU CALL MY JOB???? I don't think I get paid a grotesque wage at $40k/yr. It's not the private sector that has complained about my pay or benefits.

It's Walker and you Republicans that have tried to create this division within our state's people. Why????

To all you Democratic lawmakers, I apologize for voting nothing but Republican all these years. They are not who I thought they were!! Don't you Republicans see the protests throughout the state? Hey, I'm a taxpayer too!! Don't tell me that you're protecting the taxpayers. This is simply a way to attack some of the finest middle class workers and I for one am considering moving out of Wisconsin as I am so distraught at the lack of honest wholesome government.

Again, why are you Republicans following Walker so blindly? An independent nationwide poll said that 61% of people do not su pport taking away collective bargaining. Even just Republicans only support this attack on CB with a number somewhere around 54%. These are facts! Why then do near 100% of our Republican lawmakers vote for this horrible bill. By the way, thank you to the 4 that voted against it. You are the only ones with balls!!!! Why don't you stand up and tell him it's just not right. Go ahead and take my money that was promised in the way of pension and health care. I'll give you that, but knock off the attack on my collective bargaining rights. Do you have any idea how we as employees will be steamrolled without representation? You don't do you. You buy this crap by Walker about being protected by the Civil Rights laws in this state. That's crap. Have you noticed that the other Governors in Indiana and Florida have pulled back on the push to attack collective bargaining?? Why do you think this is? Because it was wrong from the start. Do you know how many states have budget problems worse than Wisconsin, but have no Public Service collective bargaining? Do you know how many states have less budge problems and still have public sector collective bargaining. Do you really know about Walker's record in Milwaukee? Yes, I still thought he was the best choice too and voted for him, but I don't believe any longer. Do you know about the Milwaukee workers that were fired illegally and Mr. Walker brought in out of state workers to fill the positions. Now Milwaukee is still having to pay these Milwaukee workers because it was illegal.

I know you already blindly voted this in, but you need to take a breath of fresh air and exhale the Walker air for a moment and work to undo the damage you've helped to cause.

I never believed in unions all these years because I thought they asked too much in bad times, but now I see that we are all adults and my union AFSCME has been very reasonable in it's negotiations on new contracts. I just don't understand how all of a sudden people like me are the problem. Have you done fiscal impact studies to determine the trickle down effect on charities, retail sales, etc.?

Please stop with the union busting and remember, people like me are simply your friends and neighbors.

In my opinion, I truly believe the Senators who left for Illinois were forced to do what they did and I personally hope they can hold out for months to prove a point. I would gladly take money out of my pocket to help buy them food and clothing.

By the way Republicans, I truly believe you've sealed your political fate. Most of my friends are conservatives and none of them work in the public sector, but all are appalled by this move by Walker. Keep pushing and you'll push your way right out of office if you haven't already. You have lit a fire under people like me that normally just voted the way they feel the best.

I will now be very involved in my community and others if possible to drive you out because you simply don't belong. I truly believe the Republican party in Wisconsin has become corrupt. There has got to be another way! I've given up on Walker because he is simply loving the limelight he's in. He wants to be a rock star. I strongly urge you Republicans that really know best to be heard and forget about the blind following the blind.

Thanks to the Democrats for fighting for people like us and truly understanding the far reaching implications of this union busting bill on good workers."

Author's name not provided, from Representative, Nick Milroy


We Americans are living at a real turning point in our history. As the "Wisconsin 14" still refuses to return to Wisconsin - and for good reason.

The longer they can stay in seclusion the more, it seems, the real truth about Governor Walker's cozy connection with the Millionaire Koch Brothers is making it's way into the hearts and minds of even Republicans in the state of Wisconsin.

As I have been emphasizing this week, what is happening in Madison is all tied to the long range goals of the Tri-Lateral Commission, a cover group for the present growing oligarchy.

A friend of mine summed it up best:

It confirms my deepest suspicion in all this. Namely, that in the end this issue is far beyond budget
cuts, and even bargaining rights for public servants. It is about the cynical attempt on the part of the
elite, oligarchy in this country to use their financial resources to create a class war between members
of the middle class. 'Divide and conquer' takes on a whole new and deeply sinister meaning.

Today, the following story is online:

After opening up a lobbying office in downtown Madison and pouring millions of dollars into Scott Walker's campaign, the Koch brothers appeared to be one step closer to pushing ahead with their union busting despite hundreds of thousands of protesters in Madison.

But on Sunday the cyber protest group Anonymous joined the protesters across the nation in what they described as a battle against "the Koch brothers attempt to usurp democracy." The first shot came when the Koch brothers funded Americans for Prosperity was knocked offline.

Anonymous put the Koch brothers on notice via a press release that said "[i]t has come to our attention that the brother, David and Charles Koch- the billionaire owners of Koch Industries-have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back."

The release continued, calling the brothers oligarchs intent on scooping up Wisconsin's publicly owned utility plants and accusing them of stirring unrest and undermining the democratic process.

The support couldn't have come at a better time as Madison police were told to clear out protesters after nearly two-weeks of non-stop protesting. Some protesters left voluntarily, while others resisted peacefully, subjecting themselves to arrest. The doors of the Capitol were closed at 4 p.m. but the protests continued on through Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, Mother Jones is reporting that Wisconsin Republican Senator Dale Schultz had a change of heart and would not be supporting the union-busting bill. Assuming the reports are correct, then only two other Republican Senators would need to change their minds in oder to successfully block the measure.

____________ contributed by CARE2 CAUSES _____________________

Some might ask if this is the truth. If it was the truth wouldn't it be on network news? Hate to be cynical but who do you think owns all the networks? The networks will give you their version of the truth or for the most part try to divert your attention with talent and game shows.

Now more than ever it is importrant for Americans to read - to actually form some educated opinions - before it is too late. It may be already.

Wisconsin is the test of that right now.



From: Larry Heagle [mailto:lheagle@clearwire.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 22, 2011 9:02 AM
To: Sen.Larson

Dear Senator:

Thank you so much for your courageous stand on the so-called budget crisis. Anyone who does some reading knows what is going on in Madison - it is union busting, plain and simple. Walker is the stooge of the Koch Brothers and other greedy big money interests who want to entirely crush the middle class.

It is most important that you continue to do your job and stay secluded out of state. Let me know if and when we should start raising expense money for all of you to continue the fight and we will get it done through Face Book.

Every night my spouse and I watch MSNBC to get an honest appraisal of what is happening. Thank God for the Ed Schultz Show. And thank God for all of you! Stand fast! You are the last hope of a great Wisconsin tradition.

best regards,

Larry Heagle
Fall Creek, WI 54742

today i received this e mail from Senator Chris Larson, 7th District

Thank you for contacting me regarding Governor Walker’s use of the Budget Adjustment Bill to reverse 50 years of Wisconsin history in preserving worker rights.

As you know, Senate Democrats have chosen to stand with Wisconsin workers and unions. We ask that the Republican majority reconsider their unprecedented attack on Wisconsin workers, their communities and our tradition of working with labor to move Wisconsin forward. We ask simply that they come to the bargaining table and address the concerns of so many from across Wisconsin.

Beyond stripping away rights, this bill will also give the governor the unchecked authority to make dramatic cuts to the state’s safety net programs like Badgercare and Seniorcare. It even gives the governor the ability to sell off 36 state-owned power plants using NO BID contracts.

As the Republicans have refused to negotiate, we have had to take the only option left, a constitutional filibuster. It is my hope that they will listen and address our concerns.

I appreciate your support in the fight ahead of us.

The rubber-stamp Republican Legislature is doing everything they can to railroad the governor’s radical agenda through the Legislature. Please continue your advocacy with him as well as with your friends and community. We need you to let your neighbors know that this assault on worker rights will hurt every person and every community across Wisconsin. It will drive down wages and decrease work place safety for all Wisconsin workers, union and non-union alike.

If you attend any of the rallies at the State Capitol, please feel free to visit my office at 22 South. Although I am not presently able to be at my office, my staff has kept the office open to the public every day since last Thursday. They are sending me messages and information. I am also updating people directly via Twitter.

Thank you again for emailing me and for joining me in opposing Governor Walker on this crucial issue.

In Solidarity,

Chris Larson
State Senator
7th District


Sunday, February 27, 2011


A mouse looked through the crack in the wall
to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

"What food might this contain?", the mouse wondered.

He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard,
the mouse proclaimed this warning :

"There is a mousetrap in the house!
"There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched,

raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse,
I can tell this is a grave concern to you,
but it is of no consequence to me.
I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him,

"There is a mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said,

"I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse,
but there is nothing I can do about it
but pray..
Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said,

"There is a mousetrap in the house!
"There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you,
but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house,
head down and dejected,
to face the farmer's mousetrap

. . . Alone.. .. .

That very night
a sound was heard throughout the house

-- the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught.
In the darkness, she did not see it.

t was a venomous snake
whose tail was caught in the trap.

The snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital.

When she returned home she still had a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever
with fresh chicken soup.

So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard
for the soup's main ingredient:

But his wife's sickness continued.

Friends and neighbors
came to sit with her
around the clock.

To feed them,
the farmer butchered the pig.

But, alas,
the farmer's wife did not get well...

She died.

So many people came for her funeral
that the farmer had the cow slaughtered
to provide enough meat for all of them
for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all
from his crack in the wall
with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear
someone is facing a problem
and you think it doesn't concern you,
remember ---

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called life.

We must keep an eye out for one another
and make an extra effort
to encourage one another.


The Tri- Lateral Commission is a "front" name for a large group of 600 from the U.S., Europe, and Japan whose express purpose is to discuss just how the rich can get richer by controlling the four centers of power (see below)

Guess what? -- George W and now Obama are members.

Sorta makes you warm and fuzzy, don't it?

Governor Barry Goldwater had this to say about the Tri-Lateral Commission:
Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) issued a clear and precise warning in his 1979 book, With No Apologies:

“The Trilateral Commission is international and is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests by seizing control of the political government of the United States. The Trilateral Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual and ecclesiastical.”

Unfortunately, few heard and even fewer understood.

And that from a REAL Republican back in the day when there was a REAL Republican party.

Now it doesn't matter which party you vote for. Either way, they will become members of the Tri-Lateral Commission and belly up to the trough of creed.

My feeling is that the original "Tea Party" movement started out with attacking such things as the Tri-Lateral Commission, but the Tri-Lateral Commission membership in this country used their millions of dollars to subvert the entire movement.

So from now on, I only have one question to ask any poitician that I can: Do you believe in the Tri-Lateral Commission? If your answer is yes - you don't get my vote. And they shouldn't get yours, either.

My guess is that from this day forward we will never see a candidate for the Presidency of the United States who will truly represent the American people. They will be elected members of the CORPORATOCRACY OF THE UNITED STATES.

There I said it.




The burden of solving the country's tax problems should not be falling on the already overweighted shoulders of the disappearing middle class.

In a recent op ed piece, Michael Winship, of Truth Out got it right:

Attacks on Unions Barking Up the Wrong Money Tree
Friday 25 February 2011
by: Michael Winship, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Protesters continue to demonstrate against a proposed spending bill by Gov. Scott Walker at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on February 24, 2011. (Photo: Max Whittaker / The New York Times)
"More cheese, less sleaze!"

That was the funniest group chant at Tuesday's rally of several hundred union and other progressive activists outside the Manhattan headquarters of Fox News.

Several "cheeseheads" were in attendance, their noggins topped by the now familiar wedge-shaped, orange hatwear made popular by Green Bay Packer fans. On Tuesday, they were out in the twilight chill expressing their opposition not to lactose intolerance, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's intolerance of organized labor. (Unadorned by cheddar, I briefly spoke at the gathering as president of an AFL-CIO affiliated union, the Writers Guild of America, East.)

Governor Walker continues his obdurate opposition to the state's public employee unions' right to collective bargaining, despite a willingness on their part to concede pension and health givebacks he claims would help close Wisconsin's alleged deficit. Meanwhile, there has been a decided increase on the sleaze end of the cheese vs. sleaze quotient, as evidenced in part by the prank phone call to the governor in which an online newspaper editor impersonating right-wing billionaire David Koch elicited from Walker a proposed scheme to lure back, then double cross, Democratic state senators who have prevented a quorum by retreating to Illinois. Further, when asked about planting troublemakers amongst the protesters, Walker told the trickster that he and his team had "thought about that" but decided not to. Apparently, all the really good disrupters are tied up in the Middle East.

But of course, this isn't really about saving taxpayers money. but consolidating political power. Walker and such leading lights of the GOP leadership as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, among others, have decided that public employee unions make great punching bags, effective scapegoats for an outraged electorate and a satisfactory diversion from the real culprits of this grim, economic melodrama - the Simon Legrees of banking and finance who got us into this meltdown mess in the first place.

As Josh Dorner reported on the progressive ThinkProgress web site this week, "Instead of making the tough choices necessary to help their states weather the current crisis with some semblance of the social safety net and basic government services intact, Republican governors are instead using it as an opportunity to advance several longtime GOP projects: union busting, draconian cuts to social programs, and massive corporate tax breaks. These misplaced priorities mean that the poor and middle class will shoulder the burden of fiscal austerity, even as the rich and corporations are asked to contribute even less."

Dorner cites examples: in Arizona, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer proposes kicking some 280,000 off the state Medicaid rolls, but two weeks ago signed into law $538 million in corporate tax cuts. Florida Gov. Rick Scott's new budget calls for billions of dollars in cuts to essential programs and services to pay for corporate and property tax cuts of at least $4 billion. Rick Snyder, newly elected governor of Michigan, has asked for $180 million in concessions from public employees and more than a billion to be taken from schools, universities, local governments, and others, most of which could be avoided if he wasn't so deeply dedicated to giving business $1.8 billion in tax breaks.

Writing in the February 23 Boston Globe, Mark Erlich, executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters asks, "While there are legitimate and critical public policy issues about education reform, spiraling health costs, and pension liabilities at a time of state and municipal budget deficits, why is the fault laid at the feet of teachers, police and firefighters? Today's pension obligations are the product of massive investment losses, not excessively generous public pensions that, in fact, average about $19,000 a year. For that matter, a 2010 Economic Policy Institute study showed that, controlled for educational achievement, public sector workers actually earn less than their private sector counterparts."

So, instead of screaming about the advances public employee and other unions have made to preserve health care, job security and economic justice, angry voters should be asking what or who has been keeping them from obtaining the same. Nor does Wall Street's pillaging of private 401 (k) retirement plans justify tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye acts of covetous revenge against union pensions. As Erlich writes, "A generation ago, non-union workers often welcomed news of improved wages and benefits for unionized employees, recognizing that a rising tide lifts all boats. But ... at a time of sacrifice and insecurity, many would prefer to sink their neighbor's slightly bigger boat while wistfully hoping for a glance at a yacht in a gated marina."

The American middle class largely exists because of unions; it would be a tragedy of Greek proportions if, in frustration, resentment and fear, members of that class were to turn on labor and bring about their mutual destruction. Conservative Republican governors and their associates are barking up the wrong money tree. Don't reward corporate greed and malfeasance with yet more tax breaks and a blind eye to windfall bonuses. And don't punish unions for whatever success they've had protecting members and holding on to an ever-dwindling power base of American workers. That's just plain cheesy and sleazy.

Please watch the following video. It is the truth! It doesn't really matter which party we vote for - they are both in the pocket of the Tri-Lateral Commission.

We have not had a real Democracy since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. What is happening in Egypt, Baharain, Libya and the other hot spots in the Middle East is going to have to happen in this country. and not under the auspices of the present Tea Party, which has been usurped by the corporations as well.

There I said it.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


Earlier this morning, I made the mistake of clicking on a "Newsmax.com" poll concerning Scott Walker. WitHin hours I got an e mail from Dick Morris (a real piece of work).

Dees, On August 29, 1996, resigned from the Clinton campaign after tabloid reports stated that he had been involved with a female prostitute, Sherry Rowlands, as reported by the Washington Post. A New York tabloid newspaper, the Star, had obtained and published a set of photographs allegedly of Morris and the woman on a Washington, D.C., hotel balcony. News of the impending publication broke during the third day of the 1996 Democratic Convention. The Electronic Telegraph reported unverified claims that in order to impress the woman, S. Rowlands, Morris invited her to listen in on his conversations with President Clinton. It was also alleged he had an illegitimate child from an affair with a Texas woman.

Here is the e mail I received:

An Urgent Message from Dick Morris and Our Sponsor the League of American Voters

Dear Reader:

Gov. Scott Walker is close to the finish line and victory -- but the battle is not over.

Despite a solid vote of 51-17 in the Wisconsin state assembly to defeat the bloated public employee unions, the state Senate can't vote because Democrats remain in hiding.

And Gov. Walker has warned of over 12, 000 layoffs of state workers if the the Senate does not pass his bill.

Clearly this week is showdown week!

But Gov. Walker is under fierce attack, and the big unions and President Obama's leftwing allies are pouring millions -- I mean millions! -- into Wisconsin to force Gov. Walker and the state Senate to cave.

There are some indications these leftwing efforts are paying off.

Here's what the New York Times reported Saturday: "Some Republican leaders in other states have moderated their talk against state employee unions in recent days."

This is why the League of American Voters efforts are so critical.

This is a battle of public opinion that will affect the final vote in the Wisconsin Senate.

The League is already at the forefront in Wisconsin exposing the lies of the public employee unions.

The League of American Voters is the lead group defending and supporting Gov. Scott Walker.

So, far the League has unleashed a barrage of radio ads across the state of Wisconsin demanding that legislators stand with Gov. Walker -- and reminding the public that taxpayers can't afford the big salaries and lavish pension benefits of public employees.

And just this weekend, the League is making a telephone call to hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens revealing that Gov. Walker's plan will dramatically improve education standards, by allowing incompetent teachers to be fired, giving good teachers merit pay and allowing parents the right to school choice.

For the big unions this is Armageddon!

If they lose in once liberal Wisconsin, they can be defeated in almost every state in the union. And they know this!

This is why I am urging you to support the League's Wisconsin and national efforts to expose the big unions and defend Gov. Walker.

The League urgently needs your financial support to continue its campaign this week.

Please donate whatever you can -- Go Here Now.

If you have donated in the past, donate again!

As you know, the League was one of the leading groups that fought Obamacare. It has been credited with defeating Obama's "public option" -- which, if passed, would have destroyed private health care completely.

And last year the League led the fight to renew the Bush Tax Cuts with a national TV campaign featuring former Sen. Fred Thompson.

The League won that battle too.

Now, they are fighting this critical battle to restore fiscal sanity to this nation and to defend a true American hero, Gov. Scott Walker.

Please stand with Gov. Walker and us today -- Go Here Now

Thank you.


Dick Morris

P.S. My sources tell me that the Democrats are planning a new wave of attacks on Gov. Walker this week. They are trying to stall a final vote, believing time is on their side. They think if they spend enough money on ads, they will win public support. That's why the League's work is so important and why they need your support right now. Please act. Donate Here Now.


The battle for the greedy - led by Mr. Moral himself!



Nothing like a good bit of anger to get the creative juices flowing. I just received THE REVISED lyrics for a "Scott Walker Talkin' Blues" from my firebrand, outlaw attorney friend, Stan Johnson:









- Stan Johnson (in seclusion outside of Madison. Wisconsin)


These pictures were taken at the beach in Santa Barbara, California, right next to the pier.

There is a veterans group that started putting up a cross and candle for every death in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amazing thing is that they only do it on the weekends.

They put up this graveyard and take it down every weekend. Veterans sleep in the sand next to it and keep watch over it at night so nobody messes with it.

Every cross has the name, rank, D.O.B. and D.O.D. on it.

What is so very moving and powerful about this is the amount of so many very young volunteers in their twenties and others in their thirties and forties that are keeping the watch.

I cannot tell you how disillusioned I am with the President. During the run up to the election, he led us to believe that he would get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead we are once again continuing in the war criminal footsteps of George W. Bush. I hope that you will consider joining "Rethink Afghanistan" by going to the web site at: www.rethinkafghanistan.com.

Desmond Tutu once said: "to remain neutral in situations of injustice is to be complicit in that injustice."

In my eyes, the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq, and currently, Madison, Wisconsin, all comes down to one thing: GREED. We, as a nation, have a lot to answer for! But most of America chooses to look the other way.


It was 2007, and then-Sen. Barack Obama was on the campaign trail in South Carolina trying to drum up support for his presidential platform. During a stump speech he made an interesting promise: should union collective bargaining privileges be threatened (such as they are in Wisconsin), he would “walk on that picket line”:

“And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

According the White House, however, Obama has no plans to do that. Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the quote on Thursday and brushed aside the comment.

“I think what we have made pretty clear is that the president thinks, and we think, that, obviously a lot of states in the union are dealing with fiscal issues, big problems in their state budgets… they need to act responsibly, tighten their belts, live within their means just as we in Washington, the executive branch, congress, need to do with our federal situation,” said Carney.

The shoes won’t be hitting the picket pavement.



Friday, February 25, 2011


I have been a life long admirer of quality goods made of leather. There are classics, like the World War II A2 aviator's jackets made of both cow hide and horse hide, and the really warm sheep skin B3.

Don't misunderstand - I am not a "leather freak" who engages in bondage and that sort of thing. But I love the smell of good leather and the squeaky sounds a well cared for leather jacket makes when you move.

This year I became interested in the history of the football used exclusively by the National Football League, "The Duke".

Back in the 1960's, when Wilson began adding the imprint of the NFL commissioner's signature, I had an original Duke that bore the signature of the first commissioner, Pete Rozelle. Fool that I am, I let someone have it.

Recently I have become interested in finding the Duke balls that were manufactured before a commissioner's signature was included.

About a month ago, I scored the ball pictured. As you can see, it is in incredibly good shape! This is the exact same ball with which Paul Hornung scored so many points .



Does anybody need more proof that the Republicans are bat shit crazy?

The Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia reports that a shocking question was asked at a town hall event held by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) on Tuesday. According to the article, an audience member asked the congressman, "Who is going to shoot Obama?"

Blake Aued reports:

Broun's press secretary, Jessica Morris, confirmed that the question was indeed, who is going to shoot Obama? "Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on," she said.
However, rather than confronting the questioner or condemning the question, Broun instead acknowledged "frustration" with Obama, according to the Banner-Herald. The paper reports that Broun responded to the stunning inquiry as follows:

"The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president. We're going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."

This from a duly elected official of the state of Georgia!! It falls right in line with his fearless leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Crying Time himself - when asked about the birthers, he recently stated: I wasn't elected to tell the American people what to think."

Well, Butthead Boehner and Butthead Broun - how about, when facing obvious hate, you take a moral stand and tell them what you think?

Oh, wait. We already know what you think.

Know what I think? You are both racist mother fuckers.

My 10th grade civics teacher had a saying up on his class room wall: "IF AMERICA IS TO FALL, SHE WILL FALL FROM WITHIN."

Join the Republican Party and get it over with.



Thursday, February 24, 2011


And how can you tell that Governor Walker is telling lies? His lips are moving.


"I campaigned on (the proposals in the budget repair bill for Wisconsin) all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."
Scott Walker on Monday, February 21 at a news conference

Here is what Politifact Wisconsin says:

Walker’s claim he campaigned on all of this caught our attention -- and that of many readers, who have been e-mailing us asking us to check it out.

There is no dispute that Walker campaigned on getting concessions on health and pension benefits from state employees. And, to be sure, that is an important part of the measure.

But for Walker to be right, he has to be correct on the entirety of the plan. So we’ll look more deeply at the collective bargaining side of the equation, which has caused the ongoing firestorm in Madison.

Here is a summary of the changes:

For public employee unions except those covering public safety workers, the measure would narrow collective bargaining to wage issues, and only then within specific limits. It would end bargaining on such things as health care costs, pensions and working conditions -- rights granted to the public unions more than 50 years ago.

Additionally: Wage increases would be limited to inflation or less. Employees would be able to opt out of paying union dues. An annual certification vote on the existence of each union would be required. And public employers would be barred from withholding union dues from worker’s paychecks.

Walker’s proposal also repeals all rights to collective bargaining for more than 30,000 University of Wisconsin employees, something granted in 2009.

For this item, we reviewed dozens of news accounts and various proposals on Walker’s campaign website to determine what he said about collective bargaining during the campaign. We talked to both campaigns in the governor’s race, and union officials.

During the campaign, Walker prided himself on presenting many specific proposals to voters. Our Walk-O-Meter includes 60-plus specific promises. Indeed, his plans for the state Department of Natural Resources include at least seven specific elements, including appointment of a "whitetail deer trustee" to review deer counts.

But nowhere in our search did we find any such detailed discussion of collective bargaining changes as sweeping as Walker proposed.

We asked Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie to provide evidence that Walker raised those issues during the campaign.

"During the campaign he ran on giving local units of government the flexibility to manage their own budgets," Werwie said. "That is what he is continuing to say and do right now."

He gave one example: a Walker proposal in July, 2010 to allow local units of government to switch from health plans that have high premiums to the state’s lower cost employee health plan.

Walker’s camp said at the time that the switch would not have to be negotiated with unions; Walker would move to take the choice out of the collective bargaining process, they said. Labor officials disagreed and said they would fight attempts to change the collective bargaining law.

Werwie also pointed to a campaign flier circulated by the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, a union representing 17,000 public employees in the state.

In addition to criticizing Walker comments on benefit cuts, the AFT flier notes a Walker comment about freeing up local governments from being "strangled" by mediation. And it points out his comment on the health plan switch he proposed in July -- the one that would take the choice of health plans off the table for unions.

Both of those are part of collective bargaining and were discussed.

But they are a far cry from what was proposed.

For instance, during the campaign Walker talked about who controls the choice of health care providers. After the election he proposed eliminating any negotiations on the subject of health care.

Walker’s campaign proposal on mediation and arbitration offers a similar contrast:

He told the Appleton Post-Crescent in a lengthy question and answer session in 2009 that "you've got to free up local government officials to not be strangled by things like mediation and arbitration." As his website made clear, he was talking about a specific, significant change in teacher’s union arbitration -- not the dramatic changes on the table now.

His current plan would largely eliminate the dispute-settling function of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission for all but public safety employees, according to Peter Davis, WERC’s general counsel.

When it comes to the arbitration process, Davis characterized the changes Walker proposed in the campaign as a "hand grenade" and his proposal now as an "atom bomb."

Another example:

As the campaign rolled near a close, in late October 2010, Walker told the Oshkosh Northwestern that he would "ask all state workers" for wage and benefit concessions in the collective bargaining process.

After the election, he proposed imposing concessions without negotiating and eliminating benefits as a topic of collective bargaining.

Walker told the Oshkosh newspaper that if unions don’t give in on concessions, he would turn to furloughs to get cost savings.

The use of furloughs was the approach taken by then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a fairly typical cost-savings tactic. After the election, Walker said he wanted to avoid furloughs in favor of the concessions on health and pension costs, and wanted to limit bargaining to wages.

Before the election Walker talked about seeking concessions in the context of face-to-face negotiations -- as in the Oshkosh Northwestern interview. He is moving to impose health and pension cost-sharing through legislation, without having taken his proposal to the unions.

He once talked about expanding a statewide cost control system -- using collective bargaining -- beyond teachers to all state employees. But now he proposes an approach that would let individual municipalities set their own benefit levels -- with little input from unions.

A reminder: We are not evaluating the merits of the proposal. Just what was discussed in the campaign.

In October, as Walker held a steady lead in opinion polls over his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, rumors circulated in union circles about Walker favoring a major power grab from unions.

That’s according to Richard Abelson, who heads District Council 48 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, which had negotiated with Walker for eight years in his position as Milwaukee County executive.

Abelson, whose union endorsed Barrett, said: "We heard rumors he would remove pension and health as mandatory subjects of bargaining."

But at that time, nothing so direct was publicly stated.

Jeff Stone, a Republican state representative from Greendale, was the source of the notion, Abelson said. The two had a meeting as Stone laid the groundwork for a run for Walker’s soon-to-be-vacant county job.

Stone confirmed for us that he told Abelson before the election he thought Walker might propose the bolder course. He said Walker told him nothing; he guessed it from Walker’s emphasis on cost cutting and the deficits plaguing the state budget.

"This was the only way I could see he could do it," Stone said about balancing the state budget.

But the sweep of Walker’s eventual proposal caught even Stone off guard.

"Yeah, I was a little surprised (he put it all in)," Stone said. "But I also understand if you don’t control those things you will have trouble controlling costs."

Abelson, the union leader, said Walker’s February announcement of his plan "went far beyond what anybody thought he would do. He didn’t talk about it during the campaign. If he had said that, some people who supported him would have had some second thoughts."

Barrett’s campaign aide Gillian Morris also said they heard nothing in the campaign to suggest Walker would back sharp limits on union power -- and the repeal of all union rights for tens of thousands -- in his proposal.

Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, the union that distributed the flier warning about Walker’s labor record, said he figured Walker would try to weaken collective bargaining and privatize a lot of state jobs.

"But we were actually quite surprised by this," he said.

Immediately after the election, in mid-November, Walker successfully lobbied lawmakers not to approve labor contracts negotiated under the Jim Doyle administration.

Walker did not say he wanted to renegotiate them, nor did he say at that time that he had plans to lay aside those deals and impose changes without bargaining.

Let’s sum up our research.

Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.

But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.

While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.

We rate his statement False.

(Editor’s note: After this item was posted, a conversation surfaced between Walker and a person impersonating Walker campaign contributor and industrialist David Koch. In an audiotape released Feb. 23, 2011, Walker compares his union plan to a history-making act and portrayed his union plan as a "bomb."

Walker aides acknowledge the tape is real, but say Walker simply was saying privately what he has said publicly about his budget-repair bill.

Of a meeting with his cabinet, Walker in the tape says: We talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it. We had already built plans up. This was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb.")

When it comes to protesters in Madison, "almost all" are now from outside of Wisconsin.
Scott Walker on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 in a secretly-recorded prank telephone call

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got right to the point when he was chatting Feb. 22, 2011, with a prank caller pretending to be a major Republican power-broker: The protests in Madison are dying down.

And changing to mostly out-of-state residents.

In the secretly-recorded call, Walker assured a New York blogger posing as industrialist David Koch -- a contributor to Walker’s campaign and many GOP causes -- that things were under control at the Capitol.

"Well, we’re actually hanging pretty tough," Walker said in the call, which was taped and made public Feb. 23, 2011. "I mean, you know, amazingly there’s a much smaller group of protesters almost all of whom are in from other states today."

We know Wisconsin is awful popular these days. And the battle over the budget-repair bill is national news. But are "almost all" of the protesters in from other states?

We asked Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie about the not-intended-for-the-world-to-hear statement from his boss.

He sent us two links to news stories from over the weekend -- one from the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, and another from the Decatur, Ill., newspaper.

Here’s what the Feb. 21, 2011, blog post in the Weekly Standard said: "Labor groups and Democratic Party organizations from outside the state have been sending people to Madison for the demonstrations."

It went on to note an e-mail from the Chicago Teachers Union, which said it was sending a bus Feb. 21, 2011, to Madison. The union’s twitter feed posted a message the evening of Feb. 19, 2011, saying: "CTU Supports Wisconsin Workers. Get on the bus Monday."

Meanwhile, the Decatur paper reported Feb. 22, 2011 -- the day Walker made his comment during the non-Koch call -- that Illinois union leaders were sending protesters to Wisconsin.

"A number of Illinoisans have headed to Madison in recent days to join the battle over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's effort to end collective bargaining for public employee unions," the paper reported.

"The Illinois Education Association, the state's largest teacher union, reports it has sent 14 staff members to Wisconsin to help organize members in their fight," the story said. It went on to say another union -- Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- "has a number of staff members on the ground" and was sending a two bus loads on Feb. 22, 2011 and one on Feb. 23, 2011.

OK, fair enough. That’s a few bus loads accounted for -- albeit not all on the day of Walker’s phone conversation. And, of course, there surely were other out-of-state protesters that day.

But "almost all"?

The crowds in Madison did drop on the day of the call. After several days of school district closings around the state due to teachers calling in sick to attend protests, the vast majority of teachers were back in the classroom. Milwaukee and Madison school districts reopened.

We did a little more investigating to learn: Who are these protesters?

Of course there’s no one checking ID cards, and no way to come up with a definitive percentage, but there are ways to gauge the makeup of such crowds.

The Journal Sentinel has had reporters and photographers on the scene day and night since the protest began. We looked at dozens of pictures from protests Monday night and Tuesday, taken by Journal Sentinel photographers (You can see some of these pictures here.)

We saw many signs and clothing that suggest Wisconsin protesters -- Badgers and Packers attire, a sign mentioning Janesville, signs mentioning the Madison teachers union and so forth. One man wore a T-shirt from the Shoe Box, a Madison-area store.

However, that man, Thomas Brown, is from New Mexico. He came back to visit family near Madison. We won’t count him as an out-of-state agitator.

We did see signs such as "Michigan Supports WI workers," and one that read "Coast to Coast Solidarity" that mentioned California and New York. On Feb. 23, 2011, when Teamsters President Jim Hoffa spoke, signs for Chicago Sheet Metal Workers were evident and there were Teamsters from other states present, according to news reports and Madison police.

We sent a Patrick Tricker, a reporter for the UW-Madison The Daily Cardinal, through the crowd the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2011. It was day two of the state Assembly’s marathon vote on Walker’s measure, which involved hundreds of Democratic amendments.

In an informal survey, Tricker spoke directly to 26 protesters in the Capitol rotunda. About a fourth of the 26 were from out of state, half from Madison and the remainder were from other parts of Wisconsin. He found one from California and one from Alaska.

That’s nowhere near "almost all."

Finally, we asked law enforcement for their take.

"The vast majority of people protesting are from here -- Wisconsin and even more from Dane County," said Joel DeSpain, public information officer for the Madison Police Department.

How would DeSpain know?

"I grew up here," said DeSpain, who attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked 25 years as a television journalist in that city before taking the job with the cops. "I know Madison, this is my town,"

DeSpain said he has seen friends, family members, people he has known for more than 30 years attending protests. The crowds on Feb. 22, 2011 -- the day of the Walker phone call -- included hundreds of state corrections officers and Madison police officers, he said.

Said DeSpain: "Unless somebody’s giving them all sorts of t-shirts from Wisconsin" these are local protesters.

Let’s bring this item home.

In his not-so-private phone call, Walker claimed protests were getting smaller and almost all of the protesters at the state Capitol were there from out of state. Certainly there are folks there from far and wide. But there’s no evidence the out-of-towners have taken over. All evidence points to this being -- and remaining -- a home grown effort.

We rate Walker’s statement False.

Patrick Tricker of The Daily Cardinal contributed to this report.


I love this photograph! Particularly the juxtaposition of her smiling face with the saying on her tee shirt.

The following is from my latest stand up monologue. This is copyright material:

What's old, gray, has two thumbs and smells faintly of urine? (point both thumbs at chest)

I told my physician that joke and he said: "Oh, you aren't old!"

I said, It's a joke, Doc, it's a joke!"

Some time ago I was asked to do a show for the residents of the nursing home in Wabasha, Minnesota. Upon arriving the lady in charge asked where I would like to set up my speakers. I told her not too close to the residents as older people do not like loud sounds, so would she ask a gentleman in the corner to move.

She went over to him and had the following conversation:

"Mr. Johnson. would you mind moving so that Mr. Heagle can put a speaker here?"


"Why not?"

"Becasue he's an asshole!"

Mr. Johnson, I'm sure you don't mean that!"

Yes I do - he's an asshole!"

She came back to me red- faced with embarrassment.

"I'm afraid Mr. Johinson's having a bad day," she said.

"No, I said, "I think he knows me."

And it was right then and there that I decided that this is how I want to be if I live to be 90! And I wanna still be driving! Cuz I'm gonna drive with a loaded revolver on the passenger seat. I 'll be making that left turn (and I won't be signaling because I'm from Wisconsin) and those red and blue lights will come on behind me - I'll pull over and that cop will stick his head in the window and see that loaded gun and he'll say:

"Sir - is that gun loaded?"

And I'll say: "well, officer, it wouldn't do me a lot of good if it wasn't now would it?"

And I won't have to worry about assisted housing for at least five years. Three meals, a warm bed, and a government employee to change my Depends? Life don't get no better than that!

I know I'm getting old. Everything has either dried up or leaks.

I know I'm getting old because my get up and go, got up and went!

And my memory is shot. I think that's why I have begun to gain weight again. I can't remember whether I exercised or not. I look down at my feet - if I got my tennis shoes on, I figure I did it and I go watch television.

My wife is not happy about the weight gain. And she reads to me from Prevention Magazine. I hate that magazine. I'll be watching Packer football and she'll say:

"You know, Larry, it says here in Prevention Magazine that if you'd just take a half an hour walk after dinner, it would improve your sex life."

I said: "Honey, I don't think I know anybody that lives that close to the house."

Got pretty quiet on the couch after that.

And now that I am a codger, I have begun to think more about death. I have decided I want to die like my grand father did - in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like all the other people in the car were at the tme.

And when I die I want everyone who knew me to say: "Did you hear? Larry Heagle died?"


My health has gone down hill steadily since the end of the 1990's. I like to compare my body to that of a classic car. I'm hard to get started in the morning and my rear end leaks.

I had low back surgery - and got a new suspension. Then I went thru a triple bypass - now I have a rebuilt engine. I've broken both legs at least once - and I have a new knee - so It's new shock absorbers all around.

Then out comes my gall bladder - I guess that was an attempt to install a new muffler? But judging by the amount of pollution I expel, I'd say that my muffler system is not up to emission standards!

I know I am really getting old because now young women are opening doors for me. I hate that.

Oh, yeh - I can relate to I HATE EVERYTHING!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011


PINOCCHIO AND WALKER - A New Protest Song for Madison Rally (words, music written by Larry Heagle, copyright, 2/23/11)

How can you tell that Governor Scott Walker is telling lies? His lips are moving.

Pinocchio's nose grew when he told lies. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tells lies, his forehead grows larger, as more and more hair fall from his head. This new, catchy sing-along song, "Pinocchio and Walker," by Wisconsin musician and entertainer, Larry Heagle, tells the sad story of what happens when a balding man of lower intelligence thinks being governor allows him to say and do anything he pleases. Governor Scott Walker may think he is the second coming of Ronald Reagan, but he is actually a lot closer to Nixon ... except that is perhaps a little unfair to Nixon; Nixon was more honest.

We all know Pinocchio
His nose grew very long
Cuz he told so many lies
Like the subject of this song

Hey, Scott Walker
Have you lost more hair today?
Hey, Scott Walker
Have you lost more hair today?
If you keep on lyin’
You’ll be bald one day

Now Walker is a-losin’ his hair
That’s quite plain to see
And I think it’s cuz he’s lyin’
To you and you and me

Hey Scott Walker,
Have you lost more hair today?
I said, Hey, Scott Walker
Have you lost more hair today?
If you keep on lyin’
Gonna be bald some day

Walker was a student
Maintained a real strong two point three
But he got kicked out for cheatin’
Now he’s cheatin’ you and me

Scotty is a preacher's kid
Fell a long way from the tree
And how he got in office
Well, it ain't no mystery

Now it's time to stand as one
From sea to shining sea
And make the Kochs pay their share
And restore Democracy

Hey, Scott Walker
Have you lost more hair today?
Every time you tell a lie
Another strand falls away

Keep on lyin’
You be bald one day!


Earlier this week, I e mailed my Democratic Senator on the Lam, Kathleen Vinehout with the following messasge:

Dear Senator:

Thank you so much for your courageous stand on the so-called budget crisis. Anyone who does some reading knows what is going on in Madison - it is union busting, plain and simple. Walker is the stooge of the Koch Brothers and other greedy big money interests who want to entirely crush the middle class.

It is most important that you continue to do your job and stay secluded out of state. Let me know if and when we should start raising expense money for all of you to continue the fight and we will get it done through Face Book.

Every night my spouse and I watch MSNBC to get an honest appraisal of what is happening. Thank God for the Ed Schultz Show. And thank God for all of you! Stand fast! You are the last hope of a great Wisconsin tradition.

best regards,

Larry Heagle
Fall Creek, WI 54742

Today I received An answer from her. Here is what she had to say:

From an Undisclosed Location by Kathleen Vinehout

"Get back to work," the man told me. He listened to the radio all afternoon and was convinced I needed to be in Madison to do my job, At the same time, my constituents pleaded with me to fight for workers rights.

Leaving Madison was the only way my colleagues and I could stop a bill that would fundamentally change Wisconsin. We needed time for the people's voice to be heard.

On February 11th the Governor introduced a bill to make sweeping changes in the state's Medicaid system; chip away at the civil service system and do away with public workers rights.

The bill is fast tracked; the only committee hearing was the following Tuesday. Public testimony was halted with still hundreds waiting to testify. The bill passed out of committee at 12 AM Thursday morning and was scheduled for a final senate vote the same day.

Invoking a Wisconsin constitution provision, I and my senate Democratic colleagues decided to move our base of operations to Illinois. By crossing state lines we were outside the reach of the majority party who would have compelled us to vote. We did not take this decision lightly. We chose our only option to slow the process and work toward honest negotiations.

The Governor ways the proposed law is necessary to balance the budget. Last Friday state and local employee union leaders agreed to all financial aspects of the bill. Still the Governor claims he must eliminate public employee unions to resolve the budget deficit.

Two years ago Wisconsin faced a $6.6 billion budget hole. We filled the deficit with balanced approach to spending and taxes that protected vital services and infrastructure. We cut spending by more than $3 million - the deepest cut in Wisconsin history. We closed tax loopholes and made other tax changes to bring an additional $1.6 billion to the state coffers. We cut government programs by $2 billion making nearly every aspect of government do more with less. Now the state faces a deficit of less than half that amount.

According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau the state isn't even required to pass a "budget repair" bill. But if the Governor wants to get the state's fiscal house in order by the end of this fiscal year, he could call for passing parts of the bill dealing only with fiscal matters.

There is absolutely no need to destroy Wisconsin's traditions of civil service, clean government, quality public schools and peaceful labor relations. The Governor called on public employees to pay more for their health care and pensions. In good faith, public employee union leaders agreed to those financial concessions. Now it is time for Governor Walker to negotiate in good faith.

My Democratic colleagues and I respectfully asked the governor to negotiate. We reminded him a large coalition of religious leaders asked that he sit down with leaders. But the Governor refuses to sit down with labor leaders, refuses to acknowledge the concessions made by those leaders and refuses to negotiate at all.

My office phone has rung continuously for over a week. The calls run 10 to 1 opposed to the bill. I received more contact from constituents on this bill than all other issues in the past four years combined. Cities, counties and school boards are passing resolutions asking that parts of the bill eliminating public worker rights be removed. Many local officials expressed dismay over the way the bill usurps local control. Some mayors who complained unions gained too much power say the governor's bill is too extreme.

Even though I write from an undisclosed location in Illinois, I continue to talk with constituents, local government officials and local media. I work with my staff to respond to 1000's of constituents who write or called about this bill. And I continue to represent the people of our senate district.

People ask me when we will return to Madison. Right now the ball is in the Governor's court. He has the power to end the strife simply by calling all sides to the table.

Something he so far has refused to do.

And today I received another e mail from Kathleen:

"Smaller Government Equals One Man Rule?"

"Can't they just sit down and work it out?" the woman from Buffalo County asked me. She heard about the Governor's plan to balance the budget by eliminating bargaining for public employees. The employees wanted to meet with the Governor who refused saying he had nothing to discuss.

Two years ago we faced a $6.6 billion budget hold. We filled the deficit with a balanced approach to spending and taxes that protected vital services and infrastructure. And now the state faces a deficit of only half that amount.

Last Friday, Governor Walker announced his "budget repair" plan which sparked mass rallies across the state and left citizens wondering what happened to Wisconsin's tradition of peacefully resolving disputes.

What began as a widely expected plan to have teachers and all public employees pay more for health insurance and retirement grew into a power grab unprecedented in Wisconsin's history. The Governor, who campaigned on smaller government, is creating a massive centralization of power by eliminating the board overseeing the UW Hospital System, removing authority from local towns, cities, villages and school districts and turning state employees into political appointments - ending a system created by Governor Bob LaFollette in 1905.

Under the guise of repairing the budget, the Governor converts civil service jobs to political appointments. With vague language he allows conversion of every management job into a political appointment.

The Governor doesn't out right repeal the civil service code but he accomplishes that effect. Take the changes he makes to political appointments, combine that with a provision giving political appointees power to terminate an employee who misses any three days of work of engages in organizing activity after the governor declares a state of emergency, you create political patronage. This is reminiscent of another time and place; certainly not Wisconsin.

It appears the Governor expects a state of emergency. He announced he met with the National Guard and placed them on alert. Supervisors at the department of corrections were asked to forward the "post orders" to he national guard. Rumors at Wisconsin prisons are that the governor intends to use any altercation with the state correction employees as an excuse to send the Guard in to run the prisons and later privatize the entire state corrections system.

This proposal is on the fast track. The bill is expected to have a public hearing on Tuesday and come before the full Senate and Assembly on Thursday.

These actions follow a month of fast-tracked questionable bills such as exempting a single developer from all wetlands rules; requiring two-thirds majority for tax increases (negating a basic tenant of Democracy - majority rules) and giving the Governor new regulatory authority over previously independent agencies like the UW system, legislature, and the Government Accountability Board. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called the latter action the "defanging" of the state's watchdog.

And there is a proposal to change Wisconsin's voting laws by passing the strictest photo voter ID bill in the nation estimated to disenfranchise thousands of voters.

The state's challenging fiscal condition should not be used as a justification or the Governor's actions. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau the state is not even required to pass a "budge repair" bill. If the Governor wants to get the state's fiscal house in order by the end of this fiscal year, there is absolutely no need to destroy Wisconsin's traditions of civil service, clean government, quality public schools and peaceful labor negotiations. Instead, he should face his adversaries and work out the differences.

I fielded calls and emails from more than two thousand citizens in the last few days. Everyone I talked with expected to contribute to helping the state weather the storm. But most say the suffering should be a shared sacrifice and not fall too hard on any one family. Many of the Governor's supporters expressed deep concern about the Governor's actions. I spoke with a woman from Tomah who is a Republican and voted for Walker. She said, "I know we need change. But this is too extreme."

I couldn't agree more.



The Republican (not my) governor is digging in his heels. Now in his latest "Fireside Chat" he threatens dire consequences. Since yesterday, I have received some interesting e mails from all over the state.

This first is from a well-spoken educator in Endeavor, Wisconsin:

To the Duly-Elected Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker (and anyone
else who gives a hoot):

It has only been a week, and I grow weary of the political struggle
that your Budget Repair Bill has caused. I am tired of watching the
news, though I have seen many of the faces of those I hold dear as they
march on the Capitol. I am tired of defending myself to those who
disagree with me, and even a bit tired of fist-bumping those who do. I
am tired of having to choose a side in this issue, when both sides make
a certain degree of sense. And so I offer you this desultory (aimless or
rambling) philippic (angry long-winded speech), because at the end of
the day I find that though this issue has been talked to death, there is
more that could be said. And so, without further ado, here are my points
and/or questions, in no particular order.

1. You can have my money, but. . .. Ask any number of my students, who
have heard me publicly proclaim that a proper solution to this fiscal
crisis is to raise taxes. I will pay them. I have the great good fortune
to live in a nation where opportunity is nearly limitless, and I am
willing to pay for the honor of calling myself an American.
Incidentally, Warren Buffett, the second richest man in the nation (and
a Democrat) agrees with me. Your proposed Budget Repair Bill will cost
me just under $3000 per year at my current salary, with the stated goal
of saving $30 million this year on the state budget. I say, take it. You
can have it. It will hurt me financially, but if it will balance the
budget of the state that has been my home since birth, take it with my
blessing. But if I may, before you do, I have some questions.

According to the 2009 estimate for the U.S. Census, 5,654,774 people
live in the state of Wisconsin. Of those, 23.2% are under the age of 18,
and presumably are not subject to much in the way of income tax. That
still leaves about 4,342,867 taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin. If you
wished to trim $30 million off of the budget, that works out to about
$6.91 per Wisconsin taxpayer. So I must ask: Is it fair that you ask
$3000 of me, but you fail to ask $6.91 of everyone? I know that times
are tough, but would it not be more equitable to ask that each taxpayer
in the state contribute an extra 13 cents a week?

Would you please, kindly, explain exactly how collective bargaining
is a fiscal issue? I fancy myself to be a fairly intelligent person. I
have heard it reported in the news that unless the collective bargaining
portion of this bill is passed, severe amounts of layoffs will occur in
the state. I have heard that figure given as 6,000 jobs. But then again,
you've reportedly said it was 10,000 jobs. But then again, it's been
reported to be as high as 12,000 jobs. Regardless of the figure, one
thing that hasn't been explained to my satisfaction is exactly how or
why allowing a union to bargain collectively will cost so much money or
so many jobs. Am I missing something? Isn't collective bargaining
essentially sitting in a room and discussing something, collectively? Is
there now a price tag on conversation? How much does the average
conversation cost? I feel your office has been eager to provide doomsday
scenarios regarding lost jobs, but less than willing to provide actual
insight as to why that is the case. I would welcome an explanation.

Why does your concern over collective bargaining, pensions, and
healthcare costs only extend to certain unions, but not all? Why do snow
plow drivers and child care providers and teachers and prison guards
find themselves in "bad" unions, but firefighters and state police and
local police find themselves in unions that do not need to be effected
by your bill? The left wing news organizations, of course, state that
this is because these are unions that supported your election bid, while
you seek to punish those unions that did not; I would welcome your
response to such a charge. You have stated that the state and local
police are too vital to the state to be affected. Can I ask how child
care, or prison guards, or nurses or teachers are not vital? Again, I
would welcome a response.

Though you are a state employee, I have seen no provision in your
bill to cut your own pension or healthcare costs. The governor's salary
in Wisconsin was about $137,000 per year, last I checked. By contrast, I
make about $38,000 per year. Somewhere in that extra $99,000 that you
make, are you sure you couldn't find some money to fund the state
recovery which you seem to hold so dear? As you have been duly elected
by the voters of Wisconsin, you will receive that salary as a pension
for the rest of your life. I don't mean to cut too deeply into your
lifestyle, but are you sure you couldn't live off $128,000 per year so
that you could have the same 7% salary reduction you are asking certain
other public employees to take?

2. Regarding teachers being overpaid and underworked. I don't really
have many questions in this regard, but I do have a couple of
statements. If you haven't already figured it out, I am a teacher, so
you may examine my statement for bias as you see fit. I admit I find it
somewhat suspect that teachers are mentioned so prominently in your
rhetoric; those protesting at the Capitol are indeed teachers. But they
are also students, and nurses, and prison guards, and plumbers, and
firefighters, and a variety of other professions. If you could go back
to "public sector employees," I would appreciate it. But as far as being
overpaid and underworked . . . I grant you, I have a week's vacation
around Christmas. I have a week off for Spring Break. I have about 10
weeks off for summer. With sick days and personal days and national
holidays and the like, I work about 8.5 months out of every year. So
perhaps I am underworked. But before you take that as a given, a couple
of points in my own defense.

The average full-time worker puts in 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per
year, with two weeks' vacation time. That makes for a grand total of
2000 hours per year. Part of the teachers' arguments regarding their
time is that no one sees how many hours they work at home to grade
papers, or create lesson plans, or things of that nature. I am in a rare
state, in that I am not one of those teachers. I work an hour from where
I live, and I like to keep my work at work. I, therefore, do not bring
work home with me, but rather stay at school, or come in early, so that
I can grade papers or create lesson plans while at school. So I am more
prepared than most to explain the hours it takes to do my job. I also
supervise an extra-curricular activity (as many teachers do), in that I
serve as the Drama Coach for my school. The school year, so far, has
lasted for 24 weeks. I have, in that time, averaged 78 hours per week
either going to school, being at school, or coming home from school. If
you remove my commute, of course, I still average 68 hours per week,
thus far. That means I have put in 1,632 hours of work time this year,
which works out to over 80% of what your average full time worker does
in a calendar year. If you include my commute, I'm over 90%. If ikeep
going at my current pace, I will work 2,720 hours this school year (or
3,120 hours if you include my commute). That means I work 136% to 156%
as much as your average hourly worker.

As to underpaid -- I'm not sure I am underpaid in general, though I
do believe I am underpaid in terms of the educational level expected to
do my job. I have two Bachelor's Degrees, and will be beginning work
toward my Master's this summer. By comparison, sir, you never completed
college, and yet, as previously stated, you outearn me by almost
$100,000 per year. Perhaps that is an argument that I made the wrong
career choice. But it is perhaps an argument that we need to discuss
whether you and others like you are overpaid, and not whether teachers

3. Regarding the notion that teachers that are protesting, or
legislators currently in Illinois, are hurting the state. Very briefly,
if I may:

Teachers have been accused of shirking their duties by protesting for
what they believe to be their rights instead of being in school. The
argument has been, of course, that no lessons have been taught when
classes aren't in session. I must submit that lessons in protest, in
exercise of the First Amendment right to peaceable assembly, in getting
involved as a citizen in political affairs, have been taught these past
few days. The fact that they haven't been taught in the classroom is
irrelevant. Ultimately a very strong duty of the school system is to
help students become citizens -- I think that has clearly happened this

As to the legislators, it seems to me as though they feel their
constituents deserve to have a length of time to examine the proposed
bill on its merits, not vote it straight up or down three days after it
was presented. As the current budget does not expire until June, this
seems to me like the only response left them in light of your decision
to fast-track the bill without discussion. Give them another option, and
perhaps they will come back. I can't say that I agree with their
decision, but I can say that I understand it.

4. Regarding the notion that protestors at the Capitol are
rabble-rousers and/or thugs. Such name-calling on the part of
conservatives in the state and the conservative media could be severely
curtailed if you would speak out against it. True, most of the people
protesting, if not all, are liberals. Historically, liberals have always
tended to think that they have far more support than they actually do.
They also (in my opinion) have a tendency to get extremely organized
about three months too late, if at all. So you can fault them for their
decision-making, but I would ask you to speak out against the notion of
thuggery. Again, very briefly:

So far, 12 arrests have been made. Estimates say there were about
25,000 people at the Capitol today, and about 20,000 yesterday. Let's be
conservative (mathematically) and say that 40,000 people protested over
two days. That would mean that officers arrested .0003% of all
protestors. By almost any definition, that is an extremely peaceful
demonstration, and of course you are aware that the U.S. Constitution
guarantees the right of peaceable assembly for a redress of grievances.
So in the main, these people have done nothing wrong.

5. If I may provide you with a sense of history. You work in the
largest and most magnificiently appointed state capitol in the nation,
built by Bob LaFollette (a Republican). You work in the same building
where Phil LaFollette (a Republican) helped guide Wisconsin out of the
Great Depression. You work in the same building where Gaylord Nelson (a
Democrat) was the first in the nation to offer rights to unions of state
employees, rights that you now seek to overturn. And you work in the
same building where Tommy Thompson (a Republican) provided more state
funding to education than any other governor before or since. Are your
current actions truly how you would choose to be remembered?

6. Finally, Governor, a note of thanks. Whatever the outcome of the
next several days, you deserve a certain degree of credit. As an
educator, I understand how difficult it can be to get young people
interested in politics. You have managed to do this in the space of one
week. A number of Wisconsin's youth support you. A number of them do
not. But whatever else can be said of you, you have them paying
attention, and thinking about voting, and walking around the Capitol,
and turning out to be involved. You have taught your own lessons this
week, Governor, and that has its own value.

Endeavor, Wisconsin

The next is an e mail forwarded to me by good friend Linda Gruen:

If you haven't been following the news (MSNBC only, probably) you probably haven't heard that the standard means of awarding contracts is to put the contract up for bidding and the lowest bid (saving the state money) is the one who gets the contract.

Walker has no intention of doing that:

while we discuss the merits of Scott Walker's budget repair bill, and the way he is paying off the Koch brothers for their politcal contributions, he is preparing a clear track for them to buy wisconsin power plants for pennies on the dollar, then hire cheap labor to work in those power plants; and while we chat about the benefits enjoyed by members of the public employees union, we are forgetting the reason the people of wisconsin voted for this guy.... his primary campaign promise was to create 250,000 job in the state.

it's clear this guy is real good at diverting our attention away from the real problem at hand.

"Hey! Look! Over there!

This morning I received the following message from AFL/CIO:

Thousands are rallying in Wisconsin and across the nation to oppose conservative governors who are attacking the collective bargaining rights of our civil servants. And the people in the streets are not just public sector union members.

Why? Why are so many who are not part of a union so committed to protecting the role of organized workers in our government and our economy?

1. Weak Economies Need More Demand: Our economy is struggling and our state budgets are distressed because increased unemployment and falling home prices have reduced economic demand. Weakening the ability of any workers to negotiate fair pay and secure retirements will only weaken demand further, hurting the overall economy.

2. Strong Standards Strengthen The Middle Class. When public sector workers can negotiate for fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, that puts pressure on private sector CEOs to do the same, or else they risk losing talent to the public sector. Making public sector work less inviting does nothing to make private sector jobs pay better. We need to raise the bar, not lower it.

3. Decent Government Pay Means Decent Government: Most everyone wants our federal, state and local governments to function effectively. That means being able to attract skilled, productive workers with fair pay, healthy workplaces and secure retirements, all of which will be lost if public workers can no longer bargain for their compensation packages.

4. Public Employees Are Not The Problem: Study after study shows the public employees do not receive extravagant compensation, and that the problems with state public pension systems are largely overblown. State budgets are reeling from an economic recession caused by reckless Wall Street speculators, top end tax cuts and corporate tax avoidance. The projected shortfalls in public retirement benefits derive mostly from skyrocketing health care costs thanks to private insurers, and poorly performing pension investments thanks to deregulated Wall Street firms.

Furthermore, civil servants in Wisconsin and elsewhere have repeatedly said they are willing to make concessions regarding pay and benefits. Unlike conservative corporate executives, they have proven their willingness to share the sacrifices. What we can't negotiate is their right to negotiate.

5. Scapegoating Lets The Culprits Get Away: Right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers are pumping millions into a nationwide effort to break the public employee unions. Why would they bother? Because if they can get most people to blame public employees for the nation's economic ills, they won't hold irresponsible corporations accountable and force the ultra-rich to make any sacrifices, such as higher taxes and tougher regulations.

Now that you know why the assault on public employee unions affects us all, what can we do about it?

Sign The Petition: The AFL-CIO has a petition supporting fair pay and worker rights, to be delivered to all 50 state legislatures.

Attend A Rally: SEIU and Justice With Janitors both have compiled lists of rallies taking place all across the country this week.

Forward an Email: Share with your friends, neighbors and colleagues the reasons why we all should care about the attack on our civil servants.

This is a critical moment in our nation's history. Will we be a nation where workers can thrive, or where workers are nickel and dimed? Will we have a vibrant economy that works for all, or will we have a stagnant economy that serves the few?

Now's the time to stand up.


Bill Scher, Online Campaign Manager
Campaign for America's Future


Meanwhile, AP reports another move by our fearless leader:

The AP reports that paychecks are being withheld from Wisconsin senators that have fled the state. They need to be picked up in person. The rule change is aimed at forcing the absent senators to return to the state.

We need to organize, through the web, a means to raise contributions for the Wisconsin 14!

Another important read from Donna Wagner Backus:

Have you had a chance to read the budget repair bill? Well, you are not alone - most of the republicans haven't either. Here are some things that most people don't know. Please share with anyone and everyone you know - post on your facebook, blog it, send it to the Leader Telegram, email your senator or assembly person and ask about it - see if they can provide more information or explain it!! This is powerful stuff.

• Allows the State to take out an additional 200 million in loans, putting the State farther in debt. Page 30, Section 63

• Cuts off all State aid to municipalities. Page 135 – 136 Section 9211, Page 58, Section 148

• Cuts off all State aid to Public k- 12 Schools. “About 900 million dollars total”Page 135 – 136 Section 9211, page 58 Section 148 • Cuts off all State aid to University Wisconsin Schools “This will cause the tuition at UW's to go up 26% over the next two years” Page 135 – 136 Section 9211

• The state will lose 46 million in Federal Grants to Public Transit. “The federal government requires that public transit workers have collective bargaining.”Page 63 – 109 Sections 163- 314

• Allows the State to take 28 million from Employee Trust Fund, “This is the State Employee's Pension Fund, they will use the money to pay the States portion of State Employee's Medical and Pension contributions until 2013” Page 125, Section 9115

• In 2013 the State will no longer pay anything towards State Employee's Medical and Pension Fund, State Employee's will be required to pay the entire cost of Medical and Pension. “Roughly about $1500 per month for each State Employee.Page 58 Section 62.623

• Limits the right to collectively bargain for all employees who are not public safety employees (general employees) to the subject of base wages. Page 63 – 109 Sections 163- 314

And this!

WASHINGTON -- While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has painted a dire picture of his state's pension obligations, Wisconsin's pension fund for public employees is among the nation's strongest, according to a report by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

The Pew report, issued last year, concluded that Wisconsin is a "national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care." Walker has cited the fund's lack of sustainability as grounds for his plan to revoke collective bargaining rights for state employees, but that proposal has sparked outrage among state employees and drawn tens of thousands of protesters to the state's capitol.

"We're going to ask our state and local workers ... to pay a little bit more, to sacrifice, to help to balance this budget," Walker said in a Sunday interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, adding that he would be forced to lay off 5,000 to 6,000 state employees if his budget plan was not approved, as well as a comparable number of local public employees.

But the Wisconsin pension fund is simply not in fiscal trouble. Its managers weren't burned by subprime mortgage assets or mortgage-backed securities as the housing bubble collapsed. The fund also relies on an automated dividend system, which pays out benefits in years the system is making gains while restricting payouts in years when it takes losses. And while the pension fund had a rough year during 2008 due to stock market losses, it remains robust, both in terms of fundamental financial stability and in comparison to other state pension programs.