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

Friday, December 30, 2011


Federal government ordered Walker to lift program cap

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker failed to reveal that the federal government had ordered him to immediately lift an enrollment cap on a state program to help the disabled and elderly stay out of nursing homes, instead telling reporters that his administration removed restrictions after identifying tens of millions of dollars in efficiencies in the program.
Walker, a Republican, called a news conference Wednesday morning to announce he would lift the two-year enrollment cap on the Family Care program and expand it to the 15 counties that don't currently offer it.
He imposed the cap in the budget that took effect July 1. Lifting it marks a surprising reversal for Walker, who has been pushing to slash state Medicaid spending since he took office in January.
Walker told reporters the move was spurred by discussions with Family Care program providers that identified $80 million in savings. He never mentioned that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had ordered him to remove the cap more than two weeks earlier. In a Dec. 13 letter to the state, CMS Associate Regional Director Verlon Johnson said the center was still reviewing whether to approve the enrollment cap. Until then, Johnson wrote, the state must run Family Care as it was before the cap was imposed and lift the limit straight away.
"We are directing the state to identify any individuals not currently enrolled onto the Family Care ... and immediately enroll those individuals in the ... programs," Johnson wrote.
Pressed by The Associated Press hours after the news conference about whether the federal government had denied the state permission to impose the cap, state Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Kitty Rhoades was vague and made no mention of the CMS order.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said in an email Thursday morning that the letter was part of an "ongoing discussion" with the federal agency. He said the cap was always intended to be temporary and that the governor had been planning to lift it for months, pending data on the program's financial sustainability. Although the letter specifically ordered the removal of the cap imposed in the July budget, Werwie insisted the letter only referred to a permanent cap.
Minority Democrats in the Legislature wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in mid-July, after the budget was finished, calling the cap bad public policy and asking her to reject it. They hammered Walker Thursday morning, calling his news conference a sham.
Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, said Walker made a "despicable" attempt to take credit for something he was forced to do.
"I don't remember anywhere in the Boy Scout oath the dishonesty we saw yesterday," Richards said, playing on Walker's assertions that he learned to conduct himself with integrity as an Eagle Scout.
Werwie, the governor's spokesman, reiterated Thursday that the governor had planned for months to lift the cap.
Family Care offers a variety of programs through Medicaid that provide long-term care for the disabled and elderly to help keep them out of nursing homes. The programs' cost has been growing; Family Care cost $936 million last year; the state budget laid out roughly $1.5 billion for it in each of the next two years.
In an effort to control the program's burgeoning costs, Walker included a provision in the budget to cap Family Care enrollment at July 1 levels, which translated to about 43,440 people. As of October, about 6,600 people were on a waiting list to join.
Walker has made cutting Medicaid expenses a priority. Earlier this year his administration froze enrollment in BadgerCare Plus Basic, which provides health insurance coverage for childless adults and announced $554 million in cuts to various Medicaid programs, changes that could force as many as 65,000 poor adults and children off state health insurance. The CMS has given Walker the preliminary go-ahead for those changes, but final approval is pending.
A CMS spokesman said Thursday that all he could say was that the agency was talking to the state and "all issues are under consideration."
Lifting the enrollment cap will take legislation. Walker's fellow Republicans control both the Senate and Assembly, but Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, co-chairman of the powerful finance committee, broke with Walker on Wednesday and said there's no evidence to suggest Family Care is cost-effective and expanding it would be irresponsible.
A message left at Vos' state Capitol office Thursday wasn't immediately returned.
Beth Swedeen, executive director of the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, appeared beside Walker at his news conference Wednesday. She said Thursday she didn't learn of CMS' order to lift the cap until she saw media reports about it hours after the news conference.
She declined to comment on Walker's failure to disclose the letter, saying her organization is focused on making sure Family Care is adequately funded and provides high-quality services.
"For us, the bottom line is the outcome," she said. "We're very interested in making sure those cost savings won't be detrimental to the populations (Family Care programs) serve."


How anyone in their right mind can read the above article and not want to sign the papers for this crook's recall is beyond my comprehension.

As I drive home on Highway 53 South I am amazed that there is a resident displaying a sign that reads: "IT'S WORKING. STAND WITH GOVERNOR WALKER".

What exactly is it that's working? The lies? The usurping of Wisconsin residents' rights? I can't stand to look at the man!


Thursday, December 29, 2011


Been a while since I published photos of two of God's loveliest creatures. Stella, although full grown, is still a small cat by cat standards.

It's been fun watching both cats grow up over the past couple years. Lately both have become more friendly with me and one or the other or both will join me for an afternoon nap most of the time.
Had to get a picture of Hammy on his now "way-too-small" bed. He has grown to be quite a bit larger than Stella and has a bad habit of picking on his little sister until she screams like she is being killed.

Currently we are having the house completely done over for insulation and both the cats are much afraid of the influx of workers and the hammering and sawing that goes on while they are in the house. Both cats seek refuge under the bed and stay there well after the time the workers depart.

This is a week of destroying old banking records from the 1980's. I took boxes and boxes of them over here so that they would be out of the way for the workers to get the insulation in properly. I have been shredding and shredding and shredding.

Yesterday my shredder heated up so badly that it shut down. At first I thought I had burned the motor out but I came back after supper, turned the on switch and it kicked in.

It workd for a couple of hours today and then it overheated again. it currently won't start and that's why I have time to write. I am hoping that eventually it will cool off enough and start, but have the nagging fear that this time I DID burn out the motor.

It is weird to be going through all these old checks - years of child support checks and checks for booking agents among them.

I stumbled upon check #3103, made out on December 11, 1985, to agent Bert Koelbl. When I looked at the "for" line it says: "agent fee, December 7, 1985, The Gables, Poynette, Wisconsin."

My mind was instantly flooded with all the bad memories that went with that gig. Bert had booked me into this bar to do my comedy and music routines. What he didn't bother to tell me is that the bar had never had a comedian there before - only country western or rock and roll dance bands.

The stage was located in a separate room from the bar and that night nobody would come into the room! Every once in a while someone would stand in the doorway and give me a dirty look. after doing a set to absolutely no one, I made my way to the bar with all patrons purposely looking away and not making eye contact with me.

I told the owner that this was all a big mistake and that if he would give me $25.00 I would clear out immediately as it was obvious I was not something the clientele was interested in.

As soon as I started packing up, the regulars came flooding into the room, plugging coins into the juke box and taking up pool cues.

I remember that it was a bitter cold night and that I pulled my vehicle around to a side door, that opened near the pool table. I got my equipment over near that door and began taking what I could carry, carefully and quickly closing the door behind me each time I went out.

Even so, several times I got "SHUT THE DAMN DOOR!" from the pool players.

Now every time I drive to Madison and see the Poynette exit sign I think of that disastrous night and secretly hope that "The Gables" burned down.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

WALKER - ONE YEAR IN - Larson Report

Walker's Wisconsin--One Year In
January 3, 2012, will mark the one-year anniversary of Governor Walker taking over the state of Wisconsin. His broken promises and misplaced priorities have pushed Wisconsin in the wrong direction. Few can remember a time when those in power were this divisive and promoted an agenda that was this extreme.

Below we will take a look at just how our community and state have been harmed by the Walker administration's radical policies and devastating cuts in the areas of jobs, education, health care, public transit, the environment, accountability and transparency, and taxes and investment in our communities.

Earlier this week, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report on national jobs statistics from last month, showing that Wisconsin lost 14,600 more jobs in November and continues to lead the nation in job losses.

Governor Walker has also held two special jobs sessions, which were both complete failures as they focused on corporate giveaways, producing little to no jobs. His inability to create job growth over the past year has left Wisconsin ranked 43rd in the nation for job growth.

The governor was quick to use the monthly jobs figures to boast with at a press conference in June when they showed gains, primarily in seasonal tourism jobs. Since his budget plan took effect in July, the numbers have fallen every month. Now Governor Walker refuses to take responsibility and ownership for this economic drought.

Governor Walker promised the people of Wisconsin that he would create 250,000 jobs statewide during his term, but has failed to create even 1/10 of the jobs he promised. According to BadgerStat, Wisconsin needs to gain about 5,210 jobs per month on average to reach that goal, but is currently moving at a pace below what is needed.

In order to increase Wisconsin's job growth prospects, Governor Walker should be focusing his efforts on supporting factors that encourage businesses to start-up or relocated to Wisconsin. We need our governor to start investing in K-12 education, our technical colleges and our universities so that we will have a skilled workforce. He also needs to work on protecting our natural resources and reducing crime and poverty rates so that employers can see Wisconsin is a state with a high quality of life. Additionally, we need him to demonstrate that he values an accountable and transparent government, which tells businesses that government will work with them on all aspects of job creation and growing their company. This long-term investment in our state will spur economic development and more sustained job growth for generations to come.

Our children took the brunt of Walker's cuts this year as he slashed funding from our neighborhood schools to give away our taxpayer dollars to special interests and corporations. Under the Republican budget approximately $1.6 billion was stripped from education statewide. These decimating cuts hit some communities harder than others and have been especially detrimental to children in Milwaukee and the surrounding area.

New legislation at the state level recently expanded the voucher program in Milwaukee to allow private schools outside Milwaukee to participate, while also removing all enrollment caps on the program and raising the income limits on participants. Under these changes, Milwaukee Public Schools will be forced to funnel 22.6% of its tax levy into the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, leaving City of Milwaukee taxpayers on the hook for $55.4 million. In truth, Milwaukee taxpayers are now being billed for both the largest school district in the state, Milwaukee Public Schools, AND the fourth largest, which is what the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has grown to be with 22,400 students.

The effect of Governor Walker's cuts to education and his continued allegiance to private and religious schools over our neighborhood schools can already be seen across the state. Below are results from the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrator's annual survey:
Wisconsin lost 4,000 educational jobs, leaving our schools understaffed and our children underserved
2/3 of responding school districts expect to make the same or greater cuts next year as a result of no longer receiving one-time federal dollars
4 in 10 students attend a district with larger class sizes in grades K-6
40% of students are in districts that eliminated sections or increased class size for the core subjects of English, Math, Science and Social Studies
Districts are offering fewer art, music, physical education, Advanced Placement and foreign language classes
Roughly 3 in 4 students attend school at a district that reduced at least one essential support program.
The biggest cuts were to special education programs, which are followed by library and media center staff, reading coordinators, programs for at-risk youth, and drug and alcohol abuse programs
Cuts to education far out weighed the savings from increased pension and insurance contributions
Similar results can also be seen right here in our own community. Here is how Milwaukee County's 18 school districts have been negatively impacted by Governor Walker's sweeping education cuts:
Milwaukee County is struggling with 1,719 fewer teachers, aides and administrators this year compared to 2010
Most Milwaukee County school districts expect to make the same or deeper cuts to balance their budgets for the next school year, with only one of the 18 reporting that they expect to make fewer cuts next year compared to this year
1/2 of Milwaukee County school districts reported increased class sizes and higher student-to-teacher ratios
Cuts to support services, such as special education, were made in five of our 18 Milwaukee County School districts

Governor Walker’s misplaced priorities have left our children and educators struggling to get out of an impossible situation. His actions have also jeopardized the future economic success of our state and limited opportunities for our children. Educating our children is not like riding a bike. If you fall off you cannot just get back up again and ride. Our children only have one shot at early education and developing the skills they need to succeed.

Currently, about one out of five Wisconsin residents rely on Medicaid programs, for their health care needs. The number of individuals enrolled in the state's Medicaid programs has been steadily increasing in recent years due to the ongoing recession and increased health care costs, making it one of the worst times to consider chopping away at our health safety net.

Unfortunately, Governor Walker did just that this year, beginning with his budget proposal. Nearly $500 million was cut from Medicaid programs, which is hurting families in every community throughout Wisconsin. Notable health care cuts are listed below:
Only extends SeniorCare through 2012, bringing uncertainty to the long-term availability of the program, which is a cheaper option to Medicare Part D for our seniors and taxpayers.
Places a cap on the FamilyCare program, which provides access to vital health services for frail seniors and individuals with disabilities. There are currently 2,000 people on the FamilyCare waiting list in Milwaukee County alone.
Substantially restricts women's access to preventative health care, including: cancer screenings, pap tests, birth control and medical exams.
Reduces the eligibility and services for BadgerCare, which provides services to working families and had a wait-list of 50,000 Wisconsinites in June 2010.
The Governor continued his extreme agenda announcing an additional $554 million in cuts this past October. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has estimated that almost 65,000 Wisconsinites, including 30,000 pregnant women and children, will lose their current BadgerCare health care coverage. Another group that will be disproportionately affected by these additional Medicaid cuts are people suffering from chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease. Chronic and life-threatening illnesses often leave individuals unable to work, causing them to exhaust their lifesavings and unable to cover their medical expenses without the use of Medicaid.

Wisconsin's vital health care programs ensure that our families and neighbors are able to receive quality, affordable health care to prevent costly emergency room visits. These programs also help keep loved ones out of nursing homes and in-patient facilities, saving taxpayers money.

Walker's Republican legislators are pushing legislation to repeal current comprehensive sex education standards. According to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, approximately 87% of Wisconsin voters support requiring comprehensive sex education instruction that includes information about both abstinence and contraception.

The positive impact of comprehensive sex education on Wisconsin's young adults can also be seen right here in our neighborhood. According to the Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee's teen birthrate has dropped dramatically for the second year in a row, from 46.73 births per 1,000 teens in 2008 to 35.68 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

Governor Walker opted to push massive highway expansion projects this year rather than support our local roads and public transit. According to a WISPIRG study release earlier this year, Wisconsin taxpayers will be footing roughly $2 billion to fund questionable and unnecessary transportation projects in the Republican budget rather than putting those funds towards local roads and public transit. In addition to a loss of $77 million in shared revenue, the following communities can expect cuts to state transportation funds in the amounts listed below:

Cudahy = $98,181
Milwaukee = $2,546,188
Oak Creek = $164,524
Saint Francis = $65,933
South Milwaukee = $90,118

Governor Walker's cuts to public transit and our local roads had an even greater domino effect in our community as it led to the end of the new Regional Transit Authorities and high-speed rail. There are also communities in Wisconsin that are now facing the very real possibility of being forced to shut down their transit systems.

Having a well-supported public transit system is vital to maintaining and creating jobs in our community. According to the Milwaukee County Transit systems, on average 140,000 rides are provided daily. Of these, 39% are commuters traveling to and from work, another 5% are heading to job interviews, and 11% are students making their way to classes to learn valuable skills for their future careers.

Wisconsin has a long tradition of protecting our natural resources, as they are not just a part of our landscape, but a part of who we are as stewards of this great state. This year, Governor Walker and Republican legislators pushed an agenda that has left our state's natural resources vulnerable. Many of these changes were instituted under the most recent budget, including:
Cutting funding for recycling programs by 40%. According to Recycle More Wisconsin, recycling programs keep 1.69 million tons of materials out of Wisconsin's landfills, supports 97,000 jobs and contributes $5.4 billion to our state's economy.
Eliminating $26 million in Stewardship program funding used to safeguard Wisconsin's precious lands and valuable natural resources for today and tomorrow.
Reducing funding for the Focus on Energy program that promotes in-state economic development, helps Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, and protects our environment. In the past 10 years, more than 91,000 businesses and more than 1.7 million residents used the program and saved $2.20 for every $1 spent on average.
Eliminating the Office of Energy Independence, which provides long-term planning and development of fuels, technologies and business practices in Wisconsin to reduce our state's dependence on foreign energy resources.
Eliminating the Renewable Grants and Loan Program and the Green to Gold Program. The former provides incentives for Wisconsin businesses to develop renewable technologies including biofuels, while the latter helps Wisconsin's industries lower their energy costs and encourages job creation and growth.
Repealing water quality standards that require communities to reduce the total amount of suspended solids in local water supplies. Without such regulations to protect our water quality, sewerage waste, toxic chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides could make their way into our drinking water and lakes, and significantly harm the health of our families and communities.
Holding up wind siting rules forcing alternative energy investors to send jobs elsewhere.
This agenda to place polluters over people continued with the introduction of Senate Bill 326, legislation that undoes important environmental protections that keep our air clean and our water safe for drinking and recreation. The following concerns can be found in this environmentally harmful legislation that threatens our natural resources and families by:
Tying the hands of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by not allowing follow-up requests for information from permit applicants
Encouraging DNR permit applicants to submit incomplete or false information since DNR is restricted in follow-ups
Giving DNR the authority to issue permits without a public hearing
Removing air quality protections, such as requiring industries to model their expected air quality impact to ensure the health of neighbors is not adversely impacted by pollutants they produce
There is an undeniable link between a healthy environment and sustainable economic growth. Therefore, we should not allow polluters to bully us into making a false choice between conservation and economic growth.

The Republican budget broke significant fiscal promises by increasing spending by over $1 billion compared to the last budget, raising taxes and fees by over $180 million, and raiding $411 million from segregated funds.

Not only did Governor Walker and Republican legislators increase spending and raise taxes, but they did it on the backs of Wisconsin workers, middle-class families, children and seniors rather than having all Wisconsinites share the burden. This current budget also favors CEOs and big corporations by creating a $196 million corporate slush fund and $2.3 billion in tax giveaways.

Wisconsinites have sought to preserve accountability and transparency in our government since the days of fighting Bob La Follette. This is illustrated by our laws requiring open meetings and records, thoughtful checks and balances in our government structures, and significant disclosure for political campaign contributions.

Governor Walker and his rubberstamp Legislature began their attack on these common sense protections with their first special session. The following are just some of the bills authored and passed by Republican legislators during that session, reversing Wisconsin's progress in ensuring open government:
Special Session Senate Bill 1--Prevents victims and their families from obtaining justice against negligent corporations and manufacturers. Republicans rejected Senate Amendment 2, a Democratic amendment to ensure reports relating to health care violations are not kept secret.
Special Session Senate Bill 3--Creates tax incentives for corporations that relocate to Wisconsin. Republicans rejected Assembly Amendment 2, which would have required tracking the number of jobs created by these incentives to ensure tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Special Session Senate Bill 4--Gives $25 million more to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for corporate tax credits. Amendments were rejected by Republicans, which would have required the Audit Bureau to conduct an annual audit of the program and recoup credits if a business submits false information or fails to fulfill promises.
Special Session Senate Bill 6--Replaces the Department of Commerce with the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. To protect against the potential for corruption, an amendment was introduced to require all WEDC employees to be subject to the open records law. It was rejected by Republican legislators.
Special Session Senate Bill 8--Requires approval by the Governor on all administrative rules. This is an unprecedented power grab that decreases the power of the Legislature and makes Wisconsin's executive branch one of the most powerful in the country. I introduced Senate Amendment 8 that would have prohibited a Wisconsin governor from accepting campaign donations from those that would benefit financially from rule changes. Republicans ultimately rejected this amendment that would have eliminated the potential for conflicts of interest and maintained integrity in the rule process.
Following these bills, Governor Walker and Republican legislators continued to send Wisconsin in the wrong direction by pushing through the Republican budget, which was brimming with special interest giveaways, sneaking nearly 80 non-fiscal policy items into what was promised to be a purely fiscal document. The following provisions are some of the most egregious:
Approved a $162 million corporate slush fund for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, but provided no details on how the agency would use these funds.
Eliminated the clean election initiatives in Wisconsin, taking power from voters and giving more control of our elections to wealthy, out-of-state corporations.
Seized powers from the constitutional offices of the Secretary of State and State Treasurer.
Granted unprecedented dictatorial authority to Secretary Smith at the Department of Health Services who will be able to make unilateral, unspecified changes to Wisconsin's medical Assistance programs, which could include dramatic service cuts to our most vulnerable.
Ripped authority from the Department of Public Instruction regarding its educational authority and stunted DPI’s power to develop important education improvement initiatives.
Allows the Walker Administration to sell state assets without bidding for the best deal for taxpayers.
My Democratic colleagues and I introduced amendments to remove such backwards provisions from the budget in order to ensure Wisconsin maintains its tradition of clean, open and transparent government. Unfortunately, Republicans voted down these amendments with little consideration for Wisconsin’s traditions.

In addition to placing the wish lists of special interests ahead of working families when pushing his legislative agenda, Governor Walker and his rubberstamp legislators have also tried a variety of methods to keep the doors of the Capitol locked to the public, by doing the following:
Abruptly halting public hearings on controversial legislation before citizens were able to speak
Violating Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law
Physically locking the public and legislators out of the Capitol
Implementing guidelines that makes it nearly impossible for individuals or groups that are not wealthy to utilize their constitutional right to free speech and assembly
We need more accountability and transparency, not less. I will continue doing what I can to promote good government policies, not follow in Governor Walker's footsteps by forwarding legislation and policies aimed at keeping our neighbors in the dark.

Disappointing DOT Decision
Last Friday, December 16, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) announced its decision to ignore the thousands of cycle enthusiasts, commuters, and business leaders that advocated for a bike and pedestrian lane on the Hoan Bridge as part of the bridge restoration project scheduled to begin in 2012.

As you know, WisDOT concluded a feasibility study earlier this year that included five possible options for adding a bike and pedestrian lane to the bridge. Had the project been approved by WisDOT, the addition of a bike and pedestrian lane could have been constructed within the current estimated budget for the reconstruction of the Hoan Bridge. The proposed project would have also served as the last puzzle piece in connecting the Oak Leaf Trail, a multi-state trail network that runs from Downtown Chicago through Milwaukee and up to Sheboygan.

On November 9, I was joined by Rep. Richards, Rep. Sinicki, county and local government officials, and the Coalition to Bike the Hoan at a press conference, where we presented the results of the "Petition to Bike the Hoan." The petition generated over 5,000 signatures from individuals requesting that WisDOT add a bike and pedestrian lane during the bridge's upcoming reconstruction. The Bike Federation of Wisconsin also presented a letter to the Governor from over 40 business leaders, who employ more than 4,000 Wisconsinites, in support of the project.

I am disappointed that WisDOT refused to listen to the voices of business leaders and the thousands of neighbors who advocated for this once-in-a-generation opportunity. The vast majority of constituents I heard from supported this project and it is truly unfortunate that we will probably have to wait at least another 40 years to revisit this. Friday's decision by the DOT represents a missed opportunity for Milwaukee as expanding access to the Hoan would have been a positive step forward in cementing our city's commitment to providing multi-modal forms of public transit.

I will continue with working to move our community forward by expanding safe alternatives for bicyclists and pedestrians in Milwaukee County. Furthering such efforts will help to simultaneously promote tourism and encourage economic growth.

Capitol Access Policies Remain Unclear
Last week, Governor Walker and his administration implemented a new policy to prevent Wisconsinites from using their First Amendment right to free speech and to freely assemble. This policy stipulated that groups of four or more people would need to obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings, including the Capitol, and apply for those permits at least 72-hours in advance. Additionally, families and groups of four or more could also be required to pay a fee or obtain liability insurance or a bond before getting a permit.

Governor Walker and his Department of Administration appointees were rather vague in the language used to draft the policy. It is expected that Capitol Police will be responsible for determining who is in violation of this policy and what action should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Because of the unclear language and the inability of the Department of Administration and Capitol Police to list examples of what does or does not violate the provision limiting access to the Capitol, many people may unknowingly be in violation of this order and be forced to face the consequences.

While the rules have been slightly modified, serious concerns remain over the cost barriers and the potential for selective, or even biased, enforcement.

Our governor should be encouraging input and participation from his neighbors, not seeking retribution and suppressing those that may disagree with his policies. We must work together to encourage a more open government and increase accessibility to our elected officials, rather than adopting policies that aim to restrict First Amendment rights.

If Governor Walker and his administration continue to pushing for these policies of exclusion, it will only be a matter of time before a lawsuit is filed against the state.

Making Our Roads Safer with Ignition Interlock Devices
We are now in the holiday season, which tends to be one of the most dangerous times of the year for alcohol-related driving offenses. This should be a time of celebration with family and friends, not tarnished by a tragedy resulting from drunk driving. Our family, friends and neighbors cannot afford to wait any longer for stronger drunk driving laws. Wisconsin’s drivers and passengers deserve greater peace-of-mind while on the road.

Like many in Wisconsin, I understand the tragic cost of the drunk driving epidemic that has touched all corners of our state. Too often drunk drivers cause accidents that kill or injure our family, friends and neighbors, shattering lives and tearing the fabric of our communities. We must do more to end these preventable tragedies and safeguard our loved ones.

In the past, the solution has simply been to take away the driver’s licenses of convicted drunk drivers. However, we know this does not do enough to prevent them from driving. DOT estimates for 2010 show that over 32,000 people were convicted of driving drunk in Wisconsin and nearly 32% of these were repeat offenders.

It is time that we do more to stop the fatalities, injuries and property loss caused by drunk drivers, which is why Rep. Tony Staskunas (D–West Allis) and I have introduced bipartisan legislation recently to strengthen our state’s drunk driving laws through increased use of ignition interlock devices.

Click here to view a copy of this legislation.

This legislation strengthens our lax drunk driving laws by stipulating that all first-time convicted drunk drivers have an ignition interlock device placed in their vehicle. Currently, ignition interlock device are only installed in vehicles of first-time offenders with blood alcohol content of .15 or higher and repeat offenders. This life-saving technology has been proven to reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

This legislation is a step in the right direction. I will continue to work with advocates and law enforcement to untangle and improve Wisconsin's drunk driving laws.

Senator Larson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Biz Owner In Walker Ad Actually a Billionaire Outsourcer, Member of China Business Council

Here at 4896 Hobbs Road, we have begun the arduous and expensive task of sealing up the house and adding insulation everywhere to begin to try to get a handle on rising energy costs. As we live in a modified A-frame, much of the problem is the condition of the present roof and how it originally was insulated.

Although our present shingles could probably suffice for two or three more years, we are considering the newest alternative, steel roofing with a lot of good insulation installed first.

We are trying to outrun the ever rising expense of heating our living space!


I received the following e mail today:

Dear Lawrence,

I wish that today I could send you a cheerful message with good news, wish you a wonderful holiday season and reflect on the incredible work we’ve done in the past year.

But we can’t rest and recharge: Six million unemployed workers are counting on us to keep on fighting for them, and we won’t let them down.

Please call Speaker Boehner at 202-225-0600. Tell the person who picks up the phone: “Speaker Boehner should be ashamed of himself. He needs to get his House in order, stop the partisan games and extend unemployment aid immediately.”

The two things House Republicans seem to be most passionate about are protecting millionaires from having to pay taxes and cutting unemployment benefits for jobless workers.

All 229 House members who voted yesterday to cut off unemployment benefits were Republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves. Once again they’ve blocked survival aid for men and women who want to work but can’t find jobs in this brutal economy. If House Republicans continue to block action, nearly 2 million people will lose unemployment benefits in January alone. How can they sit back and enjoy the holidays?

Please pick up the phone and call Speaker Boehner at 202-225-0600. Tell him to extend unemployment aid immediately.

Thank you for being a voice for jobless workers, and for all the work you do.

In Solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

P.S. 89 Senators—Democrats and Republicans—voted to extend unemployment this weekend. House Republicans have a decision to make. They can continue standing with the wealthiest one percent by taking directions from the most extreme of the Tea Partiers, or they can come to their senses and start standing up for working people and paying attention to the jobs crisis.

Please call John Boehner and ask him: What’s wrong with Tea Party Republicans in the House—and why can’t they get anything done for working families? His number is 202-225-0600.


I made the call this morning - and let me tell you, it felt REALLY good to say it into Boehner's phone!

Closer to home, I received the following e mail from Mike Tate:

Dear Lawrence,

A new report shows that last month, Scott Walker ranked #1 in the country in job losses thanks to his extreme, divisive agenda that has failed to produce jobs for Wisconsin families.

But rather than take responsibility for costing 34,900 Wisconsin workers their jobs in the last five months, Scott Walker and his administration have been blaming others, blaming you and even blaming the jobs data itself.

Scott Walker thinks that if he changes the subject or blames others for his failures, he'll be able to save his own job while more Wisconsin families struggle to make ends meet.

Enough is enough. It's time to hold Scott Walker accountable for making working, middle-class families suffer while his super-rich campaign donors receive billions more in corporate welfare and tax giveaways.

Can you chip in with a donation of $5 to help us expose how Scott Walker's extreme policies are directly responsible for the more than 34,900 pink slips Wisconsin workers have received in the last five months?


Unlike Scott Walker, numbers don't lie. The numbers show that since Scott Walker signed his devastating budget into law in June, our state has been hemorrhaging jobs each and every month. In fact, Scott Walker's regressive policies have harmed our state to such a degree that another report shows that Wisconsin has the worst economic indicators of any state in the entire country.

It's not working, but Scott Walker is too arrogant to admit that he has failed. We must act now and recall Scott Walker to get Wisconsin's economy moving again.

Please donate $5 right now so we can hold Scott Walker accountable for all the harm he has done to our state's economy and our middle class.


With your help, we'll recall Scott Walker and elect a new governor that the people of Wisconsin can believe in to take job creation seriously.

Thank you for your support,

Mike Tate
Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin

Unfortunately, I am behind on bills. But I pulled out my credit card and sent in $10 myself. I hope if you read this that you will do the same!

I am sure you have seen some of King Walker's bullshit television ads. The one that really got me was about how he has promoted small business - In one ad, he taps "small businessman" Chris Rebholz.

As progressive Wisconsinites approach the necessary number of signatures to force a recall election of Governor Scott Walker, the man known best for union-busting and prank phone call gumpsmanship is making his case for Wisconsin being a better business environment since he took office. It is a tough case to make considering that Wisconsin has led the nation in job losses for five consecutive months. Despite this absolute truth, Walker has been releasing ads touting his accomplishments and abilities.

This ad shows a "small business" owner talking about how Scott Walker is a friend to the small businessman. But as popular Wisconsin blog UppityWis notes, “Chris” is Chris Rebholz, owner of TriStar Products, a company specializing in outsourcing jobs to China. TriStar Products makes all of the useless items you see on TV infomercials...and they make them in China. In fact, Rebholz likes working with China so much that he is on the China Business Council. From UppityWis:

...the reality is that Wisconsin is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs almost exclusively to China. And when customers buy from a TV ad or online, it also requires fewer jobs to get that product to the customer because there is no store and the jobs that go with a store.
In other words, if you were going to set up a business model with the fewest American jobs possible, it would be Chris Rebholz's business model. That's the guy... that Scott Walker chose to promote his job creation efforts.

Rebholz was able to set up such a good system for importing Chinese trinkets, selling them on TV or online, and then mailing them out to people that he's gone to other businesses and offered up his expertise of getting a product, made cheap in China, and to the hands of the American consumer with the fewest American jobs possible.

Americans are growing tired of the "big business" megalomania that has come to represent the Right. Walker is a product of this mindset, someone so engulfed in ideology that it is difficult to tell if he even thinks he is lying anymore.

And sure, in these ads Walker is telling a special version of the truth. If you are the kind of company that makes cheap products in China and has them sent here to sell wholesale then yes, Governor Walker’s economic policies may work for you. But Wisconsin's firefighters, police officers and public employees aren’t willing to take anymore bullets for the likes of Chris Rebholz.

Biztimes.com states the obvious, that having someone like Rebholz tout your economic policy might be foolish.

Yes, you heard that right folks-- Walker's job-promotin' carny barker helps companies with their "downsizing."
Here's the kicker, though: Rebholz is also a member of the "China Business Council" which features on their logo a Chinese flag placed in front and almost completely covering-up the American flag below it.

As the name suggest, the Chinese Business Council helps facilitate the manufacturing of products in China and then selling them in the United States.

The problem with being a 1% flunky is that you only gain support from the 1%, leaving 99% of Wisconsinites wondering if their Governor has their best interests in mind. Having a billionaire who has made his money outsourcing jobs to China does little to strengthen Walker's case. But hey, Walker and Rebholz are a match made in Heaven. After all, Rebholz is familiar with recalls, too. In 2007 his Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill was recalled for being a fire hazard.


Monday, December 19, 2011


Some time ago I realized that we had an elm tree that was looking very dead and that it was leaning precariously towards the garage. We called a tree specialist, Matt Staudenmaier, who came out to look over the situation.

He told us he could drop that tree successfully. He also pointed out that the huge oak next to the elm was dying and should be harvested at the same time.

So Last Saturday Matt and a helper dropped both trees and cut them up in lengths that could be split into firewood for the office.

so I called my friend Tom Johnson who lives near Madison but quite often treks to Superior, Wisconsin, to look in on the homestead there, as he had expressed an interest in helping me split any wood that I might acquire. Tom is a great friend who has been helpful over the years and we always have a great time in each other's company.

Saturday afternoon I went to A-1 Rental and rented a hydraulic gas driven splitter which I towed home with "the Big Tamata". Tom arrived just about dusk so we waited until Sunday morning to attack the mound of wood that Matt had dropped in the yard in front of the office.

After a good hearty breakfast of buttermilk blueberry pancakes and lots of coffee we set to work feeding the splitter. We would work for 50 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. The night before I had set the DVR to record the Packer game, so we worked right through the noon hour up until around one o'clock, at which time we had both had it! It was all I could do to climb the stairs to watch the recorded game.

Now I wish I hadn't watch it!

This morning, we were both up and at it for about an hour before we returned the splitter which was due in by 8:30 AM.

What you see in the photo is the result of our labors! I am typing this in a very cozy office!

My sincere thanks to Tom for helping me with a pretty monumental task. Later in the year I will be going down to help him out with an English class he is teaching as a way of paying him back.


Friday, December 16, 2011


Capitol Access Restricted...Again
Governor Walker and his administration are set to implement a new policy to prevent Wisconsinites from using their First Amendment right to free speech. Starting today, December 16, groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings, including the Capitol, and apply for those permits at least 72-hours in advance. Families and groups of four or more can also be required to pay a fee or obtain liability insurance or a bond before getting a permit.

Who Would be Affected?

Governor Walker and his Department of Administration (DOA) appointees were rather vague in the language used to draft this new policy. It is expected that Capitol Police will be responsible for determining who is in violation of this policy and what action should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Because of the unclear language and the inability of DOA and Capitol Police to list examples of what does or does not violate the provision limiting access to the Capitol, many people may unknowingly be in violation of this order and be forced to face the consequences.

This provision has the potential to be applied to families of four or more, 4th grade classes on a field trip, tour groups, and advocacy organizations handing out literature on their lobby days. Capitol Police would also have the authority to choose when to enforce it or not as they could penalize a group of six choosing to sing a song in opposition of Walker, while choosing to allow a group of 10 to chant in support of Walker.

Continuation of Policies to Decrease Government Accessibility

Throughout this year, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have:
Abruptly halted public hearings on controversial legislation before citizens were able to speak
Violated Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law
Locked the public and legislators out of the Capitol
Rejected transparency and accountability measures proposed on numerous bills
Pushed special interest legislation that had no public author
Our governor should be encouraging input and participation from his neighbors, not seeking retribution and suppressing those that may disagree with his policies. We must work together to encourage a more open government and increase accessibility to our elected officials, rather than adopting policies that aim to restrict First Amendment rights.

Walker has no respect for you! Why would you not sign the petition?


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wisconsin Collects More Than A Half-Million Signatures In One Month

-- In just one month, Wisconsin has collected more than a half-million signatures from 'Sconnies hoping to kick Gov. Scott Walker (R) out of office, putting them well on their way to hit the threshold to trigger a recall election in 2012, with time to spare.

United Wisconsin, the group coordinating the recall effort, announced the news in a press release on Thursday, and Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate will be holding a video conference Thursday afternoon.

Activists still plan to collect more than 700,000 signatures before the Jan. 17 deadline, when recall organizers must turn their petitions into the Government Accountability Office, which oversees state elections. They must have 540,208 valid signatures in order to trigger a recall race.

"Scott Walker continues to spend millions on misleading TV ads trying to convince voters that his drastic cuts to education and other 'reforms' are working," said Meagan Mahaffey, United Wisconsin's executive director, in a statement. "But the people of Wisconsin are not buying his lies and are moving at record pace to stop Walker's destruction and recall him from office."

A recall election could occur as early as March 27, although it will likely be later if Republicans challenge the petition signatures or file lawsuits.

Once recall organizers turn in their petitions, the GAB will determine how many of those signatures are valid.

As Patch reported, GAB "set off a firestorm this week when one of its staffers said the agency would not automatically strike names like Mickey Mouse and Adolf Hitler from the petitions -- as long as those signatures were dated and had Wisconsin addresses."

The Walker recall is the next step in a campaign to oust Wisconsin Republicans who pushed forward controversial budget legislation stripping collective bargaining rights from state employees. In August, Democrats recalled two Republican state senators from office, but they fell short of the three needed to take control of the chamber.

There have been only two successful gubernatorial recall elections in history, one against California Gov. Gray Davis (D) in 2003 and one against North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.

Triggering a recall election won't mean that Walker will necessarily get kicked out of office; a candidate still needs to step forward and beat Walker in a match-up.

Tate has said the party won't put a candidate forward until early 2012 in order to keep the fight focused as a referendum on Walker.

The recall effort has become rough in recent days, with allegations flying that activists are being intimidated by Walker supporters and, on the other side, that recall organizers are collecting signatures on private property and are having people double-sign petitions.

Republicans have started a website asking people to report "any cases of fraud, intimidation, or other shady tactics" perpetrated by recall organizers.

"A majority of citizens have grown increasingly frustrated with the recall process, and this effort allows these people to get involved and protect their state from repeated fraudulent activity," said Republican Party executive director Stephan Thompson.


Where did the expression “piss poor” come from ?

We older people need to learn something new every day..

Just to keep the grey matter tuned up.

Where did "Piss Poor" come from?
Interesting History.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot

And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery...

if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor".
But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...

They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature

Isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May,

And they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell,
Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water.

The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water,

Then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children.

Last of all the babies.

By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath.

It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals
(mice, bugs) lived in the roof.

When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.
Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.

This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings

Could mess up your nice clean bed.

Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.

That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.

Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery

In the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing.

As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door,

It would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.

Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables

And did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers

In the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.

Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

Hence the rhyme:

“Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old”.
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.

When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.

It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon."

They would cut off a little to share with guests

And would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter.

Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death.

This happened most often with tomatoes,

so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.

Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle,

and guests got the top, or the upper crust.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.

The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days.

Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.

They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around
and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

Hence the custom; “of holding a wake”.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.

So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave.

When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive.

So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.

Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be,
“saved by the bell” or was "considered a dead ringer”.

And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said History was boring!!!
So get out there and educate someone! ~~~

Share these facts with a friend.
Inside every older person is a younger person wondering,

'What the heck happened?'

We'll be friends until we are old and senile.

Then we'll be new friends.

it gives your face something to do!



Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Christmas is creeping ever nearer, and our beloved Green Bay Packers are setting all kinds of records this year. According to Bleacher report:

During the Packers' current 19-game winning streak, the team has decided to rewrite the history books. Plenty of records have already fallen victim and many more are still possible.

With an incredibly deep roster, the Packers success this season has been a team effort. Along with the near-perfect play of Aaron Rodgers, different Packers have stepped up each week to help the team win. Injuries haven't slowed the Packers as the next-man-up mantra has never been truer.

Looking at the statistics for the 2011 Green Bay Packers, some explain the success that the team has had this season, some are mind-boggling, and others are meaningless but still fascinating at the same time.

The Green Bay Packers have had no problems taking the ball from opposing quarterbacks. In 13 games, the Packers have collected 27 interceptions. Tied for second, the Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers each have 18 picks.

Leading the pack, Charles Woodson has seven interceptions on his own. He has collected more interceptions than the whole Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings teams who have six each.

Individually, Woodson has single-handedly countered the Packers' quarterbacks interceptions, a combined seven (Rodgers-six, Flynn-one).

Nine different players on the Packers roster have come up with interceptions this season. Five have come from linebackers, seven from safeties and 15 from cornerbacks.

Through 13 games, three quarterbacks have a realistic shot of taking down Dan Marino's single-season yardage record. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are on pace to shatter the record, while Aaron Rodgers is on pace to finish just over seven yards shy.

To this point, Brees and Brady are only outpacing Rodgers based on their number attempts. Brees is on pace to finish the season with 5,376 yards on 668.3 attempts, Brady is on pace to finish with 5259.2 yards on 610.5 attempts and Rodgers' current pace would leave him with 5076.8 yards on just 539 attempts.

It took Marino 564 yards to reach his record 5,084 yards.

Brees and Brady will likely break the record, but as the Packers near home-field advantage, it is unlikely that Rodgers plays enough and throws enough to reach the record. It's noteworthy however, that Rodgers is putting up incredible yardage on far fewer attempts.

The 2011 Green Bay Packers have already scored more points than any other Packers team in history. Coming into their Week 14 game against the Oakland Raiders 41 points shy of the team record, the Packers broke the record and added an extra five points bringing their total to 466 points.

Every point the Packers score from now until the end of the regular season will help to create a healthy distance between the 2011 Packers and the other Packers teams that came before. Through 13 games, 20 different players have contributed to scoring record (19 players have scored touchdowns and Crosby in the kicking game).

The previous record for total points in a season was the 2009 Packers teams that scored 461 points in 16 games. Including this record-breaking season, the two highest-scoring Packers teams have been led by Aaron Rodgers.

It's no secret that Jordy Nelson is having a breaking season. He started it off with a magnificent performance in the Super Bowl and has carried that momentum through 2011. Nelson leads the Packers in receiving yards and touchdowns.

This year has been far and away his best season in the league with career highs across the board. In 2010, his best year previously, Nelson caught 45 passes for 582 yards and two touchdowns. This year, Nelson has caught six more passes for a total of 51 but has gained 957 yards.

Nelson has increased his yards per reception from 12.9 yards in 2010 to a juicy 18.8 yards in 2011. While bringing up his average, Nelson has turned into a variable threat. He can beat corners deep, while also having the speed to take a short pass the distance.

Coming into this season, under Mike McCarthy's leadership, the Packers had struggled with special teams. In the majority of games, the Packers were outmatched by opposing teams' special teams units. They were missing that return that could flip field position and change a game in an instant.

When the Packers drafted Randall Cobb, they believed they got their man. Cobb wasted no time proving the Packers' front office correct as he erupted for a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Packers' season opener.

This season, the Packers currently are ranked seventh in average yards per kickoff return with an average of 25.4 yards and fifth in average yards per punt return with an average of 12 yards. The addition of Randall Cobb has done wonders for the Packers' special teams.

This season, the Packers have scored a ridiculous amount of touchdowns. Through 13 games, the team has 57 total touchdowns—nine more than any other team.

While the end zone has been a familiar hang-out spot for the Green and Gold, other teams haven't been quite as successful. Through the first 13 games of the season, the St. Louis Rams have found the end zone a lowly 14 times.

Jordy Nelson (10) and Greg Jennings (nine), each, have more receiving touchdowns than the entire Rams team combined (seven).

The Packers have scored more than four times as many touchdowns as the St. Louis Rams. A ridiculous amount.

One of the most impressive stats of the 2011 Packers is that they have never been behind in the fourth quarter. If you include last season's playoff run, the Packers haven't trailed in the fourth quarter since their Week 15 loss to the New England Patriots—19 games ago.

A true testament to the Packers success, the stat is mind-blogging and demonstrates just how dominant the Packers have been over the last calendar year.

This season, the closest they have come to trailing was against the New York Giants as Eli Manning led a game-tying drive leaving 58 seconds remaining. Rodgers immediately rushed the Packers down the field for a game-winning field goal.



Tuesday, December 13, 2011


There has been much debate in the media as to whether there should be a recall of Gov. Scott Walker. Here is why I want to see a recall.

It's not because the governor is slashing the education budget; other governors before him have done the same, even Democratic ones. It's not because he is cutting health care for many in the state who need it; this country has long denied the poorest of its citizenry access to basic health care.

It's not because he's supposedly balancing the budget on the backs of teachers and other public employees by requiring them to pay more for their health care and pensions, thus eroding their take-home pay. None of those are the reasons I want to recall this governor.

There is something bigger going on in our country, something insidious that is undermining the very fabric of our democracy nationwide. And Walker, whether purposefully or because he is an unwitting puppet, is part of it.

The Republicans thought they had finally attained Karl Rove's vision of a "permanent Republican majority" when George W. Bush was handed the presidency by the Supreme Court in the 2000 election. Imagine their surprise when Democrat Barack Obama was elected in 2008.

So, the behind-the-scenes power brokers and the political action committees with big corporate money geared up and in 2010 helped states elect a large group of governors and state legislators who would take their marching orders. Those marching orders include legislation to end collective bargaining state by state and, thus, to quell one powerful voice of the people. Those marching orders also include legislation to make it more difficult for people who tend to vote for Democrats to vote at all.

Around the country, Republican-led legislatures began redrawing district boundaries to keep Republicans in power. In Arizona, where the people chose (via referendum) to have a bipartisan commission draw their lines, the Republican governor moved to have the chairwoman of the commission removed because she didn't like the way they were drawing the lines (the court overruled that governor).

The Republican governor of Michigan signed a law giving him the right to declare a municipality or city to be in "financial crisis" and then to appoint a private-sector manager who would take over that municipality. The manager could dismiss elected officials!

There is an egregious takeover of our democracy by people who hold economic power. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision gave corporations the ability to buy elections. One individual, Grover Norquist, has somehow gotten a significant number of Republican legislators (both state and federal) to sign his pledge to do what he demands, rather than what is right for constituents. He apparently holds the purse strings to their re-elections, and somehow that is legal. And no one seems to be able to do anything about it.

So, why do I want to recall Walker? Because I can. Because my rights as an individual elector in our grand, 200-year-old experiment in democracy are being systematically and systemically eroded. If I don't do something now to preserve our democracy, I will lose the ability to effect any change in the future.

The people of Wisconsin spoke last spring when they rallied week after week. They said they want our democracy preserved. It begins by preserving our right to collectively bargain. Because without that right, we have no voice.

Those rallies emboldened the Wisconsin electorate to recall two Republican state senators this past summer. The recall of those senators emboldened the people of Ohio to overturn an anti-collective bargaining law in November, as well the people of Michigan to recall one senator, the people of Mississippi to reject a "personhood referendum" and the people of Maine to demand that same-day voter registration be allowed in defiance of their governor's signed law to repeal it. The people are choosing to take back their democracy.

Yes, the recall here will be expensive. Democracy does not come cheap. Yes, Walker was voted in by the people a year ago. But that was under false pretenses funded by corporate denizens. And, no, we cannot wait until his term is over in 2014. If we wait that long, this governor and the people who bought his election will have further eroded our democracy and the ability of the people to have a say in how we are governed.

If we are successful in changing who sits in the governor's seat in Wisconsin, that - added to what Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, Maine and other states are doing - will send a clear message to the corporatists that we will not accept their form of government. And it will embolden other citizens to take action.

Democracy is precious to me. It is why I am proud to be an American. I have a voice today. If I do not exercise that voice now, I may lose the ability to exercise it tomorrow. This is why I am working to recall Walker. I am working to preserve our democracy.

Fire is the Devil's Friend - CLOSE CALL AT OFFICE

The old expression: "Here today, gone tomorrow" has been in my head a lot since last Sunday. That's the day my office couch erupted in flames!

I have a standard winter routine. I come to the office, turn on the computer so it can load, then attend to the stove. If there are live coals from the day before, I add small kindling.

Sunday was one of those mornings where there was little life in the bed of coals - or so I thought. I had been saving up card board for just such an occasion, so I tore some of that up and laid it on the dying embers. It came to life a lot faster than I anticipated so I went and got more card board.

I am not completely sure I know what happened but a live ember most have jumped ship when I was looking the other way. I added a small amount of kindling, closed the stove door, and went to sit at the computer. Within seconds I heard foreign sound behind me - I turned to see my little couch in flames!

First I attempted to beat the flames out with a pillow - then realized only water would extinguish the rapidly climbing flames. I rushed to the sink, ran a small jar of water (it seemed like hours for it to fill) and threw it on the flames. It didn't go out - there was still signs of burning so I went and got more water.

By the time I got the fire out completely, the couch (as you can see) was severely damaged. To say that I was in a state of shock is an understatement. First I couldn't believe that it had actually happened and as time passed I couldn't believe that I was able to extinguish the fire without a fire extinguisher! How stupid am I not to have one at the ready!

Today I realize how very lucky I was to have been able to get it out before the whole office and contents were destroyed. Of course, I would like to replace the couch, but have no money for that. I found that it will suffice for now by covering it with a blanket.

It is much more important to get to Menard's and purchase a good fire extinguisher.

The "fire sale" smell of smoke has dissipated - and I have cleaned up the mess. And I have given thanks many times since last Sunday!

Tuesday, December 6, I went in to Mayo Clinic, Midlefort, in Eau Claire and had a basal carcinoma about the size of a nickel removed from just behind and below my left ear. Carcinomas are a form of skin cancer, brought on by exposure to sunlight - I had noticed the strange little growth nearly a year ago, but it wasn't until I was assigned to a new doctor that he found it.

Turns out, carcinomas are rampant with the deterioration of the ozone, thanks to greedy corporations like the Koch brothers who don't care if the ozone is destroyed - there is money to be made.

Then we have our illustrious newly elected Senator Ron Johnson who tells us that there is no such thing as climate change. I have a wish: Senator Johnson sun bathes in the nude and gets several carcinomas on his pee pee.

The incision is healing nicely with the help of Kim who is acting as my nurse and changing my bandage daily. Hopefully I will be bandage free by the weekend.

Please say a prayer for my friend Matt Capell who underwent double knee replacement surgery last Monday. The first couple weeks are really rough. I can attest to that - and I only had one knee done!

get well, soon, Matthew!


Thursday, December 1, 2011


Our not-so-beloved governor says that the number of people signing the petition for his recall doesn't really bother him. According to Politico.com, he looks forward to putting his record before the people. He is already running ads paid for by the greedy - slick commercials with "teachers" telling us how much better off their district is since Walker took over.

What you should know is the "teachers" are not from the public sector but from charter schools in Mr. Walker's own home district.

Not entirely lies, but half truths, misrepresentations. It's the way he and his greed mongers. the Koch brothers work!

Get used to it for you will be getting a lot more of these before he's finished.

It really bewilders me that most people think that it is teachers and other public sector workers who are the only ones that are upset and only because of the destruction of collective bargaining. There is as lot more terribly destructive moves going on.

Let's start with BadgerCare. BadgerCare is a Wisconsin success story that guarantees health security for more than 775,000 people. Despite its popularity, the program is on the chopping block as the Walker administration implements $554 million in budget cuts to Wisconsin's Medicaid program.

The rationale for BadgerCare is even stronger now than it was 12 years ago when it was initiated by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. BadgerCare has enjoyed unusual bipartisan support because it grew out of a consensus that the private health insurance market has utterly failed to provide affordable coverage to lower-income working families struggling to lift themselves out of poverty and into the middle class.

Hey Republicans. Read that again! Initiated by Tommy Thompson, enjoyed bipartisan support. Wasn't he one of the good guys in you grand old party?

The Walker administration's zeal to cut BadgerCare is partially explained by its unwillingness to admit the magnitude of the health insurance cost crisis. They have pointed to the number of people enrolled in BadgerCare as a problem, without recognizing that because of our deeply flawed private health insurance market, and the acute shortage of family sustaining jobs with decent health benefits, many have no affordable alternatives. In a statement that reveals a stunning disconnection from reality, Walker's insurance commissioner recently downplayed the cost of health insurance, stating that Wisconsin's private health insurance costs "are manageable."
Recently the Walker administration launched a sneak attack against a key national consumer protection intended to reduce health insurance costs by capping excessive insurance industry profits and overhead. Without any public announcement (Citizen Action of Wisconsin actually had to inform the media and legislators), Walker’s Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel quietly filed an official request asking the federal government for a three-year waiver from new standards requiring that health insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care. The reform went into effect this year, and is part of the national health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Waiving these requirements will cost Wisconsin consumers millions of dollars in rebates health insurers would otherwise have to pay back if their profits and overhead exceed the new standards.
Given the pain skyrocketing health insurance premiums are causing throughout Wisconsin, and rampant health insecurity which threatens so many working families, it is stunning (and highly revealing) that the Walker administration is seeking to put industry profits ahead of the interests of consumers. One would think that even Walker and his allies would fear the wrath of Wisconsin consumers fed up with outsized health insurance industry profits and angry that skyrocketing costs are undermining the freedom to control their own health care decisions.

In other words, the Walker administration is saying that highly profitable health insurance companies need this money more than Wisconsin workers struggling to make it through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. This is a stunningly callous and morally bankrupt position, even for the Walker administration. The people of Wisconsin deserve better.

There are so many other areas by which Walker is hurting this great state. Consider what he wants to do with laws pertaining to clean air and water. Wisconsin is a state that used to be proud of sparkling clean, fish- filled rivers and lakes. but again, Oil and Coal greed and Mr. Walker are in favor of destroying our air and water to make another buck for the Koch Brothers.

I have a friend in Ohio who writes to me often and he tells me that Walker is running ads (on Fox news, of course) in Ohio! What? Must be nice to have the Kochs money to waste.

I saw a bumper sticker in Eau Claire that says it all. "If you are a working person and you support governor Walker you are like a chicken who supports Colonel Sanders.

I think Wisconsinites - honest Republicans and Democrats alike, are fed up to here with greed and lies - and will do something about it! The fast-disappearing middle class will take back the State house!