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Wed May 27, 2015 at 07:00 PM PDT

Top Comments: Waaaahmbulance Edition

by Puddytat

TopCommentsRedux

Silly season is again arriving early heralded by a Republican parade of very serious, self-important, self-obsessed, publicly very pious and righteous,  nearly all white men (seriously, folks, Carly Fiorina has zero chance). Aided and abetted by truckloads of billionaire money they're out there in front of every group of possible supporters (or donors) they can find boasting about how conservative they are, blowing the dog whistle every time they can, beating up on the poor and disenfranchised at every opportunity, creating a plethora of imaginary boogeymen that only they can defeat (so hurry and donate!), and vacuuming up every nickel they can get suckers to cough up on their behalf.

Some of them even believe part of the crap they're spewing; others are just in it for the money and attention. Some of them just want a Fox or RW radio gig, but all of them want to gather a great big email list to solicit money not just for their campaigns, but to sell later to an endless series of fearmongers or snake oil hucksters to mine for suckers.

They also have something else in common: very thin skins.

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No, he has no shame.
Cronies, cronies everywhere is Scott Walkers modus operendi. It used to be confined to government jobs, agency and department heads, or appointments. No more.

These appointments are also so bad, Walker reverted to a tried and true trick: announcing the appointments the Friday before a 3 day holiday week end believing that nobody would notice. I noticed.

Now, it extends to judgeships which are now being filled with political cronies.

Scott Walker has a long history of cronyism. Walker had so many cronies and campaign donors to take care of that he had dozens of civil service jobs changed so that he could take care of his friends and benefactors.

Yesterday, Karoli wrote about one of the most recent and most egregious of these when Walker appointed the son of Michael Grebe, one of Walker's dark money masters, to the Wisconsin University Board of Regents.

And that's not all...

Now that he's been safely re-elected to another 4 year term, Walker is extending his cronyism to open judgeships. He's just appointed Rebecca Bradley (member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and past President of the Milwaukee Federalist Society which you won't read in the linked article by the Walker-loving press because she's trying hard to scrub those connections from her official record) to fill a vacancy on the District 1 Court of Appeals. Insiders say she's being fast-tracked to a seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

So, yes, she's an ideologue, but that's not my real concern here. This is:

It should be noted that Bradley served for only two years at Children's Court and didn't handle all of the duties of that assignment. Obviously, Walker didn't appoint her for her experience.
That's right, folks. Barely any experience as a Judge, she's now got a fat Appeals Court gig.

It's not only Bradley that's a problem, it's also Attorney Jim Troupis, appointed by Walker to fill a Dane County Circuit Court Judgeship after a panel to review and vet 4 applicants for the seat rejected them all.

So, who is this guy?

Troupis was a partner at the Madison law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich before starting his own law firm in 2010. He worked with Republican legislators during their redistricting of the state following the 2010 census and also represented state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in the recount of the 2011 election.
A lot of lawyers left Michael Best & Friedrich after their participation in sleazy schemes was exposed. They were even replaced as the law firm representing Legislative Republicans in Wisconsin as well as Scott Walker. But, by then, they had done their dirty work and Walker just went and hired one of the firms that split off assuming nobody would notice.

And then there's this:

Gov. Scott Walker has appointed the son of his campaign chairman and president of one of the state’s leading conservative foundations to the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

...

Michael M. Grebe, son of Michael W. Grebe, president and chief executive of the Bradley Foundation, was appointed Friday to the Board of Regents. Michael W. Grebe served as Walker’s campaign chairman for the 2010 and 2014 elections as well as the 2012 recall election.

Nothing like stacking the deck with your pals and sons of donors regardless of their lack of experience.

This is the same Board of Regents where a student appointee, formerly named, was unceremoniously dumped after Tea Party groups discovered he signed a recall petition. The database that was created has been systematically used to identify "enemies" and has been used to exclude signers from employment opportunities or identify them as extreme partisans.

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Gavel and sold sign
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this picture of newly RW anointed Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Patience Roggensack is worth about ten thousand (I'm not sure if it's under copyright so I can't post it here). And then there's the accompanying article describing the chaos that Roggensack has brought with her to her shiny new leadership position.

Checked the picture out? Good. It's a lot more real that the smiling faced version she has on her website and uses in campaigns. But it pretty much says it all about someone that Urban Milwaukee is calling Lady MacBeth.

For more of the backstory on the recent changes in our Wisconsin Supreme Court follow this link. If you've been following the RW takeover or already read that piece, you may now continue to read what's happened since she and her fellow RW justices voted by email to put her in charge.

On April 29, state election authorities certified the referendum vote. Later that day, the conservatives voted by email to make Roggensack the chief justice.
When the RW has the majority of the votes, they wanted to ensure they owned the Chief, as well - impossible under Wisconsin law which established the most senior Justice was to be the Chief when the state was founded over 150 years ago. It took a lot of money and a huge amount of propaganda to fool voters about that change.

There seems to be very little actual patience in Patience Roggensack who has wasted no time in establishing her lock on power. Roggensack didn't even wait, as suggested by fellow RW extremist Justice David (the choker) Prosser, until August 1 when the courts' new term began. Nope. No public ceremony, no meeting, no handover of the gavel. A vote by email was taken and the Iron Fist of Roggensack began to pound out orders.

And the media noticed.

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Questions about WEDC are dogging Scott Walker
Oh, yeah, the normally Scott Walker-subservient Republican Legislators who infest majorities in the Wisconsin State Legislature have told us all we need to know about how bad things are with WEDC by booting Walker out as the head of his own creation. The vote took place in the powerful Joint Finance Company and will be readily passed in both Legislative Houses shortly.

The latest audit was another bombshell in the history of the agency created by Walker in 2011 to "create jobs". Walker has "created" only 129,000 new jobs in Wisconsin despite his campaign promise to create 250,000 (yeah, that's kind of what happens when you ruin a state economy).

A Little History is Needed

When he bought the Governors seat in 2010 with $100 million in Koch money, one of Scott Walkers first actions (yes, budget gutting and union busting did come first) was to get rid of Wisconsins' Department of Commerce. Instead, he set up a quasi-private agency called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). He appointed himself to chair the agency.

Right from the start, WEDC started to smell as cronies were hired, loans and subsidies were given to businesses (mostly Scott Walker donors), and transparency was virtually eliminated. Later audits discovered that nobody, I mean NOBODY, was monitoring the results of all those tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

WEDC routinely lost track of loans it made, whether loans were repaid, or whether any jobs had been "created" as required by those loans and subsidies. In short, they basically gave the money out as gifts to predominantly Walker donors. They routinely "wrote off" those loans.

Audit after audit shows the same corruption and the latest one tells of WEDC giving the money to a failing construction company (Walker donor) that fails and then WEDC lost (claims they can't find) any of the original loan payments. After the shit hit the fan again, Walker declared WEDC would simply stop giving loans (frankly, I think Walker donors have had enough pay back for their "investments" in him).

Of course!

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Pale blue shirt here. I'm back.
Hello, there. I'm Scott Walkers pale blue campaigning shirt. You've met me before. I'm the shirt that's usually accompanied by a dark red tie that Scott Walker uses whenever he's out trying to convince the peons that he's just a regular guy. Just like them.

My long sleeves are rolled up exactly 3 times to ensure that the message that he's a hardworking guy doesn't get missed by his audience. Suit coats and jackets are forbidden because they don't convey the "I'm ready to work" image Walker is projecting. He can't have the peasants knowing or even thinking that he's a lifelong career politician.

We've been hard at work for months. I felt bad at being left at home when Walker went to all those foreign countries. He wanted the "important politician suit and tie look" for those visits. Or, perhaps they don't get fooled by the "just a regular guy look" that works so well here in the US.

I've been travelling through the country visiting the peons in early Republican primary states. I'm really bored with Iowa. Not much to see there, but plenty of people that need to be hustled into supporting and voting for Walker, so we're there a lot.

Washington DC Visit

Today, we were in Washington DC. I was actually worn with a suit and a different dark red tie while he rubbed elbows with fellow Republicans, lobbyists, evangelical leaders, and campaign donors at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill. You can see my picture associated with the linked article (don't I look nice?).

Speaking briefly to a reporter, Walker said the discussion with House members was wide-ranging. He said he talked about what life might be like with a GOP president to go with a GOP Congress.

"Instead of them playing defense, we could do positive things going forward," said Walker.

The governor said meeting with Republican lawmakers from around the country was helpful to him because of the role so many states — not just the early states — will play in the allocation of delegates.

"A lot of states later on in the primary process have proportionate allocation (of delegates) so if we get in, it would be nice to have that kind of support," he said.

No, he hasn't officially announced he's climbing in the Clown Car with the other Republican wanna-bes, but nobody doubts he will just as soon as his big bag of campaign loot is filled up. After his official announcement, you see, campaign finance rules kick in. He doesn't like rules.
The event was not a fundraiser, but attendees were handed a summary of the perks associated with various levels of giving; the top category, for $1 million givers, comes with twice-a-year retreats, private briefings, weekly email updates, members-only conference calls, a dedicated staff contact person and two private dinners with VIP special guests.
Oh, yeah, Walker is well known to richly reward his campaign "investors". Just look at what he does for them with WEDC (see below).
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TopCommentsRedux

Some of us just like to howl at the moon
There has been a long running dispute between people who naturally wake up early in the morning and those of us who stay up until all hours of the night and sleep until noon. Early risers tend to stigmatize us night owls as shiftless, undisciplined, or just plain lazy with phrases like "the early bird gets the worm".

Somehow, night owls have been made to feel inferior to the early risers. It's time to set the record straight.

The truth is blow the orange cheese curl.

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Good news is hard to come by in Wisconsin these days so when there is some, I want to share the happiness. What can be more fabulous than Russ Feingold announcing he's going to take his Senate seat back.

If you haven't seen it already, here it is:

It gets even better. In light of recent polls, Johnson is in serious trouble.

It's his own fault because his only accomplishments in the nearly 6 years he's been in Washington have been to make a complete fool of himself. While he recites Tea Party talking points on issues, he has little knowledge and absolutely NO wisdom. His typical greeting? "Don't ask me for anything". Yup. No hi, how are you, nice to meet you.

He's only now starting to hold a few town halls and make himself available to the media (mostly the Republican-friendly type). In the past 5 years, nada. He has earned his 32% favorable and 29% unfavorable poll results.

Johnson isn't throwing in the towel. His statement today:

"I welcome Russ Feingold into the Senate race. While I was building a small manufacturing business and creating real jobs in Oshkosh, Russ was building Washington into the gigantic, debt-ridden, tax-eating, unresponsive, and freedom-squashing government we have today. Russ Feingold wants more Washington, a more expensive Washington, and a more powerful Washington. I want to empower people. This campaign will give the people of Wisconsin a real choice."
He should just STOP the baloney self-made man lie. He "married" his business with his father in law becoming his best customer. He also uses prison workers (they come really cheap because minimum wage and other requirements for real workers don't apply). Yet, the memes and lies just keep on coming.

The Very Scary Big Bad Gubmint meme coupled with flag-waving pontifications about freeeeedum aren't going to help him with anyone but the rabid Republican base.

Johnsons troubles are even worse because 2016 isn't a low turnout mid-term election like 2010 was. It's a presidential year and voters will be flocking to the polls. No wonder Wisconsin Republicans were so anxious to ram through a whole flock of voter suppression laws. The severe (and top secret) gerrymander they also rammed through has helped the GOP dominate the Wisconsin State Legislature and send a majority of Republicans to Congress (despite the majority of votes for Democrats statewide) won't help Johnson one tiny bit.

So, what can we do? You can give a great big Welcome to Russ Feingold. Go to his page, sign up and donate (the Donate button goes to Act Blue). Bookmark it and these other sites:

Russ Feingold on Facebook

Russ Feingold on Twitter

Give Russ a great big Welcome on his official announcement day.

Discuss
Peaceful Progressives showing support after Sikh Temple shooting
Says it all
It takes a lot for non-national, local news to make it to The New Yorker, but this sad story has. Even the caption on the photo says it all:
During the governorship of Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has continued its transformation from a congenial, moderately liberal institution into a severely divided conservative stronghold.
The attention of The New Yorker stems from a recent US Supreme Court decision upholding a Florida rule prohibiting candidates for election to state judgeships from soliciting campaign money. Of course, if you're an ideological RW judge, you don't have to ask for money. There are plenty of well funded groups that ride to your rescue with plenty of coin and boatloads of attack ads against your opponent.
In many of the thirty-nine states that elect judges, a dramatic rise in campaign contributions and related spending has caused a well-documented erosion of public confidence in state courts. The Supreme Court’s decision advanced the cause of fair courts. But it addressed only a tiny part of the problem that money and politics have created in American justice. A decision the same day by the Wisconsin Supreme Court provides an illustration of how destructive the problem can become.
(bolding is mine)

A very heavily promoted and propagandized Constitutional amendment recently passed in Wisconsin changing the selection of the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Since the Court was founded in 1852, the most senior Justice has automatically become the Chief Justice. With the newly passed amendment, the Chief Justice will now be elected by members of the State Supreme Court - a move designed to ensure that a RW Justice will become Chief, replacing liberal Shirley Abrahamson who has served as a Justice for the past 39 years and became the most senior member, therefore Chief Justice, in 1996.

Last week, as soon as the passage of the amendment was certified, the 4 RW justices of the State Supreme Court voted by email to make Justice Patience Roggensack their Chief Justice. The 3 liberal/moderate justices weren't even consulted or notified.

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Wisconsin is falling apart and he's on the road campaigning
Wisconsin Republicans have met reality and they don't like it. Their subsidies and tax cuts for the 1% and severe austerity for everybody else have produced ZERO GROWTH in state revenue adding to their budgetary woes.
Walker, an all but certain presidential candidate, and legislative Republicans have said for months that a revved up economy, fueled in part by their tax cuts, would lead to more tax money than projected through June 2017 and help them mitigate the education cuts.
Yeah, riiiiight. The belief that austerity budgeting, serious cuts to basic services, along with plenty of tax cuts for the rich and corporate (who get subsidies, too!) would all work like magic to create an economic miracle is the real Religion of the Right. They cut taxes and think the Trickle Down Fairy will pour an avalanche of dollars into state coffers to fund their pet projects, corporate subsidies, crony salary increases, and fuel, of course, even more tax cuts for their rich donors.

They remain confused that despite their best efforts over nearly 40 years, the economic miracle never, ever happens. I keep reminding them it's like going to your boss and asking for a pay cut because you're in debt up to your eyeballs and can't keep up with your bills.

"For those of us who have been crossing our fingers and going to church on Sunday, it didn't work," Vos (Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester) Vos, said of the flat tax projections. "We'll figure a way to make it all work out in the end."
(my addition in italics is for clarity, bolding is also mine to emphasize the stupidity)

The stupid .... it burns.

Of course it didn't work. But Republicans are filled with belief (now apparently accompanied by prayer, rabbits feet and 4 leaf clovers) that if they keep on cutting taxes for the rich that one day it's going to work. Apparently that Koch money comes with extra added brainwashing, too, that enable pesky facts and a long history (40 years for anyone counting) of failure to be continuously ignored.

Reality bites.

It's been so easy for them to avoid responsibility for over 4 years. They blamed Democrats and unions and protesters and liberals. Their faithful media stenographers spread the word. But now, they've owned the place for over 4 years, had no protests, got rid of unions, and used their RW generated  "who signed the recall petition list" to ensure that signers don't get hired or use their signature to pigeon-hole them as ideologues who should be denigrated or ignored. Yes, a million people are now considered to be no-goodniks.

They have run the state into the ground and there's nobody left to blame. Small wonder they're stroking their good luck charms and praying so hard. Maybe they'll blame Jesus next.

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TopCommentsRedux

For decades now whenever I see intolerance, bigotry, hypocrisy, homophobia or the like it's almost certainly coming from someone who claims to be a "good, God fearing Christian". From the haters who won't pizza-cater a gay wedding to the folks who think that THEY should be the ones deciding about what happens with a woman's lady parts instead of her, they're spreading their bile in a whole lot of places.

As someone who tries to follow the instructions Jesus gave us when he walked on the earth, I'm offended, saddened, and hurt by the association with these people. No, I can't call them Christians. Christians follow the teachings and example of Jesus, or try to. These people are Bible Thumpers who use The Bible as a weapon instead of reading and following the teachings of Christ.

I've had enough, so I'm going to thump The Bible right back at them after the cheese curl. And I'll use only one of the 4 Gospels (Matthew) to take them to school.

But First, A Word From Our Sponsor:

Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to topcomments@gmail.com or by our KosMail message board. Just click on the Spinning Top™ to make a submission. Look for the Spinning Top™ to pop up in diaries posts around Daily Kos.

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TopCommentsRedux

Jon Stewart's announcement that his last night on the Daily Show will be August 6 has started a mourning process. He's seemed so incredibly perfect for the show and engaged a young audience into caring about current events. There are never any sacred cows, forbidden topics, and ridicule was dispensed where it was deserved.

Everything was up for grabs - and satire. Things that seemed so baffling at the hands of most journalists, like campaign finance, were easily and brilliantly presented. The Daily Show ended up doing the job that "real" journalists in traditional media have increasingly ignored.

The sad announcement:

His snark filled "fake news program" was more the real deal than most of what we received from traditional media sources. I'm not sure I could have survived 8 years of President Cheney without The Daily Show bringing me a smile amidst all those tears.

Often, no words were needed. Just seeing his reaction to the ridiculous said more than volumes of words ever could.

Here's Jon on Ferguson focusing on the Fox (not) News coverage:

Brilliant! And there's much more below the cheese curl.

But First, A Word From Our Sponsor:

Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to topcomments@gmail.com or by our KosMail message board. Just click on the Spinning Top™ to make a submission. Look for the Spinning Top™ to pop up in diaries posts around Daily Kos.

Make sure that you include the direct link to the comment (the URL), which is available by clicking on that comment's date/time. Please let us know your Daily Kos user name if you use email so we can credit you properly. If you send a writeup with the link, we can include that as well. The diarist poster reserves the right to edit all content.

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Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) speaks at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, MD, February 26, 2015. Potential Republican presidential candidate Walker told grassroots conservatives on Thursday that his battle
Running a non-stop Presidential campaign
It's about stinking time that Wisconsin Governor Emperor Scott Walker (R-ILoveBillionaireDonors) begins to pick up some of the security costs for his non-stop Presidential campaign instead of mooching them off the backs of Wisconsin taxpayers. After all, this is a guy who keeps on talking about "the hardworking taxpayers" and protecting their money from being "wasted" (except for subsidies and tax breaks for his mega-rich donors and their businesses, but .... shhh about that - it's a secret).

Since his re-election as Governor, he's been jetting all over the country and visiting as many foreign countries as he can to beef up his foreign policy bona fides. His massive security detail, which got even more massive after protests began in February, 2011, is costing "hardworking taxpayers" a bundle - so much that even the Walker-Loving Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has paid attention to the spending. A recent trip to England cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $138,000 and all Walker did was make a fool of himself by ducking questions from the media and then just simply ducking the media.

Taxpayers will not pay the travel costs of Gov. Scott Walker's security detail on political jaunts as he steps up his out-of-state trips in preparation for a likely presidential run.

State tax dollars will still pay for the salaries and benefits of the State Patrol troopers who guard the governor and his family. But the governor's presidential campaign in waiting, Our American Revival, will pick up the officers' travel costs when Walker attends political rallies, fundraisers and other events related to his likely White House bid.

...

On official trips, however, tax dollars will continue to cover the troopers' travel costs.

Wisconsin taxpayers will still be on the hook for all costs that Walker can pretend to claim involve "official state business". That includes all his foreign travel. But openly political travel costs will now be covered by Walkers PAC and one can imagine that ways will be found to stick Wisconsin taxpayers with as much of his travel costs as possible.

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