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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

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Wisconsin: All this book needs is a good editor

Inequality - it's getting worse.

Teddy Roosevelt on Limited Government

Wisconsin: Judge says agency in contempt of union decision


MADISON, Wis. -- A Madison judge on Monday found Wisconsin labor relations officials in contempt for enforcing parts of Gov. Scott Walker's contentious bargaining restrictions despite a ruling that they're unconstitutional, clearing the way for hundreds of school district and municipal worker unions to negotiate with their employers again.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled last year the provisions were unconstitutional as they applied to two unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers, creating confusion about whether the ruling applied to all school and municipal workers across the state.

Colas ruled Monday that his original decision wiped the provisions out of existence. He found the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt of court and issued an injunction barring it from enforcing the restrictions against any school district or municipal worker union.

"I think this conduct was nothing more than an attempt to elude the application of a judgment the commissioners knew full well applied," the judge said.


Wisconsin's next Governor? A conversation with Kathleen Vinehout


When I pushed Sen. Vinehout to explain what will be the determining factor on whether or not she runs for governor, Vinehout acknowledged the upstart, grassroots nature of her campaign, saying that her decision to run for governor will be decided by the same grassroots activists who recalled Gov. Scott Walker. “Are the grassroots ready for the campaign of a lifetime?” Vinehout asked, adding that her campaign would not be just about her as the candidate, but more of a movement supported by activists and volunteers. “I’m not running around talking to big donors,” said Vinehout, adding that instead of spending her time running around talking to big donors to ask for money, she’s been spending her time talking to the grassroots activists who will be vital to any successful challenge to Gov. Walker.

As our conversation continued, I asked Sen. Vinehout to clarify her positions on a woman’s right to choose, given that she has come under fire for not being pro-choice. Vinehout was quick to rebut any assertion that she’s not pro-choice, noting that she has a long record as a member of the State Senate of voting to protect a woman’s right to choose. “I believe abortions should be safe, legal, and rare,” Vinehout said, adding that the myth that she isn’t pro-choice started during the Democratic gubernatorial recall primary and was based on one vote she made to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control based on religious or moral objections. Vinehout explained her vote as a matter of respect for the conscience clause in the state Constitution, as opposed to being indicative of her beliefs in general.

In regards to her votes in favor of the Castle Doctrine and to allow concealed carry in Wisconsin, Vinehout explained that as a gun owner who represents a district that includes a good portion of western Wisconsin, her votes were in keeping with the strong hunting and fishing heritage of many of her constituents. Vinehout added that if Democrats want to win statewide elections, they need to be able to acknowledge the fact that hunting and fishing are a strong part of our state’s heritage.

As we were drawing our conversation to a close, Vinehout exclaimed, “Ask me about Act 10!” before I could even ask her about Act 10, the anti-public employee legislation that rescinded collective bargaining for public employees while also dramatically weakening public employee unions. Prompted to share her thoughts, Vinehout was unambiguous about Act 10, stating, “I despise Act 10; that’s why I went to Illinois,” referring to the time she spent in Illinois with 13 other Democratic State Senators in the aftermath of Gov. Walker “dropping the bomb” that was Act 10. Vinehout acknowledged that there were issues that needed to be addressed in regards to public employees in order to assist the state in getting its fiscal house in order, but Vinehout was clear that she believed – and still believes – that those issues could have been fixed through the collective bargaining process.

Secret probe spreads to five Wisconsin counties


A former top-level assistant U.S. attorney has been appointed a special prosecutor in a burgeoning, secret investigation into a wide variety of state issues, including possible campaign violations during the recent recall elections, multiple sources said.


"It's now spread to at least five counties," said a source familiar with the probe, adding that Landgraf has been investigating "all over the place."

Another source said one reason that these other counties have been roped into the investigation is a new state law that allows elected officials to be tried in their home counties for violations of ethics, lobbying and campaign laws. Ex-Assembly Majority Leader Scott Jensen had his case moved to Waukesha County under a Supreme Court ruling because of the law.

Sources said the investigation is following up on a number of leads turned up by an earlier John Doe probe, which was led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm into the former and current aides of Gov. Scott Walker during his time as Milwaukee County executive.

Not a lot of meat on this bone, but count me as one who hopes the Fitzwalkerstan Gang finally sees some justice.

NYT Editorial: Alarming Abuses of Medical Credit Cards


Patients around the nation are being victimized by medical credit cards that can lead to financial calamity. These cards, issued by specialty finance companies as well as commercial banks, carry exorbitant interest rates after an initial period of zero interest expires — with heavy penalties for late payments. They are often pushed on patients with modest incomes by health care providers who want to make sure that they get paid, even if some of their patients end up with huge credit card bills they can’t afford. Unless strong regulatory action is taken to curb the abuses, financial companies will continue to gouge consumers at their most vulnerable moments, when they are in pain and need medical attention.

Doctors and dentists whose offices arrange for these credit cards say these kinds of loans help patients pay for the care and procedures they need. But it’s hard to imagine a situation in which a consumer is more susceptible to financial coercion by a provider with a conflict of interest.

Patients typically sign up for these credit cards to pay for services like dentistry and devices like hearing aids that are not covered by Medicare or are only partially paid for by private insurance. The doctors get a good deal because they get paid promptly, while patients are often unaware of the harsh terms of this kind of credit until they get the bill.

As Jessica Silver-Greenberg reported in The Times last week, the scope of this problem is growing, as more patients sign up for cards issued through practitioners’ offices by companies like iCare Financial of Atlanta; CareCredit, a unit of General Electric; and banks like Wells Fargo and Citibank. Some patients thought they were agreeing to an in-house payment plan with their dentist’s office when in fact they were taking out a high-cost credit card with a financial institution. Others didn’t realize that the interest rate could skyrocket on bills not paid in full. Some companies don’t check a patient’s credit history or impose upfront charges on the patient, which makes it easy for people to take on extra debt they can’t afford.

Sounds like a job for Elizabeth Warren's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

NYT: Lobbyists Ready for a New Fight on U.S. Spending


So far, the defense industry is likely to be hit the hardest, since the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, set for January would slice an additional $20 billion from the Pentagon’s budget. “It’s fair to say the volume in Washington is going to be deafening,” said Marion Blakey, the chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Association.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to mitigate those cuts by spreading them among various social programs, like education and Social Security, bringing dozens of other special-interest groups into the picture.


For lobbying firms, fights like this are good for business. Their revenues in fact have dropped over the last two years because little legislation has moved forward. Now industry lobbyists say they see hints that this is the right moment to re-engage.


All these appeals will make it easier for lawmakers to get the fund-raising machines revved up again. Many events were canceled during the shutdown, as it seemed in bad form to take checks from lobbyists with thousands of federal employees out of work.

Meanwhile, lobbyists on behalf of the poor and middle class ... oh wait, those two groups have no effective lobby because they have no money.

Lying Works!

If you're not familiar with Senator Paul's statement, click here.

Dorothy has a question.

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