“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell, “1984″.
(See “Twaddle”, below.)
― George Orwell, “1984″.
(See “Twaddle”, below.)
Mary Burke has made her business acumen a central selling point of her campaign for governor — she brags about growing Trek Bicycle Corp.’s European sales from $3 million to $50 million while she ran those operations during the early 1990s — so it’s hardly a surprise that conservatives fighting to keep Gov. Scott Walker on the job have challenged her claims.
But as of today, we know no more about Burke’s time at Trek than we did earlier this week.
Repuvlican hearsay, innuendo & sexism
What we do know is that two reports, one in a conservative publication, the other in the Journal Sentinel, have given voice to critics of Burke’s time with Trek — criticism larded with hearsay, innuendo and sexist overtones.
Here’s what we know:
Fact: The initial report surfaced in The Wisconsin Reporter, a pseudo-journalistic publication bankrolled by conservative foundations. The Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation gave the Reporter $190,000 in 2012 to help underwrite the website. The Bradley Foundation’s top executive is Michael W. Grebe, who also chairs Walker’s campaign committee. Consider the source.
Fact: That initial report relied heavily on a single source — Gary Ellerman, who Trek says was fired “for incompetence” in 2004 and is now chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He also ran as a sham Democratic candidate in the 2012 Senate recall primary to help the incumbent GOP senator in that race. He also has a Facebook page of crude posts regarding President Barack Obama and the first lady, even likening Obama’s “hope and change” campaign slogan to a Nazi swastika, reports the Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice. The page was taken private about 30 minutes after Bice first posted about it Thursday. Consider the source.
Fact: A second source, dug up by Journal Sentinel reporters, says it’s his understanding that Burke was “fired” from her job directing Trek’s European operations 21 years ago. “I’m not saying she was incompetent,” Tom Albers, Trek’s former chief operating officer, said. “Maybe this job was too big for her.” Albers left the company in 1997 and considers himself a conservative. Consider the source.
Fact: Another former Trek employee, Steve Lindenau, who was managing director of Trek’s German office during Burke’s tenure in Europe, said he did not think Burke was fired. “I think given her work intensity, she would put in super long hours,” said Lindenau, who is now chief executive of Easy Motion Electric Bikes-BH Bicycles. “She was on a very aggressive growth pattern for Europe. It’s a family-run business. Maybe she just got burned out and needed a break.” Consider the source.
Fact: The story was published by the conservative mouthpiece less than a week before the election — a classic political trick, an October surprise of innuendo and half-truths. It was intended by Walker partisans, if not the conservative mouthpiece itself, to confuse voters. As Burke’s brother, John, Trek’s chief executive, noted: “Mary is a good person. Mary spent 55 years building up her reputation. All of a sudden, you get this character assassination.” Indeed.
Fact: The way Burke is described by some of the sources — strong-willed, assertive, “a pit bull on crack” — sound strikingly similar to the way other strong women have been portrayed once they reach positions of authority. It’s the classic language of sexism, and often it’s meant to undercut a strong female manager. Again, consider the source.
Burke called it “the kind of smear that has gone on since the start of this campaign. … The truth is that after getting five additional offices up and running and managing seven operations, we decided to restructure and there was no need for my position and two of the people reporting to me could directly report to people in the United States,” she said. “I was part of that decision to restructure and did that and then decided to leave.”
Burke left the company in 1993, taking two years off to snowboard, travel and work for a bicycle trade group. She rejoined Trek in 1995. Later, Burke served as Wisconsin’s secretary of the Department of Commerce under then-Gov. Jim Doyle.
Burke had a lousy day on Wednesday. First, the piece questioning her business bona fides and then a Marquette University Law School Poll showing her trailing Walker by seven points among those who say they are most likely to vote.
Neither piece of news is fatal. Her performance during her early days at Trek has been questioned by conservatives for months. And the poll is noteworthy more for the intensity of support Walker appears to be generating among his base (93% of Republicans but only 82% of Democrats say they are certain to vote). Maybe Democrats can motivate their base in the remaining days to challenge that finding.
No voter should base his or her decision on 20-year-old twaddle from a fired Trek employee who now is a Republican county chairman — all dredged up a week before the election. There are plenty of good issues to vote on, including Burke’s record as a businesswoman. After all, she brought it up. But these reports prove nothing and say more about the attackers than they do about her.
Dear Editor: As a school board member from South Milwaukee, I am insulted and embarrassed — for my constituents and the children in my district — by the refusal of Gov. Scott Walker to talk about our shared core value of public education.
School board members across Wisconsin rely on the nonpartisan Wisconsin Association of School Boards to bring us up to date through our magazine, Wisconsin School News. This October’s issue includes an article posing 12 relevant questions to assist school board members when considering how each candidate would support and promote public schools. I anxiously awaited both candidates’ responses to important questions about school funding, student achievement, technology, Common Core State Standards, vouchers, and child poverty in our communities.
How disappointed I was. Even though Mary Burke thoroughly answered the questions, our sitting governor’s response was that “our campaign will not be completing any interest group surveys or interviews.” So the WASB, an organization of 424 communities that supports and advances the interests of public education in Wisconsin, is now an “interest group”? Has this organization of dedicated, democratically elected people not earned the time and/or attention of our sitting governor to discuss these important topics?
Public education is mandated in the Wisconsin Constitution and it comprises the largest line item in our state’s budget. Our public schools are the heart and soul of every community. The governor should be obligated to answer to school board members, taxpayers and — most importantly — the 800,000-plus public school children.
Never before has a candidate refused to answer questions posed by the WASB for this publication. In fact, four years earlier Scott Walker answered them with apparent glee.
I am dismayed, disappointed, and upset that the chief executive of our great state has decided to “sit this one out.” Why didn’t he answer these questions? Is there something about his views and goals for public education that he does not want the electorate to know before the election?
In a new cover story for Mother Jones magazine, “The Making of the Warrior Cop,” senior reporter Shane Bauer goes inside the corporations and government departments involved in enabling police departments to acquire anything from bayonets to semi-automatic rifles and drones. Reporting from the exposition called “Urban Shield” — which organizers call the largest first-responder training in the world — Bauer says that the equipment police departments have received from the military pales in comparison to the amount of gear purchased from private companies.
The Department of Homeland Security has provided some $41 billion in funding to local police departments to buy the equipment from various corporations, on top of more than $5 billion from the Pentagon since 1997.
In the Interest of working in a bipartisan manner, I have decided to help our friends on the right. I want to make sure that our friends at Wisconsin Reporter, Maciver Institute, Right Wisconsin, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Libetry, WPRI and any other Bradley Foundation and Scott Walker campaign chairman Michael Grebe supported organization, the ability to take the weekend off.
I am sure during this long election season they would love nothing more than to spend a weekend with family and not worried about politics for a weekend.
With a race this close (and if it wasn’t incredibly close, this would not happen), we know that our friends will be going to the lowest common denominator. They showed that today, by making up a story about Mary Burke. A Bradley Foundation funded website, came out with an “exclusive” story about Mary Burke’s tenure at Trek. The source, a fired ex Trek employee who is now chair of the Jefferson County Republican party and ran in the recall elections as a “fake” Democrat named Gary Ellerman.
While a fake news website, funded by Scott Walker’s campaign chair, making up negative stories about Mary Burke is no surprise, having the mainstream media report on them is. Not since the right wing echo chamber, broke the amazing (and not even remotely true) story of the Kyle Wood assault has there been a story as unbelievable. Inexplicably, the mainstream media bit – hook, line and sinker.
Since facts no longer matter, and we know that in order to do anything to win, Grebe’s employees are willingt to pull out all of the stops. To our neighbors and friends on the right, i got this. Take the next few days off and head to the Dells. The waterparks are a bunch of fun, good food and outlet shopping is also readily available.
Here we go:
Mary Burke Hates Puppies, she also puts ketchup on hot dogs, she drinks directly from the milk container, she slurps her drink, she will not turn right on red, is a picky eater, can never make up her mind when it is her turn at Starbucks, only eats blue M& M’s, refuses to eat the crust on her sandwiches, has never watched Star Wars, fathered a child out of wedlock(oops, sorry that was someone else), leaves messages so long that the time allotted runs out before she leaves her number, shot JR Ewing, put her peanut butter in YOUR chocolate, texts during movies, has a Garden Gnome, double dips at parties, washes her jeans after every wearing and pee’s in the pool.
There you go, your October surprise!
Opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan are at a record high, though the U.S. government has spent over $7 billion to stop it, a federal watchdog states in a new report.
In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder and US AID head Rajiv Shah, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko writes: “Despite spending over $7 billion to combat opium poppy cultivation and to develop the Afghan government’s counternarcotics capacity, opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan hit an all-time high in 2013.”
“As of June 30, 2014, the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan,” the letter states.
“Despite the significant financial expenditure, opium poppy cultivation has far exceeded previous records,” he writes, adding that this “calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts.”
The value of opium and opium-made products in Afghanistan—the world’s largest producer of opium—rose 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, the report states, citing United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) figures.
Though the crop has funded extremist and criminal groups and contributed to a public health crisis, many Afghans see opium poppy cultivation as their only option. A UNODC report issued last year stated that Afghan farmers cited as among the top reasons for their cultivation of opium poppy its high sales price, high income from little land, improving their living conditions, and poverty.
A Defense Department response to the SIGAR findings, which is included in the report, states, in part: “In our opinion, the failure to reduce poppy cultivation and increase eradication is due to the lack of Afghan government support for the effort.” The Department also states that the rise in poppy cultivation “is a significant threat to U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan.”
But U.S. poppy eradication and interdiction efforts have been described as spectacular failures. As the Drug Policy Alliance has noted, drug eradication efforts have not brought decreases in violence:
Just as alcohol prohibition allowed organized crime to flourish in the 1920s, drug prohibition empowers a dangerous underground market that breeds violent crime throughout the United States and the world. The illegality of drugs has inflated the price, and thus the profit, of drugs substantially. With it, the competition for drug markets has intensified, often through violence. Whether on street corners in U.S. cities, across the border in Mexico, or in the poppy fields of Afghanistan, drug trade-related violence continues, despite the billions of drug war dollars devoted annually to law enforcement and interdiction efforts.
As for the rising opium production in Afghanistan, author and TomDispatch editor Tom Engelhardt wrote last year that it could be seen as a legacy of the U.S. occupation:
Almost 12 years after it began, no one here, it seems, is considering how to assess American “success” on that distant battlefield. But were we to do so, what possible gauge might we use? Here’s a suggestion: how about opium production? In 1979, the year America’s first Afghan war (against the Soviets) began, that country was producing just 250 tons of opium; by the early years of the post-9/11 American occupation of the country, that figure had hit 3,400 tons. Between 2006 and the present, it’s ranged from a 2007 high of 8,200 tonsto a low of just under 5,000 tons. Officials of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service now claim that 40,000 tons of illicit opiates have been stockpiled in Afghanistan, mostly to be marketed abroad. As of 2012, it was the world’s leading supplier of opium, with 74% of the global market, a figure that was expected to hit 90% as U.S. combat troops leave (and foreign aid flees). In other words, success in an endless war in that country has meant creating the world’s first true narco-state. It’s a record to consider. Not for nothing, it seems, were all those billons of dollars expended, not without accomplishments do we leave (if we are actually leaving).
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A labor group plans to sue Gov. Scott Walker’s administration Monday as part of an ongoing effort to force an increase in Wisconsin’s minimum wage.
Last month, the liberal Wisconsin Jobs Now and 100 workers sought to use a little-known clause in state law to raise the state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or at least force Walker, a Republican, to publicly oppose such a move just a month before the Nov. 4 election.
The state law requires that Wisconsin’s minimum wage “shall not be less than a living wage” and allows citizens to file a complaint to trigger a state review of the wage.
Mary Burke, Walker’s Democratic opponent, favors an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Earlier this month, Walker’s labor department rejected the formal complaints filed by Wisconsin Jobs and the workers documenting why they say the minimum wage is not enough to live on.
Peter Rickman, who leads the effort to raise the minimum wage for Wisconsin Jobs, said he had requested all the materials on the review of his group’s complaints by the state Department of Workforce Development. Rickman said he had mostly received back the group’s own complaints along with a study from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association on the effects of a minimum-wage increase.
Rickman said his group believes the law requires a more thorough state examination of the merits of the complaints. He said the lawsuit to be filed Monday in Dane County Circuit Court will ask a judge either to force such an investigation on the part of the state or to issue a finding that the current minimum wage doesn’t meet the standard for a living wage as defined in state law.
“That should have triggered a more full-scale review. But the department didn’t even go through that cursory review,” Rickman said of the group’s complaints.
A Workforce Development spokesman had no comment on the planned lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for Walker declined to comment, referring questions to the labor department. But Walker has repeatedly said he opposes raising the minimum wage because many workers receiving it are teenagers and because increasing it would cause employers to eliminate jobs.
Walker has said that he’s focused on getting workers training and opportunities to move into jobs paying more than the minimum wage.
A living wage is defined under the law as one providing a worker with “reasonable comfort, reasonable physical well-being, decency and moral well-being.” But the governor’s administration is also allowed to consider the effect that increasing the minimum wage would have on the overall state economy and on the availability of entry-level jobs.
At a Capitol news conference last month, workers called on Walker’s labor department to investigate and determine that the living wage in the state should be set higher, citing a wide range of difficulties that they have experienced living on the minimum wage.
The Department of Workforce Development determined on Oct. 7 that there was “no reasonable cause” to believe that the wages paid to complainants are not a living wage. The agency said it had considered factors such as the fact that some of the complainants make more than the minimum wage, receive public aid and brought up items beyond their basic needs.
The restaurant association study used by the department was published in June and looked at the effect of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It found that this increase would lead to the loss of 16,500 jobs in the state, including just under 2,000 in Milwaukee.
Rickman said that to his knowledge neither Wisconsin Jobs Now nor any of the workers had been contacted by the labor department about their complaints.
He pointed to a study this month by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy and the Economic Policy Institute. That study found that some 700,000 state residents make less than $11.36 an hour, the amount needed to keep a family of four out of poverty.
That study found that the “13 states that raised the minimum wage at the beginning of 2014 experienced subsequent job growth equal to or better than states that did not.”
From California to Maine, registered nurses plan to make their voices heard louder on Nov. 12 with a National Day of Action for Ebola Safety Standards.
This comes after hospitals across the country refuse to set proper safety protocols and training with optimal personal protective equipment.
Please sign petition: Tell President Obama and Congress to mandate hospitals protect nurses and healthcare workers.
A centerpiece to the actions will be a two-day strike by 18,000 RNs and nurse practitioners at 66 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics who have pressed the giant HMO for improved standards for weeks. Kaiser officials have repeatedly dismissed the nurses’ concerns.
“Kaiser has shown a complete disregard for the safety of nurses and patients in the face of a disease that the World Health Organization calls the ‘most severe acute health emergency in modern times’,” said Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of NNU and a Kaiser nurse. “We will not be silent while Kaiser puts all of us, our families, and our communities, at risk.”
Another strike will take place at Providence Hospital in Washington, DC, affecting 400 RNs.
“We’re striking to protect ourselves and our patients,” said Providence RN, Rose Farhoudi.
In addition, Ebola safety actions are tentatively set for Augusta, Ga., Bar Harbor, Me., Boston, Chicago, Durham, N.C., Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Lansing, Mi., Massilon, Oh., Miami, St. Louis, St. Paul, Mn., St. Petersburg, Fl., and Washington DC, as well as a number of other California locations.
The list of actions will continue to grow, as nurses are contacting NNU across the country.
Nurses are demanding that all U.S. hospitals follow the precautionary principle in safety measures for Ebola, which holds that absent scientific consensus that a particular risk is not harmful, especially one that can have catastrophic consequences, the highest level of safeguards must be adopted.
That means nurses and other caregivers who interact with Ebola patients are provided the optimal personal protective equipment, including full-body hazmat suits that are body fluid, blood and virus impervious.
NNU has also repeatedly called on the White House and Congress to direct all hospitals to meet these standards.
“We know from years of experience that these hospitals will meet the cheapest standards, not the most effective precautions. And now we are done talking and ready to act,” said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.
(Editor’s Note: If you have Netflx be sure to watch their latest original documentary, “E-Team”, featuring some of the brave folks at Human Rights Watch who cross borders, walk boldly into war zones, hide from the bombs targeting their civilian witnesses and document the abuses of the world’s tyrants and mad men. Sometimes this business of being a political activist gets tough. A person gets tired and wonders if any of the hard work makes any difference to anyone in any way. After watching these amazing folks I guarantee you will be inspired to carry on the fight for justice. We may get discouraged, but we have no right to quit. In solidarty. — Mark L. taylor)Netflx (10/25/14)
When atrocities are committed by ruthless dictators, Human Rights Watch sends in its Emergencies Team of fiercely intelligent, dedicated investigators. On the front lines of combat zones in Syria and Libya, E-Team members document bullet holes, burnt corpses and mass graves while gathering eyewitness testimony of attacks on innocent civilians by brutal regimes…then risk their lives to deliver the evidence to the news media and criminal courts.
WASHINGTON—Saying that a sizable cross-section of Americans exist solely to round out the nation’s general population, a new study released Wednesday by the Census Bureau found that a full 40 percent of U.S. citizens are just filler.
“Our data indicates that roughly 126 million people in this country essentially serve to just take up some space between the others,” said Census Bureau spokesperson Olivia Johnson, adding that at least 15 states have functioned as nothing more than cushioning for the rest of the country from the moment they were admitted to the union. “The United States is a large country, and our research shows that two out of every five Americans are really just fluff to fill in the gaps around more valuable citizens.”
Johnson went on to say it was unclear whether the U.S. as a whole was doing anything more than padding out North America.
― Raymond Williams
Scott Walker is, of course, running for president. The anti-labor governor of Wisconsin confirmed his candidacy in the clearest way possible last March. Despite the fact that he was getting heat at home for traveling too far and too wide from Wisconsin, he jetted to Las Vegas to participate—with other 2016 Republican presidential prospects—in what was dubbed the “Sheldon Adelson primary.”
Polls have made it clear that Wisconsinites do not want the anti-labor governor to run for president and that they do not think he can bid for the GOP nod and serve effectively as governor. So the Vegas run was risky.
Las Vegas Jackpot
But Walker appears to have hit the jackpot.
On October 23, Adelson inked a check for $650,000 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. And, on October 23, the Republican Party of Wisconsin made a $450,000 “in-kind” contribution to Scott Walker’s re-election campaign.
Wisconsin, which bars individuals from donating more than $10,000 to a particular candidate in a particular election cycle, used to place strict limits on donations to political parties and transfers of money from parties to candidates. But, this year, Supreme Court and federal court rulings have deconstructed a lot of election law. And, in September, US District Judge Rudolph Randa issued a preliminary injunction that prevents Wisconsin election officials from enforcing limits on individual donations to political parties. That ruling, notedthe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “creates an easy way for donors to sidestep the limits they normally face when giving to candidates.”
Mike McCabe, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign was blunter, saying at the time of the ruling, “What’s being done here is empowering a tiny fraction of one percent of the population to have vastly more influence over elections and our government than they used to have.”
The campaign-finance watchdog explained that with the ruling the influence of super-wealthy super donors had “been magnified, and I think that comes at the expense of everyone else.”
Super rich super donor
Adelson is, indeed, super-wealthy. Estimates of his casino-fueled fortune run in the range of $40 billion—and rising.
Adelson is, indeed, a super donor. He gave in the range of $150 million to Republican candidates and causes in 2012, according to ProPublica. That, Politico noted, was more than anyone else has given in the history of American presidential politics.
He has also been a generous supporter of Scott Walker, using a special recall-election loophole to donate $250,000 to help the governor hold on to his post in a 2012 recall election. Now, he has found another way to influence Wisconsin politics in an election where Walker’s political future is at stake.
Under what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law, Adelson cannot tell the Republican Party of Wisconsin what to do with his money. He can’t, for instance, designate Walker as the direct beneficiary of his largesse. The party can, however, spend money to help its priority candidates—and no one would question that re-electing Walker is the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s top priority.
That’s also a priority for Adelson, who gave a maximum direct donation of $10,000 to the Walker campaign earlier this year. In all, Walker’s campaign has raised roughly $25 million since early 2013. That’s a good deal more than his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, who has raised roughly $15 million—including $5 million from her own fortune—according to the latest reports. And that’s not counting all the “independent” expenditures that have filled Wisconsin television screens with negative ads.
But, with polls showing him in a dead-heat race with Burke, Walker is griping about not having enough money this year. After all, if he loses this year in Wisconsin, he will have a hard time competing in the real “Sheldon Adelson primary” with all the Republican presidential prospects who will be looking for billionaire backing in 2016.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker is making excuses for his potential defeat in Wisconsin before the votes are even counted. Walker is falsely claiming that he is being outspent by Democrats.
Walker complained to Politico that the Chris Christie run Republican Governors Association isn’t spending enough on his reelection campaign,
It’s TV spending, Walker emphasized, where national Republicans can make the biggest difference. So far, he said, the out-of-state effort on his behalf “pales in comparison” to what his coalition of foes have spent on the other side.
“I’m hopeful that, just as they have in the past, at least some of the national governors associations have come in and helped,” Walker said. “We can’t coordinate [spending with outside groups] in this state, so we have to see it once it’s up on the air. But they did in 2010 and 2012 and I’m hopeful — I believe they will again this time.”
The Washington Post checked into Walker’s claim and found out the governor was not telling the truth, “The RGA has, in fact, spent a boatload of money on Walker’s behalf, including $5.2 million during his 2010 run for office, $8.9 million during his 2012 recall, and $8 million so far this year. In the last few weeks, the RGA has committed an additional $1.3 million to advertisements. And so far, Republicans are actually outspending, and out-advertising, Democrats on the air.”
SPECIAL LA CROSSE CITY COUNCIL MEETING ON RAILROAD NEGOTIATIONS, 5:30 P.M., LaCROSSE CITY HALL, 400 LaCROSSE STREET.
Dear Coulee Region Friends and Neighbors,
In negotiations with La Crosse, BNSF remains UNWILLING to:
The offer DOES include:
Please ask Council to wait for the DNR and Army Corp of Engineers to render decisions on permits in the Marsh, and to push for the common-sense solutions above to problems created by a second rail.
Please attend 5:30 p.m. Thursday to share your experiences, concerns, questions, and comments. And also:
And remember to forward this to concerns friends and neighbors!
CARS, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety
Karen Ringstrom, Maureen Freedland, Carolyn Mahlum-Jenkins, Jeff Sexton, Fred Nicklaus, Chuck Lee, George Nygaard, Nancy Heerens-Knudson, Ralph Knudson, Rich Pein, Alan Stankevitz, Irv Balto, Bruce Kuehmichel, Curtis Miller, Guy Wolf, Jan Stack
For timely news on rail safety: DOT-111 READER
Facebook: CARS, Citizens for Rail Safety
Website: Citizens Acting for Rail Safety
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