No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Day by Day cartoon

Archive for the 'Politics' Category

November 13, 2014

The Milwaukee/Madison stranglehold on the Democrat Party

by @ 18:30. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Mark Belling pointed out something astonishing earlier this afternoon – every Demcorat nominee for governor since 1964 has run from either the city of Milwaukee or Dane County. It turns out the Milwaukee/Madison wings have had an even stronger stranglehold on the Democrat US Senator nominee. Since Francis Ryan Duffy (D-Fond du Lac) lost his re-election bid in 1938, every candidate has called Milwaukee, Madison or Madison’s suburbs home during their campaigns and, for the successful, their tenures:

1944 – Howard McMurray (D-Milwaukee), lost
1946 – McMurray, lost
1950 – Thomas Fairchild (D-Verona), lost
1952 – Fairchild, lost (and returned to his regular home of Milwaukee after the 1952 election)
1956 – Henry Maier (D-Milwaukee), lost
1957 – William Proxmire (D-Madison), won a special election
1962 – Gaylord Nelson (D-Madison), won (yes, he was originally from Clear Lake, but he called Madison his Wisconsin home throughout his tenure as Senator)
1964 – Proxmire, won
1968 – Nelson, won
1970 – Proxmire, won
1974 – Nelson, won
1976 – Proxmire, won
1980 – Nelson, lost
1982 – Proxmire, won
1986 – Ed Garvey (D-Madison), lost
1988 – Herb Kohl (D-Milwaukee), won
1992 – Russ Feingold (D-Middleton), won (yes, he was originally from Janesville, but he called Middleton his Wisconsin home throughout his tenure as Senator)
1994 – Kohl, won
1998 – Feingold, won
2000 – Kohl, won
2004 – Feingold, won
2006 – Kohl, won
2010 – Feingold, lost
2012 – Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), won

What are the odds that the only person left on the DPW bench, state senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), or the one-time hope of the “moderate” Democrats, Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse), will be either the next Democrat gubernatorial candidate or the next Democrat US Senate candidate? Even though Shilling IS the DPW bench, would fit nicely in Round 3 of Teh War On Wymynz!!1!!!EleVeNTy!~!@ scheduled for 2016, and was deftly maneuvered to the Senate Dem leader position to give her “experience” by Chris “Puppet Master” Larson (D-Milwaukee), I’d bet against her if doing so wouldn’t disqualify me from voting. For similar reasons, plus the fact that he has turned down the chance at a “promotion” from the House of Representatives multiple times, I’d bet against Kind as well if doing so didn’t disqualify me from voting.

November 5, 2014

The 2014 election – instant reactions

It’s been far too long since I posted here, but it’s high time to do so once again. As it’s 3 am, it will be stream-of-(semi)consciousness.

– The big winner is Republicans in general, and Scott Walker in particular. With nearly every precinct counted, but with some late-arriving absentee ballots still out, Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch won re-election (again), they beat the Democrat ticket of Mary Burke and John Lehman by a 52.3%-46.6% margin.

– The Republicans extended their majorities in the Legislature to 19-14 in the Senate and at least 61-38 in the Assembly, with 2 races with Republicans in the lead likely going to a recount. If the Republicans hold onto both of those leads, the 63-36 margin would be the largest Republican margin since Dwight Eisenhower was President.

– That 19-14 Senate margin, while equal to that coming out of the 2010 election, is a more-conservative margin with the departures of Dale Schultz and Mike Ellis. Current Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald might want to take note of what happened to each of his 4 immediate full-session predecessors in the majority office (including Democrat Russ Decker). The bad news – Fleebagging is still an option for the Dems.

– One would be tempted to call Mary Burke The Big Loser in Wisconsin, but that “honor” goes to Democrat Party of Wisconsin chair Mike “Ahab” Tate. After 4 years of raging, and after some false hope in 2012 with the recall “rental” of a couple of Senate seats, Barack Obama’s win, and Rob Zerban getting within 10 percentage points of Paul Ryan, all he and his fellow Dems have to show for it is a smaller minority in the Assembly and a 28-point pasting of Zerban by Tate’s White Whale. The question now is not whether he’s re-elected to his chair next June, but whether he’s pushed out before then.

– I guess running a soft-on-crime DA for attorney general is about as successful as running a career politician for attorney general. The hardest hit – Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm (D-Milwaukee), who is likely drowning his sorrows in John Doe III papers.

– Even with the Republican wave, there was one Democrat statewide survivor, Secretary of State Doug La Follette. Given his reluctance to do the one duty of SecState left to him, his 2018 SecState win will likely be a hollow one as his office is eliminated in that same election.

– The minor parties won’t like the pending elimination of the state treasurer’s and secretary of state’s office. While the Libertarian Party candidate also got 3% in the attorney general’s race, both the Green Party and Constitution Party had to dip into the tertiary statewide races to get the 1.0% of the vote in a statewide election necessary to have a state-run primary and automatic ballot access for the next 4 years.

– Nationally, it was a disaster for the Democrats. Once Mark Begich (D-Alaska) realizes the votes simply aren’t there, it will be an 8-seat pickup in the Senate, and it is likely that the Republicans will win the runoff in Louisiana. Once that happens, Angus King (I-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) may well bolt the Democrat caucus to make it a 12-seat Republican margin.

– The news isn’t any better in the House – the Republicans picked up at least 12 seats to extend their majority to at least 241 seats.

– The news isn’t much better for Democrat governors. While Sarah Palin successfully backstabbed her successor over his cutting of oil-financed welfare (negotiated by her), Republican pick-ups in places like Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts made up for it. I guess the Fleebaggers will have to run to Minnesota.

April 16, 2014

The Bucks have been sold for $550 million

by @ 16:10. Filed under Business, Politics - Milwaukee, Sports.

Today, Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl announced the sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to hedge-fund managers Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry for $550 million pending NBA approval, with the proviso that the team stay in Milwaukee and not become, potentially, the next incarnation of the Seattle Sonics. The three also announced that they would kick in a total of $200 million toward a replacement for the BMO Harris Bradley Center; $100 million from the new owners and $100 million from the old owner.

On the sports end of the story, hopefully the new owners will put a competitve product out on the court more often than once every 6 years (which, not exactly coincidentally, was inevitably the year Kohl was up for re-election ot the Senate).

The word is that a new arena will cost somewhere north of $500 million. I know Wikipedia is less than fully-reliable, but I went through the entries for the 14 aremas built for existing franchises that opened since 1997, and only the newest arena, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, came in at over $500 million when it was built. That $1 billion cost shattered the previous record of $480 million for Orlando’s Amway Center, which was built in 2010, and $420 million for Dallas’ American Airlines Center, which was built in 2001.

Even when adjusting for inflation, only 4 modern arenas came in at over $500 million – the Barclays Center ($1.03 billion in 2014 dollars), the American Airlines Center ($559 million in 2014 dollars), Los Angeles’ Staples Center (opened in 1999 for $375 million, or $531 million in 2014 dollars), and the Amway Center ($514 million in 2014 dollars). The average inflation-adjusted cost of the modern NBA arena, including the Barclays Center, was just under $400 million, with that dropping to $351 million if one ignores the New York Bloat.

I have to wonder whether Milwaukee is ready to shell out for the second-most-expensive arena in the NBA. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, just interviewed on the Mark Belling Show, said that he had not heard any solid plans for financing a new arena. Given the most-likely sites of the former Park East freeway just north of the Bradley Center and the lakefront (which are the parts of downtown without any buildings) are county-owned land, one would expect Abele to be in the loop.

Belling is spitballing the idea that it would be privately owned. There’s a world’s worth of difference between $200 million and $500 million, or even $351 million if the historical average holds. Naming rights wouldn’t cover it – not even the record-setting purchase by Barclays for the Brooklyn arena would cover the $300 million spread. Worse, while other sports venues have worked aignificant money out of naming rights, the Bradley Center board hasn’t been nearly as successful. The entire Bradley Center corporate sponsorship package was revealed to be a mere $18 million over 6 years when BMO Harris bought the naming rights 2 years ago.

The $550 million, plus another $100 million committment toward a new arena, is an amazing price, considering Forbes valued the franchise at $405 million just three months ago. Even though there was reportedly a 9-group bidding war, that does not explain that much of a premium given the no-move proviso. Given all three principals are big-time Democrats (Kohl a Democrat as a Senator, Edens and Lasry as massive, active donors to Democrats), someone might want to keep an eye on Kohl’s still-active Senate campaign committee.

Revisions/extensions (5:18 pm 4/16/2014) - The total $650 million (including the $100 million new arena committment) sale price shatters the previous record sale price of an NBA team – the $513 million sale of the Sacramento Kings and their equally-ancient arena, the Sleep Train Arena, last year.

December 3, 2013

Cooking the unemployment numbers

by @ 20:24. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

Note – a version of this originally appeared on DaTechGuy Blog as part of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven. Do make sure you head there daily from content from both Pete Da Tech Guy and the rest of the Magnificent Seven.

Two weeks ago, the New York Post‘s John Crudele broke the story that the Census Bureau, which conducts the Current Population Survey (CPS) that is the basis for the unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has been falsifying the data since 2010. Curdele interviewed a person who was caught by the Census Bureau in 2010 simply making up data, with the employee claiming his superiors told him to do so because his region was not successfully interviewing enough people for the survey. According to an anonymous source, that effort intensified in the months leading up to the 2012 election, with September 2012’s data specifically falsified to President Barack Obama’s favor, and continues to the present time.

These allegations are currently being investigated by both the House Oversight Committee and the Inspector General of the Census Bureau, with the BLS also quite interested in them.

One place they can start is comparing what came out of the CPS to a measure of unemployment conducted by Gallup, started in January 2010. There are a couple of key differences between the CPS and Gallup which make a comparison a bit harder:

– While the CPS uses a reference week that includes the 12th of the month (5th of the month in November), Gallup uses a 30-day rolling average.
– The CPS surveys (or claims to survey) 60,000 people age 16 and over, while over the course of each 30-day rolling average, Gallup surveys 30,000 adults.

Fortunately, the BLS releases, as part of its dataset, the data from the portion of the CPS that covers adults, or about 57,500 surveyed out of approximately 153,000,000 considered part of the labor force. That allows an apples-to-apples comparison:

Gallup-CPS

For the most part, the CPS measure of adult unemployment is significantly lower than Gallup’s measure. How significant? Let’s take a look at Gallup’s measure on the day that puts the CPS reference day right in the middle of the rolling average, the 27th day of the month (20th for November and also December to avoid an artificial post-Christmas spike). The CPS unemployment was calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number considered to be in the workforce, so I could get much closer than to the nearest tenth of a percentage point reported. The raw data was not available for Gallup’s measure of unemployment, so I took the closest possible number to the CPS measure that still rounded to Gallup’s tenth of a percentage point reported.

Gallup-CPS divergence

Polls, which is what the CPS and Gallup measures really are, come with a margin of error, within which the true value can be expected either 90% or 95% of the time. For the CPS, the 90%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.20 percentage points and the 95%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.24 percentage points. For Gallup, the 90%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.28 percentage points and the 95%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.34 percentage points.

Two polls are considered to be in good agreement when their values are within each others’ margin of error. Meanwhile at least one poll has to be wildly incorrect when the difference between the two is more than the sums of their margin of error. Out of 46 months’ worth of data:

– 18 months saw Gallup’s and CPS’s measures of unemployment disagree by more than the combined 90%-confidence margin of error of 0.49 percentage points, with 17 months having Gallup’s measure higher.
– 8 months saw the measures of unemployment disagree by between 0.28 percentage points (Gallup’s 90%-confidence margin of error) and 0.49 percentage points, with another 3 months seeing a disagreement between 0.20 percentage points (CPS’s 90% confidence margin of error) and 0.28 percentage points.
– 17 months saw the measures of unemployment in “good agreement”, disagreeing by less than 0.20 percentage points.

When two polls wildly disagree more than they are in “good agreement”, one of them has to be wrong. Given the disagreement has been almost invariably in the administration’s favor, and there already was a proven round of fakery in the CPS, it sure looks like the official measure of unemployment has been cooked longer than a burnt turkey.

November 26, 2013

NBC News – Employers abandoning “Cadillac” plans due to PlaceboCare’s “Cadillac plan” tax…4 years early

by @ 9:07. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

I wonder whether this counts against the 80 million-100 million of those with existing group health insurance plans expected to lose said insurance by the end of 2014:

For 75 million Americans who get their insurance through large companies, the Affordable Care Act is a mixed bag. Experts tell NBC News the new healthcare law is only slightly increasing premiums next year, but causing some companies with the most generous plans to reduce their employees’ benefits.

Aaron Baker, 36, his wife Billie and their two young children are covered under a generous health insurance plan offered by the private Midwestern university where he’s worked for 10 years. When they opened their benefits notice this year, they were pleased to see their $385 premium is only up by four dollars next year. However, they were shocked to discover that instead of covering the first dollar they spend with no deductible, the Baker’s plan now includes a $1,000 deductible and a $2,500 out of pocket maximum. They also will still have small co-pays for services.

According to the enrollment notice, the changes are “to relieve future health plan trend pressure and to put the university in a position to avoid the excise tax that becomes effective in 2018.” The 40 percent excise tax—often called the “Cadillac tax”— is part of Obamacare and is levied on the most generous health plans. It’s designed to bring down overall health costs by making companies and workers more cost-conscious. The thinking is that if consumers have to pay more expenses themselves, through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, they’ll avoid unnecessary or overly costly procedures. And that is supposed to make care more affordable for everyone.

I have to quibble with NBC’s analysis of the PlaceboCare Cadillac plan tax – it’s designed not to drive down costs, but to ensure that, except for the favored nomenklatura, nobody gets high-quality care. I am frankly surprised that some entities, specifically the non-union shops that are the primary targets, are reacting 4 years early.

That will just make the eventual repeal at the behest of the unions, which by 2017 will be essentially the only places still offering group health insurance, that much more odious.

November 19, 2013

No NRE Decision Desk tonight

by @ 17:57. Filed under Elections, Politics - Wisconsin.

I had hoped to bring you the results from the 21st Assembly special general election and the 82nd Assembly special primary election as they come in, but I will be otherwise occupied tonight. For those of you who want the results long before the rest of the media gets around to mentioning them, WisPolitics will have those results, as well as the results for the 69th Assembly special general election, on their election blog.

Election day in southern Milwaukee County – TODAY

by @ 6:51. Filed under Elections, Politics - Wisconsin.

There are two special elections for the State Assembly today:

– The 21st Assembly District, in Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, and the strip of Franklin between 27th and 35th, and between Drexel and Central. I wholeheartedly endorse Jessie Rodriguez, who is going up against carpetbagging Democrat Elizabeth Coppola.

– The 82nd Assembly District, in the rest of Franklin (except the northwest corner bounded by Woods, North Cape, Forest Home, and the city limits), Greendale, and the eastern part of Greenfield. That is a primary election, with 4 Republicans looking to advance to take on the sole Democrat in 4 weeks’ time. I didn’t follow that primary because I don’t live in that district, but Kevin Fischer has endorsed Shari Hanneman.

October 31, 2013

RightWisconsin column – Taking a Deeper Dig at Latest MU Law School Poll Data

by @ 6:55. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I did say when I came back that I would be writing in more places. One of those is RightWisconsin, a venture started up early this year by Charlie Sykes. I sent my analysis of the latest Marquette Law School’s poll over there, and it hit the digital press early this morning.

One item I did not include was an analysis of the shocking reversal of opinion on gay “marriage”. Less than 7 years after Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment reserving marriage to one-man/one-woman couples in an electorate the exit polls said had a built-in 4-point advantage for Democrats, a majority now say that gay couples should be recognized as “married” by the state.

Even though the half of the sample that was asked this, as well as abortion on demand, citizenship for illegal aliens and pot, was skewed even more-heavily Democrat than the half that was asked their opinion of Sen. Ron Johnson (with a D/R/I of 35.0% D/23.0% R/37.5% I), that radical undersampling of Republicans, one not seen even in 2008, did not matter – the liberal position on all of those issues would have carried the day even with the “natural” D+2.4 advantage.

October 29, 2013

It’s official – Obama administration violating the 9-month-minimum coverage-or-penalty provision of PlaceboCare law

by @ 10:56. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

You heard the rumblings here last week about the Obama administration looking into administratively rewriting their signature law one more time to benefit those who can’t use their PlaceboCare exchange website by 2/15/2014. Yesterday, they made it official. From the AP:

The extension — granted for 2014 only — addresses confusion that was created when the administration set the first open enrollment period under the law from Oct. 1-March 31.

The problem was that health insurance coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications. So somebody signing up March 16 — well within the open enrollment period — wouldn’t get coverage until April 1, thereby risking a penalty for being uninsured part of the year.

While there is a limited authority for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to grant individual waivers from the ta…er…penalty, the key word is “limited”. Specifically, that authority extends only to those who have “no affordable qualified health plan available through the Exchange, or the individual’s employer, covering the individual”, or to those covered by the other, specified exemptions from the individual mandate. Mere “glitches” and general failures of the exchange website do not qualify as a complete lack of available plans.

October 24, 2013

PlaceboCare Über Alles, IRS Edition?

by @ 9:05. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

The IRS choosing to implement its portions of PlaceboCare fully as its top priority during the 17% Shutdown instead of ensuring it could start receiving individual income tax returns on-time next year is the charge House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) leveled after the IRS announced that it will not be starting the Tax Year 2013 filing season on-time. Camp noted that the prior tax season, the IRS managed to start accepting tax returns on-time even though there were wholesale changes approved by Congress in December 2012, though my memory says it was delayed by a couple days.

The IRS counter-claimed that they were in the middle of building a new system for the Tax Year 2013 filing season when they were forced to prioritize. One can only hope that they didn’t choose the 404Care Exchange designers for that.

The significance of the delay is those big spenders who budgeted for a big income tax refund check to arrive February 2014 (an aside – that is perhaps the stupidest financial decision one can make) won’t get one.

October 23, 2013

Broken website? We’ll just break the law (again).

by @ 19:36. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

Unless you’ve been in a cave watching NBCCBSABCCNNPMSDNC or reading the NYTWaPoLATUSATodayYourLocalPaintcatcher, you know that we’ve entered the third week of EPIC FAIL of PlaceboCare’s exchange website. Not two weeks after they torpedoed the GOP’s “fallback” position of a 1-year delay in the individual mandate to buy PlaceboCare “coverage”, Democrats have started calling for a “delay” until the exchanges are actually up and running, a process that likely will take months.

The early response from Team SCOAMT:

Before I continue, I need to explain a couple things. Health insurance is sold by the month, with coverage beginning on the first day of a month. In order to get coverage for the following month, one must complete the application process 2 weeks prior to the month.

There is a ta…er…penalty for not having PlaceboCare “coverage” (the greater of $95 or 1% of one’s adjusted gross income for 2014, payable when one files one’s 2014 income tax return in winter/spring 2015), with a 2-consecutive-month grace period for non-“coverage”. That means, at least according to the state of law when the sun rose this morning, one had to complete their PlaceboCare exchange application by February 15 to get coverage for March and thus not pay at least 3 months’ worth of ta…er…penalty. Since PlaceboCare’s 2014 open-enrollment period ends on March 31, that is the last day one can avoid paying the full 2014 ta…er…penalty, but one would still be liable for 4 months’ worth of the ta…er…penalty because they wouldn’t have “coverage” until May 1.

Now, I can continue. There was some confusion on whether the “6-week delay” would be an extension of the PlaceboCare open-enrollment period until mid-May or an increase in the “grace” period described above. I’ll let Phillip Klein explain why administratively extending the administratively-set end of the open-enrollment period is illegal.

NBC News later clarified what Team SCOAMT was talking about:

As the law stands now, individuals are expected to begin the application process via HealthCare.gov by Feb. 15 to avoid a financial penalty. But under the prospective change, individuals will be expected to have started enrollment by March to avoid incurring the penalty.

It figures that they would go with the more-blatantly-illegal route. 26 USC § 5000A (e) (4) specifically proscribes the exemption from the ta…er…penalty for those with “short coverage gaps”:

(4) Months during short coverage gaps

(A) In general
Any month the last day of which occurred during a period in which the applicable individual was not covered by minimum essential coverage for a continuous period of less than 3 months.

(B) Special rules
For purposes of applying this paragraph—

(i)the length of a continuous period shall be determined without regard to the calendar years in which months in such period occur,

(ii)if a continuous period is greater than the period allowed under subparagraph (A), no exception shall be provided under this paragraph for any month in the period, and

(iii)if there is more than 1 continuous period described in subparagraph (A) covering months in a calendar year, the exception provided by this paragraph shall only apply to months in the first of such periods.
The Secretary shall prescribe rules for the collection of the penalty imposed by this section in cases where continuous periods include months in more than 1 taxable year.

In short, the United States Code, which prior to Teh SCOAMT’s ascension to the Oval Office, trumped administrative decisions, mandates that those without PlaceboCare “coverage” for more than 2 months must be ta…er…penalized. Of course, in the ObamiNation, Teh Royal Team SCOAMT decrees override any and all laws or provisions of the Constitution.

October 22, 2013

The NRE Decision Desk calls the 21st Assembly District Republican nomination for Jessie Rodriguez

by @ 21:00. Filed under Elections, Politics - Wisconsin.

Based on the unofficial results from Oak Creek’s Facebook site, The No Runny Eggs Decision Desk has called the 21st Assembly District Republican nomination for Jessie Rodriguez. Yes, South Milwaukee and Franklin have not posted results online yet, and the local media hasn’t reported anything, but Oak Creek does comprise more than half of the district, and a larger majority of those who are likely to participate on the Republican side of the primary even with an uncontested primary on the Democrat side.

The results in Oak Creek are:

Jessie Rodriguez 939
Ken Gehl 415
Chris Kujawa 350
Larry Gamble 89
Red Arnold 22

Revisions/extensions (9:09 pm 10/22/2013) - Franklin’s results are in, and push the totals to:

Jessie Rodriguez 996
Ken Gehl 425
Chris Jukawa 372
Larry Gamble 111
Red Arnold 22

R&E parts 2 and 3 (9:16 pm and 9:19 pm 10/22/2013 for more info) - Now South Milwaukee has reported, and it’s all over but the certification later this week. Jessie Rodriguez is the Republican nominee for the 21st Assembly District, and she will face Democrat Elizabeth Coppola on November 19.

The residents in the rest of Franklin and the other parts of Assembly District 82 will have a Repubilcan primary to begin the process of filling that seat on November 19 as well.

The unofficial final vote totals:

Jessie Rodriguez 1,512
Chris Kujawa 864
Ken Gehl 535
Larry Gamble 170
Red Arnold 73

House to use Air Force to shuttle en masse to attend Bill Young’s funeral

by @ 12:45. Filed under Politics - National.

Yes, you read that right – the House of Representatives will shut down on Thursday and use multiple Air Force planes to take a day trip down to Florida to attend the funeral of late Congressman Bill Young (R-FL). Well, it’s appropriate since Young was one of the kings of pork, serving as chair of the appropriations committee from 1999-2004, and as exempted-from-term-limits chair of the appropriations subcommittee on defense when he died in the middle of his 22nd term in Congress.

Bo(eh)ner and company just lost all ability to bitch about Air SCOAMT’s multiple trips for SCOAMT, the missus, and the dogs. As Wile E. Coyote would say, “Brilliance, Bo(eh)ner. Sheer, unadulterated brilliance!”

21st Assembly Republican primary – TODAY

by @ 8:08. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I really should have done this sooner, but you have, as of this writing, a bit less than 12 hours to vote if you are in South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, or the half-mile wide strip of Franklin between Central and Drexel. Because former Assemblyman Mark Honadel resigned to return to the private sector, there are 5 people running for the Republican nomination for his seat – Jason Red Arnold, Larry Gamble, Ken Gehl, Chris Kujawa, and Jessie Rodriguez. Each of them would be better than the singular Democrat candidate put out there, Elizabeth Coppola, but as always, the primaries are the time of choosing the direction of the Not-Democrat candidate.

I honestly know nothing, other than the videos he put out there and his campaign website, about Arnold. Worse, for the most part, he’s running an issue-free campaign, which in the absense of prior knowledge of his stands on the issues is a red flag. What little there is out there does mitigate against the red flag.

Gamble’s reputation with the Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty precedes him. In many ways, he’s a more-fleshed-out version of Arnold, with an emphasis on shrinking government.

Gehl’s greatest strength is that he is a good at “retail politics”. He was the only person who actually caught me at home, though a couple others left flyers on my door. Unfortunately, the politics part of that is his greatest weakness – his major differentiation from the other 4 candidates is that he promises to bring more state money into the district. Though state general finances are pretty close to healthy, half of all state spending is financed by a federal government that is anything but healthy.

Kujawa is the closest thing to Honadel in this race. Indeed, his relationship with Gov. Scott Walker goes back to Walker’s days as county executive.

Rodriguez is starting to grow from being just a school-choice advocate. That growth is in a small-government direction.

So, who did I vote for? I’ll need a couple beers for you to find out.

October 21, 2013

The most-“bought” Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is…

by @ 17:24. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

In the proverbial case of a flashing VCR being right exactly once a year, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (via the Captial Times) looked through the electronic versions of campaign finance records for the 6 current Justices who raised enough money to be required to file their campaign contribution records electonically to try to determine who was most-influenced by donations from lawyers with immediate business before the Court. That look excludes Justice Patrick Crooks as he did not raise enough money in his 2006 unopposed election bid. Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson was easily the biggest recipient of the current Court members of campaign contributions from “donor attorneys” appearing to seek influence on cases they had before the Court at the time of donation, pulling in $188,650 from “donor lawyers” between July 2002 and June 2013. That was well ahead of second-place Justice Annette Ziegler’s $8,300.

Notably, Abrahamson was more likely to side with “donor attorneys” when they gave her campaign more money – while she sided with donors 58% of the time overall, “big-money” donors who gave her at least $1,500 just before or just after their cases were heard won her support 71% of the time.

Meanwhile, the Left’s favorite whipping boy, Justice Michael Gabelman, who took in $2,350 from “donor attorneys”, sided with them twice in four cases. That amount is just over half of what just one attorney who appeared to rent-seek from Abrahamson donated to his opponent, then-Justice Louis Butler.

The only current Justice, other than the unchecked Crooks, who took in less than Gabelman was Justice David Prosser, who received $225 from “donor attorneys”. While the WCIJ didn’t note this, his campaign was the only one hamstrung by the since-eliminated limits on fundraising and spending on judicial campaigns imposed right after Abrahamson won re-election.

October 17, 2013

A complete cave in 11 easy steps

by @ 10:48. Filed under Politics - National.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in a cave (in which case consider yourself lucky the Park Police didn’t tear gas you out), you’ve heard by now that the Republican Party (or as I’ve begun to call its Hispandering successor, El Partido Republicano Legado in a nod to its Mexican PRI blueprint) got absolutely, positively nothing in the latest can-kick of the mess that is the federal spending-and-borrowing. Those of you who’ve been around in the comments at Hot Air and Ace of Spades HQ where I spent my sabbatical already know that I was predicting the GOP would get nothing and like it from the start. So, how did they do it? It didn’t even take a dozen steps:

– They started in late March with a Paul Ryan-written budget that included exactly $0.00 spent on PlaceboCare over the next 10 years, both the “mandatory” and “discretionary” spending, through FY2023. This was the same 10-year budgetary “defund” they quietly and fully abandoned the previous two years.

– About the time they wanted to switch to a 1-year “total” delay attached to a slightly-down-the-road debt-ceiling increase, Sen. Ted Cruz decided that the “defund” strategy wouldn’t be so quietly abandoned this time, switched that to an indefinite total defund, and got it attached to the nearer-down-the-road continuing resolution needed to keep the 35% of federal government subject to yearly approprations going into FY2014.

– In response, the Rats demanded a “clean” short-term (couple weeks versus the GOP’s couple months) continuing resolution to allow government to keep on racking up the deficits and a longer-term “clean” debt-ceiling increase to allow government to keep up racking up the debt required to finance the deficits.

– The Cruz version of “defund” met a bipartisan Party-In-Government end in the Senate, with nearly half the “Republican” caucus, including both leadership and those who campaigned in 2010 on doing everything possible to derail PlaceboCare (cough…Ron Johnson…cough) joining Harry Reid in raising the knife to it and another quiver of arrows into Cruz’s back.

– With no concessions from the Rats, the GOP dropped the full 1-year delay for a 1-year delay in the individual mandate and a repudiation of the administrative Congressional exemption from the no-employer-subisies in the individual exchanges Congress successfully begged Obama for (aka the Vitter amendment previously rejected by the Senate Rats).

– Again with no concessions from the Rats, the GOP dropped the 1-year delay in the individual mandate, instead switching to a desperate try to get back into the good graces of K Street by offering an elimination of the medical device tax in exchange for screwing over pensioners with higher taxes.

– Then Paul Ryan got the proverbial chair of offering up the end of the sequester (in exchange for “negotiations” on Social Security) out from under the ring.

– The Rats seized that chair and, as negotiations between the Senate Rats and “Pubbies” finally began, added a demand of the end of the non-defense portion of sequester immediately to their list of demands. They used the “giving up” of this new 11th-hour demand to knock down the elimination of the medical device tax to a 2-year suspension of same on the Senate side.

– In exchange, they introduced a union-demanded call for a 1-year delay in a “reinsurance” tax, a 3-year tax assessed on existing group insurance policies to fund the subisidies to those who in the past would be in high-risk insurance pools. They then used the “giving up” of this new 11:30 pm demand to eliminate the Vitter amendment on the Senate side.

– Meanwhile on the House side, the rank-and-file found out that the post-2012 election war their leadership has been waging against the conservatives amongst them, and the full-scale assault on Cruz, were ordered by the portion of K Street that hadn’t already given up entirely on the GOP as tests of fealty to them. That torpedoed the last desperate House idea of a 2-year suspension of the medical device tax and an expansion of the Vitter amendment to cover the political appointees of the executive branch before it could get out of the House.

– That left the Reid plan, with a slightly longer CR and less time between the end of the CR and the end of the debt-ceiling raise, as the only game in town. Senate Minority “leader” Mitch McConnell demanded and got a $2 billion por…er…lock project on the Ohio River and a completely-meaningless strongly-worded letter for Obama to enforce the income-verification requirements for PlaceboCare subsidies he already decided to unilaterally ignore.

Thus you have what we got – a punt down the road for a few months with nothing to show for it and the stage set for the end of the non-defense portion of the sequester before Christmas. I doubt Wile E. Coyote could have done a “better” job than MiniCave and Bo(eh)ner (and by “better”, I mean “more self-destructive”).

October 14, 2013

Shutdown number of the day – $83,990,000

by @ 12:56. Filed under Politics - National.

That is the amount of money the Treasury Department will need to come up with on Default Day, October 17, to fully-service the $120 billion in short-term Treasury bills that come due that day, assuming a successful rollover of that debt.

Here are the amounts of federal tax deposits from, in order, 10/16/2012, 10/17/2012, and 10/18/2012 – $8,148,000,000, $6,751,000,000, and $1,980,000,000. Surely Treasury Secretary Jack Lew can’t be serious when he says he might not be able to come up with the cash to service that “pitiful” (in federal government terms) interest amount.

There’s another $40 million in interest coming due next week Thursday, and $5.1 billion at the end of the month, which is less than what the federal government took in on two of the three days mentioned above. Even the $56 billion in interest due to be paid out on 11/15 is less than a third of what came into the coffers last November.

In short, the only way there is an “interest-only” default in the near-future is if President Barack Obama and Lew order one. The bad news is, if they do order one, that opens the door to either a default on principal as investors refuse to reinvest in Treasury securities or hyperinflation as the Federal Reserve soaks up what isn’t bought by private and foreign interests. I’m not convinced that isn’t their goal.

October 10, 2013

Half of Detroit’s pension shortfall went out the door in “bonuses”

by @ 19:31. Filed under Politics.

(H/T – Ace)

This New York Times story is chock full of spin of how the workers for bankrupt Detroit deserved the decades’ worth of infamous “13th checks” issued by the two pension funds that an outside actuary estimates cost the general employees’ plan $2 billion between 1985 and 2011, so I’ll rely on Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle’s righteous outrage over the belated discovery of this (where Ace got his info) to help sift out the relevant points.

Between 1985, the first year the outside actuary could get records for the general workers’ pension fund, and 2008, the general workers’ pension fund handed out $1 billion in “bonuses” to current workers, retirees, and the city of Detroit. Notably, only 14% of that went to the retirees. 32% went to “reduce” the city’s committment to the trust funds, even though had this program not been in place, it is likely that the city’s contributions would have been lower as there were years that this program doubled the required city contribution. 54% went to the active employees for some reason.

The outside actuary, who made his report to the Detroit Common Council in November 2011, estimated that had the “13th checks” instead remained in the general pension fund between 1985 and 2008, the fund would have been nearly $2 billion larger than it was in 2011. He was not able to calculate the effects of the “13th check” on the police/fire pension fund, which had a similar program that apparently ended a bit before the Council finally pulled the plug on the general employees following that report.

That $2 billion is more than half of the $3.5 billion underfunding of the two pension funds. Something tells me that, if this were calculated for the police/fire pension funds, and had the 2009 and 2010 “13th checks” were also included in the calculation, almost the entirety of the current underfunding would have been covered.

Of course, that didn’t matter to the (mis)managers of the pension funds – like the architechts of the Milwaukee County pension raid of 2000 and especially the unionistas that benefited from it, they got “theirs”. Moreover, they thought that the Michigan constitution would require that the last drop of blood from the turnip go to them. They didn’t count on the last drop being drained before they died.

One more thing – in 2009, when the Detroit pension funds lost nearly a quarter of their value, the retirees were credited with a 7.5% return on their investment.

Thursday Hot Read – DrewM’s “The GOP Civil War…The Role Of Outside Groups And The Empire Strikes Back”

by @ 9:53. Filed under Politics - National.

This is what a post on the GOP Civil War written by me would look like if I had the time to do 1,695 words and the talent of DrewM. While even this three-paragraph excerpt can’t do justice to the entire piece, I hope it whets your appetite enough to read it all:

There’s clearly a faction of the party (the entrenched professional class) that saw the victories of 2010 as simply an opportunity to return to business as usual. There was no real urgency to roll back the Obama agenda of 09-10, just to accept the ground lost and move on. Oh sure there were plenty of votes to repeal ObamaCare but not when it really counted. In divided government only a handful of bills are going to pass. If you don’t hitch your wagon to one of the few “must pass” pieces of legislation, you’re really just putting on a show for the folks back home.

Enter the establishments new favorite conservative villains…the Senate Conservative Fund, Heritage Action and The Club for Growth. The knock on these groups is that they spend far more time attacking Republicans than Democrats. And to a large extent, it’s a fair description. But that ignores the problem they are trying to solve…weak kneed Republicans who left to their own devices will revert to their big spending, go-along, get-along ways.

The fact of the matter is, given past performance, Republican office holders do need an enforcer looking over their shoulders. I like to think of these groups not as “the enemy within” but as the “motivation squad”. If you aren’t a self-motivator, most people will take the path of least resistance. For Republican officeholders, that often means giving in to the DC mindset that their job is to manage the train and keep it running to the benefit of those who pay the freight. Well, these conservative groups are serving as the eyes and ears (and occasionally the clinched fist) of conservative voters back home who sent people to DC to slow the train down and eventually put it on a different track.

What are those “past performances”? No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D in 2003, the torpedoing of Social Security reform in 2005, an average publicly-held debt increase of over 9% per year, the growth to near 50% of the income-earning populace not paying any income taxes…need I go on?

How many people would have avoided PlaceboCare’s tax had the exchanges worked 100% from Day One?

by @ 8:11. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – Hot Air commenter MobileVideoEngineer)

3,800,000 according to DNC Chair (and Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). That’s right – the PlaceboCare exchange website was designed to handle a grand total of 50,000 people per day. There are 76 days, including weekends and holidays, between October 1 and December 15, the last day to sign up for PlaceboCare to be covered starting in January and thus not taxe…er…fined for not having PlaceboCare coverage.

No wonder why the IRS is saying the PlaceboCare exchanges are going “as planned”. They stand to get a rather-substantial ill-gotten windfall.

Revisions/extensions (8:15 10/10/2013) - I forgot to mention that, just like every other Rat-introduced health-related spending disaster, the PlaceboCare exchanges busted the budget by orders of magnitude. It was supposed to cost $94 million; instead, the cost is $634 million and counting.

R&E part 2 (18:20 10/10/2013) - It’s supposedly 50,000 at a time, not per day. Of course, that’s less than half the capacity of the GOP’s Medicare drug benefit expansion, which if memory serves was also available through snail mail.

October 8, 2013

Want a government job? Go south, ex-con.

by @ 17:52. Filed under Politics.

(H/T – Tom Blumer)

WBBM-TV out of Chicago reports that Illinois governor Pat Quinn (D) has administratively barred the state from asking prospective job candidates from asking about any possible criminal past when they apply for open employment positions with the state. While state bureaucrats still have the option to do a background check later in the hiring process, how are they going to know who to check?

The beauty of the piece is the one person WBBM found to tout the new “welcome crooks” initiative is state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago), who has federal bank fraud charges pending against him. They don’t call the county Chicago is the seat of Crook County for nothing.

Say, I wonder if asking UnioncRAT gubernatorial nominee(-in-waiting) Mary Burke whether she’ll welcome ex-cons to apply for Wisconsin state jobs is on her agenda will fall on the same deaf ears 10 other must-ask questions from my friends at Right Wisconsin want asked.

Jimmy Carter – today’s middle class is as poor as the poor were in my day

by @ 8:06. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

Really, Peanut Farmer? Let’s ignore the middle class for now and compare the poor now and the poor then:

  • Back then, the average family had one color TV out in the living room and maybe one black-and-white TV in the parents’ bedroom. Now, there’s color TVs in every room used for either living or entertaining (oh yeah, they’re probably hooked into a pay-TV service and some are hooked into gaming consoles, neither of which were exactly the province of the poor or the middle class back in Peanut Farmer’s day).
  • Back then, there were 2, maybe 3, phones in the house on a single line. Now, every family member over the age of 12 has his or her own phone and phone number (and they’re portable, and a couple are probably smartphones, again not exactly the province of either the poor or the middle class, or in the case of the smartphone, even the ultra-rich, back in the Peanut Farmer’s day).
  • Back then, home-cooked meals, and cooked-from-scratch meals, were the norm, with even fast-food restaurant a rare treat. Now, dinner is about as likely to come out of a McDonald’s bag or a Domino’s box as it is out of a heat-and-serve one, and a cooked-from-scratch meal is the rare treat.
  • Back then, there might have been 2 cars in the household, and most likely only if the mom also worked. Now, it’s as likely as not that little Biffy/Buffy has his/her own car to drive to prom (which would make 3 cars in the average 2-parent family because, thanks to a historically-high overall government demand, mom has to work too).

I will grant that there has been a major slip backward since the summer of 2008 with the “legacy” rich’s attempt to make sure Al Czervik doesn’t even have enough money to think about getting into Bushwood, but that’s on the Peanut Farmer’s party.

October 7, 2013

The definitive shutdown analogy

by @ 17:56. Filed under Politics - National.

Hot Air commenter 18-1 absolutely nailed it in the comments section of a post on White House economic advisor Gene Sperling terming prioritization of paying bills “default by another name”:

Let’s break this into an analogy.

Your house is about to be foreclosed on and your credit cards are maxed out. Your earnings are down because the Obamaconomy has devastated your income.

Your spouse comes to you with a handful of credit card applications saying this is the only way you can still afford to go out to eat every night and still go on that vacation to Obamacare Tahiti as promised.

You refuse to sign up for the new cards and instead demand that you cut all unnecessary spending now before you lose everything.

Your spouse responds by calling you a terrorist, a hostage taker, and an extremist. Your spouse locks you out of the house, and spends money hiring people to wall off not only your driveway, but everyone in the neighborhood.

Who is the reckless individual in this case?

One thing 18-1 left out of that – you offered several different ideas on spending to cut, and your spouse rejected out of hand every single one of them.

As for Sperling, the dirty little secret is no matter what the politicians in DC do, there will be a “technical default” within 15 years. There isn’t enough money in the world to support another doubling of the publicly-held portion of the debt, and there isn’t enough money in the US to support the amount of taxation required to avoid said doubling.

October 6, 2013

Mark Steyn pens the NPS Anthem

by @ 21:28. Filed under Politics - National.

(H/T – Dad29:

Mark Steyn penned this catchy tune, which is a hell of a lot better than the Unionista Singers ever did.

This land is our land, it sure ain’t your land
From downtown DC to the Lake Mead shoreland
From the Arctic Refuge to the Gulf Stream waters
This land is closed to you and yours

I’m hoping for a tape of him singing it on Thursday, mostly so I don’t have to do it myself.

Do go over to NRO for verses 2, 3 and 4.

October 3, 2013

Walker defies Team SCOAMT

This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on how Scott Walker defied federal diktats to close several state parks that receive a modicum of federal funds, and use a 1961 agreement to reopen a Mississippi River boat launch in a state park but on federal land, has gone viral. I could direct you to, say, the guest bloggers tending to The Gateway Pundit’s place or Hot Air for the macro shutdown take, but instead I’ll tie it to the Medicaid expansion that was part of PlaceboCare.

Over the course of the creation of the current state budget, the Rats and their allies-of-convenience in the health care industry tried to push Walker to accept a temporary federal funding of an expansion of Medicaid, saying it was “free money”. Walker refused, saying that the state would be left holding the bag when that money inevitably dried up.

Well, the federal money for the expansion of some state parks has dried up. Because Walker and the Republicans managed to cobble together a bit of a surplus, rather than be the heartless bastards the Rats and their presstitute organs say he is (and that Team Shutdown Clusterf*ck Of A Malignant Tyrant is), he and DNR secretary Cathy Stepp are able to keep those parks wide open.

Of course, $701,000 in parks revenue is a far cry from the hundreds of millions of dollars that Medicaid expansion is, and the shutdown is temporary.

[No Runny Eggs is proudly powered by WordPress.]