According to WiscPolitics.com, Lawton called Palin’s qualifications into question, especially when compared to Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden. She said if the worst should happen, the GOP’s prospective second-in-command “falls short.”
“It could happen in a month or a year if John McCain were elected,” Lawton said of Palin taking over. “I think we’d have someone pretty fragile at the helm.”
The truth is, Wisconsinites have more to fear from about Lawton being a heartbeat away from the East Wing than Sarah Palin being a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. This is especially true given John McCain’s apparent good health and vitality, and speculation that Governor Jim Doyle is likely to follow Barack Obama to Washington if he wins in November.
As for Lawton’s own qualifications to be Governor, other than serving as Lt. Governor, she has none, a fact Lawton’s biography glosses over with eloquent hyperbole about community service. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Barbara Lawton was born on July 5, 1951 in Wisconsin. She graduated from Waterford Union High School, summa cum laude from Lawrence University and earned a master’s degree in Spanish from UW-Madison. In 2008, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Lawrence University and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Milwaukee Institute of Arts and Design. She and husband Charles “Cal” Lawton have two children, Amanda and Joseph, both graduates of Green Bay East High School and Macalester College, and four grandchildren. The family lived in Green Bay for over 30 years; their permanent home now is near Algoma. She took office as Wisconsin’s 43rd lieutenant on January 3, 2003 and was re-elected in 2006.
Barbara Lawton’s route to becoming Wisconsin’s first woman elected lieutenant governor started with a different kind of public service. As a founder of the Greater Green Bay Area Community Foundation and the Multicultural Center, as an advisor to Entrepreneurs of Color, in service on various Boards, including that of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Foundation, and as a consultant to businesses expanding internationally, she is firmly grounded in community. Her thinking and action on the important issues of the day reflect her confidence in the people as this state’s greatest resource.
Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton claims Senator John McCain has shown “a fundamental disrespect for women,” and women voters recognize the stark differences between the Republican and Barack Obama. According to WisPolitics, Lawton cited an off the cuff remark McCain made about his wife Cindy competing in a bikini contest at a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., and his fumbling for an answer when asked about insurance that covers drugs like Viagra but not birth control. McCain has voted against requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for birth control.
Perhaps Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton should save her outrage about John McCain for the sexist and racist men at the top of her own party and let Cindy McCain fend for herself. I’m sure she’s quite capable:
Lawton’s presumptive Presidential nominee dismissed a female reporter, calling her sweetie and laughing along with a group of men as they walked away from her.
Lawton’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee referred to the party’s first African American Presidential candidate as “clean and articulate.”
Filed under: Budget — Christian Schneider @ 10:55 pm
Thursday night marked the premiere of the movie “IOUSA,” which is essentially being billed as “The Inconvenient Truth” for beancounters. Basically, the movie is an outgrowth of the Fiscal Wakeup Tour (which rolled through Milwaukee a few weeks ago), which makes tour stops around the country to warn people of the impending fiscal crisis the U.S. government faces.
Here’s the trailer:
Being a bit of a budget wonk myself, I decided to go check it out. I headed over to the theater with my neighbor, who is comfortably rooted in the progressive wing of the Democratic party. (Although, oddly, we are almost identical on a lot of traditional parenting issues – calling parents “Mr. and Mrs.,” not wrapping children in body armor every time they hop on their bikes, etc.) The beauty of the movie, however, is that the message is bipartisan – despite the fact that we may have vastly different conclusions about how to fix the entitlement crisis.
Part of the appeal of the movie is that after tonight’s showing only, the film’s producers broadcasted a live roundtable discussion featuring many of the economic experts featured in the film. Unfortunately, this extra service cost us – it was only after I asked for my ticket at the counter that I realized it cost $12.50 to see. I thought it was more than a little ironic that it cost $12.50 (plus $9.25 for popcorn and a drink) to go see a movie that lectures me about being fiscally prudent.
As we walked into the theater, I was surprised – the place was packed, hardly a seat to be found. I had initially predicted that the viewership of a movie about government debt would make my public television appearances look like Ugly Betty by comparison. But it was actually pretty encouraging to see so many people willing to learn about government finance and the hole our entitlement programs will eventually put us in.
As I settled into my seat, I noticed a whole lot of white hair on the heads in front of me. This is relevant, because the upcoming entitlement crisis will likely never touch any of the old folks in the audience. It’s the young people that should be most worried, yet “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2″ is out, so – can you really blame them?
I thought the movie was fairly ideologically balanced, although there certainly were points where it went out of its way to embarrass George W. Bush (many of them deserved.) For instance, they interview former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who Bush appointed, then removed for disagreeing with him on tax policy. One would think the President has the right to have secretaries that fulfill their boss’ vision. Yet, when interviewed, O’Neill goes into detail about how Bush forced him to lie and say he was resigning, instead of just firing him outright. This happens in virtually every business, and isn’t relevant to anything in any way, other that to make Bush look like a bad guy. It also means Paul O’Neill is a weasel. But I digress.
Naturally, it being Madison, the crowd began to hoot, snicker, and hiss every time Bush’s visage showed up on the screen. The lefty next to me honestly couldn’t control himself. He actually gave Bush a double-middle finger when he showed up in the movie. What is it with these people that they can’t sit and watch a movie without behaving like a six year-old?
As for the movie itself, it’s pretty good. Could have used more nudity. Lots of charts.
The roundtable discussion following the movie, despite being a really cool idea, kind of dragged on a bit. At one point, Cato Institute chairman William Niskanen suggested raising the retirement age and privatizing a small portion of Social Security, which drew a rebuke from the obnoxious lefty sitting to my right. You would have thought someone slashed the tires of his Prius. But this brings up an important point – everyone is for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets until it’s time to be fiscally responsible or balance a budget. I mean, good grief – our Wisconsin Constitution requires it, and we can’t even do it at the state level here.
The highlight of the roundtable was the fact that it was moderated by fiscal supervixen Becky Quick, of CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Sure, she may be reasonably ordinary by TV news standards, but after watching two hours of old guys and charts, her appearance felt like the Phoebe Cates pool scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Here she is interviewing T. Boone Pickens:
Of course, if this movie is a big hit, we’ll be better off as a nation. But even if people see the movie and understand its conclusions, I remain skeptical of what effect it will actually have. Of course, it’s easy to tell people that they should “hold their elected officials accountable” and “demand change.” But the next time that actually happens might be the first.
Filed under: College — Christian Schneider @ 1:34 pm
On this very blog in May, I wrote a glowing post about outgoing UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley, in which I praised his commitment to ideological diversity during his tenure. While I stand by everything I wrote at the time, I now fear for Wiley’s well being, as it appears he may have been hit in the head by a blunt object since then.
This week in Madison Magazine, Wiley unleashes a ridiculously unhinged, factually challenged screed against Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business organization. The entire vitriolic commentary smacks of typical academic elitism – if you disagree with him, you are either evil or stupid. But in effect, it trots out the same talking points any lazy liberal would use to take aim at the business community. Unfortunately, a freshman political science student at UW-Madison could do a better job of researching the facts.
To their credit, WMC has merely shrugged off Wiley’s ridiculous attack. But such an inaccurate use of the facts from a person who should know better deserves a more thorough response.
First, Wiley trots out the old canard that the UW System is underfunded:
With almost no exceptions, everyone agreed that we can’t grow our future economy without significant new investments in education–or at least a restoration of some of the last fifteen years worth of cuts.
According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the total UW budget was $2.5 billion in 1996-97. By 2006-07, just 10 years later, the total system budget had ballooned to $4.3 billion, an average increase of 5.7% per year over a decade. Of that budget, state general purpose revenue increased every year from 1996-97 ($844 million) to 2002-03 ($1.08 billion), until Governor Jim Doyle proposed cutting $250 million from the system over a two-year period. (Shame on WMC for getting Doyle elected.) By 2006-07, state aid had increased to 1.04 billion per year, with the Legislature granting campuses the authority to levy $909 million in tuition – more than twice the $400 million they collected in 1996-97.
Wiley goes on to blame WMC for the “toxic” political environment in Wisconsin, as if there has never been tension between those who want to raise taxes and lower them. Apparently, campaigning for lower taxes is a completely new phenomenon in Wisconsin, thanks to the business lobby, trying to represent the interest of their members. (A concept that is alien, apparently, to the teachers’ union, trial lawyer lobby, casino interests… you get the picture.)
Even more odd is Wiley’s attempt to blame WMC for a slew of legislative initiatives:
For the last fifteen years of Wisconsin’s declining fortunes, the candidates WMC has supported for elective office have been the very ones who, when elected, have concentrated their efforts on opposing stem cell research and domestic partner benefits, pushing a cleverly named but economically devastating “taxpayer bill of rights,” fussing over the definition of “marriage,” hauling universities before staged hearings to defend our efforts to prepare ethnic minority students for the workforce, railing against the personal views of otherwise obscure instructors, resisting any form of gun control, proposing mandatory arming of teachers, demanding the illegal summary firing of named state employees and proposing the elimination of the state’s only public law school.
Set aside, for the moment, the issues of “the definition of marriage” (which passed a public vote with 60%) and the “economically devastating” attempt to limit the growth of government. He blames WMC for helping elect representatives who were critical of the UW for hiring 9-11 conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett to teach a course on Islam. He is, of course, talking about State Representative Steve Nass, who represents a 70% Republican district, and who has likely only received minimal campaign help from WMC. Likewise for State Representative Frank Lasee, who proposed eliminating the UW-Madison law school – a terrible idea, but another legislator who probably hasn’t ever received any real help from WMC. In fact, the more moderate the legislator is, the more likely they are to have WMC help them – since they are more likely in a competitive district.
And I challenge Wiley to come up with a single legislator who opposes “any form of gun control,” or who supports “mandatory arming of teachers.” These examples are completely fabricated.
So Wiley’s calculus works like this: WMC generally supports conservative candidates, who vow to keep taxes down. That means they are on the hook for every Republican bill that might be introduced, whether it passes or not, whether it’s nutty or not, or whether or not it only exists in Wiley’s imagination.
Wiley then moves on to the favorite talking point of liberals in Wisconsin – that somehow, every dollar we spend on prisons in Wisconsin takes away funds from the UW System. He says:
Can anyone explain or justify the fact that, according to 2007 Census figures, Wisconsin has 22,966 people incarcerated when our sister state of Minnesota has only 8,757? Are Wisconsin citizens that much more criminally inclined? What does Minnesota know that we don’t? How much money could we save if Wisconsin judges had greater latitude for exercising sentencing judgment, or if we adopted control and monitoring measures other than expensive incarceration (about $30,000 per prisoner per year)? We’re talking many hundreds of millions of dollars in savings if the governor and the legislature could work together to tackle these badly needed reforms.
I’d be happy to explain the disparity between Minnesota and Wisconsin, Chancellor. First, Minnesota uses parole – we do not. Second, Minnesota’s prison system is entirely different than Wisconsin’s – most offenders are imprisoned at the local level, not the state level – so their numbers are much lower for state prisons.
Furthermore, drawing a comparison between providing funding for a prisoner and a UW student is a bogus exercise. Yes – we spend more for a prisoner – for instance, someone who may have stabbed someone else to death. We’re paying to keep the public safe by keeping this guy locked up. To say that money is morally equivalent to making sure some marginal student at UW-Stout doesn’t have to work a few extra hours at Taco Bell to help pay tuition is misguided. All Wiley has to do is start naming the people he thinks should be let out of prison, and we can start the debate.
Wiley’s solutions to the toxic political environment? Simple – make the legislature part-time and eliminate most of the local governments in the state. Oh, and set up a “blue ribbon” bi-partisan panel to suggest changes. Man, if only someone had thought of that stuff sooner. Sadly, trees had to die to print out those earth-moving recommendations, none of which has any chance of passing.
Yet, apparently those changes are what are necessary to keep Wisconsin from – and I hope you’re sitting down – becoming a “permanent third-world state.” Honestly, if any political science student at UW-Madison used that kind of hyperbole in one of their research papers, they should be forced to re-take the course (unless it was taught by Kevin Barrett.)
Let’s review – only spending $4.3 billion per year on the UW System is going to make us a “third-world” state. As if, suddenly, you’ll have to sit at your work computer covered in flies, with a distended belly. On the plus side, it may mean Wisconsin has some better Olympic long distance runners.
There’s a lot more stuff in there, but there are really only so many hours in the day. It’s just too bad that John Wiley has only recently discovered that the UW-Madison has been a thorn in the side of the Legislature for over a century. Somehow, I think we’ll survive.
Filed under: Budget — Christian Schneider @ 9:57 am
For the most part, government and business are perceived as being in direct conflict with one another. Yet both generally have the same goal – maximizing their revenue. If you’re a business, this is known as “greed.” If you’re a government looking to pad salaries and benefits of your employees, it is known as “compassion.”
The connection between government and business runs much deeper than their mutual desire to vacuum out the contents of your wallet. Regular citizens often don’t recognize the extent to which government is often dependent on business to swell their employees’ nest eggs. In fact, governments heavily invest in private businesses, trying to make enough investment income to run more and more programs and fund increased post-employment benefits for their retired workers.
For example, the State of Wisconsin currently holds roughly $80 billion in the Wisconsin Retirement System, which funds health care and pension benefits for retirees. That’s more than six times the amount the state collects in general fund (income, sales, business) taxes in any given year. And most of it is invested in the stock market, managed by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. (Perhaps we should turn management of the portfolio over to State Senator Rob Cowles, who could double our state’s earnings in a year by investing heavily in booty-related mutual funds.)
The State Investment Board is closely watched, and invests carefully – given the immense amount of resources at their disposal. In recent years, their investments have performed admirably.
But for other governments, things haven’t gone so well. According to several Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, five school districts in Southeastern Wisconsin have seen the value of some of their recent investments drop by over $100 million. They claim they weren’t fully briefed of the amount of risk they were taking on when they made the purchases, so they plan on filing a lawsuit to recoup their investment. Of course, it will be taxpayers who pay for the army of attorneys necessary to litigate such a lawsuit.
But as pointed out by the Journal Sentinel’s initial watchdog report, none of these school districts hired an adviser before making investments in these risky funds (known as CDOs). One analyst from MorningStar, Inc. called the governments’ investments “reckless:”
“They require deep and skilled analysis to understand, and unless the municipality employs its own specialist with specific analytical capabilities, it should otherwise only hold such things if purchased for them by a professional asset manager,” Eric Jacobson, a bond analyst for Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, said after reviewing the CDO prospectus. “To buy an instrument of this type . . . without any special knowledge or ability, at the recommendation of a broker, is a very poor and arguably reckless decision.”
In other words, school districts might have gotten a better deal by answering an e-mail offering a once in a lifetime Nigerian investment opportunity.
So here we have school districts making risky investments in, among other things, subprime mortgages, who now think they should be bailed out via lawsuit. And the only reason they can continue on with their legal action is because they have taxpayer money to fund the teams of attorneys needed to litigate the case. In effect, they can afford to spend good money to chase after the bad.
Of course, for the “greedy” investors such as yourselves, who may put aside a small amount every month to invest in a mutual fund in the hopes of one day making some money, this option is not available when your investments go bad. In fact, when these school districts spend more of your money to cover their assets, you will undoubtedly have less money to invest. Your higher taxes will be paying for the school district’s spin to convince you that they didn’t realize investments could actually lose value.
Let’s hope none of these school districts teach investment strategy.
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 3:54 pm
Today, the Democratic National Campaign Committee announced their list of speakers for Day 1 of their national convention in Denver:
Joining the program on Monday, August 25th will be Former President Jimmy Carter; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; Illinois state leaders Alexi Giannoulis, Dan Hynes, Lisa Madigan, and Tom Balanoff from Illinois SEIU; long-time Barack Obama mentor Jerry Kellman; NEA President Reg Weaver; AFT President Randi Weingarten; and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan.
The theme of the day with that guest list? You guessed it:
In their defense, perhaps they’re referring to the People’s Republic of Delusion. Just further evidence they don’t even recognize half the country they live in.
NBC’s Richard Engel, often vilified by the Right as a left wing cheap shot artist, actually did some outstanding reporting on China’s effort to suppress demonstrations during the Olympics. In the story, Engel tells the story of a woman whose house was being bulldozed to make way for a road. She applied for a permit to demonstrate, then was arrested and imprisoned for 30 days, or until the Olympics were over.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the state Government Accountability Board continues to assert its authority to regulate the content and timing of political speech during campaign season. Certainly, they are speech suppression on different scales – but in both instances, they restrict the common citizen’s ability to criticize the actions of their government. Neither case should be acceptable in a free society.
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 4:47 pm
As summer rolls along, only the rabid few political junkies are paying attention to politics. And of course, most of those hard core political followers are getting their election news from the internet source of record: MC Hammer’s blog. Watch as he deftly and coherently defends Barack Obama against Republican attacks:
We heard you…this is noted….there will be hell to pay!!!
How low will you go ?
In a week where you tried to position Obama against our beloved Israel (the beautiful city of God) peace be upon it….
position him against his friends and brothers…you won’t be able to divide us..
attacked his wife…
in your desperation you played your cards to early…. Black and Brown will come together…
The Jewish Community and the African American community are brothers and friends and we both love Israel…
Your party (has become) is dark and evil…and you will not win the office of the Presidency
You have no boundaries… win at all cost.. your party is out of touch with the people of America..
You under estimate and insult our intelligence… we don’t respect your agenda driven journalism…
witness the power of the web..it baffles you…a real conundrum for your party…
16 years will pass before we give you back control of Our America.. we see you clearly…. Old Evil Men…(OEM) your time has passed… time for change…
I think that pretty much settles it. Hopefully, Hammer can keep up this semi-lucid political flow before the feds come and repossess his computer.
Filed under: Elections — Christian Schneider @ 10:34 am
Undoubtedly, there will be much amateurish trash floating around the internet during the presidential campaign. However, this video is actually pretty good – and it is not only safe for work, but turning up your volume is encouraged:
Filed under: Economics — Christian Schneider @ 10:20 am
High gas prices pinching your wallet? Slow economy got you down? Well, you have no idea how bad it can really get – just ask your dog.
According to the Rock County Humane Society, a slow economy is tough on pets, since people start dumping them on the side of the road when times get tough. From the Beloit Daily News:
Economic challenges hard on pets
Last month, someone dumped a mother cat and 24 kittens in a ditch in Newark Township.
Two litters of kittens were less than a week old, another two litters were 3 to 5 weeks old and kittens in the last litter were about 9 weeks old. A Rock County Sheriff’s Deputy brought the kittens to the Rock County Humane Society, but only the mother and three of the older kittens were able to be saved. The rest died because they were in bad shape due to flees [sic] and dehydration.
“God only knows how long they had been in the ditch,” said Rock County Humane Society Executive Director Chris Kometski. “That was 25 cats dumped in a ditch.”
Kometski said the humane society has noticed a “remarkable” increase in the number of animals being abandoned or brought to the shelter because people are losing their housing or can’t afford to take care of their pets any longer. The increase has been happening since last fall, Kometski said.
In an anonymous letter to the Beloit Daily News, a resident of Avon Township told the paper more and more people are dumping their pets along country roads in the township. The resident had personally taken in three abandoned dogs and had tried to catch a kitten.
Look, I know the Humane Society has every right to use whatever angle they feel necessary to find more homes for the kitties – but come on. So the U.S. economy grows at 1.9%, instead of 3%, and suddenly everybody’s dumping their “expensive” cats on the side of the road?
What happens when gas prices spike later in the year? Are you going to see an epidemic of wives driving up to Minocqua to drop their husbands off on the side of a dirt road somewhere? Seriously – once gas hits $4.25 a gallon, that’s entirely likely. (Ask my wife, and she’d probably suggest $3.00 a gallon as the threshold.)
Of course, it would have been nice for the article to have one opinion that was mildly skeptical of these claims – instead, the short Beloit Daily News piece managed to cram in 18 quotes from the Humane Society representative. It’s essentially just a transcript of the reporter’s phone conversation with Chris Kometski.
But remember – when hard economic times hit, just think of the puppies. Don’t be surprised on your next rip up north if you see a couple basset hound hobos with “Will Poop for Food” signs on the side of the road.