Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sensenbrenner Will Raise Taxes on 22,000 Constituents

A few days ago, I received another taxpayer-funded, glossy propaganda letter from Jim Sensenbrenner. As so many other times over the last seven years, our Congressman promised to repeal healthcare for thousands of his constituents.

Sensenbrenner has been an enemy of healthcare for his constituents since the beginning. Just last May, he penned an opinion piece in the Journal Sentinel called "The Bitter Fruits of Obamacare." At a town-hall several years ago, a friend of ours tried to ask him a question, saying,"You've voted over 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and...". Sensenbrenner immediately interrupted, blurting out, "And I would vote another 50 times to repeal it !"

I do not call Sensenbrenner's planned actions "repealing Obamacare" or even "repealing the Affordable Care Act". I prefer "repealing heathcare". Without a comparable and coherent plan to replace current law, the Republican Congress, including Sensenbrenner, will indeed repeal healthcare for millions of Americans.

Sensenbrenner's taxpayer-funded website lists no fewer than 29 anti-healthcare press releases and opinion pieces from his taxpayer-funded office. He has called the legislation that has greatly lowered the uninsured rate in his district a "disaster", "unconstitutional", "bad tasting medicine", and a "train-wreck".

With the ascension of popular-vote loser, Donald Trump to the Presidency, Congressional Republicans like Sensenbrenner have been given the opportunity they have been salivating over for years. They will be able to end healthcare for millions of Americans. This includes repealing healthcare for 25,900 of Ol' Jim's very own constituents who buy their insurance over the Exchange.

Based on estimates of about 85% of Exchange enrollees being eligible for Premium Tax Credits, Jim Sensenbrenner, by his partisan vote for Repeal, will raise taxes on over 22,000 of his District 5 constituents. I know. I am one of them. Based on the my 2014 & 2015 returns, my own Federal taxes will be increased by over $10,700 per year.

Often bragging about never raising taxes, Sensenbrenner will vote to eliminate the Premium Tax Credits for more than 190,000 Wisconsin residents. He will burden low and middle-income residents of our state with the loss of $759,000,000/year in Premium Tax Credits.

Republicans are committed to ending the Affordable Care Act. They are committed to ending healthcare for millions of Americans. This bizarre one-track focus is one of the few unifying issues for today's GOP. Ending the program is easy. It will be a promise kept.

However, with all of their Replacement talk, Republicans take us for fools. There is little chance that a comprehensive and meaningful Replacement healthcare plan can be passed by the GOP alone. With 218 votes needed for anything to pass the House, Republicans can only afford to lose 23 of their members. There is no way that so large a group can be convinced to pass any rational healthcare plan. After all, many of the most rabid of GOP politicians believe that the government should be not be involved in healthcare at all.

The odds that Senate Republicans will pass substantive new health reform is even lower. Even if Majority Leader McConnell "goes nuclear" and overturns the 60-vote filibuster threshold, he has only a very slim majority. At 52-48, Republicans can only lose three votes in passing any post-nuclear bill. And based on the political rancor of the last eight years, they will get no help from Democrats.

Repeal will happen. I would place money on it. However, no meaningful Replacement is in sight. But, maybe I am worried over nothing. After all, President-elect Trump has variously promised, a "great" plan, a "terrific" plan, and an "unbelievable" plan. Paul Ryan promised us that Repeal will "leave no one worse off". Should we take them at their word? Probably not.

The way I see it, there will be a definite Repeal, but no substantive Replacement. There will be a large increase in the number of uninsured Americans. There will be a large increase in the number of people who cannot buy insurance at any price. There will be a large tax increase for those of us who count on tax credits to defray the cost of insurance. District 5 voters will have Jim Sensenbrenner to thank.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What Can We Do ?

The Republican Congress is poised to enact the most granny-starving, hate-filled, rights-restricting agenda that this country has ever seen. With G.O.P. control of the White House and both Houses of Congress, what can a patriotic American do to stop this assault?

Perhaps we should take a page from the old Tea-Party playbook. In 2008, Democrats held the Oval Office, the Senate, and the House-a similar position of power in which today's Republicans find themselves. Within weeks of Obama's first inauguration, countless rallies and marches were held, protesting something or other. Members of Congress got an earful at town hall meetings. A perfectly good historical flag was usurped as the movement's symbol.

Over time, the Tea Party was able to intimidate their representatives or, in many cases, to replace them. Demands for ideological purity and punishment for any compromise shifted many surviving politicians (and our entire country) far to the right. The new, more radical, G.O.P. gained first the House, then the Senate, and now the White House.

Just as Republicans found their way out of the wilderness through smart tactics, organization, and mobilization, Democrats can, too. A good guide for progressive activism in the Age of Trump was compiled by a group of former Democratic Congressional staffers. This document is called Indivisible-A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. It focuses on how to effectively put pressure on your members of Congress to influence their policy positions. 

Indivisible discusses tactics such as public events, phone calls, and media opinion pieces. However, the authors put much of their emphasis on personal contact with your politicians. Town hall meetings, in which constituents can directly speak to their elected officials, are seen as especially effective in communicating your opinions.

Typical of Indivisible's practical town hall advice: "Your questions should be sharp and fact-based, ideally including information on the (Member of Congress’s) record, votes they’ve taken, or statements they’ve made. Thematically, they should focus on a limited number of issues to maximize impact. Prepare 5-10 of these questions and hand them out to your group ahead of the meeting."

W.O.W. Counties are represented in the House by Paul Ryan (southern Waukesha), Jim Sensenbrenner (Northern Waukesha, Washington), and Glen Grothman (Ozaukee). Granted, it will be difficult to directly influence this extremist gang. However, maybe the worst of their nefarious plans can be stalled.

Just as the GOP Congress was shamed today into reversing course on weakening the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, public pressure can have an effect on their other policies. For example, maybe they can be shamed into introducing an actual replacement for the Affordable Care Act at the same time that they kill it. With enough push-back, maybe they will drop the crazy idea of turning Medicare into a discount coupon scheme.

How do we find-out about town hall meetings in our districts? Remember-if no one shows up except supporters, our Congressmen will assume that everyone agrees with their actions.

I am not sure whether Glen Grothman holds any town hall meetings at all. His official website offers no clue. He appears to be frightened of his constituents and must be approached in other ways, such as office visits, sit-ins, and mass calls. His Washington office can be reached at (202) 225-2476.

Paul Ryan calls his town halls his "Mobile Office". According to his official website, "Information about the 2017 Mobile Office Tour and schedule will be available on this web page in Spring 2017."

So Paul Ryan will not have any town hall meetings until Spring- well after he has passed much of his cynical granny-starving agenda. However, we should plan to show-up at each and every one that he finally does hold. After all, video of Paul Ryan facing an irate crowd of seniors in his own district can only help to save Medicare and Social Security nationally.

In refreshing contrast, Jim Sensenbrenner holds frequent town halls throughout his district. His website lists the current schedule of 45 sessions, to be held from January 14 through March 19. I personally have attended many past town halls and find them both entertaining and enlightening.

There are many productive things that you can do to let your Republican Congress people know that you do not agree with their agenda of tax cuts for the rich, gruel for seniors, restricted rights for women, and government-sponsored hate for minorities. Much practical advice is contained in the document, Indivisible. Although progressives are currently out-of-power, we can take a lesson from the 2008 Tea Party. There are concrete actions we can take to blunt the very worst of the Trump/GOP agenda.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Votes in the Ring of Fire

After a brief recuperation, this blogger is ready to look at the November presidential election results. Much can be learned from a careful evaluation of the returns, with a focus on the three W.O.W. counties. For our analysis, we used official results reported by the Wisconsin Election Commission.

There were 368,910 presidential votes cast in the W.O.W. Counties. This represents 12.4% of total statewide vote. Waukesha is by far the 800-pound gorilla of the three counties, accounting for 64.4% of W.O.W. vote. Washington is 20.8% of W.O.W. vote, while Ozaukee is only 14.8%.

Trump received 224,747 votes from the W.O.W. area. This was 16.0% of his statewide vote.

Hillary gained 120,246 W.O.W. votes, constituting 8.7 % of her statewide vote.

Washington County went 67.4% for Trump. Waukesha voted 60.0% for Trump, while Ozaukee went 55.8% for Trump. Yet, none of the W.O.W. counties had the dubious achievement of being the most trumpian County in Wisconsin.

Ozaukee County can no longer be considered one of the deepest red counties in the state. Of the 72 counties, fully 39 others gave Trump a higher percentage of their vote.

Waukesha also can't be consisted a citadel of trumpism. Giving Trump 60.0% of its vote, Waukesha is only the 22nd trumpiest county in the state.

My own Washington County, I am ashamed to say, is the 3rd most Trump-loving county in Wisconsin, trailing only low-population Florence (71.5% Trump) and Taylor (69.5%). Still, Washington fell from being the top 2012 Republican vote percentage county to third place. We can now hold our heads a little higher.

The Libertarians were a larger factor this year than in the past. Gary Johnson received 3.7% of the presidential vote in the combined counties. The three gave Johnson an impressive 13,755 votes, far exceeding Johnson's 2012 W.O.W. vote share of 0.5% .

Trump greatly under-performed Romney's 2012 vote share in Waukesha County. Romney got 66.8% vs 60.0% for Trump. In Ozaukee, Romney received 64.6% of the vote vs 55.8 % for Trump. Romney slightly edged Trump in Washington County, 69.5% to 67.4%.

Romney gathered 1,407,966 votes statewide in 2012. This year, Trump got 1,405,284, a drop of 2,700 votes. Obama gathered 1,620,985 votes in 2012 votes in 2012, compared to Hillary's 1,382,536, a dramatic drop of 238,449. It looks like state Republicans held their collective noses and voted for Trump. Wisconsin Democratic voters did not turn-out in numbers similar to 2012, to the detriment of US world standing, your healthcare, your retirement, and our personal freedoms.

The W.O.W. county drop-off between 2012 and 2016 was pretty large. The 2012 turn-out was 378,415 in the three counties. But 2016 turn-out was 9505 fewer votes. And the drop-off was not spread uniformly between the two candidates. Trump got 28,893 fewer votes than Romney. Hillary got 858 fewer votes than Obama.

So, the story in W.O.W. counties is quite different from that of the rest of the state. Here, Trump actually greatly underperformed vs 2012 Romney. Hillary brought-in about as many votes as did the 2012 Obama. If the rest of Wisconsin had reflected the 3-county area with respect to Democratic turn-out and Trump underperformance, Hillary Clinton would have carried the state in a landslide.

Let's compare the presidential election with the next-highest profile one, the senatorial race between Johnson and Russ Feingold. In most years, there are many more votes cast for President than for down-ballot races. This year, there were 897 more W.O.W. votes cast for the Senate race than for President.

Ron Johnson greatly out-polled Trump in W.O.W.-land, gaining 28,021 more votes than the p*ssy-grabber. In contrast, Feingold received 10,477 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, showing a typical drop-off for the down-ballot race.

The W.O.W. counties cannot be blamed for Donald Trump. Bucking the statewide trend, our Democrats turned-out and voted for Hillary in similar numbers as we did for Obama. Many of our Republicans rejected Trump, either opting for Gary Johnson, or simply not voting. Trump greatly under-performed in Waukesha, Washington, and Ozaukee counties compared to either Mitt Romney in 2012 or Ron Johnson this year.

If we want to find reasons for Hillary losing Wisconsin, and therefore the presidency, we need to look somewhere other than the W.O.W. counties.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Political Winners and Losers of 2016

Each December, the staff at Radio Free W.O.W. selects the Political Winners and Losers of the past year. 2016 has been an incredibly busy year in the political arena. However, the outcomes were so terrible that it was tough coming-up with any winners at all. Here is our try:

Winner- Vladimir Putin. Succeeded where decades of Soviet-era leaders failed. Got his own personal puppet installed as the American President. It is rumored that Trump will make the last stop of his "Thank-You" tour at the Kremlin.

Losers- People who need healthcare. GOP politicians will kill the ACA, gut Medicaid, turn Medicare into a discount coupon scheme, and end support for women's clinics. These successful programs will maybe, possibly, be replaced sometime later by "Something great. Believe me."

Winner-The planet Venus. Once known as the hellishly-hot sister planet of Earth. With ascension of science-denying politicians in the US, Venus will soon become the much cooler sibling.

Loser- Sheriff David Clarke, who was responsible for four recent deaths in his jail. He called for "torches and pitchforks" if Trump lost. However, after the election, he tweeted "These temper tantrums from these radical anarchists must be quelled. There is no legitimate reason to protest the will of the people." (Other than that pesky First Amendment).

Winner- John Glenn. Marine pilot, Mercury astronaut, US Senator, Space Shuttle passenger, American hero. Inspired many American kids (including me) to go into science. A life well-lived.

Losers- The people of Wisconsin, whose State Supreme Court continues to be packed with dark-money favorites like corporatist shill and homophobe, Rebecca Bradley.

Winners-The US Olympic athletes who did us all proud in Rio. Except swimmer Ryan Lochte. He was kind of dickish, causing an unnecessary international incident.

Losers- Indiana taxpayers, who paid $7 million to Carrier to help ship 1,400 jobs to Mexico and footed the bill for the trumpian media circus in Indianapolis.

Winner- Mohammad Ali. Can legitimately be called "the Greatest". Heavyweight boxing champ and US ambassador to the world. Jeopardized his career to protest the Vietnam War, saying "Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. No Viet Cong ever called me ni****." Another life well-lived.

Loser- Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell. The elderly mutant ninja turtle refused to do his constitutionally-mandated job for almost a year. He allowed no hearings on Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Later topped himself by hiding knowledge of Russian interference in our elections from the American people.

Winner, Quote of the Year Award- The Loser of the Presidential popular vote, who, when asked to name his policy advisers, replied, "I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things." The runner-up quote, coincidentally, by the same politician, is "I know words. I have the best words."

Losers- Uday and Qusay Bevis and Butthead Trump. The Trump boys have been selected by our staff as the most likely administration members to first end-up in prison on corruption charges.

Winners- The Social Darwinist wing of the Republican Party, headed by Paul Ryan, who succeeded in taking-over the government they hate so much. The group's credos are: "Punish and humiliate the poor.", "School lunches give kids a full stomach but an empty soul.", and "We only like people who don't get sick."

Winner- ChaChi, who went from talentless D-list obscurity to a major speaking gig at the GOP National Convention. He was sadly the most prominent celebrity to support the GOP nominee.

Loser- Perennial loser, Scott Walker, made the list this year after the leak of John Doe evidence to The Guardian. The leak illustrated Walker's pay-for-play ethics and illegal campaign coordination. One damning piece of evidence was a canceled check written by a donor to a dark money group. On the memo line was written "Because Scott Walker asked".

Winners- Writers and Directors of the 2006 film, Idiocracy. Their prescient work predicted a future of anti-intellectualism, rampant commercialism, and little social responsibility. Many have suggested that the movie's dim-witted wrestler-turned-President captures Trump perfectly. "It's got electrolytes!"

Losers- 2012 Obama voters who did not vote this year. In 2012, Romney received 2,682 more Wisconsin votes than Trump did this year. Obama received 238,449 more votes than did Clinton this year. By not voting (or voting for Jill Stein), Democratic-leaning state voters handed Wisconsin (and the Oval Office) to the least qualified candidate in history.

Winners- The Obamas, who for eight years have brought grace, class, and style to the White House. Barack Obama leaves office with a steadily-growing economy, no major scandals, low unemployment, low uninsured rates, an improving environment, and strong US leadership in the world. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Short Break

I decided to take a short break from this blog to recharge my batteries. Will resume next January. Good luck to all and keep-up the good fight.


Friday, November 4, 2016

A Few Random Thoughts on the Election

We only have four days left before November 8. Our final day of voting comes none too soon. This election seems like it has gone on forever. The Iowa caucus was held on February 1, 2016. Since that time, elections have dominated the news to the exclusion of nearly all else.

We expected a filthy campaign from Trump, and the Republican candidate has exceeded all of our expectations. However, the unhinged GOP leader has also influenced down-ballot candidates with his juvenile name-calling. Our own Ron Johnson has called his opponent "a complete phony". The desperate Johnson has even called Feingold "a swamp creature", promising to "drain the swamp". This promise to destroy protected wetlands is just another example of Johnson's disdain for the environment.

Like most W.O.W. voters, Germantown residents have few choices beyond the top of the ballot. Sure, there are candidates worth voting for in the Presidential, Senate, and 5th District US House races (thank you Mr. Penebaker !) However, there is only one (of course, Republican) candidate for State Senate (Alberta Darling), State Assembly (Knodl), County DA, County Clerk, County Treasurer, and County Registrar of Deeds.

I simply cannot bring myself to vote for any of these local Trump-Party candidates. I know that write-ins no longer count unless registered with the state. However, I am sure that Jesus H. Christ will make a good State Senator. My candidate for Assembly will be Charlemagne Tha God (love that name!). For the other offices, I will write-in Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Thomas Hardy, and cartoon hyena, Hardy Har Har.

Speaking of write-ins, I served as for several years as an election inspector. One late evening, I was working with the Chief Inspector to record the write-in votes. The Chief started cussing up a storm about all these write-ins and how they made a problem for election workers. At that point, I came to one write-in and sheepishly said, "You probably don't want to see this one !" To my surprise, one of my friends had written-in my name for State Assembly!.

Like so many Assembly districts, Germantown's 24th was gerrymandered to give about a 45% Democratic-55% Republican advantage. This has led to the criminal situation of having only 36 Democratic Representatives and 63 Republican ones, despite having more people voting for Democratic candidates in 2012 than Republicans. Unlike the Republican's mythical voter fraud, this is actual election fraud, committed by our GOP legislators and Governor.

One can hardly say that we have no choice for President this year. In addition to Hillary and Sniffy McGropper, we have Libertarian Gary (what is Aleppo?) Johnson and Green Party anti-vaxxer Jill Stein. There are three other candidates, too. The theocratic Constitution Party is again on our ballot, pushing for a Bible-based government. So is the revolutionary socialist Workers World Party. The Delta Party, headed by "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente is on the ballot. This little-known party is for election reform and against an interventionist foreign policy. (Wouldn't it be cool to have a President named Rocky?)

Donald Trump is the most unqualified, psychologically unfit, and intellectually deficient presidential candidate in my lifetime. His defense of and support by a Russian dictator and the KKK alone should rule him out as America's leader. His divisive rhetoric, belief in conspiracy theories, and explosive temper should alarm all voters. After the election, Trump faces trials for fraud and child rape. Hillary used the wrong server for her e-mails.

None of my Republican friends seem to like Donald Trump. However, many are still going to vote for this dangerous man. The anti-Hillary propaganda has been so consistent and shrill that many plan to vote for the worst candidate in my lifetime instead of one of the smartest and best-prepared. The Stockholm syndrome that has turned the GOP into the Party of Trump is the most bizarre and troubling political phenomenon of our time.

Each and every state GOP politician has taken a stand on Trump. That decision will follow them around the rest of their political lives. Scott Walker has come to accept Trump and actively campaigns for him. Ron Johnson embraces Trump and links himself to Trump as "Ron and Don". The weasel Paul Ryan can't bring himself to say Trump's name, but supports "the candidate of my party". Sensenbrenner loves Trump, claiming that "he won fair and square".

The increasingly senile State Sen. Alberta Darling has gone full-on for Trump, heading-up the state Women for Trump organization. In an interview she said, "When you listen to the policy discussions that Trump has, he is on point with what women want." According to Darling, women must want indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons, reneging on our national debt, and abandonment of our NATO allies-all policies that Trump has advocated.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Senator Sunspot

There are many reasons to deny my above-pictured BFF, Ron Johnson, a second term as Wisconsin Senator. For example, he refuses to do his Constitutional duty to keep the Supreme Court functioning. He sent a treasonous letter to the leaders of Iran, advising them to ignore the current US President. He voted to allow domestic terrorists to continue to buy assault rifles. He believes that your Social Security is some kind of criminal "Ponzi scheme".

However, of all of the reasons to fire Ron Johnson on November 8, I personally believe that the most important is his refusal to do anything about global warming. In fact, Johnson frequently denies that human-caused global warming is even happening. The first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge its existence.

As a retired scientist, I find Johnson's utter disregard for science research and the scientific community deeply disturbing. Our political leaders should base policy on facts, rather than on the directives of their deep-pocketed political donors.

Johnson has fought action on global warming since the beginning of his political career. During a 2010 Senate campaign interview, he said, "I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate is proven, by any stretch of the imagination. Its far more likely that its just sunspot activity..." This statement earned him the early derision of the country and the nickname "Senator Sunspot".

Since that time, Johnson has wasted no opportunity to embarrass Wisconsin by his wrong assertions on global warming. During 2014 Senate hearings on the XL-pipeline, Johnson tried to lecture Columbia climate scientist, James Hansen, on the "facts", insisting that "The science (of global warming) is far from settled."

And Johnson's daffy ideas on global warming continue to this day. In an August 3 talk-radio interview, he was asked about regulations to limit carbon dioxide. Our senator went full-blown tin foil hat, saying "For some reason, liberals and progressives, socialists and communists, want to control everything. They want to control your life... There is an arrogance of power there, they're utopians. They think they can create heaven on earth. And where its failed in the past, those people like Stalin and Chavez and the Castros, the nut-cases in North Korea..."

Somehow, the unhinged Johnson equates limits on greenhouse gasses with dictatorships in Stalinist Russia and North Korea. Is this the guy we want representing us in the Senate?

Just last week, Johnson announced a different path, in which he simply wants to let global warming happen, damn the planet. In a radio interview, he said, “Climate has already changed, always will. I’m just not an alarmist. We will adapt. How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it’s a little bit warmer.” In a JS interview, he went further, saying "Mankind has flourished in warmer temperatures." Sounds like ol' RoJo would like to create hell on earth.

Johnson has certainly been putting his votes where his mouth is. Our Tea-Party Senator has received a meager 4% (out of 100%) lifetime voting score from the League of Conservation Voters. His performance led to a strong 2016 endorsement of his opponent, Russ Feingold, by the same pro-environment group.

In the Senate, Johnson has fought to keep taxpayer subsidies funneling cash to coal, oil, and gas producers. He co-sponsored resolutions condemning EPA rules to limit CO2 emissions from power plants. He signed onto a letter to the Obama administration to protest those rules.

During a debate over the XL-pipeline, the Senate voted on an amendment stating that "human activity is a significant contributor to climate change". Of course, RoJo voted nay, along with 48 of his Republican colleagues. Again, you can't remedy a problem that you do not believe exists. 

Ron Johnson has unwaveringly supported Donald Trump, tying himself to the Orange Groper as "Don and Ron". Trump is certainly an environmental soulmate of Johnson. Trump believes that global warming was an invention of the Chinese, aimed at making the US less competitive. Trump would immediately abrogate the Paris Climate Agreement. He would drastically cut the EPA. The country certainly cannot afford a combined Johnson-Trump assault on the environment.

Ron Johnson clearly does not understand global warming and the science behind it. If he was only expressing his bizarre opinions on the radio, in a bar, or at family gatherings, he would be harmless. Unfortunately, Johnson has real power in the US Senate. He uses that power to obstruct and impede others who are trying to make constructive environmental change. We must end this. Johnson must be sent packing on November 8.

Paul C. Adair

Friday, October 14, 2016

Jim Sensenbrenner Owns Trump

In this presidential election, we have a choice between one of the most qualified candidates who ever ran for the office, and the absolutely most frightening. Republicans officials are in a quandary. They must choose between a President who might make a few decisions with which they disagree and one who represents an existential threat to our country. Unfortunately, many in the GOP are making the wrong decision- one that will haunt them for the rest of their political lives.

Congressman-for-life, Jim Sensenbrenner is one of those people. At a time when many in his party are rejecting their dangerous nominee, Sensenbrenner is doubling down on his support for Sniffy McGrabber. However, Jim never makes a case for why GOPers should vote for Donald Trump, but on why they should vote against Hillary Clinton. In fact, when talking about the election, Sensenbrenner rarely even mentions the name of his own party's candidate.

In an October 5 interview on the hate radio show of Limbaugh-wanna-be Jay Weber, Sensenbrenner tried to make his case to Wisconsin Republican voters. "There are a lot a people who don't particularly like Trump, but they sure don't like Hillary. If you don't like Hillary, you've gotta turn-out and you've gotta vote and you've gotta vote for Trump."

So Sensenbrenner supports the flimflam artist who set-up a phony school to steal money from the gullible. He supports the unscrupulous thief who stiffs small businesses and workers. He supports the crook who uses his sham charity like a personal bank account. He supports the sexual predator, bigot, and misogynist who preaches a doctrine of division and hate. He supports the dictator-in-waiting who would jail political opponents, ignore the Constitution, and restrict the press. He supports the traitor who idolizes, defends, and is aided by former-KGB agent Vladimir Putin.

Sensenbrenner came roaring to the Orange Con-man's defense in a October 7 column in the Journal-Sentinel. Earlier, the paper opined that Trump is not qualified to be President. Rather than defending Trump, Sensenbrenner could only attack his opponent. Jim brought-up all of the delusional so-called "scandals" from the far-right bubble. Of course, he brought-up Benghazi. He brought-up the Clinton Foundation. He brought-up the silly e-mails. But not a single word extolling the virtues of his man, Donald Trump.

Even on the day after the infamous "grab p***y" tape, Sensenbrenner was supporting the sexual predator that heads his party. Last Saturday, Sensenbrenner spoke at the GOP Frightfest in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. During his seven minute speech, ol' Jim could not bring himself to utter Trump's name a single time. He tried to make the election all about enacting the crazy Tea-Party agenda of Paul Ryan. He tried to make it about imposing far-right judges on America, saying "President Hillary Clinton will veto this (Ryan's Ayn Randian) plan. That is why we can't have President Hillary Clinton sitting in the White House. This election is not about individuals. It is about issues. It is about ideas. It is about the direction this country will take."

Sorry, Jim. This election is very much about individuals. It is about the person who will be Commander-in-Chief of America's military. It is about the person in charge of our nuclear arsenal. You want to entrust that responsibility to Donald J. Trump.

In a Monday statement, Sensenbrenner again tried to convince people to vote for Trump. Again he said nothing supporting the Donald, but merely criticized Hillary, saying "Now is not the time to make perfect the enemy of the good." He claimed that a Clinton presidency "would have a devastating and far-reaching impact on the future of our country." and that "Hillary Clinton is a bet America cannot afford to make."

Jim Sensenbrenner could not care less whether an insane and horrible person becomes our nation's leader. To him, it is all about entrenching an extreme Supreme Court that will continue to allow the wholesale purchase of politicians. It is about having a President that will rubber-stamp taking heath-care away from twenty million Americans. It is about having an unfettered path to privatizing Social Security and turning Medicare into a discount coupon scheme. It is about sending the country even deeper into debt by giving deep tax-cuts to the rich.

All in the name of gross partisan politics, Senenbrenner fully supports Donald Trump. With his enthusiastic and self-serving Trump support, Jim Sensenbrenner owns all that is Trump. He owns all of the hate, division, and fear stoked by Trump. He owns every outrageous racist, xenophobic, and sexist comment uttered by Trump. He owns every one of Trump's wacky conspiracy theories. He owns all of Trump's fascist tendencies. He owns it all. 

Paul C. Adair

Friday, October 7, 2016

These Are a Few of My Favorite Poll-Agglomerators

During the 2012 elections, my liberal aunt kept worrying. She thought that Romney was likely to win the presidential race. Several times, we had to talk her down from the ledge. We knew that Obama had this. Nate Silver told us so.

Political geeks of all stripes are frequent visitors to websites predicting the national political races. At least 13 well-known groups are making predictions on the presidential and Senate races. Many of these are associated with news media. For example, ABC, Associated Press, NBC, CNN, and the Washington Post all make predictions. Based on individual state polls, each predicts how many of the 270 electoral votes required to win that each candidate can count on. Here are the most recent calls from this morning (October 7, 2016):

Outlet           Hillary EV's           Trump EV's           Toss-up EV           % Likelihood of Hillary Win
ABC                272                         197                         69                                    --- 

AP                  272                          197                         69                                    ---
NBC                272                         174                         92                                    ---
CNN                271                         197                           70                                     ---
Wash Post      253                          197                         88                                     ---

There are other, independent pundits who also make prognostications on the races. Sabato's Crystal Ball (U. of Virginia), the Cook Political Report, and the Rothenburg and Gonzales Political Report are three of these groups. All three also predict the Senate, House, and gubernatorial races.

Sabato            316                          215                          7                                    ---
Cook               272                          197                         69                                   ---
R&G               279                          191                         68                                   ---

However, I prefer the groups that use statistical analysis to derive a percent likelihood of a given result. The New York Times, Huffington Post, and the Daily Kos all take this approach. Of the statistical groups, my personal favorites are the Princeton Election Consortium (Sam Wang), and FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver).

FiveThirtyEight, for example, weights each poll contributing to its overall predictions by how recent the poll was conducted, historical ideological skew, and historical accuracy. Both FiveThirtyEight and Princeton offer a dazzling array of great graphs and charts. Using differing assumptions, both give several types of percent likelihoods. Best of all, neither tries to weasel-out of prediction by calling any state a toss-up.

Huff Post       263                           180                        95                                    83.5
Daily Kos      308                           230                         ---                                     86
NYT              322                           192                          24                                    82
538                326                           212                         ---                                     79.6
Princeton       323                           215                         ---                                     88

With all of the various and sundry poll-agglomerators, is was only natural that an agglomerator of poll-agglomerators would appear. The site 270 to Win is such an entity. The site gives current results and links for most of the groups mentioned above. It lists averages of all of the sites, covering both the presidential and Senate races.

After the 2012 election, stories abounded on how the election night loss shocked Romney and his staff. We remember the right-wing website that "unskewed" supposedly liberal polls and proclaimed that the Republican candidate would actually win. However, reliable poll-agglomerators like Wang and Silver had been predicting an Obama win for weeks. The Romney campaign should have paid more to the actual numbers than to their misplaced hopes.

There is a wealth of free, on-line election predictions available to the incurable political geek. With that information, there is no reason to be unsure of the state of the races or to be taken by surprise on election night. 

Paul C. Adair

Friday, September 30, 2016

Two Peas in a Political Pod

The first Presidential Debate is over, with the overwhelming ass-whipping of Donald Trump by his smart and well-prepared opponent. Now the country's political geeks anxiously await next Tuesday's Vice Presidential debate.

Like Trump, Mike Pence is no Brainiac. He had a number of very bad moments during last year's furor over Indiana's "OK to discriminate against gays" law. However, Pence was a talk-radio personality in Indiana and his calm media demeanor is much better than Trump's (he called himself Rush Limbaugh on decaf). And unlike Trump, he is taking the debate seriously, actually preparing for it.

As part of his preparation, Pence is going through mock debates. The person that he chose to stand-in as his opponent, Tim Kaine, is none other than his good friend and soul-mate, Scott Walker.

Tim Kaine graduated with a Harvard Law degree. He has deep political experience as a mayor, governor, senator, and DNC Chair. Selecting Walker to play Kaine is simply bizarre. Intellectually, Scott Walker is to Tim Kaine as Beavis is to Sir Issac Newton.

However, there is a deep bromance between Pence and Walker. In Pence's first Wisconsin trip after the GOP Convention, Pence called Walker the "best governor in America". And the admiration is reciprocal. After Pence became Trump's running mate, Walker gushed, "Mike’s just someone that’s very well respected, certainly amongst governors, Democrat (sic) and Republican alike, highly regarded, and he’d be a great vice president."

During Trump's first post-convention trip to our state, Walker was busy washing his hair. But Mike Pence was welcomed with open arms. Buddies Walker and Pence hang together at the quarterly meetings of the Republican Governors' Association. They are both frequent speakers at far-right "God, guns, and gays" meetings such as CPAC and the NRA National Convention.

There are many parallels between the two with respect to sponsors, ideology, and actions. For example, both Pence and Walker endorsed Ted Cruz over Donald Trump in their states' late GOP primaries.

Due to bumbling incompetence and a far-right agenda, both Walker and Pence are unpopular in their own states, with approval ratings hovering around 40 percent.

Both are wholly-owned employees of the Koch brothers. The two were among the four prospective Presidential candidates invited to a secret January 2015 meeting of Koch donors. Koch money and organizations were integral to the election of both governors.

Neither believes in science. In 2001, Pence said on the House Floor, "... I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe." Walker brought shame to our state when he "punted" on the question of evolution during a trip to the UK.

Walker and Pence are using taxpayer money to push their extremist agenda, acting in concert to sue the federal government. Both Indiana and Wisconsin sued to stop workers from getting a raise through new overtime rules. Both sued to stop new pollution rules pertaining to coal-powered power plants.

Pence and Walker both greatly increased taxpayer funding of for-profit and religious schools through voucher give-a-ways. Pence ended Indiana's use of Common Core state standards, while Walker, pushed by his Tea Party base, is headed that way. Both have attempted to grab power from their independently-elected state Superintendents of Public Schools.

Both have signed some of the county's most restrictive anti-choice laws. Both have signed some of the country's most lax gun laws.

Both are against LGBTQ rights. Walker refused to let the state defend our civil union registry. He has fought against gay marriage much of his career. Pence once stated that gay couples "signaled societal collapse". Scott Walker even defended Pence during the Indiana "OK to discriminate against gays" fiasco. He said the widespread anger was the result of "people who are chronically looking for ways to be upset about things instead of really looking at what it is."

Mike Pence and Scott Walker are like two peas in a political pod. They are owned by the same billionaires, follow the same "God, guns, and gays" ideology, and have same delusions of competence. If you like Scott Walker as Governor, you will love Mike Pence as Vice President. 

Paul C. Adair