Wednesday, December 24, 2014

MKE Co. Sup. Deanna Alexander belittles Eric Garner's final words, makes fool of herself

Alexander's Twitter feed is a case study in ignorant commentary

I usually make it a point not to post things that are too political on the holidays. It being Christmas eve, I had every intention of ignoring politics today and focusing on other things.

The actions of Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander, however, cannot be ignored. So with some spare time in hand, it’s worth looking what transpired last night and in days prior on Alexander’s Twitter account (H/T to Capper).

It all stems back to tweets she made earlier this month regarding the #ICantBreathe hashtag that has become popular on the social network. “I can’t breathe,” of course, were the final words of Eric Garner, an African-American male who was choked to death in New York City last summer.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Second Quarter 2014 jobs report: Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest

Walker's policies since 2011 have sunk Wisconsin's jobs rankings

Scott Walker has said in the past that the state is growing jobs faster because of policies he’s put in place.

Well, the election is behind us now, but we can still see that’s clearly not the case. The second quarter 2014 jobs report is out, and Wisconsin is still lagging behind other Midwestern states, remaining in the lower half of states in the nation overall.

While the U.S. as a whole saw a 2.3 percent growth in private sector jobs, Wisconsin’s rate was only 1.5 percent, ranking us as 32nd in the nation. Among the states deemed as part of the Midwest (defined during the past election), Wisconsin is dead last -- just like it was in the previous quarterly report.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scott Walker's "Cuba-deal" comments make him look foolish

Walker lacks qualifications to make real commentary on international matters

Reacting to comments from President Barack Obama regarding a change towards normalizing relations between Cuba and the U.S., Gov. Scott Walker said it’s a “bad idea” to move towards more openness between the two nations.
I think it’s a bad idea,” Walker told reporters Wednesday. “I don’t think there’s been any noticeable change towards making that a more free and prosperous country. There’s a reason why we had the policy in the first place.”


“I think it opens up the doors to problems, and I think in a similar way changing relations with Cuba right now without them showing a noticeable change in terms of what kind of freedoms they’re going to put in place is a problem,” Walker said. “In the past, we’ve said if you want to have a more normal relationship with the United States, you need to show you’re committed to the same freedoms and rights that we have here in the United States.”
Emphases in bold added

But Gov. Walker’s record on dealing with countries that are hostile towards the U.S. or its own citizens is sketchy itself. If Walker is going to criticize the president, he'd better be ready to defend his own history in dealing with nations that have human rights problems, including seeking trade agreements with countries like China.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Baraboo school district rightly adopts WIAA policy for transgender student athletes

Granting students equal access to sports activities the right move to make; qualms against the policy are based on unwarranted fears

The Baraboo school district has agreed to adhere to Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) standards allowing transgender students to participate in sporting activities that correspond with their gender identities.

The move by the district to accept the policy standards (PDF) is the right one to make. Students deserve equal opportunity to participate in sporting events that public schools may offer. Preventing students from participating in sports that correspond to their gender identities would be a grave mistake, and one that would devalue or demoralize any student who may identify with a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth.

Parents in Baraboo (and across the nation) have been primarily concerned with students committing fraud through this policy (for example, boys who say they identify as females only to have advantages over other competitors). But that fear runs counter to the policy set up by WIAA, which requires evidence that these student athletes are indeed identifying with the gender they say they are.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Teach a man to fish, whatever!" An update on the Gospel according to Walker

Can the governor actually cite "teach a man to fish moments" in the Bible?

About a month ago I wrote an article noting that Gov. Scott Walker, himself a PK (pastor’s kid), didn’t understand the difference between a Chinese proverb and Biblical text.

Walker had said, “My reading of the Bible finds plenty of reminders that it’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them fish if they’re able.”

I correctly pointed out that the “teach a man to fish” lesson was never mentioned in the Bible -- and that handing out fish like “freebies” was something Jesus Christ himself had done during the miracle of the loaves and fish.

That post received renewed popularity following the “Molotov” Hanukkah mishap that Walker was recently ridiculed for. Over at Cognitive Dissidence, Capper took note of the gaffe, in conjunction with new reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice on the subject:
"The governor specifically says it’s in his reading of the Bible," said Laurel Patrick, press secretary for Walker. "He’s not quoting scripture."
Well, doesn't that clear nothing up? He's citing the Bible but not the Bible? Huh?
I agree completely -- Walker is trying to be a biblical scholar, and to tie his “teachings” to his governing style, but he’s failing hard at it. He wants to make that “teach a man to fish” point, saying there are several examples of it in the Bible, without actually citing those parts of the Bible.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Has concealed carry made WI safer? The evidence says no

Scott Walker's promise that concealed carry would make state safer is clearly inaccurate

“By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

Those were the words of Gov. Scott Walker when he signed legislation allowing for concealed carry in the state back in 2011. The promise of the legislation was that it would make us safer. Has it?

Before I go on, it should be noted that the data provided doesn’t show whether concealed carry contributed to higher crimes -- the data is so young and the numbers so negligible that increases could be attributed to any number of things. What I’m trying to show is whether we’re safer under concealed carry or not. To see if we’re safer, we simply need to look at crime statistics since concealed carry came into play. If crime goes up, we’re not safer.

For fairness, I’ve also compiled the data of crime over the past 21 years -- from 1993 to 2013. We can simultaneously look at the effects of concealed carry as well as the effects of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994, which went into effect at the end of that year and ended in 2004.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Acknowledging faults in the Senate torture report the right thing to do

Repairing our global image will take time, but it will require being honest about what we did as well

We know that Bush administration officials used torture tactics to obtain information from suspected terrorists. And we also know that the information obtained didn’t help us to defeat terrorists abroad or at home.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture helps the nation find closure in this dark chapter of American history. And it’s important that we acknowledge these mistakes so that we don’t repeat them again in the future.

There are, of course, people who still defend the methods that were used. Among them is former Vice President Dick Cheney, who said the report is “full of crap.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gov. Walker provides three "facepalm" moments of fail for the day

Embarrassing stories highlight Walker's ineptitude, low value for voters

Millennial translator: Facepalm = a hand gesture used to indicate extreme disappointment.

Our governor isn’t unfamiliar with embarrassing situations, but today must have been a tough one for him. Three stories are worth noting, providing a hat-trick of disappointment in Scott Walker within a 24-hour period of time. Two of them are religious in nature, while the third has to do with a slipping health care ranking.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Don't be fooled -- Gov. Walker is "playing coy" with right-to-work

Walker is showing reluctance for a right-to-work bill, but his record and past statements suggests he's all for it

Click to enlarge
Where exactly does Gov. Scott Walker stand on right-to-work in Wisconsin? In recent days, it would seem that the governor doesn’t care all that much about it. Don’t be fooled -- his past record says otherwise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No justice for Eric Garner -- officer avoids indictment despite choking man to death

Video evidence suggests that a jury trial was more than justifiable following Garner’s death

A New York City police officer who put Eric Garner in a lethal chokehold, a move that ultimately ended Garner’s life, will not face formal charges for his actions.

A grand jury determined that the officer, who used a chokehold maneuver that had been banned by NYPD for more than 20 years, would not face indictment for taking Garner’s life earlier this summer.

This is the second high profile incident of a white officer avoiding indictment from a grand jury for killing an unarmed black civilian in nearly as many weeks. On November 24, Officer Darren Wilson of Ferguson, Missouri, also faced indictment for shooting teenager Michael Brown. The grand jury there ultimately determined that Wilson would not face charges for his actions.

The situation in Ferguson became an instance of “he-said, she-said” as no documentable evidence (such as video recording) exists of the episode. Still, much of the grand jury proceedings remain concerning, and criticisms mounted shortly after the decision about the process.

Eric Garner’s death, however, was less clouded -- video of the officer placing him in a chokehold and ultimately killing him went viral this summer. Most casual observers of that video, I would assume, would agree that Garner’s actions (he allegedly was selling untaxed cigarettes) didn’t warrant a death sentence.

I have nothing but the highest respect for law enforcement officers. They put their lives on the line every day they go to work. That commitment deserves our respect and our gratitude.

They are not above the law, however, and I believe that 99.999 percent of them agree. When officers commit crimes, they, too, deserve to answer to the court of law for their actions.

It’s clear that Eric Garner wasn’t a physical threat to anyone around him. Video evidence shows us that an officer’s actions, improper ones at that, ended his life prematurely. But that officer will not face a jury of his peers because of those actions.

That’s more than just unfortunate; it’s a grave injustice. The system failed Eric Garner and his family, and it’s in dire need of repair following today’s decision.